Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Somebody tell Larry King...

That it's New Awwahlins and NOT New OR-Lee-ins. It's driving me insane.

`da insomniac

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Tuskegee is fine, y'all

Sorry I haven't blogged in a coupla days. I've been busy with the job search (2 interview, alhamdulillah!!!) And watching the news nonstop since Katrina was in the Gulf of Mexico... Thanks to Aleksa and everyone else who asked about my family in Alabama. Tuskegee is fine- I spoke to my grandfather (right after I hooted and hollered when they actually said "Tuskegee" on CNN and pronounced it correctly) and he said that although they'd pronouncd a tornado warning ovber there, there was some lightning and a whole lotta wind, and that was it. There wasn't even any damage to the pecan trees.

On my father's side, however, I'm a lil worried about my family in Metairie, the ones who hosted the family reunion a while back. I know they evacuated, but from what I saw on the tv screen, they won't have a whole lot to go back to. Or wayy too much, if they're lucky.

I'm also worried about my parents in Cincinnati. I lived through the last flooding there... the really bad one back in '98 and then again in '99, and even though it didn't hit our house, that stuff was no joke. I was rowing then, and we didn't get back on the river for quite a while, even though we rowed on a tributary of the Ohio in Kentucky- the Ohio at Cincinnati is WAY fast for novice-level (and even some more experienced rowers) most of the time. The Newport levee had just been finished , and so the aerial pictures- one of Covington, completely under water, alongside Newport, with its green wall around it, high and dry- just left me with my mouth open. A lot of people on riverside property- very poor, reminds me of La Perla in San Juan- lost their houses, clothes, food, possessions, etc. Very few people died, however. The main difference this time would be that the weather isn't cold. I remember it was freezing cold outside the last time the Ohio and Miami rivers flooded. No fun for anyone.

So. Y'all be praying for everyone in the path of the storm folks named Katrina. I know I will. She is one bad lil girl.

Hey, Aleksa. Get a blog, girl. I appreciate the comments, really. But it's getting to be a bit much. No fair I can't get you back, either- at least I can comment up a storm over at Sherry's place.

Onnn the job front- I've had a coupla people interested in me on the Great AuPair site. One job would be for a newborn who isn't here yet. I talked the other over with my mother, and I dont' think I'm going to take it, since I'd have to ask for a substantial increase in pay, and the family cant' afford it. I kinda regret that, since I talked with the mother for almost an hour yesterday. Turns out she had a two-year-old and then had a set of quadruplets- naturally. Yeah. Amazing. She's PuertoRican, and loved that I'd teach her kids, especially her older son, Spanish just by talking to him completely in the language, since she's from NYC and says she's the only one in her generation to speak the language. I think it's awesome that she wants her kids to learn Spanish. But I wonder about language ties and heritage. I'm constanly saying that any child I have would speak Spanish since that's all I'd speak to him or her, and they'd also have to speak whatever their father's language will be, so they'd en trilingual from jump street. It makes me sad to hear from so many people whose parents, thinking it was best for them, forced them to learn english, or worse, didn't let them learn their first language. They're ok with it until they feel impaired in that language. Hmmph. Americanization always has a hidden dark side. I'm not saying you have to keep all the customs of your homeland, that can be detrimental too. But knowing a second language has been so integral to my life, I can't imagine myself without that ability, and it must be something to yearn to have what I take for granted.

Sorry. I'll get off my soapbox now.


Friday, August 26, 2005

The Service Standard

As I've been searching for a job, I've applied for many different positions in several different places: from teaching to nanny, from receptionist to research associate, from server to hotel concierge. I've got the skills and the ability to do any and all of those jobs. In more than one way I've felt myself hampered not by my skills- if anything, the fact that I'm willing to do any kind of work should help me- but by the attitudes of my friends (hardly) and family (profoundly) when I discuss with them my applications and why I choose to do so. And it ain't just them. This, I think, may just be a community-wide thing.

Let me go back into history to explain why this is such a bigole pain. My great-grandmother is still alive, and almost 90 years old. She is amazing. As far as I understand, she barely finished school, and never went to college. She's literate, but her handwriting, though cursive, isn't exactly refined. She doesn't use it in her line of work.

She was a domestic worker- a cook and sometime housekeeper- for all of her working life. Then, during her retirement, she would take care of some of my cousin's kids until they were school-aged, which allowed said cousin to work. She still tells stories of the times when she would cook for these rich white descendants of plantation owners, how they'd act toward her, and how proprietary she felt toward them. They might have felt she was theirs, but in reality things were more the other way around.
My great-grandmother only had one child, my Grandpa (not to be confused with Grandpa Earl), and through that line especially I've learned the importance and pride not only in hard work, but in a craft and service - the combined abilities to use your hands well and to use that for the benefit of a community. Ain't no shame in being a domestic or blue collar worker. This is a big part of my worldview. It wasn't always- I was really trained to it in purpose and example.

So we know that my family, especially on my mother's side, should see no problems with service work or manual/blue collar work, because it is an honored tradition for us. With me so far?

The other line I get from my family is that of constantly improving yourself and your station through education. My father's life is the big lesson on that topic- I remember his college graduation quite well, because I watched him walk across the stage. In MY lifetime, he's gone from being janitor to air-conditioning repairman, both blue-collar, to working in computer analysis for the government- very very white collar. So I also get this sense that the only reason to get an education is to help you improve your class station and get that high-payin' job. Not just for the education itself or to raise the level of education in your race or class or community, but for the monetary rewards. You pay for it so it can pay for itself. I understand this. And I do agree that education in this country, expensive as it is and can be even for academically gifted people, isn't worth the money you spend if you can't earn enough to pay the loans back OR do what really makes you happy.

Then there's the fact that economically, black people stand to lose a great deal because of entitlement attitudes and lowering education and employment levels. The public education system of this country was made to turn out educated LABOR so the country can run. The US already in trouble with companies exporting labor and service positions because they're cheaper and in a lot of cases people don't kick up too much dust when asked to actually do some work. Of course those same companies can get away with a lot more abuse, but that's another entry. My point here is that as part of a community that doesn't have all that much to begin with my reality is that you have to do with what you have, or you won't have anything. If I have no job and many skills, then I should apply as many places as possible so I'll get some job somewhere, and work from there. If I want to work my way up the ladder I can start after I have a way to fill my mouth and sleep warmly at night.

Still with me?

The reason for my frustration of late is that every time I mention that I've applied for a nannying or concierge or waitressing position, I get insta-commentary from family members and certain friends to the point that I should NOT be trying for that kind of job, that I have a college degree and that I'd be wasted there. In essence,that I'm above such things. It is that attitude that has me soooo frustrated. For example, in two different conversations I had yesterday, I had someone first question whether or not I was trying to be in the hospitality industry, and then, in a later conversation, point out that immigrants have such great chances now because they take the low-paying and manual jobs that
black people are too proud to take anymore, like cooks or janitors or agricultural jobs. (The incidents in Herndon, VA, were on the news, and we went into a discussion about that, just to give some context.) Same person, not an hour between both statements. I'm not even really angry about it anymore, but it does have me thinking.

My question is, can we have it both ways? Because as a BLACK Gen-xer (I think- or am I Generation Next? My parents are baby boomers, but I digress), I know, in my heart, that my family and community want simply the very very best for me and my generation. I mean, we're only one step- sometimes two- from the time when being a pullman porter or a teacher was the MOST prestigious job someone in the Black community could have! People were blacksmiths and subsistence farmers and construction workers and carpenters and were proud of their honest work. When we lose that pride in our work we lose work period. I don't know a single soul who can afford that, black, red, brown, yellow or white.

At the same time, it only contributes to a great level of frustration and confusion to tell me, as an educated person, that I'm too good to be a teacher or a front-desk person. Am I really too good for anything? Dont' get me wrong. I really want a great, high-paying job. I want to get the education so I can have it. But on the way there, I don't see a thing wrong with being an educated nanny or service worker. I know that it may be a stop on the way, but not the last place I go, either. I'm not going to take being condescended to , and I'm not going to be ashamed because I have a BA and a blue-collar job. And I also know that I'll end up as an executive officer or a doctor if that's what I want. We've got to stop holding ourselves to a double standard. Because what we're holding onto is our own progress. Let it go!

Now. I know I'm not the only person who has had this thought, so please holla back... and I dont' care if you're black or not! I just want thoughts.

Miss TwennyTwo

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Stayin' Alive

Assalaaamu Alaikum Mah Peoples!

I'm still alive, alHamdulIllah.

Thanks to David and Aleksa and Sherry for stalking me on and off the internet and not letting me disappear in time of distress.

I'm back in DC altho you can't see it by my blog; I was here for more than a week, left, and am back again. I had a job interview on Monday, and I heard back from the RitzCarlton (no job; booooo for them). Strongly considered blogging for stress relief when I was in Cincinnati b/c my father has this knack for reducing me to teenage-like behavior. My mother, saint that she is (altho she DID marry him, but I digress) had a chat with me, and now I see what's going on. But I have to say, I don't think I need to live near him. My father is like salt for me: I need him in my life, and a little of his advice and love at the right times, even when I wouldn't expect or ask for it, is good. But too much just leaves a horrible taste in my mouth. I love him. I wish eh'd take better care of himself- he's still got that huge belly and as far as I can see isn't modifying his diet in the LEAST. Insha'Allah he turns 50 this year, but not only do I want him to see that b-day, I want him to know his grandkids, and um, the way he's going, only God (swt) knows if he'll stick around for any amount of time.

Yeah. *sigh*.

Ech. I've got sooo much going on in my head I don't know what else to say. Better just leave it at that for now. I'll be back soon, insha'llah, I promise.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Living Tradition

I keep forgetting to put Living Tradition on my blogroll, so I'm writing it here so I don't forget.

I read the woman so much she deserves to be on the side of the page where I can just click on the title and gooooo.... and so can you.


Blood singing through my head

There have been times in the past couple weeks when I think about certain things and my blood pressure gets sooo high that I can hear it. Singing through my head. I tried to remember why I wanted to blog about that, but I've forgotten. Suffice it to say that I'm only 24 and my life has been such that I can sometimes hear the anger in my blood as it rushes to and away from my heart. And even if the sound is comforting, the fact of it is scaaaareeeee.


I interviewed at the Washington area Ritz-Carlton job fair today, and I think I may have gotten the job, insha'Allah. I'm being all uncertain b/c it ain't certain til I get the job (and plus I don't wanna jinx it).

The best thing about this week has been the MUSALLAH at GW. That place is tiny but so much better than what I had in PR there's no comparison. It helped me get back on track with my prayers. And they had these chador-likethingies that actually FIT me- with elasticized sleeves and a hem that fell to the floor. Makes praying *ahem* even more fun and fulfilling than normal.

I think, too, I just missed feeling like a part of an UMMA. That is very nice too.

I'm sick of the MSSC. I think I'll go catch the sale at Au Bon Pain (ah, yes, so THAT's why I left weight when I left DC...) and then actually get to my aunt's house before dark today, won't that be something.

If anyone hears of a (muslim-oriented, cincinnati or dc or puerto-rico area) job, you know where to get at me...


Monday, August 08, 2005

I got the Alumna-Back-On-Campus-Broke-Wit-No-Peeps-In-DC-Bluuuueeees.

*Title to be sung to a honky-tonk blues tune similar to the one they used for Kraft Mac Blue Box Blues.**

Actually the title pretty much says it all. I'm in DC, and while I love this city, too much of it is tied to college for me- as a matter of fact, I'm using the MSSC's "free" computers to write this.

I'e decided to make my pit stop here a bit longer, extended it for a week while I got reacquainted wit m'girls and did some seriously intense job hunting- so intense that my back parts are numb from sitting and my eyes wobbly from looking at a computer screen for s'dang long. Still, I've got a couple of calls back for interviews already, and there're two job fairs tomorrow. And Mr. Cannaday is getting me an interview tomorrow so I can work at GW (insha'Allah) and keep getting all the nice perks that kept me afloat my last two years at G-Dub. Sherry, you know how he is, so you know what I'm talking about. Oh, wait. You had issues with him, right? Well, we'll see if I end up with a job based on the hook-up or based on my fantabulous interaction, communication, or child-care skillz.
(I've also applied at whitehouse nannies, as well as a ton of other nanny/au-pair places.)

I'm staying with my aunt; this is great b/c it's free and I get to see and play with my cousins a lot. Bad b/c Ernie is currently in love with me, which in his autistic self means that he tries to put his buttocks on me, and coughs and or burps in my face. Constantly. My aunt is in for a ride with him... he may never be able to live on his own. I heard Claudia, the housekeeper, say to him before we walked out the door this morning: "Say hello, Ernie... say hello... you'll be 10 on Saturday. You will be talking when you are 10." Such optimism- Ernie hasn't made clear comprehensible speech in all of his 10 years though he is vocal for all of that.

For all those interested, Nishat and I are still talking. I still like him, get that. I wish I could see him though, it's easier to bring up stuff that way. I hate that he's called me a lot recently and everytime he does I'm involved with something. If I'm going to marry him but not date, how on earth are we supposed to get acquainted? Muslima input on this one, please.

Ok, I've punished myself enough with the AC 'round here, and I've posted for the few of you who read this... call me!