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Sep. 14th, 2009 @ 02:13 am Seine, Sacre Coeur & Black Girl Jacking up the French Language Show

 

 
The smell of baked bread in the morning is sinful. I don't know how people walk around with straggling pieces of baguettes in their paws and still fit into such slim fitting jeans. I buy a baguette and am such a wuss. Its so big, I think before grunting “merci” and hand chop signals until the baker snatches it back (bare hands, no less!) and cuts it in half for me before dropping it into a plastic bag and shoving it my way. Au revoir!


9am in the morning and the people of Paris are indeed still holding hands. It really is like the movies. Plan for the day: Eiffel Tower, Cruise The Seine & more sights. I put on my red and white sundress. It makes me feel pretty. And so early in the morning in the City of Light, I need to feel pretty.

Metro stop: Trocadéro. The site from yesterday is still breathtaking. There are no breakdancers this morning. But the sun is blazing. The waterfall is empty this morning. Only a couple of us taking pictures on our way to the Paris' symbol.

The Eiffel Tower lines are already swarming with a massive amount of people. I take pics rather than get in the hour long ride for a peek @ Paris from its top. Instead, I sit and people watch. Glaces stands litter the crowd and even though its still early (in my American head) I reckon – the rasberry looks good. I opt out. My bag is full of baguettes and Ah EM Porte (phonetically it says: to go) sliced meat. Before boarding, I peruse la boutique for trinkets. I can't get the cashiers attention so I grunt “Merci”. Crap! Under pressure I can't function. “It's ok” she smiles. Her english is just as good as her French. “I'm sorry” I cringe. “I meant Bonjour!” I'm pitiful. Really. She is stays smiling. Her dark eyes blinking a forgiveness as her mouth speaks quickly in French. It feels like a “don't worry.”
But I'm too done with myself to continue the Black Girl Jacking up the French Language Show. I hurry away. Soon the cruise will board. And I want a good seat.

The cruise is beautiful. Slow. By 11am its already baking my skin into a double dark chocolate. I find the Paris Plage, a man made beach sitting on the steps of The Seine. I take pictures of everything. The bridges. Le Petit Bont. The naked crab colored sunbathers. The 175 museums. The cathedral of Notre Dame. It is over in an hour.

I am drunk on the sun.

I cross the bridge for the above ground line, 6 Train, and make my way to Chaeteau Rogue.

After 3 stops – its almost like Harlem. I exit and the energy around me is a wasp nest. Like a block party.
Without free food. I find myself at Cafe Drasilia. Bonjour! I call to anyone willing to listen and point to the outdoor seating. The waiter is flying around both the outdoor, indoor seating and the bar. He offers me a Bonjour and shoos me to open seats. I crawl out the window and seat in a garden like area. From here I can see everyone walking down the hill and rest my attention to the young Black French teenagers. They are wearing man purses and a laugh escapes me. A loud one. They have the same bravado as an American teen. Their shoulders push against the wind. Loud brazen laughter fill their lungs. They slap hands in greeting. Same as Brooklyn. They own the world with those arms.

After people watching for an hour and sipping eau de robinet and cafe le crème, I pay the tab and trek toward what I think is the butte of Montmartre. Its set on a hill 130 meters high and my legs feel the entire climb.
I ask in more poor French where to “find Sacré-Cœur” (French to English book blaring loudly from my hands) the woman smiles sweetly. “Do you speak English?” I almost cry “YES!” Instead. I nod, ferociously. She leads me in the right direction and warns "Take your time. It is too hot and the walk is steep. But it is beautiful." Its as if she's advising me on love. I thank her, a lot and head towards the sun, again.



After a quick stop a le bodega (ok i made that one up - so what? chill) for a bottled water,
and ten minutes of (hottest day in Paris, like word!) uphill walking, I find the steps of Montmartre and lose myself in the shade for awhile. Pulling apart the warm and soft baguette wrapping it in pieces of sliced meat. And smiling at the view.
About this Entry
my grandmother...
Sep. 9th, 2009 @ 01:37 am Berthillion on St. Michel

 

 
I cannot pronounce some English, most Spanish & almost ALL of the French language. Shay Youngblood's (Black Girl in Paris) book didn't offer a very good tutorial for those in search of her book in real time. Monmarte in my head sounds like MONA MAR TEE. Nelson (crazy dope photographer of Penmanship's de-con-struct images) thought this was pretty friggin funny. So funny he asked me to repeat it for the duration of the day. He says Mademoiselle like the movies. Orders the food from "le menu" like the movies. But adds his own Harlem flair "The French be doing it." As in Swag on The Seine (watch ya grubby paws. That's the title of the new book...Chill copyright infringers). He speaks eloquently about American superiority and world travels, his Morrocan Tour Goddess and his paintings. We sit in front of the St. Michel station, atop the Latin Quarters and blocks away from the Cathedral of Notre Dame, debating the creation of peach champagne and 9 Euro (that's almost 16 CLAMS for us Americans) worth of ice cream!

His name is Herve (pic coming soon) he is the host of the outdoor cafe which sold Nelson (those pics coming soon too) and I a couple of bowls of the amazing (& expensive) berthillion ice cream...

He is a jokester, this Herve (pronounced Hervie). He laughs at the idea of women not talking (an inside joke about my mispronounciation of all things French & my promise to remain quiet until I can speak English). He then adds he visited New York with his love. He drove across the Brooklyn Bridge then up to Harlem for good measure.


"It was nice" he offered before adding, "I also lost my girlfriend in your city." I say "lost like mislocated?" He laughs - again just as jovial as the mute moment "No. We broke up." I blink. Nelson's smile is frozen. And Herve is bubbling over with promise.

"It is ok" he shrugs. "I will go back and get another one, eh!"

Something about the way the French love so passionately and then not at all.

Over 70% of the people walking the streets of Paris, right now, are holding hands. Those that aren't – are enroute to meet someone to hold hands with. And the other small percentage is filled with people like me. Looking longingly at the fingers of strangers. The stroke of a lover's back. The rub of her neck. The pinch against his cheek before kissing the spot that reddened with love. Its so syrupy thick, one might think it was a conspiracy to make the solo runners feel like they were in a rat race for the shiny prize of a lonely nothing. And then there is Herve.

The man with the grey suit and squinty blue eyes. The man that spoke English with a hint of French (nothing like all the Z's portrayed in the movie Green Card)and a personality of quick wit. The single Frenchman that was prepared to holiday in the City that never sleeps, so that he could teach her body of concrete kisses how to hold a lover's hand properly.



The idea of forgetting about love was too foreign for words.

I wonder when the French taught their citizens that trick...
About this Entry
my grandmother...
Sep. 8th, 2009 @ 12:49 pm Lady @ The Louvre

 

 
i lucked up and had friend and photographer play tour guide before his flight 12 hours after. we visited the louvre, cathedral of notre dame, eiffel tower, a taste of the french quarters and a lot of breakdancers. he took some amazing pics that i'll post when i get. i felt very Lady Day, indeed.

Day One:

the streets here are broken and beautiful. full of lovers - hand holding and kissing
public displays teasing and triumphant.


its so saccharine sweet it can make you hate to walk the streets alone. hate how your feet look too big with a matching pair on your left. hate how your waist looks so empty. your smile is almost pasted onto your face. almost. the city of paris is too inviting for the sadness to last long.

the smell of fresh baguettes and the sun pounding against the concrete like a frustrated lover. it is a dance you would miss if you were caught up in the heavy petting. even if it happens everywhere you are. the subway. the grassy hill. the corner. the water pond at the louvre. so you lose yourself in a berthillion.


it is as sweet as a lover's kiss must be. you fall into the fashion stalking the sidewalks. and you breathe. this is Paris. they warned you it was for lovers. there are still steps of Sacre-Coeur to walk. there is the climb of the eiffel tower. and the water of seine to slip yourself between.
About this Entry
my grandmother...
Apr. 7th, 2009 @ 11:00 pm Day 4: Address Change

workshopped with a group of highschoolers today. we were writing. this was a first kiss experience. high school circa 1990. pause

When I first fell in love with a boy
Who looked like the sun
My heart took refuge in my throat
His smile turned my insides
A yummy oatmeal
Thick like hope
And forever and always
Like pinky swears vaults
And inside jokes

We were a pair of flowers turned weeds
once filled with jealousy
I don't know when his smile turned
Dark like dust
Or when his kisses felt like
A whipping ocean smacking loudly
Against the the belly of a boat
I don't know when my heart dislodged herself
from my throat
Or when she packed her bags
And moved further south
Leaving no address of relocation
About this Entry
my grandmother...
Apr. 7th, 2009 @ 10:57 pm Day 3: Black
you are a barrel tumble

kick snare
drum roll
beat box black boxed
inside your own head

i am always amazed
the shimmer wave
sauce simmer
you shiver like two
step, one,two, three
bounce alive
awake
you rain storm cloud
wonder

it is no wonder
i am afraid to speak

too scared to listen to
the eulogy in their throats
a cloak of waiting heavy
like tomorrow
can't get here quicker
than the A train to Bed Stuy
you bullet ridden ready beauty

mark

enough, already

close your ears when you hear
us coming
pretend there is a sky waiting
for your directive gaze
the stars are falling around 'our shoulders
this heaven you call home
is a scary beauty indeed

it is no surprise
we can't keep up
no awakening moment
to realize you are

a jigsaw of
Alvin Ailey and Jay Z

do rag renaissance

heartbreak sits in your eyes

your tongue is a tight rope
i fear for our safety

too many rpa's in your
snare and roll
drum and kick
beat and box

Black,
you are no mirage
only a cloud
baiting the world's attention
like a bull's eye
About this Entry
my grandmother...
Apr. 6th, 2009 @ 05:11 pm Day 2
There is your tongue

the length of it against
foreign plastic cups,
porcelain bowls
or her spine

this idea alone
leaves me winded
a balloon with no elasticity
a rush of wind against the window pane
a scream from the mouth of a mute

Darling, you send me
bone crackle instructions
bend brown bodies forward
scatter; winding; pulling of skin

my heart is a moth dancing to your siren song,
you flamable tyrant
vocal blue spark speaker
release the strings from your dimples

leave my bones to rest
About this Entry
my grandmother...
Apr. 1st, 2009 @ 08:27 pm 30/30: Day One
Advice to Rihanna

Eve says: these women are our sisters
Oprah Says: If you go back with a man who hits you, it is because you don't feel you're worthy of being with a man who won't”
Chris Brown says: "I don't want to put a woman through the same thing that person put my mom through"

Tyra Banks says: Oh God he's repeating it!
Rihanna's Father says: "Somebody Has a Stranglehold on Her."
Police Report says: Brown punched Rihanna
Rihanna says: "Daddy, I miss you."

Kanye West says: "I would do anything to help her."
Ellen Degeneres says: I love Chris Brown and his music but to hit a girl"
Rihanna's Lawyers says: "She wants to get back to her life"
Kanye West says: "Can't we give Chris a break?"
Little Girl says: I would leave Chris Brown so quick!

Diddy says: Sometimes relationships get ugly.
Tyra says: "I thought I would fail if I left."
Police Report says: Brown bit her ear and fingers. Punched her in the eye. The nose. The lip.

Tyra Banks says: "We need to send her love
Rihanna's Lawyer says: "She really appreciates the love and support of her fans."
Little Girl says: We look up to Rihanna

Diddy says: It was a dark time for them
Chris Brown says, "You just did the stupidest thing ever. I'm going to kill you."

Ellen says: I dont want any girl out there to think its ok to go back to a guy that hit her.
Police Report says: he put her in a headlock
Robin Givens says: Oh God!
Chris Brown said: I am seeking the counseling of my pastor, my mother and other loved ones

Usher says: The new Ike & Tina, huh?
Diddy says: You wasn't in that car
Oprah says: "If a man hits you once”
Diddy says: I wasn't in that car.
Oprah says: “he will hit you again”

Kerry Washington says: We have to start talking more openly about this."

Diddy says: We don't know what happened
TI says: I don't know the details...It's not my business
Chris Brown says: I am committed, with God's help, to emerging a better person

Interviewer says: "When will she come to her senses"

Rihanna says "I am on my way home. Make sure the cops are there when I get there."
Oprah said: "We need to pray for Him to be healed, and for her to be healed also."
Rihanna's Dad says: "I love my daughter, I will be supportive."
Oprah says: "love doesn’t hurt"
Rihanna says: Daddy I miss you
Little girl says: I wouldn't stay - no matter what!
Oprah says: Love doesn't hurt
Little Girl says: Rihanna is stupid if she stays!

Chris Brown's Mother cries
About this Entry
my grandmother...
Sep. 26th, 2008 @ 05:59 pm the truth about jessica stealing...
i never thought i would find myself here. affected and torn and beaten
with the effort of trying to remain fair. we witnessed an atrocity and
even still, found ourselves holding back the fury, in attempt to protect
a person whose only involvement, was his choice to love this young lady.
the one that shared meals and laughter with us. this young lady has
a helluva man. a man who losses the most because of her selfish and
irresponsible behavior. and the truth ain't always the easiest to dish or
receive. but it's our duty to accept it: good, bad and ugly.

the good: he is a damn good friend. and will remain that. he has not lost
a believer in me. luckily we found out (thanks to nerd-o-rific baz and JIVE)
in time before any more damage (or chapbooks and lesson plans with her name
cited in place of our blood) could be caused.

bad: she is not welcome any longer. not because we aren't of the forgiving
nature (myself not included) but because she has continued to lie about her
involvement. even the half-assed apology couldn't hide her whine of a wannabe
martyr. and with the recent posting to my blog from her dilusional friend
claiming her innocence, i realize i didn't do my part.

ugly: where i'm from: there are no more words to share. nothing left to
speak about, it's violent and redemptive. where i am now: is an understanding
of how much more powerful these words can be. how many lives they change.
how many children they feed. this throat, these fingers - have earned the right
to do with our crops, as we choose. her hands, never pruned the dirt of an
addict, never scraped the skin of a woman with numerous reasons to write harder,
never fed a child while another lay in her womb, waiting for its introduction
into this world. she had no right to lay claim over these lives. and honestly,
i am steps away from going back to the world i know.
About this Entry
my grandmother...
Sep. 16th, 2008 @ 10:12 pm today
was one of them days.
ive been thinking about everything and how
i fit in the world. and if im understood
and if im appreciated and what i bring to
the pot. and today. i reconnected with the
fam. we spent almost 8 consistent
years of being away from each other but
everytime we link its like, wow. how did i
let go of such wonderful people, good friends, the
friends i shared my badboy and lil kim and hamptons
and dmx and jay z debates with. the friends that
challenged me to think about being my own person
and the friends made family that looked out for me
and my daughter. yea, those friends.

i am brewing something wonderous beneath all
these bandages and tears and reality tv reruns.

i am excited.

watch me.
About this Entry
my grandmother...
Sep. 16th, 2008 @ 05:24 pm tzigane
there is a tzigane resting in my bones
she is a lowly type woman,
a song stitched to her tongue
she got the blues.
she be Ma Rainey, hating men
outloud, she taught me how to breathe
with my fists crushed tightly between
my eyelids; taught my feet how
to stomp a new entrance through the heart
of the most cynical creature, she is a dreamweaver.

i am evidence of her greatest mistake

sometimes i pray like steel-toed boots against
skull - don't be afraid of the ruins, you will
find my soul sleeping there. amidst the almost cotton-blend
life, pick apart my existence, i will pull god's song from
your speech and release the slave in your throat.

i am but a selfish lover. i find more peace in
your sleep than i do in your wake - your eyes urge
me to hate men. the way you raise this skin,
a life of goosebumps and worry. beneath all this disaster
is a life i will shed for you. this red and fuschia
and purple flesh. there is a dark and warm space
hidden, crawl inside and call it home. tutor
the frightened woman on my totongue, in return
for the music in your wreckage,
i will leave your wrists clean.
i will cloak your death, like a wishbone, between
my wings,

let me be your cotton gin.
About this Entry
my grandmother...