Monday, November 29, 2010

The Rotten Gourd

So recently I made a typical blunder of epic proportions and forgot that I had a pumpkin riding around in the truck of my car. So as Thanksgiving approaches I begin to smell the distinctive smell of a rotten gourd in my car. Upon opening my trunk I find the dying corpse of said pumpkin. Needless to say it was truly disgusting and with much gagging and self hatred I managed to clean all of it (except for the smell) out. Not to mention while tossing out a box of ruined clothes to be donated I managed to cover the side of my face and hair with rotten pumpkin mush.

To possibly read way to much into this unfortunate mistake, I began to think of this as a physical manifestation of my(or everyones) emotional denial. I often bury what I can't seem to handle deep into the recesses of my mind. How many rotten gourds are you carrying around? How many difficult to understand situations, personal conflicts, or conflicts with others have you simply let slowly decompose in your soul? Are we polluting ourselves with ignored problems? The answer is undoubtedly obvious for me, YES.

I recently spent my first Thanksgiving away from my family, that was so terrible and so amazing at the same time. While, I felt truly depressed about not being able to eat the same food, and take part in the same traditions I found solace when everyone around me in New Orleans asked me if I had somewhere to eat for Thanksgiving, and if I was going to be alone. I have only been living in this city for three months. If I hadn't been a part of a congregation or in the YAV program I would most likely have been sitting alone with a microwave meal (I do not cook).

Perhaps the most rewarding part of not being with my family, was bonding with my roommate Tasha who also wasn't able to make it home. We spent the day after Thanksgiving watching a marathon of Dawson's Creek (don't judge me), eating Tater-tot casserole, and me teaching her how to knit. It seems so boring and normal, but Tasha is halfway to finishing a scarf now, and three days ago she had no idea how to knit.

It is with these support systems, and important communities that we begin to clean out the rotten gourds of our life and confront the things that scare and confuse us the most.

While the pumpkin debacle is typical of my forgetful nature, I know now that we all leave things unattended for too long. Even though sometimes it is overwhelming and makes you want to gag, the only way around it all is to push through. And grab on tight to those around you who honestly reach out to pull you to the other side.

This is your life on ignorance.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Read All About It!

The other day a local band The Soul Rebels Brass Band came by my tutoring site to talk to the kids about music and education. There was a pamphlet on what Lamar (a band member) was talking to them about. I was leading the child I tutor, Manny through the words by underlining them with my finger. As Lamar went on explaining the different instruments Manny started to underline the words on his own, and he was following them in perfect order with what Lamar was saying. It seems like no big deal, but it made my heart swell. I knew that I was giving Manny the tools to become a better reader and that he was actually picking them up and putting them into practice.

Literacy is big deal, and in NOLA music is an even bigger deal. Prior to Katrina there were a lot of music programs for elementary school aged children in place. As of now, very few exist at all. Lamar told us that through his elementary school music program he became hooked into something positive that gave him focus in school. Lamar has both a BA and a Masters, and currently tours the world with Soul Rebels. Imagine the possibilities for the current generation here in NOLA.

Tutoring programs like STAIR (Start the Adventure in Reading) is only a small piece of the puzzle. Music and arts education isn't suffering, it is practically extinct. In a country where we are supposedly "leaving no child behind" it seems that several are neglected and discarded everyday. I urge you to get involved locally. Ask the tough questions, demand answers.

You can check out,, or

The list goes on folks. It's up to us to make the changes, and be the light. The spirit is alive in me, and I see it everyday in this city.

Hence my diatribe...