Here it is, the next-to-last day of my visit to Recife, Brazil and I am just updating this blog. My schedule has been so hectic. When I havent been giving a reading, I have been in my hotel room asleep from a major FOOD COMA because Recife has the best restaurants I have experienced in my whole life. I may have to write a blog post about what all I ate here. Really.
I have given about half a dozen readings and lectures. Since I dont speak Portugeuse, I have a translator. (He is a 22 year old language genius.) Anyway, I speak into a special microphone, which leads to his headset. As I speak, he talks into another miscrophone which connects to the headsets worn by the audience. I speak normall and he is somehow able to keep up. It was like speaking to the UN.
Race is Brazil is so different than race in the US. I will dedicate a whole post to this when I get home. Brazilians pride themselves on a sort of color blindness. However, the culture is very divided. For example, there is hardly anyone we would call “black” in my very nice hotel. But among squeegie men and other street folks. Black, black, black. But here is something that happened yesterday: I was looking at a group of three young men, one was black. I asked about him and my guide said, You mean the one in the green shirt. The color of his shirt was more important than the color of his skin. Amazing.
The food, as I said, is amazing. Who eats filet mignon in a food court in a mall? And who knew Recife is the risotto capital of the world? And who has had a fancy cocktail made of the fruit of the cashew tree? Dont even get me started.
Beaches– gorgeous. Weather tropical and humid. My hair– fuzzy wuzzy.
The North of Brazil has a similar reputation as the South of the US. The city where I am, Recife, is sort of the Atlanta of Brazil and I love it here.
And finally, to explain the heading of this post. At the book festival there were all these Tshirts with regional Brazillian idioms. For example when we would say someone is “the bees knees” (like that makes sense), they would say that person is “the dog sucking mango”. But my favorite of these phrases is “You are crazy as a bunch of cilantro.”
Okay, signing off before my card expires and I lose all my work. Firgive any spelling errors because the spell check doesnt speak English. Also forgive me because I cannot find the apostrophe on this keyboard. I will be home in a couple days and will resume blogging and I will post photos. I promise.
I am at an internet cafe being charged by the second, so this is going to be a really brief and random update. (For more brief randomness, follow me on twitter, where I am even briefer and more random!)
I would so be at this!
Thursdat, October 8, Cornelia Street Cafe, in NYC:
6:00PM QUETZAL QUILL: An Evening of Poetry
Rigoberto Gonzales, host
BLAS FALCONER, A Question of Gravity and Light
TYEHIMBA JESS, leadbelly
HELENA MESA, Horse Dance Underwater
SUSAN B.A. SOMERS-WILLET, Roam & Quiver
Cover $7 (includes one house drink)
When you go, make sure you tell them I sent you.
I just got this notice, so the deadline is TODAY, but I think it’s worth posting. If you get some coffee in you, you can meet the deadline to apply for The Millay Colony for the arts.
All of you know that I love to go artists colonies and I recommend them to anyone who needs to get away and concentrate on work. The Millay Colony is special because they don’t want a list of your accomplishments, or letters of reference. All they want is your work. This is an excellent opportunity for writers (and other artists) who are concerned that thier non-traditional backgrounds would put them at a disadvantage. The Millay Colony doesn’t care who you know, what you’ve published, or where you’ve been. Just send your work.
Application and details, here.
I am going to start keeping a journal. I used to journal from the time I was in my early teens until I was about twenty-nine, but then I stopped. Why? Because I started publishing.
One day, I should post about all the bad habits that come about as a result of publishing. (Would that be too negative?)
I think that my journal was a casualty of the “Published Author” mentality that every word I put down must be for public consumption. Who had time to scribble privately in a spiral notebook when there were novel to work on, essays to outline, blog entries to compose, etc.? I had forgotten the free-writing pleasure of working my random thoughts out of the page. Journaling, for me, went out the window along with pointless travel and reading just for the hell of it. (Post on this last thing will be coming soon.)
Do you journal? What do you journal in? When I was in high school, I used an ordinary spiral notebook so that no one would be interested in it. (I have since revisited those pages. For such a pleasant looking child, I was filled with rage. Go figure.) In college I moved up to cloth-covered blank books that I bought at the bookstore with the money my parents put on account for my textbooks. (Fancy. $7 each!) Now I am not sure what to use. Do I want to be easy breezy with the $2 Staples special? I don’t want to be pretentious with leather bound, acid free– like I am writing with one-eye toward preservation in the Schomburg!
I want this journal to feel like a sweet, comfortable room.
Your thoughts? Your suggestions? I found the journal pictured here on flickr. Apparently, the owner made it for herself. That seems like a special idea, but I have no idea where to start…
This is a little bit of randomness, but here goes: I was watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta yesterday. (Consider it research; after all, my book are all set in the A.) Anyway, if you follow the show you will know that Nene has written a book with the help of a ghost writer, Denene Milner. (My favorite moment in the last episode was when Nene’s friends consoled her by saying “Don’t worry about them, girl. You’re writing a book!”)
Ms. Milner, it seems, is the hardest working woman in the business! I first heard her name years ago when she along with her husband, Nick Chiles, wrote a book called What Brothers Think, What Sistahs Know About Sex. And then remember when her husband wrote that famous anti-street-lit article, “Their Eyes Were Reading Smut.”
And what about The Sistah’s Rules— it was supposed to be that black woman’s guide to catching a man. I didn’t read it but if I recall the message was that playing hard-to-get was a luxury sisters cannot afford. (Remember that drama surrounding that?)
She also wrote the book based on the movie, “Dreamgirls”? It’s tricky, but Milner’s book is not to be confused with Mary Wilson’s book Dreamgirl (no ‘s’) on which the Broadway show was based.
And here is her biggest title: the Steve Harvey mega-hit Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.
It seems that Denene Milner is the writing equivalent of a character actor. You may not remember her name, but you have seen her work.
(Look at all the listings she has on amazon.)
Hi Everybody! I am back home from my European vacation. I am still trying to get my thoughts together about the voyage. I can say this– a cruise ship would be a great place to set a novel. There is just so much going on. The workers on the boat are from all over the world and I couldn’t help but wonder what brought them to work on Norwegian Cruise Lines. Apparently, they are only allowed to go home after a ten-month stint on the boat. At the breakfast buffet, there is a man from the Philippines who greets everyone with “Happy! Happy!”. Before you touch any food, he sprays your hands with Purell: “Washy! Washy!” If I were to write a novel about a cruise ship, that guy would be the narrator. (I know he MUST get tired of that gig! He’s like Tattoo from Fantasy Island.)
Then again, having just finished THE SILVER GIRL, I am eager to get started on a new project. It’s like being on the rebound after a romantic break-up. Everything I see looks like a potential new love.
I’ll post photos, etc. soon. I’ve got to go now and get myself together. Pablo Medina and Hache Carillo are reading at Rutgers-Newark tonight. Although I am on leave this term, I am going to attend the event. It’s free and open to the public, in case you happen to be in the area.
You’ll see that I posted a lot of links below. This is because I am going on vacation today. No blogging, no tweeting, no nothing. It’s time for me to unplug and get in the moment. I’m going on a cruise to the Mediterranean- flying to Barcelona then boarding the boat to Rome, Florence, Naples, Malta, and Cannes. I’ll be away ten days.
It’s a big deal for me. Although I travel a lot, I hardly ever vacation. I’m taking just a little carry-on suitcase– it’s time to give the fashion-diva aspect of my life a rest, too. ATT has made it easy to leave the blackberry behind– $2.49 a minute! So I will just be sort of free and floaty.
I’ll meet you here when I get home.