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Travels & Rambles
Just a heads up.
On Wednesday March 4, I am giving two readings in central Georgia at Macon State College:
Well, I made it to D.C. I took the Amtrak from Newark Penn Station where I ran into an old friend, which I am taking as a really good omen for the festivities to come. The Amtrak was PACKED and everyone was in good cheer, at first. After an hour or so in, the train was stopped. Apparently we were on the rails behind the Obama train. When they stopped in Delaware to pick up Biden, we were stranded on the tracks. Then, the train went so slowly that I wanted to get out and jog ahead. I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. TaRessa said, “It’s historical.” I said, “It’s hysterical.” I think this is going to be one of the themes of the weekend. When is there just too much performative drama associated with the event? I’ll let you know.
Anyway, we finally we arrived in DC. The energy in the city is sort of like spring break week. Lots of excited, giggly people with suitcases. I am glad to have traveled on Saturday when everyone was still in a good mood. Also, I think the Amtrak crowd is more likely to be made up of Obama supporters. At the airport, another friend said he overheard two McCainiacs. (I guess they are the last ones.) Anyway, he said he heard them say, “It’s crazy in DC this weekend. You would think they were handing out free gas and reparations.” (I *wish*. The little jaunt is expensive!)
I opted to stay a little outside of town in Bethesda. My hotel is pretty good but not good enough to justify the price tag, but I am not even going to worry about it. Tomorrow is the American Scholars Ball. I am mad that I let my friend convince me to leave the stilettos at home. Her reasoning, “We don’t know what to expect. What is there is no where to sit? What is we have to walk a couple of blocks to get to the Four Seasons? If you can’t walk, no one has any fun. And you are wearing a LONG DRESS! No one is going to see your feet!”
If you look at the time stamp on this post, you’ll see it’s about 6:30am. I am waiting for the shoe stores to open….
Today, was an excellent day in the FEMRITE residential writing conference. We rolled up our sleeves and got down to business. The day is structured so that we meet from 8am to about 10am—when we break for tea, and then back to work again until lunch at one. Afterwards, we get together again and work until 3pm tea and then plow on until 5pm. It took a while to get used to stopping for tea—which means hot chocolate and cookies, but it doesn’t take long to be accustomed to luxury.
The bulk of today was spent with my advanced class, who are in the picture. We workshopped a really interesting story about a girl returning to school after escaping abduction by rebels. The conversation went on so long, we almost missed our tea. As we sipped on our cocoa (made with hot milk, not water. Hot WHOLE milk.) we also discussed Dorreen Baingana, with whom I am obsessed. The conversation was lively and I think we all learned a lot from each other.
Tonight, there is a dinner with the folks from the US Embassy. It will be cool to meet them after so much emailing. Tomorrow morning, it’s back to the conference. There is a part of me that’s a little disappointed that I haven’t been able to do much sight-seeing. But at the end of the day, it’s the people that make a place and I have made such wonderful new friends.
I am writing this post from the lovely Protea Hotel in Kampala. I was so tired when I got in, that I didn’t even notice how posh everything is. I woke up this morning and thought I was in the W.
One thing I was looking forward to in Uganda was meeting the other TAYARIs out there. Afterall, the name is Kiswahili and this is east Africa. I imagined myself, at last, being a person with a common name. I saw myself buying TAYARI coffee mugs, key chains,and refrigerator magnets. It would feel like being a JENNIFER.
I was so disappointed when my wonderful hosts gently explained that TAYARI is not exactly used as a name here. It’s more like an abstract now meaning “preparedness” or “ready.” Not exactly coffee mug copy. I was so crushed that one of my hosts offered kindly, “we can always look.”
Just a quick goodbye as I head out for my trip to Uganda. I wanted to leave you with a nice collection of links to tide you over until I got back, but I am just too swamped. Pls forgive.
I’ll be in Uganda just about a week giving a workshop to the women of FEMRITE, a woman’s writers organization. The schedule is INTENSE. I’ll be in class about five hours a day, but I am really looking forward to it. (My hotel looks pretty swanky, but I won’t be spending much time in it!) I believe I will have internet, although I am not bringing my laptop. I’ll take photos and will happily post. No twitter this time, tweeting on my phone from Ghana cost me about $300!
On January 15th, at the National Theatre in Kampala, I’ll give a lecture for MLK Day which is going to be about the “gentrification” of his memory and how we, as writers, must preserve the truth as we experience it. I’ll also give a reading from my own work. Then, I’ll come on home and take a nap, then head out to DC.
I am not sure if tickets are available for the Dreams From My Father Inaugural Ball, but if they are, you should totally go. I’m going to be presenting awards to two of my favorite folks: Johnetta B. Cole and Natasha Trethewey. Also in the line-up: Pearl Cleage.
So, I am hoping to check in before I get home, if not, I’ll see you here on the 17th when I make my pit stop in Jersey to grab my ball gown.
On my way home for the holidays. I’m taking a little blogging break. I’ll be back on the 26th. Try and remember to grab those teenage pics if you are venturing to your parents’ house. And even if you don’t, have a great holiday. Here’s a snapshot of me on Christmas, 1975. Of my resolutions for 09 is to get that little-girl-joy back into my life.
Dear Blog Community,
Since it is Thanksgiving, I thought I would take a minute to let you know how thankful I am to have you all in my life. This year has been quite a ride, and I have a lot to be thankful for, but looking though the archves of this blog, and my own personal journal, it hasn’t been all champagne and party dresses. There have been some rough patches and one of the things that kept me “up and at ‘em” (as my Dad likes to say) has been this blog and the folks that read it.
A lot of people don’t really understand that blog-thing. Some writers look it is only as a marketing tool and ask me ridiculous questions like “how many books do you sell from your blog?” Other writers look at blogging as competition for their creative work. “But if you’re so busy blogging when do you have time to write.” Others are just plain snooty. “Oh God. A blogger.” Well, that’s their problem.
I’ve been keeping this blog for just about four years now and through it, have have met some remarkable people. I love getting your “good news” updates and nothing cheers me more than to hear from a first-time commenter, long-time lurker. When I am invited to give readings in sort of out of the way places and there may be only three people in the audience and one of them will be from this blog community. Once I was stranded and neeed a jump for my car. I put out a blog SOS, and somebody came to help. And speaking of SOSes, thank you for coming through with the Pink Oil when I was up in the mountains this summer. Bless you for coming through when the woman in Florida needed our help to get her life started again. And remember when that lady said my book was too “depressing” to represent the State of Georgia? Thanks for taking up for me. That incident bothered more than I was willing to admit and you all came riding to the rescue, comenting like crazy on her blog. For this and so much more, I am grateful for you this holiday.
Have a great Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you are with people you care about. I’ll be back here tomorrow.
Since this is my birthday week, I am spending today in the spa. (I love myself a scrub-and-a-rub.) But while I am all blissed out, here’s a little reading material.