Mum (overheard on the phone with O): So, dare I ask – is the kitchen done?
O: Uh, yeah. I’d say it’s done.
Me: Don’t lie to my mum! On Easter!
O: It’s not a lie. I mean, the only thing that really needs to be done is the grouting.
Me: Yeah!? And it took you 3 months to lay the countertop once we had it; another month to take the tiles out of the box; now the grout’s been sitting there 3 weeks.
O: I’m not worried about that one; I can do that in 2 hours.
Me: But haven’t. For 3 weeks.
O: Yeah, well, but I could.
Me: But haven’t.
Mum (on phone): So why haven’t you?
Me: Don’t ask for the narrative!
O: Well, see, there’s this one piece of tile that’s crooked. So I tried to take it out, but then I’d have to take out all the other pieces below it out to solve the problem. So the problem with that is that some might break. So then I’d have to wait till the weekend to go back to Home Depot to have the Filipino guy there cut some more pieces. And then you have to let them sit 2 days before grouting. But just the other day Faith was saying maybe it’s too much trouble and I should just leave them crooked.
Me (to mum): I warned you!
Mum (on phone): So when are you going to finish the kitchen?
O: Well, it’s actually finished, though maybe not technically.
Me: It’s NOT finished, period! The countertop is covered with butcher paper; there are saws and tiles and sealant and grout all over it; there’s hardware to be installed. If I can’t USE it, it’s not finished.
O (ignores me): Listen to her. Just 2 weeks ago she had a brunch, and I cleared off all the saws and people saw the new counter and even put food on it. So clearly you can use it.
Me: Oh. My. God.
Mum (on phone): Hee hee. I love talking to O!
A lighter moment, against the backdrop of the NYT’s account of the tragic effects of Nigeria’s new anti-gay law:
Me: I saw X and Y Friday; they say hi.
O: Ah, we should’ve invited those guys to our Nigerian party.
Me: No way – the very next day your relation was in all the papers supporting Nigeria’s new anti-gay law!
O: I just think it’s time for people to face their fears. When I first arrived from Nigeria, I was homophobic, because I hadn’t been exposed. Nigerians need to learn how to deal with it.
Me: I agree, but I don’t feel comfortable inviting friends over if we can’t guarantee that someone won’t say something – or shake a bible over them.
O: If that happens, I don’t have any problem taking someone aside and asking him to leave.
Me: You’d throw a member of your clan out of your house? For real?
O: Oh yeah! And there’s no coming to The Back. In fact, I’m gonna start telling my people – don’t drink and come out to the back patio and start muttering about “Effing gays.” I’ll tell them, “This is a multiracial, multi-ethnic, multi-gender…what else? Multi-orientation household! No room for hate.”
Me: Wow, I married the best Nigerian ever!
O: And I married the best … what are you? The best Nordic-Igbo!
Me: Yeah, about that. What’s up with all the Igbo jokes your people make?
O: Uh, no time. I’ve got to go to work, my sweetheart!
My policy is that if someone asks me to do something (professionally) that I’ve never done, like say, get on stage and tell a story live that lasts exactly 10 minutes, meaning that it’s rehearsed but sounds like it’s not, SAY YES (and figure out how later)!
So after debuting Thursday at La Peña’s TMI Storytelling hosted by comedienne Gina Gold, and releasing my first e-book through Shebooks, and teaching my first private on-line course this fall, I’m on to my newest new ventures:
(1) I’ll be teaching my popular, generative writing course, Your Personal Odyssey: Explore & Tell Your Story (starting January 28), as part of the always-sold-out, Best of the Bay San Francisco Writers’ Grotto line-up.
(2) This summer I’ll be piloting the first weeklong Travel Writing Workshop for People of Color (applications due March 1, 2014; workshop June 22-28 in Berkeley, CA) as part of VONA/Voices’s exciting new expansion!
And by travel writing, I mean any genre of writing concerned with cultural encounters or physical journeys: moving back and forth between language and culture, roots tales, road trips, moving from working to middle class, immigrant narratives, Gap Years, leaving home, dropping out of college, spiritual quests, the road to recovery, to name a few.
It’s getting to be that time of year! What new thing do you resolve to try in 2014?
Embarrassing – can you believe I forgot the password to my updated website and blog so haven’t been able to post?! (Not that I’m all that conscientious to start with – especially when tons of things are happening of the multiculti sort. Which sort of defeats the purpose. Ah well.)
Anyway, for the first time I’m championing a crowdfunding cause (1) because it supports publication of a book I’ve long been wanting to compile / read / teach and (2) because funders get a bar of gourmet chocolate! I don’t know any of the folks involved, so I’m not getting any chocolate kickbacks.
Click here to find out about African Lives: An Anthology of Memoirs and Autobiographies. Cool, huh?
The first book of its kind
As far as I know, no one has ever before published an anthology that brings
together a collection of African authors — men and women of all ethnic groups,
born and raised on the continent — telling the stories of their own lives in
their own words.
This weekend I will be appearing with my people at the 2012 Mixed Roots Film & Literary Fest in L.A.! Look for me on Sunday 12:30 – 1:30 PM. The readings will be held in the Tateuchi Democracy Forum at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), 369 East 1st Street, in downtown Los Angeles
Be there, or be mono-ethnic!
I was recently asked to blurb The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prizewinning Essays, a new anthology that’s already racking up awards and sales records. One of my previous VONA students is in it, and the Introduction is by VONA faculty member David Mura. A great teaching tool!
The launch party is this Friday (May 4) in San Francisco at Books Inc. in Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness Avenue, at 7 PM. The book’s release arrives just in time for the annual World Day for Cultural Diversity Dialogue and Development on May 21st, as proclaimed by the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Editor Tara L. Masih will open the program, and authors will sign books after the reading. Refreshments will be served.
The Chalk Circle has already garnered several accolades:
- Featured title, NewPages’ “New & Noteworthy Books” list
- Winner, 2012 Skipping Stones Honor Award in the Multicultural/International category
- Featured title, Amazon’s “Hot New Releases” list
Tara L. Masih has assembled a stunning collection. Disregard the textbook-sounding title and gaze upon the mosaic-like cover. The range of cultural diversity and personal complexity packed into this slim, beautiful volume is staggering and far outstrips any other collection out there. These now-American writers and travelers experience the intercultural encounter at home, overseas, within their own communities, families, and selves. The voices range from adult journalists and Peace Corps volunteers to the children of Nazis and refugees. For some, like Third Culture Kids and the children of survivors, their histories and true identities are hidden, and it is through engaging with food and spirituality, photographs and music, family stories and private letters, global and personal history, that they are able to recover and share the nuances of life on our globalizing planet. Each story is a polished, multi-faceted gem of unprecedented color and clarity, which together form a glittering necklace that redefines what it is to be intercultural—that is, human—in the world today. This is a book I will be teaching and recommending to friends and strangers again and again.
–Faith Adiele, Coming of Age Around the World: A Multicultural Anthology; Meeting Faith: The Thai Forest Journals of a Black Buddhist Nun
I’m working on integrating my real blog (such as it is), My Multiculti Life: ‘Cuz I Was Obama First, on Blogger to this page.