South Africa or Bust

•December 26, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Hello Readers! Happy Holidays! We realize that we have not posted in a minute. We have a special two part post that we wanted to share with you all from Ms. Bianca Mona. At the end of the year, she is embarking on a new chapter in her life and wanted to share with us. Please enjoy and feel free to share. 

I get asked almost everyday, “Oh, you must be excited?!?!?” My response. NO. This relocation, or glorified adventure trip as some like to call it, has actively been in the works for six months. Six months of plotting, planning, and praying. Six months of research and network expanding. Six months of doubt, fear, and anxiety. And now with less than a week to go until I move to South Africa, excitement has yet to show up. Instead, anxiety has become from friend. A close buddy. A steady companion. And she manifest in many ways. First it started with sleepless nights. For months I got subpar sleep, often having to take naps during the day. Crankiness is the other side effect of international relocation. I haven’t been pleasant, smiley face Bianca since June. I’m irritated and annoyed by most people and situations and thus spend many a day at home, preparing… reading… thinking… all about South Africa. The other quite alarming physical and sometimes paralyzing effect of anxiety is the heart palpitations. I can be sitting on the couch, sipping on tea, watching one of the myriad of talk shows and out of the blue my heart starts pounding in my ear. My heart pounds so loudly that I can physically feel and see the elevation of my chest. The pounding increases until it drowns out the sound of the talk show guests. When this first started happening, I was scared. I thought I was having a heart attack. But now, I’m so accustomed to it so that when it comes I now use it as a moment of clarify. A moment to breathe deeply, focus my thoughts, and connect with the universe. I use it as moment to be grateful and acknowledge all of the focuses working for my greater good. And I move forward knowing that it temporary.

So you must be asking, with all of these physical barriers why do I want to move to Johannesburg? It simply. Just because I do. Just because I can. And honestly, why not? I’m 33, smart, single, child and mortgage free and I want to leave in Africa. And so I will. A more complex answer to that question is, to embrace and strategically deal with fear. Fear has held me back for years and I’m over it. I want to move forward and accomplish goals and most importantly, live a robust life. Fear and anxiety are neutral emotions, neither good nor bad, but rather attachments to life’s ups and downs. So for me this is as good of a time as any to learn to deal with it. To neutralize it. And hopefully to conquer it. I chose to face this fear with courage. Courage to curate the life I want. Courage to be me. And the courage to, as my personal God Maya Angelou says, “Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it!”

I am emotionally, spiritually, and physically preparing so excitement will come. When it does, I will embrace it.

 

Bianca Mońa is an arts administrator, curator, educator, advocate, and artist. She was a consultant for the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (Manhattan), the Sauti Yetu Center for African Women (Bronx), and gallery manager for City Without Walls (Newark, New Jersey). Most recently, she served in the education department at the Studio Museum in Harlem while founding the Newark Black Artists Oral History Project. Her artwork has been featured in the Gallery Aferro and Bushwick Open Studios. She holds a bachelor’s degree in arts administration from Dillard University (New Orleans), and two master’s degrees (art education and interdisciplinary studies) from San Jose State University and Teachers College, Columbia University.  Ms. Mońa is currently embarking on her next adventure,  relocating to South Africa.

Maine in Sight

•August 20, 2013 • 1 Comment

Maine, has so much to offer the person that enjoys being outdoors. I spent the majority of time in and around Acadia National Park and today I wanted to share with you a little bit of eye candy! Over the last few days, being outside the wealth of Maine has to be its natural landscape. I do not know the future, but I do hope that I get to return again and again to this magical place.

PLease enjoy and I can’t wait to share more about Maine this week!  I hope that these pictures are making you put Maine on your vacation list!

 

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I am obsessed with fungi!

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Just another beauty at Acadia National Park.

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One of the many views at Eagle Lake.

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One of my favorite places at Acadia National Park, Eagle Lake.

 

 

 

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The “little” Lighthouse, found on our way home.

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My partner, the “birder”.

 

 

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The fungi of Acadia.

 

 

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I thought about snakes shedding their skin. Maybe, it is also time for me to shed some skin?

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More fungi, please!

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How often do you see fungi getting eaten?

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Cadillac Mountain at Sunset

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Two in One!

Maine is Wicked Awesome!

•August 19, 2013 • 1 Comment

The vacation jar filled up and our stress levels were too high, it just seemed like a great time to get away from New York City. I love the City, but the tension (stress) that I carry in my shoulders is one of the things that I accept about this place. The idea of vacation and relaxing were welcome, I realized that I had not been one vacation in about a year. Maine was decided upon and being outside, around Acadia National Park,  was a central theme to my time in Maine. This whole week, I will be sharing what to do, eat, how dog friendly Maine was and the lessons that I learned when I took time to enjoy the larger things around me.

I did not realize that I needed a vacation until the stress melted away after my first night sleeping in a tent. Acadia National Park, offers two campgrounds that are outside of the park. Since Blackwoods were completely booked, the Seawall was our second choice. We happened to get the last campsite for the night at Seawall and met great people during our stay in the campground. I highly recommend the Seawall, the only downside, is if you want to be closer to Bar Harbor, try to get to Blackwoods.

Lesson 1: I am crazy for not taking a vacation earlier. I live in one of the most stressful cities in the world. Skyscrapers and buildings are beautiful, I do love urban living. Yet, country living filled with stars, sunlight and fresh air are exactly what I need to disconnect.

 

Eagle Lake. I wish this was just a few minutes away.

Eagle Lake. I wish this was just a few minutes away.

Lesson 2: The colors of Maine are amazing! The colors that you see in Acadia National Park and on the Mount Desert Island comfort and excite you. They make you realize that only Mother Nature, could have produced these rich tones. These colors never get old.

 

The rocks alongs the Eagle Trail.

The rocks alongs the Eagle Trail.

 

 

Lesson 3: Lobster, shmobster…I’m just not that into the lobster roll. I definitely don’t think I am a fan of the “naked lobster roll”. In Maine, the lobster is uber fresh, but I just did not appreciate the lack of sauce. I did find out, that I love haddock.  I think the best haddock sandwich that I had in the area, was served at Maine-ly Delights!  The haddock fillet was thick, seasoned and fresh. The view was filled with water, boats, and a bald eagle happened to fly by during our meal.

I'm just not that into you lobster.

I’m just not that into you lobster.

 

Haddock, I really like you!

Haddock, I really like you!

 

This week, all things Maine! Come back to get more information on Bar Harbor and why you can actually bring your dog along with you for the ride. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Immigrants New Home

•August 2, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I realized the blogging has become a bit more difficult, in between all the password resets and just making time to share with you all, I got “busy”. I really have wanted to share and this morning, I told myself it was time. Yesterday, on my way to my parents home, I bumped into a Haitian woman, who inspired this poem. I thought about her the entire day and I started to reflect on the immigrant experience. I went into my parents garage and found a Kodak Carousel Projector.  I could not believe that it was still working!  The pictures of my family in Haiti and America, during  the 1970s and 80s, their first ten years in America was incredible. I didn’t have time to look through all the slides, but my father told me to take it before someone “accidentally throws it out as junk”. I thought about the woman, that I bumped into that was not yet comfortable with her new home and I wrote this.

Bonjou!‘ Good Morning.

She was lost.                                                                                                                                             The abandoned gray and brick warehouses littered with dog shit , weeds, and hipsters passing by were the streets she was used to walking

Her face was one of my parents homeland.

Bonjou!

Her ears perked, slight goosebumps raised, her body stood still

“Bless you my child, God will take care of you!”

She longed for more words of Kreyol to be exchanged

I longed to  talk for hours and take her to my parents home

She longed for her homeland

I longed for my parents homeland

She longed for mornings where she spoke to others with ease

I longed for mornings filled with coffee, kassav and talks filled with analysis of last night dreams

It was summer and she still believed New York would always be cold

I carried my sweater everywhere because in AC land it was always colder than necessary

In an instant she alone again in her new home, America but longed for her real home.

The One and Only: Voting Rights and Affirmative Action in America.

•July 2, 2013 • 2 Comments

Last week, I honestly tried to post several times and I managed to cry. I cried so much, and that point, I realized that I was angry. Angry that in one week, the foundation of the nation that I knew, crumbled.  This week, I am left in the rubble called America and I don’t think that I know how to navigate this fake post racial America.

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled on a number of important civil rights issue.  The moral and highest court of the United States ruled Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional.  The federal government originally stepped in to oversee the voting process, mandating national protections for the most vulnerable citizens, which were at the time and continue to Black people.  So the business of poll taxes, literacy tests or the number of a beans in a jar were supposed to be done away with in 1965. Last week, the Supreme Court decided times had changed, but I could not help but think about the last election and I remembered that the nation was talking about were voting rights. The consequences will result in an increase of discriminatory voter ID laws, elimination of same-day registration, fewer early voting days and more. Texas has already announced it is going to enact new voter ID requirements.

One the same day, the Court decided  that affirmative action must be strictly reviewed, but it did not outlaw those programs.  Moving forward, a university’s use of race must meet what is known as “strict scrutiny.” The courts let university’s know that no longer needs to use affirmative action to have a more diverse student body. Ultimately, courts, need to confirm that using race is necessary, ” that is, that there is no other realistic alternative that does not use race that would also create a diverse student body.  Because the lower court had not done so, the Court sent the case back for it to determine whether the university could make this showing.”

Yes, that really happened in one day! I was brought back to my undergraduate classroom, when Professor Vernell Lillie, asked me, “so how do you think you got in this classroom?”. I am pretty certain that I answered the mix of grades, the high school I went to and I even mentioned my parents. I was wrong. I was exposed at that moment to what affirmative action looked like in action. I was surprised and it has forever remained with me.

The beginning of my week, was quite difficult but couple the SCOTUS decisions and the attack on Rachel Jeantel (and I am intentionally choosing to leave out the other major headlines), I just felt that everything that I was and represented was being challenged.  I felt as though, all responsibility to vote, access higher education and code switch was left on the “victim” or those trying to  navigate these systems in America. There is no responsibility on the system to aid and empower those that are outside of the system and the government does not seem to mind that there are people who can not access the right to vote and higher education.

I am not leaving the country, I do not want to run away from this painful and disgusting chapter, that in being written in American History.  I do wonder, what life would be like if being “Black” came with some or just a bit of privilege, how different my life would be in America? I wondered before and now this looming feeling of being the “one and only” seems like it won’t ever change. The first African-American Liberian and art collector, Vivian Hewitt told me, there is nothing wrong with being the first, there is a problem being the only and only.  I see this new America, deciding that only a few Black people can access the right to vote and higher education. I think that is the part that scares me, because I am in too many circles where I am the “one and only” and when I went to college and when I voted, time and time again, things were supposed to change. They haven’t and I just don’t know what to do to stop from crying about this.

~Lodz Joseph

Welcome to Amelia Island and Relaxation!

•May 31, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Hello everyone! I know it has been a while. I decided to take advantage of a “very, very low cost, almost free vacation” this week. My significant other is currently attending a Java Script Conference, while I blog. Hey, that seems fair, right?  (I hope that in the next post, I can post the photos that I took). 

Amelia Island is located about 35 miles north of Jacksonville, Florida. Let me be honest. I thought that I was going to a “nice” resort and I hate resorts. Then, something magically happened. I started to relax and if you have been reading this blog long enough or know me, that is really hard. But, this was great!

I decided to see if a friend had time to meet during this trip and by chance he happened to be in the area. Considered that he lived about two hours away, we decided to seize the opportunity and hang out! An oyster po’boy, clams and a few amazing views later, it was decided to head back to the hotel to enjoy the beach. 

Looking west from the Atlantic ocean to the new two-tier infinity edge pool with poolside dining and Beach Club.

                                       The Omni Amelia Island Plantation.

I spent my first day at the pool, just reading, writing and napping. I felt so guilty and eventually, the suns rays, killed all the guilt that I had. Four hours later, rested, chapters into Zadie Smiths book, NW, and stories and poems written about Haiti, it became clear, I did not have to feel guilty about recharging. Next week, work would be there, Haiti would still be Haiti and there was no need to worry about the future. I had to be present! Present, to enjoy the pool in front of me! 

The conference is over today and tomorrow morning I head back to New York. I wanted to share, that it only took me a few thousand frequent flier miles to relax. And, to think that it happened in a resort in Florida. 

Stay tuned for some of the other adventures that took place during the week. I am headed to the beach and pool to relax!

Want to know more about the places or things mentioned above? Here are the links. 

1. Java Script, JSConf, http://2013.jsconf.us/

2. Amelia Island Omni Resort and Hotel, http://www.omnihotels.com/FindAHotel/AmeliaIsland.aspx

3. Timotis Fry Shak, Oyster Po’ Boy,  http://www.timotisfryshak.com/

4. The Salty Pelican, Nice buttery and rich clams, http://www.thesaltypelicanamelia.com

 

 

 

 

When it rains…Seattle, I think I like you!!

•May 29, 2013 • 1 Comment

Sunny Seattle?!

Sunny Seattle?!

 

Sun…
Is…
My…
Friend…
Unfortunately, the sun and Seattle had a falling out and I am forced to find the loveliness of this West Coast city without my dear friend. After 3 days of rain and mistiness the sun peeked through a couple of clouds as I slowly wandered toward downtown. My goal? To get brunch with a friend of a friend and discover Pikes Place Market.

The Market

The Market

I wandered under the monorail, sneakingly eyed some hipsters, cursed the sky for its love affair with clouds, slowly smiled as I passed at least 3 or 4 Pho and Ethiopian restaurants and wished I had planned better for my trip.

I finally arrived at my location that was fittingly directly across from an Earth Day Rally. As I listened to the powerful words of an indigenous youth leader, I realized this was the perfect beginning to a fun vacation. This slow walk also sparked my new travel philosophy: w(o/a)ndering is my thang!!

Earth Day...Seattle Style

Earth Day…Seattle Style

Brunch turned into more wandering. I discovered that the most amazing tulips and flowers grow in Seattle.  I took in every color, shape and fragrant piece of the flowering market. As I walked with my wandering companion we passed a disgusting wall of gum and some awesome wheat paste art. As we parted ways the ran started to come down and I was “forced” to find shelter in City Target then Ross then H&M and finally Nordstrom Rack. Ironically I sometimes love shopping outside of the city in which I reside. After a couple hours if retail therapy I headed back to pick up my luggage and head to my Air BnB digs for the evening.

TULIPS

TULIPS

As I approached Mount Baker, I realized that I had a great day meandering through this surprisingly happy yet dreary city. I relaxed at my little place in a neighborhood just outside the inner part of the city, ate some awesome Ethiopian food and planned for my last day in Seattle.

 
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