Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Still I Rise

Dr. Maya Angelou, 1928-2014

"Maya Angelou has taken flight. Let her rise, but hold fast to her words. We now have to learn to speak with clarity and beauty for ourselves."
- Alfre Woodard

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

And in honor of  #YesAllWomen:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Read what people are saying with the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter.

I wrote a fairly intense blog post yesterday, but after reading it again today I'm starting fresh - stream of consciousness writing isn't my forte and the other post was slightly incoherent and not quite salvageable.

I could say that I've "cooled off" enough in the past 24 hours to write with less hyperbole and emotion; but that would be a lie. I haven't changed my feelings, but pushed them back down, deep inside, because I would be too irate to function on a day to day basis if I let myself even think about my anger. #YesAllWomen have been taught to hide their anger - but just because the hashtag is trending now, it doesn't mean it will go away when the next internet firestorm sweeps through.

The millions of stories and confessions and statements being shared through the #YesAllWomen Twitter hashtag are frightening but encouraging. Frightening, because this hashtag even exists; encouraging, because it reminds us we're not alone.

#YesAllWomen have been told by society to doubt their capabilities, talents, and image.

#YesAllWomen were taught at a young age to hold their keys between their fingers while walking at night to use as an impromptu weapon if needed.

#YesAllWomen struggle to explain what "feminism" means to them - it's not misandry, nor arrogance, nor professional whining; not a political party, religion, or movement for female supremacy.

#YesAllWomen have women in their lives who have been abused, assaulted, raped, threatened, &/or stalked by men.

#YesAllWomen know that female victims are asked, "What were you wearing?" as if the crime is the responsibility of the victim, not the perpetrator.

#YesAllWomen knew better than to be surprised when we learned the whistleblower in the Steubenville rape case faces charges that could land him up to 10 years in jail. Meanwhile, Ma'lik Richmond and Trent Mays, the two rapists, were sentenced to one and two years respectively. Richmond was released after serving just 10 months.

#YesAllWomen in the Peace Corps experience sexual harassment.

#YesAllWomen in the U.S. can expect to be paid less than their male peers for the same job, regardless of their performance level.

#YesAllWomen in Albania have experienced street harassment their entire lives - and almost no women (at least in my experience, having discussed this with female coworkers) think that they're allowed to be offended, because that's just the way it is.

#YesAllWomen know it's safer to turn down a guy by saying, "Sorry, I have a boyfriend," instead of simply saying they're not interested. Which leads me to...

#YesAllWomen have been taught to apologize before saying anything that might offend anyone at all - even when there is literally no fault in the statement. (see above.)

#YesAllWomen reading this know that somewhere, a mansplainer is shaking his head and saying, "But not ALL men!"

A hashtag won't change much, but it's a start. I'm sure Twitter will soon return to it's scheduled #Kimyewedding or #Shitgirlssay coverage, but for now, it's pretty cool to think of all the conversations going around and those who maybe, just maybe, might have the courage to finally take a stand.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Greece Is the Word (is the word, is the word...)

Once upon a time my dad came for a visit and I cried my eyes out and then we went to Greece (the island of Rhodes, to be exact) and it was amazing. The end.

Jk. Not the end. I took 439875 photos so there will be a couple Greece Posts, a la Christmas/New Years. 

We hung out on the beach and spent lots of time in the two incredibly historic towns of Lindos and Rhodes Town (of Colossus fame). 

So, for your viewing pleasure, Part I of a random collection of Greece photos.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Tardy Easter Post

...but hey, it hasn't even been a month yet, so I think I'm okay.

This year, Easter fell on my birthday (as it has a tendency to do every once in a while if you're an April baby)...and it was awesome. I mean, in addition to getting the Risen Christ I also got six pounds of cheese, so that's pretty neat.

And did I mention, my DAD CAME FOR A VISIT?

Tears. Tears all around. Like, I can't even try to explain that feeling of my dad grabbing me in a bear hug and hearing his voice and me trying to laugh but mostly just being a blubbery mess and a whole bunch of Albanians really concerned about the weird blonde chick having a meltdown at the baggage claim.

But let's rewind for a bit. Easter morning dawned dismal and rainy, and Meg and I set out for the orthodox church with umbrellas and shoes unfit for muddy gravel roads. I had checked the day before to figure out what time service would be - seeing as the myriad of answers from coworkers claimed there were services at 10 pm the night before, midnight, 2 am, 7 am, no 7:30 am?, definitely 9 am, maybe 10 am?

 So I asked the old guy in the yard and he pointed out the sign that I'd missed that said 10.

But when we showed up, people were only milling around an empty church, lighting a candle or two and then kissing the photos of the saints. service. But Megan and I bought our candles and had our moments, and then went to check out the old church behind the "new" (early 19th century) church.

This old building is the ancient one, but so dismally kept up that all the paint that remained on the walls was the blue of the altar. (And even that was probably an almost-modern improvement.)

Regardless of the broken windows and drafty brick walls, there's just something about an old, old, old place of worship that makes me pause for a moment to think of all the peoples it has seen - how many prayers it has heard - how many tumultuous changes it has stood silently by to observe.

Leaving the old church (which is in the same compound as the new church), we ran into two women I work with at the Red Cross, Luisa and Vjollca (VYOHL-tsa). Of course we had to take pictures with them and Vjollca's new red shoes...especially because they knew it was also my birthday.

After church, the two of us went to a local cafe for a birthday coffee and delicious banana chocolate cookies made by Megan. (#yumdeliciousomg) At this point, I was starting to freak out about getting to the airport...that is, until I got the email saying they were re-routed through Istanbul and would be six hours late. 

Said delay would leave me tons of time to go to Moza's house for a "birthday surprise" which was a cake and coca cola. So sweet and unexpected! In addition to "happy birthday," "edhe 100" is the traditional Albanian birthday greeting - happy birthday, and a hundred more!

I went back to Moza's house later, because her husband Tani was driving me to and from the airport. On the way (which was already awkward enough, because we knew each other well enough that we couldn't just ignore each other like in a taxi, but we didn't know each other well enough for any real conversation), we listened to a CD that was in English...but definitely written and produced for non-English-speaking listeners, much to my amusement. At one point, this song came on and the effort not to laugh literally drove me to tears. Careful, that musical genius is SO not safe for work. Click at your own risk.

Needless to say, we eventually got to the airport and the dramatic scene described above happened and then we realized the luggage was lost and I wouldn't get my six pounds of cheese...yet. But I had my dad and all was well in the world.