Yeah…I’m still black. #japan

I always wondered when the other shoe would drop, when reality would sink in, when I would become not just a foreigner living abroad… but a black woman living in Japan. February 23, 2017 the date I will never forget, the date when I introduced a new textbook to my sweet, innocent, curious, lovable fourth graders and they all burst into hysterics when they turned to page 216 of their new textbooks and saw the cartoon drawing of Ben Carson.  The day no one would answer my question, “why is this picture so funny?”

Of course I knew the answer, but I was wondering if they knew the reason why their laughter was offensive, if they knew that what they were doing was wrong?  With the language barrier I sometimes like to wait and see how they process things, I don’t like to jump the gun and make assumptions. It wasn’t until my partner teacher (whose been working at the school much longer than I have been) walked in, heard the laughter, observed the expression on my face , and made a valiant attempt at damage control, that I snapped back into reality. I resumed class as I normally would have, and we had a great time writing stories and playing English games. However, the entire time there was something stirring in the back of my mind, a familiar feeling that I just couldn’t shake. A fact that I was certain of in America, and is proving true as I live my life abroad: no matter where I go in this world, I will always be black.

I love being black. There’s no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. I love my black skin, nappy hair, ancestry, and rich culture. What amazes me, even though it shouldn’t, is the worldwide misconception that being a black person is the last thing in the world one should want to be. To have to come home after work and ruminate on how I can express to my young students, in love, that black people aren’t the negative stereotypes that the media have made us out to be. That we aren’t caricatures to be laughed at and mocked, that we are a strong and proud people that have made numerous contributions to society. It’s exhausting, and tonight it feels like way more than I can deal with. But, I will drink a glass of cabernet, say a prayer, and hope that God gives me the strength and wisdom to impart some knowledge on my students tomorrow.

“You’ve Got the Chops for It, Girl.”

Sometimes it’s nice to see things through someone else’s eyes. 🙂

Ps I have been teaching in Japan for the past several months.

My Favorite Things

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Ms. Hall, one of the PSE 4th grade teachers. After observing her teach for a few days we began team-teaching, during which I studied GrapeSEED curriculum in order to familiarize myself with the songs, stories, chants, and games. While I find working with K4 students mentally and physically draining (despite their cuteness), teaching fourth graders was absolutely invigorating.These students have greater capacity to understand larger concepts, contribute ideas to discussions, and add their own spicy personalities to the environment. Additionally, because they are older, they know more English, making communication much easier. I still have to give step-by-step instructions and speak slowly, but I don’t have to spend so much mental energy simplifying my speech.I don’t really have many pictures of 4th grade because I was otherwise occupied, so you’ll have to take my word…

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Writer’s Block

The blank page stares at me, mocking me as I attempt to formulate ideas. I take a sip of water and twirl my coils slowly between my fingers as I will and idea to spring forth from my mind and flow freely from the tip of my pencil. Yet and still, I sit here vexed with my mind hovering between this idea and that. Why are words escaping me, and more importantly, why can’t I settle on any solid ideas? I don’t understand. I’m no spring chicken, I have a myriad of experiences from which to pull but none of them seem quite right for the task at hand. So I will think, I will write, I will try–but if all else fails, I will go to bed and try again tomorrow.

Reflection of a Teacher

“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”-Niklos Kazantzakis

Oftentimes I find myself trying to encourage my students to trust me/the process enough to cross the bridge. A lot of students feel vulnerable or
exposed in Literacy because unlike other subject areas, there are often no definitive answers in writing or even reading analysis or comprehension. The exhaustion I experience comes from teaching them how to explore and trust their instincts as readers and writers.

Hashtag #HaikuChallenge

This will be quite the challenge, but I will certainly try!

HEIDI J on the LOOSe

Just as I was about to fall asleep last night, I had this intense urge to write a bunch of Haikus. And I had this thought:

One Hundred Haikus

Instead of Status Updates

New Writing Challenge.

Seriously though, how cool would it be if we just started replacing our tweets and Facebook updates with daily silly, dirty, goofy, sappy, wacky, witty, emotional and even radical haikus and we just flood the interwebs with micropoetry?! People won’t even see it coming, all the sudden, all over their newsfeeds it will be like BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM 5-7-5: Poems FROM everyone, FOR everyone. Literally, Poetry, Everywhere (on the internet). Then I looked up #HaikuChallenge on Twitter

and obviously it is already a thing! I’m just the last to know about it!

It’s not that surprising though, even though I have a degree in Creative Writing, I have never been that up to…

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my space

Moleskine_ruled_notebook,_inside_view

The first stroke is the best stroke
it always leaves her wanting more-
there are moments of pain, but pleasure at the core.

Waiting in anticipation for emotions that will be placed
ever so gingerly, but thoughtfully in her space.
One thousand journeys have been traveled
transcending both time and place.

Limitless pains and boundless joys-
here is where they will all unfold
A myriad of adventures, most of them untold.

How possible is it to share the depths of the human heart?
How possible is it to navigate waters – clearly uncharted territory–
weaving together broken strands that will tell the human story?

Only one place can be deemed as safe
in this pitiful notebook that leaves no judgment to be faced.

Frustration

Deeply hidden in the back of my book

is where they’re all hidden where no one can look.

I get so FRUSTRATED

I haven’t a clue what to write-

fractured pieces of the thoughts lurk in my head every single night.

I am so afraid to pick up my pen-

or turn that crisp page,

because the moment I start I’ll be interminably engaged.

Once I begin, desperately I try to finish each piece,

vowing to somehow find my release.

Unconditionally

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I don’t even know where to begin

I find myself every several months thinking of new ways to let you in.

Into my heart  you’ve been invited numerous times,

but sometimes I forget you’re my guest and I show you my bad side.

Why is it so often I fall,

then beg for your mercy and yearn for your call?

I’m a lover of the worst kind,

you show me your love and I pretend that I’m blind.

Blind to the fact that for me you gave your life,

and from me , in return, you are only asking a very small price.

“I’m sorry Lord!” I constantly say

then pray that you’ll let me make it another day.

How many times can you hear that and not become tired?

It would be completely my fault if your grace and mercy expired.

But that right there is the beauty you see–

you are so you and nothing like me

And I’m eternally grateful for the love you give unconditionally.

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An empty receptacle that longs to be filled
With hopes, with dreams, with fears? With longings of what’s to come
But what I feel is the immediate, the passion of the moment the promise of now but nothing tangible
For the future
Empty wishes, hopes and dreams kept alive until the next time
When will my hopeful heart say no and refuse, realize that enough is enough?
Know that there is nothing promising just around the bend? Accept reality for what it is? Know my role and find comfort there within?

Fade to Black

I’m sipping and tripping cause I need a vacation from my mind
I try to block the clock but I know it’s keeping the time
Want it to black out, I need it to fade
But at the rate my mind is going
It could be days
Before I rest, before I sleep , before I calm
Because this here on my mind presents too many qualms
I need it to go black, I want it to fade
All I need in my life is a little shade
From the attacks, from the snares of the enemy… But it seems like he’s taken a special interest in me

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