28 March 2004

the souls of white folks

Tonight I figured out (at least to the point where things are acceptable to my present understanding) why I decided to study anthropology. Additionally, I figured out, again to my present satisfaction, why there are so many white folks looking for salvation.

This idea came to me as I explained to Nathan why we were going to go to the Black Men's gathering in July. The Black Men's gathering is a yearly week-long conference that was initiated by Dr. William Roberts, a Baha'i psychologist. Fifteen years ago, he looked around and saw that young black men were in dire straits - and that there was no real support or creative outlet for these men. He established the Black Men's gathering, held at Green Acre Baha'i school in Eliot, Maine, which focused on the spiritual potential and empowerment of Black men. This is not to say that only one portion of society need spiritual empowerment, but Dr. Roberts saw this as a need in the community and addressed it. Nathan went once before (the year before we were married) but missed last year (it wasn't in the budget for us). But this year we're going. I say so.

As I was telling this to Nathan, we were listening to gospel music. Gospel music always gets me to weepin'. In a book we have called Spirit of Harlem, there's an interview with a Japanese woman named Yuko Ichioka. She says, and I fully understand, "I hear feelings when black people sing. When I hear gospel in Harlem, I feel more open to God."

Anyway - I'm taking my time with this story. I know you're thinking, "get on with it," but I'm going to lace it up this way and that until I am satisfied with it. Just bear with me.

In many so-called "minority" cultures, there is a strong sense of community. There is a collective identity. There is a spiritual cohesion. Think about it:

Native American cultures have endured hundreds of years of persecution, and yet many have managed to preserve a sense of their heritage.

Free black men and women were imprisoned and brought to these lands and stripped of their culture, and yet they remained defiant and spiritual, preserving the rich fabric of their heritage by incorporating it into the paradigms that were enforced by their captors.

All over the world, non-western cultures have faced imperialism and subordination and yet they still hold the core of their beliefs, albeit oftentimes altered.

And what of my heritage? This is something I've been thinking of tonight. My mom and dad are in the process of identifying family ties far removed. In fact, I see a lot of advertisements for online geneaology services, which indicates this is a growing trend. But still - what about my spiritual heritage? When I think of western culture - my culture, I suppose - I think of materialism.

Ruhiyyih Khanum, the wife of Shoghi Effendi (the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith) and a world traveler, often remarked upon the disease of materialism which infects Western society. And just because I know that my essence is spiritual doesn't make me immune of this disease.

And materialism isn't just wanting possessions - it is attachment to the things of this world. It is a groos overreliance on counting and measuring - on oversciencing things. I feel ashamed to talk about spiritual things because our society is afraid of what it can't see - spirituality is fine and good in religious settings, but it doesn't have a place in the academic, scientific world. Citing holy texts as references in a paper will get you an F for not using proper sources.

So here I am, listening to the melodious spiritual emotions of the voices of this gospel choir, and thinking my heritage is materialistic and teaches me to want and to not trust instincts but to look for what I can prove with hard facts, and I am looking for balance and suddenly


It hits me. I don't have any spiritual cohesion in this society. There is no real outlet - no real place I can go to feel safe enough to discuss spiritual things. At every twist, there is someone wanting to argue the spiritual nature of things with me - to prove to me that what I believe is wrong. And I am on the defensive always, afraid to talk about what I believe because then I'll have to prove it. How can you explain in words what is in your heart? How can you convince someone that what moves you is justified?

I think that I'm tired of having to prove things to people: to prove my stand in a debate, to prove myself, to prove that what I believe is okay. And so I look to places where the soul is valued - the unknowable is part of the everyday. And I find these things in a gospel song, in the ritual of a Dinee in Arizona, in the Dreamtime stories of the original Australians.

I am looking for my soul.

Nathan once said to me that the reason that so many people like one of my favourite musical artists was because that group offered soul. And so many people are looking for it - so many people are wounded by materialism in all its varied forms - and so many are looking for healing.

So the souls of white folks - hidden like diamonds in the coal of materialism - they're not gone, just hiding. But its going to take a lot of help from the souls of black folks, and of all the other folks in the world, to help us reclaim them.


SB could stand for many things: Strong Bad, Silly Billy, Sauna Bird. But here, it stands for Spring Break, which, of course, ends tomorrow.

Technically it ends this evening, since we will be going to bed early enough to be semi-awake for tomorrow morning's 9 AM classes.

I have so many things to write about, so I will list them, and then you can go find the corresponding number further in the text if you don't want to have to read a novel. Here they are (in no particular order):

1. Ultrasound
3. New PLAN!!
4. Dolls

1. ULTRASOUND: So as you may know, based on the ongoing saga of wombs and ovaries and babies that I've related in past entries, I had to visit the health centre here at school for one last checkup on my ovarian cyst. This time, I took Nathan with me (we had both been priviledged to see Amia Carmen Allmart ultrasounded in her mommy's womb a few days prior) so he could see what all was going on inside of me!

First of all there were no babies there. I want to warn the reader at this point that one side effect of using natural birth control is that you aren't given the 100% assurance (or 90%, as it is with most other types) that you will not become pregnant, and so these entries will be riddled with worries about babies. And each time, they're just false alarms. I'm a worrier, to which my mother and grandmother can attest.

Secondly, everything was back to normal - the 13 ounces of fluid in the cul-de-sac (such a funny name) were gone, and both of those ovaries were around 4 square inches (last time, the left one was over twice that size). SO HOORAY HOORAY! I also learned from my mother, on whom I've relied for health infomration for all my 24 (almost) years, and who said, "Oh no!" when I first told her about my cyst (not a good sign from a biologist), that my paternal aunt has had similar issues, and that made me feel a little better. It is good to know that you aren't the only one in the worlds with a certain problem, and even better to know that someone in your family has gone through a similar time.

2. IKEA - Here's a funny story: we got a new bed. From IKEA. In Chicago. And we brought it home tied to our little Kia Rio Cinco. In the rain. It took 5 hours. It ususally takes 2 and a half.

And, when we finally did get home at 9.30 PM from what had initially begun as a morning excursion, we found that although I'd measured the hallway and the doors to make sure we could get the bed inside our apartment (thanks to an earlier bout with a long couch - ask my dad about that), I'd neglected to measure our bedroom, assuming a bed would fit in it, when in fact, the bed frame was 2 inches too long.

2 inches.

The mattress fit, but the frame didn't. Whereupon we bought 9 cinderblocks and some particle board from the local hardware store and propped that badboy up on blocks. It still smells a bit like a lumber yard, but it's a far cry better than the lumpy matresses we used to sleep on!

3. NEW PLAN!! Last Sunday was Naw Ruz (which means New Year in Persian), and which is the New year for Baha'is as well! A New Year means a New Plan, or at least that's how we saw it.

Let me preface a bit: when Nathan and I decided that we wanted to think about getting married, we decided that there was a possibility that we may not be doing the right thing. And since we were such good friends, we decided that it would be best not to lose that friendship. So, in order to keep that freindship going, and because we didn't really know what else to do, we made a plan. Our plan was very detailed and touched on spiritual as well as social matters - and we developed it with the idea that if it turned out that we weren't supposed to be married, that such an idea would be made plain, and we would have at least grown in our friendship.

Of course we got married. I would like to say that I knew we would, but I'm a worrier, you know.

Anyhow, we've tried to keep revising our plan to keep it fresh and up to date. And this Naw Ruz, we decided to revamp it. So here's the basics:


That applies to everything - spending, eating, thinking - all of it. Simplify.

Of course, there's more to it than that, but it's rather complicated and sort of boring for this context. Email me if you want to know more.

4. SQUIRRELS - Did you know that squirrels prefer peanuts in the shell to shelled ones? According to a study which I conducted on my front stoop yesterday, the peanuts in shells disappeared almost completely before the shelled ones even got noticed. I would have assumed otherwise, since it's easier to eat the shelled ones (as I found out while waiting for my squirrels to bite). Nathan suggested that it has something to do with instinct - how opossums who play dead don't get eaten because the instinct to kill isn't aroused in their predators. Maybe. But it's interesting nonetheless.

That's all for now. I think I'm going to lay on our new bed for a while (I've been doing it all day - I'm trying to maximise the few remaining hours I have before school stretches out and claims me in its icy grip...). Actually, it should be nice - it's been warmer and yesterday I took the plastic off of the windows. I am looking forward to the next few weeks - the Break is over, the the Spring's just begun!

17 March 2004


So this morning it snowed again. Or, more accurately, it snowed last night, so when I awoke, all I noticed was the end product.

Last night I got a massage from our friend Nellie Farnsworth. She works at the Campus Massage Center here in Urbana and once when I went in to buy a gift certificate for Nathan, I decided to get a short one myself. She is really cool and nice and she invited us to come to church with her.

One thing that I like about having women as friends is that there is a deeper intimacy that can exist than with male friends (husbands excluded, of course!). Its similar to my views on the importance of having a female gynecologist - there are certain things that you can share only with other women: menstruation, childbirth, etc - all of the things that come with ovaries, I guess. And then there is the similar socialization which is a whole other aspect.

Anyhow, it was so wonderful to have a woman who knew her stuff advise me on what to do that night after the massage - to take my vitamins and drink plenty of water - I really felt assured, especially since we have a discourse - I like and trust her.

Another thing that made me happy was this: I've been feeling rather ill since this past weekend, and I've had a high waking temperature since about that time. I've gotten a cold sore, which is a sign of a low immune system, and I've been feeling rather nauseous. From my admittedly limited experience, these things point to a possible pregnancy (since I've already ovulated). SO I was worried with this when I went in to see Nellie last night and I mentioned it to her. Her reaction was so cool. She said, "well, if you are pregnant, in about three months you'll have to lay on your side for massages." Like water off a duck's back, as I told Nathan later that night. It was great - I was heavy with worry and she took it in such a different direction that I would have imagined! I felt much better, and it got my mind off of the worry.


SO today I'm sleepy and relaxed, and I've registered and turned in all my forms, so now all I have to do is relax and study this evening. Plus I have a date with Suzanne for coffee & chatting! Nice!

16 March 2004

it's snowing

Okay, first off, Corinne, don't be upset - I only left a few days between now and my past entry!

Secondly - today it's snowing!! Fluffy white stuff is sticking to the branches of the trees in our backyard.

Nathan slept in today (he accidentally turned the alarm clock off instead of to snozze) and he is now getting ready to go to his 10 o'clock class. I don't have any class until 12 Noon, and so I am catching up on reading and the like. I am trying to keep my head above water with my reading, which is much more than I've ever had to do. Luckily Spring Break is looming over this weekend, and so I can take refuge in its long hours and catch up then. Which is exactly why we aren't going anywhere but rather staying home. To take a BREAK!!

I found out last week that my Horn of Africa teacher is the #1 fellow in the nation when it comes to Ethiopia. He was out last week and the graduate student in charge told me so. You wouldn't think to look at him, especially since he is so unlike other "leading" professors - He's even written a book on the subject but doesn't require that we buy it - very cool and humble.

Other than that - not much is going on today. I register for classes this afternoon at 4.45 - this is for my summer classes. I will be taking Anthropology 230 (a cultural anthropology class), Field Botany (with a teacher that I had when I was at Parkland - she is the reason I want to take the class!), and a few other classes to facilitate my graduation time. I am still hung up on a language - I've not taken any foreign language since high school, but I either need to take 2 semesters of Latin (not my strongest suit) or 3 of German, or 4 of Spanish, which is what I really want to take, but don't have the time to do so if I want to graduate next May (which is the plan). So I think I'll be doing the Latin thing. I hope it's not too scary!

Okay - off to do something. Have a good day.

11 March 2004


I just realised something really important.

One part of getting over jealousy is admitting that you're wrong and saying that you're sorry.

Even if that's not accepted, you realised it, and you acknowledged it. No one likes jealousy, and least of all when you're the one tha harbours it. It eats away at your insides and you feel horrible about it. And crying over it releases a little of its power over you and puts you in the right frame of mind to start to heal it.

let me tell you about caffeine

I love it. I love caffeine and late-night study sessions, but what really got me going tonight was a wonderful conversation with my friend Rachel. We were supposed to be studying, but of course we got to talking about love and spirituality and human rights and how although United Colours of Bennetton seem cool and diverse, thery still exploit women and children in third world countries.

And how we are going to change the world. We may not get it finished, but as a wonderful woman says, in the relay race of spiritual and social progress "we may not be the ones who hit the tape," but we are going to run as fast as we can!

And educate the children. Because, as Whitney Houston says, "children are the future." She knows what she's talking about there.

I love that I reconnected with that part of me that wants to grow and challenge age-old customs that aren't in line with the spiritual reality of things. To find the beauty in life - in the universe. To believe that even though the world is sore sick with tribulations that I can make a difference. That I am not merely food for worms. To shed that skin of cynicism and despondency to reveal my true loving self. My spiritual nature - that finds joy in the beauty of humanity - that loves everyone, regardless of physical limitations.

And Nathan bought me a CD by a wonderful talented woman who writes and arranges and produces and plays the piano and I am listening to his favourite song on it and I am feeling love from the universe.

I am a bit nuts, I suppose, but I am feeling so in love with everything. Like I'm afloat on a warm sea, and am merely following the bobbing of the waves - I am warm and loved and confortable, and at peace with things. But not to the point of complacency of course.

It's time to get things done! To see the nobility in everyone, even the grumpy people; to rid myself of the jealousy monkey (Katie - is the jealousy monkey a member of the Catarrhine clade?); to fall in love with the mystical side of things; to transform the world.

Ah yes - I love this feeling. I must remember it and return to it when I'm a grumple myself.

So take a minute. Think of a wonderful uplifting song that you love. Go and put it on. Think of the people you love and who love you. Think of your ancestors and of your great great grandchildren. Think of the love that is even now emanating from the spiritual realms, and just be with that. Tap into it. Let it fill you and realise that even if you're in a rut, you're growing and you're loved.

I love you!

an old lump

Last night, I was reading Blackhawk, which is the supposed autobiography of Blackhawk, a Sauk who led a "rebellion" against the Yankee settlers who were invading land which had been "promised" to the native peoples. I am ""ing everything since I am having a difficult time swallowing this information.

First off, I am rather appalled at the language which this autobiography of Blackhawk uses. Outdated and derogatory words such as "squaw" (referring to a native woman), and "brave" which, although not offensive to everyone, still carries the connotation of a "noble savage." I don't believe that Blackhawk would have used such language, and cite the limits of the translator who was only a product of his time. I wish that someone could get ahold of the original manuscript (if it even exists) and retranslate it, preferably someone who has a better grasp of the Sauk language.

Secondly, I am learning so much in my Native American Indians of Illinois class. I am really fired up about the treaties signed between the Indian Nations and the United States. Essentially, there was count after count of the U.S. government not holding on to its promises, and that makes me so angry. Mr. Thomas Jefferson, presumably in his more sagacious years, quipped,

"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just."

Lastly, it just makes me sad. I can imagine the bewilderment of a people who have learned to adapt to a new influx of a completely different culture, and play by the new rules in which they have had no say developing, and are still treated with dislike and hatred. I feel an old vague lump of anger and sorrow somewhere in my chest, when I think about the families and lifeways that were ruined because of imperialism. Not only here, but throughout the world.

I take solace in the fact that these events were part of the birthing process of a new World Order - these sacrifices made by indigenous people throughout the world paved the way for the unification of mankind. That angry lump relaxes a little then, and I look to the present and future - of course we cannot change the past. But we can own up to it - acknowledge that we, not as individuals but as humanity, have made mistakes - and then we can move beyond it - build on that rich heritage espoused by peoples and cultures from the whole world. World history, native history - it is our history - all of ours.

09 March 2004


It came to my attention over the course of this weekend that a few more people than I expected are reading my webble. I was rather taken aback, since I thought that anyone who reads it posts, although that is a silly assumption.

So now I am going to strive to make reading this worth your while. Only, I can't figure out how to start...


Spring break is coming up, and so I'm distracting myself from my classwork by browsing possible things that Nathan and I can do over the break. Some of our friends are going down to Florida, which sounds nice and warm. Others are off to Paris. Although I'd like to think that I'd enjoy such trips, I know that what I need is a real break - no traveling, no driving - none of that. Our original plan was to take the train to Toronto to visit friends whom we met in Haifa, but we decided we'd rather stay home and venture out only in spurts.

I mean, I really need a break!

I was thinking also about materialism - and the desire of the self. I've been practising a little excercise recently called "watch the monkey," which I read about in the most recent issue of "Spirituality and Health." This exercise is designed to allow you to conquer the incessant self - my ego that pops its way into almost everything that I do!

Here's what you do:

In a group of people (like class or with two or more friends), sit an watch the conversation. Don't involve yourself in it, but listen to your ego and its promptings. When an urge to react comes, simply note it and name it. It may sound vague, but here's an example:

Yesterday night I was listening to two friends talk about W. E. B. Dubois. As I listened, I found myself wanting to say things like, "Yeah, I knew that." Even though sometimes I didn't really. I wanted to assert my coolness by showing that I knew a lot of information. And so, when these urges came up, I simply said in my brain, "monkey, your name is attention," because I would have said something to draw attention to myself.

Is that clear? It looks rather jumbled. But it's an interesting thing to do. Since the Fast is a time of reflection before the New Year, and since my ego is such a huge issue (since it's such a huge thing!), I am enjoying squashing it. Or at least reflecting on it.

08 March 2004

you know it's the Fast when...

...The library stacks smell like a chicken salad sandwich (one of my favourites!)...

morning after

Last night, we had some of Nathan's classmates over for a "mocktail" party. It was fun and messy. Fun because they are goofy. Messy because we mixed juicy drinks, and things got a little out of hand. Now our kitchen floor is sticky.

But it was worth it!

Other than that, I am tired tired tired. Time seems to be going very slowly for me, which is good, since I have so much stuff to do. The worst part about being busy is that one forgets one's obligations until the night before or the day of. For instance, I am going to go read until I have to go to class at 9. And tonight, I've got to prepare for a meeting (which I missed last week).

Sometimes it feels like there is so much stuff to do that I don't even want t o start in on any of it, since I fell so far behind. I'd rather just curl up in a ball until things forget about me.

It was windy again yesterday and they are cutting branches (early) down the street.

Off to reading!

06 March 2004


Today started with good intentions. I woke up early, and got to work. I cleaned the house, did laundry, changed the oil in the car actually, I paid someone to do that), ran some errands, and then came home. All before Nathan woke up at 11 AM.

From there, it went downhill. I was planning to clean teh Baha'i Centre, but when I drove by, I saw that it was occupied. I was all grungy and decked-out in cleaning garb, and so I decided to clean it later.

I came home again and schmootzed around. I spoke with Corinne and had a nice long talk. Nathan went off to an appointment, and when he got back, he persuaded me to rout myself out of the house and go play catch with him (the Ayyam-i-Ha llama/camel brought him a baseball glove). I was a grumple but I went along.

I had a good time!

After that, I was bushed, and Nathan had to go out with a friend to se the movie "Passion" (which don't want to see). So I went to sleep (around 2.30) and didn't get up until 7...


Now I'm just sitting around watching television - right now, I'm watching Friday's Ellen which I tape everyday.

I'm such a nerd.

I think I'll go and try out the mixed drinks for tomorrow night's mocktail party. Bye!

05 March 2004

charging leaves

Today, herds of leaves are charging all over the place. I got leafed in the face.

It is really windy!


I feel sort of silly, since I've not written for a while, but I wanted to do so since I have some time.

Today, I dropped a class. I realised last night, after an ineffective stint at homework, that I was feeling way too overwhelmed to be taking 18 hours. I thought that I'd be cool with it, but I recall being warned at orientation not to take a full load, since I would need a semester to acclimate to campus.

Very true!

I was almost ashamed to do so, since I felt that it signified that I wasn't a good student... but Nathan was really supposrtive and told me that it was insane to be taking so many hours (no offense to anyone who is doing so)!

My biggest worry about this is my graduation date. Since I am a semester behind Nathan, I will be graduating a semester later. I was hoping to catch up and then next summer, instead of finishing my classes, I could get myself oriented for Teach for America. BUT... if I don't graduate next Spring, I will have to wait an entire year before I can start my Teach for America orientation. And that will delay having kids (since Teach for America is a 2-year commitment). I'm not opposed to scrapping that idea, but I'm not sure then what to do.

As Nathan says, "we'll figure things out."

Okay, off to (one less) class!