Song of the Day: Petrichor

After a long day at work I just want to sit back and relax with a glass of wine, a good book or some beautiful music. Something to rejuvenate my senses or wind down before heading to bed.

The aptly named, Petrichor by Keaton Henson featuring Ren Ford is both of those things and more. It’s intimate, reflective and calming. Yet the rain recording in the background is also rejuvenating in a way that very few songs have the capacity to do. As a sucker for the tranquil feel of rain, that exquisite note of the song only adds to my love of it. While the song is simplistic and calm, it’s so full of emotion that you can feel its impact. Music that you can feel. Is there anything better?

It’s simply one of the most beautiful pieces of music that I have ever listened to.

Writing

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Write, write and write. And then rewrite. To death. Work hard. Learn your craft. Never give up. Persevere. Don’t become a snob, a bitter hater or an envious person. Work hard for your goals. Write from your heart, but make sure before it gets to your fingers it goes through your brain. And did I mention do not give up?

- Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Getting Personal: Life Changes

The origins of this blog have evolved vastly since its existance. Originally it was simply a placeholder – a project for a senior project class during my undergrad communications years. When I overhauled it, I decided to turn it into an online diary of sorts. A collection of writing about whatever I fancied. I have been absent from this blog for over a week – something that is rare for me, but with good reason.

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Radikal Readings: Create Dangerously

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Edwidge Danticat is quite the celebrated author, however, I had heard of her work through a quote about immigrants and art that has been floating around Tumblr for some time.

Haitian-born Danticat’s Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work is a collection of deeply personal essays that all tie back to the theme of being an immigrant artist as the title tells you.

I’m always a bit weary of a book like this that features writing that was previously published elsewhere, but this book is a fresh take. She is an amazing writer and the stories she tells (my favorites are one about visiting her Aunt in Haiti where she is called a journalist, one about the murder of a popular Haitian radio host and another of a woman who was nearly beat to death but survived to tell her story) are touching and beautiful in their tragedy. As a child of immigrants, it also very relate able to me. It is also eye-opening for those who may not know as much about Haiti and it’s past.

I feel I can’t do this book justice in “reviewing” it or writing about it. So I will leave you with my favorite quote:

This is the America that continues to startle, the America of the cabins and not castles, the America of the needy and never have enoughs, the America of the undocumented, the unemployed, the elderly, and the infirm. An America that remains invisible until a rebellion breaks out, gunshots ring out, or a flood rages through. Perhaps this America does have more in common with the developing world than the one it inhabits. For the poor everywhere dwell within their own country, where more often than not they must fend for themselves. That’s why one can so easily become a refugee within one’s own borders because one’s perceived usefulness and precarious citizenship is always in question in that other America, the one where people have flood insurance. 

Song of the Day: Desculpa Neymar

Today marks the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and I am still feeling completely conflicted. The gist of it is that FIFA is a horribly run organization with a sexist leader (Sepp Blatter) at the helm. Brazil has spent billions on the stadiums, transportation and more for the World Cup, while it’s citizens get evicted from their homes and suffer. It’s a case of the rich getting richer.

So the question is, how do you watch and support a sport that you love so much without supporting an organization worthy of so much disdain? John Oliver of The Daily Show went on a beautifully explained rant (watch here) describing the plight of the futbol fan.

That is the reason I chose Descupla Neymar as the song of the day is simple: I love futbol and watching World Cup games, but basic human rights should not be discarded for the sake of entertainment. Desculpa Neymar is a Brazilian protest song that surfaced this summer and has been shared millions of times on social media. It’s simple and beautiful (unless you understand Portuguese, you can read the lyric translation below, provided by Conz Preti of Buzzfeed).

Listen to the song below and let the Brazilian people know you stand by them.

I’m sorry Neymar,
But during this world cup I won’t be cheering for you,
I’m tired of watching our people fading slowly on TV shows,
In the meantime FIFA worries about standards,
We’re guided by thieves that play dirty to win,
I’m sorry Neymar, I’m not cheering this time.

Parreira I saw,
That Tetra [championship] make people so happy,
But we won’t be real champions spending over 10 billion to have the world cup in the country,
We have beautiful and monumental stadiums,
In the meantime schools and hospitals are about to fail,
Parreira I saw, an abyss between the two Brazils.

Sorry Felipao,
When Cafu lifted the World Cup and showed it,
Your roots in such a solemn moment which turned Jardim Irene in a portrait of Brazil,
The promised spring never came,
Life is worth more than a goal,
And the improvements where are they?
Sorry Felipao, our country didn’t flourish.

I know supporter,
That my simple and honest opinion,
Won’t make you that makes little money and lives poorly,
Stop going to the end together with our team,
Even without money to pay an expensive ticket,
You’ll never stop loving our team wherever they go,
I know supporter, it’s you that is right.

Radikal Readings: The Cost of Living

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Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Thingswas the first book of hers that I read. It happens to also be the only piece of fiction she has written. I loved the book. Her writing style and the subject are so devastating, that I just had to read some of her non-fiction, journalistic work.

The Cost of Living, is a collection of two essays, one on India’s massive damn projects and the other on the advent of India’s nuclear bomb. It brought to my attention, subjects I had no clue about earlier. Roy is conscious, aggressive, and breathtakingly honest about the injustices and horror of both subjects.

This book will change your perspective if it is not already on par with Roy’s. It is a must read for anyone interested in human rights, international relations and development, or simply those concerned with the future of India and our world.

I was especially moved and motivated by the passage below. Please read this book.

It is such a supreme folly to believe that nuclear weapons are deadly only if they’re used. The fact that they exist at all, their presence in our lives, will wreak more havoc than we can begin to fathom. Nuclear weapons pervade our thinking. Control our behavior. Administer our societies. Inform our dreams. They bury themselves like meat hooks deep in the base of our brains. They are purveyors of madness. They are the ultimate colonizer. Whiter than any white man that ever lived. The very heart of whiteness.

Song of the Day: Eres Mi Sueño

I love exploring different genres of music and artists that I would otherwise never hear on mainstream radio, television or media in the United States. A large part of that is international music, which, in my opinion, is one the best ways to find new music (or at least new to you music).

Eres Mi Sueño, fits that bill. Colombian artist, Fonseca, released the song in 2011 and it was a big hit, yet I didn’t happen to find it until recently. I haven’t stopped listening to it since. The Caribbean merengue song, as Fonseca calls it, is light, summery and fun. I can imagine this playing at a BBQ or late-night party. Fun times.

Radikal Readings: Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics

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“If you thought you understood how our world works, think again. Get ready to look at your jeans, your breakfast, and your morning paper in a whole new light. This book made my brain hurt, in the best way.”— Sohaila Abdulali, author of Year of the Tiger

I couldn’t have said it better myself. International relations and politics is a subject I’ve always been interested in, (I’m currently taking an online open class about international development offered by the Universiteit Leiden) and this book, which is mostly read in classrooms, was high on the list of international relations reads related to women.

International politics and relations is a wide and varying subject, but as Cynthia Enloe points out, one cannot get the full picture without asking the important question of where are the women?  While the book is over 20 years old, (published in 1990) it is still very much relevant and she goes into great detail about the injustices regarding women. It is truly an eye-opening read, especially for those who have not studied international relations or women’s studies.

As I’ve stated before, I do most of my reading on public transportation, and with this book I was compelled to bring a highlighter and pencil with me, making annotations and notes along the way (which elicited some funny looks).

This is fundamental text for anyone interested in international relations. I only wish I had taken a class in college that had Bananas, Bases and Beaches as required reading.