so…i’m 21 now! well i’ve been 21 for the past twenty-four hours or so and i guess i wanted to stone mark it with writing something. i don’t know. i feel the same, not that i thought everything was gonna change when today/yesterday finally came around but it feels odd putting both feet over the age threshold y’know? i’m not a teenager anymore but i don’t really feel like an adult. i’m pretty sure i read an article in time a month ago or so about how my entire generation is supposedly afflicted with this like identity disparity about not knowing exactly what being a ‘normal’ adult is or if that even exists. it’s a bit embarrassing but i set 21 as my time limit a year ago that i’d be the person i wanted to be then. working, supporting myself as much as i can, doing well in school, having a set path to grad school/my future job, actually liking my hair and whatnot. i know i haven’t done like possibly any of the things i wanted for myself but i’m surprisingly not sad or depressed about it. i feel hopeful. it doesn’t sound like much but it’s something i haven’t felt in a long time and it was beginning to get a little scary how disillusioned i was becoming with everything. not that i have all my shit together and everything figured out but i’m moving from my comfort zone and starting to change. i think i was emotionally and mentally stagnant for so long because it was comfortable and i was scared but i ended up being the most disconnected with myself that i’d ever been. but i’m trying now. i’m trying really hard and i’m still nervous but i feel like i’m finally getting to know myself and what i really want. i’m starting to accept things that are our of my control and i can’t change. maybe i’m actually growing up or just airing out a bunch of self-absorbed nonsense into the internet world. this all sounds like a vague jumbled mess but i haven’t coherently pieced together my thoughts or feelings almost completely like this before and i’m just letting it all sit here and be. and it feels good.
I thought about this when I left Nigeria to go to university in the United States. I was 19. My American roommate was shocked by me. She asked where I had learned to speak English so well, and was confused when I said that Nigeria happened to have English as its official language. She asked if she could listen to what she called my “tribal music” and was consequently disappointed when I produced my tape of Mariah Carey. She assumed that I did not know how to use a stove.
What struck me was this: she had felt sorry for me even before she saw me. Her default position toward me, as an African, was a kind of patronizing, well-meaning pity. My roommate had a single story of Africa, a single story of catastrophe. In this single story there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her in any way, no possibility of feelings more complex than pity, no possibility of a connection as human equals.
[…] I recently spoke at a university where a student told me that it was such a shame that Nigerian men were physical abusers like the father character in my novel. I told him that I had just read a novel called American Psycho and that it was such a shame that young Americans were serial murderers.
Now— now, obviously I said this in a fit of mild irritation, but it would never have occurred to me to think that just because I had read a novel in which a character was a serial killer, that somehow he was representative of all Americans. Now, this is not because I am a better person than that student, but because of America’s cultural and economic power, I had many stories of America. I had read Tyler and Updike and Steinbeck and Gaitskill. I did not have a single story of America.
“Sophie, the girl, is given a spell and transformed into an old woman. It would be a lie to say that turning young again would mean living happily ever after. I didn’t want to say that. I didn’t want to make it seem like turning old was such a bad thing — the idea was that maybe she’ll have learned something by being old for a while, and, when she is actually old, make a better grandma. Anyway, as Sophie gets older, she gets more pep. And she says what’s on her mind. She is transformed from a shy, mousy little girl to a blunt, honest woman. It’s not a motif you see often, and, especially with an old woman taking up the whole screen, it’s a big theatrical risk. But it’s a delusion that being young means you’re happy.”—
Hayao Miyazaki, on what attracted him to Howl’s Moving Castle
The Auteur of Anime by Margaret Talbot: “The New Yorker” (January 17th, 2005)
Nina Simone | “Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair”
My mother always advised me that Valentine’s Day was never complete until one had spent some quality time with Nina. Therefore, it always seems somehow right to me, somehow perfect, to start playing Nina a little before midnight on every St. Valentine’s Day, just before the holiday turns into what would have been my mother’s birthday, 15 February. Concluding Valentine’s Day with Nina, and beginning the next day with her, as well, somehow make both days seem just a bit less harrowing.