By Washington Park Commons
I'm making baked beans tonight. Boston baked beans. I've never made them before, so it should be interesting. Since I don't have bean pot and my dutch oven in wrapped up, I splurged and bought a crock pot- that's a slow cooker to all you younger people out there.
My mother has a slow cooker. She only used it when it was fashionable. I think mine will get more use. It can be hard to cook when working crazy hours, and with the slow cooker I can make sure that my food can cook while I'm sleeping.
Boston baked beans contain molasses, one of the items in the Triangle Trade. The other two items were rum and slaves. Slaves were brought from West Africa and taken down to the Caribbean where they were sold to owners of sugar plantations. The ship captains then bought sugar, brought it up to Boston, and sold it to factors. Then the sugar was brought to Europe to sweeten tea and make rum, which was then sold back to African chieftains in exchange for slaves, and to American colonists in exchange for the cotton farmed by slaves to feed the mills of England. And that's one of the ways America grew.
That's what's so amusing (yes, a real knee-slapper) about racists thinking that black people aren't 'American.' We're as American as apple-fucking-pie. In fact, so is Islam - it's one of the religions brought over by West African slaves (the other major one was various forms of animism, or the worship of nature and all living and inanimate things; lots of young white people like to call it 'paganism', which it is, but only in relation to Christianity and Judaism). Islam ended up in Africa because Arab traders used to buy slaves and sell goods to Africans, and sometimes conquered whole swathes of Africa by the sword long before Europeans showed up. That's how most religions end up somewhere. People meet, trade and learn about other ideas, and/or people meet, trade, get greedy, and take what they want, while converting anyone who gets in their way. So goeth the way of the world. Incidentally, that's how Europe became mostly Christian.
What does any of this have to do with insanity? Nothing. Except that my particular forms of craziness have to do with planes flying into buildings, adults who harm children and other helpless creatures, the Catholic Church claiming to love everyone while making it clear that it only loves those who become its slaves or who can be co-opted after death (ask Dorothy Day, Hildegard von Bingen, or even my fave, Francis of Assisi), or the plight of being female and black and queer in a world that looks down on all three states of being.
I'm reminded how, before I was medicated, I would sometimes drift in a fugue state, completely convinced for weeks at a time I was invisible, and that there was some forcefield around me that barely kept others from walking into me. I know why - everything in my life has conspired to make me feel invisible, and to feel wrong for being angry about it, and to feel guilty for wanting to do damage to the people who are directly and indirectly for my forced detachment from humanity. Unfortunately I'm now medicated and I know that I have every right to be angry; I know how much I'm angry, how much damage feeling like a non-human did to me, and who exactly did the damage. In a different universe, I would be a hitwoman or a serial killer. But instead, I will follow the lessons handed down to me from other people of color, other queers, other women. Instead of letting my fury eat me whole as it did for years, I've turned the energy down to mere anger, and I want to use that righteous anger to make sure the world doesn't get the chance to create more people like me. I understand life is unfair, but it doesn't have to be unfair the way it was to me. I'm not taking on the guilt my oppressors wanted me to feel anymore. They can fucking suck it. Instead, I'll remember that no matter how we ended up getting the recipe for Boston baked beans, the sweat equity my people of all kinds put in makes it as much my recipe as anybody else's.
By Washington Park Commons
I have two posts today. The first one I wrote will be put up after this one.
I wet into Manhattan today to pick up the printer that my father's money paid for. The trip was all planned out. Go to the Western Union place, get the money, go get the printer, come home. However, my plans changed a little bit, and it was all good.
For those of you not familiar with NYC, the WTC was right near the Hudson River. It's on the western side of Manhattan in an area known as the Financial District. Across from where it was, on Broadway, is St. Paul's Chapel. St. Paul's is part of Trinity Episcopal, and it's the church that was used by tired firefighters and other first responders after the disaster as a place to sleep and regroup. I was raised Roman Catholic and although I no longer practice, I love a good church, especially since I refuse to go into a Catholic one (unless I go to Paris and visit Notre Dame or when my mother dies, the Church has pretty much seen the back of me). I fell in love with St. Paul's years ago, long before 9/11, because the pews were like home to me. It was even featured in a book on the 50 Quiet Places in New York.
When 9/11 came around, one of the things that hurt was losing one of my safe harbors. The whole area was cordoned off. Again, I felt cut off from a beloved church (my break with Catholicism, regardless of my belief or lack of same, feels like a wound that will always bleed a little and never fully close; it took me years to realize how deeply my identity is embedded in being a Catholic). Liberal Episcopalianism is essentially Catholic-lite (Less filling! No calories! Now with more acceptance of gays, unwed mothers and lost souls! Missing the intense veneration of the Virgin Mary, but three out of four isn't bad!), so at times I will take in an Episcopal service or two, and St. Paul's was my favorite place downtown to do that. For a while tough that was untenable due to the church being cordoned off, and later due to the heebie jeebies I got when I came near the area (I could teach at some of the colleges nearby, but that block was my cut-off point).
The past few years though it's become home again, although the ghosts haunt me and the tourists sometimes throw me into a PTSD-induced rage. However I try to get in there once a week or so since i pass there a great dal. Today was one of those days and it was good. The church was near empty, and there was a short prayer for the living and the dead, and for peace. I thought of Syria and Egypt, and the people who died on our fateful day (including the terrorists; I pray for them too)and other victims of violence. i even prayed for the guy who brutally raped and held those woman, and killed himself yesterday. After all, if I take St Francis as seriously as I say I do, I would have to do that. All the glee i felt last night when hearing of his death disappeared when i thought of his family and the pain he caused them as well as others.
Then I picked up my money and had a delicious bahn-mi, a Vietnamese sandwich that is off the charts, and found myself striking up a conversation with a Chinese woman who was having pho. We talked about the joys of Asian cuisine, where to get great bagels, and what makes knishes so good. It felt nice to have a conversation that didn't involve medication, sitting inside the house, suicide attempts, not wanting to take care of oneself, or general excuses for staying crazy. The woman's name was Chris. Sitting with her made me happy.
i picked up my printer and came home. I feel a lot more affirmed about life right now than I have in days. I think of how I would be feeling nothing right now if I had killed myself two weeks ago, like I was momentarily tempted to. My meds are working, people seem to like me, and slowly but surely I seem to be coming to life again.