I’m stopped at a red light and I look to my right past the right lane to the right sidewalk. A noise draws my attention. I see a group of three black youth in an open circle (arc) looking to the left at an older white woman on crutches (the type that are just poles but have a holder for your forearms and a horizontal bar protruding from the pole for your hand to hold). The women is medium build, about 5’5’’ with disheveled brown hair; her complexion looks as if it hoped to be fairer if only it had a good wash and scrubbing down. But her mind and complexion seemed to be out of relationship so she plodded along.
Now the three youth were looking at her because she appeared to be . . . rapping. What was strange is that she provided a steady beat to the rap by hitting her pole crunches against the ground. She could only do this by moving forward or backward as if walking. So when she would get really hype into a great part of her rap, she would hit a quick “bmm bmm bmm bmm” (left right left right) which would quickly walk/crutch her backwards away from the kid down the sidewalk. It had a funny look. Imagine a physically handicapped person trying to have her crutches keep up with her fast rap, having to walk-crutch-limp faster to thud faster to the rhythm of her rap all the while the three youth looking at her like “What in the world is that?” I promise you that’s the look that I saw. At first I thought they were all friends and they for someone reason couldn’t understand what she was saying. But then I saw that they were as mystified as I was watching her hobbling to tap and crutch-walk herself in rhythm with her fast walk. Too Legit—bmm—too legit to qui-bmm bmm bmm-say what?-bmm—too legit—bm—too legit-to quit--Crutch-walk, tap tap tap-Can’t touch this-- bmm bmm bmm—You hear what –tap—cause this is a beat-bmm bmm—you can’t touch--crutch-step, crutch-step, crutch-step.
Then she comes to me . . . bmm bmm bmm bmm . . . . with the biggest smile on her face.
“Did you see that?”
“I was spitting some truth to those kids. Those kids didn’t know what hit ‘em,” she said proudly as if she had just discovered a new chemical element or finished her career-ending concert finale.
“You got some change?”
“I’m flipping and ripping a couple of lyrical styles y’all never heard “ Bmm Bmm Bmm
Trying reach dem partners dat be on dat cornah sipping syuurp.” Bmm bmm bmm
Hidy-ho. It’s good to be in touch again. I’m starting a new series which may require me to write once a week again. One thing I’ve learned is that though I don’t enjoy writing these updates as much as people think, there are vast majority of the 6 of you who do enjoy getting them. For that reason, I keep on writing them when I’m tempted to stop.
You’d like to know what’s new with me? Well, all the same old stuff. I’m still doing a few mentoring programs and volunteering here and there. I am still in my fellowship program doing international development work for big people. I still sing in a few groups and enjoy that.
What’s new since the last time I wrote is that I auditioned for a science education show and got the part. I’m the physics content host for a science education video series that helps science teachers understand the science they teach. The science education organization hired a production company to handle the videos, and the production company thought “We always get actors to host things. Why don’t we get actual scientists?” That’s where I was lucky since I’m at the intersection of acting and science. Either way, they hired me after the audition. There are 20 units, and 6 are in my area—physics. Each unit has 20 lessons, and I go through the 20 lessons and choose 8-12 that warrant extra explanation via a video. Then I write bullet-point descriptions of what would be in the video. Then I write the scripts for it. Then we shoot. They’re a good group of guys, and I’m really enjoying the process to work at the intersection of education, science, and acting. It’s the first time I’ve worked with a teleprompter, too!
Another new thing is that I went to book talk on a social justice book (in the Arts section below). The editor was a really nice and humble man who is charge of Christian student life (or something like that) at Princeton. Anyway, I didn’t realize he was also the religion editor for the Huffington Post. I was the last person to talk to him that night before going home. I just wanted to say hello with no ulterior motives. He asked about me. When he realized what I did, he told me the CEO of my fellowship organization has written 3 articles for him over the past few years. He said he would love for me to write articles on the intersection of science and faith. So he told me to submit some ideas to him. I was surprised, but told him ok. I sent him an idea the next day. He said he looks forward to seeing the full article. Wowzers.
Also my a capella group got serious and had a December holiday concert. We were going to do a joint concert with a barbershop group but they pulled out so we had a Christmas party and sang a few tunes at that at two different points during the 2-hour party. It was a hit and people LOVED it! So we’re currently working on a spring concert. Unfortunately people have left due to drama (yes guy groups can have drama, too), other commitments, and moving away from the city. So we’ve been auditioning. We’ll see if we can still have the spring concert in time. Most likely we’ll move it to the summer/fall or just do a nice Christmas concert.
But the big thing people have been asking me about is what I’ll do next year (September 2011). My fellowship program is over in August, so all the 2nd year fellows are job-hunting. There are various opportunities, but I’ll tell you about the three related to my current fellowship.
1) I’ve applied for a Congressional Fellowship (so doing the same program but in Congress)
2) I could get hired on (there budget problems and it seems unlikely)
3) AAAS Fellows at my department/agency are the only AAAS fellows allowed to do a 3rd year extension overseas as one of the missions. There are 20 countries interested in hosting a 3rd year AAAS Fellow, so I’m in talks with them to see if they would like to have me. Unfortunately it’s a matching program. They don’t want a general intern who can learn what they want her to do, they want someone who is already an expert in a certain field and language to come in and hit the ground running. So I’ve had 7 no’s so far. Ghana will no longer host a fellow. Zambia has competing priorities and also won’t host a fellow anymore. Russia said no due to money (which doesn’t make sense because there is Washington money available). Egypt said they have to wait for a new government before they decide what they will do with science & technology (S&T) work in Egypt. Mozambique and DRC said the fit wasn’t good. DRC wanted a French-extremely- fluent biodiversity expert who uses GIS in land surveying conservation efforts (I really liked this position as it was a regional position and required you to go around to different parts in the area, and you wouldn’t be stuck in the office, but out in the field a lot). So that’s that. We’ll see what happens with the others.
Outside of that, I’m applying various things, mainly social enterprises since I love those whether joining one, joining a social enterprise incubator, or starting one. We’ll see. It’s an exciting field and I’m glad I’m a part of it from a donor and experimenter side. Since I’m looking at jobs all over the map, I will tell you about one in science education that floored me. An HBCU in Baltimore has a center for Excellence in Mathematics and Science. My name was given to them (by AAAS due to work as an adj. prof of Ed for AAAS through George Washington University, working with DC public school teachers). The center’s director resigned or retired. The associate is taking over for the time being. They are interested in me coming in to be the interim director and applying to be the permanent director (competitive post). I told them I’m interested. So we’ll see how that goes.
In the meantime, I’m still doing weekly community dinners, watching plays and concerts, and preparing to teach a salsa dance class this summer. Still I really love singing with my a capella group.