Rejection Letter #1

It’s been almost two months since I got my first R.L. from one of the Arts applications I submitted. Admittedly, I’ve been stalling about updating everyone with the results. More interesting, though? My video diary belting out a Barbra Streisand classic and tracking what I’ve been up to since I got the e-mail. Why is Babs being dragged into this? Because there’s nothing like a little drunken (yes, there was alcohol involved in the making of this video) ode to Nikki Arnstein to make me forget how sucky Rejection Letters can be! #PushOnThroughTheStruggle ~ cS, Constance SHERESE

August 20, 2014
Dear Applicant,
Thank you for your interest in the Critic-in-Residence Program. We received a number of outstanding applications and were only able to choose three finalists for this year’s inaugural program. The review committee has considered your request and regrets that we cannot invite you to participate at this time. 
We appreciate the effort you put into submitting your application and we highly encourage you to remain in touch with our organizations in the coming year. 
Sincerely,
Your Latest Motivation
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My GeeChee ♡ In Greece!

 

I’m a GeeChee Girl at heart. Down in my soul, before I even fully understood what it meant to be Geechee, I knew that I was it. So, what is Geechee? Oxford English, Wiki, and Miriam have their official definitions. And combined, it’s not bad. But like I said, I’ve been a GeeChee long before I learned the technical renderings.

Geechee

Line breaks: Gee|chee

Pronunciation: /’gi:t:CHi’ /


NOUN

1. [MASS NOUN] An English-African creole dialect spoken by African Americans in the Low-country regions of South Carolina and Georgia. Compare with Gullah.

2. A speaker of Geechee.

3. A native rice farmer from the U.S. Gullah region.


ORIGIN

from the name of the Ogeechee River in Savannah, Georgia, USA.

from Kissi, an ethnic group living along the border area between Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

A variant of Gullah, from present-day Angola or the “Gola” ethnicity in Sierra Lone and Liberia.

 

That’s what the “experts” have to say on the subject. But, I grew up on the memory of my family teasing my mom that she was “nothin’ but a Geechee … ” because she loves to cook white rice with every meal, is stubborn as all hell when she has her mind set on something, and can never be content with any one thing or place. In short, she’s a countrified wanderer. And based on that understanding, I don’t see my Gullah GeeChee ways as all that different from Roma “Gypsies”, French “Bohemians”, or S. Asian “Dombas”. That’s something I’m passionate about – finding the universality in our unique cultural differences.

So it was a dream come true for me when I started planning my first international trip last January. My husband and I had decided to go on a delayed honeymoon in the Summer and, as long as I made sure to carefully organize everything (read: not blow our budget), I had free reign to follow my hearts desire. I chose Greece because I’d wanted to go there since my college days as a business student in New York. Study abroad programs in school always said their economy was closest to ours for case study purposes – the tragic irony of which has not escaped my notice.

In true Geechee fashion, I couldn’t be satisfied with a trip to just one city in Greece. I craved a romantic beach getaway in Santorini and a historically rich tour of artifacts in Athens. I wanted to make wild, crazy memories in hipster party-town Mykonos and unwind in a refined Italian-esque village on Crete. A cruise seemed too structured and formulaic. But bed-hopping through the country like blogger Lucky/Gutsy – with no set plans except a backpack and a prayer – while tempting, was way too adventurous even for me. In the end, I spent the past seven months toiling over my own happy medium and then spent ten days experiencing it all.

We flew into Eleftherios Venizelos Airport in Athens, took the metro to the first of five hotels we would stay in, and let the island-hopping fun begin. Clearly, I was inspired by the experience because I came home with almost 3,000 photos total between each of our 2 Gig camera phones! Let’s just say I was dumping to my Dropbox app like mad. I’ve shared some of the more touristy pictures to my private Facebook page and I’m in the process of curating the rest for future photography exhibitions. But I couldn’t let this experience pass without sharing some exclusive, edited and unedited pics with you guys too.

We may have been in Greece, but it didn’t take long for me to find the “universal” parts of the culture. One of the first things I noticed was the street art. It was seedy and edgy and dirty and provocative and political and bright and bold and beautiful beyond my wildest imaginings. So without further ado, I give you: My GeeChee ❤ In Greece – The Graffiti Edition! ~ cS

P.s. Of course, all wall murals, tags, and graffiti belong to and are under the ownership of the their respective street artists. However, photographic images in their edited and unedited formats remain the exclusive property of myself, Constance SHERESE and are not available in part or in whole for copy, reproduction, sale, or other mass marketing without express written permission as solicited through post or electronic mail. (c) 2014.

The Legal Stuff. So, sue me! Better yet, how ’bout we skip that part. Deal? Thanks! 😉

 

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Apparently, Shakespeare was visiting Greece at the same time as us!

Apparently, Shakespeare was visiting Greece at the same time as us!

Free Kostas

 

 

 

 

Love the way someone turned this old electrical box into a "supply box".

Love the way someone turned this old electrical meter into a “supply box”.

Octopus

Never let a photo op slip away ...

Never let a good Photo Op. pass you by …

Cool Cat!

Cool Cat!

Holy Mosque Scrollings?

Holy Mosque Scrollings?

Make that Holy Mosque Taggings!

Make that Holy Mosque Taggings!

Gonna have to brush up my language skills for this one …

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(c) Constance SHERESE, 2014

ThrowBackThursday: A Night At The Movies… ahem, Film Fest

Popcorn Buckets at the Door.

It’s #ThrowBackThursday and I’ve been looking through my old blog posts. This is one that’s been listed under my “Last Updated” tab since November 2011. Basically, it was still a draft. I’d been really excited about this post when I first started the topic, but other things came up and somehow I never got back to it. After a while, I started to feel like it wasn’t “new” and “fresh” enough anymore. But who says there’s nothing of value to be had in a slightly middle-aged post? That’s what ThrowBackThursday’s are for! So without further ado, I give you ‘A Night At The Movies… ahem, Film Fest.’

For anyone passing through the Georgia State University campus in downtown Atlanta, GA last Wednesday night it would have looked like a typical evening in college town. Vendors and restaurants closing up shop after the rush, young people making plans with friends about what to do with their next few hours of freedom, and a few dedicated students just heading inside for evening classes. But in one of those classrooms there was a group of students, faculty, and community members coming together for something not so typical to the University. On the corner of Decatur Street and Central Avenue, in the Classroom South Building, a student film festival and panel discussion was taking place burgeoning with fresh young talent and creative ability.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m all about scoping out the new and fresh creative scene. So now that I’ve given you the perfect visual, let’s cut to the juicy parts!

The First Annual Black Student Film Festival (sadly, it was the 1st and only edition of this festival) featured submissions across seven genres: Documentary, Suspense/Mystery/Horror, Comedy, Drama, Romance, Action, and Music/Video – and there were over 20 films screened during the two day festival.

IMG_20111102_202316

One of my favorites was the documentary “Keepers of the Culture” – by Amris Bell & Imani Warren

This piece took me back to my childhood days hearing my mother and aunts playfully refer to our family as “a bunch of Guichie’s [sp]” because we all love to eat white rice in place of the more traditional Southern African American breakfast, Grits. I gotta admit, I can throw down on some long grain Carolina white rice! At the time, I thought the word Guichie was simply a reference to rice farmers from the wet marshlands of North and South Carolina.

Around the time I started college, I learned two things. First, that I’d been misspelling the word for years. I think I subconsciously wanted to throw a little French Creole flavor in there. It’s actually spelled “Geechee”. You learn something new every day! I also learned that the Geechees are more than just rice farmers. They’re an entire community of people who migrated to the US from various Afro-Caribbean islands and countries. They’ve managed to preserve a distinct culture – known as the Gullah culture – within this small region. Remember that Nickelodeon children’s show, Gullah Gullah Island? That’s right. It was about the Geechee people of South Carolina!

I was intrigued to discover all this because it shed new light on one of my family’s great mysteries. My grandmother’s real name. I’ve started to think she may have had an Afro-Caribbean background on her father’s side of the family – and a first name to match! Bernice Hopkins, as we all knew her, was the daughter of Susannah Green. Susannah died in child birth when my grandmother was two years old, and Bernice wound up being raised by her maternal grandmother, Betty. So the story goes, Betty never really cared for the name Susannah (or Susannah’s husband, maybe?) had given my grandmother at birth. She made sure my grandmother always knew her real name, but she personally chose to call her by what we think was actually her middle name, Bernice.

When my grandmother got older, she did a bit of the typical teenage rebelling and ran off with a man who was never any good for her. You know the type. Gambler, swindler, drunkard, and all around skirt chaser. But he was fun, exciting, and her over-protective mother (in this case, grandmother) disapproved, so he had to be Mr. Right! Right? Needless to say, the marriage lasted just long enough for him to think he could “lay hands” on my grandmother and she ended it.

Time went by, she met my grandfather, they got married, and she needed to fill out the paper work for a legal name change. Betty had passed away by this time and my grandmother was looking for a way to say “Thank you for raising me and I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate you sooner.” She decided that, although she would always respect her birth mother, the woman she had become was forever tied to the principles Betty taught her. She decided to legally change both her first and last name.

I think she saw it as the great secret of her life. Something that gave her a certain “Je ne sais quoi.” My grandfather probably knew her “real” first name. But neither of them would ever tell the rest of us. She took that knowledge with her to her grave. I’ve often thought about trying to discover her secret. I have an Ancestry.com account, but I go back and forth in my mind about whether it would be a betrayal of her confidence. Then again, if I knew it, I’d name a daughter after her. I still haven’t decided and I may never decide. But films like the one above are a nice reminder that I have a rich cultural history with “new”, “fresh” stories to discover every day!

If you live in the Atlanta area and are interested in other global/ cultural events in the Arts, check out CENCIA’s website. Their current schedule takes audiences from France to Greece to Brazil and back to the United States. Talk about culture! ~ cS

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