I Celebrate Myself…

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Vick and Jesus

This morning I was on the treadmill and Micheal Vick came on the television, apologizing for his actions. Honestly, I wasn’t paying much attention until he said, “I found Jesus….” What in the world?! Why is it that whenever someone gets into trouble, they turn to some deity? I mean whenever I am in despair, I listen to or read some Surahs, I will pray and listen to some uplifting songs; however, I do not call all my friends and highlight my spiritual endeavors. Do you want to know why? Because it is personal.

Celebrities often use this tactic, as if to say, “let me off the hook, now!” I mean, we are all human, just trying to make it day by day but man, I thought it was interesting this morning when I heard him say it.


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School Begins…

…and I am not happy. Oh, the summer of freedom is leaving me. I will be at my professors’ will. Gone are the days when I could just select a book at my leisure. The funny thing is, I was up late last night, reading an article on this poet by the name of Rilke, which led me to other authors he influenced, including Julia Alvarez. I never read an entire book by her but I just love her. I remember reading an excerpt from the book, “When the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents” and astounded by what she wrote because being a girl with an “accent,” (everyone has an accent by the way) I connected with her writing immediately. Anyway, I thought to myself last night, ” I would love to read that book in its entirety.” Alas, the realization came: my time is limited and I have a book and poems that I want to read before the workload gets hectic. Damn it all!!!

However, in the effort of being grateful, this is my last year in graduate school and so I am thankful. Hopefully, I can read a couple of good books in between textbooks and papers.


Love and Art, Art and Love

I remember the first time I connected with words on a page, I mean consciously connected with words on a page, it was the song, “God Bless the Child that’s got its Own” written in a Sesame Street magazine when I was seven, I believe. For some reason the words touched me in way that I am still unsure of. I did not know the melody but the words rang true for me. I heard that song this past Saturday on The Prairie Home Companion and instantly remembered reading the words as a child and connecting with them. I have always connected with words. My mother believes that my love of books stems from the fact that she craved books while she was pregnant with me, like moms-to-be often crave for food.

Reading for some time became a ritual for me; Of course I found a few books that I connected with: Autobiography of Malcolm X, Middlesex, The Namesake but still the majority were okay for the moment. The thrill was gone, which often happens in rituals.

Redemption came- my soul has awakened, I could shout from the mountaintops and it involves, again, words. I am no longer a seven year old, who hasn’t lived and questioned the meaning of life. I have pondered on things and believed these ideas to be personal and intimate and then I come across authors who have lived centuries ago, who I ignored, assuming I had no connection to them and was surprised at one of the deepest connections I have ever experienced. I think that is when the love is the sweetest: when it is unexpected, unplanned. I came across a man named Whitman who is rocking my world right now and I wish I could just sit at his feet, if only for a day and have him read to me. Oh, how I wish I were a fly on the wall, as he wrote or better yet the paper.

I read this tonight:

Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand

Whoever you are holding me now in hand,
Without one thing all will be useless,
I give you fair warning before you attempt me further,
I am not what you supposed, but far different.
Who is he that would become my follower?
Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections?
The way is suspicious, the result uncertain, perhaps destructive,
You would have to give up all else, I alone would expect to be your sole and exclusive standard,
Your novitiate would even then be long and exhausting,
The whole past theory of your life and all conformity to the lives around you would have to be abandon’d,
Therefore release me now before troubling yourself any further, let go your hand from my shoulders,
Put me down and depart on your way.
Or else by stealth in some wood for trial,
Or back of a rock in the open air,
(For in any roof’d room of a house I emerge not, nor in company,

271-And in libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn, or dead,)
But just possibly with you on a high hill, first watching lest any person for miles around approach unawares,
Or possibly with you sailing at sea, or on the beach of the sea or some quiet island,
Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you,
With the comrade’s long-dwelling kiss or the new husband’s kiss,
For I am the new husband and I am the comrade.
Or if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing,
Where I may feel the throbs of your heart or rest upon your hip,
Carry me when you go forth over land or sea;
For thus merely touching you is enough, is best,
And thus touching you would I silently sleep and be carried eternally.
But these leaves conning you con at peril,
For these leaves and me you will not understand,
They will elude you at first and still more afterward, I will certainly elude you,
Even while you should think you had unquestionably caught me, behold!
Already you see I have escaped from you.
For it is not for what I have put into it that I have written this book,
Nor is it by reading it you will acquire it,
Nor do those know me best who admire me and vauntingly praise me,
Nor will the candidates for my love (unless at most a very few) prove victorious,
Nor will my poems do good only, they will do just as much evil, perhaps more,
For all is useless without that which you may guess at many times and not hit, that which I hinted at;
Therefore release me and depart on your way.

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I was looking for a Long While for Intentions

That is the first line of Walt Whitman’s poem, ” I was looking for a long while” and I am honestly in awe of someone who I do not know, who lived a century ago. Whitman talked about searching for meaning in pages of history, in the past. He found himself in the present, in the people around him.

I believe that there are certain things that are destined to occur in one’s life, at a particular time. Discovering writers such as Emerson and Whitman was destined to occur this summer, when I could appreciate them. I am becoming more of myself, I believe. I am finding some solace in the fact great thinkers such as Whitman and Emerson, contemplated and wrote words that would one day help a young women from Brooklyn, living in Baltimore, rediscover her love of words and not just words but words that make her think.


I Was Looking a Long While

I was looking a long while for Intentions,
For a clew to the history of the past for myself, and for these chants — and now I have found it,
It is not in those paged fables in the libraries, (them I neither accept nor reject,)
It is no more in the legends than in all else,
It is in the present — it is this earth to-day,
It is in Democracy — (the purport and aim of all the past,)
It is the life of one man or one woman to-day — the average man of to-day,
It is in languages, social customs, literatures, arts,

It is in the broad show of artificial things, ships, machinery, politics, creeds, modern improvements, and the interchange of nations,
All for the modern — all for the average man of to-day.


Can One Embark on a Journey of Self-Discovery, if She is Sick in Bed?

Yes, I am sick. Caught the flu. I am under the assumption that I contracted the flu (in the best doctor sounding voice- whatever that is) on the Peter Pan bus leaving Boston.(Returning to my voice) People were sneezing and coughing all over the place. I remember, as I placed the apple in my mouth, thinking to myself, “I should use the anti-bacterial gel on my hands,” but I was lazy and famished. Here I am, five days later, in bed with the flu, a computer on my lap and listening to NPR as the commentator talks about the musical marvels of Louisiana.

To be honest, I haven’t been this sick in two years. Well, I do not recall being this sick in two years. Two years ago, I started working out and eating healthier meals consistently. I strongly believe, this lifestyle change, is the main reason why I have warded off a lot of the potential sick days in bed. However, I wore myself thin this past weekend in Boston: I went to a festival; walked almost everywhere; went to Newbury Street; spent a lot of time in bookstores; took an African dance class; stayed up late with my friend, Nicky, talking until four in the morning and strolled around the greenery of Boston Commons. All this, my dear friends occurred in a weekend. No wonder I am here, in bed, with my computer on my lap, listening to NPR as they rediscover the musical marvels of Louisiana.

So to answer my question: yes, I believe one can continue the journey of self-discovery when sick. I think sickness will demand one to stop and think for a minute, if only for a minute, about life. On a beautiful day like this has been, one might be restless and want to scream, wanting to be released from this bar less prison of a bed. However, if you were to stop and think for another minute, you will realize that you have the flu, something that will be over in a couple of days (hopefully) and not something that is incessant, without a promise of relief; so, you stop for another minute and give thanks.

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Boston, the Red Sox and a New York Girl

I visited my friend, Nicky, in Boston last weekend–loved it!! Like any community, Boston has a particular culture and that involves the love of the Red Sox. On Saturday, people filled the sidewalks watching a baseball game on televisions that were more suitable for living rooms than for a sidewalk audience. I asked a vendor who was watching the game on a portable TV the name of the teams playing, he told me without removing his eyes from the screen, “Red Sox and the Orioles.” Upon hearing this I said, “Whohoo, go Orioles!” He looked at me then.

I am currently living in Baltimore and I am a New Yorker and so I was on the side of the Orioles. I have only heard about the love that Bostonians have for the Red Sox team but I experienced it last weekend. My friend told me that the love is often overwhelming, especially for someone who is not a native.

I enjoyed Boston, despite the residents’ crazy fascination with a baseball team. Honestly, I am somewhat jealous of this kind of spirit shared by so many people in one area. There is something to be said about tradition. In New York there is love for the Yankees, but we are a city full of individuals, and so if someone applauded another team, the world would not stop spinning– well, it depends on the borough…

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The Beginning…

Well, it isn’t the beginning, rather the continuation on a journey with a renewed sense of consciousness and truth. I chose two names for my blog: the name, Ngala, was a name given to me by my mother and means “place of the lion” in Shangaan, a language spoken by a group of people in Mozambique, Africa. The second name, Najla, means “with eyes wide open” in Arabic, a name I would have chosen, if I believed I needed to change my name when I converted to Islam. These two names are important to me because I believe strength (place of the lion) and consciousness (eyes wide open) are both necessary for self -discovery. This journey of self-discovery is what I am embarking on right now.

I decided to start a “real” blog with the intention of improving my writing skills; write about issues that are important to me; write about issues that are affecting humanity and sometimes maybe even share epiphanies or “aha moments” that I might have.

This introduction is not one of sharing my likes or dislikes immediately with you, reader. This blog may not be even seen by anyone; however, to be acclaimed is not my intention, designing a space to express myself is. It is my hope that if one chooses to read this blog, they will learn more about a person who is just trying to figure it out like the rest of the world.