me in the Land of Lincoln

me in the Land of Lincoln
my alleged work face

my work desk

my work desk
my junky work desk where I do my research at the office

Monday, June 23, 2008

Week 3

Still working on the photos. My multipurpose phone died. So, I am working on getting a camera so I can post pics. Also, to the professionals, english teachers, etc. , I am inserting an apology now. I may write the blog in slang until I can add video. Besides, most of you know my vocal/verbal inflections/tendencies. Now, on with the blog entry.

Monday - Another fun filled day of research. Phone calls, emails, and faxes, oh my!

Tuesday - Research. Bonding outing # 3 with my housemate. Laundry day. The stares that we receive are interesting. We are completely mismatched. Me, full figured, fabulous and caramel complexioned. Him, well, the opposite of me. Red haired, freckle faced, and from NY. I realize that debit cards are not always the best option to have. Got cash from an ATM at a no name warehouse liquor store. Broke the $20 with a purchase of bottled water. I understand beverages such as water and soda are not the primary ones made, but $1.75 for a 20 oz. bottle of water?!?! I was a little hurt. Then, this woman cut in front of me in line. How dare she! I guess she was having a serious need for a 40 oz of malt liquor. Interesting. Did my laundry. Returned home and settled in to prepare for the next day.

Wednesday - Lunch at the Governor's Mansion. I looked diva and fabulous. Walking 10 blocks in heels was not cute. It was a good thing that I packed a pair of ballet flats in my bag. There was a group of elderly people (seasoned saints as some may call them). They came to the Lincoln home. Did the tour with a park ranger. I gave a brief talk about my research. I was told that I have a Texas twang. Also, I was told that I remind them of Barbara Jordan when I speak. I understand, I attend her alma mater. But to sound like her? I don't have the authoritative voice that she has. Maybe I speak better than what some may hear other people that look like me sound. Just a theory. I came back to my alcove, did a little more research. Went home, settled in and prepared myself for the next day.

Thursday - I sent out "Happy Juneteenth" text messages. I had expectations about how people in Illinois would celebrate. I'm comfortable with the typical celebration in Texas. A good barbeque with family and friends. I went to the presidential library to wish the director of research (who is like a surrogate mom to me. No offense, Lora Ann) a Happy Juneteenth. I sat in her office and updated her on my research. She said that she may have more information for me. She also told me about the weekend activities that will take place to celebrate. I did a little research. Walked home, settled in and prepared myself for the next day.

Friday - I took my first field trip of sorts. I took the G Ride (government car. a nice G6 disguised as a Chevy Uplander) to the University of Illinois at Springfield. After printing out maps and directions, packing up the purse and laptop, finally got on my way. I got lost. All the streets and highways look the same. I ended up on a winding road with nothing but fields of wheat, corn, or something. (agriculture is not my major nor my ministry) I finally made it out of the back fields and arrived on the campus. The first street I found was Gwendolyn Brooks drive.(history fact: she was named the poet laureate of Illinois from 1968 - 2000) So I felt better. I finally made it to the library. The state archives were on the basement level of the building with 2 or 3 glass door entrances. I felt like I was in a secret agent movie or something. I finally make it to the secret area. The staff was helpful. They told me it was nice to see a researcher going through the archives. That felt nice to be identified as a professional. I came back to the office, went to the public library to review some old newspapers, and ended another work week. My housemate and I went to the video store and rented a couple of movies and had a movie night. He's such a sweetie. I came home and crashed until Saturday morning.

Saturday - I did absolutely nothing. Enjoyed a day of rest. Part 2 of the movie night and a grocery run to stock up on meat and sugary sweets since the FOH fast was over. I found out there were several options that are meatless. I got strength in my walk, which was great.

Sunday - Went back to Abundant Faith! I almost tripped and fell in the parking lot I was so glad to get back into the groove of Godliness I was used to. that would have been so tacky! Their color palette was denim, white, grey, and red. I was loving it! My ensemble for the day was denim and white. I came in during praise and worship. So, I was alright! I was a little concerned. This assignment is not as financially rewarding as my job at home. The experience is far more valuable. I had to tell my worrying self to sit down somewhere. Talked with my mom (my real one of course) and she encouraged me. She told me I still have to "do the work." So, I took a stroll around Springfield, came home, settled in, and prepared for the week.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Week 2

I apologize for the late update. Well, here goes:

Monday - I spent the ENTIRE day at a workshop talking about nothing but Abraham Lincoln. It was informative. I realized that I really have a job to do as a historian. I received some great advice in regards to graduate school. Go to the school where you will get the most help. Don't go to a school just for the name. Find out everything you can from the faculty and student perspectives. I went home and prepared myself for the following day.

Tuesday - Research. Nothing exciting.

Wednesday - More research. Updated my list of names for my research.

Thursday - Even more research. Prepared for my visit to the Presidential Library Friday.

Friday - After carrying my TSU umbrella for almost 2 weeks, it finally rained. I was wondering if my plea with TSA at the security check in Dallas was really worth it. It could be worse, I could be in one of the flood areas of the state. I went to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. The exhibit, "Something So Horrible: The 1908 Springfield Race Riots" was being set up in the lobby. I was almost late to my appointment in the manuscript room looking at it. The photos tell such a great story. I was reading the panels. As I turned a corner, there was a Ku Klux Klan display. It almost scared the mess out of me. You can't just have an exhibit like that without warning. Technically, there was a warning for parents saying that there were some images and words that may be a little harsh for children, but hope that it will start a dialogue. There were cemetery burial records and pieces of the trees that some of these people were lynched from. So of course I'm in tears. I'm always at a history display crying. (as my Mom would tell me, "shut up all that dern hollin.")Spent my entire day looking at letters, pictures, and genealogy charts at the Presidential Library. I know, how exciting. I'm used to an office job where I sit for several hours and concentrate. I think I warranted concern from the staff. They kept asking if I were ok or if I was going to take a break. But, they are a great group of folks. I was in the room and this woman approached me. She asked if I were an employee or a researcher. I advised her I was a researcher. She asked me where I was from. I told her. She asked if I went to the University of Houston. Mind you, I have on a maroon shirt with TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY displayed on the front. I thought it was a rhetorical question. She asked me if I was going to the Fisk Jubilee Singers concert. I gave her a brief history of the ensemble. She look surprised as if the story may have been a fable. I dismissed it and I finally left. I came home in just enough time to get ready for a concert by the Fisk Jubilee Singers. My first thought was a documentary I watched in my African American Lit class at TSU. So I have to report to Dr. Betty Taylor-Thompson and tell her "thanks for the knowledge." The concert was great. I truly enjoyed myself. Not to mention, I looked quite fashionable with a dress shirt, jeans, white loafers, and some white and silver accessories. Afterwards, I stopped at a local pizzeria. I knew they were Italian. I just thought it was funny that they started speaking Italian once I arrived. It's like the nail salon experience. You know they are talking about you but you can't figure out what they are saying. Anyhow, got a cheese pizza and walked home. Settled in for the night.

Saturday - Enjoyed my morning in bed. I explored the city a little more. I can sleep better knowing that there is a beauty supply and a nail shop within walking distance. Just because I'm spending a majority of my time in the library doesn't mean I have to look disheveled. I met my housemate. He's a dear. Our first bonding experience was a grocery store run. This store didn't require a deposit for a shopping cart. I came home and settled in for the night.

Sunday - Called and left a message for my dad for Father's Day. Bonding event # 2. Decided to go to a Lutheran church. A comedian once said, "If you haven't seen 'em pray, you have to go at least one time." Well, I did and my quota has been fulfilled. I'm a believer of Christ, but have a diverse group of acquaintances. Maybe I should have read "Lutheran for Dummies" or something. Anyhow, dressed in girly pink and my luminous smile to match, walked in. I got a few stares. I'll be naive and say it was because I was wearing a bright color. It was truly interesting. I opted not to take communion because I was a little unsure and they all drank out of the same cup. That is not cute nor sanitary. The sermon was interesting. The topic was based on Jesus calling the 12 disciples (or disciplines, according to Madea). Ok, we are on the same page. I was taking notes and everything. The minister's "topic" was about being a part of Christ's entourage. She talked about how some famous people always have a group of people around them. She talked about famous entourages in history. She started with the Founding Fathers. I was following her. Then she began, "Martin Luther King and his entourage..." I didn't know if I wanted to slide under the pew or stand up and ask her, "what the...?" She finished it by saying that his entourage worked for civil rights and made change so we can enjoy the rights and privileges we have today. It took all I had not to act out. Afterwards, they made it a point to greet me. I told them I was here doing historical research at the Abraham Lincoln home. They immediately made it a point to find a 30 page book of their church history starting in 1840. I was saying to myself, " I'm not here to research you." I graciously took the information and immediately left. I went home to rest before I went to a re-enactment of the Lincoln - Douglass debate. The event was ok, nothing special. After that, I went to the Presidential Library for a lecture/discussion with a leading Abraham Lincoln historian. He covered a lot of points. One interesting point he made was that blacks dislike Lincoln and that the Emancipation Proclamation was not worth the paper it was written on. If you don't read the fine print, of course you have a disillusioned view. I have to look at that document as a historian without regard to my personal race or gender. I hope I can truly do that. Afterwards, I went to speak with the state Oral Historian to see if he can provide any insight into my project. I introduced myself. I told him that I was researching Irish, Portuguese, and African American female hired help of Lincoln while he lived in Springfield. I asked if perhaps there may have been any information recorded in the WPA projects perhaps from someone who was alive. I knew there were some who were alive when Lincoln was in Springfield who died in the late 1930s. He suggested the local university. Then he said something that disturbed me. He said, "there is the African American oral history collection. I think that you would feel more comfortable with that." The way he said it seemed like an insult. I was thinking, " I know I'm one of only two people who have melanin enhancement in the room. I know he did NOT just say that." So, I kindly thanked him and left. I went home and settled in with a determination to do this project with excellence.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

1st weekend in the Land of Lincoln

After a fun filled and eventful week, I finally got a couple of days off. I decided not to attend a bonnet making workshop. There was temptation to go. I refuse to have any of you talk about me when I return.

Saturday - Slept in until 12. Finally got dressed and walked about the city. Saw my housing alternative. It was a beautiful modern loft in the middle of downtown. My heart was truly hurt. Drowned my sorrows in some Cold Stone Creamery Ice cream. (sugary crack in a frozen form. horrible, I know.) Went to the SOHO blues festival. Nothing exciting to report. Finally, made it home before the street lights came on, literally. Settled in for the night.

Sunday - Rocked green and denim. I still have to coordinate with the Fellowship of Hope Crew even if I am away. Attended service at a church named Abundant Faith. I thought it was funny that this was the same church that I researched before I came here. Then, two members of the park staff attend this church. Call it inevitable fate, or something similar to an exigent circumstance. I just like the term. The memories associated with that one... I digress. Praise and worship was great. Maybe I'm biased because I miss the one I'm a part of. The message was one that can apply to anyone. "Enduring Faith" was the title. That can be a subtitle for my life here in the land of Lincoln. Some days, I have NO clue as to what is going to happen, what may be going on at home, but I have to possess a faith that surpasses my fears and insecurities. I'm tempted to pull a P Sheezy and say, " are y'all getting this?" but I won't. Went to lunch. It wasn't SALTGRASS, but steak was on the menu. I opted for poultry instead. I will have to put "hanging with the big boys and eating a steak at Saltgrass" on my to do list. Came home, watched a couple of history documentaries (history nerd, I know), settled in and prepared for the upcoming week.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Week 1 in the Land of Lincoln

Sorry for the delay. But, here's the blog as promised.
Let me give a day by day synopsis. So here goes:

Sunday - Left home. Flight from Dallas was OK. Arrived in St. Louis. Did the whole stopover thing. My flight to Springfield was delayed. So, I FINALLY get on this plane that resembles a crop duster. Being full figured and fabulous provided a small technical difficulty. Hurrah for genetics and the waist to hip ratio I possess. Anyhow, I finally arrive in Springfield, Illinois close to 10 PM. This airport is a bit smaller than what I am used to. However, I press forward. After calling 4 other cab companies, I finally procure a cab to take me to my new home. No credit cards or debit cards are accepted. Driver asks if my luggage consists of books only. You know that my luggage was just a portion of my wardrobe. My feelings were hurt. So, we had to stop at an ATM to get cash. I finally arrive at my home. The proprietor of the home is very gracious. I finally get my keys and settle in for the night.

Monday - After a few wardrobe changes, I finally decide upon a decent ensemble for my first day of the internship. My home is less than 2 blocks away from the Abraham Lincoln home. Looking diva and fabulous, I finally arrive and meet my boss. He is an absolutely great guy. I take my personal tour of the house. It is far better than what I saw on the National Parks website. I finally saw the hired girl's room. This is my area of concentration. I stood there for a minute and realized that I have a job to do. I have to tell the story of the women who lived in this room and worked in this house. My history professor told me that as a historian, "it is your job to tell the story." So, that's what I plan to do. I hope that the story is as accurate as possible. I met so many people that make a national site work. If you ever go to one, thank them. They do so much to make the site operate so one can learn about a part of this great nation. Started going through papers and books by other people. I found a few names and some information. So, I think I'm off to a good start. I finally head for home. Once I arrive home, I make a grocery store run. I went to a local grocery store. I am used to shopping carts with brakes to make sure that the carts stay on the lot and corrals to keep them in a central location. Today, I was surprised that I had to pay a quarter just to use a shopping cart. That was the funniest thing to me. But, upon returning the cart, the quarter is refunded. So, I got a few essentials to stock my fridge and pantry. I settled in for the night and prepared for the next day.

Tuesday - I arrive at work and start my research. I am taken to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. As a history major, I am overjoyed. I was like a kid in a candy store. I tried to view every exhibit, but was unable to due to time constrictions. The museum has something for everyone. Multimedia exhibits, dioramas, and a children's play area. The children's play area was adorable. There were costumes so the children could play dress up. The characters included Abraham Lincoln, Mary Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman. Too bad they didn't have any in my size. There were also puppet masks. In addition, there was a doll house that replicated the Lincoln home. Not to mention, Lincoln Logs galore! I spent a few minutes trying to build a log cabin but gave up. There was also a children's book area. I sat and read a book titled, "Henry's Freedom Box". The story was so impressive. It teaches the children about the Underground Railroad. I have to get this book for some of my little cousins or buy it and read it to them. Sorry, the history nerd in me just came out. There was one display that just made me cry. It was a slave family being separated. The father is taken in one direction, the mother in another direction, and the child is left standing atop a crate with slave shackles near his feet. There were statistics regarding the number of slaves sold. I just stood there and absorbed it all. I was speechless. I went through the other exhibits was truly enlightened. I returned back to my office at the Lincoln house with inspiration to do my job. I finally left and went home. I settled in and prepared myself for the next day.

Wednesday - I went to work as usual. I went to lunch with one of the rangers. We went to a restaurant called Cafe Brio. The food was good. I want to try to experience as much local cuisine and stray away from dependency on restaurant chains. I walked around the downtown area. I realized that there are an abundance of personalized license plates. That befuddled me for a moment. I quickly got over it. I think I might get one when I graduate that says hstrynrd. I wonder if Texas allows 7 characters. I'll look into that later. I finally went into a library. The public library has an abundance of information about the local history. I was able to look into the census records, marriage licenses, and newspaper articles. I made some progress towards my work. The staff is so courteous and knowledgeable. I know that I will be having slumber parties in the library so I can get my work done. I finally went home after a few hours in there. I have to say that I survived my first tornado. As I am at home watching TV, I hear the emergency sirens. I'm used to hearing them when they are being tested, not in actual use. So, there is an announcement that a tornado touched down on the other side of town and to take cover. So, I secure myself in a closet with pillows, blankets, purse, laptop, phone, and shoes. I can't let the shoes perish! After a few hours, the tornado dissipates. but, I think I got a splinter in my elbow. It was just pain, so I'm OK.

Thursday - I go to work and spend time in my alcove. I think I may have to reimburse the government for my use, or abuse, of post it notes. I try to organize my research and thoughts. Preparation for my Capstone seminar when I get back to TSU in the fall. The method to my madness will not be in vain. I went to my first staff meeting and met a majority of the staff associated with the site. The whole group is a great bunch of folks. I spend my time reading, notating, and highlighting. But I love it. I finally go home after a day of research work. I prepared dinner and go to my back door and there is a horse standing there. There is a carriage company nearby. I kind of feel at home, a little. I settled in and prepared for the next day.

Friday - I finally decided on what to wear that was cute and slightly casual. I ended up meeting the staff at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Another group of great folks. I think I may need to buy "thank you" notes in bulk. This library has an extensive holding of documents. I'll be dividing my library slumber party time between this library and the public library. Couldn't get a wireless connection in the library. My spirit was hurt. Went to a lecture on clothing from the 19th century. I learned a few things. I am grateful for my favorite clothing stores. I settled in and prepared for my weekend.