Toxteth: a bit disconnected, began writing it before I found out the results of my internship application

My life is pretty ridiculous and overwhelming right now; it’s so unbelievably fabulous that I cannot imagine how I got so lucky.  I’m anxious to the verge of tears, I’ve got at least one thing going on every hour of the day.

It reminds me of my prep days leaving for Liverpool.  I was finishing a summer session math class, aka math accelerated.  It’s not a great idea for someone of my math capabilities, or lack thereof.  (I got a ‘C’)  I was also moving out of my apartment, into storage/the apartment I live in now with my cool cloned roomy.

I remember leaving my take home final with future roomy to drop off to my professor after spending most of the day hauling things in and out of a U-haul truck, then heading to the bars for my send off party.  I rode my bike home (and drunkenly did not make it over the last curb—it’s on a hill, don’t judge me) to my emptied out apartment and slept on the floor with my bags packed for Liverpool.

It’s the kind of delightful insanity that reminds me of what I believe was my second or third day of class in Liverpool.  We began in the classroom as usual.  Our teacher that day was one Mr. S, who you’ve met with Paul in the Pub.

After some class discussion we went with him to Toxteth, a dodgy faction of Liverpool.  “Do NOT come back here by yourself alone, and especially at night,” he said.  We saw rows of houses closed up by the City of Liverpool, in the process of gentrification.  We saw the new sterile housing made available to people who didn’t want to leave their homes in the first place.  There were more shops closed then opened.

Gentrification Purgatory

Little, and not so little, sparks of the residents fighting back show up.  There are two different community centres focused on kids.  There was the Merseyside Caribbean Centre, where I got to meet a fantastic soul, named Patrick Graham.

Meeting Patrick, to me, is proof that I had some good karma credit going on.  Mr. Graham is a poet and playwright, and has his company called, Blackout Productions. I ended up talking to him for the full half hour we were there, and I didn’t want to leave, but as I said before, happy madness.  We had three weeks to experience Liverpool as much as possible, less really, because we took a week to London and another to Antwerp and Amsterdam.

After lunch at a little local place, we went to the town hall to listen in on discussions for the Merseyside/Toxteth community.  They were divided into topics, health and wellness services, education, and jobs.

This is where I met Bea Freeman, a film-ographer.  I was relieved at a woman’s voice finally.  My fourth or fifth day there, I guess I’m impatient? She is fabulous, intensely dynamic and brilliant, but still very approachable.  I’m exceptionally glad I met her, because somehow not being mentioned, AT ALL, is worse then being mentioned in a sexist light, or ways I don’t agree with.  As far as the curriculum was concerned, women’s issues were a non-issue.  Three weeks is limiting.

For my group’s final project I was able to meet up with Mr. Graham and Ms. Freeman again. They made the time for me.  I was impressed.

And speaking of women’s issues, a woman’s ‘proper role’ came up in conversation after a group of us had eaten at a local Caribbean restaurant in Toxteth.  Chip, Props, Samba, Eyes, Sheik, Echo, Mel, Mr. Graham and Mr. S and myself, all ate there together after official class time was finished. He was talking about how men and women were equal but they had their roles.  He comes from a much more violent and scary place than I do, so maybe it makes sense there, but I sure as hell am not nurturing and standing behind my man and having him protect me.

I had Guinness-milk drink.  You could get it with fruit too, but I’ll be damned if I can remember what it’s called now.  It was amazing and Mr. Graham said he makes them at his house sometimes.  I tried oxtail as my meal, which as Chip said, “That is black-people food right there.”  He made me share but only after I gave him a sufficient amount of shit first.

We walked to Ken’s Barbershop, where apparently Samual L. Jackson has gone for a shave.  Chip is also a barber so he wanted to experience a master of his trade. Chip is the type of person that gets people involved in a central activity.  As for me, I was assigned to documenting the event.  In the recording you can here my passive-aggressive quips on masculinity.  Later, in London, we actually had dialogue on the topic that was really awesome.  But me, well, I don’t play so well with others a lot.

I suppose that’s why I didn’t get the internship to return, or one of many of the reasons anyway.  I suppose that’s why after we were done there and in safe territory again, I was off to wander by myself.

Sometimes I need that alone time to digest all of that.  It was a very full day.

I’ll be digesting all the experiences I had in Liverpool for a while I think.  Among the every hour of every day Mon-Friday planned, I am working on a presentation for SSS/Trio/CAMP administrators to illuminate the process and possibilities in University of Liverpool’s three-week, Global Leadership Training Program.