O-My Fragile Hart-O!

Life with a heart so fragile in His hands.

Category: essays

Appreciation Monday: Watermelons


When one has tasted Watermelons he knows what the Angels Eat. – Mark Twain

I have started eating watermelons lately because when I eat watermelon I feel like I can conquer the world. Euphoria and joy floods my body making me feel like sixteen again.

So just a few days ago I went to the supermarket to buy my watermelons. When I reached the fruit section I noticed yellow watermelons. Of course I was curious. I picked one up, compared its weight and the consistency of its outside with the red watermelons. After I had done that I just stood there for about 10 minutes looking at them, trying to hear what my heart was telling me. I also observed other people buying this yellow watermelon.

Did these people look credible? Did they look like they took responsible decisions in life? Did they seem sane?

After going to and fro with my decision of whether or not to purchase this treasure I finally thought to myself:

“No biggie Nae, you can buy one yellow watermelon and a red one. Just to try you know.That way you don’t need to go watermelon shopping for the next two days.”

watermelonI picked the watermelons up and carried them all the way home. It’s a long way home and they were extremely heavy. I am still very impressed by my grocery bag that didn’t leave me hanging by ripping in the middle of the street as usual.

When I got home my sister was sitting in the living room. I dropped my bag with the watermelons to the floor and broke the good news to her.

“Really?” she asked. The joy for watermelon and the excitement in her voice could not be overheard. Usually I just cut the watermelon in half and spoon out the fruit, using the hard shell as a bowl. So that is what I did.

I cut my newly discovered treasure in half, took my spoon from the kitchen and proceeded to make myself comfortable at our living room table. I took the first spoon and thought:

“Okay, not great but it’s fine. I can eat this.”

Second spoon was also fine. The succeeding spoons were also pretty cool.

My sister had some and she had the same reaction as I did.

When I reached the middle of the watermelon something struck me or let us say something struck my tongue but I don’t know what it was.

From one second to the next it was like I had never eaten a watermelon as disgusting as the one I was hovering over that very moment. The consistency was like jello whilst the pulp was dissolving in its own liquid without me even touching it. It began to increasingly remind me of the taste of soap. All of a sudden I could not control my face which was making crazy grimaces. It was trying to tell me to put an end to eating this thing aka: the embodiment of pain and remorse. However since we don’t like to waste things in our household I knew I had to finish this watermelon.

I cannot stress how difficult it was but just know that at one point I began to cry

Puh… I wrestled with this watermelon I fought and fought and in the end I can proudly say that I only left 30 percent of watermelon to throw away. After that event I went to sleep in order to forget what had just happened. When I woke up it was about time to eat watermelon again. So I went into the kitchen and cut the red watermelon.

However, I treated this watermelon differently. With trembling hands I cut this one in little pieces and put them into my lunchbox for work. I cut some extra pieces for my sister and had some myself.

With each bite of red watermelon my faith in watermelonhood was being restored. A feeling of gratitude and recognition swelled up inside of me and I began to shake my head in unbelief. Was this watermelon really as good as it tasted? Was I dreaming? Was I in heaven worshipping Jesus with the angels? I didn’t understand.

watermelon2Well, I continued with packing my bag with the items I needed for work. Books, pens, folders, notebooks deodorant, wallet, the usual; still waiting to wake up. I put my shoes on and picked up my bag from the couch. Then I walked to the kitchen to pick up my watermelon lunchbox, left the kitchen, closed the apartment door behind me and began to run for the train.

Now I am sitting here in front of my computer typing this because I want to share my joy with you. If this is a dream I still haven’t woken up.

Jesus loves me this I know…. I can’t stop singing in my head. I can’t stop smiling.

Hence, this is a love letter to red watermelons. Forever, you shall remain in my heart. You are proof that the redeemer lives.

Thank you. Thank you red watermelon. I love you.

The only question that remains now is what to do with that other half of yellow watermelon in my fridge.




Maya Angelou: The hope and Dream of the Slave

Maya Angelou

Still I Rise (Maya Angelou, 1978)

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise. 

Still I Rise, written by Maya Angelou (1978) deals with the opression of an individual. The lyrical subject in this poem speaks to someone telling him that regardless of the opression, the lies, the disregard and the maltreatment received, the lyrical I still finds the ability to do against this and to strive. In further examination, one can see that the lyrical I is a female. This is due to the words used in this poem. The words sassiness, haughtiness and sexiness for instance, are words that are used in the context of female attributes. Furthermore, the fact that the lyrical I speaks of its thighs which is emphasized with the image that diamonds meet at its melting is another indication for the femininity of the lyrical subject, because the description of thighs is generally used in the context of femininity. The lyrical I in addition can be placed in two contexts. The subject’s explicit claim of  of beings the “hope and the dream of the slave”, indicates that this poem can be placed in the time of slavery in the United States. It could thus be interpreted in such a manner that the lyrical I, holds a monologue, addressing her slaveowner.

The content of the poem however, could also be put into another context. Perhaps we are dealing with an African American woman during the time where racial discrimination was prominent and explicit hence the Civil Rights Movement (Bell&Nkomo, 1998). Nevertheless, in both cases we are dealing with a black, woman, which learns to withstand oppression during times in which maya1
political institutions practically make it impossible.

When inspecting this poem one can see the link it has to the aspect of power and democracy. This is due to the fact that the poem takes the reader on a trip back into time either when slavery was legal or the political emancipation of the African American has not occurred yet. During the 19th century, slavery was still legal in the United States of America. Here a slave was considered the property of the slaveholder. The slaveholder then had as a responsibility to hold the slave in a manner that it would be able to work appropriately (food, clothing and rest).

The dialectics of property and power is very obvious here. The more one owns, the more powerful one is. This is also reminiscient of Baldwins (2006) statement that power can be measured as in the sense of fungibility; meaning that it is measured by the power resources such as time or money. The fact that one could hold slaves meant that one had both time as well as money. One had money in the sense that one had the financial means to hold a slave appropriately. Held’s (2006) elaboration on ancient Greece clearly shows us that the fact that slave holders posessed slaves, granted them the time for other things such as political participation. This can also be applied to slave holding in the United States.

One can also recognize an interrelation of the power over and power to concept by Scott (2001).When applying this it is clear that the slave holder or the political institution is exercising power over the slave in the poem, when “shooting with words, cutting with eyes or killing with hatefullness”. Nevertheless, the lyrical I find the power to rise in this case and stand above all of this oppression. Here the lyrical I when “rising” makes statements, which can once more strongly be related to the fungility power of Baldwin. In this poem the rising of the lyrical I constantly stands in close relation to wealth or possession. The oil wells, pumping in the living room, the gold mines in the backyard as well as the diamonds at the meeting pot of the thighs, are all associated with overcoming the power of the opressor. The sassiness, the haughtiness as well as the sexiness are all closely linked to this. Although the subject of the poem here speaks about a certain mindset that is particularly high and supports it in striving, it is a mindset of behaving as if one posessed all these riches in order to not only have the power to overcome, but also to provoke and upset the object of this poem.

The link that can be made here in regards of the aspect of democracy is that everything the lyrical I experiences, is happening in the United States of America, which claims to be a democratic nation state. The Declaration of Independence, which holds the fact that all men are created equal to be an inalienable right, causes the fact that there was slavery or racial discrimination to be contradictory to their values. If all men are created equal then how is it possible that some are slaves, while others are not? Or that some have to sit in the back of the bus, while others are priviledged to sit in the front? The only reasonable explanation for this could the the logic Held elaborated on when speaking of slaves in Greece. Slaves in Greece were not eligible for the enjoyment of what Pericles states to be that power lies in the hands of the whole people and that everyone is equal before the law, because they were not considered to be citizens of the Greek state. As these priviledges were only granted to citizens, the slaves were then self evidently excluded from these rights. This could be the case in the earlier United States as well. Democracy according to Held entailed liberty as well as equality under the law.


Thus logically deducing, slaves in the 19th century and blacks later on were not to be regarded as “men”. If they had been, they would have been segregationtreated otherwise –frankly speaking, they would not have been slaves or made to use different bathrooms than the whites. They would not have been the exception to the rule. Hence, the democratic ideal of the United States government stood in contrast with its actions of slave holding and discrimination. This was why slavery in the end was abolished by Abraham Lincoln not after tough ongoing debates and why the Civil Rights Movement did not give up fighting for their right to be regarded equal. Martin Luther Kings’s statement of having a dream that soon all men will be regarded equal clearly showed that the US was not that evolved yet and so does Maya Angelou’s poem.

Her poem, in which she perfectly combined the experience of inspiration, agony and sheer will power, contains very strong connections to the notion of democracy and power. The lyrical I is a minority in threefold manners: she is a slave, she is black and she is a woman, which at the time was far from emancipation. Yet she rises like dust and air, self evidently she walks, dances and laughs. Yet she is the black ocean that lives beyond the mentioned nights of terror and fear.

Her poem shows the powerplay of a seemingly stronger individual to a seemingly weaker one (slave holder vs. slave), of a seemingly stronger majority and a seemingly weaker minority (whites vs. blacks) and of a seemingly stronger institution (or political system) and a seemingly weaker individual. The lyrical I in her poem clearly shows that apparently not every power relation is what it seems as towards the end of the poem she reaches her climax of emphasizing how she has the power to rise, despite power distribution; ending the poem by saying it three times in a row.

I rise

I rise

I rise.


Angelou, M. (1978). Still IRise. New York: Random House

Baldwin, D. A. (2006). Power and International Relations. In W. Carlsnaess, TH. Risse, & B.A Simonds (Eds.), Handbook of International Relations. London: Sage

Scott, J. (2001). Patterns of Power. In idem, Power. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Held, D. (2006). Models of Democracy. Cambridge: Polity Press

How to be a Student of the Liberal Arts

5. Activities

Found student organizations and take part in flash mobs to support those dying in Arabic countries due to the Arabliberalartstheatre
Spring. Organize concerts for students by students and plays that will most likely end with naked people in order to create awareness for breast cancer. Don’t forget to visit lectures, movie nights and panel debates dealing with topics about modern slavery, worker rights, LGBT rights or right wing politics. Make notes on your Macbook, or Ipad about these issues as you shake your head in disbelief. If there is room for questions ask:

This is all very theoretical, but what can we as regular citizens and students do now to improve the situation with practical means?”


6. Friendships

social-interactionIt is also important for you to choose your friends wisely. Surround yourself with a couple of people from minorities in your friend circle. One gay, one lesbian, one bi-sexual, one black (Asian or Arabic might also do) and somebody coming from a communist country; Argentinians, Cubans or Chileans for these are where revolutions have taken place and you like revolutions. Overthrowing regimes is brave and beautiful. Ché Guevara needs to become one of the most inspiring people you know. All of these friends will serve as a help for you to broaden your horizon and as proof that you are anything but ignorant. Ask about their experiences of discrimination for being what they are. If you approach a black girl for instance, talk about your experience in anAfrican country you visited or volunteered in.

“I really love African food and culture!”

You will say as she tries to explain that she was born in a European country. Ask her if you can touch her hair. If she lets you, you will observe that it feels like wool and you will proceed to look at her with great admiration. When you are done tell her how much you envy the fact that she does not need to do anything in order to make her hair look the way it does. Talk to her about African corruption and after feeling comfortable then ask about female genital mutilation in order to see whether or not she has any experience with this. Ask her about racism but let her know that you are not a racist at all.

The white man who painted his face pitch black and contoured his lips with red color is nothing but a part of Dutch culture for ages now. It was never meant to be offensive.”

She will smile and you will feel like you have had a meaningful discussion. Interact in this manner with all the other minorities. Always state their difference in any conversation and let them know that you do not pay attention to that at all.

7. Social Interaction

Give everybody a big hug when you meet them for the first time. They will appreciate it. Talk about your project to build an orphanage in Azerbaijan but also listen with interest about what they might talk about. You might not be able to talk so long for you will see the next person that you saw at a student jam session for five minutes. Proceed to shout in glee because you saw him and give him an even bigger hug. He will appreciate it too. Don’t forget to be creative. Write poems, dance and sing. Your creativity must always contain social or political statements. However, also try to find something specific that others don’t do such as fire spitting or contact dancing. Also visit as many festivals as possible throughout the summer. If you are not into that try to visit a farm that grows only organic vegetables and live on this farm during your summer vacation so that you can learn how to cultivate your own food. At least here you know where it is coming from. 

8. What to eat: 

organic food

Speaking of food and vegetables, your diet needs to be organic and fair-trade as well. Fair Trade and Organic food need to be included into your personal ideology. Watch documentaries about the food industry in order to engage in conversations about how you are disgusted about food processing. Documentaries such as “Food Inc”, “Supersize Me” or “What’s on your plate” will help you find substantial arguments for the awareness of your diet. Proceed to becoming a vegetarian that eats fish every once in a while. In your whole life as a Liberal Arts Student, you must have tried the vegan lifestyle at least once. Share your experiences with others and let them know that life without cheese was simply not doable. Nevertheless, become obsessed about eating organic fruits and vegetables so that every once in a while, when you are in a supermarket with friends you can say things such as: “I don’t understand why there are so many people that refuse to eat organic. It simply is so much more healthy and worth the money.” After having said that, smile a sorry smile at the mother of five children whose cart inspired you to verbally express these thoughts. Yet be sure to be as relativistic as possible when it comes to any other ideology. Repeatedly state that there can be no one truth and that everything always depends on the context and the culture a certain people might find themselves in.


9. What to Look Like

When it comes to your style or outward appearance there is not much to say, make an effort in looking like you have put no effort at all into your outfit. Buy your vintage clothes from the flea-market or a second hand shop. It would be even better if you find the clothes lying around somewhere by coincidence. Also wear the clothes you brought back from your trip to India, Azerbaijan, or Morocco. People will compliment you for that and you will answer that you simply love the colors.

Speaking of India, Kenya and Morocco, try to travel as far as possible. You will have found a cheap flight for 20 travelEuros to one of these places and you will stay in another continent for 8-14 days. You can stay longer if you like but that is not necessary. Tunisia or Morocco will do. Try not to pay for the train but to hitch hike as much as you can in order to make the trip adventurous. You need to be able to bring stories back home of the man who tries to walk from France to Ethiopia.



10. The finishing block: 

At one point in time you will proceed to graduate. Here you will have several options. Firstly, you could apply for a postgraduate program as you always wanted to. However, keep it undefined and broad just like your undergraduate studies. Secondly, you can apply for unpaid internships in little NGO’s that focus on anything of your interest. Work with refugees might be something exciting enough to do. Thirdly, you can travel the world. Travel any country you like but don’t stay in the United States for too long. If you do then state that you have only spent some more time there to understand American ignorance and experience the beautiful nature. During your soul searching time you will figure out that you under no circumstances want to work in an office, museum or the like. So you will work in cafés or bars to gain just enough to survive, whilst you solve world problems that cannot be solved within the government.

Yes, following these guidelines will be hard. It is not easy to become a Student of the Liberal Arts. Many are called but not many are chosen. However, if you put enough effort into it, you will reach the point where you are the manifestation of the Liberal Arts student and you will see that it was worth it.

You were made for this.

How to be a Student of the Liberal Arts

headphones-music-photography-iphone-earbuds-485x7284. The Mus(e)ic:

Listen to music that nobody has heard of other than your circle of friends. The musician needs to create art for art’s sake instead of wanting to be successful in the music industry. Obviously you need to have attained a certain level of enlightenment in order to not only know, but to truly cherish and understand that artist.

‘(Insert name here) make real music! They are the muse of life, true philosopher kings; that’ s why nobody knows them.’

If you do happen to listen to music that many others listen to as well, make sure people consider them as legends. Bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Velvet Underground or Ray Charles would be adequate. Once you have found your favorite musician be sure to be an expert on this field. For many like the Beatles but not many know about the tracks they have never published. However, do not endorse Michael Jackson. He was too main stream and conrtoversial in a weird way.

How to be a Student of the Liberal Arts

3. What to read/Facebook:

When it comes to literature, make sure to read Foucault. His works on body politics, surveillance society and the Panopticon will be of particular interest for you. When conversing with others mention this book and speak about its accuracy. Use a practical example such as Facebook. Mention that you do not have Facebook because of the reasons specifically stated in Foucault’s ‘Discipline and Punishment’. Advise others to read 1984 by Orwell in order to understand that the first twenty pages you read of his dystopian literature were merely stating the facts.If you happen to have Facebook before you began your studies, make sure to say this:

‘Yes, I have Facebook, but I think about shutting it down every day. I am sick of this forced online transparancy and others should be too. I don’t understand the ignorance of people who post EVERYTHING about their lives!’

 Privatize all of your settings so that nobody can find out anything about you. Make sure your profile picture does not show your face but rather an animal or a quote. If you wish to show your face it has to either be dark,blurry, the photo upside down or you can only see half of your face and body. Have a Facebook quote. It should be from a philosopher. Not any philosopher however, you must choose the only one that people pay attention to, the one that was all about passion and creating your own life. The one who made clear that God is dead. The quote needs to state that you are valuing life as it is and living it to the fullest. Post something like:

We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

 If this quote is taken by too many people choose a quote by Nelson Mandela. That always works.

How to be a Student of the Liberal Arts


liberalartsbild22. Your Academic Attitude:

After your interview with the dean of the university you would like to study at, rejoice about the fact that you have been accepted. After all, you were really nervous and practiced the interview various times with your parents or on your own. But when you are at the university, do not tell the others about how much work you actually put into the interview. Tell them that you have no idea why you were accepted. “I was talking nonsense all the time!” You should say. This is a habit you should uphold for the rest of the course of your study as well. Never let anybody know that you put work into your papers or assignments. Always look relaxed or confused about the tasks for the next lesson for your brilliance comes naturally and you don’t know why either.

Also do not forget to maintain a friendly relationship with your tutors and study advisers. Write them emails and also invite them for coffee. Pose questions about their personal life and career in order to show your interest in their field of work and to find a possible bachelor thesis supervisor.

How to be a Student of the Liberal Arts


1. The Foundation Block:

When you decide what you would like to study, make sure that you choose something that lacks as much specificity as possible. The study program of your choice needs to cover all of your interests. If you like pottery for instance, try to find a university that offers such courses. It is important to hold on to your freedom to become whatever you want at any given point in time for as long as possible. When you have been accepted to the study program try to socialize as much as you can, but do it with a system. Engage in groups that focus either on environmental issues, social issues or on art. Also try to sign up for monthly newsletters from Amnesty International, Greenpeace as well as any LGBT rights organization. Your study program needs to be the leeway for you to later on conduct your PhD thesis with something like the following title:

The art of sculpturing as a means of mediation between genders during the middle ages.’

During your small-talk you must be able to then say things such as: “The dark middle ages were not as dark as they seemed.”