"Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, but it is the only answer."--Dorothy Day



Today is my blogiversary. I started this thing last year during NYC's Transit Strike, as none of my patients could get to the hospital for their appointments. Oh, the memories. Thank you for giving me a place to express myself somewhat freely, and to discuss with the blogosphere the wonderings of my heart. Now on to other stuff....
I have discovered over the past few months of reading and movie and TV watching that I may be every writer's dream. I am moved in all the right places, to the appropriate anger, joy, sadness, etc. I am affected and carry that with me for days. I tell others about it and recommend that they see/read whatever it was. Sometimes I insist and will purchase for them a copy of it. And as I am always reading at least 2 books, its a vast array of knowledge and emotion we're talking about here.

And now the run-down of the stuff I think you should be reading. I am currently reading Barack Obama's first book, Dreams from My Father, and have found myself struck by the person he is and by what amazing things may occur if he is elected president. I've also enjoyed the fact that he freely speaks of having used drugs in his youth, but wonder how this fact will effect him on election day. We don't tend to reward people's honesty with votes. I'm also half-way through with A People's History of the United States (in the 1960s to be exact). I started this one in the summer and have been neglecting it for a while. It's very interesting to look at the history of this country from the perspective of some many different people. But it's also pretty intense and leaves me rather angry with whatever group of oppressors they are talking about that day. And I'm re-reading Blue Like Jazz. I don't normally confess to reading anything existential, or at all religion-based unless it's controversial. I'm very hard core as I was told by my book club last week. But this book is just so amazing. It has the potential to change the way readers think of God and their relationship with God and other human beings. It has an honesty I have not found before. And for this reason I am able to overlook the typos and fact-checking errors. No small feat, I assure you. Not that there are alot, but just that, as I said before, I'm hard core.
Happy Holidays to everyone! And safe travels. If you're one of the million or so people flying out of LaGuardia tomorrow afternoon, come and find me. I'll be at the American Airlines Terminal, most assuredly waiting hours for my delayed flight.



Today is my 28th birthday. I am very big on birthdays, anniversaries, other milestones. I, however, do not age so well. I am really intimidated by the numbers. And being that I have always been the over-achiever everywhere I've been, I'm used to be the youngest (or at least one of the youngest) person at my job, or school, or whatever it is that I happen to be doing at that moment. But now that I am quickly approaching 30 (Noooooo!), I don't think that will be the case any more. How does one adjust to such things? I'm told that once you turn 30, 30 no longer matters. I hope that's true.

The scariest part about 28 is that this year includes my 10-year high school reunion. I've kept in touch with maybe 5 people I went to high school with, and I've only seen or spoken to one of them within the last few years. So I struggle to decide whether it's worth the trip. Through the insidious
MySpace, I've gotten back in touch with a few friends from elementary, junior high and high school who I would actually like to see, but wow...a whole weekend with Calallen High. I don't know what to expect from that. I was not unpopular in high school, but I was not popular either. I was a pretty intense student, and was friendly with kids from all of the cliques, including a couple of football players and at least one girl from the dance team (both major enemies of all those in band). Due to this intermingling, I was known as neutral space between the punks and the jocks. I was Switzerland. But as you probably can tell if you if you've read any of this, I am no longer so neutral any more. I'm not sure how that will work. I'm hoping that the my new exotic locale will overrule the fact that I am a Blue sitting deep in Red Country.



Over the past few weeks, my friends and I have had several discussions of Hell. It seems heavy, but they're mostly in jest. But then my friend Joe put up on his blog a story about Carlton Pearson and what is called the gospel of inclusion, stating essentially that there is no hell that is separate from this earth. That the ways of man have created a hell on earth. He tells the story of sitting with his healthy, well-fed family watching the news and seeing pictures of children starving to death in countries abroad. He and God have a conversation about this, Dr. Pearson stating that he cannot understand how a loving God could subject people to such lives as these, and then condemn them to Hell because they have not heard the message of Jesus. God's answer to him was that these people would not be sent to Hell because they were already there. And they too would be given a home in Heaven and an escape from the hell that man has created for itself.

I was so struck by this, because it was something I had never really thought of before. I've been known to say that my Hell is very small, because I cannot wrap my mind around people experiencing so much pain in life, only to be given no peace in death. And I know it is not for me to create my own rules, or to create my own version of God. But from what I know of God, God does not seek to punish and oppress, but to give people peace and freedom from pain and sorrow. And so it only makes sense that Heaven would be huge and would have room in it for everyone.

Yesterday I was reading the New York Times and came upon a story about the recent floods in Somalia. And I thought back to the gospel of inclusion. People who live in a land torn apart by war, who perpetually experience times of famine due to the alternating cycle of drought and flood. If this is not Hell, I cannot think what would be. I cannot comprehend a God that would not give these people peace and joy, full stomachs and safety.


The Great Equalizer.

This article gave me great joy. It's good to know I'm not alone in the love-hate relationship I have with my genormous bag. It's becoming a universal.



I have recently met someone who does not have a cellphone, only checks his e-mail like once a week. I know, it's shocking, especially in NYC. This person and I have been trying make plans for I think three weeks now, but have succeeded in missing each other probably twice daily during this time. And this has made me realize (that and the days I forget my phone at home) just how terrifically dependent my life is on technology. At one point, I had two phones, a pager, a blog and like 4 active e-mail addresses. It's simply out of control. But it also means that I am in fairly constant contact with most everyone I know. There's the friend with whom I have bi-weekly dinner dates. On the morning of, one of us will e-mail the other, discussing the prospect of dinner. Then the other will e-mail with a yes or no, and some possible locations. Then the other will e-mail these possible locations narrowed down, or added to. And this goes on for much of the day, until we have come to a decision. Because of cellphones, I am in constant contact with any number of friends who live thousands of miles away. It just takes a convenient call when on your way to or from somewhere to update on the week's (or day's, depending on who they are) happenings. It's great. Sometimes it's a quick call to tell me about the song that's on the radio. It's happened many times and I love it. I am someone who longs for connection to people, and this is the perfect time for someone such as myself. Text messages, e-mails, phone calls...all so convenient. As for this new friend, I don't know that it's going to work out, simply for the fact that I can never get in touch with him. It's a very 21st century, bourgeoise reason for a relationship to end.


Innovation and Inaction.

I was reading an article in the Times yesterday about a new program being put into place in Africa by the Clinton Foundation. This program will provide millions of children with medications to treat HIV. It was said in the article that there are over 2.3 million children in the world with HIV, and 2 million of those are in Africa. Most of these children, having contracted the virus at birth, will not see the age of 5.

In order to provide this life saving medication, the Clinton Foundation had to broker a deal with pharmaceutical companies in India, because their patent laws are lax and thus they can make generic a drug that was before only available in the much more expensive brand name form. This has become the norm in programs to provide HIV medications to people in developing countries, and while it is an amazing gift to these people, it is one of the many things in the world I cannot wrap my mind around. Why is it that millions of lives are not worth the millions of dollars pharmaceutical companies stand make off these medications? Why is it that we in the United States have had these medications for years before it even becomes a topic of discussion to send them to people abroad? In NYC, the mother-to-child transmission rate of HIV is less than 1% because there was a study of medication to prevent such infections about 10 years ago, and they found the medication so effective that they stopped the study and started giving it to every pregnant woman who was HIV positive. And yet 700,000 children will be infected with this terrible disease this year alone, in countries with fewer resouces, when it is well known what could stop this.

In the article, they speak of the fact that Thailand has chosen to break the patents of several drug companies, despite its own strict patent laws. "David Wilson, an official with Doctors Without Borders in Thailand, lauded the move. 'Thailand is demonstrating,' he said in an e-mailed statement, 'that the lives of patients have to come before the patents of drug companies.'" This, the last sentence of the article, made it very clear to me how much trouble the world is in, that something so seemingly simple has become a revolutionary act.



In an effort to avoid the work I have to do today....a quiz. You can only answer with one word. No explanations.

1. Yourself: Quirky
2. Your spouse: Elsewhere
3. Your hair: Poofy
4. Your mother: Hmmmm... (is that a word?)
5. Your father: Funny
6. Your favorite item: Pen
7. Your dream last night: Strange
8. Your favorite drink: Minty
9. Your dream car: Efficient
10. The room you are in: Toxic
11. Your ex: Distressing
12. Your fear: Terminal
13. What you want to be in 10 years: Connected
14. Who you hung out with last night: BFF
15. What you're not: Ordinary
16. Muffins: Allergic
17: One of your wish list items: Debt-free
18: Time: Fast
19. The last thing you did: Coughed
20. What you are wearing: Casual
21. Your favorite weather: Chilly
22. Your favorite book: Political
23. The last thing you ate: Muffin
24. Your life: Dark Comedy
25. Your mood: Exhausted
26. Your best friend: Amazing
27. What you're thinking about right now: Vacation
28. Your car: Nonexistent
29. What you are doing at the moment: Listening
30. Your summer: Hot
31. Your relationship status: Confusing
32. What is on your TV: Plant
33. What is the weather like: Coldish
34. When was the last time you laughed: Yesterday


The Mindless Menace of Violence.

When I was about 12 years old, I decided that I was going to be a hippy. I even had a collection of clothes that I would wear for many Halloweens after this time as costumes. Really what being a hippy meant was my best friend and I listened to the Beatles, and all of our projects in GT English and History had to do with the 1960s and the anti-war movement. We even made hippy puppets for our history fair project, complete with long hair and granny glasses (The making of elaborate sock puppets is one of my greatest talents). I think back to this now and know that I had no idea what I was talking about, but am also amused to see that I may have come full-circle, though I no longer dress Bohemia, and know a bit more what I'm talking about, and sadly have not made a sock puppet in protest in many, many years.

Tonight I went to see Bobby because it looked interesting and pretty much everyone working in Hollywood is in it. And I was just so struck by the hope that the people portrayed in this film possessed in this man. I look at the state of our country, when so many of the problems of the 1960s continue to ravage our nation and our world (many of them artfully hidden from the public eye), and wonder who, if anyone, will ever come along that will give us hope like that. American politics has become such a media showdown that it is difficult to even know what is what. We pick a party and hope that they are actually against the things they say they are, though we have little faith that things will ever actually change. Even in a time like this, when so many of us are so hopeful with the switching over of the House and Senate, the reality of it is that little may actually change because it seems like their hands, in so many instances, are tied.

The end of the movie is voiced over with a speech give by Robert Kennedy called
"The Mindless Menace of Violence." Though the words were spoken almost 40 years ago, during a different time and a different war, they still ring so true.

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity, my only event of today, to speak briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.

Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, "there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs."

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.

I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.


I am a...

Have you ever been ashamed to admit something that you inherently are? For most of my life, that something was the fact that I was a Christian. In High School and even in College, only my closest friends knew that I was not only a believer, but also a frequent church-goer. And even in my more recent years, it has been something that I owned up to only with great explanations and qualifications. "I am a Christian, but I don't believe..." so many things. It is only now that I am truly comfortable with this. I know that so much of this is my own perceptions throughout my high school and college years of what was going on inside the heads of my church community. In getting to know some of my high school church friends again (mainly through the blogs), I have come to realize that maybe the seeds were planted at AH. That there were many things that I believed would be unacceptable to them, that caused me to make drastic separations in my world, but that they now agree with me on. It is a blessing to know that I was not so much the outcast that I thought I was.

The church I go to now, CCfB, is truly, truly amazing. I know that I've spoken of this before, but it has been made so much more apparent to me this week. I gives me great hope for the future of the Christian faith that people such as those who are gathered with me at the YWCA each week, and those I gathered together with back in the day, exist and have not given up.


Close Talker.

My life is very regimented. Every Sunday without fail, I check out the New York Times Magazine to see if there are any interesting things in there (that I am sure to read about half of because those things are long), and I check the Style section on both Sunday and Thursday. In today's Style section there was an article of the study of personal space, or proxemics as it is called. I thoroughly enjoyed it. My college roommate had a big thing about personal space and we had this friend who was such a close talker that sometimes you could feel him breathing in your mouth. It was pretty disgusting,and it really freaked her out. But he was really funny and generally saying something inappropriate. I didn't used to be a big personal space person. But as I often find myself uber annoyed by people all up in my mix, I think I've been converted. Such as a good friend of mine who is about 6 inches shorter than me and a very close talker. When she speaks to be, I feel like she's sitting under my chin. And a girl, I met at a party a couple of years ago who was an actress. I kid you not, when she talked to you she stood about 2 inches from your face. I blame it on her profession, but it was still pretty terrifying. So anyway, enough of my non sequitur. Have a good weekend.



Over the past few weeks things I've been reading and discussions I have had have made me think alot about what justice actually means. What does it mean in the Justice System? What does it mean for the poor of our nation? What does it mean for the world community? And is justice equivalent to venegence, which often brings violence?

As I am a pacificist-to-a-fault, I cannot see a time when I would ever believe that violence is the answer to anything. Whether this means finding for the death penalty in a murder trial, or retaliation in a time of violence between two nations, I cannot wrap my mind around it and how this is getting us anywhere. Violence only begets violence, thus creating more violence and more injustice, more people seeking retribution. And I feel like answers lie in this sentence. So many things in the world that are not physically violent acts can be seen as acts of violence and sometimes escalate into acts of war. Not treating people as equals. Not being respectful of difference. Actively not meeting the needs of your country's poor. Sitting idly by while people die for lack of simple healthcare and nutrition. Seeking to deprive people of their basic human rights, because they are not a part of your mainstream. So with all of these things, in my mind, justice is found through equality. Using our food surpluses to make sure that everyone has enough healthy food to survive; using our technology and vast scientific resources to wipe out epidemics without care of the profit margins on these life-saving medications; providing the children of our country with an education so that they have the opportunity to compete; not seeing difference as deviance, as dangerous.

During one of the discussions that prompted this, it was made very clear to me that my ideals are not so practical. I am well aware of this. I, afterall, believe that if I could remove one thing from human nature, it would be competitiveness. Can you imagine...no greed, no war, no playground bullying, no sibling rivalry, sports played just because we like to play, advancement for the sake of humanity rather than profit and prestige? If only the world existed as it does in my head...


A Democracy Hangover.

People, I am tired to today. But it is a joyful tired, having stayed up into the wee small hours of the morning waiting for election results. Election day is like my Super Bowl. I love it, but that love generally turns to sorrow very quickly. But for the first time in my voting life, I voted for people who were elected. It's a very alien thing. I now live in a state whose senators, governor and attorney general are Democrats. WHAT!?! I know. It's crazy, but true. And that's not all...we took the House and are so, so close to taking the Senate. Any minute now...I can feel it.

P.S.--It's all decided now. And yea! The House, the Senate and no more Donald Rumsfeld! What could be better!


A Positive Note.

I've decided to start the week off with a positive note and give you my Three Beautiful Things for Monday, November 6th. Here goes...

1. Dreading a social event, only to walk in the door and find most of your friends (who you didn't know were coming) are already there.

2. The fact that all babies love to meet other babies. I was on a very crowded train yesterday (due to Marathon traffic) and saw two babies meet up and become fast friends. If only things were still that easy.

3. Election Day! We hope that this one stays a beautiful thing, but right now it has beautiful potential.


The Reach of War.

In the month of October, 103 American soldiers were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. This story is accompanied by photos of the funerals of some of these soldiers. Pictures of their wives and mothers and children. And this alone is enough to remind me of why no good can come of this war. But we don't see the pictures of the thousands of funerals in Iraq, or hear the names of the 600,000 civilians who have been killed. We rarely hear how these days at war effect the soldiers, most whom are so, so young, and how it is that they are expected to go back to any sense of normal life once this is finally over. Today there is a story about a Marine who is a medic in Iraq who is all of 22 years old. I cannot even imagine the weight of his world.


Free Hugs.

I'm sure this has been around for a bit, but this is the first time I've seen it. It made my day. Hopefully it will make yours.

Update: I saw the Free Hugs guy (or a Free Hugs guy) in Union Square on January 6th, 2008. Great hug!



I am famous for my anxiety dreams. In one I waited in a doctor's office waiting room for 24 hours before I was seen, and then when someone finally saw me it was not a doctor, but the mother of a guy I knew in the 3rd grade. Well, I have had a day today that is like one of these dreams come true. This morning I had a meeting at my company's corporate office in the financial district, so I went down there only to find that this meeting did not exist. I have no idea what happened to it, but I spoke to several people and I was the only one who had ever heard of it existing. Then I had to find the train to get to my office but instead just wandered in circles for about half an hour through the maze of identical buildings. And now that I have finally gotten to work, all hell is on the verge of breaking loose, but I can do nothing to stop it. So I comically shake my fist at the sky, and hope that I will wake up before I get to the point in the dream where my teeth start falling out.


Fenced In.

So it's been a while since I've had anything to say. Know that I have started several blogs, only not to finish them because they were dumb, or because my work computer is evil and wouldn't allow me to finish them. There was a very good one about how evangelical churches feel they are losing teens to the evils of popular culture, but then the article was made available only by payment on the New York Times Web site. But just know, that it was going to be a really fiery blog.

A few moments ago, I was reading a New York Times story about the approval of a bill to fence in 700 miles of the border between the United States and Mexico. And of course, I was fired up enough to write something. I am somewhat distressed by the thought of a huge fence going up to seperate one group of people from another anywhere it happens. Borders should be things drawn on maps, not things that exist in real time. It's like creating a giant gated community because we don't want the riff-raff to come into our swanky neighborhood. When in reality we are responsible for the conditions on the other side of that fence, that we insist on protecting ourselves from. Just because things are out of our line of sight does not mean that we hold no responsibility for correcting them.

I understand very well that most of my opinions are very idealistic. I work more on a good-of-humanity level than a practical politics/diplomacy level. A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a friend who actually knows alot about and has a very good understanding of the political system. He helped me to understand some stuff, though I still don't like it. I will choose to stay in my utopian headspace and hope that someone can put my thoughts into practice.


The Shah of Blah.

Last night I had the amazing privilege of sitting audience for Salman Rusdie. Salman Rushdie is like a rock star in my world. His book Haroun and the Sea of Stories (in which the Shah of Blah is a character) is the first book I read in college and on the list of things that I forcibly make everyone I know read. It was especially wonderful because he wasn't really there promoting a book, but was just speaking his mind as the first lecturer in the "Voices of Reason" series of the Center for Inquiry here in NYC. I cannot express how awesome it was to be able to sit and listen to him.

Mr. Rushdie is a bold man. He spoke at length about the crises in the Middle East and the relationship of Muslim communities to the rest of the world. He spoke of how sometimes respect for a culture can turn into fear of or intimidation by these cultures, citing acts of terrorism by people using the Islamic faith as their justification. And when we address things in the cautious manner that we often do, so that we will not anger a particular group to action against us, it becomes unclear where the problem truly lies. "The point is to call things by their name. To avoid naming them properly, avoids thinking of them properly." I think it's interesting to think about, the fact that so many things have been deemed a product of individual culture and are therefore off limits to discussion.

Mr. Rushdie is decidedly anti-religion, as apparently most of the crowd there last night was. And I feel like it is understandable for him to feel this way. As an adult, he began to criticize Islam, which had been the faith of his family. And as a result, a fatwa was proclaimed by the Ayatollah, and millions of Muslims were instructed to kill him for a hefty reward. And this was not condemned by most of the religious world, even outside of the Muslim sphere. Imagine if GW had put a price on the head of Dan Brown for insinuating in The DaVinci Code that Jesus had married, and that Mary Magdalene was an apostle, and not a prostitute. And then Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell, and the Pope all stood in agreement that this should happen. It's pretty frightening, isn't it?

A friend and I have been talking alot the last few weeks about the tragedy of the way Christianity is viewed by much of the world. And this was very apparent to me last night. Mr. Rushdie talked at length about how he felt when people live their lives by the principles of a religion, any religion, disastrous things tend to happen. Or as he said it "When religion gets into the driving seat, all Hell breaks loose." And from the state of our World, I would say this is true. The principles of Christianity and Islam, and many other religions, have been skewed in such a way that GW is seen by many Americans as the divine liberator of the people of Iraq, when in fact their "liberation" has brought them to the brink of civil war.

As I sit at my work desk, I am still trying to process it all. It has given me alot to think about.

P.S.--I think that I saw Tyne Daly of Cagney & Lacey fame watching off to the side.


Three Beautiful Things.

As it is 4:45ish, and I am not in the middle of something at work, I was surfing around blogsphere and found something delightful. It's a blog called Three Beautiful Things. It made me very happy, so I thought I'd share it with you. And here are my Three Beautiful Things for the day.

1. Today was the first day I could actually justify wearing a scarf. I love scarves.

2. Fonts. I love them without reason.

3. Sweaters....almost as wonderful as scarves.


Prisoners of Certainty.

I long for the day when putting significant thought into a decision that may affect millions of people is thought to be prudent; when changing your mind with good reason is not demonized; when the word flip-flopper is used only to refer to a person who makes, sells, designs or wears flip-flops. I hope someday for a politician to take office who freely admits to mistakes in judgement and who is not afraid to rethink things. There is in the New York Times today a review of Bob Woodward's book State of Denial. It describes GW as "a prisoner of his own certitude." This is an interesting way to think about the current state of our country. We are in the hands of a group of men who were so certain of their ideas-- ideas that have been found to be rife with bad judgement and contradiction--that they are now unable to see the misteps they have made that it seems are inescapable by the rest of the World. Even the Republicans are beginning to see things for what they are, but maybe it's not admitting fault if you say that neither side is right.


The Whelming Flood.

I cry every time I talk about God. It’s been this way for years, but it was never a problem. Until now. Since I’ve been in New York and have started going to CCfB, I actually have to stand up (really, sit down) and speak about all of it. I tie it up in my personal experiences, and my revolutions, and my calls to action, but really it’s all about God. It frustrates me, so I try to plan ahead—far, far ahead—so that I won’t be nervous, because maybe that’s why I cry. I was reading a book last week, Blue Like Jazz, and it became clear to me why I cry. In this book there is a story about a pastor who is asked to explain his devotion to God and he bursts into tears, as he cannot express how amazing this love is. But in another part of the book, the author and his friends set up a confessional in the middle of a college campus, and instead of receiving confessions, they confess the sins of Christians across time.

When I read this, I felt like I understood myself better. I didn’t believe in God until I was probably 20 years old. That seems young, but I had spent the most difficult years of my life up until then pretending and trying so hard to make it true. When it finally hit me, it was like nothing I had ever experienced, and my life has never been the same. But there is also a part of me that remembers life outside. That remembers the terrible things that Christians have done through history, killing people to further a religion, enslaving people to maintain dominance, demonizing people because we know nothing of their lives. So when I talk about God I am overwhelmed by it all. I think of how wonderful my life has been with God in it, the amazing experience of living in a community of believers and knowing that something better awaits me. And I think of all the people that have been denied this by a religious community that has at times been blind to the damage we do when we keep people out of our midst, simply because we do not agree with something in their lives, and we do not have the compassion to know that this is more important than any of that could ever be.

I have witnessed it over and over again, in both my personal and professional lives, people whose lives have been destroyed by the prejudice and bigotry and intolerance. In my recent surfing around the blogosphere, I came upon the blog of a man who is dying of AIDS. He is begging to die. He has been excommunicated from his church because he is gay, and now feels that, because these people treated him with such brutality, God has damned him and has given him this disease as a punishment for his misdeeds. And I am again overwhelmed. I am angry, so, so angry, that a church would do this to a person. That a family would allow this to happen. That someone would be left alone at the end of their life, dying of such a terrible illness, simply because society has demonized people for something they have absolutely no control over. I pray that someone will find him and tell him that we are not all like that. That God loves him and seeks him, and wants him to know that he is not alone.


Cuppy Cake.

My college roommate and I used to sing this song...generally very late at night...when neither of us had slept for several days. That's the only way it's acceptable. I found it today very randomly and laughed so hard I almost fell out of my chair. So now I present to you....The Cuppy Cake Song.



I was reading a blog today called BadChristian.com, just to see what it was all about. I enjoy the movement of Christians calling themselves bad in a good way. You know in the way that says "Maybe the way we've been going isn't exactly the way we should continue going. Maybe our government has made decisions that, contrary to what they say, are not in the best interest to the World's people." On the Web site there is a link to a quiz letting you know what kind of Christian you are. And I'm proud to annouce that I got a -4 on the test and am a Communist/Marxist/Socialist/Secular Humanist Worldview Thinker. WooHoo! What this means is that I don't believe that our government is divine, I think that money should not drive all decisions, and I think that gay and lesbian people should have rights.

If you feel compelled to take the test, let me know what you score. And don't worry, not everyone can get a -4.


Viva La Vie Boheme!

My mother insists that when I was in the 6th grade I told her that I wanted to move to New York and be a Bohemian and wear a beret. I fully deny having ever said this soley on the accusation that I would ever wear a beret.

In the New York Times Magazine this weekend, their weekly feature The Way We Live Now talks about the ever shifting Bohemias of NYC. They raise the question...Can Bohemia still exist in the rapidly changing, formiddably priced, landscape of 21st century New York City? I don't know that I've attained my aparent dream of moving to New York and becoming a Bohemian. I eat organicly and wear sneakers to work. That might be as close as I come. I was talking with a friend at Sunday Brunch (probably very un-Boho, as it was in the Financial District) about the changing of neighborhoods. He lives in Battery Park City, which used to be populated primarily by Wall Street financiers. Now these people are married and have children, greatly changing the face of the neighborhood. I live in Park Slope in Brooklyn. This area was in the 1980s a very dangerous place. And then in 1990s the Boho crowd moved in. The neighborhood still has that feel, but has been invaded by the stroller set. People who were artists 10 years ago are now freelance graphic designers. Once again, practicality reigns supreme.

When I was in college my friends and I went to see Rent for the first time. We were an English major (me), a Journalism major, a Nursing major, and a Finance major. After the show, we talked about it and my more practical friends were like "I understand they're artists and all, but there's no reason to starve. Why don't they just get jobs?" I, however, enjoyed the romance of it all. Sacrificing yourself for your art. Not giving in to the man. But now, of course, I've had to start paying my student loans back. This is something Bohemia doesn't really allow for. It's sad when you have to give in and get a profession. But, I will not give up hope that I will someday get to stand up and sing in a line (see photo above).


Nothing Left.

I've been reading today news stories and blogs and e-mails about 9/11, reliving that day in my own life and trying to decide what if anything I would write. I feel, as always, that this might be something that I should stand silent on, as at the time I lived 1800 miles away. But then I read this. Thoughts on an Anniversary. It says more than I could ever hope to say.


Historical Fiction.

In reading another article this morning about The Path to 9/11, I discovered what it is that really bothers me about this mini-series. I feel as though ABC is treating this as though it were a piece of historical fiction, allowing them the space to make up events and characters, to manipulate things in such a way as to get their point across. I'm not so sure what their point is, but it's just odd to do this. The only historical fiction I ever remember reading is Johnny Tremain. I made an awesome diorama of the incident when he injures (and apparently silver-plates) his hand using an action figure in a tiny handmade three-corner hat. My understanding of historical fiction is that the history stays fundamentally the same, but a character is placed in the events to offer an eye-witness account of things. That seems to be the only acceptable way to tell a story using characters that didn't really exist, but the characters probably shouldn't be making stuff up. That's more like historical slander.


To Tell The Truth.

In reading the blog of a friend, I first learned of the controversy surrounding ABC's mini-series The Path to 9/11. And then I got an e-mail from another friend with a link to a petition to put a stop to this. In reading all of these sites, I am, I don't know that there is a strong enough word but I'll say, apalled that people would think to slant the truth in such a way. I know it's weird, but I have a lot of problems with any dramatic portrayal of tragedy. I don't know that there is ever a way to do this with the sensitivity and care that it requires to not cause the families of those affected any further pain. My feelings about 9/11 can in no way compare to someone who was in NYC when it happened, or to someone who lost a loved one in this terrible tragedy, but I am dumbfounded that people would even perceive to profit off of such a thing. I do not believe it's healthy to force people to relive that day over and over and over again. We do not need to continue placing blame. This was a horrible tragedy. I feel like movie after movie after movie being made about it does nothing but raise questions in the minds of people attempting to move on. Not to forget, but just to move on.

When I first read this I was tempted to watch this thing as I kinda like to be outraged. But I think this is more important than that. I'm sure the ratings will be huge, as we cannot turn away from a tragedy, but I implore you not to add a number to this.


On Work....

When I was a child, and up until I was 21 or so, I wanted to be a teacher. I clearly remember being in the 5th grade and thinking, "I really like what my teacher is doing here. I'll remember this to use in my class." When I was in elementary school, I planned on teaching elementary. But when I got into Junior High, I decided that I'd like to teach English and thus would teach High School. My Junior English teacher, Ms. Day, became my mentor because she was maybe the smartest person I had ever met, and she seemed to wholly understand the craziness of the minds in my "gifted" English class. When during my senior year of college I decided that I was not going teach anymore (a decision that may have been hastily made), I really had no idea what I wanted to do. And some days I feel like I still don't. First I was a copy editor. I enjoyed sitting there and reading all day. It gave me outlet for my anal attention to detail and my impeccable spelling skills. But it was never enough for me. Though I was stopping pieces of conservative propaganda from entering the minds of 6th graders with the swipe of my pen, I did not feel like I was doing enough. I got permission from my boss there to take a couple of hours Wednesday mornings to volunteer at AIDS Service of Austin. I enjoyed my mornings there so much that when I was blessed with temp work and an unbelievable amount of time to think, I decided to do that for a living. And now that I am doing that, I find myself many days wanting to be somewhere else, doing something else. I know that everyone at every job in the world does this.

It seems to be our motto at my work lately "When I became I social worker, this is not what I thought it would be." When I was working at the hospital, I would see the pain my patients were in, and the often apethetic attitude of their doctors, and it would make me want to be a doctor. Now I am kind of bad at math, and thus chemistry, and am pretty quickly grossed out by smells and sights. But the logic of this is overruled by the amazing potential to help people and ultimately to save lives. And now at my job, I spend my days basically taking away people's right to self-determination. Yes, the things I essentially force them to do (i.e. taking medications, going to doctor's appointments, etc.) are things that in the end will make their lives better. But when they're yelling at me, calling me a liar, and various other pieces of colorful language, I feel a bit more like I'm doing these things to satiate my supervisors and their want for a peaceful building than actually helping these people live the lives they want to live. So now I want to go back to school to get a management degree because I feel like I need to run a program, so that I might be satisfied with how it is run. Some days I want to be a lawyer, because maybe then I'll understand the things that fundamentally affect the people I'm trying to help. Other days I want to be a writer, because I miss being creative in ways that don't involve people's livelihood. I still want to be a teacher, because I love and understand the mind of the rebellious teenager. And I still kinda want to learn how to play guitar and join Courtney Love's band (I love her...I can't explain it). It is in some ways a blessing to have so many interests and the want to do so much. But really at my advanced age of 27, shouldn't I just pick something and stick to it?


Random Comment.

The summer after my freshmen year of college I went out with this guy who was a tennis player for the Citadel. He was in my physics class, so mostly we just went to IHOP to study. We'd be sitting there engrossed in our physics and he would think of something and pop his head up and say "Random comment..." and then go on to say something truly random. I started doing it too. That was how we lived. So now...Random comment...

(1) My friends and I have talked alot about how lonely it can be to live in NYC. Surrounded by thousands of people all that time, yet knowing none of them. But today, I was encouraged by none other than the man who owns my neighborhood grocery store. I was there buying my consumables for the week, when he asked me where I'd been. He noticed that I hadn't been around for the past few days. I hadn't come in to buy anything and he hadn't seen me pass by. It makes me feel good that I have been here long enough to be noticed, and thought of. That I am not an anonymous person here. One day a few months ago we had a conversation about the Selena song on the radio and about how I was from Selena's hometown. He said "Oh, you're from Texas. I'm from Libya. It's alot like Texas."

(2) Some of my friends have been putting up the Top Ten songs on their iTunes Shuffle list. It says something about a person. Here's mine:
  1. Ohio (Come Back to Texas) Bowling for Soup—Because you maybe want someone to ask you to do just that.
  2. You Give Love a Bad Name Bon Jovi—Because you gotta love Bon Jovi.
  3. Sweet Adeline Elliott Smith—Because Elliott Smith was amazing.
  4. Jesus Walks Kanye West—Because I secretly love him, and he's a frequent guest on my talk show.
  5. Give me Novacaine/She's a Rebel Green Day—Because both of these statement are true and right.
  6. More than Words Extreme—Because knowing all the words to this song in 6th grade made you cool.
  7. Move Along All-American Rejects—Because we are...moving along, that is.
  8. Strength, Courage, and Wisdom India Arie—Because we could all use some.
  9. Dancing with Myself Billy Idol—Because Billy Idol is awesome.
  10. I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) The Proclaimers—Because it makes you want to jump up and down.
(3) I found my new favorite place last night. The IFC Center. Having long been a fan of IFC, because it makes me feel bohemian, I decided to go see a movie there last night. It was called Factotum, and is based on a book by Charles Bukowski, one of my favorite authors during my Beatnik period (though the good people of Wikipedia say it's a mistake to call him a Beatnik). And I really like the fact that the title of the movie (which was first the title of a book) is written phonetically and includes the definition of the word. People who do such things, who make grammar and spelling and definition creative are people worth reading, I think.

And so I end this big ball of random with one of Mr. Bukowski's balls of random...a poem...the house.


"But tell me, when does it stop?"

Since the beginning of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, now raging for almost a month, I have been trying to wrap my mind around it all. I have avoided reading the stories about it because they overwhelm me. But there's no way to escape it when each morning on the little bit of news I allow myself, they announce the mounting death tolls on either side. I am angry at the U.S. government for supporting Israel's outrageous use of force--aiming at a group of people but destroying an entire country. I am distraught by the images of people weeping over their homes as their loved ones lie buried under the rubble. I am fearful that the power of hate, and the amazing potential for destruction in the modern world, will combine into a never-ending war.

I read an essay in the New York Times today, written by a woman living in Tel Aviv. It was entitled At War, at Home, Again, and is about the ways this woman has begun to cope with the violence and conflict near her home, and her fears of its escalation. In the last paragraph, she speaks my thoughts. She speaks of her 5 year-old son who is learning how to count.

"At another time, Tom’s questions might irritate me: 'What’s one more than a hundred?' 'What’s one more than a thousand?' But now when he asks the questions about numbers, I don’t lose my patience; I associate. I think of the increasing numbers of innocent dead on both sides of this conflict. 'What’s one more than that?' he says. 'And one more after that?' I try to explain infinity. 'But tell me,' he says, 'when does it stop?'"


The End of Days.

I do believe the apocalypse may be upon us. But it's not so much the frightening heat waves, wars, famines, disease, etc. It's Pat Robertson. Pat frequently prompts me to believe that it is the end of days, mainly because I don't believe he should be allowed to exist. But not today. This morning on Good Morning America, Pat Robertson was shown admitting that Global Warming might indeed exist. "What?!?" I said. "Gay people and liberals aren't to blame for all catastrophic weather systems and earthly blights." I am shocked. Shock and awe. I am enraptured to sit and ponder the future possibilities. On The 700 Club saying, "Hey, maybe gay marriage wouldn't be so bad. And that Hugo Chavez is a great guy. Viva la revolucion!" The possibilities are endless.


Ring of Fire.

I had great hopes of posting something meaningful about the current goings-on in the Middle East, but my brain has melted and I cannot. I don't think I have ever been so hot in all my life. Today it is supposed to be about 104 in NYC...with a heat index of 1005 (that's not a typo). And the place where I work is a lovely historic building...where I work in the attic, with only a window unit, and the power keeps going out. I might just burst into flames....for real.

And just so this post isn't entirely self-serving, here's an interesting article to read.


I Heart NYC.

Four years ago today, I was preparing to leave for NYC the next morning. I met up with my mother and gave her my beloved Ford Focus, Bianca (R.I.P. Bianca 12.17.2000-7.01.2003). And then I would spend the day trying to Mary Poppins Bag my way on the plane. In my mind my suitcases were huge. HUGE. I could fit everything in them. The clothes I hadn't packed, my CDs, my Helen Reddy album, my clarinet...everything. But as I packed, I realized the suitcase did not in fact have any magic in it, and there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to fit it all in. As it was a Saturday, and I had already given up my transportation, I had no way of mailing another box, so called my best friend, Nathan (who was already in NYC), and my friend Brian (who had taken charge of maintaining my sanity in the move) to help me figure out a way to get everything there. Brian came to my rescue and brought me a box* and committed to mailing it for me ASAP. Then we packed up the rest of my things and went out for Trudy's Mexican Martinis. Yum....

The next morning at 7am, I flew on Vanguard Airlines (which went under about 2 days later) to JFK and took a cab to Nathan's apartment, in a neighborhood where the cabdriver had to ask for directions. I was met on the curb by Nathan and my now-good-friend Paul and later that day we had our very first Taco night. The next day I proceded to get lost in Times Square and cry in front of some hotel in Midtown. At that point I gave myself three months. Three months turned into six months, turned into a year, turned into grad school. And here we are.

I credit Brian with helping me survive my first year here. He took my countless why-did-I do-this calls, and then my countless bored-at-the-temp-job calls and e-mails. He provided me with freelance work and then with stellar recommendations for every job I applied for and didn't get (at no fault of his). He apparently nominated me for sainthood in my recommendation letter for Social Work school. And about a month after I moved here he wrote me the e-mail below letting me know that I deserved something as fabulous as NYC (Thank you, my dear friend):

so it's 12:30 saturday morning and my lovely evening of murphy walking, baseball channel surfing, and reheated pizza scarfing has led me to send you this list of reasons to stay in NYC...
1) at least there are new people to meet there that aren't incoming UT freshmen
2) the people you hate in austin are still here
3) you don't have to work in special projects anymore
4) it's not 105 in the shade
5) while i'm sure your fellow new yorkers do their fair share of pizza scarfing...at least it's made with the best quality tap water on the planet
6) you have the yankees
7) you have broadway
8) you have a hooker roommate...it's like the writer gods are screaming "THAT'S SOME PULITZER PRIZE WINNING STUFF walking around your living room naked"
9) ryan lives in texas
and most importantly... 10) you are fabulous and thus deserve a fabulous city...all that
crap about hill country charm and live music is crap...you're in F-ING NYC
I decided a few weeks ago that I am probably here for the long haul (not sure how long that means exactly). I feel like NYC (but really Bklyn) has allowed me to fully be myself. I have found a career that lets me use my talents and sensibilities to change the lives of others. I have found a church unlike anything I ever thought possible. I have made some great friends. I have found a place where I can speak freely and know that I will be respected for my opinions, and the thought and reason behind them. NYC and I have not always gotten along so well, but we're currently experiencing a good patch. I guess I'll just see where this takes me.

*The box got sent back to Texas due to the mail-paranoia of Russian mafia hooker roommate. Then it ended up in Brian's sister's garage in Houston. Then it rode around in Brian's trunk for a bit and almost a year later I finally got it back. And I got into a car accident on my way from Brian's to my parents' house, scattering the ill-fated box's contents about the car and the roadside.


Where Youth Meets God.

I realized last night that if I hadn't moved away, I might have spent last week as a counselor at the summer camp I went to every year when I was a kid. Most of the Churches of Christ in Corpus Christi, Texas go to a camp called Bandina Christian Youth Camp. It is about 45 minutes north of San Antonia, situated between two towns, Bandera and Medina (thus the name). And it is something I've grown to appreciate only with age. I started going there when I was 11 and became friends with all the girls in my cabin. And these girls were my camp friends for the next 6 years. I'm still in touch with one of them, my friend Misty. When I was in college most of my friends from my home church were counselors there during the summer, but because I had to work and I was not a part of that church any more, I never got to. So I would go back for Friday night, which was generally a type of reunion for alot of people. Parents would come then, who had gone to camp there 20 years before and were now enjoying watching their children having so much fun. One year I went up for Friday and I ran into Misty in the Pavillion (0ur cafeteria/worship hall) and she invited me to stay the night in her cabin. It turns out this was the cabin where she and I had met 12 years before.

Though I was not so religious, these were by far the greatest weeks of my summer. I painted cups and made bracelets and necklaces in Arts & Crafts. I stood by and watched the Campers vs. Counselors softball games. I greatly anticipated everyday at 11am when all the high school kids would get together in the "Gabezo" (really a gazebo) and sing as loud as we wanted. I always got a seat next to my friend Stuart, who had and still has one of the most beautiful voices I've ever heard. And I hoped against all hope that we would sing Paradise Valley...or Ring Out the Message...728b, Our God, He is Alive. Now I appreciate the words of these songs for what they are, but then it was the music that was so beautiful to me.

But this week as I think about Camp Bandina, it is with a bit of sadness. One of my dear friends from my home church died last year about this time. The last time I saw him was at Camp, the summer after he graduated from high school, the summer after I graduated from college. I met him when he was about 11 and I was about 14. And though he was quite a bit younger than me, he has always been one of my favorite people. Such a kind and gentle spirit. I wish him peace now. One of my fondest memories of him was riding in his mother's Suburban on our way to Camp, him singing When They Ring Those Golden Bells into his portable Karaoke mic. It takes a special kid to rock the portable Karaoke mic. I think of him often, mostly when I'm singing a very happy song. I hope that's what he doing now.


The Seeds of Aggression.

I have long held the belief that meat breeds aggression, that if mankind were vegetarian, World peace would be attained. While I have not held a proper research study, I am a careful observer of the attitudes brought about by consumption. When I was in college I worked as a book shelver (not a librarian) at one of the UT libraries. Apparently it was a requirement in the reference section to be a vegetarian, because they all were, and I have never seen a less aggressive group of people. No one spoke above a whisper, no harsh words were spoken even when someone believed Dewey Decimal to be superior to the wonderful Library of Congress system. Harmony reigned. Knowledge flourished. It was a utopian society. And this was true of every pocket of society I belong to where there was no meat to be found. But last week, my theory was quashed by orientation at the Park Slope Food Coop.

Now when you hear "Park Slope Food Coop," you think organic, holistic, earth-friendly, peaceful, good karma flowing all around, everyone's aura is blue, everyone's qi flowing freely. But so not true. I feel that the Coop in a vacuum, much like socialist society, would be utopia--everyone giving freely to others, everyone provided for, equality and humanity would reign. But as we have learned, no one lives in a vacuum, no matter how we try. As my friend and I sat through Coop orientation, we were shocked again and again at the aggressiveness of the orientation provider. She told the couple with a child that despite the fact they were there for the health of their baby, if he didn't shut up they would have to leave. She told the woman who was there to provide nutritous food to her baby daughter that if her husband, who works long hours to provide for the family, could not come to orientation, their child will simply have to eat the pesticide laden foods found at the local supermarket. She told of how the coop chose to punish people for missing their shifts and how they had to implement extra security measures because people had begun stealing from the Coop.

I'm not sure which came first, the stealing or the agression, but in my head it was the aggression. I picture the first crunchy patrons of the Coop in the 1970s being peaceful, free-loving folks, but then their utopia was shattered by the rules and restrictions of the man. They felt the need to rise up, eating bulk items before they were weighed and silently, defiantly sticking the hemp dishtowels in their bags as a means to show their discontent. Going limp as they were dragged out by police called in to quell their uprising. Well, I am with you, my brothers and sisters. As I join your former Coop, I will get work on the inside. I will overthrow the aggressor. It shall be ours again.