Monday, July 30, 2007

Election time!

I love the movie Election. When faced with a simple school election, Reese Witherspoon's fangs come out and all her ambition turns ugly. That's so me.

I've actually only been in one election in my whole life: National Honor Society. I was in the running with Cindy, a much more popular girl. I started a word-of-mouth campaign about how much I wanted to contribute to the school and how dedicated I was to my academics (being sure to leave doubt about Cindy's qualifications clearly in mind, but unspoken.) Wouldn't you know it, I won. Little 'ol chubby, nerdy me!

Then, two weeks later my parents announced we were moving to another state and I abdicated my throne to Cindy anyway.

But now, here I am... given another chance to shine. You can vote for me and my blog at this site:

I'm not promising lower taxes. I'm not sure I can do anything to ensure universal healthcare. I don't even think I can hold up on the campaign trail. But I can say that I'll keep typing. I'll try to have more interesting posts and less emotional vomit. But I can promise one thing, if we ever meet again and you say "Hey, I voted for you" then I'll buy you cake.

Yes, that's right, I'll buy your vote with cake.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Beep, Beep, Beep - Dump.

Yes, that's the sound of a truck backing up and unloading a pile of stuff onto my head. That's how I've been feeling today. Like several trucks have emptied their emotional contents onto my head.

Let's recap the week:
- Police on my doorstep because of 911 call about a break-in and subsequent unhappy homeless person terrorizing our alleyway after being detained.
- Seriously scary mugging of my friend that lives 2 blocks away the same night.
- Boss came back from her "vacation" with her dementia suffering, ailing mother.
- Huge memorial service coming up for Ms. Ayesha.
- Stage 4 diagnosis for another friend's mom.
- Ongoing breakup saga for friend that is so intense and full of manipulation.
- Another friend needing my help and input on a last minute move to another city.
- There are about 3 other things that are too personal to share, but trust me, they're big.

So with trying to keep the fun things like African dance and my friend's birthday party in my schedule, I am now a complete basket case.

I am ready for my vacation more than ever now. I seriously feel like once I make it through the memorial service, that I'm going to take a day to lay in bed and maybe just moan or cry. I'm not really depressed, I'm just exhausted from trying to keep my emotional steadiness amongst this vast sea of hurt and tragedy. Maybe I'll set a time limit... 2 hours to moan and cry, followed by a light movie and a cupcake.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Finally!!! African Dance.

After 3 years and one false posting, I finally went to African Dance class last night!

For any Africans that might be reading this, let me be specific... my teacher is from the Ivory Coast, so it's a West African Dance class. I don't want to be one of those people that lumps a whole continent together.

It was very interesting and very hard. I loved it though. I think I wounded the soles of my feet and I expect to feel certain parts of my body tomorrow that might have not been moved with such freedom and passion in awhile.

The dances themselves were really interesting. They definitely reminded me of Capeoira and Samba. Some of the elements of the footwork are similar, but as my teacher said, "... oh, it's much faster and the movements are much larger." True. Very true.

I think my work will be to 1) Loosen up more 2) Listen for the drumbeats, which dictate the movement 3) Try to get a portion of the harder combinations first... like if the feet are the big part, focus on that... if the arms are the flourish and the footwork is simplier, focus on what the arms are doing.

I was very happy to hear that most of the time the dances are similar, so once I get the elements down, I'll be able to work on the different variations more easily. I was also very happy that everyone was very encouraging and welcoming. What a lovely community.

So watch out! I may get seriously good at shaking my stuff to the beat. If not, then I'll at the very least enjoy myself, get a great workout and interact with a wonderful group of people.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I Brake for Blind People.

This is yet another random thing about me that I've mentioned before. I brake for blind people. Wherever I am if I see a blind person struggling a bit, I offer to help. I've helped enough that I know the rules (1) Always offer first 2) Let them take your elbow and push you at their pace 3) Use descriptive words and like "left one step" not vagueness like "a little further, you're okay")

So two blind people entered my world yesterday. The first just an older man that was trying to navigate around the open cellar doors on 20th Street - easy.

The second one, I didn't help... I just stared. It was a young man. Maybe 25years old. VERY handsome.

It caught me a little off guard. I wanted to go up to him and offer to help, but not for the right reasons. I wanted to say "Gosh, you're handsome" but I felt like there would be an unspoken phrase at the end that I didn't intend.

He didn't really need help. He was navigating just fine on his own, but it threw me off. There was something extremely intriguing to me about the idea of dating someone that was very attractive, but that couldn't see me... couldn't see all my flaws.

I'm not actually going to pursue the stranger on the street. But still, it was an interesting moment for me to think about how I view myself. I'm certainly committed to helping people that need help - it makes me feel good. I will continue to help all blind people, not just the young, handsome ones, but more importantly... why was it so interesting to me to think about the possibility of not being seen? Is my body image so self-deprecating? Am I really that obsessed with my perceived flaws?

I have spent alot of my life feeling like I just wasn't "enough" for the people around me: not thin enough, not patient enough, not generous enough - unworthy in some way. It's also interesting to me to see that it doesn't work to just want to change how you feel about yourself - it's more insidious than that. You have to actively work out a different way to think or the old insecurities come creeping back in.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I've been tagged...

Craige (the high school friend, not the ex) tagged me on her blog to complete seven random things about myself. My whole life is random, so I don't think this will be a problem.

Here we go... let the randomness begin!
1) I'm obsessed with other religions. I "try-on" other religions all the time. I think it's because both my parents are Episcopal priests, but my mother is half-Jewish, and my great-grandparents died in the holocaust - religion has ruled my life. So at any given moment, in my brain I might be thinking about keeping kosher, chanting a Buddhist heart sutra, or thinking about my chakras. Also, the word "Christian" makes me cringe.

2) I can't bring my lunch. Something happens between when I make it and when I have to sit and eat it... I don't want it anymore. And sometimes I feel like maybe it's spoiled, even though I know it hasn't really spoiled.

3) I'm allergic to Titanium Dioxide. It's in everything from sunscreen to toothpaste. I know within a few minutes if I've used something that has it - I start to feel faint. This makes me a label-scouring person at the drugstore.

4) I have always been afraid I'll be unable to have children. To me not having children, or at least adopting them, would be the biggest tragedy of my life.

5) I can barely afford to eat, but I own several impressive things: a woodcut by renowned modernist Jan Arp and a scarab ring that supposedly is from King Tut's tomb.

6) I fall in love with everyone I sleep with. Hence why I don't sleep around - self deprivation for self preservation.

7) I can create whole fantasy lives for myself based on just one small thing. My fantasy life for myself right now is that I move to Africa, have a baby and adopt two more. Always have a kid tied to me and help women there market their art and traditional crafts for a western market while learning all the Bantu languages and reinforcing my Amharic.

This is the part that I'm supposed to tag other bloggers, but I don't really know any other bloggers besides Craige and a random woman that I used to work with. And if I admit to that other woman that I read her blog, then I have to admit that I've seen pictures of her in some strange situations... and I really don't want to do that... sorry. Oh, but take a look at Craige's blog here:

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Long time coming...

Okay. I'm ready, after over a month. Here is my obituary for Jeanne Ayesha Lauenbourg. It's just from my perspective.

As many of you know Ms. Ayesha, my friend Sarah's mom, passed away a few weeks ago. This coming Friday will be the big memorial service in her honor. I wanted to use this opportunity to write about her. I hope it will allow me to be at peace on Friday and not be a big, blubbering mess.

First, let me explain the image... it's Gaston Lachaise's wonderful sculpture, Standing Woman. To me, this is the best picture to describe Ms. Ayesha to you. One can imagine when looking at this sculpture that the woman depicted would be the kind to laugh heartily, the kind to give big hugs, the kind to do nice things and do them with a certain flare. That was how Ms. Ayesha was.

The thing that saddens me the most is that Sarah and her mom were inseparable. They danced together, talked all the time, and figured all the messy parts of life out together. I know Sarah has Chris and little Jonathan now, but I cannot imagine how hard it will be for her to be missing her mom's influence. Even now, the word that I can most remember Ms. Ayesha saying isn't a word at all... it's Sarah's name.

Ms. Ayesha had this way of focusing herself that made the person talking to her feel extremely special. I know she was an interfaith minister and a leader of dances, and everyone that participated in these events must have felt so connected to her. I must admit that I'm nervous about Friday. I cannot imagine how intense it will be! Her burial was gut-wrenching.

I am extremely grateful to her. She came with Sarah to visit during my recovery and asked all the difficult questions. She had known so much illness by that point, she knew instinctively what would be helpful to talk about and what wouldn't be. Then they invited me to join them for Christmas. Ms. Ayesha looked amazing - radiant in a green outfit, her hair short and red, her eyes gleaming. This is how I want to remember her: beautiful, so proud of Sarah, happy, and comfortable to be with her best friends.

It's so hard to believe that less than a year later she is gone. I saw Sarah yesterday and she looks good - radiant herself. I know she's worried about Friday too, but it will all be okay. When things get rough I'm going to close my eyes and imagine one of Ms. Ayesha's big, warm hugs. Or maybe slip into the memory of her and Sarah singing Christmas caroles.

If you're interested, you can visit her website: for more information on the service.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Reading up a storm.

With still no TV, I've been reading like crazy. These are my mini-reviews.

A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid. This is a jewel of a book. Small and quick to read, but scathing in it's commentary on privlege, corruption, colonialism, and race. I've never wanted to visit Antigua more, nor have I ever felt so guilty about the impact I have on such a small place. One charm of this book is that it seems to have been stolen from a library and Jamaica Kincaid talks of stealing books from her local library in an effort to educate herself. Be prepared to be appalled.

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. This is the story of Paul Farmer's work in Haiti. An infectious disease specialist, Paul Farmer is changing the way that TB is treated in the world and saving lives. His indefatiguable spirit is an inspiration. As someone that regularly thinks of packing up and moving to a third world country, this book has me more grounded in reality, but ready for the chance to lend a helping hand.

The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman. Book 1 of his Dark Materials series. I loved the story, which reminded me of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and A Wrinkle in Time, but I was annoyed by the ending. It's making me wonder if I should bother with the last two books in the series or is it more of the stuff I don't like and less of the stuff that I like.

I just started the Life of Pi, so I'll let you know how it goes. I've been reading a little slower because of all the stuff... all that overwhelming stuff that I talked about yesterday.

I think I need to come up with a closing... I hate just ending without saying goodbye. How about "Much love and type to you soon"...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

When just enough becomes too much.

I've been thinking all day today about that moment when my very full life becomes too much for me to handle. I can always swing it back around into balance eventually, but for a few hours it feels overwhelming.

Yesterday and today have felt like too much. Too many people who need my attention and too many activities to handle. Nothing bad at all, just too much.

I know everyone would understand if I said "No, I can't today" but I don't want to do that. Most everything is fun and fine... there's just too much of it!

I know there are so many people reading this that understand. We all spend so much of our time just plodding along, dealing with what comes and trying to manage all the stuff. So much of our stress we create ourselves - we fill our days with activities in an attempt to have full and wonderful lives, but day to day the amount we're in the mood to handle changes.

So today I'm in the mood for a heavily air conditioned room (my office is a million degrees), a large icy cup of herbal tea (I'm trying to control my Starbucks addiction), a few moments of uninterrupted time to start calling people I need to call, and a chance to relax after work.

Probably not in the cards for me today. Instead I've been a big, grumpy, sweaty lump of a human being. But I have high hopes for tomorrow or maybe next week.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cornel West: The Album

Unless much has changed in the last few years, this post will annoy Kali. Sorry sweetheart. But I happen to be a fan of the always outlandish author Cornel West.

I am so tickled to see that he's finally releasing his album next month! I knew plans for the album were one of the reasons that he left Harvard for Princeton, but I'm so excited to see what it's all about. We can look forward to West's political commentary while other artists contribute... some of my favorites... including: Prince (yay), Andre 3000 (makes sense), Talib Kweli (love him!), Jill Scott (love her even more!), Rhymefest (okay), hip-hop legend KRS-One (the philosopher, yum!), The Roots' Black Thought(I can't believe I actually shook his hand... I love him), Rah Digga (great) and the late Gerald Levert (a posthumous shout out).

It's called "Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations." Which makes me even MORE intrigued... given that I assume Revelations refers to the Biblical Revelations, and I think that's the craziest book ever (many apologies to those of you that live by that book of the Bible, no offense intended.)

If you want to read more about Cornel West, check out this discussion on the Post website yesterday. He's contentious, but mostly on-point and pragmatic. I need to read more of his work, but he's certainly entertaining! Here's the link:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Identity removed. Bye little car.

Sunday afternoon I spent a couple of hours preparing my car to be donated to Purple Heart. I'm over dramatizing here, but it felt like preparing a body for burial. I cleaned it, removed my identity from it, and wished it well on its voyage to its new life.

I still have to send my tags to the MVA and send the title to Purple Heart, but the car is being picked up by the tow truck today.

I never really wanted the car. I felt like I needed it for safety back 8 years ago. I always struggled with it... sending it to storage at my parents house when it was too overwhelming. I struggled with the payments for over 4 years, before my parents finally took pity on me and paid it off... just in time for the mechanical problems to start.

I let other people drive it as often as possible. Our last big trip together was when I left my life in DC to parts unknown. I loaded the essentials into my little car and drove off into the sunset - without much warning or fanfare.

I guess I'll miss the very specific freedom that comes with having a car, but I'm completely green now, which makes up for it. I know that I probably will need to concede at some point in the future. There are very few places you can have a family and be a sculptor without a car. But for now, I'm enjoying the walking, and happy to not have the aggressive drivers making obscene gestures when they end up behind me on the highway.

I may be a good citizen, but I'm a bad driver. So you can all thank me for removing myself from the chaos of American roads.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Linkin' Thinkin'

Another of those networking sites has popped into my life. Not to be an advertisement or anything, but all of a sudden I started getting requests on

This one has me more confused and anxious because it's strictly work/professionally related. I'm all for connecting and networking, but I get nervous about these sites. The people that I'm connected to know where I work and what my background is, and those that don't... well maybe that's for a reason.

I'm not someone that likes hearing from random people at work, but all this LinkedIn business has me thinking about it. For example, without much searching I found someone I knew fairly well a decade ago: Tito Sierra.

I met Tito one summer while at Harvard. He was studying business and photography at Harvard and I was there taking classes and agreed to be his model one afternoon (fully clothed). He had a girlfriend, so nothing happened romantically between us, but he sent one confusing email to me that ended our associations on any level. He had just seen "Leaving Las Vegas" and he emailed to tell me that he thought it reminded him of us. I went to see the movie expecting to see a fun friendship develop, and instead... well, you all have probably seen the movie. End of friendship, end of story.

But I found him on LinkedIn. Do I still have the proofs of the beautiful photos he took of me: Yes. Do I want to get back in touch with him: Sort of. Do I think that's a wise idea: NO.

So there is the problem. Even professional relationships are sticky. Same field, same age, contacts in common, and yet the history should probably not be reopened. I would love to know if he's still taking photos. If he had a Flickr page, I guarantee I would lurk often. But again, I'm not willing to reopen the door.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


For the last two or three days, the title field on my blog has not been working. I posted anyways, clearly, but it was disconcerting.

I've never been good at giving things titles, not my art, not my writing - nothing really. I wonder if I'll have a hard time naming my children. If I can't name a lump of cooked clay, how will I ever be able to assign a name to describe a whole, complex little being.

Maybe part of the issue is that I love book titles so much. I'm often disappointed by stories that don't live up to their titles.

Here are some of my favorite titles... all of them are pretty good stories too:
Something Wicked this Way Comes
Memoirs of My Melancholy Whores
Interpreter of Maladies

On Monday, I was at a bookstore and I saw a book title that I thought was very interesting. I was so disappointed to read the back cover and find the story sounded weird and disjointed. Also that night, I ran across a book called "A Curse on the Reader of these Pages." I didn't pick that one up.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A solemn thank you to Thomas for sending me this article: about the Jena Six.

What a powerful and outrageous reminder that we still live in a world that is so divided. While I hope that nothing can come between me and my pacifist beliefs, this story reminds me that the world has not changed enough for us to relax.

One of the people quoted in this article, Caseptla Bailey, says about her letter-writing campaign "That's how I fight back, you know, by putting the pen to the paper." Well, here I am Ms. Bailey, fighting with you, putting fingers to keyboard to try to help.

It reminds me of so many stories - of David Duke's reign in Louisiana, of young children beaten on playgrounds, but especially of the untold stories from a generation ago that so many of us try not to think about. But this is not from a generation ago, this is from today. This month. This year.

I have been joking with friends about how to get out of jury duty... knowing that I've never been called because of my nomadic ways. But this makes me realize the solemnity attached to that "duty"... that all of us that want equality are necessary parts of this deeply flawed justice system. Our voices are important. The work is not over.

As sad and disheartening as this is, I know that tears are not helpful. As enraging and galling as this is, my anger must be channeled. I start with this action here: sharing this story with you. When other appropriate actions are clear, we will all need to act.

In the meantime, all I can do is remind everyone reading this of the answer that Rosa Parks gave a few years ago, when asked what should be done now. Her response was for all of us - to confront the more subtle forms of racism when we see it. To not let the comments and the inappropriate behavior go uncorrected. We cannot afford to let this be perpetuated in future generations.

Monday, July 9, 2007

I need a vacation.

Problem no. 1. I can't afford to go anywhere.

Problem no. 2. I don't know who to go with.

Problem no. 3. I don't have any extra energy.

So this is what I need: I need someone to pick me up, drive me somewhere, pay for everything, keep me company, and not expect anything in return.

Any takers?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Fourth of July in the Big Apple

Ah, the Big Apple. It was a fourth of July many, many years ago when I first learned that special nickname for New York. My grandfather had purchased some glittery kid-thing that had that printed on it and gave it to me right before we made our way into the city for the fireworks. I was too young to really understand the nickname, but ever since then if you say "The Big Apple" I think of red glitter.

So lots happened: I went to an amazing book exchange (yes, expect many book reviews to come), I watched the fireworks from my friend's roof, and I went to a play. In the meantime, I helped my friend figure out to transition from a "business casual" office to a "business" office - no easy feat, I tell you.

First - the book exchange:
Here's what I brought, Karma and other stories by Rishi Reddi and Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang. Karma and Other stories is very similar to Interpreter of Maladies. Maybe a bit simpler, but I actually enjoyed it more. The short stories have a few common threads and a few repeating characters, which makes it feel more like a novel than a compilation. Love in a Fallen City is an epic collection of short stories that can seem dense, but is also a treasure trove of romantic ideals, modern isolation, and traditional culture all whirling around at a high speed.

Here's what I took: A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid, Confederacy of Dunces, Life of Pi, The Piano Tuner, and one I cannot remember. As soon as I finish Mountains Beyond Mountains, expect the book reviews to begin! I'm very excited.

The Fireworks.
I don't like fireworks. And the rooftop was a bit like a weird frat-party with too many people and not enough window space. But I ran into my friend's sister in law, a young woman I like quite alot. It was so fun to see her. I need to remember to tell her that. I did dance one merengue with a random stranger, but only because he was desperate to get the dancing started. Although the photographer there was going crazy, so I expect my picture will be EVERYWHERE!

The Play.
It was called Deuce and starred Angela Landsbury and Marian Seldes. The actors were amazing and the play itself had several poignant moments and comments on aging, what it's like to be both famous and nearly forgotten - simultaneously, and how difficult it is to watch the world change without you. I went with my friend's father - an expressive Russian man who is like a father to me. He was dying to get me into the MOMA for free, but I had to put him off to my next trip. I love him and his wife, they are so effusive, so worried all the time about everything, but also so joyful and excited to share their lives with me. I am truly fortunate to have the opportunity to have wonderful friends that not only let me into their lives, but also that let me into their families!

The Wardrobe Transition.
All I have to say is: May I never have to be in a business attire office. Ugh.