Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Saint Catherine's Day!

Today is my saint day. Or one of them... the one I celebrate at least. St. Catherine of Alexandria Day. (Which was my nickname at my first job after college, in Alexandria, VA)

But there is no way to live up to a martyr. Many of her attributes are things that I work on. Visit wikipedia, and you'll see that St. Catherine is said to have been highly learned (in philosophy and theology), very beautiful, sexually pure, and to have been brutally murdered for publicly stating her beliefs.

Let's pause for a moment of silence.

Okay, that was just a minute of gratitude that I will not die a painful death as a young virgin. I've missed that calling. (Phew.)

Really, the bit that is most interesting to me is the "publicly stating her beliefs" bit. I try hard to do that. Obviously, here I am.

So what do I say - that needs to be said:
- We need to take better care of one another. Bailouts for corporations are fine, maybe even necessary, but what about the working class people whose annual salaries have not increased significantly in the last DECADE?

- We need to take better care of our little girls. Women are doing better, slowly. But girls all over the world are still undereducated, underfed, and have less opportunities than their male counterparts.

- We need to be more inclusive. Racism, homophobia, ethnic fighting, and classism needs to GO. We're not helping anyone until we're helping everyone.

- We need to be nicer to our planet. We need to drive less, consume less, and downsize. We need to pay attention to our environment and share our resources. We need to reverse climate change. We need to be better.

Strap me to a wheel if you want, but you know I'm right. I am not perfect, but I am dedicated to trying to be a little better everyday. That's all I'm asking from you.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I found this interesting site that talks about the Thanksgiving Myths and the real stories of Thanksgiving.

For example, the harvest day celebration that was the holiday that Thanksgiving is based on was three days long. Wonderful news, since I plan to celebrate from Thursday to Sunday.

Also, contrary to what the center figure in the above painting might indicate, pilgrims did not wear black and white clothing with big buckles. Which is good news, because I expect that this weekend the only people I will see wearing only black and white will be the referees at the college football games.

So I'm guessing I won't post much this week. Sorry folks. But here is what I'm thankful for this year:
- Health and happiness
- Great family, wonderful friends
- A job and some pennies in the bank (30% less pennies, just like everyone, but whatever)
- An amazing husband who also has wonderful friends and an amazing family
- A future that seems brighter and more hopeful than in a long time

Love to you all. Thanks for making my world a wonderful place.

(PS: Happy Birthday Ruth... your ode is coming)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ode to Maria

This blog post is just an excuse to post this amazing picture of my dear friend Maria. I am loving these "odes" because it gives me a chance to tell the world how much I love the people I love.

What are the words that people use to describe Maria: Tall, beautiful, Greek. (I doubt there is anyone that reads this blog that doesn't know her, but if by some chance you don't, she's the tall, beautiful Greek woman in my wedding photos.)

What are the words that I use to describe Maria: Loyal, brilliant, caring. There are a million other wonderful traits about her, but I know she'll read this and get embarrassed.

I love looking at this picture because it has some hidden clues about her. The cross around her neck, for example, is a clear reference to a deeply-held faith that most people have no idea about. With someone that has dedicated themselves so wholly to math, science and all pursuits of intellect, it seems rare to find them have such enormous faith.

That look in her eyes. She knows what is expected of her and she is doing it. Beautifully. She continues to pour herself into her work and her friendships with an intensity that is unparalleled. I have been the beneficiary for so many years, I can speak to it with great confidence. Maria will save your life, allow you to make difficult decisions, and then save it again with no qualms or judgment.

I could go on. And on. And on. But there is too much. She's too accomplished. Too amazing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An Ode to Nathan.

I've been thinking about my awesome cousin Nathan ever since our wedding and meaning to write something about him here. I'm just so impressed by him.

He is not my cousin closest in age, but was my cousin closest in geography growing up. We are about 4 or 5 years apart (right, Nathan?) and so I ADORED him as a baby. What else does a mature 6 year old want in life but a tiny, wicked-smart toddler to take care of. I adored him.

He was a quiet teenager, but his intelligence and artistic ability was enough to make me bug him to death at every family function. You know how smart teen boys are, they LOVE their chubby older cousins to grill them about history class or what academic competitions they are in (sarcasm).

My first trip to Philly was actually on an East-Coast college tour with him and my aunt. We had an amazing time. We visited Penn. I never thought I would live down the street, but I did love Penn best and secretly wished he would go there. He didn't.

That's the thing about Nathan. He has this path that is all his own. And it has lead him to be this AMAZING guy. He is an amazing dancer:

(One of my coworkers saw these photos of him dancing and instantly fell in love.)

He is the photographer behind all those wonderful Black and White photos that I posted a few days ago. He didn't use a flash, and instead obviously let the natural light soak into the frames with adjusting the aperture. There are some that are blurred, and I love so much as they capture a movement that evokes the kind of event a wedding is: frenetic.

Love you, Cuz. Hope you're feeling better.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Like many people in this world, I like to capture as many moments of sleep as I can. I get ready very quickly and run out the door. I am rarely late, but I definitely rush most mornings.

This morning, I stopped by my local Starbucks for a cup of tea and a quick breakfast to eat at my desk. My barista saw me come in and prepared my tea quickly.

I grabbed it and walked out.

In my hurry, I abandoned my breakfast sandwich. I didn't remember it until I was already at work sitting at my desk, 20 minutes later. Too late to go and retrieve it.

R.I.P. Reduced Fat Turkey-Bacon, without the Turkey Bacon. R.I.P.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I've been having interesting conversations recently about plastic. People have VERY polarized reactions about the safety of today's plastic, particularly when it comes to the microwave.

For example, check out this article from the Daily Green:
In the latest revelation about the chemical industry and its lax federal watchdogs, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has found that plastic containers marked "microwave safe" are anything but.

These containers, marketed to parents as being safe for infants, release "toxic doses" of Bisphenol-A when heated, the paper found.

"The amounts detected were at levels that scientists have found cause neurological and developmental damage in laboratory animals," the paper reports. "The problems include genital defects, behavioral changes and abnormal development of mammary glands. The changes to the mammary glands were identical to those observed in women at higher risk for breast cancer."

The investigation also found Bisphenol-A in additional products — not just hard, clear plastics and the lining of cans. BPA "is present in frozen food trays, microwaveable soup containers and plastic baby food packaging" — and not only in plastics marked No. 7, but in Nos. 1, 2 and 5 as well, according to the report.

The report reminds us that "microwave safe" — like so many packaging claims — is pure marketing. The phrase is not regulated by the government, and its use is not subject to any independently verifiable guidelines.

The Journal Sentinel has been leading the effort to understand Bisphenol-A, which was developed as a synthetic estrogen, but which has come to be widely used in consumer products and food packaging. While independent and government scientists have increasingly raised concerns about the chemical, the Food and Drug Administration, in choosing not to regulate its use, has so far side with the chemical industry, which claims the chemical is safe. Canada has declared it unsafe, and is moving to restrict its use in products designed for use by infants.

Read the paper's full account.

7 Steps to Avoid Bisphenol A
Tips from the Journal Sentinel

Do not microwave food or beverages in plastic.
Do not microwave or heat plastic cling wraps.
Do not place plastics in the dishwasher.
If using hard polycarbonate plastics (water bottles, baby bottles or sippy cups), do not use for warm or hot liquids.
Use safe alternatives such as glass.
Avoid canned foods when possible (BPA may be used in can linings).
Look for labels on products that say "BPA-free."

There are some folks in my life that need to change their ways.

My favorite wedding photos.

Two years of prattling on about nothing...

Well, yes my friends. Today is this little blog's two year anniversary!

Woo Hoo!

I spruced up a bit around here for the occasion and may even design a masthead or something in the next couple weeks to mark the next chapter for this little blog.

When I think about the last two years, I'm awe-struck with how much my life has changed. Ever wonder what made me start writing here? Here you go:

Back in October 2006, I had surgery and had a 4 week recovery time at home. I was MISERABLE. The pain meds made me sick and dizzy. I was lonely and isolated, and most of all I felt like I had very few people to turn to. I was maxing out the usual suspects, and my uber-private, insular ways were keeping everyone else away.

In an effort to continue recovery without lapsing into a deep depression, I made a drastic decision: I would take the train to New York and rest there - with myriad options of things to do within the 3-block radius that I could walk.

I went by myself.

Much like the time I drove from Washington DC to Long Island, by myself at 17, in the midst of Hurricane Hugo, this was a bad decision. I wasn't ready. I was still too weak.

I almost made it to my friend's house. Almost. But the subway was too much for me to handle. I was in pain, feeling faint, and barely able to stay vertical. I miraculously got myself onto a subway train. And oddly, right at that moment, I ran into a friend from high school, one I hadn't seen in 10 years. I don't really remember the conversation, but the next day I had her card in my purse, so I emailed her - damage control. I knew I hadn't told her that I was nursing a recent (6 inch) surgical incision, or that I was about to pass out. I know I didn't ask her to help - I waited until it was close to my stop and then asked the man next to me to help me off the train. He was distrustful, but obliged.

She had written on her blog about it. From the post, it was obvious she had no idea what was going on, and was confused and maybe a little offended. But what I really noticed was her beautiful writing. She was (and is) great at writing short reaction pieces. It was the first blog I had ever read, and I was impressed.

And I wanted to start one of my own.

The surgery came at a moment when my organizing efforts on poverty issues were beginning to wane. I thought I could use this space to create what I had always wanted - a place where everything and everyone could mix and mingle. And eventually, this virtual space could become a real space - a place where meeting and organizing could happen, people could talk about issues and come up with solutions, and I could feel like I was doing something important.

So that hasn't quite happened, but this blog has been successful none-the-less. It's a catch-all for everything in my life: my interests, my relationships, my philosophies.

I'm really happy and proud that I've continued it so long. Now, it is time to raise the bar!

Here are my goals for the future:

- Take more photos and post more photos.

- Research more stories on my own and rely less on the Washington Post for content.

- Encourage people to dialogue - less sermon, more discussion.

Anything you all want to see? I'm taking requests.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ready for a rematch.

Charles is an athlete.

I am not.

We have played regular tennis and table tennis. He beats me at both, but I am ready to start my training. Ready to give it another go, and at the very least have some fun!

I need to find a table tennis set-up here in Pennsylvania. Winter is fast approaching, the rain outside could be snow soon, so it's time to find a good place to engage in a little healthy competition.

Maybe someday we can have a setup in our house and have serious competitions... friends, relatives, young people and old people can descend upon our house with promises of chai, table tennis, good conversation, and laughing... lots of laughing.

In the meantime, if you know of a place for me to practice my serve, please let me know!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Looking Presidential.

Michelle and Barack Obama had their White House visit yesterday. They looked wonderful.

Check out the link to the photo gallery HERE.

What's in a name?

Sweet Juliet, idealistic and in love. A woman not so unlike myself, trying to transcend the time and place to preserve an innocence and naivete to the love she feels in her heart.

Juliet: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet."

Ah, but so much of our identity is wrapped up in our names. If we don't like the formal tone of our first name, we develop nicknames of our choosing to better reflect our personalities. Our last names place us with our tribe - our people.

Now, the time in my life I have dreamed of has come. The time for me to join another tribe and with it comes a new name. I am the youngest daughter of a man with no sons - the last one to abandon my family name. My mother, father, and grandmother are the only ones who remain.

I never realized how difficult it is to make this transition. Emotionally, I'm ready. THRILLED to be part of this new family. But logistically, the name change process is a mess - I never knew!

Three weeks of waiting for the marriage license to come. It's finally here, so now:
- I have to go to the Social Security Office and register my name change.
- Then I have to make an appointment with Human Resources to change my health and life insurance information
- The IT department then needs to set up an automated response to my old email address to notify and forward it to my new email address
- I have to take or mail my marriage license to: the bank, my credit card companies, my 401K, my rental insurance company, and my savings bank.
- I also have to apply for a new driver's license, a new passport, new checks, and a new work ID badge.

But even with all of that, this rose still smells as sweet.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

PS... December Bookclub

If you are reading along, December's book club book is:

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

Book club meeting: Saturday, December 6, 2008

Hustle, Sure. Flow, Maybe. But keep your hands off my sushi!

Celebrity sighting: Terrence Howard and his adorable little son at Bluefin on Germantown Pike.

Best parts: Wonderful sushi, amazing friends, fun new acquaintances, and lively conversation. Even waiting for my husband to pick me up was fun! Awesome night.

Super big Happy Birthday to Nicole. Thanks to Scott for treating us like queens.

As for Terrence, all I got was a head nod, but I hear that he's a Philly guy, so I'll see you around, man.

Friday, November 7, 2008


I am ready for Honeymoon: Part 2 RIGHT NOW.

We only took one day. I would like some more relaxing time right about now. I know it's Friday and I only have to make it through today, but I'm exhausted. Really, really, really tired.

First, I'm mad at California. And Florida and Arizona... and especially Arkansas. I'm disappointed - no outraged - that homophobia in this country is so pervasive and so strongly tied to culture and religion, that even in the light of one of the most progressive campaigns in history, we can set back the rights of same-sex couples by so much - and in so many places.

It's time for people to let this go. YES WE CAN with all the wonderful sentiments that go along with it should be the rally cry for anyone and everyone that feels the sting of difference: African Americans, Immigrants, Communists, Artists, People with Mental Illness, Asians, Disabled, Muslims, AND anyone that would, could, or should fall into the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Transgender community. Your burden, my burden, their burden - they are the same. We must fight for each other.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [people] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Ya'll are making me tired. I'm leaving on a jetplane.

(Okay, so I'm not really leaving, but I wish I could. I'm at least going to Media and Plymouth Meeting this weekend. But don't push me, I'll fight you.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The day after: feeling shallow.

I'm about to delete my whole bridal registry. All I want are these:

(Biviel boots, Nordstrom, $245,000, okay maybe there are extra zeros in there.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Luo in the House!

My Husband has a t-shirt that says in his tribal language "Luo in the House" - well, now there really is a Luo in the House - the White House!

Please read this article in the Washington Post today about the Kenyan reaction to Obama's win. It really encapsulates what this win means to those that have been disenfrancised by race, class, and lack of education.

Prime Minister Odinga even declared it a National Holiday tomorrow in honor of the win. One man in this article really says it best: Obama does not belong to the lineage of a political class, and he had no particular wealth to begin with except for his own convictions," said Moses Mubula, 35, a farmer who was watching the returns on the white sheet screen here as the sky began to glow light blue. "So the best part of [his victory] is that it symbolizes the crumbling of racial barriers, age barriers, class barriers and maybe we here in Kenya can break that jinx too.

That's it, right there, the American Dream.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I understand now. Those stories of my parents and grandparents about historic moments in their lives. The stories of where they were when this happened or that happened.

I am here, a newlywed, in my little apartment in Philadelphia, PA, alone and crying, listening to the screams of joy from the streets.

Charles called me to tell me, but my phone had already exploded with the news. When I finally got him back on the phone, we talked of how important this is to us. This could be our son. Our son could be president. To some Americans this might be a common dream - your son becoming president, a cliche, but I had not yet dared to dream.

My faith has been restored in this grand country of ours. I believe that people can see greatness. I believe that Barack Obama could see greatness. Truly, some of the most talented people I know have been behind him from the start.

My dear cousin in Chicago and I spoke of him when he first was elected years ago. I had read an article about him, and Nathan told me how amazing he truly was. Not an easy man to impress, my sweet cousin, but he was, and I was. Over a year ago, I was invited by two of the smartest women I know to a fundraiser that I could not afford, but I was tempted because it meant I would meet this man, Barack Obama. Then I heard of another great friend. A man of unparalled intelligence joining his campaign - and my courage to dream expanded.

Now, I will tell my children that just a few days after I married their father, that Barack Obama - a man just like them - was elected president.


Please vote.

Seriously, please.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Next time I see you I'll show you my cousin Nathan's amazing photos. Wow, what a talent that sweet man is!