Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ya...que va el pelo

To help bring in 2007...I cut off 5 years of history. May it clear the mind!

A peaceful new year to you all.

Friday, December 29, 2006

A "Harvard Nigger" and Fixing It.

John Hope Franklin
I happen to be home and am finding this Tavis Smiley interview with historian John Hope Franklin rather inspiring. This gentleman has a grace about him that is just lovely. His explanation of being referred to as a "Harvard nigger" is inspiring.

Damali Ayo
Artist Damali Ayo is sending out a guide for ALL of us to be a part of the solution. We can fix -isms. Download and distribute at will.


Ay, Puerto Rico, Isla de encanta. (Ignore cheesy Ricky Martin lookalike.)

Y otra una escuela de Bomba en Puerto Rico.

boricuas at burning man

well, i know i've been, so we've been represented, but i just got a post from the bay area boricuas trying to drum up an actual contingency for this year's upcoming burn.

dude, i might be on that action...platanos on the playa? pandereta on the playa? bomba on the playa? and body paint? and fire? and art? and goodwill and barter towards all (at least for a week?)


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Shoot to Kill

Thanks to Houman I learned how to shoot both hoops and people last night. The Xbox 360 is a sleek machine with wireless controllers and amazing graphics.

I have no skills on the court and even less with a bulbous controller with 20 buttons in my hands, but after a few minutes of basic training, I did alright. He beat me about 47 - 19. He played the Heat and I played the Knicks.

I couldn't believe the graphics. Sweat drips off these men. The sound absolutely envelopes you into the arena complete with fans, players, coaches, and dancing girls.

The swish of the players shorts looked like material. I was gawking the whole time and perhaps stating the obvious.

For me it's been quite awhile since I have really played these new game consoles. I left the field after Colecovision. Smurf was my game. I ROCKED that game.

After a few games we switched to some Anti-terrorist game where I learned how to duck, cover, switch arms, and shoot to kill.

There was a time when I would cry at this mimicking of violence in the world.
After some fish and chips and being mezmorized by how the composite images were sewn together for a first-person experience, I let that go and engaged. I became a well-shaven white dude with blue eyes dressed in fatigues. I was crouching among cars and walls and whatever to duck from an enemy who did not shy from shooting at me or throwing grenades at me.

And this is no game where you do over or have endless lives. Your vision gets blurry when you've been hit. You see red and your life is over if you get a fatal wound.
The controller jumps with the kickback of the gun. You have night vision goggles for when a smoke bomb is thrown to confuse your vision.

Imagine if Digiscents iSmell were still around?

You'd get the scent of sulphur with every explosion and the wet irony smell of blood as you defended your life against the sniper who was waiting til the last moment to end your story.

I got seriously hooked in.

No remorse. No thinking about Somalia. No thinking about my zits or how fat I am or that I have never had a New Years Eve date.

I was skulking around with my teammate Houman in search of the bad guys. And we had to be each others' backs, as we are in real life. Only with the Xbox, when I wasn't paying attention, I was done.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Student Loan End of 2006 Report

I love Sallie Mae. I work for a consolidated loan rate of 9.0%.

My minimum payment is about $254 a month. I try to get ahead by paying $400.

Every day her accountants clock about $9.00 against my account because I owe.
It makes me sad. That's an hour's work after taxes.

My final payment is scheduled for year 2058.

I wonder how in the heck people with credit card debt do it. If this is "good debt" at a "lower" interest penalty, how the heck can you keep up with payments that are charged at 12%, 15%, or even 30% interest?

That's paying $1.30 for everything that cost a dollar! Even my cash advance place isn't that bad! (They max out at 15% (or $15) for every hundred I borrow and there's a limit to how much I can borrow-- $300 a pop. All of you are appalled, I know, but sometimes you gotta cover expenses, capice? I just don't earn frequent flyer miles or get cash back with my ATM card. I think one should get the same benefits for using a MasterCard logo-ed ATM card as when you use a credit card.)

My resolution for 2007 is to gain reduce my debt, advance my credit score, and gain access to a credit card I have put money down on so I can pay my bills on it and earn free things I didn't work for. (It's the American way, I dig it. I want to fly to Europe on my grocery bill, too!)

It'll slowly put me on the path to homeownership, debt-freeness, and greater self-esteem.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

carlos vives - tu amor eterno

so my head's a little fuzzy this boxing day from a lovely and decadent christmas meal. i've having difficulty focusing on these lesson plans i need to construct for our teaching model for digital storytelling.

i am listening to wjyc and carlos vives with his perpetually romantic lyrics and joyful music and vocal harmonies comes on. my mouth curls into a gentle smile. there is a part of me completely happy to hear someone call his sweetheart "caramelo" with pride, joy, adoration, and love. i love when romance lives and triumphs.

que bien. muchas gracias, carlos.

Monday, December 25, 2006

james brown is dead

i remember that techno song and giggling at it in the 90s
drinking smart drinks and sweating til dawn...or 4 am...

and i remember the internship that bought me tickets in 2000
to see james brown and the tower of power at the paramount

and now, as a showstopping close to his life...
james brown is dead...
on christmas day

may he be buried with a fitting cloak.

my condolences to his family and friends

and i thank him for his years of entertainment and inspiration
i challenge his soul and all artists to refrain from domestic violence (for which he was also known) and for we as consumers not to turn a blind eye and hold up our leaders (in whatever sector) as beyond human. when we see amazing people do things unbecoming to them, we should speak.

how much greater mr. brown would have been to not have been a perpetrator of domestic violence.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Chri'mas! Make en Elf of Yourself

Okay...I had to...Zeli, I LOVE THIS! Gracias!

My Elfamorphosis

This is ridiculous and stupid and silly and I laughed...

Here's to the inner child in all!

Evidence...the Poetry That is the Suspect's Testimony I got a narrative with the police report faxed to me. The poetry that is the suspect's statement just makes me wish I read more Shakespeare...or Zora Neale Hurston...because it flows like... well, judge for yourself...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

007...that settles it

i was bummed about new years cause i'm missing my family, but i've been invited to a 007 party. brilliant, right? should have been right in front of my face, right?

i'm going in disguise, to hide from myself, and have a good time.

why? because i deserve it.

007. the year that came in undercover.


tis the season

this week i've listened to solstice stories and a hilarious song by Dar Williams called The Pagans and the Christians.
and hanukkah storiescomparing heroes of the Torah to comic book greats. (Makes me wonder if Superman's S really is Sampson in disguise!) and today at school they are watching The Message featuring Anthony Quinn talking about the story of Islam.

part of me mourns that i didn't know much about any of this stuff while i was younger.

what did i know? i was raised Catholic...we didn't really discuss the intricacies of judaica, islam, wicca, hinduism, shintoism, taoism, or countless other faiths. if jesus wasn't bleeding on a crucifix in your place of worship it was all kinda tangental.

naive me gets excited listening to these stories and can't help but find the parallels and intertwining bits connecting us.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Beyond the Sea & A Curriculum Outline

I happened to stop by the video store on Friday.

I never do that, but I happened to run into a student and I picked up Beyond the Sea and Capote for my winter time/malaise-driven enjoyment.

Beyond the Sea was WUNDERBAR. It was a pleasant surprise with dance sequences and a lovely story. It was no crossing the line, but I truly enjoyed it. It has a message for all of my male-hairline receding friends: OWN YOUR STUFF! You are sexy as you are! (And if you have to, wear a rug for the show.)

I loved it.

This is not an articulate post, but then I just outlined about 15 days of instruction into a 12 page outline today.


Still hate insurance business.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Lakshmi To the Rescue

Okay...I just spoke with Lakshmi (yes, her real name...not some white girl who's name was Jennifer who was told by her supervisor to change it...)

She's a AAA Member Services advocate and just listened to my whole story. I told her in the 20+ years I've known triple A they've helped me unlock my keys out of my car, get me gas, fix my flat and help me with travel plans. Then I told her how surprising it was to deal with Western United Insurance, a contractor of theirs and be treated like I was the perpetrator of my own car theft, versus a victim of my car theft. She assured me she's on the case.

I was INCENSED since my insurance guy called to ask me where I want the car towed without offering to fix the car....and I freaked out...I thought as an insurance subscriber that my insurance company would support me through this theft and not drag me through the process like that poor man in Jasper, TX a few years back.

I didnt throw the race card, but if I was Muffy in Beverly Hills of WASP heritage I don't think I would have to beg for my 1999 Saturn back.

Thank you, Lakshmi. Perhaps her being named after the Goddess of Wealth and Beauty, you can put in a word to the happy parthenon of good spirits that help us people navigate life and live well.

Today They Asked Me: Is It Possible I Know the Person Who Stole My Car?

So my insurance claims adjuster calls me today and asks me among other questions if I possibly know the person who stole my car, and gave them the car keys.

I was pissed and said it was possible. Anything is possible. I told him the police person told me on Thursday as I was doing their investigator's job that it was apparently possible to start the car with a nail file.

Anything is possible.

What doesn't seem possible is that my car will be returned to me any time soon.

What seems totally evident is that the are treating me as a suspect and I told them so in a LONG letter that said I wasn't being treated as a valued customer and that since I am a resident of East Oakland and am a woman of color that I feel they are stereotyping me as a customer who might be trying to pull one over on them.

That feels accusatory and disempowering.

It makes me MAD.

Why do I need to become an emotional wreck to get any reassurance from these folks?

Why am I getting a 3 month runaround? Does anyone know my rights here?

I wrote to the insurance commissioner. Someone suggested my congressperson.


Letter to Western United Auto Insurance
Good morning, Mr. Cochetti, et al,

Thank you for your phone call this morning. I was a little concerned in the tone of your voice and wanted to follow up with you.

I did receive the car rental on Friday afternoon. Thank you for making the reservation.

I do feel that part of my reimbursement should be for the day's work lost (Thursday, December 14th) for doing the investigation and record recovery for the vehicle report. That day cost me vacation pay. I believe your investigator is paid for the time spent doing research. I am paid to support students in the classroom learning technology skills.

Although I am sure that questioning is part of the normal procedure for insurance claims, I am wondering if it is usual protocol to be harassed with questions about my possibly knowing who may have stolen my vehicle. I am new to the neighborhood as of April 2006 and I work outside of my neighborhood. I felt this line of questioning was unnecessary and it makes me feel like a person under suspicion rather than a customer who was a victim of an auto theft. And again I feel that I need to undergo the trauma of the autotheft and the disappointment of being considered a suspect.

As a woman of color living in East Oakland I feel as if Western United has directed its investigation toward me versus partnering with the Oakland Police Department to resolve the issue. This feels insulting, disempowering, and as if I am being stereotyped. How am I to feel like a valued customer to Western United if lines of questioning make me feel this way? Am I not supposed to feel supported by my insurance company?

For the past three months I have been hoping for resolution to my vehicle being stolen. Since it was recovered I felt that it would be a simple matter of the car being identified with the records I provided, the repairs would be made for the damage it sustained from whomever may have stolen it, and I would have my car returned to me.

The past three months have been harrowing. Thursday I felt a culmination of months of frustration as I became emotional on the phone. Only then did I feel supported in my frustration and was reassured that until this issue was resolved that I would have a vehicle to go to and from work. After making this request several times to assure that I was able to go to work (to continue paying my premium as well as making other financial obligations) I felt that my emotional state allowed Western United to truly hear my plight.

Today's line of questioning made me feel as if that moment of empathy was fleeting and I am back to being considered a case number and not a human being who was the victim of a crime that has led to feeling of anxiety, violation, and disempowerment.

I want to have the faith in my insurance provider that I am a valued customer.

How can we proceed with this to assure that I have answered your questions and that I have assurance as a customer that I am considered a valued member of Western United's consumer base?

Items from my previous correspondence:

a) Confirmation of car rental beginning 12/15/2007 lasting through return of my vehicle in my position at AAA/Western United's expense

-> Thank you Mr. Cochetti for confirming this auto rental. I have picked up the car.

b) Confirmation that the Oakland Police report has been recovered by AAA/Western United (my work hours/location) conflict with my being able to go to the police department this week.

-> I spent a work day on Thursday recovering a Vehicle Report. Hopefully this will satisfy your needs. Else the officer indicated you would need to get a subpoena to obtained unredacted records.

Again, as the victim in this crime I feel that I have not received a full report from my insurance company of the information it knows. When I ask for details of investigation I am told that the matter is still under investigation.

I found out from the report that the car was recovered a few blocks from my house! Why was your investigator unable to get a copy of this record?

c) A copy of my file regarding claim # 189852 with correspondence/paper trail sent regular mail for my records

-> I have received the previous two letters to match my records. Thank you.

d) Details regarding the gas card promotion from September 2006 that gave potential customers gas cards for getting a quote and then getting insurance through AAA. Since I received both and quote and insurance on September 16, I believe I am entitled to the gas cards offered through this promotion.

-> I have been in touch with Ms. Wallace regarding the gas card. We have been leaving messages for one another by have not been in direct contact.

e) Confirmation via email that this email has been received.

-> I have received confirmation of that. Thank you.

I would like to add to this list:

f) Reimbursement for a day's work (vacation taken) for December 14th, 2006 for the time and gas spent to drive between two precincts to obtain a copy of the vehicle report. The officer who assisted me at the Eastmont Mall seemed rather surprised that I was doing the legwork on the investigation since it's normally done by the insurance company.

g) Opportunity to rummage through the contents of the vehicle and reclaim my items (including music, river rafting and camping gear, kites, and registration documents (if they were still in the vehicle)) while this still remains under investigation

h) Receive information/counseling on how Western United handles auto theft claims. I feel that most customers do not wait 3 months for their claims to be resolved.

Again, I appreciate the time and attention your organization has offered my claim, but am dissatisfied as to how I have been treated as an individual. I look forward to resolving this matter with you and receiving any further information on details you have regarding the repair and return of my vehicle.

Sincerely yours,


Previous Email (12/10/06)

First of all, I want to thank you for responding so promptly to my email. As you can understand, this experience has been harrowing for me.

>Be advised that i cannot provide you a timeline as to when this claim will be processed as we are still >investigating the claim, however we can move the vehicle back to you immediately while we complete our >investigation.

This is great news! It sounds from your words that I would be able to get my vehicle back ASAP as soon as we get the police report! I have left messages for the Oakland Police Officer who is in charge for thefts, but have not received any response. This information is much more satisfying than a simple "under investigation" phrase. Thank you for the included detail in your correspondence!

>Since you are the registered owner of the vehicle and we have aleady appraised your vehicle damage, you may >take whatever action you deem necessary to repair your vehicle however we will not be able to discuss >settlement of this claim until we complete our investigation.

Again, this is GREAT news. Much more information than can fit on my voice mail (My voice mail has been full as of late. I have been receiving a deluge of phone calls. This is my only means of communication aside from email and I do not have any control over the voice mail limit.)

This is the first I have heard of the vehicle appraisal damage. How much damage was caused to the car? Was there anything wrong with the car aside from the damage to the driver side mirror? If I felt it was faster for me to repair it and then be reimbursed for that, would that be an option?

Again, I am confused with the term "under investigation". What is the usual cycle of investigation that happens with auto theft? Is this information that can be found on a website or within the documentation of my insurance policy in an F.A.Q. format? From what I gather from the information in this correspondence the car has been recovered from the tow yard, is in possession of Western United, and has been assessed for damage. What are the missing elements of the investigation that are outstanding? Other than the police report from Oakland Police Department, are there other elements that I should know about to obtain? (Last week was the first time I understood it as my responsibility to get the police report since I understood that the insurance investigator would be obtaining this as part of the investigation. I was also unclear on how to proceed because the Oakland Police Department considered the case closed.)

Do I have the opportunity to rummage among the contents collected from the vehicle? Aside from the items that I listed that were NOT mine, I would like to know if any of my items remained intact within the car. I am mostly concerned with my music, my kites, my camping gear, my registration documents, my river rafting gear, and a housewarming present I had for a friend (an otter puppet), a roadside emergency kit, some books (including the dictionary of theories), a wide-brimmed straw hat, a halloween hat that lit up "This IS my costume". Perhaps your organization can provide me with a list of contents that was found in the vehicle?

> Should you want your vehicle moved to you then please provide me with a address where your vehicle can be
> moved to that will not charge storage. Your vehicle must be moved to a storage free location.

It only makes sense for the vehicle to be towed if it is drivable. (At least for the time I have remaining with a rental vehicle.) In the assessment you have made, is the car drivable over long distances? The new job requires me to be mobile among several Bay Area locations within a 12-15 mile radius of one another.

I am concerned with having a vehicle after my rental time is expired. This investigation has gone above and beyond the 25 day limit of rental on the policy and I am concerned about transportation. Is there no way to add rental days since there is no deadline that you can determine as of yet? Surely you understand my dilemma for needing reliable transportation.

> The remainder of this email will address your requests as follows:
a). I already made a Hertz reservation for you on 11/28/06 at the Hertz office located at 1001 Broadway in downtown Oakland. Hertz phone number is 510 451 3807 and the confirmation number is 037202764. This information was already provided to you so please contact Hertz regarding your rental and contact me if their is any problems.

> Excellent. I have contacted them and they have confirmed that I have a reservation starting Friday when my friend will be reclaiming her loaner vehicle to me. Thank you SO much for providing this information to me.

b) As i requested in our last conversation on 12/5/06, because our investigator is having problems getting a response from Oakland Police, we are requesting that you contact the Oakland Police Dept and get a copy of the face sheet of the arrest report. Our investigator advised that since you are the victim that you have a right to this document from the Oakland Police and you should be able to get it easier then our investigator. Please provide me with the names, phone numbers and dates that you attempted to call Oakland Police since i made this request of you on 12/5/06. If you are having trouble getting cooperation from the Oakland Police then please advise me immediately and document all police personnel that you have contacted in regards to this matter. Please be advised that we are attempting to follow up with the person arrested in your vehicle and with the Oakland police officer regarding details of the recovery of your vehicle to assist in our investigation of this matter.

> Excellent. Again, this is the first I have heard any details regarding the details of the investigation. From the brief conversations I have had with the investigator he mentioned someone was arrested in the case and a brief conversation I had with Officer Jacobs of the Oakland Police Department confirmed it was an adult and that the person was found with the vehicle, but not necessarily the person who stole the car.

I don't have exact dates for when I have called the Oakland Police Department, but I have called twice since our discussion last week and several times since the car was stolen in September. I have had 1 live phone conversation with Officer Jacobs in mid-late November. Else I have been leaving messages for her. The number I have for her is 510-777-8705.

I went to the Oakland Police Department website and found a potential beat officer for my address:


Beat Officer: Officer Ed Tracey

Area Coordinator is Edith Guillen
Her telephone number is 510-238-7159
Her cell phone number is 510-773-0467

c) I will resend you all letters that have been sent to you regarding this claim however please advise why you have not aleady received these letters as we show that the letters went to your last known address.

> Excellent. This will help me keep my records in order regarding this claim. Shall I confirm with you which letters I have received regarding this claim to avoid duplication? I have the letter regarding the affidavit and another indicating the refund for the rental in September.

> d) please contact your agent as this is not a claims matter.

Just to confirm, Ms. Jackie Wallace, my sales representative is also considered my agent?
And Mr. Kip Cochetti is my claims agent, correct?

> e)consider this as confirmation of your email.
Excellent. Email is easier for me to correspond to and to check throughout the day since I am in the classroom. Phone conversations are difficult to have during the school day.

>Lastly, please provide a alternate phone number to the phone number you provided. I have
> called that phone number on many occassions and got a message that the voice mail was full and when its not > full and i am able to leave a message the voice mail cuts me off before i can leave a complete message.

As mentioned earlier, I have no control over the voice mail service provided to me through my phone service provider. I've cleared my voice mail box, but know that if I receive messages throughout the day it becomes full because I don't get to check it throughout the day. I don't have an alternate number to offer you. We'll have to make due with the 30-second increments we have. I do appreciate it when you have left messages for me. Thank you!

Again, thank you for providing so much detail regarding the car theft and the progress your organization is making with investigating it. Although not an answer to all of my questions, I feel better knowing what aspects of the investigation have been covered. It feels better as a consumer to have insight behind the term "under investigation" rather than just being offered that and having no idea where we are in the process.

I am still concerned with the portion regarding the Oakland Police Department because that seems like such an unknown in this equation. As I mentioned in previous voice mail, we should take a two-pronged approach to this and see who is successful in the end obtainin this information from them.

I would love to have my car back by Christmas! Hopefully with both of our efforts, we can make this happen!

Thank so much!


Western United Customer since September 2006
Autotheft Claim # 189852

Mailing Address:
[my mailing address]

Coquito Para Todos

Imagine the following:

1 cup coconut milk (i suggest organic or make if if you have the time!)
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup condensed milk
1 cup rum (light or dark, as you wish)
4 beaten egg yolks (try free range, organic)
3 sticks of cinnamon
1 half capful of vanilla

powdered cinnamon (to taste)
cloves, allspice, nutmeg (to taste)
saffron (to taste)

Also collect:
- wine bottles and corks
- smaller decorative bottles and caps to close

Suggestions: glass bottles and screw top bottles. your green grocer might carry empty bottles for olive oil or vinegars...those work great, too!

Coquito is as much recycling something you have used before as well as imbuing new spirit into the emptied bottle!

Now do this:
Combine these things in this way to make the egg nog of my people. it's hard for me to consume egg nog from a carton since this is so easy to make.

take the 3 cinnamon sticks and boil them together with a cup of water. your house will start smelling amazing. let this cinnamon tea cool to room temperature or cheat and put it in the fridge.

i like to whisk the milks, rum, and beaten egg yolks together in a large bowl. (you can also use a blender, but whisking = no use of electricity!)

in a liter bottle combine the cinnamon tea and milk blend together. for good luck and cheer i like to take a cinnamon stick from the tea and place it in the bottle of egg nog.

yields: about a liter or more. it DEFINITELY gets better with time.

feel free to substitute a rum flavouring for an alcohol-free version.

optional ideas: use left over coquito for a festive french toast!

i am looking to create a non-dairy blend for next year. no reason why lactose intolerant boricuas shouldn't be included on the festivities.

hasta que viene los reyes, todos!


Thursday, December 14, 2006

I Flippin' Detest Chasing After Crap

Yahoo! AvatarsAfter 6 hours with two different Oakland Police Departments and my insurance company, I have decided that:

1) insurance is really one of the least consumer friendly businesses that ever did exist

2) there are parts of Oakland that look like they have been raided

3) stress gives me crazy migraine headaches


4) I chose the wrong day to start practicing in heels for Michelle's wedding next year


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pixar is Way Cool, Everyone Likes Pixar

One thing I love about my current job is that I get to have 7th grade experiences in a 34 year old body.

Puberty is so much easier now that I am aware of it and that I am not so stressed about science fair projects.

Today I got to go with some of my first digital storytelling students to Pixar in Emeryville, CA.

You may be familiar with Pixar. They brought you Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bugs Life, Finding Nemo, and Cars.

The philosophy of the organization and even the space (designed by Steve Jobs) is about collaboration.

Bathrooms are intentionally placed on the bottom floor so people have to encounter one another and brainstorms have to happen.

I love it.

They have old-fashioned mail slots and bins of cereal for their breakfast in the morning. They have air hockey and video games and fooz ball to play with.

Creative juices flowing every flavor.

Flyers were posted for Pixar University film screenings featuring a young girl from India. I don't remember the name of the movie, but it looked serious, less cartoony.
Awesome, non?

Today I saw an acorn cap that will appear sometime in June 2007 in Ratatouille.

I fell in love.

The creative process is always amazing. Always something to pull me out of the doldroms.

This morning I cursed my alarm at 5:30 and ignored it until 7. Then I continued to putter until about 7:30. I showered and headed into the fog monster to cross the Bay Bridge and end up at Claire Lillenthal School where I observed a Storytelling Exchange workshop with some of my coworkers.

They were working with 30 6th graders to write their about the authors. Pencils and poor penmanship and electricity were alight in bungalow #3.

I observed as students wrote and distracted each other with Christmas wish lists and hobby exchanges. Avery wants to excel in soccer and football. Jonah wants to be a chef with his own television show. Another young woman born in Montgomery, Alabama knows she wants to follow in Thurgood Marshall's footsteps and go to the same college and join the Supreme Court.

I was fascinated and infused with all of this possibility.

I haven't felt this Ishkabibbly in a long, long time.

Then there was my student, my special project.

After bios were collected we started the next activity.

We were to check our stories for green, yellow, and red stars. These signify the characters, setting, and dialog we were to insert to different parts of the story.

Our job was to cut along our first draft and insert our green, yellow, and red papers which had more detail about these things.

My special student, whose mind was somewhere outside of the bungalow, called aloud, "I don't get it" after my coworker was done with her thorough explanation and after all the other students got busy determining where there stars were and marking where they would cut.

This student was mine. I introduced myself as Ms. Ishkabibble and asked him what he got of the assignment.

I sat down in a chair that was meant for a shorter frame than mine. My knees came up closer to my chest than they have in a long time, and I felt equal to this student.
He repeated what he got of the assignment and I filled in the gaps. Then we worked on editing his story together.

The dimmer on his brain bulb started turning on and the juice poured forth into his head.

He was getting it and clipping away and arranged his story. He read it aloud to me, proudly. I added sound effects while he read and the kids around him began giggling, pleased to have a little entertainment during this task.

My little student, who was vocal, but not necessarily focused in the moment, was among the first ones done.

He was alright. He just needed that little nudge.

I took leave, like I love to do in that Mary Poppins kind of way.

Off to the next location, KIPP Bridge, my home school for this digital teachers project, to pick up the 7th graders and head over to our tour of Pixar.

I haven't seen these students since October and I miss them terribly.

They gave me beautiful letters and teddy bears to say thank you.

I was a surprise.

They came down the way and I said hello and I was squeezed about the neck.

It was way cool.

Everyone likes Pixar.

7 minutes later, we pulled into the Pixar compound. We had nametags and valet parking, and saw employees lined up to purchase Pixar stuff for holiday gifts in the atrium.

Our hostess rocked. She is a coordinator and took us through the screening rooms where we saw shorts that were being screened for the employees during lunch. Next we got to see a premier 3D engagement of one of the shorts we had just seen in the main screening room. We had to use special 3D glasses for these. They were digitized.

Apparently 3D can be done in a few ways. Stereo video can be done using two projectors OR it can be done with one projector alternating images for the left and right eye.

I had NO idea about the second 3D method.

I geeked out and asked a billion questions.

Then when the movie played, I reached out to grab the characters and the snowflakes from the movie.


We then continued our tour through the art galleries and the server farm and saw the storyboard for Finding Nemo and some gorgeous models and sketches for Cars.

Some research was done along Route 66 for cars.

They found canned armadillo and brought it back to Pixar. It is in a glass case.

How cool is that? Part of your job is to bring back canned armadillo.

We then worked our way to the animators, which work in little covens in Pixar. Their digs are SUPERCOOL. Some themed in a rain forest. Some themed as a cabaret with formerly Chuck E. Cheese animatronics. Everyone has their own space created for themselves....

At the cul de sac of a hallway we squeezed into one of the animator's office.

One side of the office was filled with 3 computer monitors and some complex software to model and skin for the upcoming movie.

On the other side was an old-fashioned animators desk of warm wood and a tilt top.

It was LOVELY.

He spoke with us for a cool half hour showing us the rough renderings for a section of Cars and then moved us through the evolving segments of the film until we saw the clip that was released with the full colour and effects.

Amazing. Simply amazing.

80 animators and teams can be working on a project simultaneously.

All perfecting a specific look, character, ambiance, that makes watching these films so great because the level of detail is so meticulously monitored.

Dude. They have canned armadillo. How can it not be?

I squealed with delight.

The kids thought I was crazy.

I plotted with their teacher that we should start off as janitors and move our way up.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

mario esta aqui!

picked up mitzi's mom on sunday afternoon...and 8.5 hours after HARD labor...mario is born!

dios mio!

Saturday, December 9, 2006

eddie palmieri, shrimp mousse, coquito y la lluvia

it's rainy and i am kneeling in my kitchen.

i've just made a quick batch of coquito for the permit holiday party hosted by river rafting friends.

the idea of bending this way and that according to the whim of the river armed with my team and my paddle seems to be the furthest thing from my reality at the moment, but the idea sounds so amazing, that i MUST go for it.

this week began in phoenix, arizona.

lovely breakfast, change of place, and scenery allowed me to go deeper into the folds of the brain. thank you angela, michelle, and our gracious host o for the opportunity to think.

then into the week.

wednesday arrived and i got a phone call in the late afternoon from a friend who is recently and wonderfully in love. he is in reno. she's here. and she has a puppy.

of COURSE i would dog-sit.

call me the cupid-yente. i may NOT be ridiculously in love, but i totally sanction it. i had planned on going to see mr. eddie palmieri at yoshi's on thursday night and told her that.

apparently not a problem.

so i took off to work knowing i would have dog therapy and knowing that a friend of mine was going to enjoy herself for two days.

after work i did something...and then went to go hang with the puppy.

(i have noticed that my memory is crap lately. i can't remember details and i am concerned for this.)

bonnie always is an incredible hostess and left me a luxurious house to hang out in.
i only took advantage of the bed, because i was exhausted.

the dog looked at me, beckoned me to join her for a romp outside.

i didn't know how to tell her i had to be at school at 8 am that morning, so i needed to be up really early to beat the traffic and to get back to my house and shower and prepare for the day.

we took a quick walk that allowed her a pee and then i took off to my house.

i got to my door, searched my keys.


this is the 3rd time in 2 months.

in the past when i have lost my keys, i knew they were on the table by the door.

it's embarassing to know that my brain burp has locked me out of the house.

i debated to call the building manager. i didn't.

it was almost 7 am and i needed to battle traffic, so my solution was to go into the city with the same shirt and jeans i had worn the day before. i would buy mouth hygeine stuff and i already washed my face at bonnie's...the day would be fine.

my fear was that the 7th graders would ask me about my recycled getup.

of course traffic was a breeze. i called my coworker to let her know my schedule and to request a t-shirt and toothpaste. she would hook me up.

i stopped by cafe abir a few blocks above the school.

tea would be lovely to cup in my hands and to meditate on where my keys might be.

i didn't want to arrive at yoshi's later that night in the same outfit.

i was meeting a friend and wanted to be dance-presentable...

mas horita, am tired and the signal i'm biting from is waning...

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

read the papers ... me at 6

dad sent me this article and i thought i'd share


Listening to the online, an old school house track by Sagat, "Funk Dat" came on.

It's been a minute since I've heard the smooth sax loop and organ track....

The video featured images of urban social situations to make you think...

For those of you who don't remember...FUNK DAT!

Funk Dat

by Sagat


Funk Dat

Question why is it that every time I walking down the street
Somebody wants to stop me
Just to give me a flier.
Come on man !!
Funk dat !!
Get out of my way !!

Question why is that everytime I walk into the bank
The tellers look at me like I am the one that robbed them last night
Come on man !!
Funk dat !!
What are you looking at !!

Question why is it that everytime I turn on the radio
I hear the same five songs fifteen times a day for three months
Man funk that !!
Get a new dj !!

Question why is it that bums ask me for money when I aint got none,
Whats it an iddiot thing or something let me remind this dude he aint got no money hunh !
Man fuk that!!!!
Get a job !!

You know everytime I see me neightbor she tells me to stay out of trouble,
The other one looks at me like I am the one that got her daughter strung out
Come on man !!
Funk dat !!
What are you looking at!!

Seems like eveytime it never fails it never fails
Im just chilling in my crib minding
My own business and somebody wants to call me just to talk about nothing
Funk dat !!
Get a life !!

Question why is it that when I go out to a night club
Only the ugly chicks want to step to me,
I mean like i'm ugly or something ha
What you mean ha!
Funk dat !!
Get out of my face !!

a most fortunate event!

ah, so the lovely lower haight offers an array of foodstuffs.

i was tooling about on lunch break from the kids and decided impulsively as i approached Rosamunde that I would nosh on a sausage...would it be lamb, or chicken, or pheasant, or boar?
no...i decided on chicken and cherry...lovingly grilled and spooning alongside beef and even vegan brats...

i took a walk down the street as my arc of flesh curled on the metal grate and flames. i returned and my chicken and cherry sausage was served to me.

i heard a voice comment about pickles and i responded.

i looked up and saw, tall, in a red tactile short sleeve shirt, slacks, short grey hair, and clear eyes...was Mr. Lemony Snicket!

i have a girlish crush on this man. i stood in line for his autograph for my nephew for 4 hours a few weeks back. i missed the aterciopelados show at amoeba for him. his sense of humor is wicked and his spoken voice is warm and bellows. there's a quirk on his eyebrow that makes me want to have droll-filled conversation with him filled with uber-intellectual references.

instead i was chill and touched his arm and thanked him for the autograph he gave my nephew.

i was in la-la land, however. he made a joke and i went over my head. i blushed and had to leave. my eye contact moment was lost.


i walked back to the car and then i got on the megan (who waited online with me), tylor (my newphew), christine, and bonnie.

my heart still races...sigh!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

car saga...month 3


after returning from phoenix, az and being treated to a few days of relaxation, decadence, self-reflection, and advice, i came home to a conversation with mr. robert and thought i should call the ol' insurance agency and see what was up with my car.

i am angry and am not going to take it out on myself, i decided.

i'm 34 now. and i haven't done anything wrong, save park in front of my house one night.

that's it.

so i called mr. kip, my insurance guy, and i left a message asking him how long this investigation was going to take since the city of oakland considered the matter closed.
i also asked when i could expect my refund for the rental from september and what assistance the company would offer me since i have 25 days rental and if i hadn't had a borrowed car, i would be SOL because 25 days would have come and gone...AND i left a message for the supervisor.

this is ridiculous.

i have SEEN the car.

the investigator didn't know what to do with the key when i asked him.

needless to say my faith in this insurance company has eroded with each payment i make for this insurance and each month that goes by without my vehicle.

i would like jane back. that's it.

i didn't steal my car. i know that's sitting in the back of someone's head because i am a brown woman and i live on the edge of the hood, but, no...i didn't steal my own car, nor did i arrange to have anyone steal it, despite it being stolen less than 24 hours after i got insurance.

i got insurance because i had the money to finally do it and i wanted to do the right thing.

i've been saving to do the right thing with my car for almost a year now.

i still don't do regular car maintenance as i should, but i am working on it.

i'm a working adult who feels overwhelmed by her bills and has to prioritize. for the last year i have prioritized student loans, rent, food, and phone over paying for car insurance. i made a bet. i know it was illegal. i figured i was using my karma points...hoping that all the volunteering was going shield me from being pulled over randomly or being in a car accident.

i know that was a major gamble, but when money seems so tight, you make that gamble.

in september i decided to stop gambling, because i had the means. i know it wasn't right. if i was in a car accident it could have had serious ramifications. i know this. and i apologize, but it's the choice i made considering other choices i needed to make.

so now we're in december. i was hoping to get my car back by my birthday.

in speaking with mr. kip, he's informed me it's my responsibility to get the police report.

why didn't he tell me 3 months ago when i was asking what i needed to do on this case?

jesus, and is it my role as the victim to gather my own evidence in the crime? isn't it your job to do the investigation? or will i be reimbursed for my time that i play private detective, too?

i will tell you that after my year with this company, i will be taking my business elsewhere. i am recognizing one thing this year: dude, i am worth it.

i am worth self-preservation.

i am worth fighting for.

i am a pretty decent human being, so dont string me along.

i can be assertive and i plan on continuing to practice that skill.

nameless insurance company, GIVE ME MY DAMN CAR BACK.


Friday, December 1, 2006

The Cult of Loving and Touch - Icons, Leaders, Supporters, and Outsiders

The Cult of Loving and Touch is nothing new. There are Snuggle Parties. In high school there was the Drama club. Nothing new. People need affection. I would say we'd grow quite mad without it.

Gentle embraces, moments of connection.

Capitalism lacks this essential because it is about efficiency. Using economy to reduce all friction.

It's biggest flaw is its ability to forget its essentially run by, on, and for human beings. Because human beings are temperamental creatures, we exhibit greed, love, competition, jealousy, and territorialism. We use resources disproportionately.

And some of my VERY intelligent acquaintances tell me that's the way it works. It's the most efficient system we have. The best lottery, essentially. Other financial systems don't work as well as this one.

No? I argue based on intuition that Capitalism works best for those with a significant amount of capital, the kind of capital that has had 3+ generations of growth and can sustain extended family. Property is owned. Trusts distribute resources from a financial font.

If you're trying to build wealth, however, it's a crap shoot. It's not build on a standard were all have the basic minimum, nor where work is equally valued or even scaled based on effort. It's reverse-scaled for the most part, where building the capacity of citizenry is LEAST valued (ex. child development, education, care for the elderly or disabled, injured, or hospitalized.) If you create food (a basic necessity of survival), you're probably undervalued as well.

But if you own means of production or don't work with your body, if you talk for a living and advise, you're probably worth more, earning more, or even in the spotlight more. People notice you and you'll go places.

It's not fair to speak in generalities. Let's talk about PEOPLE. I would say every human system has a hierarchy. There are those who are icons, leaders, supporters, followers, and outsiders.

When I speak of PEOPLE noticing you, I speak of these ICONS and LEADERS. Their charisma, knowledge, connections and resources make them important. The rest of those in the system are influenced by what these ICONS and leaders do or say, through EMULATION or other means.

So capital, as I have seen, is used to put leaders' vision in motion. Icons are used and compensated to create buss and drum up supporters. Those not adopting the vision or products are outsiders.

Now, we may say, as a nation of choice that there are many choices of visions and products, so supporters can pick and choose in the marketplace and no one is an outsider, but the system of a democratic marketplace breaks down when we think of each potential supporter as an equal consumer. Not every potential supporter (or consumer) has equal capital.

Just because you work or study or have a family or intelligence, does not entitle one to equal capital. Potential supporters may have to choose among their resources carefully before putting their support behind a vision or product. The reason for choosing a product or vision may have to do with quality, perceived need, sense of lack of choice, compromise, or emergency circumstance -- fantastical or reality-based.

For many adopting a product or vision may merely have to be moved by whim:

"I want to go to Europe." "I want to eat lunch." "I want to go to the club." "I want some new kicks." "I want a new house." "I want to get my hair done." "I want a new shirt." "I want a dog."
"I want to try a new therapy." "I want a new car." "I want a piece of chocolate." "I want that magazine." "I want a drink." "I need to have that video game." "I must get oranges from the farmer's market."

The examples are endless. For some, whim is the only barrier to connecting them to a vision or a product. They obtain it and that's the end of the thought process.

For others, supporting a product or vision involves budgeting. A product or vision is deemed worthy of support or perceived as a necessity, but current resources do not allow for immediate support of it. These individuals may choose to compromise on the actual vision or product and choose one comparable within their resource range or hoard resources until such time they can support their original choice of product or vision.

Still others may borrow against their perceived worth to support their chosen vision or product. Leaders place a value on the time for which the temporary loan or credit is allowed. Interest rate may vary. By the time the item is paid for, the supporter may have paid many times the original value of the vision or product. For some this is the only way to gain access to those products or visions they deem worthy of supporting.

Finally, there are those whose choices of products or visions are decided for them due to their limited access to media explaining various options of visions or products. They may also have limited resources, knowledge, and networks that do not offer them options to consider budgeting or borrowing against their perceived worth. They may not be perceived as "worth anything."

Some would argue this is not personal and should have no bearing on an individual's self-esteem, but if an individual's value is judged on their participation in supporting vision and products and they simply cannot participate in supporting these things -- not by lack of desire, but by lack of resources or access to resources, there is disenfranchisement, intentional or no.

That's friction on the system. Waste, excess stress, causality.

Theory may tolerate causalities as normal to the process. Families may find it a lot harder to actualize theorists' hypotheses. People are affected by these theories. Leaders make decisions based on theories. They are not often present for the body count. Certainly there's a sense of unpleasantness. Thankfully leaders and icons may simply need to invoke whim to make a choice of what vision or product to support to stave off any sense of disappointment or regret. Or perhaps there's no connection to the supporters and outsiders. Perhaps it's simple not PERSONAL.

Since the systems or rating visions and products with a value and creating interest around visions and products are for human consumption, humans are the only creatures targeted and affected by this messaging. The products are merely manipulation of people: icons, leaders, and supporters as workforce. Nature places no value in the concepts of products or visions. Nature is, however, impacted by humans who harvest resources to create products and visions.

If icons and leaders an supporters and outsiders agree that resources are finite, then there is an inevitable competition for resources. Nature is being tapped by humans as leaders and supporters to harvest resources for messaging around visions or creating products.

Sustainability, affordability, or repercussions of the harvest or waste from transformation from one product to another apparently is not a major consideration among icons, leaders, or supporters. Productivity is key.

The placement of waste CANNOT be ignored for it effects the ability to harvest resources effectively and eventually effects icons, leaders, supporters, outsiders, and NATURE.

Sanda Cisneros - House on Mango Street

I've just finished reading Sandra Cisneros' House on Mango Street. It's a series of vignettes of characters and memories of a latino family and their neighbors.

After reading it, I can't help but think I have many stories inside of me. My stories are painted differently, but they are here.

My favourite pieces are Bums in the Attic, Beautiful and Cruel, The Three Sisters, and A House of my Own. Hairs is good, too.

Little bits of the stories talk to me.

My blue house on June Street. I had a lilac grove and swings and a shed. There was a forsythia tree and an anemic tree in the back that was not good for climbing.

We had a gorgeous weeping willow, too, The house was surrounded by huge blooms in the spring. Black ants would would drink from these flowers. On the walk up there was a rose bush and a lamp post.

I think we had three steps up. I remember the windows had shutters. We had a driveway and a fence. Lots of grass.

I have to realistically think about the decade or so I have left with my parents. Ten years to collect their stories And what about titis and tios? Primos I have a little but more time with -- perhaps.

My first stereo had a turn table and an 8-track. I put records on it. Peter and the Wolf was one of my favourites. It had a great version of the 3 Billy Goats Gruff on it.

The bigger/ the goat/ the bigger/ the meal/
The/ big/ ger/ the/ meal/ the/ bet/ ter/ I/ feel

I loved how he sung that song and how he used the guitar to punctuate his words. It was hilarious. I can resing it now, too.

Some things stick in the memory net. Some things we never catch. It's all timing. We scoop, we catch. Sometimes the net breaks, all the memories are lost. And the boat of life floats forward. The net is left behind.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


i just discovered 24

last night after being rejected by Hukilau, Sol and I decided to celebrate bday at the Park Chow.
Fabulous dining experience. George was our lifeline to correct wine.

Lasagna and tuna. yum.

and then an unexpected phone call....

i am giggling again!

Monday, November 27, 2006



Alright, I've been in a FOUL@$$ mood for the better part of a month.
I brought in the cumpleanos bailando salsa last night at the Luka's with random strangers.

Thanks so much to my parents who didn't use birth control 5 years after their marriage to make this all happen.

Since then I've spent the last 34 years learning, living, laughing, brooding, pooping, bruising, brushing, driving, writing, dancing, and LOVING.

I have a cute picture of me at like 5 I'll put up tomorrow...but YOU, WORLD, have given me a womb to be in, so this morning I snuggled in bed while people called and wished me happy, happies.

I sang a salsa version of the happy birthday song for my voice mail greeting. Apparently people thought it was me live and have been singing along...THAT'S FUN!

Happy Birthday, mami and papi! Happy Life Day to me!

Un placer esta aqui, mundo!

Y un bendicion a todo que sepan amor y paz!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Amma Northern California Tour: Day 2

For some spiritual resurgence I headed out to Castro Valley a second time this week. Got there about 5 pm and left this morning about the same time.

Stars? Pretty amazing?

Expectation? Pretty low.

I wanted to get away and get some perspective.

Some 16 pages of journal, 12 hours, and 2000 people later, I think I found some perspective on this community.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Reflection at the Ashram

Children are the fragrance of the future, they are the flowers of the future. - Amma

34 minus 3 days.

I'm at a prayer center I purposely kept from my friends.

Her [Amma's] voice is deep, kind, and gentle. I wish I understood.

The interpreter makes me want to close my eyes and take inventory in the mind.
So the space goes, so the mind goes. My house is a mess. And it's my mess.

So in the last few months my bouts of depression have manifested in ill-health and negative thoughts. It's been acute in 2006.

Words from My Time in the Ashram

November 24, 2006

I'm in the dining hall with a lot of eople to be part of this celebration: Devi Bhava.

I'm an emotional sponge at the moment and seem to have been since September, it's something to add to my general "malaise".

What's interesting about this illness (or condition or however one describes depression) is that it's inconsistent in where it strikes.

Depression is an emotional cancer. It's difficult to detect and diagnose. It spreads.

Everyone tells you it will be fine.

It strikes different parts of the mind and body inconsistently. One day you are filled with energy and optimism. Gradually the items on the news begin to erode your shield and the body counts, the economy, the weather, even Terry Gross' current guest seems to get to you.

You're like a burnt out candle. Some people can even see the licks of smoke curling from the wick. There was once a fire an it was you.

I find it strange that I can write, drive, follow, directions, bathe, cook, wash dishes, fill the car with gas, operate an ATM, jump roe, pick out CDs and choose between KQED and KALW.

What I can't do is figure out WHY I feel broken. I feel that my precious mind that has held such amazing thoughts of love and appreciation for others cannot examine and see myself in the same light. I'm an incredible engineer of why I am ill-constructed.

I can take a vast inventory of my faults and flaws and how I'm defeated and can't dig out of the HOLE.

The HOLE means I can guarantee failure. Guaranteed. I suffer.

What kind of torture have I constructed for myself? It's neither saintly nor honorable nor productive.

But I keep on constructing.


Why is an eddying question. Yes, they are part of the river, but they are still and stagnant.

This general malaise began about 1992 or 1993. I don't remember.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

tv is weird

i'm housesitting for joe's cats. rocky and sierra are lovely companions. sierra sleeps at my feet, it's loverly.

joe has cable and so i am looking at it.

i have been sucked into watching grey's anatomy. i have heard this show is decent. i am impressed. the characters seem decent. some funny bits. the medical bits are cool.

the music is kind of annoying. some decent tunes, but i feel it's a little uber-hip.

the advertising is annoying. i have seen the stupidest ads for gap's "peace, love, and gap" campaign, the victoria's secret ads, and lots of ads for the sales starting tomorrow at 5 am.

i have also noticed that the volume of the ads is about 20% - 30% than the actual television show.

what's up with that?

thankfully the show is over now and so i will return to catching up on 6 weeks of daily show and colbert report.

both mssrs. stewart and colbert are ridiculously sexy. topical news items with wit?
man, gotta love that. and colbert has the glasses thing going. woo.

both are married and have children, therefore my having any thoughts about them is breaking one of the commandments...thou shall not covet thy neighbor's spouse.

oy vey.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Amma Means Love

Two summers ago a film rised up among the arthouse crew that featured a huge river and a celebration that shadowed Burning Man. Burning Man revelers bawked.

Kumbh Mela: Shortcut to Nirvana was a documentary following the 2001 Kumbh Mela.
The Kumbh Mela is a gathering along the Ganges River. Pilgrims gather in the MILLIONS follow their yogis and spiritual paths.

Each yogi (or teacher) had their specific practice. There was a yogi who held one arm up ALWAYS. I don't remember his name.

I remembered Amma. She was termed "the hugging yogi."

Apparently she has an ashram in Castro Valley, CA.

I sought some peace last night and there was a service. I've never been to an ashram, but part of me wants to do the tour of spiritual places so that G-d can hear me in whatever language or practice her/his ear is directed. I want to cover my spiritual bases.

Driving out to Castro Valley I thought of the larger trucks and Confederate flags I have experienced there.

Not to mention some of the ignorance.

I drove up a windy, lonely hill. The lights dissipated and the stars shone ahead. Without lights the hills were round shadows of giants on the landscape. Chill touched the air as I climbed.

5 miles above the 580 I found myself on a lonely country road. And I thought of my mother. I wondered what this ashram thing would be like. I hoped there would not be a large contingency of patchouli present. I chastised myself for being so judgemental.
I asked G-d/dess to give me strength.

A line of red lights led me to the ashram.

Wow. Devotees don't play. I arrived 45 minutes early and there was a line. Parking lot plan Q seemed to be in effect. It was dark, but the stables already were at capacity. Overflow was directed up a hill. It seemed like a steep hill and the road was made of gravel.

We parked and we walked to back to the road.

We cued up. An Indian family ahead of me with their young daughter were ahead of me. The wife/mother was in a sari and a WARM wool wrap. Her daughter was cute in her long skirt and Tinklebell hoodie sweatshirt. She kept on asking questions about the line.
The caucasian family behind me were made up of a skater/alterno mom/dad. They were dressed in black and thick-rimmed glasses and spoke with a skater affect. The daughters name was Carmen and she was exerting her independence.

Dad insisted that she zip up her jacket and she, although vocally announcing how COLD it was, did NOT want to mess up her hair. Father and mother took turns comforting her about how they were concerned with her health and that this was not the place for vanity.

Patience faded with each plead.

Dad finally said, "Put on your hood or I'll make you wear the hat."

She seemed horrified at this prospect and pulled the hoodie up. Father, already snugged under his own black hoodie, expressed his disgust by exclaiming, "Why do you have to piss me off?" He was perturbed that his asking previously had no effect on the girl, only threats. I think he was disapppointed to have to refer to such tactics.

Mysteriously vans came and people piled in. It was informal.

We drove up the hill, which would have been a CRAZY long walk. It looked deceptively short from the bottom of the hill.

Out we piled from the vans and went to the signs. Volunteers were all about directing devotees. People were orderly.

Apparently the main temple was filled, so we were directed to the overflow area - the dining room. Amma was being broadcast in there and we could see her.

I walked there. No arguing. I just wanted to sit and be still.

As I walked, I noticed two swan gliding along a pond below. I looked about and saw this was a little retreat in Castro Valley.

The tightness in my head loosened just a bit.

I walked in, made my way to the front and kept to myself. I took out my journal and began writing my stream-of-consciousness. I asked G-d/dess to help me sort things out. I thought of the people I am priveleged to know and thought about how disconnected I have felt over the last month or so.

That made me sad. Not depressed, mind you, but sad not to have that connection.

Amma was chuckling and answering questions on the screen. She didn't speak English. She responded to questions and a man served as her translator.

Amma was seated in easy pose under a wrap of a simple sari. She was surrounded by mostly girls and some women who later served as cantors and musicians.

Amma seemed like a comforting presence.

She was like that in the movie. She hugged and those she hugged responded in the film.

She gave advice to devotees in this moment. The translator guy gave us the English version.

Then singing began. Simple music. Long songs.

I was comparing it to the Catholic Church. We seem to have short ceremonies in comparison.

6:45 pm I arrived.

I listened and watched and wrote until the end of the ceremony.

When I finally looked at my phone, I noticed it was 10:30 pm.

Where had the time gone?

I left the space, barely noticing others, but in a place of introspection.

Was I transformed? Is sadness forever gone from me?

No, but it was wonderful leaving with a sense of peace. I lost a sense of time and thought about possibility and loving acts.

As I watched the ceremony end, I saw people cued up to receive their hugs from Amma.

She came down the stage and came into the audience.

Amma didn't hug and release. She enveloped those people in her body and held them and stroked their hair. Her lips moved and I am sure she gave them words of comfort.

And I thought to my day, how my 6th graders - about 100 of them gave me a card and thanked me for helping them make movies. They enveloped me in their arms that are becoming the arms of women and men and they said "Thank you, Ms. Ishkabibble!... We love you, Ms. Ishkabbble!" These words pierced the ice that's been glaciering my mind and soul as of late.

The corners of my mouth turned up.

I thought to myself, "Thank you."

Monday, November 20, 2006

stupid people

went out to a friend's birthday saturday night to shake off the blues.
it was one of my usual spots that i love.

for the first time ever there was a line
and a $10 cover


and a wait.


and then when i got inside i had a little chat with my friend and his crew
over some old school
and some new stuff i dont care for.

the mood switched with the more angry sounding stuff.

i heard...

a scuffle. yelling.

bartender became bouncer.


the crowd screamed and made a dash for the back of the bar and the door.

angry men snarled foul words and were dragged away.

outside the window from my vantage point i saw grown men
drag one another
wrestle one another
kick one another
punch one another

all while folks nervously laughed inside
or gasped at the spectacle
or tried to run from the madness

black on brown on yellow...hatred, on and on
all this for a good time?
on a saturday night?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

depression 1, me zip

Me: I have no idea what it is, but something is bothering me.

My brain: Well, since you suck in so many areas of your life, that's not a surprise.

Me: I've worked damn hard over the last 3 years to work with you, brain. We've been a team. We've begun to be more optimistic and move on from depression. We're identifying areas of our life, moving on from the victimization thing and identifying where we have power to change things we don't like.

My brain: Yeah? Well then how come you're still in a place where you're struggling? You're 33 and haven't maintained anything you need to survive. You depend on others ALL the time.

Me: I don't know. You must be right...

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Am I a Capitalist?

I just had a brief conversation with a colleague about how evil this capitalist system is.

Well, I don't agree in entirety. I don't agree the tool of currency is evil. Grant it, I do believe some insanely bad things have been done to the agreed value of LOTS of money.

I am actually glad that someone decided that non-material things also had value and that currency is an effecient system that allows people to carry value with them easily. It's also interesting how people have adapted to that.

So now if you're not a land owner with 7000 heads of cattle, you can still purchase clothes and goods and transportation and not barter for it. How much would you barter for an iPod? Your car? That PHRESH shirt you just got? How about a birthday cake? Or a chance to hike pristine trails in Utah?

If you're like me, your value is measured by how someone thinks of your non-tangible work. I know how to work with computers on some level, but I don't OWN any computers or manufacturing of computers or components.

An assessor would look at my collection of curios and clothes and cups and perhaps give me a couple of pidgeons in barter value. Not to say that pidgeons DON'T have value, but I doubt I could trade two birds for a week's worth of groceries or vitamins and supplements. I could be wrong...maybe they are valuable pidgeons...

Anyway, I ramble. I am glad that my work can be worth something I don't have to carry with me to prove my value. My working with youth and technology earns me a certain salary. BUT if it was all bartering, I don't know what my skills would earn me. I don't OWN anything to start creating things to BARTER with. I am GLAD my worth can be carried in my head and heart.

I don't have access to credit to expand my worth beyond what I earn except for cash advances and that expands my worth at a two week interval, so I am what I earn. And I reduce my debt at that earning rate and I purchase what I need within that window of earning. So I earn and spend within my means. I don't borrow extra pidgeons to buy a cloth for the week only to have to give six pidgeons back. (And would I breed those pidgeons to get the six pidgeons I needed to pay back?)

I'm all confused.

I felt like my coworker may have thought I bought into a system that says your worthless if you don't have assets. That's not true. I struggle with the idea of being worthless. I may be worth less than, say, Bill Gates, but I am really rich in relationships. I wouldn't barter those for Noah's Ark worth of pidgeons.

I also use my sweat equity wherever I can to experience that which I cannot pay for. With that I have earned river rafting, construction on solar housing, gained access to special events, AMAZING food, and a LOT of t-shirts. Sure, I'd love to convert some of my time into car repair or a hair appointment or a trip home every so often, but that's not how the bartering system works that I am aware of.

I need to do some research on economics and how we developed our money systems and agreed upon them. If anyone can recommend a book to explore this topic, I would LOVE it.

Til then, I am thankful that my ATM card links to my bank account and allows me to spend my Hamiltons without having to carry them all over the place with me.

Monday, November 6, 2006

I Voted

I also trained as a FED this weekend to make sure that the election process runs as smoothly as possible within a county and city of almost a million people.

I am FED #44. That's Federal Election Deputy in layman's terms.

Grant it, I am a passionate person. I definitely have my opinions. But as I drove in my city-rented official deputy mini-van along with the 50+ other FEDS who fanned across the city to stake out their precincts, I had the distinct feeling that there really are folks who want the system to work.

This afternoon, after I got unwoozy from yet ANOTHER bout of food unhappiness, I voted early in the basement of Alameda County. People were in line. I was asked to fill out an absentee ballot form and was given my new ballot which had the arrow connecting. It's FUN to complete the arrow!

Oakland doesn't have too bad of a ballot. Two pages, front and back. Much simpler than the 5 pager, double-sided tome in San Francisco.

I felt a little unsure of the Judges race. Basically you vote yes or no...without having any info on the judges as a cheat sheet on the ballot.

Other than that I had my little crib sheet for the state propositions and other races. It was interesting to see the candidates who don't have a million glossy posters up. There are about 5 candidates running for governor in California, for example. There are 3 candidates for Congressman.

I'm actually jealous of friends and family living in more heated parts of the country. Friends in NY, Mass., Florida, and Virginia have interesting gubanatorial races. Some interesting races in Oregon, Ohio , Washington, and Rhode Island, too.

I may have a lot of opinions, but what I appreciate about this process is that there is a general invitation for ALL to participate. We can vote early. We can have access to accessible voting places and methods. We MUST demand them, however.

The legal requirements are written down so someone doesn't get sued for screwing up...but let's be a little less cynical about it...democracy is meant for ALL the people - the worker who takes my toll when I cross the bridge, the school teacher who is teaching 7th and 8th graders history, the CEO who is deciding to make the business public, the gelato scoop person, the homeless person. As long as we're 18 it is our right.

Get your sticker. Get out there, make your choice and then let's get on the phone and email or whatever and discuss it.

Make Mama Democracy proud.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Bottle of Vomit with French Fries

Just to gross you guys's the bottle of wretch. I found a french fry in it!

My scientific brain is just so excited about how this all works.

It does not gross me out. Other things like war or injustice grosses me out.

My own bile with items floating in it just FASCINATES ME!

Food poisoning is NOT right, however. I do NOT recommend it.

From now on I'll keep it a little more kosher...perhaps only one dead animal per meal I choose to consume them....

P.S. I was balled up in fetal position in my car on Sunday night before Houman rescued me from a continued sense of poisoning returned.... YUCK!

Friday, November 3, 2006

@SS Spigot

K. So I caught up with Christine on Wednesday night. Had a FABULOUS Bacon Cheese Burger and a vanilla shake and fries and onion rings. We caught up. Life was good.

Thursday morning I don't feel so good.

That's when I developed my @SS Spigot.

It was not good.

It was not solid.

I took my charcoal and marveled at how terrible the feeling of knots in one's digestive track can be.

Got myself together. Drank lots of water. Kept on burping up bacon cheeseburger.

Continued to make period visits to the rest room and really appreciated softer grades of tp.

Last night as I drove to my doctor's appointment, I got nauseous...and pulled off the freeway. My stomach wretched and I reached for an empty bottle next to me so as not to spew on myself or my friend's car.

Terrible cramps, wretching, sweating, and I wrapped my lips about the bottle and SPEWED! (Twice.) I do not throw up often. I can count on my hand how many times in my adult life. It's SO weird to lose control of your body. Vomiting is SUCH a violent act for the body to do.

I opened the window to breathe and calmed down. I waited to see if the body wanted to do any more of did not.

I went on to doctor's appointment and settled down in the car before I walked...I felt dizzy.

I leaned into the couch arm as I relayed the week's events.

I took another trip to the bathroom.

False alarm.


Finished the appointment, drove home.

Just as I pulled the car up to the car port...the wretching came back. I didn't have I spit up a little on the drive way. Yuck.

Closed the gate, rushed to get the hell inside, drink more water and wait for oblivion to come.

Sleep came at about 9 pm.

And I woke at 1 am.

I prayed.

And I woke at 4:30 am.

I thought to myself, "This, too, shall pass."

And I woke at 8 am.

Tummy semi-settled. I took my vitamins and showered and bought some coconut juice, aloe vera juice, and headed to work.

No wretching.

Today's been okay.

I thought I had developed lactose intolerance.

Nope, perhaps it was just a bad something.

No more eating like THAT for awhile.

End of @$$ Spigot?


Sol, I found these pictures from when we met up for ice cream whenever that was a few weeks back.

Thanks for being cool peops, always.


Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Election Tactics...

Chris Daly is a supervisor in San Francisco and for some reason his opponents have a decent sense of humor. They have co-opted the Daily Show for their aims...

Election Day shenanigans in San Francisco...gotta love it.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Devil's Night

Next week it will be the night before the elections in the United States. Parties all over the continent will be marching to their particular candidate. Media will focus on the obvious winners and losers. Ballots, electronic and paper will be distributed.

Some may be told they cannot vote. Some may be told they can vote and their votes will get lost in the ether.

Lots of advertising companies will be excited about their spoils from advertising that paints candidates as adversaries, as opposed to expert men and women poised to take on the responsibility for representing their constituencies.

But it's THIS week.

I'm catsitting in Pacifica and two of the most adorable cats cuddle with me as I sleep. They protect my toes and walk on my chest to massage me awake. They meow and talk to me in their feline language. I do my best to oblige them. I am not well-versed in feline.

The peace of the morning in Pacifica was moderately disturbed this morning by the cue of traffic at 7:45 am as I tried to escape the hilly paradise to head eastward along the 80 to head to San Lorenzo. Making it more of a challenge is the limited radio in the car until I crested the hill. Mostly static.

That tried my patience.

Or was it the conversation with the private investigator who asked me what he should do with the key to my car. Since he's working with my insurance agency and they picked the car up almost 2 weeks ago, I would have thought they would have commiserated on the car.

My mistake.

Perhaps it was the Oakland Police Department that ruffled my feathers. The private investigator told me that someone had been arrested from the car theft. I called the police department to follow up and they said they had no futher lead on the investigation. When I said the private investigator had told me otherwise, I was transferred to an officer's filled voice mail box.

Now, if there is a person responsible for the car theft in their custody my human side wants to talk to them...ask them what was going on that night...tell them what a fright they caused me, tell them I miss my kites, tell them I had an otter puppet in the trunk as a housewarming gift to a friend...ask them why they left clothes and a food container in the car. I want them to volunteer with me on a housebuild and I want to know their story...what led them to take my car...

or is that naive of me?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cardinals? 2006 World Series Winner? Really?


I was gunning for the Tigers since the Yankees and the As screwed the pooch earlier.

Flipping through the channels as Ameena gave me a tour of the things that use remotes, I saw the confetti. I saw men in red caps crying and I saw men in blue caps looking stoic. The Fox bug was all over the screen and some club hit from 3 years ago was blaring as a victory cry.

It's over like that.

Now let's on to more significant 2006 elections!

I'm working the polls this year in San it'll be interesting for me to see how my fellow citizins vote and being part of the inner workings. Must remember to get my mobile vote on before Election day...

This Evening from Pacifica

Pacifica, CA
Ameena and Ernie are off to NYC and I get to be kitty sitter.

I arrived a little before 8 pm...laptop as as my guide. The moon is beginning to wax and the drive down highway 1 was just gorgeous...cresting and rolling down, seeing the ocean to my right...I love and miss this drive.

On Cleanliness
Ameena and Ernie are two very grown up folks. Their home is beautiful. Perfect. Neat.
Very unlike my home at the moment. It's not "museum" perfect. I don't feel like I can't curl up on the couch and read (which I just did to finish On Beauty), just a neatness I aim for in my life.

Strange that I have taken to cleaning and purging. I've found that the papers I have been holding on to have no bearing on my existance or success...or at least the one's I've sifted through. That makes for two boxes emptied. That makes for a little corner of my world uncluttered. It's very satisfying, actually.

I found that I missed out on an opportunity to try Netflix for free for a month (that offer expired about 2 weeks ago), but other than that, it was all recycle-bin bound.

I almost wish I had a worm bin. Would be cool to take the orange peels and paper and get some nice compost. I want my plants to be happy and nurtured. I should invest in some pots. My ginger is beginning to grow nicely.

Not bad for just sticking a nub in dirt to see what would happen.

This week I have been recording for the latest digital stories and have been charmed by one group's ad for Akkadia. Their jingle features three cheerful 6th grade girls and they have the whole ad thing down...repeat a key phrase in the jingle...drop just enough information to entice the consumer and you have a hit. I have been singing "A-kad, A-kad, A-kad" all day and loving it.

Mum, Nephew, and Dad
I spoke with mami today who put a little deposit so I could get gas AND food til payday. Gracias, mami!

I also wanted to shower her with love and affection because her award ceremony was last night. She was given a community award by the latino community in Raleigh for her contributions. I wish I could have been there, but I sent my love and asked for the details. She said friends from all over came out to support her and that made me happy. She was surrounded by supporters and that's what counts. Her love of people astounds me and inspires me.

We got to talking about her 60th, which is coming up in January. Since I can't afford both Christmas and her 60th, I figure I (distraction: CUTE kitty cat crawling in a tube of blanket, so it it mysteriously moving. Tootsie is RiDICiculously cute! will go for her 60th. Although I think Christmas in her new house would be pretty rad. We'll see if I win the lottery between now and then so I don't have to make the choice! =)

We got to talking about my dad and my nephew. My dad had his heart attack in June and things have been up and down for him. His recovery seems really sound. He seems really on track with his rehabilitation.

Where I think he feels a little jilted is with work and his grandfatherly duties.
My father is a super-intelligent man with whom I review NPR news, politics, and cinema. He's become a bit of a hermit in the last 5 years...denying his love of music and puttering among his papers.

I used to know my dad as an entertaining character growing up. It's changed a bit and part of me can't help but think about the whole aging thing.

Both of my parents are approaching it very differently.

It seems that since my mother's two strokes, she's turned up the juice on her life and she is involved in the community, with her family, and enhancing herself in a hyper-positive way. The latest triumph? She bought a condo.

Dad's retreated a bit. He's added on to the Raleigh home, but I don't know if he enjoys it or is interested in enjoying it. I know he likes watching DVDs, but I am not sure if he gets any enjoyment from the pool he's built or even walks about the property to notice the pine needles or plot ideas for landscaping.

He used to be all about that.

Then there's my nephew.

I spoke briefly with my nephew who seems to have taken a little bit of each of the roles we children had growing up: part troublemaker, part peacemaker, and part hermit. He's 13 and has a great heart. Sure, he can be a pain in the neck, but that's due to the fact that he has all of that growing energy going on. I can't always keep up with his thought process, but I'm open to it.

He's a big Lemony Snicket fan. He reads a lot. Plays video games, rides bikes.

He wears glasses and his body is broadening. His face is changing. He's in that inbetween stage of boy and man. The voice is betraying the boyhood and yet his mannerisms are still that of an organism trying to grip with hands that were a size smaller not two days before.

He's discovering the razor. He wears saggy jeans and doesn't explain the style so much as defend it. His teeth seem a little too big for his face. His smile is sweet and his embrace is genuine.

I, like my parents and my sister and brother, want the whole world for him. I want his childhood memories to be sweet. I want him to know a good world and to be praised by some adults and know comradery of his peers.

He, like other 13 years olds, is too smart for his own good, doesn't know that yet, and comes packed with wisdom from watching the adults around him.

His recorder is always on.

We adults sometimes forget this. And I know he's seen ridiculous behaviour on our part. I hope it doesn't fully inform how he approaches his adulthood.

I love you, familia. Tylor, let's hope I get that Lemony Snicket autograph for you tomorrow!

Un beso,

Tu Titi Rikki