Thursday, December 15, 2005

Taking A Break

I will be taking a break from bloggerville for a while, so I won't be updating any of my blogs.
I will still read others blogs...and comment!

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Old Wooden Fences

Old Wooden Fences

One of my favorite things to photograph, are old, wooden fences. I feel lucky to find those that are barely standing with several missing posts. I like their fragility and strength, their ability to stand alone and proud, through empty fields of wheat or uncut grasses, and their weathered wisdom of watching decades pass. Their foundation is strong, their wood sturdy and solid. It is evident that no one has paid them any care, and yet they don’t ask for any. They still function as a divider, but without the harsh, prison like, feeling of ten foot high metal fences, or fort-like wooden spears pointing to the sky. I sometimes wonder if these fences, their worn posts, and rusted nails, were ever painted over in white or dark brown. Did the land-owner build them himself or did a local carpenter come and construct it. Most of all, I am grateful that they still stand, that no one has yet knocked them down to replace them with more offensive and isolating walls. I hope one day, to buy a house, with an old wooden fence, which I’ll let stand just as it is.

This post also appears on ELLA'S POEMS

Thursday, December 01, 2005

New Photos: Lake Tahoe & San Francisco

New Photos Are Up at Angles and Light!

Here are two photos from the collection:

Glassy Waters, Fallen Leaf Lake, (Tahoe Area) CA

Dock at Camp Richardson's, Lake Tahoe, CA

To view the rest of the collection, please visit:

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New Photos

Please visit Angles and Light to see some of the new photos I have uploaded. Here is one of the new ones.

"Gray Petals"

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Bay Area Belly

If you love cooking and food in general, please to visit my blog Bay Area Belly ( for recipe ideas, restaurant reviews, market reviews and more!

Recent Posts:

Rock Shrimp Risotto
The Hint to a Perfect Omelette
Pumpkin Apple Muffins
Cream of Carrot Soup

Perfect Holiday Presents

Are you already stressing out about the holidays and unsure how you are going to get through another year buying presents for family you see often and family you hardly see?

Well here are some ideas!
First: For the Person that Loves to Cook!
Round up any empty and clean Mason jars you have around the house. If you don't have any you can buy them at craft stores such as Micheals. Then collect any old ribbon you have lying around, or if you knit/crochet any left over colorful yarns.
Look up some recipes, for example a chutney recipe or jam. In this month's edition of Cooking Light, there was a delicious recipe for Cherry, Cranberry, Walnut Chutney. We were making some for Thanksgiving anyway, so I used some extra to give as a gift to our landlord. Below you can see I used a small, old, honey jar and some leftover yarn. I then cut out a rectangle from a paper bag from the grocery store, folded it, punched a hole in the top left corner, and wrote a little message inside.

Second: For the Person that Loves Food, But Doesn't Have Time to Cook!

I personally live in an area with lots of great food stores and farmer's markets with local foods (gourmet and non-gourmet). When I was shopping today at our favorite store, an independantly run health food store, I noticed that there are tons and tons of gourmet items like tapenade, chutney, barbeque sauces and marinades as well as many other "local" items that my family (back east) would never be able to find. You can also grab holiday items like cookies, gourmet hot chocolate mix, or teas. If you have extra baskets at home, round those up. Otherwise hit up a craft store and buy some small, inexpensive, wooden baskets. Place three to four items in a basket et VOILA! Decorate with yarn or ribbon.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Movie Review: "In America"

Tonight I finally watched the movie "In America." As the director writer said "It is about letting pain go."

So much of life seems to be about letting pain go and letting new life in, and this film presents that common thread we all share in a very sweet, funny, and realistically sad story.

A family of four (a couple and two young girls Ariel and Christine) moves to America from Ireland so that the father may follow his dream to become an actor. But the family has recently lost their only son and the pain still lingers within each of them. The family faces new challenges as they try to acclimate in one of Manhattan's not so forgiving neighborhoods. In their apartment complex lives another young man, Matheo, who is afflicted with his own burdens, which are revealed in the movie. The young girls form a bond with Matheo that ends up helping the whole family.

The actors in this film are all excellent. The story is true, and without even knowing that you can feel the story's reality. I recommend "In America" to those seeking a thought provoking film. It deserves your complete attention, so please immerse yourself in it without distractions.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Separate But Equal, Is Another Phrase for Unequal

Yesterday in one of my law classes, we were asked to debate the issue of gay rights to marry. The idea to debate this issue was, already, an invitation for disaster. I attend law school in the Bay Area, so as you may imagine the views here about gay rights, for the majority, are for extending those rights. Our professor posed a question, during the debate, to the entire class. The question being, "Is the question of allowing marriage for homosexual relationships a question of civil rights?" Interestingly enough, the class was mostly silent, which I found shocking. So many people, liberal and conservative alike, squabble over the issue of gay rights to marriage and yet this question was given little in the way of comment. I, of course, had something to say. Something which I felt was neither hugely intelligent nor hugely original.

Yes, the right of gays to marry, as heterosexual couples do, is plainly a civil rights issue because marriage is a civil right. Some people perhaps believe that there is no comparison between civil rights issues, (for instance racial issues surrounding segregated schools, or the right to vote,) and gay rights. But how can one not see the glaring similarities.

What the Right to Marry Entails:

Taken from the decision in Baker v. State of Vermont, the court summarizes exactly what tangible benefits, rights, and protections are not given to people who are in homosexual relationships:
The court stated, "In denying [the plaintiffs] access to a civil marriage license, the law effectively excludes them from a broad array of legal benefits and protections incident to the marital relation, including access to a spouse's medical, life, and disability insurance, hospital visitation and other medical decisionmaking privileges, spousal support, intestate succession, homestead protections, and many other statutory protections." Baker v. State, 170 Vt. 194 (Vt. S.Ct. 1998.

The counter argument to giving gays the right to marry is founded on the idea that the State of Vermont has an 'interest in promoting the "link between procreation and child rearing." Baker, 170 Vt. 194. It is unbelievable that this was the argument, the way of masking the religious beliefs that people have concerning the nuclear family and how to maintain it.

Austin Cline, in his summary of gay rights and marriage, said the following:
"In debates over gay marriage, there is a lot of focus on the various legal rights which same-sex couples miss out on because of their inability to marry. If we take a closer look at those "rights," however, we find that they are primarily about helping couples care for each other. Individually, the rights help spouses support each other; taken together, they help society express the importance of being a spouse and the fact that marrying changes who you are and your status in the community."

Those rights are not just about helping or pushing a couple to care for one another, those rights are also about the "community" treating that union with respect and giving or upholding that couple's right to be treated as spouses when at the hospital, at their child's school, at church, at work, etc. So much of a union is economic and legal questions pertaining to marriage such as intestacy statues and other state and federal laws concerning spousal survivorship rights are much more important than some people may realize.

In addition, in tort actions for wrongful death. In most states, same-sex partners are unable to bring an action for wrongful death or loss of consortium for their partner. If they are not named in a will, they are even less likely to be compensated.

However, I think that Cline's mention of "community" is well founded. The ferocious attacks against same-sex couples marrying is based on notions of community and the relationship between marriage, family, and the health of the community as a whole. Some people view same-sex marriage as a disease, that may spread once a community is "infected." For those people whose religious beliefs tell them to scorn same-sex relationships, marriage is a large part of life, a life which is based on religious teachings that tell them same-sex relations are wrong.

State Constitutional Amendments:
"The 17 states that currently have constitutional amendments defining marriage as between a man and woman only are: Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah." Human Rights Campaign

Sadly, these constitutional amendments are not just barring same-sex marriages, they are often barring domestic partnership between even opposite-sex couples.
In Michigan and Ohio, domestic partners are denied benefits. "In March 2005, the state attorney general issued an opinion stating that local jurisdictions and governmental entities, such as school boards, are prohibited from offering domestic partner benefits to their employees." HRW

In addition, the amendments are raising questions about domestic violence laws pertaining to same-sex couples.

"The three states whose initiatives refer only to the granting of marriage licenses are Montana, Oregon (the one place where the vote was very close), and Mississippi. The states that used marriage as a cover to mount an assault on contractual relationships of all kinds were Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah." News

Gender Issues:
If Same-sex couples cannot marry, who decides who is a man and who is a woman?
The question of barring gays from marrying also delves into other far more complicated notions of gender. For those people born beleving themselves to be women, though born men, who live their lives as women, they could not under our law marry a man because as we "biologically" define them, they are men.


"Gays Need Heterosexuals to Oppose Queer Crow' Laws"
"The Gay Marriage Deception"

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Review: Côté Sud

Côté Sud
4238 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94144

Last night I was treated to a wonderful dinner at Côté Sud, a French restaurant in the Castro (San Francisco). The restaurant is on the second floor of a cottage like building. The outside and inside are painted in canary yellow and periwinkle. After you ascend the awkwardly steep stairs, the entrance brings you into the front room, which is open and airy. There is a bar (more for show) and small tables with simple white tablecloths. The design of the restaurant is simple and not at all snooty. We sat in the front room, which is an enclosed porch. You have a nice view of the street below and a fresh outside air (although slightly chilly if you are wearing very little). Below is a view of the front room.

So, on to the food.
For my first course I had the Risotto de crevettes (Risotto with Rock Shrimp). It was delicious. I have not had better risotto in my life. It was served in a shallow bowl, the risotto sitting in a pool of sauce w/ a slight shrimp taste. I used my bread to soak of the remaining sauce after I finished eating the risotto.

For my entrée, I had the Thon Ahi sauté servis sur une purée de panet avec coulis de tomates basquaise (Pan seared Ahi tuna served with a puree of parsnips and a coulis of tomatoes basquaise). Again, the presentation was very elegant and simple. The portion of tuna was small, but just right. The purée was delicate and light, very good.

Finally, I ended with the poached pear soaked in Port with cinnamon. This dessert comes in another shallow bowl, with a deeper pool of dark purple reduced port, in the center a dark purple, skinned pear. Very artsy! It was a nice light dessert, and dairy free (for those that don’t consume milk).

My date/boyfriend got the assiette de charcuterie, bouillabaisse, and lemon meringue tarte for dessert. He was equally satisfied and recommends the bouillabaisse most highly.

This is an authentic, French restaurant. The waiters are French, and you can hear the cooks speaking French in the kitchen! My kind of place. Our waitress was very nice and treated us well (which is not always expected being a younger couple and sticking to the less expensive wines).

There are coupons on the website for a free glass of champagne, which we took advantage of.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Her Tired Hands Are Beautiful

Her tired hands are beautiful,
their sharp cracks and wrinkles
smoothed under the lotion
she applies before bed.

I'm too old now,
to nestle in the warm spot
between her shoulder and chin,
and fall asleep.

With tear drenched cheeks,
I'd look to her, and know
her smile would chase away
all my fears.

For all those years she raised me,
I was too busy to come home
raise my sleeves,
and dirty my hands.

And now all I taste
is the sour tears of guilt
running down my throat
making me sick with regret.

After years of running
as far as my feet could take me
I only wish
to click my heels and return home.

~Oct. 30, 2005

I wrote this thinking of my mother, who is the strongest woman I know.

The 50 Year Old Virgin: Harriet Miers

Harriet Miers has been asked countless questions about her stance on a variety of topics, however the topic most covered has been her belief or disbelief in a woman's right to choose. We know that Harriet Miers is not married, I do not believe she has ever been married. Secondly, she has no children. Thirdly, she has a crush on a married man, President George W. Bush. (Can you picture her in a cat fight with Laura?) In sum, her sex life isn't looking to peachy. I don't think that she has what it takes to get good old Dubbya to do her in the oval office, Clinton style. (I apologize if this is too raunchy).

So, shouldn't the real question be: Has Harriet Miers ever had sex? Perhaps if she had a relationship, had a sex life, she would understand that birth control is not perfect and neither are human beings. Some women get pregnant easier than others, and sometimes you just slip up. More importantly, some women cannot use the pill because of blood disorders or because they smoke, and the risk of clotting is too serious. These women often use other forms of birth control, but forms that are not as effective as the pill. There is always a chance of pregnancy, no matter what.

So, back to my point about Harriet not having sex. If she has never had a sex life, never had a steady relationship, never taken the pill, never taken a pregnancy test while crossing her fingers that the result is negative, HOW IN THE HELL DOES SHE UNDERSTAND A WOMAN'S RIGHT TO CHOOSE?

If I could ask her any question, I would ask her the last time she had sex, and what type of birth control she uses. Then I would ask her what the effectiveness of the various forms of birth control are (none of them are 100%).

Then I would ask her what her thoughts on a woman's right to have sex are? Should we not have sex if there is a 2, or 5% chance we could become pregnant when not ready? What then?

If Harriet wants to make judgments about American Womens' private lives, I think we have a right to understand her private life.


In response to a recent comment, I wanted to leave a message to alert readers that I am being sarcastic. Please, do not take this writing literally.

On a serious note, it is frightening how relevant politician's personal and sexual health is to their work and their beliefs. Our personal experiences and views of sex are highly correlative to our view of ourselves (either as man or woman). It is sad that men who beat or sexually assault women are given microphones and put upon stages to speak on their views of women's rights, abortion, and any family issue. While no person is perfect I do believe lines should be drawn. For instance, when I worked as an advocate at a police department, I was made to undergo a lie detector test and full background check. If a politician is given a government position, should he or she not undergo the same type of test to make sure that he or she is not bringing values into the government that we as a society do not condone?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Legal Fact of the Day

Topic: Tort Law
Cause of Action: Loss of Consortium (Negligence/Wrongful Death)

Loss of Consortium is the loss of companionship, sexual relations, and other services.
A spouse may bring this action against the tortfeasor who has caused his or her spouse to be disabled or killed due to their own acts of negligence ( I believe it may exist for intentional acts as well).

Historical Fact:
Originally only a husband could sue for loss of consortium when his wife was tortiously injured. The reason for this was that the wife was viewed as a mere possession of the husband. The case was similar to an action for property damages.
Today, there is no such rule. A wife or husband may bring an action for the loss of their spouse.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Poorly Prepared: Hiking Mt. Rainier

This is an old story, from the Summer of 2004, but I felt that it may be interesting and amusing for some to read.

It was day 14 of a 17 day trip from Michigan to California. Adam and I reached Mount Rainer, Washington on July 6th around noon; with just enough time to fit in an afternoon hike. After setting up our campsite in the damp and cool underbrush of towering redwoods, we set off to hike the Skyline Trail, which was described as a strenuous hike. This was the fifth National Park we had visited, and the word strenuous no longer intimidated us, nor did mention of patches of snow. {Note here the word was "patches"} As we approached the main lodge, located at the base of Mount Rainer, it began to drizzle. The peak of the mountain was not visible, and became less visible as we grew closer. The cotton clouds and thick fog seemed to be on their way in, rather than out. Before heading off, we packed our day packs with plenty of water and some light snacks. Hesitating for a moment, contemplating the possibility of increased rainfall, we decided to cram our raincoats into our packs.
Five minutes into the hike, we find ourselves stepping over patches of snow and streams of runoff from the top of the mountain. Within 20 minutes, the patches of snow are no more. We are now trudging through layers of snow reaching at a minimum five to ten feet in depth. The trail is now marked by red flags and the fog allows only the visibility of about an eight yard radius. Of course, at this point we were amused by the terrain and excited by the fog. Our limbs were still warm and our feet were still dry, but not for long. Funny, the trail description didn’t mention this sort of landscape. After hiking for over an hour, having met no other hiker along the way, we began to get nervous. My legs had turned cherry red and my hiking boots were now small swimming pools for my toes. Not to mention, my summer hiking pants, were soaked and heavy with water. We were now trekking up steep snow covered mountainside, angled at 40-50 degree inclines. What had started as an exciting and unusual hike, mixed with laughter and happy conversation, was now a silent drudge combining grunts, sighs, and intermittent fighting.
We pulled out our flimsy paper map of the trail so many times, that the tattered folds were separating and disintegrating in the moisture of our palms. We had not yet reached the midpoint, and we debated over whether to turn around or to keep going. We kept going. The description of the midpoint included mention of a rest area and rest room. Perhaps we can go inside and get warm, we thought. Ironically, the midpoint rest area was under construction and there was a simple, barely welcoming, port-a-potty. Thankfully the cold air smothered the stench. Adam and I walked over to the elegant restroom, and huddled between its blue wall and the face of the rock wall beside it, barely shielding ourselves from the wind. We stood there a moment; long enough to empty some water from our boots. We then pressed on. This area of the trail included several areas of step incline, and therefore frequent areas of drop-off, where the flags were connected with yellow cording. Thankfully the fog blocked an honest view of what would be a long fall down the mountain if I were to lose my footing.
After about three and a half hours, we finished the trail, having met no one along the way. As we approached our car, we caught a glimpse of some hikers heading up to the trail. They were strapped with ice picks and crampons, water proof pants and quite an impressive amount of gear. Here we were, soaked through, tired, and yet oddly proud. We finished that trail with no special gear, no waterproof clothing, and certainly no crampons. Of course, we were also idiots. The lesson was to never trust a hiking guide when you are in the mountains.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Bathed in Grey

Soothing to the eyes, and always so comfortable.
I have a grey shirt that always brings me peace.
A grey tee shirt that makes me feel good.
A grey sweater that warms me.

I have several photos of grey pebbles, that for some odd reason bring me a sense of calm. There is something clean about the color, clean and simple.

My mother always hated it when I wore a particular grey shirt with off-white buttons. It made me look pale. I agree, it isn't the most fitting color for my complexion. But it offers so much more than those shirts that "bring out the eyes." Maybe I like grey shirts specifically because they ask nothing of me. In fact, no one does. I don't have worry about using mascara or the right amount of blush to bring out the cheekbones. I will look pale no matter what, and I don't mind. I will blur into the background of city faces and stone buildings, dirtied sidewalks and bleached skies. No one asks me for anything. No one hollars at me while carrying a 40oz. No one even asks me for a quarter before I walk down the stairs to the subway.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
I know this is perhaps the strangest entry I have ever written. But I had to.
I obviously wore grey today.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hours of Laughs: Toothpaste for Dinner

You must buy the book: "Toothpaste for Dinner."

This is such a wonderful way to waste a half hour. The drawings in this comic book skillfully show emotions that often cannot be expressed in words. They are simple drawings, yet they strangely show so much expression and humor. If you need some humor at work or at home, these comics are the perfect addition to your collection of humorous knik-knacks.

The comics on workplace humor are the most amusing. They usually pinpoint the frustrating moments we all share, or the awkward experiences between bosses and employees or among co-workers that seem to happen far too often.

Thanks to the WONDERFUL Tim R. I have experienced hours and hours of enjoyment with this book.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

100 Strokes of the Brush Before Bed: Review

Personal Book Review of "100 Strokes of the Brush Before Bed."
Finished on 10-6-05

First Some Info:
This is Melissa P.'s first novel and was published (not written) when she was seventeen. Over 1,000,000 copies were sold. The book is considered an International Bestseller. In an interview with The Bookseller (UK) Melissa P. stated that she "discovered [herself] through sex." The book is categorized as a fictionalized memoir...leaving you to guess what is real and what is elaboration.

To start, I have two main questions:
--Who are the million + people that bought this book? ( I am honestly curious what the demographics of the people are who bought this book. What is the main selling point? It can't possibly be that people think it is good. The only reason I can understand is the mere scandel of it as well as the turn on for many. A book about a young teen having sex with men of varying ages, being raped, being the slut of up to 5 men at a time, is unfortunately going to be very appealing to many.

--Who did the translation? Does it do her writing justice?
I feel that the writing has been greatly harmed by the translation. If I spoke Italian, I could make the decision myself. Unfortunately I do not. Even if the writing style was improved, the substance is still heavily lacking.

All in all, I think that the idea of the book has potential, but that it failed miserably. The descriptions of sex and of her own feelings were lacking authenticity as well as originality. I felt like the descriptive words were repetitive (which isn’t surprising because it is difficult to come up with different words for the male “member” etc.). I am thoroughly sick of reading the words “my sex.” I was constantly aware of the fact that the author was a teen, and not an experienced writer.

There was a moment toward the end of the book, when I felt something somewhat interesting happening. Then I realized I was inserting meaning, where there wasn’t any. This was the moment, where I saw the potential of the story. It was a brief, brief, moment. The potential that I saw (which again is NOT implied in the book at all and doesn't seem to be in the author’s head whatsoever) is how many women and young girls are often more comfortable with being objects, than feeling like women or girls in a loving relationship. That we are so used to being judged and depicted and desired according to our physical characteristics, and our ability to project a much so that what should feel good and normal (love and respect) is often what we must grow accustomed to as we age. This idea, could have easily been developed alongside the narrative and would have added immensely to the book. Instead we have affair after affair ending with a very dissappointing and unrealistic relationship that develops faster than ice melts in the sun. The innocence of Melissa came through slightly, but was, in the end, still underdeveloped.

I suppose that is it. The book doesn’t deserve any awards...but will remain (I am sure) on the top 10 list for men who are closeted pedophiles.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

First Climb at Castle Rock SP: Goat Rock

Today, after many months of climbing indoors, I finally made it outdoors to the real thing. I planned the trip with a guide (husband and wife team) based out of Santa Clara, called Epic Adventures,

We spent the day at Goat Rock, and I got in about six or seven climbs. I also got a feel for how to climb outdoors and I survived my first huge overhang (when done falling several yards away from the wall) which scared the life out of me. I climb mostly 5.10A,B,C at the gym but outside I was climbing 5.7s and 5.8s. All in all it was a great experience.
The guide we went with was awesome, a real pro who knows his stuff but isn't arrogant. I would recommend Epic Adventures to anyone.

At the end of the day we repelled down the side of the rock, and learned how to set up a top rope. I know what's on my Christmas list: CLIMBING GEAR!

I can't wait till I'm good enough with the gear to go down and set it up myself. Talk about a release of stress and getting your mind off the everyday crap. I will definitely treat gym climbing a little differently now, and will be less afraid of the meager overhangs.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Late Nights

That time has finally arrived; the days that don't seem to end, and the long hours of studying and typing up briefs.
"Hello Reality, I've been waiting for you."

I cannot get through a half hour of life without thinking about law. I watched Seinfeld last night, when Kramer gives the homeless man food in a tupperware, and the homeless man doesn't want to give back the tupperware. I think to myself how Kramer should have been more explicit when he offered the food, in the container, but didn't "gift" the container. Perhaps he should have just given the food in a paper plate, so as to avoid the situation altogether.
Yesterday I found a MUNI ticket on the floor, behind a classmates seat who had left. Guessing the probably owner, I hold the ticket and notify the person. What does my mind race to? Bailments...and Acquisition by Find. I conclude that we can view the action like a bailment, whereas the only person benefiting is the ticket owner, not me, the bailee. Therefore, I am held to the lowest standard of care, because there has been no formal negotiation.

My brain has warped into the 1L frenzy of words I still feel clumsy with and concepts that I can only barely get my head around.
Luckily I am able to keep my mouth shut, closing off the never ending stream of legal mumbo jumbo from those of my friends who could really give a damn.

So, this is the update I suppose (on going that is) of my first year of law school.

Tip of the day for other law students: make eye contact with your professors. I have noticed that it not only tells them you are NOT checking email (though you are anyway) but that you respect them...therefore increasing their security and hopefully keeping them from calling on you. The strategy is look attentive and prepared and they usually won't pick on you.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

In those hours

In those hours,
just after midnight
when I feel the strain of the new day
quickening my breath
I think of you
and all I've missed
in the years between.

I'll never get back
that time
filled with anger
when I said so many things
without you in mind.

And the only thing
that keeps me from shivering
is to know
that you understood,
years before I could begin,
and your strength
has carried me through.

I dedicate this poem to my parents, and the years between refer to those years after the divorce, when we were all "separated" in many ways from one another, and before we (my parents and I) reconciled with eachother after years of bitterness. I think that they, as much as I, wish to get those years back.

Stay Here

Stay here with me,
my ear to your chest,
and the weight of the day

I want to remember
your features, soft in the light,
and your breath warm
with a faint smell of sugar.

I cannot let go,
until the morning mist rises
and the sun beams
gently dance on your cheek.

In that moment I'll know,
your love is as real as the pain
I no longer remember
feeling just hours ago.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Just Fall In

Sometimes you need to fall-
break a piece of yourself,
just to regain feeling throughout the other limbs.

Sometimes you need to collapse-
come face to face with the pitiless earth,
find yourself struggle to stand
and embrace the challenge to breathe.

Because that feeling, of oxygen pumping
back into your muscles,
the rush of blood to the head,
and the bruises left on your shins
are all a reminder
that you can survive it all.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

What Life Brings

No one to wipe your nose
when it's running down your lip.
That salty taste of infection
is now your reminder, that she's not there.

You're all grown up now-
and you worry about taking care of her,
now that she can't take care of you.

Wishing, just wishing you could go back.
Back to the days when she brought you soup,
warm and steaming, with crackers and juice.

The hands that tucked you in and wiped your tears
are three thousand miles away
and need some help, getting through the week.

Please let me return, for a moment
to that warm pillow and bowl of soup
before the roles reverse and I can no longer
be the little girl.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

First Week as a 1L

Well, I have officially finished my first full week of classes as a 1L (first year law student). In many respects I feel that today should be momentous-and yet it remains like any other day. However, in order to make it significant in some small way, I wanted to write a posting.

The requirements to feeling like a real 1L have already been satisfied in just the first week, namely feeling like an idiot, being confused, and reading passages over again and again as if I had never read it to begin with. But, I exaggerate a bit. It hasn't gotten bad yet. I just know that these first couple of classes are deceptively easy. I have this feeling that in a couple of weeks, when we are supposed to remember what an intentional tort is, but instead blank out for five minutes, class won't be as easy and welcoming. I will soon find out, as will all of my class mates.

Incase you are curious about the definition of an intentional tort, here goes (before I forget)

Tort: wrongs for which there is compensation, a civil matter brought by plaintiff (versus criminal charges) (examples, suit for battery or assault)

Intent: (a) desire or purpose OR (b) substantial certainty or knowledge

Success in America

Success in America
Excerpt from:
Cette grenade dans la main du jeune negre est-elle une arme ou un fruit?, Dany Lafferriere

(Part 1) "L’Amérique n’a qu’une exigence: le succèss. À n’importe quel prix. Et de n’importe quelle manière. Le mot <> n’a de sens qu’en Amérique. Que veut-il dire ? Que les dieux vous aiment. Alors les humains se rapprochent de vous, vous reniflent (le capiteux parfum du succès), vous frôlent et, finalement, dansent autour de vous. Vous êtes un dieu. Un dieu parmi les maîtres du monde. Il vous sera impossible d’aller plus loin. C’est ici le sommet. Le toit du monde. Surtout : on vous regarde."
(Part 2) "Celui qui regarde en Amérique est toujours un inférieur, jusqu’à ce qu’un autre furtif, rapide (pas plus de quinze minutes, n’est-ce pas, Warhol !), car, il y a toujours quelque chose d’autre à sentir en Amérique. Le nouveau parfum, justement."

>>So, what in the hell does that mean (say's Michelle)? I have written my interpretations of the passages, but I have not translated them word for word. If I did that it would lose its effect. So here goes:

(1)America has only one demand, one motivation: success. No matter the price, no matter how it is obtained.
The word success, only has meaning in America...and yet what in the hell does it mean? Does it mean the gods love you? Does it mean you spend your days adoring yourself and dancing around in celebration of yourself? You are a god, you are a god among all the great masters of the world. To feel at the top of the world, that is your goal, that is all you can reach. At most, you want the world to watch you and admire you.

(2)This is my favorite piece of this paragraph. Here, he says, those who watch, are always inferieur. In other words, the goal is to be watched, to be glorified, and in the spotlight. If you are in the act of watching, you are not in the spotlight.
However, he also remarks on the culture of fads, what's in style, who's out of style, etc. The complete absurdity of it. To be watched, one must conform to this system, one must constantly be "in style" to be in the spotlight.

I am much more verbose than Dany, but these are the things I have taken from this passage. Dany's books are available in English---just look him up on Amazon.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

An Ode to Macintosh

During the Spring of 2003, just over two years ago, I lost my first mac. It was perhaps one of the most traumatic events of my life. I came home (at the time I was living with four other people in a house on campus) after a long day at work. When I approached the house, it was completely dark. No porch light on, no interior lights on. As I reached the door, I found that it was unlocked. I immediately felt a sense of worry and fear. As my boyfriend entered the house, he first went to my room (which was the only room with a light on). In a nervous and urgent voice he asked me "Arielle, where's your computer?" What? I thought, it should be on my desk. I ran into my bedroom, heart racing, fear rising from my stomach to my throat almost blocking my windpipe. I looked to my desk to see my plant knocked over, dirt scattered, pulled wires, and the most heart wrenching of all....a bare, empty, space in the middle of my desk. My laptop had assuredly been stolen right out of our very home.
We instintly called the police, incase someone was still in the house (which was pitch dark), and sat outside awaiting their arrival.
My idiot ass roomates had left the front (and might I add) back doors open. I lost my computer, my book bag, all my notes for two of my classes, as well as two books--all two weeks before exams were about to begin.

I think that I cried on and off for about two days. My roomates never apologized. They never even took responsibility. I pray that the karma catches up to them, some day. The laptop wasn't covered under the insurance (desktops only) and it took me two more years sans computer to pay off the loan I took out to purchase it.

But alas, there are joyous times ahead. First, the loan has been paid off. Second, the gracious gods above have given me a new Powerbook G4!!!!!!!!!! I purchased it two days ago with the help of Mr Papa, Mrs Mama, some lovely birthday money, as well as my own savings. Not only that---(karma helped me out) but I was able to take advantage of the rebate deals on the iPod Mini, Microsoft Office, and Photo Printer with Scanner.

I am in love with this machine, and repeatedly mumble to myself "what a beautiful, beautiful machine." I easily installed the printer software, iPod software, and hooked my digital camera right up to it--no problems. I am in heaven!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Our Nation's Path...Continued

I want to clarify my points from the last post. I received a comment to the post which made me realize I may need to rephrase some things.

I do not believe that Roe vs. Wade will be overturned. However, without overturning that rule, there are ways to limit a woman's right to choose while still allowing abortion to be legal. Certain states currently have varying laws concerning minors getting abortions, the need for parent's authorization, etc. My real concern is that it will become more difficult to get an abortion in some states, and possibly become more difficult nationally.

I do agree that some conservative women privately support abortion rights. Unfortunately, many conservative women are strongly against abortion, but often times because they do not understand what it means to say "right to choose". I spoke with one person (who is very close to me) who really had a very contorted view of "pro-choicers" thinking that they really were advocating abortion (which we know isn't the truth). The conservative parties (Republican and other) often speak in hyperbole of liberal and "left of right" views. This tactic has worked surprisingly well, especially for those who rarely speak about "liberal issues" with "liberal people". The same scheme has been seen with the issue of war, (those against it are somehow anti-american) as well as artists, directors, and writers (the claim that Micheal Moore and Al Franken are anti-American). Hyperbole--shit why didn't we think of that?

I do not think that the Supreme Court Justices will have the only say on reversing abortion rights--of course that doesn't make sense--but I do think that many of us underestimate the role of judges in this nation. Local judges (let alone the feds) have had an enormous impact on women's issues for hundreds of years, and that hasn't stopped (though we may want to believe it has). There are large variances among states and counties within states. If you read about cases involving rape or domestic violence --many times a judge will impose very minor sentences to offenders. Unfortunately it doesn't end there. I have worked with victims of domestic violence for almost four years---and so my attention to these issues is heightened. I have read many-an-article where men are given extremely light sentences for killing their wives (one story took place in Texas).

All for now...

Monday, July 11, 2005

Our Nation's Path To...

The resignation of Sandra Day O'Conner, coupled with the recent high number of judges appointed by the Bush Administration is quite disturbing. But alas, we already know this.

Perhaps what many of us don't know, is what is possible. Not only what will happen, but what CAN happen? I picture our nation in twenty years, and wonder whether my current birth control prescription will require more than a doctor's visit to obtain. Will I need to fill out more forms, will I need my husband's approval? Will I be allowed to get my tubes tied after having children without needing the Governor's approval? These are extremes and yet some of these types of requirements are not so far fetched-considering policies in other countries.

Looking at the Human Rights Watch website today, I read two articles pertaining to this exact issue. One dealing with Columbia, the other Argentina. Portions of the articles are below.

Colombia: Women Face Prison for Abortion
Human Rights Watch
(New York, June 27th 2005) "Colombia’s law prohibits abortion in all circumstances. The penalty is lighter when the pregnancy is the result of rape (or “nonconsensual artificial insemination”). In 2000, the Colombian Congress amended the penal code, adding the possibility for a judge to waive penal sanctions on a case-by-case basis. However, judges have discretion to waive penal sentences only in cases of rape and under two further conditions: if the abortion occurs in “extraordinary situations of abnormal motivation” (an ambiguous clause that requires judicial interpretation) and if the judge considers the punishment “unnecessary.” However, a later amendment in 2005 also extended the maximum sentences for abortion from three years in prison to four and a half."

Argentina: Limits on Birth Control Threaten Human Rights
Human Rights Watch
“Argentina’s restrictions on contraception and abortion prevent women from deciding how many children they want to have, and when,” said LaShawn R. Jefferson, Women’s Rights director at Human Rights Watch. “These laws and practices effectively treat women like minors.”
The report also exposes some of the detrimental effects of domestic violence on women’s reproductive health. The Argentine government has not done enough to remedy these abuses and their effects on women’s health, Human Rights Watch said.
A 35-year-old mother of eight children, Gladis M. said for 14 years her husband beat her and prevented her from using contraceptives. Gladis said her husband repeatedly told her: “I am going to fill you up with children so you can’t leave my side.”
After decades of government opposition to the sale or use of contraceptives, including even condoms during the 1976-83 military dictatorship, the Argentine government in 2003 began to implement a national program to distribute certain contraceptives—like hormonal contraceptives and intrauterine devices (IUDs)—for free through the national health system. However, women continue to face multiple barriers in their access to family planning, including lack of accurate information, violence in the home, economic constraints and discriminatory laws.
Under Argentine law, one of the most effective forms of contraception—sterilization—is subject to discriminatory restrictions. Many public hospitals require that women obtain their husband’s consent for the operation, that they have at least three children, and that they be older than age 35 to be eligible for the surgery.
“I thought I was going to die, but I wanted to do it.,” said Laura P., 35, who already had five children when poor health caused her to seek sterilization. “In the hospital they set up every possible obstacle. The head of the hospital told me that it was the same as having an abortion.” She appealed to a court, but was denied the operation despite fulfilling all the public hospital’s requirements.
“Women seeking sterilization face Kafkaesque ordeals,” said Jefferson. “In one public hospital, women had to beg approval from six different authorities, plus get their husband’s signature in the presence of two witnesses.
Many women told Human Rights Watch they had endured unwanted pregnancies because of lack of access to or inability to use contraceptives, and some had abortions. In Argentina, abortion is illegal in all circumstances, yet an estimated half a million abortions occur every year. Though the law waives the punishment in cases where the pregnant woman’s life or health is in danger, or where the pregnancy is the result of the rape of a mentally disabled woman, access to a legal and therefore safer abortion is almost nonexistent in practice. As a result, women are forced to seek abortions through unsafe, unregulated clinics. In other cases, they induced their own abortions by methods that gravely jeopardized their health and lives. Without medical supervision, other women used anti-inflammatory drugs to induce abortion, resulting in severe health consequences and sometimes even death.
“You get overwhelmed by desperation. You seek all the ways out,” said Paola M., a woman who had 10 children by the age of 36. “But if there is no way out, then you take a knife or a knitting needle.”

These stories are horrifying, and heart wrenching. Sadly, this was the place of many American women during the early to mid-twentieth century. Is it possible that we will end up there again. Is our Nation's path leading backwards?

The Smell of Honey

I adore this picture-I snapped it on Sunday. Hope you like! If you are interested in viewing more photos please visit my other blog:

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

When the Wind Changes

Scrambling to pick a side,
to choose a scapegoat
and feel secure again.

The winds are changing,
that southern warmth
turns to a northern chill.

No one is sure of what to believe,
who to trust,
or where to find refuge.

There is just the constant reminder
that things are changing
and the blinding sun, is no longer blinding.

While one camp has greater vision,
the other still pretends not to understand
and in the midst people are disappearing.

It's July and I'm freezing,
watching the clock
and thinking of home.


Monday, July 04, 2005

Day Trip to Big Sur

Below are some pictures from Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park at Big Sur!! We were unable to camp (due to last minute planning on my part) but we did hike all around Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

We hiked the Waterfall Trail, the Canyon Trail, the McWay Trail, as well as the Ewoldsen trail. You can view a map of the park trails at:

You can also view the following website for park information:

Here are some photos--taken on a very foggy morning. FYI: some of the images are slightly distorted (stretched too wide or compressed).

This is a picture of McWay Falls, perhaps one of the most famous images of Big Sur.
McWay Falls at Big Sur

Here I am, standing in front of McWay Falls.
Me, at Mc Way Falls

There are many bunnies hopping around Big Sur, this one stopped right in front of us as we were hiking, staying long enough to pose for a picture.

This is a view of McWay Creek, along one of the hikes we did.
Redwoods and McWay Creek

This is one of the more spectacular falls (McWay Creek).
Redwoods and Water Falls

Monday, June 27, 2005

Roasted Salmon with Rosemary

An an attempt to diversify our dinner plate--we looked up a recipe that would not only taste delicious, but one that would utilize some of the things in our garden.
Below is a picture of tonights dinner: Roasted Salmon with Rosemary, Lemon, and Red Onion.
This dish is very easy and doesn't require any measurements.

Salmon (center cut)
Thinly Sliced Lemon
Rosemary (several branches)
Thinly Sliced Red Onion
Salt/Pepper to taste
Olive Oil

Rosemary Salmon

Place sprigs of Rosemary in the bottom of a Pyrex dish, place slices of onion on top, followed by salmon (skin side down). Then add salt and pepper to top of salmon. Add additional sprigs/branches of rosemary, lay lemon slices on top, and finish with olive oil.
Place in the oven at 500 degrees for 20 minutes. Do not overcook.

Serve with asparagus (as shown) or other vegetable.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Trip to Greece

Just got back from our trip to Greece. Below are some pictures from Santorini. Enjoy!!

View from Caldera

View of Fira from Above

Church at Red Beach

Cat and Flowers

View from Taxi

Friday, May 06, 2005

Une Mère et sa Fille

Aujourd’hui, à neuf heures du matin,
une mère a décidé de quitter son mari.
Elle a venu à moi, pour l’assister
Avec sa petite fille.

Pendant la nuit, hier soir,
elle attendait l’aube
parce qu’elle signifie la commencement
d’une nouvelle vie.

Elle n’a aucune idée
de quoi elle va faire,
sauf échapper
une vie misérable et violente.

Et donc, elle sort
comme chaque jour-
cependant, aujourd’hui
elle ne va pas retourner.

Pendant tout le week-end
je vais penser d’elle
et sa petite fille.
J'espère qu’elles soient en sécurité.


Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Driving Into the Blurred Past

Driving home,
watching white dashed lines blur
into one, remembering the past year
and wishing I could go back.

The angle of light endlessly shifts,
guiding dancing shadows across the landscape.
The sunbeams are almost parallel to the road,
straining my eyes and challenging my vision.

My thighs are sweating,
the droplets coalescing into warm pools.
There's no AC. The outside air still too balmy
to cool the car.

Perfect purple hues and strokes of yellow
paint the horizon, only to quickly disappear
behind the gray mountains
as the sea swallows the afternoon light.

The smell of yesterday's cappuccino
drifts in the air, luring me back into a caffeine haze.
I would kill for a cup right now,
even though the day draws to a close.

Finally, the fog begins to drift over the hills
like frothed milk- ebbing from the sea,
falling into the mountain crevices and
finally melting into the warm valley.

I am almost home.


I wrote this poem last fall-it was inspired by one particular ride home from work
on a hot afternoon. I changed it a bit, but it remains mostly the same.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Tears in Africa

A week ago, on my way home from work, I heard a brief summary of the violence and rape devastating Eastern Congo on NPR. "A recent report from Human Rights Watch says "virtually all" of the armed groups operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo's east, including the Congolese Army, have sexually abused civilians. The systematic rape of females is among war crimes allegations being investigated by the International Criminal Court in the Hague."-All Things Considered, NPR 4/20/05

As I listened to the account of young women's testimonies, describing how they were victimized, raped, often brutally beaten, sometimes to the point of death-I felt tears welling up on the tips of my eyelids. I pictured tears running down swollen cheeks and young girls paralyzed with fear. In Darfur, women have been suffering the same brutality, even when they seek protection in refuge camps. The rebels and Congolese soldiers have specifically hunted for young women, those they believe are still virgins. They have even raped children. Mothers have been pushed aside at gunpoint while men rape small girls at gunpoint. Many women and girls, not killed
during the act, have died shortly thereafter due to lack of medical care. Many women are too ashamed or afraid to tell their families that they have been raped. In many African countries, if a woman is raped she is considered to be impure, and it is difficult for her to marry.

U.N. Officials, Helping or Hurting?
What is even more frightening, is that many U.N. personnel who were sent to Eastern Congo to protect civilians, especially women and children, have raped women and children themselves. ABC News has an excellent article on this subject, and some of the ways the U.N. is trying to combat and prevent such atrocious and disgusting behavior. I was very disappointed by the United Nations lack of effort and comprehension in dealing with this problem. An ABC News article, entitled, U.N. Sex Crimes in Congo writes, "The United Nations said its crackdown on sex crimes includes a tough dusk-to-dawn curfew for U.N. personnel soldiers and a midnight deadline for civilian employees." This temporary solution is utterly misguided, and shows a complete lack of comprehension of the gravity of the situation. Rape doesn't only occur after dusk-it can occur during the day. Top U.N. officials should not be presenting rules and regulations from oversees, they should be conducting sweeps, and checks, as well as supervising their personnel and soldiers in Congo. William Swing, the head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Eastern Congo, is quoted by ABC News as stating that he was unaware of U.N. fraternization with prostitues there. He makes many promises, but at no point promises to attend to the situation himself-at the scene of the crimes. Moreover, U.N. personnel do not go through background checks, and they are exempt from prosecution in Congo. I respect the U.N. and all that they have done all around the world, but they have lost control of this situation and do not seem to be taking it seriously enough.

Below are the testimonies of women and girls from Eastern Congo found on the Human Rights Watch website. If you would like additional information, please visit their website.

Delphine W., twenty-one years old, about her rape in September 2001 in Goma: I don’t know what time it was, I was asleep. Four men, soldiers, came to see what they wanted to steal. They were armed with knives. They spoke Kinyarwanda and Kiswahili—the two languages of the military. Some were Rwandan and some Congolese. Some were in civilian clothing and some in military uniform. There was just me and my mother in the house. They forced the door open. I was in bed. When the door opened I cried out. They said they needed the girl. Three of the men raped me. They did not rape my mother. They said they didn’t need the mother, just the girl. They asked if I was married and I said no. They asked me if I had ever been taken by a man and why. [One of the men] said, “What girl has never been taken by men?” It was the first time I had ever slept with men. They said if I refused, they’d kill me. The first one who took me hit me with his hands; he took me by force. I asked for mercy. He said that if I didn’t let him do it he would kill me. I refused. He hit me so I accepted. I was still in bed. The others didn’t hit me. The second one wanted to put his thing in my mouth—I refused. The three raped me, the fourth left. When they took me, I felt sick. In the night I cried and said to God: “Why did you want it to be like that? I refused so many men. Then I had to accept men I had never met before, I didn’t even know their faces.” My mother told me I should thank God I was still alive. She told me to be brave and not say anything to other families so as not to lose my reputation. She said if I talked about it, I might not get a husband. They could say I have illnesses because I was with soldiers. I was
sick for three days. I felt cold. It felt as if they had put chili in me—it burned. There was lots of blood running out. In the morning my mother gave me water to wash with, just water. I haven’t seen a doctor or a nurse.

A mother about the murder of her daughter Monique B., aged twenty, in Kabare: On May 15 of this year [2001], four heavily armed combatants—they were Hutu—came to our house at 9 p.m. Everyone in the neighborhood had fled. I wanted to hide my children, but I didn’t have time. They took my husband and tied him to a pole in the house. My four-month-old baby started crying and I started breastfeeding him and then they left me alone. They went after my daughter, and I knew they would rape her. But she resisted and said she would rather die than have relations with them. They cut off her left breast and put it in her hand. They said, “Are you still resisting us?” She said she would rather die than be with them. They cut off her genital labia and showed them to her. She said, “Please kill me.” They took a knife and put it to her neck and then made a long vertical incision down her chest and split her body open. She was crying but finally she died. She died with her breast in her hand. RCD officers came and looked at the body. But then they went away and I don’t think they ever did anything about it. I didn’t talk to other authorities because I thought it was a military matter. There is no electricity there, and we couldn’t see much, but we could hear her scream and see what happened when we saw the body in the morning. I never saw the attackers again, but I couldn’t even see them well that night. They didn’t stay after they killed my daughter.

Sophie W., a mother in her thirties from Shabunda, about her abduction: We went into the forest at the beginning of the war. My husband thought the forest was safer, and there was nothing to eat in town. But we moved back to town in 2000. In July 2000 the Mai-Mai came and took my husband. They beat me up and shot him and then cut up his body in front of me. They said my husband was a spy for the Tutsi. There were eight Mai-Mai. Two of them held me
down and the others raped me. They put two knives to my eyes and told me that if I cried, they would cut out my eyes. The Mai-Mai [took me back to the forest. They] spoke Kiswahili, Kilenga, Lingala, and Kinyarwanda. They were filthy—they had fleas. We had no shelter. There were only leaves to sleep on, and when it rained, we got soaked. We had mats with us, but the Mai-Mai took them away. There were many of them during the time I was in the forest—even 150 or more. They sometimes fed us small animals that they killed, but they didn’t give us much food.

Eléonore R, twelve years old, on an attack by on her home in Goma in August 2001:Four [men] came into the house and there were more outside. They opened the door, took the papa, tied him up, hit the mama, and took everything in the house. They made a lot of noise. I hid under the bed. They then came to my room. One was very tall, the other fat. I didn’t know them and didn’t really see them. They had guns and flashlights. They spoke Kinyarwanda and Kiswahili. When I refused one hit me twice with his hand. Then he did the act. There were four other children in the room, all younger. The man who did it told the others to close their eyes. I also closed my eyes. They stopped when the blood came.

A forty year old woman farmer from Uvira on an attack in July 2001: We were all working in the fields when some Banyamulenge men in uniforms and with arms surrounded us. We ran and hid but they grabbed a Burundian woman who was with us. They accused the woman of being the wife of the Mai-Mai. She said that she had come to seek refuge here. Seven soldiers took the Burundian woman off and raped her. Then they put a gun into her vagina and shot her. When they left we carried her with us. She died on the way [into town].

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Conditioned to Kill

I am still in the process of reading the book, "The Death of Innocents" by Sister Helen Prejean. The book is excellent, and I find myself shocked by the details of Dobie Gillis Williams and Joseph O'Dell's stories, as well as those of many others sentenced to death over the past thirty years.
In the chapter on Joseph O'Dell, Prejean describes the excuses judges, religious leaders, lawyers, jail workers, and regular citizens have used to justify killing individuals as punishment for their "supposed" crimes. Below is a small excerpt from this chapter.

"It is usually only in hindsight that societies recognize that they have engaged in torture. Until then, torture is normal and justified and even sanctioned by religious beliefs. I remember reading about a member of the military in Algeria whose task it had been to extract information from the "enemies of the government" and then to "dispose" of them. He told how he would gag and tie these persons hand and foot and fly them over the sea in a helicopter, split open their abdomens with a mechete, and push them into the sea. It's what "everybody was doing," he said, and at the end of the day he'd go home to his family and not think any more about it. In the furture, when we look back on this practice of the death penalty , won't the "strap down" teams and death row guards and wardens have their own stories to tell about how they participated in the torturous death os fellow human beings?

They are already telling the stories." (Page 109-Hard Cover Edition)

This passage made me immediately think of how humans, like any other animal, can be conditioned to perform acts that are reprehensible. The excuse, the phrase that we often use to separate our spirit, our heart, our conscience from those acts, is that it is our job. In other words, we have been conditioned to execute a task, and conditioned not to feel responsible for the consequences of that act.

Now, we are conditioned from birth to do millions of things with both good and bad results. It is specifically those things that cause harm to others, that I am directing my points to. Whether it is domestic violence, the emotional or physical abuse, manipulation, and control of another human being; child abuse; bullying; or the way we learn to place value on peoples lives (some being of less value than others based off of race, sex, religion, culture, personal history, criminal activity, drug use, weight, attractiveness, intelligence, physical ability). In sum, thoughout history humans have been conditioned to carry out violence against one another to maintain the power of a ruler, a country, a race, a religion, a sex, a government, a policy, or an individual. The death penalty, along with slavery, occupation, imperialism, war, terrorism, or violence between individuals, within homes, on school grounds---all can be lead to the need of one person/group to maintain power over another. Our way of "disposing" criminals (innocent or not) will neither stop criminal activity, bring back the dead, appease God, or help society.

We are conditioned by the media, by our teachers, by our parents, by our friends-and by our government every single day. It is our responsiblity to be aware of how and why we are being conditioned, and to what end?

Please take the time to read Sister Helen Prejean's books, they are filled with invaluable information.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

When books find us....

It's funny how some poems instantly speak to you-their timing running perfectly parallel to whatever it is that makes their content relevant-as if the author had you in mind. Often it seems that we don't find books or poems or films, but they find us. They magically sense those in need of their medicine. Managing to place their pages underneath our noses, briming with excitement, until our eyes get caught in their soothing words and phrases, and at that moment they know, they have found us.


Finding Comfort

The Poet With His Face in His Hands

You want to cry aloud for your
mistakes. But to tell the truth the world
doesn't need any more of that sound.

So if you're going to do it and can't
stop yourself, if your pretty mouth can't
hold it in, at least go by yourself across

the forty fields and the forty dark inclines
of rocks and water to the place where
the falls are flinging out their white sheets

like crazy, and there is a cave behind all that
jubilation and water fun and you can
stand there, under it, and roar all you

want and nothing will be disturbed; you can
drip with despair all afternoon and still,
on a green branch, its wings just lightly touched

by the passing foil of water, the thrush,
puffing out its spotted breast, will sing
of the perfect, stone-hard beauty of everything.
~Mary Oliver

I came across this poem in the April 4, 2005 Edition of the New Yorker. It describes for me, the often desperate need of all of us to let go, to open the flood gates and allow all our pain, frustration, and regret to gush out like water from a broken dam. Unfortunately, the reality of such an outpouring of emotion is that it causes those around us much discomfort and irritation. To see our mothers cry, feels like watching the foundation of a large building crumble. We place an ample burden on those we expect to be strong. However, nature is presented as forgiving, comforting, and resilient to our tantrums and break downs. The strength of Mother Earth is all enduring-she accepts us in any form.
The poem also seems to say that the poet, has become unwanted-even irritating. His or her sorrow on paper no longer has any weight, any value. The poet placed in today's fast paced world, feels out of place and unable to articulate his pain.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Business of War

Sometimes, I can't believe that our nation, our leaders, are engaged in a war with Iraq. I like to think that I am dreaming, or pretend that we are still living in the pre-9/11 naïveté that allowed us all to feel so safe. As I glance through the daily headlines on Yahoo! News, I come across another horrifying reminder that I am not dreaming, that we are at war, and that our nation is responsible for destroying a nation that was already in shambles.

Today, the bodies of more than 50 people were recovered from the Tigris River in Iraq. Additionally, another 19 Iraqis were found lined up and shot in a soccer stadium in Haditha. Residents there believed these victims — all men in civilian clothes — were soldiers abducted by insurgents as they headed home for a holiday marking the birthday of the prophet Muhammad.

We read these articles, we discuss the deaths, and yet I do not think that anyone in Washington feels their heart skip a beat when confronted with the number of deaths in Iraq, especially those of Iraqis. We lose the connection with words dealing with death, especially when it has occured on foreign soil. I, myself, can not understand the pain of losing 19 members of my community in one day, because I have not known that experience. We have not had battles on American soil since Pearl Harbor. Our homes are not bombed, our roads are not blocked, our families kidnapped, etc. The great loss we suffered on 9/11 was horrifying, and yet I think we forget that day-we forget the sadness, the need to end mass killings and war. Our leaders, took no time to reflect, no time to understand the motives behind that blow. Instead our administration took their opportunity to cash in on revenge and supply American companies in the war industry with more business.

The business of war, functions off of two main elements:
1) greed of big business and government
2) creating fear among the populace.

9/11 was a successful short-term and long-term terrorist attack because it crippled our nation in fear in the short run, gave our leaders the ability to engage in the business of war, and therefore strengthen the terrorist movement, and encourage more recruitment for terrorist forces. That is what is so frightening about our current administration, they understand that having an enemy, producing more enemys, is profitable to their business. Therefore, they will never cease to warmonger. It is to their financial benefit.

I would appreciate any comments, thoughts, etc.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Immigration and Domestic Violence

In this issue of the East Bay Express (a Bay Area newpaper) the cover story is an article about how threats of deportation, financial abuse, green card status, and child custody matters are used against women who have recently immigrated to the United States. Considering I work as a Domestic Violence Advocate, I was very happy to see this article given so much attention in the EBE.

The article is very well written, and interestingly enough I have met many of the women quoted in the article. The stories of the women are compelling, and yet sadly too common. Please take the to read the article. If you would like to get a sense of the stories, a clip from "Nancy's Story" is listed below. The East Bay Express website is:

When Nancy came to the United States from Ghana at age 25, she never imagined she'd end up under someone else's control. A high-school teacher in her home country, she had married a United Nations worker and had his child. The couple had adopted five more kids from impoverished villages, whom her husband brought to the city for better educations. But when her husband died suddenly of a heart attack, the young widow was left to support all six. "Life was very hard for me," Nancy recalls. "I heard that the United States was a better place, the land of opportunity, so I decided to come here and better my life." Leaving the children with her mother, she came to the East Bay on her own. The only person she knew here was an uncle, who helped her get a job as a home nursing aide for an elderly woman. She sent all of her wages home for her children. Nancy was nurturing, and soon drew the attention of one of the lady's friends, a man in his seventies. He would stop by the house several times a day to chat or help out; he helped manage the bills and would drive Nancy to the grocery store. Sometimes he'd treat her to a restaurant meal on the way home. The man praised her often, saying she was a nice person and that he appreciated the care she took of his friend. Eventually he approached her uncle, saying he hoped to marry Nancy. At first, she resisted -- she was new to the United States, and the idea of being with a much older white man made her nervous. Besides, she felt she didn't know the man or his family well enough. "In Ghana, we live in a community -- before you marry somebody you know the person's mother and father and even their grandparents," she explains. "You know the good and the bad." And in Ghanaian culture, divorce is not an option. "You marry for the rest of your life," she says.
For five or six months, Nancy's admirer continued to press her and her uncle about marriage. She grew to trust him and consider him her "best friend." Ultimately, she agreed to the proposal. "He told me he'd treat me good, he had his own house, a place for me to live, and I thought, 'Why not?'"
She soon found out. After the first month of living together, Nancy discovered that her new husband wasn't the man she thought she'd married: "All he wanted me to do is just stay home." To her, it seemed as though he had married primarily because he wanted a caretaker for himself and his mother, who was in her nineties. He demanded she quit her job and stop going to nursing school, and when she refused, he made it difficult for her to continue either pursuit, sometimes physically barring her from the door. Although she would routinely get back from work after midnight, he would never pick her up from the bus stop, or even give her the keys to the house so she could let herself inside -- she had to walk home alone and knock to get in. He also tried to prevent her from taking driving lessons, convinced she would go off on her own.
For two years, her husband's controlling behavior kept Nancy isolated and dependent upon him. He forbade her to speak her native tongue, Ashanti, on the phone because he feared she might be talking about him. He would hang up on anyone who called her, even her parents in Ghana, or simply pretend she was not at home. He denied her access to the couple's joint checking account -- once when Nancy withdrew $20 from the ATM he made her pay it back to him. He didn't let her cook African food in the house because he said it stank. He also was verbally abusive, she says, calling her a "black nigger" and insulting her culture. "You African, why did you leave? Do you live in trees? Do you have roads?" she recalls him saying. "You don't even have food to eat!"
But besides Nancy's cultural aversion to divorce, something else kept her tethered to her husband: her immigration status. Nancy was in the country illegally, and didn't have a valid work permit or other documentation. Her marriage to an American citizen made her eligible for a green card, which would give her lawful permanent resident status. This process can span many years, however, and must be initiated by the American half of the couple, who must cooperate fully by filing paperwork and attending interviews on behalf of the noncitizen spouse. Nancy's husband had begun filing her paperwork, but the process was far from complete, and he made sure she knew it. "He said if I don't go along with him he will let them take me back to Africa, and it's because of him that I'm still here," she recalls. He also told her that if she was pulled over while driving, the police could have her immediately deported because of her lack of papers. He went so far as to sabotage her green card process, hiding mail sent by the immigration authorities so that she missed a crucial interview.
On two occasions, the situation at home grew so untenable that Nancy went to a police station to file a complaint and then chickened out at the last moment, afraid that her immigration status would be used against her. Finally, on the day her husband threw all of her belongings onto the porch and locked her out, Nancy felt she had no choice. She called the cops, and with the assistance of one of her college instructors who noticed her crying in class, sought help at the International Institute of the East Bay, an Oakland nonprofit that assists immigrants and refugees. To her surprise, Nancy was told that abused immigrant women have the right to petition for their own residency, independent of their abusive spouses, thanks to a relatively recent law called the Violence Against Women Act. It's not an easy process, however, and it's still evolving as legal advocates begin to address the unique powerlessness of battered immigrant women.
What's more, the law is set to expire this fall unless reauthorized by Congress, even as women's-rights advocates push for reforms that will make it a more useful protective tool. Immigration law is imperfect and complicated, and often very tough to navigate for the hundreds of battered immigrant women living in the East Bay. Many have no idea that the physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse wrought by their spouses is illegal, or that there is any way to stop it. They are wary of the authorities, financially dependent on their abusers, and fear deportation if they come forward; two of the women interviewed for this story asked that only their first names be printed, while Nancy insisted on a pseudonym even for her first name. Because of their fear and lack of information, these women tend to remain invisible to authorities and service providers, enduring abuse for years until they turn up in desperate need of help, too bruised and bloodied to ignore. Or, like Nancy, they go to the police because they have nowhere else to go
. "

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Liberation or Defamation?

When the sexual revolution hit the US in the 1960s and 70s-in conjunction with women's liberation I'm not sure that we (women) got all that we reckoned for. As a child of the 80s, I did not participate in the movement and therefore there is a limit to what I am able to say. However, what I am interested in discussing, is the result of that movement 30 years later. Moreover, how is the media impacting visions of women for the next 30 years? Has the perception of women become fragmented, whereas a woman represents both liberation and defamation concurrently?

Some of the acheivements from that era, such as the legalization of oral contraceptives by the Food and Drug Administration in 1960, the legalization of abortion in 1973 with Roe v. Wade, and the beginning of women's sexual expression, still remain today. Although the current administration is slowing tearing away a woman's right to choose and reversing this progress. Regardless, these changes have had a profound impact on women's lives, most markedly their careers. These changes gave women the right to choose when to have children, as well as allowing women to take ownership of their bodies, their sexuality. But recently there has been a backlash against these rights.

My first focus will be the media, since it is able to capture the largest audience, and therefore impact the greatest number of people. Our television shows, our music, our newspapers, though diverse are each a representation of some part of our nation. The media represents the split-personality of our country's populace. In television media (including films and music videos) we are able to see an unquestionable fragmentation of women's role in society. She is both respected and shamed, professional and without skills, made equal and subjugated, clean and dirty, in control and controlled. Her body is both private and public, her own and yet owned.