Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ira Goes to Moscow with a Clean Heart

Mikaela says:
A link on This American Life.org sends you to Yahoo's Babel Fish (Yay Douglas Adams fans!), which translates literally from Russian into English. The blurb describes Ira's upcoming trip to Moscow to speak about the power of radio. That's not the fabulous thing.

The fabulous thing is this line, which needs to become a poem immediately:

Here is man,
which speaks before you
from the clean heart -
there is nothing better
than this.

Voces 2009

Mikaela says:
Another year, another successful wrap-up to Voces: Writing Institute at the NHCC. This year's challenges? Teaching with a baby on your hip while corralling 26 (!) creative minds to think past cliches in expressing your deepest feelings.

Another change this month was the introduction of a blog by the kids, for the kids, put together with the help of dynamo Kenn Rodriguez, who in addition to being a great poet & performer brought his journalism and technological skills courtesy of Americorp. You can see blog entries, poems, and performances here. Pretty cool window into the creative world of Voces!

My friend Lisa came to the final performance, as she has each of the past 4 (?) years. Listening to 2+ hours of teen poetry can be a bit trying at times, but Lisa seems to see past the occasional groan moment to get charged up with the energy and passion these young folks shower on the crowd.

My daughter didn't last past the first two applause moments. She's not big on whistling, it turns out. Daddy whisked her home, so Momma got to go out for a well-deserved cider after the show! Woo-hoo! There, she caught a glimpse of the famously fabulous Gene Grant, who applauded seeing me "out" late on a Friday evening. Gene was a part of Voces again this year, taking part in a journalism panel with Kenn and a young woman from the Alibi. The kids adored him, of course.

And me? I didn't get much writing done this year. Between caring for an infant, editing 26 kids' poems (up to 4 pieces each turned in each Friday and returned each Monday), and working on another consulting gig report also due at the end of June ... I was pretty tapped out. I did get a good dose of writer's guilt, though. A certain little lady in Texas needs a certain wedding present poem that's been brewing slowly since April. At this point, the poem will probably have the gestation of a real baby, and the labor will probably take about as long as Umea's: a solid five days. Such is the price of life, I guess!

I also got a happy dose of pride in this program. So many of the kids mentioned how much the program has meant to them personally and how influential it's been in their lives, showing them a world where they can be honored for who they are and what they think, not for their stereotypes or their "cool" factor. As one of our success-story kids told me: "It's so sad that not giving a shit is cool." Well these kids learned that caring and succeeding can also be cool and feels a lot better, even though -- and maybe especially because -- it's hard work.

That same student came to Voces three years ago unable to read or write. He just won the state Slam competition this year. He now goes to the schools with Carlos Contreras -- mentor of the Voces program -- and performs his poetry to inspire other students to share their voices, too. For him, the knife edge of his previous life -- slinging and gangs -- is always there, but he tries to remember how much better it feels to be a poet than to be "hard," acting the badass to intimidate others not to fuck with you.

He told me his story over lunch one day. We both had tears in our eyes, and I felt for a moment how high the stakes were for him, how much he clung to the world opened to him through poetry, how much he appreciates the window of opportunity Voces provided him. All I could say was that the work had all come from him. All we did was set the expectations and encourage him that he could do this: speak with power. The rest was all his voice and his bravery and hard work to use it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

40-something in San Antonio

marjorie says...

Just got back from turning 40-something in San Antonio. Whenever I go there, I'm reminded what a great city it is--even if it is 106 degrees with 28 percent humidity.

We stayed in this seriously retro hotel called El Tropicano, one of the originals on the River Walk. Totally killer restored mid-century modern splender. They played an Elvis movie by the pool one night on a huge screen they dropped from the roof, called it the Drive-In by the Pool. My mother was stumped, because she had never seen it which totally surprised her, being the Elvis fan that she is.

The kids were out of control in the heat, and the river walk was mobbed with tourists--from the looks of it, not a whole lot of San Antonio residents go there--but it was a great time.

My dad gave me the Sam Houston army base tour, which is where he was stationed right after he and my mom got married. She lived in an efficiency apartment in an old house about a block from the base. He'd eat in the mess hall, then sneak some food over to her since they had no money. Apparently, a oujia board told them they'd find the apartment on that street--that was the last time they ever played a ouija board. They took the apartment, but didn't like it that the devil--or somesuch--told them where to find it.

Anyhow, maybe I'll post some pictures later. For now, here's a little thing...

From a Texas quotation book chapter called "Not limited by facts," comes this quotation: "Remember the Alamo". Of course, I know that saying, but was amused that I read it in a book bought at the Alamo.

NM SOS website missing in action

marjorie says...


How can the SOS website be down more than a day or two, at the most? What's wrong with it?

I need to check some records...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sophie's (Job) Choice

Mikaela says:
I don't know about you guys, but I find myself thrust into a decision between 1970 and 1990.*

(*I admit I don't truly understand that choice, but I've heard two super-smart friends make that distinction, so if you'd like to quibble - take issue with them!)

  • Do I keep (or try to keep) the security of my full-time job with some health insurance and a 401K, despite the fact that it's not really what I want for myself personally or professionally?

  • Or do I throw caution to the wind and risk a part-time job that could give me just enough income to cover personal expenses and the cost of adding myself to my husband's health insurance? This isn't really what I want to do with my life, either, but it would only be a part-time waste of my life, leaving more time to try to fill in the blanks with gigs, paying and no, that include things I love.
I recognize that I'm lucky to even have this choice. Both have risks, and either one would ultimately be okay (probably).

It's been a fun opportunity to think about what skills I have that I'd like to use more, and what services I could put on a personal business card (no longer an oxymoron):
  • Meeting planning, facilitation, & recording
  • Technical & creative writing
  • Teaching & training
  • Desktop publishing
  • Visioning & planning workshops
  • Project management
(Am I missing anything?)

I'd love to be an ad-hoc consultant for any of these in alternating months, with home as my base from which to work.

Do you think it's possible? Do people pay for these things? Can you get hired just to be a smart, organized person?

Any advice?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Musings by a reporter on Twitter

marjorie says...

Trip Jennings has a great commentary over on the Independent today about how Twitter is changing the face of journalism.

In light of the remarkable use of Twitter by the demonstrating masses in Iran, Jennings gives an anecdote about a recent "scoop" he thought he had in Santa Fe until one of the lawmakers present decided to "tweet" the news as well. Within minutes, another reporter showed up...

Twitter comes of age in Tehran -- and Santa Fe

by Trip Jennings

If you think Twitter is just a way for American techno geeks to navel gaze, how mistaken you are.
Watching protesters in Tehran use Twitter and other social networking services to tap out messages and share photos of impromptu demonstrations has put that myth to bed, hopefully forever.
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mommy Moment

Mikaela says:
A flash of understanding:

  • Drive-throughs are not for lazy people, fat people, or shy people. They're for people with small children. I totally get this now.
Drive-in grocery stores? I'm all over this, suddenly! I find myself avoiding stores with no drive-throughs and seeking out establishments that cater to my less-mobile lifestyle.

Barring drive-ins for every daily need, I'd settle for a car seat with wheels.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Segregation hurts white people too, sometimes

marjorie says...

A Wall Street Journal blog tells us that white fish shoppers at the Fulton Fish Market pay more than Asian fish shoppers.

Brandeis University economists in a 22-week study of fish purchasing patterns found that white buyers pay on average 5 to 10 cents per pound more for "whiting".

This is because white buyers don't drive as hard of a bargain as their Asian counterparts, maybe because the restaurants they supply have a higher profit margin on their fish products. And they tend to want to get in and out of the market more quickly.

And why, the blog asks at the end, could NY fish shoppers have gone so long without realizing this?

"Easy, the report says, they rarely mix with each other."


Tiller's assassination is a message to the rest of us

marjorie says...

Calling the killing of Dr. George Tiller by Scott Roeder a murder, many among the anti-abortion crowd seem to be trying to distance themselves from the act.

For instance, Patrick J. Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition says that “…It would be a double tragedy for those who oppose the pro-life movement to take this episode and use it to paint the pro-life movement with a broad brush of extremism and violence."

But the truth is that the killing is best thought of as a cold-blooded assassination meant to achieve a certain reaction, rather than a singular episode of a deranged man. It was a political assassination wrapped in (God’s) clothes fashioned by the anti-abortion movement.

Roeder is part of a broader milieu, in the political movement sense and undoubtedly within his own personal realm, that routinely calls as murderers both the doctors who perform abortions and the women who have them.

Most egregiously we have the likes of Bill O’Reilly, who for years has compared Dr. Tiller’s work to that of a Nazi. There’s a reason O’Reilly is so over the top about abortion—his audience has found him and he revels in their fervent, Christian warrior magnification of his message.

The response to this isn't about free speech, disgust with O'Reilly aside. The O'Reilly's of the world will always exist, and not just on the topic of abortion. Our job is to delegitimize O'Reilly through our own speech and through organizing, and to push the leaders of the anti-abortion crowd to do the same.

Bigger picture, instead of focusing on O'Reilly, et al, we need to take Roeder's killing of Tiller for what it really is--an act of domestic terrorism, meant to inspire fear among the broader populace. As in, “look what happens when you don’t agree with us.”

It's very hard to believe the assassin, Roeder, acted without the knowledge of any other anti-abortion militants, who have so villainized doctors, and women, that it's highly likely they are celebrating Roeder's act today. They probably view him as a martyr. The U.S. government needs to ferret these people out.

And the rest of us should understand there's a political dimension to this as well. It’s also an act meant to incite the anti-abortion base at a very deep level, to inspire them to join with right wing zealots such as Rush Limbaugh in resisting the moderating voices that are emerging within the Republican party.

Is it really a coincidence that this occurs just as moderate Republicans have gained a much bigger voice in the public debate? It’s as though Roeder sent a resounding message to the suggestion that the Republican Party is big enough to encompass the range of beliefs about abortion: NO.

Let's hope reason prevails.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Adams Hanger

marjorie says...

Here are a few pictures I took at Maggie's wedding. For more you should seriously check out her wedding blog, Eat Drink Marry, where there are already some really gorgeous professional photos posted.

I couldn't resist this one. Maggie's very pregnant sister, Lisa, was her best woman. And she's in labor today. What a roller coaster couple of weeks for the Adams Family!