Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Having no goals

Writing something about meditation might be a little silly when I haven't made time to seriously and regularly meditate in - erm, ever. (If by regularly you mean at the same time weekly for two or more weeks, then no, I haven't meditated regularly.)

Yet I still find benefit in the practice, as imperfect as my practice is. (I cringe at even calling it practice, but there we are.)

And I find so much to like about this quotation:
If we have ambitions—even if our aim is enlightenment—then there is no meditation, because we are thinking about it, craving it, fantasizing, imagining things. That is not meditation. This is why an important characteristic of shamatha meditation is to let go of any goal and simply sit for the sake of sitting. We breathe in and out, and we just watch that. Nothing else.” ~ Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, "Do Nothing"
We live in such a goal-oriented world, it almost doesn't make sense to talk about the benefit of doing anything without a goal. And yet, when I hear the suggestion to sit with no goal at all, I sense a wonderful freedom.

It reminds me of how parenting sometimes feels-- I let everything else go and tell myself that there is nothing more important than listening to this small person in front of me. I first learned that feeling when I nursed my babies. I distinctly remember that perfectly delicious "zoned in" feeling-- I could tune out the world, tune in my baby and feel absolutely satisfied in that moment. Oxytocin is powerful; it was teaching me that feeding the baby was all I had to do while I was doing it.

Nursing baby at 3 weeks doing an unprompted peace sign. 
This was a powerful taste of the freedom of being without striving. I was not trying to feed the baby and do three other things. I was not trying to be A+ #1 at feeding the baby. I was just feeding her and we were both complete. My best friend and I talk about this paradox, how we sometimes do our best work when we're not aiming to achieve anything at all.

But this is a freedom of the mind which, I have to remind myself, doesn't necessarily have to lead to a great insight that propels my career or family or fitness goals forward. Sitting simply for the sake of sitting is a powerful discipline and something I deeply enjoy. Before heading back to work to complete something in my goal-oriented world.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Screenwriters: Just saw this opportunity on tumblr

As a member of the 2012/2013 Sundance Institute Alumni Diversity Outreach Committee I’m currently looking for emerging independent filmmakers who are developing their 1st or 2nd narrative feature screenplay. If you meet the criteria you could find yourself at the 2013 January Screenwriter’s lab at Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort in Utah.  Priorities are:
Diversity of ethnicity/race, gender and geography (filmmakers located outside the hubs of NYC and LA) & artists who come from under-represented and/or under-resourced communities. 
You are looking to make a film that is “independent” both in terms of story and spirit and budget (under 2 million $ US).
You want to tell a story that we haven’t seen before in ways that feel fresh and original.
You have an authentic cinematic voice.
You have a story with an element of urgency to it - why does your story need to be told now?
There are no limitations on genre. And it can be an adaptation as long as you have rights to the underlying material.
Does this sound like you?! If so don’t hesitate, message me now on my tumblr page or my twitter page with a brief letter describing who you are, where you come from and what is this story that you’d like to take to the 2013 Sundance lab. (and if you haven’t written it yet then don’t bother messaging me - only finished screenplays will be considered).
Thank you!
Adam Bhala Lough

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Anxious about meal planning? Here's one small tip to help

We're all here at this blogpost for the same reason: Dinner dread. Planning, prepping, executing, serving, sitting--even if you've got a fabulous partner and kids who are pitching in, this is not an easy task.

So let's take one small step to reduce dinner dread and get everyone fed:

Use Google Calendar to make yourself a Meal Calendar.

It's simple to create. You can set an alert to remind you on your phone. And it takes a ton of stress out of the daily "what's for dinner?!" question.

All you have to do is think of the basic dish you want to serve on a particular night, and set up your reminder. 

Here's how to set it up:
  1. Head over to https://www.google.com/calendar/ and login with the Google account you want to use.
  2. On the left sidebar, you'll see a red "Create" button. Click it.
  3. Title your new event "Prep dinner" and have it start whenever you want the reminder. You don't have to actually prep the entire dinner at that time. It can be set in the mornings as a reminder to just pull the spaghetti out of the pantry and leave it where you'll see it later, closer to dinner time. Even just chopping one onion for later helps.*
  4. Be sure to click the "Repeat" box and choose to have the event occur weekly at the same time.
  5. In the description box, write the basic dish you'll be making (keep it very basic so you can tailor it week to week; see below). Click Save. 
  6. Do this for each day of the week. Think of a main dish and a couple of sides you want to eat or have for leftovers. Think of your schedule: Is Monday evening super busy? Let it be sandwich night. Every week, you'll know you have Sandwich Mondays. The filling can change (and so will your prep work), but now you know roughly what will be on the table. There, doesn't that already feel better?  Keep the sides simple, too: Toss some baby carrots into a bowl and some dressing on the side, steam some broccoli in the microwave and you're done for Mondays.

Of course, it's more fun to have everyone in the kitchen if you've got kids and adults around who are able. And with your new calendar, it'll be much easier to assign tasks and get dinner served.

* This is my #1 favorite technique for busy people-- do little 5 minute tasks ahead of time. I learned it from Debbie Koenig, who calls it "naptime cooking" in her fantastic cookbook "Parents Need to Eat Too." Ain't that the truth. I give this book to everyone as a baby shower gift. The slow cooker chapter itself is worth it. Check it out!

** More inspiration for 30 minute meals, like this Green Bean Salmon Salad I tried and loved, at Sunset.com.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Top 3 Tips for Blogging When You Feel Nervous About Blogging

Because I've been holding up my own blogging, I needed to write this post. What's my deal, bro?

1. Know Your Audience (this #1 tip brought to you by Lizz Winstead)

Who are you writing this for anyway? Speak directly to and for them. This is for them. Remember that and the fear (aka "perfectionism") often evaporates.

If you know anyone who might fit the bill as a desirable reader (eg, your friends and family), ask them to come comment. If you don't want to go that route, then imagine a person reading your blogpost and getting something out of it. Write just for that person. Ignore the noise of everyone else. The older I get, the more I joyfully embrace the fact that I will never please everyone. But the people I care about, they're the ones with whom I want to have this dialogue.

Or just write for yourself. Tell yourself you're never going to publish the post. There's nothing forcing you to publish it, and there's so much satisfaction to be gained from getting the words out of your head and onto the paper or screen. So just take that small step.

And then trick yourself and hit Publish before you can stop yourself.

2. Channel your inner frat boy.

You know who I'm talking about. The big guy who wears a backwards baseball cap, or maybe a power suit. He doesn't know what the hell he's talking about any more than anyone else does-- not really. But the guy is just so damn confident. He acts like everyone should be listening to him. He shuts others down because HE has to talk and make his point right now-- he's not waiting for the talking stick. And you should be darn grateful he's here.

Yes, this guy is annoying. No, you don't want to be an arrogant ass. But think for one minute about what it'd be like to just *act* like this. Not even out loud if that's too much. Just in your head for a second, try it out. "Everyone, listen to me. I've got the idea that's gonna work." For one minute, don't worry about cutting anyone off or hearing anyone out. For one minute, just write whatever you want to write and believe that it's God's gift to humanity.

This can really work wonders.

Then go back and edit that. But you've got something on paper/onscreen because you've gotten past your own silencing politeness.

3. Let your blog be a blog.

I've decided to adopt the philosophy that a blog is a place to experiment. This blog is a public place, so I don't want to be TOO messy. But I also don't want to wait for perfection. I want this blog (and my much more dashed-off tumblr blog) to be a blog, not a novel, not a poem. It might communicate something useful, or give someone a needed break, or inspire someone to write a comment or to write their own blogpost. On a great day, it might approach beauty.

And it's ok if today is not that day.

So go forth and blog! And please do share the link to your blog below so I can check yours out.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Twitter's Greatest Hits: #legitimaterape

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday. Is. FAB! RoundUp!

What did we do before Fridays on the Internet? Here are some great things from today:
- Lindy West pwns Alice Cooper on Jezebel
- CBS News posts an AWESOME Friday music roundup. Yes really. It has FogandSmog's Daddy Skills video. Also-- K-Pop, you have outBollywooded Bollywood. Well played.
- JANELLE MONAE is the new CoverGirl. This video showing some behind the scenes from her CoverGirl shoot with her team is so great. I am such a Janelle fan. She is so unshakeably Janelle. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bobak's a meme! Or why scientists are hot

Everyone's talking about Bobak Ferdowsi, and I completely understand the fascination. There's a stereotype of scientists, which you probably know all too well already.

And then this guy busts out on the scene with a sexy job title -- MSL Flight Director -- and a mohawk. A mohawk. Take that, stereotype! Scientists are people, too.

But I think it goes a little deeper than the mohawk. When we're reminded of these glory moments at NASA, when we see these hard-working people sweating, nervous, and then clapping and cheering, it's as good as any moment on ESPN.

So when Washington Post's style blogger Maura Judkis writes

"Even for a scientist, he marvels at the images from space the way that anyone else would"
I was surprised. Ah, journalism. "Even for a scientist" suggests that perhaps she never talked at length with a scientist. Every great scientist I talk with, including my brilliant spouse, gets thrilled talking about science. They marvel all the time. They have this sense of wonder and of awe about things I wouldn't have thought much about.

Take your everyday cramped flight on a commercial airplane. We settle in our cheap seats over the wing; I fold up a jacket and tuck it in next to my elbow to be a makeshift pillow. But Derek looks out the window and talks about how incredible it is that this big thing gets off the ground at all. (Keep in mind that he's a physicist.) The flow of air over wings that keeps planes in the air is a source of apparently never-ending interest and amazement for my spouse.

Scientists are not boring people-- they're highly curious, highly motivated to find things out. They're going to be your biggest cheerleaders when you find something out yourself.

So go on with your unique self, Bobak, and keep Curiosity burning up the roads on Mars. We're marveling at the journey.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

#BlogHer12: My Blog as Change Agent

Pathfinder Day is different every year that I've attended. 2010 was especially memorable with Marie Wilson and The White House Project talking about women, blogging and elections. The brilliant women in the room included candidates, elected officials, one ambassador, a CEO.

This year with Cheryl Contee and Deanna Zandt leading the charge, we Change Agents got personal. Here are some toplines from the day:

Cheryl shared her personal story of how she came to the tech world and what it was like to be among the 4-9% of women who receive venture capital/angel funding. And I deeply appreciated the courage it took for her to share what was close to her soul: "It wasn't because he felt sorry for me." Indeed it wasn't - it was because her company has an incredibly powerful product.

Deanna shared how she built strong in-person relationships and how those translated into every job she's had. Finding places to connect with people online provides more opportunity to develop relationships: listservs are great for this. She also shared the importance of metrics: using RowFeeder, for example.

Books they recommend:
War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Mastery by George Leonard
The Way We're Working Isn't Working

Use your SWOT! It's a great way to identify and clarify goals personally and professionally. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.

And realize that we all do our part to bring the world together. No one blog can- or even should- be all things to all people. There is no linear path; there is only the network, the relationships.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Time for the 83rd Annual BlogHer!

At least, it feels like this conference has been around that long, along with quickly-established protocols and etiquette and terminology that accompany blogging. Back in my day, we coded things by hand! None of these namby pamby WYSIWYG editors. Get off my pwn!

And every year around this time, I have a heart to heart with myself about why I blog. Why I pay to keep this domain name around the house. Why I leave the blog public instead of just locking it down and saying what I really really think.

And I realized that the challenge of blogging that keeps drawing me back is the challenge of saying what I really think out loud, and finding the courage to let those words live in the world by finding the talent to say them beautifully.

This is part of the reason I don't blog twice daily.

Practice makes better, and practicing in public, allowing the process to be out there as much as the words and thoughts are out there-- that's my biggest challenge.

But as I keep going in life and blogging, I'm giving myself more elbow room to express my opinions, even perhaps a bit messily. Because every once in awhile, perhaps someone else will be able to relate, will feel understood, will feel challenged and engaged and will want to share some words, some poems, some pictures, some bit of their own grace too.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On worrying. Paloma's funny.

I'm not much of a worrier. I'm more of a "consider the lilies" kind of person. Also, I have naturally low blood pressure. :) (And I use emoticons.)

So it was a little unusual when I worried out loud this morning. I began making those worried moany sounds and mumbled to Derek about worrying about some purchases I'd made. They were needed, but came all at once.

Paloma marched over and shouted, "WHAT YOU WORRY ABOUT?" She's five and often talks like this. "I BE WORRY FAIRY."

I started in: "Well, see, I bought a bunch of stuff and--"

"CH-CHING! DONE!" She interrupted with a wave of her hand with an invisible wand and walked back to her cereal bowl.

I couldn't stop laughing the rest of breakfast. LOVE. HUH.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Our bodies and faces as family history

If you've seen the video that Upworthy shared today - "I AM FAT!" - you'll see why I was so moved to make this vlog response.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My First Vlog! Thank you Dr. Goddess and @veronicaeye

Recently I had the fabulous good fortune to share a day with some extraordinary women -- all talented, smart and generous with their knowledge. We talked about our work and connected over sharing strategies and inspiration and goals.

And then it got a little personal. We talked about challenges, personal and professional, and let me tell you, there's no better feeling than having a small group of brilliant people carefully analyzing your knotty problem and offering their best thinking on it. The icing is when we were able to share helpful outside contacts. This group had contacts so wide and deep, you'd have no fun playing six degrees of separation.

Anyhoo-- one thing I shared about was wanting to blog here more. I didn't raise an Earth-shattering problem because I'd felt like we'd already taken care of those earlier in the day. :) But it was one to which I wanted to take a radically new approach, for reasons both professional and personal. When a couple women urged me to try vlogging, I said yes. So without further ado, here it is: My First Vlog. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Friday, May 25, 2012

the long goodbye to nursing

My three year old sat on the closed toilet seat while I brushed her hair before she brushed her teeth on the way to bedtime. She doesn't have much patience for this, even though she tries to be like her older sister and sit very still and enjoy the gentle brushing.

I stopped as she slid off the seat and climbed into my lap where I sat on the edge of the tub. She faced me and pushed her cheek onto my chest. She put her small hands onto my skin and sighed. And she finally said in that young-sounding three year old voice, "I want to be a baby so I can nurse again." Imagine a comma in between every word and no "r"s-- that's kind of how she speaks. This expression of wanting to nurse is very sweet, and it's something she says fairly regularly (maybe once a month or so), so I hugged her and stroked her hair and murmured something loving.

But then she said something else, and this time her voice sounded completely different. She said, "I miss it. I miss you." And I was struck silent. I tried to draw her closer, but no. She slipped off my lap to brush her teeth. She had said her piece and now she was moving on to the next task.

I think she knows we cannot go back. I think she knows how much we love each other despite the ways our relationship changes as she grows. I'm always learning on this job.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why I blog

I want to practice writing.

I want to practice putting my voice into the world without apology.
I want to think through difficult problems out loud and with others.

I want to bring together and hear from a community of thinkers and doers who have ideas and comments to share.

I want to be visible in a world where women are often invisible, where children of immigrants are often invisible.

I want to create a space where others are heard and are visible, too.

I want to make people laugh.

Writing with Ink
Photo by Flickr user urbanworkbench

I don't want to be seen as a marketing device.

I don't want to compete with other bloggers or shut down anyone's voice.

I don't want to be a mouthpiece for anyone or anything other than my own true experience.

Are you a blogger or a regular blog reader (or both)? I would love to hear why you blog, if you do, and what your goals are, if any. If you're a regular blog reader, what are your favorite go-to blogs?

So easy: Green bean hazelnut salmon salad

Most nights, I'm scrambling to get dinner on the table. Something that's healthy, fresh, delicious. And doesn't take a couple days to plan and make.

Many nights, I rely on Debbie Koenig's brilliant book Parents Need to Eat Too. Each recipe is tested by over 100 moms with kids running around the house! So you can be sure they're all pretty easy, with ingredients that are probably close at hand.

Green Bean, Hazelnut, and Mint Salad with Lemon DressingNgoc Minh Ngo

But last week, I turned to my latest copy of Sunset magazine to find this beautiful recipe for Green Beans, Hazelnut and Mint Salad with Lemon Dressing.


  • 3/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 8 cups packed green beans (about 3/4 lb.), stems trimmed and strings removed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons hazelnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 375°. Spread nuts out on a baking pan and bake until golden under skins (break one to test), 10 to 15 minutes. When nuts are cool enough to handle, rub in a kitchen towel to remove as many skins as possible. Chop coarsely and set aside.
2. In a 4- to 6-quart pot over high heat, bring 3 quarts salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cook until just crisp-tender, 4 to 7 minutes. Drain in a colander and plunge beans into a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain again and set aside.
3. In a small bowl, stir together the mint leaves, lemon peel, lemon juice, and salt to make the dressing. Drizzle in the hazelnut oil, whisking constantly.
4. In a large bowl, gently toss the beans with dressing and hazelnuts. Serve at room temperature.
I made this extra easy by toasting the nuts in my toaster oven and using Trader Joe's green beans you can microwave in a bag. I know, I know- microwaving food in plastic is a very bad idea. Probably I should have emptied them into a bowl and zapped. But I take shortcuts here and there and generally don't feel too bad about them. 
Because we got an awesome salad out of this! 
Where's the salmon? To add protein, I added a can of wild sockeye salmon and mixed it in. The lemon worked beautifully with the fish and my kids loved it. I bet hard boiled egg would be fabulous too.
What are your go-to dinner ideas?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Let's tell Vanity Fair: Publish Diverse Faces!

I just created this petition to try and get Vanity Fair to do better in representing actors across racial lines. I just ended my subscription today because I was so fed up with how narrow their lens is. They have the potential to drive our cultural conversation in an intelligent, thoughtful direction. But so far, they've just taken a turn for the worse.

Calla Lily
A white lily. By Flickr user chiaraogan.

Vanity Fair has gotten more and more disappointing in terms of showing the style and elegance of actors across racial lines. It's gone from a great read to a trashy one. Now I enjoy a trashy mag anytime, but I appreciated that they were trying to inject some thought into the cultural conversation. Now, it appears, they've abandoned that.Help me encourage them to bring it back!

So here's what I wrote. If you like it, please sign on and share it with friends. I'd love to see the Vanity Fair editorial staff see that there's an earnest desire from readers to have a more diverse representation of actors in their Hollywood/pop culture coverage:


The Problem: It's almost cliche now that Vanity Fair's annual Hollywood Issue will feature white actors to the near-total exclusion of actors of color who are as busy and talented as their white colleagues.

Too often, actors of color-- and the important stories they tell-- are relegated to specialized or marginalized publications. Rather than segregating actors, we paying newsstand readers and subscribers would prefer to see and read about actors who are telling compelling, powerful stories-- which are sometimes not at the top of the box office returns-- no matter what race they are.

One Solution: Vanity Fair has an impressive stable of writers, photographers and editors. They are thinkers who have the ability to do more than pander to the masses, just as countless other publications do already. VF has a unique position and ability to elevate and challenge our cultural conversation. Therefore, we ask that they make an effort to do so, starting with that most powerful of impression-makers, the visual on the cover.

That's why I created a petition to Graydon Carter, Editor in Chief, which says:

"As Vanity Fair readers, we ask Graydon Carter, Krista Smith and the editors who contribute to the yearly Vanity Fair Hollywood edition to provide equal visual representation among talented actors across racial lines. "

Will you sign this petition? Click here:


And please feel free to share this with friends you think might want to sign on too.

Thanks so much! I think if we get enough signatures, we can really make an impression. Lord knows I've heard enough people complain about VF's lack of diversity. Maybe if enough of us let them know we want them to do better, they'll make some change. Thank you!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tavi tells it! What we can take from her TED talk.

I love Tavi. I don't know if she ever feels afraid of backlash, but it doesn't stop her from speaking up anyway. It's a good thing to remember that no matter what the opposition thinks, if you're speaking from your heart and using the facts with integrity, you will be making connections over the internets with people who need to hear what you're saying.

So don't censor yourself. And don't shut down others. (I'm looking at you, hashtag hijackers. More on that one later.)

Create a dialogue. Reach out and reach out again. Sure, it's harder than bullying others into silence and harder than giving up on people. Creating a dialogue takes some courage and some time. But I'm ever more convinced that it's how we move forward as humanity.

I'm going to try and take my own advice here. This is how:

1. Assume that, unless they say otherwise, people want similar things: health, happiness, security for themselves and for their families, and for the country we share. Assume that we all have similar goals, but that we may have different ideas about how to get there.

Recently, I read an article about a Republican who said, “No business would split a team working on its most important policies into two oppositional groups, and we citizens shouldn’t allow this either."

That sounds downright reasonable. Clearly, there should be multiple parties contributing to our government and serving as checks/balances on each other. That's a good thing. But we don't have to hate each other. It doesn't help us move forward together (which we kind of have to do, living on the same Earth and all.)

I've said it before: No institution benefits when it excludes the contributions from any group based on immutable characteristics (I'm looking at you, United Methodist Church and exclusion of gay people).

2. Leave aside ad hominem attacks. No questioning someone's sanity, love of family or country or countries or world, none of that. (I want to make an exception for comedians, who as our culture's court jesters, go by a different set of communication rules.)

3. Speak honestly. It doesn't help the world if we don't share our experiences truthfully.

4. Speak intelligently. Because it also doesn't help the world if we speak from ignorance. It's ok to say, "I don't know."

5. Speak lovingly. Basically, #1 again. Just a reminder.

Will practice this daily, hopefully right here.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

I'm a total fake

Probably I should say up front that this is a post about identity, not personality. (Which, for the record, is authentic. What you see is what you get-- I'm generally happy and low blood pressure. Born this way.) I'm talking about identifying as a real American and real Californian. And others not believing it.

I have a face that so completely identifies me in a certain way. There are aspects to my face that I know I don't understand. Because I've had Indian people come up to me and say, "You're from India?" And I give my standard response, "My parents are from India. I was the first in my family born here. They're from the south, from Kerala and Tamil Nadu." And many of them respond, "Yes, you look like you're from Kerala."

Keep in mind, India is pretty small geographically but with a billion people. And yet people can identify the state my parents are from just by looking at my face.

And if they hear my last name, they know with even more certainty where I'm from. I have a Christian last name, and there are maybe eleven Christians in all of India. They all know each other and are very proud of their very long and persecuted existence. We are a minority in India and just confusing in the United States. I'm a neither-dot-nor-feather Indian. (It's confusing to be a racial minority but in the religious majority.)

And to make it even worse, I can't speak either of my parents' two languages. My mother wanted to teach me, my father thought it'd impede my English acquisition. This means that on the occasions I get together with my parents' family, they are careful to speak English. Unless they want to tell secrets. So that sucks.

It also means that growing up, I've been extra sensitive to how I sound and how people react to my voice and accent. I grew up having to translate my parents' English for people, the way you might translate your toddlers' words for your adult friends. I use that analogy purposefully; I know it was frustrating, especially for my mom, to not be understood and to be treated like a child. So I guarantee if you heard me on the phone but couldn't see me, you might be able to guess I'm from California but would not be able to guess my race. Unless I decided to tone down my California accent and turn up something else. (Yes, Californians, we have an accent!)

I could put on a sari and look the part of an Indian woman perfectly until I opened my mouth. And I could get on the phone and sound the part of a (possibly white) American woman perfectly until someone saw me. When I've traveled abroad, people have laughed when I said I'm from California and then asked where I'm really from. But I feel Californian more than anything else. I am Californian. Though I can sometimes fake it, I don't really know how to be anything else.

I do have a lifetime of learning to make people feel comfortable by fading into what's familiar to them. Like an octopus or cuttlefish. (I really just wanted to work the word "cuttlefish" and this video into my blog.)

That's how we survive, those of us who don't look like everyone else. We use clever techniques to make you comfortable. We fake it a bit.

But now that I've survived this long, I'm less likely to fake it. I'm less likely to labor so hard and so carefully to make others comfortable. I'm more likely to simply be comfortable without apology (but with, as you can see, explanation). This means many things, but among them, it means knowing that what my face says isn't everything there is to know about me. I am American; I'm grateful I was born here and grateful for everything my parents did and gave up so I could be. I am American and I am Californian and I'm identified by many things including but also beyond place, race and appearance. I'm so many things.

And so, I'm not a fake at all.

Monday, March 19, 2012

the young ones whose lives were cut short

No time for a proper post again, but here are some things for which all I have are deep breaths, tears and simple prayers, like "Forgive us. Forgive us."

- The death of Trayvon Martin. Petition with his parents' words here: http://www.change.org/petitions/prosecute-the-killer-of-our-son-17-year-old-trayvon-martin

ColorofChange petition here (I've signed both): http://act.colorofchange.org/act/Trayvon

And a very well-researched Mother Jones article, chock full of resource links and careful analysis: http://motherjones.com/politics/2012/03/what-happened-trayvon-martin-explained

- The death of Stephanie Rojas due to asthma. Her mom, Lydia, very bravely talked her way through the tears on MomsRising's BlogTalkRadio chat with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson today: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/momsrising/2012/03/19/mom-to-mom-the-controversy-of-clean-air

Why "forgive us?" Because I cannot think about these losses without thinking about the system and society that allowed them to happen.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

On Trayvon Martin, the 17 year old boy shot and killed

I have about 20 minutes to write this post before I have to get back to work, to my kids and to my spouse, but it feels like even if I had hours to write about it, I wouldn't be much more articulate.

This post is about 17 year old Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed February 26 by a neighborhood watch captain in a gated housing complex in Florida. Trayvon was just walking back to his relatives' house after buying some candy at the 7-11. He was just walking home in the rain.

Reading this article at the Huffington Post, I can feel the atoms of my body coming apart. I feel like I'm dissolving into the air around me. I feel my hands tingling, like they've already begun to disappear. Liz over at Mom-101 wrote on Facebook that it made her feel sick to her stomach. Yes to that too.

From Huffington Post:
Tracy Martin, the teenager's father, broke down crying as he listened to the audio on Friday, the family lawyers said. "My son was crying for help, and he still shot him," Tracy Martin, the teenager's father said[...].
Can you imagine your loved one dying alone? Your love, whom you have nurtured, celebrated, gritted your teeth over, changed your life for. Leaving this life in fear and pain, alone, crying for help and there's only his killer. It's more than terrifying. I am grateful I don't have the words for it.

Why has Zimmerman not been charged yet? This happened February 26. Here's the statement from his parents. Under that is the petition link where you can sign to call on the District Attorney to investigate

* * * * * 

On February 26, our son Trayvon Martin was shot and killed as he walked to a family member's home from a convenience store where he had just bought some candy. He was only 17 years-old. 

Trayvon's killer, George Zimmerman, admitted to police that he shot Trayvon in the chest. Zimmerman, the community's self appointed "neighborhood watch leader," called the police to report a suspicious person when he saw Travyon, a young black man, walking from the store. But Zimmerman still hasn't been charged for murdering our son. 

Trayvon was our hero. At the age 9, Trayvon pulled his father from a burning kitchen, saving his life. He loved sports and horseback riding. At only 17 he had a bright future ahead of him with dreams of attending college and becoming an aviation mechanic. Now that’s all gone.

When Zimmerman reported Trayvon to the police, they told him not to confront him. But he did anyway. All we know about what happened next is that our 17 year-old son, who was completely unarmed, was shot and killed.

It's been nearly two weeks and the Sanford Police have refused to arrest George Zimmerman. In their public statements, they even go so far as to stand up for the killer - saying he's "a college grad" who took a class in criminal justice.

Please join us in calling on Norman Wolfinger, Florida's 18th District State's Attorney, to investigate my son's murder and prosecute George Zimmerman for the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

WordyDoodles Reboot!

What WordyDoodles is:
Image by Flickr user Kristina B

I loved the idea of keeping the blog wide open to almost any point of discussion. I liked the idea of continuing to share personal parenting stories. But I realized that as enticing as it is to think about maintaining an all-things-to-all-people-including-me blog, to write that blog is a lot less enticing.

So WordyDoodles is becoming a more focused space. Less tumblr (which I love), more blogger. If you're into topline summary, skip the below and go to the "What We Write About" page. For the details, right below tells you what we're drilling down on:
  1. Politics. This will be mostly opinion on what's current. I want to hear your opinion, too. Don't worry if you are not an expert. I am not an expert. Busy people, sleep-deprived new parents, and people who don't follow politics zealously are still absolutely encouraged to comment. We all are affected by decisions our lawmakers make, so we should have a space to muse and think "out loud" (or, ahem, wordydoodle) about these decisions and our opinions.
  2. Art and style. This includes design of all kinds- architecture, clothing, etc. Beautiful things we create. This is sometimes going to overlap with politics because it's also about how we see things, how we perceive things, how we present ourselves and how we communicate when we do it beautifully, which to me is the epitome of style no matter what you are wearing.
  3. Immigrant perspectives. This is mostly my perspective as a daughter of immigrants, on any topic. I want to highlight it specifically as a WordyDoodles focus because I just don't often see things approached from this perspective and I wish I did. If you're not sure what this means, don't sweat it. It will become clear as we blog along. This topic also might intersect with politics, but not as heavily as you might think. Maybe not much at all. This focus is included more to give voice to places where immigrant voices and second generation voices are not part of the conversation at all, where it seems they've been forgotten: much of mainstream media, pop culture, traditional news outlets. It's been a while since Slumdog Millionaire, right?
So that's where we're headed. I'm thrilled to be blogging more again. I've missed it. I can't wait to talk with you all.

P.S. To that end, I'm going to be writing mostly at night and on weekends, posting during the day, and answering comments at night. So if it's a little while before I answer, never fear! I'm coming to reply.

Monday, January 16, 2012

How WashU was desegregated: Thank you Dr. King.

Huston Smith is a storyteller, and this story is his. I was simply lucky enough to be there when he told it-- once to our Berkeley congregation, and once in a special retelling for my daughters.


in 1964
Huston was a professor at Washington University in St. Louis when it was still segregated. He found a phone number for Martin Luther King, Jr., dialed it and asked him to come to the university to support its desegregation.

Dr. King agreed to come, but said that he did not fly. Huston replied that it was all right, and that he would meet him at the train station. So he came.

Huston laughed that he did not trust this great man to his own driving, so he got a taxi and was able to spend the time in the cab with him talking. (Huston didn't mention what they talked about.) Then Dr. King gave an impassioned speech, one Huston said that he "thought of as a rehearsal for his 'I've been to the mountaintop' speech." Indeed, not long after this, King went on to the March on Washington.

The next day, the university was desegregated.


No doubt it was thanks to the persistent work of many people over a long time, but the catalyst was surely the words and presence of Dr. King. I thanked Huston for standing up to the status quo, for putting his work and himself on the line for justice, and for standing with Dr. King at a time when it was dangerous to do so. May we all continue standing together for justice.

For some unique photographs telling some of the much lesser-known stories of the civil rights movement, check out the New York Times' Lens blogpost, "Honoring the Struggles and Sacrifices," by David Gonzales. Don't miss the story of Koinonia Farms in photo #4, which you can read if you click the tiny link just below the image.