November 02, 2014

Riding Around in My New Car

We bought a new car recently. Our previous car is 20 years old (almost old enough to drink!). I’ve known we need a new car for a while. For personal reasons, a more practical car for my partner and I would be automatic, easier to get in and out of, and less likely to suddenly die if you go through a large puddle or sneeze wrong. You know, something reliable and comfortable. A stereo that works all the time, instead of just randomly (we think it turns on when the car gets warm enough but this hypothesis hasn't been tested scientifically) would also be nice.

Even with this knowledge I’ve dragged my feet for a few years on getting a new car. At first it was easy to say we couldn’t afford one but with repairs regularly equaling one or two grand a year - that line stopped holding water.
Honestly, I wasn’t emotionally ready to let go of our old car until now (and even now letting go is a relative term since I am sending it to a retirement home in the country, also known as “my brother’s place”).

Continue reading "Riding Around in My New Car" »

January 02, 2010


I want to write something but
all I feel is the emptiness of
having everything I want and need
and knowing it is not enough

August 25, 2008

Americana unveiled and en masse

It is that time of the year again - when the world (at least locally) sorts out into two people - those who love the State Fair and those who don't.

Continue reading "Americana unveiled and en masse" »

January 29, 2008


After the board meeting tonight I was inspired to join a friend at the last minute to see Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis in movie form. I originally read her books years ago - they are all about growing up in Iran both before and after the revolution in the late seventies and early eighties. I was amazed at how well the film carried the spirit of the books, maintained the story line, while keeping a viewer has read everything Satrapi wrote interested.

After driving some friends home I took the long way home on the freezing cold night. It is negative 13 degrees (F, -25 C) out. When you add the wind chill in the thermometer goes all the way down to negative 38 - one of the coldest nights of the year. This meant no one was out and the road by the river was peaceful and beautiful. I had to stop the car and stare in awe at the vast quantities of mist rising from the un-frozen Mississippi River.

January 23, 2008

alternate reality

This article is worth reading if you want to challenge a few social assumptions:

Bonobo Society: Amicable, Amorous and Run by Females

Natalie Angier is a fabulous writer, author of "Woman: an intimate geography" and regular writer for the New York Times.

November 20, 2007

travel plans

"Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God"

I just finished "Cat's Cradle" and that was the line that stuck with me.

My grandfather died on Friday. Sunday morning I found myself on a plane to Colorado. I haven't moved this fast or spontaneously in ages. Going to my grandfather's memorial service is hardly peculiar but dropping all work and heading to Denver the week before thanksgiving was certainly startling. I would call it more of an "unexpected travel opportunity" than a 'peculiar travel suggestion". Either way it feels good - liberating.

In between Friday and Sunday I went dancing - just to limber up for the ride.

Continue reading "travel plans" »

November 07, 2007

Plastic Fantastic

Several months ago I read the most illuminating article in Orion Magazine about the permanence of plastic. This stuff just doesn't go away. We are like the Magician's Apprentice - only without a magician. According to Orion it has been like a plastic nuclear bomb exploding on the world 50 years ago and hasn't stopped. Only a small fraction gets recycled and other than the tiny bit that gets burned (which creates a different set of problems) all the plastic that has been created in the last century is still here, on earth, floating around. Most of it literally is floating around (in the ocean) choking sea animals, messing up boats, refracting sunlight, and being a big stewy mess.

Below is an article by the San Francisco Chronicle about this mess we have created.

Continue reading "Plastic Fantastic" »

November 06, 2007


"No matter what side of the argument you are on, you always find people on your side that you wish were on the other."
- Jascha Heifetz

November 05, 2007


P]sychologists have had some pretty rough things to say about the immaturity and narcissism of love in our marketing society, in which it is reduced to a purely egotistical need that cries out for immediate satisfaction or manipulates others more or less cleverly in order to get what it wants. But the plain truth is this: love is not a matter of getting what you want. Quite the contrary. The insistence on always having what you want, on always being satisfied, on always being fulfilled, makes love impossible. To love you have to climb out of the cradle, where everything is "getting," and grow up to the maturity of giving, without concern for getting anything special in return. Love is not a deal, it is a sacrifice. It is not marketing, it is a form of worship.

In reality, love is a positive force, a transcendent spiritual power. It is, in fact, the deepest creative power in human nature. Rooted in the biological riches of our inheritance, love flowers spiritually as freedom and as a creature response to life in a perfect encounter with another person. It is a living appreciation of live as value and as gift. It responds to the full richness, the variety, the fecundity of living experience itself: it "knows" the inner mystery of life. It enjoys life as an inexhaustible fortune. Love estimates this fortune in a way that knowledge could never do. Love has its own wisdom, its own science, its own way of exploring the inner depths of life in the mystery of the loved person. Love knows, understands and meets the demands of life insofar as it responds with warmth, abandon and surrender.

Thomas Merton. "Love and Need" in Love and Living. Naomi Burton Stone and Brother Patrick Hart, editors. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1979: 30-31

November 03, 2007


I recently learned of a recently created word:

Dehydrophobia - Fear of being parched.

That is me.

October 14, 2007

New Stuff

I keep getting the urge to go shopping. I eye new boots like candy and long to find clothes that flatter and excite me. This is quite an embarrassing desire and a sign that my life is getting way too sedate. Previously shopping has always been a chore.

My accumulation of clothes has been a slow climb but I think I have reached peak. My latest hobby of social dancing hasn't helped either. Being new to the dance floor and lacking confidence I feel at least I can look half-way decent even if my moves aren't there yet. In five years I hope to be one of those girls who can show up in jeans and a t-shirt and still get every guy in the place to dance with me.

I am hoping the seasons will save me and stave off this desire to acquire for at least a little longer.

I love seasons.

I don't think we'll get another hot streak for many months (though that 80 degree day last week sure had me confused) so instead of going shopping it is time to haul out the winter clothes and rediscover everything hidden through the summer. I put up the shorts, short skirts, and sleeveless shirts and haul out jeans and sweaters and the super-un-sexy-but-freakin-warm-long-johns.

Yup - I even love that part about the seasons.

July 17, 2007

Lawn Care Humor

This is my view on lawns exactly. I am not sure who came up with this joke but it is too funny not to share.

Continue reading "Lawn Care Humor" »

July 12, 2007

Organic Farming Wins

WASHINGTON - Organic farming can yield up to three times as much food as conventional farming in developing countries, and holds its own against standard methods in rich countries, US researchers said on Tuesday.

They said their findings contradict arguments that organic farming -- which excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides -- is not as efficient as conventional techniques.

"My hope is that we can finally put a nail in the coffin of the idea that you can't produce enough food through organic agriculture," Ivette Perfecto, a professor at the University of Michigan's school of Natural Resources and Environment, said in a statement.

She and colleagues analyzed published studies on yields from organic farming. They looked at 293 different examples.

"Model estimates indicate that organic methods could produce enough food on a global per capita basis to sustain the current human population, and potentially an even larger population, without increasing the agricultural land base," they wrote in their report, published in the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems.

"We were struck by how much food the organic farmers would produce," Perfecto said.

"Corporate interest in agriculture and the way agriculture research has been conducted in land grant institutions, with a lot of influence by the chemical companies and pesticide companies as well as fertilizer companies, all have been playing an important role in convincing the public that you need to have these inputs to produce food," she added.

So There!

July 04, 2007


Reluctantly I saw Michael Moore's latest documentary tonight. I say reluctantly because I was tired and looking forward to spending a quiet evening at home - but I really did want to see the film so was lured out by friends. It was worth it.

Moore is excellent at tugging at your heart strings and making you laugh at insanity. This movie really plays up to his strengths. His weaknesses are in his arguments - facts and figures always take a back seat to anecdotes and personal face time. Therefore any logical person can shoot holes in his thesis.

However, despite how much he simplifies the argument - or perhaps because he simplifies it so much - it is still hard to argue that people should not have access to basic health care. That is the power of this movie. It takes good idea and makes it common sense.

May 28, 2007

Memorial Holiday

When I was a child this holiday meant nothing to me. Now I am shocked at how many people I know in the military.

Continue reading "Memorial Holiday" »

May 23, 2007


Washing your car is the modern day rain dance.

May 12, 2007


Recall that game they used to make us play as children? Everyone would sit in a circle and a whisper would go from ear to ear - by the time it went even a quarter way around the circle the words were completely transformed from what left the first child's lips.

As an adult I feel like that game should have simply been called "communication."
Lately I've realized the limits of my communication abilities. It seems I have control over what leaves my lips but very little control over what people hear. The more complicated the idea, the more likely it will get distorted.

Perhaps I just noticed this because I am trying to convey more complicated ideas these days, but I doubt it.

Continue reading "telephone" »

April 13, 2007


I didn't know what to do with myself. I was depressed and couldn't focus on anything yet I had been still too long and felt restless. So I called my mom. I miss my family so much. She and the rest of my family were busy planning my grandmother's funeral and the wake afterwards. What would people eat? What would they drink? Was the house tidy enough?

Continue reading "wake" »

February 23, 2007

story teller

I am getting ready for a big presentation I have next week. I get to talk all about the research I've been doing and have been spending way too much time playing with power point in preparation.

Oddly enough I don't feel much stage fright. I feel confident about my knowledge of the subject and for the most part enjoy performing in front of a crowd (the Leo in me finally coming out). However, I am realizing how much I suck at story telling. As I understand it, this is a crucial aspect of an engaging presentation. I keep wanting to get ahead of myself, spill facts before the time is right, and I can't figure out which parts of the story I should tell first. I know when I do this I end up sounding like a geek spouting factoids - which is not how you engage an audience. I have a really hard time separating the tale I am trying to tell into a linear monologue. The fact is this part is related to that part which is also related to the previous parts and they seem so integral; so how do I flatten it all out and not confuse people?

Intellectually I know that a good story carefully builds as it is told. I have seen some really good story tellers, am an avid reader, and love movies and television primarily for their plot lines yet internalizing what I have watched is a whole different story (haha).

January 11, 2007


Ode to Caffeine

Now that I sit at a desk all day, I am such a tea junkie. I wish my cup would last all day because two makes be a bit jittery and upsets my focus. However, sipping on that first cup each day is like watching the sun rise and appreciating the miracle of life. My mood slowly lifts (I am not a morning person) and the ideas start flowing. My optimism increases until I am downright peppy. Along with the optimism comes joy and good will towards all. I try not to drink the stuff every day (or at least switch between black and green) because I notice if I become accustomed to the caffeine it loses its sparkle. Thus I must suffer one or two days a week in order to experience this joy in a cup. How ironic. I feel like such a junkie.

January 01, 2007


I celebrated the holiday last night. Although I enjoyed an excuse to hang out with friends and I am a fan of marking the passage of time, I am don't like the whole countdown thing. It just makes the "New Year" seem that much more arbitrary and small. Frankly, I need a bit more time to digest things.

I much prefer to have a couple days before the holiday to clean, reflect, and tie up loose ends from the year before. Then it makes sense after the year has changed to go visit all your friends and wish each other well.

So far the reflection has been far to shallow. The only resolution I've come up with is to bring more plants into my life (and keep them alive).

May your New Year be delightful and joyous!

November 29, 2006

winter blue

My laptop died.

It's in the shop for two weeks now.

I am so depressed.

We are down to nine hours of sunlight a day.

I need to get more sunshine and exercise.

November 08, 2006


I voted.

The morning after always feels like just that - as if I got way too drunk and had a one-night-stand.

Let's hope my candidates show a bit more commitment than that though. If they don't I'm not afraid to vote against them next time. Here in Minnesota we have plenty of options.

November 01, 2006


I think I have actually eaten my fill of little chocolates.

October 18, 2006


I talk a lot. Words just flow from my mouth - sometimes before I even realize what they are saying. However, recently I have become aware that for all my mouthing off, I don't always feel like I am communicating. My first urge is to spout some more words but I try to resist that.

However, as much as I practice listening, that isn't always the missing key either.

Continue reading "talk" »

October 16, 2006

pain and suffering

With my recent injuries I have been meditating on pain. There is no way to avoid it. When I turn onto my left side I instantly regret it. Sometimes just by getting up or shifting in my seat I am aware of the bruise on my left hip - it really is in a bad spot.

If this were a once in a lifetime thing I might have a different attitude. However, having parents tell me "life is suffering" for the last twenty years has brought a few observations.

Continue reading "pain and suffering" »

October 10, 2006


There simply aren't enough hours in the day lately.

October 08, 2006


There wasn't really any rain - the roads weren't really wet. Yet somehow I hit the ground for the first time today since I first straddled my beloved scooter. I am still not quite sure what precipitated the slide. I was headed for a yellow light trying to decide whether to dash or stop when it turned red. I hadn't yet hit the intersection yet so I braked and the next thing I knew my head (snugly inside my helmet) was hitting the ground, along with the rest of my body and my scooter was sliding forward (without me) on its side for about ten feet.

I am thankful I fell off so easily. I am thankful I was wearing a helmet. From now on I will be more brazen about running yellow lights.

Currently I am hobbling around with a sore hip, gimpy shoulder and a number of aches but otherwise was very fortunate. My bike just suffered a few cosmetic scrapings.

October 06, 2006

same old new

A year ago I yearned for escape. Although I love Minneapolis I still wanted something more... exotic but homey. I thought it might be India or China, or perhaps somewhere in Eastern Europe. However, to my surprise I discovered Saint Paul instead. In this neighboring city I find the people foreign, the streets windy and ancient feeling, and yet there is a run-down slightly back-water-hickish feel about the place that reminds me of where I grew up. The streets are empty at five; parking is free after four-thirty, yet there are lots and lots of nice restaurants and neighborhood pubs. I swear the place is Minneapolis's best-kept secret.

Tonight I visited the Artist's Quarter for the first time. It was exactly what I imagined. People of all ages were appreciating the CD release party of a Jazz musician. The place was a dark basement with dim lighting and a low ceiling. There were pictures of famous musicians on the walls and the audience was rapt by the music, nodding in time to the beat, with a wine or whiskey glass in hand - just like Jazz clubs the world over.

September 19, 2006

recipe for success

I suck at following recipes. As long as I am confessing, I am not that good at following any sort of directions. They all seem so superficial. I want to know the underlying structure - the map of the entire city or all the options - and then choose for myself the best means to get to the end.

This is one reason I never cook for people (other than family). Although sometimes I get some fabulous results, other times too many wrong turns becomes an embarrassment that I wouldn't dare share with anyone but those I am confident of their love and their desire for healthy food.

Tonight was no exception - except that I actually started with a recipe. The cool weather inspired me to stand at the stove and the brownie mix I whipped up just didn't satisfy my creative urge. Realizing I had a bunch of potatoes to use, I skimmed a few cookbooks looking for ideas and found a promising dish called "Wakame potatoes."

Perhaps "promising" is the wrong word. I have wakame in my cupboard as a well-intentioned gift. This was given to me because in theory (apparently quite vocally) I am a huge fan. Sadly I found in private (reality) that the stuff can be a bit tough to swallow. This recipe seemed a mild one though - basically potatoes, carrots, red pepper, and wakame (sea weed).

However, I don't like (or have) red peppers and although I need carrots, none have graced my fridge for several weeks. I did have some red kale, ginger, and beets though. I figured they would be a great substitute, especially since if I had more of them it would dilute the strength of the seaweed.

So I sauteed everything with onions and garlic as directed and then cooked it longer than normal, (I always prefer over-cooked food to under-cooked). I added some Indian spice that has been in my cupboard too long, basil as the recipe requested, and tried to sprinkle in some turmeric but the can was empty. I didn't have the amounts exact (the recipe called for items in pounds and ounces - I have no scale). However, having cooked with and eaten all of the ingredients before (except wakame, which was quickly becoming a minority in the mix) I felt confident I knew the proportions they would work well together.

As for the dangerous wakame I soaked and rinsed it as suggested then I peeled the leaves off of the stem because in my experience all vegetables (whether from under the sea or not) are better without the stem. Then I rinsed and soaked it some more. I was heartened to read that wakame is considered mild. Sea vegetables are great in theory - high in iron and other nutrients - some of them are even natural chelaters - but I have to be really craving healthfood to stomach the fishy/slimy/snaily-ness that goes along with it.

But I fried and then steamed and eventually pressure-cooked the ingredients. I added a bit of black better and dash of balsamic vinegar as the recipe suggested. Then, of my own accord, I threw in some salt and soy sauce (which makes everything better) and I am proud to say that the end result was delicious.

I still doubt I would feed it to anyone else. My taste buds highly favor the practical and the healthy, which can be a bit much to expect from most people.

August 24, 2006

creative pain

My brain hurts.

This is not because of the beer I just drank or the amount of stupid television I subjected myself too - those were all attempts at cures.

Today I thought way too much. I am not used to a job where I have no slack time. I was on the go from the minute I walked in the door this morning. Sadly it wasn't all physical - a lot of it was mental work, but even worse, a sizeable chunk was trying to be creative.

I don't know how advertising designers survive. I spent four hours today walking around and talking, thinking, breathing signs. We kept playing with words, trying to get at what we wanted to say, how to say it best, briefest, most amusing... with colors, with pictures, with cross stitch. You get the idea. Fortunately two people accompanied me who are much better at this kind of thing. Just trying to keep up with them was exhausting - especially since I have recently discovered my opinionated side on this matter.

This learning - and the diversity of tasks means I am always learning something - is what keeps me energized about work. However, using my mind this much means I need to invest in some good organizational tools. I've got too many items competing for brain cells now. It's kind of nice to feel wanted and challenged.

August 21, 2006

civil civic servants

I keep joking that my job equals earning a degree in recycling with a minor in the city of St Paul. Over the course of the last three months I have learned about their city government, especially the district councils. The capital of Minnesota is surprisingly de-centralized. The city is divided into around twenty neighborhoods or districts, which each have their own board (elected by the residents) and small non-profit organization. Between city allocations, grants, and neighborhood fundraisers, the non-profits manage to have a few staff to work on neighborhood improvement projects.

The staff at non-profits are rarely compensated adequately for their work. However, that underpayment pales in comparison with many other people I work with who are full time volunteers. Some of these people are retired but I don't know (and am afraid to ask) about the rest of them. Many may be on these event committees as part of their job or college education but I recently realized that for some, it might be an alternative type of social life.

I think back to all the years my grandmother donated to the Democratic Party (she eventually got an award of recognition) and realize that for many people who are civic minded, don't care much for bars, games, or "just hanging out" this is what they do for fun. In the long run it can pay off too. In earning a reputation for ambitious volunteering they meet interesting people, learn a lot, and are able be social and productive at the same time.

Recently, while planning an event, we had an issue, wondering what was happening with a bit of road supposedly under construction. A dedicated member of the committee said he would make a call to find the information. I was shocked - he said "make a call" - not several. It would take me at least half a day to track down whom to even call to find out about such things. This is the not the first time I have seen examples of people who are aware of intimate government details.

I still don't fully understand how the city government works. Sure, I know enough to elect my city council member and other representatives, but who ever pays attention to the public works manager? Who is the person who decides the garbage contracts for your city? What about school issues? Government assistance allocation? City business development? There are so many cogs in the wheels of a city that I can only imagine them. Perhaps this is something people learn in civics class. However, judging from the ways in which Minneapolis is different from St Paul, from Bloomington, from New Brighton, and on and on, it might take a bit more than a high school or college course to figure out this tangle. Looks like I have a ways to go before I complete my degree, eh?

August 07, 2006


Two years, three months, and one week after I return to the States I got my first bout of food poison. Yep - I thought it was a virus but it turned out to be a meat and dairy friendly bacteria. So for those of you worried about Delhi Belly and Montezuma's revenge - I say the states isn't any safer. Here are some fun facts about my new bacteria "friend", Campylobacter.

It takes three to five days for it to incubate in your system. Most people don't associate this food poisoning with food for that reason and it can be impossible to trace where it came from.

It tends to come from chicken. In fact, half of all raw chicken is infected with the campylobacter. This is why you always want to cook chicken really well. This bacteria doesn't survive heat at all. However, one drop of raw chicken juice (eeewwww!!!) can infect a person and make them sick. So this is why people are freakish about washing cutting boards!

Chickens can be infected while alive too but they don't get sick from it (Lucky them). Cows and beef can also be infected, though it is less common. However, a cow can have it and it can get into her milk. This happened once and a class of school kids who visited a dairy farm and drank un-pasteurized milk all got sick. Generally though there are not mass infections of the campylobacter.

Taken early antibiotics can help lessen the symptoms, however, not always, and taken late they can have no affect at all or even help breed antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Generally it takes seven to ten days to recover from the campylobacter.

Seven to ten days!!!!!!!! What a fabulous weight loss program I have stumbled into…

July 16, 2006

Footbol Finale

The first time I felt real patriotism was when I was outside of the country. It wasn't when I was a tourist in France or a beach bum in Mexico, but rather when I was a student in Costa Rica. At that time I was struggling to understand how government works - theirs and ours. Realizing how complicated things were, and that no government has got it right, I suddenly started becoming defensive when people put my country down. Sure - we got our problems - but we're doing the best we can!

This opened the door to complicated feelings that only grew. I experienced it again watching the U.S. Soccer team fail. On the one hand they sucked! Yet somehow I felt more connected to them than too any other team (it may help that I also suck at soccer) and longed so much to have a team for which I could feel pride rather than embarrassment. The game when they pulled together and tied Italy was remarkable. For a few brief seconds I thought they had a chance to at least make it out of the first round.

However, after the U.S. was ousted and the quarterfinals and semifinals came and went I still watched the games identifying with first one team and then other. The most beautiful game I saw was between France and Brazil. They both knew their game and were well matched but even though Brazil has that gorgeous fancy footwork, France owned the ball through out most of the game. When the final show down between Italy and France took place I was torn. I kept thinking of a friend who is half Italian and surely rooting for the game but my heart went out to France.

My head kept balancing things like sluggish economy, riots, issues with Iraq, and corruption scandals trying to decide who "deserved" to win. However, in the end all I could think about were the wonderful people I met in Dijon, wandering the countryside around Pont du Guard, and the streets of Paris.

Most of all, I was sad when it was over and done. It was eerily quiet walking through the streets realizing that I was part of a minority who was even aware of the games. I miss the unification that happened around the game while I was in other countries. The last few days I looked at the sports page in the paper and realize with a sigh that once again, for the next four years, there is nothing in it for me.

July 12, 2006

Let's get physical

Just over a month into my fabulous new desk job and I experienced the bane of middle-aged people - nasty low back pain. It came out of nowhere. I swear I was doing nothing wrong. Sadly I suspect that my back muscles had just withered away to nothing after sitting in chairs so much so suddenly. Previously I walked miles a day around the grocery store. Now, here I was confined to a cube or a meeting room hour after hour day after day.

I needed a better introduction into office work - if I could talk to me two months ago here is the advice that would pour forth:

Continue reading "Let's get physical" »

July 02, 2006

Ragweed Myth

I rarely celebrate holidays for a number of reasons, one being "post event let down". While I appreciate special days as markers of time or reminders for reflection, too much joy makes me nervous. However, I did grow up with one "week of celebration" during this season that, when I attended, never failed to put a smile on my face.

Years ago, writing to a friend, I came up with the following description of that holiday:

Continue reading "Ragweed Myth" »

June 21, 2006

cubed life

A month - it's been an entire month since I first checked into my cube and donned the title "waste reduction manager". I have written surprisingly little about my new job, but I assure that is not due to lack of interest. Rather instead, I have been so overwhelmed with the magnitude, breadth, and complicated-ness of it that I haven't found a way to sum up any one aspect into a sweet little blog entry. Don't worry though, I will eventually. The subjects keep rolling around in my head until they polished enough (and small enough) to make good public fodder.

Continue reading "cubed life" »

June 19, 2006

City Compost

I have been doing backyard composting for over a year now, and for the most part, failing. My mistakes started because I really really wanted to compost the wood chips from my guinea pig bin. However, I didn't anticipate the drying effect this would have on my compost. Then, one lazy day, really ruining the pile, I threw in the newspaper from her cage as well. That created a layer halfway down that was probably on its way to fossilizing.

When I peeked in the bin today and saw a fuzzy-moldy-bug-crawling pile of vegetable goo, I knew it was time to take action.

Using my super powers, I biked over to the hardware store and picked up a pitchfork, two air filters for the house, a large flowerpot, three pounds of potting soil and four light bulbs. Only the pitchfork is integral to this story but I wanted to brag about carrying all the rest of that stuff home on my bicycle.

Facing the wild and wiley compost pile with pitchfork in hand, I felt my country roots swell within and suddenly knew exactly how to approach the problem. Tipping the bin over on its side, I had previously unheard of access to the lower (and troublesome) layer of my unfruitful pile. Using my brand-new-but-already-beloved pitchfork, I was able to stab through the newspaper, turn the pile, (integrating the too wet with the too dry) and grab out the bits of surprisingly dry newspapers that were obstructing the decomposing process.

Now I just have to keep adding nitrogen, in the form of grass clippings or a less popular (but more readily available), liquid substance, until those damn chips turn back into the dirt they came from.

June 16, 2006

driving crazy

Although I dread owning a car, I jump at the chance to keep my driving skills current. So I was thrilled last night when a friend requested my services to bring his wife's car home. He was working late, so the roads were quiet when we started.

He picked me up and we headed downtown where we hopped on a highway I did not know existed. This was the beginning of entering the warped "car zone". The car we were picking up was in one inner-ring suburb, west of the city and we were taking it to another inner-ring suburb located north of the city.

We got to the car and then with very little idea of where we were going (but a cell phone in my pocket in case of emergencies) I followed him from one suburb I've never been to another one just as strange.

Zooming behind the little yellow bug, driving a grand old boat, I entered an alternate Minneapolis that was previously unknown. We couldn't have driven for more than fifteen or twenty minutes but we were hopping highways so fast my head was spinning - 394 to 94 to 694 to 57 to 63 to 42 - I lost count. It was all cement around me, roads, roads, and more roads. I vaguely recall obnoxious large signs by the sides of the roads. I must have passed trees and plants but they were all so far away they never reached my radar. All the highways were at least three lanes wide (on each side), sometimes more.

The comfort that my friend knew exactly where he was going made me realize what a large aspect of the city I do not know. The highways, the suburbs, I can't tell them apart and they all blur. However, from the distant the city looses its distinctness as well. When you just drive around it each day the crime statistics and the scare stories can stand out more than any positive news that trickles out.

It once again made me reflect on how much I loathed Dayton (Ohio), where I owned a car and lived in the suburbs. I wonder if anyone who moves to the suburbs directly really ever gets comfortable and enjoys the city they live around.

June 10, 2006

Futbol Fanatic

You've probably already heard, but Germany won - 4 to 2 against Costa Rica. It was a loose game and from the first goal (which happened all too quickly) I suspected Germany would come out on top. It wasn't just that they had the home field advantage; the Ticos were playing poorly, perhaps shaken by the fact that no home team has ever lost out in the first round of the World Cup. Despite my past differences with Costa Rica, I was rooting for them, recalling with nostalgia the insane Ticos running through the streets, foaming beer and champagne bottles in hand, after winning against us in the last World Cup.

Ecuador won against Poland as well today, but I didn't find that game as interesting.

Half a year ago I wrote a humorous entry on how to appear worldly when you haven't traveled for an embarrassing amount of time. Well now that I have my butt planted more firmly than ever in Minneapolis, I found yet another item to add to the list:

    • Watch Soccer and follow the World Cup fanatically:

      I have never been much of a sports watcher, always preferring storylines with words, however I cannot resist the international draw of the World Cup. Soccer viewing is like watching dance and theater, with a lot of really cute (fit) guys of all sizes and colors in shorts running around. The steals, the falls, the goals, the blocks, are all there on the big screen and done so gracefully.
      My roommate bet that I won't watch even a quarter of the games (thanks to the miracle of DVR I am recording them all for at least a day) and he may be right. After all, it is spring. The daylight lasts until ten and my social life seems to be more active than a beehive. Yet, watching the games (or at least parts of them) and learning about the players and the countries, has been irresistible so far.

  • June 05, 2006

    Cleaning Spring

    Feeling cranky today, for no particular reason, I started cleaning fanatically. I find that when I feel wrong the best thing to do is make things "right" (aka - clean).

    This has many purposes.

    1. It keeps me busy so that I don't interact with other people and make them cranky too.
    2. I wear myself out.
    3. I can process emotions well - it keeps my body focused so that my mind can wander where it needs too.
    4. It turns a negative feeling into a positive act.
    5. I regain control of my life - or at least this one aspect in it.
    6. There is just something so satisfying at feeling both tired and having something to prove for all the effort.

    So after it was all said in done and I stood under the shower washing the dust off myself, the rest of the city got a shower too. There is no better end to a hot humid cranky evening than a thunder storm.

    May 24, 2006

    Scooter Girl Musings

    If it weren't for my memories of India - riding around behind my beloved host sister - I would never have gotten a scooter. I loved the wind in my hair, the fact that we never went super fast, the independence of it combined with the mobility. We would weave in between cars and Diya would put down her feet and walk the scooter if she had to in order to get forward between those tight spaces.

    Now that I have one of my own, my appreciation is even greater, but I am just as happy to leave the crowded chaos of Bangalore behind as I learn to drive. In the U.S. cars stay in their lanes and this is fine by me. Even after riding a bicycle for more years than I can count, scooter maneuvering is a steep and costly learning curve.

    Continue reading "Scooter Girl Musings" »

    May 11, 2006

    Living Green

    Last week there was an event where vendors and service providers get together to brag about how green their products and processes are. As the recycler and a sponsor for the event we had our first post-event meeting today I fell in love our mission all over again - realizing how radical it is.

    Continue reading "Living Green" »

    April 23, 2006

    free be

    Two weeks ago I saw Ray Davies (of the Kinks) for free - won two tickets via email. Then tonight I was blessed with the chance to volunteer to see Ani DiFranco at the Cedar Cultural Center - a cozy venue that holds less than five hundred folks total.

    Both these musicians have been playing for decades, Ray twice as long as Ani, and both brought such love and joy to their sets that I was amazed and inspired. Although Ani is still young enough to be considered beautiful, those days are numbered, as evidenced by Ray, who is old enough to easily be called "a dirty old man". Yet, on stage, none of this matters. The only important thing is their joy at being able to play the guitar and sing on stage in front of people who really appreciate it. New material is not necessary but is enjoyed. Their fan base is so huge that often price weeds out the dedicated from the obsessive.

    When I was young I thought youth was all important. Newness mattered more than reputation and knowledge. However, after seeing weathered musicians perform, I no longer prescribe to that ideology. The fact is, age separates out those stars who enjoy music for the sake of stardom and those who accept stardom as the cost of being able to pursue their true love - music.

    I only hope my true love will be as sustaining, inspiring, and rejuvenating.

    April 18, 2006

    Airy April

    Half-way through the month - time flies during the spring before the flies waken. The long days are condusive to bike riding, hiking, Magnolia parties, late-afternoon-beer with friends and family... I am afraid there hasn't been much writing. The lists of thoughts needing documentation, documents needing editing, and edited pieces needing more editing grows and grows.

    The internet seems cramped compared to the colorful sunsets and cloud patterns that spread across the sky. The computer seems limiting, unable to contain the joy that seeps like green onto trees, starting out as a gradual halo and spreading from branch to branch. The screen lacks the color and depth found in a fresh flower bravely popping out of its bud.

    However, tonight the clouds swirled and darkened the sky early. Spring can be both mild and violent. Tonight electricity speckles the sky with intermittent light and charges the air with promises of energy. It reminded me to connect with the electric world (disconnected from the wall of course) and see what the electrons on my computer has to say. So it goes.

    March 28, 2006


    I saw V for Vendetta yesterday and was amused. The arguments against it stand but nonetheless I thought it an enjoyable film. Chandrasutra sums it up much better than I have the time or energy to do. Neither of us have read the book but that won't last.

    March 22, 2006

    Foggy War

    It is finally in the headlines today - Bush has no intention of pulling out of Iraq before 2009 and since he isn't running for reelection, he doesn't care what we think about it (doesn't mind "spending political capital"). I am not surprised but only because I recently saw the movie "Why we Fight" - which points out we are currently building eight military bases in Iraq.

    That was one of the high points of "Why we fight".

    Continue reading "Foggy War" »

    March 17, 2006


    Surely I am not the only one who slept through civics class? Not long ago I attended my first local caucus and am still reeling from it. This is what democracy was based in? No wonder George Washington loathed the party system. No wonder our parties are so whack.

    Continue reading "Democracy" »

    March 12, 2006


    There is nothing like escaping from fact.

    Continue reading "fiction" »

    February 16, 2006

    location location location

    I am in the closet again - sitting cross-legged, one knee propped on a stack of cds - not the most comfortable position to type. My computer is on box full of old files, right next to my stereo. No matter what I do, somehow I keep finding myself back here. I have an excellent typing table, which I can adjust to the desired height and an aerobic ball to sit on for proper posture. Or I can stay low, using a portable step stool to get in a more spacious location. Then there is the big comfy chair in the corner; where I knit and sit under artificial light - I have a laptop I can take it anywhere! However, for some reason I keep finding myself hiding away in the cramped closet: typing or reading uncomfortably.

    I don't know why I return here - probably because it is where I charge my laptop (my wires and cords kept safe from Mani's eager teeth) and inertia prevents me from moving it out (thought my battery lasts nearly two hours and I am rarely online for that long). Perhaps it is because all other flat surfaces (such as the table and stool) tend to accumulate stuff that would need clearing. Maybe I like quick access to my stereo and CDs or maybe I just feel safe and cozy in small spaces. Regardless, I can't seem to escape the closet. Perhaps I should arrange it more comfortably.

    February 11, 2006

    Mpls Geek in St Paul

    When it comes to libraries, I am a geek and have never denied it. I'll never forget my joy at discovering these community book havens in Costa Rica, China, and India. As further proof, a friend and I had a grand time Library hopping in downtown St Paul yesterday. First we went to the elegant James J Hill Business Library, where we stumped the librarian with our request of information on starting a professional association. Nevertheless, he still tried his best to find us some relevant material and I had a great time stumbling through it. Best of all was when I went to find a book and noticed neighboring tomes titled "Economics of the affluent" and "The Handbook of Annotated Forms" which for the longest time I miss-read as the "The handbook of anointed forms".

    After a surprisingly giggly run at the Hill Library, we took off to the Minnesota Historical Society to research Co-op History. No, we are not getting paid for this, just being geeky. It all paid off though in amusement, reading through the journals of workers struggling with the co-op movement when I was still in diapers. After all the financial mismanagement, political struggles, and social issues, it is a miracle that the co-op I work at is still going strong. It gives me hope for future. Perhaps I'll take notes next time and give a better example of the trials and tribulations one little store can go through, still survive and eventually thrive.

    February 09, 2006

    Gender Parity

    As the administration keeps attacking our rights over our bodies, girls are revolting in odd ways in the fight for equality. It seems teenage girls have not only caught up but actually surpassed the boys when it comes to doing drugs. This is happening despite a drop in over all teen drug use. Specifically, girls have been popping pills more than boys for a awhile but only recently caught up in the alcohol, and smoking (cigarettes and marijauna) departments. Despite the leveling of the playing field when it comes to doing stupid or exploratory things, experts say that while men tend to imbibe these substances for the adrelalin rush, women do it to escape. However, this theory was stated without a source and I question unnamed experts who don't site studies where they gained their expertise.

    Granted, I know being a girl is stressful: they are supposed to be pretty and smart (but not too smart or the boys won't like you), skinny without an eating disorder, confident (but not too confident or people's envy will turn to hate) and while being all this, they are supposed to be discovering their hopes and dreams, what career will be most fulfilling, etc. However, although I have no personal experience, being a boy isn't all that either - they have that whole machismo thing, not being able to express emotions, confusion about their place in the world since the feminist revolution (I am not dissing feminism, mearly saying that many men still haven't come to terms and figured out how to deal with it yet). And once again with men, they want to be smart, but not geeky, handsome without appearing to actually care for their looks (or take care of themselves), and the contradictions go on.

    Living with two guys I learn daily about the differences and similarities between the sexes. Henry Rollins, in the latest issue of Bust explemplifies this in how he responds to the threats against Roe v. Wade:

    "If I was a woman and you told me I couldn't have an abortion, they would need a construction team to get my foot out of your ass."

    Although I know many men who would never phrase their opinion that way, I don't know any, woman who would. Is there a way to respect and acknowledge gender differences without reinforcing gender stereotypes? The same article states, once again without citing a study, that adolescent girls more likely to become addicted to drugs than boys. In the world I grew up in, the reverse was true.

    Sadly the study had no hard evidence as to why more girls are trying drugs (though one expert was upset at our President's plans to scale back funds for prevention). Nor was it able to elaborate on the connection between depression, adolescents, and drug abuse.

    However, in other news, a health study highlighted in yesterday's paper was done soley on women and then they extrapolated that men's bodies probably react the same. I thought the aspirin hullabaloo taught us that women and men metabolize things differently - when will they ever learn?

    January 31, 2006


    At least in my life, and probably the lives of others, meditation seems to be the Buddhist equivalent to sex. I notice myself talking and thinking about it a lot more than actually doing it.

    January 19, 2006

    The Waiting Game

    Standing at the back, listening to the Wailin' Jennys, three ordinary looking women with extraordinary voices, I suddenly stopped. Granted I do that all the time – when I meditate, during my walk to work – today when I was biking home and absorbing the weak light emanating from the gray skies. However, just like Jack Kornfield promised, sometimes when we stop bits of wisdom poke through without us even trying. Not always, which is why we need to meditate, bike, and go to concerts – the more opportunity has a chance to knock, the more frequently it will.

    During this pause I realized that this is IT. I have been in the “in-between-space? for a year and a half now. Life doesn’t start when I leave the country, it doesn’t wait until I live with my family and definitely not when I meet “Mr. right?. Life is being with right now, whether it is a Mr., a friend, a concert, or a job. This is tough to comprehend as a goal-oriented person in a goal-oriented culture with goal-oriented friends and family.

    Life is going to awesome concerts for free because I volunteer, it is getting a bitchin’ personal tour of the Capital and learning a bit more Minnesota History (and politics), a sweet bike ride home on a warm gray day. Life is sharing a movie with two girlfriends and chuckling about naked-cowboys with wicked grins over free margaritas afterwards. It is going to the same job for the 350th time. It is finishing one book and starting another, trying to share the book, an awesome ginger jam, or a personal problem with friends. It is getting over old-loves and wondering about future ones. This is life. It will be the same whether I am in India, England or the Czech Republic.

    Life is also feeling three steps behind all the time. As I pointed out earlier, it is Dukkha, the feeling of being out of place, of always missing a note or being slightly out of tune. It is the hopes and dreams that when I leave this planet I will leave the world a better place – perhaps I won’t get as much done as Eleanor Roosevelt did but if I am a happier person in the meantime I will be fine with this. Sigh… even after all the places I have been, all the adventures I have. None is ever more difficult than the present.

    January 16, 2006

    To Dream of Equality

    Today is Martin Luther King Day. As someone pointed out, he is the only American to have his own day - the presidents all have to share one now. Yet, I feel it is good counterbalance for celebrating Columbus day.

    So how does one celebrate? I just listened to his "I have a dream" speech, possibly for the first time. Frequently I hear snippets about how communist MLK was, or the power of his non-violent message. I catch quotes and references that make think I should research him more. As of yet, I haven't found the time.

    So, since I can't write much about him. Instead let me confess, or reveal my racial history - the way race has affected me growing up.

    Continue reading "To Dream of Equality" »

    January 08, 2006

    an extraordinary time

    Thanks to The Daily Show I was introduced to the books of Doris Kearns Goodwin, a delightful historian. Reading No Ordinary Time about Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt during World War II has given me insight not just into American history but also into the psych of my grandparents. This tale takes place when my antecedents were around my age. The author points out that when Roosevelt died, he had been in office for thirteen years - the youth who voted him into office his last term were nine when he was first elected. One citizen recalls thinking the world was going to end when he died because she had never known another U.S. president. A friend pointed out that people who just came of voting age (21 at that time) when he was first elected, were in their mid-thirties by his last election; a totally different demographic.

    Every time the book brings up the war, various strategies and battles, I keep thinking of my grandfather and his amazing memory. He was there. I wish I could speak to him about that more. I miss him. He would also give me perspective on all the other issues; the advancement of Eleanor into the hearts and minds of the people; the critics of the president (and yes, despite being re-elected four times, he still had critics). However, without my grandfather, Kearns Goodwin does a decent job. She humanizes the president; revealing his strengths and showing both his weaknesses (a desire to be loved by all, duplicitousness, health problems and acute denial of said health problems) and those of his most amazing wife (more insecurity, seriousness, and sensitivity that made it difficult for her to joke and have fun). All in all, a fascinating read about an extraordinary time.

    December 23, 2005

    Merry Yule Tide

    Ahh, the sweet holiday season: when people frantically rush about and purchase gifts calculatingly or generously. This year, like most, I am an amused bystander to the Christmas tradition. No matter how many people tell me it is no longer a secular holiday, I just can't get excited. Purchasing or making presents for everyone I care about is just too overwhelming. This probably stemmed from a few painful childhood memories regarding learning how to give and receive. That combined with a family that only celebrated the holiday intermittently, I am all too happy to watch others participate while maintaining my equanimity and distance. We celebrated Channukah a bit more frequently but since it is a minor jewish holiday, usually I just call my grandmother.

    Continue reading "Merry Yule Tide" »

    November 23, 2005


    I had a creepy single moment the other day.

    Most of the time I really enjoy the freedom of being alone. However, sitting down in a movie house to see a chick flick, two young teenagers in the same row gave me a look reminding me how our society views people not in a group.

    I wanted to explain that I do have friends, that I didn't have to see this film alone; that I wanted to. However, explaining all that would make me seem even creepier so I let the feeling go and sat back to enjoy the movie (which was about two people who were obviously destined not to be alone).

    If a girl likes her alone time in public, there is no getting away from the occasional creep feeling - I imagine it is infinitely worse for a guy.

    Our whole lives seemed programmed towards being with other people. Even at home we are hanging out with our friends on TV, listening to our favorite musicians or reading what other people wrote. We are supposed to grow up with our families, go to college, meet other students and find our mate, get married, have kids, go out with friends... If you aren't going out as a couple you are going out in a group.

    Yet is this a bad conundrum? The same feeling those teenagers gave me could preserve them from predatory people who really are creeps.

    Nevertheless, people who are alone are pitied - the Norwegian bachelor farmer and the old spinster auntie. They end up abandoned at the nursing home depending on the church, strangers, or nieces and nephews to visit.

    Perhaps that is too harsh; remember Pippi Longstockings? What about witches and midwives? Remember that favorite uncle who just "never could settle down"? I aim to create a new stereotype, instead of being the crazy old cat lady, I aspire to be the insane guinea pig gal - with the little critters running rampant in my house. Instead of dour, I'll be giggly, always chuckling about the infinite nature of the universe and inside jokes that no one else could possibly understand.

    July 24, 2004

    How to have an enjoyable India excursion

    Sorry, I am still not done talking about India (and there are no guarentees that I ever will be). Many friends and acquaintances have complained about the sub-continent and swear it is awful. I have heard that being there is like having a hundred monkeys pounding on the inside of your skull, one person described it as "organized chaos" (which I consider a compliment), other people comment on the massive amounts of injustice that goes on constantly towards women, poor people, white people, powerless people, children, and all other people who can possibly be taken advantage of in some way. I won't deny that this stuff happens or go on at length about how it happens everywhere; we are just used to ignoring it in our own countries. Instead I simply want to help other people understand or ignore these things in India, therefore helping them have as marvelous a time as I did. John and Paul, fellow Friends World bloggers wrote their ten and eleven highlights of the country, but here is a list helping fellow travelors create their own top ten (or more more) list

    Continue reading "How to have an enjoyable India excursion" »

    May 18, 2004


    Just when I think I have seen it all, life throws a spin; Sonia Gandhi rejected the offer to become India's latest Prime Minister. Perhaps there really are altruistic politicians out there, who just want the best for their country and are not swayed by promises of power. According the New York Times, Ms Gandhi is just following her "inner voice." She also may be considering the feeling so her children who fear another assassination or the threats of the former ruling party to boycott her leadership. By declining to lead the country officially, Gandhi might be making her unofficial leadership stronger. The Hindu quotes Jairam Ramesh, "A long line of renunciates have dotted India right from the days of Gautama Buddha to Mahatma Gandhi; and, Sonia Gandhi has now joined this pantheon."

    Ms Gandhi is not related to the famous Gandhiji, nor was her husband, Rajiv. Rather they are descendents of Nehru, India's first Prime Minister. Sonia Gandhi fell in love with young Rajiv when the were both attending school in Cambridge in the '60s. Neither of them desired or anticipated entrance into the political life, Rajiv's older brother Sanjay was being combed for that position. However when Sanjay died in a plane wreck, the future of the family and its political party fell on the younger brother's shoulders and like a good son, he rose to his duty and continued to do so after his mother, Prime Minister at the time, was assassinated in 1984. Like mother, like son, Rajiv was assassinated seven years after his mother, while he too was Prime Minister. It took years of solitude and pleading by the Congress Party before his widow came out of hiding. She claims she only did it for the good of her adopted country, to help remove the Hindu fundamentalists from power.

    Looking at Ms. Gandhi's approach to politics and I can't help but think about another woman who entered the political arena first through marriage, then through elections. I doubt Hillary Clinton will become a renunciate any time soon (though it seems that Al Gore has) and I don't blame her. This is not India; we do not have a history of valuing those who reject the cloak of power. However, I find it interesting that India, with such a reputation for misogyny, does not blink at the thought of women politicians or a woman Prime Minister.

    May 13, 2004

    cultural adjustments

    I am thoroughly back in the U.S., though India still haunts my dreams. More disconcerting is the way it haunts my habit patterns. I get a slight thrill from brushing my teeth with tap water (and it feels weird not to be paranoid about accidentally drinking water in the shower) and I still don't feel comfortable eating uncooked green vegetables. I keep thinking that it will be easy to get clothes made, altered, or mended. And life with out cheap trains, auto-rickshaws, and restaurant food (never mind beer!) is a difficult adjustment. It is always a surprise to have hot water available with out having to switch on the hot water heater a half hour in advance and I am still not used to outlets not having switches on them.

    Human relations are other strange cultural differences I keep pondering. I know that many people are frustrated with the way India treats its women (worse than cows) but somehow I never saw this side of the country. I always found people to be friendly and polite. While there were a few whistles or comments, I am so adept at ignoring them I rarely noticed without some one else's commentary. Despite my obliviousness, I still felt that in India I possessed a rock star quality. People were happy to speak with me and I always felt beautiful. Here I am so ordinary it seems only the lonely and the freaks see me. Not that I am crying for attention, so far I enjoy being anonymous. It is just interesting to go from being a novelty to a nobody. However, I worry I will catch the habit and not only judge myself as a nobody but start seeing other people that way too. While I know that dangerous people exist, so it is wise to be cautious, I also know that you can make friends in the strangest places.

    March 28, 2004


    I have been busy! Thursday I finally visited Norbulingka. Named after the Dalai Lama's summer palace in Lhasa, Norbulingka in India is every bit as beautiful as the one in Lhasa (full of beautiful plants, fountains, and ponds) but created specifically for keeping Tibetan arts alive. People learn metal working, statue making, appliqué, wood working, carpentry, and tailoring. The man on the right is creating a thangka, a cloth religious painting. He has been working at Norbulingka for twelve years.

    Friday I finally made it to the Library, a thirty minute walk down the mountain (which means a forty-five minute walk up the mountain to get back home) and as if that wasn't enough excercise my friends and I decided to walk another thirty minutes down to Lower Dharamsala to go shopping a bit.

    The library was awesome but sadly I will not be here long enough to take advantage of its philosophy and language classes. There is simply too much to do and learn here. Though small it still had several magazines and books pertaining to my study of Tibetan culture so I shall have to go back a few times, getting lots and lots of excercise...

    March 24, 2004


    We have already established that my taste in music is not to be trusted (I blame my father for this but that is another story), however I still must say that I love traditional Tibetan music. I still haven't gotten a handle on all their intstruments but there are banjo/guitar liked stringed ones, a viola/bass guitar one that I am not so crazy about, mandolins, and a lot of it is done with a quirky emphasis on the second beat which makes it surprisingly similar to reggae.

    As much as I love the traditional stuff, I am trying to trace the evolution of culture so I set out to figure out how this delightful music has changed in the past fifty years. What I have discovered so far is surprisingly predictable. It has been electricfied, some people have started mixing it into techno-dance numbers, others pick up the pace or add distortion to make it more grungy or rock-like, while others emphasize the twang in a way that, due to my revulsion to U.S. country music, turns my stomach a bit.

    However, despite the predictability of this evolution, the results are still unique - Tibetan rock does not sound like the rock that grew out of the U.S., which doesn't sound like some of my favorite rock bands from other countries. Thinking about this, it occurred to me that music is perhaps one of the few areas where blending is good, especially as long as there remains interest in the old areas. I suspect food is similar but a little bit more difficult to import and export. It seems that even as we complain that cultures all over the world are dying to homogenization resulting from globalization music is just getting more diverse and more interesting. Also, as the blending of cultures creates new musical genres, it also creates a wider audience for the traditional styles. Most people's music collections only grow as they get older. Discovering positive aspects to the way we are evolving as humans is always a joy.

    March 23, 2004

    Red China in Tibet

    I saw Kundun (the story of the Dalai Lama) for the second time in five years last night. It almost made me cry. My Tibetan friend, who arrived her from Amdo about ten years ago did cry. He has seen the movie at least five times.

    There are no easy answers or summaries to this conflict, no time line, no idea how or when it is going to end. And of course due to time and language limitations I could only get the briefest view of how life is in Tibet today, under the Chinese.

    Continue reading "Red China in Tibet" »

    March 17, 2004


    Continue reading "Ganesha" »

    March 07, 2004

    Dancing the night away

    Continue reading "Dancing the night away" »

    March 05, 2004

    Land of Eternal Sunshine

    Continue reading "Land of Eternal Sunshine" »

    March 02, 2004


    Continue reading "Indulge" »

    February 24, 2004

    Loving Losar

    Have any of you heard complaints about how there is no "rite of passage" for young folks in the U.S. these days? Sure we graduate from high school and if we are lucky maybe even from college, and there is always our first paycheck, but none of those are a solid, confidence boosters. In many cultures when a person is ready to enter adulthood he or she faces a test that may be more difficult than most of what an adult actually faces, thus after passing, they know themselves better and feel able to deal with what ever lies ahead, with out resorting to drugs or other escape measures.

    Continue reading "Loving Losar" »

    February 02, 2004

    Smells Like Cold

    Continue reading "Smells Like Cold" »

    January 25, 2004

    clubbing Indians

    I went to a club last night.
    It was good to stay out late and dance, shaking off the last vestiges of my cold.
    Furthermore, none of my companions got embarrassingly drunk and the guest we invited seemed to have a good time.
    Packed in like sardines, moving to fast techno accompanied by polyrhythmic drums, I knew I wasn't in Kansas. Most of the faces around me were darker than mine but otherwise it was a typical pleasant experience - only a few lecherous men singled me out. Moving to the music enabled me to lose myself, my whiteness, in a way that is safe and rare.

    Continue reading "clubbing Indians" »

    January 23, 2004

    Let's talk about sex

    Continue reading "Let's talk about sex" »

    January 16, 2004

    Dressing Up

    There are so many holidays here it makes my head spin. Yesterday was the Hindu new year and Tuesday was an inpromptu holiday when a former cheif minister died. He was quite popular, especially with the lower classes, thus our teachers were worried for our safety. Police were out in mass, just in case the grief stricken decided to riot.

    As instructed we stayed in all day. Diya, my host sister came over bringing goodies to play dress up with. It was Ann's first Sari, my second. We barely convinced John to play along and he will surely clobber me when he realizes I've posted this picture. I'll probably never get him into a lungi and kurta again.

    January 14, 2004


    Continue reading "marriage!" »

    January 12, 2004


    The longer I am here the more I enjoy it. My friend Edurne,who studied at the SAC a few years ago, warned me about this effect. It takes awhile to get settled in. I got so settled in the my host family all but legally adopted me. They took me to two weddings and did countless other things to make me feel part of the family. Diya, the eldest sister, is an artist and did Mehndi on my hands in preparation for the first wedding. This is the ancient art of henna drawing on skin. The bride gets done up to her elbows. Her feet and ankles, sometimes up to her knees, are also decorated. My left hand has the traditional pattern; the center shape is of a mango leaf. My right hand is as original as can be though, all Diya's own creation.

    Posted by miriam holsinger on 1/12/04; 1:25:38 PM
    Bangalore, India

    January 02, 2004

    Midnight Coffee Run

    Just when you think you know people!
    Last night I was invited with my host sisters to go for a midnight coffee run. It was suppose to be an eleven o clock coffee run but somehow things took more time than anticipated. So here I was squooshed in a car the size of a geo metro with six Indians - at least I think they were all Indian. One may be a NRI (Non Resident Indian) as he had a funny accent and talked a bit about Hong Kong or some place in that vicinity.

    We fit in somehow, us four girls in the back and three boys in the front. The coffee run turned into an ice cream run, we went to Cornerhouse where my hosts insisted I order something called "Death by Chocolate." If chocolate could kill this would be its atom bomb.

    Luckily everyone helped me eat it. And this is another funny thing - these guys were all going against every Indian precept I had learned. They were going out late (my host sisters were quite surprised their dad let them go out like this on the spur of the moment), only one boy was known in common to all, and despite our relative strangeness we all swapped spit by sharing ice cream and spoons. It wasn't anything serious but previously I learned how to drink out of a bottle with out using my mouth because I had heard of the Indian taboo against possibilities of back wash and germs. Yet all this goes out the window. And of course everybody was dressed in jeans or slacks and shirts. We had fun - they teased each other a lot, it seems one boy had a desperate crush on a girl not there that everyone knew and had a low opinion of. He was told he would be destined to die unmarried and a virgin. It was fun to hang out with the gang and ice cream at midnight is always a deliciously naughty idea.

    Posted by miriam holsinger on 1/2/04; 6:39:53 PM
    Bangalore, India

    January 01, 2004

    Happy New Year

    Out with the old, in with the new.

    New Years was a bang, the best in years. Don't ask why, I can only imagine it had something to do with friends. Being such an arbitrary day I don't usually celebrate it with gusto. After all, in my heritage we also have Yom Kippur, the Jewish new year (celebrated a few months ago) and Losar, the Tibetan new year (to be celebrated in February). So who is to say when a year ends and begins?

    This year it was just a good excuse to dance, drink too much caffeine, and have a blast. I hope every body else had a wonderful time too. In India they did - I don't think I have ever seen so many smiles on the streets. I could do with out the fire crackers though.

    Posted by miriam holsinger on 1/1/04; 6:29:42 PM
    Bangalore India