Monday, December 18, 2006

Handcrafted holiday gifts....they're fair trade!

Last week I volunteered ("interned") for the Cultural Survival Winter Bazaar. Cultural Survival is a non-profit organization that works to promote the rights, voices and visions of indigenous peoples around the world. They have many bazaars throughout the year two of which are held in Boston and Cambridge around the holiday season. I found out about these bazaars two years ago from my friend Bekka and have done a lot of my holiday shopping there since then. It is a really awesome way to get original holiday gifts while supporting a very worthy cause and you get to chat with interesting people. The only problem is that since they are fair trade the prices are usually out of my reach, and I end up spending way more than I can afford to spend.

This year my roommate let me know that Cultural Survival recruits interns to volunteer at the bazaars and offers them 40% off the merchandise. So on Sunday, December 10th, I boarded a bus at 10:30 am and headed to Hynes Convention center to work from 10:45 to 7 pm and earn my 40% discount. Unfortunately I decided it was a good idea to get very drunk the night before...oops.

I woke up at 5 am asleep on a couch wearing jeans, an underwire bra and a belt. I figured out where I was, my friend Natalie's apartment, took off the bra and belt and fell back asleep. I woke up again at a normal hour and after being poked fun at and ingesting pain killers and water, I took off....Wait, where are my keys? We searched in vain for a while and I was forced to accept that I had left them at the party (why had I even brought them to the party when I wasn't driving?). So my friend Amy drove me to the hosts house (I don't actually know her), I got my keys, and she drove me back to Natalie's apartment. I had not allowed enough time for this excursion, so, I raced to my apartment, threw together a bag of stuff and ran to the bus stop. I got to the Bazaar just in time....

Hmmm....I probably needed to shower, my hair is kinda dirty, I hope it's not smelly....Wait, did I brush my teeth?...oops, at least I didn't throw up last night. Did I put on deodorant?...Oh shit! Oh my God, I totally forgot, Paco peed on my jeans last night!!!

Yup, that's right, I worked for over eight hours with dirty hair, unbrushed teeth, no deodorant, and jeans with Chihuahua pee on them! It's a good thing I was mainly surrounded by hippies.

I performed a few different tasks for the Bazaar. I handed out fliers and kept track of the number of patrons, I assisted people in raffle entry, I held people's shopping bags when they went to the restroom, I checked people's receipts and tallied how they heard about the Bazaar, but surprisingly enough the most enjoyable job was fliering outside.
The flier

When the beautiful woman with the dreadlocks asked me if I would go outside and hand out fliers to the pedestrians I was a little nervous and wanted to explain to her that based on past experience I knew this would not be the best job for me. But I said "okay", and another girl and I headed out to work the streets together.* At first, I was just really there to keep Emily company, we chatted about school and work and Boston and she made her pitch to passers by and we both held our hands out. She told me it was okay that I wasn't saying anything and that it would get easier once I "found my line"- I highly doubted this. But then, something amazing happened, I found my line: "Handcrafted holiday gifts....they're fair trade!"

I did a good job if I say so myself. I was very upbeat and cheery and got a lot of people to take the little flier and I'd like to believe I convinced at least a handful of people to go to the Bazaar. Emily even commented about how I was doing better than her by the end. When Emily suggested we head back I was kind of sad because I was enjoying the work and the company (she was totally interesting, really into consignment clothing and a Second Time Around employee).

Overall, it was a great day. I bought over a hundred dollars in merchandise with a seventy dollar discount. I got to see "Traditional Indian dancing by Hersheta" and I caught some "Traditional Lakota singing and drumming by Tim Swallow, known as Brave Elk- a member of the Teton Lakota band of Crazy Horse". I did good work, I met and talked with interesting and kind people and I even led around a seeing impaired woman and helped her to a cab.

I sent Cultural Survival my resume; I'm hoping they will take me on as a spring intern. If not I'm going to try to find Emily at Second Time around, I feel we should probably be friends.

*I know what you're thinking. Didn't your smelliness scare potential patrons away? No, I had a coat on, I'm thinking in the outdoors you couldn't really tell....I hope....

Friday, December 08, 2006

Welcome to New England. Don't like the weather? Wait 15 minutes.

I encountered this phrase pretty much the day I moved to New England over six years ago (six years? really? wow? I'm only twenty-four, that’s a fourth of my life!). New Englanders love this saying, AND for good reason- it's totally frickin' true!

On Monday I rode my bike into work (by the way, I LOVE commuting via bike!) and it was the coldest day I have encountered thus far- 24 degrees. Since this is my first time bike commuting I am still trying to figure out what conditions are acceptable for riding and what gear I need to wear for what weather. On Monday I discovered that in sub 30 degree weather I need two layers of warm gear on top and on bottom, neck gear that can cover my whole neck and up to my nose, and my snow mittens. I wore my snow gloves and they just didn't cut it, I was a little too cold. I may also need a full-on face mask, but that might only be necessary for sub 20 degree weather- I haven't decided yet.

Then yesterday morning I woke up and looked up, forty-six degrees! What? For some reason I still wore my winter gloves while riding, but half way through my hands got too warm and I took them off and rode with bare hands the rest of the way- and I was fine!

My beautiful friend Bekka, who lives really close to my work, had invited me to sleep over. So I rode in with a backpack full of work clothes for two days. I planned to leave my bike in the indoor racks at work (nice and secure) and walk to and from Bekka's. On my walk to Bekka's last night at 7:45 it was a balmy 50 degrees out (a note to all you southern Californians: 50 degrees at night in Boston in December is waaaaaarrrrmmmm), so I left my hat at work and just wore gloves (I wanted my hair to look nice for Bekka).

Foolish Melanie did not keep the old saying in mind, and this morning when I began my short walk to work I was in for a rude awakening. It was somewhere in the lower 20s (note that it was not really early in the morning or anything, it was after 8:30, the sun had been up for a while) and snowing and windy!!! My poor ears were so cold and painful that it took a good half hour in my warm, warm office for them to defrost and stop hurting me.

Then I made foolish decision number two. I asked my friend Mike (hi Mike, he is a blog regular) if he wanted to do lunch near his work (he works less than two miles away). See, Mike always comes over here when we do lunch; because for some reason it is always on days when I don't have my bike and would thus have to pay $1.25 each way to reach him via the T (he has a monthly pass so it does not cost him any money). It wasn't until after he accepted my invite (I had expected him to decline) that I decided to check the weather. The prediction was grim but doable, windy and snowy until 11 am, but the noon forecast showed no more snowing and didn't mention the wind.

A little after 11:30 (this time was chosen purposefully as it is closer to noon than eleven) I put on all my biking gear and headed downstairs. Things started off a little rough, I left the office and was immediately hit by the bitter cold- had informed me that it was 22 degrees but that it would feel like 5 degrees (keep in mind, since I rode in the day before I am missing some key sub thirty degree elements such as the neck gear). But I said to myself, "it's not too far, I can do this." Then I turned a corner, more wind, and more snow. Then I turned another corner, even more wind and snow. THEN I hit that stretch of Tremont St. that runs a long the Common. Have you ever walked through a part of the common with very few trees on a cold and windy day? It becomes a barren wasteland of high speed wind. I was freezing cold and the wind was making every effort to push little 128 lb me and my light weight road bike in directions that no bike rider wants their bike to move! So after seeing a mental image of the wind pushing me and my bike over and considering what would happen if I ended up with my bike on top of me in the middle of a downtown street, I got off of the street and hopped off of my bike.

The resulting walk back to work was bitter cold and miserable. I let Mike know that I would not be making it for lunch, and he told me to stay warm.

Suffice to say I am making a HUGE sacrifice and leaving work early today so I can take my bike on the T (you are not allowed to bring bikes on the T during "high commuter hours" which start at 4 pm).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

What's the BBC?

Hello loyal readers, I'm back!

First, a note to my regulars:

Sorry I have been gone for so long, my mother was right, I was using myspace instead of "imparting liberal wisdom". Thank you for enjoying my blog enough to bug me to bring it back, makes me feel special.

A note about grad school apps:

I found out they are not due until Jan. 8th. I am currently working on my statement of purpose. But I did a lot of writing at the laundromat last night, and I will be at work for like 4.5 more hours because my downtown engagement does not start until 8 pm and I am too lazy to go home and come back. So, I will do more work then. Claire, I am applying to UCLA, it is the only place I want to go...will you be able to deal with me being so close?

Now, onto the post...I'll restate the title incase you forgot: "What's the BBC?"

The past two Falls have taught me that flag football season is my busy season- it is pretty much the only time of year when I get any action, and I usually get my fill for the rest of the year (the "dry season").

I was just starting to make "A map of my life" part Duex and actually post it on here because unlike last year this one only involves kissing- no sex, and kissing is innocent and can't hurt feelings, right? I thought better, so again, if you want to see it, ask in a comment and I'll send it to ya, err, maybe I'll put a blog e-mail over in that side panel thing, if I can figure that out I'll do it.

So this "season" I made-out with no less than four women. Of those four women, three were actually interested in me, and of the four I was/am actually interested in two. To me this is a lot of people, to the cast of Sex and the City it is probably a small enough number to cause panic, but I am not in my thirties yet (I'm not sure if that actually meant anything).

More general stats about the four women:
  • I did more than making out with one of them
  • One of them slept in my bed....twice
  • I went to three of thier apartments
  • I made out with two of them in of them involved multiple kisses and being locked in a stall
  • I went on one full-on date, which involved me answering my door in a towel (maybe I'll explain that later), being driven to the restaurant, and letting her pay for the meal
  • Two of them played in the Boston Women's Flag Football League
  • Three of them were my age (graduated college in 2004 or at least should have graduated in oh-four, but took an extra year)
  • One is turning thirty next saturday
  • I communicated with all of them via text message
  • So far I have hung out in a datish sort of way four times with three of them

Haha, that last bullet was hard to word, and seriously it is because the lesbian dating scene is really odd, especially when it involves people around my age, I'm twenty-four in case you didn't know. I have been out on actual dates with two women in the past year, one was twenty-six (I think) and one is thirty. So what about the three women around my age? How do you define what I did with them? Well, one of them I just hooked up with, plain and simple...actually, not that simple, I may explain that more fully in a bit. The other two? Well...we "hung out"/ are "hanging out". I'm serious, that is the term everyone throws around. I used this term when trying to describe my love life to Cameron (my ex) and she made fun of me. But really, there is no other way to define it.

Hanging out:

We're not dating because we're not going out on actual dates, not really. We just text each other, and request each other on myspace and send flirty messages and e-mails back and fourth and then every now and then we get a chance to "hang out". Hanging out includes but is not limited to: meeting at a bar to watch a sporting event, meeting at an apartment to watch a sporting event or movie, meeting up at a club, attending a party together, meeting up with friends for a drink, making out in bathrooms and cars.

Rules to keep in mind while hanging out:

It's not really serious, so don't get your hopes up and try not to let her get her hopes up. It is safe to assume that the person you are hanging out with is also hanging out with other people, I mean, hey, you are too, right? Text messaging is a lot like IMing used to be, it's just the way people who are hanging out should communitcate and just because a person text messages you a lot does not mean that she is very interested. If you become uninterested in someone or if someone becomes uninterested in you, all you/ they have to do is sloooow down the texting. You pretty much stop texting them altogether and when they text you, you just send short responses that elicit no return response from them. I'm currently texting and semi-hanging out with girl number four of the season and I think I have figured out the game now. You just have to stay mellow, not too interested but not uninterested, just somewhere in-between, go with the flow.

The hard part of it all is what comes after one of you realizes that you're not really interested. Along the way with all of this "hanging out" you have probably gotten to really like them (whether or not that's in a romantic way) and thier friends. How do you get to a place where you can establish that it is cool that you're not "hanging out" anymore, but that you'd still like to be in thier life, as a friend, because you enjoy spending time with them and thier friends? It must be possible to do that without actually saying it and thus making things awkward. I'm still trying to figure this out with pretty much all of the girls, except for the one I actually hooked up with, I think she may be avoiding me altogether, which I have decided is another story for another day.

So what does the title have to do with anything? What's that you say? You've been reading for a long time now and still don't see what any of this has to do with the BBC? It's a story, a related story. It goes a little something like this:

Text from Girl Number Three: Hey, what are you up to tonight?

Response from Me: Not sure, I've been invited to do a couple of things, I'm still trying to decide which I'm going to. What are you up to? (note that the responder is making an effort to show that she is unavailable for "hanging out" this evening and is making no effort to include the texter in her evening plans)

TG#3: It's my mom's birthday so I am spending time with her, then I think I just want to relax and stay in and watch a movie.

RM: Cool. Oh hey, I found another good lesbian movie, Tipping the Velvet, well it's actually a BBC miniseries but it is rentable, you should check it out. (note again that the responder has not accepted the bait offered by the texter and has made no indication that she may like to ditch her plans in order to join the texter in these new plans)

TG#3: Do you want to watch a movie with me? (Responder's jaw drops when recieving this message. How could she have not picked up on the very well put hints that I would NOT be interested in joining her tonight?)

RM: (I did not have time to respond before the next text came through)

TG#3: What's BBC? (This text plays over and over in the responder's mind. Each time she utters the phrase with more and more wonder and amazement at the question...she fully realizes this makes her a snob)

RM: No, sorry, I already have too many plans tonight. British Broadcasting Coorporation. (note that the responder was careful not to add in, but I'm available....or we should do it some other time....or even maybe some other time.)

TG#3: Ok. (at this point the responder's notes that the texter made no mention of having already known what BBC meant).

.End scene.

My friends and I discussed this, and it was decided there are just some lines, some things, that you  cannot accept unless you are very interested and invested. Not having any knowledge what-so-ever of the BBC, that is just one of my lines. So now it is a catch phrase to be added to "making copies" (making out), and "the drain is clogged" (that guy (person) is hot). Here is how is works:

"Eh, I don't know if it's gonna work out. 'She asked what the BBC was.'" (of course the listener will know that she didn't actually ask what the BBC was but that she revield that she is unaware of or uninterested in something that is vitally important to you, or that you simply expect someone who you would be interested in to be knowledgable of).

It works the other way too, this is an actual quote (I haven't gotten a chance to use it in the above way yet, but you better believe I will as soon as I get a chance):

"Yeah, I'm not sure what happened. We hung out the other night, I thought it was fine, nothing wonderful, but not bad either. But, she has slowed down a lot on the texting and e-mailing. I think 'I must have asked what the BBC was'. I don't know when or how I asked it, but I must have."

That was a really long post! Am I forgiven?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A hug and a kiss and a kick in the pants...

...that is the title of a book my mom read about disciplining children when I was a child.

Anyway, my mom wrote me this e-mail recently:

Hi Melly,
Finally have decided that you need a kick in the pants to get your blog going again - what's with the Katrina one for EVER!
I look there frequently and find it frustrating that you have not done anything new - get up - get past the myspace stuff and write some liberal wisdom!

It's kind of scary how well she knows me. So I'm gonna get on it, just as soon as I get my grad school app out I will be back with liberal wisdom for all.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Happy Mountain Day!

Oh Mount Holyoke we pay thee devotion....

So today is Mountain Day at Mount Holyoke. That means Jo Jo (The College President) decided that today is the last beautiful day of fall. At Mount Holyoke is morning 2,000 women woke up to the sound of bells tolling, then they heard a random girl running up and down the hall excitedly yelping "It's Mountain Day!", some of them were probably still delirious from a long night of reading/ paper writing so they still got out of bed and walked into the bathroom where they finally noticed that all of the mirrors and stalls were covered with exclamations of "It's Mountain Day, GO BACK TO BED!". Most of those 2,000 smiled when the realization hit them and curled back up in their warm bed (many of them hadn't even gotten out of bed), and a portion of them were relieved that their gamble of not doing homework in anticipation of Mountain Day had paid off.

A few hours later the women of Mount Holyoke got up and decided what to do with their beautiful day of freedom from all responsibilities, the options were limitless: climb Mount Holyoke (this is what you're supposed to do on Mountain Day and most people do it at least once), sleep the day way, sun on the green, go to Northampton, go to Amherst, go canoeing on the lake, and the ever popular option of catching up on work.

This morning I woke up, managed to force my sore body to stand upright (after 2 football loses on Sunday and a boxing class on Monday my body is not so happy with me) and I went to the computer. I noticed that my friend Bates, who lives in Hungary had written on my Facebook wall- "Happy Mountain Day". Damn it! When I was in college a morning announcement of "Happy Mountain Day" was always followed with "go back to bed". But since I graduated this is the 3rd time I have had to trudge into work and try to be productive as a beautiful fall day wasted away without me. My inbox is filled with at least 20 e-mails from friends wishing each other a happy mountain day despite the fact that we are at work.

Mount Holyoke is a special place and I miss it and all it's quaint traditions more than ever on days like today. But I am also glad that my inbox is full of messages from fellow alumnae that I am still connected with and that we will always rejoice in the happiness of the students that we may not know by name but still know in our memory (or spirit? I don't know which).

So Happy Mountain Day to you all, Claudia and Jean and I (three of 5 Mount Holyoke Women who are all friends and all work within a quarter mile of each other) are going to get some ice cream to celebrate- you should too!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Happy (?) birthday Katrina

I know people don't really like the pasted article blog updating, but as I've mentioned before I'm really busy but I do listen to news all day. I was listening to Democracy Now's War and Peace Report with Amy Goodman, and I was too shocked by what I heard not to post.

If you would like to hear the segment (it is actually a radio broadcast) click here for those of you who prefer to read I have pasted the transcript, with my own color changes for the things I found the most shocking and disgusting. I have also included some information on how to donate to MoveOn (which isn't discussed in the transcript) to help with on going relief.

AMY GOODMAN: Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The storm was the most powerful and expensive natural disaster to hit the U.S., killing more than 1,500 people in New Orleans alone, displacing some 770,000 residents and destroying over 300,000 homes. The federal government's response to the disaster was widely condemned. Images of the tens of thousands of New Orleans residents piling into the city's Superdome stadium, pleading for food, water and aid, became symbolic of the government's inaction.

In the aftermath of the storm, it became increasingly clear that the effects of Hurricane Katrina were made far worse by government incompetence and neglect. Warnings about the severity of the storm were ignored, and the levees, which were supposed to prevent New Orleans from flooding, were grossly inadequate. And, as investigative reporter Greg Palast reveals in this new Democracy Now! report, there were major holes in the city's evacuation plan

GREG PALAST: Welcome to New Orleans, whose motto is “The City that Care Forgot.” In fact, it's a city that everyone forgot.

GREG PALAST: Our president says he hasnÂ’t forgotten a promise he made here.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I want the people down there to understand that it's going to take a while to recover. This was a huge storm.

GREG PALAST: Well, Mr. President, I think people down here know it was a huge storm. Over half a million of them fled the flood. It's been a full year, and only 170,000, far less than half, have come back, almost none to their own homes.

STEVEN SMITH: Stayed three nights here and one night on the bridge.

GREG PALAST: You were three nights stuck in the flood?

STEVEN SMITH: Right here. Yep.

GREG PALAST: And they weren't looking for you?

STEVEN SMITH: We had helicopters, but they -- nothing didn't pass. At least they passed over us. I'm on a roof, holding my shirt out and saying that we had babies back here.

GREG PALAST: This is Steven Smith. Like 127,000 others in this town, he didn't have a car in which to escape, so he was left in the rising waters. Stranded in the heat on a bridge, he closed the eyes of a man who died of dehydration after giving his grandchildren his last bottle of water.
What kind of evacuation plan would leave 127,000 to sink or swim? It turns out that the Bush administration had contracted out evacuation planning to a corporation, IEM, Innovative Emergency Management. I couldn't locate their qualifications, but I did locate their list of donations to the Republican Party.
We went to Baton Rouge to talk to them.

These are the offices of Innovative Emergency Management. They were the ones that were paid a half-million bucks to come up with an emergency evacuation plan for the city of New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina. One problem is, I can't find the plan. So I'm coming here to ask them about it.

So when I showed up at their office, they would only talk to me from behind a glass wall. By phone.

Did you in fact come up with a plan, because it says it's urgent to come up with a plan? Did you come up -- can you just tell me if you came up with a plan or not?

We can't find your plan -- neither can FEMA -- that you were paid a half-million dollars for, that at least claimed to here. We can't find this plan. And it's kind of a problem. I guess it's kind of hard to evacuate a city, if you can't find the plan itself.

IEM EMPLOYEE: Can we -- she's got a lot of experience in evacuation.

GREG PALAST: Is it more true that maybe it was helpful that she gave a lot of donations to the Republican Party? Maybe that's the experience?



GREG PALAST: So that's when they called in the guards.

IEM SECURITY GUARD: Security has been called. We ask that you please leave the building now.

GREG PALAST: So, quickly, before security gets here, I just want to tell you that this is Innovative Emergency Management, and it's very innovative not to have a plan to manage an emergency.

I decided to look for someone with a little more experience in hurricane evacuation. LSU, Louisiana State University, they're just down the street from IEM. LSU has one hellacious football team. They also have the best team of hurricane experts in the nation. I met with Dr. Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the university's elaborate Center for the Study of Hurricanes. I asked this renowned specialist about the reputation of IEM, prior to their getting the half-million-dollar evacuation exercise contract.

DR. IVOR VAN HEERDEN: I hadn't heard of them prior to this exercise, no.

GREG PALAST: The LSU scientist already had an evacuation model, but IEM and FEMA refused to use it.

DR. IVOR VAN HEERDEN: We had the science. We had really studied this thing. We knew what was going to go wrong. We had an enormous amount of information, right down to mapping where the gas tanks were and pipelines. Science was basically ignored all the way through the process.

GREG PALAST: The LSU professors warned, for example, that the IEM plan simply made no provision for people -- the old, the sick -- who couldn't escape in a car. I asked him the consequences of this oversight.

DR. IVOR VAN HEERDEN: Well, you know, 1,500 of them drowned. That's the bottom line.

GREG PALAST: Then the professor surprised me by saying that giving us this information put his job at risk.

DR. IVOR VAN HEERDEN: I wasn't going to let them -- let those sort of threats shut me down or any of the other sorts of nonsense that went on, because it was so important that we get out what had gone wrong and why.

GREG PALAST: Apparently, the heat from the university originated with a state official, who now works for IEM.

DR. IVOR VAN HEERDEN: We got a phone call from somebody in the state government who actually now works for IEM. But, I don't think that was his plan at the time. And he jumped all over me and said, by criticizing their work, I was putting the whole exercise in jeopardy, and if I did it again, I would be banned.

GREG PALAST: Back in New Orleans, former city councilman, Brod Bagert, a lawyer, standing in the gutted wreckage of his own home, did not think kindly of the concealment of van Heerden's warnings.

BROD BAGERT: Ongoing protection that should have been occurring was done -- it was done negligently. Not only wrong, negligently. And not only negligently, but reckless negligence, the kind of negligence for which an individual would be indicted, prosecuted, tried, convicted, and spend their life in jail. Negligence that killed people, lots of people. Reckless negligence that killed human beings. Old ladies watched the water come up to their nose, over their eyes, and they drowned in houses just like this in this neighborhood, because of reckless negligence thatÂ’s unanswered for.

GREG PALAST: There's an x on this house. It has a five under it. That means that five corpses were pulled out of here, five people who were killed. And they weren't killed by Katrina. They were killed by this, a levee, which was supposed to protect them from the waters of the Mississippi, and it failed. And they never told the five in there that they knew it would fail.

DR. IVOR VAN HEERDEN: FEMA knew at 11:00 on Monday that the levees were breached. At 2:00, they flew over the 17th Street canal and took video of the breach. By midnight on Monday, the White House knew. But none of us knew.

GREG PALAST: Back at LSU, van Heerden's experts warned the Bush administration about levees, long before Katrina hit.

DR. IVOR VAN HEERDEN: I, myself, briefed many, many senior federal officials, including somebody from the White House.

GREG PALAST: Without the warning that the levees had begun to break, evacuations stopped, until it was too late. But those that survived, where were they? This city is still half empty.

AMY GOODMAN: Hurricane Katrina flooded 80% of New Orleans, destroying the city's infrastructure, displacing most of its residents. A year later, only about half of New Orleans population of 450,000 people has returned. Many of those unable to come back are poor and African American. In the ravaged, mostly Black neighborhood of the Lower Ninth Ward, only 1,000 of the 20,000 people who lived there before Katrina have returned. This has drastically altered the demographics of a city that used to be two-thirds Black. Activists and residents have condemned the government's refusal to reopen the city's public housing projects and point out that while tourist areas are being developed, affordable housing is not being built. Many are asking, "Who is New Orleans being rebuilt for?" Here again, investigative reporter Greg Palast, from New Orleans.

GREG PALAST: We drove back to New Orleans to find out what happened to those who tried to return.
What's wrong, now?

DISPLACED NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: They just messing all over us?

GREG PALAST: What are they doing?

DISPLACED NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: Putting you out your own house. Now we ain't got nowhere to go. You called them back, saying we could come back home. Then when we get there, they got the police coming in there putting us out and others. They're harassing us. Oh no, this is not right. I'm basically between here and Texas, coming in -- you know, coming to see if I could get my house back. And I'm -- you know, but I'm in Texas, but I'm coming down here to see about my house. But they say they ain't letting nobody in and all this. But where we going to go at, though? Where's we going to go at?

GREG PALAST: What happened?

PATRICIA THOMAS: And then they told us to come back.

GREG PALAST: What happens tonight? Where are you going to go tonight?

DISPLACED NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: That's what I want to know, mister. I don't know where I'm going, me and my kids.

GREG PALAST: Her friend, Patricia Thomas, was also locked out of her home in the Lafitte housing project. The next day, we helped her break into her apartment, barred by metal plates.
The city has sealed up almost all public housing. But these apartments were never touched by water. It was nearly perfect.
And this, it's been a year.

PATRICIA THOMAS: It's been a year, and my house looking good like that.

GREG PALAST: I think you and I together, just the two of us, could put your place back together in a week.


GREG PALAST: No problem.

PATRICIA THOMAS: No problem at all.

GREG PALAST: But they won't let her in. And this has nothing to do with Katrina.

PATRICIA THOMAS: Katrina didn't do this. Man did this. Katrina didn't come in my house and put these gates up on my windows and things. Katrina didn't have me walking out here looking for somewhere to stay. Man did this. This was manmade.

GREG PALAST: This is not what we think of as public housing in America. These places are gorgeous, two- and three-story townhouses with iron porticos. Why would the city spend thousands of dollars per unit to armor these places, kick out the tenants? Well, the answer may be over here. This is the downtown business district. We are halfway between there and the tony French Quarter. In other words, this is some very expensive real estate. For years, the city and speculators have been trying to get the tenants out of these apartments. Katrina, the perfect storm, was the perfect excuse. So what kind of New Orleans do they want?

GREG PALAST: This is the new New Orleans, stripped down, downsized, not too Black, just right for tourists. You could call it Six Flags over Louisiana.
But across the Mississippi, far from the Quarter, not everyone is thrilled with this brave new New Orleans of tourists and Mardi Gras.

MALIK RAHIM: It's two cities. You know? There's the city for the white and the rich. And there's another city for the poor and Blacks. You know, the city that's for the white and rich has recovered. They had a Jazz Fest. They had a Mardi Gras. They're going to have the Saints playing for those who have recovered. But for those who haven't recovered, there's nothing.

GREG PALAST: Malik Rahim is a leader of Common Ground, a grassroots recovery organization. He explains why Patricia and others are locked out of their apartments.

MALIK RAHIM: They didn't want to open it up. They wanted them closed. They wanted them poor niggers out of there, and they ain't had no intention to allow it to be reopened to no poor niggers, you know? And that's just the bottom line.

GREG PALAST: Malik's group isn't waiting on George Bush to get around to housing the surviving poor.

MALIK RAHIM: This is a unit we are getting together.

GREG PALAST: Common Ground is completing almost as many homes as the Bush administration, but who's left? And who will stay?
This is the Lower Ninth Ward, or I should say "was" the Lower Ninth Ward, an African American working class neighborhood. There's no potable water here. There's no electricity. There's no nothing. There's just no way to return, and a lot of residents feel that's exactly the plan.
This is Mr. Henry Irving, Sr. He has no neighbors, no water, no electricity, but he is not leaving.

HENRY IRVING, SR.: They want you to leave. That's what they want us to do. They want us to get discouraged and leave. So why leave? Where I'm going, then? I'm going to go to another community? I put all my life in this community. I'm going to stay here, and if God's willing, I'm going to be here long enough to see it come back.

GREG PALAST: So can it happen again? Another hurricane? Another flood? Don't worry, because the government has hired a consulting firm to analyze what went wrong with the response to Katrina. It's a little firm from Baton Rouge called Innovative Emergency Management.

AMY GOODMAN: Investigative reporter Greg Palast in New Orleans with producer Jacquie Soohen of Big Noise Films.

AHHHHHHHH- That last part makes me sooo mad....IEM? That's who they hired to analyze what went wrong? And why haven't I heard about most of this before????

Here is some information about a way to donate:

Just after Hurricane Katrina hit, MoveOn members and others stepped up to provide a roof, a bed and hope to more than 30,000 evacuees as part of MoveOn's Hurricane Housing effort.
Today, we're launching our new book—It Takes A Nation: How Strangers Became Family—which tells the stories of the families involved. It's a beautiful book, featuring amazing and moving first-person interviews with Katrina evacuees and the donors who took them in, and evocative photos of the folks involved and the aftermath of the flood. Senator Barack Obama wrote the forward.

To commemorate Katrina, we're donating every cent of the profits to the progressive group ACORN, which is working to protect evacuees' rights and rebuild New Orleans right. If you donate $25 today to help Katrina relief efforts, we'll send you a copy of It Takes a Nation (which retails for $25) for free.

You can learn more about the book, check out some of the photos and interviews, and make a donation, at:

Monday, August 21, 2006

Working at work?

I actually have work to do here, amazing! Of course this means I have a lot less time for personal work like blogging.

I have had a few topics I've wanted to blog about- most notably my new found love for podcasts. But I just had 3,000 pounds of magnets delivered to me today, so I suppose I should concentrate on sending some of those out before we move to the 5th floor in two weeks. If you would like a magnet on Perinatal Depression in English, Spanish, Portuguese or all three let me know.

Right now I am listening to the Al Franken Show on
Air America, and they are talking about John Prescott saying that Bush is crap. Awesome that our closest ally in the "war on terror" thinks our President is crap. Al thought it might be the word for a type of pudding in England (such as spotted dick), but that idea has proved false and apparently crap means the same thing on both sides of the pond.

That is the cool thing about the work I am doing right now, it is pretty much all number crunching for the distribution plan so I can listen to interesting radio shows while doing it.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Devil and Melanie wears Prada?

Nope, I didn't buy anything Prada. That would only happen if Second Time Around had a Prada item for under $50. What actually happened is I took a personality test, it was very thorough and came up with interesting results and suggestions. Click here to read the full report, and if you really know me tell me what you think because I am curious for other peoples opinions.

Anyway, the results group your different personality traits as very high, slightly high, average, slightly low, and low. My three very high traits were femininity (I can accept this since it gave me average masculinity as well), openness, and..... attention to style. It went even further to say:

You have a strong sense of style and value your personal presentation - friends may even seek your style advice from time to time.

Hahaha.... something went wrong there, I don't think anyone has ever asked me for style advice, it's usually the
other way around.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

"Hi, is Mr. (butcher last name) available?....Oh, he passed on last year....well...are you his wife?"

That was my opening line when I was a telemarketer in the summer of 2001. I have had many, many different jobs, and telemarketing is in the top five of "never again" jobs. I worked for a company called Security Financial, we sold living trusts, which is why "oh he passed on?" was frequently part of my pitch.

I hated it, I was terrible at cold calling and always felt I was annoying people and it wore on me. Fortunately my boss really liked me, and gave me a position calling people who had filled out cards asking for more information. This was a great relief because it meant that people weren't entirely shocked when I called, I felt justified in calling them because they had requested information, and I got a little office all to myself. They also paid well, $11/hr plus bonuses for hitting quotas, which I always hit once I was on the cards.

Then in the summer of 2003 I found myself telemarketing again, this time for Zoots, the delivery dry cleaning service. This job really ate away at my soul, because the people I was calling were people that had stopped using Zoots. They had usually stopped with Zoots because they were not happy with the service, and sometimes it was because Zoots had seriously fucked them over. And here I was, representing the company they were displeased with- what a perfect opportunity to vent you anger! Ugh, that job also involved door-to-door sales- I won't even get into that!

Since then I have earned my B.A. and have slept soundly every night knowing that my days of telemarketing were behind me. So why do I find myself calling people whose names I don't know how to pronounce and being treated like shit by the people who answer? Why? Because people don't respond to their e-mails thus forcing me to call them!

Here's the voicemail I leave, since almost no one actually answers:

"Hi, my name is Melanie LaFav, I'm calling from the Department of Public Health, Christine identified (insert Community Health Center name) as an appropriate CHC to be sent some perinatal depression awareness materials we have developed. At this point I am working on the distribution plan and need to find out how many of these materials and what languages we should send to your CHC. If you could call me back at 617 555 5907 or if you'd like to e-mail me at Melanie- M-E-L-A-N-I-E dot LaFav L-A-F like Frank- A-V like Victor at... that would be great, thanks."

Sometimes I get a secretary and they frequently treat me badly and question me a lot because they assume that I am a telemarketer. And then sometimes the person I am trying to contact actually answers. Now, they are usually quite nice to me and are excited about the materials, but this morning I basically got a lecture about how they serve mainly Chinese patients (the materials are in 6 languages but Chinese is not one of them). Did she listen to my pitch? Didn't she hear me say Christine identified her CHC? I don't know anything about your CHC or the population you serve, if I did I would use my knowledge to just send you the materials without having to listen to you bitch me out on the phone!

Ugh, then the very next person I called was a woman I had talked to the week before. We had spoken on the phone and she was happy to receive the materials, I sent her the e-mail (it explains more and then she is supposed to give me the numbers- which the people I have gotten in contact with have been doing) and crickets- so I was calling to follow-up. I got her bitchy secretary who tried telling me that if Dr. Mullen did not reply then they do not need the materials. At this point something started to snap- "No", I explained, "she told me she was interested, she just hasn't responded and I am trying to follow-up. " She came back, "Well the best I can do is give you her voicemail, I can't give you the numbers." When did I ask you for the numbers? That's when it snapped, with a very biting tone I responded, "Yeah, that's all I wanted in the first place."

So clearly I am not making any friends in this process and I am maintaining the highest professionalism. But, seriously, these are free materials to raise awareness amongst your patients who you are supposed to care about. We as a team, and I personally have put a lot of time into developing and testing and re-working these materials and all I want from you is a number- how many do you want? The languages? Don't worry- I can use one of our databases to figure that out....just tell me how many you want! They're free, they're pretty, I promise they won't bite!

That was a very boring post, but I am frustrated and needed to vent.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Live from Jamaica Plain

That's right folks, the computer has arrived. I promptly set up the
wireless and found a network to piggyback on. Of course the connection is kinda shotty so maybe one day Claud and I will get the courage to walk upstairs and ask the Mingo boys if maybe they'd like to share their network.

Hopefully now that I am freed from the confines of having to use the internet at work I will be able to get more things done- like posting ;).
 Posted by Picasa

Me and my 10 speed

I bought a bike! It is currently the highlight of my life.

Last week I walked into
Bikes Not Bombs in Roxbury and was met by a fidgety little bikestress (yes I just made that word up). She helped me pick out everything from my frame to my toe clips (which I didn't even realize I wanted) and in five short weeks I will have a refurbished bike that was custom built just for me.

Bikes Not Bombs is a really cool non-profit organization that recycles and refurbishes bicycles and send them to developing countries to provide people with an alternative form of transportation. They also train urban youth to either "earn a bike" or work in the bike shop. Anyway you can read up more on them by clicking the link above, but needless to say I was happy to shell out $200 for my bike and another $60 for my helmet, lock, and Boston bike map.

In my excited fervor I promptly put a Bikes Not Bombs sticker on my water bottle (I have recently started stickering my metal water bottle to keep people from thinking that it is a coffee thermos- which it technically is). The next morning I was in a meeting with my boss and purposely turned my water bottle so she could see my new sticker (I knew that she would recognize and be in support of BNB). Sure enough she took the bait and we chatted a little about the organization and how great they are. She asked about donating frames and I said I was planning on buying a cheapy bike off
craigslist (if you have never checked out craigslist you need to pull your head out of the hole and check it out) and then donating it when my new bike was ready. At that point she protested my decision and told me to just borrow one of the many bikes that was not being used in her family- amazing! That night my good friends Chelsea and Maria drove me over to Karin's place and then drove me and my bike home (I was going to take the T-there and then ride home but my "big brother" Mike kept insisting that he would never see me again if I enacted that plan).

So I have spent the last 5 days riding all around Boston on my nifty loaner bike. I have biked to and from work everyday and to and from my practice and game. The work commute is 4.5 miles and for a good portion of that I am on the Southwest Corridor- a sweet paved bike path. Then I hit downtown Boston and I hop onto the mean streets. Now this may seem scary, but I find it quite exhilarating and I am taking all of the precautions that I can to make sure my father's worst nightmares do not come true (I wonder if my Mom has even told my dad yet). I found this great
document on how to not get hit by a car, and much to my mother's chagrin it warns over and over that riding on the sidewalk is a quick ticket to hurting yourself (by allowing an unsuspecting car to hit you while you cross the street) and others (the moving target that is a pedestrian is not easy to avoid).

My commute takes me about 45 minutes and I save money (no T-passes) and resources (no gas, more room on the T for other passengers)- my old roomie Neda "Captain Planet" Sobhani would be proud!

Stay Tuned for:
Retail Therapy
Be a filter not a sponge Or Does anyone really know what to think about what is happening in the Middle East?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Follow-up to Queer Eye

So I saw the show and was very pleased. I was a little worried, but they did a great job of making who Miles was approachable while still respecting the complexity (I think that's what I'm trying to say).

My friend Sarah informed me that it was not the first time that a trans person was on reality TV, but it was still exciting anyway, it is good to know that Queer Eye is not the only show that was willing to breach the subject.

Finally, I was also quite happy with how loving and accepting Miles' family is. I remember sophomore year we were hanging out in the library (did you notice the Vermont flag in his apartment- well that used to hang in "the fort" the space we took over in the Library) during finals and Miles was nervous about a wedding (I think) he was going to with his family. It was the first time he would be wearing a suit at a family function while his sisters would be wearing dresses. I don't think I ever heard how it went but I am glad to see where his family is at now.

Not that Frida was trans or that this is really related, but I just love Frida and that last paragraph made me think of her:

That's Frida in the middle :)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Queer Eye for the Mount Holyoke Guy

I know what you're thinking. "Is this some J-show skit you were in?" (well maybe you were thinking that if you really know me).

Anyway, this is no skit people, this is the real thing- Bravo TV. Tonight at 10:00 pm Miles Goff, who started Mount Holyoke in '99 (I think) as Amelia Goff will star in
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy episode 302: TRANS-FORM THIS TRANS-MAN.
(Miles is in the back)

I don't know Miles well, but I know that he is a good guy and very kind and I'm really excited for him. He was at our reunion and we said something to him about his upcoming fame and he just sheepishly smiled and asked how we had heard about it. A number of the other friends that appear in the episodes are friends and acquaintances from Mount Holyoke. Needless to say Claudia (a fellow MHC alum) and I are having people over tonight to watch the episode.

This is the first time Queer eye has ever had a trans-gendered person on, and my friend Bekka has speculated that this may be the first time a trans-gendered person has been on a reality TV show. So tune in and check it out, and if you don't read this blog until too late, don't distress it's Bravo, here are the other show times: Tue, Aug 1 12:00 AM, Thu, Aug 3 8:00 PM, and Sat, Aug 5 1:00 PM.

Happy watching :)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

If anyone at work didn't realize I was gay they sure do now!

Cracked out and sad that less than 11 hours later I am back at work I put in my headphones and turned on some of the fine slam poetry of Kit Yan. First poem up- Straight Girls. It wasn't quite loud enough for me so I turned it up all the way. After about 3 minutes I realized that the reason it hadn't been loud enough for me was that the sound was not coming through my headphones. Yes, oh yes, I had plugged to headphones into the mic hole and had blasted Kit's anger over being jerked around by straight girls for all of the office to hear!

I am a genius!

I'm never leaving my cubicle again.

Here are the words that were blasted for all to hear in case you are interested:

Straight girls,
Like to date girls.
And then they go back,
To their boyfriends,
Who don't want them,
And then they go back.

Straight girls,
Like to make girls think they'll love them until the end.
And then they've got the nerve to say, "What? we're just friends."
And I hate that.

I hate girls.
I sound like a second grader.
But there's no better way to truly convey what I feel.
I hate girls.

I hate them because they lie.
And you know those shits that say, "boys lie."
Yeah well,
A better shirt would say, "boys lie, but girls lie to your fucking face and lead you on in an unexplainable way, and then leave you there with so many questions, you wonder if you're still gay!"

Okay, I got carried away.
But it's true.
Girls will fuck with you.
Feed you compliments,
Wear unforgettable scents,
Have deep, meaningful, and intense conversations with you,
Until the cows go home with them on their backs.

I fucking hate girls.
Because they do nice things.
Little things meaningful things.
And if I were a guy, I might not notice at all.
But there's the fucking problem.
I'm a girl.
But I hate girls,
Because I understand the bullshit they file away.
To feed the different girls, that they pretend to date.

"We need to hang out."
But we won't.
"Wow, I had a great time, I'll call you okay?"
And she won't.
"We need to talk."
And that's never good.
"Hey, we'll still be friends."
And we never should,
Have started this fucking piece of shit motherfucking crap to begin with.

No, I haven't lost my mind, just my vocab.
What? You think I chose this path?
My fucking life is like Attack of the Killer Lesbians,
Filled with some of the greatest actresses.
Or some nights it's like meet "Miss Right" on the Woman show.

Behind door number one:
The ever so beautiful experimental bi-curious straight girl, with a long term boyfriend and it was HER who asked YOU out.
Behind door number two:
The elusive bisexual girl, who at first glance, you thought you had no chance, but she hit on you while standing next to the guy she just made out with.
And behind door number three:
Your standard issue L-U-G. Lesbian Until Graduation, my favorite conveniently located at your nearest all-girls college.
Smith, Simmons, Wellesley, wherever.

But oh wait, there's more.
Who's the lovely lady behind door number four?
Ah, your regular old lesbian,
Fully equipped with all the tricks of the trade,
Now this is what a lesbianÂ’s made of.
Doesn't care,
Doesn't call,
Wants everything from you,
Yet nothing at all.

So go ahead, take your pick, but I'm fucking done.
You girls can play your game because you've already won.
And for the record, please don't call.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I'm at work- yes the time is correct

I must have gotten into work late- right?
  • Nope, been here since 8 am

I must have taken a big lunch break- right?

  • Nope, I did actually leave the building to have lunch (something I dont do thaaaat often) with my friend Mike, but I felt really bad when I told my boss I was leaving and only spent like 30 min all told.

I really wanted to get to Ten Thousand Villages which closes at 7pm, so I left at 6 and now IM BACK!

On my way in I saw the doorman in his street clothes on his way home- he just politely chuckled at me.

How do you get in when the doorman has left you ask.

  • This is something I am quite used to- you go next door to the apartment building and show them your ID card. I'm used to this since I was here on Sunday, yup Sunday.

Why I am working these ridiculous hours you ask.

  • Because we have a grant due on Monday and I want to be able to take Friday off to go down to the dirty Jers and visit with my Batesy (you ready for me Bates? I'll probably be cracked out finals style!). So I will be here, at the office, working on entering in grant edits and making sure the endnotes are all in line- FUN STUFF!

But they did install my new PC today (the old one was over a decade old) and now I have speakers so I am having fun listening to everyone's myspace songs :). The only good thing about being in the office at ungodly hours- the head phones come off and the music is played out loud.

Moral of the story

  • If you feel like entertaining me do so! My roommate is afraid we may not get home in time for Project Runway (it starts at 10 pm). We gonna be here for a while!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Some things that are on my mind

  • Grants are stressful especially when you are only given a month
  • I am sleepy, I am always sleepy. I think my mom is right, I think my reaction to stress is to fall asleep
  • I just dropped my red G2 into the toilet at work- that sucks
  • I need to finally decide that being single is best and stop letting my head get filled with girls
  • I wish Lucy Diamond would take me away to her secret lair (I just bought D.E.B.S)
  • I need to be better about e-mailing people- especially returning e-mails
  • I need a new job- I need to be working in education
  • I need to work on getting a new job and studying for and getting into grad school
  • I can't work during the summer
  • My hand is sore from falling on it
  • When Claudia gets back from being away tonight I'm gonna have to stop walking around naked in the apartment
  • I want to see the girls I think are cute
  • 8 months is too long to go without sex
  • Again, I need to stop thinking about girls

This post became too personal, but lets be honest it will be awhile before I post again so oh well.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A heavy moment

It is strange that I wrote that post yesterday.

After work I needed to get my hair off on my neck and had broken my hair elastic, so I decided to try French braiding it. I successfully French braided my hair for the first time ever and called my Lita to tell her the exciting news (I used to have her French braid my hair all the time when I was younger). She was happy for my and impressed at my new found ability. After chatting for a little bit she reminded me that tomorrow (now today) is the anniversary of my grandma Barbara's death.

Today last year I was with my family, holding my grandmother's hand and watching as her breathing got more and more labored.

She is the first person I ever really knew who has passed away. My grandpa Ben had died the year before and although it was sad I knew he had been suffering and he was just waiting for it to end. Grandpa Ben also lived in Mexico City since I was born and I had only been to visit him a few times, and only twice that I can actually remember.

A couple or a few (who can remember?) days after my grandma passed I was sitting in a funeral home listening to words she had written before her death being read. She wrote about me, about her impressions of me and about her regrets (did she use that word?) about not knowing me better. I sat with the congregation (is that the appropriate word?) and continued to mourn about the fact that I hadn't known her better.

In those last days of her life and the days that followed I learned a lot about my grandmother. I learned things that I wish I had taken the time to learn or notice while she was still alive. I realized through hearing other people talk about her that she had a lot of qualities that I admire and desire for myself. Most of all I learned that she was a very non-judgmental and easily accepting person, and that she held a very important place in the lives of all of the children she had taught. My grandmother continued to teach by helping my aunt in her classroom until the day her cancer caused her to be physically incapable of going on. My grandmother was almost 80 years old at that time. Also, did notice I said helping my aunt in her classroom. That's right, she had such a functional relationship with her daughter that she was able to go into her place of work daily and they worked side by side.

This is my grandma Barbara:

is on the left with her eyes closed. This is at my college graduation in 2004. She was a beautiful woman. In their wedding pictures she and my grandpa look like some sort of celebrity couple.

I think I'm done now. I just wanted to take a moment to remember her.

Monday, July 10, 2006

My grandpa has an internet girlfriend and my grandma (lita) has a great sex life!

In a previous post I wrote a blurb about the fact that my grandpa (my father's dad) has a girlfriend. Back in April my mother informed me of this, saying that my grandfather unexpectedly announced his relationship during dinner one night. This rocked my world- my grandmother had only been dead for a little over 6 months, and I just had a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea of my grandpa "dating". Apparently, this woman is the ex-wife of a friend of his and somehow they got back in contact with each other and decided that they didn't want to spend the last years of their lives alone.

This idea was still kind of hard for me to swallow, but I was accepting it, and then a couple of weeks ago my mom dropped another bomb. We were chatting about various topics, as we frequently do, and she mentioned that my grandpa's girlfriend was talking very seriously about moving in with him. I found this unsettling, but didn't even have time to react before my mom said, "We are trying to convince him that it's not a good idea since he hasn't seen her in 40 years." WAIT A MINUET....rewind.....WhAt??? Did she just say that? Confused and befuddled, I asked her what she meant. She went on to explain that the last time my grandfather had seen this woman was when she married a good friend of his 40 years ago. Somehow they re-established contact through the internet and had been communicating on-line and began to consider themselves a couple.

After my mom finished explaining I asked her why she had not told me this when she first told me about the girlfriend. She tried to convince me that she had, but we all know that's not true- a person could never forget being told that their 80-something grandfather had an internet girlfriend. In any case, my grandfather's internet girlfriend has been talking about selling her house and moving in with my grandpa. The family is trying to convince him that it is not a good idea. And you thought that
girl who flew to Jordan to be with her myspace boyfriend was crazy....

...okay well maybe that's worse. But still!

On to more grandparent craziness. As you may or may not know, my Lita (my mother's mom) is currently undergoing therapy to reduce the amount of cancerous cells that have been found in her blood stream. She has already lived through her first bought of cancer- cervical, and is currently taking a new drug for survivors of cervical cancer whose cancer has returned. This new drug is currently in its testing phase and so my Lita is interviewed about her reactions to the medication during each of her medical visits.

I know this sounds depressing and morbid, but I promise it gets funny.

Not too long ago, at one of her appointments she was asked by the doctor, in front of my mother, how her sex life is. She responded by saying, "It's great." Now, let me explain something about my Lita, she lives at our home, where she has lived since I was 10, and before that she jumped around between relatives living with them. She was never officially divorced, but my grandfather left her before my mom had finished high school. Knowing this, my mother and the doctor sat there speechless, looking at her, not knowing how to react. She broke the uncomfortable silence by laughing and saying, "It's all in my head- it's great!" The next time she came in for an appointment and the same doctor smiled and asked about her sex life, she just smiled and responded, "You know."

So there ya have it, my grandpa actually has an internet girlfriend and my grandma has a great sex life in her mind.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I have 3 cell phones at home...

...and my family has a lot more at our house in Cali.

If you are like us and have a bunch of used cell phones that you don't know what to do with you may find
this article interesting. It is about the mining of Coltan, a mineral used in cell phones. Eighty percent of our Coltan supply comes from DR Congo, in an area where endangered gorilla's live. The article focuses on a company that has joined forces with US zoos to increase the recycling of cell phones- a process both helps the environment by keeping toxins out of the Earth and could potentially have positive affects on the gorilla population.

Monday, June 19, 2006

"Sometimes you wanna go...

...where everybody knows your name."

As has been noted before on my blog, I live in lesbian, hippie central- Jamaica Plain. As also has been noted I am very, very happy with my new community. It makes me happy just to walk to the T in the morning and bask in the beautiful quaintness of my neighborhood. Last week I came to another important realization about my new home: for the first time since leaving Mount Holyoke I am actually part of my community.

Boston Pride was 2 weekends ago and since I live in lesbian central there was much going on in my community. The only event I attended was the JP women's block party (which happened to be like 2 feet from my front door). Maria and Chelsea (friends from MHC) and I had made plans to meet up at the block party but due to my poor communication skills they were not able to go until after I had to leave. And my friend Anastasia was also not planning on going until later. So I decided to do something I never do- go by myself. Then at the last minuet I got a phone call from another friend saying she would like to go- so we met up, paid our $10 donation to get into a roped off stretch of street with alcohol and ladies dancing on platforms- cowgirl go go dancers to be exact. While we were there I ran into at least 10 people that I know and even made a few new friends (and also got hit-on a little, including being told that I "Wear [my softball uniform shirt] well"). All told it was a very fun filled and community feeling day.

Then later in the week I walked over to J.P. Licks to meet up with friends for some yummy local ice cream. And of course, I bumped into two people from one of my softball teams. Finally on Friday I decided that since the weather was finally being cooperative I would go for a jog around Jamaica Pond. As I ran and people watched (the "pond" is 1.5 mi. around and attracts many the jogger and stroller) I decided that I was definitely going to see someone I knew. But I finished the loop and still no one. Then just as I was about to leave the pond Sally, a woman I know from football, came running over- Jackpot, my hypothesis proved.

That was when it hit me- community, real community. With neighbors and friends and even "free boxes" (a phenomenon I first discovered at Mount Holyoke- got something you no longer need that someone else might like? Just put it in a box with a sign that says free and someone will give it a new home. So far I got myself a spiffy new pair of sunglasses.)

*I'm not happy with the flow and structure of this post, but I can't think of how to fix it. Hopefully the point I'm trying to make came across.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Drinks after work = Hiding under table?

So, now that this has been alluded to in a blog comment, I suppose I need to keep up my promise to tell this gem of a tale on my blog.

Last Thursday, I was trying to round up a group of friends to be pretend to be socially minded by paying the Jimmy Fund $7 to get ice cream belly aches at the Scooper Bowl. But, due to the unseasonably cold and rainy weather we decided to go out for drinks instead.

My friend Mike met Claudia and me outside of our work and we all walked over to the Beantown Pub. Now, I've been working a 9 to 5 for a while now, so clearly going out for drinks after work is not new fare for me. Claud and I have gone for drinks, Mike and I have gone for drinks, heck, Mike and I had even gone out to Beantown Pub before.

But there was one key difference between those outings and this one. At those outings, dinner had clearly been written into the plans from the get go- the drinks may have been ordered first, but that is only due to the length of time it takes to deliberate between a ruben and a hamburger. This time, there was no mention of food, and since food was never mentioned I merely rationalized out that we were only planning on having a couple of beers and then we would head home and cook an economical non-pub dinner. I later found out that Claudia rationalized out the same plan.

The night started out with a bang. There was talk of recent events: Mike would have been fine with Condi Rice speaking at BC at any time other than commencement; there were jokes about who owned which beautiful sports car that was parked outside; and once Gary arrived there was even talk of match making: Claud has a friend- maybe Gary's interested?

Then the first beer came and went. Claud finished before me and tried to put up a protest that with no food a second beer was not a good idea- she was quickly convinced otherwise. When I finished my beer I knew, and desired, better than to put up a fight.

Then the second beer was finished. Now, if you return to the original thought out plans- two beers was the limit and then home for dinner. But once that second beer had been consumed with no food in our bellies, Claudia and I forgot all about our plans. A third beer was ordered and then a fourth.

Nine pm rolls around and suddenly the conversation turned to relationships. Melanie (who to make matter worse was about to start her period) let the emotional flood gates open. While Gary and Claudia were involved in their own conversation (and busily drinking my fifth beer as to keep me from drinking it), I was talking to Mike about my past failed relationships and current single status. Unfortunately, I was also unable to stop crying and crying and crying.

With the night turned sour Mike decided it was time to head home. But by this time I decided I was unable to function and that the best option in sight was to sit underneath the table! Mike, sober enough to realize this was not the best option, helped me out from under the table and out of the pub. At this point I made the transition from overly emotional Melanie to paranoid Melanie (for those of you who were around during the summer I graduated from high school you remember both of these Melanie's very well). I suddenly decided that Mike was making fun of me, which he clearly had a right to, but I was not going to be made fun of, so I told him not to touch me and I ran away. (This is a move that I pulled frequently in that fateful summer of 2000, but I have no recollection of it happening since then). As I ran I could hear Mike in hot pursuit of me- I could not allow him to catch me, so I ran faster and faster and faster. And as I ran I had the logical thought that if I were ever to be attacked while drunk I would clearly be okay because I have an amazing capacity to sprint while heavily intoxicated.

I ran myself right into the T station and right onto a train. After riding for a couple of stops I actually processed what the speaker was saying: "Haymarket". You guessed it folks- I had already gone two stops in the wrong direction. So I got off and somehow managed to get on the train going the right way- this is when the moaning started. Yes, I was that drunk alone person moaning on the train. So, after a couple of stops I realized that people on the train were staring and laughing at me (and we all know I wasn't in the mood for being made fun of). Then another logical thought hit me- "they must think I'm homeless- why else would I be drunk and on the T by myself?" So, to keep myself from being further made fun of, and to dispel any rumors that I was homeless, I got off the T and promptly threw up in the station.

That's when I actually made a good decision. I left the station and I called one of the people who has been there for me in other crisis situations: Bekka. I slurred a story about losing Claudia and not having keys and asked if I could walk (their apartment was very close) to thier place and sleep there.  Bekka and Allison welcomed me with open arms, and from what I was told the next morning, I entertained them for about half an hour with my stories of being homeless, my desire to have a serious conversation about Condi Rice, my unusually dry humor and my endless struggle to get the sheets covering me (it apparently involved a lot of flopping and frustrated grunts).

Moral of the story: never assume you can start drinking with no intention of ordering food! There are other morals here but I don't feel like writing them out...

Me and Mike on the crazy night in question. You bet your butt drunk pictures were taken and some how I made it through the night with out losing my camera.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Wiki What?

Linds just posted a comment about this on the previous entry but it is too precious for me to let slip by.

Some how there is a
Wikipedia entry for my high school and more than that there is a paragraph all about the Integrated Curriculum. Integrated Curriculum only lasted from 1996 to 2000, as stated in the article, does anyone recognize those years? For most of my friends and blog readers that is the four years we were in high school. Yes, I was in the first and last class of only 20 some students to graduate from Integrated Curriculum. Yet somehow it is the only program at the school that they take the time to describe in depth.

If you do read the entry don't be too impressed- that is what the program was like in theory- in reality it was a wild group made up of half students that bought into the program and half students that were told they couldn't attend the school unless the did it.

So how common is the whole high school on Wikipedia thing? Is anyone else's high school on there?

Two more pics (see post below)

The hosts and the Po Po

The authentic high school back pack

Wanna Throw a Great Party?

I think my blog posting usually serve some sort of purpose other than telling my friends about my life. But, my new roomie and I had an awesome housewarming party last week so the purpose of this blog posting is to let you know about a great party you can throw.

Come as Yourself in High School

It was amazing! Claudia and I spent our first weeks in our apartment settling in and decorating and then we decided it was time for the party. We found a door and Anastasia, the sculptor, helped me turn it into a beer pong table (complete with beer drainage hole), we bought lots of alcohol, Claud cooked up some goodies and the party started with a bang at 9 pm.

People came in all variety of outfits- everything from Miss. Big Spring(s) (Allison as her high school beauty pageant winning self) to tiny-tee jr. high Katie, Christine even came with her authentic patched-out high school back pack. There were people smoking clove cigarettes while playing beer pong, there were 12 90's music cds, there was Zima, and Boones, and Pucker being consumed everywhere. Somehow the party managed to rattle on until around 3 am and our medical machine using neighbor didn't ever complain. Most people have no idea how 6 hours of partying were spent (especially Claud and me) so we consider the party a complete success.

I could keep rambling on trying to describe the greatness but I think in this instance pictures certainly speak louder than words:

She said she wouldn't but Bekka came in full figure skater gear

Checkout the bangs on Steph...sooo high school

Oh man, the braids- I did that too!

And then out of no where a boy band appeared

At some point we ran out of food- that's when our Ikea coasters really came in handy

Chel is too cool with her cloves and Butterscotch Schnapps

Gary and my doll had some quality snuggle time

I think I have that exact Tee from Wet Seal

Newt is a couple years older- that's why she got to wear such amazing shorts!

Check out the beautiful beer pong table

Friday, May 19, 2006

And America's Next Top model is...

(cue cheesy theme music)
Yay! Danielle won. I seriously would have never watched ANTM again if she didn't. And with all the crazy misogynism (I think I made that word up) and racism this season I still may not tune in next season.

In the last episode the models had to do a commercial. Danielle was so nervous about containing her accent that she ended up sounding like she was shouting and her accent slipped out a bit at the end. So once again Tyra reprimanded her for not "turning off her accent". Meanwhile Joanie (the other finalist) let out a bit of a lisp during her commercial- but did anyone say anything about that? Nope!

I realized two things while watching the show: 1) It is ridiculous that the gave Joanie a dentist to take care of her snaggle tooth but told Danielle to just "turn off" her accent (as if people do not hire coaches to train them in that) 2) Since they chose Danielle despite her "accent problems" and despite the fact that they had no issues with Joanie, I have come to the conclusion that someone higher up must have pointed out that Tyra was favoring the Black women too much so she felt the need to start being racist. Or it could just be that old, "I did it so you can too" syndrome- does anyone know where Tyra is from?

Anyway, I'm happy and I'll probably send ANTM a letter that no one will read about how disappointed I was with the show this season...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

America's Next Generic model

Okay, so tonight is the season finale of Top model and if they don't choose Danielle this may be the last episode of Top model ever for me.

For those of you who have not been watching this season of Top model let me clue you in. Danielle is awesome. She is a completely normal person, she is not irrational or bitchy or too emotional, she is just normal and cool and basically nice and helpful to everyone- but not overly so. She is also beautiful- she has been taking great pictures since day one.

Danielle is also and individual and proud of who she is. In the first episode when there was a self proclaimed racist on the show Danielle stood her ground and told the girl why she didn't agree with what she was saying. Danielle also has a gap in her two front teeth and when Top model offered to fix it she declined saying it was her trade mark.

Apparently the people at Top model think that beautiful, strong women who are not afraid to be proud of who they are, are bad for ratings. After Danielle declined to have her teeth fixed she was berated by the judges who claimed she was "Leaving a gap for some other girl to fill," and who asked, "Do you think cover girl wants models with gaps in their teeth?" The ironic thing is that the only cover girl model that I can remember from those countless YM and Teen magazines I bought in high school is a model who had a bigger gap in her teeth than Danielle. And I don't remember her because it was ugly- at first I found it odd and then I realized how cool it was because she was distinctly different from the other cookie cutter girls.* Danielle consented to have her gap filled in BUT she would only allow the dentist to fill in some of the gap- thus continuing to assert her individuality.

Once that saga was over they started attacking Danielles accent. Danielle has a southern accent. But she doesn't have the acceptable white southern bell accent like Nicole who won last season. Oh no, Danielle has a deep south black southern accent. According to Tyra Banks, "Accents are beautiful because they show where we are from, but we have to be able to turn them off sometimes (if they make you sound black)." Funny thing is, they also made fun of Nnenna for her accent because she sounded to snooty- she has a Nigerian accent!

So in summation. If they get rid of Danielle and keep personalityless stuck up Jade, just because Danielle has an accent and a small gap in her teeth I may throw things!!! And then I will officially begin my boycott of ANTM.

There is clearly a lot more I could say about this but I need to go home...

*Next time I go home I am going to look through my collection of youth mags for that models picture, and then I am going to send it to Tyra Banks with a note about how odd it is that she decided looking generic is one of the qualifications to be a top model.