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Entries from July 2010

Spoken Word Talent on the train

July 29th, 2010 · Comments

My flight was twenty hours away. I still needed to finish my O-audition online application, stop by the consignment store just in case there is a new dress or handbag for my last minute trip to Georgia that is on half price special, oh yes and pack. Oh and I was due to hang out in San Francisco that evening with two separate sets of friends--one group from NYC and another from Delhi, India. I made a quick purchase at the consignment store, ran down North Main Street to the place I consider my second home, Café LaScala, finished my application and then hopped on a train. On my way to the city, a homeless spoken word artist sat behind me and struck up a conversation, before asking for money. “I would,” I started to say. “But, today, I’m….” “I don’t need to hear your excuses,” he snapped. I was feisty that day. “You didn’t let me finish,” I snapped back. “Where you from? I’m from Richmond. I bet you’ve never even been there.” Wrong, wrong and wrong. I went to Richmond all the time—it was the neighboring city to the San Pablo, the home of Contra Costa County Rape Crisis Center. It’s where I went to cover the Richmond High Rape Case, The West Contra Costa Unified Teacher’s Strike, International Women’s Day. I actually went to Richmond every chance I had. By the end of the ride, the spoken word artist and I found our rhythm and he even did a demo for me on my audio recording devise.

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Tags: Uncategorized · activism · solidarity · spoken word

The Story Behind the Watermelons

July 29th, 2010 · Comments

On the way to my car, I swung into Goodwill for a quick round of shopping. Although I have way more clothes than I probably need, I pride myself on making ninety percent of my purchases at second-hand shops. Thirty minutes later, I left with a pair of hot pink wedges, a gold pair of Jessica Simpson wedges, a pink and orange plaid top, a black dress and a pair of white pants—for a total of $30. I slipped into my car and strategically pulled my jeans on under my denim skirt, positioned the straps of my dress before doing a quick check to my right and left to make sure I was on my own and then quickly swapped my dress for my plaid top. Finally, I trade my black Paolo wedges for my new hot pink wedges. Perfect, now I could be more comfy for my journey home. Only one small problem. I had to figure out a strategic way to fit my new items into my suitcase. I opened my trunk and hopped in, so I could roll my new clothes and reorganize my already packed items to make room for my ever-expanding wardrobe. I forced the inside zipper shut, swung it closed and then sat on it as I tried to force the outside zipper closed. I was totally involved in what I was doing—so focused that I was completely startled when a man started speaking to me. I looked up and it was the watermelon salesman who had converted his pickup truck into a melon produce market just across the parking lot. “How you doin?” he asked. “My name is Max. Just wanted to see if you needed any melons.” “Where you from?” I imagine I must have been quite a spectacle. Once again, blend-in-inhibiting blonde hair, glow-in-the-dark fair skinned girl; this time chilling out in her trunk. “Hey Max. I’ll be right over to take a look at your melons and maybe I’ll grab a quick interview with you,” I said. It was serendipitous kind of a day. I had a little bit of time before my flight, so I thought I’d just see what the universe had in store for me that day.

Max was a Real Estate guy before the economy crashed and now he sustains himself selling produce. I decided it would be too inconvenient for me to try and get a melon on the plane with me. Even if security let me bring it on, I’d have to carry it along with my heavy luggage. I promised I’d buy one though and frankly I needed all of the good karma I could get. “Hey, I want to keep my word. This isn’t going to fit in my luggage, but I want to buy this for him,” I said, pointing at the homeless guy, leaning up against CVS. “No. I don’t need charity,” he told me. “If you don’t need one, it’s totally cool.” “Seriously Max, this isn’t about you. It’s totally about me and I need some good karma.” “Fine. I’ll let him pick one out,” Max said with a smile and he paid it forward.

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Tags: Uncategorized

Serendipity in Atlanta

July 28th, 2010 · Comments

I had to make my last hours in Georgia count. I pulled over and typed Thai restaurant into my GPS. The location that appeared was in a strip mall. So I tried again. I typed VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT. Several options came up and I tapped on the most unique sounding one Soul vegetarian. I arrived at a place that felt very similar to my old neighborhood in East Oakland. I parked in an empty parking lot right in the middle of the Soul Vegetarian restaurant, a restored apartment building and, of course a CVS and directly across from the Goodwill. I got out of my car, walked to the restaurant, where someone met me at the door and pointed down at the sign. “We are closed,” he mouthed. So sad. A tall man in a maroon and yellow suit and a matching hat walked across the street to talk to me. I asked him for another recommendation. He offered to walk me to another amazing vegan restaurant called Healthful Essence. I know what some of you are thinking. “Why would you let a strange man walk you anywhere?” It’s simple. The answer is always in your stomach. You simply follow your instincts. The man’s name was Yoseka. He was a Hebrew Israelite, not to be mistaken with a man of any particular religion, because he saw religion as something that divided people. He learned from a failed relationship to be more patient and less aggressive.

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Lokesh’s Utopia

July 25th, 2010 · Comments

Lesson #29 Be eclectic. Be intentional about integrating different types of food, fashion, music and ideas into your life.

Global musician Kush Arora spoke about the value of eclecticism in my book. Recently, I had a chance to interview a man who has been my facebook friend for years about his eclectic approach to music, work, love and life.

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Tags: Uncategorized

Chance Encounters on Southwest Airlines

July 24th, 2010 · Comments

As lesson #19 in my book, The Journey of Life: 100 Lessons from Around the World, states:

Communicate with strangers. Whether it's the person sitting next to you in a coffee shop or the person driving your cab, (or, in the case of the story you are about to hear--the people sitting on either side of you on a plane) everyone you encounter has something to teach you. On a recent flight from LA to Milwaukee, Wisconsin via Las Vegas I sat in the middle of a woman in her twenties and one in her forties. The three of us, together, comprised three, sequential generations. Listen to their stories and be inspired. :-)

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Tags: Uncategorized

Off the Beaten Path–Inspirations of Atlanta, Georgia

July 4th, 2010 · Comments

MY REPORTER’S MANTRA IS THAT WHEN LIFE DOESN’T GO AS PLANNED, IT’S BEST TO EMBRACE IT AS CONTENT, BECAUSE WHATEVER WE COME UP WITH AFTER ALL OF THE CHALLENGES AND DETOURS IS ALMOST ALWAYS BETTER THAN OUR ORIGINAL PLAN ANYWAYS. IN THAT SAME VAIN, IT’S THE PEOPLE THAT I MEET BY CHANCE, OFTEN WHILE I’M COVEREING OTHER STORIES OR PURSUING OTHER PLANS, THAT HAVE THE MOST INTRIGUING, INSPIRING STORIES. RECENTLY, I TOOK A RISK. I RESPONDED TO OPRAH WINFREY’S CALL FOR PITCHES WITH A PROPOSAL FOR A SHOW CALLED OFF THE BEATEN PATH, INTENDED TO MAKE VOICES FROM PEOPLE OF ALL WALKS OF LIFE ACCESSIBLE TO THE MASSES. I TOOK MY IDEA ALL THE WAY TO ATLANTA, GEORGIA FOR THE FINAL IN-PERSON GROUP AUDITION. I ARRIVED AT 7AM TO GET A 5PM CALL BACK TIME. IN THE END, I LEARNED THAT THIS TOO WAS MORE ABOUT THE JOURNEY THAN THE DESTINATION, AND, JUST LIKE MY PITCH, I WAS MOST INSPIRED BY THE PEOPLE THAT I MET BY CHANCE. IN THIS SEGMENT I’M GOING TO INTRODUCE YOU TO FIVE AMAZING WOMEN THAT CROSSED MY PATH IN ATLANTA—TWO DEAF WOMEN FROM GEORGIA WHO ARE ON A MISSION TO MAKE THEIR STORIES HEARD; AN OIL PAINTER AND MOTHER OF TWO FROM NORTH CAROLINA WHO USES CANVAS TO FIND PURPOSE, A MOTHER FROM NEW YORK CITY WHO LOST HER SON TO SUICIDE AND IS TRYING TO DO SOMETHING POSITIVE IN HIS HONOR, AND A WOMAN WHO FROM THE HEART OF ATLANTA WHO IS DOING HER PART TO HELP HER COMMUNITY GET HEALTHY.

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Tags: Uncategorized · art · atlanta · Oprah · suicide · deaf · dreams

Puerto Rican Student Strike

July 3rd, 2010 · Comments

Hundreds of activists from across the country are at the Socailism 2010 Conference in Oakland, Califonia this weekend. I attended the morning session called 'Lessons Learned form the Puerto Rican Student Strike,' for my weekly field story for KPFA news (which can be found in the 6pm news archives for July 3, 2010) and spent time with Roberto Pastrana and Ovido Elfrain Lopez Alers after, to gain a concrete understanding of how the stike played out. They talked, not only about the positive aspects of their student movement, but also about how they could through the rough portions as well.

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Tags: Uncategorized · persistence · activism · social justice · Puerto Rico · solidarity · socialism