Friday, July 24, 2009

Life is a beach

Now that summer is in full swing and both my boys are home all day, we've been trying to find rhythm and variety of things to do. This may be why you haven't heard from me much. It's hard to have enough clarity to write in between SpongeBob, video games and being outside.

Some of the things we've been doing this summer include swimming lessons (Thanks Lisa), the Ventura Aquatic Center, weekly movies with the Regal Cinemas' Family Film Festival, brushing up on our video game skills, going to the library, reading and going to the beach.

Of these, I think our favorite has been going to the beach. It just doesn't get any better than packing a lunch, stretching out on the beach and playing in the sand and the surf.

We pack up the beach blanket, sand toys, towels, beach chairs, a good book and the backpack cooler with food and drinks and head out for the day. It doesn't matter how long we've been there, we're never quite ready to pack up and go home.

Sometimes we go with friends, sometimes it's just me and the boys, but we never have a bad time. Gabe has started playing in the waves more and is showing an interest in bodyboarding. Morgan is content in digging big holes and jumping in and out of them. When it comes to the water, he mostly likes to chase the waves.

For me, I just like walking on the sand and watching my kids and the waves. No matter my worries or concerns, they all seem to melt away knowing that there are much bigger things in life than my problems. It helps me put life in perspective. For me, going to the beach is a healing experience.

Everyone is happy to be there. Everyone is having fun. It's a joy to see my children discover crabs, starfish and sea anemones; seek sand dollars; and create sculptures with sand and seaweed.

The entire experience feeds their imaginations. Mogan likes to play Godzilla climbing out of the water and smashing the sand city he's built.

It gives them a sense of discovery, and wears them out. They come home calm and collected, a little tired, but very content.

I count my blessing that I live close to the beach. That I have the opportunity to wash away my trouble in the sand and sea, and that I can spend this golden summer with my two beautiful sunshine boys!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ashley's Picture of the day 7/23/09 # 2

An Angel Statue in the gift shop of the San Fernando Mission.

Ashley's Picture of the day 7/23/09

A flower and park bench next to the Liberty Bell

a realization

I was sitting in the booth waiting to run the show, I was passing the time by watching Terminator 2 and it reminded me of when I was about 8 years old. I was in Canada and the people living across the street from us were very good friends of our family. There was an older couple Mr and Mrs. Brennick and all the children have grown up but there son Greg lived with them. The main attribute about him I remember and just realized it never phased me was Greg had one leg, he was in a car accident and had to have it amputated just below the knee. he had a Prosthetic leg and walked with a limp, but Even with his disability he worked for the SPCA. He was such a kind person he would take my brother and I out and meet different people that he met through his job. One person kept Tigers and lions (yes in Canada) also we saw a chinchilla farm. Even being much older then me we still hung out together, and what I remember most was sitting in his room and watching moves like the Terminator. Greg passed away on mothers day this year, and it finally hit me today that he is gone and that I miss him a lot. Strange how something as simple as a film can do that. With that realization, it is amazing how many people touch our lives even in the smallest of ways can still be powerful. Greg Brennick will be missed.

I know this is on the somber side but I felt like sharing, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

For law students taking the bar in 2010

This from the Alliance for Legal Education:

We wanted to give you an update on the activities of the Alliance for Legal Education on behalf of law students who are preparing for the bar examination.

Our legislative initiative, to allow bar exam expenses to be eligible for the federal student loan programs, was under consideration for inclusion in HR 1777, the Higher Education Technical Corrections Bill. Although the measure was not included in the final version of the bill that was signed into law by President Obama, there was no known opposition to the initiative and we are researching opportunities to move this issue forward in future legislation.

We strongly believe that this issue remains important and timely. Financial markets remain in flux, making this measure a vitally important one for many students.

The Alliance will continue to update you on our progress in the coming weeks as needed. In the meantime, we appreciate your support and interest in this legislative initiative.

International Criminal Court web conference, today, 1 pm ET

Hosted by ENOUGH Project policy analyst Colin Thomas-Jensen. Tune in here to join.

Following the Fumo story?

He was only sentenced to 55 months because of his public service record. It should have been 10 years, and this is closer to 5. News in The Legal Intelligencer and Philadelphia Inquirer.

Pondering this. You can have a reduced sentence if you're in politics? ... ? ... We just ... sentence our politicians less? Because they're ... ?

I don't understand.

One door closes

Been kind of bummed this week. I've been trying to crank out a scholarship application after work, but ... well, I guess I've been deluding myself. It required making a 4-minute film in about a week, and pulling together all the moving pieces definitely takes more than 7 days of work. At least for the movies I create. So I scrambled for many hours and missed the deadline, and am disheartened because I've been lugging myself into work tired and giving up all of my free time.

Then this morning I get e-mails from our public interest law counselor and my good friend, Emily. Another scholarship contest. A bigger prize. For graduates only, which means I don't have to stress the application until next year.

Thanks for helping me keep my chin up, Ems. Little actions like these -- it's just beautiful having friends. You guys keep me going, and have no idea how much I appreciate it.

NOTE: If you know any Penn grads in public interest law now who might want to apply, let me know & I'll forward you the info.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Worst movie vote

This is just to say, in ten seconds or less, don't bother watching that Hilary Swank horror movie, The Reaping. They slammed my Sudanese in it, quite unfairly. Said we are human sacrificers. I feel the need to get all riled up and protest, because that's just silly. Here's a group of people who struggling through extreme civil strife, and a bunch of rich Hollywood filmmakers imagine them as human sacrificing savages? Right.

You can say anything about a person who's far away, can't you?

Re: Share

I think most folks are just busy. :) Lord knows, that's what's got me ... No need to apologize!

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Dude, I totally didn't mean to drop a buzz kill with my last post. I apologize, as that was not its intended effect. Ignore my TMI randomness and post, peops, c'mon! Share, share, share.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Maisha's Twitter Faves Today

RT @jlina: Slate commentator I like interviews SCotUS Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: It's a good read!

RT @romenesko: Is cryptomnesia to blame for journalism's ultimate sin of plagiarism? asks Russ Juskalian.

RT @whatspider: i eats yur pie.

RT @EqualityAmerica: Gay marriage foes reach signature goal in Maine #LGBT #GLBT

and finally, RT @BoredInLA: RT @jenbjorklund At exactly 12:34:56, the time and date will be 12:34:56 7/08/09.

Philip Glass me to bed

So what'd you all do today? (I mean this in a non-idle fashion; would actually love to know what everyone has been up to.)

I am about ready to faceplant on the keyboard, zzz. Am listening to Glassworks, which was playing on iTunes when I left home at 7 a.m. and is a great album to revisit at the end of the day. I mean, nothing like Glass for a little symmetry, right?

Am loving it so much, I wanted to leave a note: Things that made me happy today. Like talking to Ashley on the phone. Or throwing a wedding party for one of my co-interns. Or sitting in perfect, peaceful solitude, listening to PRI's segment on Hotel Obama. Or Ozzie wanting to snuggle so badly I can barely write this post.

What made you happy?

- m

Friday, July 3, 2009

Trivial Pursuit

Reality consists of trivialities, things so transient and diminished that you wouldn't think to write them down and retain them, unless you were a writer or a poet and you made your living out of consciously observing such things and reconstructing them into significance. I'll admit that I don't take note of much in my daily life; it will take me months to notice a restaurant on a street that I've been walking down every day. As quickly as things come between my narrow blinders of vision, they slip from short-term memory. During my college years, so long ago, I made a conscious philosophical decision to not remember anything, because I had determined that history was of no importance, that the only thing important was the here and now—you know—like wannabe zen or beatnik stuff with an existential edge. So I would never remember peoples' names when they introduced themselves (nor the second, third, fourth time that I would see them), and I wouldn't remember the subsequent conversations that I had with them (even when they were deep and meaningful), and I sometimes wouldn't even remember meeting them. This obviously made it difficult to build friendships, because when I would see people, they would call me by my name, and I would say, “Hey dude!” or “Hey, how's it going?”

I later came to a realization (when I was less angry and bitter at the world for being what it is) that memory and history were important, and that the here and now can only most fully exist in its relation to the past and the future. And I try much harder to remember things, such as peoples' names, but I still have difficulty remembering some stuff. I sometimes wonder if not exercising and training that aspect of my mind had a longer term effect than I realized, or if my brain has just been riddled with toxicity, or if perhaps I've always been that way to some degree---someone who looks at generalities and remembers the big picture but could never tell you the specific details of anything. Which is why I blog, by the way. So that I can remember how I've arrived at my current way of thinking.

My lack of memory gets brought back to me everyday when I start telling my fiancee a realization that I've just had, and she'll cut me off, exasperated, and tell me that I've told her that 5 times already. I'm always amazed—and disappointed—because the insight seems completely fresh and brand new to me. I warned her when we started 'dating' that I had a bad memory, but she thought I was just exaggerating. Now she knows. I'm somewhat like the guy in 'Memento', except I do remember my name and my basic life history.

Why I am sharing this? I'm not really sure. I just like talking about myself, I guess. I think my point was to attempt to explore the idea of reality as a sequence of trivial events and details, but that we selectively edit a narrative out of what we consider important. What it is that we allow to become imprinted into our long-term vision, what we carry with us. I'd like to conclude all of this with some kind of satisfactory moral that makes it seem like I've written this with purpose, but unfortunately, it is only what seems: a sequence of trivialities.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ashley's Picture of the day 7/2/09

the backyard of the house I lived in last summer working at Barrington Stage Company

Desk jobs who needs them!

why have a desk job? It's the same thing every day over and over again. My job it is something new every day. Today I set-up and ran lights for the Amanda McBroom concert.

here are some pictures :)

The Booms we hung the lights on

Amanda working her magic!

The small stage with the baby grand piano (that we had to move into the space)

Yenser Ham

I had a creative writing professor at UCLA by the name of Yenser. He used to host poetry readings at the Armand Hammer Museum. Yenser poetry readings were a little bit predictable. You were mostly sure to get a middle to upper class white person reading about angst and love and mental states in a certain cadence. The words came slow with lingering pauses between lines, the last syllable drawn out just so. There are beat poets and agit prop poets and spoken word poets and hip hop poets. Yenser poets are none of these. They are The Canon, they are The Laureates, their measure rocks the academies.

After attending a few of these readings it got so that I would read any text broken into lines as if it were Yenseresque. The habit has stuck. And now that I am on Twitter, the habit is reinforced. I mean, what is a poem anyway, if not a swath of impassioned prose with a specific set of boundaries? And Twitter? It is often impassioned prose with a fixed limit of 140 characters.

I'll prove my point.

Today, my friend Heather wrote about her near collision. I found myself reading it, from the bottom of the page to the top, in that old, familiar rhythm:

Well, I guess no 3-day weekend is complete without a call to 911, eh? A huge tire on it's side rolling at high speed directly at...

...freeway traffic. I didn't see it until the car in front of me suddenly swerved around it. I smoked my own tires big-time and had to......

serve hard not to get hit. I've now left a lively tire skid mark on the westbound I-10. :-P Scary stuff! Called 911.

The tire will probably fall over before the highway patrol gets there, but flat on the ground it's a danger too!

Er, swerve hard, not serve hard, but you follow me. That tires was going FAST! Must have fallen off the back of a truck or something.

I hate issues like that where I don't know if they are technically 911 issues.

A tire going head-on into oncoming traffic isn't as dangerous as a car doing the same, but everyone was swerving hard and smoking tires... avoid it. Close-calls everywhere as people dodged the tired. It was a horrible accident waiting to happen. And even when it finally

falls over it'll still be a road hazard. When 911 answered, I immediately told them I was calling for highway patrol to report...

...dangerous debris, and they immediately took my info, didn't tell me to call a non-emergency number, so hopefully I did the right thing.

Dear Heather, I am sure you did the right thing. What a terrifying situation! The I-10 is bad enough without extra rubber careening through the lanes, and that could have been a multi-car pileup waiting to happen.

And at the same time I think this, I have the frivolous sensation that I am back at the Armand Hammer watching some poet wearing mostly black (but distinguished black broken by scarves or wood beads strung by Aborigines) give the pre-martini show. Don't get me wrong. I loved these readings. But I always thought that perhaps we were a little bit silly. And Twitter, in its nascence, has proven me a little bit right.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hello everyone. Just wanted to give a quick introduction of myself. My name's Theo. I'm 33. I live in New York, the Bronx specifically. I used to work with Maisha back in Philly before coming to the glorious New York Post. Home of the unsubtantiated news story and the thinly veiled racist screed. But I'm a graphic designer in sports so I KIIIIIINDA get a pass. Well at least I hope I do. Fuck it. I get a paycheck.

I was excited to get an invite to join this little sliver of goodness but was at a loss for what to contribute. But I think it came to me this morning when I was half dreaming/half awake. For some reason I was yelling at myself to get going. I mean I was going hard. I felt like a drill sergeant. "Get up you dumb bastard! Move! What are you scared to move? I bet you'd like to stay in that bed you punk ass! You like snuggling into that pillow, puddin'?!?" Just uncalled for, early morning type stuff.

But you know, it got me up. I mean it more than woke me up. It got my HYPE! I damn near did a kick flip to my feet followed by a James Brown split. And it got me to thinking. What do other people's inner motivational voices sound like? I mean if someone else ever woke me up like that or tried to spur me on with those words, I guarantee that I'd never do what was demanded of me. But I know me and daresay enjoy berating myself into action. I thrive on it. But I could never do it to another person since I know it's some weird shit to have fly outta your mouth. So with all that...what does your inner drill sergeant sound like? Is it even a drill sergeant? Is it a polite grandmother promising you a slice of pie? Is it a hot ex promising you some alone time? And by the way, not all my posts will be nutty. I just had this on my mind for a few hours.

Request for Katie

Hey Katie, I'm glad you signed up! If you see this, maybe you could post one of your stories? Or tell us how to get your zines? Because they really kinda rule.

'Kay, much love.
- m

The meta entry

One day Lord Korechika, the Minister of the Centre, brought the Empress a bundle of notebooks.

"What shall we do with them?" Her Majesty asked me. "The Emporer has already made arrangements for copying the 'Records of the Historian'."

"Let me make them into a pillow," I said.

"Very well," said Her Majesty. "You may have them."

I now had a vast quantity of paper at my disposal, and I sat about filling the notebooks with odd facts, stories from the past, and all sorts of other things, often including the most trivial material ...

- From The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon,
translated and edited by Ivan Morris

We seem to be off to a good start. I'm thrilled to see so many people I admire dabbling in this thought project with me. Am torn on whether to launch into dialectics of reasoning and snippets of play, or just hush up and let other people talk around me. The last thing I want to do is make this my blog, with a few other people commenting from time to time. At the same time, I started it, so theoretically I'm the only person obligated to spend time here. I'm just glad some of you have said "hello," and that Ashley is posting pictures.

You do know I adore you guys, right?

Anyway, I've been thinking about what to write. Last summer was all about my experiences in a new country, and it was easy to ramble for hours because I scribbled down whatever was happening to me. This summer is more familiar, so to me my experiences seem less striking.

Then again, there's always some new facet of life flashing you its hindquarters.

How did Kafka put it? "The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet." Something like that. So I suppose as long as I give 30 minutes to my keyboard, something will drop off of my fingers.


Shonagon would start out with a metaphor.

In childhood it was the stories that were the most wonderful. Mother's voice danced into my ears, her words formed worlds more moving than life. Fairies and peaches and witches and beanstalks, and every tale had a meaning, no matter how terrible the ending seemed ...

Have I made a good start? Do I sound like an Empress's lady-in-waiting, a thousand years old and wise beyond all expectations?

Probably not. Still, it seemed a good way to impose purpose on this beginning. Incidentally, if you ever want some rainy-day reading, I highly recommend The Pillow Book. I talk about it all the time because it's one of those great finds. Not action, not so much by way of a plot. Just pages and pages of life as it was during the Heian Period in Japan. It's just like reading a blog, but meticulously executed, full of etiquette and subterfuge and grace.

If I wrote to you about my life right now, all you'd imagine is a cramped little bedroom, bare hangers skewered to the cluttered ironing board, clothes wrinkling on the office chair, junk food on my desk, and a tubby little beagle squeaking from the center of the mattress hoping for a bite of my chicken breast sandwich. Oh please mother, I will speak to you like a human, just give me a bit of the juicy deliciousness before I die here starving! The chihuahua I live with (until August, at least) has been pooped and walked and fed and petted, and she is back in her crate safe (for the moment) from the temptation of edible extension cords. The house is so quiet my whirring computer fan seems loud. And I am glad to have this indulgent solitude all to myself -- my messy room, my little corner of the world.

Tomorrow I will go to work, and life will be utter chaos. My desk will be immaculate. My files are alphabetized and numbered, and sorted into sections of notes, research, filings, correspondance. My desktop calendar shouts reminders at me in 30 minute intervals so I know to call J. Doe about item X delivered on MM/DD/YYYY. But the work is ultimately as productive as a hamster in a wheel. No matter how many people I meet, no matter how artful my interviews or successful my arguments (and 99% of the time I have no idea what I'm doing), I am still working with a system that creates almost as much meaningless suffering as it solves. And so while I try to use the law to make life better for people (or at least less destructive), I still look back to stories to give my life more meaning.

I still think of the sofa in my parent's house.

Hear my mother's voice.

This is home.

African friends

This summer I am working with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, in their public housing unit. We have a visiting attorney this summer by the name of Wanja. She just came in today. I wonder what country she is from?

We were introduced by a staff attorney this morning, and Wanja did a very African thing -- shook my hand, then held it as if we were old friends. I have to say, I love that gesture. It reminds me of Uganda and makes me want to be best friends, forever. And she knows my name. "Oh, Maisha, that means you must be full of life!" Wanja absolutely glows. I'll have to find her again later this afternoon. Maybe I can show her parts of Philadelphia after work.

Na penda, rafiki!

Anyway, just a passing note. This blog doesn't have to be all serious after all, does it?