Wednesday, October 28, 2009

another reason to heart nyc

it has been raining here for about 2 and a half days straight.

while my feet are wet, my hair is a mess, and i got splashed from a puddle by a bus this morning... i can still smile and say AT LEAST IT IS NOT SNOW!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

its alright cause i'm saved by the bell

i like celebrity gossip. i have a good memory for it and find genuine pleasure on staying up to date on the Hollywood News. so naturally in moving to NYC i was hoping that i may have some of my own brushes with fame. now whether those brushes were going to be organically or self-made isn't as important as it happened. i finally... after 2 months in the city... met some celebrities.

part of the bummer of being an Americorps*VISTA is that you have no money. but one of the cool things about being a VISTA with no money is that people know you do not have any money and they forward you a lot of emails about free happenings in the city. so when a national organization decided to organize a "free night of theater" event across the United States, we Bronx-Lebanon Hospital VISAs jumped on board.

while i was reviewing the list of free tickets i found a play entitled "The Understudy" staring Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Mark-Paul was from the 90's teen favorite, tv show "Saved By the Bell." I had grown up watching "Saved By the Bell" in reruns and have undoubtedly seen every episode 4 or 5 times. Mark-Paul (aka Zack Morris) on stage sounded like a sure bet.

on Wednesday night all 10 of us VISTAs headed downtown to the theater district to see our free play with Zack Morris. we got to the theater early and were sitting outside enjoying the unusually warm weather for October. i was chatting with my friend sarah when all of a sudden my other friend julie grabbed my arm and hissed into my ear..

"oh my gosh, oh my gosh that is Keanu Reeves. look over there."

so i looked over at a man standing by a garbage can shelling peanuts. through his indian jones style hat, long hair, and scruffy beard it was in fact Keanu Reeves.

me: "go get his autograph"
julie: "oh my gosh i can't. i can't talk to him."
me: "don't by silly. just go up to him. he looks nice."
julie: "no. i just can't. tess you go ask if it is really Keanu and get the autograph."

tess was also sitting next to julie and agreed. she went up to him with pen and paper in hand and asked him if he was in fact keanu reeves. keanu said yes and was very friendly. he signed the paper and asked if we were going to the play. he said he was too and then strolled into the theater. instantly our little group had all their phones out texting and tweeting, letting everyone know we had just seen Keanu Reeves.

i'm not going to lie though, he didn't really do it for me. i didn't get excited to see him. it was almost a let down to all those years of cramming celebrity gossip into my head. i should have been thrilled, but instead he did not bring out my inner fan.

we went into the theater, got our seats, and settled into the show. after a couple of opening lines from the narrator, it happened. Zack Morris entered from the back of the theater and walked down an aisle to the stage. my body did an involuntary jerk, i had to cover my mouth so not to scream, and i felt the inner fan in me take over my senses. oh my gosh. it was zack morris! the zack morris! he did it! he brought out my inner fan! my crazy, neurotic, shameless fan.

after the production we staked out the stage door and laid siege for Zack Morris to come out. I had my program and pen ready for an autograph. at one point while waiting i began to get nervous and began to question whether i'd be able to speak when my time came, but when he appeared through the doors there was no time to hesitate; now or never. we rushed him, bombarded him with pictures, questions, and autographs. he was extremely kind, asked us questions in return, and posed for pictures. then like a dream, he was gone into the new york night. my moment with zack was over.

while i ate my granola this morning, i flipped on the TV to a "Saved By the Bell" rerun. I couldn't help, but smile a bit. zack morris had moved something in me that keanu just could not and he will always keep a piece of my heart with him.

p.s. i heart nyc.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

just a note


please notice my new post below the "morning commute" post...

it has a really beautiful passage from a book in it and i think it is definitely worth reading.

just wanna note that because the website for some reason listed the blogs out of order.

thank you. hope you enjoy.


miss everyone at home!! had my first celebrity sightings last night... if you haven't heard yet. will try to write about them IN DETAIL tomorrow. omg. u r going to be so jealous. all i have to say is... Zack Morris. oh yes. zack morris.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

morning commute

i ride the train (aka subway) a lot. I am on it for between 2 to 3 hours a day with my commute between Brooklyn and the Bronx. plus any additional joy riding that i squeeze in my days. the train is an interesting place and brings with it extremely interesting people. because there is such a range of riders there are some people who you may notice have some mental health issues and are just trying to make it through their day like anyone else. then there are people who are just plan mean, ignorant, and cruel; like my fellow rider this morning.

i ride 2 trains for my commute. i take the L train for about 10 minutes to get out of brooklyn and into Manhattan. in Manhattan i then switch to the 4 train and ride it uptown for about an hour to get to the bronx. this morning i switched onto the 4 train and and it was my lucky morning i was able to find a spot to sit. i sat down next to a man that only judging by his appearance seemed to be of middle eastern descent. across the isle from us was another man who had a rough look about him, in his 20s, wearing a baggy red sweatsuit. red was leaning across the isle towards the man next to me and saying the follow statements...

"i am going to fucking kills you, i am going to fucking find you and your towel head friends and slice them all, fuck you for coming to our country and fucking with us, i know where you live, i know when your kids brush their teeth, i am going to find them while they are brushing their teeth and fucking kill them..."

he continued basically repeating the same statements over and over. when i sat down i had my ipod on and between songs i caught what he was saying and quickly took my ear buds out so that i could hear better. once i realized he was clearly threatening the man i looked around in horror to see what my fellow riders were doing about it... nothing. no one was doing a thing. people were reading books and newspapers, staring at the wall, listening to their ipods, playing with their cell phones, but not one person was appearing to notice or step in on what this man was saying. even the man being threatened was playing with his iphone and not once looking up at his attacker.

so what do i do? i said something.

being short tempered and stunned that no one was stopping this harassment i decided to ask the gentleman who he was talking to.

"none of your fucking business. i am talking to my fucking self."
"ok. well i would prefer not to hear threatening statements on my morning commute, can you stop?"
"fuck you. who the fuck do you think you are? i know where you live. i am going to fucking come and kill you..." and on and on he went.

so i basically took the attention off the gentleman next to me and let it all come down on me. from 14th street until 149th street (when red got off the train). not one single person on a full train said anything to him as he continued to threaten and harass me the whole ride.

i exchanged a few more statements with him and then decided to stop. nothing i was going to say was going to change his mind on how he felt and no one on that train was going to back me up. at 149th street he stood up, got directly in face, made a gun gesture, and said he was going to find me.

not going to lie. the little wisconsin girl in me came out and i was scared.

as i continued to ride on until my stop i thought about how sad the whole situation was. why hadn't anyone stopped him? why hadn't anyone else stepped in? has our culture/generation/society truly become so individualistic or jaded that an instance like that doesn't call for attention?

i told the story to a coworker when i got to work. he told me that i needed to be careful and that people in the city don't mess around. he is right to a point, but i still think i did the right thing this morning. i can't sit by and let someone spread their hate like that. i believe that in not doing something you are truly as guilty as the individual committing the act. the idea that so many people live by the thought "you against the world" doesn't have to be so. speaking out creates community and communities make differences. make differences.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


last year while living in st paul i joined a gym. it was a great routine to get into of going to the gym everyday after work. i tried a lot of new types of exercising that i might not of done on my own: hip hop dancing, pilates, kick boxing, step aerobics, and yoga.

i had dabbled in a bit of yoga in college, but had never became a committed yogi. so when my friend jada and i started regularly going to a yoga class i was excited. i was on the path to becoming a yogi! as the summer months approached though i began training for the 1/2 marathon, poodle and i moved to minneapolis, worked on the house constantly, and my yoga practice went out the window.

when i moved to nyc i hoped to regain my yoga momentum that i had started in minnesota. lack of funding was going to be an issue though, until a fellow VISTA told me about a yoga study called YOGA TO THE PEOPLE ( A fantastic studio thats classes are donation based! that means i can go take a yoga class for $1!

sounds amazing right? it is. but with such a deal there is a catch... space. because it is donation based they try to cram as many people into the studio as possible. that makes sense when trying to turn a profit. we are literally 1 inch away from our neighbors on all four sides. it takes some getting use to and also some expert maneuvering between stretched out legs, arms, feet, and hands.

while my friend and i were laughing about the close proximity of a class the other day she made a really good point. the name of the studio is YOGA TO THE PEOPLE and with that name brings a sense of community and collective practice. i really liked how she put that and it makes me feel a little more connected to my fellow new yorker on the mat over. the idea of doing something so personal and spiritual next to a complete stranger is moving and reflective of the idea of community that i wrote about yesterday.

at the end of every class during our finial pose the instructor typically reads a quote or proverb or short passage. the other night she read an amazing passage from all places the children's book, The Velveteen Rabbit. As dorky as this sounds i invite you to reflect on this meaning and how beautiful it is...

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

kindness is so much sexier.

i would like to take the time this morning to let all the men of new york city in on a couple secrets...

Secret #1: Saying "Hey there mommy" is not something that really makes me wanna get with you. I am not you mother and even if I was your mother ... ew.

Secret #2: Making kissing noises at me as i walk by also does not turn me on. stop.

Secret #3 (this secret is universal and can be applied to anyone who tries to make comments at someone else walking down the street, not just the individuals of nyc): if the person you are yelling at ignores your sexual harassment and continues along their way, that then does not give you the right to change from sexual harassment to screaming degrading and threatening statements at them. i know it is probably hard for you to understand this, but it is not a compliment to get harassed while trying to go about your day and in the wrong instance those situations can actually be experienced as scary to the victim.

try just smiling and saying hello as i walk by. enjoy the view and know that kindness is so much sexier than harassment.

Friday, October 9, 2009

gotta get this off my chest

october is Domestic Violence Awareness month. It is a time to share education, advocacy, and reflection on the issue of violence.

while start strong bronx is a prevention program for teen dating violence, we have still been involved with some of the month's awareness raising activities. one thing in particular has been a theater production that start strong bronx collaborated with the bronx pregones theater ( on entitled: "texting for life."

"texting for life" is an original play written specifically for the start strong bronx and pregone theater partnership. the play highlights the danger of dating violence through means of technology; abuse through instant messaging, cell phones, text messaging, picture sharing, emails, etc. these examples are becoming increasingly more common in unhealthy teenage relationships. and just as with "traditional" methods of abuse, abuse through technology allows for power, control, and manipulation by an abuser over their partner.

the play is interactive. you watch a 15 minute scene between two teenage actors whose relationship escalates to the verge of violence. at that point the play pauses and a facilitator asks the audience questions, discusses the dynamics of dating violence, what would you do in this situation, community resources, etc. the play has been designed for students and is going to be run through the month of november with daily groups of students from neighboring schools coming to watch.

i think this play is a fabulous idea and i truly enjoyed the opening night. but.


i believe that when discussing issues such as violence in intimate partner relationships or violence involving children it is so important to always, always remember that..


during the discussion section of the opening night performance people were theorizing about why the abuser was acting the way he was: he was insecure, he was using drugs, he had a poor relationship with his parents, his parents abused him, he has a bad temper, etc. and while it worth noting that some people who abuse may come from challenging backgrounds... THE ACT OF HURTING SOMEONE ELSE IS A CHOICE. PEOPLE WHO ABUSE CHOOSE TO ABUSE.

i am sick of hearing excuses for why people hurt others. it is frustrating. our culture as a whole needs to start holding perpetrators more accountable for their actions.

whew. just gotta get that off my chest.