20 September 2011

on music

... how could i have forgotten music?

while it is certainly true that poetry has been keeping me safe and warm at night and water has been reminding me to be light and buoyant, music has been rocking me to sleep.  during the past several months, i have had the opportunity to see some phenomenal live performances, (thank you, mister harvey), that have had as deep an impact as water and poetry have in my healing process.

poetry has said for me all the things i could not.
water has reminded me to be gentle with myself.
and music has given me my voice back.

12 September 2011

Memory Keepers for So-Called 9/11 “Jumpers.” : The New Yorker



by SEPTEMBER 12, 2011

My family in Haiti has been removing rubble from a school that was shattered during the earthquake of January 12, 2010. In the process, they have found bones, human bones. Because they are not scientists or DNA experts, it is impossible for them to trace the bones back to the bodies to which they once belonged: active, lively people who spoke and laughed and danced and loved.

Whose bones are these? they wonder. Do they belong to the bright student who was always first in her class, to a parent with whom a teacher had an appointment? Are they the teacher’s bones?

Listening in on phone conversations about the bones, I think of fossils dug up thousands and even millions of years after death. There is Lucy, the three-million-year-old Ethiopian; Otzi, the five-thousand-year-old Ice Man; and the casts of entire families buried beneath Pompeii.

It is the burden of the survivors and the curious to decipher final moments, whether they occurred a year, ten years, or a thousand years ago. Do they speak to the reality of a particular time, to the nature of death itself, or to an individual’s final instincts during his or her last moments on earth? In cases where we have a personal connection, we want to know whether our loved ones suffered. Did they have any regrets about things left undone, words unsaid? After two years, after ten years, there are still people around to look back and to remember. However, after a hundred, a thousand, or ten thousand years, the bones and images will have to speak for themselves.

The image that lingers most in my mind from September 11, 2001, is that of human beings attempting to fly—men and women catapulted from or fleeing a volcano-like inferno of fuel, fire, heat, and smoke, then cutting across a clear blue sky, down toward the ground. Some were alone. Some were in pairs. Some tried to make parachutes of ordinary things—curtains, clothes. One woman held on to her purse, perhaps thinking that she might need it on the very slight chance that she landed safely on the ground.

Televised tragedies make death—that most private of departures—public, national, global. No deaths were more public on September 11, 2001, than those of the so-called “jumpers,” a word that many have rightfully called a misnomer, because these were certainly not the deaths these people would have chosen for themselves.

We are often told that we must not compare tragedies, but how can we not when we experience them in the same body and with the same mind? Past horrors give us a language with which to define new ones. Worldwide terrors become personalized.

My father, for example, who woke me from a deep sleep in another part of New York, to tell me that the World Trade Center had been destroyed, died four years later, of pulmonary fibrosis—a disease that also struck many 9/11 first responders. He had spent part of that day in downtown Brooklyn, picking up people fleeing Manhattan and chauffeuring them home. That eerie coincidence is one more thing that links September 11th to all the other horrors that my father endured in his life, including a brutal dictatorship.

My father was extremely critical of the television stations that showed the so-called jumpers. Yes, the images were shocking and deeply unsettling, but they also rendered undeniable the true horror of that day, even though, like bones, they mostly tell one story, the final one. The job of reconstructing lives belongs to the living, the memory keepers, which is what all of us became that day, willing or unwilling witnesses, unable to look away.

A few days after September 11th, when I ventured near the still smoky ashes of the World Trade Center, I kept thinking about a clear blue sky that had rained lives. I got on a bus filled with other ordinary New Yorkers whose eyes were still teary and red, and whose mouths and noses were covered with dust masks. Besides the shared sensation of having been shattered, though, there was also a feeling of community: having gone through this with the city, wherever in the world you had been born you were now a lifelong New Yorker. Those of us who were from countries that have always been, in their own ways, terrorized could now be counsellors to our previously sheltered friends, but only barely. For, no matter how much we immerse ourselves in communal grieving, we all carry within ourselves our own private memorials of loss and an increasing fear of future ones.

Watching any disaster, from near or far, makes us aware that memorials are not only places but also experiences. Acts of remembrance can surface out of daily rituals, even interrupted ones. A place setting left unused at a dinner table. An oversized shoe into which we slip a foot. A prayer whispered over unclaimable bones.

Though I occasionally suffer from a fear of flying, during the past ten years getting on an airplane has become for me an act of remembrance. Each necessary surrender to every new, sometimes frustrating security measure is an acknowledgment that I, too, am attempting to glide on wind currents on borrowed wings while also hoping—praying—to land safely on the ground.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2011/09/12/110912ta_talk_danticat#ixzz1XlwURxv4

29 August 2011

an ode to water

this summer has been all about water.  almost every adventure has been inclusive of replenishing and healing water.  coming alive again after such a difficult transition in my life has been due, in large part, to water.  with so much water in my astrological chart, it is no wonder that my safe and healing place is in its calming depths.  my darling friends have emerged from the woodwork, unwittingly, to swoop me up and sing me songs of water.  canoes, swim suits, inner tubes, gleaming hair, and beach blankets have been the symbols of summer that have whispered to me and brought me back to life.  
thank you, friends.
thank you, water.

25 August 2011

The Right Brain Initiative Manifesto

i have been wonderfully, wonderously selected by the right brain initiative for an internship this fall.  take a peek at this video to get a little taste of what i'm in for!

Right Brain Initiative from studionumber9 on Vimeo.

23 August 2011

Natya Leela

Electricity, 1876

When I came to, in that year
of bamboo, then carbon, then
filament, I learned to make

my own light.  At night, my breasts were incandescent,

soft as white spotlighted jades.
And the school girls who knew
how to see in the dark brought me

back in their arms.  We set up our atalier in the city's

reddest section.  We plied the marquee
makers with our sugared tips, took
their likenesses with powdered flash;

some took their last names.  I just held their trembling faces.

When the men changed, grew
more famous still, we painted our faces
in an electric gold the blind could see.

And Tesla hung our brothel lights, made our copper eggs

stand on their ends - but I took Edison
to my bed.  For him, I coiled a wet-
licked curl and buried it in a bulb,

I pressed my hands together.  The city smoldered, then burned.

14 August 2011

oak trees and dry grass

last week i visited a friend's property in northern california.
i needed desperately to slow down and ruminate, and to spend quiet days in nature.
and i did.
with a faithful canine companion named johnny cassius clay.
he licked my tears, and sat under the oak trees i climbed.
he woke me every morning with his face resting in the crook of my neck and followed me faithfully on every walk.
he cocked his ears every time i took a photo, and never failed to bring me something to throw over and over again.
his needs were simple, and he never asked anything of me except to be by my side (and some scratches).
in short, he was just the companion i needed.
below is a picture chronicle of those few lovely days.

train through umpqua
the city

anderson valley
the homesteader
stick art
a cook's kitchen

cash, the rig, and ss james

navarro river

25 July 2011

the power of vulnerability

for anybody who has ever struggled to break open, to love, to be loved.
for anybody who has ever struggled to belong.

14 July 2011

on the subject of maidenhair ferns

close the computer.  get up and move.  dance to your core.  explore those inexplicable longings.  fall in love with your brain.  write.  draw.  explore.  think and feel in unison.  channel the unchanneled parts of you.  learn new words.  sing warbling songs as loud as possible.  take an adventure; sure-footed and epic.  breathe.  laugh.  smile.  cry.  dance.  pant.  reconcile with the child inside.  inspire and be inspired.

13 July 2011

my relationship with poetry lately

lately poetry has been my guiding light.  i don't know why and i don't know how, but it has been the greatest force driving me back into the light.  this poem describes beautifully my relationship with poetry lately.

how poetry comes to me

it comes blundering over the
boulders at night, it stays
frightened outside the 
range of my campfire
i go to meet it at the
edge of the light

--gary snyder

06 July 2011

why i like to cry


out of infinite desires rise
finite deeds like weak fountains
that fall back in early trembling arcs.
but those, which otherwise in us
keep hidden, our happy strengths--
they come forth in these dancing tears.

--rainer maria rilke
(from the book of images)

12 June 2011

tomboy style

upon discovery of this blog, i gave a silent little 'whoop!' to myself. i've always naturally embraced tomboy style, but have been told many times of late, that wearing men's clothes does not a feminine woman make. this site is the perfect example of what beautiful, graceful, classy women look like when they wear menswear, or menswear-inspired clothing. there is a certain ease with which these women seem to move that i really admire and appreciate.

Tomboy Style

03 June 2011


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye
from The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems

a little sunshine for your day

01 June 2011

the journey

shortly after returning from santa barbara, my auntie val sent me this poem.  i read it daily and reflect upon the conversations i have participated in lately with dear friends about our own individual journeys.  this poem, shared with me by a dear friend, i will share now with you... my dear friends.

the journey

one day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"mend my life!"
each voice cried.
but you didn't stop.
you knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
it was already late
enough and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones,
but little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

--mary oliver

ps... if you are not familiar with her work, i highly recommend becoming acquainted.

25 May 2011

a few photos from henry's beach

my mom, dad and i just got back from taking a road trip to santa barbara.  these photos were taken on a morning walk with my auntie val and uncle jack, at one of my favorite beaches.

my dad and i lagged far behind the others to collect small treasures, and to ruminate on life and love, heartache and moving forward.  it was a morning that reminded me of the magic of life, and of the strength of my desire to make magic daily.

22 May 2011

14 March 2011


i had the opportunity last week to model for giovanna, the owner of una, one of my favorite clothing boutiques in portland (actually, one of my favorites period).  while normally i can only enter her small haven and drool at the beautiful clothes she selects, last week i got to prance around and pose in them.  what an honor.  and what a delightful woman to work with.  she is charming and gracious and sweet and is most certainly worth visiting at una.  the clothing and accessories she sells are quite obviously selected with care and love.  when you leave you will either cradle a new treasure in your arms or want to come back everyday until you have unearthed every treasure in her trove.

10 March 2011

return home

i haven't felt this way in a long time... since my return from italy almost a decade ago, in fact.  the way in which, upon return home, all i want to do is hide out and re-orient myself.  this feeling is not exclusive to me.  it's the feeling that many international aid workers must experience with regularity.  it's the slow adaptation back into the world of people who speak the same language as you, the lack of need to constantly change currency in your head, the taking for granted of basic essentials (like clean water, toilet paper, shelter, transportation, etc.), and not seeing people living in dire conditions EVERYDAY.  it's a strange feeling.  i thought i would be relieved to be back in the land-of-plenty, but i instead finding myself... lacking.  it's almost as if life is too easy.  ironic.
everyday i struggle to find the middle ground between here and there.  i find myself needing to contribute directly, but unsure of how to do so from home.  i feel despondent and helpless.

and then i read about liz at sseko designs who has found a way to do it in a really fun and creative way.
and then i read about chris, the creator of the art of nonconformity , and his unconventional and adventurous take on life.

and i come back to my own unique path.  and my own pressing need to help make this world a better world for future generations.  and of my mom's proclamation that i have always marched to the beat of a different drummer.  and of my dad's proclamation that i am a work of art.  and i remember that, while i am in charge of most things in my life, there is a greater essence guiding me on my path.

and i am thankful for the tangible and intangible forces that help me re-gain perspective.

thank you liz and chris, strangers who have graciously shared their stories for the benefit of the rest of us.
thank you mom and dad for helping me remember that i am special.
thank you dear dear friends for shining your light on me when mine goes dim.
and thank you, unseen essence, for always guiding me back to my path.

24 January 2011

a year and a day

please take a few minutes to watch this video brian just made about haiti and the work that ilf is doing here.  it is beautiful.

a Year and a Day from Brian Martin on Vimeo.

12 January 2011

EAT.DRINK.THINK.: Butternut Squash Soup with star anise and ginger s...

EAT.DRINK.THINK.: Butternut Squash Soup with star anise and ginger s...: "Have I mentioned my affinity for all things delicious, fast, and easy in these days of being a slave to an A.D.D. afflicted one-year-old? Oh..."

can't wait to try this in haiti. although the shrimp selection leaves a bit (a lot) to be desired, the other ingredients should be quite easy to find in haiti. and since sunday is soup day here, i think i will try this out on sunday. enjoy!

11 January 2011

haiti, continued

sometimes haiti is really hard.  days like this one, however, are food for my soul.