Saturday, June 6, 2020

It's not their problem, it's mine


(Artwork and statement from Banksy)

Friday, June 5, 2020

Black lives matter


The Black Lives Matter street mural in DC is so large you can see it from spaceDC mayor Muriel Bowser commissioned the artwork to send a message to the world: 

"We know what's going on in our country. There is a lot of anger. There is a lot of distrust of police and the government," she said at a news conference. "There are people who are craving to be heard and to be seen and to have their humanity recognized. We had the opportunity to send that message loud and clear on a very important street in our city."

Amen.


Rebuking Trump. (BBC)

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

A picture is worth...


A picture is worth a thousand words. The top photo is the America I recognize: unity, peace, justice, love, kindness, steadfastness, integrity. The bottom photo is an America I do not recognize: division, chaos, hate, incompetence, foolishness, bigotry, danger. 

I am angry and horrified. I am also uplifted by the hundreds of protests in the US as well as all over the world. Solidarity in the fight against abuse of power and systemic racism. And shame on this president. This dictator wannabe who is weaponizing Christianity to sow more seeds of division. 

We must fight back mightily at the ballot box in November.


Where are you? (Insider)

Sunday, May 31, 2020

People pushed to the edge



Don't understand the protests? What you're seeing is people pushed to the edge
By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Los Angeles Times
May 30, 2020

What was your first reaction when you saw the video of the white cop kneeling on George Floyd’s neck while Floyd croaked, “I can’t breathe”?
If you’re white, you probably muttered a horrified, “Oh, my God” while shaking your head at the cruel injustice. If you’re black, you probably leapt to your feet, cursed, maybe threw something (certainly wanted to throw something), while shouting, “Not @#$%! again!” Then you remember the two white vigilantes accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through their neighborhood in February, and how if it wasn’t for that video emerging a few weeks ago, they would have gotten away with it. And how those Minneapolis cops claimed Floyd was resisting arrest but a store’s video showed he wasn’t. And how the cop on Floyd’s neck wasn’t an enraged redneck stereotype, but a sworn officer who looked calm and entitled and devoid of pity: the banality of evil incarnate.
Maybe you also are thinking about the Karen in Central Park who called 911 claiming the black man who asked her to put a leash on her dog was threatening her. Or the black Yale University grad student napping in the common room of her dorm who was reported by a white student. Because you realize it’s not just a supposed “black criminal” who is targeted, it’s the whole spectrum of black faces from Yonkers to Yale.
You start to wonder if it should be all black people who wear body cams, not the cops.
What do you see when you see angry black protesters amassing outside police stations with raised fists? If you’re white, you may be thinking, “They certainly aren’t social distancing.” Then you notice the black faces looting Target and you think, “Well, that just hurts their cause.” Then you see the police station on fire and you wag a finger saying, “That’s putting the cause backward.”
You’re not wrong — but you’re not right, either. The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness — write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change — the needle hardly budges.
But COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting. Just as the slimy underbelly of institutional racism is being exposed, it feels like hunting season is open on blacks. If there was any doubt, President Trump’s recent tweets confirm the national zeitgeist as he calls protesters “thugs” and looters fair game to be shot.
Yes, protests often are used as an excuse for some to take advantage, just as when fans celebrating a hometown sports team championship burn cars and destroy storefronts. I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn. But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.
So, maybe the black community’s main concern right now isn’t whether protesters are standing three or six feet apart or whether a few desperate souls steal some T-shirts or even set a police station on fire, but whether their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers will be murdered by cops or wannabe cops just for going on a walk, a jog, a drive. Or whether being black means sheltering at home for the rest of their lives because the racism virus infecting the country is more deadly than COVID-19.
What you should see when you see black protesters in the age of Trump and coronavirus is people pushed to the edge, not because they want bars and nail salons open, but because they want to live. To breathe.
Worst of all, is that we are expected to justify our outraged behavior every time the cauldron bubbles over. Almost 70 years ago, Langston Hughes asked in his poem “Harlem”: “What happens to a dream deferred? /… Maybe it sags / like a heavy load. / Or does it explode?”
Fifty years ago, Marvin Gaye sang in “Inner City Blues”: “Make me wanna holler / The way they do my life.” And today, despite the impassioned speeches of well-meaning leaders, white and black, they want to silence our voice, steal our breath.
So what you see when you see black protesters depends on whether you’re living in that burning building or watching it on TV with a bowl of corn chips in your lap waiting for “NCIS” to start.
What I want to see is not a rush to judgment, but a rush to justice.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Be an ally (listen, learn, do!)



Sunday, May 24, 2020

100,000


Words cannot even begin to express...


Remembering. (NYT)

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Come back, New York


Have you been looking through old photos? Longing for a time pre-pandemic? This is me on the steps of The Met in 2012. Look at all those people not wearing masks and not social distancing! I am grieving for a New York I had no idea would vanish overnight.

There is comfort knowing New Yorkers are collectively grieving. Though we can't gather and embrace and cry together, reading these heartfelt love letters are like a balm for my soul.

  • Forgive me, New York, as I forgive you. (NYT)
  • We miss dollar slices, rats and La Guardia. (Man Repeller)
  • We miss museums. (The New Yorker)
  • The crowds, the big-ticket blockbusters that were a subway ride away, "just everything." (NYT)
  • We miss the sounds of New York. (New York Public Library)


A list of broken dreams. (Vulture)

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Is fashion even relevant right now?


Day 50-whatever in quarantine and I wonder what's the point of having more than one outfit besides pajamas (PJs count as an outfit, right?). I've been wearing the same thing every day: black sweatpants and a blue flannel button down. Sometimes my quarantine outfit doesn't smell very fresh because of whatever I cooked the night before. I have no shame. 

If I don't feel like getting dressed I will stay in my favorite pajamas, pictured above. It's coke bottle glasses most days. My make-up brushes have been neglected for weeks. Lipstick seems like an irrelevant luxury (why bother when you'll be covering up with a mask?). The hair? I'm letting it grow like a mermaid's and letting the white hairs have their way.

It begs the question: is fashion even relevant right now?

The pandemic is putting a lot of things into perspective. Before coronavirus my lens was wide angle: I took the world in, curious and full of hope, always anticipating an adventure. Now that lens is in sharp focus: survival. When all of humanity is in lockdown, there's little bandwidth for designer dresses, $100 moisturizer or getting your nails done. These things seem trivial, even frivolous. 

These days, there is liberation in letting go of my past grooming behavior. But I do miss dressing up. I miss swiping Nars Schiap on my lips. I miss wearing heels and clutching a cute purse. I look at pre-pandemic photos and think, "Wow, that was the old me."


What's the point of a fashion magazine? (NYT)

Thursday, April 23, 2020

We're all grieving


What kind of emotions are hitting you as you shelter in place?

The world is changing so fast I have whiplash. It feels like the month of Forevuary (the days just melt into one another) and though it's temporary I know things will never be the same. There was BC (before coronavirus) and there will be AD (after the devastation [of Covid-19]). 

Everyone keeps saying things like, "When life goes back to normal," and "After all this is over," but I don't think there will be such thing. Normal is never coming back. Just like going to the airport was forever changed after 9/11. 

When sheltering in place is lifted, I will think twice about putting my teenage kid on the subway. I will wonder how many germs are circulating in the coffee shop where I'm writing. I will weigh the pros and cons of attending a concert, going to the farmers market, eating in a crowded restaurant, getting on a plane.    

This is hitting me and I am grieving.

But life cannot and should not go back to the way it was. This is a wake up call. This is our chance to make change. We need to do better because it hasn't been good for a lot of people way before coronavirus.     

Where do we go from here? The experts say grief happens in stages, with acceptance being the last step in the process. This is happening. I have to figure out how to proceed. "Acceptance, as you might imagine, is where the power lies. We find control in acceptance," says David Kessler, the world's foremost expert on grief, in an interview with Harvard Business Review.

I'm not quite there yet but I have faith I will get to a place of acceptance and forward movement. For today, I acknowledge that I'm sad and anxious and nostalgic for simpler days. 

  
  

That discomfort you're feeling is grief. (Harvard Business Review)

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

What I miss



Saturday, April 18, 2020

Thank God she's back



Fiona Apple is back and unbound. Praise the Lord!

My favorite lines from her single, "Fetch the Bolt Cutters":

I listened because
I hadn't found my own voice yet
So all I could hear was the noise that
People make when they don't know shit
But I didn't know that yet

I grew up in the shoes they told me I could fill

Shoes that were not made for running up that hill
And I need to run up that hill, I need to run up that hill
I will, I will, I will, I will, I will


Fiona Apple's art of radical sensitivity. (The New Yorker)

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Spring in full bloom

Something dies but something new is born - which is why the chaos of our times is, in a strange way, a sign of hope; something new is being born within. Out of chaos, a star is born. Breakdown can be break through if we recognize a new pattern of life struggling to emerge.
-Ilia Delio, Franciscan sister and scientist

New York sees signs of hope. (ABC News)

Monday, April 13, 2020

Covid-19 resume


I think I need to follow to Matthew's lead and update my resume. 


"I'm scared to go to work." (Business Insider)

Sunday, April 12, 2020

God is



[Rise up] O sleeper, awake!
Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.
Rise up, work of my hands, for you were created in my image.
Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you.
Together ... we cannot be separated!

(Adapted from an ancient Christian homily, Day of the Lord: Easter Triduum, Liturgical Press: 1993)


How to do Easter during coronavirus. (The Atlantic)


Saturday, April 11, 2020

Evening glow at Mono Lake (Chiura Obata)


We won't be able to see Chiura Obata's stunning retrospective at the Smithsonian American Art Museum any time soon (sigh), but we can learn about the Japanese American artist and appreciate his work from home.

I read this fantastic article about Obata and learned some fascinating things:


  • He was a prodigy, the son of a painter and drawing instructor from Okayama, Japan
  • He ran away from home to study art in Tokyo at age 14
  • By 17, he won his first major award and was being solicited to paint for magazines and books
  • He wanted to break out of what he felt was a constrained existence and immigrated to the US in 1903, knowing no one and having no work
  • In San Francisco, he found room and board as a domestic helper and began the learn English and take art classes
  • He was painting a streetscape and was jeered and spit on by a group of construction workers; he fought back and was arrested for hitting one of the workers over the head with a piece of iron; the judge, who thought it wasn't a fair fight, declared Obata not guilty of attempted murder
  • He began meeting other Japanese American artists and founded the East West Art Society in 1921
  • His prints demonstrate his painstaking perfectionism and signature style of blending American and Japanese traditions
  • His love of the Sierra Nevadas was first kindled during a six-week visit to Yosemite, during which he created some 150 watercolor sketches
  • He was among the 120,000 to be imprisoned in squalid incarceration camps during World War II
  • His wife and three of his four children were sent to live in the stables at the Tanforan Racetrack in San Bruno, California; his family was forced to give up art stores and a studio they owned in Berkeley and Oakland
  • He opened an art school and created some 350 paintings during his time in internment, including "Examination Time," which depicted the drudgery and humiliations endured by the prisoners
  • His paintings during internment were his way of showing gratitude to nature and a way of keeping himself grounded in hope, "If I hadn't gone to that kind of place I wouldn't have realized the beauty that exists in that enormous bleakness."




Read the entire Smithsonian article here.


Considering the role of art in a pandemic. (Artforum)

Friday, April 10, 2020

Grocery shopping during the time of coronavirus


Going out for food runs has become an event. It's often the only time we go outside, unless we're out for family walks, and now takes the place of things we enjoyed pre-pandemic: eating at restaurants, going to the movies, visiting museums, taking the kids to the park.

Every time we enter a grocery store or our neighborhood bodega, I say a prayer of thanks. I'm grateful we're able to buy food and that the shelves are always fully stocked (except for the toilet paper - six weeks into the pandemic and how are people still hoarding the TP?). I'm grateful to the grocery store workers who show up every day and risk their health so I can shop. 

We've got our errand-running down to a system: our favorite grocery store in Chinatown for produce and specialty Asian items, Trader Joe's for frozen meals, Whole Foods for bratty things like Justin's Peanut Butter and soy-free vegan mayo and butter, the bodega for one-off items like OJ or eggs or laundry detergent, and the new neighborhood market for paper products (they always have toilet paper and I'm not telling you where!).

I've got my shopping list up on my phone, yet I find myself browsing the beauty and health sections of the store. Looking at scented lotions and lipsticks and bath salts. I have no use for these things in my life right now. Yet I'm drawn to them. Maybe to feel some sort of normalcy? 

How about you? Has grocery shopping become an eventful occasion? Or perhaps something you dread?


Diary of a grocery store worker during the pandemic. (NPR)



Thursday, April 9, 2020

Quarantini


Tonight's quarantine cocktail. Be safe and find moments to relax, my friends. 


Ina's happy hour for the win. (Grub Street)

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Daily walks with masks


We now wear masks when go out for our daily walks. Not gonna lie, I hate it. But it's necessary and we must do it (everyone must!) in order to stay safe and protect others.

One positive thing about this mad, mad world is slowing down and getting to know our surrounding neighborhoods intimately. We take our time because these days we have more than a New York minute. 



I notice little shops - ones I've passed a hundred times - and tuck them away in my mind for a future visit. I say a little prayer for these mom-and-pops, that they will survive this economic devastation and re-open after the pandemic is over. 

I love you, New York.


Rules for using the sidewalk during coronavirus. (NYT)

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Grieving for my sick city


I'm an urbanite to my core and this idea of "social distancing" (though absolutely necessary right now) is devastating to me. To live in a city like New York is to trade private space for public space. It means depending - and thriving - on interdependence.

I don't have a dining room but that's OK because I am lucky enough to patronize my neighborhood's restaurants and bars. I don't have storage space but that's OK because everything I need is at my bodega. I don't have a home office but that's OK because I can work at coffee shops. But now all of these supports have disappeared for the foreseeable future.

The first time I moved to New York I was 26 and about to start graduate school. Six weeks later it was 9/11. My heart broke for this beautiful city but I saw her rise from the (literal) ashes. I witnessed the incredible resilience of everyday New Yorkers. I moved back for the second time this past summer, this time with my husband and two kids (it was my dream to come back and raise my kids here). Nine months later we are wrestling with this virus. Schools are shut down and everyone is on edge and now the mayor is seriously considering a citywide lockdown. But I know, deep in my bones, WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS.

Sending you love and elbow bumps from NYC. 


Photo of The Oculus by Victor J. Blue for the NYT.
For those who revel in urban life, it's hard to believe it can just stop. (NYT)


Saturday, March 14, 2020

A prayer for uncertain times

My pastor shared this prayer with our church. Passing it on to you. Sending you lots of love and light from NYC. XOXO.

Tracking the impact of coronavirus in the US. (NYT)

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Be a lady, they said