Monday, December 29, 2008


Here's another story of hope for today:
Interfaith Worker Justice victory in Chicago for Electrical workers-


For the past four days, I've been in Daytona Beach, Florida visiting my family. It's been a fun trip with weather in the 70s nearly every day and clear skies. This is a land of open skies and spaces, with few buildings higher than 2 stories. My relatives consider three stories a 'high rise!' (I'm serious!) Out here, the only things blotting out the horizon are the giant hotels and condos on the beach. But further inland where my family resides, the sun shines uninhibited over every acre.

At first I had no desire to do much besides talk to my family, but since arriving, I’ve gone biking, boating and I went on my first golf game. 18 holes, and I'm happy to say the driving range actually helped out! I didn't look like a total doofus-if Tiger Woods had had one too many Mai Tais, he might have been about my level!

I've always seen Florida as more of a vacation spot than a possible home. I've thought I needed a city with more of a walking culture, bookstores, arts, local sports, 20 and 30-somethings, and of course career opportunities.

However, one thing these trips make me think is being up north is not a necessity for me, because I could do without winters.

When you’re a child, winter is a thrill: you get hot chocolate, days off from school, money from shoveling driveways, sledding, snow angels, and snowball fights. Yet over the years that turns to digging your car out of the driveway, worries about falling on icy sidewalks, and getting to work late because of all the traffic. Suddenly, hot chocolate isn’t enough to compensate.

I'd love to find a home where ice cold winters are exceptions rather than the rule. Whether that's DC or parts further south, only time will tell, but I guess I can begin searching in that direction.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Today the high temperature was about 23 degrees and windy in the city. I met a homeless man in the subway who was very mentally disturbed, asking for money in a babyish voice like a child asking his mommy for a toy. I gave him two dollars and my old winter hat.

There was a team of a 40-something man and a preteen boy on the L Train panhandling in Santa Claus hats. I would assume it was a father and son team, as the older man was patting the boy on the head as they walked through the train. The man played Christmas tunes on a harmonica as his boy walked before him collecting dollars in a styrofoam cup. I think he was playing "Let it Snow:" whatever it was, I tried to tune it out. Christmas music becomes far more heartbreaking when it's played by the begging.

It disturbed me to see the boy. I remembered Ecuador, and how I felt so lucky that our country did not have that level of child poverty on the streets (as far as I had seen.) I had never seen 5 and 6 year olds out peddling for money, and I never want to see it in my country.

I still haven't gone to BRC Outreach to get trained as a volunteer, but as these cold nights go on and I see these people, I feel it's only natural and humane that I take the next step: my heart is breaking for these people already. I might as well give my time.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Dear people,

Remember how I said I would try to find articles that spoke to hope? Take a look at this one: United for Peace and Justice is an interfaith peace group working to close Guantanamo Bay, Cuba within the first 100 days of the Obama administration.

The search for community

As vacation began in earnest yesterday, I took care of a few minor items like buying sunglasses, a new pair of running pants, and getting a hole drilled into an IPod so that I can use it on a key ring. (I've lost 3 IPod shuffles already, and I don't intend to lose a fourth. They're smaller than crackers!) It felt good to be productive.

But after I finished the tasks, I realized how lonely I felt. Though I've found a calling in journalism, I don't feel like I've found a community at school. I've made a few friends here and there, but no one very close. I've been welcomed into one or two NYU cliques, but it never seemed to fit.

During my semester in Ecuador, there was a night when I was trying to find a party being held by a group of exchange students in our program (who again weren't close friends.) I kept calling people for the location, but wasn't getting any calls back. I was walking around the apartment, fuming, and the host brother in the family saw me and called me over. He said, "You have to stop trying to follow people. Follow your interests, and they will lead you to people." I've tried to live by that ever since.

I've been in groups that went out to bars, and I felt out of place because I don't like to drink. I've been embraced by religious groups but felt out of sync on many issues of faith. There's this struggle for me between yearning for a community and needing personal integrity: if I cannot be myself in a group, then going after a place within it is in vain: either I end up being uncomfortable or fake.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


For those of you who want Folk People, go to

After the joy I had creating Folk People, I thought I'd create a more general blog just for my reflections.
The semester is at last done, and I'm tired. I turned on WBAI radio and heard David Rothenberg talking about the need for justice in Census 2010; it was hard to listen. I felt like David was calling me to get to work, and I had nothing left. However, I realized my tiredness about that was related to a sense of hopelessness: after Bush took the election in 2000, by a vote of 5 to 4, (sorry my Republican friends- I still ain't over it,) I became very disillusioned about the government's ability to help people rather than simply lord over us.

I hope that the Obama presidency will be different: he's got a Democratic House and Senate to work with, and they can get good legislation passed. However, as Obama said in his victory speech, these years will be difficult for our country. I fear that much of the progressive agenda will be put to the side as the administration works on the war and other pressures. I guess it'll be our job to keep him honest about those other needs.

Journalism for me is about being a public servant as well as a storyteller. So, somehow I need to revive my faith that the world can change if we advocate for change. I need to believe that politics can work, if not in Washington, then at least at the grass roots. It's so easy to get cynical with corrupt guys like Blagojevich running around, or Bloomie running for a third term.

To be faithful, I think we all need to dig deeper and find stories of people struggling and winning victories at the grass roots level. The little victories do happen: they just get pushed to the back pages sometimes. Hell, as I find them, I'll post the links to you! We can grow in faith together.

Now that the semester's work over, I'll be writing some fun stories for myself, without the pressure of anyone's deadlines but my own. I have a few ideas in mind so winter break should be interesting. I'll post what I do here, and I hope you'll check in from time to time. All the best!