Thursday, September 29


Constance Baker Motley, esteemed district judge of the Southern District of New York and daring civil rights figure, has died.
We lost another gem (and yes, I dare to include myself in the "we" of the legal world who widely respected and admired Judge Motley) ...

This is only the gloss on her life, but read about her at the New York Times:

Constance Baker Motley, a civil rights lawyer who fought nearly every important civil rights case for two decades and then became the first black woman to serve as a federal judge, died yesterday at NYU Downtown Hospital in Manhattan. She was 84. The cause was congestive heart failure, said Isolde Motley, her daughter-in-law.

Judge Motley was the first black woman to serve in the New York State Senate, as well as the first woman to be Manhattan borough president, a position that guaranteed her a voice in running the entire city under an earlier system of local government called the Board of Estimate.

Judge Motley was at the center of the firestorm that raged through the South in the two decades after World War II, as blacks and their white allies pressed to end the segregation that had gripped the region since Reconstruction. She visited the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in jail, sang freedom songs in churches that had been bombed, and spent a night under armed guard with Medgar Evers, the civil rights leader who was later murdered.

But her métier was in the quieter, painstaking preparation and presentation of lawsuits that paved the way to fuller societal participation by blacks. She dressed elegantly, spoke in a low, lilting voice and, in case after case, earned a reputation as the chief courtroom tactician of the civil rights movement.

Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama and other staunch segregationists yielded, kicking and screaming, to the verdicts of courts ruling against racial segregation. These huge victories were led by the N.A.A.C.P.'s Legal Defense and Education Fund, led by Thurgood Marshall, for which Judge Motley, Jack Greenberg, Robert Carter and a handful of other underpaid, overworked lawyers labored.

In particular, she directed the legal campaign that resulted in the admission of James H. Meredith to the University of Mississippi in 1962. She argued 10 cases before the United States Supreme Court and won nine of them.

Judge Motley won cases that ended segregation in Memphis restaurants and at whites-only lunch counters in Birmingham, Ala. She fought for King's right to march in Albany, Ga. She played an important role in representing blacks seeking admission to the Universities of Florida, Georgia Alabama and Mississippi and Clemson College in South Carolina.

She helped write briefs in the landmark school desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and in later elementary-school integration cases.

Judge Motley was a tall, gracious and stately woman whose oft-stated goal was as simple as it was sometimes elusive: dignity for all people. Her personal approach was also dignified. When a reporter wrote that she had demanded some action by the court, she soon corrected him:

"What do you mean 'I demanded the court'? You don't demand, you pray for relief or move for some action."

Charlayne Hunter-Gault, whose admission to the University of Georgia was engineered by Mrs. Motley's legal finesse, described her courtroom cunning.

"Mrs. Motley's style could be deceptive, often challenging a witness to get away with one lie after another without challenging them," she wrote in her book "In My Place," published in 1992. "It was as if she would lull them into an affirmation of their own arrogance, causing them to relax as she appeared to wander aimlessly off into and around left field, until she suddenly threw a curveball with so much skill and power it would knock them off their chair."

As a black woman practicing law in the South, she endured gawking and more than a few physical threats. A local paper in Jackson, Miss., derided her as "the Motley woman."

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed her as a judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York at the urging of Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York, a Democrat, and with the support of Senator Jacob K. Javits, a Republican. The opposition of Southern senators like James O. Eastland, a Mississippi Democrat, was beaten back, and her appointment was confirmed. She became chief judge of the district in 1982 and senior judge in 1986.

Constance Baker was born on Sept. 14, 1921, in New Haven, the ninth of 12 children. Her parents came from the tiny Caribbean island Nevis at the beginning of the 20th century.

Her father worked as a chef for various Yale University student organizations, including Skull and Bones. She attended local schools in what was then an overwhelmingly white community.

One of her first experiences with discrimination came at 15, when she was turned away from a public beach because she was black.

She read books dealing with black history and became president of the local N.A.A.C.P. youth council. She decided that she wanted to be a lawyer, but her family lacked money to send their many children to college. After high school, she struggled to earn a living as a domestic worker.

When she was 18, she made a speech at local African-American social center that was heard by Clarence W. Blakeslee, a white businessman and philanthropist who sponsored the center. He was impressed and offered to finance her education.

She decided to attend Fisk University, a black college in Nashville, partly because she had never been to the South. In Nashville, she encountered a rigidly segregated society, and brought her parents a poignant souvenir: a sign that read "Colored Only."

After a year and a half at Fisk, she transferred to New York University. After graduation in 1943, she entered Columbia Law School, where she began to work as a volunteer at the N.A.A.C.P.'s Legal Defense and Education Fund, an affiliate of the National Organization for the Advancement of Colored People that Mr. Marshall and his mentor, Charles Houston, had created in 1939.

After she graduated in 1946, she began to work full time for the civil rights group at a salary of $50 a week. She worked first on housing cases, fighting to break the restrictive covenants that barred blacks from white neighborhoods.

Also in 1946, she married Joel Wilson Motley Jr., a New York real estate broker. He survives her, as does their son, Joel III, who lives in Scarborough, N.Y.; three grandchildren; her brother Edmund Baker of Florida; and her sisters Edna Carnegie, Eunice Royster and Marian Green, all of New Haven.

Mr. Marshall had no qualms about sending her into the tensest racial terrain, precisely because she was a woman. She said she believed that was why she was assigned to the Meredith case in 1961.

"Thurgood says that the only people who are safe in the South are the women - white and Negro," she said in an interview with Pictorial Living, the magazine of The New York Journal-American, in 1965. "I don't know how he's got that figured. But, so far, I've never been subjected to any violence."

Mr. Meredith's admission to the University of Mississippi in September 1962 was a major victory for the civil rights movement. Mrs. Motley worked on the case for 18 months before Mr. Meredith's name was even seen in the papers.

She made 22 trips to Mississippi as the case dragged on. Judge Motley once called the day Mr. Meredith accepted his diploma in 1963 the most thrilling in her life.

She said her greatest professional satisfaction came with the reinstatement of 1,100 black children in Birmingham who had been expelled for taking part in street demonstrations in the spring of 1963.

In February 1964, Mrs. Motley's high-level civil rights profile drew her into politics. A Democratic State Senate candidate from the Upper West Side was ruled off the ballot because of an election-law technicality. She accepted the nomination on the condition that it would not interfere with her N.A.A.C.P. work and handily defeated a Republican to become the first black woman elected to the State Senate. She was re-elected that November.

She remained in the job until February 1965, when she was chosen by unanimous vote of the City Council to fill a one-year vacancy as Manhattan borough president. In citywide elections nine months later, she was re-elected to a full four-year term with the endorsement of the Democratic, Republican and Liberal Parties.

As borough president, she drew up a seven-point program for the revitalization of Harlem and East Harlem, securing $700,000 to plan for those and other underprivileged areas of the city.

After becoming a federal judge in 1966, Judge Motley ruled in many cases, but her decisions often reflected her past. She decided on behalf of welfare recipients, low-income Medicaid patients and a prisoner who claimed to have been unconstitutionally punished by 372 days of solitary confinement, whom she awarded damages.

She continued to try cases after she took senior status. Her hope as a judge was that she would change the world for the better, she said.

"The work I'm doing now will affect people's lives intimately," she said in an interview with The New York Times in 1977, "it may even change them."



Time is a-passing, yes, but don't forget that there is still much to do for:

1. Hurricane victims in the Gulf states. Habitat for Humanity might be a good place to turn to if you're interested in helping to start the restoration efforts there.

2. Breast cancer victims and survivors and their families. You can continue to give to the Susan G. Komen Foundation's Race for the Cure fundraising efforts through October 31st. All proceeds will benefit organizations which provide treatment, research and support to and for those touched by breast cancer ... and yes, this includes MEN.



I seem to always injure my feet.

There was a time when my tractor beam was a true source of concern, and that still holds mostly true to this day. But in recent memory, it seems like my feet are really taking the brunt of accidents and my own clumsiness. Once in college -- yes, I know this is not "recent" -- I tripped up a set of stairs in the basement of my junior-year dorm. I whacked the top of my right foot hard against the last step I landed on (at the top of the flight), and for days, the top of my foot was sore and the toes were stiff and unyielding.

I often trip on my own feet -- usually the left one, for some reason -- and turn the ankle pretty badly. Sometimes this happens when I'm walking down the street. Once it happened while I was running after a toddler who was about to run into poison ivy at my own barbecue. Saved her life, but caused myself some true agita one week before the Genesis Adventure Race.

And occasionally, like earlier this afternoon, I'll drop very heavy and sharp objects on my feet. Today, it was a box of books. Landed smack on its corner, on top of my left foot. My Left Foot -- what a movie! So now, even though there is no bruising on the surface of the foot, my toes are once against stiff and unyielding, and every step is agony. I almost feel like if I could just crack the bones into place, everything would be alright, you know that feeling?

Anyway. Just thought I'd share.



I was really mean to someone tonight. It was due to my own lack of patience and grace, and forgetting that the grace that God shows me, I am to give to others in double amounts. It was due to my own stupidity and lack of self-control and immaturity and hubris in thinking I could get away with it and feel fine about it.

Of course I don't feel fine. I feel crappy. Even after I apologized, I feel crappy. I wish I wasn't mean to people. I wish I didn't want to be mean to people. I wish I didn't know how to be mean to people. That would be really great, for them, and yes, selfishly, for me.

Wednesday, September 28

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
A mini-vacay to Camden Yards to watch the Yankees play at Baltimore ... what's an eight-hour drive for second-row field-level seats, a chat session with Al Leiter, close-up eye-balling of Matsui, Donnie Baseball, Sojo, Johnson, Jeter, Bernie, Wang, Mo, A-Rod, and a Gary Sheffield grand slam? My only regret: that Appa wasn't with me ...

Babe Ruth
Originally uploaded by chaesq.
Babe and Camden Yards. Pretty darn cool ...

warming up 2
Originally uploaded by chaesq.
Aren't they wonderful, even from far away? It is about at this point that I swooned. I had to be fanned back to life.

Donnie Baseball 2
Originally uploaded by chaesq.
Yeah. You know it. Donnie Baseball. In the flesh.

with al leiter
Originally uploaded by chaesq.
No, I am NOT photo-shopped in. Duh. This is really me and Al Leiter. May I just say this: he's a nice man. I asked him, "do you have time for one more picture?" and he said, "of course!' And then he gave this toothy grin. And then he loitered around the wall, shooting the breeze with the fans. And then he tossed a few balls around with other pitchers, still throwing one-liners back and forth with us. Not a hint of arrogance, or "I'm a famous baseball player," or "I'm too busy for you." A real class act.

pony legs
Originally uploaded by chaesq.
Ahhh, Pony Legs. I'm not the number-one Jeter fan, but seeing him this close, he who always takes one for the team, he who shows no fear in the face of bigotry, he who fills the shoes of Donnie Baseball more than sufficiently, he who shows that half-white men CAN jump ... yeah, it was pretty cool.

mel and joe
Originally uploaded by chaesq.
I love this sight of Mel and Joe, strolling amiably but seriously across the outfield to go and take their seats before the unfortunate spanking the Yankees were about to receive ... if I hadn't wanted to disturb their baseball reverie, I would have shouted something like, "my dad says hey!"

welcome to camden yards
Originally uploaded by chaesq.
Thank you for the warm welcome, Baltimore. Sorry, I still think New York is tops, but you certainly have a special place in my heart now ... especially because you are the place where Mo', Derek and Bernie waved to me! (I SWEAR they were looking at me!)


Monday, September 26


I saw a trailer for the upcoming movie version of "Rent." All I can say about "Rent" is that I loved it. I saw it with Wonger, when Joey Fatone from N*Sync played Mark, and during one of the scenes where Mark dances across a series of tables in a bar, he did that N*Sync "Bye, Bye, Bye" dance move with the arms, and all these teeny-bopper girls who had somehow all obtained front-row seats started shrieking and swooning in glee. THAT was interesting.

So now, "Rent" is all I can think about. I heard the soundtrack and listened to it for years and years before I actually got around to seeing it ... and at so many different times throughout the years, it has served as a soundtrack to my own life and experiences. And to be reminded of it today, in these times ... so heart-wrenching and uplifting at the same time. And so, I have reintroduced "Rent" into my play list, and it's all I listened to today and tonight, and this song, these words, speak to me vigorously and meaningfully ...

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes;
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear;
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes;
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights? In sunsets?
In midnights, in cups of coffee?
In inches? In miles?
In laughter, in strife?

In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes;
How do you measure a year in the life?

How about love?
Measure in love.
Seasons of love.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes;
Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan;
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes;
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned, or in the times that he cried?
In bridges he burned, or the way that she died?

It's time now, to sing out, though the story never ends.
Let's celebrate, remember a year in the life of friends.

Remember the love;
Measure in love.
Measure, measure your life in love;
Seasons of love.
BOOM! . . .

I hate it when my worlds collide. It's been happening more and more lately, and so I'm getting used to it by fiat, but it's still unnerving. But I find that it's most unnerving when one world collides with itself. What do I mean? Case in point:

Flacon and I hang out in similar places: bookstores, cafes, outdoor venues when it's nice and dry out. That's all fine and good when we hang out in these places together on purpose, OR when he's at his place and I'm at mine and never the 'twain shall meet. Besides, I have this weird thing about this sort of hanging out. I like to go to get a cup or two of hot beverage, set up my computer and journal and book and iPod, kick off my shoes, then lean back and people watch or daydream or even fall asleep for the next few hours. One can really only do this alone. If you take someone along with you, you gotta worry about things like "is he annoyed that I kicked my shoes off" or "does it bug him that I shift in my seat so often" or "I hope he doesn't mind that I need to lip-synch to this song" or "is he grossed out that I'm rubbing my nose and itching just inside the nostril without completely picking my nose." And once you get worrying about such things, the afternoon is shot, it really is. There is no relaxation to be had; no enjoyable people-watching to be done; no carefree nose-picking to indulge in.

So it's been peachy, talking to Flacon about my places and me hearing about his places. But then this afternoon, I rolled into what I consider my place (given that I took up residence in this county and all) and LO! He was there. At my table, no less, soaking up the heat from my forcefully hot heater, and surrounded by my neighborhood weirdos. What is a creature of habit to do?

Well, my parents raised me to be a good girl, so I said hello, then walked away before I would be forced to engage in awkward "hey, what are YOU doing here?" conversation. I settled in at a new table -- oh, the heartbreak -- and went about my business, and was pleased to discover that I am as good at ignoring as I am at being ignored. I mean, have you seen me zone out? I turn it into an art form, and it's exactly what got me through college and law school, and the skill serves me well to this day.

But then, I suddenly felt awkward. For one thing, I'm in quite a mood lately, plus I was listening to a very sad song, and then I received a very kind email from someone with whom I have not really been on speaking terms since two Novembers ago ... so I started weeping. Just a little bit, and not totally hysterically. I mean, I wasn't snotting all over the place, and I only needed one tissue to contain the mess, but still: weeping is weeping. And I don't care if I weep in front of strangers -- they can think I'm crazy or manic-depressive or just extremely emotive. But to weep in front of Flacon? At my place? Oh, the embarrassment ... I could hardly stand it.

He eventually had to move tables -- after all, the heat from my heater was starting to become too much for him. So he swung by my completely small and deficient table to say hi; we shot the breeze; we made fun of each other in the way that we do; he went to the bathroom while I charged his computer; I went to the bathroom while he probably sabotaged some belonging of mine and left it for me to discover later on; then he hied himself off to a cooler table. I resumed zoning, bopping my head to the music, reading, writing, and sigh, weeping.

It was comic relief to leave. I would have stayed all night if I had to, probably just to prove a point, but also because the crowd was just starting to get interesting -- have you seen high school kids get tutored by knuckleheaded tutors lately?! -- but alas, I had to leave. As I drove away, I had to chuckle, though. It's alright that my place is no longer mine. We can share it, I suppose. After all, the more time that passed, the less I cared that he was all up in my business, and the only thing I really worried about was "I hope he doesn't see me picking my nose." Alright! I admit it! I pick my nose in public! But sometimes, you just need to.

Besides, it's not like I can stay away, just because his place and my place ran into each other. I'm only one drink away from the requisite ten drinks needed to get a free coffee ....
A LONG DAY . . .

Busy but still bored. How does that happen?

Pasttimes, thanks to Aunt Murry ...

1. A structural or behavioral characteristic peculiar to an individual or group.
2. A physiological or temperamental peculiarity.
3. An unusual individual reaction to food or a drug.

List five of your own idiosyncrasies ...

In restaurants, I can't drink water with ice. I often ask the waitstaff for water without ice, but they often forget, so I must often dump my ice into some unsuspecting friend's glass. As a corollary: I don't like cold water. Room temperature, or even downright WARM, is perfection.

2. I can't sleep at night if I don't floss my teeth. It doesn't matter if I'm bedding down early, or if I have stayed up all night and it's now 9 in the morning. If I'm heading to bed, my teeth will have been flossed. Otherwise, I absolutely will not be able to fall asleep or stay asleep.

3. I wear underwear under running shorts. I have been told over and over again that this is just WRONG. But I can't help it! If I'm running and sweating ... I just need the extra coverage. Sorry, that's gross, but it's true.

4. When I go to the doctor's office, the gynie's office, the dentist's office, I always keep my eyes open, even when receiving a pelvic, a booster shot, a scaling. Dude, if you're going to stick something in me -- anywhere in me -- I'm keeping my eyes on it!

5. Sometimes, the thing I look forward to most about entertaining guests at home is the moment they all leave. Because it's then that I can turn on some music, dance around to let off hostess steam, take my time cleaning and sweeping up, then mellow out under the hot running water while I slowly make my way through a mountain-high stack of dishes, pans, glasses, utensils, still while singing and perhaps doing a toned-down dance or two. In fact, sometimes, I look forward to this so much, I don't like it when others clean up before they leave.

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
Yesterday morning, New Hope For a Cure ran its third Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Oh alright, eight of us walked and only one of the team ran and he suffered mightily for it, I hear.

Perfect day -- cool, slightly cloudy, not at all humid. Thousands and thousands of men, women and children joined together for the singular cause of raising awareness, money and support to fight breast cancer ... we stood in front of the starting line this time to hear the gun go off and to see the survivors start us off. As always, I got a touch verklempt, and as I walked and glanced at all the "In Memory of..." and "In Celebration of ..." bibs, I was so moved to think of all the women loved and remembered and honored that morning ...

This year, we ran and walked in honor of Maria, a sister from NHF who is facing her second fight with breast cancer. She is so optimistic, hopeful, faithful. Would I be the same if I were in her shoes? I certainly like to dream so. Maria is new to us; we have yet to really know her and love her as we should. Yesterday was our first opportunity to show her and her family firsthand the depths of our affection and care for her, and to affirm to her that she will not fight alone ...

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
But no 5k run/walk would be complete without a few detours here and there ...

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
... or a stop for treats ...

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
We each pinned Maria to our backs, carrying her with us for every step of those 3.2 miles ...

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
Our team was small but not without sufficient heart and passion. The nine of us continue to pray for Maria and for all women who are fighting and beating breast cancer ... see you here next year.

Sunday, September 25


It's crisp outside. So crisp that the toothpaste is starting to become less goopy, the face cream starting to become a tad more difficult to spread. Yup, it's that time of year again -- the season that I spend all year looking forward to, but when it arrives, makes me sad, nostalgic, heart-moved. Autumn, my favorite time of year, mostly because -- I think -- it makes me slightly morose. Things "change" in the spring too, but somehow, it's just not the same. In the fall, it seems that things are dying, going away, and even though I know that those things will rejuvenate and return and grow again, the sadness still hovers right over my heart, sometimes poking in with sharp needle pricks now and again.

'Tis appropriate then, I suppose, that this season I have lost something immensely important to me. This part of my heart has gone away for a while, a short while I hope, and just for a season. I know my heart will regrow, rejuvenate, and the things that were lost will return to me, perhaps in a different form or shape, or with different essences, in due time. But that knowledge and even confidence does not prevent the pin-pricks.

It's the time of year when I start looking back at all the things that have come and passed. The walks strolled, the food shared, the nights spent in laughter and closeness. It's the time of year when I let my stare linger distractedly at the streets traversed, the horizon gazed upon, even the couch upon which many truths were given and taken. The season and month when nothing is new, and instead, everything is a reminder of things past. September ... autumn ... such an appropriate time.

God really knew what He was doing when He created the northeast and changing seasons. He really knew what He was doing when he formed trees with leaves that changed colours, winds that turned from hot and humid to cool and more than just a little bit refreshing. He really had the right idea in mind when He decided that the days would be shorter and darkness would reign just a touch longer each day, until He ordained the opposite. He truly understood the seasons of a human heart as well, knowing when things would have to pass, when things would return, how things would die and grow, how hearts would be broken and mended and perfected. The correlation ... I'm so sorry that this experience is limited to such a small portion of the planet. As melancholy and even wrenching as it might be for me, this season, my season, is so hopeful, because I know that as ever, preservation occurs in the winter, warmth is built under the cover of night and flannel, and a fragile but perfect newness is forged in the thaw of spring.

I feel now -- foolishly, I know -- that spring could not come fast enough. But in the deep recesses of my mind and heart, I recognize and accept that the in-between months are needed. Bulbs need to root. Animals need to sleep. Trees need to shed. People need to rest and warm up snuggled near loved ones. And I ... I need these months to grow, heal, draw nearer to Him who sustains me through the highest of ups and the deepest of downs, through the madness of summer months, and yes, especially through the dusk of winter. The melancholy and nostalgia are temporary. Eventually, I know, these things will turn away from pin-pricks and towards unqualified joy.

Saturday, September 24

FIND ME . . .

They -- whoever "they" are -- say that heartache builds character. I certainly hope so.

Sometimes, the hardest part is having faith in the future. It's one thing to look back to the past and think about what great times they were, and to imagine no time ever being as great again. Which of course is never really the case. It's another thing entirely to look towards the future with complete optimism and gladness. Sure, there can be excitement or positive anticipation and even lots of hope. But it's still hard.

My hope in these days is not so much for the hurting to stop. It's not. I mean, that would be nice, but that's more of a panacea, don't you think? No, instead my hope is for character to be built. That gladness would develop. That peace would invade our hearts and do an honest healing work.

And then, we will be found.



Had an interesting conversation with Mabel yesterday -- we always do when we're talking about her work. Mabel teaches fifth grade in the 'burbs, the Land of No One Gets Below a B+ Or Else The Parents Will Come After You and Make Your Life Miserable. She used to teach sixth grade on the Lower East Side, the Land of Some Kids Just Need to Survive While Others Get Casting Calls and Nannies and Tutors. She has such a full life, such full experiences with her kids, it makes me jealous sometimes. Every day really is a new day in her line of work, and sometimes I have fanciful dreams of waking up a child psychologist-slash-educator-slash-psychiatrist-slash- school administrator-slash-Secretary of Edjumacation. Sort of makes me want to go back to every sort of graduate school imaginable, so I can rack up degrees in all of these areas ...

Did you know that a teacher can find out her student's IQ if she wanted to? (Mabel doesn't, but she could.) Did you know that if you have messy handwriting, that can be a sign of a classified disability? Did you know that children suffering from A.D.D. can be helped with hearing aids and teacher's microphones, their teacher's voices magnified just in their own ears to help them focus on the given instructions? Did you know that you can teach mathematics as an art form, thus helping a creative genius who is otherwise completely slow learn everything he needs to? Did you know that some parents want their children to be classified with some sort of learning disability so that they can receive all the educational accommodations available from the school? Did you know that some parents will deny to the bitter end that their children are learning disabled, thus depriving the kids of any opportunity to make it in the classroom, not caring that their kids are utter disturbances to the rest of the class? Did you know that students can get through high school without learning how to read? Did you know that even for some children born in the United States and raised in English-speaking homes, English can seem like a foreign language? Did you know that children can read words perfectly well, and understand the individual meanings of each word, but cannot link the meanings together in their minds to make a coherent sentence? Did you know that 10-year-old children can be arrogant jerks? Did you know that children in the quiet leafy suburbs of New York City suffer from all manner of horrible, horrible abuse at the hands of those charged with loving and caring for them?

All these things, many of these things, I didn't know. I joked with Mabel that it's just insane to even think of child-bearing and child-rearing in these times. When I have a child, I will have to make sure she crawls for a long time, so that her hand muscles will become strong and therefore will not have messy handwriting. When I am pregnant, I will never drink tap water, or be near smokers, or have caffeine or wine or even undercooked meat, because God forbid my baby's IQ -- luck of the draw, really -- be less than 120. When my child is school-aged, I will have to familiarize myself with every teaching philosophy out there, just in case she is more adaptable to one style over another. When my baby is just a baby, I will have to read obsessively to her, sounding out every word, correlating ideas with pictures with words with feelings with concepts. When my son reaches an age of sexual identity, I will have to ensure that he doesn't spend his days comforting himself by sticking his hands down his pants absentmindedly while he reads. When I am a full-grown parent, I will have to be mature enough to handle all the multitude of classifications that might be attached to my child, or whatever freakish intelligence she might display, or whatever creative accommodations might be afforded to her.

Oh, the pressure.

Thursday, September 22


GO AWAY AND NEVER COME BACK (that's for you, Hoocher).



Letters S through Z, that applies to y'all too.
You're not welcome here.

Y'all know I don't normally enjoy the ice cream. On occasion, I'll have a Turkey Hill ice cream sandwich, just to satisfy a PMS-driven sweets craving. But unlike my Omma, I can't have ice cream all the time any time any season any hour of the day.



Sometimes, there's nothing better than coffee ice cream mixed with crushed Heath Bar pieces. There just isn't.


Reading: Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen -- How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, and Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living, by Julie Powell
STILL Reading: The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

You are Napoleon Dyanamite and a buttload of gangs
are trying to recruit you.

Which Napoleon Dynamite character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Now I just have to learn the dance sequence ...

Wednesday, September 21

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
DING! . . .

He's done; take him out of that oven!

Welcome to the madness, ____ Capio.

You were going to be called Nicholas -- NOT Nicky -- but then your pop thought you might look more like a Jacob.
In which case, I would call you Jack. Just because. Just Jack!

But for right now, you're simply Baby Boy.
Fine by me; I expect you'll be pretty damn cool whatever your name is.
Unless it's Herbert. I mean, that's just difficult.

See you soon, ____.

Tuesday, September 20


There was a time when -- if I ever had a free chunk of hours -- I would hie myself off to a local bookstore and loiter (yes, loiter) in the cafe over a chai latte, a bottle of water, hot tea, then another bottle of water. I haven't had the opportunity to do that in a while, and I can't believe what I've been missing.

It never ceases to amaze me, the anonymity of being among strangers. There is indeed safety in numbers, even if you don't know who those numbers are. And there's a certain relaxedness that is different -- not necessarily better, but just different -- from the relaxedness that comes from being among the dearest, oldest, most loving friends in the world.

I, for example, can sit here and sniffle and blow my nose and slurp my chai, without caring that I'm bothering the person over at the next table. He, after all, is compulsively bopping his head up and down and beat-boxing softly to some unheard music ... and he's not wearing headphones. I can strew my belongings all over this wobbly table, then get up and go to the bathroom or browse books and magazines to give my legs some exercise without worrying about theft or peeking eyes. The lady over there, after all, goes on cigarette breaks every five minutes, all the while leaving her totally souped up G4 PowerBook on the table, next to her new Razr, her pink mini-iPod and her brown Gucci wallet.

The best part is definitely the conversations. No one censors themselves here. Me, I don't come with anyone, so I don't talk. But others ... dang, it's no-holds-barred, and thus hours of entertainment for yours truly. Check out the couple down the aisle discussing her sister's psychiatric problems and the medications she really should or should not be taking. Or these two ladies right next to me discussing the pros and cons of this temple or that temple, including the relative cuteness of the presiding rabbi and the ratio of single men to women. Or the dude listening to a wire-tap recording -- why would you take federal evidence out of the evidence room?! -- all the while chuckling to himself, taking notes, and alternately talking back to the stooges recorded on tape.

And then I have the distinct honour of looking up and glancing out the window, only to see a teenage girl unabashedly dancing a goofy little jig on the sidewalk in front of her friends. She suddenly and sharply reminds me of me. Me right after I hit that stage where I refused to be shy about anything anymore, where I understood that if I wanted to make a fool of myself on the sidewalk -- or rather, if I wanted to be my young and carefree self on the sidewalk -- then I could. Where a friend's smile or joke would make me so happy that all I could do is dance around, only narrowly avoiding the window and passing patrons. Those were the days.

And there are the moments when I catch eyes with someone and I just can't look away, even though social rules tell me I must after 1.8 seconds. But the girl in the jean jacket with the low-slung backpack, waiting forlornly on the curb for a ride that was supposed to come and get her eight minutes ago ... she can't be more than fifteen years old, but she has the stooped weariness of an elderly woman, and the vacant eyes of someone who has just had enough. What, I wonder, has brought her to this, standing alone on the sidewalk, looking up impatiently and a bit fearfully at every car that passes, that should be here for her? What the heck is in her bag that is so heavy as to bend her shoulders forward so? What torment does she face in school that when a gaggle of teenagers strolls by, she bows her head and turns away? So many curiosities ...

And now, simply because I can't have a conversation -- even with myself -- without somehow injecting bathroom habits into the mix, I must mention that bookstores always make me poo. So ... nature calls, and I heed.

Finally, she's up! My sister in L.A. has discovered La Land of Blog. And in the process reminds me of one of my first forays into this weird and mysterious world known as The Internet...

10 years ago I:
1. was watching the C.o.S. apply to law school and thinking, "yeah, I gotta get on that."
2. started working on my senior thesis with my beloved Sam.
3. was staying up late, hanging with my floor, instead of working on my senior thesis.

5 years ago I:
1. started my last year of law school.
2. was just starting to think that Boston might be an alright sort of place to live.
3. realized that in nine months, I was never ever going to be a student again, most likely. Oh, the trauma!

1 year ago I:
1. began my last year at the courthouse, the only professional home I had ever known.
2. was really sleepy from staying up late, running around all the time, and having a blast doing anything and everything under the sun.
3. had been living in my own home for three months.

Yesterday I:
1. fell asleep in the sun.
2. knit a large chunk of this baby blanket I have been working on for-evah.
3. read and journalled at Border's and overheard an SAT tutoring session. Good times.

Today I:
1. drank some delicious coffee. If there's one thing I do well, it's make damn good coffee ... even if it's a touch on the sludgy side.
2. will hang with the Goober while the Alien heads to school with his mom.
3. will read and journal at Border's again, in the hopes of overhearing more bizarre conversations.

Tomorrow I will:
1. run a multitude of errands with Omma.
2. spend some quality time with loved ones.
3. fall asleep in the sun.

5 top locations I'd like to run away to:
1. Block Island
2. British Columbia or the Canadian Rockies
3. London
4. Acadia National Park
5. some place warm and dry, with lots of hiking and beautiful scenery.

5 things I'd do with $1000:
1. make another mortgage payment (I know, I'm so boring).
2. buy as many books as possible from
3. invest it for Cheech and my parents.
4. buy some serious art and get it seriously framed.
5. spend a week on Block Island.

5 bad habits I have:
1. jumping to conclusions
2. interrupting people when they talk
3. being overly type-A when I don't have to be
4. worry and anxiety
5. falling asleep in the sun

5 TV shows I like:
1. Ellen
2. CSI
3. Without a Trace
4. Alias
5. Lost

5 biggest joys at the moment:
1. having the temporal luxury to spend as much time as I want with good friends
2. the deck upon which I can fall asleep in the sun
3. church
4. email, for it allows me to keep in touch with those I love but don't see all the time
5. impending autumn

Thursday, September 15


There's this song by Casting Crowns containing a line: "stop asking Oprah what to do ... what if the people prayed?" Valid point. I agree. And most of the time, I am disgusted by the hold that media figures have over me, over us.

But sometimes, women like Ellen DeGeneres really put their might and money where there mouths are, and so it is that every day for the past week and a half, she has been collecting humongous (in both size and amount) checks from corporations like Tupperware and UPS, and banking them into her Hurricane Katrina Relief ATM. As of this morning, the grand total tops $5.5million. FIVE-POINT-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS.

Two snaps in a circle, straight up.

Don't you forget either ... so much still needs to be done to rebuild our country. If you gave already ... give again.

American Red Cross
Save the Children
Salvation Army
Catholic Charities


Saw: "The Constant Gardener" = 4.3 out of 5 on the Sniffle-Meter



The apocalypse is now: Diddy is on The Martha Show, and they're getting along like two peas in a pod. YIKES.

Tuesday, September 13


I was in the city tonight having dinner with some friends. I forgot Shrub was in town. I don't even know why he was in town. Something about the United Nations and some big dinner at the Waldorf or something like that. I ceased paying attention ....

But the point is not him, directly anyway. The point is that I was surrounded by Secret Service agents. SURROUNDED. I stepped off my commuter train in Grand Central Station: Secret Service agents. I walked upstairs and out onto the street: Secret Service agents. I strolled up and over and through a whole series of blocked-off streets: Secret Service agents.

And I stopped strolling at one point, stood in the middle of the sidewalk, just a couple of blocks north of Grand Central Terminal, and stared at a group of Secret Service agents to marvel at this fact: they are not secret, and they make no effort to be so. There they all are, all men as far as I can account, wearing dark wool suits on a sweltering and humid 90-degree afternoon, some wearing very suspicious and not-at-all-friendly sunglasses, and all with very conspicuous earpieces sticking out from underneath their suit jackets. What is secret about them? NOTHING.

So imagine my utter shock and disbelief and yes, THRILL, when this HOMELESS LADY squatting on the sidewalk next to me, taps me on the shoulder, moves aside the collar of her grimy shirt to reveal a United States Secret Service badge, and grimly states, "you have to keep moving, miss." I WAS IN GOVERNMENT OPERATIVE WANNBE HEAVEN! Had it not occurred to me that (1) she sounded totally serious and not at all congenial and (2) she was probably packing serious, serious heat, I would have asked her to show me her badge again, and been all, "NOOOOOO. You are NOT. For REAL?! That's so AWESOME. NOOOOOO."

Instead, I shook my head to clear the fog and awesomeness from my eyes, and kept moving. Huh, I guess they are secret after all.


BUT THEN . . .

But then, I got scared. There's something very eerie about walking around the streets of a city, even a city as vast as New York, and realizing that everyone in your immediate vicinity is armed up the wazoo. I strolled past some demonstrators, and thought, "oh my God, if any of these people start to wig out, someone could start shooting, and what the HELL am I standing here for?" I walked down a side street and got a creepy-crawly feeling on my spine, so I turned around and noted that there was a literal HERD of Secret Service (of the not-so-secret variety) agents following me -- about eight or nine of them, walking in a pack, each of them meeting my eyes when I turned to glance at them. There's just nothing like the feeling of being followed -- even incidentally -- down the street by eight or nine men and women carrying guns. (FYI: I turned left at the corner; they went right. I like to think I "lost them.")

Everywhere I went, until I finally left the relevant neighborhood, there they were: the armed and dangerous. It didn't matter to me that they were "the good guys." All I could think was, "to them, I am a potential bad guy, and if they have to, they'll take me out." What an unnerving thought.

Sort of made me think ... maybe the life of a non-secret secret agent is not for me. Or at least, no one around me is allowed to pack heat unless I, too, have a piece on me.

From today's New York Times, this story with an opening paragraph that made my brain explode and ooze out my ears ...

"WAKEMAN, Ohio, Sept. 12 (AP) - Sheriff's deputies found 11 children locked in cages less than three-and-a-half feet high inside a home, but the adult couple living in the home denied that they had abused or neglected the children, the authorities said Monday."



I just learned that EVERY YEAR, at the Hollywood Bowl in California, there is a "Sound of Music" Sing-a-Long"!!!!

If ever there was a reason for me to move to Los Angeles, THIS IS IT, BABY!



Katrina is long gone, and now we're onto the letter P ... but I just read a story today about some truly overlooked victims: those suffering from HIV/AIDS. These folks are now left without treatment, medicine, counseling ... don't forget them in your prayers or in your donations.



It's like I just can't get enough, but at this point in my life, I can't ignore the reality that breast cancer will not be preventable or curable without the inclusion of our very best efforts to aid research and support groups. So, I'm running in the Susan G. Komen 5k Race for the Cure Run/Walk, in two weeks in Central Park.

Please give, if you can, if you will, to our team: "New Hope for a Cure."

Sunday, September 11

09.11.2005 . . .

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

-- Romans 8

Friday, September 9


Dang, I'm sleepy. Why is it that the best conversations always happen after midnight? This was true in senior year of high school, this was true throughout college and law school, and it's true now, well into my "adulthood." I am enjoying it though, and soaking it in, because I know that I won't have the freedom to grab one more hour of sleep in the morning for very long. And I know that when I'm eighty, I simply won't have the stamina to stay up much longer past the early-bird special ... though I dare to dream.



I never believed it until recently: lack of sleep is dangerous. I always plowed through tiredness in my school-going days, and the occasional tripping down a flight of stairs or the momentary memory loss never fazed me. But lately, it's a whole new ballgame. I can feel my brain slow down as it tries to scan the dictionary for the appropriate word to insert into the sentence I'm speaking. I am fortunate that I haven't had occasion to drive long distances in the past couple of days. I am lucky to have friends who forgive my short-term memory loss and will finish my thoughts for me. Still ... last night, after the stragglers of the Missions Team left my house after an official meeting-turned-who's-your-favorite-author discussion, I sliced my finger with a sharp knife while washing the dishes. Left thumb, right at the point where the skin meets the nail at the tip of the finger. Talk about owie.


KAHN-YAY . . .

I just caught Kanye West's appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. I forgive him for being inflammatory (even though I reluctantly agreed with him last week). This morning, he was coherent, articulate, eloquent, moving, honest, sincere, teary-eyed, angry, and true. And he gave good reasons -- not defended, but gave good reasons -- for why he said the things he said last week during NBC's, and he was telling the truth. I felt that he was not manufacturing his response, not doing damage control, not apologizing, but also not being a jerk about anything. These days, it's rare to find a public figure who will speak honestly, from the heart, with conviction, and speak words of truth -- even if the words are true only for him. Two snaps in a circle for Kanye. I am moved once more.



Red Sox versus Yankees. Tonight. 7:05pm. I love that it's sort of cloudy and cool and damp today. This is the beginning of fall baseball, a season unto itself. It's when I bust out the socks and sneakers, bundle up a few sweatshirts (of varying thicknesses, you know, to account for fluctuations in wind patterns, duh), and anticipate a cup of hot chocolate instead of a cold beer. It's when the warmth of a hotdog is truly satisfying and the congealed orange of cheese fries is particularly hilarious. It's when you hold your sleeve-covered fists up to your nose to breathe warmth into your hands, but you have to keep your eyes clear so you can watch the players shiver slightly on the cooling field. And it's when tempers simmer down -- yes, even at a Red Sox matchup -- so that everyone can finally, truly, enjoy American's favorite pasttime.



Tonight, all the major networks will be airing "Shelter From the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast," a benefit concert to raise funds for survivors of the Hurricane. (The Hurricane. Isn't it remarkable that all it needs now is a clarifying article, "The," and the noun can be capitalized, "Hurricane," and we all know what we're talking about? It's like it's the natural disaster equivalent of Madonna or Cher.) Sheryl Crow, the Dixie Chicks, Alicia Keys, Randy Newman, Paul Simon, Rod Stewart and Neil Young will be among the performers. Tune in. Pay attention. Pay up. Give lots. Remember always that these are our people, yours and mine, and this is our country, yours and mine, and what goes around does indeed come around, for one when is blessed, all are blessed.

Thursday, September 8


Remember that show, "Herman's Head"? I have only vague, fuzzy memories of it ... but I recall that it was about depicting the happenings inside the main character's head. It was a terrible, terrible, wretched show, and it's a wonder it lasted as long as it did ... but the concept is brilliant. Often I wonder what my thoughts would look like on celluloid, if I could paint or draw or sketch, or even accurately describe with words, the things I thought, the imaginations I conjured, the images that flitted through my brain. There wouldn't be enough colours in the world from which I could build my palette ...



Day three of my "break." I think I'm enjoying it, but I'm not sure yet. I've been too "busy" -- busy with busy-ness. Running errands, cooking dinners, hosting meetings, grocery shopping, cleaning, doing laundry, conducting NHF business, helping out the Omma and Appa, planning events. Now I sit calmly for the first time in three days and wonder why I have been so non-busy busy, and why I am not utterly satisfied with this gift of a vacation.

I have discovered that it is my inherent character that prevents me from enjoying my break and my freedom. First of all, it's just too much. I am a woman of structure, and gladly so. I like doing and accomplishing and checking items off my list of to-do's. I thrive on achievement and satisfaction of responsibilities. I enjoy routine and trying to fit bonus perks into the routine to add a bit of spice to each day. I enjoy working and producing. With all this freedom and lack of scheduling and structure, I'm utterly lost. I don't mean that in a pathetic "oh poor her, she never gets out" sort of way. I get out a lot and I always did. But with the hours looming before me, I am always conscious of not wasting a moment ... and thinking about not wasting a moment wastes moments. What's a girl to do?

Second, it's hard to not be working. One of my biggest fears is being forgotten, being insignificant, not doing something worthwhile in people's lives, in my life. Thus, whenever I was working, I was never forgotten, always significant to one degree or another, and consistently doing -- or trying to do -- worthwhile things. And I have always been working; there was a never a time in my life when I wasn't. I was a mother's helper in high school; I interned or volunteered or did urban missions projects every summer in college; I worked my tail off for two years as a paralegal before I hit law school; I worked every summer during law school; and I've been working ever since. Producing work product, bringing good to people's lives, enacting justice, teaming up with colleagues, paying my taxes -- this is all I've ever known. And now ... I feel so incompetent. I feel like a leech upon society. I feel like a lady of leisure. I feel lazy and unimportant and useless. I wish I was doing something "important," I wish I had papers to push around, briefs to read, clients to represent, arguments to make.

It's not just that I'm a Martha, always working and never listening. That IS me, true, but it's more than that. This me that I am now ... this is simply not me. That's the hard part, being the anti-me.



The difference between men and women, in general, is this: men think everything is red. Women know that there's red, and then there's pink, coral, light coral, salmon, hot pink, and fuschia.

Hee, hee.


N'AWLINS . . .

It's hard to enjoy my vacation when people are suffering. I mean, there's always someone, somewhere, suffering. But with the images of the South smacking me in the face every moment of every day, it's really hard to lift the weight of guilt and flit about my day with abandon. Oprah said something the other day, at the end of her show, expressing fear that we will soon forget. And she was right to express this fear. I fear it too, in myself, because I know that I am prone to forget. The tsunami last December? Oh yeah ... I nearly forgot ...

I don't want to forget, but it's hard to strike the right balance, isn't it? I know that as a believer, I am not called to live a morbid life. Nor am I to turn away from suffering and pretend everything's alright just because it is for me. No believer stands alone, and it is a command to each of us to love Creation as Christ loves it ... how am I to do this?

Speaking of N'awlins ... resolved: instead of complaining about the partisanship and blame-gaming in which the politicians participate, I'm going to cease my own participation in such silliness. Who cares what went wrong, who cares whose fault it is, who cares what motivated this or that or the lack of this or that? These are all debates and arguments and rages that will battle on for years and even generations to come, and answers will be slow in coming if they come at all.

No, all I care about, and I think all we should care about, is saving and restoring souls. Figuring out whose fault "it" is isn't going to feed babies, or build houses, or provide clean water, or prevent disease, or bury rotting bodies, or pump out the putrid water, or heal wounds, or reunite families. THOSE are the priorities right now. It is unthinkable that "we," "they," "whoever" would allow this situation to continue to exist in America today (and lest you think I'm totally naive, I know that even in the absence of natural disasters, there are countless unseen Americans suffering daily from poverty, homelessness, hunger, discrimination, mental illness and neglect), and something must be done. That's all I care about. Everything else is secondary ... or utterly unimportant altogether.


Wanna see: "Proof"
Reading: Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell, and The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Listening to: "The Cookbook," by Missy Elliott

Wednesday, September 7


I have to find something else to do at 4:00pm every day. Oprah is just too much; I just spent an hour crying my brains out. I think my contact lenses got washed away ...


ICK . . .

I stayed tuned to ABC to watch the evening news ... and regret it with all of my heart.

The first headline: "Manditory evacuations take place."

Please. Don't make a bad thing worse. SPELL-CHECK.

Tuesday, September 6

NOLA . . .

Just in case you needed something more to convince you of the depth and breadth of the disaster known as Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath ... check out the NOLA blog ...

Read it and weep.
No, really.

Just when I think I can handle it, and just when I'm noticing that the news headlines are getting fainter and fainter, and just when I'm feeling reeeeaaaaal good and proud about the amount of money that NHF is raising to send to Operation Blessing Hurricane Katrina Relief ... I have to turn on Oprah, and she has to be on location in New Orleans, and dang, that woman's good. She's got me going all over again.

Shamefully, this is the first time that I'm hearing the voices of the displaced. The first time! How can that be, a week later? I guess I have just subconsciously ignored the audio and video links on all the newspapers' websites ... it's one thing, you know, to read about tragedy. It's an entirely different thing to watch and hear a father say, "I haven't seen my two children in three days;" or a mother saying, "I'm not letting my daughter go to the bathroom because there are boys waiting there to rape her;" or a young man embrace a reporter, weeping hysterically, crying, "thank you, THANK YOU, for noticing us;" or the silence of a television camera panning one long, desolate, disgusting, dirty street, strewn with garbage, foraging animals, foraging humans, dead bodies, and all the detritus of lives abandoned.

The talk continues about whether this is a race issue. With all due respect, I truly truly believe, from the bottom of my heart that it is. I believe this reluctantly, for I, like all of us, don't want to believe that racism lives. I don't want to acknowledge its ugliness, and I certainly hate the idea that my leaders would institutionalize racism and carry it in the secretmost part of their hearts, enacting it in policy ... or lack thereof. I hate that thought! But, the one thought that I keep coming back to is this: if Chappaqua, Beverly Hills, the Upper East Side, Highland Park, Lake Bluff, Bridgehampton, Alpine, Palm Beach, Carmel, Santa Monica, Scottsdale, or any other such place was hit with like devastation, would the response -- any response, by anyone -- have been quicker and the outpourings more desperate? Eek. I hear the whisper in the back of my head: yes.

But the people most affected by Katrina are the most underrepresented, the most marginalized, the least valued in this society. Look at the television! Watch the news! I can't escape it. That's who they are. Sigh. How do I start to think about why this is? Where does my brain begin? Do I look to politics, or religion, or warped social values, or a human's own poor decisions, or the fall of man? I don't know ... but it just doesn't seem fair, and it doesn't seem right. I'm not looking for someone to blame, although I sense the humanity in me rising up and wanting to do so. Playing the blame game isn't helpful, though it might be temporarily satisfying for the victims, to lash out and attempt to regain some sense of emotional control in times that are totally and miserably chaotic and primitive.

Besides ... blaming people isn't going to help the fact that an entire region is completely and utterly lost, with not even the faintest light at the end of the proverbial tunnel to look toward. I don't know what it's like to be hopeless. I pray to God I never will know. And yet these people ... they are the walking hopeless ... what are we to do? It's a war zone ... no, it's worse than a war zone. War implies technology and strategy and laser pointers and rations and huge tanks that transport millions of people hither and thither. As I read in a news article this morning, it's more like the regression of humanity, back into the dark ages. How hopeless ...

And still, an entire community can stand with Faith Hill and her volunteers to sing "Amazing Grace" ... isn't that amazing?



Keep giving: sometimes money is everything, and right now, our cash can give life.

American Red Cross
The Salvation Army
Save the Children
Catholic Charities
Christian Relief Fund
Operation Blessing

Saturday, September 3

NUH-UH! . . .

United States Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist died tonight.

Not that it matters, but I hardly agreed with him.
And again not that it matters, but I still really respected him as a fellow lawyer.

Now that's what I call the end of an era.



This of course means that Shrub gets to pick not one, but two, Supreme Court Justices.



I am so so tired and exhausted from a loooong day o' fun, but having just discovered that U2 is performing on Saturday Night Live tonight ... well, I just have to stay up now.


TIDBIT . . .

Flipping to, and browsing through Day Six of the photo gallery link, I saw the most hopeful and heart-mending sights I've seen in days. A 105-year-old white woman in a wheelchair, holding hands with a 5-year-old black child, walking with a slew of volunteers who were helping them to evacuate the New Orleans Convention Center. A helicopter crewman shielding an evacuee from the propeller-whipped winds with his entire body, in preparation of a flight out of town. A National Guardsman escorting a woman to an evacuee bus, carrying her baggage for her.


The news reported this morning that during last night's NBC telethon for hurricane relief, rapper Kanye West departed from script, and lambasted Shrub for not caring about black people. Instead of my heart rising up and rebelling against such an inflammatory and needless comment, I was dismayed to find myself responding with the thought," my God, what if Kanye is right? What if Shrub doesn't care about black people? What the hell kind of country am I living in where my leader might not care about an entire segment of his citizenry? And what does this mean for us in these times?" I am not normally an inflammatory kind o' gal. I don't like to use race as an excuse, a platform, a reason, a justification, a label with which to point fingers and place blame. But this morning, I saw a glimpse of the validity of a throw-away comment ... and it scared me and broke my heart all over again, as if that were even possible.

And so, now, I look at the news again. And I see all the black Americans looking back at me. They -- whoever "they" are -- are right: everyone I see is black. Black Americans in undershirts, trying to stay cool. Black Americans with their heads in their hands, utterly defeated. Black Americans holding their babies, unable to provide the nourishment that is the urge of any parent to provide. Black Americans waiting in line to enter the Houston SuperDome. Black Americans waiting in line for water, food, the bathroom, the bus, the airplane. Black Americans looting and being looted. Black Americans in pain I can't even comprehend in the worst of my nightmares. Can it really, truly, be that Shrub would not care about these people?

I wonder what it would take to convince Shrub that these Black Americans are just like him, just like me? That but for the oddity of circumstance and choice, it would be he and I living in the Gulf States, and not in the high and dry lands of the Northeast? That it is not a job to care for your citizens, it is a human calling? Would he understand me? Or does the beckoning call of air conditioning and sanitation and nourishment ring too loudly in his ears?

Maybe I could just tell him that the best antidote to noticing the blackness of our fellow man is to keep staring, to keep looking, to keep watching, to keep listening, to resist the temptation to avert one's eyes and turn away because it's too much to absorb. I can't look away, and so I read the same reports over and over again, from The New York Times, from CNN, from New York's Daily News, from NBC, from The Journal News, from MSNBC, from Yahoo! News. I gaze at the same pictures, lifting Bob up to my face so I can look more deeply into the eyes of the hopeless. I can smell, through my computer screen, the stink of death, body odor, excrement, garbage, rotting and fear. I stare at the elderly sick, lying on cots in Louis Armstrong International Airport, and the healthy -- for now -- young, lined up with garbage bags filled with their meager belongings, awaiting shelter. The more I stare, the more I smell, the more I look into the tear-filled eyes of some unknown woman, trying to communicate to her that we're coming and we haven't abandoned them, the more I see that they are neither as black as they seem and I am neither as yellow as I seem. The reality is, there are ties that bind person to person, and these can only be discovered by looking into the whites of one's eyes.

Shrub, you're pretty white, but you're probably not as white as you seem either. Take a look, would you? And for the record, Kanye is pretty cool ... but I relish the moment that you might prove him wrong.

It's like the worst car-wreck ever, and I can't look away. But I shouldn't; I shouldn't look away from the South for a moment, lest I forget or lest I get distracted or lest I think for a second that things are fine. Things are not fine. In the same way that the church is Christ's body, so is this country my body; if one part of it suffers, all of me suffers. And that's how it should be, and this is how we should be connected, so that we stay united and remain cognizant of our citizenship and our brotherhood.

The stories are all the same now: everyone's focusing on New Orleans, but there are entire regions, states, backwoods communities that are being ignored. The National Guard has arrived to face scattered applause, little thanks, constant recriminations. Marauding bands of young men continue looting, destroying, and now raping women, you know, because it somehow makes sense to them to add suffering to suffering. Everyone is blaming Shrub for being too slow, too uncaring, too preoccupied with sending resource and military and manpower abroad at the expense of his own countrymen. Politicians and talking heads are loving this devastation because it gives them just another soapbox to stand upon and from which to spew irrelevance. Folks are saying the South is being ignored because there are so many poor and black people there; the ACLU is gearing up for civil rights lawsuits (was there ever a time I'm more ashamed to be an attorney?).

At the same time, I also hear that generosity and compassion abound. Colleges and universities around the country are offering semester placement to displaced Southern college students. Families as far away as Maine are offering their homes to homeless victims. The Guard is now landing and distributing food and water, and restoring order, even having the head of the troops yell at a Louisiana state trooper to drop the weapon he had trained on refugees; "this isn't f*cking Iraq!;" he screams. Movie stars and musicians are rallying their resources and influence to raise money; millions have already been raised and donated by ordinary folk like you and I.

And the strangely best news of all: people are calling upon former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani to head on over to lead the rescue, recovery and rebuilding efforts in the South. ROCK ON. Rudy was arguably the best thing that ever happened to New York City, and certainly so in the aftermath of 9/11. Rudy would rock their world, keep out irrelevance and bring a happy jolt of old-school Brooklyn to the house. It's good to have a chuckle in the midst of all of this agony, after all ...

Today is a deceptively beautiful day, filled with deceptively happy and fun events. My resolve is not to be morose or morbid or self-righteous in my heavy-heartedness throughout today, putting on a sad face just to make others put on a sad face with me. No, my resolve is to not so shallow. My resolve is to cling to Christ and believe in the providence of His endless mercy and compassion, and the magnitude of His power. May all of these things be made real and physical through us, through the volunteers, through the news media, through the National Guard members, through the citizens themselves, as they are refreshed and restored. And may all of you know that our prayers for you who are suffering -- all we can offer at this time -- are ceaseless, and our love for you is abounding.
SLUDGE . . .

Can four years be called an era?
If so, then today, an era in my life ended.

Today, I left the womb of my legal career, cutting the apron strings and embarking on ... I don't know what, yet. After three years in attorney heaven, I am now officially unemployed. It's not the unemployment that gets me down; it's the departure from heaven.

Working for two truly honorable judges, in a warm and welcoming courthouse, with intelligent and kind colleagues who quickly became dear friends, among friendly and open staff ... never a day went by without a gut-busting guffaw, an "always-funny" joke, a satisfying cup of coffee that was extraordinarily sludgy only when I dipped my heavy hand into the coffee grounds, and a goofy attorney or client who made our jaws drop in disbelief and laughter. The cases were consistently challenging and interesting, if not always the most clearly presented. (Spell-check exists for a reason, folks. Use it.) Planning for lunch at 9:48 in the morning. Planning to leave at 4:38 in the afternoon. Cake every month, bad parking jobs, the occasional scary fire drill or power outage, the resident leprechaun, brown sauce on Chinese food, special-needs pets, desk paraphernelia (not including Kahlua), grumpy in-house attorneys, political intrigue, song n' dance routines, vanilla in the bathroom.

Where am I ever going to get this again?

I never could have been as prepared for "the real world" of attorney-ing if I had not spent this era, at this time, in this place, with these people. And yet ... though part of me is ready to move forth, a larger part of me screams, "I don't care if I'm prepared! Tie those apron strings back on me noooooow!"

Thursday, September 1

Originally uploaded by chaesq.
You know, it's a strange thing to think and feel and say, but it is my truth: it's not even the pictures of the dead bodies floating in the water, or the dead body slumped over and covered by a blanket in a wheelchair, or the crowd gathered weeping around an old woman dying before their eyes, or the increasingly vacant faces of young children who will only remember desperation and hopelessness, or the eerily and evilly gleeful and defiant smiles upon the faces of opportunistic looters and thieves. These images of the tragedy in my South stir me, sure, and they make me weep and make my heart burst with despair and anger and rage and helplessness.

But nothing shatters my heart as much as the sight of countryman turning a gun on a countryman. My people bearing up arms against each other. What is the meaning of this? How are we to understand this, comprehend it, absorb it? How am I not to be shocked into immobility at this sight, unthinkable even five days ago? I am not naive; I know that violence abounds. I know that crime is rampant and that people are sinful and that hate and greed and selfishness are strong powers. I know all this, and I know more than this. But what kind of person would I be if I did not pause before this image, to grieve not just for the dead, the washed away, the homeless, the hungry ... but now, also for a country and the people who make up this tableau and hundreds more like it: countryman against countryman, both driven by desperation and fear, with no respite in sight, with no hopeful motive to recompense for the evil?

And now I read reports that victims in New Orleans are bitter, saying that our government, our military, is quicker to respond to other areas in the world than they are to respond to our own local regions. They are saying that no one in this country cares about them, that we don't care about sending relief or rescue or buses or aid or food or water.


If you can read this, if you can hear me, if you can hear any of us, then know this: WE ARE DYING INSIDE, JUST AS YOU ARE. Not a day goes by that I and my friends do not shed tears for you. Not a night goes by that I close my eyes and do not see the horrific images second-hand that you see horribly first-hand. Not a moment goes by that I don't wish that I had wings to fly to you and superhuman strength to lift you out and endless resources to restore you. Not a second of the clock ticks that I don't want to run to the nearest news source in the vain hope that I hear good news. NOT A SINGLE MOMENT, DO YOU HEAR ME?

My God, if you knew how badly we were trying to reach you. If you knew how we weep when we gather to pray for you. If you knew how we are pouring out the contents of our pockets, wallets, bank accounts, to give you the flimsy bills inside. If you knew how we fall to our knees and beseech He who created you and who will sustain you, to just throw you a lifeline. If you knew how intimately we are connected, and how we refuse to break the connection. If you only knew.

I beg you, do not give in. I beg you, don't let go. I beg you, grasp the thin line of hope. We're coming, we really are, I swear it to you.