Thursday, December 24

Escape from New York.. 2009!

View from our balcony

Hanging out in Honduras

Coconut water!!

Mayan ruins @ Altun Ha (an hour outside of Belize City, Belize)

Wednesday, December 23

Cruise Highlights!

Still have yet to upload a single picture from the cruise, but will (hopefully) get to this by the weekend.
Since I also have still yet to go food shopping, unpack anything other than my toiletry bag, or clean the apartment I’m also going to keep this short.
So, top 5 cruise highlights:

1. Our balcony! Norwegian cruise line has a weird booking system. If you agree to pay for at least a room with a porthole window, but do not choose the location, they will sometimes upgrade you when you arrive. I have no idea how they figure out who to upgrade, where, why..but it’s great when it works out. We paid for a porthole room and ended up with a private balcony! It was pretty darn amazing, and B and I spent a good portion of the week sitting in our deck chairs enjoying the breeze and staring at the water.

2. Mayan ruins excursion--despite the downpour, I think both B and I really enjoyed this part of the trip. We visited the partially excavated Mayan city of Altun Ha, which is about an hour outside of Belize City, Belize. It was kind of (kind of=very) scary to clamber around on the rocks and pyramid shaped structures in the rain, but worth the effort. Got to see some jungle, ruins, and take pictures without killing ourselves on the sloping and very slippery quite a success!

3. Food glorious food! Despite cruise ships being known for the buffets, we mostly avoided this dining option. It gets kind of overwhelming to be surrounded by so many people filling their plates with food, so we used the dining rooms and specialty restaurants for most of our meals. I’m still slightly annoyed by the fact that you have to a pay a cover charge for the specialty restaurants, but B pointed out that we made out like bandits on the I couldn't’t really whine that much. The dining room food was good, but the restaurant food was great! We tried most of the specialty options, including Italian, French, Mexican & Steakhouse. My favorite meals were probably the Portuguese style Bouillabaisse in the French restaurant and the steak at the steakhouse. Yum!

4. Getting to explore (a little) in new places. Instead of booking an excursion in Honduras, B and I wandered into the small town near the port. The people seem to rely almost exclusively on the tourist business brought by the cruise ships, but it was still really interesting to explore. We enjoyed a beer while sitting at an outdoor café that jutted right over the water, and B bought me a coconut to drink out of. A man with a large knife (or small machete) lopped the top off and stuck a straw right into the coconut! We didn’t get to explore much of Belize City due to our Mayan ruins tour, but we did get to see a little bit of the city and countryside via our bus.

5. Relaxing, reading, and just lounging around with B, J & WB. Some much needed down-time was enjoyed by all!

Tuesday, December 22

Quick Post-Vacation Update

Back from vacation, and my blog looks sadder than ever!

I have pictures to post, holiday cards to get in the mail, and a lot of cleaning.

B was nice enough to do the laundry and errands yesterday, but we have no food in the house..unless you count beer, whole milk & cereal as food (which I do not).

After a full week of being pampered, I’m not that interested in cleaning the apartment and doing a ton of food shopping..but I’ll survive.

Highlights of the cruise to come!

Wednesday, December 9

Passion vs. Prudence : Job Hunting in 2009


As most of you know, I am currently interning at two very different organizations while I complete my masters degree. Both of my supervisors have offered each position until May, and I accepted their offers. One job is with a large government agency, and the other is with a small non-profit.

Although I have really enjoyed the networking and the experience of working in such a large agency over the past 8 months, I am not sure that I would want to remain in this type of position indefinitely. The level of bureaucracy can be totally overwhelming, and I have found it difficult to maintain my composure when I see so much money being wasted when there is so much need in this city.

I feel like I can be more creative at my non-profit position, and that I am able to contribute in a more tangible manner to both the organization and the cause. Although I have been there less time, I feel equally or perhaps even more comfortable with the staff and office space.

I have been really transparent with both of my supervisors throughout this internship process about my desire to transition into a full time job either before or around May (when I graduate). Both have indicated that they will help me identify and pursue positions, although nothing concrete has appeared.
The small non-profit, however, just posted that they are hiring a new full-time staff member.

I knew that this was likely to happen in the next few days, and I had already indicated potential interest to the executive director.

After reading the job description I am torn.

I think I would really enjoy the responsibilities of this position. It is a training and outreach position, and would require a good bit of organizational skills and interaction with community stakeholders in various projects. Although I would likely have to learn more about some of these programs, I think I could do a good job.

If I were to transition into this position, however, I would probably have to put aside all of my current projects. I am sure that someone could take over my responsibilities, but I have become really invested in my work. I know that the organization with like to eventually create a position that might encompass some of these projects, but it’s likely to take months to figure out—and will probably only be ½ or ¾ time.

I also do not want the non-profit staff/director to think that I am applying for this job simply because it’s available and I want something full-time. Although I have been very transparent about my desire for something permanent in New York, I would not submit an application if I did not think I could do a good job or if I were uninterested in the work.

I also do not want to lose out on the opportunity to (potentially) continue with my current work and finish all of my projects.

Is it smarter to try something new and appreciate the security?

Or better to hold out and see what happens?

Patience is not one of my (many!) virtues, but presenting myself as a candidate for this position while already an intern is not without risks. If they decide to hire someone else for the training job, I wonder if they will even consider me as a good candidate for other jobs. If I chose not to pursue this opportunity, am I kind of shooting myself in the foot due to some potentially unfounded concerns?

Is it worse to look overeager for any full-time work or to seem inflexible about open positions?

Lots to think about!

Thursday, December 3

Thanksgiving Menu Overview

Overall I was pretty pleased with the Thanksgiving Menu.

I think that next year I will add a soup and remove the generic salad (since no one touched a single bite!).

Otherwise, I think it was pretty successful.

Our dinner included:


Butternut squash and roasted onion phyllo tartlets



Cranberry Challah Stuffing

Cranberry & Apple Chutney

Cranberry Sauce

Apple Butter

Green Beans with roasted shallots & fennel

Mustard & Cumin Roasted Potatoes

Sweet Potato Casserole

Green salad with walnuts and cranberries

Cranberry Rolls

Butternut squash ravioli w/ sage ‘butter’ sauce

Teriyaki Salmon


Pareve Pumpkin Pie

Mexican Apple Pie

If it sounds like a lot of food..well that’s because it was!

I also apparently went on a huge cranberry kick! Gotta love those antioxidants!

We had a ton of leftovers, which I turned into 2 pot pies.

I used the same pie crust recipe that I had used for the pumpkin pie, and it tastes great with either savory or sweet fillings.

Pictures and a few recipes to come!

Wednesday, December 2

Expose On Campus Sexual Assault: A Must Read!


I highly encourage everyone to go read Kristen Lombardi’s new article, “Sexual Assault on Campus Shrouded in Secrecy,” which is posted on the website of the Center for Public Integrity.
Personally I found Lombardi’s article thoughtful and well-researched but not particularly earth-shattering in its conclusions. I think that my perspective might be skewed, however, by the fact that I spent three out of my four years at college working as a counselor on an anonymous sexual assault hotline. I also worked as the TA for Violence against Women during my senior year—so I was pretty much surrounded by the issue of sexual assault on a college campus and the very serious concerns highlighted by Lombardi. Since most people do not spend a large portion of their undergraduate experience sequestered in various under-heated rooms discussing rape and devising social marketing campaigns for students (which by the way, is really really hard when your group is anonymous), I think Lombardi’s article acts an awesome expose piece.
Since I’m encouraging all readers to go check out her article, I won’t rehash all of her information and conclusions. I do, however, want to comment on one specific part of her piece. As she explains, prosecutors are notoriously wary of taking on college sexual assault cases due to the ‘he-said she-said nature’ of most incidents and the impact of drug and alcohol abuse on recall etc. This leaves survivors with little other recourse than to turn to academic hearings. As Lombardi points out, these hearings are shrouded in secrecy and their actual impact is impaired by conflicting laws that protect academic records and yet mandate the report of campus offenses. Yet even when a survivor is able to navigate the complicated system, pressure an administrator to move forward with a full hearing, and then convince a ‘jury’ of their peers and educators that misconduct has taken place, the punishment ranges from “ expulsion, suspension, probation, or another academic penalty, like an assigned research paper.”
I read that sentence in the article and laughed. Not a happy laugh though, a kind of incredulous and sad laugh. Really?
A possible punishment for assaulting a fellow student is…drum roll please…an assigned research paper?
What could you possibly write about?
An analytical discourse on the morality of having intercourse with an unconscious and inebriated acquaintance? A Shakespearean style tragedy that relates how your physically restrained a friend and forced them to engage in sex acts?
I know I’m focusing on just one specific aspect of the judicial process at a school, but I think it’s pretty ridiculous that an assigned research paper is considered an appropriate punishment. Assaulting someone on campus is a crime. Even if the local DA is not interested in pressing criminal charges, survivors should be able to turn to their campus administrators and know that they will be acknowledged, supported, and ultimately protected. No survivor should share their story, and then be forced to endure mediation with their attacker to resolved the ‘dispute’, or see them found guilty of misconduct only to write a paper and then resume studies at the same university.
We need to do a lot better for these survivors.

Monday, November 30

NaNoWrimo: National Novel Writing Month

I realized that my blog looks a little sad this month, but I have an excuse!
Although I was kind of hoping to wait until I finished the entire month, it got out this past week during Thanksgiving that I've been participating in NaNoWrimo.

NaNoWrimo, or the National Novel Writing Month is a yearly program sponsored by a literacy group. The idea is to foster creativity @ a breakneck pace! Basically, lots of people say they are going to write a book..but most never finish. So NaNoWrimo sets the goal of 50,000 words in 1 month. If you write 50,000 words and get verified by the system, you "win."

To meet the goal you have to write about 1500 words a day, which doesn't leave a lot of time for editing.

I wasn't sure if I was going to make it, but when I saw that I had almost a week left and only 4,000 words to write..I got really excited and finished the whole thing off in an afternoon.

I haven't gone back and read my entire book yet, so I have no idea if it's scary/pathetic/bad..but I don't really care!
I finished the whole darn thing!
And I'm going to participate next year.

My proof:

50,379 words so far Winner!

Thanksgiving: Menu Highlights to Come!

Wow, what an action packed few days!
After several weeks of planning and a marathon of cooking, B and I successfully hosted our first Thanksgiving for both of our families in our NYC apartment.

Despite the sweltering temperature (oven+no heat control+ 9 people in an apartment=hot), I think it went really well!

Thanks Mom and Dad for coming in a day early to help! And thanks to B's parents for the lovely gift baskets!! Since someone (ahem, B) ate all of the cookies, crackers and cheese bites out of the first one I'm considering a plan to hide the items from the second one so that I can try something.

Since I'm pretty excited that everyone survived the evening and seemed to enjoy the food, I'm going to post some pictures and recipes from the meal (in the days to come).

This was one of the first times I did not go home to Harrisburg for Thankgiving, and although I missed seeing a few old friends and family members, it was really exciting starting a new tradition. Although I'm still in recovery mode (so tired!), I think that I'll be excited to this again next year.

Sunday, November 29

Learning about consent? But what are we teaching?

(cross-posted @ the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault blog)

Although I have already attended one high school reunion (guess I'm getting old!), I still have very clear memories of football games, standardized test prep, and the ubiquitous all-school assembly. There was always something festive about being called in to sit in the auditorium, and even though the presentations were usually awful, it was fun to escape the daily grind. Thanks to the conservative leanings of most central PA citizens, I had to sit through my fair share of anti drug/anti drinking/anti sex lectures, and I definitely remember at least one program that involved puppets and a scary "don't have sex or you'll get STDs message."

Why the walk down memory lane?

Well, a co-worker recently sent me a link to an organization that specializes in risk management courses for students.

I found one of their offerings particularly interesting.

The National Center for Higher Education Risk Management offers a 'consent program' for high school students, with a focus on understanding and then obtaining consent in sexual situations.

When I read the overview, I couldn't help imagining what this program might look like in a high school auditorium; a room full of students equally excited by the thought of discussing sex at school and irritated that they have to listen to some awkward guy the entire time.

According to the program, "Conversations about Consent" there are ten things you will learn:

  1. Can men be raped? How?
  2. Does consent have an expiration date?
  3. Can consent be withdrawn? How?
  4. When must consent be given—before, during or after sexual contact?
  5. Are there different levels of sexual interaction to which consent must be specifically given?
  6. What are some comfortable strategies for finding out if someone is interested in sex?
  7. What are some indicators of a lack of clarity in a sexual situation?
  8. What are common assumptions men and women make about sex.
  9. How consent is like—and unlike—baseball.
  10. What is the difference between seduction and coercion?

In theory, I like the idea of a consent program.

I'm rather concerned, however, with the focus of this particular program.

Talking about consent from a risk management perspective means focusing on the rules--ie how to get consent so that you do not get accused of rape.

Is this really the right tactic?

Do we want to be teaching about sexuality and relationships from a risk management perspective?

Wouldn't it be healthier and more socially responsible to teach young adults that consent is an intrinsic part of a healthy relationship? That consent is necessary because your partner's desires and wishes are as important as your own?

I don't think that parents would be thrilled if someone came in and taught a risk management seminar on drunk driving to teens. The tag-line might be "Conversations about Drinking," but the message would be: how not to get caught if you do something wrong.

Sexual violence and sexual assault is wrong.

I'm not sure that engaging in a 'discussion' about how to avoid being caught is something I would want to promote.Yet I'm sure the National Center is doing a booming business--there's nothing adults like more than to preach about healthy relationships without having to engage in the truly difficult discussions about our cultural norms and sex.

Side note: Someone PLEASE tell me how consent is both like and unlike baseball. I refuse to take #9 on the list above seriously.

Thursday, November 19

Vets and guns: dv implications?

I recently saw an article on Mother Jones and felt the need to comment.

Apparently Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) think that gun laws in this country are too restrictive. He thinks that certain veterans in particular are unfairly denied access to guns, and his "Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act" is necessary to protect their rights.

I wouldn't usually comment on a gun rights issue, but this one is really troubling. There's a pretty good reason that some veterans cannot purchase guns: they have been found to be 'adjudicated as a mental defective.' This means that they have severe enough psychiatric problems that the army believes it necessary to put them on what amounts to a special list.

I really don't understand why Senator Burr thinks that providing these veterans with guns is a good idea. Especially since we already know some terribly disturbing things about military personnel and violence.

For one thing, domestic violence in the military is on the rise. Recent estimates suggest that domestic violence in the military rose from 18.6 per 1000 in 1990 to 25.6 per 1000 in recent years. With the rising number of soldiers serving multiple tours in Afghanistan, Iraq and other combat zones it's likely that this number will continue to rise.

The has also been serious concern about the rising rates of PTSD and other mental health disorders in returning soldiers. Modern warfare practices have also led to an increase in the number of soldier suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

Do we really think it is a good idea to put more weapons into the hands of veterans who are already more likely than the average person to engage in spousal abuse? If the army finds it necessary to provide a special label indicating a certain level of emotional distress, I think it's pretty fair to withhold the right to own a gun. Not only would relaxing this rule put domestic partners and family members in danger, it could also impact suicide rates. We know that veterans are already far more likely to die of suicide than non-veterans in the general population, with firearms the most common method being used.

I think Senator Burr should be spending his time writing bills that would provide better mental health services to our veterans.

Instead of providing them with easier access to guns, he should be focusing on how to protect families from domestic violence and veterans from committing suicide.

Wednesday, November 18

Sarah Haskins on "Rape Fables"


Sarah Haskins is pretty well known within feminist circles for producing some great social critique/ comedy pieces.

I just saw her most recent video on Salon, and thought it was worth re-posting below.

While it’s always fun to mock bad commercials, I think Haskins’ video is not only humorous but also pretty informative. Usually you don’t see multiple Broadview security commercials (or any commercials) back to back, so it can be hard to notice potentially disturbing patterns. When Haskins strings several of these home security 7ads together in one montage, it suddenly becomes clear: Broadview relies upon stranger rape as a scare tactic/selling point!

It’s actually pretty disgusting way to market a product. The safety of women and children is not funny, and having an alarm system monitored by Broadview is not actually going to prevent the majority (or perhaps any) sexual assaults. Not only that, but home alarm systems cost money. Are we going to start blaming those women who didn’t spend money to protect themselves in their own homes?

Terrible commercials and a terrible message.

Watch the video below:

Saturday, November 14

Disaster movie shorthand: Tornado with (!)= B movie fun. Tornado without (!)= bad

Turns out I learned something today.
The movie Tornado! from 1996 is a campy yet fun disaster movie.
The 1994 movie Tornado ( no exclamation piont), is a super strange gypsy curse/devil worship movie that involves what appears to be a vengeful tornado god.

At first, I thought it was going to be a nice straightforward weather menace movie.
The opening scene involves a small boy watching his father get blown away by a tornado.
Seemed like a good start. A little derivative perhaps (a la Twister), but very acceptable.

Then the movie cuts away. The little boy is suddenly all grown up..and talking to his amulet!

I have no idea how/why the amulet is connected to the weather.
I also have no idea why the father had some type of special amulet.

I'm now an hour and a half into this movie, and I still have NO idea why this guy has a special gypsy amulet, or how his family is at all connected to the tornado god.
I also have no idea what the tornado god is doing in a movie at all.
Or why the tornado god is involved with devil worshipers.
Or why there are gypsies in the story.

Really, not a clue.
The only reason I keep watching is to see if they have someone explain the whole darn plot at the end.

So far I've seen 3 tornadoes, and 1 of them occurred in some sort of nightmare sequence.
Some sort of scary face just appeared in the most recent tornado.
I'm assuming that it's the tornado god?

Apparently the tornado god likes eating helicopters, and shooting lightening at the ground.
Normally I'd be opposed to tornadoes having faces, but since the sequence just increased the death count by 5 or 6, I'm feeling forgiving.

Basically, this version of Tornado gets an "F."
No slumming A-list or B-list actors, terrible special effects, nonsensical plot, and NO MASS CARNAGE.

End of movie. No explanation. The "F" stands.

Monday, November 9

Victim blaming & blog trolls


Just a few weeks ago, a 15 year old was brutally attacked and gang-raped in front of a group (of spectators) after she left a homecoming dance. According to various news reports, the young girl was found shirtless and unconscious under a cement picnic table, and was airlifted to the hospital in critical condition. Various witnesses now say the assault went on for as long as two hours, with a crowd of up to 15 people watching. Not a single person called the police, went for help, or attempted to help the victim.

You would think that people would read this story and feel nothing but horror. Because there's really some rather horrific aspects: gang rape, 'spectators,' and a brutal assault. You might even think that this particular girl would escape the victim blaming so often seen after less physically brutal or more "ambiguous" rape cases.

Apparently a large segment of the online community (where I read the comment sections after these stories) seems to think that the 15 year old victim is to blame for her assault.

Because she might have known her assailants from school.
Because she was careless enough to wait for her father to pick her up on the street.
Because she might have been drinking.

Salon highlights a particularly troubling reaction from one blog commenter, who writes:

wait wait wait…..she was drinking prior to this? hmmm. im not sayin its her fault or she deserved this or anything but shes 15 and drinking outside on a bench by herself in a dress….as much as people want this to be a perfect world, its not. what she wasdoin in the first place was asking for trouble. if your not gunna be smart about the choices you make, im not gunna feel bad for what happen

Despite the caveat that he/she isn't blaming the victim for what happened, this person clearly believes that women deserve to be sexually assaulted and brutalized if they make a decision that someone else might characterize as bad. And apparently, a bad decision might include:

1. Being outside

2. Wearing a dress

3. Underage drinking

It is these type of comments that make me so angry.

Why are people taking time out of their busy lives to chastise a brutalized 15 year old?

Why are these people not using the same time and energy to discuss the fact that a crowd of people spent 2 hours watching multiple men rape a young girl?

Why do people think that it's OK to "not feel bad" for a victim of sexual assault, even if they've done something you consider risky?

Friday, November 6

Cooking Club Month 2: Pasta

Last month we made mozzarella cheese..and this month it was pasta!

Since I had made mozzarella a few times before, I hosted/taught last month.
This month Jacob took over and hosted everyone at his apt.
We made pasta with two kinds of wheat flour (semolina and durum).

It was actually pretty easy, although I'm going to need more practice at the rolling part!

We used a ratio of 1 c. flour to 1 egg.
You crack the egg right into the center of a little flour mountain, and mix with a fork in the center.

I was really bad at keeping the egg from running out of the middle area, but it seemed to work out anyway.

Then you keep incorporating the flour from your now rather flattened mountain, and start kneading.

Then you roll it out really thin..and voila! Pasta!

Rolling out until it was nearly transparent was probably the most difficult part.

I guess that's why they have nice little pasta machines. You put the dough through and it presses it thin and flat for you.

Although mine wasn't as thin as it could have been, it was kind of fun getting to roll the pasta out by hand. Really rather satisfying.

We made pumpkin ravioli out of the durum, and fettuccine out of the semolina.

I forgot to take pictures of the ravioli, but it was very tasty.

To make the fettuccine, you roll up the entire piece of rolled out dough kind of an a diagonal.

Imagine making a napkin roll.

Then you slice the now-rolled dough and unwrap the pieces.

You end up with lovely strands of pasta. And fresh pasta cooks so quickly!
<--We went from this

<--to this in just a few minutes.

Throw on some homemade white wine cream sauce, and you have pasta perfection on a plate!

So excited to do this again now that I know how!!

Wednesday, November 4

Found the little bit of good. Only 24 hours later!

As you can tell from yesterday's post, I was feeling a little overwhelmed by my daily dose of sexual violence news.

And yet, just 24 hours later I find something to feel hopeful about.
In response to the gang-rape in Richmond,2 men wrote to the national PTA association to share their thoughts about rape culture and the way forward.

I thought they wrote a thoughtful letter that addresses the larger societal issues as well as ability to impact change on an individual level. I'm re-posting the entire letter (despite its length):

We Can Change the Culture of Rape

By Patrick McGann and Neil Irvin

Everyone would agree that the gang rape outside Richmond High School was horrific. While this criminal act is particularly troubling because of the large number of perpetrators and witnesses, the incident should not be viewed in isolation. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), a sexual assault occurs every two minutes in the United States. In Men Can Stop Rape’s (MCSR) view, rape happens because we as a country have not committed to creating cultures of prevention focused on sexual and dating violence in our schools and communities.

If we pay attention to who commits rape, we see that the majority of assaults are perpetrated by men attacking women and other men. But the majority of men do not commit sexual violence and therefore are potential allies with women. By providing a blueprint for transforming bystanders into active agents of social change, MCSR mobilizes young men across the country to create cultures of rape prevention in their schools and communities.

What gets in the way of prioritizing the creation of these cultures nationwide? Victim-blaming, for one. We worry that people will hold the the young woman in Richmond accountable for her assault, especially since there were reports in the media that she had been drinking alcohol. No rape survivors are ever at fault for their assault, whatever the circumstances. To place responsibility on her is a way of diverting responsibility from the young men who committed the rape.

Outsiders typecasting sexual assault as occurring in communities with troubled youth serves as another way of not addressing rape as a social issue. In an October 28 Contra Costa Times article, one student is deeply disturbed that all the Richmond High students were described as animals in response to the assault. There were 400 students at the prom who did not commit rape. And there were female and male students who took steps to call the police. What enabled them to act in a humane manner? These students should be part of the story.

So, what can we do? First, we need an understanding of rape prevention that is broader in scope, that involves females and males, and that is based on respecting our cultures and ourselves. Historically, preventing sexual assault has been thought of in terms of females engaging in risk reduction, such as walking in pairs or dressing conservatively. For lasting change to occur, however, men and women can prevent sexual violence by challenging the attitudes and assumptions that dehumanize women. Atianna Gibbs, a recent Richmond High graduate, says in the October 28 Contra Costa Times article, “That could easily have been their sister, their mom. ...Nobody deserves that.” Her comment suggests that it is easier to hurt someone who is of no importance to us than someone who is. This act of dehumanization is an attitude connected to rape and other forms of violence. Racist violence, gay bashing, and rape clearly all share this dynamic.

Fathers can serve as role models of healthy masculinity for their sons and daughters by treating everyone with respect and empathy. Mothers and fathers can discuss with their children what consent and healthy relationships look like. They can become involved with groups like PTA to work to ensure that there are multiple ways schools engage in creating a culture of rape prevention, such as classroom curricula, after-school groups, teacher trainings, and public education campaigns. Parents should support their sons’ involvement with youth programs that encourage healthy masculinity and relationships, like Men Can Stop Rape’s middle school and high school Men of Strength Clubs.

Through our clubs, young men choose to define their own masculinity by evaluating whether messages about manhood, like “don’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” play a role in creating unhealthy and unsafe relationships. They learn skills to speak out effectively when they see attitudes and behaviors that degrade women and girls. Club members translate their curriculum lessons into public education and peer education, uniting a wide cross-section of the community consisting of students, parents, educators, administrators, and business leaders. The young men in the club pledge to be men whose strength is used for respect, not for hurting.

If we want healthy cultures, empathy must occupy the center of a culture’s core, nonviolence must be a shared value, and everyone must matter. Men and women can prevent rape by sharing responsibility and by recognizing that if our cultures are going to be healthy, everyone must play a part in caring to make them so.

Men Can Stop Rape
PO Box 57144
Washington, DC 20037
(202) 265-6530

Tuesday, November 3

Looking for a little good..


As most of you know, I'm currently finishing my graduate degree in public health and working part-time at 2 organizations in New York.

One of the organizations, is an anti-sexual violence advocacy organization (the Alliance). One of my responsibilities @ the Alliance is updating the blog. In order to come up with new posts, I spend a lot of time reading news articles and other blogs. Alliance staff members also send me links, and I usually end up with 2-3 posts a week.

Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming spending so much time reading about sexual assault, sexual violence, domestic violence and harassment.

Today I'm trying to decide if I should blog about:

1. The gang-rape of a 15 year old girl at a high school dance, and the (rather disgusting) online reaction to the crime.

2. The glamour magazine article where Rihanna 'breaks her silence,' following the attack by her former boyfriend Chris Brown.

3. The Catholic Bishop in NY who has been making phone calls on behalf of a political candidate, because he wants to block the city and state from passing laws that would increase the rights of child sexual assault victims.

It's actually rather frightening that I have so many topics to choose from on a random Tuesday morning.

I would be out of an internship, but I really wish that this organization wasn't necessary.

Monday, November 2

Thanksgiving..and the menu planning has begun!

This past weekend I tried to make a savory apple pie.
I have no idea why (savory vs. sweet). I just thought it sounded like a neat idea.
The fact that I only had whole wheat flower in the house may have had something to do with this decision..
Anyway, it was a disaster!
The crust is too..well, whole wheat tasting.
I'm sure there is a way to make a whole wheat pie crust that tastes good, but this just wasn't quite right.
Luckily, I have plenty of time to make a few more pies (to freeze) before T-day.
B and I are hosting both families at our apartment, so I'm going to be making a good bit of the food ahead of time and hoping it keeps well.
So far the menu looks something like:

Coleslaw (B's request)
Cranberry sauce (anyone have any unusual ideas? types?)
Free Form Sweet Potato Tart
Green Beans
Teriyaki Salmon

Should be a neat mix!

Thursday, October 22

Warning: Website rant about men/abortion/choice debate coming right up..!

Despite what I wrote in the title of this post, I'm not going to spend a lot of time actually thinking/debating/pontificating about the message of the anti-choice website

I think the name of the site makes their stance pretty clear. My stance is more along the lines of: women and their families should have absolute control over reproductive outcomes, and legislators should respect the intelligence and morality of allowing for individuals to make their own choices. Off soapbox now..because I don't see any member of choicekills changing their mind, and I'm not about to soften my stance against people who cannot respect the complexity of the world and the need for a nuanced approach to any importance decision.

What I will say about this particular site and their message is that they seem especially paternalistic.
The entire site assumes that anti-choice messaging is really only important for women. There is not a single male featured in any of the photos, or included in any of the 'stories' about women who regret having an abortion.
Despite the fact that a man is almost always involved in the creation of a fetus, their only message to the entire sex is this:

It's a supporting role but crucial. They can help by discussing Choice's deceptive invitation to a tragic personal reality. They can encourage and praise your willingness to help save other young women from this awful situation. They can show their support by accompanying you in public by wearing a ChoiceKills T-shirt. They can also help by arranging a Choice Kills Billboard and by using the bumper sticker.

I think I find this statement particularly frustrating becomes it assumes such a level of disengagement. Instead of promoting the importance of safe sex for both partners, or discussing the importance of healthy relationships in which you can discuss your personal desires for (or against) having children, it relegates men to the lofty position of purse holder. While I think it would be equally dangerous to tell men that their thoughts/beliefs about abortion are more important than those of their partner, this message just seems so antiquated.

It's so sad that we have websites telling young men that their purpose is to support their partner only if she's willing to harass or shame a friend into continuing with an unwanted or perhaps dangerous pregnancy.

Shouldn't we instead be telling men that they should be simply supporting their partners?

Monday, October 19

Furniture hunting in NYC: mostly just luck!

After weeks of hunting for a specific piece, my parents stumbled upon the perfect store/piece during their 2 day trip.
B and I have been (slowly) adding pieces to our apartment.
First major purchase was the couch--drama documented in earlier posts--which is still the centerpiece of our living room.
Next came our flea finds, the 2 black leather/wood chairs armchairs and the 2 wooden side tables.

Then I carried home 2 wooden chairs from the Housing Works store on Montague. The hard manual labor (a mile w/ 2 chairs, a purse and a tiny wingspan is pretty darn difficult) was well worth the effort as we can now have dinner actually sitting at a table.

I also created a tablecloth out of a piece of fabric from Africa (thanks KW!) to both hide the darker wood (which now clashes with all of our other furniture) and give our main table a more 'homey' feel.

As soon as all of this was in place, I started bugging B about getting a jelly cabinet.
This caused major confusion, because apparently my mother and I are the only people on the planet who call this type of furniture a jelly cabinet.
For those of you who aren't in the know, it's basically a small not-as-fancy china cabinet. Or something like that.

I've been looking for this type of piece for weeks. I looked @ the flea, I browsed online, and then hit up a few stores in downtown Brooklyn. We had almost decided to go with an unstained version from gothic when my parents mentioned a little store on court street (homecourt). It's a pretty small store that we had apparently totally missed in all of our (well, my) other outings.

We walked in on Sunday night, found a finished floor model that was $50 cheaper than the unstained one from gothic (including the delivery fee)..and they were willing to bring it by that evening.

Paid for it at 4:50 or so and by 6 were cleaning out the shelves and stacking our glasses!

It's a little lighter than some of our other wood pieces, but I think it works.
I think we're also going to paint the extra black tables that we use as mobile counter space to lighten up the kitchen overflow/dining room/foyer area.

More apt. updates to come..

Thursday, October 15

Mozzarella party!


Finally have some pictures ready of the homemade mozzarella!

Last night a few friends joined for a little cheese making party at the apartment.
3 hours, 2 gallons of whole milk and a LOT of bread/cheese/fruit snacking later...tada, we had homemade mozzarella cheese!

Turns out that TJ's whole milk is probably ultra pasteurized (despite the label). The cheaper milk from Key Foods produced much shinier prettier looking cheese.

The process is really pretty easy.
Heat a lot of whole milk, stir in some citric acid. Add more heat & rennet. Seperate the curd from the whey and microwave the curds for a bit.

When it reaches the right temp, throw on some gloves and knead and then pull.

Even though the directions say to pull it like taffy, we found that if you pulled the mozzarella apart too quickly or too much the texture got a little funny. Either way, it worked out pretty well.
See how pretty it looks all stretched out? (look---right over there--->)

After a few misfires (the mozzarella was too lumpy looking) we hit on the right strategy.
Apparently bread making is an asset, since our resident baker- Jacob- won the prize for prettiest looking mozzarella!

Here is a nice shot of all of the mozzarella from batch 2. Try and guess which piece was made by Jacob:

Oh..and the aftermath on the right:

Tuesday, October 13

Tucker Max & Rape Humor: Or why I'll be boycotting some misogynist idiocy in feature film format


(cross-posted w/ Alliance blog )

The National Organization for Women in New York state has a young feminists task force. As part of their commitment to women's health and reproductive justice issues, task force members keep a blog.

Another Alliance staff member recently sent me a link to their recent discussion about Tucker Max and 'rape humor.'

I don't want to rehash their entire discussion, but I highly recommend reading Jerin's take on Max, his brand of 'humor' and the reaction of both his fans and protesters.
For those of you unfamiliar with Max, here is an excerpt from his book, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell:

"My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole. I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging d***head. But, I do contribute to humanity in one very important way: I share my adventures with the world."

While I have no idea why anyone would care to read the rambling thoughts of someone who sounds totally repulsive, Tucker was able to parlay the popularity of his books into an upcoming movie.

The recent debate began to attract widespread attention when Tucker suggested that his loyal followers begin to mock the protesters (who were showing up at media events for the book/movie) by creating photo-shopped pictures of themselves holding signs that say things like: “I’m mad cuz no one will rape me” and “Women deserve to call rape ‘surprise sex."

While I have no doubt that Alliance readers can grasp both the idiocy and danger in promoting this type of rape culture, Tucker fans have continued the campaign and 'counter-protest.'

The NOW task force blog really delves into why this type of behavior is harmful for both men and women, and attracted some debate from readers. I hope you'll check out their post here..

Monday, October 12

Cheese making try 1: a good start!

I (finally) made my first batch of home-made mozzarella cheese this weekend! The texture is a little off, but it tastes pretty darn good.

Since taste is way more important than texture, I think it's a success story..but I will be trying again this Wednesday with a few friends!

I have decided that the texture issue could be because:
1. The TJ milk is actually ultra-pasteurized and not just pasteurized like it says on the label.
2. When I tried to make a small batch, I messed up the ratios. It was really also really difficult trying to crush a rennet tablet into 8ths!

I'm hopeful that the big batch on Wed. will be 100% successful!
Also, pictures to come!

NYTimes mystery: AIDS/HIV article in Fashion & Style

Why is this incredibly moving article about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the gay community in the Fashion & Style Section of the New York Times?

Since when does HIV have anything to do with fashion designers, dining guides, and fall harvest ideas?

The article is both poignant and interesting, and really speaks to the importance of cultural memory for the HIV epidemic. The gay community was nearly decimated in the 80s and 90s, and now there are too few people left to remind the new generation of activists what it was like to see your entire social circle die.

Sean Straub tells the reporter how he feels like a 'grandfather' in the room when he attends protests or meetings, and that so many of the queer youth involved in the current movement do not know anyone living with HIV/AIDS. While he doesn't actually say it, Straub's message seems to be along the lines of those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. He serves as both a reminder of what/could be if the community does not continue to make awareness a priority and a beacon of hope given his original prognosis.

Anyway, go read the article.
Maybe they'll move it to the health section, or U.S. section, or any slightly more relevant section if they see a reader response.

What a waste of time/money/energy: Suspending a 6 year old for bringing camping gear to school

Is this really necessary?
I understand the need for 0 tolerance for weapons in a school.
Weapons are dangerous, kids have low impulse control, and you don't want the two to mix.
But when did common sense become irrelevant in this discussion?

If a six year old boy brings a camping tool that becomes a fork, a spoon, and a small (not sharp) knife for use at lunchtime, he should not face a 45 days in the district’s reform school.
He should perhaps be sent to the office, so that an adult can explain why it is dangerous to have anything sharp in the lunchroom. Then a guidance counselor or principal could have taken the tool away, called his mother to remind her of the policies and asked her to pick it up immediately.

So why didn't this happen? Why is the 6 year old facing a long suspension and time in reform school?

Because the law is written that 0 tolerance has to be enforced w/ a suspension, no matter the situation or age of the student.

What this really comes down to is lack of trust in our educators.
Why aren't we giving them the discretion to determine when a suspension or expulsion is warranted, or if a different and perhaps less punitive measure is needed?

Perhaps our school systems could spend more time and money actually EDUCATING students if they weren't forced to suspend 6 year old children and then face court challenges and loss of community support after the decisions.

Thursday, October 8

Faith in legislative process restored just a tiny bit...but none other than AL FRANKEN (?!)

I just received an email with the news that Senator Al Franken's amendment to the defense appropriations bill for 2010 was passed.

His amendment basically ensures that defense contractors can not force their employees into arbitration or prevent them from seeking justice (via the courts) if their claim includes: sexual assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress as well as Title VII civil
rights claims. If they do not change their employment policies and contracts, they risk losing funding from the US gov't.

Senator Franken's amendment was inspired by the experience of Jamie Lee Jones, "a 19-yr-old employee of defense contractor KBR (formerly a Halliburton subsidiary) stationed in Iraq who was gang raped by her co-workers and imprisoned in a shipping container when she tried to report the crime. Her father and U.S. Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tex.), worked together to
secure her safe return to the United States, but once she was home, she
learned a fine-print clause in her KBR contract banned her from taking her
case to court, instead forcing her into an "arbitration" process that would
be run by KBR itself. Just today, Halliburton filed a petition for a
rehearing en banc in the 5th Circuit Court, which means that Jamie's fight
is far from over."

Although it is incredibly sad that Jamie was effectively re-victimized by KBR's clause, it's really encouraging that Al Franken has stepped in to prevent this from occurring again. I never thought that I'd be so excited by anything at all related to Al Franken...but I am truly encouraged by this positive change for sexual violence victims.

Wednesday, September 30

Invisible Girls book review & debate on RH reality check

RH Reality check recently posted a really great book review of Dr. Patti Feureisen’s revised second edition of “Invisible Girls: The Truth About Sexual Abuse.” Since I don’t want to repeat the review word for word, I highly recommend you check out the post by Brittany Shoot.
What I will say is that the post is interesting not only due to the subject matter –sexual violence and the more subtle sexual abuse that occurs in so many contexts–but also the reaction to the review. Some of the comments at the bottom of the page are downright virulent. One reader in particular seems to feel that books that expose sexual violence as pervasive and damaging to young girls and women are simply an offshoot of ’whiny feminism.’

Another commenter on the post wrote a rather convoluted attack on comprehensive sexual education. His post included this paragraph:
“Honestly, if these stats are true (and not just another case of gross exaggeration re: sexual abuse appearing on this site) I really need to reconsider my support of comprehensive sex ed for young people. It’s no wonder parents want to lock up their girls..The message of education in hopes of healthy sexual teen relationships strikes me as absurd in light of these stats. With comprehensive sex ed aren’t you just giving girls a false sense of security and setting them up for abuse?”

While I’m not sure I understand how he has linked comprehensive sexual education with an increased risk of sexual abuse and/or assault, this is exactly the kind of situation that I find both frustrating and frightening. In my mind, accurate and comprehensive sexual education should equip both young men and women with the knowledge and power to make informed sexual decisions. Preventing sexual abuse and assault should be a component of this education, but is really a much larger cultural/societal issue. We should not confuse teaching healthy sexuality to teens with reshaping our cultural norms as they relate to sexual violence and the position of women.

I’m going to register @ RH Reality check so that I can comment that effect at the bottom of the article. Allowing confused people to connect these issues makes it more difficult to clearly advocate for the continuation of comprehensive sexual education and the ending of sexual abuse and violence.

I hope you will do the same and take some time to comment here, @ RH reality check, or at the Alliance blog (where I cross-posted)!

Friday, September 25

5 things I learned from TLC's "I Didn't Know I was Pregnant"

1. If you are a UK citizen, YOU WILL become pregnant at least once and not realize it until you are mid-delivery. You will then be very droll about the entire situation when recounting it for TLC.

2. You can get pregnant even if you have had 1 ovary removed. Oh wait, I already knew that. Apparently most of America, however, does not understand this important concept. Missing 1 out of your 2 ovaries does not guarantee sterility.

3. Neonatologists and or OB/Gyns do not like being on camera. They are all VERY SERIOUS and have a hard time figuring out how to look directly at the lens when they are delivering their information.

4. You can drink, smoke, and generally abuse your body while pregnant and everything will turn out 100% OK. You will then repeat that you would have never ever done any of those things if you had known about the pregnancy at least 5 times during the broadcast. The serious doctor(see above) will also point out repeatedly that serious complications can occur if you do these things.

5. Using the rhythm method is a solid plan when you have irregular menstrual cycles and no desire to become pregnant. When you then do not have a period for several months in a row, you will NOT consider pregnancy as a possibility and will give birth in the bathroom of the fast food restaurant where you work.

Thursday, September 24

Reproductive quandaries thanks to IVF. Big news?

This past week has been IVF mix-up mania on
They have now run a slightly different version of the exact same story every single day this week.
I realize that it's a slow news week what with the flooding in Atlanta, the ongoing health care debates and the ongoing financial crisis.
Clearly a single case of IVF mix up is well worth the in depth coverage it has been receiving.

Apparently a woman in Ohio is 35 weeks pregnant with a baby that is not her own. Her IVF clinic implanted her with someone else's embryo, and she and her husband decided to carry the fetus to term and then give him to his biological family.

All of this makes for a wonderful premise for an episode of L&O. Perhaps in a ripped from the headlines version they can have the two families fight over the fetus/infant once it's born. Or the biological family could try and kidnap the pregnant woman. Oh wait, I think L&O has actually already done several episodes just like that.

Ultimately, I think CNN is simply using this family to provide some rather overwrought headlines. There's nothing better than a little family drama mixed in with science gone wrong.

And actually, I think CNN is focusing in on the least interesting aspect of the situation.

The pregnant woman (& husband) already have three healthy children. The only reason they went back to the IVF clinic was because they still had 5 frozen embryos and it was against their religious beliefs to destroy them, or to leave them unused.

While I firmly believe that families should be given absolute control over their reproductive choices, I have to wonder about these types of situations.

There are already entire organizations that recruit women to impregnate themselves with 'leftover' embryos.
In many situations they don't even expect these women to parents any children produced. They just want to prevent embryos from being destroyed.
Given the number of already born children who are currently living in poverty/abusive/bad situations both in the US and abroad, I'm wary of both individuals and organizations who seem to value embryo preservation far more than the protection of already produced children.
Or in this case, the health of the woman/fetuses involved. This particular mother became deathly ill when pregnant with her second child, and due to complications delivered both her second and third child prematurely. While no one in this family has suffered long-term effects, I imagine there is a rather high level of risk involved for both the woman (now 39) and this fourth potential child.

I realize that I can't espouse to support reproductive choice and then say that this woman should/should not have tried for a fourth child despite the health concerns.
If she and her family wanted more children, they are well within their rights to try.
While it's unusual and upsetting that an embryo mix-up occurred, from my perspective the rest of the situation is far more troubling & thought provoking.
I wish that CNN would either delve more fully into the more interesting aspects of this situation or leave this personal family store entirely alone.

Wednesday, September 23

I think that my Bank of America drama would make a lovely episode of a sitcom

This is getting ridiculous.

I closed my bank of America accounts several weeks ago.
Somehow I magically paid for something with my checkcard almost 3 weeks after everything was shut down.
I hope the sarcasm is evident in the sentence above.

Anyway, this $12 transaction then resulted in a nasty note from BOA saying that if I did not immediately transfer money to cover this cost, I would be charged a $35 overdraft fee.

So they want me to do what?
Re-open my closed account?
Pay for a transaction that could not have occurred?
Pay an overdraft fee on the closed account that could not have had a transaction?


When I tried calling the number on the note, the service repeatedly hung up on me because I could not type in my account number.
It is very difficult to type in an account number for an account that no longer exists..but I don’t think the automated system cared.

After 3 attempts (and 20 minutes on hold last night when an associate hung up on me by accident) I finally got someone in credit card services to transfer me internally to the correct department.

Oh, and it turns out that they have no idea why I received the note.

No charge or overdraft fee is noted.

When bumper stickers just don't seem that funny...


As I was walking to work this morning I noticed a van idling near the curb.
It had a large bumper sticker plastered across the back. It said:
"Driver does not carry cash. He's married"

It took me almost a minute to figure out that the bumper sticker was a joke.
My initial thought was actually more along the lines of "well that's an unusual way to prevent a carjacking or mugging. I guess you won't want to steal from/hurt a married man? That's kind of sweet. Yet strange."

Then I realized it was a in..henpecked married men are forced to give up all of their cash to their wives.

Which doesn't seem that funny to me.
Or that offensive.
Just silly.

But when I thought about it a little more, I realized that the bumper sticker that said almost the exact same thing but about a woman would actually be pointing to a rather scary situation.

If you saw a bumper sticker that said "Driver does not carry cash. She's married" there would be no punchline.
Instead, you would probably expect to find a hotline number for domestic violence on the same sticker.
It no longer seems like a joke, and begins to sound more like a PSA against partner abuse and economic control.

I guess over-thinking silly bumper stickers comes with the territory when you spend most of your professional work day thinking about reproductive and social justice..but I'm not sure that's a bad thing.

Perhaps more thinking and less subtly disturbing bumper stickers would be better for the world.

Wednesday, September 16

Danish tourism video stirs outrage..yet I'm more puzzled/resigned than outraged

Online news forums are buzzing about a recent YouTube video outed by the NYTimes as being posted by the tourism board of Denmark .

The video shows an attractive blond woman feeding 'her' young child a bottle, while asking everyone watching to help her find the father. She tells viewers that she conceived after a drunken one night stand, and would like to find the man.

It's pretty easy to figure out what the Danish tourism board was hoping to accomplish: selling their country as one with beautiful free-spirited women ready and willing to engage in drunken sex acts with strangers.

So yeah, I'm not surprised that a lot of people (including many Danish women) are outraged at the demeaning and rather disgusting idea not so subtly promoted by the video.

I just can't work myself up to outrage.
Just somewhat saddened resignation.

We live in a world where PETA thinks that it's more important to protest on behalf of animals than treat human beings (yes PETA, women are human beings too) with respect.

Vegas ads send the same message, and they don't inspire a lot of outrage.
It just isn't that surprising that some brilliant ad exec in Denmark thought that selling the idea of casual sex would increase tourism.

So yeah, not a lot of outrage left for this pathetic excuse at promotion.
Although I do hope that the women of Denmark find a way to show their tourism board that while they may engage in casual sex (if they so choose), they are certainly not about to become country sponsored prostitutes because it would be useful for the Danish economy.

Perhaps they should start burning bras and protesting in the streets.
Nothing like a little in your face feminism to scare off exactly the kind of tourists who would be interested in a visit after seeing this ad..

Restaurant Review: Poke Sushi

B and I met some friends here for dinner on a Saturday night.

Things I enjoyed:

1. Love that it's BYOB. You can bring 1 bottle for 1-3 people or 2 bottles for 4-6 people. If you bring more, they charge you $20. We had 5 people and 2 bottles, so it was perfect.

2. Edamame to start, then miso soup. Thank you for having miso soup with some flavor. And by flavor, I do not mean overwhelming saltiness. Nice bits of tofu & seaweed too.

3. The the volcano roll (fried calamari, with spicy sauce and avocado). Really reasonably priced and pretty tasty. I obviously ordered a sushi that did not involve fresh fish, but the others said theirs was good. Next time I might skip the miso soup and order 2 rolls.

Things I did not like:

1. Started to get reaaaaally packed around 7:30. So come early or be prepared to wait!

2. We told the waitress we needed another minute or two..and she gave us like 10+. I know she was busy, but kind of a long time to abandon your table when they're starving but a little slow!

3. It's really far away from Brooklyn!! Ok, not really that far..but sure seems that way.

But worth the shlep and potential wait it if you need a BYOB sushi fix in a pretty nice sit-down setting

Overall: 4 stars

Tuesday, September 15

Runway pictures & accesseries breakdown!

AKA the last (I think!) Psoriasis Runway Post..

Before I post a few pictures of my custom-designed outfit, my accessories and Tim Gunn (!), I just wanted to include my written response to a reporter about the experience.


How do you think participating in Addressing Psoriasis™ will change your life or your perspective on style or psoriasis?

I think that participating in the campaign broke down the final barrier in the way that I relate to having psoriasis. Although I've never been ashamed of the condition, I've always considered it something private and managed it in a way that helped redirect attention to other parts of my life/body. While I'm happy that I managed to maintain a sense of personal style despite the condition, I don't think I realized how important it can be to really share my experience with others. Since participating in the campaign I've found myself blogging, talking, and generally being more open about living with psoriasis. In return I've received so much support from family, friends, and even strangers who felt like they were also kind of suffering in silence. Now that I've taken that first step in reaching out, I'm going to continue!

And now for some pictures!

From far left:

Post runway with Stacy!

My earrings (Olivia Clare Designs)

Bracelet (

With Tim Gunn

Shoes (Vegan line from Steve Madden)

Sexual Assault Reporting & Victim's Rights

The recent arrest of Phillip Garrido for the kidnapping and sexual assault of Jaycee Dugard raises interesting questions about sexual assault in the media, and the rights of a victim in the public eye.

Jaycee Dugard was allegedly kidnapped by Phillip Garrido and his wife when she was 11 years. She was rescued after 18 years of living in captivity, and was recently reunited with her family. After her rescue, it was also found that Jaycee had given birth to two daughters with Garrido.

Jaycee spent 18 years living with a man who likely assaulted her repeatedly, and must now face public scrutiny as both a kidnapped child returned to her family as well as a sexual assault victim. Although the names of her daughters have not been released, it seems unlikely that they will remain anonymous for long given the media scrutiny on their mother.

Jaycee's situation presents an interesting and troubling situation from a survivor perspective. Although her family was understandably overjoyed to be reunited with their long-lost child, the very public nature of her return has allowed the media to report details of her kidnapping and sexual assault with little regard for her status as a victim. Jaycee's young daughters will also face a public record that label their father as a kidnapper and rapist.

The question then remains, does the public interest in Jaycee's return negate her rights as a survivor?
Should the media have reported the likely sexual assault, as well as the paternity of her children?
Is the loss of Jaycee's privacy in this traumatic situation more important than the right of the press to report information?

Tuesday, September 8

Psoriasis thoughts post-runway..i.e. the last post without any pictures of the outfit/experience!

It seems crazy that the entire Address Psoriasis runway experience already occurred over a week ago.

I've been emailing,chatting, and meeting with my designer, Stacy, for months.
I participated in multiple conference calls, several interviews with reporters and had the chance to wave on the Today show.
I met the other winners, had a chance to interact with Tim Gunn, and walked the runway in front of a room full of media contacts and guests.

What an experience!

When I entered the contest last spring, I really did not think that I would be selected as one of the winners.
For one thing, I can't remember a time when I didn't have Eczema or Psoriasis.
I've also been pretty successful over the years at managing or hiding the condition. I covered my fingers in band aids in kindergarten, and had friends 'check' my neck and scalp for flare ups whenever I pulled my hair into a ponytail.
I still get frustrated when I see a flare advancing across my forehead in red angry patches, but mostly I just ignore the entire situation.

Being forced to talk about Psoriasis all summer and meet other people in similar situations kind of made ignoring it impossible!

It really has been exciting and humbling.

Overall, I'm glad this experience has forced me to stop ignoring the Psoriasis.
Yes, it's irritating to deal with an auto immune disorder with such visible skin symptoms..but I have it, and isn't going away.
All of the other contestants live with their Psoriasis, and have amazingly full lives: partners, friends, great jobs, babies, & grand babies!

I think if nothing else, I'm going to move forward and just be a little more forgiving of myself. If there's nothing I can do about a flare up, then there's no point in getting upset or feeling embarrassed.
A little more self-care and a little less self-doubt has got to be a good thing!

Feeling happy (thus far) with my new Citi account

Ooh..blogger just deleted my entire post!

Try 2:

Feeling happy with Citi thus far, despite a rather large snafu with my account.

I deposited my paycheck on Friday and noticed on Sunday that it had yet to show up in my account (as pending or cleared).

I didn't start to get really nervous about the status of the money,however, until this morning due to the weekend and Monday holiday.

When I called this morning to talk to a customer service rep, I was told that there was definitely something wrong with my transaction as it didn't seem to exist!
I started to panic a little (entire paycheck missing=bad), but the rep was really nice and told me:

1. They would resolve this in (at most) 48 hours
2. I could call back and check on the status 24 hours a day until it is resolved
3. She would recommend that they extend a credit to my account for a portion of the check

Number 3 made me feel really happy. Not that I necessarily NEED the money right this second, but the concession on their end made me feel a little more valued as a customer.

When I had the paycheck issues with BOA, their response was a total 180. Instead of offering to resolve the problem quickly, they told me I might have to wait up to several weeks. They were unwilling to offer me ANY portion of my held paycheck, and seemed totally unsympathetic to my distress over the situation.

So while I'm not exactly thrilled that I'm waiting yet again for a paycheck issue to be resolved, at least I feel like they're actually doing their best to fix the situation.

Guess we'll see if I'm this calm in 24-28 hours!

Friday, September 4

Restaurant Review: Butter

B and I debated for ages after we left dinner during NYC restaurant week!

Here's our reasoning:

1. Service: 3.5

The staff was pleasant, but just not what you would expect at the type of upscale restaurant that Butter would like to bread plate and had to ask. Server forgot the lemon I asked for, and never remembered (despite a pleasant reminder). Again, didn't ask if we needed anything the entire meal. The only time he came to check on us was right at the end. I don't need someone to hover, but an occasional check in is appreciated. Not sure if they thought we'd be bad tippers because we came during restaurant week..but I hope that's not their usual attitude.

2. Food: 4

The charcuterie plate was filled with deliciousness. The chicken liver was especially amazing. The first course squid was also tasty.B ordered the short ribs and I had the duck. I forgot how much I LOVE lentils. Yum. I could have literally dumped anything in the duck confit sauce and just devoured it. A little salty towards the end, but just so savory and good. It would have been a 5..except dessert was 'eh.' The chocolate sour cream cake was just OK. A little dry and nothing special. Same for the beignets. They were tasty. Nothing more.

Ambiance: 3

Kind of a personal thing I guess..but we were a little underwhelmed. Looked like they hired the same guy who did Craft and then added a little random tree background. Too pretentious for us!

Overall: 3.5

ps. Does anyone watch Chopped? Fun fact: Alex Guarnaschelli is one of the judges..and the chef/owner of Butter!

Thursday, September 3

So what is Psoriasis?


I'm not going to copy and paste from WebMD or google, because some dry facts about the disease just don't seem that interesting. If you want the technical definition, feel free to look it up!

Anyway, what I will say is this: Psoriasis is an auto immune disorder. One of the most common problems with psoriasis is that the body overproduces skin cells, so you (often) end up with patches of red/ flaking skin. A percentage of people with psoriasis also end up with psoriatic arthritis due to the immune interaction with joints.

So far I'm pretty lucky. My psoriasis is mostly contained to my head, shoulders, forehead, and back. I occasionally have 'flare ups' on my arms but they're not usually as bad. Since most of my 'problem' areas are normally covered by clothing (or the hair on my head), most people don't even realize that I have psoriasis.

It can be pretty frustrating, mostly because it's a chronic condition with no cure.
I definitely get annoyed when scalp flare ups end up looking like uncontrolled dandruff, but thanks goodness for curls! Most of the time you can't even tell when I'm having problems thanks to my hair volume.

Anyway, the address psoriasis campaign was created/funded by a drug company in order to raise awareness about the disease. They wanted to showcase how you can still have confidence and personal style despite living with a chronic condition that can (potentially) limit your clothing choices and confidence.

Although I don't often talk about living with psoriasis, I entered their contest because it's definitely a part of my daily life. It was really exciting to be selected as a winner & participate in the fashion show (hosted by TIM GUNN).

As part of the prize package all of the winner (and a guest) got to fly to NY, stay in a hotel, and walk the runway in a custom designed outfit. B and I also got to meet Tim Gunn!

B and I didn't have to fly to NY, but it was exciting to get the rest of the prize! I've been collaborating/ meeting with my designer Stacy all summer and was SO happy to walk down the runway in the outfit she created.

Anyway, that's the psoriasis overview and contest background.

Next up: NY activities with the other address psoriasis contest winners and runway details!

Psoriasis runway fun now back to blogging!

Wow, what a week!

As many of you know, I just finished participating in a fashion show for the address psoriasis campaign.

Now that I'm back @ work/home I'm going to start blogging about the experience.
I used twitter to chat about my feelings pre-runway and during the lunch but I'm also excited to really talk about psoriasis and the event now that I have a little more time/access to a computer!

To start, here's the video the campaign produced! I walk 2nd to last..

Thursday, August 27

Restaurant Review: Magnolia Bakery

I'm so torn.

The banana pudding B brought home for me a few weeks ago was like a 4++! But the cupcakes I've tried have all been solid 3 star quality.

The cupcakes were too dry and the buttercream frosting was just OK. I like my cupcakes to taste really dense and moist. And the buttercream should be rich but not too fatty or sugary tasting. Magnolia cupcakes just didn't do it for me.

I wish I could give a separate rating for just the banana pudding.

Light, fluffy and yet still rich and creamy.

I would probably eat this every single day if I could.

But it's a bakery, not a banana pudding boutique!

Overall: 3 stars

Wednesday, August 26

Feeling less than enthused by Federal Work Study Guidelines...

What’s the point of having a federal work study program if it’s actually limited to within a state?

Sorry if that’s confusing..but I’m rather annoyed.
I am finishing my degree @ Hopkins but am working in New York.
My program requires that we work as interns for at least 4 months.
They don’t care where you work, or really what you do (as long as it’s reasonably on-point).

So I picked up and moved to NYC to live with B.
Why would I stay in a city that’s 4 hours away by bus from my boyfriend, when my program is practically begging me to leave?
Anyway, I am 2 weeks away from finishing part 1 of my internship experience.

My supervisors here at internship # 1 seems to like me.
He offered me a part-time position for this fall.
I accepted, and will be working here 2 days a week. I’m also taking a rather large hourly pay cut due to budget constraints.
I also accepted a position at a local non-profit (internship #2).
I am very excited about this position, but less excited about the $500 stipend available (for 4 months of work).

I asked if they would consider crafting a work study agreement.
Work study has an organization put in ¼ of the funding, and they match the amount.
That way the $500 stipend would become $2000.
Not exactly a windfall (it works out to around $6/hour for 19 hours of work a week), but better than 500!

Well, it turns out that I’m back to $500 for the semester from internship #2.
Hopkins can’t approve a work study position in another state.
Somehow “federal” work study seems less…well…federal.

You’d think a nationwide program would allow students to accept positions outside of their geographic area.

So now, despite being more than 50% done with my master degree I’m starting to think about finding a 3rd job. Which, given the current economic climate, is unlikely to materialize.

I think I still have my tuxedo..anyone in catering need a server?!

Restaurant Review: Convivium Osteria

Poked around on yelp to find this restaurant.
Mix of Spanish and Italian?
Yes, please!

Since it's in nearby Park Slope I thought it might make the perfect place for a date with B.
After a long-ish wait (with a reservation!) I ended up feeling rather torn about the review!

B's cinnamon and apple ravioli w/ duck ragu was incredibly good.
My pork ribs with polenta was also very tasty.I noticed that a few people on yelp complained about the polenta being watery, but I found that it was light and delicious. True, the polenta wasn't loaded down with cream and butter like it is at some places but that just makes for a different and equally delicious eating experience!We also shared the grilled octopus salad as an appetizer. I thought it was beautifully grilled, but a little bland.

So why the internal debate and ultimate 3 stars?
They were paradoxically slow and rushed.
Slow to get to us for anything (order, meal, drinks, check) but rushing around like maniacs at a full but not overly so restaurant.
We felt kind of abandoned our entire meal..and we didn't even order dessert (my FAVORITE course!) because we simply did not want to wait another 30 minutes for it to arrive. I'd be willing to overlook the rustic overload for the food if the service weren't so darn bad!

Overall: 3 stars

Tuesday, August 25

Monday Night Menu: The Recipes

Despite the fact that I read a lot of food blogs and own a nice stack of cookbooks..I rarely ever follow all of the steps in a recipe! Since I tend to add/remove/change quantities like crazy, I'm not sure of anyone else will be able to follow..but figured it was worth a post!

Here's what I ended up making last night (see previous post for recipe inspiration).

Salmon w/ Honey Mustard and Herb Crust
Preheat oven to 450

1. Pat 2 salmon fillets dry
2.Lightly blend (I used a mini food processor):
olive oil, salt, pepper, bread crumbs, and fresh parsley.
3. Pulse and add enough oil so that mixture looks wet but not liquid-y.
4. Smear honey mustard on salmon
5. Spoon the breadcrumb mixture onto the salmon, and create a nice top coat.
6. Cook for 15 minutes (uncovered)

Watermelon & Feta Salad
1. Chop into large bowl:
--Approx. 2 cups watermelon
--A few handfuls of bell pepper (I used yellow)
--6-7 fresh mint leaves
--A small handful of green onion
--2 medium sized tomatoes

2. Stir in:
--Approx. 1 cup feta cheese
--Enough olive oil to coat

Monday, August 24

Monday night dinner deliciousness (I hope!)

Tonight's menu:

1. Mustard and herb encrusted salmon
2. Watermelon, feta, and tomato salad
3. Veggies slices

I'm going to start posting more of my dinner menus! I try to cook 4-5 nights a week and am always looking for new recipes.

Tonight I'm trying a salmon recipe from tastykitchen and the watermelon & feta dish from smittenkitchen.

Tasty kitchen in the cooking brainchild of Ree from Pioneer Woman &
Deb writes smittenkitchen here in NYC.

I want to be friends with both of them.

Anyway, they both post great recipes (and awesome) pictures!

So here's my try.
Hope it turns out ok!

Perhaps I'll follow up with reactions from B post-meal.