Sunday, December 28, 2008

losses December 28, 2008

what with the holidays also the news on the deaths of Eartha Kitt and John Costelloe. I loved the music and style of Eartha Kitt. Made a party tape with Eartha included and when I briefly owned a car in 1995, I would turn up the music volume and particularly cruise to her! I so remember my first visit to Paris and hearing Eartha Kitt music all around. I saw her once on the street outside Madison Square Garden. She was magnaminous in signing autographs for the many who ran up to her. God bless you! A delight to our world! om mani padma hung!

The alleged suicide of John Costelloe so bewilders me. What a hunk.. such a stud! But, of course, internal demons. I dunno what made him do what may have been done. Certainly there will be some autopsy, I hope. Once again, just the suffering in mental illness, the pain of the lonely.

Clearly there are so many reasons to jump out the window, or do whatever. Eartha Kitt struggled from an early age, survived the ravages of NYC, stood up to power, and I am sure had many a disappointment. But, she rallied, smiled, and enriched the lives of millions! A poor little Black girl with nothing but ambition and changed the world! Thank you so much!

Dunno about Costelloe. I am so lost primarily because he was so hot and seemed to be able to engage the world. I can only assume it is the twists to the cognitive disorders one can have, the pain one can feel, and then again, maybe he did not have the intellectual capacity to see thru the morass.

I am forever going to jump out the window, or whatever, particularly when pressured by some asshole to come up with answers.. usually family or an ex. Life is uncertain and there are no rules. But, I meditate, change the emotions, and remember "one door closes, another opens". Also, I could jump out the window and get 500 more horrible lifetimes. Ugh, Ugh! Anyhow, ultimately, I just live thru the process, mistakes and all. I am human and I am alive, so there is some reason for my taking up breathing space. Mostly, I so believe in the sparks of the miraculous that one can change the world!

I will miss Eartha Kitt and John Costelloe. They both had sparks and changed the world for millions and for me. Eartha gave me joy, Costelloe gave me hope I'd run into his double. Eartha also gave me so many songs and memories!

Hugs, peace, compassion to their loved ones, and to all in the universe!

photo from Google web

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thanks Santa! December 25, 2008

happy for a good Christmas! the epiphany of being in the middle of 34th St at Herald Square on Tuesday, the 23rd. Tears of joy that I was alive and back in the mix! Remembering Aout 1977, Little America Wyoming and being in the middle of the continent and feeling part of the universe. December 2008 being in the midst of the megalopolis and feeling just one with the universe and able to help make sense of it all. My student presentations were good. Many hugs and lots of chocolate and cookies.. whew.. havent had such sugar rushes in years!

endless chats and all of the endless reconnects done each holiday season! Wow!
shouts to my siblings who are with my sister in the country. She has multiple health issues and is out of control in her neediness these days.  I send encouraging messages although I keep it real. The demons we have in us, the Jungian shadow. Om mani padma hung.

So, for Christmas, I think of how to be kind to the lonely. We all face the existential fate of being alone in the world.. but about those who are alone due to mental illness or substance abuse or fate. I am fortunate to have been greatly loved when I was young and to have had the love, trust, support of thousands of people in my life. I may be alone at times but I never feel alone in the universe. I have my memories or my real connections or just the realization that loneliness is just a feeling and feelings change. Most of all though, I have always had my spiritual sense of being with the angels. LOL, I hope not the flakiness but being born on the Feast of the Guardian Angels and named for an archangel. Anyhow, I have great faith that my angels will never allow me to fall to the ground, or at least they will pick me up!

This year has been a struggle as I have used that damn cane and often feel I should just fall to the ground when I am in a lot of pain. I think of songs like Cold Play "vida" or Darlene Lee and the E Street Band, or Bruce Springsteen, or Sylvester, or "havent stopped dancing yet" and try to shuffle a bit to imaginery music.  My feeling of bliss, alive in the middle of 34th street, 2 days pre Christmas, gave me the epiphany to just cry for joy! Most of all, I remember the Helen Keller saying about when she feels alone or damaged or angry, she goes to New York City to experience our great waves of humanity!

so, the magic of Christmas hit me again. The spectacle, the gathering together of loved ones, the sparks of the universe, and more than anything... my delight to appreciate the lives and processes of so many other human beings in my life.

big hugs, peace. love. compassion

Gershom Scholem Kabbalah illustration

Sunday, December 21, 2008

narrative of the soul

Happy Chanukah! salut to the Solstice.... the days get longer again!
lit some candles at home. remember seeing the candles I lit on St Lucy at the hospital chapel for my Mom, Aunt Shirlee, and everyone in suffering. i like the calm to the candles, finally somewhat warm in the apartment, blankets of snow outside, there is a soft calmness to the candles. I have a great Santa candle and a huge multicandle holder inherited from my Mom.
I wound up in the hospital with double pneumonia on Dec 13, EMS brought me to the hospital I did social work in. I had felt so miserable and was really praying to get healthier. It was much drama to the hospital. My insurance will pay little but I got tons of treatments and I think that first big wish to get healthier at last was made. I was able to give up that damn cane on my release. I feel so much more alive.
A second wish came the past few days but I didnt follow up as I feel that I need more time to just recuperate a bit. I cannot really focus on what others want from me. I am trying to get more of my bearing. Easy to get swept up in other's needs and to lose my focus. My students are my responsiblity but they are going thru their own processes. So my second wish sort of feel apart.
Wishes.. not that there are 5 or that they are wishes.. but that of what is true to my being Me.
Long chat with a 30 year buddy. She reminded me that it is time to share some of my narratives. My stories, or my journals, or blogs. My students love my handouts and stories. I have my followers to my personal blog. I dream of writing a narrative and wake up with all the chapters and main points. I think it is time to organize something. I hope to get that done in the next 3 months, the time started about 10 days ago when i first got so ill.
Not that I am oh so metaphysical however, I am born on the feast of the Guardian Angels. Am always being rescued by something (although we can all say that). My Mom was born on the same day as Pope John XXIII. the linkages.. but maybe it is just the social work consciousnessness.. responsive to the poor and oppressed. the historical legacy of religious in my Mother's family.. although they were more like martyr extremists. It is in my blood however.
my expertise is in teaching ethics, methods of research, social work. so this writing is a leap into narrative as a way to make sense of my universe. I think of theorists such as Winnicuit, Freud, Burack-Weiss, Cloward, Hofstadter, C Wright Mills, bell hooks, Levinas, Walter Benjamin, pema Chodron. Then, of course, the writers and artists, musicians who inspire me.
anyhow... a short term focus to produce a viable object.. its funny.. i have all of my drawings, my press pieces and research articles.. but nothing of narrative which has always been ongoing in the back of my roadshow. I still have my 1977 hitchhike log to SF and back. A trip that changed my mind and my world. Loves, ideas, friendships, visuals, experiences. But I have never really sharpened it up to share.
another wish opened up for me. it is my own goal but i really hope to get something concrete.
big hugs, love to the world, peace, compassion

1997 Engel Lewis drawing, Central Park

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Zwart Piet en Sinterklass brought me...

I fantasized if Zwart Piet en Sinterklass would get to me this jahre! The post came and... Wow! "Diane: a signature life"!
During the last Project Runway season, I wrote to Diane von Furstenberg about the value of garmentos to NYC, as well as my adventures walking Kim, a dog I took care of in the West Village, by here first W Village boutique. And, I wrote about my general wierdness often running into Barry Diller in my across Central Park to/from work in the 1990s. (my usual preoccupation with work dramas as I walked from the subway to work or back).
What a read and in only 6 hours! Thoughts of Emmanuel Levinas post Shoah... procreate is the best revenge! The zeitgeist of the 70s/80s/90s in NYC. (Such geist! My buddy Issac who once had a radio show on WBAI lost most of his memorabilia from that time. I sent him one of the Keith Haring interview posters, posted in this blog!) The challenges and the really hard work in the garmento world! her loves and opportunities as well as the story of an empowering woman! Wow!
I shared the book with my methods of research class. We had just discussed memoir as a method last week. (I had also shared my friend Sindiwe Magona's book... among the first of her at least 39 books now in print!) And, of course, a favorite, powerful memoir by my former instructor Ann Burack-Weiss on caregiving! The students were impressed by von Furstenberg's memoir (or my spin on it).
Sending a thanks to Diane von Furstenberg! I am blown away by her generosity! Such a mensch!
I am also sending along link to the video I made on my Mom, thanked for her advocacy and listening to people with mental health issues.
Most of all, it is always a big joy to know people like von Furstenberg are in our world! I also very much appreciated the comments by her friend Barry Diller recently on the economic crisis in our world. Poignant thoughts.
Big thanks to her! many hugs, peace and compassion

Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day December 01, 2008

"New York City remains the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. More than 100,000 New Yorkers are living with HIV...." -NYC Department of Health press release (via the Daily Gotham blog,

Since 1982, I have been involved on some level with the virus. In 1982, working for an elected official in Manhattan, I went to the first meetings leading to the GMHC. My first trip to Holland, in 1986, was with a friend so he could be tested outside the USA (in the days when keeping lists of positive people was on the political agenda). The countless friends who died leaving me with their legacy. I doubt most would be happy with the conservative drift in this country. Of course, I burned out from working with in-patients, 20% of whom died in recent time.

Fortunately people live longer now! But, there is considerable denial as to the course of HIV. In dating, I regularly meet men who have little heed as to what is safe sex. The fact is that there is a social support system but there is still a haunting to having the virus.

I may not be positive but the virus has totally changed my life. Most importantly it is in remembering friends of mine who passed as they still remain among the most valued friends I have had. I also think of younger people who were orphaned by the virus. There is the fact that people died in an epidemic. I am most happy that interventions have come up.

As ever, "All I want is a cure and my friends back!"

peace, hugs, compassion

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

So much to be thankful about. Just happy to have real stuffing etal on Thanksgiving! Afternoon chatting with my koffieClub friends! Pleased that Obama won! A life of teaching and interesting students! Look forward to swimming again soon! Open to all of the new opportunities ahead!
Remembering Harvey Milk who was assassinated just days after I moved to SF in 1977. Gonna see the new movie! Remembered my Mom (2 years passed now) and saw that her favorite Pope John XXIII shares the same birthdate! So pleased that almost a 1000 hits to the YouTube video I made on her! Remembering Macy's parades and the preThanksgiving parties at the Paradise Garage!
In solidarity with the people of Mumbai what with the latest horror attacks. Thoughts of the people of DR Congo and Haiti.
Just blessed to live in a country with an infrastructure, social programs and people who care. At times it can be a struggle but somehow it works out in the process.
Many blessings, peace, compassion!

photo: 1977 Tede, me, SF

Monday, November 17, 2008

Obama visions

Have a calmness since the election of Barack Obama that fits within the spirit of an essay by Slavoj Zizek. In the London Review of Books (, he writes from a Kantian perspective on measuring true ethical progress in history. It helps explain some of my calmness in that we made history, lenses can change, possibilities are out there, history can become more progressive, i.e., democratic and fair. I do believe that there will be a paradigm shift.

I especially think in that way what with all of the economic and social problems facing the US and the world. I am not happy with the Prop8 etal votes, but I do believe that a President Obama is not with legalized heterosexism. My district leader emailed me about why should the AfAm community support lgbt people from some alleged ostracism of people of color. There are many worlds, but in my experience, most of the supporters of lgbt rights have been people of color. My hetero neighbors have been supportive of marriage equality whilst my gay neighbors have been real DL about it all. In particular, Obama has the history of talking to the AfAm church about being inclusive and respectful of its lgbt members.

I also trust the wisdom of George Soros and I hear President-elect Obama verbalize some of Soros' views. There is the talk of economic challenges but also that this is the time that new technology can lead us forward. He uses the wisdom of Susan Rice and Madeline Albright in his international policy views. Obama has lived in various countries and has multinational roots. I am particularly concerned with the violence in the DR Congo. Active genocide is ongoing as I sit in my highrise, with cable tv, some heat (lol), a notebook, and even a toilet (in a world where half of the planet does not have adequate toilet facilities).

Being a Columbia alum with a history of community organizing as well, I understand his focus on process and inclusion with an understanding of the social/political fields we live in. I just intuit and feel a zeitgeist! Of course, things could turn out wierder. There is a narrative to be written by Obama as there are narratives being written just now by others, including his detractors.

Above photo is a doddle by Barack Obama via the blog England for Obama ( So pleased to think of how one can imagine new possibilities, opportunities, progressive change ahead!
hugs peace compassion

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Viva Obama

Wow! Viva Obama! We won! so thrilled to vote for the first President that I really supported! My first vote was in 1972 Colorado for McGovern. I may have been excited but mostly by the first ability of 18 year olds to vote! So many reasons for my support of Obama. I like the latest idea out there, the "white grandmother effect". A romantic idea. Anyhow, I usually like grandmothers of any background, and loved my own! (love the gospel song, A grandmother who prayed for me!) In reality, I like Obama's style and ideas. As a fellow Columbia grad, I understand his motivation and commitments. I also did community organizing in NYC in the 1980s and understand the importance of engagement and change. So many identifications. Newark, NJ, via CCTV, voters in my building 4 Nov 08

In the days following his win, I applaud his appointment of Rahm Emanuel! Bravo to the 70%+ Jewish vote for Obama, but I also sense President elect Obama will bridge and educate about Israel and Palestine! I have Chicago family roots and admire the tenacity of Emanuel and those Chicago Democrats. My Mother (a Park Ridge, IL mom) was the first person to tell me how good Obama is! President elect Obama will need tenacious advocates like Emanuel. Of course, I worry about how our economic crisis will be handled. I so like reading George Soros, and applaud Obama appointing Warren Buffet to his team. As a former Citibank person, I am emailing a former colleague, now a senior executive to get her opinion, and hope she is helpful. President elect Obama needs all the help he can get.

In all, I just feel so happy and do not really have a critical perspective on his election and the road to the Presidency yet. After the election, wore my button, talked with my college students about the history and the advent of change. Endless talk with my neighbors and friends. My buddies in SF and Colorado spoke with me election night, Bravo Obama! I appreciate hearing the comments by so many of my African American neighbors of their pride in his achievement, and in fact, all of ours. My friends in Zurich emailed me with excitement! Relishing the zeitgeist!

The only downside is the loss of Prop8, marrige equality in CA. My sense is that this is still a new issue and it is being processed. I find in teaching issues about gays/lesbians etal, that my college students have seldom had much opportunity to openly discuss such issues. The media may have entertainment images but they are often of the rich white gay man, not the reality in fact. This semester I teach Ethics and the Family which has allowed the opportunity for the class to discuss issues about gay/lesbian families. Fascinating narratives as ever.

I am saddened by the uproar about Prop8 and African Americans. I dunno the outreach to all communities by no on 8 organizers but perhaps not enough done in all communities. I question the CNN methodology of 70% AfAm supporters. In short, African American supporters contributed but not the tipping point. On the other hand, the church has long been an institution in African American society and homosexuality not seen positively in most of the churchs. Although the Newark Episcopal diocese has been quite inclusive, interviewed a gay minister for a Bishop vacancy. At the same time, in Newark, I worked as a social worker in America's second largest HIV in-patient hospital program and witnessed the often homoignorance by staff, families, and the community, even in this first 2000 decade! There still is the stigma and shame about HIV. So, gay, lesbian, trans...... Well, Obama has always mentioned gays in his speechs!

I am not proud to see that gay identified voters were 27% for McCain, 7% less than for Kerry. Ugh. So many black/white/Latino gays supported Clinton and that may have been the revenge. I dunno why the no on 8 organizers did not involved Clinton to do some ads. Most importantly, the racial stratification in gay worlds is an issue to address. One sees it on Christopher Street everyday. All in all, much work to be done and I know President elect Obama will bridge and educate as he can.

I feel optimistic for once in my life about national politics. I admire President elect Obama's style and ideas. I have faith in his concerns about building bridges between communities for a shared better future. I really like his supporters. I am really excited by what our society may produce!
peace, hugs, compassion

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Listening to Chris Brown but thinking about the November election...
spoke about social change to my sociology class last night. The social change in an Obama win, another change with McCain/Palin. The zeitgeist however is with the future in the promise of the Obama campaign. The nature of charisma and a critical juncture.
on the NY bus home, spoke with a neighbor. She asked if Michelle wondered when she was a kid if she would marry someone running for President. LOL, her mother would have looked at her if she was insane, a young black girl growing up on the southside in a one bedroom apartment. Wow! the social change in just one person's lifetime! And, I pray that Barak's grandmother can live to see the outcome. Imagine the love and stamina of the white grandparents raising an AfAm grandchild in the Kansas prarie. Not the Upper West Side, Berkely nor Evanston.
12 more days...
of course, so many problems today. and, there will be reactions whatever way the vote goes!
But, the promise in the USA! Many blessings to the universe for Barack and Michelle!
hugs, peace, compassion

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mythologies... Joe the Plumber to Drug Dealers

Watched the debate as well as went to jury duty this week. Real happy to go to jury duty as I like watching the process and I meet people from all over my county. Chatted with fellow jurors about family members with mental illness.. 25% of Americans have a family member diagnosed. Amazed at the stories as well as the compassion.
Listened to the questioning of prospective jurors. Interesting to hear what one watchs on tv, where one gets their news, as well as do in their free time. Rolled my eyes at the Fox News viewers although never an excuse for bad behavior. However, amazed that no one mentioned volunteering or helping others in their free time.
The spin about Joe the Plumber reminded me of the juror answers. There is an attitude of entitlement as well as little in the way of contribute to the society as a whole. Of course, politics is so much fantasy and rife with the irrational.
Excused from the trial and lucky to have been. About 1am, turned my tv on which opens on the cctv of my building. There was one of the defendants on trial for distributing heroin with about 5 other guys signing into my building. I did not recognize him although 562 apartments in my complex as well as I am not regularly in the lobby at 1am during the week. I watched an HBO movie but periodically clicked back to the cctv. About 3am, he and about 8 others now left the building. One guy was hugging the armed security officer. Well... Dunno what is up but in my tenancy, we have had ATF, DEA, other federal raids...
Sadly, life involves drug dealing and other illegal activity. I still do not know the building prostitute who is now pregnant and known to endless tenants, the doorpeople, and building workers. Another side of entitlement.. one just does what one needs to do to survive. yikes

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Blessings for George Soros!

looking for leadership and perspective on the financial crisis, I am really pleased to read George Soros in the New York Review of Books, and see him on various television media. He presents a very succinct perspective on our crisis citing "market fundamentalism" as well as the low-tax mentality, and the credit frenzy we have created as a society of all consuming.

A buddy from graduate school works for the Soros' Open Society Initiative. Several of us Columbia University, MS social work grads got together in May. I was impressed hearing about the work of the foundation. I have since been reading their newsletter and following their initiatives in the press. Their advocacy work for the Roma in Italy and their conference on the plight of North and West African boat refugees to Europe were particularly poignant and relative! Yesterday, I read that the OSI's collaboration with Newark mayor Corey Booker seems to have brought about much needed funding for substance abusers. Bravo!

I pitched several of my college students for jobs at OSI. I assume the competition is fierce but a job there would change their lives! 25 years ago, I was priviledged to live at the International House, NYC. Another Soros, Paul, is quite active in their fundraising and programs. Later, as a doctoral student at Columbia University, taking SIPA courses, I had my opportunity to interview for the UN Secretariat. I was wierdly rejected at the UN. This summer I received a guilt letter from a person who conspired with a high ranking UN official to have me cut. I knew the UN person thru her husband. I had my opportunities at least although such pitiful drama from disturbed people who are miserable today.

Watched George Soros being interviewed on Fareed Zakaria (another International House alumn) this afternoon. Struck by the civility and humanity shown by Soros. In a world of greed, self-importance, deviousness, all of the negatives, he supports many initiatives that change the world for those most of us ignore and even oppress.

Many many blessings!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

many blessings

Estimado Bishop:

What a wondrous event to read and talk with Cathedral parishioners of your ordination to Bishop. You were the most help and support in working with the HIV patients at Medical Center. I was a social worker there and you always made a joyful difference in endless interactions. I have so many memories of your fairness and kindness, particularly with people others shunned. It is truly a pleasure to know that you will make more of a difference in the lives of many. Thank you.

When I visit, I always stop by the chapel to say a prayer and light a candle. The chapel has always been a centering place for me. I appreciated your spiritual connection with worshipers there. It also gave me great comfort to stop in after the fast death of my Mom, in November 2006. She was raised in a family of many religious, primarily nuns, including a Mother Superior of the Sisters of Providence, Saint Mary of the Woods, Indiana. My Mom had 9 children, but also found time to just listen, advocate, and educate around people with mental illness. She loved Pope John XXIII. I made a YouTube video on her receiving a posthumous plaque by her county Freeholders… “Remembering Mom” at,

I continue to teach undergraduates, since 1993, and look forward to sharing my stories about you. I am fortunate to have witnessed you, Father Al, Sister Francescal and others!!! I am teaching Ethics, Sociology, and research methods this term, at . Most of my students are working adults, a broad diversity of students, and always a pleasure to engage and learn from. Sadly, many West African refugees from the child army wars. If there is anything I can be helpful about, please always feel free to contact me.

Many best wishes and my prayers on your ordination and for your works ahead!

Felicidades et best wishes,