Friday, June 15, 2012

Truly Texan

I seem to get lost so easily in the busy day to day schedule, and let my blog fall to the wayside.
I promised to update while in New York, and I missed it! I'm in Texas now. Duncanville, to be exact. Let me explain what has happened since I got accepted to Columbia.

First, there was joy. Joy at being accepted to my dream school.

Then, there was panic. Panic, because I had to move my entire life to the other side of the country; somehow find a way to pay for the semester, let alone the rest of my years there; and finally, figure out how I am going to live.

The excitement of moving to New York was quickly quelled by these harsh realities, and once my plane touched down in the city, my life became a whirlwind. I had to attend orientation, find an apartment, find a job, register for classes, figure out my life! I luckily found the perfect apartment and got settled into routine. Routine at Columbia kept me busy. Somehow I was able to find my way over to a Baha'i study class at Mark Bamford's house in Harlem. When Anne and Tim Perry came to town shooting their documentary and presented at the Bamford's, I got a chance to meet and get to know them. After we talked a bit, Anne very lovingly and openly invited me to come to stay with them and help edit their documentary.

A couple months later, here I am, sitting in the editing suite of their house in Duncanville, Texas, blogging instead of editing. You can follow the film's journey on Twitter, @LuminousDoc, or check out the website

The film is called "Luminous Journey: Abdu'l'Baha in America in 1912", and is a fantastic project. I will try to continue to update consistently, but we'll see how that goes.

As for now, back to the cutting room floor!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Columbia or Bust!

It's been a while, and a lot has happened.

The first of many wonderful things that have happened recently is that I have been accepted to Columbia University in New York City! I have been working hard to get there, which has taken a lot of my time. Now that I'm going there, it's going to take up even more time - but I'll be ambling again - exploring a new city, getting settled, and learning.

I'll be posting as I amble through the past 22 years of my life in junk, and through the process of orientation and finding an (cheap!) apartment at the same time. After two years of being "settled" in Orange County, it's time for a good ole' fashioned adventure.

I'll be posting here and on a website designed to help people invest in my future:

Friday, May 21, 2010

An apology of sorts.

I am sorry to everyone that went to read my latest post not realizing it wasn't a happy ambling. It was a sad one, and not one that I like to talk about: though it needs much more attention than it gets. 

On a happier note:

In my recent amblings I have discovered a few things about myself:
(1) With a self imposed deadline, I squander my time.
(2) I have let quite a few people down, and don't worry, I plan on mending that. 
(3) I need to work harder, rather than relax harder.

And on the road to discovering all this, I have found, I think, some real happiness. The kind that emanates from within.

Love to all my fellow amblers.


What has this world come to?

This isn't for the faint of heart. I'm too disturbed to think clearly, but I will do my best to tone it down.

So many things have happened and happened, and will continue to happen, I am sure.

But right now- there is something entirely troubling on my mind. I stumbled upon something on a friend's computer. I didn't want to, didn't mean to, doesn't even matter who the friend is. All that matters is that this world we are living in is filled with sickness.

If you are even the tiniest bit faint, you may not want to continue.

An old site popped up in the search bar and I accidentally clicked it instead of my search. It was truly the singularly most disturbing thing I have seen in a while. After seeing the beginning of a video of rape porn, which I quickly turned off, I started to research. How deep can this sickness run? Apparently, very deep.
There are multiple fantasy rape porn sites. Just the idea that people fantasize about raping is bothersome enough. But whats worse, is that real rapists have the audacity to film their rapes and post the videos online. There are youtube sites for porn, as is not the least surprising. But a version of that specifically for rape porn? And with videos posted proudly proclaiming "real rape!" Showing bloody images of poor young girls being bound, gagged and tortured, clearly against their will? Men forcing knives into them? There was even a "Dexter-esque" one, using the seran wrap idea to keep the area clean, though the girl was not left that way. How kind of you, asshole, to clean up after the mess you forced someone else to make. She was drugged, then stripped, than tied up in chains, beaten till bloodied, then raped with a knife. All the while someone was holding a video camera and recording with as sick a hunger as the man doing it. It was the fear in her eyes, then the pain that got to me.

I know, from experience, that this world is sick and twisted and has fallen to, well, pardon my language, shit.

I know that in many areas of the world, young girls are forced into sex by older, brutal men. That those girls usually become pregnant, and that they are too young to have babies so therefor tear themselves and getting infected and die. All by the age of 16, 17. I know that sick men think that forced sex is exciting, and gets them off.

What makes me so upset though, is that these men getting off on rape are encouraging rapists to continue raping, and to post videos of it online. What makes me want to vomit is that these videos that I can't even watch 10 seconds of without bursting into tears knowing that that is a human being that is being treated worse than most animals- that men are watching them and jacking off to it. They are enjoying it.

I strive, on a daily basis to be peaceful and loving, to never want violence for anyone. But I've always had a weakness- the men involved in rape of any kind. In any state of mind, I would want those men to suffer. Now I've added another group of men to the mix- men who get off to watching rape. I bet all those men went to see Book of Eli for that one scene, even though Eli saves Solara.

I've seen, with my own eyes things that no one should ever have to see. And I know many have seen much worse. But never have I been so upset and angered by something as I have by this. I'm not saying ban porn, though let's face it, I'm not a fan. But consensual is something different. Even the fantasy rape porn- it's obviously fake. There are real sickos out there posting their rapings as videos for other sickos to jack off to. Those men need to be arrested and thrown in jail for the rest of their lives- at least. Rape is not a joke, nor has it ever been or will ever be.

Aside from my ranting, I figured I should share some facts. Disclaimer: there aren't true statistics about rape, because most rapes aren't reported.
Approximately 302,091 women are raped a year, in the United States. But that doesn't include "sexual assault". Rape is considered the completed or attempted act of sexual penetration. But does not include forced anal or oral sex. And we aren't even talking about statutory rape. Statutory rape is when any person over 18 has unconsented intercourse with anyone under 18. As the rapist gets older and the victim gets younger, the laws get more harsh.

Did you know that there has been a large increase in welfare over the last 25 years, and that the main cause is believed to be pregnancies caused by statutory rape? In fact, the drain on the country's resources because of it has caused a new federal welfare law urging all states and attorney generals to enforce statutory rape laws better. And yet so many people still get away with it. Mostly because victims are too traumatized or afraid to speak out.

If you or anyone you know have may have ever been in a situation where you were sexually abused or raped, get help. Among the myriad of online resources is RAINN, Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. They have counselors you can talk to, and a support network.

Rape is not something you can get past and move on from. It's a traumatic experience that sticks with you forever.

Even after using facts to calm my mind, I'm still upset. There needs to be some way to identify all these rapists in these videos so we can seek justice. It's disgusting. I don't even know how those people can live with themselves.

Monday, October 26, 2009

No longer the shortest on the street.

It's Tuesday already! Where ever did my week go?

Let's see... It went... in the rain, in Asakusa, in Shibuya, in Harajuku, getting lost, getting found, in museums, in temples, and on warm toilet seats. [[I know, that one just has to creep back into everything. I'm so used to them now, I think I'll hate normal toilets back home.]] I'm normally not back until midnight or later, and always late in the morning to NHK. But no one really minds.

I'm late [once again] and going to stop by Shinjuku on my way to Shibuya, before the welfare category is really underway. Today my documentary screens! I'm nervous and excited. After it screens, they will announce the winners for all categories. :0 And then tomorrow night is the awards ceremony. After the awards ceremony, Vika and Bonnie are going to take me out. [Vika is the wonderful person who is letting me stay with her, and Bonnie is her best friend.]

Something that's been on my mind a lot since going to Asakusa, the main Buddhist temple and Shinto shrine in the area, is that I'm not in Japan, I'm in Tokyo. If I were to visit Japan, I would be anywhere but Tokyo- like Kyoto. That's where Japan really is. Tokyo is another thing entirely. It's a metropolis to the extreme. It's gorgeous and big and tall and bright, and certainly gives New York a run for it's money as the city that never sleeps. It feels like day when it's night, and there is never a lull in the amount of people walking around. I'll be headed back to Vika's at 12, and there will be no less or more people than at 6- rush hour. There's no "dead of the night" unless you are in the middle of a residential neighborhood. But it is definitely fun. No doubt about it. Always a place to eat, always something to do. No one cares if you are alone or with someone, everyone is just enjoying themselves.

As am I. But like I said, I'm late, so I'm going to head out.

Arrogato gosaymas!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Only White Girl on the Train

And I keep forgetting it's me.

But enough of that!
Shane and Brukty left me with a sleeping baby, so I have to get this done before Justice wakes up and wants attention.

Remember the warm toilets? Well the water for the bidet is warm too. And you can change the water pressure. The trajectory for the bidet changes depending on if you press the regular bidet or woman bidet button. These toilets are crazy!Shane described using the bidet perfectly: At first, it's a surprised "Oh!" But it soon turns to a pleasant "Ooooohhhh..." Don't get the wrong idea though. It's still weird.

Enough potty talk. On to the real stuff- Last night, when I was headed back to Vika's around 11:30, I got on the wrong train. I wasn't too sleepy then, so it wasn't so bad, but by the time that I had figured it out and got on the right one, the sleep started to hit me. I almost missed my exit, but I woke up jsut in time to get off at Kamagome, though on the far end of the station. Not thinking, I took the nearest exit. Oops. I didn't recognize anything of course, and couldn't for the life of me figure out where I had put Vika's business card. So I wandered until I recognized something, managed to find the part of the station I normally exit, and then proceeded to walk back to Vika's, impressing myself that I could remember where it was. Until I took a wrong turn of course. Now, I got the right street off of the main street, which is still impressive. But I didn't, however, get the right street off of that one. I thought it was the first turn, not the second. And when I couldn't find it, I just kept walking. Until I dead ended at a temple. A temple at night is astounding. It's eerie and beautiful, and I was so tempted to wander the gardens. But I figured Vika was worried. It was pretty late, and I had no phone or way of even telling time. So time to back track! I decided to try the second street, just in case, and lo and behold, there it was. I sure felt silly. I was so exhausted I fell straight to sleep. It was about 12:30 am by then.

And today, in between the documentaries, bidets, and warm toilets, I stumbled upon a market. A market of Japanese rastas, of all things. There was a guy perfoming with a digeridoo right next to this great vegan stand [[ I had the noodle soup- amazing!]] that had tacos and a hemp burger. In fact, I think everything there was made with hemp. Their sign was half Japanese, half English, but they had no idea what I meant when I said "Noodles."

Uh-oh, I hear the groggy snifflings of a young child waking up-
Till nixt time,


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ambling Once Again- 日本語の今回。

It's been a while since I've ambled. A long while.

But I figured that there is no better time than now to start again- When I'm ambling through Tokyo.

It's 5 am, and the jetlag just kicked in. I'm exhausted, but I woke up and can easily stay awake. At least it's morning and not 10 at night, which is what I should be doing. I just skipped an entire day of my life and slept 10 hours straight on the plane [which made the flight a thousand times more bearable.]

I arrived last night at 6:30, had a breeze going through customs, and then got to figure out how to use a Japanese pay phone, and simultaneously, yen. What a weird currency. One of the strongest in the world, and yet the exchange rate is 88 to one US dollar? I bought a pack of mentos [which are called chewy dragees on the label, not chewy mints- what IS a dragee?!] for 105 yen... it seems weird to me- when ever the exchange rate is like that, I'm used to paying really low prices for things. In Ethiopia, the exchange rate was 9 birr to a dollar, and I would pay 6 birr for a snickers bar- That was expensive. But 105 yen is really cheap for Japan. It's confusing. My plan is to put a "." in between the "1" and "05" on everything. Then I can grasp about how much I'm paying, and then actually convert it. So the mentos were 1.05, which is about 1.15USD. But 1.05 is more manageable in my head than 105.

Unfortunately, I arrived at night, so though I got to see the beautiful lights of Tokyo as I flew in last night, I did get to see any more of the city- Just headed straight in by train to meet Vika and get settled.

People always say that in Japan, space is the ultimate commodity- and it is! Vika has a good apartment, she has a toilet room and shower room [I'll get to the logistics about that in a second] and a kitchen living room, and bedroom. there is a thin sliding door separating the room from the living room, and it really is all cramped together, but you barely notice once you are here.

So, to explain the bathrooms. There is a toilet room, with a toilet that confused me to no end, and a restroom. The toilet room is a small closet with a toilet- that's it. No sink, though I have a sneaking suspicion that the little faucet on top on the toilet is open to the air for that purpose. If you know about plumbing, you know that a toilet sends a stream of water into the toilet bowl so that it can flush, and then that it can fill up afterwards. And then the tank has to refill. The stream of water for this toilet seat is above the tank in open air, and designed like a faucet to wash your hands. I guess for conservation of water? But before I even noticed that- I noticed two things weirder. There is a panel beside the toilet that has buttons, and what looks like a visual representation of a baday [a baday is a little fountain-like thing used to clean yourself after using the restroom. It sprays water at you]. But this had two options- regular baday and baday with less force for a woman sitting down. I think. I think you can also control the heat of the seat. Because the seat was nice and warm. Really warm. Like someone had just spent an hour sitting on the john before you sat down. Which no one had. In fact, come to think of it, the toilet seat in the airport was like that too. But I had attributed it that to the girl who went before me. Maybe it's to make you more comfortable? Or possibly to make you go faster and therefore speed up the whole process. Quite ingenious if you ask me.

But enough toilet talk! Tokyo is so safe! Last night, Vika and I just left my bags sitting outside the convenience store, and it was fine. Apparently you can do that and no one ever touches your stuff. For the longest time, the vending machines with alcohol and cigarettes were available to everyone, but barely any one abused them. Now they have ID scanners. But they have vending machines for everything! Like umbrellas. They have vending machines for umbrellas.

Well, the sun is coming up, so I can see Japan in the sunlight for the first time!

Mata atode aimashou!