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Archive for August, 2008

Confessions of a Press Pass Abuser

August 28, 2008 By: admin Category: Campaign 2008, DNC, Propeller


I don’t have an “Arena” pass. The one I have reads “Perimeter.” A Perimeter pass let’s a person from the press do three things: go inside the media tent to slave away in curtained-off vestibules beside better-funded news outlets, hover in the scorching heat of the exposed plaza outside of the Pepsi center (hence “perimeter”), and… use the port-o-potties. This last is the reason I became… *hangs head in shame*… a Press Pass Abuser.

The distance between the Media Tent refugee camp at the Pepsi Center and the Colorado Cenvention Center where all the caucuses take place, is about a mile or two. Not a big deal unless it’s blazing hot and you’re carrying a lot of heavy crap. One day, after a too long walk in the too hot sun between the two venues, I felt that special kind of woozy that tells you you need to get to a first world bathroom, fast.

********** is with AOL News and shares what I’ll call the petite’08 AOL Elections “media booth” with us Propeller folk (James and me). She’s holding the Arena passes today. When I ran into the AOL Elections closet-nee-bullpen, dropped my stuff and tried to be non-chalant as I asked: “Hey, **********, are there any Arena passes left?” “What do you need it for?” There wasn’t much going on inside the Pepsi Center at the time so it was a legitimate question. It just threatened to out me, so I started to sweat on top of my sweat. “Ah… I just want to see what’s going on. Get a lay of the land. Check in.” While I scrunched my face in shame at the amount of vague, meaningless phrases I had managed to string together in that moment my stomach gurgled in a decidedly audible way.

********** looked up.

“Everything okay there?”

“I need to get inside the arena,” I said.

********** looked at me hard. My stomach gurgled again – this time unmistakably.

********** reached for the pass and handed it to me with the speed of a gunslinger. “Just bring it right back,” was all she said.

Guys, I didn’t even take my camera (would you have wanted me to….????), so if an exciting story had popped up I would not have been able to cover it. This is my shame. I abused AOL’s Press pass. I’m nothing…

The Relevance

August 26, 2008 By: admin Category: Campaign 2008, DNC, General, Propeller


This is me on the floor at the Democratic National Convention, 2008 

Being here at the DNC is so full of relevance. I feel like I’m actually, actively doing something good. It also seems as though I have a teeny bit of a knack for this shit. :) I just interviewed New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin cuz he “stopped by” the media tent. I asked him a few question with my little audio recorder and felt… just so close to the process. And this while suffering from heat stroke…

Okay, now that my father has had a heart-attack with worry, I’ll explain that… :)

When we got to the media tent this morning, I went out immediately and headed to the convention center to try to snag an interview with Dr. Julianne Malveaux (those of you who have been following the http://blog.propeller.com/category/2008-conventions know that I was successful). What I didn’t realize was how hot it was outside.

Within only a few minutes, I could feel the sweat developing. Wasn’t soon after that that my head felt like it was cooking under my brand-new (and journalistically ethically-incorrect) Obama hat. I stopped in the shade and took a breath. I looked up — the world went blurry for a second then came back into focus. “Oh fuck,” I thought. I’ve had heat stroke before and recognized the symptoms. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.” I was in the middle of nowhere with only a fairly useless press pass and heavy camera bag. So I walked a bit more and then felt my heart pounding just a bit too hard…

Knowing I wasn’t able to continue, but still committed to trying to get my interview I did the only thing that made sense:  flagged down an empty city bus. Seriously. I ran out into the middle of the street (it’s still like the Wild West out here during this convention…), and asked him to take me to the convention center. The lack of blood in my face and sweat dripping from everywhere must have given me away. “Come on,” he said.

Once on the bus I took off my bag and felt that my shirt was soaked. I mean like I’d gone swimming in it. I sat back and breathed slow.

Once inside the convention center, a slightly rejuvinated-by-Denver-city-bus Alexia made her way to the Korbel ballroom and found there… Dr. Julianne Malveaux. This is what even we non-religious folk call A Moment Of God. Dr. Malveaux’s panel had been over for more than 10 minutes (an eternity in the tightly-scheduled convention-time), but she was still there.

I’ve known about Dr. Malveaux for five years and so getting this kick-ass interview with her was a huge thrill. So was the one with Ray Nagin. They were moments of relevance, and I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

The Calm Before The Storm

August 20, 2008 By: admin Category: House, Propeller, Video


I’m home tonight. I stayed the last few nights at Molly’s because we can’t stand the thought of being apart for the three upcoming months we’re going to have to. But tonight I’m home catching up on tasks.

Today was a good day: I emptied half of the storage unit, put the old Ikea clothes rack together, did laundry, bought some stuff at Radio Shack, and figured out how to use an external microphone with the Nokia N95. :) I’ll be shooting with the phone at the upcoming political conventions. Today was the first time all of our systems are “go” for the event, and it’s pretty exciting.

The picture above is one of the piles of camera gear I’ll be working with in the next two weeks. The other two are for a show of Molly’s and the pile of mobile gear that goes with the Nokia. It’ll be good to get back to shooting.

Tonight is the last peaceful one I’ll have until I get back from Minneapolis, so I’m taking this opportunity to write, as I won’t get to while I’m working. Today was also the day I wrote my first mortgage check. :) It felt so good writing “Sept. mortgage” in the notes field rather than “Sept. rent.” I’m paying rent to myself, cuz this here’s MY HOUSE. I took a shower in my shower, got dressed in my room, came downstairs to my kitchen, and cooked myself my fish in my donated pots & pans on my stove. That was my gas coming out of that burner, which is also mine. :)

Tonight I’ll sleep and not worry about getting up at 5:00am. That’s for next week, or whenever I stay at Molly’s. Jack and the kids are up EARLY and while I admire it and want to do it myself someday, today isn’t someday and girlfriend wants to store up the Zs so she can hit the ground running in Denver.

There’s a lot going on. Everything’s moving by itself now. Like a sloop on a good tack. That’s good. It’s relaxing. I don’t have to do so much heavy-lifting any more. There will be periods when the heavy-lifting comes back, when I have to steer in choppy seas, but for now I get to make metaphors about sailing and sleep late in… my house.

New Molly Zenobia Fan

August 19, 2008 By: admin Category: Music

Check out this beautiful write-up by a new fan of Molly’s. He came to an open mic, heard her sing one song, and bought “November Antique” on the spot.

Beijing Opening Ceremonies: The Drummers

August 13, 2008 By: admin Category: General, Video

Honest to god, y’all, if you didn’t catch the opening ceremonies of this year’s Summer Olympics I would encourage you to watch it below. If you just can’t sit through 8.5 minutes, though, wait for the video to load then scroll to 4:35. That’s where the drummers start. :)

A Truck Full Of Memories. Literally.

August 12, 2008 By: admin Category: Body, Faith, Family, Fatblogging, General, Happiness, Health, House, Mom

The Russian boys from Barnes arrived yesterday around 4pm. Inside the truck headed from me to VT, Maine, and then NY, was my childhood–items full of time.

The butcher block table was our kitchen table in New Haven. I remember sitting down to dinner regularly right after the news–6:30, sharp! And then, in later years, not having to worry about waiting cuz Mom and Dad bought a new, small TV which they put on top of the fridge or something just as tall, and we all watched the news together at the beginning of dinner. We didn’t leave the TV on, if memory serves, and so after the news came some discussion. I don’t remember the table ever being quiet, and I don’t ever remember there being any stress. Mom cooked fabulous meals, Dad came home from the hospital or lab and told us some stuff about that (I heard about some of the first cases of HIV at that table…), we watched the news, we sat down together and ate.

I remember asking if I could be excused before I left the table but I remember that ritual not having been a big deal. I remember it just sort of being there, like we were all trying to adhere to the rules of what Normal Americans did, thinking in the backs of our minds that it was a cute, but slightly silly practice. We didn’t need any permission to leave the table, Michael and I, because unless we had lots of homework or something else productive to do, we never wanted to leave the table. That table was the center of our lives. It was great!

And now it’s in this house I just bought that I am clearly trying my very best to make into… something I can relate to. But no matter how many of Mom’s and Dad’s things I fill this beautiful place with, they won’t fill the hole in my heart. It’s not about Mom anymore. There are other sadnesses. Ones that, if you can believe it, feel more final–feel like bigger changes.

I almost ran away once. I was young. 10, 12, something like that. I’d packed this little suitcase years ago, when I was even younger, and had kept it in the back of my closet in our house in New Haven. It was melodrama, but real enough that one night I tried, and actually got pretty far. Too far. You see, I was raised with enough of a head on my shoulders that even though I was hurting I could recognize when I was in the presence of real danger. And being on Whitney Avenue alone in the middle of the night – a kid – with a tiny light blue suitcase means you have just walked into the middle of real danger.

I can’t remember what the angst was all about… abandonment… something like Mom and Dad loving Michael more. It wasn’t an argument my heart was in, though. He WAS “better” — whatever that means. He was luminescent. A more beautiful person had just never been put on this earth and who was I to think I could compete.

I still feel that in a lot of ways, but I don’t idolize him the way I used to. I just love him and respect him, and one of the greatest joys in my life is to see him with Laura. I am so happy he’s happy. I wanted that, but it might not be in the cards. Molly and I will, I think, be “taking a break.” At some point in the next few days we’re supposed to talk about what that is, exactly. I’m blogging about it because, like I did when Mom died, I need to express myself. I need to talk this thing out with myself so I don’t go crazy from it eating me alive.

Su gave me some AMAZING advice last night. She said a lot of great stuff but at one point said: “Aren’t you a filmmaker?” And then I remembered that in the last couple of days I’ve rekindled my love for the writing of Amy Hempel. I’ve been think a lot about filming fiction shorts and this is definitely the time to do it. “You need to put all that love energy into something,” Su said. She knows me. After so little time she sees so clearly. This is an email I wrote to her this morning in response to the “hang in there” email she wrote after we’d gotten off the phone last night (the sign of a true friend — someone who keeps talking to you even when you’re not there… :).

“Beautiful Su,

Your words still ring in my ears this morning. I woke up, sadly, crying, but am sitting now on my new couch ready to take the first steps. That’s GOT to be a good sign.

Daniel said some good things too, especially about exercise. My friend Caren who is coming to live with me has been exercising so I hope to come up with some kind of fun routine with her. She’s also a writer — thank god — so I expect us to write a few scripts and then film a few projects. I will include you and Daniel in any way you want to be included. Maybe you can do the design work? I mean the thinking about the designs. I’ll do the implementation, but I suck at design and I have a feeling you rock. :) Also, maybe costumes? Anyway, you see how I can get ahead of myself in grief?

There’s this image I have of Molly… We were in the hospital as my mother was dying. We had just had a family meeting or something equally dramatic and I noticed Molly wasn’t in the room. I poked my head out into the hallway and didn’t see her. I went down the hall to the waiting room where she usually was and she wasn’t there. So, finally, I knew there was only one other place to look — in a tiny hallway off the main hallway where the nurses kept a small fridge full of things terminal patients can consume: milk, ice.

I rounded the corner and there she was, bawling her eyes out. Her face was stained red and her skin was sore with tears. She tried to turn away from me but I wouldn’t allow it. I gathered her up into my arms and held her. You’ve just never lived until you’ve held Molly in your arms.

I don’t know about the future. The last time this kind of pain happened to me I almost didn’t make it, and I vowed I would never be brought down by it’s like again. And so I shan’t. And I do have you to thank. I can see the future I can make — all these projects: “Aren’t you a documentary filmmaker?” ;). I don’t know how I’ll ever not feel this way, especially as there will be stages to it (hearing she’s with someone else, hearing she’s doing so well without me, etc…), but at least I know how to try, how to begin.”

“As the smoke fades from view… I want to not… I want to not feel her…” My only legacy from four years of trying my best to love is a sad, sad line in a sad, sad song.

2000 Miles (Christmas Time) – The Pretenders

Spinnin’ Mighty Jesus

August 11, 2008 By: admin Category: Faith, Family, Going Home, Happiness, Health, House, Living, Mom

Dad told a story tonight of a colleague who had once collected some of the hilarious histories he’d heard from patients over the years… In one instance a woman approached dad’s colleague and told him that she was suffering from “spinnin’ mighty jesus.” It took the colleague a bit before he finally realized she was trying to say “spinal meningitis.” 😉

I laughed easily and huge and organically for the first time in weeks. See, I’ve been stressed…

I honestly don’t know if what happened to me last night was an attack of buyer’s remorse or not, but I couldn’t get to sleep ALL NIGHT due to anxiety about the house. Since spending my first night there I’ve been freaking out about how I”m going to pay for the thing, and today I told Molly that I feel scared and put off by the house because it represents everything in my life that’s hard right now. But then I called Nandini, chatted with Alison, called Molly and went for a swim in the ocean and things were better.

When I got back from the beach I did what Nandini suggested: I sat down in Mom’s garden (which Dad & Sarah have preserved beautifully) and spoke to Mom. Seriously. I didn’t pretend to do it, I actually did it. I looked at all her beautiful, full flowers and started telling her that I needed to let her go. I said that I didn’t know what that was, what it meant, but that it was time for me to stop actively, detrimentally grieving. I told her all the things I love about being with her… the excitement I felt every morning at the Vineyard when I hurried to be downstairs before her to meet her for coffee. I wanted to get to the kitchen first, I now realize, because I didn’t want to miss one, single second with her.

I loved the way she reacted to everything I said I was going to do, every idea I ahd as if it was the most unique and wonderful thing anyone could do. She gave me a world-sized love in those moments – showing me how wonderful I was. I guess that’s partly what I’m mourning – the absence of my biggest fan and the one person I knew would always think I was important and the best at everything. Yes, she was wrong, but it sure didn’t feel like it when she was supporting me :).

I loved being the one who could make her laugh so hard she’d have to catch herself. I loved that I could do it from across the room without saying anything. I loved that we could always communicate so easily without words. It was a breeze. I loved that when she moved she always had a childlike, energetic bounce to her.

She loved spending time with me as much as I did her. She would come to the beach when she didn’t want to just because she knew I wanted to. She would say that she’d love to go shopping or walking when it wasn’t true. She would have sat through any movie I wanted to watch just to sit there and be with me – which is why I took to making long lists of movies for them. They didn’t need to see “Terminator 3” just cuz I’d missed it in the theatre. 😉

I’ll take teh next few months to say goodbye. I’ll do little rituals for myself – for us – and I’ll surround myself with things of hers and things of the family’s that remind me of her. I do need to feel a bit wrapped in her before I can say goodbye. Having her things isn’t the same as having her.

Anyway, thanks for listening to all my sadness. I hope it’s over. I hope I can manage the full-on joy now. :)

1st Morning

August 05, 2008 By: admin Category: General, Going Home, House


Everyone who knows me knows how romantic and religious I am about morning. :) A good, quiet, cozy early morning is the ultimate relaxation for me. So it was many levels of wonderful to wake up today in my new house.

I slept on the floor, albeit on a tempurpedic mattress, under nothing but a flannel sheet and donated woolen throw, but I couldn’t have been happier. I love smelling the air as I sleep, so I’d opened all the windows in the room (4) and drifted off. Yesterday Margie had given me a bunch of woolen blankets so I didn’t freeze even though I was scared I might.

This morning I woke to birdsong and the calming russling of leaves in the trees that border the house. After brushing my teeth while looking out over the railtrail, I wandered downstairs barefooted (something I only do in my own home) and made breakfast.

Looking around the first floor as I drank my coffee in the donated arm chair-with-ottoman that I also got from yesterday from Margie, I finally got that giddy feeling that everyone’s been telling me about. I think it’ll keep getting stronger and will change with all the changes that are made in the house, but this feeling right now, all by itself, is pretty great.

Yesterday was a milestone. I hired a friend of Margie’s (shall we just call her God from now on?) to help me with the mattress and the TV box. These were the only 2 things I couldn’t manage by myself. Once they were in the house I knew everything was real and was going to happen according to plan. I acquired a shitload of awesome things from Margie including those already mentioned, and had time, before I went to bed, to mop the first floor floors and place the armchair & ottoman. I sit in them as I write this, and am very, very comfortable. :)

Today I empty the storage unit and put things where they’re supposed to be for this interim period. I will have my editing station in the house until the workroom floors are done, and will probably be storing my clothes in suitcases and boxes until a suitable drawer scenario can be worked out for both Molly and me.

Molly comes to stay this weekend. :) She’s very excited. So am I.

Day 4. With Cats. Notes on move-in.

August 03, 2008 By: admin Category: House

Tut and Orchid do much better when I’m at the house. This week I’m committed to getting everything out of my storage unit so I can be here full-time. I have to sign up with internet & cable, tear the shelves out in the workroom, make some calls about having the floors done, and get some simple pots, pans and utensils so I can cook and not eat like I’m camping.

Michael and Laura’s couches (Mom and Dad’s old Vineyard couches) will work wonders for my comfort in the living room as I’m sitting on the floor at the moment and developing a near permanent crease in my ass.

In my exploration through the workroom today I found an unused bumper sticker that read: “Fascism will come cloaked in the Flag and carrying the Cross.” I also met my neighbor, Victor, who is from Southern California and came to give me a 5th key to my house. He’d been taking care of the place a bit during the winter, he said. He also told me that it was BO who’d done the Yin-Yang symbol in the entryway. All this time I thought it had been handyman Pete.

When I first saw the house I felt the love. The care that had gone into all the renovations was evident, as was the feeling that the previous owners were happy here. In Victor’s eyes and voice I heard validation of my idea that they hadn’t wanted to leave, but that Bo’s job offer was just too good.

Something else I found in my workroom exploration a couple of days ago is a huge sign that reads “Another BIRD ROOF. J.O.Girardin.” Girardin was the original owner of the house. He was listed as a carpenter in the town records, but clearly he also did some roofing. :)

Sarah just emailed and said they have all kinds of great stuff at the Vineyard house for me to use. They lovingly kept all of my Mom’s Peruvian stuff: wall hangings, wooden items, decorations. I’ll go out there this weekend and sort through it all.

I’ve lived in a lot of places and always did a good job of making them homey and welcoming, so this feeling – owning a house – is foreign enough that I don’t yet register the full weight of it. Only when I go into the workroom do I realize the enormity of my good fortune. As I told Victor, you can’t get something like this so close to a vibrant, arty urban center. I lucked out.

More later… as the feelings get clearer and the furniture gets placed. When I cook a full meal and sit down to watch a movie is when I will have finally “settled in. Or maybe it’ll be earlier than that… Maybe it’ll be when I”m sleeping on our mattress on the floor and wake up just a touch earlier than Molly and tip toe downstairs to make coffee. That was Mom’s and my secret, special time. Early mornings together in the kitchen having coffee. She protects everything I do. I still miss her.

The Closing… and more…

August 02, 2008 By: admin Category: Family, House, Mom

As I write this I sit on the floor of my new house in what will become the living room. Tut, the little orange tabby with whom I became very close on the drive cross-country, hovers close by, nestling against my leg, my bag, and crumpling into my hand when I scratch under his chin. Of all living things, these 2 cats, Tut & Orchid, who I’ve sort of adopted (they’re Molly’s), have been with me day-by-day on this journey. Don’t worry, I’m not becoming one of those creepy, fat old lonely lesbians, shutting herself away in some small town with a litter of kittens who I talk to like they’re people. I talk to these guys, but it isn’t gross. 😉

Anyway, so: my closing… Everyone’s house closing should go as mine did. :) Maybe it was the majority of Irish in the room, or maybe it was me and the people I chose to help me in this task. Whatever it was, this day has become one of my new favorites.

I arrived at the stroke of 2:00 with a bottle of champagne in one hand, and a cashier’s check for $11,999.23 stuck in my pants. Leaving the bank that morning I wanted the security of feeling the check against my skin until I handed it over to Andy. I didn’t want even the possibility of Murphy’s Law coming to strike me down with a gust of wind, an impenetrably locked car, or a misplaced bag. I wanted to get the check and hand it over to Andy. Period. After that, even whether I got the house or not seemed secondary. Until I got to the office, I was walking around like a made guy worried the opposing family was hot on my tail… (although, truly, I doubt the mob would walk around with a cashier’s check. Money down the pants, yes: cashier’s check, no).

Margie, Andy and Connie – as it was her office – were already there when I walked in. Tom came in a few minutes later with a flourish, wearing a beautiful dark suit and grinning from ear to ear. His second-in-command, Grant – who was wearing a dark pinstripe suit – was also in attendance. When he got to me, Tom gave me a big hug and handed me a boxed bottle of Dom Perignon and a card. If you know me for five seconds you know how such memory-making moments move me (sorry for the aggressive alliteration there…). Here was my mortgage broker congratulating me like I was family. But he really does feel like family. So do Connie, Margie, and even tough-to-crack lawyer Andy. :) They’re my Dream Team.

Anyway, so the proceedings went quickly and seemed quite mellow and normal. I did keep getting the sense, though, that the cops were going to burst in at any moment and accuse me of something while pulling me from the room so I wouldn’t have a chance to finish signing everything and, as a result, wouldn’t get the house. I think this is called buyer’s PARANOIA, although I looked it up and don’t see it in evidence anywhere as being an actual “thing.” Oh well. I’ve always been kind of unique in my emotions…

While Margie and I signed and signed (she had Pete & Bo’s power of attorney), and Andy counter-signed and stamped, the rest of the team chatted about everything and nothing. The wheels of all seriousness didn’t start coming off the wagon until I was finally finished signing and Tom felt he now had the proper audience necessary for ribbing Andy. The two are apparently very close friends, as Tom let fly one joke after another about Andy’s jet-set lawyer lifestyle. I asked about Andy’s boat at one point and Tom and Grant burst out laughing while Andy went red. This is an image I never thought I’d see: a lawyer getting embarrassed enough to turn beet red. I smiled and apologized and he just smiled and shook his head at Tom, who had told me about the boat weeks before.

When Margie and Andy were finally finished with their signing I had Grant open the bottle of champagne I’d brought. Andy was surprised. “This is for US?” he asked. “Yeah,” I said. He turned to Tom in disbelief and said: “What a great client.” At that point everyone who had planned to leave the closing as soon as everything was done, sat back and relaxed. We joked, talked about the housing market, and I made toasts to each and every one of them. It was so important to me that I acknowledge them publicly and tell the group what each had provided me on this journey.

In her warmth and instant approval of me, Margie had delivered Pete & Bo, the beautiful former owners who I felt I knew from the simple care exhibited in the renovations in the house. Andy gave me the assurance that lawyers bring and a bit more, as he had prepared – at no charge – two extra documents that afforded me special additional protections. Grant had done me the courtesy of bearing witness at the closing, even though I’d only spoken to him twice on the phone when Tom wasn’t around, and Tom & Connie had watched my back and worked hard as hell to make sure I was making all of the decisions that were truly best for me.

Early in the process, Connie understood the kind of person that I was and the kind of place that I wanted. As we looked at houses, she kept learning more and more about me as if to put herself in my place so she’d be sure to see the perfect house if it came into her radar screen. When it did, she pounced and made sure I got it. There were also times when she put her body between me and a bad decision, stating her reasons firmly and clearly. She was always available, and always went the extra mile. She never got bored, and was never unenthusiastic about my enthusiasm and dreams for my future. I can’t see having worked with any other realtor.

Tom was the rock of gibraltor. I didn’t understand a goddamned thing he said when we first talked, I just knew that I liked and believed him. He never ended a call until he was satisfied that I’d understood everything, and he jumped through a few hoops to get me the best deal for my situation. Like Connie, he delivered the kind of confidence you need when you’re about to do something this huge for the first time. With Tom and Connie there, I wasn’t alone. That was the biggest deal of all. Frequently I need someone with me so a moment gets stamped in reality. A witness provides that. Caring witnesses make the moment FUN.

In the room were also an Australian hat Dad had brought back for me from a trip years ago, and a photo of Mom that I’d printed out that morning. I wanted my parents to be in attendance as much as they could be, and so they were. Everyone loved the hat and marveled at how beautiful Mom had been. As I gave my toasts I teared up a bit, and saw that Margie did too. Then Connie went out and came back with a huge bouquet of flowers, a home design magazine, and a gift certificate from her for a cool furnishings store she liked.

How many people have this warm and loving an experience at their house closing? I’m not sure, but for me, it was perfect. :)