Innocence is the Crime

The Subway_George TookerSometimes I wonder, if I had been alive during the Civil Rights movement, who would I have been? Would I have marched on Washington? Would I have traveled to protests? Or would have simply watched on TV and read transcripts of MLK’s speeches printed in the newspaper?

I fear that I would have sat by, agreeing with the movement, but going about my life, the weight of day-to-day living overwhelming all else. This seems most likely (especially since I can count the number of protests I’ve attended on any issue on one hand), and I am not proud of this. I am not proud that I have done nothing to protest the many police shootings of unarmed black men and women. I have not even done superficial things to show my solidarity and belief in the fundamental validity and value of the movement, like tweeting #BlackLivesMatter or changing my Facebook icon. (read more…)

Inside the Mindfulness Machine

bridget-s-bardo by james turrell (mindfulness)

Working for an organization that teaches mindfulness has been profoundly disappointing.

Before I took the job (now 4 months ago), I had an idea that just by working there and being around mindfulness, I would automatically be more mindful. I thought this would be pleasurable personal growth, a painless process. I would would be a better person almost magically, like how Super Mario grows by jumping on a mushroom, with a perky trill in the background.

This is not how it’s worked. If anything, it’s the opposite. I’ve had to face that I am still the small Mario, that there is no magic mushroom, that work is still work. It is very disappointing to still be me. (read more…)

The Threat — and Thrill — of Stereotype

stereotype

For a time, I was often the only woman in a room full of men. This was a previous job where I essentially ran a non-profit that rated roofing materials. Our members, stakeholders and board conformed to your likely stereotypes about roofers: they were almost all men, two or three times my age, mainly with pot bellies. I was young (twenty five) and female with little roofing experience. They saw me essentially as a secretary, and on several occasions expressed a great deal of surprise when I actually understood technical issues. I played sweet and friendly with everyone, using this as a way in to get things done. When our board chairman’s term was up, for example, I approached the candidate that I thought would be best for the organization and talked him into running. I gathered a few supporters for him, and the board elected him unanimously, thinking the whole thing had been their idea. (read more…)

What Happens When a New Yorker Moves to California?

I grew up in New York City. Even though I haven’t lived there in over ten years, I still have a lot of New York pride. Growing up in New York endowed me with some special skills, like knowing where to stand on a train platform for the optimal exit and recognizing a real bagel.

anatomy of bagel
As a shy child, it also allowed me to not just avoid strangers, but take pride in it. I learned to walk quickly and with purpose. I was suspicious of anyone who wanted to talk to me. It made me feel street smart (or as street smart as an eleven year old on the Upper West Side can really be). (read more…)