Thursday, May 29, 2008

One of the many joys of being the daughter of a Urologist

After an emotionally exhausting day characterized by repeating moments that I felt my blood come to a boil due to racism and ignorance from people who I really want to believe know and can do better, there's nothing that can cheer up a girl like talking to her father the urologist who has been seeing patients for the last 6 hours ("I only had seven minutes to eat half a sandwich!" he says.) Particularly when the conversation goes like this:

"Hi Dad."
"Hi Sweetheart, hold on one moment."

I then hear him say to someone near him, most likely my mother, also the nurse in his office,

"Scrotum Pain. Put down 'scrotum pain'."

Then speaking back to me he clarifies to me, "Don't worry, it's not my scrotum pain."

Who knew that all it would take to plaster a big ol' stupid grin across my face was hearing my dad say the words "Scrotum Pain"?

It was scrotum all along.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Sky Fell Down

I came home this evening to find the grandmother tree in my front yard had lost many of her limbs. I'm so grateful that she landed on the ground, not on the house or a car. Even though there have been quite a few storms and very windy days, this tree cracked early on a still, quiet morning.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Peace by Piece

I am part of a wonderful quilting group that we call "Peace by Piece". This week marked one of the final meetings of our group featuring our friend and quilting teacher Charlotta. In honor of all that she has taught us (and as a housewarming gift for her new farmhouse in Kentucky) we made her pillows.

The subject of the pillows are hilarious and perfect, featuring two of Charlotta's favorite things: zebras and Diet Coke with Lime. The back side of the pillows were pieced with fabric from each of the quilts we have been working with Charlotta's guidance. One of our recent lessons included instruction on the importance of properly labeling our work for posterity. We came up with our own "logo", our hands positioned in peace signs and held together in the shape of a star. Peace by Piece, see.

It was a great group project for Mica, Ela, Kirsten, Marie and I. We worked so well together, seamlessly, really (you're allowed to groan), each of our talents and strengths completing another person's. It is a rare experience to be able to work collectively on a single project with a group of women and I treasured this experience.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Happy Dreams

I slept well last night and had two really good dreams that I remember. The first was that we were having a party in Ireland- all my family was there. We were laughing, the weather was beautiful, we were on Burke Street. Out of the blue Mohammad showed up and surprised me- I couldn't believe he was there. He stayed for the night and my brother had an extra toothbrush that he gave him.

I'm sure this dream happened because Mohammad did surprise me yesterday by showing up unexpected to out impromptu celebration that we were not heading to the prison in Jackson, GA. I saw the car pull in and saw dark hair and sunglasses and said to Mica "A really hot guy just got here." Then I realized it was him and quickly applied blueberry-flavored lipgloss on my smile.

In the second dream, my sister, brother and I were hanging out with my Irish Grandmother, who we lovingly called Nanny. We were in Nanny's bedroom but it was different than it was in real life. There was a warm light, like almost like looking through a red filter on a camera. There was an old wooden stereo in this room that could play three records at a time. She had a table lavishly covered in cakes and cookies and velvet bows. Nanny told us that this was where the Snake lived, but that we shouldn't be frightened. I felt repulsed at first when I saw it slithering but then she squeezed my hand. I leaned my head on the scratchy fabric of her dress- at that point I was my little girl height.

I don't remember much else about the dream, just that it was so lovely to get to spend time with Nanny again. And also we drove around in a car that was made out of a grand piano.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


It is hours after the Georgia Parole Board spared the life of David Crowe who was within hours of being executed. It's nights like tonight that I really feel that there is a God, and that God is present in mine and others' lives. And then I think about how easily we throw around words, words like "miracle", though our knowledge of such pales to that of a man who gets another night of sleep when he already thought he had woken up for the last time.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Innocence Matters: Atlanta Rally for Troy Davis

Last Saturday, Amnesty International and the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP held a rally on the steps of the Georgia state capitol for Troy Anthony Davis.

Troy was convicted of murdering police officer Mark Allen MacPhail in Savannah in 1989 and has lived on Georgia's Death Row since then. Evidence in the case was scarce, and seven out of nine original witnesses have either recanted their statements. Amnesty International has put out an excellent report that covers these issues deeply: Where is the Justice for Me?

Earlier this year, the Georgia Supreme Court voted 4-3 to deny Davis's appeal for a new trial. Last summer, Troy came within 24 hours of death when the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles granted a stay of execution. I remember that day with horror; there is nothing more chilling to me than a system that allows the state to come so close to taking a person's life with so many doubts left hanging in the air. At the time, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles stated that if there is any doubt about Troy Davis’ guilt, Georgia cannot proceed with the execution.

This past Saturday, we got to hear eloquent, emotional words from two death row exonerees Shujaa Graham and Daryl Hunt. What stood out to me this time was that both men discussed their own innocence less than I have previously heard, and instead focused more on how important their connection with their families and communities were while they were on death row. This is particularly relevant because of the role Troy's family, in particular his sister Martina Correia, has played in raising up his case to the international level.

Listen to Martina's words on Saturday, prepare to be wowed by her tireless, loving, beautiful spirit:

Here's death row exonoree Shujaa Graham speaking about his experience and family:

We anticipate another execution date being set for Troy. To take action on this case, send a letter through Amnesty to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. The Parole Board has the power to commute Troy's sentence to Life, which would keep alive the possibility of a new trial request. Currently, the courts have failed Troy and we have little hope that the judicial branch will stop the madness.

Monday, May 19, 2008

New Blog: The Cheddar Path

My friend and co-worker Kori just started a blog on social entrepreneurship, progressive philanthropy and community based economics, check it out!:

"We recognize that at this moment in US political history, the nonprofit organizational structure is the primary model used to organize around progressive politics, launch campaigns and respond to attacks. However, that structure has become tied to a model of fund raising that is highly unsustainable. The majority of US nonprofit organizations depend solely on a system of philanthropy in which the wealth of large foundations funds their work. Once those foundations decide to stop funding organizations, as they often do, the organization and its work are stuck dead in the water.

There has been a growing movement for social entrepreneurship, such as for-profit ventures largely independent of philanthropy that aim to solve social challenges, that has picked up momentum in recent years. The Cheddar Path then aims to be a forum that explores this field, as well as progressive philanthropy and community based economics.

There are better ways to feed our movement. Let us discover these pathways together."

Friday, May 16, 2008

Whistling Down the Wind

It feels like a miracle, a dream come true. I got got two tickets to see the beautiful trickster, the gruff angel himself, Tom Waits! The show is in July and boy has my heart never pounded so hard just from clicking from screen to screen to make a purchase on a website.

I have loved him since I heard him for the first time in Alan's car sophomore year of high school and have never had the chance to see him before. I would travel miles to see him, but now only have to head a little nouth on Peachtree to the Fox Theater.

Here's his hilarious press conference announcing the tour:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

For Rebecca, and her Unicorn

I made this box for my beautiful friends Rebecca and Garrett, the most in-love people I have the wonderful fortune of knowing, in honor of their wedding this past weekend. (There was even a Blah Girl guest!) She tells the lovely story of their beginnings in her post In Celebration of the Magic and Reality of Unicorns:

I suppose Unicorns don't really exist. The mythology is just that-- a myth. Or perhaps, they are real. Maybe I am just lucky enough to live in a magical world inhabited by one.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Until the Last Beat of My Heart: DeVotchKa


My expectations simply could not have been higher walking into the Variety Playhouse's doors to see DeVotchKa. My sister has seen them multiple times and talks about the experience passionately. This means high stakes in our family.

Everything Reem told me and blogged about was right. There were moments of the show where I couldn't stop smiling and clapping along, and then there were moments where a huge lump would develop in my throat and I struggled not to let my eyes overflow.

Their sound is a fusion of mariachi, east European, bolero, and American folk. The band's talents scale a range of instruments- accordion, sousaphone, stand-up bass, trumpets, bouzouki. There was a full string quartet that played with them through most of last night's show.


We stood right in front; it was amazing to be right next to them, part of the cabaret. We were close enough that I can tell you that the bottle of wine they swig from is Bohemian Highway- the same $3.99 a bottle that I buy in cases. (I drink the Cab, they drank Merlot.)

We were so close that from time to time I would feel self conscious that the band saw me standing, unmoving, mouth slightly agape because I was so blown away but what was happening in front of me.

Lead singer and guitarist Nick Urata's voice is stunning, almost identical live as to their recordings. He sounds like a young Roy Orbison and he moves like Johnny Cash. He would barely hum into the mic and it sounded heavenly. And how can you not love a man who plays the theremin?


Tom Hagerman, the accordion, violin (1st violin for you orchestra geeks) and piano player is a master musician, switching effortlessly from style, instrument and song and adorable playing the piano with one leg tucked underneath him.

Reem had told me that Jeannie Schroder a.k.a. TubaGirl always looks like she's smiling while playing the sousaphone - because that's the shape your mouth makes. But the trumpet-player-slash-drummer Shawn King smiled the whole time regardless whether he was playing or not. Maybe because it was his birthday which the band celebrated with candles on a red velvet cake at the end.

Here's some video of them playing "Queen of the Surface Streets". My favorite part is when the string quartet pizzicatos along with the xylophone and then you see TubaGirl dancing and clapping along.

Highlights for me were I Cried Like a Silly Boy and their cover of Siouxsie and the Banshee's The Last Beat of My Heart. Transliterator was an epic to the proportions of GN'R's November Rain or the Dead's Terrapin Station. They rocked it out with a triple song encore of wild wonderful gypsy music.

And my honey got me the setlist! I had gotten one at a Jerry Garcia Band show in 1992 and the roadie took it from me "that's already promised to someone". Bored. And then at Concrete Blonde a few years later I picked it up off the stage but this jackass tore it out of my hands. So this is my first setlist ever from a show!


Like my sister realized, I will never not see them. Until the last beat of my heart.

Monday, May 12, 2008

New Blog for the Blah Girls!

I'm so happy to share that the Blah Girl is all warm and settled in her new home on blogger: Atlanta's Blah Girls! While I've loved having her here, I wanted to give her room to stretch out her cute little arms and get cozy all up on her own site.

Friends of the Girl should check out her new digs and my photo essay: The Story of Blah Girl and My Bottomless Love for Street Art. I really appreciate being visited, linked to and added to your blog rolls.

Blah blah, kisses, hearts, spray paint!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

DeVotchKa is visiting us

Atlanta, we have a treat coming this week: DeVotckKa. Tuesday night at Variety. I cannot wait- this is a show not to be missed. My sister saw them in Milwaukee and Chicago last week and put up words, pictures and videos. She says:

All I can figure out to say is that I will never not see them. I will never be near them and miss them. I've never had a band in my head like this before.

If you're still not convinced, check out this video. You may remember their haunting beautiful music from the soundtrack of Little Miss Sunshine.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Carnival Time

Georgia Blog Carnival #35 is here! Go explore some other Georgians' sites- I got nuthin new for ya today. :) Really, this is a lovely compliation featuring blogs from across Georgia from the last two weeks.

Thanks to the Carnival for featuring my Ozomatli blog!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Naughty Arabic

This is an oldy but a goody, prompted by our discussion that the words "El Paso" in Arabic mean "his panties". Its pronounced more like "El Baso" because the Arabs don't have P sound and thus drink Bebsi on Beachtree Street. Don't even get me started on when they have to stop at the BB Gas Station.

We have ridiculously juvenile senses of humor around here. We love Arabic words that sound like naughty English words. Here is a list of some of them- we admit that some of them are kind of a stretch and some are used very rarely but are nonetheless, hilarious. Credit goes to Emil for his genius on the original version and Mohammad for proofreading this new version.

Yufakker (pronounced- You fucker): "he is thinking."

Wadthafak (wha-the-fuck) : if said as a question, means "did he hire you?, as a statement, means "he hired you." Example conversation: "Wadthafak Emil?" "La! Wathafak!"

Faqat (fuck-it): only

Faqr (fucker): poverty

Fuggham (Fugg 'em. Pronounce drunkenly): to permeate

Shitty (SHIT-Tee): winter (Lebanese dialect)

Faq (fuck): to knock out, gouge out

Fak (fuck): redemption

hur (whore): lake

Hur (whore): having eyes with a marked contrast of white and black. Example: "Reem wa Sara intu Hur."

Yufakk (you fuck): loosened

Shit (Shit!): to burn, especially food.

Fart (fart): excess or exaggeration.

Butt (butt): Duck

Dam: blood

Hauz (hoes): possession

homo: command to "go around" something, a house, a block. Example: "Mohammad! Laith! Luai! Homo fil souk!"

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


This is the sunset on the drive home from Georigia's Death Row shortly after the state put William Earl Lynd to death. This was the first execution in the nation since last month's Baze decision on lethal injection put an end to a 7 month stay on all executions. The death penalty system remains deeply broken, inaccurate, inffective and unfair.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Summer Regee Salad

I'm so happy that delicious mangoes are abundant right now; like M.I.A., I salt and pepper mine and eat the slices so fast I get a cramp.

Last night my lovely cousin Summer shared with me a similar taste combination that she loves. She remembers eating watermelon and salty white cheese sandwiches for breakfast during the hot summer days in Iraq. My mouth watered thinking about it; I could feel the juice dripping down my chin.

So I couldn't resist picking up some watermelon at the grocery store this evening. In Iraq, watermelon is called "regee" (with a hard g sound). Emil says this is very slang Baghdadi, which makes me love the word even more.

So I combined the regee with the feta cheese I had in my fridge to make a salad. I added mint - because I eat mint with everything these days - and this is weird, but I have this big ol' jar of black olives from the Arabic store in Chicago so I chopped a few of those and tossed them in too. I sprinkled a little fresh-ground sea salt and mixed it all up with my hands.

It was delicious and super simple. Thanks to Summer for inspiring this recipe! I love that her name has a double meaning in the title.

Summer Regee Salad

A medium bowlful of cubed and seeded watermelon
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup of chopped kalamata olives
2 Tbs crumbled dried mint
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil (I used Palestinian olive oil- the best stuff ever)
Sea Salt to taste

Combine in a bowl, mix with your hands, enjoy the texture. Lick the juice on your wrist when no one is looking. Smile while eating.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Ya Viene el Sol - Ozomatli brings Sun to Atlanta

Ozomatli - group

My super kind next-door neighbor Kamau just pulled up in his trunk blasting “Old Time Rock n Roll”. I was surprised by the song selection – I’ve never heard him listening to music in the three years we’ve lived side-by-side, and I never would have predicted that this would be his selection. After he parked he stayed in the car until the song ended; through my window I could see him drumming on the steering wheel and rockin’ out to the song that was clearly making his day.

It’s that kind of beautiful day in Atlanta that makes you want to drive around with the windows down listening to music that makes you move. I drove in figure eights around the 4th Ward making my gradual way home feeling the breeze and sunshine on my skin, blaring Ozomatli. My song of choice was "Ya Viene El Sol" which they probably wrote on blue-sky day like today.

How could I help but listen to Ozomatli after last night? The boys brought love, light and revolution to the Centre Stage in Atlanta last night, making hips move, girls twirl, and man with their arms around their best friends sway and swing along. It was a great treat to have them headlining in Atlanta again; its been at least 3 years since that last happened.

There were so many wonderful parts of all Ozo shows – the incredible energy they maintain from beginning to end, the passion they convey through lyrics translated into pure vocal sound, each member of the band dancing throughout the songs.

Ozomatli - Mic

Yesterday, they brought it as they always do but added some lovely pieces: bringing all the kids in the audience up on stage to play and dance with them, dropping the mic into the audience for us to sing along with “After Party”, doing their own line dance that looked like a hip-hop debke. Uli rocked the clarinet- yes, you read that right- on “Coming Up”. They smoothly brought their politics into the show yesterday, from dedicating songs to the people of New Orleans and the Middle East, to Justin’s patch with pics of old and young Mr. Bushes labeled “Dumb and Dumber”.

Asdru’s voice- I hardly know where to even begin describing it. The best I can say that after last night he joins Tom Waits, Ilham Al Madfai, Neil Young, Perry Farrell and the Porcupine Singers from Pine Ridge Reservation on my list of Angel Boy Singers. It’s a bit hard for me to describe but these men and their songs mean the world to me. The Angel Boys are characterized by their nontraditional vocal qualities and a sound that reverberates through my core. Asdru has an Angel voice.

Ozomatli - Asdru

It was hard to get video because it was pretty impossible not to dance, but here’s one of the beautiful “Cuando Canto”. Check out the adorable girl best friends dancing and the beautiful boy best friends with their arms around each other.

They finished the show by all eight members of the band journeying off the stage to party and create a drum circle in the middle of the crowd in the audience. Mohammad read my mind when he turned to me and commented that it felts like we’re at a protest. It is this piece that makes me love Ozomatli so- that they politicize their shows in such an accessible way that brings in the truth of our struggle in the streets and combines it with a sound that can our hearts beating strong throughout these times of great human loss and despair throughout the world.

I clearly needed to put the camera down and join the party once it came down on the floor so the footage from this part is brief but for all of us there, I'm sure of the most memorable of the evening.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

When it Rains, it Pours

And I'm not just talking about this grey Atlanta day. After what seemed like a Blah Girl drought, she's back smiling all around the city. Here she is below the Fulton Cotton Mill Lofts on Shelton Street in Cabbagetown.

1, 2, 3, 4 Blah Girls on the Bathroom Doors

The Blah Girl also drinks at 97 Estoria, as illustrated by 4 different appearances in one little bathroom stall. She starts out all pretty for the evening with flowers in her hair but then as the night goes on hearts fly out of her, she drinks to much and ultimately loses her top and says "grow up" and "eff you" to the rest of the bar.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Why I had to Hit a Cop today

I don’t know what it is abut that square block the runs from MLK to Mitchell and Capitol Ave to Washington in downtown Atlanta, that gives dudes the idea that they can act like frat boys. And get away with it I mean.

Not 30 seconds after I sat down for my meeting this morning, a certain Sheriff (an actual Sheriff, not a deputy) comes over to greet me. He holds out his hand to shake mine then quickly reaches down and grabs my ankle- my ANKLE! He gestures at my tattoo and tells the woman next to me, “Look, she got my name tattooed on her ankle!” I wish I could embed a recording of this cuz his accent is something else.

I literally swatted at his hand over and over to get it off my leg. I repeatedly hit a cop today, people. It took him a while to finally let go. And what makes it even funnier is that he isn’t the first cop that I’ve had to swat away form my lower leg. Last session there was a certain Chief of Police who had a similar obsession my body art. He would usually announce loudly to those around us "looks like you got some dirt on your ankle!" Groan. Then he would grab my ankle. He even did it once when I was wearing pants- like lifted up my pant leg. Unreal.

And this, ladies and gentleman, is why I can never leave the house when I’m headed for the Capitol in a skirt without pantyhose. How funny is it that my Mother’s displeasure at my tattoo oh-so many years ago and her admonitions that I would regret it carried some weight because the tattoo subjects me to the advances of pervy old white Georgia cops!

I actually stared into my sock drawer this morning, lamenting the fact that my pantyhose stash had been completely depleted by the session. Because I was running late as usual, I had no time to stop at CVS to pick up a pair. And I thought to myself, the hell with it, what does it really matter if I'm barelegged or not? Now I know.

In other news, I’m finally getting the hole in my closet fixed to prevent future visits from Blossom the Possum. The dude who came to fix it out of the blue started talking to me about metal and haunted houses even though I was wearing a suit. Am I really that obvious to read?

Also my sister’s blog and report of what happened this weekend in Chicago is fantastic and hilarious and makes me feel like I should close up shop over here because she has got it covered. Here's a preview to entice you to go read it:

My family celebrated an early Mother's Day at a fancy french restaurant called Chez Joel. It's owned by these handsome Moroccan brothers, one of whom (probably my future husband, even though he's married, waa waa) is named Sufjan. Sexy. Anyhow, the food was delicious. The giant bottle of wine was delicious. And my father was drunk. He was hilarious; right before dessert, he stated "I'm going to try to stand up now," wobbled towards the bathroom, and waved his fingers at the waiter who stood aside to let him by. I can only imagine what he may have said to him. Plus, earlier in the evening, he was trying to think of the word for Metrosexual and could only come up with "Sexopolitan." That's right. Sexopolitan.