Sunday, June 25, 2006

Week From Hell

Okay, Efren, you asked for it. (He gave me the permission I needed to talk shit and not be so goodie-two-shoes on my blog.)

This week was a shit week. Don't get me wrong, it had it's bright spots: two friends loaned me money when I most needed it (and without me having to ask; I have serious issues about money, I've realized; ironic given that I'm a professional fundraiser); we got a few of the big grants we've been waiting on at work (woo-hoo!); my novel is coming along (I'm reading chapter seven right now); and H. and I are both healthy and happy, overall.

But the dark spots overshadowed the bright spots: work has felt like a goddamn smack-down, with four deadlines, one each week, for the past month (this Friday is my last one for a little while, thank Goddess). These deadlines (grant proposals and reports) take a lot out of me, I realize, because I must keep up with all the rest of my work while completing the various steps in the proposal/report process along the way. And there are lots of hoops foundations want us to jump through. Sheesh.

The sudden death of young Dru (see below), was the mid-week low. I'm still reeling, as are others who were even closer to Dru than I was. We had brunch today with two of the amazing people who've been helping his family through this crisis; tried to give them support too. The caretakers need caretakers, y'know?

And then a close friend of mine calls to tell me that he's been laid off, and for some shitty-ass reasons that I can't get into in a public space for fear of reprisals from some powerful people in government. No fucking kidding.

And to top it all off, I was premenstrual, and cranky, and dealing with the fact that my Palm Zire decided to freak out on me and stop working. I realized how dependent I am on that thing; I can barely function without it. It's a psychological and logistical security blanket; unfortunately, there's no way to deal with the situation but get a new PDA, which I really can't afford right now. Timing this week is just frickin' great.

So that was my week. I need to take up meditation again, for real. Ten minutes a day, ten minutes a day. That's my mantra.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Rest in Peace: Andrew "DJ Domino" Ele (1984-2006)

It hit me like a sucker punch to the gut tonite--an email from my friend A. stating that 22-year-old Dru 'DJ Domino' Ele had been shot and killed on 24th and Folsom Sts. last night in Frisco.

Too young to die, I can't stop thinking, too young.

I got to know Dru a little when he was working at YouthSpace and I was on the board, both of us working with other youth and adult allies to try and get a youth-run space opened in San Francisco, a place where young people could come from all over the city and put their beefs aside, have fun, pick up some new skills. Dru must have been about 20 back then. He had started up his DJ career, spending late nights gigging at 18-and-over clubs and youth dances. He always had some funny story or joke to share, and always made me smile and feel welcome.

After YouthSpace folded because of lack of funding, I would see Dru occasionally at events, festivals, parties, like community gatherings at Coleman Advocates, where he had worked with Youth Making a Change. Actually, the first time I met Dru was when I was Executive Director of the Youth Empowerment Center and he was there speaking on a panel about youth organizing as part of a national youth organizers' exchange.

H. and I just saw him a few weeks ago at Carnaval in the Mission. He was handing out flyers for a party that he was DJing, of course, the quintessential young entrepreneur.

I can't believe someone so young is already an ancestor. And I abhor the social and economic conditions that make too-early deaths like Dru's all too common in today's urban environments. But I know that Dru would want us all to keep on movin' forward, fighting the good fight until there ain't no fight left in us no more.

Rest in peace and power, brother Dru. We will miss you.

Donations to help Dru's family during this time are encouraged and can be sent to:
Dru Ele Memorial Fund
Mission Area Federal Credit Union
2940 16th St. - Suite 307
San Francisco, CA 94103
account #: 7192

Monday, June 19, 2006

Finally! (Big Sigh) Ron Dellums is Mayor!

Yes, it's finally over. Ron Dellums is mayor of Oakland. Damn it feels good to win.

I freaked out a little today when I walked by Ignacio de la Fuente's campaign headquarters (on the ground floor of my office building, ironically--Oakland still has a small-town vibe sometimes) and saw tons of people in there. The place had been empty since the day after the election, as everyone waited with bated breath for the final vote tally. There was a camera crew in Ignacio's headquarters, people were smiling and laughing. My heart sank. I thought for sure this meant Dellums was going to have to face Ignacio in the run-off.

Maybe I'm just used to losing, as a progressive in this far-right-leaning, overly-zealously-Christian country (and keep in mind that France, one of the most Catholic nations in Europe, is far more progressive than we are). I thought as I walked home, 'Damn, we've gotta fight this guy for another four months.'

But I was, thankfully, wrong. Dellums is the big man now. And not a moment too soon.

Another bright spot on Oakland's future-horizon: Aimee Allison--a conscientious objector during the First Gulf War (and married to a Pinoy!) has made it to a run-off race with incumbent Pat Kernighan. A true progressive, Aimee would help even out the moderate-Democrat, pro-developer City Council a bit, and with Ron Dellums in office as mayor the progressive agenda in Oakland could actually move forward.

Ah, sigh. Of relief, happiness, hope, a little trepidation (electing progressive candidates, after all, doesn't change everything). BIG sigh. We've still got a long road ahead of us to create the Oakland that we want and need.

Monday, June 12, 2006

I Must Admit...Blogging's a Bore

At least right now. I find so many blogs that seem utterly self-indulgent to the nth degree, filled with self-important ramblings by self-centered people who somehow attract other self-centered people to validate what I think are utterly boring ideas, concepts, thoughts.

But I guess the fact that I have a blog makes me one of those self-important people?

I spend much of my work life doing things for others--raising money for organizations I care about, that work for the greater good of various 'communities'. And I love my work, don't get me wrong. But this blog is the one public space where I can spout my own f**king opinions, no matter what others think. Don't have to toe the party line, or be 'organizational', or courteous.

But of course, I am all those things. I am what some might call 'politically correct' (a term I abhor because it was actually created and spread by right wing think tanks). I am polite and socially considerate. I don't insult people (well, maybe right wingers, but do they really count? They are SO sensitive!). I don't talk shit about people. And believe me, I can talk shit. In my life outside of blogdom, I can talk massive loads of shit, although my Buddhist training has helped me cut back a bit.

So what fun can blogging be if I'm tiptoeing around so much? But at the same time, do I really want to make enemies in a virtual world that, truth be told, can be so involved with itself that it misses much of what's real and right in life?

Maybe I'll get inspired to blog again after hearing Lakshmi Chaudry speak at the Media Alliance event. The name of the event does intrigue me. And it's been a while since I chilled with the good folks at MA.

We'll see. Maybe I need to loosen up, stop being so prim and proper and prissy on my blog. Maybe I need to start talking shit.

Or maybe I need to stop blogging. We'll see.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Insanity of Our World

I am outraged and saddened by the news that Lashaun Harris, a 23-year-old mother who killed her three small children after being 'instructed' by a voice of God to do so, is going to trial and may life in prison for the crime of being a mentally ill person. Even the county psychiatrist diagnosed Lashaun with schizophrenia, but the supposedly 'social justice'-minded San Francisco District Attorney, Kamala Harris, decided to try the woman anyway.

Does the fact that Lashaun Harris is a poor, African-American mother have anything to do with the trial? Does the fact that mentally ill people can often not gain access to the services that they need because they either do not have the money to access them or the services are not available have anything to do with this? I would answer yes and yes.

Like the death of Andrew Martinez, the 'Naked Guy' from my Cal Berkeley days, that I wrote of below, this tragedy is both a personal one for Lashuan, her poor children, and their family, but also a societal tragedy. For how could it be nothing short of a tragedy when the mentally ill--whom our country has decided to cast away while we prioritize our tax dollars for 'important' things like bombing Third World countries and subsidizing corrupt corporatation--are still held responsible for their actions in the same way that mentally healthy people are.

Ironic, then, that today I look forward to celebrating the 2nd birthday of a friend's adopted child, a little African-American girl with the bright, shining eyes that only children have, and a fire and wit in her demeanor that promises many more bright things in the future. This, then, is the paradox of the world we live in. And it reminds me that it's only the beautiful, light-filled things that make the darkness bearable.