Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Feeling Restored.

Hi kids! So, its been a few months since I last posted. In those months, there have been numerous mass-shootings, domestic terrorism here in the USA, and Jihadi terrorist attacks around the globe, as well as the continued unjustified killings by some law enforcement officers, of unarmed young black men, here at home.
Last Saturday evening, Evan Guilford-Blake invited a group of poets and writers to gather at Atlanta Vintage Books to commemorate the memory of, and raise funds for, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile, two of the most recent young black lives, snuffed out.
I hadn't visited Atlanta Vintage Books in quite some time, and I was immediately reminded of why I love bookstores, and in particular, this one:
the camaraderie
the intimacy
and of course
the books!
The Reading went well, and I joined Evan and his lovely wife-Roxanna at nearby Vietnamese restaurant, "Com", on Buford Highway, immediately-after the event.
The Pho with shrimp was luscious, and the staff offered us FREE DESSERT which consisted of a heavenly mocha cake, with vanilla ice cream.
The discussion in the restaurant, as well as the event's new contacts who I know will become friends, made Saturday memorable, and joyful, and a welcome respite from all the violence that has plagued the entire world, for far too long.
A tip for those looking to leave violence behind:
discuss books, art, film. Make books, art, film!
More on what we discussed, authors you should know, and other intriguing stuff, soon!
And as always,
Peace, kids.

Monday, April 04, 2016

The Inside-Place.

So it is April 4th, a Memphis sky...Free at Last...The memory of  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,  and his assassination, is one of the "defining moments" in my own personal history. On my next day of school, after the shooting,  that I learned what the word prejudice meant. I learned how when people are hurt, they become angry, as did the folks I witnessed, pelting our car with bricks and rocks, as my young sister and I were told by our beloved mother, to "Get down girls; lie down on the floor of the backseat; we are going to play the quiet game. Whoever stays the quietest until we get home, wins."
I wasn't afraid; I just didn't understand.
"Mommy, why are the black people throwing rocks at us?"
"I'm going to explain when we get home, but I need you girls to behave, okay?"
So we dutifully lay down on the floor of the backseat, as mom revved the engine of our old Chevrolet, and pulled away quickly from the corner of the expensive parochial school we attended. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Academy was predominantly white, and also, Cuban. Situated in the heart of Tampa's "Ybor (pronounced eee-bohr) City", many new immigrants (escaping the fall of Batista, and the takeover by Fidel Castro) were enrolled at O.L.P H., many with scholarship assistance. Ybor City then, was little more than a slum. The school and the huge cathedral of Our Lady dominated the surroundings with ornate carvings, palm trees, and wealthy benefactors. Those who lived within walking distance of the school, were very poor, and black.
Once we arrived home, Mom carefully explained that "Someone great has died. He was a leader for peace, for all people."
"Like Jesus?" I asked.
"Yes, just like that," Mom said, while dabbing her by-now-red eyes.
The people throwing bricks and rocks, were angry, because he was killed by someone, and, well, it felt to them, like we had something to do with it."
"Well, Mom, tell them we didn't!", I offered with much frustration.
"Tell them that we are sad, too", I said earnestly.
"It's not that easy", said Mom with a sigh. "There's this thing called prejudice..."
"Prejudice", she repeated.
She went on to explain it was about judging someone based on whether their skin was lighter or darker, which was very puzzling to me. I pointed out she had darker skin, and black curly hair, while Daddy had blond hair, blue eyes, and lighter skin.
"Yes, and some people don't like that."
We put the tv on, and when I saw the police confronting black people sitting quietly with signs, I asked Mom
"Why are the police spraying the black people with water, Mommy?"
"Because sometimes, the police are wrong..." her voice trailed off, as I quickly asked,
 "The police can be wrong?Then how do you know what's right?"
"In here. You know what's right, in here," she said, circling her chest. I knew that was where my heart--and likely--my soul--lived.
I suddenly understood that if everyone would listen to that inside-place, then the prejudice would not matter. It would not mater what anyone on the outside said, the prejudice would go away.

I'm still waiting for that day.
The day when we can all say,
"Free at Last, Thank God Almighty, I'm Free At Last."
Thank you, Dr. King.
And Thank You, Mom.
Peace, kids.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Find The Good.

So the "March" toward Madness, begins....I've not commented on politics in this forum in a very long time. Partly because I've (rather reluctantly) learned that most folks who read what I post, will do so because of their own political bent, in looking for support for it, rather than searching posts of various viewpoints, to read. This means that the labels I use to tag this post, will--in large measure-- define who reads it.
I can honestly call myself an intellectual, because I define intellectual as someone who is sophisticated enough to engage in a discussion of varying viewpoints. A person can be very intelligent, yet not an intellectual. And intelligent, and intellectual, is a great place to start, but I want to go beyond those, and.....I hope we can get to a place where we can find the good in each political party, or at least the good in each person of a different political affiliation, or philosophy.
I have watched with amusement, some of the televised debates. Then I watched, in horror.
So, here goes:
I do not believe that every person on the "Right"--Republican, or Conservative, or even Trump-supporter, is a racist, or a misogynist, or a homophobe.
I do not believe they are terribly uninformed, or uneducated.
They are angry, yes. But so is the Left.
The Marco Rubio campaign does not scare me, and in fact, I think he's a solid fellow who, one day, probably will become this country's first Latino (he's Cuban) President. (Unless those Mexican Democrat twins from a state in the southwest, do it first!)
The fact that I rarely agree with any of Senator Rubio's views does not change the fact that I recognize his ability to lead in a real across-the-aisle-way, which he demonstrated in working on the Immigration Bill for which even President Obama thanked him. As a member of the LGBTQIA community, many fellow members may (fairly) ask, how can you even consider Senator Rubio, when you identify as Bi? He does not support Marriage Equality.
That is true, he does not support Marriage Equality. But he does support a strong military, and Israel--two causes about which I also feel strongly. He's honest, and has an incredibly compelling back-story: the son of two hard-working immigrants who sacrificed to give him the better life he wants every American, to have a shot at.
I think if the Republican Party is smart, they will get on board the Rubio train, before the high-flying aerial stuntmaster--Donald Trump--descends into a tailspin, and nose-dives into the concrete, below.

I think John Kasich is a decent, true Moderate. He, too, has demonstrated the ability to lead--he's the only candidate who remains among the Republicans running--who has served as a Governor, which means he's had real, Executive-branch, experience. And he said this, when asked if he world repeal Marriage Equality:
"The Supreme Court has already ruled on that. It's the law. I'm ready to move on..."
I think it's a  pity that Republicans/Conservatives did not give Kasich any visible support.
Why didn't he get support? Why didn't March Rubio, get more support, earlier?
Being moderate, and able to compromise, seems to be the issue.
My dear friend Alan asked the question which I'm certain is forming in many of our minds:
"When did 'compromise' become a bad word?"
On the Left, as well. Hillary Clinton has been "bullied" into parroting a lot of the more Left-of-Left viewpoints, (the ones eloquently, though somewhat radically espoused by the venerable old Bernie Sanders) and she has been what I call "Moderate-shamed".
I think the answer is to find the good. There is good on both sides of the aisle, and there must be the ability to compromise--on both sides--or we cannot engage, discuss, move this wonderfully eclectic place called the USA, forward.
Peace, kids.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Today is the day-after-Dr. Martin-Luther-King,Jr.-Day.
My hubby and my "Omma K" and I, celebrated the King Holiday, and the New Year together, at "678" Restaurant, in sunny, but very chilly, Duluth.
Although Duluth is only a few miles from us, it felt much colder. It was windy, and damp, and the day was made warm and beautiful, inside that restaurant, with our server, Aaron, who was as courteous, kind, and speedy as any server could be. He was also incredibly knowledgeable regarding  the various dishes offered, even though he revealed he's only worked there a relatively short period of time. 
We chose the option of unlimited Pan Jun (the various pickled side dishes which come with every South Korean meal) and the 6-types-of-beef "Kalbee", or grilled beef.
When I say "grilled", I mean, at-your-table-using-charcoal-grilled!If you've never experienced this, you simply must go!(Be warned: do not wear any delicate fabric, or sweater you often wear, as you'll need to launder your clothes,immediately --after, as the charcoal scent will "cling" to your clothes. It's not "unpleasant", just strong. EVERYone will know you were in front of the charcoal-grill for dinner!)
But, Yummmmmm. And this meal is finished with a huge bowl of noodles with a mild Kimchee-like sauce.
 My mother-in-law very generously treated us to this elaborate meal. "Omma K" rocks.
On the way home, after we'd finished grocery shopping, we stopped in at "Bobba Mocha", a delightful cafe' where the "Bubble Tea" is the very best! I was so touched by the array of humanity gathered there (Indonesian and Malay Muslim women, in hijabs, young Black American children, South Korean students, doctors and nurses from India and Pakistan, two smiling blond teenage girls, an African-American mom, coral-ling children from at least 4 different ethnic groups), that I shot video of this cute eatery. I then posted--of course--said video, on Facebook. Because it was Dr. King Holiday, and "....this is who we are--America is for everyone."

We are nearing February, and that means my hubby and I are headed towards our 9th Wedding Anniversary, on February 10th.
I never wanted to get married; I felt I was "too selfish", too dedicated to becoming a better actress, and later, to becoming a better writer, to fully commit myself to a thing like....marriage.
And what did "marriage" mean, anyway? Hadn't my parents--who loved each other passionately and unselfishly, sacrificing for us-their children, and for each other-- hadn't they had a great, fulfilling marriage? And that great marriage, had ended, anyway.....
I was certainly a confirmed "Marriage-O-Phobe".
And now? Nearly twenty-one years after meeting Hansoo (August 4th, 1995), nearly fifteen years after becoming engaged (August 25th, 2001), and nearly nine years after saying  "I Do." , how do I feel about marriage?
I think I'm incredibly fortunate: 
I have a partner who loves me deeply, passionately, and unconditionally, as I do, him. I have grown more responsible, more centered, more me-- as a result of being in a loving relationship where I'm encouraged to act, to write, to be more whole.
I hope I'm always as encouraging of Hansoo, as he is, of me. As an incredibly accomplished management consultant/logistics professional, traveling throughout the United States and the world, and more recently,  as a successful hedge fund manager, Hansoo often has me looking up,  in awe of him. Younger than me by over a decade, he never stops surprising me with thoughtful gestures, every day:
 My favorite olives, in the pantry or in the fridge, without my asking. (He hates olives, by the way!)
A surprise of elegantly-wrapped, assorted macaroons from the nearby French bakery.
My favorite Jasmine Tea, from the Korean market.
My favorite body-butter (Coconut Body Butter, from The Body Shop), "just because".
I began this entry, wondering if I would end up writing about the (ugly) politics of today, in regards to Dr. King Holiday. As usual, I discovered a new truth, while in the process of writing:
that the ethos of Dr. King is often much closer than politics, or "big-name" politicians, or religious leaders. Sometimes, the ethics and way of life which we recognize and value in great leaders, is closer than we think. Sometimes, you see these same traits, in the person to whom you're married.
I just now, figured this out.
Happy Dr. King Day! Enjoy the rest of this beautiful week. Now, go hug your life-partner.....
Peace, kids.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Beast of Our Own Making: Fear

It's the anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy....I'm one of the few of my closest friends, that vividly remembers that day. I remember leaving school early; seeing everyone's parents arrive. No school buses running....seeing Mom cry.
 I can't stop thinking about all those losses of the the 1960's...Dr. Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Malcolm X, Medger Evers....
Each death was a cut, a wound bleeding afresh. And they never, fully, healed.
 We have *never* recovered from, never fully assimilated... is this why we are still scared, is this  why we are still so broken, that even the thought of new immigrants arriving in this country of almost-nothing-but-immigrants, scares us, fills us with dread?
The horrendous terrorist attacks in Paris of less than two weeks ago, are still being talked about, and headlines like "Terror in Paris" still dominate every newspaper, every social media site. The major point every outlet emphasizes is that one of the terrorists has "a Syrian passport."
And the conversation here in the United States, has become whether each state's governor is able to "block refugees" from entering their given state. I'm ashamed to say that nearly every Southern state's governor, is attempting to block refugees.
Fear is a useful emotion; it can help us get out of the way of a train approaching if we are dancing around, on railroad tracks.
But we aren't dancing around on railroad tracks.
Our government's security agencies (FBI/CIA/NSA) had--for many months---already successfully identified and put on "No-Fly" lists,  eight--eight!--of the nine who have been determined by DNA, to have carried out the Paris attacks. (The lone person we did not know about, was from Turkey. And he certainly could not have carried these attacks out, by himself.)
I wish we had shared that information with France. If we had, these attacks may not have ever happened. My heart is with France, with Paris, with all that is beautiful.
Positive changes are already occurring:
*Increased sharing of Intelligence with all Western countries, regarding terror suspects/threats.
* Reinforcement of security and guidelines in all countries.
* Increased surveillance on terror suspects.
But using our fear of others,  as the decision maker on something as nuanced--and necessary--as immigrants coming to us for refuge, for safety? Syrian refugees are fleeing a madman, and the same terrorists-du-jour that all of us here, also fear.
Syrian immigration, or any immigration,  is *not* what we should fear.
U.S. citizens fearing new immigrants, fearing those who are fleeing awful circumstances, wanting nothing more than a chance to work in a land that will welcome them and let them work hard, raise their children, have the freedom to speak their mind, to speak from their heart, to pray, (or not to pray).
What has happened to us?
It's the fear that is causing so many of us to hate. Hating others so much, we create a prejudice, a bigotry so vast, that it precludes admitting ANYONE fleeing the awfulness of war?
That's the real monster.
Peace, kids.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Golden Autumn

New endeavors, coming at me, quickly and relentlessly. But it's all-good. I auditioned for--and got--a lead role in a new Web Series which will debut, next Spring. We will be filming the "trailer" for this series, in November. The filming of the Web Series will be every Saturday and Sunday, in January.
Wish I could say more, but until the trailer is filmed and ready to launch on the Internet, all I can tell you is: I have a lead role; it's set at a college, and it's a "dramedy".
When not memorizing poetry or monologues, I've been organizing two workshops for poet extraordinaire--Cecilia Woloch--which she will be leading, on December 5th and December 6th.
December 5th's is completely full; the December 6th Workshop is nearly full. Both are "Mostly Generative, With Critique". I am very excited about having her back in Atlanta, and I am participating in both of her workshops.
And speaking of poetry, I participated in the inaugural meeting of the newly-formed Atlanta Women's Poetry Collective, last Sunday. The "Fab Four" creators of this group includes Lynn Pederson, Amy Pence, Hilary Rogers King, and Karen Paul Holmes. The meeting in a beautiful private home on the west side of Buckhead, and the group was an eclectic collection of estrogen-fueled humanity. From what was said, it appears our mission is to create more support and love of poetry, and we will accomplish this in myriad ways:
by integrating our poetry with other art forms; by showcasing our poetry at local theatres; by offering Retreats for members; a take-a-poet-to-dinner-series; a partnership with Georgia Poetry Society and/or other organizations which bring poets into the schools;by  mentoring young girls, prisoners, and the elderly.
I'm leading the effort to get poetry launched at local theatres. I think this will be a win-win, for everyone.

 Last night, I attended a showing of "Redemption", which was screened at the Midtown 8 Cinemas in Midtown Atlanta, by the "Let's Make Atlanta NO-KILL" coalition. This organization was created to eliminate the killing of healthy, adoptable animals in Atlanta area shelters.
A great group of folks, who are already making a difference in the lives of animals, and people, all over our great state of Georgia:
Major Dillard Hughes, is Support Section Commander for the Gwinnett County Jail, and his responsibilities include Inmate Services, which runs the Second Chance Dog Program along with Gwinnett Re-entry and Intervention Program (GRIP). The good Major commented that this program is win-win for the previously-condemned dogs, and the weary, need-to-learn-to-care-for-others/learn- new-job-skills-inmates.
Grace Hamlin, Founder and President of W-UNDERDOGS, a grassroots campaign founded as a way to keep the kids of Peoplestown engaged and off the streets through instilling compassion and ethics by rescuing and caring for animals in need.
Erin Meurer, Head Technician and Animal Rescue Coordinator for Fayetteville Animal Hospital in Fayetteville, Georgia. Erin has a special interest in animal behavior and works to rehabilitate rescue dogs to help make their transition into homes successful. After witnessing the need for more rescue work, Erin became involved with Safe Harbor Animal Rescue. Three years later, she helped found
 Hounds in Pounds, Inc., a dog-rescue group.

And finally,  Gypsy Theatre Company, helmed by Mercury (he uses one name only) and his gorgeous wife, Danielle Gustaeveson, is now the Resident Theatre at The Buford Community Center. They perform at the Sylvia Beard Theatre, and are featuring a Jones/Hope/Wooten World Premiere as part of their 2015-2016 Season. Playwrights Jones/Hope/Wooten are the writers who created "The Golden Girls" TV series, and wrote all the scripts.
Here's to golden times, ahead.
Peace, kids.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Running for Mom.

I survived October 12th. The one-year-anniversary of my beloved mother's death, came and went. It was day of tears, of relentlessly texting my sister (were we afraid, both of us, to actually speak to one another? were we afraid the tears might overwhelm us? were we simply, afraid?).
It was a day of trying to distract myself with mindless tasks--searching for new hairstyles on the internet, sorting through monologues to use in auditions (I'd already accomplished that task, but found myself, repeating myself), watching horror-tv (thank you, "The Walking Dead", for the engagement).
I was disappointed when the Chaplain for the Hospice who helped Mom in last weeks of her life, called--literally at the last minute--to say she could not make it to Golden Living in Dunwoody to commemorate my Mom's passing.
I had called and asked her to meet me, as I planned to visit, and to bring goodies to--in honor of my Mom-- the old folks who have no one to visit or comfort them, and she had suggested that we could "...plant a butterfly bush in honor of your Mom." Which I readily agreed to.
So, in her voice-message, she re-scheduled this celebration of Mom's life, for this coming Wednesday...October the 14th.
Which is also a date imbued with tragedy: Five years ago, on October 14th, my beautiful sister-in-law died painfully, just two weeks after giving birth to our sweet niece, Morgan Catherine. Although Morgan Catherine was not due until November 4th (which happens to be my birthday), she arrived on September 21st, because Toni Harris Kwon was in great pain, and doctors induced labor, and delivered our healthy, albeit tiny, niece, to her adoring parents. But what was discovered in this new mother--only three days later (on my own sister's birthday--September 24th)-- was "Stage 4 gastrointestinal cancer, of unknown origin". Although doctors tried mightily to do physical therapy to keep new-mom Toni strong,  Toni was quickly moved from the hospital in Charlotte where she had successfully birthed her daughter--who was now being kept in intensive care for premature newborns.
Toni was moved to Duke University Hospital, where it was hoped some kind of remedy to prolong her life, could be found. But Toni Harris Kwon passed away--and from what my husband told me--it was a hard, violent death. She was trying to breathe, helped by a respirator who forced air through her lungs, in an attempt to keep her alive, and cognizant. She and her husband talked about the baby--the baby she could no longer see, or hold. The baby who was faraway, in a hospital where nurses cried after learning the red-haired mother of this dark-haired, almond-eyed child,  was dying, and there was no hope for that mother. My husband told me, in a phone call at 3:00 am, as I returned from a late-night film shoot in Monticello, Georgia, that Toni was gone.
Shortly after Toni died, I remember being at their home in Charlotte, and while my brother-in-law was downstairs, displaying the purple-cloaked urn with the cremains of Toni, I spoke with Toni's mom, a kind, quiet, petite package of dignity named Cathy, and I asked how she dealt with this, with her daughter, being gone. She said "I run." Cathy looks like a professional athlete, her tiny frame deceiving one into believing she might be fragile....until you notice the sinewy arms and her gymnast-like legs, which course with strength.
I wandered into the nursery--the room we would eventually bring Morgan Catherine to--and I found a package of "Love" brand knitting yarn. Their slogan is "All you need is Love, and time."
Time. The one thing that beautiful Toni, would be denied. The plans to knit baby booties, left at just that--plans.
Four years later, in the midst of a second round of treatments at Cancer Treatment Centers, I remember asking my own Mom, how she dealt with losing her Mom, and she told me, "That was when I started walking, and then, running, on the beach." I asked her if she thought that would help me, when I eventually lost her. "I don't know, but it might."
I responded that I'd write about it, but that I would begin to run, too.
I've begun to run my way, through grief. Through these words.
On Wednesday, I will commemorate Mom. And Toni, we'll be thinking of you too, sweetheart.
Peace, kids.