Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Another active weekend

"Keep in mind that every challenge, great or small, is moving you to
look deeper and draw forth the highest in you. You're never given a
challenge beyond your ability to meet and master. You'll rise above
every circumstance because you're greater than any circumstance."

Alan Cohen

On Saturday morning I went on a 35 mile bike ride with Ilyse, Adam and Jamie. It was fun and most of it felt really good. Towards mile 25 my ass and back started to kill though! I need to really train more because if 35 miles hurts, how am I going to survive 56?! That ride put the fear of God in me.

On Sunday, I competed in the Strawberry Fields Triathlon in Oxnard. The weather was beautiful, the ocean, on the other hand, was not very cooperative. There was an incredibly strong north to south current. The first wave of elite guys went out and the current sent them so far south that all but two were unable to reach the bouy and complete the swim. The race officials scratched their heads and changed the course. They decided to set up two lifeguards as the “buoys” much closer to shore. The women would swim around them and then head south to the second one and back to shore. The second wave of women went out. It was a disaster. At that point they gave up on the swim and decided we'd do a surf-run. The event turned into a dualthon. It was fun and I was fairly pleased with my time, though I learned that I really must speed it up in the transitions.

I'll be ready for this race if it's the last thing I do.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Weekend Blog

"I'm focussing on what I haven't attained, not what I have. A lot has come to me early. I don't want to get consumed with that. Winners live in the present tense. People who come up short are consumed with future or past. I want to be living in the now. My goal is to play one full game in the now, but I haven't even gotten past the first inning yet. I start thinking about where my mom is or if my dogs have been fed. The average human has 2,000 thoughts a day. The really accomplished have 1,500 because you can focus longer. I need to learn how to focus longer."
Alex Rodriguez - American professional major league baseball player, All Star, player of the year

I write this as I focus on my blog instead of on the brief I need to write or the direct exam I'm drafting. Sigh.

I had a really fun weekend. I threw a St. Patrick's Day/B-Day Party for Kelli on Friday night. It wasn't one of our big ragers but was a solid, more intimately fun party. Towards the end of the night we ended up doing karaoke on my new DVD/Karaoke player and since we didn't have a microphone, everyone sang. We sang from my "Top Hits from the 90s" karaoke cd and it was such a blast! We sang "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "I'm Too Sexy," "Ice, Ice Baby" and all sort of other classics. It was hysterical and just too fun! Good times were had by all.

Saturday I had long gym workout, followed by art class, followed by Corinne's bachelorette party. Her party was fun, but I couldn't truly enjoy myself because I kept thinking about how ridiculously early I had to wake up. I went with them in the Hummer limo to dinner. We had dinner at Memphis. It's a cool venue (converted old Victorian house) and the food wasn't bad, but it was quite overpriced [especially for soul food] and I found the chairs were a too big for the room. They have these big overstuffed arm-chairs for people to sit on in the upstairs room. They're crowded around the tables. Mine was right near a wall and I kept having to get up to let the waiters or my fellow bachelorette-party goers through. That was a little annoying. If you're thinking of going to a restaurant in Hollywood, I think you can skip this one.

By the time dinner was over I had to get back home and into bed. I had left Charlie in Venice. I had the Hummer limo take me home while the rest of the party-goers headed to the club. It was kind of fun to get dropped off in front of the house by a big old limo.

After getting 3.5 hours sleep, I woke up at 4 a.m. for the LA Bike Tour. I rode my bike, with Jojo and Sean, to the race. We did the race, rode home, and then rode to breakfast. Grand total = approx. 40 miles! After breakfast we ran to spectate some of our friends (Melissa and Jason) who were running the marathon. After we watched them run by, Jojo and I went for a 6 mile run on the marathon course. We ran three miles one way and then ran three miles back. [It was towards the end of the race, so we weren't getting in anyone's way]. I felt very bad ass, but very tired!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

100 Things About Me (91 -100)

"Live never to be ashamed if anything you say or do is published around the world, even if what is said is not true." - Richard Bach

My mom read my blog and was in shock -- this is an issue inherent in posting about your life. "You used drugs?! I can't believe that." "I can't believe you posted all that stuff." ...She also told me, "I don't think that Aunt Betty is dead. I'm afraid of calling her to find out for sure." So I must put that disclaimer on one of the initial items.

Anyway, the truth is out, so on I go...

91. My favorite color is blue ... though I'm surrounding myself with red now. My bedroom is bordello red, my beloved Charlie is red, my adirondack chairs are red and just before posting this I was shopping online for a red laptop.
92. My tongue can touch my chin
93. I have my own office, a secretary, and a very good salary. I still manage to feel quite unimportant at work. Ahh, the life of a law firm associate.
94. I write three stream of consciousness pages every morning when I first wake up. I've been writing my morning pages since October 2001 and I've only missed about 6 days in all that time [sometimes I don't get to write them first thing and write them later though].
95. I wake up at 5:00 a.m. most mornings now.
97. I'm about to leave work early to go plan for my St. Patrick's Day party.
98. I have a gigantic family. My mom is one of 10 kids. My dad is one of 8 kids. I've got 43 first cousins.
99. My bedroom is relatively tidy and organized. My office is a mess.
100. I've been known to lie. Everything and anything I've written here could be untrue. ;)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

100 Things About Me (81-90)

"I get up every morning determined both to change the world and to have one hell of a good time. Sometimes, this makes planning the day difficult."
-e.b. white

81. I am a general corporate litigator.
82. I have been practicing yoga since I was 12.
83. I bite my tongue when I'm focused on something (or not). Actually I'm not sure when I do it!
84. I had 2 dozen roses sent to my office last week. The roses are dying so I've taken the rose petals and put them under my desk. I like having rose petals under my feet at work.
85. I drive a red Mini Cooper convertible. I drive it really fast.
86. I own a 3-unit property in Los Angeles with one of my best friends from law school. 6 people, 2 cats, and a dog live on the property.
87. I am going to display my art work in a gallery. I'm going to display with three other painters from my art class. This is a dream of mine and I'm really happy that it's coming true.
89. In college I owned a pet rabbit named Mobe (Moby). That was the worst pet I ever had.
90. In October I adopted a dog named Marley. I adore her.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

100 Things About Me (71-80)

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
- William Shakespeare

71. I brought my sister and Jill to go see a play tonight -- As You Like It. It was the worst play I've ever seen in my life. It was so bad that it made me laugh until I cried. The alien and a major character who carried the script with him throughout the entire play and just read his lines [played by an understudy, but still] were the worst and most comical parts of the play. I think if Shakespeare had seen what these people had done with his precious play, he might rethink the above quote.
72. Normally I really enjoy theater. [I'm still happy I went to see today's show. I now have a memory I'll never forget.
73. I acted in a couple plays when I was in high school -- I was a theater geek. I never had a major part and in general was a pretty bad actress. I think I could be a good actress though [or rather an Oprah-like tv show host] -- I'm a total ham.
74. The only political office I ever ran for was in college. I ran for and was elected to be residence council representative for Royal Victoria College (my first year dorm in college). I sang my speech -- adapted version of Barenaked Ladies' "If I Had $1,000,000." I hated politics -- everyone took themselves way too seriously. We were a residence council for crying out loud... the most important thing we discussed was how we'd split up money for our respective residence hall parties. You would think my fellow representatives were debating over world peace!
75. I don't take myself too seriously (at least I hope not). Is it taking yourself too seriously to write 100 things about your life?
76. When I lived in Argentina I taught yoga in my apartment.
77. There were also tango classes in my apartment -- I helped as an assistant.
78. Lastly, I taught English classes to business people in Argentina.
79. I returned from Argentina in December 2003. I lived off the kindness of my friends -- I spent 4 months on Jojo's floor and borrowed everyone's car. [Not having a car in LA sucks ass]
80. Finally I got a job at my current law firm. In 2 weeks I'll have been there two years. Time flies.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

100 Things About Me (61-70)

"How long will you keep pounding on an open door
Begging for someone to open it?"

Rabi'a al-Adawiyya
8th Century Islamic Mystic

61. I'm a big fan of inspirational quotes
62. I'm afraid of rats and mice (though this former phobia has improved to be just a low-grade fear)
63. I jumped out of an airplane -- it was a 28th b-day present to myself. I loved skydiving and hope to do it again. Having a mouse in my house was scarier than that for me.
64. After law school I took the California bar. I can honestly say it was one of the worst, if not the single worst, experience in my life. Nothing about the whole experience was in any way pleasurable.
65. After the bar I went on a post-bar trip. In glaring contrast to my bar experience, that was one of the most pleasurable and enjoyable 7 weeks of my life. I went to Vietnam for 2 weeks and Thailand for 5.
66. I was supposed to only be in Thailand for 2, then travel to Nepal for 2 weeks and Japan for 1. I fell in love (was seriously infatuated?) with a British personal trainer who was practicing thai kick boxing and basically just loafing around Thailand indefinitely and changed my trip to stay with him. It was paradise, though it all ended up quite weirdly.
67. After my bar trip I made my permanent move to Los Angeles. Within one week of my 26th birthday I got my first solo apartment, bought my first car (2000 silver Audi A4), and started my career. I felt very adult. It was terrifying.
68. My first two years in LA were not very happy ones. I really disliked my job, I really disliked the city, and I felt like a fish out of water. My job was so stressful that I ended up getting an appendicitis. My appendix ruptured [shortly after 9/11/01] and I spent 9 days in a hospital bed. When I realized that I was happier in the hospital bed than in the office, I decided that I needed to make a change.
69. Shortly after returning to the office [and trying to wrack my brain to figure out how/what I was going to do next], I got a phone call from Sean. He was doing a Fulbright in Argentina and suggested that I come and take over the position for him. At first I thought the idea was totally crazy and said no. After about one day of thinking about it, I cashed out my frequent flier miles and got myself a ticket to go down there for a year. That was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
70. Buenos Aires was my favorite place to live. I felt like a fish in completely friendly waters. I truly flourished there. When I first got there [a couple days after arriving] I went to get a massage -- because it only cost $8 for an hour!!! I was all knots. 3 months later my parents came to visit. I brought my mom to get a massage too (did I mention how cheap they were?). The masseuse told me what a pleasure it was to massage me... I had NO KNOTS! I never remember getting a massage before and having no knots. I desire to live a life like that again -- a knot free life.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

100 Things About Me (53-60)

53. My parents live in Spain
54. I speak spanish, french, some japanese, some haitian creole, and some german
55. I am writing a guide book about Buenos Aires. [I've started writing it, but can't say I'm currently writing it because I haven't written a word in over a month. :(]
56. I am training for a half-ironman. I've already completed 3 triathlons. I have a sprint tri at the end of this month and the half-ironman will be my fifth. At this point, I think I can call myself a triathlete.
57. I have run two half-marathons. For some reason, I still don't think of myself as a runner.
58. I studied martial arts for 12 years.
59. I sang in a jazz band in Argentina. My first solo singing experience was in the oldest and most famous cafes in Buenos Aires -- Cafe Tortoni. That was intimidating, but I did it.
60. I'm heading a hospital renovation project for UCLA NPI. I am confident I can raise the money for this project and that it will be executed beautifully -- even though I've never really fundraised or headed any sort of project like this. How's that for balls?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

100 Things About Me (31 - 52)

"There is a history in all men's lives."
William Shakespeare

31. I decided to become a lawyer when I was in college. Up until then all my life I thought I wanted to be become a doctor. I decided in college that I didn't like science, so I should become a lawyer [evidently in my head, those were the only options for me].
32. I took the LSAT my last year of college and got into several schools. I accepted Columbia's offer, but chose to defer for a year.
33. During the year off I went to work in an international adoption agency. We placed children primarily from Eastern Europe and China. I worked with 9 women and a priest. That was one of the most rewarding jobs I've ever held, though there were some shady things that went on in that place. I try not to think about it because I know we were doing God's work there. I think that if there are pearly gates, I will very likely be let in just for the work I did at the adoption agency.
34. I had wanted to go to the Peace Corps, but I wanted to work in Eastern Europe [I had studied Russian in college]
35. I got accepted for the Peace Corps, but they wanted to send me to Africa. I'd also applied to teach English in Poland for a summer. I got accepted for that job, so I turned down the Peace Corps and accepted the Poland gig. It was a joint program between the Canadian and Polish governments. Per the Canadian government (or at least my contacts in the program), the Poles did not have their act together. The teach abroad program never happened. That's why I went back to DC and ended up at the adoption agency.
36. I decided I still needed my international experience, so in February of that year I went to Paris for a couple months to study French and just live abroad.
37. I forgot an interim boyfriend -- John -- who I would be dating off and on for 3 years. He's a great guy [had premature baldness -- went bald at 9 or 10 years old. I think that was traumatic for him, but he seemed fairly well adjusted]. Anyway, I lost touch with him back in the '99 or so. I tried to google him, but couldn't find him. I hope he's well.
38. In France I had a whirlwind romance with a totally studly guy of Algerian descent, Jawad. My last night he asked me to marry him and to stay in Paris. Tres romantique. I was going to law school, so I said no. He was such a cutie though.
39. I went to Paris with my college friend Susan. We had to sleep in the same bed together -- the program thought we were a couple ... Paul & Susan. We got very close during those couple months. Until I met Jawad, we were together 24 hours a day. I think it's pretty good that we only fought once.
40. I've had very few fights in my life with anyone (with the exception of my sister who used to push every button I had while we were growing up). Now we're cool though.
41. In addition to my younger sister I have two older brothers. We all live in LA now and we're all super close. I'm blessed to have such an incredibly loving family.
42. I started law school in '97. I lived in a law school dorm. It was like the real world. There was me, an Asian woman (Jojo), a gay man (Sean) [not out of the closet at that point and dated Jojo], an older Russian Jew (Alex -- 35 when we started law school. He'd defected from Russia when he was younger and had a PhD in artificial intelligence. He never did his chores), a Muslim woman from Turkey (Ekin). We all got along famously and were called the "Dream Suite." I'm still in touch with all of them. In fact, Jojo, Sean and I now live in LA and hang out all the time. Sean and I bought a house together.
43. The second year and third years of law school I lived with Jojo and an honorary roommate from the first year -- Melissa. Melissa is a de facto resident of LA too. Our last honorary roommate -- Steve, who lived with Sean the last two years of law school -- also lives in LA.
44. Another connection -- Eleonore, who lived with Melissa for part of the first year -- is also in LA now too. Eleonore also happened to be my roommate in Buenos Aires. Eleonore eloped in December with her Argentine boyfriend (now husband). But, that's her story.
45. Our first year of law school Ekin had some problems with a stalker. We had to go to the NYPD station for interviews. We were picked up by a sergeant and subjected to questioning by the DA. This happened when we were studying for finals. The whole time we had our noses in our books. We were stressed out and quite nerdy.
46. My first summer of law school I spent half of the summer in a law firm (complete boondoggle. I wish I could get paid to live that way all the time) and the other half in South Africa.
47. South Africa was beautiful and I had a great time. I became friends with a mixed group (all different races) of artists and started dating a 40 year old sound guy for films. I thought he was the sexiest man I'd ever met. Turned out that he had a big cocaine problem. Bummer. We still had fun though. My best friend there was a painter named Karl. He's amazingly talented and did a portrait of me. I see big things happening for Karl and think my painting will be worth lots someday (even though it doesn't look that much like me, and looks more like Michael Jackson. Yeah, it's a little scary. It's in my parent's place in Spain).
48. I went to Japan my second semester of my second year of law school. I worked for two months in a law firm in Tokyo, then went to Kyushu University in the South for 4 months.
49. I was attacked in a subway in Tokyo my first week in the country. It was a completely random act of violence and I just got kicked in the shin. I didn't ask for help or go to the police because I couldn't speak Japanese and was afraid of being kicked again. [I assumed I got kicked because I was black. I was the only black for many millions of people.] That was the only negative experience I ever had in Japan. I am sure that man was an aberration, because all the other Japanese I met were lovely. It was pretty terrifying though at the time.
50. I ended up really liking Tokyo, though it was a complete culture shock and is an incredibly difficult place to be when you don't speak Japanese. My college friend, Jehan, was there and I ended up having a little romance with one of my co-workers in the office. I also had a huge crush on a Japanese friend of mine. He's so dreamy.
51. Fukuoka was not as much to my liking, though in the end I did appreciate the incredible amount of free time I had there. I've never felt like I've had that much down time in my life. I took golf lessons and really got to know the people around me.
52. After school ended I went to LA to be a summer associate at a law firm here. Being a summer associate was great [though this place was not as into the boondoggles as my firm from the previous summer].

OK, I'm going to put pause on this here. To be continued.

Monday, March 06, 2006

100 Things about Me (1-30)

So I was inspired by Will , who I found out about from Kate, who I discovered on Jill's site. (I love bloggers). Based on something Will did, I decided that I too would write 100 things about my life. I'm not sure I can do it all in one sitting like he did. Mine might need to be continued. A ver.

1. I was born on October 1 in the mid-1970s.
2. My parents had the good sense to have me born in the States. I was born in Boston.
3. At the time I was born my parents were residing in Abijan, Ivory Coast. I think I was conceived there. My parents are from Haiti.
4. I was baptised at one month old in Boston. My godmother is my aunt Marie-Antoine. We call her Mamie Toine. She's my mom's older sister. When my mom and her sisters are together they have a really bawdy sense of humor. If you hang around them too long when they're together, they'll start talking about your genitals. If you're foolish to stay even longer, they may try to see "how you've grown up." I learned long ago to make myself scare whenever they get a certain gleam in their eyes.
5. My godfather is Uncle Mike. He's not really my uncle. He's white. I forget how my parents knew him, but he died when I was quite young. His wife, Aunt Betty, always remembered to send me birthday cards. She died a few years ago too.
6. I took my first international flight shortly after my baptism. It was not to be my last. My parents flew me back to Africa.
7. I lived in Abijan until I was 5 years old. I don't remember much about it, but I remember that it was a city with sky scrapers and not a jungle with lions and tigers [as some of my class mates believed when I returned back to the U.S.]
8. We moved back to the U.S. when I was 5. We went to live in Maryland (outside of Washington, DC). My mom got a job at the World Bank.
9. We lived in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Now it's a very over-developed suburb of DC, but when we first moved there, there were a lot of farms. I remember dreaming about becoming a high school student and joining the 4H club.
10. My first school in the U.S. was an international montessori school. I remember that I was teased once when I first got there because I couldn't speak english very well. The kid who teased me was named Bradley. I remember him being much bigger than me.
11. My mom tells me that after this, I never wanted to speak french at home. I insisted on speaking english. This tells me that even at that tender young age, I understood the importance of total immersion.
12. My best friend in Montessori School was a Korean boy named Charles. I remember that I was the only girl invited to his birthday party. It was at Chuck E Cheese's and my mom had made me wear a stupid frilly dress [in Africa, little girls always wore dresses to parties]. I remember wishing I had pants and could jump in the balls.
13. In fourth grade I transfered to another private school. My older brother Chris was also in school there -- he was in 8th grade at the time. The school went from K -9th grade. My sister later joined in kindergarden.
14. I liked this school and would stay through graduation. It was a tiny school (there were 17 kids in my graduating class). I was a big fish in a small pond there. I was on the basketball (i'm 5'3) and lacrosse teams. I sang solos in the school concerts. I was valedictorian of my class, and i won all sorts of awards. I think this place was great for my self-esteem.
15. After graduating from that school I went to a public high school. I was no longer a big fish in a little pond, though I made some great friends.
16. I was very active in high school. Many kids, when filling out their college applications, search in vain for any activity to place down to make them look more interesting. I, on the other hand, had to figure out what to take out [lest I look like a lying, self-aggrandizing snot-nosed kid]. I was involved in 13 extra -curriculars during my junior year. I limited my application to the activities where I held officer positions or where it was purely honorary. I limited myself to 9.
17. Off the top of my head, I was in Poms, theater, martial arts, youth group, black student union, art club, junior achievement, toastmasters, key club, national honors society, and spanish honors society.
18. I was chosen to go to the National Junior Achievement Conference (NAJAC) at the University of Indiana. It was for a week in August during the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. I would have been a bride's maid at my cousin's wedding, but I went there instead. I remember it being the best week of my life at that time.
19. We sang songs like about "NAJAC spirit" and I totally bonded with kids from all over. It was pretty rockin' and I got my first taste of college life.
20. I was a very good kid, but I guess I was a nerd. At the very least I was a complete over-achiever.
21. I went to college in Canada -- McGill. It was cheap and it was a good school.
22. I got over being "really good" in college.
23. I discovered alcohol in college. For my first year I was often drunk 6 nights a week.
24. I pee'd and threw-up all over Montreal. I thought I was very cool for doing these things.
25. As much as I drank, my friends could all out-drink me. I'm really glad I passed all my classes and even managed to maintain a B average.
26. At McGill almost all activities revolved around alcohol. When we first got to school they had "Open Air Pub." Frosh Week and Winter Carnival were complete drink fests. All activities with professors were "wine and cheeses" or "beer and pizza" events. Our stadium, an major class building, and one of the residence halls were all named after Molson.
27. My second year I discovered drugs. Raves were big and I enjoyed what I was doing. My second year was one of the most fun years of my life. Fun like that would kill me now. My grades were not as good that year.
28. The rest of college was a bit of a blur. I had fun, but my fun definitely toned down after that year.
29. At the end of my third year I realized I was depressed and fat. I started going to the gym [did martial arts and hip hop aerobics], and I started eating better. I quit the drugs and I lost 35 lbs. I looked and felt much better.
30. It was around this time that I had my first serious boyfriend. I'd had some boyfriends in high school, but Greg was different. He was a master's student and at first was amazing to me, but he was pretty socially awkward. We met in martial arts class and my mom still wishes today that I'd married him. He reminds her of my dad. She still thinks of him often. I don't.

OK, I think I've done enough for now. I'll try to continue this later.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I love my life!

Me with Usher and Morgan Freeman last night at the I Have a Dream Foundation Dinner.

I have a dream that one day I will be on someone's blog because they just got a picture with me. I have a dream that one day I'll be a coveted speaker for one of these fundraising dinners. I have a dream that one day I'll have another picture like this with Morgan Freeman or Usher but next time it will be because he's a guest on my show.