Wednesday, March 28, 2007

cooing over small things

cooing over small things

Bugga. I almost got a $600 travel voucher, but they ended up not needing to bump any passengers. So, now I am on board a 747 bound for Boston, smelling the guy next to me’s very sour feet. Five hours breathing through my mouth. GROSS.

As Bess said: planes, trains, and automobiles. After a reunion with one of my best friends from childhood, Ambur Rozok, in San Luis Obispo, I took a bus up to San Jose. Funny how almost everyone I mentioned that to exclaimed their derision for travel by bus. It actually was wonderful; no need to impose on anyone, four hour total, and $28. Can’t beat it. In Mountainview, Bess and I sat at a lovely sidewalk restaurant enjoying cocktails and tapas. How lucky am I to have such a wonderful cousin/friend? Later we picked up Miss Marley (pictured in Bess' side view mirror) and went over to visit Bruiser, Betty, Woody ( pictured, lined up at the front door, chez Wang) and Robert, Jill, Gary, and Ben. The beauty of the rolling hills with the slanted sun and her Midas touch left me with my mouth agape out the window like one of those puppy dogs. I really cannot decide which part of California that I visited this week was the prettiest. That’s lucky for me so that when I’m job-hunting after grad school, I have several super job markets to explore.

Mom and I had a full schedule of family visits. Our family is especially fertile these days – I got to see Sean Takeshi Kwok, 5 months (pictured), Jonas Chu Roodman, 4 months, Ethan & Talia Giannini, 5 and 3 years old, and the bulging tummy of six-month-pregnant Kena Fowler. It was a bit weird hanging out at the “kids’ table” at the Giannini’s BBQ because we’re all in our 20s and 30s and John Giannini was giving Joseph Fowler lots of soon-to-be-a-dad advice. He couldn’t fathom that we didn’t know what a “Pack and Play” was (it’s apparently an ill-named portable crib). One interesting thing he passed on to him (and to me, inadvertently) was “the only worthwhile thing [he] learned at pointless lamaze class”: the teacher chalked a circle on the board and described it as a symbol of a life lived to an average age. Then the teacher drew in a tiny pizza slice and announced that that amounted to the amount of time you really have with your kids, when they want to learn from you, when they need your love and attention. Such a small period of time in one’s lifetime. The message was to treasure that time, even when they cry at 2:00 am or when they’re cranky or rebelling. He said that parenthood is harder than you can imagine; it changes your life more than you can imagine; and however wonderful you think it will be- it’s greater. Sigh. I can’t wait. I’d have never thought of myself as one who oohs and aahs over small humans, but I can’t help it. Internal clocks, cultural time lines, increased exposure- I don’t care the reasons; I just can’t wait. =)

(Here are two pictures of two other cuties en mi vida: Ethan, 2, Andres' son; and Alaina, 1, Jamie's niece.)
So, I just made a list of all the folks I got to see on this trip. To "make" the list I couldn't have just met them this week. Anyway, I got to see SIXTY-EIGHT people who I haven't seen in anywhere from a few months to many years.

A thought to end this family & friends week and if anyone knows from whom I ripped this off, I’ll give you a nickel:

“What is a family? Is it just a genetic chain, parents and offspring, people like me? Or is it a social construct, an economic unit, optimal for child rearing and divisions of labor? Or is it something else entirely: a store of shared memories, say? An ambit of love? A reach across the void?”
(That's a pic of my 'gna-boo' (grandma) and me. We are cheers-ing our Ensure drinks.)

on the scale

something heavy and something light:


2. True story:
Bono was playing a U2 concert in Glasgow recently, when he asked the audience for total quiet.Then in the silence, he started to slowly clap his hands, once every few seconds.
Holding the audience in total silence, he said into the microphone, "Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies."
A Glaswegian voice rang out from near the front of the crowd, piercing the silence........
"Well, fuckin' stop doing it then!"

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Vote against spousal neglect

Elizabeth Edwards made me cry yesterday. Her breast cancer has returned, spread to a rib and possibly to her hip. She refuses to let her legacy be as a roadblock to “this great man becoming President” and supports her husband’s campaign 100%. She talks about continuing to live her life and even compared her illness to diabetes- something that you can never cure but that you can live with. She said that we’re all going to die; she just happens to know what she will die from. Her strength amazes me because it cannot be confused for a state of denial or for political ambition. She’s had plenty of time to understand what cancer means since this isn’t her first bout with the disease and I have to believe that most people, when faced with life and death, could not prioritize power over health and loved ones. The Edwards for Pres website elegantly included this news but generally steered clear of taking advantage of voters’ sympathy; it remains professional. (It's really impressive how candidates are harnessing the web this time around.) I am a fickle Democrat it seems, since I originally bought Hillary stickers, then I fell in love with Barack, and today I flirted with John. However, despite Elizabeth's amazing shows of strength and the fact that my heart goes out to her and her family, someone is gonna get screwed if Edwards were elected- either the family or the US of A. Thinking about how much damn work I was for Jaci and others when I was under extreme chemo and radiation, Elizabeth’s hubby should not have to choose between meeting with the king of Jordan or making his wife’s treatment appointment or whether to work on universal health care or comfort his children as they deal with their mother’s illness. I admire both of their spirits to fight and find Edwards to be a fine candidate, but I sure hope he doesn’t win.

Friday, March 23, 2007

I love Cali in the Springtime

March 20, 2007

Day six of my California Adventure© finds me in Grover Beach at Leslie’s new casa. She bought her castle two short weeks ago and although I had my concerns about her buying property and committing herself to all that entails, I have to say that it seems she made a fabulous decision. Her house is a three-bedroom, newly renovated, stylishly detailed domicile with fruit trees, a terracotta patio, and room for her dog Sarge to roam out back. It seems like an awesome investment and she seems so happy here. Her roommates, Nicole and Erika, are a lot of fun too (ever played Nintendo Wii?!) .

But let me rewind. Past L.A. and all the way back to Boston. I got a job. Well, it’s technically an internship, but since it’s paid, I’ll call it real employment. I am working for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee on a campaign they launched in January called DRUMBEAT FOR DARFUR. Instead of whining and complaining about the genocide in Sudan or making ya’ll sign my petitions, etc, I feel like I’m using my extra time to do something. Besides bugging politicians and informing people, one of the main tactics of our campaign is “divestment”. This is the concept of pulling money away from countries and companies that invest in Sudan and effectively prop up a government that arms the perpetrators of staggering violence and displacement. One of the headline companies that we’re encouraging people to divest from is Fidelity (who invest heavily in PetroChina, an oil company that is deeply entrenched in Sudan). If you want to learn more about these things and what you can do, check out and

So, yeah, I work 10.5 hours per week at DRUMBEAT and, so far, find my experience there very fulfilling- both for the cause and for me to be productive. Coincidentally, Jaci and I both had our first days of work a couple weeks ago. However, she’s decided to look for greener pastures and paychecks. For those of you to whom I have not yet boasted, Jackson has heard from all of the grad schools to which she applied and has decided to attend Columbia University’s School of Social Work in New York City in the fall.

Before Spring Break, Fletcher held its annual “Faculty Waits on You Dinner”, where our esteemed profs don aprons, refill our water glasses, and schlep plates to and from the kitchen. It was special to me because last year’s event’s auction’s proceeds went to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in my honor. Jaci attended but I was still in the hospital. It was amazing to be there with fresh tufts of hair and strength in my limbs one year hence. So many elements of Fletcher have been so supportive over this past year, so I took the opportunity to thank the dinner’s attendees.

Midterms have come and gone; I think I overstressed when I didn’t really need to. My International Trade and Finance exam went really well and my research paper was in on time, though I certainly cannot say I would submit it to any Global Health journals. Does anyone consult graduate school GPAs when all is said and done? Why do I worry; is it even possible to fail a class?

Anyway, after flying back to California, my friend Peter and I went and had what he alleged and I then condoned are “the best pancakes in the world.” Then we went and saw Uma, who was sitting up in a wheelchair! Of course, John was there and Erik arrived not too long after. I have to say, and I just told John this, that the way he writes his updates makes my heart flutter and my stomach clench- he is such a captivating and amazing writer. And, more important than that, I cannot express how joyful I am at the milestones he so artfully describes (like how she kissed him yesterday) and how knowing that Uma has him honestly makes me feel like there is a divine force of GOOD in the world.

Later we met Jamie and Michelle- finally I’ve met the famous Michelle- for Caribbean food in Santa Monica. The next day I spent at Michelle’s finishing up my paper for school and then stopped by the Alumni House at Occidental. Barb had made a banner saying “Welcome Back ERICA” almost causing me to burst into tears at arrival. So sweet. I realized that it has been almost two years since I’d been in L.A. flashing around my engagement ring and my big plans for a Caribbean life… sigh. Life is so funny, isn’t it.

Jamie and I took roost at the Ritz Carlton in Pasadena; the girl has got to be the sweetest most generous person I have ever known. She gets a wicked discount at that hotel but still would not accept a penny from me to contribute.

The commitment ceremony between Eddie and Jason was beautiful in every way. We gathered on Branca Patio at Oxy and just let the tears of happiness and emotion pour down our cheeks. The vows that they had written couldn’t have been sweeter; Jason promising to love and cherish Eddie in this life and beyond en espanol and Eddie thanking Jason for all that he is and joking that “everyone should have a Jason—just not his”. Then we all dined and danced the night away. I realized that I have only been to a handful of weddings in my life (Adrian & Megan, Robby & Emi, Kevin & Elena, Bess & Ben, Uma & Erik) and they have ALL been incredibly fun and touching. I look forward to this chapter of life that supposedly will be ripe with nuptials.

Speaking of weddings! Today is Wednesday- Anna’s wedding day. Yes, you read that correctly. She is getting hitched at the courthouse to the lucky Robert, her boyfriend she met at kung fu and is completely head over heels for. They hope to have a “real wedding” in the future, but have decided to get married immediately before some rules for non-citizens marrying citizens get tighter. Love you sweetie and wish I could be there. Mazal tov!

So that’s about it for now. I went to my first yoga class (since struck by cancer) this morning and need to leave this coffee shop and head back to Leslie’s for a shower. By the way, this was the first trip I’ve taken out of a wheelchair in a year as well. Thank you, Dr. Sirulnik and Adriana, for making it possible for me to take my Wednesday intravenous chemo in pill form instead of going into a hospital out here (although I have to take twenty-three pills today!). I am really enjoying the natural beauty of California on this trip and have to say that I cannot wait to move back to this state after grad school and treatment are over. I did not go with a biased attitude to Boston but have decided, through reason and experience, that it doesn’t even hold a candle to San Fran, L.A., or San Diego. In a life where things seem so unclear and my future relatively uncertain, it feels great to have a sense of “home” here in Cali and a place where I can really nestle in with my friends and family for a lifetime.

(this last pic is just a random roadside vista in San Luis Obispo. i made Ambur stop so i could take pictures.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


hi all----it's jaci. it's been a long time since i've authored ablog, but this one is actually a thank you and a request.

First, thank you for all the congratulations for my acceptances and I have decided to attend Columbia University in the fall for my Masterin Social Work!! I'm thrilled!!!! I'm sad to leave Boston becauseit'll be hard to be away from loved ones, but excited for a new challenge and experience. Besides, I'll be a short 4-hour train rideaway-----Erica won't even know I left! It'll be a little harder toconvince A... :)

So here's my quick request: a friend of ours, Ted Sheets, has finally launched a website that has been the fruit of his time and energy for the last year or so called: LaunchZilla - Thisis a hybrid of MySpace and YouTube with a socially conscious twist.Basically, I'm asking people to check it out and sign up. The more people who check it out, the more successful it will be and come on,it'll make Ted happy! It has entertaining videos, audio, and pics aswell as lots of great features like ZillaDating and Cash Contests!So, please just go and look at it!

and of course, can we all give a phatty shout out to UMA who is making progress daily!!! YOU ROCK, GIRL!! they say everything happens for areason and i'm still trying to understand the reason for so many ofthe health injustices in just this year alone, but i must admit that i'm happy Erica is in a place where she is well enough now to be therefor Uma in a way that Uma was here for Erica... i think you reallyfind out who has the ability to step up in times of crisis and $40,000says Uma is an amazing friend and deserving of all of it! Let's keep donating and furthering her progress. Seriously, save $5 a week bymaking your own coffee in the morning and give it to Uma at the end ofthe month?? Easy-peasy.

Ok, enough... gotta go study Spanish homework now! Yes yes, i'm heading to Buenos Aires in a few weeks!!!!!!!!!here's wishing everyone well and lots of love. xoxo

Monday, March 19, 2007

Just Uma Pictures

Uma, as she looked yesterday at County USC Hospital, after her re-shunt procedure

Uma, on the plane that took her from New York to Los Angeles

The team's backbone: John and Erik
(don't forget you can always get detailed updates on Uma at Erik's blog:

Uma, in her new room, Thursday

Marie visiting Uma

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

MUST work

When you have problems, isn’t it nice to be able to assign blame? Not only external blame, although that’s the more fun variety, but even to know what part of yourself is causing your woes? I’ve felt a bit lost this week, ambling around with a shade over my eyes, unsure what’s causing me malaise. There are some things I recognize, the sore muscles from dexamethozone, the watery puffy eyes from six-mercaptopurin, the fatigue from the methotrexate. But, my friends at school might say: "I have all those things and I’m not on chemo."

Good point. It’s midterm time and my inner nerd is rebelling. Procrastination is the despot of my psyche!

I have so much I want to blog about... intellectual ticklishness, the new jobby job, tomorrow's trip to the orange groves of So Cal, Uma's Amazing Race, nearing nuptuals... Plus- I want to share a picture of my new mess of hair! if you'd like to imagine it, it reminds me of Adam Sandler's hair.
ah, but I MUST go back to working on a paper. Half way done.


Sunday, March 04, 2007


Check out is the Wedding section of the Society pages of the frickin' NEW YORK TIMES on March 18, because.... drum roll please.... Jason Reade and Eddie Jauregui's union (at Oxy on the 17th) will be announced! How cool is that?

Something else to check out: I just almost peed myself laughing at Erik and his brother's youtube video. Check it out:
I was wondering if other people have secret or not-so-secret youtube publications. If you do, will you let me know? It's so creative and grassroots and fun!

So, I'm back from NYC once again after a few days holding Uma's hand and trying to make her smile. One of the most beautiful things to witness is Uma reaching her hand out to you. She often reaches out to touch John's face and I was able to snap a cell phone picture of it for you all to see.

She seemed to be doing better each day I was there. Her eyes seem more bright and clear. She was trying to push her body up and turning herself from side to side- we joke that she's trying to jump out of her bed. The funny thing is she probably is. Like Uma always has, she is scratching her face and skin a lot, which isn't necessarily good, but it sure is Uma. Yesterday, they did a CT scan to see if her ventricles have continued to swell. If not, then the shunt procedure may not be necessary and she could be on her way to a rehab facility by Tuesday! Even if they decide to go ahead with the shunt, leaving the hospital is likely to be later this coming week. John joked with the doc about leaving on Monday and instead of scoffing, the stoic dr. H shrugged and said, "I don't see why not". So, good news from the 11th floor of st. vincent's.

If only to be there under better circumstances because New York City is so rockin'. Being a young professional sans babies would be such fun in that city. I stayed with my sort-of cousin, Corey, this trip and her life seems so glamorous- darling apartment, super stylish clothes, fabulous office, cabbing here and there. I guess my life in Tokyo was pretty cool in a nyc sort of way; not that i had stylish clothes or even close to a fab office, but i did have freedom of movement, friends with good work schedules and flexible incomes, and loads to do and be stimulated by every day. So, if I never get to live the new york life, i am really glad that i got to live the tokyo one.

The waiting room for the neurological ICU is not such a rockin' place. It's full of people living in limbo, who don't know when or if their loved ones are going to recover. The past two weeks have brought in two twenty-somethings that were hit by cars. One, Jeremy, a 26-year-old investment banker from New Jersey, woke up soon after admittance and was able to be moved to a rehab center in another part of the hospital a little over a week later. Last Sunday, a 24-year-old dietician named Sabina, from Northern California, was on her first date with some guy when a pick-up truck hit her. She is still in a coma and her scores of friends that visit her each day have that glazed look of people who just don't know what to hope for. We've met too many families, too many groups of amazing friends and colleagues over the past month. Their caution is so familiar- not daring to assume the best but just not ready to face the worst.
Isn't life just so random? Doesn't it just make it impossible to believe in an order of things, in divinity? All I can really take from this is: LOOK BOTH WAYS AND THEN LOOK BOTH WAYS AGAIN BEFORE CROSSING THE STREET. What else can you say?