Someone’s life changing moment

Today, I got to change somebody's life.

mama fest: rockstar
papa fest: rockstar!
oliver fest: rockstar

In 1989-90, I spent my senior year of high school in Germany through the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange, which grants 200-300 full scholarships each to young Germans and Americans through the State Department and the German congressional body.

I lived in Düsseldorf with a terrific host family I'm still close to and see once a year (there is 3/4 of the family in my sunglasses at right, two summers ago). I fell in love with Martin, now a well-known dancer. When I came home from school one day in November, my host mom was watching tv and crying. "Was ist los?" I asked. "Die Mauer! Die Mauer ist weg!" she told me — the Wall had come down!  In college, I majored in German. I've lived there since, use the language in my research and am still very fluent.

Ten days ago, I was a part of the interview board for the CBYX program. And today, I got to call a young woman who won the scholarship and tell her. First, I told her mom. Her mom called the girl where she babysits and had her call me. It was amazing to be able to change someone's life in that manner. So many wonderful things flowed out of the year I spent with Familie Fest in Düsseldorf — nothing has been the same since. I figure that it's unlikely a CBYX recipient will find my web page, but my warmest congratulations to you if you go.

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Vox Hunt: Couldn’t Get Through It

Book: Show us a book you started reading but never finished.

I've tried. I brought it home for Christmas. I took a class for which it was assigned. I wrote a paper on an excerpt last year.

It is Enrique's favorite book: he's read it four times. But I'm stuck on page 141 of Gravity's Rainbow. I have not given up hope — I will finish it at some point.

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When did you become an action hero?

"When did you flip a situation so you could resist, when did you give back as hard as you got? When and how did you choose to confront? When did you become an Action Hero?" asks the Blank Noise Project.

It was 1993. I was living in Montpellier, France as an exchange student when I was 21. My American friend Soonie and I had gone out in the centre-ville and were walking back home to our host family's houses at 3 a.m. We lived in a quiet, quasi-suburban neighborhood, the kind of place where nothing happened. As we chatted in English, walking down the narrow street that led to the hill to our homes, I noticed footsteps behind us. In a case like that, it is natural for me to maneuver so I can see who's behind me, at least in my peripheral vision. So I whispered to Soonie to move over to the side so we could get this person in front of us.

He was a guy not far from our age, dressed in the normal manner. That was a relief. He stopped next to a car in the row of parked cars. I heard the jingle of change. He didn't unlock the car door, though: he dropped his pants.

Soonie walked away.

I aimed four front snap kicks into his testicles with my Ferragamo loafers.

Soonie burst out laughing. I realized it would be smart to run. He didn't follow us. Probably hard to after you've been kicked in the balls four times with pointy shoes.

What about you? When did you choose to become an action hero?
Here's what the Blank Noise Project says.

share. talk. inspire. understand. tell. speak. hear. be heard. narrate. voice. throw open.

Last march 8 (Women'sDay), we had a blog-a-thon that asked you to blog stories of street sexual harassment. It began with an announcement on this blog that was picked up by bloggers across India, and soon in different parts of the world. We shared stories we had never shared before, sometimes stories we thought we had long forgotten, stories that we had often wanted to bury. We read each other, we linked to each other and we linked back to the Blank Noise Project blog. We were touched by each other's stories, moved by them, and, we like to imagine, drew strength and sustenance from the the long, cross-cultural chain of shared experiences.

It's this strength that we're asking you to share experiences of, on March 8th, 2007. The baton is handed over right here, right now! Announce this on your blog and on the morning of March 8th, 2007, share with us a story (or two, or five or…) of fighting back?!

When did you flip a situation so you could resist, when did you give back as hard as you got? When and how did you choose to confront? When did you become an Action Hero?

Action heroes have formed the theme of the last few Blank Noise interventions and it's this spirit we ask you to share and celebrate on March 8 , 2007!

So announce the blog-a-thon, and on March 8, share your action story!

This is an attempt to understand how different women ( across age groups/ cultures/ communities) have dealt with street sexual harassment in their everyday lives.

Male bloggers are encouraged to share stories of women in their lives and how they have dealt with street sexual harassment. Non bloggers are also invited to participate- email us your story. You could also be an agent- the one that collects stories of confrontation/ of heroism from your mother, grandmother, cousins, domestic workers, people in your office, the vegetable vendor, the woman bus conductor…anyone!

To participate:

1. announce the event.
2. blog your story
3. email us about it and we will link you right away!

Please email us at with subject Action Heroes Online.

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Michigan said yes

As you probably know, Enrique and I both applied to PhD programs in architecture. We submitted applications to MIT, Princeton, Harvard and Michigan. We received word from our first one: Michigan said yes — to both of us! These programs accept between 2-5 students, so it's a very big deal to get in anywhere. There is no such thing as a safety school. We are 50% of the ones they accepted! Now, we wait on MIT, Princeton and Harvard. Cross your fingers.

In the meantime, I pursue Plans B, C and D. I'm interviewing tomorrow to be a professor at Parsons (Plan B), talking to design and research firms (Plan C) and considering to apply for some newly announced curator positions at MoMA (Plan D). But oh, how I would like to do a PhD program. And for Enrique and I to continue being in the same place — or the same program — that would be great.

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QotD: First Celebrity Crush

Who was your first celebrity crush?
Submitted by Glory.

Diana Ross. It wasn't a romantic crush, but it was a crush all the same. The first full-length, LP record I bought was Diana Ross' Diana, when I was in third grade. I played it over and over again. If "Upside Down" came on my clock radio, I would blast it to the point of fuzziness and incomprehensibility. My parents let me stay up late to see her live special on TV — she opened the show marching and strutting around the stage in a long, white fur coat, singing "I'm Comin' Out." That would've been in 1981.  My grade school friends still remember — and tease me about — my Diana Ross obsession. I still think it's a great album. But my celebrity crush would probably be Cate Blanchett. Or Gael Garcia Bernal.

I feel I should say that Diana was a bigger crush than my fleeting interest in Shawn Cassidy, consummated through my parents gift of a jigsaw puzzle of him and my friend Susan's record where he sings "Alligator Rock." We were 5 then.

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QotD: Happy President’s Day!

Ever run for office?  (School, club, organization, politics, etc.)  Did you get elected?

I was on student council a number of years. This is strange given my absolute lack of school spirit.

Stranger yet, though, was that I wore a green horse suit and dressed as Melvin Mustang at basketball and hockey games and wrestling matches.

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Vox Hunt: I See You

Show us your eyeball.
Submitted by Cassie.

my eye
jack's eye

I took a lot of pictures of people's eyes a few years back — which is when I snapped these images.

The first eye is my own, seemingly without mascara (a rarity).

The second is Jack's of Schulze and Webb. He has brilliant, piercing blue eyes. When I played the name game with Ray, a graduate of Jack's program at the Royal College of Art, I said, "He's tall."  Ray said, "He has beautiful eyes, right?" See?

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