Friday, March 30, 2007

For The Love of All Women('s Breasts)

For The Love of All Women('s Breasts)
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

Playing Trivial Pursuit with Our Souls

Originally tacked onto the end of last night’s post—Buy A Book, Save A Breast—I’ve subsequently separated the following discussion concerning Jane & Phillipa’s argument that women have an Utopian Impulse, and I have added an op-ed I read this morning from one of my favorite trade-rags, Brandweek, “the newsweekly of marketing.”

Let me tell you, the coincidence is truly uncanny.

Please forgive me for doing so, but I’m compelled to render my opinion on ‘Trivial’ Purse-suit? (see below) right here and now:

I find the anthropomorphication of female desire, ego and needs to be frighteningly appalling—or at least, to the extent to which this essay takes it. I winced throughout and, quite honestly, I feel quite sorry for the state of the female psyche if this is what women today truly believe and feel.

Fortunately, I know, as per the opinions of some of my friends that follow, that perhaps the handbag craze is simply a fashion phase that will soon come to pass, alas, much like all the others.

However, knowing this, still does not allay the fear that this is what the average woman is taught and encouraged to feel today.

Regardless of gender, I think it is vital to seek and maintain a balance between the surface that we choose to project and the substance that we make an effort to cultivate within ourselves.

Allowing an accessory (or any material possession for that matter) to determine how we feel about ourselves and convey who we are is a horrifyingly vacuous game of trivial pursuit that women are playing with their souls.

The Utopian Impulse

*In addition to the four codes, Jane and Phillipa argue that women tend to live according to an Utopian Impulse, opposed to the Achievement Impulse that most men follow.

(*Please see Buy A Book, Save A Breast for a discussion on the four codes.)

Following is an interesting excerpt from their book explaining their theory, which I read at lunchtime one afternoon:

Excerpted from Chapter 2: The Male Achievement Impulse and The Female Utopian Impulse

Searching for new answers

In the pursuit of aesthetic perfection and self-enhancement, women are famed for their fickle interest in fads and fashions. For most men, it is utterly bewildering that women will actually throw out an A-line for a Trapeze, just because the magazines tell them to, and will insist that the ‘stony taupe’ is much more on trend in the home than the ‘tawny stone’ (both of which seem exactly the same to the naked eye). To explain the craziness—and we do admit it is totally crazy—you can look to the origins of the word Utopia.

It first occurred in Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, published in Latin in 1516 as Libellus…de optimo republicae statu, deque nova insula Utopia (“concerning the highest state of the republic and the new island Utopia’); it was constructed by More from the Greek words for ‘not’ (ou) and ‘place’ (topos), and thus meant ‘nowhere’.

Therein lies the rub for women. Creating Utopia will always be endless and circular. Perfection is impossible, and the quest for it is therefore often fraught with backward steps and failed experiments. The impulse to continually improve even the tiniest increments and in the most seemingly arbitrary ways overwhelms most women, and results in a daily quest for betterment.


After reading this, I immediately proceeded to forward it to about a dozen or so of my closest female friends ranging in age from 20 to 60 years old to solicit their opinions on the theory. Their ethnicities and nationalities included (West and East Cost) Americans, Australian, Brazilian, Canadians, French, Greek, Icelandic, Polynesian, and Portuguese.

Following is a summary of some of their answers. In particular, I asked if this line of thinking applies to how women perceive and pursue “relationships?”

Dearest Poet,

What saddens me is the extent to which our world cannot get away from gender projections. I am fully aware of the depth of my own clinging to such mental constructs, but I can assure you that I am working very hard at changing that…

I must run toward the sun, which is the only utopia worth pursuing. I am sad, and a bit disappointed with myself, that at this time I am still living in NYC. I had made plans to exit this town a while ago. I hope those plans, which ought not to be as fanciful as Thomas More’s Utopia, will soon see the light of day.

I hope you are creating and not worrying about “relationships”. That’s for girls!


Ah yes, women and perfection—always trying to keep up—never managing. Useless pursuit, really, its why I like the sort of women who flip the bird to that sort of thinking and blaze their own paths instead.

Moreover, not a single one of my girlfriends would be idiotic enough to get rid of a perfectly cute A-line dress (think fitted at the top, wide at the bottom) just because trapeze is the new "it" shape of the season. Whatever! As for relationships, ya got me. I can't figure out why anyone, man or woman, does what they do these days...


My initial reaction is to disagree completely, both because I have never felt "overwhelmed" by an "impulse" to improve, and because I am generally turned off by terms like "most women."

I do always want things to be the best they can be, or at least to be better than they are, but I did not realize that this was distinctly a feminine desire (as opposed to simply a human one).

That said, I would say that this (modified) line of thinking does apply to relationships, but once again, not only to women. For isn't everyone continually seeking the best partner they can attain? Isn’t monogamy when both partners feel they won't do better, or don't want to try? (Right? At least, for me anyway. Because once I realize I can do better, well, I tend to lose interest…)

Oh, and maybe I am the wrong woman to assess this excerpt anyways because I have never in my life (okay, maybe in eighth grade when I was working at being “popular”) taken an interest in fads and fashions. Shit.

Besides, I am beginning to think I am more of a man than a woman in some ways (esp. ‘cause I'm dating a GIRL. Sigh. How do you break up with a girl without making her cry?)


(Note: Her GIRL is a guy, who happens to behave like a gal apparently. Strangely enough, I hear this same lament increasingly these days. There seems to be a lot of traditional gender-role confusion, and woman often complain that their “men” act like women, they’ve got no balls anymore.)

Hi L,

This is such a loaded question and I think it all depends on the psyche of each individual woman. Some women do tend to discard relationships with every season, or at least until the relationship no longer serves its purpose. But then again men do the same thing.

It’s only that for a woman she ends up being called a “Man-eater” or “Gold-digger,” whereas a man will be touted as a “Playboy” or “Gigolo”.

Moreover, it’s said that women dress to please men. I see the opposite. Women dress to please other women. It’s akin to subrubanties who have to keep-up-with-the-Jones’. This is the spark that catches fire in the marketplace. This is what drives magazine circulations and makes the makee-up industry a billion dollar business—which both purport and proselytize the idea that you can reinvent or perfect “a better you.”

By the way, I’ll add, the majority of men really don’t have a clue to fashion…


sweet boy:

As for these inane theories on how women preen and nest and are slaves to their bio-clocks and men are hunters or whatever (Men are from Venus and the Women who love too much Just don't understand The Rules...or The Secret, whatever) , I don't have much interest. I know plenty of variations in both men and women, so all the attempts to analyze stereotypes is just kindda stupid (I think), much of like astrology, perhaps as an amusing diversion or ways to have small talk at a boring dinner party, but other than that—a waste of time…

And I don't know anyone who throws their clothes away after reading a magazine—any word on which powerful publication it might be?? I also know plenty of men who spend $5000 on suits and sweat over which type of stitching on their shirts and color of their ties and who flock to the Barney sale, pluck their eyebrows AND are not gay so there..

And no, I don't think this line of thought will help anyone understand what anyone wants from relationships or life. I kind of always think it best to just ask the individual in question rather than read stupid books... But hey, that is just me! And what the f*** do I know…


Apparently, I’m living my Utopia because a Zen Buddhist/movie producer recently fell in love with me and asked me to move to Malibu, CA to live with him. He said he would take care of me, that he's rich, and that I would never have to work again...

But he couldn't understand that I moved TO NYC to get AWAY from CA, and that I'd rather live by whatever little bit of money I make off my art, or even just get two or three shitty part-time jobs to scrape by, than to not have to work because someone showers money over me. But it's going in my book because damn it!, this is an amazing story. And I swear it only happens either in the movies-- or in NYC.

So, apparently, for me, NYC (for now) is my Utopia.


I would have to say this line of thinking applies to all thinking women do. That is generally speaking of course. Men, as well as women, need to learn how to pick their battles. The problem lies in that what men and women find inherently important are on two sides of the spectrum entirely.

Pertaining to woman in particular, I don't agree with the whole 'Utopian Impulse', and not that it doesn't exist, I just don't practice it. I once did, and I found it a losing battle. That comes with growth and experience.

Our society to some extent perpetuates this with fairy tales of princesses and traditions of flowing white gowns and happily-ever-after.

Regarding relationships, women need to realize in our day and time, this impulse does not serve us so well. It is a futile pursuit.

I will add, admittedly, I spend a lot of time pondering my apartment’s décor, and yes,
everything matches. Although it's not perfect, I do like the idea of keeping a gracious home, for I am fond of keeping a comfortable, clean and pretty home.

But then again, I happen to only live with another girl, my 9-year-old daughter.

When I lived with her father, he seemed more interested than your normal man in what he
wanted and liked, and so I gave up a lot of girlie things because I understood that it was not only my home, but that everyone that lived in the house had to feel like it was their home too. Anyway, over time I learned to pick my battles…

Ultimately thought, I find that women put too much stock in trying to change and mold a man, and not enough effort into getting down to the bottom line—you can’t change a man, you either love and accept him as he is, with all his faults, or you—CUT HIM LOSE.


Well, essentially I believe that this kind of marketing messes up women.

Our culture is awful when it comes to teaching women & girls how they should behave and think.
In the name of male-fantasies, we are taught to attack our own bodies, out of a certain hate for what is real. That’s why sadly enough, so many women and girls hate their bodies. In turn, they are afraid of growing older.

Thus, I ask “If she hates herself how can she love?”

This kind of thinking needs to stop.

Love to you,

Uh, yeah, that's pretty much spot on.

I am ALWAYS buying things for the apartment and on the look out for new and exciting innovations in nail polish, clothing and shoes :) It's not "notable" or "weird" and in my opinion not even worth documenting in a book.. It's just women's natural state to seek betterment—mainly I think because we want the whole world to be better for our children’s sake…And that we like pretty things :)

Hope all is well gorgeous boy…


To put it mildly, it is so true and so silly how we (women) allow other people to tell us what to wear and what we should do with appearances.

I remember there was a time, many years ago, when the style was only mini dresses. Young and old, good legs or bad, we all had to wear mini. It was so crazy. I remember myself wanting to sabotage the fashion but back then, it would look so strange if one did the opposite.

Well, today things have changed, we can wear mini and midi and maxi and pants and shorts and everything, but still, the young ones would follow the fashion in any way they can. Yes, it is crazy, but it is happening. Maybe with time that too will change. I am glad someone is actually writing about it.

And yes, there is a big correspondence between our pursuit of perfection and how it translates into our relationship with men.

Now that my husband is home all day, I do not understand why he has three pairs of clean pajamas on his bed, why he leaves his jacket on a chair when the wall hanger is much closer to the door, why he mixes all things in the same drawer when it took me so much time to put them nicely, I can go on and on…


Note to Self (only because I think the irony is funny): Of the 12 friends I passed the excerpt on to, 11 responded immediately. The only person who did not respond at all is the one person I'm trying to maintain some sort of "relationship" with.

Huh, I guess that should tell me something...


Trivial Purse-suit?
By Tanya Krim

Brandweek, Out of the Box, Insights into what consumers are thinking, how they’re acting and why, March 26, 2007

NEW YORK -- I am fond of quoting the adage "Diamonds are a girl's best friend." However, I recently had the privilege of conducting a qualitative research study on another topic that's near and dear to my heart: handbags.

As a result, I have come to realize that handbags can be considered—together with diamonds—one more indispensable member of a female's close coterie.

Walking around various high-end stores in upscale Bergen County, N.J., I could not help but marvel at the diversity of the women looking for their expensive handbag "fix": regardless of age, income or career path, women today certainly seem to understand that a beautiful, high-end pocketbook can simultaneously give them the emotional high they yearn for and telegraph to their female peers that they have class, taste and a hip sense of style.

In 2005, handbags (aka purses and pocketbooks) dominated the U.S. accessories market, accounting for more than $5 billion in sales. Consumer research from Mintel finds that British women are becoming increasingly enamored with their handbags as sales there grew by 146% between 2000 and 2005 to reach an estimated $680 million (or £350 million).

Functionally, a handbag transports a woman's essential daily items. Emotionally, however, it perhaps plays a more powerful role. Oddly, current advertising for the category does not focus on the emotional threads that often tie women to their purses.

Handbags are a form of identity and individuality, and, like the women who carry them, they may or may not have multiple identities. Regardless of whether a purse acts as a mini-office, pharmacy, snack bar, mobile beauty salon, family photo gallery or a combination of all of the above, it is also a beloved and trusted accessory that reflects a woman's specific personality or provides a glimpse at the one she aspires to project.

Handbags can also instantly telegraph messages about a woman's mindset, mood or life stage. The person pushing a pram and carrying a large, practical black handbag might be resigned to the fact that her handbag screams out "Responsible Mother" rather than "Trendy Young Woman"; nonetheless, she knows that this is the one she needs because she is in her maternal mode life-stage.

A handbag can also reveal whether a woman is into power and status, glamour and luxury or fun and fantasy, and using it to make a fashion statement is unquestionably appealing to women.

Regardless of its exterior, a handbag's contents generally reveal the owner's true essence and soul. What is on the outside of the bag may separate one woman from another, but what is inside may unite them; a peek may reveal whether a woman is feeling overwhelmed and chaotic, or together and in control. In fact, many women seem to have a relationship with their bag that is similar to the one they have with a dependable and trustworthy female friend/confidante: it knows everything about her and her life.

On some occasions, however, it is undeniable that handbags appear to be more like good-looking, desirable men than close female friends as they become objects of women's deep-seated, unbridled lust.

According to my research, women view their handbag as their one-and-only real personal space, a kind of safe haven and security blanket that keeps them from feeling naked and vulnerable. It carries all the items they need or might need, and as a result of this, is synonymous with feelings of warmth, safety and togetherness.

Interestingly, women also perceive handbags to be the one and only fashion item that does not discriminate against them based on looks, size or age. While they may feel too old for certain styles of clothing or shoes, most women believe that they have more leeway with crossing the young-old lines with a trendy bag.

The emotional territory surrounding the pocketbook category is clearly enormous. Nonetheless, most women I spoke to for my study readily testified to the dearth of emotion visible in contemporary handbag advertising.

In today's world, handbag advertising tends to consist of print rather than TV. Although there are undoubtedly numerous handbag print ads to be found in glossy women's magazines and other upscale general interest titles, these communications are not really very differentiated from each other.

Female consumers recalled that all purse print ads feature the handbag brand's logo and iconography as well as beautiful, thin women with perfect hair—usually alone on the page with the product. The eye-catching, desirable handbag is usually displayed dangling off a long, elegant arm or shoulder, or alongside a pair of flawless legs perched in an enticing pair of shoes. The images are unquestionably eye-catching and telegraph—albeit only via visual cues—product usage mood as well as easy-to-comprehend messages about it: "If you buy this glamorous, sexy little evening bag, you, too, will get noticed/feel sexy and beautiful." Or, "You will have fun if you buy me!"

Women admitted that they often lust after the bag as well as the pair of shoes they see promoted in these advertisements because they look stylish, sexy and eye-catching. However, as yet, no one brand of handbag appears to have differentiated itself in a relevant and memorable way by using imagery, words or an insightful tagline that show that the brand really "gets" how women feel psychologically and emotionally about these accessories. No manufacturer seems to be trying—directly and overtly—to move away from merely grabbing a share of wallet and focusing more on grabbing a share of heart.

Even the Manolo Blahnik handbag brand hasn't achieved relevant differentiation in the minds of many consumers. This, in spite of the fact that Manolo Blahnik shoes became differentiated years ago because of their cult status among celebrity fans and a frequent presence in Sex and the City episodes.

It is interesting that the status of handbag advertising today seems to be somewhat comparable to that of shoe print advertising: the lack of emotion in campaigns for these products is perhaps all the more surprising as both handbags and shoes are perceived by women to have particularly enticing and alluring DNA that could be used to generate highly emotive and creative advertising.

There appears to be a huge opportunity for a popular handbag brand to be the first to market with a campaign that layers on more meaning and emotion, and moves away from the tried and true "product is hero" formula. An ambitious handbag manufacturer might even try to position itself as the "look good, feel good" brand for females rather than just contenting itself with being in the "stuff storage" business.

The possibilities for the development of emotionally resonant handbag advertising are endless. A brand might wish to position itself as the one that really "gets" that handbags are a woman's most-trusted accessory and ally; or it might want to convey that it's the ultimate lust-inducing object, a can't-live-without-it organizer or the quintessential pick-me-up purse.

Then again, handbag marketers might strike that emotional chord by positioning a purse as the one that can help a teenager feel sophisticated or an older woman recapture a slice of her youthfulness.

Teens already seem to be gravitating to certain brands—such as Coach and Betsey Johnson—and sticker shock doesn't seem to be an object.

For an older woman, the reality is that no matter how much she notices the appearance of crow's feet ’round her eyes, how desperately unhappy she feels about the collection of unappealing extra pounds on her hips or the discomfort caused by those pointy, sexy shoes she used to strut around in quite happily, a handbag can transport her back to more youthful, carefree days. It can help her telegraph to the world that while she has the experience of years, she is still proud to retain that enviable youthful sparkle.

Lockheart, a California-based handbag brand that launched in July 2006, and which is available in boutiques and upscale department stores including Nordstrom, offers women beautiful, eye-catching, romantic-looking handbags. The price point is quite high, although brandishing one of these pieces on your arm is an uplifting experience: I know, because I have one! [Ed. note: Lockhart is not one of Krim's clients.] Maybe this will be the upstart brand that begins to shake up the category?

The fact is that handbags and women have a close-knit, warm and satisfying relationship. In today's often lonely, frightening and disappointing world, advertising that capitalizes on the "look good, feel good" aspects of life is likely to resonate particularly well with women. Because, no matter how intelligent, profound and analytical we are, we still also long to score points on the got-it-going-on-ometer!

Love Being

Love Being
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

Love Being

Sometimes writing in earnest and honest prose
makes me feel like a big open wound;
vulnerable, fleshy—moist, mealy.

My words, surgical tools—cutting, digging, extracting;
long slices revealing; shameless disclosures,
spilling like blood upon the surgical table.

When love serves as anesthesia, I can barely feel
the pain—dull, heavy, numb—especially,
when I succumb to having my heart yanked out.

And yet, here I am. Again, writing;
masochistically delighting in the agony of man,
suffering, because I can, feel.

God, how I love being human.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Buy A Book, Save A Breast

Buy A Book, Save A Breast
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

Buy A Book, Save A Breast

Every woman is special.

I just spent a blithesome happy hour with my good friend Stephanie and she helped me realize that my love for all women was really about my belief that—every woman is special.

She also helped me realize that all breasts are special too.

(Requisite Disclaimer: I am not familiar with Stephanie’s breasts; I’ve never seen them, sized them up or manually examined them for that matter. Albeit, I presume that they are in fact quite special)

Nonetheless and allthemore, we were discussing our ideas for promoting 25 Lessons and how the launch of the book was an opportunity to make a positive impact on the world as well.

I’ve been reading Inside Her Pretty Little Head: A new theory of female motivation and what it means for marketing, by Jane Cunningham & Philippa Roberts. It was recently published by my publisher, Cyan Books (

(If you’re interested (only if you’re interested) there’s a link on the homepage to the US Spring 2007 Catalogue with a blurb on my forthcoming book is on page 10.)

The authors contend that there are four primary codes that companies should be aware of if they want to appeal to women. These include the Altruism, Aesthetic, Ordering and Connecting Codes.

The primary code that most immediately appealed to and inspired me was the Altruism Code, which in sum concludes that “women are naturally altruistic, nurturing, and ‘others’-focused.”

I think this is true and I believe that it is the only reason we have survived so long as a human race. For if it weren’t for women, men simply wouldn’t be. Were too barbaric and self-centered at heart to think much beyond the survival of ourselves. Individualism, competitiveness, survival of the fittest and the compulsion to excel above others are usually the primary codes that we abide by.

Hence, the saving grace of woman-kind.

Philippa & Jane further explain that:

“The Altrusim Code is a way of ensuring that life in Utopia* is an enjoyable, positive experience. It’s a ‘do unto others…’ approach to life and living. It is a way of mitigating the Hobbesian nightmare—‘the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.’ Utopia is an optimistic upbeat and positive place, where you can rely on the goodwill and kindness of other people and expect to be treated as you yourself would like to be treated. As Martha Barletta puts it:

Women are more philanthropic, giving more time and proportionately more money than men. Whereas men are most likely to think the nation’s most pressing issues are budget and cutting spending, women—across age, income, race and social class—are more inclined to favour social programmes and services, such as education, healthcare, childcare, poverty, joblessness, environment, world hunger and the United Nations.”

Moreover, I will add, if merely for amusement sake, I contend that every astute man knows that a woman is a connection to the divine—not only via copulation, but also because she is in tune with nature, she possesses the power to give life, her intuition and inclination to love and nurture have allowed humanity to survive and thrive more than any invention (a) man has made, her form has long been the paragon by which we judge all beauty by, her gentle touch and supreme sensitivity to all things allows men to reconvene with life in holistic harmony and to recompose themselves as the once holy-whole—that all-fulfilling hole of an empty ego where, via an enraptured intertwining, mere mortals can escape all worldly purpose and become one with the divine once again.

Thus, Women have long been both the bane of and muse for mankind, because from Her comes everything—inspiration, motivation, desire, life and love. Men are merely predestined to recreate, as well as salivate and supplicate for their sustenance. Which might explain why women have historically been repressed by envious men who whine and wile as a merciless means of defiling the sacred, and making themselves meaningful through an illusion of profane potency.

There was no Big Bang. For a little imagination can readily see that this explosive theory was merely the measly result of a flashing moment of male fantasy. For, In the beginning there was simply a big giant Womb. And as every fertile inheritor of the sacred power knows today, She gave birth to the universe. That's right, wherefore from women—comes everything.



Back in college, via my freshman Psychology 101 course, I was not only turned onto a lifelong love and fascination with the human mind and behavior, but I was also introduced to the ancient debate regarding whether or not human nature was fundamentally good (altruistic) or bad (selfish, self-centered) at heart.

I concluded that most of us are naturally altruistic, but that we are often nurtured into being competitive, individualistic, and ultimately, selfish.

Albeit I was raised Catholic and attended a Jesuit College Preparatory, and thus was well-versed in Christian principles (which primarily focuses on Agape, the principle of universal love for your fellow man) along with an avid interest in psychology, I pursued an intensive study of most of the world’s religions while in school.

Ultimately, I found that regardless of culture, place, or time “love” (as opposed to war) has generally been a guiding principle for civilized man from the very beginning. Hence, as oppressive as some religions have been, in general they have served much the same purpose as women—to ensure the survival of mankind.

Moreover, in my junior year, a certain Jean Wong turned me on to some critical bits of inspirational literature that changed the course of my life. She gave me her copy of Martin Luther King Jr’s Why We Cant’ Wait.

For the next couple of years I spent a lot of time reading about the words and work of King and other social activists like Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Eleanor Roosevelt and Jesus Christ. I was convinced that ultimately my life was designed to likewise have a positive impact; that if indeed I had “a purpose” it was to inspire others to love others with respect, kindness, understanding and good will.

Which is why I am here today—explaining why abiding by, adhering to, and applying the Altruism Code to the promotional campaign for 25 Lessons has such an important, strong and natural appeal to me.

As a result, Cyan Books USA and I are exploring the prospects of donating part of the proceeds from book sales to the fight against breast cancer.

Naturally, I imagine people are going to ask “But why breast cancer?” and not leukemia, AIDs or testicular cancer even?

Well, if what I have written above does not already suffice to explain my feelings on the matter, I’ll add, “Does one really need a reason to support the fight against the number one cause of death against women?”

According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, based on current rates, more than 12.7% of women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. Chances are, that's 1 out of every 8 women you know.

Breast cancer is the leading cancer among American women and is second only to lung cancer in cancer deaths. Statistically speaking, this year in the United States alone, 178,480 women and 2,030 men will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and 40,460 women and 450 men will die from the disease.

If caught prior to spreading beyond the breast, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is now 98%. In 1982, a mere 25 years ago, it was only 74%.

Thus, greater awareness leading to more early detection has significantly helped save lives. Nearly 75% of women over 40 now get regular mammograms, compared to less than 30% back in 1982.

Moreover, the US federal government now allocates more than $900 million each year to breast cancer research, treatment, and prevention; $870 million more than it did in 1982.

There are approximately 2.3 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States today, they make up the largest group of cancer survivors in the country. Thus, there is much to be said for creating awareness. And therefore, I am looking to help by associating the launch of 25 Lessons with the effort to achieve a greater survival rate, if not a cure, for breast cancer.


Not that this cause needs anymore justification, but I would like to elaborate a little further as to why I’m looking to help in this regard by providing some personal reasons as well.

As per the forward in 25 Lessons, the book is first and foremost dedicated to my children, Enzo and Nicky. It was written with them in mind, for I wanted a way to succinctly teach them some of the more important lessons I’ve learned in my life.

Moreover, I also wanted to teach them by example. Thus, I wanted to show them it is possible to make a positive impact in the world by promoting a good cause. And so, as explained above, I’ve chosen the fight against breast cancer to do so.

Secondly, it so happens that the father of my good friend Stephanie, the editor of 25 Lessons and the head of Cyan Books USA, is an oncologist. Thus, awareness about this dreaded disease has long been part of her life. In addition, her grandmother passed away of breast cancer, and in turn it has had a personal impact on her.

Third, in 1987 it impacted me personally as well. This coming May is the 20th anniversary of Armida’s death. Armida was my mother’s best friend who died of breast cancer at the age of 41. The night before she passed away my mother told me that she, Armida, had had a dream about me. I was 600 miles away at college, and thus the fact that I was not able to be there for Armida or my mother has long haunted me. Thus I feel that the cause I am promoting here will finally help me bring closure upon the fact that I was absent during a critical moment in my mother’s life when she needed my support.

Fourth, since God knows I’ve tried very hard to love one woman many times in my life and have seemingly struggled over and over again, I recently decided that I should love All Women instead—if only, as Stephanie helped me realize, because every woman is special. It’s true you know. Every woman is special.

Besides, apart from these four good reasons Stephanie once again helped me realize, that I just happen to love breasts as well.

And so, we figured a good campaign slogan might be “Buy A Book, Save A Breast.” If you have any other ideas that might help promote the cause, please feel free to list them below.


At this critical juncture, two mojitos into the late afternoon, our discussion slightly digressed, for Stephanie asked me, “Do you like big breasts?”

“Ahhh…”, I sputtered, stumbling across my sudden tumble of thoughts. I paused to look down at my hands, desperately seeking an answer.

She came to my aid by adding, “Jay told me that if a man says he doesn’t like big breasts, he’s lying, because all men like big breasts.”

At that moment, as she pulled her coat tighter around her, I found what I was looking for and declared, “Absolutely, not true. For I don’t have a preference for either big or small breasts.

If anything, it’s all about the nipples for me,” I smiled.

Stephanie smiled back, meanwhile pulling her jacket even tighter together.

I continued, “Besides, its all so relative. There are too many other variables—ranging from how firm they are (regardless of size), the size of the nipples, the proportion of them to the body, and of course, the person’s personality. Give me a pretty face and a smart and sassy attitude, and I’d be convinced that she had the best pair of breasts in the world.”

Stephanie, took another sip of her mojito and suddenly seemed to relax, letting her arms hang loose at her sides.

So I went on, “Stephanie darling, I’ve known many breasts over my lifetime, and truth be told, I don’t think I’ve ever met a pair I didn’t like."

But then again, maybe that’s because I believe—every woman is special

*For a discussion on Jane & Phillipa's female "Utopian Impulse" click HERE

Saturday, March 24, 2007

One Perfect Afternoon (and All Women)

One Perfect Afternoon (and All Women)
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

One Perfect Afternoon

New York City, March 24, 2007:

One perfect afternoon.

Sometimes this is all we get over a lifetime. I had mine on one cold afternoon-into-evening in the middle of this past January.

This is me drunk in a pub in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I am punch drunk on perfection.

Peering into, experiencing, loving and appreciating...perfection.

It was a great afternoon and a wonderful night, a powerful combination, the memory of which will certainly last a lifetime.


All Women

Meanwhile, regarding another matter entirely (well, not entirely)—I’ve decided.

I’ve decided that the rest of my life should be devoted to All Women.

From now on I will only love, learn about, learn from, laugh with and live for all women.

No more of this one-woman-only nonsense. Such singular endeavors only confuse me.

Adapting to and dealing with the idiosyncrasies of the female individual only make achieving ideals like loving continually, laughing freely, learning and discovering exuberantly, and living harmonioiusly to help one another fulfill each other’s greatest potentials—all the more futile.

Recently, I realized that my heart is merely a muscle—it tires, it palpitates, it often skips a beat, and most importantly, it is subject to being bro


Merely the size of a fist, if I open it, it comfortably accommodates one person—practically, affectionately, sometimes quite perfectly.

Alas, although I am inclined to enrapture one by closing that fist, I know that true love is free, and thus, it must be left often. Herein lies the dilemma, for she can jump out at any given time.

(Here comes the whine.)

Then comes the emptiness, the pining echoes of what may have been, the scratching attempts to understand what was, the petty assessments in retrospect, the long and heavy sighs, as well as the urgent desire to bring closure in order to forget.

My mind, by contrast, with more synaptic branches then there are stars in the known universe, is capable of making innumerable connections; and it is predisposed toward always exploring the unknown, experiencing the extraordinary and thereby extrapolating the universal from a million different special moments.

The mind also has the awesome potential to love, cherish, appreciate, understand, desire and communicate with—many.

Thus, unlike my heart which barely has room for one, the mind harbors a universe of space that can accommodate as many souls as a lifetime can offer.

An acute ability to compartmentalize will allow me to concentrate at any given moment on any one individual, so that each person will feel that my wiles, my smiles, my shameless gushes of oxytocin, and the unapologetic throes of insatiable desire are all true. For the mind harnesses an awesome power to focus, so that each time my eyes will see only you, and my spirit will be energized anew with the stealing beauty of each individual.

Hence, all women.

Much as I love life, I will henceforth love the stronger sex as a whole, as one, with unbridled enthusiasm; and I will even wholeheartedly accept all the altruistic penchants that are often antithetical to the male impulse to achieve and believe that life should be led according to the will of the ruthless individual, including:

* The desire to make the world a better place
* The pressing need to work toward the greater good, to strive for self-improvement and to find that perfect pair of shoes to match the newest outfit
* Color coordination in all things, not to mention merely the need for more color
* Talking and walking and eating, rarely, if ever, alone
* Making sure everyone is happy.

So, all women.

Therein lies empowerment,
peril lurks in the pursuit of one.

(Note: I don't take myself all-too seriously all-too often, so perhaps you shouldn't either. The mind can be fickle as it is human to have ever-changing wants and desires.

One minute you've given up on your heart's greatest desire because you've tried and you've tried and thus resigned to what you've concluded is a futile effort...

And then the next minute she's changed her mind and thus do you, and therefore you want her more than ever...)

Me Too

You Were The Sunshine
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

Me Too

“Have you ever been in love?”

“Lots of times…
No, just once.”*

Me too.
Me too.

For I think, I feel, maybe, only at this moment, that the only time that we can really be in love is—the first time that we love.

Thereafter, it is all pattern, all predictable, all safe skirts about the memory of the first time we let ourselves be hurt.

Now, we don’t let ourselves be hurt, we hurry through the trite rituals of separation and get on with it.

The first time took me years to separate myself from the separation, for there is no pain as deep as the first time we lose love.

no deeper pain.

Everything and every time and every same sentiment that comes along afterwards is a mere teardrop in the pool of what was shed the first time.

The tears now are misleading, for you no longer know what love is.

You just think you do.

You don’t.

Me too.
Me too.

*Dialogue from Bernanrdo Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Empty Bed

Balanchine Beneath The Lichtenstein
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

The Empty Bed

I listen to the classical station now—
when I wake up, while working
at midnight.

The music, somber, occasionally,
carefully exuberant, soothes me

Yet, my bed still feels empty,
even with me in it.

The sheets are often disheveled;
I don’t make my bed anymore.

I’ve run everyday, since.

Motivated to break the curse
Motivated to move beyond
Motivated to move on.

I prod myself, pressing,
“Just Six More Miles of Pain,”
and then I’ll forget, and then
I’ll let memory fail.

I ran in the rain last night,
The pitter-patter helped me forget—
a requiem of forget, forget, forget.

For sometimes, some things
just aren’t worth forgiving.

Along the way I passed
barbershops, beauty salons, many bodegas;
there were money launderers (Cash Your Check Here)
and many laundromats too;
restaurants included: fried chicken, Chinese take-out,
rice and beans.

It seems that I like the fear I feel,
it seems real—while running alone at night
In Harlem—the fear helps me forget.

Apparently, they eat a lot of donuts here too.

It’s nice to see the same dealers
on the same stoops, on the same street corners;
Papís, daddies, brothers, crews
doing what they do.

I’m giving myself 48 hours to get over it;
most people let these silly things drag on
interminably—nights become days, days become
weeks, weeks-months, years.

It’s been a week now.

My legs are getting stronger,
I’m quickly losing weight,
and I’m feeling better, as of late;
lately being, as of this morning.

Because, I’m alright now.

I don’t twitch when I hear your name;
when friends ask the same question
over and over again, “How is she?”
I simply smile, I speak slowly, I explain.

Then, I quickly change the subject.
It is better to forget then to let
futile emotions drag on.

Besides, I really can’t complain.
I’ve got a lot more time now.

And I listen to the classical station now—
when I wake up, while working
at midnight.

The music, somber, occasionally,
carefully exuberant, soothes me

Although, my bed still feels empty.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Will I See You Tomorrow?

Will I See You Tomorrow?
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

Will I see you tomorrow?

One never knows
in the whirl of love’s vertigo;
one never knows
what whims shall spin
us next—to either vex
or bring us clarity.

One never knows.

For the heart does not always
grow fonder—sometimes
the days simply grow longer,
and you just can’t wait
to get rid of him.

one never knows.

Will I see you tomorrow?

One never knows,
for love is complex,
and much like war
it takes no prisoners—
isn’t that what marriage is for?

Will I see you tomorrow?

Really now,
one never knows.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Funny How It Hurts

Funny How It Hurts
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

Funny How It Hurts

Funny how little hurts
the brittle bones
breaking with the waves
of senitment, tides washing
away the spume.

Funny how we presume
and wish for and dive in
only to find ourselves in
the wake of emptiness.

Funny what little hurts
when the heart keeps
breaking, callused ruptures
covering like barnacles, bracing
against waves of selfish whims.

Funny when little hurts
spur funny thoughts of hope;
hurriedly ushering in humility
after the high tide, the hubris of love.

Funny how I know
I’ll soon forget, how
I’ll soon let another diversion
dissuade me from memory,
and pitch me into the
sweltering sea of promise

Funny how sometimes
it hurts
to love.

(Oh, The Melodrama!
How gracious of you to inspire!)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Exorcism of Love

The Exorcism of Love
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

The Exorcism of Love

Amor animi arbitrio sumitur, non ponitur
We choose to love, we do not choose to cease loving.

I was about to go for a run
when she called.

Now I can stay out all night if I want to.
She’s not coming over after all.
Hmmm, after all.
No surprise I suppose,
I saw it coming like a freight train
at midnight, after all.

Foolishly, foolheartedly,
I thought things were good.
Alas, I guess I was wrong.
I guess I was wrong.

Aloof, cold, slathered with nice;
her careful words didn’t deceive me.
For I could see it in her eyes
the last time I saw her.
I could feel it in the curt and cold
conversation, the last time we conversed;
I could hear it in her voice
the last time we spoke.

What a joke,
she said she’d “Call to explain, later.”
Hmmm, no worries, none needed.
Why would I want to drag this out any further?

“So, you can feel better?”
I don’t need excuses,
I don’t live my life that way.
Take no prisoners,
just get it over and done with.

Move on.

I could easily have sulked and felt sorry for myself,
I ran six miles instead, one more mile than usual,
for I needed to transfer the pain;

there is nothing to gain by dwelling in the shortcomings of others.

Be strong, move on and accept those things you cannot change;
Have the courage to change those things you can, especially
if they lie within yourself; Be wise enough to know the difference.

I took a pencil and a pad with me on my run,
should such wisdom come to me as I was out;
thoughts did come about, but they were not worth
stopping for; My run, the change I was engendering in myself,
was far more important, and would make all the difference.

Upon my return I heard you had called,
I called back, you didn’t call, again.
No messages otherwise,
I had to ask, “Are we dead or alive?”

I already knew the answer.

You said you had to “Explain.”
No explanation needed.
No explanation needed.
No, not one, none,

no more.

Exorcizo te, omnis spiritus immunde, in nomine Amor.

March 19, 2007
Hoc die magnus mortuus est amor

The Knot (what to do)

The Knot (what to do)

The Knot
(what to do)

i have a knot in my shoulder-
it hurts;
just left of center.
i know why its there;
don’t really care to say why;
i just do, i know why.

i’m hoping a good run
might untie the anxieties;
for i don’t want to drink
or do drugs or play
russian roulette with sex
some people do;
i don’t
want to,

i rather just try and run
the tension away.

tire myself out,
so that i might sleep
to see another day.

i don’t want to sleep my life away though.
i do remember that i’m in control.

thus, i don’t want to bide my time
through other people’s lives anymore;
no more popular entertainment,
no more books, no more stories
about adventures i’ve not taken.

no mistaking vicarious pleasure,
so-called leisure,
for that which might be had on my own.

life is not on loan to us you know-
no returns, no exchanges, no excuses;
this is it. what you’ve been given
is what you’ve got.

nothing more, nothing less.
a life rife with potential, some room for thought,
a lot of time, if you’re lucky.
the rest is up to you.

i think i’ll go for a run now.

*much literary license used here, not to be taken too literally. part-melodrama, part-spew, wholly human, absolutely cathartic.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Death by Boredom

Drowning the Sorrow Away (at Happy Hour)

Death by Boredom
(drowning the sorrow away, at happy hour)

i died of boredom today.
utter, definite, absolute—boredom.


i did everything i could to combat it.

i wrote
i used my imagination
i got up from my chair and walked around a while,
nothing seemed to work.

and work only made it worse.

work only made it worse.

been at this job eight years now.

i used to think that i didn’t “hate” anything.

lately though, i’m beginning to believe
that i hate going to work.

no sleeping in
no quitting
no siestas

it is no wonder that we dump millions
into the lottery every week.
really, it is no wonder.

i’m usually on the up-and-up
i usually think positive(ly)
i’m usually brimming with optimism.

but today, i’m letting myself

i get to lament today.
bitch, bicker and bellow.
be a sourpuss,
a thorn in the side,
an ass.


i actually feel a little better.

funny, how that works,

venting, letting it all out;
blowing off some steam.

being that its 5:30 and quitting time,
i guess it seems
to be no coincidence.

time to rejoice after all,
time to go to go have a drink,
at happy hour no less;
and I confess,
if only, so that i might soak
and souse and drown
the vestiges of this sorrow

for tomorrow is another day.

and today
i died of boredom.

maybe i’ll call in sick.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Sticky Memory (of Myelin)

The Sticky Memory (of Myelin)

The Sticky Memory (of Myelin)

A lover once spontaneously told me something that has stuck with me ever since. She said, “I like parts.”

Parts are important.

For not only do parts make a whole, but apparently there’s memory in them parts.

I realized how true this is this morning when I tried to tie my tie (ma cravate, mi corbata).

I had tied my tie at least a thousand times before—years of this way-then-that way, without a single hitching thought in between, a seamless labyrinth of overlay, cross, inward-tuck, fold over, an under-out-and in, a slight pull, tap for the divot and a good tug again. Easy, piece of cake. Years of working at a conservative corporate office had quintessentially made the task second nature for me.

That is, until I lost my thumb.

Or rather, temporarily lost the use of it.

For this morning, for a very long minute, I stood in a startled state of sudden confusion—befuddled, bemused and dumbfounded—for I simply could not remember how to tie my tie. Without the use of my thumb, I literally, for a vexing mind-boggling moment, was at a complete loss for something that had become no harder than brushing my teeth.

After taking a deep breath and recomposing myself, I was finally able to do the loop-the-loop, a simple act of vanity that I had apparently taken for granted, because I had vainly forgotten that I had not always been able to do it.

It was then that it dawned on me that there must be memory in my thumb. That without it there was a synaptic disconnect of some odd sort.

I had long heard about the phenomenon of the phantom limb—where amputees feel and behave as if there limb is still there because there are still nerve connections from the brain to the joint that once connected the missing part.

But this morning’s vexation was almost a reversal of that kind of experience, because, albeit temporarily inactive, the limb (digit actually) was still there, but the memory of an action it once helped implement —wasn’t.

A long time ago I read that studies have been done that conclude that physically participating in something helps create a better memory of that activity. For example, it has been inferred that since drivers are physically involved they tend to remember the routes they have driven substantially better than their passengers.

Hence, apart from the fact that we share some of the most beautiful, tender, inspiring, and happiest moments of our lives, I surmise that this is also why we remember our lovers so well. The physical interaction creates a sticky memory that adheres to neurons, our nerve cells, much like a sheath and helps us make the connections between our minds and our bodies, especially when we need, want and desire to recollect the special moments.

Scientists call this gluttonous coating—myelin, which is actually composed of approximately 80% lipid fat and 20% protein.

Although myelin was discovered over 100 years ago by Louis-Antoine Ranvier in 1878, it is the 1992 movie Lorenzo’s Oil (with Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon) that created some of the greatest public awareness about its vital importance to our nervous system and basic motor functioning.

The film is the real-life story about two pro-active parents who set out to turn over common notions in medical science and discover a treatment for their son’s “demyelination,” which is essentially the erosion of the myelin that coats the axons (the tentacles) that sprawl from the center of nerve cells to connect with one another and ultimately create our motor skills, memories and otherwise related human abilities and agilities. Without the myelin, nerve impulses are either slowed down or completely stopped in mid-pulse. Demyelination is primarily caused by acquired diseases like multiple sclerosis, hereditary neuro-degenerative disorders such as the leukodystrophies, or metal (esp. mercury) poisoning.

Although doctors had given Lorenzo two years to live after his diagnosis in 1984 with adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), the treatment that his parents discovered allowed him to survive, and now he is 25 years old.

Since then scientists have concluded that extraordinary athletes likely possess globs of myelin, because the thicker the coating, the stronger the connection and the quicker the reaction time.

Dr. Douglas Field, director of he Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, recently said in a recent article* on the discovery “I would predict that South Korean women golfers have more myelin, on average, than players from other countries…They’ve got more in the right parts of the brain and for the right muscle groups, and that’s what allows them to optimize their circuitry.”

(*How to Build a Prodigy: The Super Athlete Formula, Daniel Coyle, New York Times Sports Magazine, March 2007)

Myelin not only serves to prevent the electrical current from leaving the axon, but also increases resistance of the electircal impulse across the cell membrane by a factor of 5,000. In other words, the branches of our nerve cells that are coated (because not all neurons are sheated) deliver the message exponentially faster than their naked and unprotected brethren.

So remember, Use Protection! (Oops, wrong musing)

Anyway, researchers have also concluded that myelin is essentially created via lots of practice. Daniel Coyle, author of the previously quoted article, writes, “the little sausages of myelin get thicker when the nerve is repeatedly stimulated. The thicker the myelin gets, the better it insulates and the faster and more accurately the signals travel.”

Thus, not only does practice make perfect—it makes a lot of myelin.

Hence, perhaps it is not a far-fetch, a wonderfully slow and sinewy stretch, to say that when lovers come together they are learning to be better lovers, especially as they learn to react in synch with one another, as they learn to deftly intertwine, gracefully undulate and gradually meld as one.

Maybe than, that is why it hurts so much to be broken apart sometimes, to have to leave your lover after a prefect night, an afternoon delight or wonderfully whimsical rendezvous; the memories of which lead to the wallowing reminisces; the pangs and the yearning; the painfully insatiable desire, as well as the obsessive impulse to see each other again.

Shakespeare got it all too right over 400 years ago when he had Juliet coo to Romeo—Parting is such sweet sorrow.

adieu, adios, until i write again,

“Haphaestus, with his instruments, came to a pair lying side by side and said to them, 'Do you desire to be wholly one; always day and night to be in one another's company? For if this is what you desire, I am ready to melt you into one and let you grow together, so that being two you shall become one ~ there is not a man of them who when he heard the proposal would deny or would not acknowledge that this meeting and melting into one another, this becoming one instead of two, was the very expression of his ancient need. And the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called love.” —Symposium, Plato—

Monday, March 12, 2007

Opposable Necessities

Everything is Going to be Alright

Opposable Necessities

“Charlie! They took my thumb....Charlieee!"
—Paulie, The Pope of Greenwich Village—

It is amazing how many little things you cannot do when you lose the use of a thumb.

Tying your shoes, fastening buttons, inserting contacts, tying a tie, turning pages of reports at work, typing—all these relatively simple tasks, suddenly become excruciatingly and exponentially frustrating, as well as more time-consuming.

Yesterday morning I went for a refreshing run up and down Sagamore Street, across Main Street onto Columbus Avenue and down Dale Road until it ended at the gates of the Leewood Golf Club. It was an invigorating four-mile run. Along the way, I appreciated the way the sun reflected against the wet pavement, magically bleaching the sloping black streets of Bronxville.

Upon my return, I stretched a little, wrote a little, and struggled to do a few push-ups.

Anticipating Flavia’s pending return from the gym, I then began prepping a small fruit salad: a gala apple, walnuts, and some cranberries.

Carefully I cored and then peeled the apple with the only knife in the house. It was a rather sharp knife. Alas, hubris pays little heed to peril.

Consequently, after Flavia had walked in and came into the kitchen, I began paring the apple down into bite-size pieces; in the woozy of her kiss and her smile, and the subtle wile of her words, my concentration slipped and the knife sliced and chipped away part of my thumb.

It bled non-stop for an hour.

Subsequently, I applied just enough pressure so that the blood did not drip and spill and run everywhere.

Since Flavia had just moved in, there was no accumulation of dusty boxes and bottles of toiletries that one tends to store after being in one place over time; so there were no band-aids or bandages of any sort. Ultimately, we ended up using cotton facial pads and Saran wrap, plastic cellophane, which I wrapped tightly around my left thumb and held in place with my index finger.

I held it that way for the following hour and a half, while traveling back to my apartment in Manhattan. Meanwhile, it seemed to stop bleeding, especially after I realized that the throbbing pulse at the tip of my thumb was due to the fact that I let my hand hang down, so that the circulation of blood continued to take its natural course. Decidedly, I held my arm up the rest of the way.

Once I was back at the apartment I slowly unwrapped my makeshift dressing. I winced when I discovered that the threads of the cotton pad had become stuck under the flap of flesh and dried blood, and that the wound had mis-coagulated, so that it was now lopsided.

I immediately tendered frightening visions of having to have a malformed finger for the rest of my life, so I bit the bullet and painstakingly loosened up the meld under warm water. Thread by thread, I stripped away the vestiges of the pad and loosened the flap of flesh. A fountain of blood began pouring out again, and I watched the blood curl down the drain.

I then gently reshifted the chip and pressed it with my finger again, it stung. Considering that the fingertips, like the soles of our feet, contain some of our densest areas of nerve endings, this whole incident was surprisingly not very painful. What was more painful were the thoughts of infection or scars or not doing right thing, such as my decision not to run to the hospital to seek stitches.

Nonetheless, I cleaned the wound with hydrogen peroxide and then securely wrapped my thumb with four different band-aids—Elastigirl and Sponge Bob Sqaurepants, as well as two “skin-colored” (certainly not my skin) Band-aid and Rite-Aid brand bandages. I had a soccer game to go play in five minutes, so I couldn’t take any chances. Fortunately, the bandages held for the next couple of hours and through the night, while the wound began to heal (once again).


This morning I decided to have the on-site nurse at work take a look at my injury, just in case.

We slowly peeled off the bandages, one by one, until we came to the lacerated tab of wrinkly white flesh. She immediately told me how important it was to keep this dry because otherwise I ran the risk of being subject to the bacteria caused by the wet bandages.

As a precaution, she also strongly recommended a Tetanus shot.

I asked about the risks of the vaccine, she said “You need it if you haven’t had it. The risks are minor.”

We checked my chart and apparently I had never been administered the shot in the eight years I have been working here. Thus, I thought I had little choice but to concede.

When the nurse slid me the information sheet on the Tetanus and Diphtheria vaccine, she said “This may scare you a little bit, but don’t worry.”

My eyes quickly scanned the sheet for the scary part.

“As with any medicine, there are very small risks that cause serious problems, even death, could occur after getting a vaccine.

The risks from the vaccine are much smaller (“much smaller” was underlined) than the risks from the diseases if people stopped using the vaccine. “

These diseases included lockjaw (preventing the person’s ability to breath or swallow), heart failure, paralysis and death.

So that I could keep my injured thumb up and away, I held the consent form still with the edge of my hand that runs underneath my pinkie, and quickly signed as requested.

Then sighing, I lifted my eyes to look at the nurse and said, “Okay, give it to me baby.”

She smiled as she lifted the shiny syringe up in the air. I looked away.


Albeit, the little things I am so used to accomplishing without much thought now require a bit of innovative cooperation from my four left fingers, I’m happy that I didn’t need stitches after all and that now I am protected against infection. And soon enough I’ll regain use of that left-thumb again.

Moreover, it is minor mishaps like these that remind me of my late grandmother who passed away last year and who rarely complained about any of her ailments, always fighting her way back, one way or another.

At the age of 78 she had a stroke. My mother’s own words about her mother aptly describe the extraordinary strength and determination that I occasionally rely on to pull me through hard times:

“Her determination to get out of rehab after the stroke and to be able to come home, was amazing. She did everything she had to do to get better and able to move around with a walker. But she made it and came home. From that year,1990, until 2006, we had to have a caretaker with her at all times. Yet, she did all she could to not rely on other’s assistance and attended Skills Plus classes for many years until she was 90 years old. Regardless of how hard it may have been, every day she made an effort to do her homework, so that she could relearn to speak and write. At one time, she even appeared in the local paper, the San Jose Mercury News, which showcased her extraordinary effort at the Skills Plus classes. Alas, after 12 years, she eventually got too tired to try anymore.”

Moreover, my grandmother had to have one of her legs amputated at the age of 94. Everyone, including the doctors, expected her to pass away on the operating table. Somehow though, she pulled through and lived another six months or so before the other leg turned black and blue. This time the stress on her body and heart was too much, and not soon afterwards did she come to pass.

Writing and remembering my grandmother’s extraordinary spirit and mettle helps remind me how truly resilient we are, and how fortunate I am to be descendant from such strong stock.

In retrospect, clearly my little cut is really nothing to cry over.

Flavia once told me that as a child whenever it was necessary to toughen her up or get her to recompose, her father would tell her, “I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet.”

Those are good words to live by.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Beyond Reach

Beyond Reach

See Large!

Beyond Reach

i stretched my hands
but i could no erase
the lines;
divine passages
of time unfurled,
time gone by—
my life weathered,

if i looked
long enough
into the crevice
of each crease
i thought, i hoped
i might teach myself
a thing or two—

where i’ve been,
where i might go;
what lies ahead,
and who i’ve known.

that the pearls of wisdom
lie in the perils of what we know;
and that moments of perfection
often lie in what we don’t.

i stretched my hands
but i could no erase
the lines;
divine passages
of time unfurled,
time gone by—
my life weathered,

Saturday, March 10, 2007

tonight (i cried)

Sometimes, Work Sullies The Soul

See Large

(i cried)

i cried tonight.

i cried for the loves i’ve lost,
and for the friends i’ve found
in each reconciliation.

i cried because life is so fricken’ profound
sometimes, and sometimes
it ain’t.

i cried tonight because i haven’t
finished a book in months,
and a dozen half-read novels
lie sitting, stacked, on my coffee table.

i cried because i’m tired
of trying;
i wanted to sleep—
yet, there was still
much work to do

i cried because i wanted to
say goodnight to my boys,
but they were asleep already,
a million miles away
from me.

i cried because i was happy,
despite circumstance;
and i cried tonight,
if only, because
i could


The Lover and the long week

Waiting in Bronxville

The Lover and the long week

it was a long week.

an old flame flickered.
another flame faded,
another felt jaded
and gave a pout.

the ennui likewise
began to burn, as i learned—
work is not for me.

i cried, i cried and cried
tears of tedium and a wary soul;
another white hair;
yes, i am getting old.

am i getting wiser, though?
that, is the question;
i have no oracle for that answer.

i wrote a little bit—
pining, planning, divining
a future unlike any
i have ever seen before.

for i am in control,
i remembered,
circumstance shall not
circumvent me and my designs.

i read The Lover this week
although i was not a lover this week—
i did love.

i always will.


Friday, March 9, 2007

Orange Appeal (Please Have One)

Orange Appeal (Please Have One)

...One from the archives, October 2006:

An Ode to Orange on All Hallows Even

As today is the once sacred All Hallows Even ("holy evening"), I will pay homage to the dead with an ode to orange, the color which best befits this liar's holiday, the walking and waking dream of those who make-believe.

Although I've seen it all around, as the pumpkins abound in this small place, it was not until I came face to crater face with the bright and brand new orange sponge this morning that I realized how happy the color makes me.

It was just sitting there—smiling at me, with not a smudge of organic residue to besmirch its hue.

The sight immediately moved me to wonder and ponder and appreciate all that glows with orange glee in my life:

The invigorating scent of orange-ginger lotion; the magic potion I occasionally mix for myself in the morning: 2 parts OJ to 1 part spray of mango puree; the slippery-sticky feel, the perky savoring, the teeth grating of the peel, the spicy-chilé flavoring of mango that is firm and ripe; thin wedges of salted orange; the burst of a single drop of pulp upon my tongue when my senses are piqued (that's when I'm high); the looming dioxide in the sky at the edge of the city heralding the dusk of a sultry summer day; my nostalgic pining for home—the glorious Golden state; the way I positively relate to the sunshine and the poppies and the rolling hills of my longing; the beautiful underside of the poisonous firebelly toad or the innocuous firebelly newt; the subtle verve underlying the elegance of black poised against orange; well crafted and rich desserts of sumptuous chocolate topped with swirling sprigs of peel; the great taste of Tang!; fresh squeezed carrot juice; the devilish appeal of Orange Julius; the wine-and-Cointreau soaked wedges awaiting at the bottom of a tall glass of Sangria; the ave Maria blessing of Fall and Her graceful touch upon it all, with the turning of leaves; the glorious feeling I believe when I hear the sound of the orange whoosh as I hit "all net"; the energy I get from caffienated orange-spice herbal tea; fresh-cut sunflowers in the foyer; the regal mystery of the orange elephant of India; the curry sauce of Tandoori chicken; the orange anticipation of that first bite into a Reeses peanut butter cup; that funny epidermis of the oompa-loompa and the pachydermous-like heffalumps and woozles; Tigger! that's spelled T-I-double Er-Ger; the magnificence of the migrating Monarch in flight; the sight of orange as it is instilled in the culture and splendor of México; el refresco de jugo de melón; my Texas Longhorns baseball cap; the-once was orange pumpkin of anything: pumpkin spice muffins or coffee, a generous slice of pie, and I would not lie if I claimed to love pumpkin soup!; and of course the mockingly haunting glow of the jack-o-lanterns on the stoop.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Secret Music (Inside of Me)

It's A Secret...
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

Much ado has been made over a recent publishing phenomenon called The Secret.

On Monday, Newsweek reported that this work is “the fastest-selling book of its kind in the history of publishing with 1.75 million copies projected to be in print by March 2, just over three months since it came out, plus 1.5 million DVDs sold.” (On March 1, ABC News claimed that there were now “3.75 million copies in print.”)



Being a season away before my own book is to be published I immediately became very excited about the success of this book.

Everyone seems to be talking about it and I’ve subsequently had a few conversations with my friends about how hokey it is. The general conclusion is that it is well-packaged New Age blather that takes advantage of the American public that happens to be hungry for an easy-solution to life’s common woes—debt, unhappiness, ennui.

The Secret, as you may have heard, is something that the author, Rhonda Byrne, claims that she found in a book that her daughter gave to her when she was desperately down and out.

Ms. Byrne claims the “Law of Attraction” allows believers to manifest all their most profound wishes simply by thinking them true.

This is seemingly not much different than much else that has inspired us through the ages. Machiavelli, Carnegie, Hubbard, Rand, Nietzshe, Osho are but a few of the popular thinkers and writers that come to mind who have proselytized much the same—visualize and you shall become, you have the power to create and control your own reality, and ultimately, will allow you to be who you want to be.

Alas, the difference is that Byrne is decidedly much more materialistic and panders to modern-day greed. Moreover, she seemingly advocates that one need not act to have what you want—thinking alone is sufficient because there is secret force (The Law of Attraction) in the physical universe that will attract your greatest desires to you via the electro-magnetic pulses emanating from your brain, as created by the energy generated from your thoughts.

Subsequently, friends have argued that this sort of thing takes unfair advantage of the poor and uneducated. From a rational, experienced and intuitive point-of-view I would have to agree, indeed this “secret” seems rather lecherous.

However, playing the devil’s advocate, I pointed out that the five-spot that people donate to Byrne’s get-rich-quick fund for down-loading the video from her website or the 20 bucks shelled out to B&N for the book is perhaps far less than any bloke spends on a weekly basis on the lottery.

At least The Secret might inspire some positive thinking. The lottery on the other hand, probably only pitches its players further into the abyss of despondency.

Anyway, either way, the success of The Secret has me excited, for my own story, 25 Lessons, is also a book about inspiration, is also about an epiphany (or rather set of them) that turns my life around.

However, the difference between my work and Byrne’s is that I argue that one has to act in order to get what they want. Simply thinking doesn’t make it so.

Moreover, I also realized in the process of writing the book that the ability to employ the 25 Lessons came as a result of a lifetime of experience, that I could not have implemented the underlying principles of each lesson without years of training and development, as well as coming to understand what is necessary to execute a life and an art well.

Hence, albeit I’ve offered what I feel are 25 ways one can achieve excellence in photography in particular, or in their chosen art, if not life in general for that matter—ultimately, it takes years of applying each means of accomplishment, countless hours of practice, and an ever-evolving idiosyncratic effort to make each measure, each tool, each method—your own.

Subsequent to one’s individual initiative there will inevitably be much struggle, much strife, and pain. But one must not be daunted! Because, subsequent to the frustration, the tears and the woeful bouts of melancholy (that we all have), there are bound to be extraordinarily positive and rewarding experiences—which most others will likely never ever experience in their lifetime, because they have not acted by applying the lessons they’ve learned.

The alternative is usually to live a mediocre life, to succumb to excuses, the circumstances and the patterns that we all are liable to fall into. And for some apparently, the alternative a-la-mode is to buy The Secret and to simply hope for the best.

And for some, I am certain, I am confident, that The Secret will actually work (for them), but primarily because they are subsequently inspired to act.


Last night, I acted and it made all the difference.

Last night began by meeting Stephanie, my good friend and editor for a happy hour mojito at Havana Central.

I told her I was excited to be there because I was indeed very excited about many things. I had taken charge of a meeting at work earlier in the day and ensured that it ended on time, as scheduled, rather than going over as usual.

The meeting had been held off-site at another office about 45 minutes from Manhattan, and so we had a chartered bus bringing us back at the end of the day. Since the bus came back in at the top of Manhattan I arranged for the bus to drop me off at the eastern edge of Central Park.

Subsequently, this put me back home even earlier than I had hoped. The walk through the Park in the brisk cold invigorated me. In turn, I thought about how excited I was to get off work early, how excited I was to see Stephanie, how excited I was to convey how excited I was about the book, how excited I was about the lecture being given by Dr. Oliver Sacks that we were going to see later on at Columbia University.

When I arrived to see Stephanie I gave her a big kiss, warm embrace and giant smile. After we ordered our drinks we caught up and at a certain point I told her, flat out, that I wanted to be “Cyan’s star author” —I was feeling it, and I wanted it bad. Moreover, I was willing and working diligently to be able to make it happen.

I conveyed that I had had an epiphany earlier this week, on Monday, when I was suddenly compelled to look for a new job. Albeit, I currently have a great job, in the sense that it is a wonderful company to work for, the benefits and compensation are great, and I work well with my boss—I’m utterly bored and I’ve essentially hit the ceiling in terms of “advancement.” The latter is a problem that practically every corporation faces as the middle burgeons.

Hence, I began the morning by submitting my information to an executive recruiter site, and I did some searching at Google Inc. as well, because I had read that the company had recently opened up new offices in New York City.

By lunchtime however, I realized that regardless of how fruitful my initiative proved, my efforts would be futile in the end. Because even if I found my ideal job (i.e. executive director at a not-for-profit) and it paid me double my salary or even a 100K more than I’m making now , I don’t think I would ultimately be any happier.

Hence, I immediately realized that my time and energy should be placed into the work that I love most and that I have already proven myself at—writing and photography.

For I knew that with the upcoming book launch the opportunity of a lifetime was literally (literarily) on the horizon. And it was up to me to make the most of it. Thus, diverting my focus elsewhere would only prove to be a grave error.

As I eagerly siphoned rum and sugar through my straw, I beamed to Stephanie, “I’m ready to make a difference in my life and in the life of others. It’s my time.”

We continued talking and drinking about publishing logistics and marketing strategy until Doctor Lorenzo arrived.

El Doctor, is my new flatmate and already I am warming up to him. Of course, it helps that we have the same names; it helps that he is Swiss like my last roommate, Claudio, who I quickly became friends with as well; and it also helps that he is (half-)Latin-like-me. If you’re a half-decent person, Latinos tend to have an immediate bond based on the principle of instant-amity* that pervades our culture. So, it was hard not to immediately like Lorenzo.


instant-amity: I like to call it for what it truly is—love, for friendship is merely on the east-end of the spectrum of love, and much like children are born with an overflowing capacity to love, latinos are likewise born to love and celebrate life.

It is thought that we are all born with synæsthesia, the condition in which we do not distinguish between our senses so that we smell sounds and hear colors and feel words. It is only when we are taught to distinguish between them that we build neurological connections that pigeon-hole our everyday experiences into narrow forms of sensation.

We learn to love in much the same way. We learn to throw and hole-up and put the weight of all our wishes and desires and needs onto one person. Thus, it is no wonder that love does not last.

We can and should love more than one person; not necessarily in the same way, not necessarily to the same extent, not necessarily as intimately, but we should love nonetheless (and allthemore).

Alas, when Latinos assimilate into the culture of this country, we lose some of that innate capability to love freely. Small gestures like salutary kisses become promises, rather than simply gestures of mutual respect and love for others that they are intended to be.


Dr. Lorenzo recently defended and passed his dissertation oral examinations at Cambridge University in England, and was subsequently bestowed the coveted a Ph.d, a genuine doctorate in philosophy. He is currently working as a fellow at the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

Hence, as soon as he had his bottle of Presidente (beer) in hand, we toasted to his accomplishment and I asked him to give us the update on the UEFA Champions League tournament currently being held overseas. He brooded a bit lamenting that not only had the power gone out at the bar where he had been watching his team play, but he subsequently found out that Arsenal had been ultimately eliminated. At least there was still Liverpool to cheer on.

At one point, the man sitting next to us interrupted our conversation with some strange babble. I immediately said “Lorenzo, meet the local drunk.” Stephanie was shocked, but I had intuited that the fellow would be a good sport about my jostling.

I continued by saying, “Actually, this is ‘The Captain.’” He had introduced himself earlier to Stephanie and me, but apparently I had goofed on his moniker, because he immediately corrected me. “It’s The Commander! Hell, I don’t want to be promoted.”

He actually reminded me a bit of a black Ted Turner, the original Captain Outrageous. This guy wore an ascot, a navy blue jacket and the kind of big sunglasses that Farrah Fawcet and Lee Majors, the Six Million Dollar Man, used to wear.

After taking a sip of his scotch, he leaned over and began telling The Doctor and I that there was a spaceship hovering above us, waiting. Oh, oh, “Ooo Wali Gama,” I thought, “This guy’s not only a lush, he’s also a loony.” This all-too-close encounter was the perfect segue to the entertaining evening that awaited us.

Thus, before there was time for an abduction, the doctor checked his watch and confirmed that indeed it was time to go. It was getting late and we had to head over to Dr. Sack’s lecture. We weren’t entirely confident that there would even be any seats left.

Along the way, Lorenzo left us for a moment because he had to stop by his office first. I wasn’t sure he would actually rejoin us though, because he was justifiably concerned about not getting a seat.

Our fears were confirmed as soon as we arrived because there were already two rows of students slouching and half-standing at the periphery of the main seating area.

Nonetheless and allthemore, I wasn’t daunted, for I knew reality and fate were in my grasp.

Hence, I asked Stephanie to stand behind the last row, while I searched around for a couple of chairs.

I went as far as the front of the auditorium directly behind the dais and podium where Sacks would speak. I must have done something good in a past life because as I arrived, building services had opened up the back room and I was handed the first two of a dozen extra chairs, and carried them over to create a makeshift new front row at stage left. I flagged Stephanie to come over and asked a stranger to please watch over the seats as I walked back to retrieve two more chairs for the doctor, and Robert (another doctor in the making) who was intending to join us as well.

Within minutes they had found and joined Stephanie and I. I was proud of myself because, once again, I did not allow circumstance to circumvent my existential existence, my reality, mi vida.

The event started with a rather long-winded introduction by Dr. Eric Kandel, Chair and University Professor at Columbia, as well as a Senior Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is also founding Director of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2000.

Dr. Kandel began by making a heavy-duty and awkwardly public plea for Sacks to leave our rival, NYU, and to sign on at Columbia. Oliver seemed to fidget uncomfortably in the huge armchair at the front of the auditorium as his “good friend” Eric made his case.

In the process, Kandel lauded Dr. Sacks’s career and most notable public achievements. These included the book Awakenings, which inspired a play and then the movie starring Robin Williams as Dr. Sacks and Robert DeNiro as Leonard, the patient who was momentarily awakened by a new experimental drug, L-dopa, after having been asleep for a number of years. Leonard had a severe form of encephalitis, commonly known as "sleeping sickness."

(Coincidentally, albeit not attributed to encephalitis, there was an article put out by the Associated Press today titled Woman awakens briefly after 6 years.)

Eventually we learned that Sacks is currently clinical professor of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, adjunct professor of neurology at the NYU School of Medicine, and the author of nine books, including the popular title The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: And Other Clinical Tales.

Once the public trial was over, Dr. Sacks got up and began his introductory remarks, which rambled primarily over the interplay of memory and musical agility.

Eventually, Sacks read two case studies from his forthcoming book, Music and the Brain, to be published by Knopf in October, 2007. And along the way Oliver opined upon subjects such as synæsthesia, blind piano tuners, perfect pitch, and child prodigies.

He also spoke at length about a middle-aged man who after being struck by lightning was suddenly inspired to create and be creative, a man who had never played piano before in his life but suddenly had an obsessive impulse to teach himself to both play and write, so that eventually, after ten years, he is able to compose original classical pieces, as well play notably well. Hmmm, sounds uncannily familiar.


“My memory of men is never lit up and illuminated like my memory of women.” –Marguerite Duras

An hour into the lecture, all the talk of mind and music soon began to trigger a flurry of related memories in me.

First, I thought of Marie.

Initially, I could not remember her name. Frustrated, I began to run through the alphabet, slowly penning each letter in my notebook, digging into each line and serif for a cue, consciously spewing into the synaptic gaps in hopes that I might spark a gleam in that ol’ gray matter of mine.

I ended up running through the full gamut, and underlined three letters, J M and S, in the process.

I played those notes over and over in my mind until M struck the deepest chord.

M. M, m, m. Michelle, Marie, Maria. Maria, Marie. I flip-flopped between the latter two.

Then, I suddenly remembered the amusing conversation I had with myself at the time about all the Marys, Maries and Marias of my life.

Mary gave my first childhood kiss, Marie saved me from 11 months self-imposed celibacy after I graduated from college (long story, not to be made short, here at this moment) and Maria, oh the delectable Maria, the only colleague I allowed myself to date while in graduate school.

Thus, when Marie came along, I was quite amused by the alliterative coincidence of their names. She was a therapist-in-training, studying to get her masters in music psycho-therapy at NYU. We had hours of delightful conversations about her work with many of the same kind of patients that Dr. Sacks was rambling on about this evening.

Occasionally, over the years, I have wondered about where and what she might be doing. She was (is) a good soul, that Marie, for she intensely cared about her patients and was exuberant about the healing power of her work. Her enthusiasm was infectious and I was inspired to write a few essays about the power of music at the time. I sincerely hope she is well.

I also thought of F, an old flame of mine, as well as a brilliant and budding doctor of psychiatry. Although I remember her fondly and have always thought highly of her, I think she’s still mad at me; after all she’s still psychoanalyzing me from afar—“…for my own good” she says. Like Marie, we too once had many wonderful conversations about her work.

Perhaps, if time will not heal this wound, music might. I hope, on occasion, that she is compelled to listen to the dozen or so CDs I compiled for her.



she wrote, "I donated the CDs to an old people's home-- never really listened to them-- because I thought you would appreciate the old people jiving to the music."



Admittedly, I secretly pined to see them both at the lecture last night. I wanted nothing more than an innocent glimpse into the past. Nothing more than a smile from across the room.

Alas, ultimately, we didn’t stick around long enough for me to scan the place.


During the Q&A period, Sacks made the remark that struck the deepest chord for me that evening. Paraphrasing, he said, “Sometimes accidents, incidents and circumstances happen to individuals that trigger latent abilities in them, and in turn they discover a whole new world for them, an entirely new way of looking at and enjoying life.” In his cases, the untapped talent was music, in my case it happened to be photography.

Since we had spoken about endorsements earlier, I leaned over to Stephanie at that moment and with a high-browed smile and sparkle in my eye, I commented, “Maybe we should get Oliver to endorse 25 Lessons...” She chuckled and said “Yeah, maybe.” As funny and fantastic of a notion this suggestion may be, I was dead serious, for I am pumped and ready to take control of my fate.


The event soon began to stretch and was threatening to fall over into two hours. Luckily, Stephanie’s daughter was waiting in the back with her father, John, and saved us from having to sit through the long line of questioners that were poised to tap Oliver for his thoughts. Sylvie had text-messaged her mommy to indicate that her five-year-old tummy was hungry.

After showing me the message, I suggested to Stephanie that we sneak out before getting stuck in the exiting throng. She agreed, and we slid out through the side.

We decided to return to Havana Central for dinner, where Dr. Lorenzo and Robert rejoined us after hearing the last questions.

Rebecca was our waitress again. The last time Robert and I ate here along with Claudio, we had the pleasure of having Rebecca as our waitress. Once again, she was a sport and went along with my playful interactions with her.

Unlike the senior moment when I tried to recall “Marie” an hour earlier, when she first approached my memory served me well, because I simply sputtered the first name that came to mind—Rebecca—and she smiled in return. Thus, I knew we were off to a good start.

The conversation unfurled all over the table for the rest of the evening. We went from reviews of The Last King of Scotland to why Westerners tend to group 50 different countries as “Africa”—to current strains of thought in economic and cognitive theory.

Fortunately, for me, I also got to sit between philosophers on different ends of the developmental spectrum—Dr. Lorenzo on my left and Sylvie the precocious five-year old on my right.

Eventually I was treated to the story about “The Animals and The Magic Tree,” and eventually I learned the secret words that made apples and peaches and plums and pears, as well as mangoes and papayas all blossom from the bosom of the tree that lie “across the river and at the top of the hill “—Ooo Wali Gama.

Ooo Wali Gama.

I was genuinely enchanted by her tale, for not only did it sound musically much like the African folklore that I studied while earning my BA in international cultural studies and cultural anthropology at UCLA, but it also pleased me because I promised to convey the delightful story to my boys the next time I could.

In return, I told Sylvie one of the my own stories that I had conveyed to Enzo and Nicky—one about the band of wild roaming orange monkeys that I had to pacify and enchant one day on way home from work. As Sylvie attentively listened and laughed, I Ooo-Ooo’d and Ahhh-Ahh’d and scratched my armpits to convey how I calmed the wild bunch of primates, and ultimately saved the city from any unnecessary monkey business.

My primal instincts also took over whenever Rebecca came back to check on us.

Ooo Wali Gama.

Shamelessly, I oozed niceties upon her and at one point charmed her into bringing us a couple of glasses red wine to fortify the pitcher of sangria we had ordered. I had pointed out to her that it was rather weak and that it tasted more like fruit punch. She was gracious enough to try it herself and soon came back with extra vino to make things right. Dr. Lorenzo seemed rather impressed by my Daren Cohen impression, and I joked that I was using “The Secret.” We all laughed, and we continued our light-hearted conversation until just after 10 o’clock or so.

As we exited the restaurant I went up to Rebecca who happened to be standing at the entrance and I hugged and kissed her. And looking her straight in the eye, I said “Thank you Rebecca,” hoping that she might remember me.


After braving the cold once again, eventually I got home, washed up and got into bed just after midnight. I then called Flavia and for a warming moment, she let me read to her. I read an excerpt from Margueritte Duras’s The Lover across the scratchy wire that extended from Morningside Heights to Bronxville.

Much as I had often done in the past whenever I read the boys a bedtime story, I found myself stumbling, mumbling and tripping over words, as I barely hung on to the thread of consciousness.

I had tried to read the following:

Fifteen and a half. The body is thin, undersized almost, childish breasts till, red and pale-pink make-up. And then the clothes, the clothes that might make people laugh, but don’t. I can see its all there. All there, but nothing yet done. I can see it in the eyes, all there already in the eyes. I want to write. I’ve already told my mother: That’s what I want to do—write. No answer the first time. Then she asks, Write what? I say, Books, novels. She says grimly, What you’ve got your math degree you can write if you like, it won’t be anything to do with me then. She’s against it, its not worthy, its not real work, its nonsense. Later she said, A childish idea.


I too was fifteen and a half when I realized that I wanted to write. I too was readily discouraged by my father.

I had read James Joyce’s Ulysses and even though I did not understand a lot of the arcane references at first, the intricacy of his words set me on fire—ablaze with a grandly romantic and inextinguishable love for words.

Hence, reading this excerpt was a good way to end an evening that reminded me that the power to craft one’s destiny, to be exactly what you want to be. Duras’s words reminded me that despite life’s obstacles our greatest desires are always within our grasp, for the power to achieve anything is cradled within our imagination and our ability to exercise our individual will.


The next morning, as inspirational as the evening had been, I woke up a groggy almost-40-year old alone in bed. My head felt slightly heavy, and so I dragged myself over to the kitchen to make my daily bread, my usual three cups of espresso.

After taking a shower, making my bed and getting dressed, I stood in the kitchen with the doctor and for a moment lamented, “This is one of those days that I wouldn’t mind just staying home and going back to bed. Spare yourself the agony and don’t go into the private sector, remain an academic.”

What the doctor said next was music to my ears, as well as my heart, mind and soul.

Really, what he said resonated, reverberated, and resounded within me for the rest of the day because it was symbolic of the lyrical path I want my life to take, a journey that would have me live a life that is full and extraordinary; a life where I might write, think, observe, and inspire others for a living.

What the good doctor said was:
“Lorenzo, you’ll be an academic some day.”

I smiled, because I believed him.

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. – Ralph Waldo Emerson


It’s a secret…

p.s. I reposted the following essay to flickr on January 9, 2008, because initially it was censored by flickr because apparently the publishers of The Secret had complained that I had used the their trademark red wax seal in my image. Or maybe it simply is because this essay is so damned long!