Wednesday, March 31, 2004

The Shade Darker Than Amber Alert

Two days ago I was watching the eleven o clock news and the story of a missing child appeared. He had been missing for two days. Why did it take two days to hear anything about this? the child is black and Asian. The mother tried to tell the police that she knew her child hadn't run away. That her son hated missing school. Maybe, it struck me harder than normal because the child looked like a little John. Who knows?

As long as the Amber alert system has been in place I have never seen or heard an amber alert for a child of color. Not a single one. You don't see it on the news. I wonder how police handle these cases. Do they look for reasons the child might have run away, rather than looking for clues when the parent says their child has been taken?

This morning on the news I saw a report for a 20 year old white woman that was missing. I really hope nothing is wrong with her. However, I remember a few weeks ago when a white woman of similar age went missing from Poughkeepsie and turned up on Long Island at a friends house, after weeks of media coverage on her dissapearance. And the media just let it go, not demanding an explanation nor an apology.

Here is a possible solution. We need to start a shade darker than amber alert (please someone come up with a better name). Just a place where families of color, that are being ignored by the media, can send a pic of there kid and a notice online. Maybe such a thing already exist. I hope so.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Me and Rachel

Here is a story (cause I am bored in employment law).

It is the summer of 2001 and I am living in Somerville, MA. Six months earlier I started seriously writing (appreciating that the last semester of college is useless anyway). I was too scared to read however, so I would go to different Boston/Cambridge/Somerville poetry venues and just watch.

There was this dynamo on stage and I was completely riveted by her. She had such a presence, was incredibly sexy and didn't need a microphone at all (girl could PROJECT!) I wanted to be her. I really only got up on stage in Boston once. I was a chicken shit. Especially knowing that poetry goddess was in the midst.

So I started reading at open mics in New York.

Fast forward--Fall of 2003. I walk into Bar 13, my spot, my home (damn, i haven't been there in a bit) and there she is Rachel Hyman just sitting there as if she has always sat there as if she just belongs there. And I nearly fall over myself.

I knew it was a sign from the poetry gods. I had my feature at Tixe coming up and I just KNEW it would go well cause there was Rachel. AND I got up the courage to talk to her, to tell her she is the reason that I not only write but she is the reason I perform. Cause more than anyone she truly is. Rachel showed me that a woman could just dominate the stage.

And now, this poetry goddess is actually my friend. Chooses to bestow smiles and kisses on me. I really do believe she is my luck charm. Things have just fallen into place since she moved to New York. My third feature, at Acentos, is coming up. Thank you Rachel for inspiring me.

And that is the story.

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Thoughtful side/cheery side

Thoughtful Side

Yesterday in my class we were discussing how the phrase "carry a firearm" should be interpreted in regards to a drug trafficking statute. For like twenty minutes my classmates went back and forth getting super philosphical and even going so for to discuss what a drug trafficker thinks when he is trying to decide whethe ror not to pack his weapon. I exploded, which hasn't happened in school for a while. Pointed out that I have a cousin in prison for being a drug dealer (with this particular classroom I doubt many of them have ever even SEEN a drug dealer) and that drug dealers don't really consider the extra 30% or 5 years that could be tacked onto their sentences for carrying a gun. Told them that carrying a gun is part of drug trafficking, plain and simple, and that the only thing this discussion has taught me is how many of our statutes are inanely stupid and out of touch.

Cheery Side

Last night I dreamed about the day my sister was born. In very complete detail. It was probably the most wonderful dream I have had in a while.

When I was a child I used to have an imaginary friend. People would ask me who I was playing with and I would say, "My sister Dianna". The doctors told my mother that she couldn't have more children but eleven years after my birth God gave me my sister Dianna. And Dianna couldn't say the name Cristina so she dubbed me Nina. I think it is beautiful that I named her and she named me. I am sure that as a child she really was who I was playing with.

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Monday, March 29, 2004

Side note

Even though I am trying to be professional today I just realized that my nails are bright orange (the color is called tutti frutti to be exact). Doh! Then I run into Raina on the street and she is looking lovely and natural as always. Which inspired todays law school haiku (I realize haikus should be about nature, but lawyers don't know the difference...mostly) I am writing a whole bunch of them and most of them are funny. So here is one...

Clothes by Nina (in case you forgot whose blog you are reading)

poet in pinstripes
feel like i'm playing dress up
these clothes really suck

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Morning news, in black and white

I watch the news every morning. I don't really know why I do it. It is more like two hours of shock headlines, with little relevance. I get more news from my ten minutes in the shower listening to NPR.

This morning I was listening to the news on TV and I heard the story of three boys (2 in second grade, one in fifth) who were plotting to kill a third grade girl. I knew immediately that they were white. Why did I know? Because they were discussing "WHY". The were analyzing what leads boys to plot to kill. They were discussing that maybe they didn't understand the concept of "to kill" and "death" and the deep naivity behind some of the things the boys were saying surrounding their plot. They mentioned that they wanted to kill the girl by shooting her in the leg and maybe this was connected to the fact that she was kicking them. At this point I turned around and confirmed that they were white.

Two of the boys have been released into their parent's care. I think that is when my head exploded. If these children were black or latin they would have NEVER been released. If they girl had been black or latin as well, the story wouldn't have even made the news. I guess this ties into Fish's post from a few days ago about how so many things go unreported.

I think, that the media doesn't look into the violence committed by black/latin youth because the reasons behind it are normally so much deeper, systematic and profound that it would force people to think. Thinking is dangerous.

On another note--I really don't think people should be surprised when an 8 year old thinks that shooting someone is a reasonable solution to getting kicked. How many acts of violence has that child seen on television? How many times does he see people get shot on cops shows for doing "bad" things? Of course shooting the girl who was kicking him seems reasonable!

So, this morning I am angry. After a refreshing weekend of cooking, and relaxing by myself I am enraged. And I think that is probably the most appropriate mood to go off to law school in. :-)

P.S. I have been thinking about getting "Subversive Angel" tattoed on my back. Today it seems more appropriate than ever as I tromp off to school in pin stripe pants, and a grey twin set (I have a 'thing' to go to tonight). Inside I am feeling very Rage Against the Machine

--"I'll strike a match and let it catch and spread the insight we need. A tiny fired, burning bright, shedding light on the darkness of greed."

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Sunday, March 28, 2004

Breath slower

I ran my body into the ground by not taking care of it. I have a blood disorder so I knew that the smoking would catch up with me (and the not eatting right and not exercising) and it did. It caught up with me hard. However, after a day of sleeping I am feeling better.

I don't think I will ever invite people I don't know especially well to stay in my home again. It was an accumulation of events. The constant bickering got to me. I am not used to people who aren't positive.

Mostly it made me realize (for the one billionenth time) how wonderful my friends are. I am used to people with positive energies and you don't realize how positive your friends are till you are around some negatives.

All in all, I am looking forward to today. I have to study, but it is copyrights which I love. And I have decided that I am going to roast a chicken and try some new recipes. I am really looking forward to a day of meditation and rest. Life is beautiful.

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Friday, March 26, 2004

I've started smoking again. I can't even deny it to myself. What was an occasional habit over drinks is now a habit period. Crazy shit is I am only smoking two a day. The reasons are what annoy me. It is not cause I want to, but cause I need to. AND I am already feeling the effects on my body, the tiredness, the soreness, the inability to focus as the desire to just light up takes over. I hate this shit. Sadder still is that I know I will be smoker for the rest of my life. I can go a year without a cigarette but when it grips me it grips me and it will not be denied. Next month it will be ten years of off and on again smoking. I know because I remember I had my first cigarette during spring break when I was fourteen. I am mad at myself. I feel lame. And I hate not being in control of what I do. There really is a special place in hell for the men who decided to add nicotine to cigarettes.

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Thursday, March 25, 2004


So, today is the 93rd anniversary of the triangle shirt waist fire. Please remember that these issues are not in our past, they are part of our present. There are sweat shops all over the world, even our backyard.

The following argument is for those who don't care about life outside these borders--Even if we solve the problem in this country, the treatment of workers elsewhere affects workers here. If you can pay a kid in Thailand next to nothing and change him to the machine he works on, Why would you set up shop in the U.S.?

Remember that the workers fight is international and it is nowhere near finished.

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An aside,

So i took the color quiz, and I don't know how to cut and paste html
but here is the link to the response I got.

It is so dead on accurate that I find it scary.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2004

To the Acentos crew (and by crew I mean each and every person who goes to the Blue Ox on the 2d and 4th Tuesdays of the month):

If you don't know already, you are my family--each and every single one of you. You are so much to me. And in the guestbook I wrote, you are my friends and family and lovers and everything. In so many ways you are absolutely everything to me. There are times when things get absolutely difficult. If you don't know, I am going through a lot right now, just take my word for it. There are times where I just feel like I am banging my fist against glass but, I walk into that room and immediately the release begins. I get there early cause I just have to get out of the law school. And it has become a ritual in its own way because you walk in and I get my hugs and my kisses and my tighter hugs and kisses and each of you steals a little bit of my heart everytime we meet.

No matter what happens, so much of who I am is because of each of you. So much of who I will be is because each of you. I tried to write a poem for you guys, but I just couldn't do it. I am not a good enough writer to describe all that is in my heart. So here it is

I love you I love you I love you I love you

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Monday, March 22, 2004

Ocassionally I get this feeling, like the universe has shifted slightly towards the left but nobody bothered sending me a memo. If I was wearing a T-shirt right now it would say, "Neither Cristina nor Nina are in right now please leave a message." I'm like this body without a very focused brain. Could be that it is the first time in three days that I haven't had a drink before noon. Doh!

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Sitting in my apartment, not exactly dressed, even figuring out what to wear is hard. So it is like 10 degrees outside with the wind factor and I am thinking...I really don't want to leave.

Reality is a bit difficult right now.

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Friday, March 12, 2004


It is the start of a looooong day. I have to pack, go to Westchester for work, come back and change to go to Bluestockings. I am very excited to be one of their features. I stopped by yesterday to pick up Bridge Called my Back. They had a copy of it the last time I was there but apparently they no longer do. I was a little sad. So, I got myself a Lower East Side shirt and a cute pin. (Really I was on a quest for a t-shirt for John. I found the DOPEST shirt, but not there. And I can't say what it was since he reads this but as far as presents go it is pretty hot since not only is it cool but it is sentimental.)

Tomorrow I had down to Tallahassee. I don't know if I am going to post while I am in Florida or not. I have a lot to do while I am there. I will be beginning two papers, one on the education of immigrant children (which my prof is concerned will not be a sufficiently legal topic) and another on the affects of prior consensual relationships on sexual harrassment cases. I planned on starting my copyrights outline but realized when I was on the train that I had left the notebook in my locker. Now I am wondering if I should even bother brining the text book.

I promise, part of the time I will be vacationing, really, I swear. I made an appointment for a massage and I am lugging my bongos for when we go to the beach. Figure, if anything I have to relax for a bit cause I am not lugging 20 pounds for nothing.

Love you all.

PS, new links at the right. Elieil and MC are part of the acentos crew. B is one of the coolest folk at the law school, I don't know how to spell his name though. And there is a notice I should have put on this page a while ago...I got scolded for not having it up...shrug

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Thursday, March 11, 2004


I don't read many novels. I read lots of poetry and short stories and autobiographies, but not novels. They suck me in too much like a drug. Once I find one I like I just sit and read until it finishes and everything that has to get done doesn't get ignored, it gets completely forgotten.

The last time I bought a novel was in August...Neil Gaiman's Stardust. It was incredible, it affected me on so many levels. Made me realize that all the books I truly like have to do with magic or other worlds. My favorite fiction authors are Poppy Z. Brite, Neil Gaims, J.K. Rowling, and if I feel like letting my brain drift, Anne Rice. I have to be in a very particular mood for Anne though.

The novels that I do have, have been read numerous times. It is like visiting old friends. I know what happens, so I can walk away from the book but I can never remember precisely how it all happens, so they still pull me in.

Books are magic. Plain and simple, the ability to create worlds and images, to tamper with emotions...it's amazing. And I am blessed to know so many magicians.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Bush's Campaign Ad

I have been thinking about this for a while, and probably should have posted it earlier. Because of what happen on 9-11 many people have post traumatic stress disorder. I can really empathize with what they are going through. When I saw Bush's campaign ad I couldn't help thinking about how utterly selfish and irresponsible it is. There are many people who see images from that day and go through high levels of anxiety. So, it occurred to me--if he is going to continue running these ads, there is a possible claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress that could be made against him. If he wants to remind people of how terrible that day was (and put a good number of them through all the emotional stress that came with it) he is going to have to take the good and bad consequences that come with that.

That's all I have to say.

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Saturday, March 06, 2004


Today I sat up and decided that I had to go to Coney Island. Occasionally I just need to go look at the ocean. It gives me a sense of peace and whenever I am at the ocean I feel like my abuela is with me.

My abuela loved swimming and the ocean and life. I don't go to cemetaries so when I want to be with her it is what I do.

I made the trek out there and it was gray but warm, when the train hit brooklyn it started to drizzle and I was getting worried that it would rain through my visit. As I got to the beach the sun came out and the sky turned blue and it was so beautiful. I knew it was my abuela's doing.

Tonight I met up with my tia's who told me that today my abuela would have been 79 years old. I had no clue that today was her birthday but, part of me must have known. And today she was with me. She was the sand under my toes and the water that lapped at my feet and the sun that was shining on my face. It was so amazing, but still...I would give anything for one more embrace, one more kiss. It has been almost six years without her and my heart still hasn't healed. And I know it never will.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Victims and Mens Rea--This Post Brought to You by Cristina*

Mens rea is the legal term that basically means you are looking into the mental state of someone when a crime was committed. It is what changes a crime from Murder I to Murder II etc. It is a pretty simple concempt.

Here is the twist. Rape is the only crime were a victim's mens rea is pertinent. The whole thing turns on whether or not the victim concented to the sexual activity. This makes prosecuting rape terribly difficult.

There are two things that put this at the forefront of my mind 1) Some group has put signs around the law school asking "what is rape", "what is abuse". I think these signs are great as they are actually making me thing. 2) The Judge in the Coby Bryant trial is allowing evidence regarding the victims sexual history into trial.

As to the first issue, when we discussed rape in my criminal law class there was a case that involved "light choking" my classmates thought that this was a clear indicator of rape. Never one to be afraid, I actually raised my hand and reminded them that there are entire sub-cultures around chocking and violence and sex and it is all consensual.

The other problem I see is that someone can show signs of rape without being raped. Physical evidence isn't enough. Typically doctors look for vaginal abrasions but those can happen in other circumstances.

As to the Judge in the Bryant trial. There is a now a whole Rule of Evidence around this (Rule 412). It states that generally a women's sexual past is not admissable in her rape case. Sexual past used to be used to justify rape. I remember hearing about a case were a victim's panties were used as evidence that she was a certain type of women, the type not entitled to protection.

I hate this notion. When in my sexual harrassment class we discussed why we don't want to get into whether or not a women is married when building her sexual harrassment case. Married women don't have more value than non-married women. I don't care how many people a women sleeps with, as long as it was a consensual activity for those involved.

So the women in the Kobe Bryant case is being accussed of having sex with other men around the time she alleges she was raped. This does fit into the exception which allows a victim's past to be looked into if the physical evidence could be from other men. I feell so sorry for the both of them.

Sometimes I feel that we are all victim's of our culture. There is a song in Grease, happy go lucky movie/musical called Summer Lovin. The guys are questioning how far Danny got and one ask "Did she put up a fight?" . It just reflects a notion that is detrimental to both men and women. And fortunately it is a dynamic I have never fallen victim to. I am referring to situations where one person tries to pressure the other to have sex.

I definitely have the women in my family to thank. They raised me to know that my body was mine, to be comfortable with it, to be comfortable talking about sex. And they taught me what not to stand for (not that all rapist give warning signs), I just don't tolerate certain behaviors and I expect to be treated in a certain way.

Most sexual assaults against women are done by a friend or family member of the victim. One in three women you know has been the victim of a sexual assault or a molestation. If anything is to come out of this rambling post, I want you to think. I want you to think about what you can do to reverse this trend. Whether it be impowering a girl to love her body or empowering a young man to realize that his body is a temple too. Sex is so much more special when no convincing has to occur on either side.

I was once talking to this rich long island boy I used to be friends with. I told him about the one in three statistic and he said, "not in my neighborhood" as if sexual violence was a poor people problem. I pointed out to him that yes 1 in 3 of his women too. There are women being molested by their uncles/fathers/brothers or family friends. There are women who can't talk because they have never been allowed to talk about their bodies. If you have never been allowed to talk about your body, how are you going to know how to use your voice to say, "something is happening to me and I want it to stop."

Not talking about sex, treating it like a dirty thing, is what allows really dirty things to happen.

I've totally digressed from the "mens rea" discussion. I guess I am mad, I just don't want anymore victims.

*If you don't know Cristina is my first name, Nina is my nickname. When I am at work or at school I go by Cristina, it sounds more lawyerly.

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