Help Me Pick New Glasses: Crowd-Sourced Decision-Making

I’m getting new glasses. Warby Parker ones. I got a new prescription (lots of pupil dilation to get that fancy new paper!) and I want a new look. Plus all the cool kids are wearing them. They were even on NPR. (But I knew about them way before that, just so you know. For street cred purposes and all.)

At The Standard, this kinda posh kinda skeezy hotel in downtown LA, there’s a Warby Parker Readery which really has nothing to do with reading and everything to do with trying on the glasses. So here are the three I’m deciding between:


Option 1: Ainsworth (Chestnut color)


Option 2: Marshall (Sassafras color)


Option 3: Ainsworth (Tortoise color)

So what’s your take? Complaints about the lighting & my lack of smiling have already been lodged. Compliments on my Clark University inspired earrings are welcome. But ultimately, what about the glasses? Which ones?!


Notes on Citizen Who by Eric Liu: What If US Citizenship Was Earned?

Last night I walked down the street to the neighborhood theater (what up big city living), and saw the debut performance of Eric Liu’s Citizen Who.

As an immigrant myself, I loved Liu‘s mediation on what it means to be an American citizen. Like all good storytellers, he interspersed personal stories rich with detail and surprise turns with broad summarizes that brought together the disparate threads of theory and history. The same story – that of how his  mother came to the US, for example – was told multiple ways, and through that telling the audience saw the slippery category of citizenship, the way immigrants, or those who look like immigrants can suddenly become “foreign until proven otherwise” or exist in a perpetual in-between-ness of tenuous belonging (to paraphrase Liu).

Since we’re such a new country, and have little common history, customs or beliefs to bring us together (at most, the eldest of our lineages are only about 14 generations), belonging is the central tenet of the American dream. But belonging is both a legal status (Never give up your US passport!) but also a social status (Do you look American?). Liu points out that citizenship, while repeatedly mentioned in our beloved Constitution, is never once defined. In times of doubt, those who were once citizens can suddenly become a “non-alien” or “other”. So this “we” of “we the people” cuts both ways: we, as citizens, are responsible for what we have done and accomplished. Both the horrible and the great. We are one nation, indivisible, despite all that divides us. “In” and “out” are not the only categories here; because of our “color-coded legacy” (Liu’s spot-on word choice ), sometimes citizens and non-citizens not only look alike, but are sometimes the same person. We may have the right papers, but can still be treated as an outsider.

One non sequitur in my notes that I have been mulling over: Freedom is made up of simple pleasures. No matter the context of the suffering, people dream of escaping to experience the same things: mouth-watering meals, the sensation of soft touch, light and airy gatherings with laughter.

One particularly riveting question Liu posed was: When is loyalty dissent, and when is dissent loyalty? What is the threshold for us to participate? As equal parts patriotic and dissatisfied citizen, I appreciated Liu’s call to participate in our democracy, to contribute to our community as a way of rekindling, reviewing, reigniting our citizenship vows. What if we earned our citizenship, rather than were given it by birthright? What if it were renewable, based on whether one participated, served the common good? We are, after all, responsible for our own country.

There are photos here, and you can even watch the whole video of last night’s performance here. And they say there’s no good live theater in LA! Ha.

Los Angeles to the Bay Area: Traffic, Cars Riddled With Bullets, Fog

Reporting live after a 9 hour drive from Los Angeles to the Bay Area, including sitting on the freeway due to disabled cars (crashed, stalled, and towed) 10 different times, narrowly missing witnessing a high speed shootout, and driving through fog. Highlights of the trip: seeing dogs in other people’s backseats. Lowlight: Realizing I’d been walking around the grocery store with my pants unbuttoned, and worse still: no one told me. Here’s hoping the drive back is less exciting!

Post-Gastroenterology Observations: New Reasons to Be Thankful

It’s funny how spending a couple of hours observing how other people live, — hearing about their experiences of living in and with their body –, how that insight can radically change my own perspective. After spending some time around people with gastroenterology issues, I have several new items to add to my list of things I’m thankful for:

– the ability to produce saliva, which allows me to consume food without it getting stuck in my throat and allows me to speak without pain

– not having h. pylori

– working in a field where I can wear fashionable shoes to work instead of clogs

– not being constipated for 3 days or going to the bathroom 20 times a day

– not having to resist the persuasive enthusiasm and at times moral concerns inherent in interactions with drug reps

– that every pain I’ve experienced has been temporary and treatable

– that I didn’t spend my birthday or holiday hours away from my home in a waiting room

– that there really are compassionate and clear providers, with good bedside manner who can communicate well with people who are hurting

– that not every doctor has bad handwriting (some are not only legible but even pleasant to the eye!)

Los Angeles Curiosities: Unmarked Helicopters Hovering

In the same style as Colombian Curiosities, I have found some LA curiosities in the past few months. The most annoying one is the ubiquitous unmarked helicopters.

In the morning, and at night, we have unmarked helicopters circling our neighborhood. Have you ever heard a helicopter? It has a loud, monotonous white noise sound. It’s somewhere between menacing and soporific. It’s unnerving to hear one most days, seemingly right above your head, circling over your house.

At first I thought it was just happening in our neighborhood, that we lived near a prison and there were frequent escapes. Or that busy dignitaries were flying in for last-minute dinners, or traumatized children were being airlifted for a surgery. Then I was at the beach and saw one.

Real close, just going back and forth over the beach. Disturbing the tourists and beach-sleepers.

Of course I think of the Soul Coughing song every time I hear a helicopter. I used to have the whole soundtrack on tape.

What’s the deal LA? There aren’t any famous people, escaped convicts or trauma centers where I live. Don’t you have something better to do than circle over my neighborhood with your loud, un-funny roflcopters?


First Day of Full-time Work Post-MPH: First Impressions & Gratitudes

Today was my first day of work at my new job. Yay working! I won’t tell you exactly what the work is, or where, but I will provide some first impressions & specific things I am grateful for:

– the fancypants coffee/tea/hot cocoa maker, which saved me when I left my tea on the counter at home.

– that my coworkers seem nice & no one told me I was smelly despite my forgetting to put deodorant on this morning.

– that my coworker said that some Fridays, there is a dog that visits the office. (!!!)

– that when I stayed past 5 pm, I was told to go home.

– that when I got locked out without my office keys, phone or ID, a kind stranger let me in when I banged on the front door and made a sad face with praying hands.

– that I was the most over-dressed person at the office, which means I can retire the heels & suits already!

– that no one beeped when I stalled on the way to and from work, twice. Twice each time.

826LA’s Great Los Angeles Personal Statement Weekend

What’d you do this Saturday? I spent four hours at Day 1 of the Great Los Angeles Personal Statement Weekend, helping a Los Angeles Senior get her college essays ready. It’s an event 826LA and LA’s Promise put together.

It’s an all-volunteer event. Tutors got trained for about two hours beforehand, and had already passed a background check. After parking, you go to this checked-in tent.

I got lots of helpful handouts, including writing tips, UC and Cal State essay prompts, directions for the Common app, and how to get on the school wifi and printers. We also signed a photo release, and the students filled out a short questionnaire about how far along they were in the writing process.

The rooms were organized in two desk pairs, ready for about 100 tutor-Senior pairs to work side by side.

My student came in with rough drafts of both UC prompts, so we edited, chopped and polished both until they were done. Then we got the Common App essay done, got started on the supplemental questions and talked about whether to live on campus or off campus. Bam! That’s the sound of going from kinda-started on college applications to almost finished. It feels so good to be part of that process.

Did I mention there were free snacks?

I wish something like this had existed when I was in high school. If I, rather when I teach high school again, I’d love to organize something similar. The formula is simple: bring some eager students together with some trained adults, provide the space, technology and snacks, and increase the likelihood that those students get into college. Why don’t we have a Personal Statement Weekend in every high school?