Thursday, May 26, 2011

woman walking

Two men were acquitted on rape charges today here in State Supreme Court in lower Manhattan, and every woman with whom I've spoken about it feels, in her own way, violated.

One night in December of 2008 a cab driver called 911 to help an intoxicated woman who was vomiting and semi-conscious in the back of his cab.  Officers Moreno and Mata responded to the call, helped the woman out of her cab, and got her up to her fifth floor East Village walk-up.

Somehow when they left, they left with her keys.  They used those keys three more times that night to enter the woman's apartment, all caught on video.  Officer Moreno, accused of actually raping her, claims that while he may have "cuddled" with her in her bed (her in nothing but her bra), and while he may have serenaded her with Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer," there was absolutely no sex or inappropriate touching.

I wonder what he imagines is appropriate touching (or singing) in these circumstances?  Intoxicated woman, on-duty cops, stolen apartment keys, nudity: what was this, exactly, in his mind? A new Love Story for the modern age?

Somehow these innocent officers also found themselves placing a false 911 call reporting a disturbance at the building net door, conveniently creating an alibi for their repeated visits to the woman's block. And yet also failed to mention that they were there more than once on their police reports for that shift.

Officer Moreno was actually recorded saying he wore a condom when the woman confronted him with a hidden wire. That's right. At first he denied having sex with her but eventually said that he wore a condom, and elaborated that it was only him and not his partner who had sex with her.  But he only copped to this (no pun intended ), he says, in order to avoid having her make a scene at the police station, not because he did or did not wear a condom, did or did not fuck her.  Because what an innocent man does when confronted with false accusations is to say he wore a condom, just to avoid a scene.

And of course the reason she's an unreliable witness is that she was drunk.  But not so drunk that she couldn't have given consent (she walked to her apartment, after all! So what if everyone acknowledges she was so drunk she spent the rest of the night vomiting?), had they actually had sex.  Which of course they hadn't.  They only snuggled.  Or "cuddled," as he so sweetly phrased it. Naked, but for a bra.  After he entered her apartment with the keys he'd taken from her. All while in uniform, and sworn to protect and serve.

It can sometimes be hard to feel safe in this city. After today it's that much harder, and this breaks my heart.  The very people in whom we are asked to place our trust, the very men who were called to this woman's aid by a good Samaritan cab driver who could see that she clearly needed help, somehow found it acceptable to "cuddle" with her in her intoxication, in her bed, in her nakedness, and then leave her alone in her own vomit.  At the very least.

Whether or not there was actual sex, whether or not there was actual rape, is not the only question here.  These men betrayed her trust, and our trust, and have made women across this wonderful city walk with a little more fear today than we walked with yesterday.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


At 5:55pm Evan looked up from his computer and said a volcano had erupted in Iceland, and I have to admit my heart lurched. Then he went to the market downstairs to get a lemon because of course, Rapture or no Rapture, the polenta with clams & white wine and the ribboned asparagus salad with lemon & parmesan has to be ready by the time Friend Jill arrives.

At 6:03 the skies opened up and the rain came pouring down, straight down, at first almost silently and then with the noise of quiet thunder hitting the concrete on the plaza and streets outside.

I called my brother because seriously, if the world's going to come crashing down around your ears, my brother's the guy to call.

Now, at 7:32, the sun is breaking again through the cloud cover to the west, sparkling across the Hudson and straight up 187th Street and into our living room windows.  Evan is in the kitchen behind me putting the final touches on dinner.  And Jill is circling the neighborhood looking for alternate-side parking.

I guess it's just another day here in New York City after all.

'looking-glass delusions have lost their shine'

(9th Street off 3rd Avenue)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

avgolemono, aka greek lemon & rice soup, sort of


5(ish) garlic cloves
2(ish) tablespoons olive oil
a dash of hot pepper flakes
some white wine
a box of vegetable broth, plus some water and bullion if not enough liquid
some cooked rice
3 eggs
3 lemons
large handful raw spinach

-Chop up the garlic and saute in olive oil with the hot pepper flakes.
-Add about a quarter cup of white wine and let cook down.
-Add the broth and rice and bring to a simmer.
-Juice the lemons and beat the eggs and lemon juice together in a bowl till mixed.
-Slowly pour a cup of the hot broth into the egg mixture, stirring constantly, then pour this mixture slowly into the soup pot, stirring constantly.
-Throw in the spinach and let simmer for a few minutes, then serve with crusty bread and dipping oil.

Perfect for the end of a rainy May day.

(This is traditionally made with chicken broth, but given the boy's pescatarian diet, I used vegetable broth instead.  You can use uncooked rice and let simmer (before adding the eggs) until the rice is tender, I just had some cooked rice in the fridge.  Some folks add diced or shredded chicken to the soup.  The spinach worked out well.)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

bridge (& silk & wind), 5.14.11

Pure silk in pale golden yellow, with clear copper-lined glass seed beads, now available on Etsy.

Friday, May 06, 2011

new pants (and the flustering that ensues)

Cris: Emily, your ass looks great in those pants!
Me: Why Cris, I didn't know you felt that way.
Cris: Oh! I didn't mean it that way! I mean, not that I wouldn't mean it that way, if I felt that way, but I don't feel that way. [Long pause.] Where'd you get them?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

impressed, and oh so happy for it

Yesterday after work Nick and I headed down to Brooklyn to meet up with a dear old friend and his wife, neither of whom I'd seen in almost a year.

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy their company, the ease with which they always welcome me back into their world.  It was particularly pleasing to see them so happy and healthy and gorgeous after going through some horrifyingly difficult times.

They are both at the top of their game these days (he a hot commodity soundman for ABC News, being flown to LA for the Oscars and London for last week's ridiculous royal wedding coverage; she a conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, being flown to Paris to personally deliver pastels for exhibition at the Grand Palais), and it was a singular pleasure to bask in their obvious contentment: with each other, with their lives, with a simple evening out with friends.

We went to a delicious tapas bar near their apartment followed by a lovely evening stroll and eventually ice cream cones a few blocks from there.   I found myself grinning for much of the train ride home, warmed by the ambiance (and perhaps by the glass of wine) at the restaurant but more by the innate comfort one finds in seeing such dear people doing so damned well.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

remembering guantanamo (and birthdays)

There were signs all over the International Affairs Building last week for a symposium called Remembering Gauntanamo, and every time I saw one I thought how silly it was.  Remembering? It hasn't even gone anywhere yet, despite our naive 2008 hopes that it would have been shut down by now.

But of course I was missing the point, and of course that was exactly their point.  Guantanamo has existed in some form or another for more than a hundred years, and has an entire history before its transformation into this controversial current incarnation.  I, of all people, should have remembered that.

I grew up with Guantanamo.  My father was stationed there in the early '70s, after he got himself into a bit of trouble on the Coral Sea for helping to draft a letter to President Nixon outlining why the United States had no business being in Southeast Asia, signed by himself and his fellow officers.  Of the fourteen signatories he got off relatively easily, or so I remember the telling.  Several ended up in military psychiatric hospitals.  Several ended up dishonorably discharged.  He ended up at Gitmo, and my mother went along for the ride.

It wasn't a prison camp back then, of course, but rather a (strangely) more innocent-sounding naval base, strategically positioned to hold off those dastardly Commies.

What I remember about Guantanamo, never having been there myself, are my mother's stories of attending dances and preserving mangoes and sipping gin & tonics in the late afternoon light and having to shake enormous flying palmetto bugs out of her shoes in the morning.

What I got from Guantanamo is Jill, one of my closest and dearest friends, whose parents were also stationed on the base and who became good friends to my parents despite coming from such different worlds:  my parents from the ruggedly hippie western rim of Oakland and Berkeley and Washington State; her parents from the Bronx, with all the strength of character and attitude and accent that that implies.

Today is Jill's birthday, and it makes me think about all our years of drifting apart and then tangling all over again, going back to (and somehow shaped by) those days before we were even born.  It makes me think about how I never got to talk to my father about his experiences on the Coral Sea or in Guantanamo, and so am left with a forty-year-old letter and my mother's rose-colored fragments of memory.  And it makes me think about how Jill -- big sister that I never had, with all the sibling rages and frustrations and love that that implies -- has always been woman enough to share her history, her particular stories, and share mine, and how lucky I am for that.