Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Is it Friday yet?!?! I cannot believe that tomorrow is December, where did this year go? It really seems like just yesterday I was brand new at my job and going to PA to see my family for Christmas, now I'm about to do it again! I am looking forward to snow though...so, bring.it.on.

Monday, November 29, 2010


So one of the thing I like most about my job is meeting with groups to talk about the work that my organization does. It reminds me of all of the progress made in New York but all of the progress yet to be made. It makes coming back to work after a holiday weekend worth it. Here's to continuing that work!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

recovery and Harry Potter

since I've never seen all of the Harry Potter movies, or for that matter read the books, I decided it will be a good cold weather activity! Me and S will watch all the movies just in time for the latest to be released on DVD :-)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

i love my friends

tonight i got my friends together to celebrate my birthday. such good times, and hello 31!

Friday, November 26, 2010

so much love today on my birthday! wishes from friends and an amazing dinner cooked by S. now, be sure, this was not just dinner, she transformed her entire apartment into a Mexican restaurant and made me the most delicious meal.

the hallway into the apartment

the mirror

my favorite cookie

the menu

key lime pie, with a gummy E, mmm.

two kinds of homemade hot sauce!!! amazing!!!

so much homemade deliciousness, i could die! i love having a gf who loves to cook and spoil me!!! a birthday dinner to go down in the history books for sure!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Another lovely Thanksgiving with my family in Fort Valley, VA. I love their new house, nothing but nature and my family, a most perfect way to spend some time outside of the city.

view from the front porch out to the country

evening view from the front porch with fancy iphone lens from hipstamatic

the fireplace, with a fire built by yours truly.

One of the best things was that after a year +, I was able to share with my family all of my photos from my summer of 2009 Road trip. It was so great to see all those photos and revisit that trip. If you go here you can see my route and then follow the posts through the trip. I was able to blog a bit on the trip, but I took over 1000 photos so it was nice to revisit them.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

i love being outside of the city, spent the day surrounded by nature, warmed by a beautiful fire. PERFECT.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

the only bad thing about an impending vacation is making sure i get all of my work done before i leave...ugh! can't wait for some rest and relaxation in rural Virginia, where really there is nothing around but beautiful country and family :-)

Monday, November 22, 2010

a short week, but my goodness is it going to be long. so much work to do and things to prep before i leave to go to virginia. i am so looking forward to seeing my family, especially my niece and nephew!!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

another boozy brunch at Clover Club. I love all of their cocktails. this is definitely a place you want to visit for a Sunday brunch, be sure to save up the funds as these tasty drinks will cost you - - - but so so worth it!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

i love dance parties with EH! tonight i brought with me some moonshine whiskey, while i didn't care for the drink much, i loved the bottle...too bad I forgot to take a photo.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thank goodness it's Friday!

This week was tough, finding out that a family friend passed away. Peggy lost a battle with ALS. She was a wonderful and giving person and I am blessed to know both her and her husband (Bernie). Bernie passed away last year, but words that he spoke stick with me. I met Peggy and Bernie through my parents church and while church has not played a major role in my adult life, the lessons are carried with me daily. Peggy and I volunteered together in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Bernie, a Deacon at my parents church and would often end mass by saying: "May the peace of the Lord bother you every day of your life." I always liked the way he used the word "bother". It always made me think.

Today, I remember Bernie and Peggy and the wonderful lives the led and love they shared.

I will allow their peace to bother me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rebuilding Haiti

Today, I came across this article about the rebuilding of Haiti following the January 8, 2010 earthquake that killed upwards of 200,000 people, displaced millions and destroyed the infrastructure of much of the capital city and surrounding area. It's been 11 months since the earthquake and rebuilding is happening at a snail's pace. Cholera outbreaks are now occurring and it makes sense given the impact on infrastructure including water supplies and the large number of IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons). So why can't Haiti get it together?

Haiti has more NGOs per capita than anywhere in the world, it is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and there are decades old issues of governance and infrastructure. There is no easy answer, the UN has created the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, Bill Clinton serves as the U.N. special envoy, Paul Farmer (founder of Partners in Health, the U.N. deputy special envoy, yet, in 11 months, barely 5% of the debris has been removed.

There is no easy answer here - in the U.S. we see similar challenges in the rebuilding of Ground Zero and New Orleans, post-Katrina.

It breaks my heart that this country continues to struggle and that whatever the solution will take years to implement. The situation in Haiti highlights the relationship of NGOs, government, bureaucracy, sustainability and progress. It also demonstrates that solutions to international problems require a great deal of coordination but also an understanding of the resources available. I believe that there are ways to ensure progress, yes, they will take time and investment, but if done correctly will have lasting impacts on this country.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Influence of the Private Sector on Public Policy

Tonight, I attended a work event in which we launched an new initiative to get the private sector to explicitly and publicly support the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act and Marriage Equality in NY State. Throughout the country as well as state of New York, private business is ahead of public policy when it comes to workplace protections on the basis of gender expression and identity. Many companies include these in their EEO policies, yet at a National level there is no workplace protection and an individual can be fired based on their gender expression and identity. At the state level, 13 states and the District of Columbia offer protections with an additional 130+ local jurisdictions. Below is an adaptation of a portion of my remarks from last evening.

We know that our elected leaders respond to their constituencies: a single person, a non-profit agency providing social services, faith communities or the private sector, businesses.

It is not uncommon for public policy to be driven by the private sector – we see this in companies who with no legal obligation chose to include gender expression and identity in their EEO policies; companies such as Google and Barclay’s who will reimburse their LGBT employees for the healthcare benefit tax that they are subject to when accessing Domestic Partner benefits, unlike their married heterosexual coworkers. Companies are doing what they can to level the so called playing field for their LGBT employees by taking these steps. We also see companies go to Washington, DC to testify before Congressional Committees, like Pfizer on the Uniting American Families Act, recognizing how the inequalities in the law impact their LGBT employees and sign statements of support for bills such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act because of the importance of these pieces of legislation. We know that the private sector supports our issues because in the instance of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act , many already include these in your EEO policy.

Private sector support for the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act will help to push our elected officials to support the legislation that will serve to eliminate the gaps in protection on the basis of gender identity and expression across New York State. Companies are already providing these protections, we just need to let our elected officials know where this support is. The same goes for Marriage Equality and while we know that a company cannot extend all the rights and responsibilities associated with marriage, we do know that employers recognize the unfair burden placed on same-sex couples when they are denied the right to marry and are doing what they can to lessen this burden.

As always, we continue to push for equality and justice for LGBT New Yorkers.

Monday, November 15, 2010

a day off

Today, I took the day off, with nothing planned. today, I was able to spend a quiet day watching movies, drinking tea and hanging with my favorite guy, stuart. It's been a busy couple of months at work and in my personal life with seemingly endless plans, so to hide out in my apartment is the perfect escape.

It's time for another purge, to go through my closets and get rid of some things, and it's really a perfect time because many organizations are currently looking for clothing donations as winter approaches. This Saturday at Excelsior, there will be a clothing drive for LGBTQ youth. If you are in the Park Slope neighborhood, you should consider dropping by.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Public Finance

Ok, so one of my favorite assignments in Graduate School was having to balance the New York State budget and writing a memo to the budget director outlining the rationale of my decisions - YES, geeky. Anyway, you can imagine my excitement with this NYTimes budget puzzle - again, YES, geeky!

The fact of the matter is that a simple tool or exercise like this has the potential to opening people's eyes who think that balancing a budget can simply be done through reducing spending or raising taxes. It is a puzzle, just like the title says. Some fixes provide short term relief but over time do little to reduce the overall deficit.

A few of my favorite ways to reduce the federal deficit:

eliminate earmarks!

Right, because eliminating less than 1% of the federal budget will have a HUGE impact. Sure, sure, there is the infamous Bridge to Nowhere project but earmarks are designed to bring much needed money back to congressional districts to fund projects such as infrastructure projects, social services, National Parks improvements and other necessary and important projects. We trust that our elected officials will use their best judgment to determine what exactly these projects are, and with new Democrat reforms tot he earmark process, it is easier than ever to see what projects a member has submitted for consideration by the Appropriations Committee, using this online tool. For example, in using this tool, I can find out that my former boss submitted a proposal for $400,000 to fund a 24/7 drop-in center for homeless LGBT youth. A worthy project. An underfunded project. $600,000 for a ferry dock landing for the Statue of Liberty. A National tourist spot that millions visit, without this type of funding, how are people going to get to the Statue? Oh, wait, let me guess - it is their personal responsibility? Ok. Right.

If you look at this tool, you will see some of the biggest expenditures come from military spending. But using the logic that was used to kill the

Saturday, November 13, 2010

the outlaw, being a little badass.a little staged photo in the park, I mean, what else is there to do on a Saturday?

a favorite pic using Hipstamatic and the lovely fall.

Friday, November 12, 2010

day off
dinner at fish camp
= goodness!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

tonight my friend Jennifer Flynn was honored by having an award named after her, in her speech she referenced this quote:

"Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love."
— Martin Luther King Jr.

so powerful and really, words to take in and live and understand.

Jen founded this wonderful organization that I've had the pleasure to work with. She is a true inspiration.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

i started running again. we'll see how long i can keep it up. i do love running through the streets of brooklyn on a crisp fall night.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


that is the reality. some days it is easier to post pictures with few words or sentiments but that was not the purpose of 181 days. remembering the doorway technique. the wallet list.

i make wishes on first seen stars, throw pennies into wells.
believe in things like promises and sunsets.
tracing memories back wondering how others store time.
pages. paintings. pictures.

181 meant no edits. just posting.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Last Thursday, I read this blog and thought, "good job mom." Well, in the past couple of days, it is all over the internet. Today, the Today show featured two moms whose sons like to play dress up. You can see the video below. I think that these conversations are important. And I still think the line that the mother used in her blog post is so true, ‎"...I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off." I mean, let's get real, if a 5 year old wants to dress up as his favorite Scooby-Doo character, Daphne, does not mean that he is going to grow up to be gay. Good for this mom for allowing her child to play dress-up, to play make-believe, to simply let this child be himself, gay, straight or otherwise.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Another Sunday in the Park

Spent the day in the park with this little guy :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

a perfect impromptu Saturday. i wish everyday was Saturday.

Friday, November 5, 2010

makes me smile.

Find more artists like tristan prettyman at Myspace Music

Thursday, November 4, 2010

An open letter (plea) to all eligible voters nationwide...

A former graduate school classmate posted this today, and it is so much of what I have been thinking. Please read!!!

Dear Voters:

Recently, it has come to my attention that people are angry. As such, fringe groups on both sides of the "mainstream" aisle have made a number of inappropriate and appropriate claims about our elected officials, the system of governance, and the credibility of public service in this country. The rise of the republicans had less to do with any real anger and more to do with the politics that is played out every two years; thanks to sound bites and media coverage whipping the electorate into a frenzy of emotional passions that spill over at the polls or people choosing to stay home because our government "doesn't care" and even worse, there is no accountability for results. Face it, most of what voters discuss is directly linked to what they read or hear on the television.

If you watch msnbc you may quote Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, or Keith Olhbermann. If you watch fox, you may quote Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. If you are apathetic, you may quote what is in your local paper and op-ed pieces. But all of this information is coming from a 3rd party source, you haven't confirmed it, digested it, or really thought deeply about it. And what is the "it" for you?

I have a proposition for both sides. Turn off the television. Turn on your computer. Go online, find out who your elected officials are: city, county, state, and federal. Find out who your non-paid elected officials are (in the case of downstate NY - county committee members who represent your election district and your male/female district leaders). Then, once you have all those names, go and look up your elected official's voting record. Find out what they voted on, how they voted, or if they simply handed their vote over to the leadership (speaker, majority leader, minority leader, etc). Find out how often they missed their votes.

While you are at it, find out what pieces of legislation they co-signed, introduced, passed, or let go to the wayside. You don't necessarily have to read the whole thing, though I think its a good idea if you do, but since you are just starting out, just try reading the summary and impact (purpose) of said legislation.

And while you are researching and learning, find out about how and where your elected spent your tax dollars, these are called "Budget Appropriations" - you can google some of this too! And learn about "Member Items" while you are at it.

And if you are feeling really motivated, you can also find out who contributed to your elected official's campaign. Did they get their money from people such as yourself in the community in small amounts? The Unions? Businesses? Who contributed most often? Who contributed the highest amount?

See, as public servants, all this information is not only a matter of public record, you can actually access all of this; just takes a little time and some reading. The work of the voter starts the day after election day. We must hold ourselves accountable first for having the knowledge of who our candidates and elected officials are, what they stand for, and how they represent/wish to represent us. If we do not, then we cannot complain that they don't care. People do get the government they deserve and there is mutual accountability between those running for office and the ones who put them there.

In my opinion - voting in ignorance is equal to not voting at all. So if you really want to see changes in how your government works for you, make sure you are putting the right people in office.

Case in point: Election day was on November 2nd. The Republicans and Tea Party members were ushered into the House. On November 3rd, the US Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to the newly elected stating that they wish to meet in January to discuss the concerns of their constituents. The US Chamber of Commerce supported republicans and tea party members alike (who were elected) because they were feeling the effects of the regulations that the Obama administration had begun to impose on them. That isn't something the voting public would feel. Within minutes of being announced Senator-elect, Rand Paul began the rhetoric of not taxing big businesses and rich people (find out how much the Chamber contributed to his campaign) - as I recall, these weren't the words coming out of most tea party supporters. Enough said. Rope a dope.

Don't get me wrong, there are corrupt politicians out there, we hear about them often. But there are some really hard working public servants who strive to do the right thing and public service is hard enough without having an ignorant voting public. We believe our elected officials owe us the best of themselves when representing us. That is correct. And in turn, we owe them the respect of providing (voting for) equally capable and competent colleagues to work with in doing the "people's business".

Voting in ignorance is equal to not voting at all. The electorate shares responsibility in this country's lack of accountability relative to governance. And yes, people really do get the government they deserve.


Akilah Rosado McQueen

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A little thing call the mid-terms

History is a funny thing, especially when people forget it!!! You can check out the NYTimes coverage here. Below are results from midterm elections, all the way back to 1930, we see the party in power in the Executive lose a significant number of seats in the House (and in often cases the Senate). I only included large losses, demonstrating that while this is a big deal (Dems. losing the House), it is not something NEW, in fact it is to be expected. IN fact, since WWII we've had a divided government for at least two-thirds of that time, so the fact that we just came out of a Democrat controlled White House, Senate and House is the unusual bit of information.

2010 Barack Obama D-60 (still being determined due to close races)
2006 George W. Bush R-30
1994 Bill Clinton D-54
1982 Ronald Reagan R-26
1974 Gerald Ford R-48
1966 Lyndon B. Johnson D-48
1958 Dwight D Eisenhower R-48
1942 Franklin D. Roosevelt D-45
1938 Franklin D. Roosevelt D-72
1930 Herbert Hoover R-52

These midterms demonstrated the growing strength of the Tea Party Movement that was borne out of the major bank bail outs and the 2008 victory of Barack Obama.

So what does this all mean? Well, it means that the party of "no," the GOP (the Grand Old Party) aka the Republicans and the Democrats will have to start working together. I mean, this is assuming that we actually want to do anything to restore economic security to the country, decrease the amount of unemployment, increase education standards, pass legislation that would repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

More to come...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day

it is illegal for me to serve in the military; my government will not allow me to marry the person I love; I can be discriminated in employment, housing, credit and education, but you know what, I CAN VOTE (and I just did, on Row E).

Monday, November 1, 2010

A lil email to friends

Dear Friends:

Tomorrow, as I'm sure you've heard, is election day. If you've talked to me in the past few weeks (or ever), you know how passionate I am about elections (and voting) and particularly what is at stake in New York this cycle. I know that many of us live in districts that might not be "in play," but the reality is that we all can play a role in the outcome of tomorrow's election.

There are two statewide races in which neither candidate has the majority, the Attorney General's race and the Comptroller's race. I implore you to vote for Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General and Thomas DiNapoli for Comptroller. Votes for these candidates will be votes for government reform, economic justice, women's rights and LGBT equality.

You can learn more about Eric Schneiderman here and Thomas DiNapoli here

The New York State Senate has a slim democratic majority and while tomorrow's results might not see an increase in that majority, we will hopefully see victories for democrats who are better on issues such as marriage equality, if every one plays their part tomorrow same-sex couples could come 4 votes closer to winning this critical right.

In many cases, the most critical outcome of these elections will be the party in power will redraw district lines, which occurs after every census. There is a reason that Republicans had control of the NY State Senate for so many years, they drew their districts. The catch here, this year is that NY is likely going to lose at least 2 Congressional seats throughout the state, therefore the redistricting will also hugely impact our representation nationally. It is critical that democrats maintain control of the Senate, that we retain our super-majority in the Assembly and the Governorship.

Nationwide, New York is viewed as a beacon of progressive values, a conservative or tea-party victory across the state will give huge weight to these platforms and put us in quite a fight in 2012, more so than we are in presently. Mid-term elections always see losses at a national level - Clinton lost about 50 seats in the house, FDR somewhere near 70. It is estimated that tomorrow, the House will lose anywhere from 40-80 seats, and the Senate anywhere from 4 - 9. We've spent the last 2 years with a Democratic controlled White House, Senate and House of Representatives, tomorrow we could see that change.

Tomorrow's election results hold in the balance issues that I know are important to many of you. I know we are all very busy people, but please take the time to go vote tomorrow.

You can find your polling place here

Not sure who to vote for? Check out this tool or ask me!!!

I will be voting on Row E tomorrow, the Working Families Party line, I encourage you to do the same. But honestly, I'll be happy if you just get out and vote!

Here's to democracy and 4am mornings in its name.

Talk soon,