Shared Joy, Collective Memory

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But I think, as we get older and sense that memory is deceiving and strange, we also do this to remind ourselves it did happen. That despite the disconnect that time creates, and any negative residue collected within ourselves, there was joy.

Filed Away: On Pinterest and Dreams

Pinterest

Sure, I was collecting things in an online space. But it still felt like clutter, fit for shoe boxes under my bed. And with Pinterest, my aspirations no longer floated in my head. They were right there: discoverable, pinnable, and recyclable by others. Aren’t my dreams supposed to be elusive? Unable to be bookmarked?

Online Mourning and the Unexpected Refuge of Facebook

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Alone, I sobbed. Yet I sobbed with Facebook open—his life revealed and exposed in bits on my screen, his friends spilling tears on his profile. I sobbed at home, by myself, but also with everyone else.

On the Rave Underground and Pre-Digital Discovery

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One afternoon in our high school library, I noticed my friend studying a glossy, colorful postcard of sorts, folded into a few sections. She opened it horizontally to reveal a triptych of thick paper. A jumble of text was plastered all over, on the front and back. She handed it to me. There were lists of people’s names in scattered boxes; each column was labeled. The left column was titled Feel It: Where old school heritage meets the new school vibe. The typography reminded me of the Sega Genesis games I played when I… Read More

Notes on Virtual Life, Part VI: Facebook Status Updates (And What I Could Have Said)

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Facebook makes us jealous. Competitive. Depressed. Facebook stirs up that fear of missing out. Facebook’s meaningless, frictionless sharing—think automatic Spotify updates—makes us care less. Facebook is destroying our friendships. Our connections. What it means to truly interact and be social. And so on. You’ve heard this all before. There are many of these articles floating around, but after reading this Gizmodo piece, Facebook Is Making Us Miserable, I finally decided to toss some thoughts into the pot. The article, like others I’ve come upon, notes Facebook’s culture of comparison and competition: First,… Read More

Luxor and Las Vegas: Kitsch, Appropriation, and Ancient Egypt

Cut Torso, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt, November 2011.

Just before I went on a trip to Vegas, I was in Egypt. I doubt I’ll fly that jarring Egypt-to-Las Vegas itinerary ever again, and since this odd, amusing juxtaposition of culture still swirls in my head, I thought to share it with you.

Notes and Numbers from My Moleskine: Egypt, Details, and Sensory Overload

Giza, Egypt.

My feet. Always dirty. And my soles? Cracked. They have turned hard from being exposed each day. My nose is overloaded: traffic fumes, cigarette smoke, cherry-flavored shisha tobacco, incense. I hear sounds in the middle of the night: the prayer on a loudspeaker, the voice haunting and mesmerizing. A cat’s shriek outside of the flat. The unfamiliar pipe sounds of the building. My beloved’s snore. I have played Texas Hold Em with French teachers in Dokki; I watched Sufi dancers twirl in colorful skirts. I navigated the traffic of Tahrir Square on foot; I… Read More

Roots vs. Wanderlust: On Home, Accumulation & What’s Missing

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It’s quite confusing, all of this.

How seeing the accumulation of my things in a space that I own is both exciting and suffocating. How roots and wanderlust continue to battle. How I am eager for “home” to be something concrete, but know that no place I inhabit will feel like home until I have the one thing that’s missing.

Colors, Culture, Community: Stories in the Making at San Francisco’s Precita Center

Slanted and Sky, Precita Center, San Francisco.

The Precita Center in the Mission District of San Francisco. For years, the Precita Center has been a cultural institution, education center, and neighborhood hangout for kids and young adults in the Mission and beyond. Faced with funding cuts, writer and educator Gabe Martinez—who manages the center’s GED program—started organizing a quarterly arts and music show to raise money for students who need to pay for testing fees. The colorful backyard of the Precita Center. The GED program at the Precita Center has assisted hundreds of students over the years. This year, the program had 22… Read More

On Sorrows and Spirits

Post-Memorial Ritual, June 2011.

We become heavy when a loved one passes away. Weight in the form of tears and wails. Yesterday, my godmother, Lola Maxima, used a concoction of wine and steaming hot water to cleanse guests in the home of the recently departed—my uncle Mike, a loving father to three cousins with whom I grew up, a wonderful husband to my aunt Genie (my father’s older sister), and an always warm, lighthearted person with a perpetual smile. I first participated in this family tradition when my father’s father died years ago. (I took the… Read More