On vacancy and bad dreams

nightmaresI haven’t been feeling like myself for a few months now. Tough to explain, but the easiest way to try is to say I feel vacant. I don’t feel angry, or sad, or anxious; just vacant. I don’t care about much beyond my work. I feel very un-passionate about many things, and that’s unlike me.

So I decided I need to do something about this. I went to my doctor for a full physical and got some great advice in the process. I also have gone back to vinyasa yoga classes, and introduced TRX- and Kettle bell-training into my workouts via Pedal NYC, a ’boutique’ fitness gym on the Upper West Side.

Perhaps most importantly, I lightened my freelance work load. I am still struggling with this, but I realized I can’t do it all. (Something that has plagued me for much of my life. The inability to say no. The overwhelming pressure that I put on myself because I feel like I have to work twice as hard as everyone else to do a good job; to get some kind of accolade by someone superior.) I’m feeling better, but it is a work in progress.

In the meantime, I keep having bad dreams. I wouldn’t necessarily call them nightmares, because I don’t wake up frightened. Instead I wake up exhausted from the stress of the experience. And I wonder what they mean. So, of course, I consulted a dream website on the Internet. (Can’t get more legitimate than that, right?) It’s called Dreammoods.

Check out the interpretation for the dream in which my brother David and I were trying to survive an awful tsunami with brutal tidal waves. I didn’t know if the rest of my family was even alive. It was pretty bad.

That same week, I dreamt that I was catching butterflies and trapping them in a special butterfly cage. The interpretation for that one isn’t anything to brag about. And is it right? I don’t feel possessive!

Then there was the dream in which my dog had dog friends over. (Weird, right?) And then my apartment began getting infested with baby rats, I started screaming and jumping on the couch, and the dogs all went to town on them, viciously sinking their teeth into the little rodents. There isn’t an exact interpretation for dogs biting rats, but there is dog protecting a master and vicious dog. And a different interpretation for rats, of course.

Most recently, and perhaps most disturbing, was last night’s dream. In it, I was on my way to my apartment (which wasn’t my real apartment because the hallways were carpeted), when a man tried to assault me. I can’t say for sure (you know how you can’t remember EVERY detail of a dream), but I thought he was going to rape me. So I killed him. With a screwdriver. I stabbed that tool several times through his heart.

Then, my friends (I can’t remember who) were trying to help me to hide, but I kept arguing with them about going to the police because I felt like I had a good argument for self defense!

And then I woke up. Frustrated, like I always am when I dream like this.

According to Dreammoods.com, “to dream that you were raped or almost raped indicates vengeful or resentful feelings toward the opposite sex.” (Really? Obviously things I haven’t dealt with if Dreammoods is, in fact, right.)

As far as me killing the would-be rapist, “to dream that you kill someone indicates that you are on the verge of losing your temper and self-control.  Consider the person you have killed and ask yourself if you feel any rage towards him or her in your waking life. Your dream may be expressing some hidden anger. Alternatively, you may be trying to kill an aspect of yourself that is represented by the person killed. Identify the characteristics of this person and ask yourself which of these qualities you are trying to put an end to.”

Well, since I didn’t know this guy, perhaps there is hidden anger in my life. (That one I can believe. Trust me.)

And as for hiding from the cops (though it was against my will), I found some clues here. And Dreammoods says “to dream that you escape from jail or some place of confinement signifies your need to escape from a restrictive situation or attitude. Alternatively, it suggests that you are refusing to face your problems. You are avoiding the situation, instead of confronting them.”

Hmmm.. Guess I have a lot of thinking (or some more dreaming) to do!

CUTE ALERT: Wildlife Conservation Society Debuts Three Primate Babies

Bronx, NY – June 26  – Three primate species have produced offspring at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo._Julie Larsen Maher 9936 Mandrill and Baby CON BZ 06 04 13 _Julie Larsen Maher 3610 Silver Lear Langur and Baby JUN BZ 05 03 13 Vera, adult female

First Photo: A silver leaf langur (Trachypithecus cristatus) was born this spring in the zoo’s JungleWorld exhibit. Infants sport a striking orange-colored coat in comparison to the adults’ silvery gray color.   The coat will remain orange for three-to-five months before gradually turning gray. The baby stays very close to its mother, making it difficult to determine the monkey’s gender. Native to the rainforest canopies in Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia, nearly 80 percent of the langur’s diet consists of leaves. Silver leaf langurs are listed as “near threatened” by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). WCS’s Bronx Zoo has the largest breeding population of silver leaf langurs in North America.

Second Photo: A brown collared lemur (Eulemur collaris) was born this spring in the Bronx Zoo’s Madagascar! exhibit. Brown collared lemurs are primarily active during the day, but may move and forage at night.  They are native to the tropical forests of southeastern Madagascar, where their range is threatened by charcoal production and slash-and-burn agriculture.  This devastating loss of habitat is the primary reason the species is listed as “vulnerable” by the IUCN.

Third Photo: The Bronx Zoo’s Congo Gorilla Forest is home to a young mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) born last fall. The baby has grown quickly and is already running and playing in the exhibit with the rest of the troop. Mandrills are found inCameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. Mandrills are listed as “vulnerable” by IUCN and are threatened by habitat loss and hunting for bushmeat.

All three births are part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to maintain genetic diversity in zoo populations.

WCS works in the countries where lemurs, langurs, and mandrills occur in the wild to save these and other primate species.

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays, 5:30 p.m. weekends from April to October;10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m November to March. Adult admission is $16.95, children (3-12 years old) $11.95, children under 3 are free, seniors (65+) are $14.95. Parking is $14 for cars and $16 for buses. The Bronx Zoo is conveniently located off the Bronx River Parkway at Exit 6; by train via the #2 or #5 or by bus via the #9, #12, #19, #22, MetroNorth, or BxM11 Express Bus service (from Manhattan that stops just outside the gate.) To plan your trip, visit bronxzoo.com or call 718-367-1010.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.


Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS) Event on June 28

Screen shot 2013-06-17 at 1.05.46 PMThroughout my tenure here at Fordham University, I’ve learned about many great non profit and advocacy organizations in New York City. One such organization is the Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS), which serves girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking.

GEMS, which has a relationship with Fordham’s Graduate School of Social Service’s Institute of Women and Girls, was founded in 1998 by Rachel Lloyd, who had been sexually exploited as a teenager. GEMS has helped hundreds of young women and girls, ages 12–24, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and to develop to their full potential.

Any notion I ever had about prostitution was completely changed one day when I covered a Fordham / GEMS event where a young girl talked about how an ex-boyfriend forced her into the lifestyle and GEMS helped her get out. It’s a form of human trafficking, though not in the traditional way people tend to think of trafficking in developing nations.

GEMS and Fordham’s Institute of Women and Girls are co-hosting an event called, “Before,” on June 28, from 6 to 8 p.m., at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus. You can RSVP here.

“Before” is an evening of original monologues written by GEMS staff and fellows preformed at Fordham University’s Pope Auditorium. There will also be a survivor created art show and light refreshments.

For more information, visit GEMS website here.


Town Hall on LGBTQ Rights

Via the Fordham Notes blog:

article-shot-0518The murder of Mark Carson (pictured above), who was shot and killed in Greenwich Village in an anti-gay hate crime, brought a message to New York City: although we have come far in ensuring the rights of the LGBTQ community, we have not come nearly far enough.

With the aim of promoting social justice and a culture of tolerance, Fordham’s Be The Evidence Project (BTEP) will host a presentation and follow-up dialogue on the current standing and future of LGBTQ rights.

“What a Tipping Point Looks Like: LGBTQ Rights and Future”
Tuesday, June 18
12:30 p.m.
South Lounge | Lowenstein Center | Lincoln Center Campus
113 West 60th Street | New York, NY 10023

Read more here.

A truly international tribute to Boston marathon victims

Students enrolled in Berklee College of Music’s “Songwriting in Spanish” course have covered Spanish singer-songwriter Alejando Sanz’ single, “La Musica No Se Toca,” and dedicated it to victims of the April 15th Boston Marathon bombing.

The video was filmed last February in the greater Boston area and in Valencia, Spain, under the direction of course instructor and Grammy winning producer/musician, Javier Limon. It is a collaboration between more than 60 Berklee students and alumni.  Twenty nationalities are represented in the 38 musical performances which range from vocals to flute to cello, proving indeed that music is an international language.

“La Música No Se Toca” means ‘don’t touch the music’, and is a play on words in Spanish: ‘Don’t mess with the music’ and ‘music is not being played’.  Limon serves as the artistic director of Berklee’s Mediterranean Music Institute.  He uses Sanz’s music during his course.  When the students asked Limon for permission to make the video, he called his longtime friend and collaborator Sanz who loved the idea. The video was completed in April, after which the students dedicated the video to the victims of the April 15th Boston Marathon bombing.

The video ends with audio of Sanz’s version of the song playing as a written message from him appears, thanking Berklee musicians for their work and for “giving us so many emotions.”

Alejandro Sanz’ new album “La musica no se toca” is one of the biggest selling albums in 2013. It has produced three consecutive No. 1 singles, in Latin America , the U.S. and Spain. The album has sold over half a million copies worldwide and is quintuple platinum in Spain, platinum in Mexico, Argentina and USA, remaining among the five best-selling albums of all of Latin America for several consecutive weeks and Top 10 in the US for 25 weeks.

Alejandro Sanz will be touring Spain in the coming months after the end of a successful tour of USA, Argentina, Colombia, Central America and Mexico.

Why are people using the word ‘ratchet?’

s_sadeghi_slang_500x279Ratchet. What does it mean?

According to Dictionary.com:
/ˈraCHit/ Noun
A device consisting of a bar or wheel with a set of angled teeth in which a pawl, cog, or tooth engages, allowing motion in one direction…

Here’s how popular slang lexicon Urban Dictionary defines it:
ratchet: adj. a term for someone who is either 1. a whore 2. dirty/nasty 3. ghetto as HELL 4. being annoying 5. busted

How did the urban community come to adopt this word and why?

This weekend on WFUV‘s Fordham Conversations, Robin Shannon talks with Fordham University student Julianny Gomez and Dr. Aimee Cox, an assistant professor of African American Studies, about the popular slang term.

Julianny’s research examines how the derogatory term has been adopted as a way for young African Americans to police, embarrass and degrade one another.

Tune in to 90.7 FM on Saturday, June 8, at 7 a.m., or listen online here.