Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Spring in New York

So begins a blank slate.

Sometimes, being in a routine makes you forget where you are or have been. Fast-paced walks across town, forgetting about work for a few days, and taking chances are surefire cures. Snap-back to a new season, with some new resolutions.

Noninjury (ahimsa) is not causing pain to any living being at any time through the actions of one's mind, speech or body. But can it be done?

In a cab, the driver rocks out to loud, slow, romantic Hindi music. "You know what this song is about?" He asks. I say I don't. "It's a pathetic song," he says. "The man knows he is no good for the girl. And she knows it. But she loves him. And he loves her. 'How do you not know?' He asks her," the cabbie explains. "'How can I tell you I love you? I think of you all the time,'" the cabbie lamented for the song-writer. "They do not see each other, but they love each other and never should have let one another go."

A really smart person once said relationships aren't true or false or even multiple choice questions: they're essays. It's springtime in New York. Air is fresh. Windows open, music gets a little louder. My feet are bare and their soles turn into blisters that turn to callouses in preparation for summer months. Blame the booze. Blame the fire in the belly. Blame the sunshine and story-telling. I wonder how long this sense of empowerment and freedom will last.

I used to be in cahoots with a leftover, flighty belief in something that could be so out of bounds it would be beyond sense, beyond matter, all-consuming and exactly what I'd always needed - something more complete than even I myself was. I thought that holding on for dear life might make it so. But am I still so sure about this or that as to gamble with this time of mine? And then what'll it be? Twilight Zone is the only thing I can stand to watch for now, but it makes me dream about time travel. And so on.

These are the mysteries. And today, I'm filled with a strange new kind of thing. Cheers to new beginnings. First kisses. Sunroofs. Wing-flexing and old tapestries spread in new grass.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Stuck at Prom

Are all those prom dresses starting to look alike? Here's an alternative: Duct Tape

By Nicole Caldwell

After visiting every mall within a 50-mile radius, you claim you've exhausted your prom gown search. Oh really? Have you tried...Staples? Because that infamous silver adhesive known as duct tape makes for some mean formalwear. Create a gown out of the sticky stuff and you could walk away with more than just a stand-out prom photo; you could also snag some cold, hard cash.
The 2006 Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest is offering a $6,000-per-couple prize that you and your prom date can use toward the respective colleges of your choice. All you have to do is get creative.
Read the rest of this post here.
[Originally published at ELLEgirl.com, April 2006]

Saturday, April 8, 2006

Brooklyn Papers: Faith Issue

[Click on article for enlarged image]

[Select images in collaged title by Nicole Caldwell

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Pencils Down

Is there anything worse than spending your entire Saturday taking a test that allegedly is going to determine your entire academic future (no pressure...)? How about being one of 5,000 students nationally whose SAT scores were marked incorrectly this school year? Yeah. That sucks.

Two students in Minnesota received their SAT scores in December and immediately knew something was up. According to the New York Times, the teenagers protested their results and demanded their tests be rescored by hand. Sure enough, the scores had been graded incorrectly the first time around. The board then began a scramble to see if other students' scores had been mishandled. The short answer? Uh, yeah.

In March, The College Board announced to a stunned public that about 4,500 students received SAT scores lower than what they earned when scanners missed some lightly-filled ovals. According to the
New York Times, the biggest discrepancy found was a whopping 450 point-differential. That's enough to change scholarship eligibility and, at some schools, enough to mean the difference between rejection and acceptance.

Read the rest of this post here.
[Originally published via ELLEgirl.com, "In the News" segment]

Kids in the Hall

Here's a scary fact: about 10 percent of American teenagers drop out of high school, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And while teachers, government officials, and parents are busy sorting out what drives them to leave, one organization thinks the problem might be as simple as a change of scenery. How do you make students want to stay in school? In a word: decorate.

Publicolor, a non-profit organization devoted to both improving the dropout rate and creating an energized young work force, provides tools and training to inner city students, allowing kids to visually transform their beige and monochrome schools into a place they actually like to come.

"When we started painting the school, everything fell into place. Everybody was, like, actually happy," says Dios Belti, a 16-year old from Manhattan who describes her school as "drab" and "boring" pre-makeover.

Read the rest of this post here.
[Originally published at ellegirl.com, "In the News" segment]