Friday, July 31, 2009

Work It Out

It's high time for this pixie to get back in shape. I've been so lazy and all procrastinatory-like. But QQ and ChocolateOrchid have (whether they know it or not) inspired me to get up and DO IT! (imagine that in an extreme monster truck rally type voice) I have some bawse gym equipment in my new apartments. My main obstacle has been when I get home from work I am too tired to want to work out. I never considered early morning workouts until recently. So starting next week, I will:

-Buy a scale to track my progress
-Wake up at 5 AM to work out
-Finish by 6 AM and shower and get ready for work
-Cut out soda (except on celebratory occasions)
-Cook MORE!! (try to limit eating out to once a week, then less gradually)

I wanna work my abs area mostly, but all-over fitness and health is my goal.

To my fit, healthy, swoll, buff, beefcake bloggies out there...what exercise tips do you have?

Should I go Monday-Friday and take weekends off?
Should I go Monday, Wednesday, Friday?
What's most effective for a 1-hour work-out? Ab machine and elliptical machine? What else?
Early-morning do you manage to not be exhausted at work? What time do you go to bed?
I welcome other tips and advice in the comments.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Life According To...

Saw this over at Brother's Blog, and had to do it! I am a whore for light-n-fluffy memes, and I'm ok with that.

Instructions: Using only song titles from ONE ARTIST OR BAND, answer these questions. Pass it on to 12 people and include me. You can't use the artist or band I used. Do not repeat a song title. Repost as "My Life According to (ARTIST OR BAND NAME)"

Pick Your Artist: Amel Larrieux
Are you a male or female?: Bravebird

Describe yourself: Magic
How do you feel: Searchin' For My Soul
Describe where you currently live: Mountain of When

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Beyond

Your favorite form of transportation: Your Eyes

Your best friend is: Dear to Me
Your favorite color is: Orange Glow
What's the weather like: Weather (HA!)
Favorite time of the day: Morning

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called: Unanswered Question

What is life to you: Just Once
Your relationships: For Real
Your fear: Don't Let Me Down

What is the best advice you have to give: Get Up

If you could change your name, you would change it to: Shine
Thought for the Day: We Can Be New

How I would like to die: Sacred

My soul's present condition: Giving Something Up

My Motto: Say You Want It All
I'm tagging Vesper, Karrie, MrsMaryMack, QQ, Chanel, Chocolate Orchid, kingsmomma, InnyVinny, Little Miss Knobody...those are the only ones I know who might actually indulge me here, lol. All of my followers are tagged too, drop a comment if you do one!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What's in a (Screen) Name?

Mad props to kingsmomma for inspiring this post!

This shall be a bonding blog.

What does your screen-name mean and why did you choose it?

Share more than one, if you have multiples.

Here's mine:

Blog Title
The Gemini Life; more of me going through life as a Gemini, and how life always presents these multiple, often polar options and pathways. It used to be the Bohemian Bahamian which was paying homage to my Bahamian ancestry; then I didn't want to look like a poser or cultural usurper so I changed it to the Bohemian Bookworm (which is the URL) because the latter was my nickname in school...then I haven't had time to post book reviews like I want so it became The Gemini Life!

Blogger Name
Contrary to popular belief, Gem is not from the cartoon show Jem, though I did wake up many mornings before school to watch! Gem was picked from me being a Gemini through and through, and my lifetime obsession with gemstones. No seriously. I have books. Multiple books on gemstones. I also have a gem tattoo. I fancy myself a treasure hunter in life....hmmm...that gives me an idea....

Twitter Name
@pixiegem Welp, Gem was already taken, so I called upon my unicorn heritage and my chocolate pixie twin KB for pixiegem.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Eric Frimpong

Peeps, I feel so sick inside when events such as the following occur in this country. Progress is progress, but too many people--and specifically, minority racial group people, fall through the cracks (or get stomped through them, it seems). This is a long read, so take the weekend if you need to. However, I implore that you read the whole case. Share it with a friend. Post it on your blog. Don't be silent if this moves you. If it doesn't move you, maybe you're just used to it; too far gone over the bitter fence. If there's another reason, please share. I have pasted excerpts from the article to give a more concise version of the following case:

Eric Frimpong was an immigrant from Ghana who came to the US recruited to play soccor at his college. He was accused, convicted, and sentenced for rape based on virtually no evidence but the victim's testimony, who herself was heavily intoxicated and admitted to not having much memory of the night, AND with evidence of her boyfriend's semen on her panties the night of the rape. I have pasted excerpts from the article to give you a somewhat concise understanding of the following case:

Back in Ghana, in western Africa, he and his three younger siblings were raised by their mother, Mary, in the poor farming community of Abesin, but her job as a typist with the government forestry department allowed the family to have plumbing and electricity, unlike many of their neighbors. Eric was an engineering major and a midfielder for Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in Kumasi, when he caught the eye of UCSB assistant Leo Chappel, who attended a 2005 match to scout the son of a Ghanian pro but ended up offering a scholarship to Frimpong instead.

Everyone around Frimpong was buoyed by his success: his mother, friends and classmates, prominent locals who had helped him out along the way with invites to dinner, rides to the store and, when he struggled with homesickness during his junior year, a fund-raiser that yielded $3,000 for a ticket to Ghana. "We all tried to pitch in, because Eric's so darn likable," says Tim Foley, a booster who made Frimpong a regular guest at his family's home. "He was an American success story."

The Monahans were especially proud. Frimpong had met his "American parents" on move-in day in 2005, and they promptly invited him to spend Thanksgiving in San Diego. They gave him his first cell phone and laptop and took him on family vacations. They sat in their kitchen for hours listening to his stories about Ghana. They were also impressed by his knowledge of the Bible, and his quiet spirituality helped bolster their own faith. "He was going to graduate, play professionally, make more money here than he ever could in Ghana and bring it back to support his family," Loni says. "Eric really had it all."

Frimpong's journey from soccer hero to convicted felon began a little more than halfway through his senior year. (The account that follows is based on police reports, interview transcripts, court proceedings and comments from trial observers.) The night of Feb. 16 began for Frimpong in the same place where he started most Friday nights, on the couch in his house at 6547 Del Playa Drive, watching a movie with housemates. His girlfriend, Yesenia Prieto, was working late, but Eric had reason to celebrate, fresh off an impressive 10-day tryout for the Wizards, so he showered and went to meet friends at a party at 6681 Del Playa Drive. It was outside that home, at about 11:30 p.m., that Frimpong met Jane Doe, a UCSB freshman. They struck up a conversation, then walked back to his house to play beer pong. They arrived just before midnight, and Eric introduced Jane to his roommates before taking her to the patio, where the two of them played beer pong for a few minutes until, according to Frimpong, Doe said she wanted to smoke, so they headed for the park next door. At the park, he says, Doe approached another male, who appeared to have followed them. When she walked back to Frimpong, she started kissing him, but he wasn't interested because she smelled of cigarettes. Doe became aggressive, he says, and stuck her hand down his pants. He pushed her away, then headed to the home of his friend, Krystal Giang, who'd been expecting him. By 4 a.m., he was in bed at Prieto's apartment.

About an hour and a half earlier, Jane Doe, accompanied by her sister and two friends, checked into Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital emergency clinic, claiming she had been raped. She was transferred to the Sexual Assault Response center downtown, where a nurse discovered a laceration to Doe's external genitalia and bruises on her body, findings consistent with sexual assault.

"Yesterday was a really good day," Doe told sheriff's detectives Daniel Kies and Michael Scherbarth when they arrived at her dorm room the next morning, according to a police transcript. The reason for cheer: The 18-year-old Doe had just regained her driver's license following a juvenile DUI conviction. At around 9 p.m. on Feb. 16, she went to a party. After stopping at a second party, Doe left the group and headed for a fraternity bash on Del Playa. "That's where I saw the guy," she told police.

From there, Doe's story is mostly consistent with Frimpong's, up to and including their game of beer pong. "He was really nice," she said. But their accounts differ sharply after that. According to Doe, the next thing she remembers is being on the beach, where the nice guy turned violent, knocking her to the ground, striking her in the face, holding her throat and raping her before fleeing. Having lost her purse, Doe walked to Del Playa, where she stopped a passerby, student Justin Hannah. Using his cell, she phoned a friend, her father and then her friends, who picked her up around 1:30 a.m. Doe, who admitted to drinking heavily throughout the evening, couldn't remember anything between stepping into their car and going to the hospital -- a period of one hour -- but her friends would fill in the blanks: At first Doe didn't want to go to the hospital because she was worried about getting in trouble for drinking. But back at the dorm, her friends kept urging, and she relented. Sitting with the detectives that morning, she described her attacker as a black male who spoke with an "island accent" and had "big lips" and short hair. His name? "Eric, I think."

Sometime around noon on Feb. 17, Kies and Scherbarth spotted Frimpong hanging out with friends at the park on Del Playa. When Kies asked if he would accompany them to the station to talk about "what happened last night," Frimpong agreed to go, despite being unsure what the detective meant. Once at the station, Kies reminded Frimpong that he had come voluntarily and asked him to describe what he'd been doing the previous night. According to the police transcript, Frimpong told Kies about watching a movie at home, then going to a party and eventually meeting Doe, whom he described as one of the "random soccer fans," and playing beer pong with her before heading to Giang's house and later to Prieto's. Kies then asked for Frimpong's consent to collect the clothes he'd worn the night before. "Yeah," Frimpong responded, "but I still don't know what's going on." Kies explained that the girl said that they'd "had sex" on the beach. "Wow," Frimpong responded. Kies then informed Frimpong that he was being detained and read him his rights. Minutes later, he explained the rape accusation. "I didn't have sex with her," Frimpong insisted. Charged with felony rape, he phoned Paul Monahan, who spread the word. Vom Steeg couldn't believe it: "I'm thinking, Frimpong? Rape? No way." (The coach later asked Frimpong directly. "I said, 'Eric, is there any chance you had sex but you thought maybe it was consensual?' He said, 'Tim, I never pulled my pants down.' I said, 'If you did this, DNA will prove it.' He said, 'Coach, I'm not stupid.' ")

When the test results came back in March, Frimpong's DNA hadn't been found on Jane Doe's clothing or body, but Doe's DNA had been found on Frimpong: in two nucleated epithelial cells, found on his scrotum and penis, and in an unspecified trace under his fingernail. (Epithelial cells are found inside the body and in body fluids like mucus, saliva and sweat. These tested negative as vaginal cells, but such tests can be inconclusive. When the case went to trial that November, the defense argued that the findings were consistent with Frimpong's claim that Doe had grabbed his genitals.) Also, semen found on Doe's underwear didn't match Frimpong's -- but it was a match for that of Benjamin Randall, Doe's sexual partner throughout her freshman year.

Despite having DNA evidence matched to him, Randall was never a suspect. Neither was the man who retrieved Doe's purse, which she said she'd lost either on the beach or at Frimpong's home. It was delivered to the sheriff's department the next day, minus $30, by someone described in the police report as a "can recycler." But because of a "language barrier," he wasn't questioned. Frimpong was the only suspect, even though there was no apparent sign of sexual activity -- no blood, semen, vaginal secretions -- or any scratches or other telltale marks of rape on his body or clothes. The absence of abrasions was odd. Doe told authorities she was wearing a "thicker ring" on her right ring finger and that she hit her attacker so hard, "all my knuckles were screwed up." There was also very little sand found on his clothes.

Throughout the investigation and during the trial, Doe admitted to gaps in her memory. In her interview with detectives, she claimed she had consumed "a couple shots of vodka" before leaving her dorm. In an interview that April with assistant district attorney Mary Barron, the lead prosecutor, Doe said she'd consumed more throughout the evening. "I know I had beer," she said. "And I know I had rum." She also acknowledged that her memory after beer pong was hazy. "That's when it starts to, like, cut out," she told Barron. According to the transcript, Doe had little memory of going to the beach, and her recollection of the rape itself was scattered. Asked whether she recalled going outside to smoke, Doe said she "probably" smoked but didn't remember when. "I don't even know, since there's that chunk missing."

So what happened on the beach? Doe said Frimpong may have tried to kiss her, but when pressed by Barron she admitted, "I have no clue. I'm just assuming…" She also said, "I remember him biting me on my face," even though she had told the emergency room doctor she thought she'd been hit, and when questioned by detectives, she said she didn't know about being bitten. Doe continued, "I saw him, like, feel around -- take off his belt -- or something on his pants -- I don't know." She said she remembered being penetrated, and "it felt like a penis." Barron asked if the attacker was the same person she'd played beer pong with. Doe said that while she couldn't recall going to the beach, she remembered the attacker's accent, his eyes ("They were white") and his lips ("They're big"). She was also fairly confident that the rape lasted "15 minutes at the most… but then, since there's that huge chunk of time that I don't remember, it could be anything."

Many of Frimpong's supporters believe that race is at the heart of the case. Santa Barbara County has nearly 425,000 residents, but only 2% are black. "I love this town," says Foley, a resident for 30 years, "but there's no question there's racism here." Thanks to Frimpong's celebrity status, he wasn't flying under the radar. "I'm 100% convinced that they were going to nail this guy before he walked into the station," Foley says. (At the trial, Burns testified that in a Feb. 22 phone call from Kies, the detective asked her to expedite her usual process, reminding her that this was a "high-profile case.")

The jury began deliberating on Friday, Dec. 14; the next Monday, just after 3:30 p.m., came the guilty verdict. On Jan. 31, 2008, with Frimpong in jail awaiting sentencing, the defense filed a motion for a new trial, citing several factors, including a development with the jury: In a written declaration to the court, juror Ann Diebold stated, "I regret the decision I made in finding Mr. Frimpong guilty." Among her many points was the court's refusal to provide the jury with evidence they had requested for review, including Doe's testimony and Frimpong's interview with Kies -- the latter because some jurors stated that they wanted "the opportunity to hear Mr. Frimpong's side of the story." (They were read only Doe's direct testimony, without cross-examination, because Judge Hill said "it would take some time to gather the additional information," Diebold wrote.) Diebold also claimed that the jurors rushed through deliberations so they could conclude the case by the Christmas holiday. "I felt pressure from the judge and other jurors to reach a verdict by Dec. 18," she wrote.

Sanger's motion was a last-second heave, but it allowed him to put his own forensic dentist on the stand. Defense expert Charles Bowers fell ill during the trial and was unable to testify, but at the hearing on Feb. 28, he delivered his opinion: Frimpong's teeth could not have made the bite, but Randall's (the victim's boyfriend) teeth could have. As Bowers spoke, there was a buzz in the gallery. But Judge Hill was unmoved. He began the hearing by saying that in his 27-year career, "I've not seen a rape case with so much incriminating, credible and powerful evidence," and ended it by dismissing the motion. Three days later, he sentenced Frimpong to six years.

"It's a terrible thing that happened to me," Frimpong says. "Being in here, I keep asking myself why God put me in that situation. And then it struck me: Maybe I can reach more people, help more people, if they hear my story." His supporters say it's working. "All you have to do is look at Frimmer's camp -- he hasn't lost anyone," Vom Steeg says. "In fact, since the trial, he's actually gaining supporters." In Ghana, Frimpong's plight is well-documented by the media. In Santa Barbara, people continue to proclaim his innocence, even when it's not easy to do so. After writing several opinion pieces in the local papers, Kim Seefeld was inexplicably subpoenaed to appear at the hearings on the motion for a new trial. (She was never called to testify.) "I got harassed by the DA, subpoenaed and threatened, all because I stuck my neck out for someone I believe is innocent," says Seefeld, who plans to continue her writing. "That's what happens to a citizen who dares to question our justice system in Santa Barbara."

And then there are the letters from all over the world, many containing donations. "These are people who don't even know Eric, have never spoken directly to him," Loni Monahan says with awe. "Eric was born to be a pro soccer player, but he's realized he has more impact in the direction he's going. There's a groundswell going on." The key addition to Team Frimpong is Ronald Turner, a Sacramento-based, court-appointed appellate attorney who has filed the opening brief in an appeal with the Second Appellate ­District of California. The process gives Frimpong hope.

Full article here. Originally peeped here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Finding My Voice and Stuff

I had one of those self-realization/epiphany moments the other day that came to light simply from my husband telling me he liked my natural speaking voice.

My natural speaking voice is pretty deep. Sort of like Alicia Keys deep, but not quite that homeboyish (anyone remember how she used to talk around her 1st album? I doooooooo!). But hearing that made me realize that I rarely use my natural speaking voice unless I'm at work, or bitching someone out. I realized that most of the time I speak in a higher, lighter voice. Why? Why have I been doing that for so long?

I have always been extremely shy (in the past) to somewhat reserved (now) unless I know you pretty well. I suffered from low self-esteem for various reasons, like many other girls and young women. Most of my friends (and even some of my bloggies--blogging homies) view me as a hippie unicorn sunshine creature--which I am, most of the time. I wonder if over the years I unconsciously changed my voice tone to "fit" that image of me. Or to seem non-threatening in general, maybe? My voice sounds pretty authoritative when I get to talkin' bout thangs. In one of those party games where people have to write stuff about you, last week, a friend wrote that I was a Southern Belle. When I think back to the voice I have been using, my southern accent also sounds a LOT stronger in the voice I "use" than when I use my natural speaking voice. KB said I sound like Sandy the Squirrel from Spongebob Squarepants. I have not heard the voice of this character, so KB's ass-beating status is currently pending. (As long as I don't sound like Beyonce, LAWD)

Anyhoo, so now I've been trying to consciously use my natural speaking voice and in the process have become aware of the different situations I use the "pixie-friendly" voice in. It's not COMPLETELY unnatural, as when I'm tired or other random times my voice is softer but there is a definite switch. But I have fallen in love with my natural speaking voice after all these years. It's unique, awesome, zexy, powerful, direct. Pixies can have deep voices! No more trying to fit an image. It's amazing how we can be so UNAWARE of the things we do to hone our presentation of selves. And all it took was this one comment (shout out to my boo, HEEEYYY!). I am seriously stunned over here.

Have any of you had something similar happen to you? Where you tried to hide or play down a physical or personality trait of yours (consciously or unconsciously) that you felt somehow wouldn't "fit"? Share!

In other news, my jaw has been hurting like whoa. I know my teeth are out of alignment but I'm in denial over braces. Invisilign, maybe. Anyone been told you need braces in adulthood? I also want, NEED Lasik. Soon, my pretties, soon. Anyone had Lasik??

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Monday, July 13, 2009

Surgeon General and Scientists

Dr. Regina Benjamin is the new Surgeon General, as picked by President Obama. Here are some facts about her and her practice that stuck out to me as inspiring and most excellent.

"When people couldn't pay, she didn't charge them," Obama said. "When the clinic wasn't making money, she didn't take a salary for herself."

Like many of her patients, the clinic has suffered its own life-threatening challenges. It was heavily damaged by Hurricane Georges in 1998 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It also burned to the ground several years ago. But Benjamin rebuilt it after each setback and has continued to offer medical care to the village's 2,500 residents.

For more about the role of the Surgeon General in the United States, who often is the face and first line of defense of public health, click here.

Peeped here and here.

I am in admiration whenever I encounter a woman scientist or doctor, especially a black woman scientist (because I rarely see black woman scientists). I secretly want to go back and get a degree in Biology, but I don't know how realistic or feasible that would be.

Do I have any scientist readers (male or female, any race)? I know BCU is in the science field and if she's reading this, I invite you to comment.

What is your job/career like? What was school like? What is your daily routine at work? Do you enjoy it? Are the hours manageable? Please share!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Uganda Bravebirds

In a land far away where the sun doesn't spare a soul
And a twisted tradition has a girl in a strangle-hold

Lies a desert with the footprints...of little girls with a secret
Of a pain, that you and I could never know

Uganda's President has banned the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), or female circumcision. This practice is done on young girls with a crude, often unclean knife or blade with no numbing or anesthetic, often removes the clitoral hood, and/or vaginal lips, and often is stitched back up into a small opening. This cultural practice transports them into womanhood and makes them marriageable, from what I understand. I have read often that the subsequent pain is supposed to ensure the woman's faithfulness, as she will not seek out sex for pleasure thus ensuring the husband's paternity and control/domination over his wife. Complications include reduced-to-no sexual pleasure, infections, pain and possible life-threatening complications in childbirth, maternal and infant mortality, and increased susceptibility to diseases such as HIV.

Little feet running fast as they can like a bird in flight
Through the sand with the fire in the sky and the indigo nights
She ran away from a life spent...being witness to other unwilling participants
Of a pain, that you and I could never know

The song in this post is attributed to Waris Dirie (but also others like her, I'm sure), who underwent FGM at the age of five years, and fled from an arranged marriage at the age of thirteen years to London. She has written an internationally bestselling book about her life and worked on a film of the same subject. She became a supermodel and is still an activist against FGM.

As she speaks you can tell that the words are not easy to say
Cause they have the power to transport her to that impossible day
But she hasn't any regrets, cause she won't become a woman with a secret
Of a pain that you and I could never know

Several other African countries have officially banned FGM, but in some countries apparently, the practice is still rampant. This seems really difficult to police effectively, but I truly believe just recognizing the dangers and human rights violations of this practice and stating sanctions against it is a hugely important step for women. Awareness is key so I think this is a giant leap forward every time a country bans it. I am always respectful and mindful of other cultures but I do think a line has to be drawn when it comes to blatantly harming, disabling, and often incapacitating another human being for the sake of marriageablility and womanhood. If there are those more knowledgeable on this subject, I invite your thoughts as well as those of all my readers.

You're a bravebird...of the rarest kind
You may be one of the walking wounded...but still you fly
You're a put yourself on the line
When you shared your secret with the saved another mother's child

Peeped here through here.

Bravebird - Amel Larrieux

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