Wednesday, December 21, 2011

chanukah dog. or: perhaps my parents go overboard

Chanukah Dog from Kira Goldenberg on Vimeo.

Our dog associates candles with him getting presents. This year's first night of Chanukah explains. Apologies for any video quality issues.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

come back

Hearing my godson's voice from India always makes me laugh, and then cry.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

new realities

Via a good friend. (and via)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

do not be alarmed

It's just another blog post, after a good long time. Here are some pieces with my byline that were published in the last couple months for my ever-so-vast reading public's perusal.

From Beehive to Bottle, Down East Magazine, Aug. 2011

The Best Time I Made A Celebrity Think I Was A Moron, The Hairpin, Sept. 8, 2011

Village Group Wants Change of School District, Southampton Patch, Sept. 1, 2011

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

bed cake

Hello from my latest gig, which involves hanging out with a six year old much of the week. Today, we made the sheet cake out of Amelia Bedelia Bakes Off, and then decorated our "bed cake" with the biggest marshmallows that ever showed their puffy selves in a grocery aisle.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

staying on the sidelines

A friend was surprised yesterday to learn that I rarely vote, or even register, and am uncomfortable participating in advocacy events as anything other than a journalist. I feel out of place at such things without a notebook. It's not that I don't have opinions—I certainly do—but years of working to make sure my reporting is fair, and that my sources don't feel judged regardless of their stances, make me hesitant to express what I think in any public way. This meant, yesterday, that I disappointed my friend by not joining her at a gay pride march.

But this reluctance was justified twice yesterday. First, I met with a someone who asked for my help crafting a narrative of his story. He was uncomfortable and defensive as he related it to me, and I discovered that it was because he had never shared his past and his views with anyone before without feeling judged and defensive in the process. When he realized that he couldn't discern my views during our conversation, because I was putting aside any I may have had to plunge into his worldview, he relaxed.

Second: another friend, getting her journalism degree, was apprehensive about covering a touchy event and asked for reporting advice before she began. Here's my advice, edited to delete blatant identifiers:

friend: One of my weaker areas is approaching crowd members for interviews because i overthink what to ask themonce I dive in I'm all goodme: don't say, "can i ask you a question"
just walk up and introduce yourself and ask
  or chat and then intro then ask
 friend: k
 me: if they feel like it's a conversation it's smoother
 stupid questions like "wow what are they doing?"
and at first i usually just go with people, no matter what crazy shit they say, and don't challenge things that seem like bullshit til a bit farther on
  bc as you already know, people always have a point, even if we think they're nuts
friend: right
  plus I'm going to be talking to some real nutty people
me: you can say ... "so what would you say to someone who... to get their response w/o them feeling attacked
friend: oh yeah
  I like taking care that I'm presenting myself as neutral or kind
 me: you can also ask "who would be a good person to talk to" which i'm saying bc i often forget to do it
 friend: right
 me: bc then you have cred
friend: WORD
 me: "so and so suggested i speak to you  Yesterday evening, I got an email from said friend. (No, I can't figure out how to un-indent this text.) It read:
Ok so I'm good at journalism. I started an interview that was filmed and poached when I got someone talking about what they shouldn't have at the big media blitz, and I've embedded with some [folks] who think I'm totally great. I took your advice and it made me feel better about doing what I do. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

a bit about my dog

This is Kippy. He's an 11-year-old Tibetan terrier. He runs my parents' house with one paw tucked demurely beneath his torso. This photo doesn't do justice to his cuteness.

I've spent a bit of time there in scattered spurts lately, and it's made me want to share a few tidbits about the little jerk:

He's a neighborhood celebrity

Every time I've walked Kip recently—and I mean that: every single time—strangers approach us, grinning, greet Kippy by name, fawn over him and then depart without introducing themselves to me, the lowly human at the other end of the leash. He has a couple neighborhood friends that I do know. They keep treats in their houses for him, so he'll pull toward those locations during strolls. He only stops straining if you tell him that they aren't home. 

He only has accidents when he's sick, but then those accidents are only ever on my parents' sole Oriental carpet

The pooch has standards.

He knows that candles mean presents

Kip always gets birthday presents, but combining wrapping paper and candle lighting once a year is probably not enough to convince him that the strike of a match means he will be getting a package.

Hanukkah, on the other hand, has eight consecutive present nights. Kip gets presents on all of them. Over the years, this has led to a routine that a neighbor thought my parents were lying about until she came over one evening this past winter.

Mom strikes a match to light the Hanukkah candles and, as match hits matchbox, Kips comes flying from whatever corner of the house was currently serving as his chaise. He sits at Mom's feet, looks up at her, and starts a sustained whine that sounds somewhat like high-pitched singing. This is fortuitous, because prayers precede presents, so my parents consider that Kip joining them in reciting the blessings. Then, they say, "Happy Hanukkah!" and Mom brings in gifts for everybody. Somebody opens Kippy's first, as best they can as he noses the wrapping. He delicately accepts the toy or the treat, prances into the next room, and lies down with it between his paws, content.

He has us trained

Everyone is used to being uncomfortably contorted on their own beds so as not to disturb Kippy when he's sharing them. A couple who recently stayed overnight let him sleep between them on the full-sized futon in the basement, even though he snores.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

enlightenment, the hard way

Remember that last post I wrote forever and a day ago? I reworked the anecdote there into a much more polished essay, available here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

a wash, and some wisdom


This morning during Mysore practice, I fell on my head during titibasana b. That'd be the pose pictured above. It requires binding your hands behind your back and then looking forward and taking five steps forward and five backward. I took a step, lost my balance, and landed on my head.

"This is not my day," I grumbled.

The woman practicing behind me answered, "Today is not your day for for looking up at your butt with your hands behind your back and then walking around like that?"

A few minutes later, I stayed up in handstand for the first time. The day hasn't been so bad after all.

P.S. We had to do 30ish-second promos for one of our Salt pieces in advance of next week's opening. Here's mine. 

Monday, April 25, 2011


  • A couple Salt friends and I ran into the six-year-old goddaughter of one of my story sources in the video store in downtown Portland. This child is gorgeous and sassy and easily kept us amused for about 15 minutes, talking about cartoons and reminiscing about how, a couple weeks before, she gave my visiting godson one of her stuffed animals. She considered renting ET, we could only find a VHS copy on the shelf. She grabbed the box, waltzed up to the register, and asked the staffer, "Do you have that in small?"
  • Fast forward an hour or so, and we stroll into the cemetery in the west end. A man in the distance is scanning the ground with a metal detector, and my spunkier friend decides she wants to know why. So we approach the guy. In the hand not grasping the metal detector, he holds a sizable knife. He's covered with dirt. Turns out the guy is friendly and not attempting to rob the dead, just trying to find leftover remnants left by funeral attendees. (The cemetery accepted its last member in 1910.) He's been sober for 23 years, he tells us, and hunting for small treasures is his relaxation hobby.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

first public salt thing

So, at the beginning of the Salt semester, we did a cross-track collaboration project called the mini ethno, which was this: spend a day in "the field," find a story and craft a multimedia project with just that day's material. My group's was the first to be posted to Salt's student blog and is available here (I did the writing component). My group lucked upon a story of a young soldier home on a brief leave from his first tour of Afghanistan. He overheard us talking about tattoos in the booth behind his in a local diner, turned around to chat and, moments later, whipped off his shirt to show us all his ink. My collaborators were radio students Matt Kielty and Clay Bolton and photographer Nic Tanner.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

why hello there

It's been awhile. Maybe I'll write stuff soon. I (always) have more thoughts on yoga and the new writing life I'm trying out this semester at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Can't share any of the work as of yet.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

offer it all, and they'll take what they will

The first time I tried yoga was to fulfill a gym requirement my first year of college. The teacher was tiny and old, and my memories of the semester are that it was slow and the instructor spoke like the hypnotic snake in Disney's "Jungle Book." I was bored and confused and not of the mind to listen to what a recent Yogadork commenter called all the "woo-woo" yammering. At the end of the semester, I was someone who disliked yoga.

After graduating, I gave yoga another chance at the other end of the extreme spectrum: I became a Bikram girl. To avoid paying for classes, I volunteered at the studio once a week, washing sweat-soaked towels and refilling soap dispensers. The masochism of exercising in a sauna appealed to me. Never mind that in the months I practiced, I avoided classes more than I went to them and never made it through the standing series without nearly fainting; never mind that a beloved yoga-teacher friend pointed out that overstretching and knee-locking are potentially harmful practice habits.

Eventually, with about a year of steady vinyasa-ish classes in between (in which our heroine learns how to weather a savasana without an anxiety attack! and develops an aversion to Anusara's woo-woo overload), I found my way to Ashtanga, which is the tradition I can envision remaining devoted to for lifetimes. Ashtanga's starting point is physical practice, but everyone that falls for the discipline's meditative rigor soon finds themselves making lifestyle changes and studying the Sutras. (This blogger sums it up nicely.) The fact that yoga, for me and my practicing community, is an all-inclusive package, doesn't diminish the physical benefits; yoga will make you strong and lithe, and practicing poses is fun. But those benefits are just one minor part of the whole deal.

This is all to say that I can see using yoga poses as purely a fitness regimen. I did so for more than a year, consistently attending classes with chanting and words like "auspicious" being thrown around. But I think yoga teachers, who ostensibly are dedicated enough to yoga to want to pass along its teachings to others, should not depict a spiritual practice with physical aspects as purely physical. Accept, and continue to accept, students who return for the chiseled biceps, but to do this without practicing yoga on the teaching end—without offering the more three-dimensional practice, regardless of whether students choose to accept it—is doing a disservice.

But this is what "rebel" yogi Tara Stiles does, according to a profile in today's New York Times that's currently topping the most-read list. "Ms. Stiles, a 29-year-old former model with skyscraper limbs and a goofball sensibility, focuses on the physical and health aspects of yoga, not the spiritual or the philosophical," the article says. I'm all for Stiles' cheap class prices, but why flatten a tradition when people take what they need from a given situation regardless?

The story fanned flames in ongoing yoga wars, which features frequent media skirmishes over yoga's identity as its popularity continues to grow in the west: Has yoga been severed from its Hindu roots? Is it the new, post second-wave feminism outlet for frustrated homemakers? Is it a wellspring of commercial possibility? (If these links are any indication, perhaps the entire battle is being waged in the Times, while a host of entertaining yoga bloggers, and occasionally some Slate writers, weigh in from the sidelines. Wouldn't surprise me one bit.)

But, as Ashtanga guru K. Pattabhi Jois used to say, there is just one yoga: Patanjali Yoga. There's one Old Testament and a billion schools of thought about it, but religious and academic scholars don't just study what has resulted from the Bible. They continue returning to the text, which gives the complete picture of where traditions came from while allowing for yet more interpretations.

*      *       *        *         *          *


Bikram was just profiled in Details and depicted as a crass, sexualized, materialistic tyrant. It's a pretty entertaining read: "I tell them all, 'No touchy-touchy, no kissy-kissy, no fucky-fucky!'" he says to the author, referring to students at his teacher training sessions. His copyrighted sequence of poses—and that's all it is, a sequence of poses, not a philosophy—is flashy, competitive and irreverent. I'm not sure how Bikram yoga is yoga other than this use of poses, but the man knows how to give an interview. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

new goal

Sunday, January 16, 2011