In the last few years, my writing and teaching have brought me closer to a number of “celebs”–all in the six degrees of separation sort of way. My article “Homeless with Cancer” in CR Magazine is one of the projects that reduced the space between me/my world and the lives of some pretty well-known people.
It started with Sylvia Plachy, famed photographer for The New Yorker and Village Voice and mom to Adrien Brody. It’s hard not to giggle when I see a trailer for one of Brody’s upcoming films, and over the holidays, Sylvia’s greetings came to me in the form of a postcard with Adrien pictured, camera in hand, smack in the middle of filming a Gilette commercial.
There’s also my encounter with Mark Strassman, a reporter for CBS News. Some mornings, I flip on the CBS Early Show and there’s Mark–standing in the middle of Cairo or on the not-so-sandy beaches of the Gulf Shore which are still recovering from the BP oil fiasco.
This past summer, I had a close encounter of another kind. With a group of students and colleagues, I received a rare private tour of Maiti Nepal and learned about this amazing refuge for women and children who have been taken across the border into India and forced to work as sex slaves, often threatened with their own lives or the lives of their children if they don’t do as they’re told. Many are infected with HIV and bear deep physical and emotional wounds. All strive for a better life back in their native country. Just a few months prior to our stepping foot on the campus of Maiti Nepal, where children are allowed an education and mothers learn an honest trade like sewing, all efforts at ensuring their survival and independence, Demi Moore walked the same paths and produced a documentary for CNN called Nepal’s Stolen Children.
Lives cross, and at the end of the day, we’re all just a few degrees apart.