An Open Letter To Elizabeth Caputo


I have decided to communicate the best way I have been able to communicate with you so far, and that is through my blog. I have to resolve this one way or the other.

Meeting you for the first time was sheer magic. I remember vividly.

But then I decidedly - consciously and subconsciously - tuned you out of my mind because you were from Indiana. I had moved to NYC from Indiana. I was like, I am not going back there. Race stuff.

Then one day I googled you up. And I found out you had played a major role in the campaign of the last black guy to have run for New York state governor. I realized you were just like me. I grew up in a very sexist part of the world. Result: no feminist ever offended me. You are the same way on race. And also, it really got my juices flowing to also know you had run the entire northeast operation for when Wes Clark ran for president. Politics is my baseball. The nuts and bolts really get me.

My mistake since has been to not realize that you talk in person or not. Email is a big no no. But anyway, there have been a few misunderstandings. I might have even weirded you out. I am sorry.

Did you like me on day one? Did you like me later? Did you like me at any point in the past? I think yes. But I have a brief, failed marriage in the past. Past feelings are not what count. What counts is how someone feels today. My trucking killed a marriage. My weak social muscles from two years of intense 2.0 work might have already killed the possibility of something amazing. And if I have to move on, I will just have to make peace and move on. And I must do that.

But if I could say one thing to you, it would be this.

When you look at me, you make me feel like my mind is something naked. That has never happened to me before. And I fear if I don't grab your hand right now and hold on to it, it might never happen to me again.

To the brown people I look my age. I looked my age to you during that first connection. My profile on MySpace says I am 34. Add one, or at least about nine months. My official birthday is not my real birthday. That is Amitabh's birthday.

When I moved to this city I was cynical about love. I remember asking someone. People say soulmate. What if my soulmate is in Chicago? Do I never get to meet her? Today I feel it is not possible for my soulmate to be in Chicago. I am in total love with New York City. My soulmate must be someone who finds this city exciting. I have perhaps made progress.

I think in terms of values I am a one woman man who thinks in a nonsexist world half your friends and colleagues will be women. Amitabh is the most recognized face on the planet. If I keep doing the work I am doing, I might also become small scale famous. I draw my inspiration on a famous person having a great marriage from Amitabh. He is the ultimate family man. It comes naturally to me. And I thank my parents for the childhood they gave me. The hubbub of this city has opened me to the richness of human possibilities, but if anything my values have taken greater root, as if in liberation.

I had to find me before I could start looking. I had to process past memories, I had to bring into sharp focus the fact although I will probably always have one foot in politics, my real passion is in group dynamics as it might pertain to inventing a company which is what I am finally working on right now. It is early stage. That self discovery has been the best antidote to the rootlessness I felt before I moved to the city, before I moved to America.

Because I have such passion for the political process, and some knowledge, and I have managed to do a few things in the past, and I have managed to play a small role in the current presidential race, and you like my blog so very much, I think people from your background when they bond with me, they sometimes forget I really am from a very different culture. I was in my early 20s when I came to America. My father never said "Will you marry me?" to my mother. His grandfather sent an emissary to go talk to her father. When I got an email in my Facebook account inviting me to the December Baby birthday party, it said any December Baby can get listed. I am pretty sure I am a December Baby, and I would not have showed up if it were any one person's birthday party. But I did not get my name listed. I wanted to show up and feel the waters first. If it felt okay, next year I was going to get my name listed. This was the first time in my life when I kind of sort of celebrated my birthday.

I have understood. I know what it means to say "You are already a member" and then say "Will you join DL21C?" and I know what it means to brush against me at the Holiday party, touch me at the summer bash. I have understood everything except one. So when do I get to talk? A few different times I have felt like saying, you don't get to have it four different ways.

You have asked me several times to join DL21C. Is the idea to save money? So if you go to more than seven events in one year where you pay seven bucks, you save money. How much money? For me that never was a good enough reason to sign up.

Career move was neither. I came to this city to launch my company but got distracted by Nepal: best work I ever did. I don't see me running for office. I have to see my company to maturity. That is a full time undertaking, and it can take decades. Like my hero Larry Ellison said, CEOs are too uncompromising to be good at politics. But the digital democrat way of involvement works for me, something on the side.

Getting involved in a more active way? I gave that a thought. But I very quickly realized it will have to be an AOL Time Warner merger. DL21C is Time Warner. I am AOL. It is not a yes/no question to me. It is a conversation, a negotiation. And I don't think that went well. And that's okay. That means more time for my company.

Meeting political celebrities is fun, but it was more fun starting out. After a while the celebrity part wears off, and you find yourself listening to banalities. One of my favorite DL21C events of all time was when I showed up at this Upper West Side location and the discussion was something urban planning. The policy talk really got me. And you got to ask questions at the end. I really like to ask questions. None of the usual DL21C suspects were there.

I was just looking at the DL21C website, and kind of found myself liking what I saw. Finally some policy. What if I were to show up?

Sunday, January 13

11:30 am

Women's Issues Committee Meeting
Become involved in the WIC: bring your ideas for events or topics you would like to discuss. We'll be planning events for the upcoming year and introducing new members.
Au Bon Pain
684 Broadway @ West 3rd Street

Monday, January 14

7:00 pm

Economic Development Commitee Meeting

I think I am going to show up for these two events. If you by any chance are there, and if you feel the slightest discomfort from my presence, I want you to tell me, and then I am never going to show up at any DL21C event ever again.

I find it weird having to make this request. I must admit.

There is a part of me that keeps up sociological curiosities of crowd behavior. Issues in race and gender and class I find fascinating. And it is not all political. The rich details on each of those are raw material for when you are trying to shape up a new company. Race and gender are dazzling the way a kaleidoscope is. For me it is.

Warren Buffett has said he could not become CEO of General Electric. My style of digital democrat politics and 2.0, 5.0 group dynamics for my young company seems to place heavy emphasis on the Buffett style. You end up spending a lot of time alone. Amitabh also is a loner.

There are privacy issues. There are race issues. There are basic manners. When you move around the social circles of this city, you meet all sorts of people, and I will not have it any other way.