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Showing posts from April, 2018

#allpackagesmatter - Thank You, @Sean Carter

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So I've been spending a lot of time talking about myself lately, which is probably not a surprise. It's my blog, and I've been avoiding Facebook and its inherent drama, so that leaves me as my #1 topic.  Today, though, I got sucked into a good one, and I'm going to talk peripherally about Sean Carter, because he's awesome. Thank you, Sir, for keeping the faith.
All Packages Matter, people. Add this to your list of causes.

I lived in DC (That's short for Our Nation's Capital, #2 Black majority city after Philly) for 13.5 years. I watched my neighborhood gentrify, and as a person who started out as the minority, I can tell you I had mixed feelings. I appreciated the restaurants that popped up down the street - Red Rocks, El Chucho, and Room 11 - but I was sad to see houses emptied one by one, as the original occupants passed away and their relatives sold the houses to flippers.  Do other cities have Luxury Condos with Used Tire Mart views?  Dunno. I do know…

Mermaids vs. Scary Spiders aka Happy Birthday, Charlotte

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So I learned some things yesterday:

1. 4-year-olds are exhausting just to be around 2. 4-year-olds are wiggly and you have to paint fast 3. 4-year-olds are the best possible clients. 
::dab some paint on wiggly small person; hand wiggly person a mirror::

"What do you think? What are you?" Artist waits for approval.

Client bursts into sunny smile.

"I'M A _____________________________!" Mermaid, Spider (requested by girls), Octopus - yep, I sold that to a 2-year old. I went in with this as a plan.

Octopus Kid worried me, because he cringed just slightly as he watched the brush approach, like it was a needle. Dad was squatting nearby and giving encouragement, so I wasn't convinced the kid was doing this willingly.  But then he pursed his lips in a way that seemed not apprehension but complicity  - like "go for it" - so I went for it. His slow smile as he looked into the mirror was the best possible answer.

"No, adults don't get face paint,&…

*Flash Fiction* Self-Help

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The early morning sun bounces off the ripples in my coffee. She dips a finger to retrieve the gnat, its wings like oars on the inky black.

"Look - I rescued him." She presents her finger, gnat-wings plastered to her skin, for my inspection.

"How can you tell it's a him? Tiny balls?" I snigger. I feel her eyes roll as she focuses on peeling the wings loose.

"You're such a pig. Shit. I think I broke one. Shit."

I know better than to laugh. She believes - we both do - that every life is precious and deserves an equal chance to be happy.  Happiness does not seem to be the fate for this gnat. But I put my mug on the wooden spool table, and slide across the seat of the porch swing until our legs are touching.

"I'm sorry, baby. Is he still alive?"

"Yeah." She uses a fingernail from the opposite hand to slide the soggy insect onto the arm of the swing.  "He's walking, or trying to. Damn." She leans against me and he…

*POETRY WARNING* Space, aka

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Speaking in symbols
can lend something more than words,
boundaries eclipsed.

Let's not fill your head
with my palabras today.

Road to Recovery vs. Some Things You Never Get Over

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I miss knowing every inch of his face, its bone structure, the thinness of his skin. 

I miss his funny walk and the surprising strength of his core. I miss the smell of leather and Head-and-Shoulders in his long, thick hair which he somehow could tuck up into a baseball cap. 

I miss the way his eyes darted to each side before that inevitable barb rolled off his tongue. He was a master of subtle timing; even he didn't understand that. 

His nature erupted into everything he did, from playing guitar to tenderly nursing plant cuttings. Chicks called him for his meatloaf recipe, but he took real pride in the chocolate eclairs. My kids refused to eat them so he retired, devastated, into the neighbor room. 

 Some things aren't meant to be gotten over.  Everything still exists, somewhere; nothing is linear, not really.

So, you see, it's okay to say no. Nobody should ever say yes until they are comfortable knowing there is no competition.

Business Tattoos vs. Deb-utante Ball aka My Coming-Out Party

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Last night I worked out some business card designs, because I realise I need them. I've come to that point in the conversation a few times recently, and I had no business card to hand over. So.

My waking thought this morning was that business cards are actually a huge deal. HUGE. They signify that I'm willing to BE IDENTIFIED, not just in the moment, but also later. That I am willing to let select individuals be able to locate me and ask me to do things for them, that I will consider their proposals. I am not only admitting but committing to the Universe and to myself that I will do things. Envoys take what is offered, Takashi.
I have to brand myself, like a tattoo. Unlike a tattoo, I can change my brand later (well, sort of like a tattoo - even there, we have options.)  And that's always been one of my pet neuroses:  avoiding a label. 
I can't stand it when someone asks me, "Are you a ________________?" Writer, artist, poet, chef, dancer was once floated an…

*POETRY WARNING* Spontaneous Afternoon Tanka

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Behold thee, Redbud:
Blooms erupting from thy skin
Break my heart for joy.

These droplets don't come from me
But Spring cries for both of us. 

Then vs. Now - When an Ex Husband Calls

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January 29, 2017:

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I keep vacillating between the latter two, with anger flaring up again here and there. Denial is complete, and the bargaining is now, too.

There shouldn't have been anything wrong with him.
I should never have come here.
I feel like the Wrong Alice.

We are clear, though, on the why:

I am leaving because he makes me really, really crazy and I can't choose that any more.  I need my brain back, please and thank you. And he needs, I need, to start with a foundation which is true. Nothing is sacred which is founded on a lie.

As I sort my belongings from his (there are no "ours") I am briefly angry when I find the false starts: the Turkish coffee pots, half-finished canvases, a reclaimed wooden window with glass panels intact, for example.  I threw the Panama hat out into the alley, along with the rubber balls he uses to play cricket in the house. This is valid; they were …

Getting Myself vs. Getting Over Myself

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...so I've been crying, quietly or not, for at least 20 minutes now, which is no big deal because it's what girls do, right? Why is that, exactly? Why do guys not do it? Does crying make me girly? Go ahead and cry, guys. I give you permission.

It makes me human. It makes me hurt and unresolved. I seriously dislike lack of resolution - this is why I watch detective stories. There's a neat wrap-up at the end.

Also, it is a big deal. It's a big deal when anybody hurts enough, for whatever reason, to sit and cry alone in a room. When you do it, give yourself a hug and also a pat on the back for allowing yourself to feel. You don't need to suck it up. You need to listen to your body, and do what you need to do. In all things.

I feel like I have a hole and it's the source of the crying - a void with raw edges that I manage to patch up on most days, so that nothing falls into it and nothing leaks out. It has a voice and it wants something I can't identify. Unsate…

Godzilla vs. Moe - This is what my Panic looks like

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Sometimes I know exactly what's real, and it terrifies me.

I've been up since dawn's early crack, having followed my own advice and having been asleep since n*PM last night. Asleep is a relative term - these days it means that several times I woke up enough to tell Netflix yes, I was still watching, and roll over again. I blame years of shift work for being unable to relax in a dark and silent room. My brain is too loud without external noise to mitigate it.

I'm rarely awake to see the sun come up, but it's one of my favorite things. I turn off the TV and listen to the birds.  Ideally I have coffee and go back to bed, but today is a work-day, a heavy one. I'm going to try and tell you what my panic attack is like. I use the familiar term, but it doesn't mean the same thing for everyone.

My work-space faces a window that looks out into the woods across the landlords' back patio. I can see the rooftop of the house over the hill, and I know that between m…

Purging vs. Growing - A Story of Date Rape

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...so you may remember my banyan tree. I grew it from seed, killed it three times, and vowed to never kill it again.

I have a simple gauge of a person's nature: tell me something you have maintained for at least ten years. My answer is this: I have a pile of unfinished projects, furniture I've shucked from state to state, and I had this tree since my second year of marriage. In a way it represented the marriage: it kept reviving itself after near-death experiences. I moved it with pride to Annandale from DC. I was excited about moving forward.

And then I got distracted and left it outside to freeze.

I developed an interesting bundle of emotions this weekend and decided to burn the stump in a sort of cleansing ceremony. I even folded the pages of a book - Urdu for Beginners - to use as firestarter. The landlords are away and I wouldn't have to explain the blaze in the driveway. And then I realised I don't care. I don't require a ceremony to absolve myself of this f…

The Other vs. Stigma, aka Acceptance vs. Support

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Man, what a day for etymology. I really liked this one - thanks, Linda and Paul.

If you have read more than two of my posts, you know that #equality is a huge topic for me. I was raised by my momma to know that all people are equal in value. We have a baseline of not-despicable and our worth is what we make it from there. Let me go off on a tangent before addressing the connotations of words.

It's likely that I feel strongly about #equality because I was taught to accept each person as a person, and then I went to kindergarten. Kindergartners can be horrible people. I was mocked for my clothes, for not being able to read, for speaking my mind. I quickly learned how to read, because I could control that. I couldn't choose my own clothes and I couldn't shut up. Still can't.

My bestie in Kindergarten came from a Baptist family, and my parents were Catholic. This meant that on any weekend I could go to church up to 5 times, depending how we chose to arrange our social sch…

Organic Life vs. Plasticity - Hipster or Nah?

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I like real things, organic things. Sculpting in porcelain, digging in dirt, touching the smooth surface of a marble wall erected centuries ago.

Real things break more easily than synthetics - stoneware vs. plastic - but they feel more genuine in your hands and they sound more valid when they bump up against each other. That which is contrived by human machinations feels insufficient.

Sometimes you need superficiality, though, like a Band-Aid. Sometimes a bit of fake stuff is useful to hold everything together, like a trash bag. Plasticity is a term that doesn't always apply to synthetics, and it's something you would be wise to grok.  Thank you, Robert A. Heinlein.

Don't be mad at yourself - it is good to be flexible.

Plastic is better than stone for floating. Try not to get comfortable in it. Try to remember that you're working toward actual brick-and-mortar. Have goals. Float while you must, but aim for the shore and start collecting rocks.

Creating: Submission & Rejection vs. Lottery Tickets

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It is hard to dress your kids, send them out the door, put them on the bus, especially when they are your stories and poems. People are going to look at how they're dressed and judge your parental skills. You want to keep them home safe.

Don't do it, though - find a new metaphor.  I  use Lottery Tickets - it's a gamble.

At some point I had to give myself the credit I want so desperately from others (and sometimes receive.) I am good at things. I can string words together. Ask my daughter - I can tell a story. Her friends still drop into a conversation: "So what's your mom been up to...does she have any stories?" Remind me to tell you about the laundry room some time.  That's Alia's favorite.

But submissions, though...this is something you have to do for yourself.  You have to do it because once you've sent out that story or painting you bled, sweat, and cried over - once the kid is on the bus - you get to relive all the thrill and trepidation of…

5/27 - The day of Toilets vs. 4/7 The day of Mildew

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Something about tiny cottage makes it very high in humidity. Probably the concrete floor is not sealed.  I run a dehumidifier since some time in the fall, but before that I suffered  unknowingly. I should have realised sooner, seriously - condensation on all the windows like a pool-house.

I just bought a replacement copy of my favorite National Geographic, because the one I've had forever was destroyed by mildew. So was a notebook given me by my friend, the Meg, when we went to Istanbul. The outer cover of the notebook is horrific in its new mildew-coat, but the innards are still legible. Before I throw it away, I submit for your perusal and mine (because I remain my own best source of entertainment):

5/27 - the day of Toilets.

We ate our late afternoon meal @ Lahmacun Salonu. Meg went to find the bathroom - the waiter said, "all the way up."

However, Meg says, all the way up, the stairs turn into boards nailed together and land on a floor that looks like it's under…

When somebody tells you No good party story starts with, "First, we put on name tags. "...

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...well, when that happens, you have to try. So I went in and had a few conversations over Bushmill's. Turns out he was right - these people were unshenanigable.

...so after leaving the pool hall wearing the t-shirt I was given and a  name tag reading HELLO I'M Gonna Shank You, I went to my favorite local Chinese joint for Cashew Chicken, white meat. I haven't been there since the night I talked culture and politics with the owner, Yen, whilst I drank tequila. That night I also rode my bike into a bush because I couldn't stop laughing. Neither I nor the bush were hurt .

Tonight I brought in my book  to prep for tomorrow's book club discussion while I ate. Yen recognised me, and was possibly overly polite and professional, making me wonder if he would have preferred to have another excellent conversation.

"It's good you have a book," he smiled. "Everybody reads their phones." It didn't seem right to ask him to sit with me in the booth, …

Updated: 5 Reasons Why IEPs Are Important (but without the stupid numbering thing)

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I just found out someone I know is amazing. It's so great when that happens, and you should give people more opportunity to show you what they've got. Try to grasp what they are presenting, rather than looking to find something they offer that's already in a language you understand.

We hide ourselves because society is quick to throw rocks at anything they don't understand. Quick to try and put the Other outside  the wall. This is a defence on the part of people who don't get you, and everyone has mechanisms, but you know what? You are not responsible for their defences. You need to worry about your own. Let those defences work for you, not against you.

Don't try to do everything at once. You will quickly discover that you can't.

My World History teacher noticed, in what should have been my senior year of high school, that I was not taking notes but copying a black-and-white photo out of the textbook. Other than the graphite being too shiny in the darkened…