The Creative Process

Popcorn03It is November 26th which means that this is my 26th post on this blog in as many days. I have also written a couple of other places this month which means that I’ve written 247 blog posts this month.

That’s an estimate because I’m not big on math.

What this means is that I’ve used most of the ideas in my “blog ideas” file and some of the remaining notes in there don’t even make sense. I’m talking about you, “weird androgynous princess” note.

It would be fantastic if I could go out with a bang but today is not going to be a day of greatness. As evidence, I will reveal the ideas that occurred to me for today’s post:

“I should write a post about picking a good pair of underwear for Thanksgiving! You want good underwear for that because you don’t want something that binds or gets stuck in your butt or pulls in weird places.”

“I should write about the fact that Luisa is walking around the house wearing a stocking cap full of frozen peas on her head. That’s funny stuff.” (Luisa fell on the ice this morning and hit her head but appears to be fine except for the fact that she keeps calling me Karen. I kid, I kid. About the Karen part, not the “she’s ok” part.)

“I could write a gratitude list and every item on the list would be ‘hot showers.'”

“I KNOW! I should write about the fact that the cat has thrown up six times today. Seven if you count that one that we can’t find that we hope was just dry heaving.”

“I could write about the squirrel outside the window. What would I say about it though? It’s brown and hops around a lot. Yeah, I don’t really know what more to say about that.”

“I should write about sleepwalking. I’ve never written about that. I’ll put that in the idea file for later this week with a note that says ‘silverware’ just to keep things interesting and make it a memory exercise.”

“Wow. The cardinals are really fat. The birds, not the Catholics because I don’t really know much about those.”

“Maybe I can just post a picture and a caption. But I haven’t taken any pictures today because I haven’t left the house and nothing is happening in the house.”

“You know the thing about bread…”

“I think I’ll quit NaBloPoMo and just make popcorn. Oh! I could write about popcorn. What could I say about it? Um…it is corn that pops…that idea needs some work.”

As you can see, my creative process is intense…and now I’m going to go make popcorn.

Actually, Luisa just came to tell me she’s ordering pizza. I guess I’ll put the popcorn idea back in the idea file with the title “a-maize me!” That will be fun to decipher in six months.

 

 

Amplify

blacklivesmatter small
Last night, in anticipation of the grand jury decision regarding the murder of Michael Brown, I curled up in bed and turned to Twitter. I followed the Ferguson hashtag because I believed it would give me the news faster than any other source and as I scrolled through the feed, I could feel the tension and the fear and the hopelessness and all those feelings resonated with me. But I was not prepared to see white people using the tag to spew hate, to see pictures of monkeys with captions that said things like “Live outside the courtroom” or to see people using every possible racial slur to demean those praying for justice.

I mention this because it’s a reminder to every one of us that the protests and the anger and the calls for justice are not just about Michael Brown and Darren Wilson and Ferguson. The issue is systemic racism and bigotry. We live in a country where police officers beat and murder the people they are supposed to protect, where citizens feel completely comfortable taunting and abusing people of color in a public forum.

There are many who would rather talk about cigarillos and the disrespect of an officer and looting than to sit back and say, “What the hell is happening and what do we do about it?”

Since Michael Brown’s death on August 9th of this year, I have argued with people who will not be moved. I have called out people for tweeting about cookies while our fellow citizens were being gassed in Ferguson. I have wasted time and energy on battles that would do nothing to take the dialogue further. I forgot a lesson I learned long ago from my experiences with homophobia: you can’t talk someone out of entrenched bigotry.

I have seen people say that their hearts go out to their black friends and, of course, they deserve our love because the issue hits them differently. But, it is not their issue alone.

It is ours.

My heart goes out to all those who believe in justice and equality because the grand jury verdict in Ferguson is a blow to us all.

In August, I wrote about an incident from my past that I want to share again,

I remember going to visit my mother in southern Missouri where she had retired and feeling anxious the entire time. Partially because I’d come out and partially because my politics and my understanding of the world had changed. I remember standing in her kitchen when a family member stopped by for a visit and casually mentioned that a group of neonazis had gathered nearby and he said, “They want to get rid of the n****** and faggots. Hell, I’ll pay them to do it.” I was horrified, terrified, and never said a word.

I bring up this story today because those who are filled with hate will come for all of us. They will distort and divide and confuse the issues. Just last night, in a Ferguson protest in Seattle, some took the opportunity to use the situation to call for a boycott of Israel, fanning the flames of anti-semitism that have been burning brighter worldwide.

So, I am not here to argue. I am here to do my work. I am here to amplify the voices that need to be heard. I will make mistakes but I am here.

Here are a few things to read:

Analysis

It’s Incredibly Rare For A Grand Jury To Do What Ferguson’s Just Did

Still Relevant

About Ferguson, White Allies and Speaking Up When It Matters

Again. And Again. And Probably Again.

Grappling with Privilege

Coming Out of the Dark

Action

12 Things White People Can Do Now Because Ferguson

 

PHOTO CREDIT: KYMBERLI BARNEY

Don’t Touch My Apples

IMG_2304Today was the first day of Thanksgiving break at the Casa de Up Popped A Fox. Our kids are out of school for the entire week which means that we get to spend a lot of time together while trying to prepare the house for guests and plan the menu for Thanksgiving dinner. Did I mention that we are still painting the kitchen? We are because everyone knows that right before you host a big holiday dinner is the best time to paint your kitchen! And Luisa is still working and I am still trying to finish NaBloPoMo and NaNoWriMo (though I officially hit the goal of 50,000 words yesterday).

So, there is a lot going on and when there is a lot going on, I need the children to behave like rational beings which appears to be an unreasonable expectation.

This morning, the very first morning of vacation, they got into an argument in the kitchen while preparing breakfast. I’m going to lay out a few facts to set the scene for you:

1. It was 10:30 a.m.

2. Zeca had already eaten breakfast an hour earlier and had made the meal herself.

3. Miguel wanted me to make breakfast for him and I refused.

4. Miguel has a slight germ phobia.

5. Zeca is fond of pushing buttons.

Zeca sat on a stool in the kitchen drinking a cup of coffee and watching Miguel wander around the kitchen with bleary eyes and thought bubbles above his head that said things like “How does food happen?” and “There is no food in my mouth but I want there to be and why will no one take pity on me and make the food and put it in there?” Zeca looked on in mild amusement as she is the more practical of our two children and likes to watch her brother fail to meet his basic needs.

Miguel then asked, “Do we have apples?” and I suggested that he look in the fruit bowl where the apples have been kept for the entirety of his 13 years. He looked in the fruit bowl and exclaimed, “There are apples!” as if he’d found his fortune in the Great Apple Rush of 2014. He took one out of the bowl and washed it and then stood there with the apple dripping water on the floor and said, “How do I dry it?” I suggested that he use a towel or, if desperate, his shirt. “MOM!” he yelled in horror. He managed to dry the apple on a towel and then asked me to cut it. I suggested he use the apple slicer that he has used almost every day for the past week.

After he cut the apple, he fanned it out decoratively on a plate and went to the refrigerator to get the peanut butter. He spooned peanut butter onto the plate and when he turned to put it back in the refrigerator, Zeca plucked an apple slice from his plate and brought it to her mouth. She did not bite down on it or even touch it to her lips, it simply entered the air space of her mouth where it hovered until she was certain that he saw it and then she put it back on his plate with a laugh and said, “Sorry.”

Miguel then began to scream because Zeca had:

1. Dared to take an apple slice, the literal fruit of his labor.

2. Had breathed on it and then put it back on his plate.

There was much yelling by one child and laughter by the other and I chose to leave the room before I felt compelled to lock them both in the basement. But then, from my safe perch on the living room couch, I heard Zeca scream and I ran into the kitchen to find the eldest child rubbing an apple slice all over the youngest child’s face which is apparently how teenagers teach younger children not to touch their apple slices. I then yelled, “YOU DO NOT RUB APPLES ON YOUR SISTER’S FACE JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE ANGRY!”

So, that’s how the very first day of our vacation began. How was your Monday?

*Full Disclosure: The picture accompanying this story was taken a few weeks ago during an argument about egg salad. Zeca wanted to teach Miguel to make egg salad but he did not want to learn to make egg salad. Zeca suggested that someday he might want or need to make egg salad for a loved ones and he felt they could go to the store and buy egg salad for themselves.

Finding Beauty in Gray

IMG_2393It warmed up a little bit today and, as is often the case in Minnesota, we paid for warmer temperatures with gray skies. The morning was foggy and everything seemed surreal and I wanted to wander through it but instead appreciated it from within the dry and cozy confines of my home. I did step outside for a moment to capture this picture of the tree in our neighbors’ back yard because even though the day was dreary and the tree was bare, I was still drawn to it.

I spent half the day writing, putting words on the page while listening to music, which was perfect. The gray skies fit the mood of what I was writing and before I knew it I had written roughly 4500 words. There is beauty in that too because words don’t always come so easily.

I believe this is my 21st winter in Minnesota and, honestly, they are getting more difficult to endure for reasons I don’t quite understand. Maybe as I get older, I just want to be able to leave my house without a lot of hassle.

It’s looking like this winter is going to be a long winter and I am going to have to find ways to find the good in that. I’m going to need to stock up on hot chocolate and stuff for cookies and make sure that my warmest wool socks are in good repair. I hope I can focus on skis on a crisp white trail and time spent with friends next to a fire. The world will be in grayscale for months but pictures like the one I took today make me think that I just might be able to find the beauty in that too.