Tuesday, July 31, 2007

a map of the world

We are working on our route for our sabbatical. We bought a giant map and hung it on our wall and have been daydreaming about where to go. We've come up with China, Laos, and India with a short foray into Myanmar. We chose this in part because we can do much of it overland and it's cheaper than flying all over the grid. The downside is it's concentrated in one part of the world and there is so much more of it to see. I bought M a book about a kid who goes to India and now she wants to ride a bus in India but ONLY if she gets to sit on top and ONLY if the bus is blue.

I need your help. Where would you go if you had a year to get there? Where in the world calls your name? You lurkers need to let me know too because we need all the ideas we can get. And besides, I can't read you if I don't know how to find you.

Dream with me on this hot and dry July morning, the last one of the year.

Monday, July 30, 2007

(otherwise known as my last blogher post)

Taking one dimension and adding two more created a roller coaster of giddy, irreverent, joyous and cantankerous feelings over the past three days and as I sat exhausted, dehydrated and yes, lonely in the early morning airport hours all I could think was how lucky I am.

I met amazing women this weekend, women I cried with, shared incredibly important memories with, flirted with, and connected with. I had the honor of wandering the streets of Chicago with three extraordinary women and we all fell into a bit of magic along the way. Palms were read and truths were spilled onto the sidewalk. I had the immense joy of sitting around a bar with most of Mommy Bloggers Toronto and I might attest that a room had never felt so bright. I got to hug and connect with old and new friends and realize there was never quite enough time to feel like it was enough. I spent a balmy outdoor night learning more about a wild woman's heart. And I shared a room and much of the weekend with two of the most beautiful women in the world who welcomed me with open arms and open hearts from the moment we said hello.

I know there will be a lot of Blogher posts floating around this week and I sit here slightly torn about how to express the joy without shutting the door on those who couldn't come. I realized that not talking about it would be doing such an injustice to the women I met and talking about it too much would do the same to the ones I hope I get to meet in the future. But it's an example of what exists through blogging. Opening our eyes and hearts to those we'd never run across otherwise and how much I'd be missing out on if not for all of you.

That didn't mean there weren't rough moments; awkward passings and a stumbling of words. Of not knowing how to react in large groups or how to jump through the veil of small talk into the deep emotions we so freely toss around while safely behind our computers. But even in those moments I learned about myself and the romanticizing I've done about how easy it would be to blur those borders and I decided I am okay with that too.

But mostly I felt like I'd have loved to have the weekend last just a bit longer. But what joy was on the other end of my arrival, toddler legs around my waist and a gorgeous hunk of a man who not only kept my child alive but cleaned the house and grocery shopped to boot.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

chicago kicks ass

It's hard to sum up how fantastic it is to see these women in 3D. They all smell so good. And some of them will grab you at random and you will like it a lot. Others are sassy with red halter tops and great heels. It's been a giant squeal-a-thon where two realities collide and you realize you are standing in front of someone you've been reading forever and a) they don't know who you are and b) it's because you never put pictures of yourself on your blog.

The conference itself has been highly secondary to getting to meet so many fantastic women. Canadians are outrageously beautiful women and I think I have a crush on one of them. And I have these two fantastic non-snoring roommates that are fetching me coffee as I lounge around on the bed and type this post.

So once my slightly addled, post mojito currently bloody mary brain rights itself I promise to post more eloquently about all the sights and smells in Chicago this weekend. But I wanted to check in on all of you who couldn't join us this year and let you know I am thinking of you. Hugs that were sent by others have been duly given and if your ears are burning on and off it's because you are being actively missed.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

fresh off the lot

I had a meeting at the shelter yesterday and when I pulled up I noticed 10 or so cops standing at the curb. Fearing the worst I headed directly over to inquire, my mind racing on the way (raid, drug bust, escaped killer loose inside the building) but when I reached them the guy in charge said he was taking the new boys fresh from the academy on a tour so they could see what a homeless person looks like.

After I introduced myself he turned to them and said hey guys, listen up. She can tell you what a homeless person smells like, looks like, and acts like. I took friendly umbrage and let them know that i actually couldn't tell them what a homeless person looks like any more than I could tell them what a sick person or rich person looks like because as with all people, there isn't one way a homeless person looks, or for that matter, smells. I tried instead to talk about why folks were homeless and all 20 eyes were steely hard, so young and fresh but so unflappable already.

I was considering dancing a little jig to lighten the mood when the head cop says I wouldn't want your job for anything in the world. Having to be compassionate all the time, understanding...I could never do it. I replied that I thought my job seemed much easier than theirs, having to only show up in times of trouble seemed much less rewarding than actually seeing both sides. It was clear neither of us was going to move from our postion of assumed rightness so I left them to their own devices and walked into a now empty shelter. That many police on site have a way of doing that.

The message the new boys was getting was such a jaded one - these folks are bad and need to be contained, get the job done and move on. I'd hate to have that sort of mindset, no matter what self-preservation it allowed.

Am packed and ready, minor butterflies already safely inside my stomach. I kept M up way too late and took way too long leaving her room and I am missing her and J already. But hours from now I'll be celebrating women and writing and toasting the lot of us for continued inspiration and community.

And before you go, stop by here and help Parker. He needs as much love and support as we can muster. And she's got a relatively new blog and I like it a lot.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

tube-ula rasa

I caught the CNN YouTube democratic debate last night and was quite taken with it, less because of the candidates and more because of the questions coming from the common person about issues that matter to all of us. It was simultaneously annoying, amusing, irritating and captivating to watch the candidates answer these refreshing questions, their spin and passion and rancor all at once.

Gravel is a riot. He's that filabuster guy from the 70's and who doesn't love a guy who went head on with Nixon. He'll never get elected but if he did I suspect we'd find him to be a most refreshingly honest leader. He's a croaky old coot and I'd love to drink a beer with him.

Edwards is likeable enough, intelligent, compassionate, passionate about health care and the environment (but who isn't acting passionate about health care and the environment). In fact there was a brilliant moment when the ever-delicious Anderson Cooper stopped the collective posturing about global warming and asked them to raise their hands if they traveled by private jet to get to the debate and I think Gravel was the only one who didn't. That was money, Anderson. I'd drink a beer with you, too.

Obama, as likeable as he may be seemed long on spin and frustratingly short on substance. I mean yes it's a debate and time is short, but he could've done better. He's already all soundbite and we've got 17 months to go. I'm just saying.

Biden's kinda hot in an old guy sort of way. He's a bit too harsh and it's bitten him in the ass before and will bite him in the ass again. But he'd look good in office.

Richardson seems a bit too conservative for my vote, a nice public servant but you know, soft on guns. Can't have that. Plus he waffled on the private jet show of hands. Lame, dude. Lame.

Hilary's got game and you know, her husband is a personal friend of mine and all. But she's got a bit too much wall street money for my liking. That goes for Obama too. And Edwards while I am at it. Am not sure what to do about it, but I don't like it much.

I am leaving Dodd out because I can't remember enough about him to actually have an opinion. Sorry Senator, but you know, it was late and I'm tired and I'm just not that into you.

In the end my heart belongs to Kucinich. He's the real deal, this guy. He'd green our planet and bring peace to the world faster than anyone else. But he'll never get into office, he's too honest and too committed and too right about too many things and that is entirely threatening to the cats pulling the strings. But a girl can dream.

I am seriously toying with making a video at the shelter and submitting it to the Republican debate but I am fairly sure none of those dudes would have a good answer about homelessness and they'd probably edit out my profanity. But I hope people keep asking questions, because it reminds all of us that we are in this together and our collective cynicism has a momentum all it's own.

Monday, July 23, 2007

me and julio down by the schoolyard

My beautiful wild child has been gone this week. I snapped this picture with my cell phone before she left, but the graininess doesn't betray her majesty and the blur only contributes to the whole. This child, her unruly hair and darkly amber eyes has been missing from our home.

We reveled in our freedom, noisemaking at midnight, beers on the porch and dishes in the sink. A quiet week filled with more conversation than usual, the conversing of adults with no particular thing to do. A forgotten art we had once mastered. A reckoning of sorts. How easy it can be to slip into your nonmotherly ways even after turning it all over to the gods once earlier peace had been made.

But we miss her now, with her screeching demands and food on the floor. Her waking us up early and throwing tantrums in the kitchen. We've called every day, her girl child sometimes tolerating the interruption and others I would hear not now, my ears are busy. And I was glad for your lack of missing because your joy is my joy.

Come home to your mother, sweet child. Let me gather you in my arms and feel your legs around my waist. Let me ooh and aah about your beauty and inhale your sweet smell. I will kiss you all over and hold on tight. Sit and share your week of travels, the big doggies and the pool, the zoo and the apples and I will ooh and aah at your discoveries and run my fingers through your hair.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

anticipation

I started getting incredibly excited about BlogHer this weekend. I truly can't imagine what it will be like to meet those of you who are going and am completely and entirely thrilled. I've not talked about it much but I remember last year at this time. I had just started blogging and saw all the chatter and thought: a conference about blogging? Sheesh. LAME. And then I read all the accounts afterwards and I realized it was hardly lame at all. Even though I had virtually no community here yet it showed me what was possible. And a year later I am actually going.
Sheesh. Not Lame At All.

Talking about it is a mixed bag, those who can't or choose not to go are perhaps bored by all the chatter or feeling left out and that is the last thing I want so I've purposely avoided it. But I know that I'll be bringing all of you with me, your writing and your hearts and will toast our community repeatedly. You might even feel some sort of an electrical impulse or something, I'd be interested to know if that was the case.

In fact that happened to me once. I had been a Burning Man girl before I had gotten pregnant with M. She was due in September so we had to miss the festival but I remember telling J that I wouldn't be surprised if I went into labor the night the man burns because of the collective power and energy being released to the universe with over 25,000 people drumming and dancing and chanting and communing while the Man catches fire and burns up the desert sky. And sure enough, a few minutes after midnight I went into active labor and I can forever tell her she was born the night the man burned in the desert, one of the most special nights of the year.

Long way of saying that you should all be forewarned, because this much good energy in one bloggity place could probably shift the blogging vibrations worldwide.

Friday, July 20, 2007

at what cost is this

We made the decision to add one more day to M's daycare yesterday, moving from four to five. Which had moved from three to four earlier this year. Coincidentally there have been discussions swirling around about daycare this week and reading those has made me think. See, I've gotten a promotion, one that entails more responsibility and being available at different times. We'd managed to cheat the system for awhile, juggling days and shifting schedules but it's simply not workable if I am to do this, and this will be what gets us to our sabbatical next year.

But it makes me feel like an asshole. Because it still feels fundamentally wrong to pay someone to care for my child. And please know that I am absolutely not judging anyone who does or doesn't use daycare. I am talking about my situation, my heart, and how it breaks in two at the irony of this. And I use this daycare I am speaking against, so I know the hypocrisy of my words.

But I still do it. I allow her to go to a place, a very nice place, where she has learned the alphabet and how to draw a circle and make sandcastles. Where she has friends and nutritional food and seems to have a very good time. But I can't get around it - the feeling that I am doing something so against what I believe is right. Socially right. And then not (perhaps if I am being very honest), right for me. I enjoy working and I enjoy the work I do. I am not sure I am the stay at home mom I fantasize about. But that makes me feel like more of an asshole instead of less.

We rationalize that this is only for a year, and that the year to follow will be 365 days of travel and family and little to no time apart. But it's this year that wears on me. I suppose I will never feel unconflicted again. Balance is elusive, the scales never rest gently in the middle instead of one side clanging down from the weight.

It's one of many aches of mothering. Missing the moments you will never get back. Hearing M say something I did not teach her. Seeing a behavioral issue that I do not think would exist if she wasn't in daycare having to fend for herself. I just don't know how one reconciles that in their heart and mind and rationalizes it away. So instead I think I will live with this punishment of sorts for compromising based on financial necessity and also because I lack the courage. And what does that say about me, does that make me less of a mother? If one of you were to pose that question I would respond with a rousing NO WAY! YOU ARE DOING YOUR BEST! And I would mean it. So why can't I say that to myself I wonder, and I wonder that quite a bit.

Because whether it's the little girl or our developing motherness, we hear others better than we do to ourselves. Or at least with more compassion. And we are going to do this, this fiveness instead of four, and I will regret it and maybe cry as I drive away and rush to pick her up and will overcompensate and beat myself up. And I will count backwards from 365 and hope I can continue the journey more fully into motherhood along the way.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

word to your mother

Amusing moment from the weekend:

Friend: I hate my mother in law so f'ing much!
Me: Whoa. Dude. The vitrol.
Friend: I do. I HATE her.
Me: Wow. The only person I can muster up that kind of hate for is the Entire Bush Administration.
Friend: Oh, yeah. When you put it that way I suppose I hate her a little less than that.

Stop over and check out my book review before you go. It's about alternatives to pharmaceuticals and who doesn't love the thought of that.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

rowing the boat

Some friends and I were talking today about the human services profession and whether or not our interventions matter. We all agreed that they matter on the individual level, helping that one person with their crisis alleviates that one person's suffering. But what about global suffering? Or influencing the people that are driving it?

J thinks it's a brilliant strategy. Get all of us bleeding hearters together and promise we can MAKE A DIFFERENCE. And then we go and spend our entire lives bailing out the ocean with a thimble and wonder why we are frustrated. We work and work and work and everyone is still homeless. For every one person housed another two walk in the door. So we work harder and more people still walk in the door. And one day we pull our head out of our asses and wonder what has happened, why NO DIFFERENCE HAS BEEN MADE.

This isn't me feeling sorry for myself. I think this sort of work is important on a human level, but it does give The Policy Smucks an excuse. As long as they keep allocating funding to treat the problem then we never have to actually solve the problem.

I often wonder what it would really cost to provide affordable housing to 90% of the homeless people in our country and I wonder if it would indeed be cheaper than supporting the thousands of service agencies that provide an array of services needed to treat homelessness from shelter to short term housing to food to free clinics to detox facilities to counseling agencies to vocational centers. Sure, some of those places would still need to exist, a house isn't a magic pill that makes all other issues disappear. But there have been studies on the costs of homelessness and about the high costs/utilization of these support services that might not need to exist should people have more stability.

So then I wonder what is in it for them. What would be the incentive to enable rather than solve. There can't be much of a sense of accomplishment, at least not akin to the one they (note how I pretend to think for them) should feel should homelessness cease to exist. Or maybe they just don't care. So it begs the question: what does keeping people homeless do for our country? What benefits exist by choosing to allow this to continue? Is it simply economic, that providing adequate resources isn't financially viable? (but don't tell me we couldn't pony up because bringing all that freedom to Iraq could have solved a host of domestic crises if that 12 billion a month price tag is accurate). And what about all the money we throw at managing the crisis rather than solving it?

I just can't fathom it. So instead I go back to a common notion that we need to keep people sick and tired and scared in order to have some measure of control over them. And if we control them they will not revolt or vote or change the system. But I acknowledge that I lead so far to the left that I see things diagonally so I welcome your thoughts on the matter. Because if we can get to the root of it it might help us learn where to start.

Monday, July 16, 2007

the friendly skies

There is nothing quite like being kidless for two days in the company of the women who knew you when and love you anyways and more. We ate way too many tacos, drank a couple of mojitos and talked ourselves silly. It was a lovely, lovely time. And I did mention my blog and after getting over the snickers and misunderstandings about what a blog is, (because it's NOT a creepy desperate place where weirdos congregate) but rather a lovely intentional community where I've met and come to adore dozens and dozens of like minded, brilliant, amazing people I found it well received and after being assaulted with many questions we were able to move onto other topics. I bragged a bit about all of you and it's fascinating because when you stop to think about how much your mind has been expanded by this place it's clear that is it something to be very proud and fiercely protective of. And I am.

I returned today sans child (M is staying at the grands for a few more days). My flight was cancelled at the last minute (bastards) so after a three hour walkabout I finally flew home. We all have airport stories now, because the absurdity of plastic bags and matches and little bottles of goo are all a part of our bizarre domestic travel and I like everyone else silently tolerate and amuse myself with the nonsense but sometimes it's still a bit too much. Like today when two security guards were searching a teenage girl in a wheelchair. A girl with Down's Syndrome who was wailing a gutteral wail while her mother held her hand and tried to calm her as they searched all around her body. Things like that push the envelope of absurdity because nothing screams National Terrorist Threat like a young girl with DS in a wheelchair.

I missed you all. Can't wait to come around and see what's what.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

bookends

M and I are off on an adventure. J will soon drop us at the airport and we'll fly south where M will spend a week at her grandparents in her own mini version of Older Americans Idolize Me and I will get to spend two days with two of my closest friends in the world. We are only together once a year, with N living in Syria trips home are infrequent. So we covet these yearly sabbaticals, these 48 hours of freedom and release and connection.

We will put on our sweats and go to our favorite taco stands and head back to E's house and eat and laugh and cry and love. We will hold each other and tease each other and come clean on some things. We will sleep late and swap books and talk about our children. We will remind each other of our youth and push each other forward. We'll go for long walks and gawk at good looking men just like we have done for the last 20 years. We will ooh and aah and say what we mean.

These are my sisters.

And they don't know about my blog. The last time we were together this was new and I hadn't yet met most if not all of you. How one puts that into words is daunting and we'll see if I spill the goods or not, if I can find the words to explain how extraordinary this place is and why I love it so. But either way, I won't be back for a few days.

Delicious weekend, all.

Friday, July 13, 2007

a beautiful sun

On the way to school today M asked me to play Ooh Child. I turned it on and she kept saying louder mommy so I kept turning it up till it was blaring at a volume which I never play music, especially when she is in the car. I turned back to look at her and she was looking at me, smiling widely and singing along. I turned back to the road, felt the sun on my face and had a moment of extraordinary bliss. My girl and I rocking the house.

Mayberry turned me onto The Family Sabbatical Handbook the other day and when it arrived today I immediately began devouring it. While the author had a bit more cash and a different sort of approach to a year abroad (one place rather than a few, a more methodical (smarter) approach than we've developed so far) it was her intro that grabbed me. I turned to J in the kitchen and read it aloud:

For as long as we've been a family, we've been trying to figure out how to live more intensely and creatively as a family and how to forge the kind of elusive, intimate bonds that seem to be the very essence of being a family. We had assumed this bonding would come naturally. But when we looked for role models we didn't find them. Amidst the corrosive effects of the hectic lives we all seemed to lead everyone we knew had similar complaints. There was a vague sense that the best of life was slipping away and we were powerless to do anything about it. There was simply never enough time or psychic space to savor the marriages, the children, the good lives we were all working so hard to make. It begun to sink in that we would never find this time unless we created it for ourselves.

And we looked at each other and we knew. This is exactly how we feel, and exactly the course of action we want to take. We know we don't know what we are doing or how it's going to unfold but we are going to try. For better or for worse. For joy, dumbassery and wrinkled clothes.

Many things depend on this, the next 12 months of our jobs most of all. Our plan is based on external factors, ones we can't quite control. So we'll hold the universe in question and challenge it to say yes to this, yes to this one small dream amidst so many other worthy and important dreams of so many others. So we've set out tonight with a simple yes and in turn, begin the ups and downs of the long journey to the tarmac.

Someday we'll get it together and well get it undone
Someday when the world is much brighter
Someday we'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
O-o-h child things are gonna get easier
O-o-h child things will get brighter..

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

norma dies

norma and her mercedes came to us a few years ago. well past 75, norma had lived her life as a wife and mother and when her husband died some years back her son took over. he drained all her resources, financial and otherwise until all they had left was her old mercedes. they were sleeping in it for awhile but it was getting colder so they came in for help.

needless to say, norma's son was a right prick.

so norma and her very adult son moved into our shelter. he had no real qualms about his mother sleeping on the floor. i'd be lying if we didn't do all we did for norma in spite of her son, but they were a package deal. norma wouldn't move into any sort of home unless her son could go too.

her son was able bodied, but hadn't worked in years.

norma and her son continued to live at the shelter. she was terrific. spry and witty, capable and a bit terrified. we helped norma obtain some of her most important belongings from her (foreclosed) old house and put them in storage. she'd lived there for most of her adult life. norma used to paint, her oil works were important to her as were her old photographs. she still missed her husband, she'd tear up talking about his memories. her son would look idly away during our conversations.

i am not going to pretend i liked norma's son.

after some months norma had gotten used to the shelter regime but would still occasionally sleep in her car. she felt safe there and her belongings were inside. she slept in the backseat with her son in the front. they'd do that for a night or two to take a break from shelter life and then return.

norma wouldn't pursue senior housing because her son, while in his 50's, wasn't old enough to qualify. their only income was her social security, so they couldn't afford much. we worked some deals and got her approved for a studio. a microscopic unit with a murphy bed. safe and clean, but tiny for one person let alone two. we encouraged her to take this place and allow us to (grudgingly) assist her son. no doubt she saw right through our lack of compassion for the man who has put her in the shelter and put her foot down.

her son goes with her or she wasn't going anywhere. he looked idly on as she declared this and we had no choice but to agree. shin kicking came to mind but i kept my feet to myself.

so they moved into the tiniest of places, sharing the murphy and putting it back in the morning so they had a place to sit. norma's fixed income covered the cost. they lived like this for over a year.

norma died last week and her son still has no income. once things are sorted out her social security will cease and he won't have a way to pay the rent. the unit was under her name, the qualifications made on her credit and income. with her gone there is nothing keeping him in the unit. he's let her handle (aside from spending her money) all the arrangements regarding her rent and utilities and housekeeping.

norma's son has got to go.

i'd like to feel worse about that than i do, but sometimes, and to be honest hardly ever in situations like this, i really just don't.

rest in peace, norma, you good old girl, you. it shouldn't have been your lot in life but it was and you put others first until the bitter cramped end. i hope there's extra room in your murphy bed in the sky and the sheets are the finest cotton you've ever touched.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

June Just Posts

justpostjune2007

Welcome to the seventh Just Post Roundtable. We've got such a lovely crowd this month, new voices and old. And we saw something extraordinary take place in June. Last month we put our money where our mouths are and raised over $2,700 for 2 organizations working with the littlest survivors of the AIDs epidemic. That told us we are hungry: hungry to come together, to lift our voices, to do more in this world. And we did. We've made sure that these kids have food and clothes and books and people to hold them. We did this in just one week.

So it made me wonder what else we can do, as we continue to cast our voices louder and join others. There are things brewing in this great blog world of ours, and as such we can all take part, big or small in the development and implementation of new ways to share our voices, to do more than talk. To Act.

BlogHers Act is asking for our help. To focus on one issue, and issue of our collective choosing, and use our wisdom and power to envision change. And Canada has already jumped on their version of BlogHers Act with BlogHers Canada Act. Both groups will tackle an important social issue and all are welcome to join them. Go. I'll go too.

I am constantly struggling with my place in this world. I often hide behind the homeless curtain, using it to rationalize why I am not doing more. But the truth, the plain truth is I am paid to do this, and while it is of unbelievable importance to me it can also be an excuse not to do more. And as I sit, waxing armchair-like about things that matter in our world, actually doing something about the mattering might take away from my already dwindled resources of time and energy. I realize it's a dangerous road, my becoming stagnant. And frankly, that terrifies me. Complacency friends, is a nasty bitch.

So before I hide behind my homelessness and my motherness I will continue to ask myself what I am truly hiding from. Because giving this planet my all means something slightly better for M, and Mad's M, for The Mayor and Rooster Girl, for Wonderbaby, and for Cakes, for Lil and Big Girl and Mme. L., for Jolie and Phoebe and Katie and Connor, for Grace and Liam and Tessa, for KayTar and Bubtar, for Leo and the Two H's, for The Girl and Little Man and for Bee and Em and Patience and Persistence, for Oscar and Julia and Oliver and Swee'pea, for The Poo and Frances and Jack and Ben and Bub and Pie, for Fiona and Lorenzo, Diminutive and Pre-Pubescent, for Eleanor, Sylvia and Eli, for Little Shot and The May Queen and A, for Little A and Big A, for D and Toodles. For ALL of our children because they are the future and they deserve us showing them the way. And it's more than words, that.

As you know, Mad took a blog-i-day this month and Jess graciously offered to fill in as my cohort. Jess brings such a special voice to our groove, her humor is so wise and she is the very real deal. I learn from her all the time so make sure you visit her end of the table before you go. Next month Mad will return, no doubt suntanned and thinky and true. And we'll keep moving forward together, our lovely Just Post choir. Choir seems too soft really.

Just Post Warriors then, the lot of you.

Ally with accident of birth
Alejna with throwing blame
Jennifer with all kinds of wrong
Little Monkies with war
Mrs. Chicken with why
KC with working for the man
Mama Karma with let's act
Mary with mommy love thyself
Chani with serenity, limits to unconditional love, romanticizing homelessness, all the wilting people, this is not education
Crazymumma with it's just hair
Bad with around the corner i had a friend and doing it
Susanne with cloth diapers and pink third
Shelly with special needs
Blog Antagonist with the color of impetus is teal green and beauty interrupted
missing minorities (The entire blog)
Urban Urchin with mom vs. mom
Sage Femme with Incens(ationaliz)ed who also writes as Sage with thembelihle
Lawyer Mama with of privilege and prejudice
Jess with i touched al sharpton with my boobs
Julie with the divine right of kings, wergild and the big tragedy of the duke lacrosse scandal
Pundit Mom with only 40 years ago
Jen with american beauty, pulling rabbits, curbside pickup and we are all children here
Christine with $8.00 an hour
Kevin with the almost great lebron james
Slouching Mom with we must never forget
Kaliroz with reality, morality and future-ality
Florian with Alexandra Renewal Project
Deb with operation first casualty
Flutter with open arms
Hel with speaking our truths
Jordan with reaching out
Cecileaux with street sense and uncommon sense
Cheryl with because i am a girl and class action suit
Shannon with act my issue
Alice with ahhh Nina and outdoor essentials
Mrs. Chili with cutting of our nose

The readers
Mrs. Chicken
Metro Mama
Susanne
Izzy
Jess
Mad
Jill
Lawyer Mama
Christine
Hel
Aliki
Chani
Catherine
Alejna

Thank you again for turning me on to new reads, for recognizing yourselves and each other, for making us think. I so love the view from here.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

round and round

we've been on a mission for the last two years. a mission to become debt free and own as little as possible and we are almost there. we will be in a position to leave our work in about 12 months, this coming from stories that are long and hard won and are better told in person.

if you've been reading for any length of time you know we want to end up in Belize, but we've been contemplating a detour for awhile now and are close to the choosing. The detour is practical in some ways, we still don't know how to live permanently in Belize and the thought of going and coming back isn't really what we had in mind.

we are considering selling everything we own and put the rest in storage and hitting the road. around the world for a year, the year before M starts school and responsibilities beckon. the year of living in flats or guesthouses around the world soaking it in.

going with a child means certain things; longer stays in one place, less travel time in between. we keep going back to the same places. South Africa (Hel, I wasn't kidding earlier about coming to see you but I wonder how you feel about us sleeping on your lawn), Morocco, India, Laos. Or a South American journey, starting at the top and ending at the bottom. Longer periods of time in each place, flats rented by the month. Less around the world than travelling north and south in big chunks of it.

and already the fear creeps in, international sicknesses and doing right by M. what we are leaving and what we will return to. all of that seems manageable for the most part, we feel pretty comfortable that we can easily find work when it's over, might not be the best work the first time around, but we know we can find it. we know where we live now is not our home, we have no remorse setting it free. we know the open road creates possibilities, who knows what we'll find or where we'll end up.

it's the great unknown, of taking the leap, of looking at security and americana and laughing in it's face. of strange places and food, of dusty roads and washing clothes in the sink. of showing M the world, the hard bits and the good bits, of getting rid of the TV and living simply. of carrying our lives on our backs for a while. of doing something off the rails.

we've always dreamed of this and J has done it in his youth. having M requires shifts in thinking but i remind myself there are many families in the places we want to go, that it is indeed possible to live outside the box for awhile. others do it and do it well.

it's a long way off yet, a year from now i hope to be posting about selling our cars and the seventh garage sale in a row. but it takes time to figure this sort of thing out, to map our journey and consider our options. to close up shop and sing kumbayah. more than that it takes time to say yes and mean it, to choose this freedom over the illusion of security and capitalism, To rid ourselves of the ingrained notion that one needs to produce and consume to be a contributing member of the planet. and essentially to put our money where our mouth is, to see how ballsy we really are or if we are just a lot of hot air.

Friday, July 06, 2007

one plus two = dumbasses

A milestone of sorts on our fourth official Family Night:

Me: M baby, your first day at (pre) preschool! baby girl you are so grown up! We are going to have Family Night to celebrate!
M: Yay! Family Night! Me want ice cream!
Me: Ok, but first tell me what you love about your new classroom. Tell me everything, leave nothing out.
M: Me love going big girl potty at school like N. (a little school dude) but I want a peenus and go like this (grabbing non existent peenus) but me no have peenus like N and me can't go like this and me have to go like this (mimes squatting)
J: What did she say?
Me: She wishes she had a peenus. You know, like N.
M: Peenus! Me want peenus!! Mommy, you have peenus? Me want peenus!
Me: I guess I thought we'd have a few more years till we got to this one.
J: I'm not really sure where we go from here.
Me: M, do you want to talk about why you don't have a peenus?
M: Me want ice cream!
Me: Ice cream, dude. When in doubt, let's just go with ice cream.

You still have time to get in on our seventh Just Post Roundtable. If you have a written a post about social justice in it's various forms or you've appreciated one that was written by someone else, please send them my way to girlplustwo (at) yahoo(dot) com by tomorrow and I'll send you the button. Go on. It's good for the soul and everyone is welcome. We'll link all posts and anyone who refers one (or more) in our Just Post Roundtable on the 10th. If this is new to you, please feel free to check it out at the Just Post buttons to your right.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

revival

We went to a music festival yesterday to see some friends and listen to music and toast our freedom with cold beer. One of our friends was performing, he's from Trinidad and does a mix of calypso, funk and soul. He was covering Marley's Redemption Song, folks were dancing and drinking and singing along. He sounds remarkably like Bob so every time I hear him sing one of his songs I always close my eyes and tilt my face up and soak it in.

M was running circles around me in full toddler fashion, falling and tripping and rebounding and smashing into me. My beer was sloshing around a bit, splashing my arm. J was a few feet away talking to a friend.

Our friend got to the part of the song Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery and then he repeated it Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, and then he stopped the music and repeated Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery with no music and his voice loud and strong. And then the crowd had stopped their singing along and dancing, jolted out of the expected and stood silent, watching this man with long wild locks and wiry form rise up from his stool and repeat it yet again, as loud and deep as giant waves at the tide.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery.

And after the fourth time it sunk in. The crowd started cheering and applauding and there was a brief moment of solidarity and then our friend sat down and said This is your freedom. THIS is your freedom.

And then he finished the song without further ado. That moment stuck with me, that brief moment of consciousness mixed inside the sun. This IS our freedom, the one we owe to ourselves. None but ourselves can free our mind. And the path is curvy and dark and I stumble, and yet it's this that I know is true.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

to whom it concerns

Dear Sir,

You don't know me but I know some things about you. I am just a girl on the fringe, watching the orange alerts creeping into red. I see the borders you are reinforcing, those walls look strong and those men with guns look mean. I see the new prisons under construction, the ones already overflowing (commuting Libby was money, dude. Way to save bed space!) I see the lack of Iraqis being granted asylum in our country, even as we run roughshod over theirs. That pesky deathtoll keeps rising, but calling it collateral damage is a great idea, so much easier to forget that way! And good idea saving money on supplies, our men and women in combat don't need much, it's plenty hot there already, no need to weigh them down with cumbersome body armor.

I notice the rising rates of HMO coverage, the fact that millions of kids can't see a doctor. I see the slow progress in Louisiana, even though some of your contractor buddies made out like bandits over a year ago. Schools are more overcrowded than ever; those federal budget cuts have a way of trickling down, good job cutting corners on that one. Who needs an education anyways! And that whole fight to minimize global warming? Good strategy, no need getting everyone panicked. In fact, incentives for purchasing over sized gas guzzling vehicles is showing your commitment! To Oil!

Not everyone has a house, and some of those who do don't have electricity. No worries there, folks are resourceful, they can use blankets. Plus there are showers at public parks and way less staff around to manage the traffic so any of us can sneak in and clean right up. Saves on water too! Food is an annoying necessity, but hey, dumpsters are overflowing everywhere. Speaking of landfills, I hear we might be using oceans now, what a great idea. Lots of room at the bottom of the ocean! Wasted Space!

All in all, Mr. President, I think you are doing just swell. That whole Patriot Act thing was the real kicker, keeping those people who challenge you in their place! Not to mention fixing the election back in 2000, way to go after what you want, we love that pitbull attitude. And who cares if the rest of the world hates us? We'll just keep them saddled in debt and and terrified of invasion and eventually they'll come around. I think you are doing a great job running this country - you never let anyone stand in your way, not even the truth!

And who cares about truth when we have fear? Fear! The New Truth!

Cheers,

She Who Waits Like A Dog In Heat For 2008

PS. Happy 4th!

PPS. What kind of dirt did Libby have on you anyways?

Monday, July 02, 2007

the one about the buffalo

For Bon, because she asked for more.

When I think of Cambodia I am filled with intense longing. An exotic humbling country filled with great sorrows and great joys. A place of poverty and desperation, of magnificent beauty, of survival and wit. I've longed for Cambodia, before, during and after I spent a month inside it's borders. An honorable and trying month that changed me forever. There is so much to say about how much I love this country that I could fill your ears and put you to sleep. But I won't, because this is just a simple post about a water buffalo.


We had left a southern village called Kampot the night before. Our taxi broke down an hour outside of Phnom Penh and as such we were late arriving. We were lucky enough to find a terrific room for the bargain price of $10 and a benevolent owner who helped us procure some Johnny Walker Blue off the black market before turning in for the night. We had to be up early, the bus for Siem Reap left early, at least an hour after they told you to arrive. It was maybe a five hour drive to get there and we were one nazi sympathizer (i swear to god), two ugly americans (not us), three chickens (they were fine) and about four hours into the drive when all of a sudden...WHAM!

A few people screamed, but mostly it was quiet. The bus veered to the side of the road and there was much commotion. We understood nothing but after awhile we wandered off the bus. As we made our way to the front it all became clear, and what was most amazing was how the driver didn't swerve. His driving straight into the buffalo most likely kept us all alive. And how he didn't flinch as a 300 pound buffalo came flying up to greet him is beyond me, but dude, you were money. That puncture in the bottom right corner of the window was the horn of the buffalo, popping through.

We get off the bus and are on the side of a dusty hot road. It's well over 100 degrees and there isn't much in the way of shade. And besides the aforementioned JWB, we didn't have anything to drink. It was a full bus, about 30% backpackers and the rest locals all in various states of annoyance. New bus coming soon, 20 minutes! was the refrain we heard for the next six hours.

By now a crowd had gathered around the buffalo, the villagers had come out to see what the fuss was about. They circled around the poor wailing beast and stared for well over an hour. I was silently begging someone to put it out of it's misery but I had no idea how these things were done. The crowd kept staring at us from the other side of the street, neither group crossing sides. Hours wove on and we were starting to get a bit worried. There were babies on the bus, and it was hot, and there was no water. Some of the tourists were annoying, talking too slow and too loud and selfishly taking the last bit of shade. Carrying on about places to be, important things to do. We wondered if the next Lonely Planet stop was as important as what some of the locals must have been on the bus for; a shift at work, picking up a child, delivering some goods...all of that seemed more important to me. But it didn't matter what anyone thought, because there was nothing to do but wait.

After about four hours a minivan stopped. We glanced up and I said wow, terrific. those moms and babies can get a ride into town. We looked up again and it was every white man for himself. All the backpackers had crammed their way onto the minibus and overflowing with whiteness it chugged away, the frame nearly scraping the ground. J and I looked at each other and said so much for women and children first. fuck those guys.

We continued to wait in moderate discomfort and silent yet mildly creeping panic when a woman came out of the house in the picture above and gestured to us to follow her. We creep up the steps of her home and she invites us in for tea. We can't communicate beyond simple gestures but the tea was delicious and her home was cooler than being outside. One of her children came and sat on my lap and played with my hair, another took J's backpack and opened and closed it. It was a soft and still moment in time that I knew I'd not forget. The kindness of strangers bringing us in from the streets.

A little while later another bus pulled up, we laughed and realized it must have already been 20 minutes and it was now time to go. Once again all is well on the road. Except of course, for the bus and the buffalo.

These last pictures are from Siem Reap at the Temples at Angkor, one of the most incredible places I have ever seen. They don't relate to the story but they show the beauty and intrigue of this magnificent country and besides, you got me started and now I can't stop.

This little girl was begging in one of the temples with her mom. We spent a few minutes with them sharing some food and some money. When we were leaving she gestured the act of picture taking and I couldn't resist. She is sitting on stone from over 1000 years ago. And she's gorgeous, isn't she.
And this is perhaps my all time favorite picture from the hundreds we took and in fact I've posted it before. This woman was so beautiful and will always personify and simplify one of the most complicated places I have ever seen. Ah, Cambodia.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

sicko

See it. Really. And then come back and let's talk about it. Or better, tell me what you think we should do.

Not everyone agrees with Michael Moore. But he gives a voice to the voiceless like no one else in the last decade. And those voiceless folks are all of us. Except perhaps for you Canadians. In fact, I need to know soon if healthcare is really as rosy as it was portrayed in the movie, because if so, I am putting a deposit on a two-bedroom in Toronto tomorrow.

I've actually got a lot more serious thoughts on this, heartbreaking achy ones but I'll need some time to formulate those and get back to you. Otherwise it'll just sound like loud sobbing from the corner. So for now, I'll just leave you with one of my favorite points: as long as we keep people impoverished, desperate and frightened they'll keep giving away all their power. And that is exactly what they want us to do. Let's take it back. Let's.

See it.

In other news it's time for our seventh Just Post Roundtable. Some of you may be wonderng what was going to happen to our Just Posts with Mad on blogiday, but never fear, justice prevails. Jess graciously offered to be the better half in Mad's absence and I can't thank her enough. We do expect Canada to represent even stronger that you've temporarily lost your home team advantage so bring on those posts.

If you have a written a post about social justice in it's various forms or you've appreciated one that was written by someone else, please send them my way to girlplustwo (at) yahoo(dot) com by June 7th and I'll send you the button. Go on. It's good for the soul and everyone is welcome.

We'll link all posts and anyone who refers one (or more) in our Just Post Roundtable on the 10th. If this is new to you, please feel free to check it out at the Just Post buttons to your right.