Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Writing Life

It's been about a year and a half since I started writing more seriously, and I thought I'd give an update on what I've been working on, especially since you all don't see any of it here.

I started one novel and laid it down. (I couldn't see my way forward at the time but have had some ideas since then.)

I then directed much of my attention on poetry, along with more focused journaling (with an eye to using more of it in some way, some day).

And then I surprised myself by starting a new novel (requiring lots of research, alas). So the poetry is stepping back for now.

It's a continuous struggle for time, a tug of war between running and writing. I need both. I'm still trying to figure out what's the minimum I need with both so that I have a better idea of how to flex when things get busy. I suspect my ultra plans will be suspended for a while, again.

Have I mentioned that I'm slow at both? I would find it funny if it wasn't simultaneously so frustrating. My output is severely hampered by my lack of speed, and I have SO MANY things I want to do with both.

Well, I suppose it's the doing that's most important.

One page, one foot in front of the other,

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Some Words I Have Found Useful

My current non-fiction book is Audre Lorde's Sister Outsider. I'm only a few essays in and have already found some gems I want to print out and pin up for constant remembering...

The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes we hope to bring about through those lives.
As we learn to bear the intimacy of scrutiny and to flourish within it, as we learn to use the products of that scrutiny for power within our living, those fears which rule our lives and form our silences begin to lose their control over us.
What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say?
We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired.

And then, from Seth Godin's blog posts of the last week or so:

The memories we rehearse are the ones we live with

...Lots of people have had similar experiences, but none of them are telling themselves quite the same story about it as you are.
Over time, the story is rehearsed... And so the story becomes our memory, the story gets rehearsed ever more, and the story becomes the thing we tell ourselves the next time we need to make a choice.
If your story isn't helping you, work to rehearse a new story instead.
Because it's our narrative that determines who we will become.

Sometimes, the wind is at our back, the resources are easily acquired and good karma increases our ability to do great work.
Other times, it feels like we're up against it, that the wind has shifted, that there's not a lot of opportunity or momentum.
It's in those times that, "what are you working on?" becomes a vital question, a lifeline to get us from here to there...
We each have a platform, access to tools, a change we'd like to make in the world around us. We each have a chance to connect, to see, to lead.
And it's not, at least right now, fun or easy. It might not even seem like you've got a shot, or that the wind is too harsh.
Persist. It matters.

It's fun to imagine what we'd do if we had a magic wand...
They stopped making magic wands a millenia ago.
Now that you know that there are no magic wands, a better question is probably:
What do you care enough about that you're prepared to expose yourself to fear, risk and hard work to get?

And today's soundtrack is brought to us by Ms. Sharon Jones, may she rest in peace.


(My apologies for the messed up fonts... nothing I was doing was making them uniform - in fact, all my efforts were only making it worse. I've given up.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


I've been sick. No, seriously, some kind of stomach bug that G picked up first and that D and I then succumbed to over the weekend. He's mostly bounced back but I can't seem to shake it - or maybe now I have a sinus infection? Either way I have headaches when I don't usually and a fatigue I can't sleep off (perhaps also because I'm not sleeping well). I'd like to just curl up for a couple of days with romance novels.

Only I have small children who need tending and a job that has entered into another busy time of year and oh, yes, our own holiday/birthday planning that needs attention. And figuring out what I can do in the aftermath of the election.

I am trying to be gentle with myself (and not go on Facebook) and hold on to what gives me strength and peace these days. A lot of Macklemore & Ryan, it seems. And Beyonce. And a new one: Kate Tempest.

Some M&R videos below - clean versions are also available out there (but these hella ain't).

Thrift Shop
Same Love
White Privilege II

"America the brave still fears what we don't know."

Peace -

Friday, November 11, 2016

What Now

I am upset. I am disappointed, and ashamed. I can't say I am surprised, though, and that saddens me too. I could imagine this day too well in the weeks leading up to this one - especially after Brexit - I just hoped it would be otherwise.

So what now? Continue to move on in the anti-racism and pro-immigration work I have already committed to, at work and in my own life. Learn Spanish, finally. Be more explicit about my own LGBTQ status. Make more visible my support for all who have reason to fear.

And take the long view, as best I can.


*Jezebel has published a list of "pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-earth, anti-bigotry organizations" to consider supporting. I will be using it to expand my knowledge and giving.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Albany Park Love

I wasn't going to write about the election. The campaign has made me so tired, so upset. I'm glad it will be over soon (or will it?) and yet I'm also anxious about what will come next.

But I got up and was at my polling place* before they officially opened - there was already a line - and voted. And I thought today might be a good day to share some reflections on our neighborhood, on why I love this place and this city.

We were taking the bus home from D's soccer game earlier this month, and I thought about how both his team and that bus were a mix of language, race, and class. This wasn't a surprise to me, every place I go in my particular corner of the city is like that. And I love it. It's what feels like home. It's what I imagine a city should feel like.

Not that Chicago always does, we keep hearing about how it's one of the most segregated cities in America. Demographically, Chicago is almost equally black, white, and Latinx, but you wouldn't know it from mainstream papers or the TV, and I suspect that many of us who call ourselves white have a hard time really believing it.

But a city should be like the world, yes? In these days of travel and migration, a city should be a jambalaya of cultures, each with its own taste, texture, and bite, but all part of a glorious whole. Not a melting pot - that was an idea only ever meant for European immigrants anyway - but a dim sum of abundance, joyously overflowing. Nature is rich - over 6 billion organisms in a teaspoon of dirt, an acre of land teems with life (yes, even in the city) - so why shouldn't our streets be too?

A few days' stay in a man-made corner of a northern state this summer - comprised of hotels, shopping centers, and chain restaurants, barely a person of color in sight - left me gasping and dizzy until I was back on my streets again, awash in flags, veils, music, and color, breathing it all in, steady in the flow.

This is what makes America great. This is the future I vote for. And this is the future I will work for, whatever the results of this election.

With uncertainty and sadness,

* This is the pool hall where we vote. Not the best place for voting - it's awkward getting around inside and The Dude was already reporting problems at 6:30 a.m. - but how can you not love it.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Scary Movie Month 2016 - #2

Well, Scary Movie Month is officially over for this year (although we have a couple of movies from Netflix still to watch and return).

No more Buffy - the few nights that were not about the Cubs were all about movies, since I very much wanted to fit a few more in.

Movies watched:

"Christine" (1983 - John Carpenter)
     This was surprisingly good. I mean, it's about a possessed car, I wasn't expecting much. But it turned out to be much more about the car's effect on its owner and how he is changed. Hint: it's totally a metaphor for addiction.

"The Man Who Knew Too Much" (1956 - Alfred Hitchcock)
     This is his remake of his own movie, with James Stewart (being very Jimmy Stewart) and Doris Day. Ooo, so suspenseful. Almost too much so - we had to break it up into two nights for length, and I very nearly didn't want to see the second half since it had had me so much on pins and needles. But I made it through. It is a movie very much of its time in regards to women and Muslims, so that was a little hard at first, but then the action moved back to London and Doris was on more equal footing so I could shut up the internal critic and just allow myself to get sucked in.
     This wasn't my favorite of his movies but they're always worth watching.

"American Werewolf in London" (1981 - John Landis)
     This was my third time watching it and it just keeps getting better and better. I still get scared at the same points but I see more and more with each viewing (how it's put together, what it's drawing from, that sort of thing). And heart-breaking, just like the original wolf man movie (it follows the same structure).

With the kids:

"Young Frankenstein" (1974 - Mel Brooks)
     I love this movie - I just so enjoy the humor and the interplay between the actors - but the kids were not much impressed by it. It's also a bit baudy for their age, I was glad they couldn't follow along entirely.

"The Wolfman" (1941 - George Waggner)
     I don't find this an easy movie to watch (I prefer "American Werewolf in London") - I don't like the Lon Chaney character at the beginning, and there just isn't any way out for the characters. We're meant to identify with the monster - the other characters are all rooting for the person who is the monster as well - and in the end the only possible way is to kill the monster. So then what? Just an ache.

I've had a couple of conversations this month with people who told me they can't watch anything scary. I have conversations like this every year. And what I tell people is that I can barely stand to watch scary things either. I spend a fair bit of this month every year with my hands in front of my eyes, listening for the musical cues to tell me when it's safe to look. But there's so much to these films that it's worth it. Many of the movies we see are excellent compared against anything else you might watch, and as a genre I find it fascinating to think about what each movie is telling us about society's fears at that time. And now that I've seen enough of them I can see the conversations happening in-between various movies, how one will quote another, or amplify it, or argue with it. I find this month more and more rewarding every year. Even when I can't actually look at the screen.

May your dreams be peaceful (not all of mine were this month!) and your nights undisturbed -

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Maybe Now I Can Sleep


Okay, now I need a week's worth of naps.

Still stunned,