The 4th, Soccer, and a Really Wet Fish

America

It’s that time of year again, you know the one when we get really excited about our country. Though, somehow that excitement has been transferred more to mattress and truck sales. Because nothing says celebration like spending hours in a show room waiting to find out about financing. Meanwhile I like getting stuck at the light on Colfax in my thirteen year old car because I can watch the World Cup for a few minutes on the big screens outside The Three Lions. I guess I didn’t get the memo early enough that I’m not American enough. Makes me think about Hari Kondabolu and his comment the other day about growing up in New York. He didn’t know any white people, though he knew plenty of Irish, and Italians, and Jews. Growing up around the same time ten miles away the only difference in my childhood was the occasional Midwesterner I would meet, usually someone who’s work intersected with my Dad’s, in New York for a few years as part of their way of working their way up the corporate ladder. They would come to Thursday Dinner, where the conversations would drift from Marxism, to someone telling tales from their latest stint of fieldwork. Now I live in the middle of this country, I find I have more connection to it, the land that is, I’m still doubtful of it’s history. Though I’m thankful that it gave my great-grandparents a place to land as pogroms filled the Pale. Two weeks ago I found a copy of A Carp in the Bathtub at the library book sale, yesterday I brought home some carp from H-Mart, dreams of my grandmother’s attempt to renew old traditions in my mind. Instead I had the fish in my hands wringing out the excess water from freezing. None of this assuaged my guilt from even buying the over fished fish. Finally at 8 we sat down to fried fish and plates of asparagus, while an interview about Roger Ebert played on the radio in the kitchen. We stayed up late watching murder mysteries on the couch. More excited about our next trip; Routt National Forest, than fireworks and burgers from the near-by market.

Rant over.

Oh and I did this.

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Happy Solistice

A Solitice Sunrise
The Solstice sun rose just as we arrived from Denver, sixteen hours of driving through the night.

The Last of the Sun
The final view of sun on this shortest day of the year.

Solstice Moon
An early moon.

Winter
The brilliance of winter in the desert.

DSC_0079
Last, a reminder that the next few days are a time for reflection, and a time for looking forward to a new year.

Those Books That Stay 1

Take a moment to look at your bookshelf and you’ll know the ones I’m talking about. They are the ones you return to over and over for inspiration, the ones that suddenly seem relevant in new ways often. For me they are cyclical, the ones that support me some years fade to the background while others become vital. Then life, or I, change and it continues. I’m not talking about the novels we love and return to because they excite us or make us happy. Today I picked up one of these books again, and even as I read the introduction I sighed because I remembered something that I had forgotten. Below, is my list. I would love to hear yours too.

Soul of a Citizen by Paul Rogat Loeb. This book is about being an activist, not the how to fight for something or protest, but about finding it in yourself and how important it is for all of us to be engaged members of the community (local, national, or world). This is my current read. I found this my first year after college, while I spent most of that year skiing and living on the mountain I would spend some of my days off in the library. I am not sure how I found it, but this book was the beginning of the end of my brief attempt at not caring beyond my own fun.

The Geography of Childhood, by Gary Nabhan and Stephen Trimble. Adults and children see the world we live in differently. Ten years before Richard Louv wrote Last Child in the Woods Nabhan and Trimble were discussing it and looking both at their own lives and various groups of children, and the way that they connected to the natural world. While there book never got as much attention, their essays are so much more engaging and full of positive examples of how children do connect.

A Timbered Choir, by Wendell Berry. Every Sunday for decades Berry has sat down and written a poem for the day. On days that I feel un-moored I will grab this book and read one, inevitably it will ground me. I actually have an older addition just called Sabbaths which was published earlier on.

From Totems to Hip-Hop: A Multicultural Anthology of Poetry Across the Americas, by Ishmael Reed. I love the poems in this book but what I come back for is actually the introduction. As someone who cares deeply about the perspective that I share with my son about the world I refer to this often to remind me of what world I would like for him to see.

Catching a Wave, by Tim Cooke Donar, Rory Dicker, Alison Piepmeier. As a child of the 70s and 80s I was surrounded by plenty of Gloria Steinem, and Carol Gilligan. By the time I was at college I knew the theories like some kids know their mother’s recipes for meatballs. The thing with that second guard of feminists for me was that they spoke in such academic voices, their ideas were relevant but they weren’t engaging me. They also were talking from a starting point of sexism as the norm. But my father was a second generation male feminist (my grandfather as a socialist looked at my grandmother as a peer and supported her in becoming a microbiologist). Catching a Wave was one of the first Third Wave Feminism books that I read, a series of essays about what feminism looks like in the 21st century. I like how varied the voices are and how the issues have broadened and are taken on here in personal voices.

Politics and the Personal

Standing up for our rights

 

So much of the internet world seems focused on the Chik Fil A controversy. I am not going to rewrite the detail but send you to this well written post. What I do want to write about is action, what actions I choose to take and those I don’t. By now I’m sure that it’s become obvious that I am unabashedly liberal, that my life choices have come from a deeply held personal philosophy. It’s easy to loose sight of big thoughts when every day there are 1 million other things involved in life. It is easy to step back and say that a few comments on facebook or a blog is sufficient enough action. But too many times in the past year have I taken these passive paths towards my beliefs.

But as this past year has gone by I have felt more and more “suburbanized” not only in my activism but my creativity. Having a child is a good excuse not to participate, but that same child is why I must stand for what I believe. I have been lucky to come from an very liberal and accepting family, but some of my friends are not from as open of families. Some of them had to watch as “friends” spelled out hateful things on their page. It reminded me that to stay quiet is not really an option. My own sexuality has never been a secret, I married my husband for love, not because he was a man but because he was everything that makes him Kevin. I can not say why it was we found each other but we did, he could just have well been a woman, except he couldn’t be anyone other than him. None of this means my eyes are closed or that I am not moved by other people, both men and women, but it him who I choose to make my life with (hey our wedding 9th anniversary was yesterday).

I’ve side-tracked my point. My point is that when life is full that it is easy to get complacent, to talk about things in the third person rather than acting. Not only for causes but projects and even beliefs. Not actively participating in a protest is only the most visible part of this passivity, so is letting beliefs slide in terms of parenting. How many times this summer have I just been too caught up on my own chaos to remember to model the things that I believe is, or to talk to him about kindness or what ever else I know is a important? So today, though I was tired and a little spaced out I chose to step out and support something that is important to me, people’s right not to be legislated against just because of who they love.

Now it is up to me to take this further, to talk of feelings and beliefs with my son, to finish the projects I start and to begin the ones that come into my mind. It is time for me to stop living for just the next day and focus myself on the bigger picture and watch as the pieces come together.