unexpected abundance

In my last post, I wrote about growing seeds, both literal and figurative.

As for the literal seeds, I wanted to report back for any other SoCal parents wondering how to keep their wee ones engaged in this physical world. Some of my family’s newly planted seeds are faring much, much better than others here in south Los Angeles County!

Within two weeks, we’ve witnessed growth as follows: Continue reading “unexpected abundance”

to reach for the sun

A few weeks ago, my six-year-old and I planted seeds in paper cups.

We stuck the paper cups outside and committed to watering them. Daily, ish.

With such a vague “commitment,” we watered them every few days. In the intense heat of August in SoCal, the seeds failed not only to thrive, but to show even the merest hints of growth.

Last weekend, my six-year-old and I planted new seeds in paper cups.

We planted green bean, watermelon, and tomato seeds. We committed to watering these each and every evening. Continue reading “to reach for the sun”

to show up

Today was my sons’ second day of (online) school this Fall.

Anxieties have run high among the adults in my home the last week or so: “What?! We just got the hang of COVID summer. How are we supposed to adapt to school now, when Summer just started … it did just start, didn’t it? Wait, is it still 2020?”

The first two days went pretty well, actually. I was able to collapse the chaos of virtual school-plus-work into a spreadsheet, and then … reality actually conformed itself, more or less, to that spreadsheet!

(That seldom happens, so I take time to savor it when it does.)

The best part of day two involved a summer assignment my older son finished a little late: “As a family, talk about an event in the news and how it relates to your faith.” Continue reading “to show up”

to vote and

Yesterday afternoon, my sister shared with me a video that gave me words. In doing so, it took a load off both mind and heart.

Before I tell you about the video, I must first tell you about the load …
about which it will, I’ll caution you, likely be unpleasant to read.

— the load —

I’d begun the morning reflecting how completely I abhor the private corporation that is the Democrats—not those who vote Democrat, no, but the Democratic machine itself. By this I mean those with the power to draft its platforms;
those who routinely take actions that benefit people with massive power while further depriving the economically powerless any prospect for structural dignity;
those who call themselves the good guys while epsteining as a way of life.

As I’ve been clear about here, I grew up in deep poverty. That poverty paved the way for predation; as members of the vast U.S. underclass, my siblings and I were preyed upon by numerous predators. As I wrote in one post on my old blog, “The poor mom who cannot afford to feed her children cannot possibly afford an attorney,” a fact on which predators gleefully act.

Coupling my childhood learning with ample book learning the last four years, I am crystal clear on the many ways that machine has long acted to increase the suffering of those already suffering most. Continue reading “to vote and”

to become learned

One of the formative experiences of my life—testifying, as a child, feet away from a home-wrecking pedophile—taught me a great many things. The most important thing it taught me was:

You’ll only be believed if you behave, and speak, exactly right.

Four years ago, I realized I could state what I believed, but that I’d never be believed without cold, hard facts.

Maybe, I contemplated, I’d be believable with them?

I started reading. I read more than a hundred books annually to learn not only the cold, hard facts, but also to learn their contexts: the very specific histories in which they were birthed.

Continue reading “to become learned”

possible

Early yesterday morning, I took my sons for drive-through hot chocolate. Rather than heading straight home afterward, I drove surface streets for a few minutes before hopping on the freeway.

Even for a Friday morning in pandemic times, traffic was unbelievably light. For a few miles, then, we got to do one of my favorite things in the world: unhindered by bumper-to-bumper traffic, fly down the freeway in SoCal sunlight.

My heart soared, despite the outward mundanity of the act.

I grinned as I told my kids how much I loved the feeling. I’d only just voiced curiosity about the source of this feeling when I found my answer, which I shared with my kids. Continue reading “possible”

with passion for liberation

I recently bought Ibrahim X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Antiracist.

I haven’t read very far. And yet, only a few pages in, I’m so grateful to have–thanks to Kendi–added the word “antiracist” to my vocabulary.

For years, I fumbled for words to explain to some white friends that their being quietly “color-blind” wasn’t really a kindness to people of color. The closest I could come, over and over again, was saying variations of, “You can’t be neutral on a moving train. Being quietly ‘color-blind’ doesn’t stop that hurtful train from rolling right over people.”

So many conversations. So many hours. So many words.

Finding the word “antiracist” brought me a sigh of relief: Silence is a vote for racism, while speaking up, with a passion for justice for all, is its opposite, antiracism.

Having the word “antiracist” helped me troubleshoot a related flaw in my own thinking elsewhere recently.

I got to thinking about how it’s obviously obvious to anyone who meets me for even three seconds that I wholeheartedly support equal rights for LGBTQI people–doesn’t almost everyone by now?!–when I caught myself mid-thought, flashed to Kendi, and went, Continue reading “with passion for liberation”

to karen (2), or: “small fires”

A small fire is hard to see but it’s easy to put out; a large fire is easy to see but very difficult to put out.

– Dr. Mike Ryan, on COVID-19

When I began writing “to karen (1),” I was already personally clear that “Karen,”
while a problem, is not The Problem.

I’d begun to identify The Problem for myself, but did not yet have words
to begin describing it.

I don’t yet have great words, but you know what?

It’s by writing that I find those words, and also

build them into muscle memory.

Author Nassim Nicholas Taleb has guided how I assess the problem of “Karen.” For me, having read Taleb, karening involved what I described as “a transference of skin in the game.”

“To karen,” I decided, means to “take acts that decrease one’s anxiety—to increase one’s subjective sense of well being—by transferring (or attempting to transfer) objective risks and costs to someone else.”

Having read Taleb, the problem with this definition was almost immediately clear to me: The woman-on-the-street engaged in karening has a very limited reach. The individuals with whom she comes in touch may be imperiled by her urgent need to reduce her anxiety at someone else’s expense, but …

From a societal perspective, any individual “Karen” causes qualitatively large but quantitatively small harm.

The much greater danger to life and liberty wouldn’t be one Karen-in-the-park, but people enabled to sacrifice numerous lives and livelihoods all at once:

People who could put not only one or two people’s skin in the game,

but put in thousands, or millions, all at once.

While wrapping up “to karen (1),” I tried finding the Taleb passages I sought in his Skin in the Game. Continue reading “to karen (2), or: “small fires””