keep on asking!

My ten-year-old, Li’l D, and I have many times discussed the difference between “knowing” and “knowing-about.”

As human beings, it can be far too easy to confuse knowing-about with deep knowing, as I first demonstrated to Li’l D—years ago!—with elephants.

While I can’t recall how that conversation started, it began with Li’l D being confident in his elephant expertise. He remained confident until I started asking him nuanced questions about elephants: Continue reading “keep on asking!”

to experience grace

Four weeks ago, I wrote about unlikely inspiration: being laughed at and photographed for wearing a face mask. I wrote about how reflecting on that encounter helped deepen my commitment to practicing empathy even—perhaps especially—when it’s hard:

If I rage at [Unmasked Woman], the maskless woman who set this post stirring, I do not show care. I do not show empathy. I do not reflect, in act, my deep belief that “redeemable” is a category into which every single human being may fall.

A few days later, I’d learn of the police murder of George Floyd. I’d see my husband, a Black man who has gently walked with me as I’ve grappled with the enduring consequences of my own many encounters with trauma, split open and bleed out decades of racism-born trauma. Unskilled at being with him in his own trauma, I’d leap right into the roiling waters of trauma with him, leaving us both exhausted, wounded, and wary. Continue reading “to experience grace”

we shape it

My husband, Anthony, and I are both horror fans.

He typically prefers psychological horror, while I favor supernatural horror–you know, the kind of horror that human beings can’t work on one another.

We did find some horror overlap thanks to zombies. Anthony inspired that in me by loaning me his copy of World War Z, which excellent novel paved the way for Anthony and I to date over … zombie movies.

For a few months now, I haven’t been in the mood for much horror. There’s enough to amp up my anxiety in the real world without adding to it with fantasy.

But then … Continue reading “we shape it”

on face masks & my sons’ future

In my neighborhood, more people roam without face masks than with them.

I don’t usually give this too much thought, but one encounter last weekend has lingered in my mind.

My kids and I were finishing a walk around the block. We were, for reasons described in my early April post “A bandana the right direction,” all wearing our face masks.

While my ten-year-old (Li’l D) and I were walking, my six-year-old (Littler J) was pedaling slowly on his hand-me-down Ninja Turtles bike. I saw a couple without facemasks approaching on the sidewalk. Remembering Littler rolling right into a neighbor who’d been standing still just a few days prior, I thought it unlikely he’d be able to skirt around moving targets. I nudged him into the street to enable the couple to pass. Continue reading “on face masks & my sons’ future”

Bound

The last week or so, I’ve sought connection online where I’m not apt to find it.

Then I load this interface, so familiar to me for almost a decade and the starting point to so many beautiful connections, and I remember: Oh, yeah! This is where I can find genuine connection outside my home.

I have a meeting in fifteen minutes, so I can’t write much.

What I can tell you, in fifteen minutes, is about all the books I’m reading while (relatively) confined to my home. Continue reading “Bound”

there in love

Waiting in line at the bookstore a couple of months ago, I saw copies of Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal.

I’d checked out the audiobook from my local library before, but I’d never listened for more than two or three minutes before falling asleep. I’d later awaken to some random excerpt, think that’s lovely, and then tumble right back to sleep.

Seeing a copy of the book in print in line that day, I thought I might enjoy actually reading it—all the way through, from its beginning to its final word.

Until finishing Being Mortal last week, I’d read three or four pages at a time.

Having spent the years 2016 through 2018 plowing through a couple of non-fiction books a week, I’ve slowed down when reading those books that touch my heart. In a world currently so full of fear and condemnation, I want to touch in frequently with those things—those words, those hearts, those authors, those places—that fill me with the wonder of being deeply, achingly human. Continue reading “there in love”

So many pages to share

No matter what changes outside my home, there’s one constant within it: Reading.

Each morning, I read to each of my sons for fifteen or twenty minutes. Each evening, I do the same, before my husband picks up evening reading.

The most popular book in our household right now is Max Brallier’s The Last Kids on Earth‘s newly released sixth book. We’d pre-ordered this what feels like millennia ago, so that my kids had lost track of it and were then bouncing-off-the-walls thrilled when it showed up on our porch on Tuesday. Continue reading “So many pages to share”

Resting & reading

Neither my husband nor I are feeling well. This means we’re prioritizing rest and, as much as possible, relaxation, even more emphatically than we would in less tumultuous times.

Our kids are thrilled. With both parents down, their screen time goes up!

(It’s not unlimited. They’re currently playing Star Wars together. Play and movement are also essential to health!)

For me, downtime means one thing: reading!

Unfortunately, with too many excellent books on hand, I’m not sure where to really dig in. Contenders are: Continue reading “Resting & reading”

Our Son

My kids do not enjoy bedtime. This is putting it lightly.

My husband and I have a handful of tools we use on our kids at bedtime only. One of the  bedtime-only tools I use after especially exhausting days is Reading My Books: “Oh, you’re not ready for your own stories? Cool! I’ll read to you from mine!”

Over the last couple of years, my kids have heard Neil Postman, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Naomi Klein, Rebecca Solnit, and a handful of other non-kidlit authors. Typically, my kids don’t have to listen to any author too long before hollering, “Stop! Stop! Please read one of our books!”

Something funny happened a couple nights ago, though. Continue reading “Our Son”

In The Forecast: Lots of Reading

Last month, I wrote about my kids and I getting Los Angeles Public Library cards. We were all enthusiastic then, but we’re even more enthusiastic now. 

The kids’ school and our favorite physical world destinations–including, as of the day before yesterday, the LAPL!–will be closed for at least the next two weeks. While there will be chores and some schoolwork to do here, we’ll also have a lot more time to read. 

Many of the books we’ll read here will come off of our own shelves. Others will come from the library via Overdrive, an app that grants LAPL patrons access to a couple million electronic resources–books and magazines and videos, oh my!*

A smaller handful of books will be paper books my kids and I checked out from our LAPL branch library.

On our last trip to the library, my five-year-old checked out books 2-4 of Kallie George’s Heartwood Hotel series. After ignoring the first book, half-finished, for months, he recently fell head over heels for the tiny critters who fill this tree-forest hotel in the woods. 

This morning, I snuggled up with him and read him the last chapter ofThe Greatest Gift (Heartwood Hotel #2). I said a quiet thanks that, due to the library closure, we’ll have this book on hand to read and reread for an extra few weeks.

Even as my littler one and I read that book, my older son was off reading My Hero Academia Vol. 22. Having never heard of this manga just two or three weeks ago, he’s since plowed through almost all of them the way he’d eat pizza: with gusto, not to mention the keenest of focus! 

I’d recently contemplated checking out some new manga for him. I wish I had! And yet, there’s plenty of manga available on Overdrive. If my son has a will to find more, there’s certainly a way!

* Residents of the City of L.A. can check out LAPL electronic resources even without a physical card. You can find more info here. If you’re outside the City of L.A. and have an LAPL library card, you can use your physical card to register for access. 

Outside that zone, please check your own local library for their electronic resources! Alternatively, you can search Overdrive for your library, or libraries; I’ve added more than one via the app.

As I pointed out to a family member in rural Oregon a few weeks back, even their library has tons of online resources available to check out. Yours might, too!