worth more

As my mom often told it, she was ten or eleven years when she first began losing her religion.

It wasn’t that Mom was faithless; she was, indeed, built to believe, as evidenced by her lifelong search for a place to express her deeply felt faith.

It was, rather, that she didn’t—couldn’t possibly—believe a woman’s sole path to heaven was being called there by her husband. That she could envision believing herself worthy of welcome in every single room of buildings of worship, instead of being prohibited from entering many for her audacity to not be born a man.

By the time she could talk about all this with me, I was myself ten or eleven to her thirty-ish years of age.

She’d left her religion an eternity ago, by my reckoning, and it had been—naturally, for things that have happened eternities ago!—a clean break. Continue reading “worth more”

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”

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”