The fan box

Many years ago, I bought a box of antique fans at an estate sale. My mom gave me the dime being asked for them. 

Before I found the box of fans, I’d complained about being dragged along to sales with my mom. After I found the fans, I felt decidedly more pro-sale.

My older son, Li’l D, discovered the fans a couple of years ago. At least once a month, he’s asked to look at the fans. I even gave him one of his own, and promised him the fans if he still wants them when he’s much, much older.

My husband, Anthony, has witnessed these exchanges. He’s seen the little cardboard box that’s housed the fans for decades and, it seems, decided a better home was deserved. He made that home himself.

For years, I felt my mom when I took out the old box and thought of the gifted dime that bought its contents. Then I felt my mom and my oldest son while sifting. Now, another layer of connection has been added. Anthony is part of the experience of these fans, too.

Someday, Li’l D will pull a small green box off a shelf. When he does, he’ll remember a little of my mom, and a lot of me. And he’ll think of his daddy, too, and how Daddy once sat down to make a fan box in Mommy’s favorite color.

Categories: Family, Love, Parenting Tags: , ,

No pictures required

Out behind their grandmas’ house, my two little boys rocked back and forth on a two-person swing. I smiled as I walked nearer; they’re really growing into friends.

“Don’t take a picture!” commanded my seven-year-old, Li’l D.

“I wasn’t going to,” I said. “I’m trying to take more pictures with my heart these days.”

“That’s good,” Li’l D replied. “Sometimes kids just want their privacy.”

“I hear you,” I said. I do. From now on, I’ll only post about Li’l D with his permission, save perhaps in rare cases where his part in a vignette is peripheral.

Minutes later, I climbed into my car for a rare date with my husband. As I did, my mind was on those two boys swinging in the backyard.

Little by little, they’re getting bigger. Sometimes it aches to see how quickly they’re growing. Times like yesterday, though, my heart simply swells that I get to see them grow into their vocabularies, opinions, and friendship … no pictures required.

Categories: Family, Parenting Tags: , , , ,

Did I write that?

I could write a beautiful, poignant 1,000-word version of this post that’d keep me from my kids for a couple hours. Alternatively, I could write a more succinct, less illuminating version that takes me only ten minutes. I’m opting for the latter.

My sister Rache and I are very similar in some ways. She’s an ASNAC nerd who took me to the Jorvik Viking Center on my one trip to England, so we definitely diverge in some ways, but … in many ones where it counts, we’re clearly cut from the same cloth. Read more…

Smiles from: grocery shopping

For 90 minutes each weekend, I leave my phone at home and join my family for our weekly grocery shopping. It’s my very favorite time of the week.

For 90 minutes weekly, I notice the temperature, the direction of the breeze, the looks of joy and frustration on the faces of those who pass by. I see nuances of the world around me and its peoples, not some pale, paltry electronic version of these.

shaved iceLast weekend, my two little boys sat and shared what they call shaved ice. My husband and I waited for my family’s favorite farmers market vendor to return with our order.

“Excuse me,” an older woman standing nearby said. “I see you every week. Your boys? They’re so sweet! Every week, they make me smile.”

I touched my heart as I said, “Thank you.”

“I thought you should know,” she said, smiling as she turned and disappeared into the crowd.

Once or twice, I’ve seen people frown at my boys and their antics. The frowners are irritated that they must have their quiet, solemn post-joy lives temporarily shattered by the unpredictability of youthful lives still (and hopefully always) fully lived.

Far, far more often, by a factor of at least ten times, I’ve seen people smile, giggle, and even laugh outright. The week my seven-year-old repeatedly called my almost three-year-old “Mr. Scrotum” definitely helped with that!

(“No, no! If you feel you must call him that, save it for home!” I chided. “But better still, just don’t do it at all.”)

I know some people see grocery shopping as a chore. For me, it’s a joyful yet calming reminder I’m not apart from the physical world I live in, but very much a part of it.

I’ve smiled many times this last week, but nowhere else as wide as I did when I was told my children consistently make one woman smile. ‘Cause, see, we’re connected, and that doesn’t change just because we fail to see it.

(My husband chuckled about our typing our separate narratives on other sides of our rental home: “That’s how I met you! The other side of the clickety-clack.”)

weeklysmile.jpg

Please see other #WeeklySmile posts here

 

The Hate U Give

I laughed and wept, both alternately and simultaneously, as I read Angie Thomas’s

The
Hate
U
Give.

For a couple years now, I’ve witnessed as names become hashtags. I’ve seen people killed twice over:

first,
when breath was stolen
from their bodies;
next,
when their lives were stolen,
too, swept away by words like
“no angel” or “drug dealer” or “thug,”
as if an entire life
is worth no more
than its worst
(alleged)
offense.

I’ve understood how a person, once painted an “offender,” is seldom understood as worth one more thought. I’ve struggled to explain how

each life taken
is a loss insufferable,
outrageous, egregious;
a. loss. of. a. whole. life.

(that could have been anything)

When I read the fictional-but-not-really-fictional, staggering, powerful The Hate U Give, my whole body sighed. I saw that this is how people understand the life behind the death; the years of needless hate behind a moment’s sanctioned bullets.

While this exact Khalil never lived in this flesh-and-blood world, he lived in a heart that bled onto pages. Those pages are now being read by thousands upon thousands of people. And this Khalil, though he lives in heart and page, represents many who lived
in
this
world:

Oscar.
Trayvon.
Rekia.
Michael.
Eric.
Tamir.
John.
Ezell.
Sandra.
Freddie.
Alton.
Philando.
Emmett.

Once upon a time, each of these people lived and laughed and cried and yearned. Their ability to do these things ever again was stolen from them, but you and I? By remembering them, we can change the world.

By remembering them, we can

end
this
list.

thug

Many thanks to Alison Doherty for the recommendation

 

 

Strategic racism, in quotes

Last week,

I read a book*

that demonstrated

how U.S. political

“colorblind” racist strategy

has been crafted to

achieve horrible ends

by concealed

means

I can’t share

my whole post

on the matter, yet,

so now, I leave you

with a few related quotes

(and a holdover link)

*  Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class

The world is not atomized

To be clear, I DID IT, TOO

Several years ago, I briefly joined a Facebook group for administrators of inspirational pages. I was deeply discomfited by the group, members of which spent much more time talking about how to get more page and post likes than how to inspire people. The proper formula at that time was just the right quote pasted on just the right pretty picture; many admins were perturbed when sharing algorithms changed so that Facebook began sharing fewer pictures.

Troubled, I wrote that I didn’t feel inspiration resided in the number of people able to see a post. Maybe one person who really needed to see a post would see it, and than an “unsuccessful” post would’ve made a world of difference to that one person. The good it worked on them would ripple outward in lovely ways, so that a post’s reach would go far beyond what some statistic on Facebook revealed.

Each post I read there left me more unnerved. I couldn’t articulate the feeling then, but it was a sensation like: We’re putting numbers over people. This technology is turning us into marketers and targets, not humans engaging with other humans.

I left the group. I eventually left Facebook, too, and found myself better able to see human beings in all their splendor after doing so.

I was on and off Twitter. I even ended up deleting my Instagram account last November, after realizing that, too, was somehow messing up how I perceived real people. In December, I wrote in “Sunlight & friends“:

Something delightful happened after I deleted my Instagram account last month: I stopped thinking of my friends as the two-dimensional representations they share there, and started remembering them as who my heart knows them to be.

I hadn’t even realized I’d been boiling them down to their most superficial selves until I was no longer doing it.

Reading a copy of Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business last week, I was floored to find old concerns addressed with such deference to history, present, and future. That’s to say, in 1985, a scholar I’d never heard of was publishing a book that’d help 2017 me begin to find words for things I felt silly for finding disturbing. Read more…

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