Archive

Archive for February, 2017

Discovering Haymarket Books

Soon after I finished reading #FROM BLACKLIVESMATTER TO BLACK LIBERATION, its publisher tweeted an Arundhati Roy quote. It read, “There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless.’ There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”

All right, then, I told myself after sharing the tweet with my sister and husband. I need to be reading Arundhati Roy.

Unless I absolutely can’t get a product from not-Amazon, I’ll buy that product from not-Amazon. In this case, I figured I could probably buy Roy books directly from the publisher, Haymarket Books. I visited the site, both confirming my ordering suspicion and deciding I want to read everything they’ve ever published.

I prefer reading bound books. I’ll read ebooks in a pinch, but I’m anchored by the happy weight of hard books.

Four of the five books I ordered came with ebook copies. Given that the bound books were going to take more than a week to reach me, I peeked at the first: Angela Davis’s Freedom Is A Constant Struggle. Having peeked, I had to read the whole damn thing, even in ebook form. Davis spoke eloquently to something I’ve recently discovered: emphasizing the individual tends to displace the totality in people’s hearts and minds. Freedom, Davis explains with the eloquence of one who’s spoken these things for decades, is earned by collective struggle, not granted when charismatic individuals ask politely.

I decided to peek at another of the ebooks, Arundhati Roy and John Cusack’s Things That Can and Cannot Be Said. I breezed through the short book, an accounting of the authors’ meeting with Edward Snowden. Its parting words chilled me. Per Daniel Ellsberg, U.S. calculations of damage from nuclear attack have only included blast and radiation. They’ve excluded fire and smoke, because “we can’t calculate fire … It’s fire that kills most people–but they left that out of their calculations.”

This is an excellent example why every single USG-offered statistic must be explored in depth, and viewed with some skepticism. (Asking “cui bono?” benefits these analyses.)

With almost a week until my other Haymarket books reached me, I began reading Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark. I began reading it while sitting in a doctor’s waiting room last Friday; those around me might have mistaken my tears as originating with pain, rather than the beauty of connection … and hope affirmed even while looking genuine horror in the face. But, no: I was moved from almost its very first word, both the new preface and the older text.

Solnit sings praises of the activists whose works have changed understandings of what’s normal and right. She calls out for hope based both on the merits of hope, and the ample evidence of how–and where–activism has worked, though the public forgets the before and during, misremembering that we’ve always believed what we now acknowledge as true and right.

In 1900, the idea that women should have the vote was revolutionary; now, the idea that we should not have it would seem cracked. But no one went back to apologize to the suffragists who chained themselves to the gates of power, smashed all the windows on Bond Street, spent long months in jail, suffered forced feedings and demonization in the press.

Since I paused reading Hope in the Dark to finish a couple of other books, I’m not yet halfway through it. I don’t want to read it too quickly. It’s food for my soul, and as I’m always telling my sons, it’s important to savor good food.

It is, of course, also easier said than done.

This 2/28/17 post transferred from L2SP 5/26/17

 

That green apple

Saturday, 11:45 a.m.

As we inched toward Hollywood in traffic, I asked my husband, “Do you have a snack in your car? I need to eat something.” He knows my blood sugar’s been giving me grief recently.

“Don’t you have that apple?” he asked.

“You’re right!” I smiled as I reached into my purse for that green apple.

Saturday, 11:00 a.m.

My husband and I were on our way to our first date in months. We’d almost made it out the door when our seven-year-old,  Li’l D, asked me, “Aren’t you going to take the apple with you?” He’d set a green apple in front of me a few minutes earlier.

“I don’t need an apple, sweetie,” I said. “But thank you!”

He looked so crestfallen, I put the apple in my purse. For show.

Saturday, 7 p.m.

My littlest one, Littler J, babbled with overtired zeal as we loaded him into our car. Li’l D was quieter in his sleepiness as he climbed into his car seat.

“Hey. You know what?” I told him. “I ended up needing that apple!”

“Told you!” he cheered. To himself, he murmured, “I helped.” His chest puffed out for a moment, leading my heart to swell in return.

“You sure did,” I said, smiling. “You sure did.”

Categories: Family, Love, Parenting Tags: ,

It’s not a priority.

About twenty years ago, I took Econ my first term at university. Since it was online, I could fit it in whenever I wanted from week to week.

I don’t remember much of what I studied in that University of Oregon basement Social Studies computer lab. My brain’s been filled with law, contracts, and IT knowledge that’s displaced much of what came before. And yet, reading a political text a couple of weeks ago, I rediscovered an economic concept that matters very much to my life right now: opportunity cost.

From Chalmers Johnson’s Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope

 

Before I read that, I’d understood I haven’t been using my time well recently. I just didn’t have a way to explain it clearly, not even to myself … until I saw the words “opportunity costs.”

When I spend hours on Twitter, when I have arguments not worth having, when I type long essays in states of dismay, I’ve wasted precious minutes much better spent elsewhere. In doing one thing impulsively (or compulsively), I’ve lost an opportunity to do something else that I genuinely wanted to do. Something that might power me through fights worth taking on.

I decided I need to be more conscientious about how I spend my time. I’m making better-for-me choices (virtually!) every day.

Today, home sick with an adverse reaction to something or other, I cheered at this post … and an exchange of comments below it. Athena’s words spoke to thoughts already on my mind, reminding me to actively choose my priorities.

Rather than regret opportunities squandered, I’m going to start saying, “It’s not a priority.” No one else gets to define mine or dictate them to me, though my husband, kids, and manager have some say!

Today, my priority is resting, followed by snuggling, reading, and reflecting. These things refuel me in ways that no amount of caffeine or sugar can.

I need the real stuff. The good fuel.

What about you? Are you getting enough good fuel?

“I’m obnoxious.”

My little boys love racing each other down a ramp near our house. Yesterday, much to my two-year-old’s chagrin, my seven-year-old, Li’l D, only wanted to run down twice.

“Could you please run down one more time with him?” I asked D. D, seizing the opportunity, said he’d run down it one more time … if I said I was obnoxious.

I weighed his proposal for a moment before mumbling, “I’m obnoxious.”

“What? I couldn’t hear you,” he teased.

“I’m obnoxious!” I said, much louder.

He grinned before racing down the ramp with Littler J. 

“Again?!” D asked. 

“I’m obnoxious,” I replied. 

Both my boys laughed as they raced down the ramp one more time, and I? I laughed, too.

Resilient: what we are

Reading an article on resilience recently, one particular paragraph struck me:

Academic research into resilience started about 40 years ago with pioneering studies by Norman Garmezy, now a professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. After studying why many children of schizophrenic parents did not suffer psychological illness as a result of growing up with them, he concluded that a certain quality of resilience played a greater role in mental health than anyone had previously suspected.

My mother, who was beautiful, vibrant, and offbeat through her 2010 death to cancer, had schizophrenia. I thought my husband understood the complexity of this until we had a startling conversation in 2015. Afterward, I wrote: Read more…

Hydroplane

Downpours flooded SoCal streets yesterday, but all had mostly dried up by mid-morning today. This meant I was unconcerned when I set out for a meeting.

Trouble struck when I tried getting onto the freeway. Turning sharply onto the ramp that’d deposit me on the freeway 20 or so feet below, I found my car suddenly floating just above the road. My steering wheel did its own thing.

First, my car veered right toward foliage. I didn’t dare try countering the pull, because I felt like flipping was inevitable.

The car then veered left, taking me precariously close to the thin metal barrier that kept me from tumbling down onto the road below. I kept my hands poised above the steering wheel, ready to seize it when it seemed ready to respond to my touch (without flipping my car). 

I managed to miss the barrier by a few inches and steer myself safely down the ramp. My heart raced as I drove northward and contemplated the possibility of different outcomes.

The next 30 minutes, I found myself appreciating with new clarity how tenuous is the connection between tire and road. Every skid and shudder had me on alert.

Ultimately, I made it safely to my destination. My return trip was pleasant. Now, safe at home, I’ll be content to drive nowhere else this long weekend …

Categories: Los Angeles, Reflections Tags: ,

The memory of typhoons

In 2004, I experienced my first typhoon in a small coastal town on Japan’s main island, Honshu. I filmed myself standing in the middle of a street while everything shook and swayed around me.

All was silent and still in the eye of the storm. I couldn’t believe the winds would soon whip around me again, but they did. I howled with them when they returned. The windy days I’d loved at home were nothing compared to this.

I enjoyed my later typhoons, too, but none invigorated me the same way my my first one did.

Today, an ocean and a dozen years removed from my first typhoon, I look out my SoCal windows and see the trees thrashing in the wind. The wind rattles my home’s windows, slamming sheets of rain against them.

I don’t know what it is about the wind, but I have always loved it. I will always love it. This wind-advisory afternoon, I’ll snuggle up with my husband and my little boys, content in now … but also remembering the thrill of being one small body standing strong against ferocious winds.

%d bloggers like this: