Saturday, June 09, 2007

I have the best kid ever!

This has been the single most difficult year of parenting yet in my son's 12 years. This last year made the first years look like a fricken cake walk. Spit up, nursing, poopy diapers and never a full night of sleep are nothing compared to preteen drama.

This year, the Kid decided that he wasn't going to do homework, ever. He discovered how to lie. He discovered the silent, sulky eyerolling thing. He has driven me to the edge of crazy with worry over his academics. But he has also shown real thoughtfulness when it comes to issues of fairness and justice and a willingness so rarely found in grown-up boys to listen to the stories of people with less privilege than him.

He is curious about how the world works and how to make it work better. He gets that you don't get extra credit for being a boy who will do his own fair share of the work instead of pawning it off on the girls. He is coming to an age where girls are going to be very important to him (he came out as straight when he was 8 years old- so I'm not pushing him into heteronormativity) and is learning about consent and all that goes with it.

He is reading Hothead Paisan, Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist and loving it (ah, Chicken, what would we do without you). He is interested in books and movies where the main character is a strong and capable girl or women instead of defaulting onto the idea that those are "chick flix" or "chick lit" that are beneath him.

He sees homophobic graffiti written in bathroom stalls and wants a sharpi to fix it. He gets that all those people screaming about being pro-life aren't out there adopting kids who need parents.

He is managing to grow up in a tough neighborhood with some serious race issues without losing the sweet, sensitive bits that make him awesome. It would be easy for him to grow little racist thoughts since the only conflicts he has had with other kids (he was nearly robbed twice but had nothing of value to be taken) have been with kids who are black, but I think he gets that it's not the kids' race that caused it but they were assholes regardless of race.

Because I am sure that with how hard this last year has been he hasn't heard enough of how proud I am of him for being a thoughtful human being, I want him to know, and everyone else too that I think he is the best kid ever. But he still has to do his homework and his chores.

I love you monkey boy,

Your mama and the Queen of the Universe

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Gentrification/ Racism

The Stranger has an article up about the gentrification of my neighborhood and the divide between black and white. It's interesting, the white people move in, the police respond to crime, the black people feel targeted and hey where were those drug busts before the white urban pioneers started taking over?

I have lived in this neighborhood for the better part of 7 years. I lived for a time across the street from Deanos, before there was a Safeway and a Starbucks. I remember one morning being entertained by a pimp chasing a woman around the block with "Bitch where's my money". Her response included a word that I can't even type.

There has been a learning curve to living in this neighborhood. I have to examine my prejudices (does that guy giving me the look up creep me out because he is a creep, or because he is a black guy?) and I have had to learn that boundaries are different here.

Neighbors regularly ask to borrow the phone, bus money, a few minutes of internet time, booze, my vacuum cleaner. I am horribly dull in that I am the neighbor who borrows eggs or a cup of milk. But more than in any other place I've lived, my neighbors look out for each other (and me too).

There are things that I know they can help me with better than I can do on my own. For example, when a couple of kids tried to rob my Kid two years ago, it was my neighbor Karen who knew exactly where those kids came from and is the one that put the fear of god into them, rather than the limp response from the police. I like to think that one of the few good things my white privilege does is that when Karen got in a fight with a family member that resulted in her being thrown into my door, my statement to the police helped her get her side of the story out.

I am aware of my privilege. I know that if I were to be fucked with on the streets in my neighborhood, the chances that the police would give my story more credit because of my skin color are pretty good. I have had a couple of encounters with pushy men who were incensed that I don't have the white women's fear of the big black man. Maybe that is true, maybe if it were white guys harassing me on the street (which doesn't happen as often because of where I live, not because white guys are better behaved) I wouldn't be as brazen at calling them on their shit. I hope that's not true, but I do have to consider if it is actually bravery when I stand up for myself or knowledge that I would have the upper hand if things escalated?

But then again, I do call white men out on their shit pretty loudly. I think it's that I encounter white men in different situations than I do black men. I have told a white man who was my boss that if his hand "accidentally" slipped onto my ass one more time it would also be slipping into a lawsuit. I have made a 6'4" former marine stutter apologies when I told him it was sexist to call me "dude".

The point is that to live in this neighborhood and be a good neighbor, you have to actually interact with the people who have been here before you and you know, be neighborly.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Shameless Art Whoring

I just took some photos of my paintings to email to a friend and since i can't actually paint at the moment (paint is expensive and I am out of the important colors- like black and white and red, if I painted in nothing but green and lavender I'd be golden)I figured I'd just put up some of my work for y'all to admire.
Red Mary

Red Mary is from a sketch I did for an art class final. We had one hour to run around SAM and do a drawing of anything in the museum. I chose a 16th century wood Italian wood carving of the Virgin Mary that was hung from the ceiling. The statue had you typical passive renaissance Mary face though, and I wanted my Mary to look more like an avenging angel. So when I turned the sketch into a painting- Mary got a makeover.

Swan Mary

This is another painting done from a statue of the Virgin Mary (I was on a theme at the time). The statue's neck wasn't quite this contorted and she was much more peaceful looking. I exaggerated the neck and I wanted her to still look a little like she is struggling to be peaceful behind her closed eyelids. I don't know if I pulled it off exactly.

Head in pencil

This is actually a portrait of my mother, but she hated it. That alone makes it worth keeping. Ha!
Another head- in chalk and conte crayon

This is my sad clown attempt at Picasso style, but I still like him.

No magic words

I did a couple of pieces after the November elections that look like large comics. This one says "I keep trying to come up with some fab political statement to fill this space but there is no magic word to fix the world's problems. Fuck it all."

I did another comic (that I can't take pics of because it is hung awkwardly in a stairwell) to welcome back all those folks who swung their votes to the left in November. Let's just say I am not as forgiving of their past misdeeds (Hello Roberts court) as I might be.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Cry me a fucking river

Poor former torturer- he's all busted up cause he used to make people pee their pants in fear of him.

For Lagouranis, problems include "a creeping anxiety" on the train, he said. The 45-minute ride to Chicago's O'Hare airport "kills me." He feels as if he can't get out "until they let me out." Lagouranis's voice was boyish, but his face was gray. The evening deepened his 5 o'clock shadow and the puffy smudges under his eyes.

Not long ago in Iraq, he felt "absolute power," he said, over men kept in cages. Lagouranis had forced a grandfather to kneel all night in the cold and bombarded others in metal shipping containers with the tape of the self-help parody "Feel This Book: An Essential Guide to Self-Empowerment, Spiritual Supremacy, and Sexual Satisfaction," by comedians Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo.

"At every point, there was part of me resisting, part of me enjoying," Lagouranis said. "Using dogs on someone, there was a tingling throughout my body. If you saw the reaction in the prisoner, it's thrilling."

I can't seem to muster any compassion for this guy or his dumb as a sack of hair girlfriend who likes him 'cause he's "gentle". Wakeup asshats! You deserve no pity because you did your job without complaint and now are suffering from guilt. Had any moral system kicked in before you decided to play the Iraq version of the Jack Bauer Pauer Hauer then you might not feel so bad now.

Seems like this guy who thought he was wearing the white hat just figured out that he's been twirling his evil mustache instead. Had he used the bit of grey matter between his ears he might have figured that out before waterboarding became part of his skill set.

Visual DNA - a fun way to waste your time

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Maybe Latawnya turned to drugs when she realized her mother was addle brained?

I was hanging out with a darling friend yesterday and she felt the need to show me this little children's lit gem.

Some questions though-

How does a horse light a joint?

How does a horse open a bottle of whiskey?

Why aren't horses shooting horse instead of smoking joints?

Is the line "Then Daisy slapped the alcohol and drugs out of Latawnya's hoof" The. Best. Line. Ever?

In the end I laughed so hard I cried and thought I needed to have my appendix removed from the laughter induced stomach cramps.

In the interest of full disclosure- I read this story while preparing a nalgene bottle full of vodka and juice to bring to a show. We saw the Diminished Men- a fab local band that does a spaghetti western surf rock thing and has one hell of a drummer. We also brought a flask full of rum and chain smoked through the show. Latawnya's mother would be very unhappy. Latawnya's daddy would have shown us the rotting corpse of his overdosed horse friend. Latawnya's sisters would have slapped the booze out of our hands. We don't know what Latawnya's brother Gregory would have done, because though he is mentioned in the book we have no idea if Gregory would approve of our alcohol fueled Rock N Roll lifestyle.

(The author would like to thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster for nalgene bottles full of vodka and juice. "Thank you Fllying Spaghetti Monster!)