You’re. Of. No. Consequence.

“I’m sick of being Nathaniel and you’re Mr. Lopez.”

I was just watching The Soloist while I did my hair because it’s my routine. It’s my routine because it’s brilliant – the film, the score, the leads – and it’s the soundtrack to that activity. It’s my ritual. I’ve tried other movies but they were too distracting or they were boring because I found I could entirely tune them out. Anyway, this is what I do. And every time this scene ends – if you’ve seen the film, you’ll understand – and the woman who is the primary aural hallucination says those words – You’re. Of. No. Consequence. – the scene ceases to be about one man’s struggle with mental illness and becomes the perfect summation for what it is to be Black American. And through that lens, the entire scene can be seen anew.

Renisha McBride was killed a week ago.

Jonathon Ferrell was killed in September.

Trayvon Martin was killed last year.

Dozens are killed every month, I’m sure, as participants of criminal violence. Maybe because of this some Americans think we shouldn’t be so upset about the three named above. Except these three were unarmed. Two of them were looking for help. One of them was denied justice already. All of them were Black Americans, part of a cultural group whose lives are very much impacted by the way the culture began. Beneath someone’s thumb, behind someone’s line, segregated in ways both explicit and not. Expected to be wrong. So when they walked back from a shop or sought help, their lives were ended. So expectation – is that not evidence of the otherwise supposedly invisible brand of institutionalized prejudice and oppression? Why would people who’ve not gotten the chance to open their mouths and explain themselves be so grossly misinterpreted?

I can’t make this make sense unless I’m preaching to the choir. Even sympathetic parties don’t know exactly what I’m trying to say.

But here comes the message all over again, from both sides – from the side confident and selfish enough to say they don’t see it and from the side who does and carries on with life as it is…otherwise, yes, we’d all be activists all the time. You’re Of No Consequence.

How have I escaped this notion when my own father’s history is too hard to process all at once? Grace. But my identity being elsewhere – in Christ – doesn’t justify that the message is still loud and clear. Be an exception. Make us see you differently or we’ll assume the worst. We’ll forget we stole your dignity and then lambast you for being undignified.

Sometimes it just hurts.

 

Jesus, Take The Wheel

Today’s my due date but not my birthday ’cause I shows up when I wont to, boiiiiiiii.

::ahem::

You know how kids wanna scare the ever-lovin’ crap outta you, all the time? You know?

Here are just a couple ways my super dependably cautious son has tried *not* to make it to his upcoming ninth birthday:

(1) Stick hand into ball dispenser at bowling alley.

Let’s just stop right there, right, because. Who. WHO. does that. Whodoesthat.

I was not present. By the time I heard about this, his hand was free, swollen and scuffed. And he was doing his Ezra-the-Confessor bit, which my father clearly didn’t see coming because he’d intended not to tell me until way later? MY CHILD WILL SPILL THE BEANS, DADDY. COME CORRECT. And having been told by the child who clearly wasn’t dead or missing said hand (which my dad thought a possibility and poor dear, he probably looked a lot like that owl at the time), I still almost passed. out. Don’t.

(2) Get bit in forehead by family dog.

Okay, this wasn’t his fault and maybe bite’s the wrong word but his skin was broken and AGAIN I WAS NOT THERE AT THE MOMENT BECAUSE THE LORD WAS TESTING MY BLOOD PRESSURE. “Let’s see how many times she can find something out after the fact, see that her son is alive and mostly intact and still have a heart spasm.”

(3) Fall off bed in the middle of the night and against the corner of the nightstand. So that an inverted teepee shape was right – some might say, decoratively – beneath his left eye.

I promise, if there was somebody to whoop, they’da got whooped. Latifah had in all seriousness had it up to here by this point.

All of these happened in California on our marathon vacation. And then today…

(4) Rub his eye – which was irritated – with a visibly soiled rag.

I can’t. Eye swollen. Doctor called. Steps taken.

Dead.

 

This Is The Story Of A Girl

If you were born before the 90s, God bless you. I mean, that title has you singing a really annoying song. If you weren’t…here:

And now we get to ponder why that video has a picture of the wrong band in it… hmm. Sidebar (totally used incorrectly) – I seem to recall frolicking down the Santa Cruz boardwalk beach singing this really loudly. Because I was an annoying teenager once, too.

That is not *even* where this was supposed to go. Let’s start again.

This is Ana.

Ana’s real name is Anastasia and Anastasia is my sister. Anastasia has a son six weeks younger than mine, whom I sometimes call Cabbage. Cabbage is blessed to be alive. Why, you ask? Because my dear sister is a Bake-A-Baby. You know how it is. Sometimes new mothers express love through bundling the baby in an unnecessary swelter-fest of clothing. Forget that our kids were born in sunny California. And hers in beautiful September, coming off the hottest summer of our LIVES. Suffice it to say, there’s never a time in that state for this:

Really. Never.

Not only did Anastasia have the Bake-A-Baby gene – taking the bun in the oven metaphor far postpartum – she has a debilitating case of jumping to infuriated and indignant conclusions about any woman she sees, anywhere, who is wearing more clothing than the child by whom said woman is accompanied. Once again, she lives in California. But still, the offending woman who has the audacity to wear a light jacket while her child wears a t-shirt, regardless of the weather, is an awful excuse for a bag of bones. O_O That’s why yesterday was such a good day.

So I get a call from Ana yesterday evening and she is upset. I can tell she’s already preparing for my response and there’s a slight amusement in her voice but it’s outweighed by her repeated use of the words “panic attack”. So apparently, Cabbage had refused to wear his jacket into Costco and she had elected to wear hers. (Do you see where this is going?) Along comes a LOVELY old woman who is my undisputed HERO and she is not only indignant at the sight, but not silently! She approaches Ana and demands why *she* is wearing a jacket and her *beautiful* little boy is *not*! (I like to assume she slapped Ana across the face with the back of her hand.) And only because of Ana’s history of being on this woman’s side, I’m sure, did she attempt to explain that her son had been asked to bring his jacket and had not done so…but the woman did not believe her. {Break for laughter} In short, Ana. Got. Told. BAM. That woman was not HAVING IT. Horrible, senseless mother!

I’m laughing my head off over this story, of course, particularly the part where Ana goes rushing from Costco – guess Cabbage don’t get no food neither! – and hyperventilates before calling me. I ask her, “So what have we learned?” in my sweetest, most syrupy voice ever.

There’s a long pause in which I can hear the wind in the hollow of her gaping mouth. Finally, and as though she’s actually racked her brain for the answer, Ana says, “Nothing!”

Bravo, my love. Bravo.

CALIFORNIAAAAAA, no seriously I hate that song

It’s been almost two weeks since our trip “home” to California… during which I did absolutely no writing, that I can recall. And that trip was three weeks long so. Yeah. But the point is that I realize my presence has been spotty. It’s not like I don’t have anything to say… but I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before, somewhere on this blog. The same ridiculousness elicits at least a similar level of indignation from me, as you can tell from the previous entry. So instead, let’s talk about California!

(1) I do not appreciate not being able to tell what month it is. I understand that my Montreal people thought it sounded awesome to be 70 degrees F in January but… like the Christmas we spent on Oahu, it made little to no sense. Where is my snow?! ::weeping, gnashing of teeth::

(2) I *fully* appreciated eating. Everything. Everywhere. @_@ Before we left, my son and I made a list of places we needed to go. When I got there, though, I was – shall we say – a bit obsessed with Mexican. [It is at this point that I want to make a general announcement to my Montrealers, particularly those who have never been to the west coast OR Mexico and yet somehow have decided that Mexican food is gross. YOU'VE.NEVER.HAD.IT. Promise. Don't eat it in Montreal and then proclaim it disgusting, silly rabbit.] AND we’re back. So, for fast food that I’d been craving something fierce, we hit:

- Panda Express

- Chipotle

- Adalberto’s

- Jalisco

- Jimboy’s

….yeah, with the exception of Panda’s. Once I had some, I couldn’t stop. Oh and there was that taco bar in Portland. NOM-tastic. And then speaking of Portland – SKYLINE!!!!!!!!!!! *I’ll always love you, Skyline*

And then, you know, I had a bunch of junk food, starting with Garrett’s in the Chicago airport.

I’ve posted this picture like everywhere. Because I am PROUD.

(3) I had a college reunion! Well, a Porter reunion! Okay, more like a B3N reunion! Well, two of us were B3N – WHATEVER. Basically, this:

Katie and Sasha drove up with their significant others – evidenced by the next pic which proves once and for all that we are a dangerous group of finger-snapping ne’er-do-wells.

Don’t cross us in a dark alley, people. Oh and – chucklesnort – in that first picture?! ::muffles dork laughter:: Katie and I swapped boots!

(4) I can’t even post all the pictures I want to force upon you because they involve other people’s children. Biological, I should say. In truth, they are really mine. My nephews, my goddaughter. TOO.MUCH.KISSUMS. Seriously. Wish I could show you all the delight. Did I already tell you I spent a week with five boys between the ages of 3 months and 7 years? And that it was GLORIOUS?

(5) And we took family portraits – since we haven’t done that altogether since Ezra was three months old..and he’s now the 7yo to whom I was just referring. So, naturally, said portraits look like this:

And that about wraps it up.

Annoyed Doesn’t Even Begin

Be proud of yourselves, parents who “finally revealed child’s gender after five years”. Be as proud of yourselves as you obviously are and don’t worry about the implications of using a CHILD to make your statements. So they didn’t want little boy Sasha to know he was a little boy. No stereotypes. No “slotting people into boxes”. So they did this.

“The big no-no’s are hyper-masculine outfits like skull-print shirts. In one photo, sent to friends and family, Sasha’s dressed in a shiny pink girl’s swimsuit.”

My first concern, of course, is where they got the impression there was something wrong with gender. Please keep all anecdotes at bay, lest we come to the conclusion that all relationships are disastrous and collectively drink the koo-laid.

My second concern is how bad of a job we do at being God. So, THEY of course knew Sasha was a boy and therefore keeping away stereotypes meant keeping away MASCULINE stereotypes. Which resulted in encouraging and embellishing FEMININE stereotypes as a show that being the opposite of what people say you are is empowerment as opposed to futile defiance? And explain to me how this keeps the child from experiencing all those horrible, horrible things that occur in childhood “because of gender”. Can I even pretend they would understand a sociological discussion of what occurs when you introduce someone into an agency of socialization such as public education schooling but whose culture has been purposely marred beforehand so that he is traumatically leaving his home AND being introduced as an alien only he doesn’t know he’s an alien because you acted like this was normal and WHAT PURPOSE DOES THIS SERVE FOR A FIVE YEAR OLD?! If you wanted to make a statement, why didn’t YOU make it?! Sending him to a school with a mixed uniform of a girl’s top and boy bottoms?!

This did not stop the boy from having a gender. Much of gendered behavior is established outside the home, but that’s beside the point. This is basically like my speaking only gibberish to my child for the first five years of his life and then sending him to school. I’m not even able to express all the ways this is unacceptable right now. Absolute foolishness and no amount of smug progessiveness is going to change that. Cheers.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Since the beginning of time, women have slept with their babies. There was no fancy word for it before there were nurseries and bassinets. It was just called sleeping. Now it’s called co-sleeping and it’s apparently as dangerous (according to Milwaukee) as letting your infant sleep with a butcher’s knife.

What’s that old saying about extremism reducing readiness?

Soooo. This is just dumb to me on a common sense level. We are not the first civilization to bear children. Do you know how many billions of women have slept with their child beside them? How, Milwaukee, is that a leading factor in SIDS, which by definition  “remains unexplained after a thorough forensic autopsy and a detailed death scene investigation”? So. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which is unexplained and unexpected….is a result of co-sleeping? Seems like a name change is order, then.

Milwaukee has a high infant mortality rate, which *is* a problem. So they made some posters comparing a sleeping parent to a butcher’s knife. I think you’re taking King Solomon out of context.

Fair or Unfair? UNFAIR!

(Re title: remember that tv show?! Same host as Double Dare.)

Time moves on and you can’t fake it.

My soon-to-be seven-year-old is done with his homework. This means he immediately drops to the floor where his dinosaurs and wild animals are waiting. In less than a half a minute, he is whispering non-stop. As an adult, I want to say “whispering non-stop to himself” but the cool thing about being his age – his age in particular because he has yet to develop his internal voice and therefore says everything out loud at some decibel – is that he’s totally not talking to himself.

He is the dinosaur currently riding the tiger whose head was clearly designed to go on a panda but craftily painted with stripes and sent to the wild cat section instead. He is talking to the soon-to-be-felled rhino or the triceratops. Sure, he’s doing both sides of the conversation plus action sounds as he rolls from his stomach onto his side, but that’s not what’s holding my attention.

I’m a creative person, right? I write new(ish) worlds and grow characters and relationships therein. So why can I not get lost in the battles of my son’s dinosaur/wild cat/occasional lego humanoid fantasy? I can be creative in my head or aloud, in a scripted role. I cannot be amused by whispering “pew” sounds intermixed with short, punchy dialogue. (I know. I’ve tried.) Even if I play along with him, I get bored pretty quickly. It’s lame.

So, for my next prayer request, I want 24 hours without my interior voice. I’m sure there are other aspects of childhood development that come into play here, so this may be a royal disaster and I may just suffer a series of comically tragic interactions with authority figures who mistake my new situation for evidence of sociopathy…but that’s a chance (I think) I’m willing to take. I want to play with dinosaurs, darn it.

Of Baseball And Bentleys

Warning: this is a post about parenting. Shepherding, really, is a word that I prefer as “parenting” has been used to describe anything and everything that an individual deems helpful/useful, basically any interaction between a parent and a child is considered parenting and… right. So, I suppose I’ll abandon that word.

On Saturday, we took Ezra to the park. Josh has played catch with him before, but he’s never taught him how to hit. Possibly because Ezra’s five. Anyway, Saturday, we took his bat and ball and took to the GORGEOUS day. It took about four tries before he ever hit the ball. The amazing thing was that I learned a lot about his character. When his father told him to hold the bat a certain way, to stand a certain way and watch the ball – things he didn’t tell him immediately … hey, he’s never played baseball with a five year old, I assumed he sort of forgot that you start knowing absolutely nothing – Ezra hit a stride and hit it almost every time after that. I was pretty amazed at his learning curve.

One of the teaching moments that happened that day, though, occurred before he hit his stride. He got very discouraged and I could see that he was starting to tear up. He kept having to go retrieve the ball from behind him and basically was getting no pay off. He thought this game was going to be fun! I called him over and asked what the problem was – which of course was…he didn’t like feeling like he didn’t know what he was doing. (Pretty sure every adult can sympathize.) I told him I understood why he felt that way, but that he should continue to try – then I reminded him that nine months ago, he didn’t speak French. When he started attending French school, he didn’t understand what people were saying. The most exciting part of life is that we’re not born with information already installed. If we want to do something new, we get to learn something new. It’s what makes life stimulating and it’s through those adventures that we find out what is important to us and what we want to do with our lives. I was so proud of him for listening and then returning to playing baseball with his dad (for hours).

When I got home, I saw a headline about P.Diddy spending $360,000 on a car for his 16-year old son. Apparently, people had strong reactions to that information. On the one hand, my thought was, “That’s…none of my business.” On the other hand, if I remove the names and think of it as “a father” (as in, any father) did this for his son, it does make me sad. Everyone says money is relative, “expensive” is relative, but that’s not true or relevant to this scenario. A lot of people holding strong opinions may have felt it was gratuitous and proud in such an economic time as the one facing the US. It may have been that their own financial woes influenced their thoughts. I can’t say – I didn’t read the article. But, when I think of what I want for my child, I can’t think of any justification, regardless of my income.

As a parent, I don’t want to remove the tension that will build my son’s character and reveal his purpose. The things he doesn’t know, the questions that will face him – I have no interest in and he gains nothing from my interrupting what should be an invaluable process. Our desires reveal our hearts, what we hold dear and how we are willing to proceed to get what we want. You learn so much from desire – even when the end result is not attaining what you first wanted. Oftentimes, through the process of focusing on and seeking a desire, we are changed. We’re led to the very purpose of our lives. God has beautifully instilled desires that should draw us closer to Him, in dependence and reverence. I wouldn’t refrain from buying my son a $360,000 car because the car is expensive and he will almost certainly not be prepared for that sort of responsibility. I would refrain because I am telling my son – at 16 – that his desires are satisfied on a whim, immediately. He need not sit with them, feel longing, determine their value. In this way, I am removing all of the opportunities for my son to develop a purpose, a goal, a character, a spiritual center. I am circumventing a system that God lovingly and omnisciently put into place that allows him to be stimulated and engaged and curious and driven about the world around him.

Does that one act do that? I don’t know – I doubt it. But it doesn’t bode well, let’s put it that way.

Let Me Name Your Baby

So, despite intending to link to some posts from yesteryear (by which I mean 05/06 when I was living in Wales), I’ve not done that. (Sorry, ABWP!) Which is just deplorable. Of course, all those posts are archived from when I transferred my blog posts from myspace, so they’re mashed together by season or month or lunar eclipse and are not all navigate…able. ? But having just read this post about naming cars over at Swedish Pankakes, I had to go find one post in particular.

But before I post it, I wanted to talk about the language in those previous posts. I didn’t change what I wrote when I blogged back then, not because I agree with it but because, well, I hope the changes I’ve felt convicted to make speak for themselves. Still, I don’t want anyone to be offended, so there’s the heads up. I used to curse. And get drunk. And it’s still there. Cheers!

Onward to baby namin’!

Subject: How to name your next child
Posted Date: Friday, November 11, 2005 – 4:01 AM

Josh and I are feeling generous and want to give you people some pointers on child-naming. First, a few we didn’t use that are now up for grabs. On the auction block for girls: Sparteflicka (Spar-tef-lick-ah), Expre’ponyay, Oxnaynaydon, and Flornekisha. For little boys, we have: (one of my personal favs) Trondisay, Jambraphine (Jam-bra-fin-ay), or Aronlonden.

Now if you’re not decided on the gender, how about Seand’quee. If you want to take your Christian name and give it a twist, try these on for size: Ashley easily becomes Ashl’fay. Courtney? LaQuatneh.

Now, Josh would like to show you how household items can be transformed into wonderful names for a new baby: body wash, for example, easily becomes Bodeelin Washl’fay. That’s a twofer. How bout an umbrella? Umbreesha. And don’t be afraid to use things like cell phone: Cellifonyete. Air conditioner? Air’condishawn! That one comes with an accent! Try one yourself. Pick an item and play with the syllables as well as staples such as d’, l’, isha, fay, ete, lil, tron. Happy creating!!

~

Since then, of course, our palates have become much more sophisticated – though my love will remain with little Cellifonyete. But there was also Cordentifan, for the Ivy League bound. (See how it seamlessly shortens to Cord and screams Yalie!)

I also realized that people carrying twins were left unassisted by our previous lists, which is why I came up with Tefloriwonk (b) and Flypwer’tank (f). Kissums!

(Hey, ‘member that woman who gave her daughter 25 first names or something to get into the record book? That’s how you know she loved her baby. Wanted to start her off on top.)

Now with this level of creativity and genius, you may be wondering, “Why, Bethany,  (chuckle) what did you name your son?”

*wanders off*

Just To Make It To Day

I’m not going to post the article headline that prompted this thought because I don’t want to become enraged when I see that someone has actually clicked it. We don’t require any explanation for headlines that basically say “People Are Naming Children After Characters From Badly Written Books So Much As To Have In A Very Short Time Changed The Top Baby Name Of The Past Year”.

Let me just say this about that. This had better mean that there were a ton of babies born to thirteen year olds in the past year. I’m serious. That is honestly a more palatable explanation than this:

Dear Sweet Savior Jesus.

Come home soon.

Kissums,

Bethany