This may be the best day of my son’s school career so far…for me.

See, I’m a middling cook at best, and my packed lunches are (according to him) pretty okay.  Last year, he started asking me to maybe add some things that would make people interested in trading their food.  I failed.

But, yesterday, in a fit of procrastibaking, I made a batch of copycat Red Lobster cheddar biscuits.  Thor approved.  He approved so much that I saved a few for his lunch today.  He came home with this story:

“Hey, Mom? Could you make some more of those cheddar biscuits for me to take to school? Because it turns out that [this girl at school] loves them so much, she’ll trade her cookies for a quarter of one! She wanted one so bad, she offered to give me all three of her cookies for just a piece of a biscuit. She NEVER trades her cookies. Ever. She will only give people a quarter, or half of a cookie for a trade of something huge.”

And just like that…MY DAY WAS MADE!  I cooked something worth trading!  With my own hands!  From ingredients!

Which couldn’t have come at a better time, since he’s recently told me that I am too embarrassing to be allowed to come eat lunch with him.

Be Back Soon

I have a bunch of projects due, so I am disappearing from social media until they are finished.  I’m sure I’ll find another way to procrastinate (like making badges on Illustrator,) but I’ll have to go out of my way to do it.  I might end up with a clean house, yet!



In my line of day-job work, I have the privilege of sitting across from all different kinds of people, from all over the world.  A few weeks back, a woman whose citizenship was a day old sat down with me.  I congratulated her on the accomplishment.  It’s a huge ordeal to become a citizen.

It was the day after the first GOP debates, and she had Trump on her mind.  She gave me a piece of it.  She was hurt and angry, worried that most Americans felt like he did, that immigrants were a ruination.  She said, “You all don’t know.  You don’t know how afraid you must be, or how terrorized to leave everything, knowing you can never go back to family, to friends, knowing they might not live to do the same thing you have done.”

I agreed with her.  I don’t know.  I don’t want to know.

She said, “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.  All we want is something better for our children.”

All Abdullah Kurdi wanted was something better for his children.

We’re all the same.  We would all do anything we could to make a better life for our children.

We lack the social and economic infrastructures to just open our borders.  We have immigration laws for a reason.  I’m not saying we have to throw open the gates.  I don’t have any answers to the immigration question, but I have this to say: If you cannot find an ounce of compassion in you for people who are looking for freedom, then you don’t deserve the freedom you have.

Guns ‘n Proses

Because I needed a good cry(?), when I got up this morning, I watched the father of the recently slain news reporter give an interview*.  I’ve said over, and over again that since having Thor, I cannot see a parent who has lost a child and not see myself there.  That child is the only person in the world who literally knows me inside and out, and I’ve known him since before he had fingerprints.  That child has made smiles happen on his father’s face that no one else can touch.  To say that he is the best thing in our world is to say too little.  I cannot, and do not want to imagine a life without him.

But that girl’s father and mother?  They aren’t imagining this morning.  They weren’t imagining, yesterday.  This is their reality:  Their daughter is gone, and their daughter is gone because of senseless gun violence.

I posted to my Facebook this morning, wondering what we can do?  I’m not anti-gun at all.  We own guns.  I grew up with guns.  All of them were within reach for me–I had easy access to the shotgun, and the pistols.  Because my parents were very clear about what a gun can do, and because I’m a big chicken, I left them alone.  Today, I don’t fool with the guns we have** because I don’t know enough about gun safety to feel comfortable with my ability not to accidentally shoot off my own big toe.  I can barely shoot an air rifle without busting my lip.

So, for me the answer is always education.  Education means safety.  Swimming lessons mean fewer drownings.  Driving lessons mean fewer traffic accidents.  Electrician school means fewer electrocutions.  See, I say fewer.  I don’t say they solve the dangers lurking in an under-tow, or on a slick roadway, or a broken power line, but they allow people to make smarter, safer choices.

For me, the answer is requiring continuing education to obtain a license, and a license to purchase insurance, and that license, and insurance to purchase and then register a gun.

I think you ought to be able to own whatever you like.  You want a .22, learn how to use it, follow the route to purchase, and go get it!  You want an AR-15?  Same deal!  You go to school and learn to use it, buy your insurance, pay for your registration, and go to town.

Is that going to stop pure crazy?  No.  Pure crazy, like the kind that shoots up schools, and trains, and movie theaters, usually has an exit plan.  No manner of restriction, or amount of hoops will deter that kind of crazy.  That kind of crazy has a plan, and that kind of crazy knows exactly how it is going to end, so they aren’t worried about The Government finding out who they are.

But maybe it stops A Little Crazy.  Or maybe it stops Crazy In The Moment.

Or, when I start stockpiling for my armory, maybe the government starts keeping an eye on me.  And you know what?  There is nothing wrong with that.  There is nothing wrong with The Government knowing that I have enough guns to establish myself as a leader of a militia.  If I’m trying to hide that, there is probably something wrong with me.

The government doesn’t limit the number of cars we can have, only what kind of license we can have to drive them based on our levels of education and experience.  Ditto airplanes.  Ditto operating tables.  I mean, I could probably learn how to do an appendectomy from YouTube tutorials, but if I go into the hospital in a white coat and cut you open, that’s a rightful felony–whether I’ve saved your life, or not.  My Lib Arts degree is not the same as an M.D.

Also, you don’t want me driving a semi.  I nearly creamed a car in my little Saturn the other day, and I know how to drive that!

I know people argue that guns aren’t the problem because you can kill someone with anything.  That is true!  I don’t think guns are the problem either.  I think lack of education and easy access are the problem.  You know why I get nervous when those Open Carry guys are wearing their assault rifles in Chipotle?  Because I’m afraid one of them is going to accidentally do something that will end up with me being the special sauce in my burrito.  I’m not afraid they are going to purposefully shoot me.  I’m afraid they don’t know how to properly handle their weapons–actually, they’ve proved that to me by showing up, wearing one to Chipotle.

You can kill someone with a machete, or a car, or a fork, or a frying pan, or an icicle, which will melt and disappear leaving no evidence of the murder weapon.  However, it is very difficult to commit a mass murder with an icicle, or a frying pan, or a fork, and it is harder to do with a car, or a machete.  It is very easy to kill a lot of people, in a little time, in a big, or small space with a gun.

And, more to the point, a gun’s purpose is to kill something. That’s its job.  Let’s not pretend that guns were invented for target practice.  Target practice was invented to get better at killing things.  Let’s not pretend that guns were invented so they could sit in a gun locker as a potential defense against home invaders.  Gun lockers were invented to store weapons safely.  Let’s not pretend guns aren’t for killing.

Guns are for killing.

Why wouldn’t you want to know if I was amassing an armory of things meant for killing?

Why wouldn’t you want to know if I was buying and arming myself for big game hunting, when I live in a suburb, and the only lions and elephants are in the zoo?

Why wouldn’t you want me to learn how to use those weapons before someone set me loose with them?

If I buy it, you’ll pry it from my cold dead hands, but if it would save one mother from waking up to a world without her child, I would happily take the class, buy the insurance, and pay the registration to own it.

*I always hear people saying that we need to wait after a shooting to talk.  Wait until the emotion dies down.  But, I think that’s part of the problem.  You have to talk about it when what’s at stake matters.  What’s at stake with gun crime is the worst thing that can happen to you:  You lose someone you love.

**And we keep the guns and ammunition in very different places, safely away from the child, who isn’t even aware of what we have.

Black Hair from Blue Eyes

My Rainbow World is official today!  While I’ve shared how the book came to be, re-imagining and re-purposing art from a different project to fit a new story, I haven’t talked about how I chose the model for my main character.

In 2007, I started a job in the most ethnically diverse group I’d ever encountered. Before I worked there, I would have told you I was well aware of how things like racism, prejudice, and privilege play into every day interactions for both myself and the people around me.  By the time I left, I would have told you what an ignorant git I had been two years prior.

After working for that company, and in particular, working for an African American woman, I set myself to learning, and I was–the only way to phrase this is so base, but I was GROSSED OUT by myself.  I was grossed out by my ignorance.  I was sick at myself over my ignorance.  I was disgusted by how I had allowed that ignorance to color every interaction I’d had, and was beside myself at how that ignorance had probably caused me to hurt people without ever even thinking I was close to “the line” much less four feet over it.

I purposefully started reading about the history of slavery in our nation, the Civil Rights movement, and the period between Restoration and Today.  It took me literal weeks just to get my head around the fact that I’d never heard anything about the Freedom Riders, other than that they had done a lot of marching.  I was 38-years-old when I learned what a lynching really was, and I still haven’t been able to reconcile that with the still-awful but criminally white-washed (yes) version of it I learned in school.  I was 38-years-old when I learned why jokes about Mississippi after dark weren’t funny.  And, I was 38-years-old when I realized that when I walked into Target to look at haircare product, there were aisles of things for People With Hair Like Mine and a tiny strip of shelf for People With Hair Not Like Mine.

Since my then-boss had mentioned hair to me, I asked her about it, and I went home that night feeling sick that I was nearly forty, and had only just realized that when I walked down the hair aisle at Target, I was having a different experience from a woman I greatly respected.  I was having an experience that normalized everything about me and my color, and she was being marginalized.  Everywhere I looked, the world looked like me.  She had to find the tiny strip of shelf to find anything that looked like her.

Let it be known that I am still ignorant of a lot of things, but never willfully.

I started looking for diversity because of the wonderful inclusiveness that boss generated.  I started trying to find ways I could be inclusive, which is sometimes messy because of feelings.  I messed up a few times that I thought I was being complimentary, only to realize that from where I stood, my words sounded patronizing.  I still struggle with where I fit in to building a world of equality, what my responsibility is, and when I am overstepping.  I probably will until the day I die.

But, when I had the opportunity to re-work the art for this book, a few things had happened:  Baltimore had happened.  South Carolina had happened.  Sandra Bland had happened.

I wanted to make a statement of support, and when the opportunity presented itself, I knew exactly how I wanted to do it.  I wanted to do it like this:

mrw cover

I hope that doesn’t sound self-congratulatory, or like I think I’m being magnanimous.  I’m not.  I know I’m a drop in a bucket.  But, I want to see all children represented.  I see plenty of children in media, who look like my son.  I don’t see children who look like my current boss’s granddaughter, so I borrowed her for a model, and I hope that representation does something toward change.

In the meantime, Happy Book Birthday!  My Rainbow World is available from your favorite bookseller.