Where Loyalties Lie: A Memorial


I wonder at where Americans’ loyalties lie.

Only a third of us vote. We’re not particularly loyal to the republic.

While our Statue of Liberty invites the world to “give me your tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” our national rhetoric threatens walls to keep them out. We’re not loyal to opportunity.

Nor do we care for our already-citizens. Here in the U.S., men are shot for being black. Legal scholar Patricia Williams calls killing black men a long-standing American ritual, a call and response we all know. As we continue to sing this raced violence, we’re not loyal to equality.

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Dear Banksy, I’ve Got Your Shadow


Dear Banksy,

My daughter’s taken to tagging. In sidewalk chalk but still. She gets it.

Tagging’s not quite right here. No stylized name in block letters for my girl, and no hearts dotting her i’s either. Like J. M. Barrie, Maia knows that “to live will be an awfully big adventure,” so her mark is a message: beware world. She’s here and she’s ready for the adventure. And you should be wary, because she’s not.

Like I’ve given her Barrie’s Peter Pan, I’ve introduced her to your art. Now, like Wendy watches for Peter at her window, Maia waits for you to knock on hers and invite her to fly out over a larger landscape. Continue reading

Harriet Tubman Is Worth $12.80, Not $20

harriet-tubman-pictures-1I love that the U.S. Treasury will recognize Harriet Tubman on the widely-circulated $20 bill. But in the U.S. today, black women make 64 cents to a white man’s dollar. So let’s put Harriet Tubman on a bill worth $12.80. Because she wouldn’t make Andrew Jackson’s $20.

Or, let’s stick with the $20 bill and close the gendered, racist wage gap. Popular media tells us that women make 78 cents to a white man’s dollar. But that’s white women. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Native American women earn 65 cents, black women earn 64 cents, and Hispanic women earn 54 cents to a white man’s dollar. While we’re talking about what Andrew Jackson and Alexander Hamilton did or didn’t do for America, then, let’s also talk about what we do or don’t do for Americans.  Continue reading

Maybe I Missed The Infinite Jest

a847b856a4fd535daac0f238f559b98cI should probably like Infinite Jest. But it’s just so gratuitous.

Here at page 108, I could put the book down. Entertainment Weekly promises me that “most people who own a copy of Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace’s 1,079-page magnum opus, haven’t finished it.”

Maybe I should put it down. That’s the point of the novel, right? To look away before I slip into a stupor? Even at page 108, I’m slipping. It’s like I’m penned to this side of the fourth wall, mirroring the always speculative character Hal Incandenza. This can’t be good. To avoid being the butt of the jest, I suspect I should   Continue reading

If I Was Your Girl

IMG_0136Today, she’s reading Miss Maple’s Seeds but one day she’ll pick up If I Was Your Girl. And she’ll feel more choice and empathy for having done so.

Forthcoming from Macmillan in May, Meredith Russo‘s debut novel follows a heroine who must leave home to find a home, and who must discover her own strength because there’s really no one else who can save her. Russo’s right on target: because this is the stuff of young adulthood, this is the stuff of young adult literature.

But Russo aims beyond the usual fare in that her heroine transitions from Andrew to Amanda. Russo’s book boasts several firsts: Continue reading

Are We Driving That Train?

Each day in the U.S., 90 people die by firearms. This isn’t gun violence. This is population control.

It’s like Joon-ho Bong’s postapocolyptic film The Snowpiercer, in which a dictator balances a segregated class system by occasionally encouraging popular rebellion. Because a good firefight culls the numbers. In not acting to abate gun violence, we too are complicit in if not explicitly encouraging small scale rebellions that end in more deaths for the disenfranchised.

To see the population control in the U.S.’s lack of response to gun violence, it’s important to look at who’s dying.  Continue reading

Because It’s Ok To Look

As we browsed the impressionism exhibit, a little girl pointed Reflections out to us and warned, “that’s something we should not look at.” I headed straight for Frederick Carl Frieseke’s painting and invited my daughters to sit down with me to talk about the nude and nudity.

Because I want my daughters to love their bodies. It’s unlikely they’ll learn to revel in their own if we divert our eyes at first glimpse of another’s. There’s a delicate reciprocity between appreciating our own bodies and appreciating others’. Because we can’t really be comfortable with our bodies in a culture that disdains them. And we can’t expect others to respect our bodies if we don’t set an example. So there in the museum, my daughters and I assumed the subject’s pose if not her nudity, followed her gaze, and reflected along with her. Continue reading

With Legs Like Toothpicks

My favorite jeans are frayed at the hem, and threadbare at seat and seams. So I headed to the local thrift store to find a new (to me) pair.

At first glance, the thrift store promised selection. Then I looked closer and saw the flair. I’m not particularly interested in obeying denim trends. Still, I hesitate at the thrift store’s collection of wide, swinging hems. Bell-bottomed boho is a bit more of a fashion statement than I’m after.

And the thrift store has bling. Otherwise passable jeans surprised me with their rhinestone-studded back pockets. Flashes of light drawing the eye to one’s ass are lost on me.

So I stopped by J. Crew for jeans. Because that seemed easy enough. Until the salesperson welcomed me into the store’s denim collection by asking “Toothpick, right?”

Me: Are there any other choices?

Her: Well, um, there’s matchstick.

So I still need jeans. Because I just can’t bring myself to wear a style that aims for toothpick-esque. Continue reading

Y’all Means All, Even The Lesbians

Ya'll Means AllIn the late 90’s I saw the Indigo Girls play at Riverbend. I’ve never been one for crowds in general, much less the kind of 600,000 strong crowds Chattanooga’s nine-day music festival can draw. But if the feminist-iconic duo could brave the prince of darkness, then I could brave thousands of beer drinking, country music-loving Tennesseans.

Stacy and I even arrived early to get seats near the stage. As we waited for the show to start, the older man behind us asked his wife, “which band’s aplayin’?” And she answered, “it’s them lesbians.”

As worldly early-twenty-somethings, Stacy and I rolled our eyes at their accents and ignorance. The Indigo Girls were more than the sum of their sexual desires, after all.

But here’s the thing I’m thinking about today: the couple stayed to enjoy the show. Continue reading

Three Of Cups Is The Magic Number

Three III Of CupsWhen I asked the Mayan fertility goddess Ixchel for daughters, I dreamed of having twin girls named Eve and Edie. But the next day I imagined having three daughters. So for years I’ve wondered how to reconcile a dream and a vision.

We named our first daughter Maia, to thank the immortals, and our second Eve, named for a dream because she is our dream.

Then we paused for the practicals. Could we afford another addition to our home, another ticket, another tuition? More importantly, I was surrounded by my bright-eyed dreams. I had little incentive to look for more than my armsful of perfect daughters. Still, I puzzled over my Isla Mujeres-inspired dream and vision. Is two or three my magic number? Continue reading