Sunday, February 25, 2007

found friend

I finger an old book from my shelf, toss words around with familiar ears, though foreign as of late. Head and heart, head and heart. The phrase won't leave my head and heart. Mile a minute madness of details I focus on in order to ignore/postpone/fend off emotions/feelings/sins. This old friend gets in my blood, and I in his to be sure. It feels like mere moments (several of them) or decades have gone by. Yet here stands our bridge, here runs our streams of consciousness conjoined, a testament to this ship of friends, fools, fantasies.
Intense fervor grips me in the middle of the night and I write and read and smoke and cannot sleep or eat or think except to act or reminisce. Vivid sensory memories assail me from all sites I lay my tired eyes upon. I am grateful to have such friends who bouy me (most of the time without knowing they are aiding so) and bolster my self-esteem and keep me inspired and cruising on a most marvelous high. I am lucky to have a life laid back as this, even though my pace can reach a frantic hum at times. I am lucky to have good food and a place for my children to be warm and safe at night. I am lucky. So, so lucky. How can I ever let the little things get me down?

Mukilteo Ferry

Scarleht, Lyli & Myself hitchin a ride across the tide. Remember to unbuckle your kids from their car seats while riding ferries, just in case you need to get out of the car in a hurry! Thanks Jayne Mardesich on Guemes Island!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Snow all day today. Lyli up early with grandpa to eat cereal before he walks to his bookstore. Scarleht and i cuddle in and dream a bit more before rising. Gramma runs off on some appointments and errands while my girls and I hang out: count snowflakes, eat cornbread, read books. I finish a book in two days! Granted it was just a short novella (Green Angel by Alive Hoffman)... but it still acted to boost my self-esteem a bit after slogging through these past months subsisting on one or two books per, rather than my requisite twelve to twenty. Oh, how to evolve without losing past passions?

We set off a small showering fountain of a firework on the porch for chinese new year/fat tuesday/mardi-gras/presidents day/the hell of it. Toddler eyes bulge and mouths stutter attempts at sentences as colored lights dance down the drive in their eyes. My girls get a little bratty at Grandpa and Grandma's house, which I attribute to the differences in environment, attentions, schedule, diet, etcetera. But then again, they like being spoiled and I think it's important for them to learn that it doesn't happen all the time.

Fast-forwarding a bit, Rob and I work our hands to a dusty sheen on boxes of books, eventually retiring to my mother's house to read, write, watch Marx Brothers. Make plans to eat with friends tomorrow night, would imaigne pictures will ensue. Excited to see my old friend Cary and for him and Rika and Carly to spend time with my children. Sometimes I can hardly bear to watch my old friends interact with my kids, a surge of emotions like water rushing downhill.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

tONs oF nEw LiNKs uP!

just take a gander to your right and down, there's a bunch of newbies at the bottoms of each section (mostly). Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Road notes from the tail end of February

Girls are little angels for the most part on our oddysey across Snoqualmie Pass in a rented minivan. Stop to buy chains since traction tires are required. Drive half an hour up the mountain. Pull over to chain-up. Chains are wrong size for tires (that bitch at Shucks with the cute smile; if you work at the bottom of a mountain pass you should know yer friggin' chain and tire sizes). Attempt to jerry-rig at the behest of dudelio who charges $25.00 a pop to help morons chain their rubbers on right. Drive 1/4 of a mile. Decide this could potentially be a terrible idea. Flip coin. Smoke cigarette quickly in massive blizzard before it gets wet. Turn around at exit, unchain (with massive complications). Wash filthy hands and sleeves in freezing stream. Girls wake up from twenty minute nap (note spike in loss of hair at this very moment). Drive back to North Bend. Exchange chains. Force smile. Get right size this time and proceed over Snoqualmie Pass once again. Get almost all the way to the top. Pull over to chain up. Guy in orange vest with truck approaches saying: "Don't know if I can push you out or not..." Rob responds: Oh, we're just putting our chains on." Man advises us to proceed without chains. We make it. One hour and $48.00 later we pass a semi-truck where something (propane tank) has blown up in rear of living quarters. One cowboy boot, pair of levis, one smoke stack, contents of fridge litter highway. Girls ask for more food. Their backs hurt, they say. Their feet hurt, they say. Their necks hurt, they say. I think they lie about 85% of the time.

Drop Rob in Moses Lake. Quick social play time, apple, coffee and smoke for Road-Papa with Rob's Ma and step-pa.

After jumping on enormous, comfy bed girls sleep all the way to Walla Walla. Wake up and play with G-ma & G-pa for a while before cuddling with Grandma to sleep. Papa reads and works on the computer until the wee hours, subliminally sorting huge loads of crazy information, emotions, stress, etceteras behind these curtains of night.

Why is it when we stop looking for something sometimes that something suddenly finds us? I refer, of course, to the human heart and head and the myriad number of emotions we seem able to process, compute, acknowledge, disregard, freak out about. Time steps up and slaps you in the face with all your past sins, a glove and hate relationship meant for dueling tongue in someone else's cheek until your fragile urn cracks and your contents spill all over the closest hearts. Bemused and befuddled by my own ambitions and desires and shit, how can I sort through the jewels and gemstones, offal and silt of other people's souls hoping to find my fix, my fill, my fantasies?

Part of me wants to turn inward only, the other part argues. My head butts itself. I banish these thoughts from my mind with a simple spell, for a simple spell, but they always return with friends in tow.

My girls get grandma time. Grandma gets girl time. I get some time to write and write back to my multitudinous friends whose words fill my self-imposed void(s). Schedules whirl around me and I loathe them but depend on them as well. Walla Walla tacos fill my belly. Burgess elucidates on the terrible state of world affairs in regard to human rights violations and gross actions on the parts of corporate lawyers. That's a phrase we should hear more of... "parts of corporate lawyers littered the streets today in the imagination of one young rebel father..."

When Rob and I came down Snoqualmie Pass there came a little bend in the road beneath an overpass where we both held our respective (or not so much, if you know us) breaths and made eye contact. Right then we both saw the wide Eastern open spread out before us, home, if you will, to a couple of tumbleweeds such as ourselves, who do not tumble nearly as much as we meant to.

I inhale this dry, fresh air and try to remember. Anamnesis kicks in, courtesy of the human sense of smell, and I revel in the vague memories of sense which a well-haunted place ellicits. I vow to myself to be better friends with the other single fathers in my vicinity. I vow to try to start over with my conceptions of giving love and being loved. I vow silently to work harder to better myself in the face of this challenging dawn. I vow my act to clean. I vow my hands to sully. I vow my dreams to fruition.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Top 25 Censored News Stories of 2007

image reprinted with permission of Peter Kuper

I feel like this has direct bearing on all parents living in this friggin' solar system. Read on, thanks Project Censored!

#1 Future of Internet Debate Ignored by Media
#2 Halliburton Charged with Selling Nuclear Technologies to Iran
#3 Oceans of the World in Extreme Danger
#4 Hunger and Homelessness Increasing in the US
#5 High-Tech Genocide in Congo
#6 Federal Whistleblower Protection in Jeopardy
#7 US Operatives Torture Detainees to Death in Afghanistan and Iraq
#8 Pentagon Exempt from Freedom of Information Act
#9 The World Bank Funds Israel-Palestine Wall #10 Expanded Air War in Iraq Kills More Civilians
#11 Dangers of Genetically Modified Food Confirmed
#12 Pentagon Plans to Build New Landmines
#13 New Evidence Establishes Dangers of Roundup
#14 Homeland Security Contracts KBR to Build Detention Centers in the US
#15 Chemical Industry is EPA's Primary Research Partner
#16 Ecuador and Mexico Defy US on International Criminal Court
#17 Iraq Invasion Promotes OPEC Agenda
#18 Physicist Challenges Official 9-11 Story
#19 Destruction of Rainforests Worst Ever
#20 Bottled Water: A Global Environmental Problem
#21 Gold Mining Threatens Ancient Andean Glaciers
#22 $Billions in Homeland Security Spending Undisclosed
#23 US Oil Targets Kyoto in Europe
#24 Cheney's Halliburton Stock Rose Over 3000 Percent Last Year
#25 US Military in Paraguay Threatens Region

Friday, February 16, 2007

An herbal cough syrup for kids (and grown ups)

Whipped this up yesterday morning in response to the wet, hacking coughs of my wonderful twin daughters. I just use pinches of each herb, so adjust to suit your tastes and needs:

- Make a tea with Marshmallow Root, Mullein, Rose Hips, Licorice, Echinacea, and Slippery Elm

- Then take two cups of the tea and boil it down with a mixture of sugar and/or honey (I added some molasses too for extra texture). Toss some garlic in towards the end. Stop when you've reached the desired consistency.

Voila! Homemade cough syrup that kicks ass. Careful though, it tends to wind my girls up a bit with the sweetness.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A fabulous conversation about fatherhood with the guy who towed my car this morning

Of course, I already forgot his name (not Jim, which was stenciled on the tow truck and probably was the catalyst leading me to space his name in the first place). He has three daughters , youngest 17 so he's run the gauntlet. He quips about keeping his gun collection near the front door to greet any of the "gentlemen" who come calling on his daughters. He jokingly tells me of the only time he ever actually used it on some shady character: "So... what kinda lead do you want, case anything happens to my daughter? .357? 9mm? .22?" His wife freaks: "You can't say that to someone! That's a threat!" to which he calmly replies: "Now dear, I was only asking this young man a question..."

Hilarious and well-told. This guy's worked in Mason County as a tow truck driver for over twenty years and spoke well of parenthood, showed me pictures of his children and spoke about his marriage to his wife and the difference between being a father or mother and being a parent, fully present and attentive. He talked about the families he and his wife came from, the joys of fatherhood over the long haul and wished me luck. Firm hand shake and a gleam in the eyes. I feel lighter as I make the trek back to my house as his truck lumbers down the drive with my green Volvo station wagon, Puff, skirt in the air, nose to the gravel, rumbling along behind.

I give him a good recommendation when the phone rings asking if the truck's arrived and done the job but neglect to ask his name due to twins shrieking and gnawing on my ankles.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Shout out from Honky Tonk Dragon

Thanks Ben!


Gotta make sure you get your Harry Potter fix ASAP, so you pre-ordered using the link below? But now, you're feeling a little guilty because that purchase took money away from an independant bookseller who is just barely scraping by?

Well bruthas and sistas, Rev. Dragon has the route for the absolution of your literary sins!

The Dragon's good buddies over at the Hungry Hollow Book Farm, have managed by hook and crook to get their hands on what remains of the now defunct Loompanics Press's stock.
I know for sure they still have copies of the Loompanics' edition of the Principia Discordia, and here's just a small taste of some of the titles in their stash:

Cao Dai Kung-Fu: Lost Fighting Arts of Vietnam $14.25
Check Fraud Investigation $22.50
Close Shaves: The Complete Book of Razor Fighting $75.00
Combat Knife Throwing $25.00
Community Technology $10.00
Comparative Data: State and Provincial Licensing Systems $49.95
Complete guide to science ficiton conventions $14.50

That's right kiddoes, instructions on building a new identity, building siege engines, hacking computers, all kinds of forbidden information is available from Pirate Papa and his book pirate cronies. Proceeds go to feed and shelter these lovely ladies, so don't hesitate to go purchase some titles that will make your mother and George Bush cringe.

And if you tell 'em that the Dragon sent ya, they just might send a little love my way...
(Yes, many of these titles are for informational purposes only, as well as not intended for minors, all other disclaimers apply. Your mileage may vary.)

Beyond Primetime: Will Media Help Grow Healthier Kids?

The Kids And The Media Conference 2007 just finished in New York City, awesome info for any rational, intelligent parent raising children into this nightmare world. Below are some notes of mine from a media literacy workshop which my business partners from Last Word Books and I delivered at the Olympia Public Library several years ago. Thanks Dadventure for the link!

dictionary definitions of ‘media’ and ‘literacy’

media – plural of medium

medium – a channel of communication;

a publication, or broadcast, that carries advertising

there we go, as early as my 1971 Webster’s Dictionary, advertising is inextricably linked to media

literacy – the quality or state of being literate

literate – educated, cultured, the ability to read and write

media literacy is defined as “the development of skills to empower persons to be both critical thinkers and creative producers of an increasingly wide range of messages using image, language & sound.”

now we’ve all heard Marshall McLuhan’s famous aphorism: “The medium is the message.” So, how the message is conveyed is just as important, if not more so, than what it has to say.

now remember, media is a representation of reality, only one representation, not the representation. We are representations of reality, you and me and everyone here. And media is a constructed representation, a machine, not a human being.

one of my primary arguments is that the person sitting next to you is just as valid a source of news as a newspaper these days and they don’t cost $1.50 on Sundays. And really, what good is reading the newspaper if you don’t talk to anyone about what you’ve just read? Where does your media come from?

Check your sources. 1st hand info is more reliable than 2nd hand info. Like the game telephone, each conduit thru which a piece of news passes is a filter, a lens through which that piece of news can be distorted, whether it be by accident (misinformation) or on purpose (disinformation). Take everything with a grain of salt and research all sides of an argument.

Know this: Media literacy does not give you the answers. It gives you the ability to ask the right questions…and the left questions. How often do we question things as opposed to accepting them on blind faith?

Media Literacy is also defined as: “The ability to access, analyze, evaluate and communicate messages in a wide variety of forms.” The ability to communicate across cultural, social and economic boundaries, the ability to read and write and indeed begin to rewrite the world itself, and to be a good writer or reader, one must have a love for life as well as a love for language. Bad journalism can love language while disrespecting life, can be well written but distort the facts, be persuasive towards its points but ultimately dishonest. Rachel Carson, one of the most powerful figures on the Environmental Front throughout the 20th century said: “You must ask yourselves: Who Speaks? And Why?” What media sources do you find biased and how and why do you deem them so?

Context is crucial. Reported Israeli deaths versus unreported Palestinian deaths is a great example of media bias. What are the motives and political agendas behind the media? Who’s not being heard? Was anything taken out of context? To what end? Indeed, content and intent are two very different things. Look beyond the letters, look past the flashing lights, read in between the lines and listen through the sounds and background music. Media has ulterior motives.

In 1977, entertainment news averaged 15% of total content on televised evening news; by 1997 that number rose to 43% of total content. Celebrity gossip, movie advertisements, name brand clothing and products pushed on daily sit-coms.

Why is control of public information moved into the hands of the private sector? Why is our news controlled by corporations looking out for number one? How does mainstream media define patriotism? How do media and politics interact? If media literacy is about receiving information from a wide variety of sources, then why is our mass media controlled by eleven companies? I, for one, would rather receive my news from four million people as opposed to four.

Change starts small, understanding media helps you to better understand your neighbor’s point of view, regardless of whether or not you agree with them. Just talk to people, that’s all I ask. I know I’ve asked a lot of questions but we do have the tools to find the answers.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Revolutionary Parenting

A discussion of "Revolutionary Parenting" by bell hooks
From Feminist Theory From Margin To Center, bell hooks, Boston: South End Press, 1984. Date Reading Was Discussed: September 7, 1993
Present: Catherine C., Renée D., Jaime B., Colleen M., Mary Ellen B., Stephanie R., and Cathleen M.

I'm lifting this whole thing 'cause it's pretty sweet. But you should still check out the site I found it on: Eve Online: Ecofeminist Visions Emerging

Drawing on her experience growing up in a working class African American environment, bell hooks finds collective parenting to be a radical alternative for raising children. Although none of the women at this month's session are mothers, we were by and large receptive to approaches that circumvent the nuclear family socialization process.

As a microcosm of patriarchy, it serves as the primary training ground for hierarchical, authoritarian values. Long before the nuclear family's arrival, communal childcare for thousands of centuries was a fundamental element of human society. Throughout much of the world today, kin as well as kith continue to share parental responsibilities, as exemplified by the African saying, "It takes an entire village to raise a child."

One woman, however, argued that it is unrealistic to expect extended parenting to work in an industrialized world. The maw of capitalism has eviscerated community and family bonds. A lot of people no longer live with or near their families, neighbors are often strangers, and friends too busy to impose upon.

Childcare centers are clearly necessary, even though too many of them commodify the rearing of children. hooks advocates more small, affordable, public, tax-funded centers. In keeping with an ecofeminist ethic of inter-connectedness, community-based childcare centers have the potential to strengthen fragmented community ties.

Given a restrictive "family values" climate, a few women were reluctant to trust their own communities. For example, a growing number of lesbian mothers have had their children taken away from them and placed with heterosexual relatives. As one woman remarked, "I don't want the community involved if the community is homophobic."

While certainly not as harrowing, another woman mentioned an article written by a working class mother who took issue with the Big Brother/Big Sister organization, a mainstream variation of community parenting. She criticized the school guidance counselor for recommending that her children participate in the program, as if all working class families are disadvantaged and need help raising children. She wondered whether similar options are presented to upper and middle class parents.

In exploring collective parenting possibilities, class issues continually surface since low income families have fewer resources to pursue alternative strategies. A particularly insensitive incident was the Ms. Foundation's Take Our Daughters to Work campaign designed to introduce young girls to career opportunities.

How many domestic workers, for example, took their daughters to work in hopes that they might follow in their parents' footsteps? And what about migrant workers who often have to take their daughters to work? As hooks points out, childcare was not an issue until middle class (white) women needed it.

One woman questioned hooks' frequent use of the words "fathering" and "mothering," since these terms seem to perpetuate the idea of separate ways of parenting. Another woman responded that it is problematic to speak generically about parenting because it's still too widely perceived as the mother's responsibility. hooks warns:

"As long as women or society as a whole see the mother/child relationship as unique and special because the female carries the child in her body and gives birth, or makes this biological experience synonymous with women having a closer, more significant bond to children than the male parent, responsibility for child care and childrearing will continue to be primarily women's work."

Some of us felt hooks mistakenly combines childrearing with childbearing, as if both were examples of myths about mother/child bonds. While it is true that men are just as qualified to parent as women and that women are no more inherently nurturing than men, a woman's ability to give birth and to bond with her baby during pregnancy are indisputably unique and special.

We must honor our essential biological powers, not diminish them or distance ourselves from them. Additionally, we can't allow society to use this as an excuse to confine the rearing of children to women or for enabling men to avoid full, equal participation in the parenting process.

Both men and women today need consciousness raising to be non-sexist parents. hooks cites Elizabeth Janeway by saying that "the idea of an individual having sole responsibility for childrearing is the most unusual pattern of [human] parenting in the world." We especially empathize with the problems single mothers face. If society can find ways to help senior citizens or the handicapped, surely we can assist single parents.

One woman suggested special privileges such as discounts at movies to offset the cost of a sitter. Or front row parking at supermarkets to facilitate the management of kids and groceries. Another woman proposed single mothers band with other single mothers to set up households for sharing resources, camaraderie, and parenting. Someone else mentioned an innovative custody arrangement devised by a divorced friend. For stability, the children remain in the family home. The parents each reside elsewhere and then rotate weekly stays with the kids.

Alternatives are possible! Has patriarchy so programmed us for the nuclear family that we've forgotten our historical heritage of community parenting?

Thursday, February 1, 2007

my eyes looking at you

I can’t remember which one of my twin toeheads said this to me ‘cause my heart and head are full to burst and my hands are lackadaisically behind schedule. All the wood is wet here at Hungry Hollow Farm, and so the little needle perched atop our chimney-pipe rarely reads much more than 400 degrees. We bundle up, dry wood atop the stove.

John and Eamon are settled it seems, as are the girls to ebb and flow of their presence. Hannah hangs out several times a week and plays with them and helps cook. She and John enjoy talking food and process. Eamon reads his book for class, waiting for another Friday to lift his spirited sails, nose into a wind of dreams.

The Book Farm has become a reality. I have two minions (term of endearment) and a functioning at-home book business that is only on the up-and-up. My dreams continue to work themselves into reality, however steep or rocky the roads may be.

Too many people demand my attentions and I yearn to satisfy them all and fail, falling flat on my face for half of my scheduled appointments for coffee or phone calls or something resembling genuine friendship. Relationships are hard as a single parent, as I have only begun to learn over these past six to twelve months (depending on how you choose to look at breakups or the fallout of love).

How do I talk about this and respect everyone involved? Fuck (I meant that as an exclamation, not an answer). Maybe I’ll just talk around it. I can barely read a book. It takes me two weeks to stagger through half of Valis by Philip K. Dick. Rob reads it in one day and I curse his name through the haunted barrooms. My attention span is shot and my habits borderline neurotic at times (though I harness energy and redistribute it well, towards productive tasks for the most part). Some days I laze around and read a few pages of several different books, or plow through one comic, or watch too many movies and enter books to sell online.

E-mails and phone messages pile up, duties are shirked, monies are low, chores clog the arteries of a house well-lived in. Little stacks of notes about the girls and memorable quotes make tiny towers atop the sixth ring of hell that is my desk. I vow to sort them all and write and clean house and get my life in order and file my taxes from the last two years. I pledge to get my act together and then the fog sets in and the grass freezes solid overnight and the geese plop down in the meadow for a few days and I steep in my own lack of go-to. Sigh and say to oneself: “Come the spring my talents will turn.”

I enjoy this new community our house has become, and Lyli and Scarleht bask in the extra attentions, the spice of life this variety brings to their beings.

I fish in new pools this winter’s rain forgot to swallow, whose heart the ice di'n't clutch. Or p’r'aps I’m only thawing now, in the sunshine of love, in the X-Ray of gazes, in this awkward rediscovery of self and soul and sex and life and lucid dreams and my daughters look up into my eyes and say things like:

“my eyes looking at you”


“i see my eyes in the dark.”

and everything just melts into easy, all my troubles tempered by a casual calm I call “now”.

“born like this
into this
as the chalk faces smile
as Mrs. Death laughs
as the elevators break
as political landscapes dissolve
as the supermarket bag boy holds a college degree
as the oily fish spit out their oily prey
as the sun is masked

we are
born like this
into this
into these carefully mad wars
into the sight of broken factory windows of emptiness
into bars where people no longer speak to each other
into fist fights that end as shootings and knifings

born into this
into hospitals which are so expensive that it's cheaper to die
into lawyers who charge so much it's cheaper to plead guilty
into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes”

Chalres Bukowski, excerpted from Dinosauria, We

All of this that I do each day is for my friend Boston Jon, among a multitude of others lost at sea. On this, the anniversary of his disappearance those many moons ago.