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Friday, November 8, 2019

The Kids are All Right

This weekend, we found a Ziploc bag of coins in one of Mal's drawers. When we took his silver piggy bank out to transfer the bounty, I noticed a date of June 3, 2017 on the side of the bank. Mal had had a bank that he LOVED, but he'd dropped it in the floor when he was carrying it around. We'd bought an identical one, then he saw a pink piggy bank at Target and expressed dismay that we hadn't gotten one. So I let him paint the silver one with some acrylic paint we had.

I distinctly remember looking at that date a lot in the year between when we did the project and its first anniversary. It felt like A LOT longer. But this past year? It hasn't felt nearly as interminable.

Yesterday, Mal and I were killing time playing with LEGOs in the Target cafe when it hit me: This feels like "normal" parenting, like I remember from when D was little. Mal has always been a bit "more" in terms of hands-on and emotionally taxing parenting, to the point that his first few years were just relentlessly sluggish. I'm sorry if that sounds like something a loving mother shouldn't say, but it is true. I've always loved him. He's always made me laugh. And he has always been a lot harder than the typical kid.

But yesterday, it seemed like we were in "this is what I expected from past experience" land. And it was super nice! I enjoy being around Mal so much, and it's nice to be able to take him places and engage with him as a bigger kid.

Which isn't to say he doesn't still have big feelings and big needs. Yesterday, he wailed at McDonald's when his friend and another kid they were playing with refused to be defeated by his various iterations of Star Wars bounty hunters. "I can't find the right one!" he wept, tears streaming down his cheeks. "I can't get a strong enough bounty hunter to defeat them!"

He didn't seem hugely comforted by my reminder that when you're playing pretend, the only way an opponent can be defeated is if they condescend to it, and that didn't seem super likely, no matter which bounty hunter he pulled out of his arsenal.

Meanwhile, D has gotten a snake, and is spending most of the day watching the new baby peek out from a hidey-hole pretty tentatively before disappearing again. Now we have a few days at home alone because James and Mal are headed off to San Antonio for the weekend on their first solo (duo?) trip.

It's all pretty great.

Monday, November 4, 2019

That Time I Did Blackface

When I was on social media, I disclosed this episode... and I'll add more information and introspection on it here... AND I'll say that it's part and parcel to something I experienced this weekend at the Austin Powwow and American Indian Heritage Festival.

Also, when I was on social media, I had a LOT of regular blog readers. It's fallen off to a very small number, and I know that if I keep posting soapbox issues, it might be tiring and you folks might be tempted to catch up on something less... whatever this is. However, this is something that's true about me and I can't ignore it: I believe in full human rights and justice for everyone, to a person. For every person from any nationality or of any ethnicity. For gay, trans, and folks who defy categorization. For victims. For prisoners. For people I disagree with. For fat people. For people who are in situations through no fault of their own AND as a result of their own choices. For everyone.

Especially when I see my complicity in injury or oppression, in upholding systems that have marginalized others, I want to speak up. I need to confess so that no one will think I don't know what I've done, or that I am not deeply sorry. And I need people who have developed understandably low expectations of white ladies like myself to have a bit of hope to cling to... not because of anything I am doing, but because of these kids. These kids give me a needed respite to my cynicism, and it is my sincere desire that the affect of these stories will be the same for you.

First. Here are two pictures for you.

The first is from 1978, at the present-day Ka-Do-Ha Indian Village Museum in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. The second is from 1979, at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Oklahoma. Obviously, my parents wanted us to learn about the Native American history or we wouldn't have visited the sites. VERY often, we were the only children at places like these. We had no ill intent. But that doesn't change the fact that in our attempt to "embody" the culture we were supposedly respecting, we appropriated stereotypes in a way that is harmful. It further perpetuates those stereotypes, and it personally hurts individuals. I apologize for my ignorance, and for any damage my actions caused. I pledge to keep learning and keep doing better.

The above pictures are the ones that popped into my head as we were walking through the market at the powwow this weekend. Many of the sellers were Native Americans, and Mal saw something that caught his eye. There were a couple of rows of slightly-smaller-than-life-size ceramic partridges. They were each painted white with lovely designs on their backs. Each one was different. The seller told me that her son made all of them, as well as canteens and other pieces, with no pattern... just whatever came to him while he was designing.

Mal asked me to take a picture. In the past, I can see myself taking a picture of the neatly-arranged flasks, then using it as wall art. But because of what other populations have taught me, I said, "It IS beautiful. But if you think that art is lovely, and you want to look at it, then you need to buy it." That meant nothing to Malcolm in the moment, I'm sure. I could have just said, "No." But it's part of a bigger picture that I'm trying to paint for him. Eventually, hopefully, the whole thing will click into place into his worldview.

We did buy a partridge. I got it for D, whose birthday was Saturday, and who adores birds. Incidentally, here's a picture I took a decade ago when I took my own now-adult child to the Cherokee Heritage Center.

The guide's name is Robert, and he patiently showed D (we were the only people under the age of 60 on the tour) how to weave, play stickball, shoot a rabbit with a blow gun, and how to make an arrowhead out of an antler. Also, he told us that in the early 1800s, the literacy rate of the Cherokees was higher than their white neighbors'.

I want to tell you something about D: D was not raised by any kind of "woke" parents. I have read blog posts from this same time frame, and I cringe now at the thoughts I used to have. Yet somehow, D became this incredibly empathetic, conscientious human being all because that's just who D is. In fact, much of the growth I've sustained over the past few years are because D has dragged me into the light through a strong will and influence. 

We've had plenty of times when D has called me out for, say, enjoying a song on the radio that contained a racial slur. I didn't buy it, but came home and did my own research... and realized that, dang, that song was out.

So if that's the person D is, maybe, just maybe, Mal will be, too? And he'll even have a head start? I'm going to hope that, and maybe you can hope it, too.

Now we'll get to what I wish had been mere clickbait, but which was, in fact, an actual event in my life. As I mentioned, the Native American poses were from when I was 6 and 7 years old. Let's move forward to 1987, when I was 15 years old.

My high school had an annual lip synch contest. Sophomore year, my favorite group was The Pointer Sisters. I'd been in love with their song "Neutron Dance" ever since it had been released. I remember my friend Pam and me dancing around my house to it, and her slipping and injuring herself in the kitchen.

I wrangled two friends, both white like I am, into doing this with me. So I'm in the "it has to be realistic" camp that I see now is ridiculous, but I also am skeptical when contemporaries of mine like Seth Meyers say "everyone knows this isn't appropriate." Adolescent me in northwest Arkansas in the late '80s had maybe a passing awareness of minstrelsy (the only "Jazz Singer" I knew was Neil Diamond). Or Jim Crow. Or any of the baggage that is wrapped up in black face. I wish I'd known. I wish I'd made a better decision.

As I've thought about it over the years, I can't help but wonder what the grown-ups in the room were thinking. Did any of them realize it was a bad idea? If they didn't, why wouldn't they tell me? I was quite open about our plans. We had a dress rehearsal, and I made sure that everyone knew we would be actual black folks the next day. The only feedback I got was that I needed to wear a better bra because my chest was too bouncy for a wholesome high school program.

The morning of the lip synch contest, I left the house looking like this, because I had classes before the program.

I think my distinctly uncool high school self was trying to approximate the style on the "Break Out" album as best I could. Remember it? (Also, does the shirt say "Dance" on it in puffy paint? I believe that it does.)

White shirt tied at the waist, check. Boot things, check (actually, they were super-high-top fold-down Chuck Taylors, and my favorite article of clothing. I wore them to a cowboy thing in college, because I've never owned a pair of actual boots until I recently got some snow Crocs). Curly hair, check... it was the late '80s. Layers, not really but I put on a bandana, so half-check? Dark hose so you couldn't see my Caucasian legs? Sigh. Check.

My mom took this picture. She knew I was going to color my arms and face. If she'd known it was offensive, she, of all people, would have set me straight. If there's one thing my mom can't abide, it's people getting their feelings hurt. And swearing.

Do you know how I colored my face and arms? With body paint. I bought it at a Fort Smith costume store. It was basically a tongue depressor that had been coated with this brown "paint" that was dry until you ran the stick under water. Then you could just rub it across your skin, and the color would transfer. I'm sure I talked about the owner about our "cool" plans. That person didn't say anything negative about it, either.

And we danced. We Neutron Danced. We got second place, and I felt robbed.


Someone complained.

There were three black kids that I distinctly remember from high school; a brother and a sister, and a girl who lived around the corner from me. The neighbor girl went to someone at the school and complained that we'd done the performance in black face. I don't remember how I heard about it. But sadly, here's what I took away from it, since no one told me differently: She liked a guy I had dated the summer before, and she was just trying to get me in trouble out of cattiness.

Once again, I wonder how the adults in charge decided to handle this? I was given no context as to why someone might be upset by what we did ("I ADMIRE them! I want to BE them! That's what we did!" was my refrain, and one that continues to be used by people who are unwilling to examine their actions and attitudes... which was definitely me at 15). 

It's interesting that I've never seen a photo from that performance. It's like even the yearbook photographer knew "These are never going to see the light of day." Oh, the next year, I won the lip synch contest when a friend and I did "Let Go" by Cheap Trick. I dressed up as a man. Until a few years ago, I probably would have insisted that being as "authentic" to The Pointer Sisters as I could was the exact same as dressing "drag" as whichever one of the Cheap Trick dudes I was. 

But regardless of my intent, the impact of my action was that at least one person got hurt, and that I unwittingly contributed to a long history of caricaturizing people of color. I had taken on the easiest and most shallow facet of blackness to mimic, and had not thought of the fact that my classmates didn't get to shower after the ceremony and go back to a position of majority and privilege.

I won't use her name, but on the off chance that the young woman who complained ever reads this, I am deeply sorry. In my self-obsessed outlook, I took your hurt and centered myself. I minimized your complaint to absolve myself of any guilt or need to do emotional labor. I owed you an apology. I owed everyone an apology. I should have gotten up at the next assembly and confessed, repented, and maybe taught a history lesson that just was not covered in our classrooms. You were right. I'm sorry if you didn't feel validated in your concern. I wish we could have sat down and you confront me, if you'd wanted to. You deserved better. 

How does this inform my life today? Well, at least one of my children would never appropriate anything. In fact, when I brought home a shirt with an alebrijes on it as a souvenir for my older child, I had to report that I'd gotten it at the "Discover Mexico" visitor's center, so the sale of it was benefiting a local economy (albeit a robust tourist one) in Mexico. But if the other is tempted, we will talk about it and educate him as to why it's not appropriate.

Although I am totally and fully responsible for my choices, even as a teen, I do wish that the grown-ups in my orbit had done a few things that could have helped everyone. So I will use that as a blueprint in case I ever need to intervene in such a situation:

1) I will try to keep anyone, especially minors, in my charge from committing blatantly offensive and needless acts.

2) If there is a complaint, in relaying it to the offending party, I will use grace but also inform them why their actions were problematic. If I don't know, I'll do the research and learn why on my own, without forcing the offended party to justify their hurt.

3) I will seek as much input on how to handle the problem as the offended party wants to provide.

4) I will strongly suggest that the offending party respond in some reparative way, even if it takes a while for them to figure out why, and then how.

Okay, that's it. Gormless but trying. Your continued patience is appreciated.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Halloween and Costuming

We made a pretty funny observation yesterday about Radical Unschooling: When your kid can eat whatever they want, they might be less interested in Halloween goings-on unless they really like dressing up or are motivated by carnival games.

We went to our city's Halloween festival Saturday night.

Then Mal got to trick-or-treat Sunday after church.

Wednesday, we went to the library's Halloween storytime.

And yesterday (actually Halloween), Mal got a free doughnut at Krispy Kreme for wearing his Boba Fett "costume," which is actually a jacket.

Just as we were finishing that, it was time for a Halloween event at James's work... but Mal was done. He'd had enough and was ready to go home. Candy didn't entice him in the least, probably because he gets to eat candy in general. I think James was a little disappointed, but he took it very well.

Another thing we did yesterday was have James's tires replaced. This is a long, drawn-out story with which I will not bore you, but yesterday was attempt 2 to get tires installed and it worked and I'm very glad that's done and over with.

But also, while we were out yesterday, Mal got misgendered three times. The first time was by a Walmart employee who saw Mal get hurt and was telling me that "she hit the ground with her nose." The second time was by a mom whose son was a little younger than Mal, but whose hair was LONGER than Mal's. The third time was by a very kind Navy Veteran who let us go in front of him after we'd both waited a ridiculously long time to pick up our vehicles when their service was completed. He said something about "you ladies" and Mal said, "I'm not a lady! I'm a boy!" He said, "You're not a boy. I know a boy when I see one. I raised boys." I really hated to break the news to him.

Here's the thing: I realize that all we'd have to do is to chop Mal's hair off, and this probably wouldn't be the daily deal it is now. But why should Mal have to change his appearance for people to accept that he's a boy? WHY is long hair seen as an inherently feminine trait? I understand the concept of "norms" in terms of being average, but I feel like people need to get better at addressing strangers in a gender-neutral way.

I haven't been misgendered, that I know of, but one time I was asked if I was the mother of my slightly-older husband, who was checking into the ER with food poison. It made me feel like absolute garbage. Like, was I so worn-out and raggedy that I didn't appear to be a woman in her VERY YOUNG 20s?? Did I look like I could have a child in their mid-to-late 20s?! So I can only imagine being mistaken (sometimes over and over again) for a different gender.

Mal is young, and only finds it irritating. Fortunately, he has not reached a point where he feels that being assumed to be a girl means he isn't performing masculinity "wrong" and therefore feels shame and anger. I'm GLAD he doesn't see being addressed as a girl insulting, because there's nothing wrong with being a girl, and I never want him to think that's some kind of slight.

But other boys do. When we were at the park last week, waiting for a friend to show up, a boy told Mal that he couldn't play with them because it was only boys. Mal told him he was a boy, and the boy had him perform a feat of strength to prove it. YES, this is INCREDIBLY problematic, and we talked about how you can't tell whether someone is a boy or a girl based on how strong they are. Regardless, that boy seemed to think Mal passed muster. A different kid said, "No, we don't want a girl-boy." Again, Mal sees this as an irritant, not an insult. But I was mad.

Then yesterday, someone shared this video. I believe that people should be able to wear whatever hairstyle they want, and wear whatever clothes they want. I don't think anything should be gendered. Pants are pants. Skirts are skirts. Short hair is for people who want short hair. Long hair is for people who want long hair. Make-up is for people who want to enhance or hide or dress up. Heels are for dummies. Heh, just kidding. They're not for me, but to each their own.

As for me, I'm trying to refer to strangers neutrally until they spell out a gender. I never want anyone to feel insecure about their presentation based on my ignorance and assumption. I'd love it if you'd try it with me.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

"Hairspray!" with New Eyes

After I'd excerpted from "Hairspray!" a bit ago, James suggested we watch it again. I love that movie. It's been at least five and probably closer to seven years since I've watched it in full.

If you've been following along, you know that my entire worldview has changed massively in the past few years, and so, while I enjoyed the movie a great deal, as usual, this time a few things popped out at me that hadn't before. I'll list them, then explain why they're problematic.

1) Although there was structural racism in the film (i.e. white kids were the norm for the music show, with black kids getting only one day every month), it was embodied in a single, nasty white woman, Velma Von Tussle.

2) When "Negro Day" (as the once-a-month black episode is called) is cancelled, it is Tracy Turnblad (white protagonist) who has the idea to march on the television station.

3) After many black folk and Edna Turnblad (Tracy's mom, also white) are arrested at the march, Wilbur Turnblad, husband/dad, bails EVERYONE out. He says it's about 20 people.

4) Little Inez Stubbs (the daughter of the host of "Negro Day," "Motormouth" Maybelle) dances on the show when Link Larkin, a white guy, brings her out onstage.

First, I want to say that when I literally googled "Is Hairspray a white savior movie" yesterday, I learned something interesting about this film. John Waters wrote it as an alternate/happy ending to a real event in Baltimore history. The Buddy Deane Show ran on local TV from 1957 until 1964. It, too, had a white cast and audience, saving once per month. A civil rights group staged a "dance in" where the show was integrated for the episode. Apparently, the producers of the show supported integration, but rather than deal with the blowback from area segregationists, canceled the show altogether. This was Waters' way of literally rewriting history.

So I know that this was written with no ill intent. The music is superb, and the tone is so hopeful; I think that is one of the things that appeals to me most. When I listened to "You Can't Stop the Beat" the other day, I was a little saddened by the line "Tomorrow is a brand new day and it don't know white from black." It's so aspirational. And we have so far to go.

Now, here is why the things I didn't even notice before are problematic:

1) Hateful racist lady: This is a character that allows us to say, "Yeah, she's awful. Good thing I'm not like that!" and basically not have to examine our own complicity in any systems that exist today that uphold racial inequality. It allows us to say, "If that's what racism looks like, I'm definitely not racist!" In that way, it absolves us as the "good white guy." We're part of the "Not all white people" crowd. In our minds. And we're not moved to challenge that thinking.

2) What are the odds, in 1963, that a 17-year-old white girl would have the idea to march as a protest before any black kids and even an adult black woman? It sort of takes away some agency and although the whole group (all black folks except for Tracy) ends up marching, it makes them seem almost passive and ignorant in asserting their own rights.

3) I can understand why Maybelle and Seaweed would need to be bailed out, but if a white dad had to bail everyone else's kids out, this says something about their parents' presence and/or ability to post bail themselves. We already know that Wilbur is a VERY good guy; this points to his better impulses, I understand. But it makes him literally their savior.

4) This is another instance where, instead of a black person being shown taking what is rightfully theirs, this gain is facilitated by a white person's invitation. Whereas that can be problematic as it's repeated in this fictionalized narrative, it also points to an important reality: White people have to be willing to risk their own privilege if things are ever actually going to change.

See, one of the things this hopeful but overly-simplified story does is pretend that once an instance of racism is toppled, everything shores up and we're all even. One of the things I found when I was googling yesterday was someone talking about how, in the movie, when the news anchor reports that "interracial dancing has broken out in the studios" all of the white people waiting outside go crazy in support of the desegregation. She pointed out that many white people would have (and did) lose their minds over this type of thing.

It's tempting to think that if we can just get people to stop having racial prejudices, that racism won't be a thing anymore. Which is one reason we want to say, "Well, I'm not racist. I treat everyone the same" and not have to work alongside our brothers and sister of color to assure that they have, in practice as well as theoretically, the same rights as we do. I keep seeing this quote repeated, and it's true: "It's not enough not to be racist. You have to be anti-racism."

I wish John Waters' vision of what could be had come to fruition. But we have not even started the work in earnest. I hear people say "Slavery happened 200 years ago, and I didn't have slaves, so why should I have to be responsible for any of this?" Thing is, slavery was just officially abolished (with the notable exception of incarcerated people, and we know that there is a disproportionate jailing of people of color) 150 years ago, and that there were laws both on the books and unofficially but enforced as recently as a few decades ago.

I think all white people should listen to the entire 14-part Scene On Radio series "Seeing White," but to clarify what I'm about to say, the episode on "White Affirmative Action" is truly an eye-opener.

What we are left with is like a Monopoly game where there are teams that switch players every 15 minutes. We've been playing for nearly an hour. Fifteen minutes ago, one member of one team admitted that the three people who'd played before him had cheated, and he was not going to cheat. That team is way ahead, though, as cheating was a successful strategy. Now a new member of the team comes in to play, and his opponent remarks that the opposing team isn't able to catch up given the unfair advantage the first team has. "What do you mean?!" the player says. "I just got here. I didn't cheat. We're on even ground now!"

But we can see, in this example, that they aren't. Why do we choose not to see this in real life? While people of color in our nation do not need (or want) a white savior, what we are required by our humanity to do is to listen, believe, and then partner with black folks to figure out how to fix the mess we made. We need to let them talk, and we need to be willing to give up things we think we earned solely on our own... which I don't think is as difficult to do when you realize that you DID have a leg up just by virtue of the color of your skin.

I know it won't be easy. Another quote I keep running up against is: When you've been in power a long time, equality can feel like oppression. I feel this deeply when we say, "There's racism against whites, too" or sigh over the fact that straight white cis-males can't get scholarships or jobs because companies have diversity mandates. We need to stop it. As long as we are defensive and refuse to acknowledge how lopsidedly our country as been constructed, meaningful change will not come.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Way We Were

"Mem'ries light the corner of my mind... misty, water-color memories of the way we were."

James and I had a series of discussions once about whether having access to a smartphone makes our memories worse, in terms of just knowing that you can look up anything you might need to know, so why bother trying to remember it? One article I read said that, as a species, we've operated in outsourced memories forever. They gave the example of having shared experiences, like when within your family you can say, "Remember that movie with that guy who was in that musical?" and someone responds with, "Yeah! He did that pickle commercial, too..." and then eventually someone comes up with the name that everyone immediately recognizes (or says, "Huh, I wouldn't have ever landed on that.")

What I've found interesting about my life and the way I've lived it is that I simply do not remember much about my young adult life. I know I went to college(s), but beyond a dozen or so highlights, I have very few recollection of those years.

I can't recall what I ate when I lived by myself in that apartment right off campus. I do remember working for an incompetent lady who shouldn't have owned a boutique kids' clothes shop... but how did I get that job there? Why did I? Did I have any real friends in the theater department? I remember not being lonely (as I'd been at the first college I attended), but... what was I doing?

I know I lived in Eureka Springs for a year or so, but cannot remember what I did with my time except for that once I gave blood at a college campus a mile away, walking both ways, and then passed out when I got home; or the time I put all of my ponytail-holders in my hair and ended up with a single horn on top of my head. I guess I also remember helping with VBS at a church, and working out with some friends' kids. But that's almost all I have for an entire year.

Then in Las Vegas, I had a job at Sam's Club, and I volunteered for Greyhound Pets of America... but I don't know how I found GPA. Except for two notable examples, I don't remember where I went out to eat. I don't remember what the library looked like. I couldn't navigate The Lakes without GPS, though I used to walk the area almost every day. What did I do at Sam's Club before I fell in with a guy there? Who were my work buddies?

Once I had kids, the memories stay in place more securely. I think a good part of that is that I have digital pictures starting in 2001, so I come across things that jog my memory and act as an electronic life partner. But it's weird having vague recollections like that someone gave me a box of Forrest Gump chocolates once, and I remember the candy and the living room I was sitting in but do not know at all what the context was or who the people were. (Although my parents might be able to come up with that one, since I think they were there, too.)

Sometimes I'm tempted to wish that James and I had gotten together in high school, but he insists we probably wouldn't be together anymore because of how much he's changed since then... obviously, I have, too. And in the few years we have been together, I know that he jogs my memory or even challenges it quite often. He also takes copious notes about things that happened, so if I wonder, "When did Mal stop needing diapers?" it's just a matter of his looking up a key word and he can come up with it in a few minutes.

Now, thanks to Google Photos, here are some memories from this day, October 29, in history... the past 18 years, anyway.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Wherein I Am Not a Farmer

Something startling and rather amazing happened this weekend: When Mal and I were in the back yard enjoying the cool fall day, a hawk swooped down and tried to grab one of our chickens. I don't know which one, because they scattered. The hawk almost ran into the corner of the back fence, made a swoop, and took a half-hearted second attempt as it flew into the trees behind our yard. It had basically managed to separate AW from the others, but couldn't actually connect.

Because I'm bad, I'm bad. You know it.
D gets really nervous when we have near-misses and scares like this, and wants to build a run, for which we have neither the money nor the expertise to do without much cash. Also, as I might have mentioned, they've been just wandering everywhere.

Now that there are construction crews around, the chickens hear talking and are like, "Hey, what's up? You got snacks?" so they have ended up helping one of our neighbors eliminate an over-abundance of crickets. But there are two new houses being built across the streets where we are on a corner, and I know the new neighbors will not want fowl pulling leaves and tiny flowers off of their as-yet-hypothetical new landscaping.

I was pretty stressed about it last week, but we'd kind of settled in to getting the chickens back behind the house when they venture forth. And then this morning, James heard a guy yelling at his dog, and saw our chickens run through the back yard and into the front side yard. James is on crutches and in a boot because a foot issue he has is acting up, so I went outside to get the birds back in the yard. There were only four. Greybeard was not among them.

This is a very derpy picture of an extremely regal bird.
I went around "back" back and didn't see hide nor feather of her. I checked a few times, and she hadn't joined the others. So, as much as I HATE confrontation (preferring to vent here about stuff), I went over to the house across our side street and asked the guy working on the foundation, "Hey, you've been here all morning. Did you see a dog get one of our chickens? It's missing." The guy looked like I'd just punched him in the gut. He felt SO bad. He said that his dog had gotten back into our forest and that he didn't think the dog could have gotten the chicken because it's just a pup, but he promised to replace it (since they're pets and not livestock for us, that doesn't really work) and to look for the bird before he left for the day. I don't know whether he did or not, because we got out for a while and he was gone by the time we returned.

In the meantime, I contacted the lady from whom we'd gotten the chickens when they were babes and asked if she ever took birds back. She was lovely, and agreed to find a VERY safe place to put them. She has a hoop run with 8 pullets and 4 silkies. So we're going to take the chickens back to her so we know they'll live long and prosperous lives. It's been fun having them, and we'll be sad to see them go. But we agree that their living is the priority.

AND for a happy update to this story: this evening, I went out back to call for Greybeard again, just in case she was hiding and wanted to come home to roost. I kept hearing something crashing far in the back of the property, but I kind of had the same experience when we lost Halfy. I kept calling, though, and when the crashing would stop, I'd walk closer to the fence and call again. I kept hearing it. Finally, I saw that sweet hippogriff-looking head in the foliage on the opposite side of the grotto. I opened the gate so the other birds would walk through and be visible, and as Greybeard came up out of the dense tree cover, I could see that she's none the worse for wear. SUCH a relief. 

Greybeard returns!
So. We never got eggs. We lost one chicken. And we had some scares along the way. But we've laughed so much and had such a great time with these babies. I'm glad to know that they'll be able to live long and prosper on the opposite end of 1431.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Perfect Guy

Literally every day of my life, something happens that makes me think, "Thank God I married James." James has said to me enough times that I remember it a lot: "I know you're not perfect, but you're perfect for me." And that's exactly how I feel about him. He is *the* partner for me. I tell him this, but probably not enough. It's really quite spectacular.

So to the men (yep, multiple) who tried to change me, and to the church people who tried to steer me straight on more than one occasion... I'm really sorry you wasted your time and energy. Turns out I didn't need you or your "helpful" advice. I am actually fine, and all of the decisions that I needed to make to end up where I am now were fine. I just needed a few years to be truly myself, accepted for what I am, in order to realize who I was, absent other people's approval-based persuasion.

Not a day goes by that I do not marvel at the match James and I make. There have been so many changes to my life and my worldview that would have made me completely unfit for anyone else I might have ended up with. There's a whole laundry list in my head that I can't detail here without insulting people or telling others' stories, but... I heard this on Saturday Night Live a couple of weeks ago, and it will always make me think of my amazing husband. He's pretty easy to love, too.