07/20/2016

3 Easy Ways to Be the Change in Your Community

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My baby boy Henry and I have been volunteering weekly at our local Seattle organization Solid Ground.
We started with a volunteer orientation at their headquarters in Wallingford.

1. Voluteer! In the Seattle area, attend a volunteer orientation to find out which programs are available and figure out what level of involvement fits your schedule. Some activities include one time events, while others are six or seven week programs for a few hours each week.

If you are not in the Seattle area, there are a few organizations that I love to contribute to. Share Our Strength is leading the No Kid Hungry campaign. I don’t need to tell you this, kids deserve the best and we can give it to them through many local and national organizations. Share links and stories from your neighborhood below and I will add them as a resource for your community in future posts!

2. Donate! This may sound daunting to some. If you have a budget you are currently working with, even setting aside a small percentage of each paycheck at the level of $5.00 or $10.00 eventually adds up. At my house we save less than 1% of each paycheck in a separate savings account and when it’s a big enough number we find a non-profit in our area to contribute it to. I will note that sometimes we donate outside of this as well. I love adopting a family during the holidays to provide a Thanksgiving meal or skateboards and art supplies as holiday gifts for deserving children who might not be getting anything otherwise. So, plan a donation!

3. Educate! Advocating for people in your community who are struggling, living in poverty, experiencing oppression, and may not have the access to important resources is easy. Educate yourself about the causes of poverty and racism. Share what you learn about the systemic ways our communities create a cycle of poverty. Learning this and educating the people in your circles will bring us all up.

Building community to end poverty will stop the cycle from continuing! Poverty is a form of oppression, understand that in the United States our class system is based on race and one major effect of systemic racism here is the lack of access to fair education, employment, shelter, and mobility for people of color. Poverty does not have to exist. It isn’t a required condition for human existence. And you can be part of that transformative process of disappearing it.


06/29/2016

Comics and Feminism

So you’re a badass woman and you want to see yourself represented in comics… have you come to the correct universe!

Spider Gwen

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Gwenpool
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Ms Marvel

Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps

Slutburger

Saga

Midnighter

Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter

Jessica Jones

Bitch Planet

The Rat Queens

Black Canary

Lumberjanes

Girl Genius

I Hate Fairyland

Jem and the Holograms

I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space

Squirrel Girl

Lenore

Loki Agent of Asgard

Low

Monstress

Evangeline

Sex Criminals

Tank Girl

Bravest Warriors

Elektra

Wet Moon

Paper Girls

Y – The Last Man

She Hulk

Ravine

Littlest Pet Shop

What am I missing?

Oh! Did you know women who work in comic book shops have an alliance called The Valkyries and are transforming the image and level of acceptance and safety we can expect to experience I local comic book stores? Another reason for women to look forward to New Comic Book Wednesdays! Heart.

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06/29/2016

So you want to brush up on feminism

You’ve read the classics. You’ve seen Gloria Steinem. You burned your bra and then replaced it with electrical tape and a sign about it not being consent. Or you got angry at the jerk who catcalled you while you were turning his avatar into a corpse online…. Or not. Maybe you just figured out that your family has started rooting for you finally. After 30 years. Hey, at least they are coming around!

Either way, here is an assortment of relatively new feminist cultural writers and icons who may be able to enlighten all you old school, hardcore, ass kicking folks who made it possible for us to write cheeky blogs in the first place.

We’ll start with my favorite and perfect and obvious technological choice: TED Talks! Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Malala are killing it. Right??

Malala vowed to never miss another day of school, so her father delivered her TED Talk 🙂
Here is the talk plus some other amazing related stuff that will blow your mind:

http://libguides.library.ncat.edu/content.php?pid=600025&sid=5041482

Here is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s talk which has since been turned into a book, called We Should All Be Feminists:

If you love reading up and coming authors, medium.com is a great way to connect with upvoted newcomers. I also love combing through the network at BlogHer to see what’s going on:

http://www.blogher.com/

My new favorite book is by a particular blogger who refers to herself as The Bloggess – Jenny Lawson wrote Furiously Happy and it’s very raw and hilarious.

thebloggess.com

Bitch magazine and Jezebel are the older style plus the new bloggier style of the same feminist lens for current world events plus other things feminists might be interested in. Like jokes that make misogyny and misogynistic behavior the punchline.

bitchmedia.org

jezebel.com

I also really enjoy everything posted on brainpickings.org founded by Maria Popova who is really. really. REALLY. fascinating:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Popova

What am I missing? Comment below with your own favorites!

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06/22/2016

Powell’s City of Books: Why I have the Best Husband

My husband Jim and I make some epic bets. Several years ago we made some lists of things we would like to achieve or try in our lifetime. Then, not much later, Jim was applying for a promotion at work and had some interviews and it was looking hopeful. I like to blab and he was quite concerned that I’d get everyones’ hopes up about the job before we really knew anything. Jim’s the opposite. He likes to wait until after his first day to officially say whether he got the position. Or possibly never.

In order to insure my secrecy, Jim bought my silence with the promise of one item on my wish list. I chose a shopping spree at Powell’s books in Portland. Years went by. The job didn’t pan out. I was still assured my spree would come.

Jim got another job, we moved two states away, and I ended up flying over Portland and the Powell’s City of Books. That’s as close as I got.
Another six months went by.

Jim’s new job had a random district meeting in Portland! But by that time I had a nine month old baby. The drive from Seattle to Portland isn’t terribly strenuous… without a baby.

The drive from Seattle to Portland in early Spring with a nine month old wee baby Henry in the backseat is ill advised. Add torrential downpour, a lot of stopping and starting, and a hopeful City of Books shopping spree? Oh no. Somebody should have told me no! And Jim is soft hearted and we were young and foolish. So off we went!

The wee baby handled the drive down alright. We sat in the back with him. He napped well. We stopped at Burgerville for burgers because burgers are delicious and shakes are, too. Burgerville is pretty good. It’s no Dick’s Drive-in. I should probably start a burger critic blog.

We checked in at the motel. I had packed reasonably well. The baby was a little tired but not terrible. Then we decided this was our chance to brave Powell’s City of Books. You know how I know I have a crush on something or someone? When I use their entire title. Like Michael-Paul Jensen in first grade. I bought him the nicest trapper keeper and pencils for his birthday. That was one heckuva pool party, Michael! Hope you’re reading this. How you doin? (I KNOW I’m married, Matt. Simmer down.)

We drive down to Powell’s City of Books. They have the weirdest one way old school parking garage. It was delightful. There are no elevators that I can see. I put the Ergo on and strap the baby in for ADVENTURE!! I’m so excited I’m vibrating with enthusiasm for all of the books.

I’ve given this trip a lot of thought. Three plus years of strategy and mapping and planning. I’m on the Powell’s email newsletter and I review the website for upcoming events and sales. They have an amazing Tumblr account.

After reading author reviews, author notes, frequent buyer tips, and seeing all the photos of the bar none displays, I come up with a few ground rules for this extravaganza:

1. I will not try to walk down every aisle and look at every shelf. Far from it. I can expect to see the highlights and miss a few treasured opportunities
2. Whenever possible, and with few exceptions, I will buy books I have never seen before and definitely books I’ve never read – no themes and it doesn’t have to make sense
3. Predominantly female authors – we’ll save my diatribe on misandry for another day
4. I will buy a maximum of two Powell’s mementos and few other sundries. This haul is 95% books.
5. It’s okay to buy things I want to share with my family
6. This trip needs to be fast and furious and passionate and not completely wear me out.
7. I will set aside time to revel in my new collection
8. The books will be contained primarily on their own pristine shelf in my library, so that I can continue my gloating well past a decent time period

It was everything. Henry was a sport! Jim helped me carry baskets around. Our arms did get a little tired. The baby got a little fussy towards the end. AND IT WAS GLORIOUS!

Powell’s is huge. It’s massive. That’s what she said.

It’s like heaven in there – they have a front, a back, a side, side to side, stairways to the next level.. three stories and so many shelves and the most amazing hand written recommendations from everyone. Customers, employees, authors, vampires, you name it.

There is a coffee shop. There are couches. There are comfy chairs. You can climb up to more books. There are soooo many books in there.

It’s a lot to take in. I wanted to live there but Jim said no. (just kidding, I didn’t bother asking. He knows I wouldn’t get anything done.)
Remember my misandry? One local author took it upon herself to write a tiny printed and stapled book guide called Instead of White Men by A.M. O’Malley. The book is a giant list of match ups taking time period, subject, and writing style into consideration. Pro tip: Instead of Robert Frost, read some Edna St. Vincent Millay. You’re welcome!

The two white guys with me proceeded unharmed and unfazed. Thank god for that!

I even bought myself a pair of socks that said “Carpe the fuck out of this diem” I wear them for bravery and not giving a fuck.

Finally, I bought some really cool children’s books I hadn’t seen before and some cookbooks and books about food. Not to worry, we’re feeding the children faerie tales and fettucine. And any grown ups that show up. I don’t adult most days, myself.

When we arrived at the register to buy all of my loot, the guy who rang me up offered to ship everything to me for a flat rate! I LOVE YOU POWELL’S! THANK YOU FOR COMPLETING ME!

Here is the no particular order list of things I picked up on my Powell’s City of Books Shopping Spree Delight:

La Tartine Gourmande
Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
Pioneer Woman Cooks Holiday
It Must’ve Been Something I Ate
Garlic & Sapphires
The Man Who Ate Everything
Art of Eating
Promise of Stardust
Luminaries
Dispossessed SF Masterworks
Wizard of Earthsea
Bitch Planet Volume 1Rat Queens Volume 1
Powells Ceramic Coaster
We Should All Be Feminists
Argonauts
Diamond Age
Instead of White Men
Night Bookmobile
My Kitchen Year
Waste Land & Other Poems
Notorious RBG
Boy Snow Bird
In My Heart
Jumanji
Maps
100 Things That Make Me Happy
Carpe Diem Socks
Furiously Happy

In summary, this was an amazing trip. We made it home in one piece and my books were waiting for me the next morning. The wee baby Henry seemed slightly frazzled and sorted it out within 48 hours. He loves the books. So delicious!

Powells

06/11/2016

Trying to go home

Hello,
You can leave a copy of this letter in the little free library in front of the house. I plan to fill a volume gushing about how wonderful this home is and how filled with love and inspiration I was upon arrival. I’m head over heels.
{Address} [The property] is so carefully constructed and lovingly maintained as to bring a tear to my eye. It has everything. You can expect us to continue this tradition of making it a beautiful, happy place to be. If we live here, we will fill it with a few of our favorite things and people and pets, celebrate all of our happy holidays, birthdays, guests from near and far together here.
Watching from outside, you’d see birdfeeders refilled and gardens lovingly preserved. A few additional birdhouses, maybe even a bird hotel if we get fancy. Friends and neighbors picking up fresh eggs. New books added to the little free library. Babies playing in the yard.
Inside our home now I keep myself busy writing, painting, snuggling a sleepy baby, cooking, and reading. Making this house our home includes all of this plus these new possibilities: A vegetable and herb patch, room for canning, having guests stay and maybe even trading homes with friends from afar, looking outside at the tire swing and remembering my childhood fondly, and room for another baby!
I’ve been assured that this is not the housing market to write sentimental letters. We don’t know unless we put it out there whether this is true, do we? I’d like to think it’s possible that this house and its owners are looking for somebody just like me, with a little family just like mine, to love it and care for it as a forever home. That’s what I like to think about this sort of thing.
It’s true that money talks, so we’re going over the list price and giving you the very top limit of our little budget just to be safe.
If you ever miss this house and want to come around for tea, we’d be just fine with that. My grandmother still lives in the house my mom grew up in. She has the most amazing garden! And a tire swing. And someday when she needs to live somewhere else we might need to make arrangements so that she can visit her garden. It makes sense, doesn’t it?
Did I mention my family and my partner’s family all live within walking distance of your lovely home? They do. And my Mom went to Highline and my partner went to Highline and I believe, if I’m not mistaken, so did his Mom! My great grandparents moved to this area as agricultural workers in the valley and lived a few blocks down the road. I love the idea of keeping this neighborhood and family so close. Seems nice and cozy.
I won’t regale you with the gritty details of our home search, although it has been dragging out for the majority of my young son’s life. This is the only offer we are making on any property. I hope it’s the only one we will make. And I appreciate you taking the time to consider it and read my wordy letter.
Best,
Eliece

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06/08/2016

Solid Ground

https://www.solid-ground.org/

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I have a family member in the Seattle area who is homeless. And there are countless others like them! I’ve been looking around and thinking about how to make a difference in this area. It turns out there are lots of wonderful resources out there. Not all of them are linked here, but many are. The ones that make an immediate difference are short term shelter projects, food banks, and a local meal program. Then there are advocacy groups, health and wellness projects, a gardening project with a work trade program, and home financing and retention assistance. Awesome!

Some of the issues Solid Ground deals with head-on are problems in our community that stem from domestic violence, racism, and mental illness. Many members of our community of the Greater Seattle Area contribute volunteer hours, money, and resources to lend assistance to fellow humans in a time of need.

If you are interested in donating your time and resources, the requirements and time commitment can be very reasonable – often 2-3 hours a week or month. You can even sign up to be on call for infrequent one-off events or delivery needs. But all volunteers must attend an orientation.

That’s why I’m posting this now! The next orientation is this Saturday, June 11!!!

Here’s the link
Solid Ground Volunteer Orientation

Date: Saturday, June 11, 2016
Time: 10am-12pm
Location: Solid Ground, Cheryl Cobbs Murphy Room, 1501 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103 (view map »)
Price: Free

RVSP: nicoleb@solid-ground.org

It’s a great chance to learn more about Solid Ground and the services they provide, their involvement in the community, and the volunteer opportunities they offer.

Seattle is my home. I want all of our fellow citizens to get that poverty is an injustice, not earned. And it is a form of discrimination. And it doesn’t have to exist. Will you stand with me?

06/08/2016

Things I want to preserve:

Here is a list of things I’d like to make last forever and ever.

1. My sanity

2. Memories

3. Friendships

4. My marriage

5. Berries

6. Rainbows

7. Gardens

8. A home

06/08/2016

Things I want to wear out:

Here is a list of things I’d like to wear out and may even enjoy replacing on a regular basis.

1. Dogs

2. The latch on the compost bin

3. Water bottles

4. Sneakers

5. Wheels on the stroller

6. Passport

7. My kid

8. The car… at 400,000 miles plus!

9. Savings accounts, especially tax free interest accounts!

02/10/2016

A little more about who I am

I wrote this while I was snuggling my sleeping baby and I had my cell phone with me. He wasn’t sleeping without my heartbeat, so instead of feeling trapped I did some cathartic swipe authorship!

2/10/2016
1:20 PM

There’s this wild place in my heart filled with the geography of my childhood. If you had asked me when I was a teenager, I would’ve told you that my life had been pretty good up to then. Now that I look back, I realize how raw, unsafe, and downright scary it had been at times. People in my family used to say, “You’re going to turn out alright, after all!” And other such things. To imply that I was reasonably well-adjusted despite my circumstances.

Somebody recently quipped that I must be so generous because I grew up so spoiled and wealthy. What really surprised me is that it came from one of the few adults who was actually there! And it was like that. We had money and then we were going to the food bank. One day mom drove a brand new maxima and the next she drove a wood paneled station wagon we nicknamed Bertha. Bertha smelled like burning oil and rotting vinyl.

Then we moved to a very fancy double wide trailer parked in a very good school district… By Illinois standards. And my father sent a limo to the trailer park to take my brother and I to the airport to go to Hawaii. It really was a weird juxtaposition.

There are a lot of people still in my life who have started to realize that I’m not making things up. I’ve had a wild time. I’m a product of that.

Here’s the thing I’m always impressed by: How little of that history stuck to me. How much my own brand of wildness is my own creation. How it informs my behavior and current circumstances almost wholly.

It would be easy to point to my happiness as a “fake it till you make it” or some other disingenuous life philosophy. After all, I’m only committed to fully enjoying my life – not proving whether I’m being successful or right at it. That makes it easy for outsiders looking in to think or say hilarious things to me. Things like, “Calm down, this situation doesn’t call for this much enthusiasm!” And, “Wow! You can find the ‘silver lining’ for anything!” Whatever that means.

Here it is: I am completely self centered and singularly focused. My overarching commitment is to fully enjoy my life. Now think this through, because it ends up benefiting everyone I contact. It’s personal growth and learning to the max. I’m always finding genius new ways to enjoy life. Everyone around me willing to play gets some love. I have a fountain of joy overflowing in my soul.

I get upset when people I care about start playing and then find their limit, their capacity for this experience, so quickly. It could be as simple as my attempt to acknowledge their greatness. Like attracts like. Dimming your own greatness or rejecting my recognition has a backlash. If you can’t see what I see, you can’t recognize it in anyone else, either. You’re smaller for it. Your experience of living shrinks. I’m not going to squeeze down to fit in that tiny box. Relationship hazard!

I like to think my greatness and living my life just the way I like shines a bright possibility for joy to the people around me. That kind of love feeds on itself. Sometimes I get echoes back. This always gives me goosebumps: A friend of a friend repeating back something I find myself saying often… Such as, “I’m a tender bean!” Or “Takes one to know one!” Or “I’m not sorry!”

It started when I was very small. I don’t know how old, maybe a toddler? Definitely before preschool. I’d wake up early and stare at things and meditate. I used to love peering out the window at trees and cars and watch the sky and birds and squirrels. Just being there in the world. It’s freeing, when you’re so little, to be present and realize all the things you can do. Sometimes as a kid, I would think adults don’t take what kids are doing seriously enough. I’m working hard to learn and grow. Play time is a lot of work. These puzzles aren’t simple. Learning to read is a huge accomplishment. Swimming is fun, and it also wears me out in the best way! I always need a snack and a nap afterward. Being a kid might be harder than being an adult. Imagine my surprise when I found out that adults don’t come home from their jobs with homework. They go to work, come home, get paid, that’s it! You don’t have work on top of work. And the better you do in school, the better you’re compensated for that work later. Wow! Easy. Nobody told me I could make millions golfing, though. Bunch of adults held out on me, harrumph.

What I want to tell you about is my Monet Water Lilies phase. I was 11 when it started. I’d walk down to the lake we lived near, walk around it or down the nearby hill, find trails or horse paths. I’d walk across little foot bridges over marshes filled with water lilies. Sun streaming down, filtered through green, leafy trees. Fresh pine nearby. Twisted old apple trees. The smell of wet things, bright shiny green frogs, the sense of everything around me vibrating with power. So much happy, peaceful life. I’d walk or ride my bike. I’d go as far as my legs could carry me. I’d call my mom if I had a quarter. Make sure she knew I was okay, or was coming to get me on her way home from work. Or find out i had to walk home. The best was when I’d wander to a friend’s house. Get off the bus after school, drop off my backpack, grab a snack and out the door. Off on a walkabout. Go swim in the lake or the river. Dry off while I walked. Find one of the bridges to walk over. Stop in the sunshine and breath it in. Think about how Claude Monet never had it so good. He always had to try to capture that moment with paint. All I had to do was relax.

I did this over and over for four years. Almost every day.

These moments defined the size and shape of my soul. My soul is a work of art.