Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Shrek, chimpanzees, world suffering, and an idea

People ask me how I pose him. Short of the occasional "Do it again! Only over there, in the pretty light!" I don't. This stuff just happens. He throws his head back and laughs. Reaches out to brush a backlit weed. Sits on a stump, before a snowy canyon, and raises his arms to the sun, as if conducting photosynthesis of the soul. I don't arrange these things. They're just ... him.

It's the same with our conversations. Stuff I say is nothing compared to stuff he says sometimes. I couldn't plan it if I tried. Yesterday, an abrupt conversation went like this:

(Preceded by Fiona's announcement that she's pregnant in Shrek the Third): "I'm sad the baby died inside you."

"Well, yeah. Me too. But that was a long time ago now, and we have each other, and..."

"No, I mean, really. I would have made a good brother. I'd have my other arm around him-slash-her*, and I'd be a good brother."
*This is really how the kid talks. No they/them nonsense for him.

"I know. You would be."

"And this week one of our words is newborn, and I was telling my teacher about the baby, and it made me feel like crying. I didn't, but my cheeks did that thing. Not the throwing up thing. The fifty-percent-cry thing."

"Aw, sweetheart..."

"So what about chimps? And people in the earthquake place?"

"What about... What?"

"What about when they die? And people don't care? I want to be an animal expert and teach everyone about animals and the world for my job, and that one lady already does that for chimpanzees. But what about for now? Who does that for poor people? What about when the earthquake place is done being in the news, and they're still poor?"

"Well, there are ways we can help. We can talk to others, just like you're doing. We can realize jus how lucky we are. People who can are donating money, from all over the world, to help. Maybe some of those people will remember to care about it after the earthquake is old news."

"I want to donate money. Let's donate money."

"We really don't have any money right now."

"But we're rich!"

"Well, yes, we are. But as far as cash money, we are barely paying our own bills right now. We can find other ways -- remember that picture I sold online so money could go to Haiti?"

"OK. I want to do that."

"Do what?"

"Sell my pictures. Let's take them to a store. Can we take them to a store tomorrow? Then we'll send the money to the earthquake ... to Haiti. Or to other people who need it. Maybe to people in Haiti AND people here. We can do both."

"Well, that's a wonderful idea, but it's not quite that simple. If you don't do it one at a time and on the group I did, I don't know off the top of my head. You'd have to organize something..."

"OK. Let's do that, then. Because I want to help. And my pictures are good."

So now I'm trying to figure out if there's any hope of organizing some photo auction to raise money, or photo donations, or ways to get other people on board, preferably some in Arizona but online if that's a better way to go. I have no freaking idea. I don't do these things. But he woke up asking about it this morning, and he's serious.

And his pictures really are good.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Stuff I say

While I draft a few new essays, here are some random ramblings from the week, from my mouth to the ears of my son and husband. (Neither seems to have much of a talent for retention. I might as well keep a record somewhere.) I don't provide context, but not much is needed in most cases.

To husband: Don't worry. I don't even like my OWN ass right now.

To son: Quick, get your camera.

To husband: I don't care whose barf it is; I just don't want to step in it again.

To husband: No; I really love those videos. I meant to subscribe. Yeah. The one with the two old guys together.

To son: Of course the spider is still alive. I'm sure Dad missed.*

To son: Good! You're supposed to freaking poop in the bathroom! Get out here before another twenty minutes is up or no Bakugan!

To son: Grab YOUR camera.

To husband: I'm not sure about that one. Hand me the good guide. No, the good one. With the vinegaroon on the front.

To husband: Hang on; let me see if the pee smell gets stronger over there.

To son: Because I'm using my camera, that's why.

To husband: Because I AM smarter.

To husband: (In front of an open window and a neighbor): No; I really don't think it would bother me. I wouldn't even notice I was nude after a few days.

To son: I don't know where fresh batteries are for your camera. Maybe you shouldn't wear them out following the cats to the litter.

To son: If you want to go outside, you'd better do it while it's still raining.

To husband: Feet. Feet are way worse than crotch.

To son: No, I don't know where your (interminably long and convoluted) Quidditch board game could be. We'll have to play something else; gosh darn it.*

To husband: Oh, good. X-Men is on.

To son: Fine! I'll drop everything I'm doing and come look at your game. It'd better not just be R2 falling off a ledge! I've seen that a million times!

To husband, seconds later: Fricking R2. Fricking game.

To son: Fine. You can use my camera. Just give it back before the sunset.

*Factual accuracy not guaranteed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I give in

I would like to "help stuff," as my son says, in some small way. Alas, although I am obscenely rich by international standards, I pretty much have negative usable assets right now. So I am auctioning off a larger print of this image for charity:

Go bid.

If you're a Facebook, Flickr, or other online contact of mine, chances are you've read about it already, because lately I'm shameless getting slightly better at promoting myself and my stuff. You may also have read my recent plugs for the me-containing lists here or here. You may be getting tired of me by now.

It's ironic (for real; not that spoon and knife fake irony thing), because I used to make SO much fun of social networking and online socializing. It's not real socializing. It's not meaningful. Buncha losers. Me, I'll take my paperback book and my cats, and maybe a rerun of The Outer Limits. You know, because I'm cooler.

My idea of cooler.

As with anything else about which I am at any point completely certain, I have been proven not just wrong, but, like, super wrong. Like this-ship-is-unsinkable wrong. Like that poor guy who's responsible for CFCs and leaded gas. Like "Oh, our son is definitely over his stomach bug. Let's go on a car ride" wrong.

I offer my complete concession that the Internet can be a wonderful tool for real life. Sure, it can be addicting and time-wasting and it can be antisocial. However, for a well-intentioned but pathologically shy person like me, and used the right way, it can be awesome. Here are a few things I think are awesome about it.

1.) You know that curious, wonderful, fleeting sense of very odd community you get at a wedding -- where your elderly, TBN-watching relatives are talking to (and even finding something in common with) your college friend who took out the nose ring and covered up the naked-lady tattoos special for today? It's kind of awesome, really. The way I use the Internet, that's what it does. Facebook, the blog, my pictures. I love it. Retirees comment beside twenty-somethings. My fellow literary snobs and my one friend who asks me to "holler back" if I can help his "homies" discuss the finer points of life. Bleeding hearts, right there beside the guy who keeps inviting me to Republican events. (Wait. Does "Republicans On the Rocks" simply refer to our state's generally rocky landscape, or to the event's refreshments? Maybe you should pencil me in.)

2.) The awesomeness of my online friends and acquaintances. They're inspiring, whether it be accomplishments, talent, compassion, whatever. They rock. They've been saying one of the different things about the aid going to the victims of this latest disaster is that it's hugely revolving around one-person-at-a-time, networking-with-friends efforts. Like this. (Got some more inspiring finds? List 'em in the comments.) And I've already mentioned the auction (there's a whole group of us) and the cool photo contest (it's run by Aimee, who donated a dollar for every entry and then just up and donated a bunch more). Good stuff, people.

3.) I make real friends! This one, honestly, has been the most surprising to me. There's something to be said for in-person contact, to be sure. However, there is also something to be said for getting to know someone on a daily basis through what they have to offer creatively and in correspondence. There's something about what a person chooses to share. It's special. If you pick the right people (I'm cockily confident in my ability to choose the coolest of contacts and friends), it's real. From Tom, who I totally should have known better in high school but love reading now; to my new friends Bill and Louise, who graciously opened their home to my son and me, after which Louise took us on a birdwatching tour of her neighborhood; to Leslie, one of my best online buddies and a kick-ass writer and photog (but someone I'd be way intimidated to approach before getting to know online) ... well, I could go on listing folks all day. But the Internet hasn't replaced my social life (such as it was). It's enhanced it.

I give up. The Internet's won me over.

Except Lolcats. Still not buyin' it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Delurking, morons, bragging and other miscellany

Apparently, this is Delurking Week, or it was already Delurking Day, or something. I always miss it, and probably shouldn't even post about it since now if no one delurks, I'll feel REALLY stupid. But it means come say hello. That's all. Just make an appearance. Pretty please?

Creepy Delurking Day logo courtesy of Aimee at Greeblemonkey. Go check her out.

I know from looking at my stats whenever I remember I can that I get a bunch more visitors than commenters -- and most of you even stay for longer than five seconds! There must be a handful of people who have at least heard of my blog and love me enough to click a little hand thingy, as evidenced by my inexplicably high position here:
Photographic evidence, since people are bound to come to their senses.

In the meantime, here are some assorted pieces of me-news/nuggets rattling around in my head:

Posts coming up on the blog include roadrunners, herons/egrets, death and crickets, crap factories doves, ants, more snapshots, my shortcomings as a parent and brain-using human, and some other stuff -- almost definitely not in that order.

I'm picking up the pace on article writing. I've got one in the pipeline and hopefully a few more on the way. Yea me.

I'm sure you may have heard about it already, but I have to briefly vent about Pat Robertson, who claimed that the earthquake that ravaged Haiti is due to a pact they made with the devil. Quite aside from how absolutely insane this is, and with all due sensitivity to the spectrum of faiths of people who may read my little rant -- If you garner attention every time a tragedy strikes (Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, this) by blaming the victims and by spewing garbage about devil curses and divine retribution; if you scam money out of people that could be used either by them (because you take money from people who have a fraction of the wealth you have), or to really help victims of tragedy, so that you can travel there because somehow your bigoted, hateful hypocrisy prayers are more effective if you change your location on the planet; if THIS is the god you serve ... then screw you and your imagined revenge-obsessed deity. Also, screw the sycophantic bobbleheaded morons who keep putting you on television and not calling you on your crap. Real faith and civilized society should have no place for you.

And in the spirit of yesterday's "Just do it" post and today's rant, if you are looking for ways to help for REAL, check here and here for actual information and organizations helping Haiti, or here for a list of ways you can help, or just, you know, contribute to the general humanity of humans.

Oh, also, if you're here for actual Arizona stuff, I understand this is turning out to be a good year for bald eagles. There have been some good opportunities to see them in the Tres Rios Wetlands area, for one. Also, hawks are out in force right now, and the egrets and herons are really pretty awesome lately.

My Delurking logo. Because he's lurking, sorta. What? It fits!

That is all.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Just do it

Talk about teaching your son to be compassionate, my friend said recently.

But we don't teach him anything, I replied. We just ... do it.

Well, then talk about that.

That conversation was a few weeks ago, but I never did think of what to say along the lines of "How to teach kindness to kids" or "Nurturing a Nurturer" (the working title I'd made up in my head). I still don't know. I guess that's why I can't blog about it. We really don't talk about it. We just DO it. My son rescues every trapped critter he encounters. He takes it personally if someone is mean to someone ELSE at school. He cries at the news, sometimes.

I just wrote a story (not out yet) about a guy who just up and did, and then did some more, and then he went further still, and was upset he couldn't do more. He didn't really think about it. Didn't talk about it. Certainly didn't blog about it sanctimoniously. Just did it. He probably wouldn't even recognize himself in that description other than that it was me who interviewed him. That's how little he deliberates.

My job is writing, so I guess telling and talking IS part of what I do, but I'm afraid that's all I have to offer on how to teach kindness. Be kind. Be there.

I have other stuff coming, but that's more important, even if it's been said before and even if I can't say it eloquently. Be there.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Snapshots in (amateur) haiku

I've been reading haiku lately and it put me in the mood, my lack of poetic talent notwithstanding. Also, I'm kind of long winded, so it's a nice change. Here, our winter break in snapshots, in haiku (with my son's photos, of course).

Clear December night.
He was not ready to sleep.
We watched stars blink on.

Me and son in tears,
and husband mad, in parked car.
We'll be a minute.

Lizard grips his hand;
a blue tail snakes down his wrist.
Reptile whisperer.

Cat barf in my toes
Two innocent, purring lumps.
Adorable fakers.

"You're covered," he says
"Mom, Dad got white stuff on you."
We snicker like teens.

Three AM. Poking.
Jabs in the boobs. What the hell?
Cat nuts in my face.

Giant soda, mine.
Morning caffeine fix. Thanks, babe.
Best husband ever.

Roadrunner watches,
crest raised, as we inch closer.
A quarter moon rises.

Hugging me, son sings.
No particular reason.
God I love this kid.

At last, I beat him.
"Good," he says, patronizing.
Damn video game.

He pedals too fast.
The sun makes eyelash rainbows
As I squint to see.

I lose track of time.
Attentive mothering FAIL.
Fudge makes it better.

Can I have more fudge?
Eat your macaroni first.
Meanest mom ever.

Slumped on me, he reads
about prehistoric worlds.

I could tell the one
with his friend, and the hugging --
but he might kill me.