When the kids started to lose their shit this afternoon I shooed them outside to forage for flowers, then told them to fashion something museum-worthy out of their findings. I love watching them concentrate on art. It makes me feel like it's important to them, which has got to be a good indication of something to come in teenagedom and adulthood.
The baby (in black and white to disguise his stained bib and the blueberries smeared around his mouth from breakfast), always wanting to be part of the action.
The first stop on our Texas Hill Country itinerary.
Two of my kids at the old courthouse
Climbing the rickety stairs
Iconic artwork in the old courthouse: "There Once Was A Cowboy"
Someone else who maybe once was a cowboy standing in a totally Texas throwback setting underneath a nest full of baby birds (see it?) We even saw the mama go back and forth a couple times to give them food. It nearly made me cry and think of all the times when I've gotten frustrated when one of my own kids tells me they're hungry or thirsty (thirty minutes after they've already eaten - or refused to eat - and two seconds after they've spilt their milk/juice/water)… Why does fulfilling my children's basic needs feel so annoying sometimes? It's because I'm not as good of a mother as this bird. She was so sweet to them and it made me feel like such a bitch.
The surprisingly amazing hodgepodge boutique that the awesome bird-mom built her babies' nest outside of. She's even fucking cooler than me. I mean, look back up at the precarious place she made their home. It's like how I want a tiny home out in the desert mountains, but still want it to be near shopping places and the town center and everything. It'll never happen for me, probably, but this bird-mama made it happen for herself and her kids. Like a boss.
From the town brewery.
My daughter at the Old 300 bbq joint
The delightful "signed" One Direction poster inexplicably hanging in the bbq restaurant's bathroom, betwixt the denim fabric stall dividers, cowhide curtains, and lavender paraphernalia (homage to the nearby lavender farm which we will have to hit next time).
We took the trip over Mother's Day weekend, and I was afraid it would disappoint. Not the being with my family part, of course. The "famous tiny art town in the Texas desert" part.
But it did not.
It was actually way better than I expected. So good that I'm writing a book about it. A children's book. Yeah. I've got an illustrator lined up and everything. And I wrote it on the drive back to San Antonio. That's why it took me so long to do this post. I wasn't sure I had anything to say about the place that I wasn't already saying in some form or another in the book. But I couldn't resist having some Marfa pictures to scroll through on here. So I'll keep you posted on the children's book project. Until then, here are a bunch of pictures.
My spirit landscape. Iconic desertry.
My daughter searching for the entrance to the Ballroom Marfa museum. She was determined to prove to me that it really would be a real, elegant dance hall inside.
My son inside Ballroom Marfa
Pic my oldest son took at of the work at Marfa Contemporary
Another pic by my oldest son at Marfa Contemporary
Ah, the Marfa lights. The whole family sat under the stars in our truck bed out at the viewing area and watched the jumping dots, speculating with other onlookers as to what could be causing them; then we sat some more at my son's request to see if any spaceships would fly by.
At Donald Judd's famous cement cube structures out at the Chinati Foundation. Son's not impressed. And I literally only just now noticed my husband creeping behind the block.
More cube boredom. "Ugh. Why can't I dance in them, Mom?"
Dirty, filthy Prada Marfa
They remove all the vandalism but none of the spiderwebs and dead bugs
Breastfeeding my son at the art installation that had been on the top of my "to see" list for nearly ten years.
It used to be safe to say you wouldn't get shot if you hadn't pissed someone off, or if you made sure not to roll with the wrong crowd.
I suffer pretty badly from paranoia. Have ever since I was a child. I went to school with gang members; some of them even used to tell me hi. My grandma's neighbor's house used to get shot at while my cousins and I were sleeping over. The people who lived there used to tell us hi too. But since I wasn't affiliated with any gangs, and I wasn't involved with drugs (which I assume the neighbor was), my mom always told me I'd be fine.
But I can't really reassure my own kids the same way in this day and age.
I will be at the DMV and one of the universities tomorrow requesting transcripts with my six year old, two and a half year old, and eight month old, and I can't be certain that some dumb fuck who can't figure out life isn't going to come in and start shooting the places up simply because he's frustrated about something.
That's a real fucking problem. This shouldn't be our reality.
Needless to say, I know.
Never mind the gun control. Although that shit needs to advance. But, anyway, what ever happened to just punching a fucker in the face? If your boss is being a meanie, if he/she fired you, even if he/she is fucking your wife, what ever happened to marching into the person's office like a bad ass and just punching him or her in the face?
Go on a mass punching spree for all anyone cares.
I would love to be punched in the face rather than shot and killed. I won't even get into the heaviness of how badly I'd love for my children not to be shot and killed... And I guarantee you, all you sad bored sociopaths out there, that punching someone will still get your point across. Killing tons of people instead is worse than dumb at this point.
It's pretty basic.
You're a basic bitch now. And isn't that what you were trying to avoid by shooting that place up to begin with?
*Editor's note. 6/12/16. Woke up to news of the worst mass shooting in American history today. I originally wrote this post in November, after the mass shooting in San Bernardino (I think; who can keep track? Smh). I noticed yesterday when starting another post that this one had somehow ended up in a "draft" queue. It had somehow become un-published. Weird. So I pressed publish and that turned it into the newest post on my blog. I was annoyed because it wasn't relevant at the time - I had been trying to write a post about my book and sexual assault on the heels of this Brock Turner bullshit. But I sarcastically said to myself, "Leave it on top. There will probably be another mass shooting tomorrow anyway." And there fucking has been.
So I've finally published the novel I've been writing on and off for the past ten years. It will go live on Amazon in about an hour and be available on Kindle. I'll have the paperback version out later this summer. I feel just a very solemn, tepid sense of relief about this, not any downright excitement yet, which I guess makes sense when something you've essentially been holding inside for so long is suddenly out in the world in front of everyone's judgement-eager eyes.
Will readers see the deeper message of the work? About how real the problem of child sexual abuse is? Or will they be too fixated on and horrified at the fact that Michael is a rapist and Claire throws kitchen knives at her wannabe suitors to think past any of that, to think: they weren't born like this; babies don't aspire to be this way; where could someone have stepped in to veer Claire and Michael away from perpetuating the abusive behaviors they endured as children - and, as a society, as parents, teachers, school counselors, police, journalists, writers, could we cut down on the tragically high number of sexual abuse incidents by investing more time and resources into the "trouble-maker" kids, instead of writing them off, sending them to special schools where all the other kids we've given up on go?
What if it were mandatory for children of abuse to be given free mental health services until they're, like, 25? Or for the rest of their lives? That would probably be a deterrent to them committing abuse themselves. Because we all know who abusers are, right? They are people who were abused as kids and weren't helped through it. Most abusers don't even know why they're doing it, or why they feel like doing it. Therapy will uncover why. And if the potential abusers know why, maybe it will appall them, and change something in their brain. What if there were some sort of audacious campaign, with billboards and stuff, even, that advertised: Feeling like touching a child? Call us instead! Just throwing that out there. Sure, it would need to be more eloquently worded, not quite so off-putting. But, you guys, half or more of all the children in America are sexually abused. When we consider all other types of child abuse - physical, verbal, emotional - the number rises even higher. That's fucking ridiculous. Are we a civilized, first world country? Because it feels like we're a country of fucking barbarians, actually. Why, why, why have we not come up with an at least half-way decent solution to making this go away? Of course, it's because we're a society that blames victims and doesn't want to falsely accuse our neighbor even if we sense he's looking at the little kid across the street kind of inappropriately.
Here's another idea, going back to the "what ifs" of solving this problem: What if, say, those mental health services an abused kid received throughout his or her childhood made them comfortable enough that when they're, say, a 21-year-old college student (still struggling from the trauma, as is the nature of these things), they can go into the campus counselor's office and admit, "I had thoughts of raping this girl at a party last night." Or, "When I'm student-teaching at the elementary school, I find myself wondering what it would be like to touch one of them. Can you help me sort through this?" And then the counselor just DOES. And of course removes the student from his or her elementary school duties. But there has to be somewhere would-be abusers can go before they offend. Once they offend, it's off with their heads. But, like I said, they aren't born wanting to be abusers, or abused. We, as a society, need to beat them to the punch. And, yes, it is a societal problem, even if it began in the privacy of a child's own home. Because the behaviors spillover on to us. It puts our kids in danger, costs us money, and negatively effects our quality of life.
So keep this in mind as you read my book, if you do. But even if you don't, keep this in mind anyway, then go out and call the cops for that child you know who coils at their father's touch.
Serene storytime and a snack with my littlest love about 24 hours from the time we'll be starting the transition into our new home in San Antonio. If you've been following along, my family of five and our dog have been living in an Airbnb 1 bedroom studio apartment for the past 2 months. It was cute for a bit. I've always thought the whole tiny living trend was intriguing. And while we DID survive without 8500 pounds of our belongings (the moving company weighs it), we didn't exactly THRIVE. I'd love this place if I were living alone (and the bathroom construction wasn't so shoddy, and if it were in the arts district), as a mother of 3, I'm completely over it. I have once again failed at being a minimalist - which sucks also because becoming more minimalistic was going to be one of my New Year's resolutions.
Anyway, now on to the next phase of moving life, the "storm" I refer to in the title: the painting, the minor renovations, the setting up of routines, settling in, making the place feel like it's really ours... Then dance classes and yoga sessions can resume. I'll start my MFA. I'll start freelancing again. I'll publish my novel. And everything will feel right in the world again.