Today Is Pentecost

[This post is for my White friends and peers of faith. I write from a Christian lens, but I’m imagining that other faith traditions with martyrs will have connection points.]

The tongues of fire are here, and they are speaking every language, and we are here to listen.

Pentecost is rooted in Easter. And watching the tongues of flame head for the heavens yesterday on the Falcon 9 completed that arc of Easter for me, and made me think again about our Christian Easter story. It’s a tough look into humanity—the crowds calling for Jesus’ death, the betrayal, the torturous murder on the Cross.

When you think of the Easter story, who do you imagine yourself as?

I would always imagine myself as one of the disciples, not one of the ones whose name rolls off the tips of our tongues like Paul or Thomas. Not one of the betrayers, either. We don’t like to put ourselves in stories as the antagonists. Although, a few years ago, I started to feel like I would have been Peter, because I have a strong self-protective mechanism. I could have told a white lie about not knowing Jesus a few times.

And then the last couple years I started to feel most like I’d be one of the people yelling for Jesus’ death. I have a comfortable life and I wouldn’t have been throwing it away to follow a crazy person. I would have noticed injustice, but tried to “work within the system” to fix it. I wouldn’t have wanted a revolution. Jesus was revolutionary.

The interesting thing about this moment is that we are putting ideas about what kind of people we are—justice-loving people, kind people, people who want us to all work toward equality, people who follow Jesus—up against the discomfort in how we feel about what’s happening around us. We share words that may not be words of justice—they might be words that lay blame on others and protect ourselves from having to do the work of gaining equality and giving up our own privilege.

Equality sounds good, but the work is scary. Windows are broken.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn’t this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God’s will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail

As White Christians we have a lot of reckoning to do with how we’ve upheld racist systems in the past and continue to do so with our judgments, our inactions, and our self-protections. Luckily it’s Pentecost, and the flames of the Holy Spirit will speak to us in a language we can hear. Let our hearts and our lives be open to receiving the message.

Imaginary Things

A close-up of a bright pink rhododendron in full bloom with a bee nestled in deep to collect pollen.

There is pollen swirling in the street like a flocks of swifts. It’s caking the bottom of our shoes with its yellow chalk. It’s smearing my brain like muddy hands on glass. It’s trying to slow me down, change my pace, make me old.

I’m not good at taking nature’s lead.

I want to be out in the world. I want to prune my garden with the swift strokes of a thousand shears. I want to drive up the Gorge and put my cheek on the necks of the horses I love. I want to see my friends and hug them so tight they lose their breath, but not quite so tight I crack their ribs. I have to say that last part out loud to remind myself of the line of restraint when the time comes.

Do you ever in your pandemic-brain rabbit holes think about the fact that the screenplays for our next ten years’ worth of movies are being lived right now? Wretched heartbreaks, death, solitude, some sort of mash up super-casting of marshmallow storylines. Will they tell the stories of how racism and sexism built a castle out of inequality that crushed some and let others make sourdough bread?

I feel like I’ve been sucked into a pool of glitter. The glitter is up my nose and in my hair. The silver linings aren’t the bright edges of puffy clouds, but a thousand reflections of sunlight on cut and colored metal. I can’t take my eyes off the dancing light, it’s breathtaking, and at the same time I’m desperately picking it out of my toes and washing it out of every crack but it stays and stays.

The Best Day of 2019

There were many. And if I catalogue them my heart will fill with the helium of gratitude and fly off into the sky until the sun or the air pressure bursts it into a thousand vaguely biodegradable pieces. This is the gift of memory and nostalgia.

But one day.

There’s a favorite spot for hiking the boys and I have in Hood River. We don’t actually hike. We adventure to places that have interesting views or nooks and meadows to explore or hills for sledding. To get to these payoffs there may be a mildly noteworthy amount of walking.

We went to our favorite spot. When I say “our favorite spot” in relation to anything, it refers to a place I take my children that they cannot opt out of. Their actual favorite spot is the arcade. I hate the arcade.

Our favorite spot is up high, over the river. There are little paths and hills to scramble up. There are drop-offs. I do not like heights. But it’s fucking beautiful.

K-Pants begged to go to the top of the triangle hill that juts out over the meadows.

There’s this thing I do when I find something terrifying. I yell to myself in my head, “YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING TERRIFYING! YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING TERRIFYING!” I’m more open to terrifying things now. They are eye-level with the rawness and stimulation of parenting.

At the top of the little path of the scramble-up hill K-Pants’ soul left his body. He wanted my phone to take photos and video. I hadn’t brought it with us. I could see the car like a beetle down below in the parking lot—phone inside.

There are so many streams of consciousness and so many little decisions in living each day. As a group we decided Boy Woww and I would go down to the car, leave K-Pants on the hill, and come back with the phone. “YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING TERRIFYING! YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING TERRIFYING” leaving your child on a hill.

Hill

I love him. Very very much. He doesn’t admit that he loves me except in Mother’s Day cards and birthday cards. He took this photo of me from on top of the hill.

Hill down

I love him.

Vegan Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Mousse Recipe

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Sounds weird, right? This recipe tastes like a Butterfinger mousse to me. I love the silky consistency and the fact that the ingredients are wholesome and easy. I’ve eaten a low-sugar diet for a while, so this dessert isn’t super saccharine. I usually enjoy my pumpkin peanut butter mousse in the morning for a quick start to the day, or as an afternoon snack. It would be great with some cream (whipped, coconut, etc.) and a chocolate drizzle. The coconut oil is what makes the mousse turn from a thick smoothie texture when it’s initially blended, into the silky, spoonable consistency I love.

Vegan Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Mousse

1. Put into a blender:

  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup maple syrup

2. Blend on low, and ramp up the speed until everything is smooth. If your blender doesn’t have speeds, I recommend heating up the coconut oil into its liquid state before blending. Note: all my ingredients except maple syrup are at room temp to start.

3. Pour the smooth mixture into another container and refrigerate. I like to put it in serving-size containers that I can grab and go. But scooping from one big container isn’t that big of a deal.

Notes on ingredients:

  • Pumpkin: I use the organic Trader Joe’s brand that comes out this time of year.
  • Coconut milk: I use the full fat kind – good fats are good! That’s what my naturopath and the internet tell me. I get them from Costco.
  • Peanut butter: I use creamy, organic, Costco brand that has no sugar.
  • Coconut oil: I use the giant size I can get at Costco
  • Maple syrup: I use the Costco or Trader Joe’s brand, grade A, though I would love to find grade B in a bulk size.

I also love to do a raspberry version of this same recipe, but in the fall and winter, pumpkin is my fave.

Podcasts: In the Thick and On One with Angela Rye

Non-book club fans! I added a tab to the website where I’m putting my recommendations and yours, so we can easily find them. Check it out: This Is Not a Book Club. Back to the show…

I want impeachment news, but where to get it? For the past three years plus I’ve been tired of hearing white dudes talk to each other with a token minority around. Many of you were already tired of that years and decades ago, but I accepted the status quo in journalism unthinkingly for too long. The formality of mainstream news also entrenches the idea that things are normal when they’re not.

So in looking for analysis on impeachment, here are my two current recommendations. Please add your own. My criteria:

  • Added knowledge on the process of impeachment and when it’s been used in the past.
  • In-depth political and international background on what’s happening now, not just smart thoughts and feelings in front of a microphone.
  • I’m not interested in debating whether impeachment is politically efficient or a smart strategic move.

I listened to five different impeachment episodes from five of my subscribed podcasts: In the Thick, The Breakdown with Shaun King, Intercepted, On One with Angela Rye, and End Times Podcast. Only two made the cut for me to highly recommend currently on the impeachment process.

1. In the Thick (ITT)

“Journalists of color tell you what you’re missing from the mainstream news. Co-hosted by award-winning journalists Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela, IN THE THICK has the conversations about race, identity and politics few people are discussing or want to discuss.”

==> LISTEN: ITT Sound Off: Impeachable Moments

This episode is a must-listen because of ITT all-star guest and senior reporter at The Root Terrell Jermaine Starr. Terrell gives the best background and analysis on Ukraine that I’ve heard, going back through the Obama Administration.

2. On One with Angela Rye

“the most honest answers to the pressing political, racial, and pop culture questions of the day”

==> LISTEN: An UNPRESIDENTED Impeachment Argument

Ironically, Angela’s impeachment episode is from July. It’s still highly relevant. She breaks down when impeachment has been used in the past, gives the best and most concrete answer to what “high crimes and misdemeanors” means, and she breaks down all the impeachable offenses pre-Ukraine call.

Bonuses:

Book: “The Black and the Blue” by Matthew Horace

I don’t like book clubs. Half the month I feel guilty about not getting the book, and the second half I feel guilty about doing Sudoku instead of reading. But as a solitary freelancer and parent to three young people, I do crave getting and sharing book and show suggestions from like-minded grownups. So I’m starting some new short posts about what I’m reading, listening to, and watching. It’ll be a photo + quote and maybe some quick thoughts. That’s it. Life is wild. I hope you’ll add suggestions for what engaging, thought-provoking, or hilarious stuff you’re taking in, too. So here we go…

What I’m Reading: “The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America’s Law Enforcement” by Matthew Horace with Ron Harris

Matthew Horace worked as a law enforcement officer at the local and federal level for almost 30 years. He criss-crosses the country interviewing law enforcement leaders, sharing their personal stories, and offering important commentary on how these stories reflect on our larger policing issues and racism in America.

As I made my way north up Interstate-95, I thought about deadly police interactions with African-Americans and the difference in the two drug crises [crack and opiods]—one perceived as black and the other as white. Whether unconsciously or intentionally, American society is suffused with a racial bias that must be eradicated. When it comes to ailments and needs in the black community, the response is punitive and lacking. The incidents we routinely encounter which would be unacceptable in the white community, are shunted aside, ignored, or explained away, as if we were throwaway people, as if our lives didn’t matter. Our lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher rate of chronic diseases, lower income levels, and higher unemployment rates are all interrelated. These same dire statistics have been the underlying cause of black riots since the 1960s. Police are merely the flash point, the most immediate intersection between abrasive and discriminatory policies and the black public.

I thought about my fellow officers who are upset or feel betrayed about a movement that is directed at fighting against police. But my brothers in blue are wrong. The suspect has once again been misidentified. These protesters are not saying white lives don’t matter or that police lives don’t matter. Everything in America—from educational institutions to social networks, television, news, films, financial markets—says white lives do matter. Instead, the message is a demand and a plea for society to embrace African-Americans’ humanity. Black lives matter—too.

[…]

The wrongs inside police departments Are not about a handful of bad police officers. Instead, they reflect bad policing procedures and policies that many of our departments have come to accept as gospel. To fix the problems requires a realignment of our thinking about the role police play and how closely they as a group and as individuals are knitted into the fabric of society. Do they stand apart from societal norms or will they uphold their motto of “To Protect and Serve”? Are they to be looked at as men and women who sweep up the refuse left by our refusal or inability to tackle societal problems, or are they partners in our efforts to provide a vibrant and supportive community for all? The decision is ours.

Find it at your local library. Or get it at our local, independent bookseller Powell’s: click here.

11 Tips for Flying Cross-Country with 3 Kids: Ages 3, 7, & 9

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Hello, Orlando Airport!

Flying with kids is about managing the chaos and chances for things to derail (for me, that’s everywhere I look). We live in Portland. Half of our family lives in Tampa. Flying is necessary because we love being with our people. At this point, I have some sky under my belt and a lot of opinions. Here’s my advice based on our national and international family flying experiences. (Additional travel tips from me and guest writers can be found on my Travel with Kids page.)

Use this post to think about what works for you, and leave your own tips in the comments. (You might be like, “I would NEVER fly carry-on only. And that’s 100% awesome if it works for you.) Our last cross-country flight was with our 3, 7, and 9-year-olds — this list is based on those ages.

1. Avoid an extra flight however you can.

  • Is nonstop an option? Take it. With connecting flights, there’s so much room for delayed flights, storms, mechanical failures, or other chaos to derail your trip. I think of the catastrophic family implosion (adults included) that would occur as we tried to find an airport hotel in Minneapolis because of snow or a missed connection. In that moment, I would surely have paid extra to fly direct.
  • Get creative. To get to Tampa, we fly direct to Orlando, rent a car, and drive the rest of the way – about 90 minutes. (There are no direct flights to Tampa from Portland.) It’s great to have the second leg of our trip in a private, sound-contained vehicle where we can have our meltdowns in peace.

2. Baggage: Travel carry-on. Make sure every bag has wheels.

  • At the end of your flight, find food, bathrooms, and get out of there as quickly as possible. When we arrive at our final destination, we’re exhausted, emotionally disregulated, and also elated in that jittery way. We’re soaked in travel kerosene and any spark will send it up. Searching out the baggage claim and having one adult watch the kids while the other plays whack-a-mole with bags on a conveyor belt for an extra 30-45 minutes is my idea of hell. I can’t risk lost baggage. I’ve had bags lost, and so have friends. Dealing with the logistics of three young kids traveling is enough without managing calls from the airlines and missing clothes.
  • Every bag we have has wheels, except the parent backpacks and preschooler backpack.

 

3. Car seats: add wheels and use bungee cords

  • We splurged on one of those attachable roller things for car seats. It’s been amazing. Basically turns our giant car seat into a stroller.
  • We then use bungee cords and other ties to keep all the car seats and baggage together so everything rolls. Did I mention carabiners? I love them.

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Car seat as stroller. Also functions as a luxury preschooler seat on the monorail to terminals. Note the Ergo baby-carrier I’m wearing. We had this in case of a preschooler meltdown, so we could pack her up and carry her.

4. Stop right away in the destination airport to eat and go to the bathroom.

  • When we arrive, we eat and do potty breaks right away. There’s a McDonald’s in Orlando. Everyone gets Happy Meals. This is not the time to think about the words “sustainable” or “obesity epidemic” or other boujee earth-saving vocabulary. While the herd grazes, one adult can ferry people to the bathroom and refill water bottles for the car.

5. Speaking of food, pack tons of snacks, and split them up into each person’s bag so they’re within reach.

6. Use as much screen time as you need at any moment and pre-load the devices you travel with with games that work without wi-fi.

  • Every couple years when we upgrade phones, we keep the old ones. Over the past 10 years, that’s given us a nice little pile. You may have iPads or Kindles…whatever you have, load them with things that don’t need wi-fi. We found that the inflight entertainment can be limited and not your kids’ favorite. My kids don’t love Disney movies because they’re kind of traumatic—the parents are always dying. Alaska doesn’t have a great selection of in-flight entertainment, anyhow, and wi-fi on the flight costs over $20 per device.

7. Let your kids choose a small number of books and small toys or art supplies to pack in their own carry-ons. Our kids often want too many things, but other than that they are good about choosing the things they’ll most enjoy. Pokémon cards, stuffies, etc.

8. Organize your under-seat carry-ons efficiently.

  • I buy gallon-size Ziploc bags before we go. It really helps to keep things somewhat compartmentalized because all the stuff goes everywhere once we’re onboard and people are passing things back and forth. We have:
    1. A technology bag that includes lots of chargers, headphone adapters, headphone splitters, and adult earbuds. (Kids carry their own headphones in their carry-ons.)
    2. A bag with an extra change of clothes for the three-year-old, plus wipes, and a diaper. She’s potty-trained, but has many accidents. Often, we’ll have her wear a diaper for the trip. It’s just easier to change in case she has to pee during take off or landing.
  • Pack a ton of extra plastic bags that you can use for trash bags, soiled clothes, or whatever comes up.

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Wipes are at-the-ready, a plastic trash bag is attached via carabiner (so many random little trash items magically appear in-flight), food and art supplies are handy. We also have extra plastic bags and a change of clothes for everyone in case someone throws up… we’ve been there before.

9. Pack a meal for the flight or buy it the airport – don’t rely on inflight service.

  • If we haven’t packed a meal (which is cheapest, but hard to have the space for), once we’re past security, we grab food. After security, you don’t have to worry about the issue of space.
  • Sometimes they run out of inflight food by the time they get to us, so I like to be sure we have a meal and we can eat it whenever we want.

10. Use Benadryl, melatonin, Dramamine, or whatever works for you and your kids to help them nap.

  • I’ve flown with babies a lot. At the end of most flights, people will say, “Your baby was soooo good!” That’s because I use a combo of all the sleep-inducing tools I have. I am not a doctor, so do what you need, but don’t go too crazy. Give your chosen sleep-aid(s) right before you board or right after you sit down. I usually take something for me, too, because traveling with kids can make me very jittery.

11. Choose your seats wisely. We sit three in one row, and two directly behind.

  • After non-stop flights, and sleep-inducing chewables, this is the most important thing. We place our Preschool Queen of Seat-back Kicking right behind another member of our family. One time I had a real a**hole swear at us and practically start an in-flight Lucha Libre session after sitting in front of our then-18-months-old appendage-flailing champion. We do everything we can to make sure our kids don’t jostle other passengers, but under age 5, we’re not going to win that battle. Sitting for 3-6 hours in a confined space without moving is not developmentally appropriate. Arms and legs gonna fly.

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Preschool Queen of Seat-back Kicking placed strategically behind someone she’s related to