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Sunday
May012016

Podcasts I Listen To & Not Make. But Maybe Wish I Did.

I mean, I do listen to my own podcast because that thing about loving the sound of your own voice. Except I laugh a lot in it and I HATE the sound of my laugh. 

Do you listen to podcasts? If not, you should.

It's not just about learning new stuff or being entertained, but taking advantage of our hyper connected world in a way that allows you to deepen your connection to humanity. That stuff you're watching on television? NOT REAL. That is not how real people act or talk. That is not the stuff that actually happens to people.

While I love my Empire, those are not things that actually happen to people. Although, I will PAY you to be my friend if you are like Jussie Smollet's character in real life. Pay you WELL. Like a monthly subscription.

Anyway, I feel like unless we make an intentional effort to broaden our experience of how people talk, what they talk about and why they talk about it, we run the risk of assuming that human reality is confined to people we talk to and people we watch on television. Also, when was the last time you heard someone tell you a really good story. It doesn't seem to happen very often even though I truly believe that sort of thing is embedded in our supercomputer. Called the brain. I'm talking about our brains, but I used supercomputer in an attempt to be clever.

So, I listen to podcasts. In case you're thinking about getting started, here are some suggestions. If you're new to downloading podcasts, you can usually search by title and just hit subscribe. The iPhone has a little purple icon with a little person doing double dutch with two perflectly circular jump ropes.

You should be advised that I recently retook the Pottermore Sorting Hat quiz and was reclassified as a Ravenclaw. I feel like this is pertinent information as you evaluate my listening preferences. 

Serial. I mean, duh. If you're going to start listening to podcasts, this is the one. Season 1 is better than Season 2. Aside from the unseemly details surrounding the court cases discussed, I love this podcast because it reflects the care with which a story is told and how much of a difference that makes in the delivery of information.

This American Life Once again, the story telling. So great. If you're like me and have trouble telling a linear story, this is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in how that's done.

TED Radio Hour. I'm clearly an NPR junkie. I didn't realize that until just now. I love TED talks, and I love this podcast because it organizes them by topic and also continues the conversation with the speakers after the talk. 

The Moth Podcast. More stories. I love hearing people tell stories about their life -- from the mundane to the intensely deep. It doesn't matter. Tell me a good story and I'm in.

Stuff You Missed in History Class. A great podcast about learning the basics of auto repair. I'm kidding. It's about stuff you missed in history class. 

Lore. Okay, I haven't listened to this one yet, but I am SUPER excited about it. TRUE LIFE SCARY STORIES OMG.

Coffee Break French. So, basically, you listen to people talk in French on your non-existent coffee break and try to figure out what the hell they are saying. The hosts are European so I assume that's why they are implying a coffee break is an actual thing.

Hope that's helpful.

I'm looking for a some more humorous podcasts, so if you have any suggestions - do let me know. 

Wednesday
Apr132016

Creativity, Usefulness and Moving to Selfish

I read an interesting article yesterday about the effect of family life on creativity. Here. Go read it.

Back? 

You didn't really read it, did you? 

Anyway, this article is by a writer and she talks of how her artistic life has been impacted by family in what seems like a negative way, but, then, in the end, there's a semblance of bittersweet conclusion about how things are really just different now and not necessarily worse. Or something.

Don't like that summary? Well, that's what you get when you don't read shit for yourself. They're called consequences, Beav.

As my children get older and as my vocation is increasingly child centered (teaching, running a school - which is not the same as family centered, but still relies on this idea of maintaining order not disrupting it), I find myself less and less able to be truly creative. Like, in an artistic way.

Now, it we're talking about "I have a piece of pita bread, some sketchy looking turkey and a third of a tub of cream cheese and it's 7:20a.m. and I have to be at work in fifteen minutes and I need to make two lunches -- TURKEY-PITA-CREAM-CHEESE-SURPRISE-VOILA," then I'm freaking Picasso. This kind of creativity is not enough. This is really problem solving. This is an outflow situation. It doesn't renew. It takes.

I really just want... Just to be alone in a space for a while where I can disrupt the normal cadence of life and think about things in a new way. I want that fire and passion of looking at reality, saying "this is not the only way things are -- they can be like this, too! Aren't we all uncomfortably energized and ready to live it all in this new way?" 

But I have Life stuff. Stuff that has to happen so that we can, you know, eat and maybe wear clothes that don't smell. And, then, there's the stuff going on inside my head. This brings to another point and by "point" I mean "tedious human struggle." I have this horrible thing of believing that worth equals usefulness to others. Well, wait, this is true thing -- to a degree. It is important to be useful, but it's equally important to be self serving.

When I was growing up, I had a parent that told me I was selfish, a lot. It damaged me. Not in a terrible way that's unrecoverable, but in an innocuous way that shows up when you're forty and you're like, "well, isn't this some fresh hell I thought I had dealt with already?" I've got to tackle this demon that clutches at my throat every time I think of doing anything that doesn't directly benefit someone besides myself.

I'm not selfish. I've proven that to myself. I am now the opposite of selfish. I'm specifically a martyr like that other parent who didn't call me selfish. Isn't that something. You know, the only time I'm not benefitting someone else is when I lay down in my bed to sleep or watch TV. I think I even rationalize using the bathroom as a general public service. Backed up people with urinary tract infections are not good for the planet. Just saying.

The problem with working to the point of exhaustion is that you end up in bed watching a Netflix/Hulu marathon. Although, I did change it up this week by diverting to a Serial marathon.

(Oh, Adnan, BRO, why did you smoke the pot that day? You can't remember where you were because you were too HIGH, dawg.) 

I have to work on this whole being creative, taking care of myself, redefining self worth stuff. Who else is annoyed by the prospect of having to figure something out when when you've reached midlife? That is some serious CRAP. I really thought that forty was taking the red pill and realizing that we're all in the Matrix so we can all just chill. Or maybe it was the blue pill. Or, damn, maybe I took the blue pill and that's why we're having this conversation.

I have plans of attack, though. Maybe I'll share them with you. Maybe. I am planning to start listening to Season 2 of Serial now, so best laid plans and all that.

P.S. I just typed and retyped the word "download" three times. It went down like this:

Downloud.

Downlowd. 

Download.

I thought you'd enjoy that.

Hey! Mike Scheinberg and I have started producing Hey! That's My Hummus! again. New episodes to download. Check it out on our website. Or you can download from iTunes.

 

Saturday
Apr092016

Soccer Mom Stories, Ep.1 #SoccerMomStories

A photo posted by Faiqa Khan (@nativefaiqa) on Mar 7, 2014 at 8:40pm PST

"Good game, even though you LOST.
I heard a seven (eight?) year old sneer that at another child on the fields today.
I want you to know that this is not okay. And not because some children's feelings were hurt. That happens and should happen. Resilience and all that.
The statement was not okay because the thing that prompts a child to say something like that to someone is a full blown tragedy. It means that this sneering child has become so accustomed to seeing the world as a win-lose proposition that winning a game is not enough for them. It's an escalation on their part to feel something. Our world is teaching some of our children to live in the constant state of either being evaluated or evaluating others to the extent that it has disabled them from connecting compassionately on a human level. 
My son lost a soccer game today, but that other child has lost so much more than that already. 
Wednesday
Mar022016

The Ambivalence of Vulnerability.

There are a thousand different ways to express this, and they feel weak, shameful and pseudo-catastrophic. A few years ago, I read all of Brene Brown’s books, and they changed my life. I learned about the power and courage of vulnerability. I learned vulnerability is a magic key that opens you up to abundance and love in the universe in a way that holding your flaws, fears and mistakes too close will never allow. I came to love the idea of vulnerability – the delicate balance it requires in personal relationships or the way it can inspire friendships and cooperation in phenomenal ways.

Today, I loathe vulnerability. I hate how vulnerable I feel when I watch a man talk about killing the family members of terrorists. Or closing borders. Or requiring ID badges. Or, basically, any time he opens his idiotic, stupid-headed mouth.

I hate the total loss of words I had tonight when my emotionally rock solid daughter asked, “What is going to happen if Donald Trump wins? Are we going to be okay? Is he going to make us leave?”

I do not know the answer to this question.

This vulnerability? It’s victimhood. It’s the haunting sting of being bullied by someone so much more powerful than I am. It’s that familiar feeling of watching people who can do something, sit back and do nothing.  It’s the vulnerability you feel when you hear someone give you the backstory, the rationale, the reason why your abuser is who he is. You don’t care what those reasons are because it does not stop them. I do not give a damn why we are here. Stop telling me why why are here.

We are here. And I am very afraid.

This vulnerability is the finality of knowing you can never count on the people you thought you could count on again. People who love you, they are supposed to stick up for you. They are supposed to say, "You cannot talk about my friend like that." They are supposed to stop people from talking about you like that. They are supposed to effing do something besides make jokes or lament the journey to this place.

When you lose faith in the people who love you, you beleive you will never get it back. You are left with the realization that having faith in people is a precarious proposition at best. Let me tell you, there are very few points that are lower than this one, emotionally speaking.

Disconnected. Alone. Vulnerable... I listen.

He says what he thinks, so, you know, take the abuse. Let’s keep this family together. Don't forget, you're lucky to even be here. You thought you were big enough to sit at the table? Listen. We will make you leave if we want. There is nothing you can do. We were great before you came here. We want to be great again. You made us un-great. We're just trying to go back to what we were before you showed up and screwed everything up.

Also? Jesus. Guns. Racism.

I gasp for air under the weight of this vulnerability that leaves me weak, sad and scared.  I had no strength to loan my child when she showed me her vulnerability.

 “I don’t know if will he make us leave. I don’t know. I know that no matter what has happened to me in my life, Allah has provided me with the best of things in the end. This is something I know to be true because I have lived it. I don't know what's going to happen, bete. Some things, we have to just let Him sort out.”

I can say what I think, too.

Sunday
Aug022015

Someone Stole Our Stuff

Given: life is full of unexpected twists and turns. 

This given makes the surprises no less surprising, though. Wrapping up my third summer in Hartford for my Montessori training, I woke up to violation. Someone in the early hours of the morning broke into our townhouse and made off with two cars, a laptop and other personal items. I was awake when this happened, three floors up. I heard a sound and assumed it was one my roommates getting up.

 

Stage 1.  This is my fault. 

I was up in the middle of the night. I went outside. Did I leave my key outside? Is that how the person got in?    

 Stage 2. This is all their fault. 

Where was security? Why weren’t they patrolling? Why don’t the cops patrol through   here.

 

Stage 3: This is only one person’s fault.

The person who took things. Sure, other people may have made  mistakes in terms of security or whatever, but the person who took our stuff? Did not make a mistake. They made a choice, and that makes all the difference.

 

Stage 3 is where I’m at today. So, today, Stage 3 is where the truth lies.

The breaking of laws is not the only thing that makes criminality so unbearable. It’s the effect on the people t violated. We are plunged into a quagmire of questions, guilt, blame… someone must be held responsible!! And when the responsible party, the criminal, is not available, we will grasp at any other possibility — focusing our fury at the first available entity. 

Crimes, though, are always the fault of criminals. I now understand that some people will find a way. No matter how careful you or those charged with your protection try to be. 

We’re acclimated to expect a justice that’s built on an eye for an eye. You stole my stuff, therefore you deserve to go to jail. This justice, even if it can happen, is empty. It is a hollow promise of a return to normalcy. It does not restore you. It does not put the pieces back together that were once your sense of security. Nothing can change the feeling I have knowing that I was one cup of coffee or tea away from walking in on this person while they were stealing our stuff.  I don't dwell on this point, but I am aware of it.

There is no restoration - no return to what once was. And it is disappointing to realize that there is no immediate justice in a situation like this. There is only exercising a great deal of putting the pieces of your hope, security and faith back together. There’s only hoping the fragments of that light stick  until they form a suitable replacement for what once was. 

This is going to be okay. 

We are all going to be okay. 

We will put those pieces together and they will stick because we have no other option. 

We cannot fulfill our destiny if we let things moments like this shatter what we know to be true - that most people are good and deserving of our trust.

Where I’m at now is knowing that the struggle for me isn’t going to be dealing with the insurance company and getting a new car. The struggle will be to hold on to the idea that people are generally good. We wage a battle as we accept that humans are both dark and light, and we must make choices about which outnumbers the other.

I choose light over dark.

But the struggle persists.