We didn’t breed the sheep this year, because we have enough sheep! We did get two lambs and an adult ewe from a friend last fall. So, that made twenty-five. “When are you lambing?” everyone in the sheep community kept asking.
“We aren’t lambing this year,” I told everyone.
Today I noticed a new little wooly one. Where the heck did that come from?
Some observations led me to the mother- one of last fall’s lambs that we got from a friend. She was only about five months old when we got her, but the only explanation is that she was pregnant upon arrival. Either that, or virgin birth. We should probably name him Baby Jesus.
No, I didn’t spell “autism” wrong. I’m talking about artism. If you relate to any of this list, you are most likely on the artistic spectrum.
Ten Signs You Might Be Artistic:
You make art. Or you write, or you do music, or you act, or you see your life is some sort of strange performance art.
You don’t understand people who want to learn the thing you do. (Because it’s not something you want to do, it’s just something you do do. If you are going to do the thing, if you were meant to do the thing, you do do the thing. It’s a compulsion.)
You’re a mess. Literally. Artistic people are often messy.
You wondered (and still kind of wonder) if Donald Trump ran for president as some sort of long form performance art, and he’s just as surprised as you are that he is now president. (Because you always assume that, in any situation, someone is doing some sort of long form performance art.)
Incompetent artists really bother you, especially the ones who do the same thing you do. And most especially when they are successful with the masses! That’s just a knife in the heart.
When people say, “you’re so creative!” it’s really annoying, isn’t it? What do you do with a comment like that? How could anyone be alive without being creative in some way?
You feel badly if you don’tmake art or do that creative thing you do. You start to go crazy without it.
Your art is not something you need people to compliment you over. Itis gratifying unto itself.
When people give you really simple, clear instructions, you don’t believe that anything can be simple and clear, and you read elaborate (and untrue) messages into the clear, normal instructions. And it makes life so hard. So very, very hard.
I’m a sucker for all of these articles on line with titles like, “How to Live On Purpose and Maximize Every Day” or “How to Live Life on Your Own Terms” or “How to Maximize Your Pickle Production.” ( Maybe not so much the last one, actually.) and then I listen to this podcast sometimes, “Happier with Gretchen Ruben” which is supposedly supposed to make you happy, but really I think it might better be titled, “Life Hacks for the Filthy Rich.” I get that the little tips make you happier- if you have no problems whatsoever in life.
And from all of these articles and podcasts I’m a sucker for, I learn things like,
Get a good night’s sleep every night.
Marry the person you love.
Fast one day a week.
Decluttering your house.
Don’t take on more than you can handle.
And that’s not even mentioning all of the parenting “tips.” (Does anyone else feel like all of these “tips” are pretty much mandatory? It’s the implied, “If you don’t do this, you are a terrible parent.”)
I don’t know why I read all of these things. I never change my behavior at all. I just now have some stupid know-it-all thing to say with my friends,
“Did you know kale prevents cancer?”
Everyone knows eating kale prevents cancer, but my friends are too polite to say so. Everyone knows kale prevents cancer, but here’s the catch: to prevent cancer? You have to actually eat the kale.
I read all this stuff, and then I look around me. Most people are overweight. There’s an opioid epidemic. Everyone’s stressed out. We’re not eating the kale. We’re not getting the sleep. We’re living in piles of junk mail and chicken catalogues. But, you know what? We’re getting by. We’re doing it. We’re living it, one day at a time.
We’re not perfect, but we’re beautiful. And we’re still here. Showing up, every day. Like the troopers we are.
I saw this show on the Discovery Channel about how the aliens came and built all of the pyramids on Earth? They had some compelling evidence:
Rocks were moved thousands of miles, “before the invention of the wheel.”
From an arial view, the pyramids look like a circuit board. (Which pyramids are these, you ask? It kind of doesn’t matter.)
The angles and slopes of the pyramids are so precise, only aliens could do that.
The materials used in the Mayan pyramids are heat resistant, which means they must have been used as a launch pad for ships.
All of this sort of rests on an assumption that people just get smarter and smarter. We assume the aliens must have built the pyramids because we are so much smarter than people were a thousand or two thousand years ago. The aliens must be smart, because they invented space travel, right? No, no, no. This is all wrong. Aliens didn’t build the pyramids. The pyramids were built by “primitive” people who were way smarter than we are now. “Wheels weren’t invented yet” is so bizarre. Why not? Perhaps wheels were invented, and then forgotten. The same with space ships. People don’t get smarter and smarter with time, but rather stupider.
It’s a new theory of evolution: we’re just getting stupider all the time.
All this time, we thought we were making progress. And we weren’t.
My first impression of Yosha Bourgea was in the fall of 1988, my freshman year of high school. He was shortish and he always wore a giant overcoat and a heavy backpack full of mysterious books. There were rumors about Yosha: that he lived in a refurbished chicken coop, that he had never been to public school before, that he was only thirteen. He was different from me. I had spent my whole life in public school, I lived in a tract house, and I was way older (fourteen). But in that fall of 1988, Yosha and I did have one thing in common: We had acting class with Mr. Hawk.
Mr. Hawk is not his real name. I only call him Mr. Hawk because he looked a bit like a hawk, and he terrified me as a hawk might terrify a little white bunny. He never ever smiled. He was gravely serious about acting. He was a Southern gentleman, a transplant from Georgia by way of Hollywood. While he was in Hollywood, he claimed to have worked on the movie Scrooged. He dressed just like the Don Johnson on Miami Vice, in pastel suits with an undershirt instead of a dress shirt.
Mr. Hawk did these emotional exercises where he tried to reach into the most vulnerable parts of our souls and expose our tears to the world, wrestle with them, and apply our deepest and most terrifying emotions to our acting on the stage. We were teenagers. Guarded teenagers. We didn’t want to reveal our inner lives- or, at least, I didn’t. Mr. Hawk would have us form a circle on the stage, and inside the circle, he would have one of us improvise things as he yelled out directions from the outside of the circle. The directions were always doable, but uncomfortable. The first memory I have of knowing Yosha is of him being inside the circle. I don’t know what the acting exercise was, but Yosha was in the middle of the stage, writhing in agony, screaming like a Yoko Ono therapy session,
“Yawoooo! Aaaaaash! Baaaa!” And Mr. Hawk was kneeling beside him, pounding the floor, sweating through his pink jacket,
“Yes! Emote! Feel it! The pain! It’s real!”
Yosha twisted his body in jerking movements, as though some unseen force from above were jabbing him with an electric prod,
“Yeeeeeoooooooow!” Yosha screamed.
It is hard to exaggerate Yosha’s complete commitment to acting out this scene of torture. It was just unreal, like he was occupying some alternate universe where he really was being tortured, and somehow I was sitting a few feet away and not feeling a thing. And Mr. Hawk was beside himself with excitement. He was practically frothing at the mouth as he yelled encouragement at Yosha,
“Yes! Feel the pain!” Mr. Hawk punctuated his words by pounding his fist on the stage. And while Yosha shrieked and Mr. Hawk had his emote-gasm, twenty or so teenaged kids (and I) just stared at this scene before us, with mouths agape, in complete stunned silence.
It was a stunning first impression.
Here is a video of Yosha more recently, singing a Christmas song he made up (the melody is stolen from a song by Death Cab for Cutie).
Yosha Bourgea is also the author of the new release Murgatroyd Buttercups, which I illustrated for him. (And also for you, actually.) Today is the last day to purchase it at half price for $5.49. Tomorrow, it goes up to $10.98.
This is actually the second time I’ve been on the Segilola Salami podcast. The first time was about a month ago, when I was on with Johnson Emmanuel to discuss publicizing books with a growth hacker vs. publicizing books with a publicist. Johnson Emmanuel is a self-professed growth hacker, so of course he felt he had the best services to offer. During the first podcast, he convinced me to let him promote me for a month, for the podcast listeners to see what amazing results he got. Then he and I would come back on the show one month later and discuss results. (That first show is here, though I think it sounds a bit like an infomercial for Johnson Emmanuel.)
And then, a funny thing happened. As soon as we weren’t recording anymore, and our host hung up, and Johnson Emmanuel and I were essentially alone together, Johnson Emmanuel said I owed him $10,000 for this one month’s services we had discussed in the podcast. And did I mention he was speaking to me from *Nigeria? Although he said he lived in New York and was only visiting Nigeria. So, I gave him $10,000 and. . . no, I’m kidding. I didn’t give him any money. I said, “Actually, no thank you.” I did, however, work on some self-promotion over the month, and I still went back to check in with Segilola Salami and report on how it all went.Click here to listen to that slightly awkward and exciting conversation. Or listen to it on youtube:
*Segilola Salami is herself Nigerian, and as she says in the podcast, Nigeria gets a bad rap. There are lots of good people in Nigeria.
The Ol’ Buzzard pointed out the other day that Vermont Witches are putting hexes on Donald Trump! Well, you have to hand it to those Vermonteers (Vermontians? Vermontonians?). A lot of good things have come out of Vermont: syrup, Bernie Sanders, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, and now good witches of the East? More about those Vermont witches here, but I’ll quote what I took away from it:
“The idea, Essig says, is not just to curse Trump but also “to make some good feminist magic to surround ourselves with—something other than the hate that his campaign supports.””
Wonderful idea, I think, but how, exactly, does an aspiring witch like myself (I’ve got a black cat and I’m enthusiastically voting for Hillary Clinton, so I must be close to being a witch) go about putting a hex on Donald Trump?
I researched this. I didn’t have to look far before I found this informative instructional video (confirming my belief, once again, that you can learn how to do anything on youtube):
Writing the name on a piece of paper, dunking it in water, and putting it in the freezer is supposed to be good for hexing “Intractable Bigots.” I guess they got the right hex!
Have fun. I don’t know that this works, but then, it might just feel good to do something silly during this time of complete political insanity.
Alternatively, I suppose you could hex Hillary Clinton- although you’d clearly be playing with fire (because there’s an old and unoriginal conspiracy theory out there that Hillary Clinton is herself a witch).
A few weeks ago, I created a Twitter Bot to discover the question. Which question, you might ask? The question for the meaning of life, of course. In the end of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series, they discover the meaning of life: 42. That’s it. That’s the meaning of life. But, what is the question? This is the task I set my meaning bot out to discover. This week, she’s getting closer:
The last one is especially interesting to me, because I used to have a quote from Stanley Kubrick across the top of my old blog, “However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.”
Would you like to make your own twitter bot? Use this tutorial. It’s fantastic.
I took my daughter to piano lessons one day, and waited in the piano teacher’s living room while she taught a small class of students downstairs. A father was in there, too. I was getting ready to butcher chickens in a few days, and I was taking orders for chicken meat from the piano teacher and anyone else who might like some. I mentioned that to the dad,
“I use the pastured poultry method espoused by Joel Salatin,” I said. And that was all it took. He just started an endless monologue about raising chickens. The only problem was that he had never actually raised chickens at all.
“Oh, you raise chickens for meat?” the man said, “There was this guy I heard of from Australia who raised chickens for meat and he said…” This Dad talked about something he knew nothing about for I don’t know how long. Fifteen years or so, it seemed like. It was a true manologue. He had many misconceptions about chickens, in general, and every time I tried to interrupt him and tell him he was wrong, he didn’t even hear me. He went right on talking.
So, basically, this is a textbook definition of mansplaining (if only there were feminist textbooks): A man goes on and on in a condescending way about something he knows nothing about, talking to a woman whom he assumes to know nothing. The woman knows more than the man thinks she knows, but he will never find that out. The thing that makes mansplaining different from simply talking too much is the assumption by the man that the woman knows nothing. He has unconsciously assumed she knows nothing because, you know, she’s a woman.
How does this happen so often? It’s been proven by sociologists that men talk more than women do in mixed groups of people (groups with both men and women). And women encourage it. Women talk less and interrupt less frequently than men do, especially, again, in mixed groups of people. Women worry about negative consequences for speaking out, and sadly, our worries are founded! (Source: Yale University Study) Women who speak out more do experience backlash, in the way of being thought of or referred to as too aggressive or “unlikable.” And so, we speak less. Even though we may know a lot, we don’t always say so. We don’t want to brag. We want to be ladylike. And maybe that man knows a lot, after all. (We also have a confidence problem, as a group.) Which in turn gives men time to speak more.
From the get go, women are told in subtle ways that we do not count as much as men do. Look at this game my daughter and I play together. It’s called “Guess Who?” It’s a two player game, and each person has a board that only they can see. The board looks like this:
Each person draws a card with one of the characters on it. Then the players ask yes/no questions until they guess who the other person drew. The winner is the one who guesses the other person’s face correctly first.
If you draw a woman in this game, you’re probably going to lose, because of the twenty-four characters represented, only five are women. Your opponent need only ask, “Is your character female,” and they have already narrowed it down to five. Now, beyond making the game sort of stupidly unfair, this arrangement is really annoying. In a game where you are choosing from a sampling of people, why are only 21 percent women? I don’t know. Maybe because whoever conceived of this game didn’t really consider women to have the same amount of value as men?
My daughter likes this game a lot, so I haven’t thrown it away or anything. I just make sure that every time we play it, I say,
“I can’t believe there are only five women in this game. That’s so stupid, because you know fifty percent of people are women.”
Okay, so now you probably are saying, “So what?” And in the scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. Except… well, except that so many things are like that. Most main movie characters are male and speak more than female characters. Even when princesses are the main character, they speak less than the male characters in their movie. (Source: The Washington Post ) And then there are all the women’s magazines constantly telling women how to please men. Men, it seems, don’t want to hear all of your “thoughts.” It’s better to just look good (and be good in bed) than to sound good or be intelligent. Look thin. I think these magazines are so prevalent that we don’t even see them anymore. At least, I don’t. But look:
For comparison, this is what a search of men’s magazines looks like:
When the men are wearing clothing, my eye automatically goes to their head, which is of course where I think we should be looking on the women, too! And notice how when these famous men do a photo shoot, they aren’t required to be half naked. If you see a naked person, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say your first instinct is not to ask them to explain serious subjects. Your mind goes to… other things. But when you see someone wearing business attire, or even a nice fitting teeshirt, and he is looking right at the camera, my first instinct is to actually wonder what he has to say.
So, I don’t know how to cure society’s ills, but I do want to say this: If you are a woman, stop doing this if someone doesn’t know what he’s talking about:
Interrupt and say, “You’re wrong because…” I should have done this to the chicken guy. I didn’t. I waited for someone else to come along, and then I slipped out. I left him mansplaining to another woman! I’m sorry, Sister. You deserved better. I was afraid of being rude, but this man was being incredibly rude to me, and I should have called him out. Louder. So that he heard me.
Another way to make women’s voices heard is to, when you are in a mixed group, listen for intelligent things said by women, and then repeat them to the group. Example, “I like what Jeanette Andrews said when she mentioned that…” And build on it. Do that improv trick, “Yes, and…” But always make sure to mention the woman by name. Validate her. If you have a choice between quoting a man or a woman, all things being equal, quote the woman. Together, we can have a bigger voice.
If you are a writer, make sure you write female characters who talk about more than how to impress men. If you are a board game designer, please have as many female pieces as male pieces (if your game has characters with gender). If you are parent to a daughter, turn a blind eye sometimes to yelling, to burping, to telling bad jokes, to stating opinions about subjects that interest her. You have to stop her when you would stop a boy, is the idea. It’s hard to figure out where the line is, sometimes, but please try. You might also try letting her get really dirty and blowing things up out in the yard, letting her shoot arrows, build rockets- you get the idea. If she’s into that stuff. And teach her that humans both male and female should try not to make assumptions about someone else’s knowledge, or lack of knowledge.
Of course, we all need to listen to one another, most of the time. And we almost all talk too much, sometimes. When all else fails, I hang out with the chickens.