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In My Bag

inmybagI’m super fascinated with this series by Jason Travis that documents the contents of different style makers bags. It appeals to my enjoyment of the mundane, the everyday things that make up a life (probably the same reason why I love Haruki Murakami and his descriptions of coffee-drinking and spaghetti-making in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle).

In the same spirit, I decided to take a photo of the contents of my own bag. Well, it’s one of about three different bags that I switch between, but this is my “work” bag and the only one that doesn’t contain a random (unused!) diaper and hoarded tiny pieces of paper from who knows where.

My writing group met last night and my friend Jess returned a borrowed copy of No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July. As she returned it, Kara and I talked about the story we always remember the most, “The Swim Team,”  where the narrator gives swim lessons in her kitchen floor, teaching her students how to breathe underwater by having them blow bubbles into bowls of water.  The copy of The Best American Essays (edited by Cheryl Strayed) is part of my grand plan to educate myself on the art of essay writing without paying for a class (I’ve yet to actually crack the book, but I will, dammit!) Then we’ve got an old Bohemian that I’m holding onto strictly out of narcissism since I wrote about Write On Mamas for this particular issue. And here is a copy of Mind Your Manners, which is ostensibly for my daughter to “read” while we’re out and about, but should be at the top of my own reading list, if we’re going to be totally honest.

What else? A pen that probably doesn’t work, a random, pretty bracelet that I never wear, an ugly wallet that I keep meaning to replace with something more svelte, notes on an essay called Climate Change, Baby that I submitted to my writing group yesterday, a baby sweater, and earbuds that (also) probably don’t work.

There ya go. What’s in your bag?




Friday Free School

Today’s visit to the Graton Day Labor Center to watch my friend Lisa Morehouse report on immigrants who’ve been shut out of Obamacare for KQED’s California Report, has me thinking hard about labor, economic justice, the material conditions of work, and exactly what is a living wage? A story by Monica Potts in the American Prospect, Yes, Being a Woman Makes You Poorer examines the failure of the Paycheck Fairness Act this week, thanks to those *super generous * Senate Republicans. According to Potts, the gender wage gap contributes to poverty and near-poverty for women in the United States. This is a big deal.

With radio on the mind, I was happy to stumble upon the Belabored Podcast over at the Dissent Magazine website. Hosted by Sarah Jaffe and Michelle Chen, this week’s episode features an interview with Ruth Milkman on the future of labor and the work of revolutionizing communities from the bottom up. I’m glad to see people speaking up about economic injustice and exploitation of workers for the benefit of the owners. Labor, economy, work, jobs – let’s do this.

Write On Mamas

“A lot of writing about motherhood is still considered ‘mommy memoir’ or ‘mommy blogging’ and isn’t seen as serious memoir,” says Kovac. “Even the word ‘mother’ is so loaded. There are some in publishing that are just like, ‘We don’t want motherhood stories.’”

Kovac adds that whatever literary space there is for moms tends to be taken up by well-known writers like Anne Lamott and Ayelet Waldeman. The stigma has led to an ongoing conversation among the Write On Mamas about whether or not “Mamas” should stay in the name.

The answer is always a resounding yes, says Kovac.

“Isn’t this how we take it back?” asks Kovac. “We’re writing, and we take it seriously; we’re parents, and we take it seriously.”




Leave Me Now

Blood on the Tracks was my dad’s favorite drinking album. Along with alcohol, it was his ministrant between worlds; a passport into the sinking-way-down-land, where he could swim with the sharks and demons of his own suffering subconscious— an ancestral family trait, by the way. I’ve had my own records, the ones that I put on because, and not despite of, the fact that they take me into the darkness of the long night.



Restorative Justice

“True justice has to come from a place of love,” Sanchez says. “If it comes from a place of vengeance, there’s no true healing. There’s very little you get out of asking for vengeance. I truly believe it has to come from a place of love, especially for youth, who pick up these subtle messages. When you tell them, ‘Get out of here, we don’t want you in our schools anymore,’ the youth think, ‘These schools hate me, my teachers hate me, everybody’s out to get me.’ But when you remind them, ‘No, we love you and we need you here,’ it speaks volumes.”

I’m offering a creative writing workshop at the fabulous Undercover Baking Agency starting March 5!

Do you dream of writing while doing the laundry, washing the dishes, studying for your business class or typing yet another dreary work email? Do you crave writing community, the chance to hang with people who see books and stories as necessities not luxuries? Do you want to carve out a couple of hours each week to just let the words pour out without worrying about what’s next on the to-do list? In this popular four-week creative writing workshop, to be held at the fantastic Undercover Baking Co. in Santa Rosa, we’ll do lots of fun, inspiring, thought-provoking writing prompts. You’ll have a chance to read your work out loud without judgment or criticism. Mini-craft talks and inspired discussion about the art of writing will get you fired up to unleash those stories, essays and poems from out of your head and onto the page.

When: Wednesdays, March 5, 12, 19, 26; 6:30-9pm
Where: The Undercover Baking Agency, 463 Sebastopol Rd., Santa Rosa
Cost: $100-$125 sliding scale (limited scholarships available)
RSVP: clark.leil@gmail.com or petalsandbones@gmail.com

To reserve your spot, a $25 deposit is due before the class begins. The rest of the workshop fee is due by the second class session. Payment can be made by PayPal, check or cash.