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19 January 2019

Review: The Folded Map Project on stage (Collaboraction)


Chicago is a segregated city. When Martin Luther King Jr brought his nonviolent work to Chicago he was struck by a rock and remarked, "I have seen many demonstrations in the south but I have never seen anything so hostile and so hateful as I’ve seen here today." The shorthand manner to discuss our segregation is to note that the Northside is where you find White Chicagoans and the Southside is where you find Black Chicagoans. The Northside is where you find all the resources whereas on the Southside you find vacant lots and high crimes.

There have been countless attempts to bridge this divide. One of the most recent and ingenious is the Folded Map project. Simply put, who lives at 6400 North and 6400 South and how are their lives different or similar.

Now comes a stage production of the project brought to us by Collaboraction. This production is part of a larger "Encounter" series that runs through January 27th. There are in fact only 2 more times to see this particular piece: Wednesday, January 23 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, January 26at 7 p.m.

The piece was moving, but also left me wanting more. Much more. "Folded Map" is far more an origin story of Tonika Johnson and the project itself. I really wanted to hear more about what Johnson had learned from the conversations and if those on the Northside had made changes in the way they go about their lives. 

In one sense it is easy to fold the map of Chicago from Englewood, the most dangerous neighborhood if all you know of it is from the evening news, to Rogers Park, home to aging hippies and the heart of Chicago's progressive community. It should make it easier for the project, especially the stage production to ask those with more money, influence, and privilege what they will do to ease the differences we see through the project. Because it left the "what next" conversation centered on sharing ones love of gardening I felt unfulfilled. 

That is not to say that the origin story is itself a bad story. In fact it is a fascinating story of one woman's family that started in Englewood, moved to Uptown, then back. It is a case study is why it is worth the two-hour commute for some students in order to have a high school experience that prepares you to be a UN ambassador. It is heartwarming, touching, and extols the power to art to not only be a medium for storytelling, but as community building.

In the end, I strongly encourage you to see the remaining two shows. I hope that Johnson and the rest of the crew continue to evolve this piece that can help cut through the divides, both physical and mental, that keep us apart and Chicago from being the city it can be It has a companion piece, A Great Day (in the Neighborhood), which is a fantastical romp through a creative mind. 

Catch "Folded Map" on Wednesday, January 23 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, January 26 at 7 p.m. 

Disclaimer: I saw "Folded Map" through a press pass. All opinions are my own.

07 January 2019

She'll do all of this....and She'll do none of this

I'll teach my daughter / To bang on anything that makes a beat / She'll shake-a-boom, she'll quake a room / She'll ... She'll do all of this. And she'll do none of this. And it's funny how we hide behind these daughters, Hide ahead of our own herstories. Scared of ourselves.

Today is my mom's 15th birthday since her death. It is the last of the 15-year milestones (15 years since her death, Ella's 15th birthday, 15th Christmas, 15th of my birthday). The woman who instilled in me how special I was, how important I am to the world, and who held me to high standards, should be indulging in a tiny slice of turtle cheesecake for her day. Instead a bit of her ashes sit in a tiny urn on my altar.  She hovers over my life as a sage and cautionary tale. 

Dear reader, you may be shocked at how I can hold anger in my heart over her death. Well, I do. I am mostly angry at all the wonderful things she has missed out on, including resolving our relationship. Before you stop reading, I should tell you that I am far more heartbroken than angry. At the start of my relationship with grief, I thought I needed to pass through phases, that you did not hold each at the same time. Thanks to the Refuge in Grief newsletter and splurging on the 30-Day writing group, I know that it is quite common to feel both. So much of the pain in the first few years of grief was actually pain caused by the world, including some close to me, telling me to "get over it," to push through the anger to heartbreak to acceptance. As if accepting the loss of someone who meant everything to you, who literally made you, would end the grief. 

Mom looms large in my life. She was the more vocal of my parents on how I should live my life. She prescribed a lot of my choices, sometimes not always in my best interest. I have reflected on her bad advice with my therapist. How life always seemed to bulldoze her and how that may have impacted how she guided me. She raised me to kick ass, but also to be cautious of deals that sounded too good to be true. I have come to the realization that she was so scared of me getting bulldozed by life that she steered me away from too big of risks least I fell on my face. 

I shared the gory details with my daughter on my mom's birthday last year (when I wrote the bulk of this post). Not to disparage her grandmother, but to share with her why I am so determined to support her dreams, no matter how large and out-of-reach they may seem to others. I try to be rational in my support, telling her that is she wants X, she better start doing Y to get there. It is hard not to want to live out my dreams in my daughter. She looks so much like me, she is very much like me. But she is not me. And I am not my mother. 

I am not my mother. 

That sounds awful to say on her birthday, but it is the truth. My dad and her worked hard so I could be offered opportunities they did not have. Now my daughter has opportunities I dared not to ask for growing up because I knew we could not afford them. I know the world is what it is. It can be cruel, but it can also be loving. Sometimes at the same time. I have had my share of joys and also life kicking me in the gut as I lay on the ground crying. I work hard to not let the challenges life presents instill fear in my daughter or to try to control her life so she easily overcomes them. And it is freaking hard. 

One day last year Alix Olson's Daughter came over my earbuds as I was at the climbing gym. I remember the first time I heard it thinking, "Yes! This is how my daughter will be!" Then getting to the end of the piece and thinking, "Shhiiiiit...." With Daughter raging in my ears as I willed myself up a wall, I flashed back to me explaining at Christmas 2017 that we are born with all the eggs we will produce. Meaning that as I floated in my mother's uterus I already had my daughter in me. Three generations together in a tiny moment of time. 

Life beat my mom into fearing my dreams. That has left me with the challenge to show my daughter that no matter how hard life punches me, to stand back up and punch back harder. That we will fail, but we don't stop dreaming. That is the fear Alix sings about. That is the fear I fight. 

My mom was and still is my everything. I am angry that she died before she could experience the joys of being a grandmother to the most amazing girl ever. I am crushed she missed me hitting my stride as the woman she raised me to be. Her memory is not just a blessing, but what keeps me moving.





01 January 2019

Happy New Year!

Yup! It's a hopeful New Year's blog post! All full of spunk and aspirations to write more in the new year.

Year 6 of #365feministselfie!  And me trying to get back with Flickr.It is also a post to acknowledge that #365FeministSelfie is still a thing and at the start of our sixth year. SIX YEARS!  Part of me can't believe that this is still going strong. Part of me sees all the posts and knows why it is still going strong. I've said it before and I need to say it again, but what started as a silly project ended up creating a conversation and community around feminism and how the media depicts feminists.

Yes, we still have articles popping up saying that selfies are dumb, narcissistic, and all that jazz, but selfies are just a medium. Not all selfies are dumb, but not all of them are feminist either. Some are cries for help, but not in the manner that set off this project. I have seen people post selfies asking for support in many different ways for many different scenarios. I am not good at asking for help, especially from those closest to me, so to think I had a hand in creating space where people feel safe to be vulnerable is pretty jarring. Jarring in that I am inspired to be more vulnerable. But I also know that my emotions get the best of me. When I want to voice something, I can feel all the tears start to well up and it takes all my energy to tap them down. There are just some things where I feel like I either shut myself up or drown in tears. Neither is helpful. I guess we'll see what my therapist says about that.

I have a lot of ideas in my brain - shocking, eh? - and I really want to make time for all of them. Of course I won't, but I know I'll come close. So watch this space for updates. This space might just be for mulling over ideas. It might be for me to meet my daily 20 minutes writing goal. It might be for testing out stories I want to tell on a stage this year. I feel better when I share my story, so here's to feeling better in 2019.

27 October 2018

Review: Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party

Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party by Megan McDonald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Judy Moody was one of my daughter's favorites. It was weird and sweet to read Judy's return as my daughter is in high school. It actually made me wonder what Judy would be like as a high schooler.

In this new tale Judy is just as we left her - impulsive, self-centered, and hilarious.

Judy gets the notion that she may be part of the English monarchy. She writes to the Queen (and receives a response!) and begins to align her life with what she imagines royalty would do. It isn't a Judy Moody tale without conflict that forces Judy to apologize to someone. She realizes that her relatives may not quite be royalty.

What I like the best about Judy is that she often does something that requires an apology, even if it is to herself. Since these books are meant for kids ages 6-8, it is great to have a beloved character who loves with full passion, sometimes gets carried away, but does end up handling things with grace.

Welcome back, Judy!

Disclaimer: I received this book from a publisher in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Review: Power to the Princess: 15 Favorite Fairytales Retold with Girl Power

Power to the Princess: 15 Favorite Fairytales Retold with Girl Power Power to the Princess: 15 Favorite Fairytales Retold with Girl Power by Vita Weinstein Murrow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This beautiful looking book holds some radical retelling of beloved fairy tales.

Since my favorite fairy tale and princess is the Little Mermaid, Vita Murrow's retelling hit me the hardest. First of all the Little Mermaid is now a young woman of color. Then her adventures finds her meeting what they call a land princess. No prince in this story! Their cross-cultural exchange is sweet, including how they get the Little Mermaid's grandmother involved.

My next favorite is Beauty and the Beast. This retelling does not eliminate the love story between the two, but it does reframe it in a manner that is more feminist than anything Disney has offered us. It also amplifies the strength of Belle that we see in other versions of the tale.

And seriously, this book is beautiful. The cover is red cloth with gold embossing. It feels so nice and will look great on your bookcase.

Disclaimer: I received this book from a publisher in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Disclaimer

This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.

What I'm Currently Reading

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces


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