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a peaceful protest

I was 16, and the thought of being forced to mention God as part of the pledge of allegiance was too hypocritical an act for me to play along with. Each day of high school began with this mundane recitation, as most people just stood with their hand jutting from a hip, the other dangling across their chest as they counted out the seconds until they could sit back down. They leaned against desks, and talked through it about what party and where it would be, if there would be a keg or a bonfire in the woods. I recited the words, omitting the "under God" part as a sort of half-baked protest. I was raised to flaunt my family's ramshackle atheism, as a choice of smug pride. We knew better, was the prevailing logic.

But one day, I could not stand and say any of it. It felt so rote, so hollow, so devoid of choice. There was no law that said I was required to say it. I knew this was my right, a form of free speech. My homeroom teacher was a legendary drinker, a trash-talking re…

3 chords and the truth



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My daughter sings with me sometimes, I think for the same reasons I do. Happiness multiplies when it is shared, and sadness fades when you find yourself strumming and warbling away, especially with company. Inspired by the most fundamental elements of her life, E improvises lyrics about playgrounds and the tulips, about the wish for a little sister. She takes pictures with my cameras too - self portraits, blurry snapshots of her toys, leftover wrapping paper from her birthday party, a scraped knee, her favorite pants. 

I used to sit next to my father in his studio, a stump of charcoal in my hand, learning to draw. Learning to draw the light, not the objects I thought were there. Draw what you see, he told me. It was so quiet there. Maybe the dog would be sniffing around or sleeping heavily. Just the scratch of the paper, the tinkling sound of his paintbrush in water, or turpentine. The light would just hang there, tiny bits of dust drifting around in the afternoon light. I was never tired or bored or hungry there, in the attic with him.

she goes to sleep
then she wakes up
she colors her hair
and goes to school
she wears red shoes
and every time she wants
she goes to the playground

I find it fascinating she sings about this other girl, although the details are all from her own life. There is a big difference between, "I go to sleep," and "She goes to sleep." E is singing about the routine of life, and all that is familiar to her.

But I know she has never seen a lemon tree. That's the part that blows my mind. I see her processing sadness and disappointment, turning it into something to share with the world. I see her joy, the small freedoms she feels and how these are there too. And I think she knows all of this.


Comments

Annie said…
Ah.... and why would she not be extraordinary with a father like you, and apparently some artistic wealth in the genetics?

That moment when you were the child drawing...could see it...see the dark and light contrast, hear the silence...how exquisite the contrast with the bright and tuneful present....yet parallel.
I was reading and my little one, (just turned 4) heard your gal's voice, stuck her thumb in her mouth, gathered her blankie, and snuggled up beside me to listen!
We both enjoyed a "Expat's Baby" singing!
Precious. And she can really sing!
Rabbit blogger said…
annie, jojo - it was wonderful to wake up on this side of the world and find your comments. E's little cousin in the US had a similar reaction, and was singing along with us yesterday. sometimes the world feels so very small...
april said…
completely beautiful

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