Squinchinading

Squinchy is the kind of dog you have to talk to. This is a fact; my friend Brigid, who is reading up about dogs because she doesn’t have one yet, said so. It is a characteristic of his breed. This is good, because I’ve always talked to him in full paragraphs. This is also good because if I wasn’t talking to him I would be talking out loud to myself. DSCN2457

More than just talking, though, Squinchy invites song. You are my Squinchy, my only Squinchy, you make me happy, when skies are gray, I sing when I scratch him in the morning.  If I’m feeling silly, I make a parody out of my mom’s parody of a Comet commercial I’ve never heard. Squinchy: you make my teeth turn green. Squinchy: you taste like gasoline…. I sing him into everything. Christmas time was full of Oh Holy Squinch, and Squinchin’ Around the Christmas Tree.  “In Spite of Ourselves” by John Prine is a frequent one, especially the part about he ain’t got laid in a month of Sunday — I caught him once he was sniffing my undies, which needs no modification. (Sorry, Squinch, I know that we cut your balls off and sent you into a life of cross-species platonic devotion. But remember, He’s my Squinchy. I’m his honey. Never gonna let him go.)

 

Of course, this could say more about me than about Squinch. After all, the five year old I babysit is always telling me to STOP SINGING! But I’m not the only one. Nate adapted a Presidents of the United States of America song: Squinch sat alone in a boggy marsh, totally emotionless except for his heart. Mud ran up into Squinch’s pajama’s, totally confusing all the passing paranhas. My cowboy flea classic “Oh Home on the Squinch” isn’t the only surrealist Squinch song, I guess.

My class wrote him a ballad, with lines like Squinchy is awesome. He loves his possum. He looks like a blossom and he loves to do summersaults.

And even Nate’s roommate sings, Your brain is full of spiders, you’ve got garlic in your soul, Mr. Squinch.

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How Witches and Wizards Could Stop Global Warming

 

One of my students just found the solution to global warming:

Broomsticks.

That’s right — if we were only all witches and wizards, we could just use broomsticks instead of cars. And while that wouldn’t stop all our carbon emissions, it is true that it probably would get us under the critical 350 mark.

My student is more right than she knows. Let me explain. I had a dream when I was seventeen that I could fly on a broomstick. I could control it with my mind, by thinking in different colors. When I woke up, the feeling was still in my body and I felt sure that if I went right then and tried, I could do it. But my cousins were visiting, and I got shy, and never did it. I think about it sometimes, though, and I still believe I have the latent power. It just feels very, very latent.

I was thinking about this the other day when I was bumming around on Facebook and read a musing by my friend Caitlin, who is just like Waylon Jennings.

She asked, “Is it enough to just do what makes us happy without considering a greater service to our fellow humans? Is “being happy” or “following our passion” or being “a servant of God” enough justification for the resources and we use on this planet?”

Besides guys, poetry, and breakfast, this question is pretty much all I thought about from 2004 –2008, if not longer. I was trying to come to terms with being a writer instead of an activist like all the cool kids. The thing that gave me the permission I needed to do my work was this Howard Thurman quote: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

I think that this is fundamentally different than just being happy or following our passions, because alive means feeling pain, too. It means being aware. It means changing. It means not deadening our connection to each other or the planet. I feel strongly that the more people come alive, the more capable we will be to face huge problems, because we will find within ourselves all kinds of strength we did not even know we had.  We may even find we can use our minds to fly.

Solving global warming and all the rest of the list won’t take any wizards, but it will take people using every latent, living power we have. And when we are done with global warming, we can turn to another question one of my students asked another: How can you be a vegetarian, when last year you were half-vampire?

Step alive, y’all.

 

Period Pic

winthrop

On the rag. Clearly.

 

This is a picture of me and Nate skiing. If you look at it, you might notice my totally retro 1970’s skiing knickers, or how many red knitted things I own. You might see Nate’s look of having battled his first hills and stood back up to tell about it. You might just think: happy people, pretty trees. You probably didn’t think, Becca is having her period.

But my mom did.

“Why?” I asked her, when she told me this.

“You had that look.”

“What look?”

“I don’t know, that look. I’m your mother. I know these things.”

And it’s true — I did have my period. My mom is as bad as Santa Claus.  Privacy is an illusion. So help me, god.

Anyways, that’s what I look like when I have my period, in case you didn’t know.