Delight: Drawing my way out

I finally gave myself permission to get back to the Lynda Barry cartooning book I started a couple of months ago.  [Making Comics].

[Imagine there is an image here of some of the stuff I’m drawing.]

I’m doing the exercises and drawing up a storm.  It is FUN.  I think this is the first time – in a long time – that I’ve allowed myself time to PLAY.

The current atmosphere in the U.S. is difficult.  It’s a stressful shit storm conflagration created by the virus, by a heightened awareness of (& calling out of) systemic inequities (race and economics being at the forefront right now), and by polarized politics – exacerbated by the moral melt down of the current presidential administration and lack of intestinal fortitude on the part of many party leaders.  These are scary, serious times.

And, these days have called out the most determined, serious parts of myself. I’ve been working with all pistons firing – emergency plans for earthquake scenarios in the midst of a pandemic; finding a notary for revision of the family trust; making masks — making better masks; housework, yard work, filing, and systems; cooking healthy food; LOTS of reading of the news so I’m aware and can plan and can be a conscious, responsible citizen in these times.

It’s exhausting – and depleting.

What my emergency planning did not take into consideration was how important it is to play a little — particularly in the midst of all the seriousness. Refueling the soul is important.

I’ve always wondered how, in stories of our past, people did so much dancing and laughing and music making in the midst of war time and even hostile occupation.  I realize now that it is a matter of survival.

Even in the midst of chaos and prolonged crisis, it’s important  to play — to give your heart and mind a little moment of reprieve.

I think that a key element, at least for me, is doing something for which there is no real expectation of ‘productivity.’ My mother has often said that I can make anything into ‘work’ (how to do it faster, more efficiently, ‘better’).  
Thanks to Barry’s open approach in Making Comics, my adventures completing these assignments defies my own perfectionist tendencies.  

My only goal with the drawing is to respond to the prompts and assignments. I am able to box myself in to the world of the book for a chunk of time. For the first time in ages, I’m able to lose myself in a small activity for an hour or two — and experience sheer delight. 

I look forward to it – every other day or so.  I’m going to stick with it. Playful delight is something I need right now.

What are you doing to play?

COVID has shown us that “normal” is pretty crappy

Every day lately the news is mostly bad.  Really bad. I hear a lot of people saying they just want to get back to normal. 
That sounds good – and I understand why we say it.  We want things to return to a state of being we know how to navigate. 
But what are the exact features of “normal?”
If you pause to really think about it “normal” is pretty crappy for lots of people.
“Normal” is made up of current systems of communications and publicity that aren’t designed to protect people living in these United States of America from misinformation about what is best for our health.  
“Normal” is a line of obligations and money funneling that builds the wealth of the wealthy and lacks safety nets to protect most of us from risk of eviction in an international crisis. 
“Normal” means the vast majority of Americans lose health care when we lose a job.  
And it’s very clear that “normal” means we have no shared plan to protect Americans from hunger in the midst of all of this chaos.
Normal, as it turns out, was truly pretty crappy for most of us.
Right now, things are turned upside down and a great many of our systemic shortcomings are exposed.  We are feeling raw and chaffed and angry and lost.  We are cross with one another. We are frustrated. Yes.  
But all of this makes it very clear what is NOT working.  All we have to do is look.
We, as the voters of these United States, and our elected officials, have a chance to FIX things and make sure that neither we, nor our children, have to fall so far or feel so afraid the next time something like this happens.  
Why would we want to go back to what we had when recent months have shown us so clearly what is wrong and needs to be fixed? 
I don’t want to go back to normal.  
I want BETTER. I’m willing to listen, learn, vote, and contribute in ways to make us more united – with liberty and justice for all.  
How about you?

Have we forgotten “…by the people, for the people?”

One of the things I’ve been thinking about, as I read the news and hunker down at home, is that it seems we, as Americans, have forgotten a great deal about who WE are.
We talk about “the government” as if it has nothing to do with us.  As if it is a “them” out there, that we can’t impact or influence unless we fall in step behind ideological lines that require we hate half of our fellow citizens.
I admit, from recent reading about how power has shifted in this country over the last 40 years, that there is a considerable distance between most of us and most of the elected officials who walk the halls of government.  That difference, though, seems to be more about people who have SUPER wealth and incorporate the wishes of other SUPER wealthy corporations, industries, and individuals into their votes, stances, and decisions.
And I’m wondering …
What would the next 3 months – and the next 4–8 years look like if we remembered that WE are the ones who are supposed to be in charge?  What if WE reclaim OUR responsibility for who WE elect and how they spend OUR tax dollars?  What would these United States look like?

We CAN ALL survive a year without in-person school

It won’t be comfortable.
It won’t be what we are used to.
It will NOT be perfect.

We need to think creatively about how to quickly cobble together a  system that allows working parents (particularly essential workers) to care for their children and help them learn and progress during this time. 

In terms of ‘formal education,’ 2020 will likely be a “do-over” year for many.

WE CAN DO THIS. It won’t be perfect, but if we practice love for our neighbors and community responsibility, it will be perfectly survivable.  Anyone who tells you we can’t is up to something other than caring for our kids.

Trickle-up Power

Since the presidency of Ronald Reagan, we’ve been struggling against the vacuum (meaning there is really NOTHING there) of trickle down economics.  

In the past 40 years, the rich have become super rich and more powerful.  Working people in lower and middle classes have become continually poorer and more disenfranchised. 

It’s time to flip the funnel.

NOW is the time to take control of our representative democracy and make it REPRESENTATIVE of REAL PEOPLE – not just the super rich and corporations.


  • Build power locally.
  • Do the right thing locally.
  • Make elections fair and equal for ALL of us.
  • Let the power rise up from the people.

Only then will America be worthy of the label “great.”

COVID gap year – it is now

Many Americans are still worried & torn about whether to send their kids to school (if the schools in their area are open for in-person attendance). Many school districts are still wringing their hands about how to keep everyone safe and keep their funding.*

I understand the intricate connection of dilemmas here:

  • We recognize that the children are our future and we want what is best for them.
  • We, as a society, have a commitment to educate our children for leadership and citizenship.
  • We, as members of a free and democratic republic, want to prepare our children for life.  We want them to learn crucial social and communication skills.
  • We recognize that many households do not have a stay-at-home parent who can supervise remote learning — of particular concern for earlier grades and kids with learning or emotional challenges.
  • We want to ‘get back to normal’ as soon as possible in as many ways as possible.
  • We want to protect the health and well-being of students, teachers, and staff as much as we possibly can.


  • In every state of the Union, COVID case incidence, hospitalizations, and/or deaths are on the rise. 
  • There is evidence from other countries (particularly ample press from Israel) and from some U.S. school districts (Cherokee County, Georgia, and others) that have opened up already, that positive cases among students show up quickly and that students, particularly those without symptoms, readily transmit the virus to adults in their worlds.
  • In terms of success stories, schools in other nations that have managed to avoid spreading the disease practice strict discipline, universal masking, social distancing, and other activities. Due to decades of repetitive reductions in funding for public education, most U.S. school districts do not have resources to implement these kinds of robust measures – at least not in the short term.
  • WE KNOW that individuals of ANY AGE can carry and transmit the virus without manifesting symptoms of any sort.
  • WE KNOW that individuals can transmit the virus BEFORE they test positive.

SO – WHAT TO DO (for the majority of us who do not live in COVID-free zones) ??

This is not rocket science.  

Until we have a vaccine, we must set up education to work remotely.   

Opening schools and universities for universal in-person learning is the equivalent of daily sending everyone involved into a combat zone.  DAILY.   

In these COVID battle zones, students and staff will, of necessity, focus huge parts of their attention on how to stay safe.  The logistics of following protocols and hygiene practices are DEFINITELY going to interfere with everyone’s abilities to focus on learning and teaching.

If learning anything other than how to keep your hands clean is on the agenda — everyone should STOP right this minute.  STOP wasting energy trying to return to some semblance of normal.  

POSTPONE the start of school if you don’t have a COMPLETELY SAFE local action plan in place.

START leveraging all allies in your school district & community to figure out how to provide remote education – at least in part – to all students.

EVERY School District:  Decide NOW to do everything you possibly can remotely.  This includes instruction, interaction, collaboration, food distribution, internet connectivity, technology, evaluation, mediation for challenges, and so forth.  


  • Yes, it will NOT be ideal for most people.
  • Yes, it will be DIFFICULT to accomplish.
  • Yes, there will be hiccups.
  • Yes, everyone has a great deal to learn.
  • But that’s the thing – it’s a great moment for EDUCATION.  This moment in history is exactly the kind of scenario we are, ultimately, training our children for.



THERE IS NO REASON to send students, teachers, staff – and by extension all of their parents, children, and relatives – into a COVID infection zone every day.

We CAN do this.

*Protecting the health and safety of our children and their teachers is our number one priority – beyond the education that might be missed and need to be made up.  Any government entity that withholds school funding based on local decisions re: the safest way to open is NOT SERVING ITS PEOPLE. Make a note and prepare to remove those leaders from office at your earliest opportunity.  Call up your local communities to work together to compensate in terms of resources and meeting needs of all kinds.
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