Thursday, November 25, 2010

Response To An Idiot Who Gleefully Shouted "Hand Job Time"

Sometimes the internet provides challenges. Recently, folks began to notice that the "Enhanced Pat Downs" may traumatize victims of rape or sexual assault. Go figure! So, I find this link on a popular news site and the first comment is "Everytime I go through one of these I'm going to loudly proclaim "HANDJOB TIME." My blood boils often and it does so at a steady and controlled temperature. But, tonight, I had to let it run over.

Please, dear sir, inform me why you needed to make that remark. Truly, I'm not judging you. I am just curious.

As a rape survivor, I'm quite free. Many of my sisters are not. And I'm okay with that. Everyone is where they need to be when they are there.

So, where are you? Me? I’m an artist. I just like to sit back and watch the human condition. Thanks, you textually provocative man-thing!!

So, baby, dance for me...sputter and spew your male-feminism. Scream, "HANDJOB TIME!" Don't stop! Keep the groove going! Writhe a little bit for me.

Now, look me in the eye. I want you to see your sister, your cousin, your aunt, your mother and your grandmother looking back at you. They are all smiling now. They are all screaming “HANDJOB TIME.” And they descend upon you. And it doesn’t feel that good. And then, they turn into Eagles and fly away with your penis and balls.

In your heart, you know, that you will find them on the highest mountain top. So, open and wounded you set off. You have nothing there anymore, unless you count empty promises.

And there, they have built a fire. And over that fire, they are roasting your penis and balls. Each of your sisters, cousins, your aunts, your mother and your grandmothers take a tiny nibble of your tiny parts. (They know how to share power.) They may spit you out because you are too bitter. But, they will have you because they love you.

You have nothing left.. They will devour it all. But...there in that place which begs for resistance. The only thing you can do to get it back is accept what they have done to you. They only thing which will give you back your penis and your balls is the love of people who trust you. They want you to use your brain.

They have their teeth on your balls right now. What will you you do? Their eyes are greedy and they haven’t been fed for centuries. And they have no corporeal form. So, how about those survivors? What do you say now? Can you love? Can you act for righteousness? What undeniable promise can you make so they don't devour your privilege?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Simply Sheer Genius!

Well, this video sums it up folks! Sorry I couldn't it embed it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXDLQPfqc04

Simply Sheer Genius!



Well, that about sums it up folks!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Call To My Sisters | Fly With Dignity Is A Feminist Issue

I became attached to the issue about AIT scanners because I am a woman, a mother, a feminist and an African American. Most of the discussions I see online seem to revolve around men who are worried about other men touching their “junk.”

I will agree, this is a broad and sweeping generalization. Many men are discussing the violation of their 4th amendment rights. Many are addressing the legitimate scientific concerns about the health risks posed by continued exposure to radiation. And I applaud these gentlemen.
In relation to action statements, this is where the discussion devolves into a circle jerk. The men are all discussing wearing kilts “commando” style or getting boners, or making orgasmic noises when they get pulled aside to have an intrusive body search. It seems like a big game of “My junk is bigger than your junk and so I can bully you.

Sadly, I am not seeing as many women speaking up about this issue. Nor, do I hear many of my sisters getting out there to protest this by choosing to “Opt Out” on November 24th. The few women speaking up (as usual) are not getting the same media attention as White men who dare people to “touch my junk.” Of course, statistically, 1 in 6 women have been sexually assaulted. We are fully aware that society expects us to let “our junk” be handled, abused, and violated at anytime it is deemed necessary for the greater good.

It hasn’t been that long since women have even begun to believe that we can be protected by half of the civil liberties that White males grow up believing is their God-given right. It has only been 90 years since women gained the vote (even less for Black women.) It has been almost 40 years since what a rape victim was wearing became inadmisseble in court. We’ve barely won the right to wear whatever clothing we want and not expect to get raped. It has only been approximately 37 years since Roe V Wade. Yet, every year, women have to campaign for the right to make choices about when we choose to bear children. We’ve barely won the battle against domestic violence. Women still don’t feel as if the same rights and privileges which extend to White males apply to them. We have had to fight every step of the way.


Forgive me if I don’t have all the timelines in order - but - I’m old enough to remember when many of these rights were extended to us in my lifetime. And I remember either my mother or some college professor or some cool activist talking to me about these “great victories.” What I am trying to say is, the majority of our civil liberties as women are barely as old as I am. And I hold them precious.

So this is a call to my sisters. Our great grandmothers, grandmothers, mothers and even ourselves have faced every threat, inconvienence and even death to have a few simple things we take for granted. This is a call to every woman to remind the world that we fought hard and long to simply obtain the right to:
walk down the street unescorted,
wear make-up;
smoke or drink in public;
expect not to be raped or molested;
expect for our bosses or co-workers to not touch us or speak with us inappropriately;
expect not to be beaten by a spouse and have legal recourse;
choose when to bear children;
and vote for people who will not try to steal these victories from us.

We, as women, have more at stake. We have barely claimed our bodies. And we are under attack again. This is our issue. No on should ever touch our bodies if we do not consent. Ever. And we must never let them touch our children's bodies without their consent. (As is what happened to a three year old girl here.) And furthermore, I don't want this spoof cover of a pretend book to ever be needed in my home.

I also don't want my son sitting in therapy with one of these dolls and the therapist saying, "Show me where the TSA agent touched you." (The quote is by some random reddit poster.)

November 17th will have a Senate TSA Oversight Hearing. Here is a link to an article which posts all the numbers and names. Call and write!

Please - join in the discussion! Thanks!
www.flywithdignity.org

Friday, November 12, 2010

Life In Our House / Flying With a 7 Year Old Boy & Opting Out

This mini-script was inspired about recent articles regarding the porno-scanners now moving into most American airports. We'll be flying over the holiday season. And we will also be "opting out." We urge you to do the same.

Some of the inspiration for the script:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/nov/11/ta-at-the-tsa/

http://www.boingboing.net/2010/11/11/tsas-new-book-for-ki.html

http://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.npr.org/assets/news/2010/05/17/concern.pdf

And of course, the unattended flight desk.....
http://i.imgur.com/9U5NK.jpg


Life In Our House / Flying With a 7 Year Old Boy & Opting Out

Mama:
Okay! So it’s the great big day! We’re going to find out where all those Monarch butterflies go in the winter!

SON:
Yeah! I think I have everything. Let’s go!

Mother:
Let’s check.

(Mama looks in her son’s back. )

Mama:
Ok! We just have to loosen the strap on your lap top.

Son
Why?

Mama
Becuase we have to get it out quickly for security.

(Son’s shoulder’s sag.)

Son
Oh, right.

Mama
And these cables, let me tidy them up nice. Can you get me a twist-tie and baggie from the kitchen.

Son:
Yes, mama

Mama
Thank you baby

Son
You’re welcome mama

Mama
Okay, we’re ready! Daddy are you ready?

Daddy
Yes.
Mama
Let me check your bags.


(Surly look from Daddy)

Daddy
I’m a platinum card member. I know how to pack my bags.

Mama
Okay!

(They get into the car and drive to the airport.)

Mama
Son, remember all of the security checkpoints?

Son
Yes Mama. Take off my shoes. Put them in the shoe bin. Get out my laptop and ds and put them in 2 bins. Then I have to smile, because I am cute. Then, I have to look at the officers faces and smile. Then I wait until I go through the gate.

Mama
No things are diferent now.

Son
I hate changes:

Mama
You have to wait for Mama to tell you if you can go through the gate.

Son
Okay...why

Mama
Because some of the new gates will give you cancer.

Son
Oh.

Mama
If they want us to go through the new gates, you have to wait for Mama to say, “Opt Out.”

Son
Okay
Mama
When Mama says “Opt Out.” Except everyone to become very rude.

Son
Why

Mama
Because they don’t believe in those songs we like “The Bill Of Rights” and “The Constitution” by www.songs of higherlearning.

Son
Oh. Why?

Mama
Because they didn’t leaqrn what they needeed to learn when they went to school.

Son
Oh, that’s sad. They should really learn that stuff.

Mama
Yeah, but people felt sorry for them and gave them jobs even because they didn’t learn anything important. Mostly because, they count on Daddy to pay taxes for all the other people who don’t want to learn everything to be unhealthy.

Son
That’s sad

Mama
Yes, it is. But, we have to get focused.

Son
Okay

Mama
When we get to the security place, you must continue to smile. All the time.
And when we “Opt out.” Can you repeat what Mama is saying? Opt Out

Son
Opt Out

Mama
Good! When Mama says opt out, you need to be be ready for some kind of agitated, nervous people to come around us.

Son
I don’t like that.
Mama
If it happens, you can have a long talk with Grad dad afterwards....and I can always hear you, love you and support you. Grand dad spent a long time opting out so you can play with Giselle and Gwen without worrying that some one would hang you from a tree until you are dead. Things are so much better today. But, you have an obligation to smile, be polite and let people touch you in your private places.

Son
I don’t want to go.

Mama
Your Great Grandmother was beaten in the streets so Daddy only has to work part of the day. You Grand dad took things to the courts and kept cities from burning. Your mama (until she met Daddy) spoke all over everywhere to say that human beings should love human beings. And Daddy became the best ever mathemagian in the world so people are thinking about everybody being given a chance to learn. So, what are we doing to keep the family legacy moving forward.

Son (dejected, sullen and worried.)
Opting out. And letting strangers touch me even if I feel very bad about it because I don’t want to die from some evil disease.

Mama
Good boy!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

In The Light Of Bobby Porter

Towards Fragile Peace In The Confrontation Of Vulnerability

Disclaimer: I did not know Bobby Porter that well. Much of what I may say could be construed as romanticism or hearsay. This is simply my journey towards approaching a tangible understanding born from a stirring realisation when I was an artist in my mid thirties. One day, I woke up and screamed, “I’m not going out like Bessie or Zora.” This internalisation of the history of American artists of colour, made some profound changes on my psyche.


Bobby Porter was an African-American artist in Pittsburgh who crossed genres and lived a life in harmony with his muse. Recently, he made his transition. How sad for all of us still waiting. How glorious for him. From all I know, he was a big-spirited man who just made himself a place wherever he was. Some very high brow people call that “zen,” now. In fact, there are even best-selling books called “Be Here Now.” Well, he was here. He was now. And from what I have been told, there was not a cardboard box on the planet which could label and contain him.

What is actually sad about Bobby’s journey to the ancestor’s arms is that he made it as a United States veteran. Not sad, you may say, because he lived to sing even after Vietnam. He stood up and defended our ability to choose liberty, freedom or both. His artistic life celebrated the notion of liberty. (Our founding fathers made it quite clear that “freedom” comes with responsibility, frugality and work for the sheer joy of combating the evils of idleness.) But, liberty....is a very different concept all together. And he went out there and defended both principles....liberty and freedom. Those same founding fathers who believed Bobby’s ancestors should not be free and also did their best to control his ancestor’s liberty when freedom actually arrived.) So - in spite of every historical nuance - Bobby presented a persona that through his life and artistic choices stated firmly, “we all arrive here on this planet as homo sapiens. And, we have the liberty to choose the ways in which we conduct our lives.”

So, it does not surprise me that our government could not even allow him liberty in death. They will only pay for a body to be interred, not cremated. In this day and age of discussing “greening everything from our bathrooms to our cities, this is a curious standpoint. Cremation is the greenest form of remembering that the soul has moved on and the Earth remains a limited resource from which all of humanity must sustain ourselves. Regardless of politics, the fact remains, that Bobby’s close friend had to find a way to remove him from their facility and find the funds necessary to honour his last wishes.

We live in a wonderful digital time. People can be mobilised within seconds. A heroic effort was launched on Facebook letting people know about donation centres or events around town which would take money to offset the costs of honouring a valuable community member’s wishes. Awesome!

However, this got me thinking. Why are we as an artist community not tapping into those resources which allow us to care for our own? Six years ago, my friend’s house burned down. I learned that in order to get relief donations broadcast on the news, we had to set up a “relief fund” through a reputable bank.” Getting the relief fun set up took one hour. Once it was set up, I was able to contact all news media sources and they gladly did “follow-ups on the tragic fire and how you can help.” My friend was able to rebuild her life. I learned a lot from that.

We now have excellent resources such as, “Caring Bridge” and Helping Hands” and “Kickstarter.” And here is where I begin to question our - defined as the artistic community - commitment to liberty but not freedom.

Every time an artist gets sick or dies...it is always a mad scramble to fix it. And so many wonderful energetic souls step up. It and always seems to happen. But, we don’t we plan for these eventualities?

Some of us may be off the scene for a period of time and want to help. But can’t because we are no longer able to whip by “this show” or swing by “that venue.” Yes, in fact, some of us have traded our liberty for freedom. We have living wills, regular wills and great detailed plans for “controlling our artistic work” long after we’ve gone. (With allocated administrators and folks we deem appropriate to the task of honouring our artistic vision. Laugh all you want, but, Langston Hughes was one smart cookie. And whomever is his beneficiary is doing just fine.)

Just because some of us think like this, doesn’t mean we don’t want to help. It just means as artists, each of us choose their own path. Some paths value liberty. Some paths value freedom. Some paths value a balance between both. But, we are all out here together sewing our souls onto our sleeves and asking the world whether it moves them or not.

Even before Abolition, Black folks knew that “shit happens.” I remember reading about a Free Men’s Society in Philadelphia circa 1830. Every member paid one nickel a month. (Approx. $20.00 today) And when it came time to bury someone or help someone or send someone down south the free a free man who was taken by unjust laws., they had it! There was no corporation trying to minimise risk for shareholders. There were people in this community who had a need. Period. And if the coffers went dry, well, I suppose they fund-raised. (I apologise for not citing a reference. Those books are no longer littered up with bookmarks. In fact, they all live in a closet at the top of the staircase because I care so much about “neat” and “tidy.” No longer do I feel a compulsion to immediately reference a source and make a footnote on my musings. As I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to validate my own knowledge. Look it up yourself.)

So what do people think about getting behind the knowledge that “shit happens?” What do you think about organising and pulling our resources together so that we are prepared? What intellectual, emotional, physical, financial resources would you contribute to making sure that this never happens again? Because - I’m not going out like Zora. And I know you don’t want to either. And I know that betwixt all of us....we may just build a better legacy for Bobby and all artists ...whether they are of colour or not.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dread = Fear OR Head Injury Failure

So, I’ve had some ongoing health issues lately. We have insurance. We have the best doctors. We have the ability to address the issues. And after a year, they still haven’t been solved.

But, we’ve been muddling our way through and counting on the fact that we have the rare privilege here in America of being able to afford healthcare. But, it seems as if even the ability to afford it doesn’t deliver.

Last Friday afternoon, I tried to walk from the dining room to the kitchen and fell over. My friend said, she heard a thump and rushed into the kitchen. I was on the floor. My eyes were rolled up in my head and I was drooling. Ten seconds later, I woke up. Needless to say, I was a bit out of it.

She kept saying should I call 911?

I kept saying “No, I’m cool. I’m sorry for messing up the play date.”

Finally, I felt the back of my head. There was an Ostrich egg there. Another friend dropped by. She is also dread. I asked her to look at my head and see whether we had anything to worry about. She kind of gasped and said, "OMG! It's really red." It was then that I decided that going to the hospital might be a good thing. Husband came home and kids were packed off. (Thank you lovely friends)!

So, we go to the ER. Great. I am interviewed. I am given standard neurological tests. I am given an EKG. Blood is drawn. An I.V. is inserted. Heart is monitored. But, nobody will touch my head.

I am released. I am not allowed to go anywhere unattended. I may not drive. I am to follow up with my PCP on Monday. I sleep for two days. I wake only to restlessly try to make our son’s life seem “normal.” My husband makes sure I follow up with our PCP on Monday.

So, I do. And the PCP is incredulous that I am in his office and nobody ever thought to scan my head. I can’t walk unassisted. I’m dizzy. I can’t see straight. So, he sends me off for a CT Scan. Never does he touch my head.

(In defence of all the lovely health professionals who attended me, I will state now for the record that I present “poorly.” That means, I’m not moaning and crying. I am often witty and engaging. And I have to spend a lot of time thinking about what ails me because, why complain for no reason? I like to present all of the facts in a rational manner ....somehow hoping they will be relevant. And pain is a state of mind we accept. Right? This does not not help me or them.) Moving on....

(Side-side note: this is the woman who swears child birth is painless. Both of my births had to get someone to coerce me into the hospital by my midwives because I kept saying, “it’s all cool. the ancestors are with me. the ocean waves are great and I love riding them.”)

But the fact remains, nobody was willing to touch my head. Not even today during the CT scan. When asked if I had any metal in my “braids,” I suddenly realised that I do. I began combing through my locks looking for this one piece of jewellery. The technician simply stated, “As long as it is way down there we don’t have to worry.” Well, I did worry.

I don’t know about CT Scans but I do know that my dense heavy locks were over the exact place they needed to be looking at. And I do know that the ER MD wasn’t willing to touch my head to feel the Ostrich egg presenting itself there. And I do know that no one was willing to look under the mane for any damage. And I wonder....will this leave us in a deeper more long lasting limbo.

Am I so fierce? Is my mane too terrifying to diagnose? And why aren’t there more African-Americans in these fields? Because there seems to be some deep fear about approaching my dread.

And fierce as I am....I hate limbo.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Club Family!

(in this post - the word "we" refers to me and my husband.)

So, in London, we used to go out once a month and dance. Those, nights, we also hung out with adult friends. Maybe we had a pint and a tasty morsel we would name dinner. They used to call it the "baby disco." And it was fantastic! But, America has moved on beyond the "disco era." We have "clubs" now. Isn't it so inclusively exclusive?

Well, we want to keep dancing with our children. We want to hear fresh beats and see cool talent working their two turntables and their microphones. We want it to feel like we are home with friends, and, at the same time having a special evening out on the town. So, we invented Club Family for Pittsburgh.

Club Family features DJ Supa C spinning clean sounds for full family enjoyment. No longer, do you have to dance around your living room alone. No longer do you have to get home in time for "pookie's" 6 AM wake up call. Don't wait for date night! Club Family brings fun fresh sounds to get the whole family moving, grooving and fantastic fit! After all, we're in this together now.....because we've chosen to have families.

And if families can't get their groove on together, what kind of world are we creating? So, spend your date night eating great food and discussing books, career moves, philosophy, religion, household budgets, and education. But, jump into your body and get "high-up clean fun" with the rest of us at Club Family! (Please note: high-up clean fun could be construed as an antonym to "low-down, dirty fun." Of which I think many of us has had their fill. Or maybe not.....but, who has to change pookie's diaper in the morning changes the perspective quite a lot.)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

and then comes the unwelcome (draft)

sunrise with trumpets, pearls
and bouquets of wild
flowers falling out of a little boy's mouth.

next bodies
slipping together
same as seven

years ago
adjusted
for growth and

loquacious inventions
detailed. minutia forgotten
the moment we seek

coffee and milk
and peanut butter. must
get to bed if I care

to enjoy the show.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

NOT Back-To-School (Or regular school that is.) Presenting the School Of Magic!

So, now I know why I haven’t been blogging much. It’s a holiday weekend. This morning I had a bit of a lay-in, but once I was up, it started. It took me 30 minutes of trying to play one uninterrupted game of Bejewelled Blitz to understand why I haven’t been posting much lately. It seems that I can’t get through 60 seconds without someone saying, “Mom!” or “Honey....?” For me this translates into a feeling of being constantly on call. There just doesn’t seem to a be a moment where I just fold deeply into myself and ruminate.


But, I’m not here to complain. I just wanted to take a few moments to cheer on the fact that yet again this year, we will be not going back to school. And I’m here to jump up and down and express my extreme happiness for the personal growth I’ve experienced simply by being fortunate enough to be surrounded by good friends.


Some of you may remember that I was part of this awesome home school group called PALS Enrichment Programs. Many of you may remember that we moved back to Pittsburgh from London because we simply could not see home educating Winston without such a group around us. So, it was very hard to be forced to leave this group after giving three years of significant time, energy and financial resources. But - to me - a socially healthy environment is the first and foremost reason to home school. So, given that I was unable to provide leadership to allow for this, I had to go.


How fantastic! Community is what you make it. You don’t need a 501 C3 tax-exempt status, rent a fancy building, or insurance to facilitate your child’s whims and notions. You need some Mamas and Daddies who care about listening to their children and figuring out a way to meet those needs.


And, WOW! I’m lucky. Last year, I asked Winston what his educational objectives for the year were. He said, “Magic.” I rolled my eyes and said, “Great” in a rather snippy tone of voice. One year later, thanks to a homeschooling Mama friend, we are opening the “School Of Magic” next Friday.


Children are profoundly intuitive creatures. They are amazing. I can’t believe I wasted an entire year on a rigid, unhealthy home schooling group only to wake up an embrace my son’s genius. My friend, C, started talking about “what will we do” when we realised we couldn’t return - in good conscience - to PALS.


“I dunno,” I said.


“What does your unstopping day look like?” she asked.


“Not what I want it to look like,” I said.


“I know what you are saying, sister,” she said. “Mine only wants to study magic.”


“I know!” I said. “WTF! Next year is testing year for us! I can’t work with this.”


“I think I’m going to go with it,” she said. (Insert here that the backyard of her house leads out to a magnificent forest with a crazy amount of wild edibles that she has been studying.) “I think I’d like to offer and herbology class.”


“Cool, we’ll be there!”


Two days later, I call her on the phone. When she answers, I screech, “EVERYTHING IS MAGIC!” Wizards, witches, shamans...they were scientists. They observed and recorded the world around them. They experimented. They failed and succeeded and recorded their experiments. A School Of Magic is the School Of Life! This is why we are home educating our children. We want them to have fun, observe, record, fail, try and generally soak up all of the magic around them everyday!”


And so it begins after a few e-mails to some friends asking whether they thought their kids might be interested in hanging out, hiking through the woods, gathering herbs, making potions, blowing stuff up and talking about some “famous wizards”, our School Of Magic opens next Friday.


Next up - I gotta work on this trusting my child to be a self-directed learner thing. Educational objective = magic? Yup, sure ‘nuf. I’m just sorry it took me a year to figure it out.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Big Brains At A Box

for Tom Hesse

connect
only the minds
wireless. hum
the ozone. buzz

and blitz
never slick

with humidity pouring oil
out of pores. or hair

on the shoulder of a blazer,
a fleck of dandruff betraying

anything personal.
surrenders, a body releases

everything. like the way

a motorcycle crash
softens and cracks the bones

that could manipulate a keyboard.
a keyboard which connects

a heart that pumps thoughts
into nerves endings fed

by thumping muscle,
to the big brains at a box

silently pounding
LOL or OMG

everything poured out of a body
you never touched

with hands. only eyes on
a status message.

away means for good this time.
none of the brains

programmed it exactly
this way. clean. dry. electric.

NOTE: Today, I find this modern world very perplexing. Norman's co-worker made his transition last night. He never met this person. They all worked together in their virtual office. But, the loss is deeply real and made even weirder because his IM status says he is just "away." Having a hard time wrapping my brain around this one.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Husband Plays Video Games

the toilet is weeping.
i just found obscure lyrics connecting
my past to a profound silly word. hard
drive and what the hell
does googol mean anything
anymore? it helps me forget.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Thoughts on "Schooled" by Gordan Korman

a book which makes me question the intersections between home education, capitalism and community

No Spoilers

Meandering through a bookstore, a bright yellow book entitled “Schooled” caught my eye. I pick it up, turn it over and begin to read the summary. The main character, Capricorn (Cap) Anderson is a homeschooled boy who has never watched television, tasted pizza or heard of a wedgie. He has been raised on a commune by his Grandmother, Rain. But, Rain falls out of a Plum tree and breaks her hip. Placed in foster care for the duration of her recovery, Cap suddenly finds himself placed in 8th grade in a modern American middle school.

I decide to buy it. I’m very curious about how the author is going to treat this subject. This is the first book I’ve encountered with a homeschooled child as a primary character. Let me rephrase that. This is the first book in which a philosophy of home education contributes to the circumstances surrounding a homeschooled primary character. For example, the poor children in the Lemony Snickett books are home educated, but, nobody addresses this fact. It is just the way in which their lives are being lead.

I bought this book even though I was well prepared to be offended by it. The circumstances are stereotypical. The first question most people ask home educating parents is, “What about socialisation.” For this reason, the book already had a strike against it. Isolated, sheltered child with no socialisation gets thrown out into the big wide world. To quote the book jacket, “Right from the beginning, Cap’s weirdness makes him a moving target at Claverage Middle School.”

Suddenly, here is a book in a major bookstore with a homeschooled primary character. When I decided to purchase a book which I was sure to offend me it was also because another question nagged at me. Are we, the homeschooling community, being viewed as a market by the publishing community. And if so, what message are they trying to send us?

These days, it sure feels that way. The resources available to home educators in my local community seem to indicate that we are being viewed as a fantastic new market. (Not that I am complaining, it is nice to have such affordable educational opportunities for my son.) Sixteen years ago, I was hard pressed to find any secular educational and social opportunities for my daughter. Today, my son attends classes just for home educated children at the Natural History Museum, Science Centre, The First Tee Of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium. He participates in all of these activities, in addition to the more organic, community driven enrichment classes provided by our largest resource, PALS Enrichment Programs. And still, everyday, some new tutor who wants “to serve the homeschooled community” pops up offering their services.

So, I am leery of a book with a home educated character. I want to know exactly what the publishing industry thinks of us. I also want to know what they want from us. With home education on the rise, I can only assume that people think they’ve found a jackpot. From the outside, we must seem like an incredible market. More and more these days, American children are moving towards electronic stimulation.

On-line video games, Ipods, portable game machines and home entertainment centres dominate the landscape of children’s free time. A child today never has to crack a book for entertainment unless their parent has strict requirements about screen time. Who is left to buy these crazy archaic blocks of text which demand some amount of brain engagement and imagination? These things are heavier than a Wii remote; take more energy to consume; and worse, are made from trees.

Well the answer to that question is a bunch of radicals who are either right or left of centre. Both groups seem to be willing to make sacrifices for their children on behalf of their education. Both groups seem to have some sort of ideology which is important to them. But, one group - the one a little left of centre - seems to value critical thinking, pursuit of knowledge and logic. You can sell more books to a group like this, after all, they are willing to look objectively at anything you try to offer them.

So, I open the book and begin to read. By chapter three, I am feeling more forgiving towards the author. Right around chapter twelve, I begin to understand that the author would be unable to advance the plot without the stereotypical nature of Cap’s upbringing. I also realise that it has a distinct head nod towards Christianity. A clear Jesuit affirmation of “Give me the boy until he is seven and I will give you the man.” I’m okay with that, part of me buys into that idea.

My own personal experience of homeschooling 19 years ago validates this thought. My firstborn was not raised in isolation. She was, however raised among people of like minds. Because we allowed a certain amount of media and awareness of society at large, she was not quite as out of her depth as Cap. However, her transition to a mainstream school had some intersections with the way in which Cap navigates his new circumstance.

From chapters 20 until 30, I began to understand the way in which the author attempts to serve both communities of homeschoolers. Cap becomes Jesus. It isn’t until the final chapter - chapter 31 - that the author chooses no alternative side. he chooses the mainstream - with boundaries, balance, limits and a head nod to staying true to your beliefs.

I am still left with questions. I am still trying to figure out who the publishing industry thinks they want to serve. The book is a delicious tightrope walk between conflicting ideologies.

I enjoyed the read. I do not regret buying the book. I only hope they can do further investigation into reality and portray us accurately in the future. Standing on the fence and then falling into the mainstream does nobody any good whatsoever.