Fiction must stick to facts, and the truer the facts the better the fiction...so we are told.

Virginia Woolf
A Room of One's Own


Human happiness, the happiness of writers...questions by which we, in our age, seem enthralled...do not enter these pages.

What is important, what is essential, is that works of genius be created. In that writers' unhappiness interferes with their creation, one should be concerned with the happiness of writers. The important thing is that they must express reality; they must express their genius, not themselves. They must illuminate their own souls, but they must not allow the souls to get in the way of reality. For pitted against reality, against the great tradition of immortal literature, the self is puny; it is of no interest.

Mary Gordon, in the Foreword of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own


hillary: i see you

Two Days until Election Day

Well, I’m nearing the end of my hillary: i see you art practice, but it’s okay. It’s time to move on to a less structured practice. It’s also time to get back to submission projects that have become victims of my distraction with the election. I mean, I’m a political junkie and the campaign process has taken over much of the passionate focus I have. Probably because this election represents two distinct sides. One side stands for inclusion and decency and the other divisiveness and fear. I’m strongly anti-divisiveness and fear. And, friends, it’s time to take a stand. It’s time to choose. Love or hate. Hope or fear. Energized for good or anxious with anger.

And what about that?

Almost daily now, the news has a segment on people’s anxiety. They’re sick and tired, journalists say. They’re depressed. I get it. Trump and his surrogates exhaust and stress me out too. And I’ve had to stop and ask myself why his run for office makes me feel so blue.

Here’s the answer…

From the start, Trump and his surrogates have gotten away with spewing bad ideas, irresponsible policies, conspiracy theories, and lies. But the bullying and suggestions of violence toward Hillary Clinton and her supporters is absolutely intolerable. And it matters. It matters to all of us. Because when certain groups become targets—the way we’ve seen people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, or those practicing a religion other than Christianity, or practicing no religion at all, become targets—one must ask who will be next. I’d say, very clearly, that women have become the most recent target. All because we’re seeking equal representation at the highest level.

And here, I won’t mince words: I’m NOT sick and tired of listening to Hillary Clinton and her surrogates call out the bigotry, racism, ageism, and misogyny being spewed by Team Trump. In fact, I want to hear more of it. From anyone and everyone.

So, let me tell you a story…

Earlier this week my mother and I stumbled into an odd verbal altercation between a young man and woman outside a local café. They seemed to be in an argument, but they weren’t yelling, or even talking much. Facial expressions gave away their contempt for one another. Abruptly, the interaction ended when the man turned and disappeared down the sidewalk. The woman, however, stayed near the café, leaning on her car, talking on her phone. I commented to my mom that she might have called the police, and within minutes, an officer did pull up. The woman pointed him in the direction the man had gone, and once the officer left, the woman also drove away.

All the people on the outdoor patio of the café breathed a sigh of relief. The situation had ended and we could go about enjoying the great weather, sipping drinks, and chatting. But twenty or so minutes later, my mom and I would be on the receiving end of the man’s harassment.

As the man approached, we were both somewhat prepared. The patio had cleared out and I had two eyes on him. My mom went on alert when I got quiet and made a face. Somehow, I knew he was going to engage us. I just sensed it. I ran through what he could possibly say. Would he ask for money? Food? Is that what he’d been trying to get from the other woman?

Feeling protective of both myself and my mother, I watched him, watching me. He was clean-cut, wore nice clothes, carried an expensive-looking backpack. He was tall, lean, muscular. As my fight-or-flight mechanism kicked in and my adrenal soared, I knew—again sensing it—that he wasn’t in need of money or food. Instead, he had an agenda. His expression said so—aggressive, hostile, determined. When he stopped short of our table, I relaxed a smidge and let him speak first.

“Did you see what just happened with that woman? Did you see her accusing me? She thinks I was taking photos of her daughter.”

His voice betrayed his anger, and when we said we didn’t want to get involved, he took a step toward our table, interrupting us, raising his voice. “I’m telling you I didn’t do that. Did you see?”

I deepened my own voice and told him he needed to move along. This excited him and his hostility grew. He rambled on. I interrupted him and told him he needed to leave us alone. We didn’t want to talk to him. His face got red, but he took a few sidesteps away from us. Then he turned and pointed at us. “I told you my story. I told you!” He repeated this over and over.

This sent me to my cell phone. If need be, I would also dial the police. And he knew it. His face flushed again and his expression hardened. He leaned forward, body tense, like he wanted to pounce. “What are… What are you going…”

He trailed off and somehow gained enough composure to walk away. He ended up inside the café. We ended up leaving. We also called the café and told them the entire story so they could be on alert.

Now, an interesting side note is that as this was going down a middle-aged man had exited the café. He was obviously leaving, but according to my mom, he stopped and waited. I hadn’t noticed—I was so focused on our harasser—but I think it was incredibly kind of this gentleman to wait in the wings, in case the kid threatened us further or wouldn’t heed our warning to, well, fuck off. Thank you to this kind stranger.

And now to the point….

When it comes to the story between the woman who called the police and the angry kid, who knows what the truth is. Maybe he had been taking photos—they could or could not have been of the woman’s daughter. He seemed to be a tourist and there was a park full of interesting sights and kids across the street. But here’s the bottom line, men can NOT address women in this manner. EVER. There’s just some basic biological differences that make aggressive behavior like this more intimidating and scary for women. No matter who we are, where we come from, or what we look like.

Here’s what I mean…

In junior high, there was a tough girl who became the target of bullying on our bus ride home each day. I’ll call her Everygirl.

Everygirl was African-American and lived on the so-called wrong side of the tracks. She was new to our bus route and school and wore a serious expression from day one. Everygirl was also tall, with a sturdy frame. She looked strong. She looked like she wouldn’t take any shit. This must have presented as a challenge for some of the smart-ass Eddie Haskell types on our bus because they began to tease her. I didn’t sit near them, so I don’t know what they said, but they did get Everygirl to react. She’d toss insults back, mouth off, and on occasion, puff up on them.

Good for her, I thought. After all, these boys had teased me a time or two. Making fun of my crooked teeth, then my braces. According to them, I was on the Itty Bitty Titty Committee. While So-and-So was the Rocky Mountains, I was the Great Plains. Also, it was weird and gay of me to like The Cure when Van Halen was the band to worship. I’d landed a few good comebacks in my time, but mostly I’d laugh it off or ignore it. Because I could handle it. I got better grades than those boys and I had okay self-esteem. But just okay. And some days, the things they said hurt. So, I made a decision.

Every day it’s possible, I told myself. I’ll smile at Everygirl if she makes eye contact me.

I knew it wouldn’t be often—Everygirl mostly kept her head down while getting on and off the bus. And my opportunities would only come on the bus. She was a year ahead of me in school and I rarely saw her in the halls. Still, I wanted Everygirl to know I felt her pain, recognized her power, and understood her endurance.

Now, that may sound noble and mature of me, but truthfully I was scared shitless to do it and really didn’t know, if, when the opportunity came, I’d be able to go through with it. The thing was, I’d noticed that Everygirl had developed a dislike for some of the older, white girls on the bus, even exchanging harsh words with a few. Also, she’d once given my friend and me a (very) dirty look for sitting in a seat we didn’t know she’d claimed. It occurred to me that Everygirl might see my smile as sarcasm and put me in the same category as the others she disliked. Or the older girls might see me smiling at her and give me a hard time.

In the end, I didn’t get to smile or even grin at Everygirl more than a few times. Because in the end, she stopped coming to school.

It happened over a matter of weeks. First, the situation with the boys escalated when a boy pushed her and she threatened to hit him with her umbrella. The bus driver stepped in and some kids vouched for her and others for the boy. From then on, the teasing almost always had a physical element and a couple of boys, who picked on girls exclusively, had mastered subtle aggression. Flicking a bit of paper at her, touching her shoulder or her hair. Everygirl tried to ignore them, but sometimes, maybe on a bad day at school, she’d threaten to kick their asses. The bus driver reported all this to the school and our Vice Principal got on our bus one day and told us all to cool it. We had several calm days on the bus, but the bullying started again in drips and drabs. Soon, Everygirl chose a seat near the bus driver. Her serious expression turned to a look of defeat. And sadness. And then she was… Gone.

Was it the bullying? Or did her family situation make it hard to do well and/or stay in school? I didn’t know. But I did know that even if her family situation made it hard to attend school, the bullying on the bus only made it harder. And on occasion, from the bus window, I’d see her in front of her house. Once, taking out the garbage. That day the boys saw her too and yelled from the window. That’s when I wondered…

Why hadn’t the physical bullying been a bigger deal to the bus driver and VP, both men? If it’d been me—a smallish, middle-class, white girl—would they have stepped in from the beginning, the Umbrella Moment, and told those boys that aggressive behavior toward anyone, especially girls, was unacceptable? What I was asking myself was…

Was it the kind of girl Everygirl was that made the adults think they didn’t need to do more to make the situation right?

Was it the kind of girl Everygirl was that made those boys think their disgusting behavior wouldn’t harm her, and ultimately, was okay?

Look, here’s the thing. Because our physicality is so closely tied to our mentality, if any victim—consciously or subconsciously—believes they’re less physically powerful than their aggressor, they’re more likely to back down from a non-physical but heated interaction. But here’s the other thing…

Racism, bigotry, misogyny—these ugly attitudes have a unique affect on girls and women. Because when girls or women become the target of racist, bigoted, or misogynistic slurs or behavior our actual physical worth comes into question. We may look, sound, or act tough, but deep inside we aren’t just questioning if we can win the fight, we’re questioning whether we deserve to win the fight.

I’d say that’s what happened to Everygirl. And I think that’s what happened to my mom and me. The proof? The harassers stayed right where they were while Everygirl and my mom and I fled the scene.

So, I’ll say it again. The time has come. The time has come to stop being blue and start voting blue. All the way down the ticket, please. At the very least, go blue at the Presidential level. Go blue and make Hillary Clinton the 45th President of the United States. Consider it a do-over for all the fights we walked away from, for all the fights we should’ve stayed for, for all the fights we deserved to win.


hillary: i see you

Four Days until Election Day & I'm still obsessed with the

The Forty-Five Pin Project

What Is It: 
A campaign button collection that includes 
29 large pins & 16 sets of smaller pins (not shown)

Who Made Them: 
Artists & Graphic Designers supporting HRC for President

Why Did I Buy This:
It's clever, makes me smile, and backs both my candidate AND artists...
in other words, gongoozler art love at first sight
(click on the link above to view the full collection & each artist)


conversations with max & zan

We grew up in the 70s. Came of age in the 80s.
It was rad. So rad, we often talk about how rad it all was.

So you know, we edit, but never censor. Not language or ideas or emotion.

In this edition: Elections, Inclusion, and Trumpkinhead

Zan: It’s fall! Yesterday was Halloween! And we’re exactly one week away from Election Day.

Max: Yep.

Zan: And I was thinking… Remember the 1988 horror flick, Pumpkinhead? Wouldn’t it be great to modernize it and retitle as Trumpkinhead - A Giant Orange-faced Puppet?

Max: Oh, that’s good.

Zan: It’d be funny, but not. Like our current election. Do you remember any elections from the 80s?

Max: Of course! My mom made me help her campaign for Mondale/Ferraro.

Zan: Are you serious? That’s amazing.

Max: Imagine how wonderful things would be if they had won.

Zan: For one thing, the topic of equality would’ve advanced more quickly.

Max: Exactly.

Zan: So, what kind of campaigning did you do?

Max: Mostly door-to-door. I was twelve and handed out information on who to call if the person needed a ride to vote.

Zan: Grassroots efforts. That's so…now. Did you consider yourself a feminist, a liberal?

Max: No. I knew what those things were, but… I don’t know. My mom was negatively impacted by her feminism when she stood up with women who were victims of work-place discrimination. They won, but that story followed her from job to job. Well, it followed her from job interview to job interview. For years she couldn’t find work, which was hard on us. Really hard. Anyway, I was sent out, alone, to canvas the neighborhood and ask for votes. I didn’t think about being liberal or feminist—though I was both. I feel like my mom only included me to impress the other people campaigning. And most of our neighbors were African-American and they were voting for Reagan—kind of surprising, thinking back on that—so I felt discouraged.

Zan: Holy shit for her! And double holy shit for you!

Max: Now, of course, I know why I’m liberal.

Zan: Why?

Max: My son. There’s a lot of bullshit out there to influence him to join the “us versus them” movement. Like any teen, he’s on the Internet a lot and I worry he’ll stumble upon Trump trolls that preach prejudice or tell him he doesn’t have a place in this world anymore. You and I both know what that feels like—being different and feeling like there isn’t a place for us. In the end, I’m lucky. My kid will ask questions and I can talk him, knowing he’ll retain what I say. I just have to hope he uses my advice when the time comes. Why are you liberal?

Zan: That exact thing you just mentioned—inclusion. It’s innate in me to be inclusive, search for solutions, and support ideas that make things better for everyone, not just the few. In my experience, having those goals can be messy and create opposition, because to include everyone takes a large mechanism. As I grew up and learned about politics, I saw one party—Republicans—calling the large mechanism “big government”. For as long as I remember, my gut instinct has been to say, “Big government? I love big government. It’s for everyone.” I won’t drag the conversation down with how so-called big government can and should work. Instead, I’ll just add that my first memory of an election is Carter/Reagan ‘80. Our class held a mock-election and I was deeply conflicted. My family supported Reagan. Some interesting, smart, and admirable kids in my class supported Carter. In the end, I cast my ballot for Reagan, but as we watched Election Day coverage at school, I secretly rooted for Carter. He lost and I felt sad. I couldn’t name my disappointment then.

Max: Can you name it now?

Zan: Yeah. Easily. Ronald Reagan invoked fear as a campaign tool. At least for me, a third grader, the way he talked about nuclear war read as fear-mongering. And I knew fear. In my house it took on another form...fear of others. Which is really the same fear as Reagan's we-must-stop-foreign-nations-or-we'll-have-war fear. I knew behind the nations were people and Reagan was suggesting that those people were the enemy. That seemed ugly to me, and what I saw at home...family members making racist or sexist slurs...looked ugly. And I didn’t want to be ugly. I didn’t want to be fear-full. And that notion of us-against-them had me looking around at my classmates. There were girls as smart and capable as boys. Boys as sensitive and gentle as girls. Kids with different skin tones and socio-economic status, kids with disabilities. Different was everywhere. And these kids weren’t my enemies. They were my friends. We were in it together. It seemed so simple. It is so simple. Which is why Trump for President really does sound like a scary movie?

Max: Trumpkinhead – A Giant Orange-faced Puppet is a better title. So what’s this horror flick about?

Zan: I’m not sure. You love this genre, so you can help. Do you remember Pumpkinhead?

Max: It’s been a long time. Let me look it up. Okay. I’m googling it. Okay. Oh yeah. Pumpkinhead is conjured as revenge. So, just like Donald Trump. And that’s a good place to start. Meaning, who unleashes Trumpkinhead? Someone who wants revenge on America, right? Or someone who wants revenge on some modern idea? Someone like a meninist.

Zan: Meninist? As in anti-feminist? Did you make that up?

Max: Sadly, no. It’s a real thing. An ignorant thing.

Zan: That is sad. But I like the feminist angle. It suits us. What if we brand our Trumpkinhead conjurer something more obvious though? Like, we can call him an inthekitchenist.

Max: Sexist and humorous. I like it.

Zan: And Trumpkinhead’s conjurer is hurt, angry. His pain is real, but his head is clouded. Like a pumpkin—full of pulpy cobwebs and seeds. Of ideas. But nothing useful. It’s too damp and dark in there and he’s too angry to sort through his thoughts and take responsible action. So, like Pumpkinhead’s plot, the one who summons Trumpkinhead is confused and action comes in the form of gruesome revenge.

Max: What’s he angry about?

Zan: He’s an inthekitchenist, so when his dinner is burned because his wife isn’t paying attention, he flips out. She’s doing something important, but he doesn't get it. Let's see, what important thing can she be doing?

Max: Scratch the wife cooking. The inthekitchenist is cooking his own dinner. Because his wife has left him. She wanted to go back to school and he said no.

Zan: He said, “Over my dead body.”

Max: Right. And his kids are grown and don’t come to visit anymore. He’s alone. In the kitchen. Mumbling things like, “It’s this feminazi bullshit. This woman card crap. ‘But I need more education, so I can get ahead,’ she says. More education my ass. And where does she need to get ahead to? She doesn’t need to get ahead to take care of her family. To take care of me.”

Zan: Right. That’s the crux of the male Trump supporter too. He feels left out, left behind, and not just by his wife or kids, millennials, but by any one who looks or thinks differently than him. They're all moving up in the world and he thinks nobody cares for him anymore.

Max: But we do care for him. A lot. We care a lot for everyone.

Zan: Right. But as I said, his hurt manifests as seething anger and confuses him. So, instead of looking inward and trying to grow as a person or join the movement forward, the movement of inclusion, he lashes out. Everyone becomes the enemy. And now he's burned his goddamn dinner.

Max: And as the kitchen fills with smoke, he coughs and curses. Behind him a pumpkin his wife carved before she left sits on the counter and election coverage is on the television.

Zan: And the inthekitchenist fans the smoke, but it doesn’t stop the smoke detector from sounding. Inthekitchenist becomes enraged. He’s throwing things and ranting and raving. So much so that he doesn’t notice the blue glow of the television shift from the screen to the face of the pumpkin, where it becomes an orange glow.

Max: And suddenly the alarm silences and the pumpkin speaks.

Max: And then what happens?

Zan: Well, we’ve seen this movie. We know how it ends.

Max: True. But the vote could save us.

Zan: Yes. The Vote.

Max: Yes. If we get the vote, I think we’re going to be okay.

Zan: We are going to be okay, aren’t we, Max?

Max: As long as Trumpkinhead is the last of his kind. As long as some genius doesn’t decide to make versions two through four, like with the movie Pumpkinhead.

Zan: Right. But even if there are more of him, people will know better than to buy a ticket, right?

Max: Yes, now people know better than to pay attention to a pumpkin-headed puppet.