Saturday, November 8, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014 / Flood the Street with Art!

Image via Words On Images

Imma make this short and sweet 'cause I'm 60 words behind on yesterday's word goal for NaNoWrimo and I need to get on that while Henry's napping.

Speaking of which, NaNoWriMo is going well. I've been exceeding my word goals except for the past couple days when getting a bit of a cold has slowed me down. Hoping to catch up today, but we'll see what happens! Also, I'm thinking that my book might end up not reaching 50,000 total words if the story arc completes its self before then. I guess I'll just find out! Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, what's your novel about?

I also want to take a moment to invite all artists everywhere to join me in Flood(ing) the Street with Art! this November 28. Like Buy Nothing Day, Flood the Street with Art! is a movement against the commercialism of Black Friday. The idea is for artists everywhere to literally fill our streets with art that's been left out for anyone to find and take home with them. I love this because it's a positive action instead of a negative one like Buy Nothing Day (although I also support that!). Find out more about how you can be part of this on their FB event pages; they have one for the whole world and one for local MO/KS artists.

Related Links:
No Purchase Necessary
A Novel Accomplishment
NaNoWriMo 2013 Wrap-Up (A Little Early)
NaNoWriMo 2010 Wrap-Up & More!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Getting Ready for Another NaNoWriMo!

I've decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, once again this year. And this time I'm determined to complete a first draft within the time allotted! I'm in a much better place for that than I've been in past years,because lately I've actually been doing writing exercises!

A 3 year old friend of Henry's gave me a set of Rory's Story Cubes a bit ago. Lately I've been using them I as a daily writing exercise! The story cubes, if you don't know, are essentially a set of 9 picture dice that are meant to inspire story telling games. The set I have is the 'voyages' theme so it has lots of unusual objects and creatures.

I've been hand-writing these exercises, and I intend to hand-write during NaNoWriMo as well. I used to always hand-write my first draft and then type the second one. I feel a return to that habit well get my creative juices flowing better.

And I also have a kick-as fantasy plot ready for this second novel if mine. I can't wait to get started!

Related posts:
A Novel Accomplishment
My Goal for NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo 2013 Wrap-Up (A Little Early) NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up and More! (2012)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Let's Talk about ALL THE THINGS!

Lots of things on my mind to share today, so I'm just gonna get to it...

Marriage Momentum
Can you believe the awesomeness that is #MarriageMomentum?! Same sex marriage is becoming legal in so many places! Even in KANSAS! I mean, what!? It's so great! Missouri is at least recognizing same sex marriages performed in other states, but I'm shocked that Kansas beat us to fully granting them. Happily shocked. And jealous!

Blog Action Day
For the first time in I-don't-know-how-many years, I missed posting on Blog Action Day. But you can check out the bloggers who did write about inequality on the Blog Action Day site.

Young Feminist Leaders
It's fantastic seeing young women at the forefront of social change being represented in the media in such positive ways! Kudos to Emma Watson for her work with the United Nations and to Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai for her tireless activism!

It's On Us
FINALLY a campaign that addresses the source of rape and assault issues. FUCK YEAH! I'm stoked about this campaign and the way that dialogues about feminism are changing in our society. It's about damn time ^_^

Parents as Teachers
I'm loving this program! Henry just started it this semester. Not only do we get a monthly home visit, but we also get access to all kind of special free events (most recently the Zoomobile, and there's a pumpkin patch event tomorrow), special toys and books, play dates and more. It's such a great resource.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library
Through Parents as Teachers, I discovered and enrolled Henry in the Imagination Library, which sends KC-area kids, ages 5 years old and below, a free book each month. Henry's first one just arrived earlier this week. He received "The Little Engine Who Could." He really likes it and I love seeing the pictures that I remember from when I was a child. (But the story is way more repetitive than I remember. I admit, I leave out quite a bit when I read it to him.)

Royals Going to the World Series
WAY TO GO ROYALS! This hasn't happened since I was like 3. Which is probably why I lost all interest in baseball... But I'm still glad they're winning for a change. 

Related posts:
Love and Civil Rights
Blog Action Day: Stop Forced Evictions in Kenya
Lawrence Lessig on the Problem with American Politics
2 Must-Read Posts on Steubenville

Monday, October 6, 2014

Kansas City Regional Equity Network's 3rd Annual Summit

On Saturday, I attended the 3rd annual summit of the Kansas City Regional Equity Network. The summit's focus was Social Equity & Transportation. I'd never heard of the Equity Network before, but seeing as I'm deeply interested in the topics they would be covering, I thought I'd go and see what happened. I'm so glad I dids!

The KC Regional Equity Network is a group of "change makers" pulling together to make our region a place where everyone can connect to the resources and opportunities they need to learn, grow and prosper. The Equity Network is concerned with the following issues: education, housing, environment, land use, development, healthy communities, transportation, and workforce development.

As I mentioned previously, this summit was focused on social equity and transportation. There was a keynote speaker, followed by a panel discussion, and ending with break-out groups. Some of the issues raised included:

  • youth culture's preference for walkable communities
  • potential changes & upgrades to public transit
  • the need for a regional transit plan/system
  • the need for community voices in transit planning
  • potential policy changes esp. re: low-income housing and tax abatement
  • connections between jobs and transit opportunities
  • the need to re-invest in city areas that have been abandoned
  • the need for mixed-use communities and mixed-use housing
So many ideas were flying and people were so energized! I was really glad I attended.

I think the Equity Network really has a good thing going. I appreciate how their focus on equity covers so many problem areas in our region. I feel like this is an organization that I can get behind 100% and expect to see results!

I plan to attend their quarterly meeting in November and see how I can say involved from there. This is a group I DO NOT want to lose touch with!

Related posts:
I Want to Ride My Bicycle
Vintage Transit (Video)
How I Fell In Love with Alternative Transportation
How to Live Car-Free in the Midwest

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Event Pics: 2014 Kansas City Chalk & Walk Festival

I finally got around to editing my pics from this weekend, so get ready!

My gal pals and I had decided to all draw Thomas Hart Benton paintings, in keeping with the "What Makes KC Great?" theme - one of three the festival had this year. And, like I said before, I chose "Romance," which I kind of regret ONLY because there was a lot of brown in the image that was nearly the same color as the bricks! It was hard to make it POP like I wanted it to.

Henry came with me Saturday, and stayed from 9 AM-4:30 PM with barely a fuss. It was awesome! At first he enjoyed "helping" Mama draw...

...but then he decided to hop around and enjoy the wide open space. He spent the rest of the day either playing with Angry Birds on my tablet, Pre-K apps on my phone, or running and hopping about being adorable.

Despite the gorgeous weather and Henry's cuteness, I was not really into drawing on Saturday. Maybe because 2 of my girlfriends who are usually there were out of town. Or maybe because I started off coloring the brown parts which didn't look at all exciting. Either way, I perked up when my Older Brother #2 showed up and helped me start laying down the sky colors. I felt much cheerier about my piece after that.

This is what I had at the end of the day, plus dirty knees, and a very tired toddler.

Sunday was another beautiful day. I got started adding more shading and color over what I'd done the previous day, before moving on to finish drawing the figures, etc. My friend Darcy came by to help and hang out, but I somehow managed not to get any pictures of her! :O

Sooner than I expected, I was all finished up!

I was pretty happy with the results, but everyone else liked it better than me, I think.

After I finished, I got to see my friend Stacey making balloon animals for kids, and visit the Typewriter Oracle who'd write you a poem after you asked her a question.

 And, of course, I went around looking at all the other chalk drawings. I didn't get a lot of good pictures of other people's drawings, because by then it was that magic hour where the shade and sun were competing and lots of my pictures turned out just plain BAD. But here are the ones I managed to get (the first 3 are the Benton pieces my friends made).

Below are the featured 3D artists. I was jelly that they got to work on concrete instead of brick. It's so much easier to get vibrant color on concrete!

Oh, and I got a mention in the KC Star.

Did you make it out this weekend? If so, what did you think?

Related posts:
2013 Plaza Art Fair (Event Pics)
2013 KC Chalk & Walk Festival (Event Pics)
Event Pics: KC Chalk & Walk Festival (2012)
Event Pics: Chalk Walk in the Historic Northeast (2012)
Event Pics: SlutWalk / Chalk Drawing Demo
Event Pics: 2011 Chalk & Walk Festival

Friday, September 5, 2014

Don't Miss the 2014 Kansas City Chalk & Walk Festival!

Tomorrow (9/6/14) and Sunday are the Kansas City Chalk & Walk Festival at Crown Center! You won't want to miss it! I'll be re-creating "Romance," a painting by Thomas Hart Benton (and I hear there will be 7 other Bentons this year), which you can see below.

Lotti, the festival organizer, emailed me this great info on the painting:

A simple, yet charming, painting of a young couple in love. Be aware that when Benton painted this in the early 1930’s, public displays of affection between African-Americans were often illegal because of Jim Crow Laws. It was considered disgusting and shocking. But two people holding hands while walking in the moonlight has always occurred, and Benton recognized this. The original painting was owned by the author James Michener, who later donated it to the University of Texas Art Museum. 
Hope to see you there!

Related posts:
2013 KC Chalk & Walk Festival (Event Pics)
Event Pics: KC Chalk & Walk Festival (2012)
Event Pics: 6th Annual Chalk Walk in the Historic Northeast

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

We Need to Talk... About Race

I haven't talked about the murder in Ferguson of Michael Brown, mostly because it's part of such an enormous issue affecting our country that I felt utterly overwhelmed. I was happy to receive an email from my friend Janet, linking to the New York Times opinion piece by Charles M. Blow, "Constructing a Conversation on Race", because it gave me a mental starting point for thinking about all this.

For those who won't click through to read the entire article, here are some excerpts:

A true racial dialogue is not intra-racial but interracial. It is not one-directional — from minorities to majorities — but multidirectional. Data must be presented. Experiences must be explored. Histories and systems must be laid bare. Biases, fears, stereotype and mistrust must be examined. Personal — as well as societal and cultural — responsibility must be taken.

And privileges and oppressions must be acknowledged. We must acknowledge how each of us is, in myriad ways, materially and spiritually affected by a society in which bias has been widely documented to exist and in which individuals also acknowledge that it exists.


Understanding this fundamental inequality, one that trails each of us from cradle to grave, is one of the first steps to genuine, honest dialogue, because in that context we can better understand the choice that people make and the degree to which personal responsibility should be taken or the degree to which it is causative or curative.

And while acknowledging the inequality, and hopefully working to remedy it, we have to find ways to encourage and fortify its targets. I often tell people that while I know well that things aren’t fair or equal, we still have to decide how we are going to deal with that reality, today. The clock on life is ticking. If you wait for life to be fair you may be waiting until life is over. I urge people to fight on two fronts: Work to dismantle as much systematic bias as you can, as much for posterity as for the present, and make the best choice you can under the circumstances to counteract the effects of these injustices on your life right now. 

Next, understand that race is a weaponized social construct used to divide and deny... [W]e have tuned our minds to register this difference above all others, in the blink of an eye. As National Geographic reported in October, “A study of brain activity at the University of Colorado at Boulder showed that subjects register race in about one-tenth of a second, even before they discern gender.” This means that racial registration — and responses to any subconscious bias we may have attached to race — are most likely happening ahead of any deliberative efforts on our part to be egalitarian. (Source
I know that I certainly process race first when looking at strangers. We were at Independence Center with Henry last week and I noticed that when I scanned the crowd, I processed information on people in this order: race, age, and gender. It was the first time I'd been so conscious of how I mentally categorize people, and it shocked me.

On the other hand, I've been aware of the privileges afforded me based on having white skin for many years. I've seen first-hand how local cops will harass law-abiding black men, and every time I see 3 or 4 cop cars parked on the side of the road, I know I'll find a black man handcuffed and sitting on the curb somewhere in the midst of it. Meanwhile, if a white guy gets arrested, it's a one cop operation. My uncle used to say, sardonically, "Who likes being white?" when a white person would talk about issues with the cops that they got out of for "no apparent reason." Prisons aren't filled mostly with African-American men by accident...

In her email to me and others, Janet, after linking to the NYT piece, stated:

At one time in Kansas City there were four organizations of which I was aware that offered such interracial conversations during what Charles Blow calls “dormant” times: Panel of American Women, National Conference of Christians & Jews (later known as National Conference of Community & Justice or NCCJ), Project Equality and Harmony In a World of Difference (later known as Kansas City Harmony). After attempting to shift to becoming all volunteer, the Panel of American Women closed its doors shortly after Harmony In a World of Difference began in the late 1980’s, early 1990’s. The original Project Equality closed its doors in 2007. In 2005 NCCJ and Harmony merged to become Harmony NCCJ and then ceased to exist a few years later 2009 (?).

Except for consultants in private practice, I know of no organization whose specific purpose it is to help folks engage in interracial dialogue. High on my list of favorite ways to spend my time is facilitating folks to talk and engage across lines of difference and educating in ways to do so. I even got to do that in South Africa for a week ten years ago. Yes, there are folks who are doing projects “for”/”with” one another (such as gardening, cleaning up vacant lots, etc.) which is one valuable way to connect across lines of difference. My mantra about this is that facilitating and having interracial dialogue is a highly valuable component of healthily relating, one culture with another, and if not done up front can undermine what would have otherwise been good work.

If there are any folks out there who want to work to bring about such a program to provide dialogue and learning venues in the KC area, please contact me. (Personal email, 8/21/14)
You can get in touch with Janet regarding an inter-racial dialogue through her email at janetbridgeworks AT

Personally, I'm looking forward to taking part in an upcoming group reading of The New Jim Crow, which Janet is putting together.

I refuse to believe that these injustices cannot be righted. I believe future generations will look on back on these times as being a type of dark ages, and I'm doing all I can to bring on the Enlightenment!

Related posts:
Tony's Take on Racism in the Kansas City Area [Guest Post]
Racism in the Kansas City Area: 1900s - Present
Racism in the Kansas City Area: Western Expansion - 1800s
Racism in the Kansas City Area
Perception and Reaction to Racism Not Equal
Continuum of Acceptance
Black Inventors and their Inventions

Sunday, August 24, 2014

You Should Watch: That Mitchell and Webb Look

That Mitchell and Webb Look is a hilarious British sketch comedy show starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb. It offers both one-off and repeating characters/sketches that are witty, absurd, and often rather cheeky. I really like both the range of the characters as well as the absurdity of the ideas that Mitchell and Webb come up with.

Here's a selection of sketches to get you started. A few are NSFW...

You can watch all four seasons (aka series) of That Mitchell and Webb Look for free on Hulu and there are whole episodes on YouTube as well.

Related posts:
Wonderfalls (Watch This Show!)
You Should Watch: Misfits
You Should Watch: Coffee Prince
The Grim Reality Behind Sid the Science Kid

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Art, More Art & Robin Williams

This week's blog is a hodge podge of a few things I wanted to mention...

First off, be sure to SAVE THE DATE for the upcoming Kansas City Chalk & Walk Festival at Crown Center. This year it will be held September 6-7. I'll be re-creating a painting by famed local artist Thomas Hart Benton.

Secondly, Henry likes to have me color with him sometimes. We collaborated on this picture (below, left) the other day, and I was amused, a few days later, to see it was interestingly similar to a Kandinsky (below, right) that's in the Nelson-Atkins. Neat, ey?

Thirdly, I'm saddened by the death of Robin Williams. He was a delight to watch, and I'm grateful for the joy and laughter he brought with him. He'll be missed.

Related posts:
Event Pics: 2011 Chalk & Walk Festival
Event Pics: Chalk & Walk Festival (2012)
Event Pics: 6th Annual Chalk Walk in the Historic Northeast
2013 KC Chalk & Walk Festival (Event Pics)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Fantastic Summer Reading

Thanks to a toddler who prefers self-directed play, I've been able to read quite a lot of books this summer! Most of them, of course, are YA fantasy, cause it's my favorite genre. Here are some of the awesome books I've read and a bit about them.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City
The first two in a series by Ransom Riggs, these books are full of suspense, mystery, magic, and horror. The protagonist learns, after his grandfather's death, that the strange stories he told him weren't make-believe after-all. The discovery a race of 'peculiar' humans who have been living in hiding from everyone else takes him away from everything he knows - including his own era in history.

The Diviners
A thick novel set in 1920's New York City, where dark magic is awakening and people with special abilities (most of which are secrets) are the only hope for humanity's salvation. The novel follows a multitude of characters - from chorus girls and bookies to museum curators and flappers -  their interactions, secrets, and clashes. This is the first in a series and I can't wait until more books are published!

Doll Bones
A horror story as a coming-of-age story for 3 teens who are realizing that they're too old for the same old games they've been playing together. Their friendship is about to fall apart when they discover a doll, haunted by the ghost of her owner, and travel to her grave to put her to rest, despite all the challenges they meet along the way.

After: 19 Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia
This collection of stories focused on the teen experience of possible future horror, and I liked ALL of them... except for 2 that were written in "dialect." The stories were inventive and not quite like other end-of-the-world stories I've read before. I really enjoyed the variety.

Discordia: The 11th Dimension
This novel follows a teen who's obsessed with a RPG game, and who is magically transported to the dimensional world that it was based on. He has to quest to find his way home, and on the way he learns that he is more of a hero than he knew. Plus, he has a soul-bonded bunny as a pet, which is incredibly adorable.

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
This is an adorable story about a squirrel who dies after being sucked into a vacuum cleaner, is brought back to life by Flora, a young girl, who performs CPR on him, and through that gains new mental and physical abilities. He becomes a super hero squirrel! Flora must help protect him from her mother - his evil nemesis - who thinks he should be put in a bag and hit repeatedly with a shovel. Hijinks ensue.

What have you been reading this summer?

And just FYI - Henry had his first salon haircut this week. Check out Little Henry's Big Adventures to see pics!

Related posts:
Comics I've Been Reading Lately
Clive Barker's Absolute Midnight
Frank Beddor Re-Imagines Alice In Wonderland
2 Novels About Irishmen

Friday, August 1, 2014

What's In My Purse

I was catching up on one of my favorite fashion bloggers and she did a post about what was in her bag. It seemed fun so I'm copy-catting it. So, without further ado, here's what's in my purse:

1. Lotions - I've got the one store-bought lotion that I got last winter and haven't used up yet, and then I also have the small container of coconut oil as well.

2. The hand sanitizer I made.

3. Gum - The one on the left I bought when I wanted/needed gum and it was the only mint one the store I was in had. The one on the right is the type I prefer.

4. Car key with Chinese warrior key chain - How weird is it that I own a car now? (A hand-me-down from my parents.) The key chain is from my younger sister. She bought it in Xian when she worked & lived there.

5. Cell phone

6. Coin purse I use as a wallet.

7. Heart-shaped mirror that says "Daughter" - a birthday present from my mom.

8. Lip stuff - 2 lip glosses in my favorite colors and 2 lip balms (only one lives in my purse, the other one I have with me when I'm at home; the one in my purse is in case I forget to take the other one with me).

9. Pad of paper and pen for taking notes or writing down directions.

And then after I took that photo, I realized I didn't have my Stress Away essential oil in the picture cause I'd forgotten to put it back in my purse the other day. So here it is:

And there you have it! That's what's in my purse.

Related posts:
Style Inspiration: Fashion Bloggers
DIY Personal Care Products
Show and Tell: Vintage Children's Books