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My Life Right Now

Why we should give an eff about the protests in Sudan

As I’ve mentioned before, my sister recently got married–once in Sudan and once in San Francisco. She likes to really go for the gusto. A and I went to Sudan for wedding number one and met our new brother-in-law’s family and their 2,000 closest friends. I must say, after over a week of Sudanese wedding festivities, (these people reeeeeealllly like their weddings) I was walking on air. The singing, the dancing, the hugging and kissing. I could not say more than 3 words to the vast majority of the people I met and yet the outpouring of love and acceptance and humor and ease that I felt left me feeling like this was my family too.

Recently, as I was perusing El Face, (how my new Sudanese family refers to Facebook) I saw this from S, my new sister-in-law-in-law (what do you call the sister of your brother-in-law??!):

Hey, Facebook. Did you know that Sudan is still fighting for its freedom?

Well, I don’t know about you, El Face, but I sure didn’t. You see, I’m not really a international news person. Or a person who really knows much about the news in general. I figure that if it’s important enough to know, it will trickle down.

And then a couple days later, S posted this:

And so it seemed that this news was officially “trickling down.”

Thanks to a good old fashioned online chat with S tonight, I’ve got the lowdown.

Protesters of the totalitarian Sudanese government have been active since the beginning of the Arab Spring–you know, the whole wave of mass protests in late 2010/early 2011 forcing rulers from power in places like Egypt and Libya. The Sudanese government has been brutal in its crackdown–mass arrests, beatings and torture. After demonstrations on January 30, 2011, they arrested a bunch of people, including some close friends and family of my new Sudanese family, and they were kept in detention with no charges for around 20 days. Detainees were beaten, and tortured with “humiliation tactics” and electrocution.

Despite all that, protests have continued, and most recently, student protests that just started on June 16 have been gaining momentum. You can read this article if you want a good overview of what’s going on right now. And if you just want the essentials:

Locals have now joined the revolt, spurred by the student uprising, fueled by economic hardship, and provoked by the government’s ‘fiscal austerity’ program. The program, which was announced on Monday June 18, 2012 by President Omar al Bashir, includes a 60 percent and 40 percent increase in the respective prices of fuel and sugar and yet another tax hike.

So sounds to me like the 99% are trying to organize in opposition to a totalitarian government. And to be honest, if my wicked-smart sister-in-law-in-law and brother-in-law in solidarity with the protesters, then so am I.

This whole thing is reminding me of my student activism days. And how I learned that non-violent protest doesn’t effectively create social change unless a whole bunch of powerful people witness it. Well, turns out that this is not happening for #SudanRevolts yet:

It is uplifting to note that the momentum gained so far has continued despite the media blackout on Sudan’s revolt. The government has censored local coverage of protests and has detained all journalists attempting to report on the demonstrations, including AFP’s resident correspondent, Simon Martelli, who was arrested outside the University of Khartoum on Tuesday. The international media has also been slow to cover the recent wave of protests.

If there had been a media blackout during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, methinks civil rights might have gone down quite differently.

And while I may not be international media, BOOM, I’m covering it.

Wanna let the protesters in Sudan know that there are actually some folks in the outside world paying attention and supporting their struggle? Join these fine people:

Take a picture of yourself with the phrase “I live in ____ and I support #SudanRevolts.” Then post it to FB, Twitter, your blog, instagram, and the like. And if you want more news about what’s going on, check #SudanRevolts on Twitter.

In the mean time, I’m gonna get some sleep before J wakes up with the sun.

Until tomorrow, Sudan. I’m thinking about you.

How the mere idea of a root beer float can keep me going for weeks

I’ve wanted a root beer float for the past…oh…couple months. I do this thing where I come up with some sort of treat in my head and dangle the idea of it in front of myself like a motivational carrot–an edible happy hunting ground of sorts.  Sometimes I’ll actually buy the treat, a fizzy juice drink or some ice cream. But I won’t eat it. I just like knowing that it’s in the fridge if I need it. And it stays there for weeks. Months maybe. This is not due to healthy eating habits. I buy other sugary delights in the mean time and eat those. But there’s often a end-all-be-all treat that I compulsively keep in the untouchable category.

Why do I do this?

I guess part of it is that I like knowing that there’s a reserve supply of goodness that I can tap into when I REALLY need it. Oy vey. Are rootbeer floats (or is goodness) really in such short supply that I have to hoard the idea for months on end?

Today I chose to end the cycle. I treated myself. And it was fabulous.

What form of goodness have you been hoarding that you could easily give to yourself today?

Homesteading update: the status of my chicken and kale dreams

I’ve been craving more space for our little family. Daydreaming of 3 bedroom apartments with chickens in the backyard and a garage for our bikes. And then the universe promptly declared, “Put your money where  your mouth is, lady!” in the form of an unexpected and radical rent increase at our little cottage.

After recovering from my initial shock and terror, I realized that this was just the kick in the pants I needed to get moving. Nothing like the prospect of paying $700 more per month to motivate a hunt for new housing. So we’ve had to put the backyard chicken plan on hold for the time being. That is not to say that our coop isn’t getting plenty of use.

JoToddlerCoop

Please note the cool combo ladder/door that my naked child is playing with. I came up with the design and A hammered it out–this way, we don’t have to put out and then take away a separate ladder every time we open and close the door. What efficiency! That is, won’t that be efficient once we actually get chickens?

JoToddCoop

While our chicken aspirations are on hold, my kale dreams are coming true.

Perhaps I’ll go make myself a kale salad and go obsess over housing ads on Craigslist…

My faceless photo tribute to wedding season

I’ve been AWOL for the last few weeks because my sister got married. Again. She’s the one who went and had a wedding in Sudan back in November.

Photo by Terri Jirousek

So this was wedding #2. The California version. It was a super-glam, international peace fest.

This was in stark contrast to A’s and my wedding, nearly 7 years ago–a high mountain desert, home-grown affair, made even more complete by some serious weather drama.

My dear sister and I are both married off. Check and check. And now that I’m on the other side of all of the wedding dress fittings and family drama, I’ve been feeling relieved and a bit empty. Why do weddings engulf so completely and then wash away without a trace? It’s too much and then not enough. I miss having long-lost friends in town and events to dress up for at night. I miss thinking and talking about love too much and laughing over greasy pub food when I’m tipsy. But it’s also nice to be sitting on the couch in my goats t-shirt (I’m really into goats) and watching crappy tv. I needed a break from having heart-to-heart conversations with people I love every 5 minutes.

Happy wedding season, everyone.  They can lift us up, let us down, push us around, and then they are simply over.

p.s. Isn’t it kind of awesome how when you crop the faces out of photos they become more universal? Wanna add yours to the mix? Find a favorite wedding photo, crop the heads out and share it on my facebook page!

On discipline


If sleep was our million dollar question when we had an infant, discipline is the biggie now that we have a toddler. Since my initial love affair with time-outs in this post, I’ve decided that I want more options in my toolbox, and I’ve been trying other things I’ve been learning from reading the discipline chapter in Hold On to Your Kids. After a particularly despairing day, I’m casting out to see how you all think about discipline. How do you see the discipline strategies you use as fitting into your ongoing relationship with your kids?

p.s. There’s an awesome comment thread for this post at Get Born, a blog I write/video for.

On zen and the domestic arts


I spend most of my days doing housework. For the last 2 years, I’ve wrestled with what that means about my identity and value in the world. After my recent reality tv bender, I found that doing the dishes isn’t the worst thing on earth after all.

On priorities, the internet, and my jumpy, all-over-the-place brain


My latest challenge? Beginning and finishing a task. Between my toddler and the internet, I seem to be more distract-able than ever. How do you keep your focus with kids and the interweb and a million and one things seeking your attention?