Saturday, November 21, 2009

Once upon a time...

Right now, my boy is sitting beside me with a small whiteboard and a bajillion questions.

"How do you spell dinosaur in cursive?"
"How do you spell perfect in cursive?"
"Did I write that right?"
"Can you write my name in cursive?"
"Why does the G look like that?"
"I'm drawing a sandbox."

A little scattered, maybe disjointed to the casual observer, but not really. His mind is jumping all over the place, but I can follow.

"Look, Mom, the eraser got rid of everything. Now it's growing back. The ground. People. Plants. Street lights. Back came the grass."

He's telling me a story, from start to finish. It all started with a sandbox and a sand kicker who kicked so much sand that the whole world went away; but when the sand kicked died, the world came back. Gav's drawing the return of the world and narrating it.

"The sun came back. The sky."

The sun has spikes coming from it, they're "sunbeams." The sky is a scribble along the top of the page.

"Here's people."

Three stick figures appear. A tall one and two short ones.

"How do you spell family?"

I write it down, and he copies it along the top of the white board, right under the sky.

"This is a family. It's a dad and two kids."

"Where's the mom?"

"She went to Canada."

"Why did she go to Canada?"

"She's coming back December fourth."

Before I could pose my next question, he ran the eraser over the picture and wrote gone.

"They went to visit her. They didn't want to wait."

When Gav's taking things apart with a hammer, when he's laughing hysterically at Spongebob, or when he's giving me an innocent look and the words "I wasn't thinking," I glance at the husband and tell him that there's no doubt in my mind that he is that boy's father. When I go in to kiss Gav goodbye before going to work, I marvel at how much he looks like his dad -- from facial expression to sleeping position. There's not much about him, at first glance, that would suggest he was mine, unless you count athletic ability and his cute little nose. I'm okay with that.

But when he's creating, when he's making up stories complete with characters and plots, with beginnings and middles and ends, he's all mine. When he's building complex Lego creations of his own design and explaining the function of every tower and building, he's all mine. And when he's planing yet another Rube Goldberg machine, he's all mine.

What's really amazing to me is that I never taught him any of this.

The truth is that he's not really "mine," no more than he's his dad's.
He's his own little soul from his own little world. We're just lucky enough to borrow him for a while.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Somewhere, tucked in my papers from my undergrad years, is a quote about how being killed because you are a writer is "the ultimate expression of respect."

Or something like that.

It means, of course, that you are killed because you are good at your craft. Too good. You are killed because the people listen to you and because you have become a voice that powerful cowards cannot bear to hear.

This past weekend, Cuban bloggers Yoani Sanchez, Claudia Cadelo, Orlando Luis Pardo, and Ciro Díaz.were picked up by thugs, thrown into a van, beaten, and thrown onto the street. The bloggers' crimes? Blogging about Cuba as it is today under castro. Telling the truth.

Yoani was voted one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time Magazine. You can find her blog here: Generacion Y. (Google offers a reasonable translation for those who aren't fluent in Spanish.)

Chantel's Yucababy blog provided a translation of Pardo's post, a recount of the experience:

Below, is my translation of an excerpt from Orlando Pardo's post at Penultimos Dias:

Within seconds, Yoani and I had our arms twisted in a car imported from our Stepmother Country: China

My head against the car's carpet, and Yoani with her feet in the air.I couldn't see her, identifying her only because she would not be quiet. I heard her scream with the vehemence of a being more free than the planet itself

She had a Cuban man's knee nailed against her chest, and still she rebuked him

From that energy I borrowed the strength to revive a bit my own voice.

They told me to tell Yoani to be quiet.

That phrase, pronounced by three unknowns in the name of the Cuban State, sums up the obsolescence and obscenity of this country.

Tell Yoani to be quiet.
Tell Yoani to be quiet.
Tell Yoani to be quiet.

Despotically, they deposited us in a corner that I confused with the patio of a barracks.
I was dizzy.I felt nauseous, felt like vomiting.
I could not move my neck.
I embraced Yoani (which I'd never done before).
She began to sob.

The greatest woman in Cuba seemed like an infant.

Because Yoani is such: the future of Cuba crystallized on a fragile and unstoppable body.

I kissed her head. Her hair pulled with such hate smelled like liberty.
Uncountable times I kissed her ageless head.

But I never told her to be quiet.
But I never told her to be quiet.
But I never told her to be quiet.

-- Orlando Luis Pardo