Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I Am Not Malala Yousafzai.

I was going to post something today to express solidarity, something saying “I am Malala Yousafzai.”

But that’s ridiculous. I am not Malala Yousafzai.

We were both born in Pakistan, but I was born as the child of an American diplomat, with all the rights and good fortune that entails.

No one thought twice about sending me to school—it was expected, right up through college.

But this girl, born in 1998 (the year I graduated from college and went on to graduate school), has had to fight every step of the way to get an education. She has been trying to get it not only for herself, but for other girls in Pakistan. And the response of these Taliban thugs—whose own daughters would benefit from the manifestation of her dream—is to shoot her in the head, and promise to do it again if she lives.

Muslims should be proud of her, and as the reaction in Pakistan indicates, most are. My personal belief is that those responsible for this attack aren't true Muslims, any more than "Christians" who murder doctors or persecute the families of gay veterans are true Christians.

I’ve spent my entire existence pillowed on rights that I often don’t even think about. I don't have to think about them. So no. I am not Malala Yousafzai. But I wish I had an ounce of her grace and courage. And I am so grateful that the world produces people like this to counterbalance the retrograde, violent, stupid forces she is up against.

It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.
–Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Another compelling distraction from writing ...

... which I don't need but am enjoying tremendously.

One of the great frustrations of becoming an adult, I've long felt, is the need to narrow your field of interests--at least, if you ever want to be any good at any of them.

I've always been lousy at that. Over the years, I've been intensely occupied, at various points, with painting, drawing, dichroic glass, beadwork, and collage. Oh, and making cocktails. Add to that the desire to have some sort of social existence and, sometimes, the desire to hibernate and do nothing but read and avoid all human contact, and I often feel a mile wide and an inch deep, and worry that I'm neglecting the words that have always been my deepest love.

Still ... I do have a good time with distractions. My latest sideline has been gripping me for a couple of months now, ever since I finally got to take a metalsmithing class at Glen Echo. The artist and instructor, Blair Anderson, makes stunning silver (check out this brilliant pendant, which gave me chills: Not only is it a tribute to Ray Bradbury, it has a jump drive with 10,000 books hidden inside it) and is also an amazing teacher, and after a few weeks, I had the silver bug. After a day of moving words around a screen, hammering the shit out of metal and firing up a blowtorch is incredibly satisfying.

Silverwork's not a cheap hobby, though, so I've revamped my Etsy store to include some of the jewelry I've been making in hopes of making it eventually fund itself. It's funny, because while there's so much about the work that is deliciously nonverbal, there are ways it reminds me of writing poems ... specifically in that, like poetry, I often labor for hours and get to the end and it looks a) tiny and b) flawed. But like poetry, also, I can see potential, and every now and then I think, that's actually kind of neat.