Cats and Hawks

The Unicorn Defends Itself

My grandmother adopted a baby.

She had a sunroom filled with plants.

The baby was sometimes a white cat. There were other cats, too. And also birds, un-caged. These were not ordinary birds, but instead had fantastical plumage indicating either a unique native wildness or a specialized exotic cultivation. Red parrot-like animals and hawks with beaks bright like tropical fish or Floridian lipstick. Owls with exaggerated black tufts rising from their herringbone plumage.

I thought my grandmother, being ninety-five years old, might expire sooner than this new baby’s needs.

The white cat was among the other cats and as a group it was difficult to suppress their predatory urges towards these birds. But these were no ordinary birds. They were large hunters and they sat in the plants in the sunroom. If something were out of place, a bit of wind, an errant hair, it could give rise to panic and compulsion. Terror and ecstasy.

One brown striped cat submitted to chase and leapt after the long-legged red animal in the corner, erupting into a dervish whirling: feathers and fur. I tried to usher the birds through the door into the windowless hallway, but being too large for the space, too magnificent, their wings could only be compromised by the walls and the ceiling. Eventually they made it through with the owl struggling the longest, perhaps sustaining the most injury.

I walked back through the calm sunroom and wondered if this collection, these plants and in some part the animals too were the segue to death and in that sense if they were nature.

 

DREAMLIFE: A collection of women’s dreams, recorded and then translated here as part of the Female Background metabolism. A way in, a way out.

Approaching Home with Childlike Imagination

Similar Blocks

There was a bathroom in my Aunt and Uncle’s house with dark colored walls and a boldly printed shower curtain. I watched my older cousin apply eyeliner in the mirror. It was so glamourous.

Sometimes colorful spaces are just around a corner, out of reach, but memory preserves the intrigue for years.

These introductions to joyful mystery remain strong.

Similar Wallpaper

 

Blocks, Similar Erasers

 

 

Careful around cameras

and young children, who, as with heavy metals and certain other poisons of the body and spirit, capitalism and the like, become more susceptible to theft of the narrative kind. To be unnaturally frozen, and on the internet at that, without their consent.

My Son Is Not A Little Man: 5 Style Tips

In the early days of my pregnancy, I spent a lot of time imagining how to dress my soon-to-be son.  By the time he was born, I had carefully selected clothing for his first six months of life. The thought of raising a boy considering the political events of the past year  inspired questions. Some days, it sounded outright alarms.

In the same way that we have strong associations with certain smells, I also have very strong associations with certain fabrics and patterns from my childhood. My wish for my son was that, if he remembered his early clothing at all, the memory would be a gorgeous underpinning, a depth of time, like a mossy undergrowth in an old forest or a well-loved storybook. His memories, carefully tended pictures, a kind of redolent imagery. I wanted my son’s clothes to be part of a beautiful, intentional life. I also wanted to resist the violence of binary conventions.

I’ve been on an evolving quest, man-repelling for baby boys, only, in this case, repelling his future-man in favor of his future. As soon as I took to the baby registry, the perils emerged: my son was headed for the major leagues or the military. He also had his choice of sanctioned interests: trucks, cars, dinosaurs, outer space, and superheros.

Certain companies pay lip-service to egalitarian dressing. They mostly make ‘boy-things’ cool for girls, most especially things conferring economic advantage, STEM for babies.  This strategy emphasizes the importance to creating an accessible iconography, defining a range of interests and assigning them to our children. This ideology, geared towards creating egalitarian economic producers, is often just undermined by the aesthetics of the garments. For example, frilly, pink dresses decorated with spaceships. Sure it’s important that girls can like science, but that is certainly a separate concern from considering the fundamental disparities between the sexes. Is it important that they are still girls? After all, what are girls and boys if these simple assignations, given at birth, disappear? In the words of J.D. Salinger in a conversation from Franny and Zooey: ” . . . all legitimate religious study must lead to unlearning the differences, the illusory differences, between boys and girls, animals and stones, day and night, heat and cold.”

Finally: Plant a flag: pink or blue.

Screenshot of Search for Baby Boy Clothes

 

Screenshot of Search for Baby Girl Clothes

I’m not blind to all of the yellows and pale greens out there, but frankly, that feels like a form of tokenism. Black, white, grey, and brown seem like better choices for color neutrality, although far from a solution. I would like to strive towards a future reality where there are no distinctions in dress between men and women, Until then, dressing my son in girl’s clothes isn’t an answer.

I’m wary of my own hang-ups: the unconscious expressions of my hopes and fears. Although there’s no way of relinquishing my ego completely, I try taking time to observe my son, as well as my gut reactions. For example:  I usually cringe a bit when someone refers to a boy as a “little man.” It feels a bit like fulfilling a prophecy we might reconsider wanting filled. We tend raise our boys to be the kind of men that we are used to seeing. Unfortunately, that is a nurture we have clearly come to regret. As Simone de Beauvoir describes the being of women as “what they have become” instead of “what they are”, so too with men. Children are not little adults.  At some point our choices will determine identity and I would like to choose wisely. To this end, I have a provisional set of guidelines:

  1. Avoid text and overt iconography.  Perhaps, it’s the explicitness that chafes. A foreclosing on the complexity that seems our birthright. Additionally, I have no interest in becoming an unpaid brand ambassador.

2.  Avoid sports and military themes.

3.  Mix & Match Color and Pattern: Combine traditionally gendered colors and themes, or choose those with weaker gender associations. All-over patterns are better than single images. Avoid ready-made sets. Select items that work together for more flexibility.

Bloomers: Lions, Flowers, Moons, Art: Satsuki Shibuya

4.   Use abstract designs and nature or animal themes.

T-Shirt, Onesie, Romper, Art: Georges Braque, Oiseaux Pour Paroles Peintes

Bodysuit, Sleepsuit, Pants, Leggings, Bodysuit, Romper, Art: Sarah York Designs

5 .  Simplicity Always Works.  Pattern, color and minimalism are not mutually exclusive.

Onesies, Shoes, Jumpsuit, Art: Karine Legér

 

I once read that Andy Warhol was “[making] the world safe for Andy.” Through some mysterious alchemy, showing the world to itself, reflecting it, making oneself simultaneously part-of and apart-from.  A mechanism for individuation. I hope that as my son moves through life, his individuality is complex and that he becomes aware of its fragility and contingency, but that he can become inspired and curious about it’s beauty.  Small choices made towards complexity increase safety and destroy illusory differences.