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Friday, January 30, 2009

The 10 Faces of Me: Which @juliejulie do you like best?

Dear Twitter readers, as promised, here are a few photos of me; please tell me which one you like best for my Twitter "avatar." Thanks for your patience!

For those of you who don't know what Twitter is, please go to and sign up. Basically, it's like instant messaging with the world. You can follow anyone you want, including me, @juliejulie, as well as people in your home town or meet new people, from all over the world. They can follow you back, or not, but you can get their attention by "replying" to them (or typing an @ in front of their name) and they'll see your tweet.

Really, Twitter is a hoot. I have several persona's on Twitter, actually, so follow all of them. I'm also @JulieSwank, @TwitRecipes, @TwitArtists and @401kbuddy. Different names, same me!

The best part of Twitter? You can have "TweetUps" where you get together and drink cocktails with other lovely Twits. They are people who Tweet. We have TweetUps all the time in Bend, Oregon, and there are scads of us. You can see more Bend Twits here.

So, now then: tell me which picture of me you like the best. We'll number them in the order you see them, from left to right.

So, if this blog were in WordPress it'd be easier for me to label these, but I'm doing my best here...and just trying to deal with all this HTML code in Blogger has given me a headache. *cough...shh...I'm concentrating.

Now, let's review: from top row, left to right, here are the names of the pictures. Please let me know which one is your favorite.

1. Corporate Julie, B&W photo
2. Julie has a glass of wine with half of Jen's head
3. Julie smelling a big leaf
4. Halloween Julie
5. @juliejulie with her name tag at the TweetUp
6. Julie and her cupcake
7. Julie in her polka-dot shirt
8. Julie with her black and white scarf
9. Julie in her orange sweater
10. Julie's new hair cut

So, there you have it. Ten different faces of Julie. You pick the one you like best, and I'll post it.

Thanks for your help!



Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why Does it Matter That He's Black?

My daughter asked this question today, when she got home from school. She watched some of the Obama inauguration at school, and then some of the parade at home.

She knows it's a big deal, the presidency. She knows that it's a global thing, and the world is involved. She knows there's a war. She knows the phrases "Economic Crisis" and "Meltdown."

She also knows Obama is the first African American President of the United States, but she can't quite figure out what that actually means, really, and why it matters.

I remember this feeling. I was born in 1965. I grew up in Eugene, Oregon, a mostly white community, in a middle class, blue collar family.

I remember we had one black family at Ida Patterson Elementary. It was the first alternative school in Eugene. It was a "community" school. It was kind of a hippy school, really, all creative and self-directed and stuff. I took drama instead of science, and focused on poster making instead of math.

So, now you know why I did fine in college algebra, but had to work my butt off in high school to learn all the stuff I didn't.quite.get-the first time around. I make good posters though, and "being a tree" to the magic of Cat Steven's music is one of the fondest memories of my childhood.

Deanna Mosley was in my class. She was nice, I played with her sometimes. I thought her hair was cool. She wore it in braids with lots of fun barrettes at the end. I liked those barrettes. The bunny barrettes were especially cool. I got my mom to buy me some, but they never stayed in my fine, light brown hair very long. They always slipped out and got lost.

I didn't really think anything else about Deanna was out of the ordinary. Deanna was black. Of course I noticed, since she was the only black kid in our school, besides her brothers, I just didn't, one way or the other.

We read Harriet Tubman's book about the underground railroad in 5th grade. We learned about slaves. We learned they were whipped. I didn't quite understand why. It made me cry though, it seemed so unfair. I thought about Deanna. How awful, to be a slave, when it wasn't even your fault, what color you were born. You were what you were, you couldn't really control that.

We learned about Martin Luther King that year. We heard his speech. We talked about what it meant. We read about Rosa Parks. I didn't quite understand all of it. So I asked my mom.

She explained. She said Martin Luther King worked really hard to make sure the blacks could have equal rights, that they could vote. But he got assassinated. He got shot. He died because he was trying to change things. I didn't understand.

"Well," she finally said, "when I was a kid, not all the blacks could vote. They didn't have the same rights as the white people. They weren't treated as equals. That's what all the protests were about."

This floored me. I was completely confused.

"Why couldn't they vote?" I said. "I thought that was the whole point of the civil war, to free the slaves!"

I was ten. These things seemed simple enough.

"Well," she said, "they couldn't vote."

"But, WHY?" I demanded.

"Because they were black."

It all came crashing down then. Harriet Tubman. Being whipped. Babies taken from their mothers. Pastors being killed for making speeches. People getting sprayed with fire hoses. Kids not being able to drink at drinking fountains. Ladies who couldn't sit down in buses. Because they were black.

Deanna was black. She drank from the drinking fountain at school, just like the rest of us. And played tether ball, and made posters, and swayed like a tree to Cat Stevens singing Peace Train.

And I cried then. I understood that people were mean because they were mean, and it wasn't fair, and it didn't make sense. And a horrible guilt crept inside my heart then, because the white people were mean to the black people and I was white.

But my mom reminded me that not all the white people were mean, and a lot of them worked hard to change the laws, along with the black people, and things got changed, and that was what the equal rights movement was all about.

I tried to remember to smile at Deanna every day after that. I'm not sure she noticed. But it made me feel better.

I told this story to my daughter today when she came home from school. I told her how when my mom was a kid, not all the black people could vote, and that Obama being elected was a big deal.

It is a big deal because he is the first black president of the united states, but also because he is really smart, and gives fantastic speeches, and gives people hope, and helps us feel like America will be okay again, and we sort of need that right now.

"Oh," she said, "So, it's sort of like, finally, it doesn't really matter what color you are, you can be president?"

"Yes," I said, "I guess that's exactly it."

Friday, January 9, 2009

So Much Depends on the Dogs

The dogs wake up every day to a new day. They don't think about yesterday or tomorrow in their dreams. Dogs don't dread.

When the dogs are tired they sleep. When they're hungry they eat. When they have to pee they ring a little bell at the door to ask for help. They need someone to open the door for them, so they can go out, on a leash, to do their business in the dirt. They sniff the air for clarity to check the status of the street.

The dogs smell things I can't see, things I don't know about. They smell bugs in the leaves, rain in the trees, and deer in the woods.

They hear school buses three blocks away and run down the stairs, hearts a flutter and tails a-wagging. They live for the moment a child pats their head, says words they don't understand, and slips them a bite of forbidden food.

The dogs depend on me, yet so much depends on the kindness and wonder of them. I'm not sure I could do it without them.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year New Word

What's your word for 2009? Don't give me a phrase, a resolution, a list or a long complicated idea, just a word.

Can you break your thoughts down to one word? Is it possible to summarize, verbalize, categorize, exercise or monopolize your hopes and dreams for the future in one word?

My word for 2009 is: Go!

Tell us your words, dear reader. I really want to know.

P.S. the art work for this post was generously provided by three artists who live at my house. The colorful words they've drawn make me want to jump up and run. I'm especially pleased that the picture of a fit and trim version of me running made the cut. I swear to you I did not give any editorial direction here. I'm sure that's just what I look like this particular artist. Love sees no chub!