Saturday, May 10, 2008


Here's the next segment of my novel-in-progress, Ginny Bates, hot off the word processor. Begins right after my post of a few days ago.

If you are already a familiar reader, begin below. If you need background, check the links in the sidebar on the right, fifth item down, to get caught up.

2011, into spring

Margie stayed through the 3rd so she could celebrate Gillam's 20th birthday with them. He drove up from Olympia with Courtney, and after a whispered consultation, they were given the new futon in Margie's old room. Carly stayed in Gillam's room and Margie took the guest room. It felt odd all the way around, but the young folk seemed to be all right with it.

They didn't see Margie again for the next few months. Gillam's visits home decreased to once a month, though Carly still came every other weekend. Gillam was spending all his free time with Courtney, it appeared.

Ginny was asked to join Women Painters of Washington and, after accepting, was offered a few speaking gigs around the state. She was also tapped by the Washington State arts council to teach painting technique in conjunction with folk artists, and she accepted this also. Myra realized Ginny missed teaching -- she had sublimated her need for it with their children all these years.

Right before spring break, Ginny spent three days at the Japanese Arts Festival, where she was collaborating with a skilled practitioner of Shizuo Okawaha, a formal kind of banner painting. It was arduous and intense, and she came home weary but chatty each evening. Myra used her time alone to get ahead on her column commitment. She also created a logic puzzle based on Skene arcana for a sci-fi magazine, which took her almost six hours and allowed her to feel fine about the hefty check they mailed her in return.

On Friday, Myra dialed Gillam's cell for the third time in two days. When she got dumped immediately into voice mail, she hung up and called Carly, who answered.

"Hey, do you know if something's wrong with Gillam's phone? He's not been answering or returned my calls. For that matter, I haven't heard from either one of you about your spring break plans, I thought you were talking about coming up here for part of it" she said to Carly.

"Uh...I don't think he's answering" said Carly slowly.

"Well, is he there? Give him your phone, he can spare five minutes for his mother" said Myra, sorting the mail on her desk as she talked.

"He's in his room. He told me he doesn't want to talk to anybody. No exceptions" said Carly, sounding evasive.

Myra stopped sorting. "What's wrong? Is he sick?"

"I...don't think so. He's been holed up for three days, I've only seen him eat once and that was just some peanut butter" said Carly. His words became coming out fast. "He won't talk to me, either, I thought he was sleeping something off but now I'm not sure what to do. And yeah, we were planning to drive up but he just stared at me when I mentioned it, went back in his room and shut the door."

Myra reminded herself to breathe slowly. "Three days. Is it -- Courtney, do you think?"

"Maybe" said Carly. "She's not been around, or called, which is a first."

Myra looked at the clock. It was 2 p.m. "Okay, I'm coming down. You don't need to tell him that, but don't let him leave the house, if he tries. I shouldn't hit traffic if I leave right away."

"He'll be pissed at me for telling you" said Carly, but his voice was relieved.

"I'll take the heat. You did good" said Myra. When she hung up, she called Ginny's cell and left a message. Since she wasn't sure she'd be back in time to make shabbos dinner, she also left messages for Chris and Sima, Allie and Edwina. She pulled on shoes and left the house.

When she got to their apartment, Carly was out front in a deck chair. He gave her a hug and said "He's not emerged since I called you. Listen, I'm not ducking out but I promised to go see mom for a couple of hours, and I figure now is better than later. Call me if you need me."

"Say hi for me. We won't leave for Seattle without you" said Myra. She repeated "You did good."

When she went in the house, Beebo gave a chirrup and jumped down from the back of the couch to come say hello. He looked like he wasn't getting enough attention. She went to Gillam's bedroom door and knocked. There was no answer. She turned the knob, found it wasn't locked, and stepped in.

An immediate funk hit her, sour and yeasty. Gillam was sprawled on top of the bedspread, and rolled over when he heard her. His scowl changed to astonishment, then returned to a semi-frown.

"That fucker" he said. Beebo sprinted into the room and jumped up on the bed, rubbing his cheeks against Gillam's knee, one side, then the other. Gillam's hair was stringy with oil, and the sheets that were showing looked dingy. The blinds were drawn, throwing the room into shadow. Dirty laundry spotted the floor, and a stack of diet Coke cans were on the dresser.

Myra crossed to the bed and sat down on the edge. "From the looks of things, you've crashed and burned. That an accurate assessment?"

"I'm just trying to figure some shit out" he said angrily. "I don't need rescuing. I was planning to come up for shabbos dinner tomorrow."

"Today is shabbos" said Myra crisply. "I'm not rescuing, I'm being your family. As is Carly. You can figure out things on whatever timeline you want, but it's stupid to try to do it with altered body chemistry. Diet Coke and an occasional swallow of peanut butter is not adequate fuel. Plus you're ripe, you've got circles around your eyes that indicate lack of sleep, and you're not exercising either. All of which hammer your brain function. But I'm not telling you anything you don't know."

"I don't want to talk about it" he said.

"That's clear. Here's my deal: You get up, wash and put on clean clothes, and eat a real meal. I'll keep Ginny from throwing a net over you and setting up camp on that pillow beside you. Once you've restoked your boiler, you can tell me what I should do next." Her cell rang at that moment, and when she looked at the caller ID, she said "You've got two seconds, it's her."

"All right" he said, not quite sullen. He didn't move, though. Myra answered the phone and said "I'm here. He's okay, though headed into depression. No, I have no idea. I'm going to get food into him and we'll go from there. No, you need to stay put. Defrost a couple of casseroles and cook them, plus a blueberry pie. No, Ginny, I mean it, I've got it here. I'll call you again in a couple of hours, I promise. I will." She clicked off the phone and said "She loves you. Now move your carcass."

He was sluggish. He shuffled to the bathroom and she heard him peeing. She stripped his bed, gathered the rest of his laundry in one of the pillowcases, and headed for the complex's laundry room two doors down, stopping at her car to raid the console for coins. When she returned, she looked through the refrigerator. It was atypically scanty for them. Her options were another peanut butter sandwich, or some soup, or some leftover Chinese food. She sniffed of the Chinese food carton and scratched that from the list.

Gillam took his time. She had changed the wash to the dryer by the time he emerged from his bedroom in sweats and a T-shirt, his hair dripping and uncombed. She said "There's not much here. We can order something or go out, whatever you'd prefer."

"I'm getting a little hungry" he said. "Let's go out, just not a fancy place." He pulled on shoes without socks and flung his head to shake off some of the moisture in his hair. She wrote a quick note for Carly and pointed to a coat by the door as they left, which he grabbed and shrugged himself into.

She didn't want to settle for fast food. She drove to the diner where they'd had chili and cherry pie last year, finding it more easily than she thought she would. The booths were all claimed, so they took a table near the bathroom. He asked for a bowl of chili. She did the same, but added a large order of fries and a salad, hoping it was more than iceberg and rock-hard tomato wedges. Plus two glasses of milk and an orange juice.

His appetite increased as he ate. The salad was pathetic but he polished it off, along with most of the fries and the orange juice. She declined dessert for them both, saying "Let's take it slow." They had not said a word during the meal, and the silence extended all the back to his apartment. Carly's car was there, and Gillam said "I don't want to go in right away."

"Okay" she said, turning off the ignition and releasing her seatbelt so she could face him. He drummed on the door with his fingers and looked at himself in the visor mirror for a minute. Finally he said "I've got some major stuff to figure out. I don't even know how to say what it is."

"Well, you're at an age where glaciers appear to block the valleys. You're due" she said calmly.

He seemed to be waiting on her, and when she went silent again, he gave her a glance.

"It's not just about Courtney" he said. " is about her, some."

"I figured, since she's absent from the scene" said Myra.

"She's on her way to San Diego, I guess, it being Friday" he said with tired resignation.

Carly appeared at the door of the apartment and spotted them. Myra gave him a wave, which he returned before going back inside.

"I meant it, Mom, about not being able to talk about this yet" Gillam said. "Not even with Carly."

"I heard you" she said. "I accept it. But we have to figure out a way for you to get the space you need without getting sick."

He glanced at her again. "Are you playing me?"

"Nope. When I was a couple of years older than you are right now, I went home to see my mother. It was mid summer, I was between jobs, so I planned to stay a week. Gil was out of town and there was a free bedroom, and once I crawled into bed, I discovered I didn't want to get up. I wound up sleeping 20 hours a day for almost the whole week. I'd get up for a few hours to eat, talk to Mama, maybe watch a little TV, but I could hardly wait to go back to sleep. I was really sleeping, and dreaming my ass off. She got freaked out, of course, after a couple of days, wanted to know what was wrong. I couldn't tell her. It was just me and my dreams" said Myra.

"What were you dreaming about?" asked Gillam, the first time he'd shown any interest in her direction.

"I don't remember. I don't recall what was up for me, either, although I did write one poem during that week, about Machu Picchu. Whatever was going on, I needed the space and she was mostly able to give it. I'll do the same for you, if that's what you want."

He blew through his lips lightly. "What about Mama? And the rest of them?"

"Well...It'll be hard to keep them at bay if you are incommunicado down here. I can make a second deal with you: Come back to Seattle for your break, and I'll keep them off your back. But you have to eat, and exercise. No diet Cokes and no television. We'll have Carly, he can be our guinea pig for all the deflected mothering." She saw him smile, and closed her eyes briefly at the emotion it stirred in her.

He said "I have a couple more conditions. I want to sleep in the back bedroom, Zayde's room, not mine. And...I'd like to see Nancy, sooner rather than later."

Hosannas sang in her head. "I agree to your terms. Shall we get you packed? I have to retrieve your laundry."

In the house, he went into his room. She explained the arrangement with Carly, who looked glad at everything except the mention of Gillam using Zayde's room. He didn't argue, however. He began his own packing. Myra called Ginny and talked to her quietly, finally persuading her but then having to do the entire conversation again with Allie. By the time she was finished, Gillam's duffel was by the front door and Carly was helping him get Beebo into his carrier.

"Carly, you want to ride with us and borrow a car while you're there or take your own?" asked Myra. Carly glanced at Gillam's face and said "I'll drive mine. Will dinner be ready when we get there?"

"Yeah, but if you're empty, feel free to grab a snack. Blueberry pie for dessert" Myra said.

"See you there, I can't stay in caravan with you, you drive too slow" Carly said, kissing her cheek and carrying his bag out the door. Myra made sure everything was locked up and turned off before picking up the carrier and joining Gillam at her car.

Beebo was a seasoned traveler, but he still needed reassurance every quarter hour or so, a friendly word and rub of his head through the grill, or else he would begin complaining with increasing intensity. Gillam put in earbuds and leaned against his window with closed eyes, so it was up to Myra to see to Beebo's needs. She was itching to know was Gillam was listening to -- he had looked through most of his music list before settling on a selection. Whatever it was did not leak out through his earbuds enough for her to identify it.

When they got home, everyone was at the table and Carly was already halfway through his plate. Ginny had ignored Myra's instructions about the casseroles and instead poured her worry into cooking. She had roasted beets with shallots and big cloves of garlic in a layer of chicken stock. There was red lentil stew, long green beans, an endive salad, and a platter of crab cakes separated from a stack of grilled kielbasa. Gillam let Beebo loose, then, as an afterthought, walked around to give hugs before sitting down at his place. Myra was the only one who did not get a hug from him. She decided to take it as a good sign: He was accepting her word, no pretending with her.

Gillam piled sour cream onto his beets, smeared a slice of bread with roasted garlic, and when he got to the sausage, he looked at Ginny and said "Did you cook this?" When she nodded yes, he smiled in a pallid way and said "Wow." He didn't have anything else to say. Talk at the table went on without him, though Myra could only guess at the effort this took Ginny and her friends. Gillam asked to save his pie for later, picked up his bag and walked down the hall to the guest room, closing it tight behind him. Beebo watched but resumed washing himself: Myra had given him morsels of crab under the table, he was back in the promised land.

"He looks like yak shit" said Chris without preamble.

"You should've seen him when I got there" said Myra.

"Has that zoyne broken up with him?" demanded Ginny.

Myra hadn't heard this Yiddish term before, though from Sima's startled giggle, she guessed at its meaning. "I have no information at all to give you" she said. She looked at Carly and said "He knows we're talking about him and you're under the gun, if you have something to add, he won't be surprised."

Carly sighed and said "When she left, the last time she was over, I heard her say 'Let me know what you decide, then.' She hugged him for a long time."

"If she's given him some fucking ultimatum -- " began Ginny.

Carly said "It didn't sound like that. It sounded more like -- he was the one having...some kind of doubts."

"How are his classes? His grades slipping?" asked Allie.

"Okay as far as I know" said Carly.

Ginny said to Myra "Nancy's leaving for the weekend but she's made time to see him at 9 in the morning. She'll be back Monday afternoon."

"The fact that he's asked to see her says a lot" pointed out Myra. "Plus -- David's room has some kind of meaning."

"I never missed having Daddy here more" said Ginny. They sat in silence for a minute, and Chris put her arm over the back of Carly's chair.

Myra said to Carly, "Okay, you're our only friendly kid at the moment. What would you like to do during your break?"

He grinned. "Cook, work on the soloflex, sleep late and go out dancing with Davonn, for sure. Poker a couple of nights?" He looked at Chris and she said "Your money is as good as in my pocket already."

"We're thinking about repainting Margie's old room, you want to help with that?" asked Myra.

"Love to" he said, and she thought he meant it. Allie said "I'll come over during the week and help you change your oil, check the brake pads, do a service on your car. We'll track down why your mileage is off or, if we can't, get it in to Sadie's." He was beginning to look pink from all the attention. Myra stood and said to him "Come help me dish up pie."

They moved into the living room to eat and talk some more. Carly sprawled on the floor with a cushion and quickly dozed off. Myra guessed he'd been frantic for a couple of days. Beebo settled on the small of Carly's back and tucked in his paws, watching everyone contentedly. An hour later, Gillam emerged in swim trunks and said "I sure hope the pool heater is on."

"It is" said Ginny. She told him about the appointment with Nancy and he thanked her before heading outside.

"He's lost weight" she said when he was out of earshot. "And his back is broken out a little."

"Let's allow him one mistake and trust him to keep climbing out of whatever hole he's in at the moment" said Myra gently. "He'll come to us when he's ready."

They all sat mulling this over for a minute. Myra saw drool coming from Carly's mouth onto the cushion, which meant he was completely out.

Allie cleared her throat and said "I got this new idea for a book, only -- it's maybe too different."

"It's brilliant, is what it is" said Edwina, goosing her.

Allie grinned and explained. "You know my little girl Sarilda from the Podinqo books? Well, I got to imagining her grown up, maybe heading off to a city somewhere, part of the Great Migration. Thing is, she's about the right age to have been part of the Harlem Renaissance. I starting seeing her meet up with Langston, Zora, Marcus, Countee, and Bessie. A picture book, a graphic novel, but definitely for adults, about that part of black history. My hesitation is, the folks who most love her are kids, not grownups."

Sima said, "Oh, but that's not completely true. Those books have been out for 20 years, a lot of the children who grew up on them are young adults now, they'd adore seeing her their age again."

"And the parents who are still reading them aloud to their little ones, they'll jump at a new book on their level" said Myra. She turned to Edwina and said "You're right, it is brilliant."

"It would need to a different format than Ashante Alabama, wouldn't it?" asked Ginny, her brow creased in concentration. "That was more history than exposition."

"Yeah, it'd be a story, about a made-up gal around real folks. Creative nonfiction, is what they call it" said Allie, leaning forward with building excitement.

"You done any sketches yet?" asked Chris.

"Yeah, I have half a dozen storyboards already" said Allie. "Not with me, sorry. I wanted to run the basic kernel by ya'll first."

"Any idea you ever have is gold, Allene" said Myra. "You ought know that by now."

Edwina goosed her again, and Allie began laughing in delight. "I also had this notion of asking Margie to draw a map of Sarilda's journeys. I always regretted not insisting she be the one to do the charts for Ashante."

"She'll plotz" cried Ginny.

"Remember that schematic she made when she was nine or ten, about all the places Juju trotted to in the yard when she went outside first thing each morning?" said Chris. "Hilarious, and yet dead on."

"Simpatico is definitely closing for Easter, I got an e-mail from her today" said Edwina. "She says they'll be up that weekend. Frances wants to roast us a lamb."

"I love lamb" said Ginny, "but Myra doesn't so I've been deprived all these years."

"I never heard anything good about sheep in Texas" said Myra. "You enjoy your little baby baa-baa, I'll make a ham for the rest of us."

Gillam was back in half an hour, breathing hard and his cheeks finally showing color. He dripped water on the kitchen floor as he cut himself a piece of pie. He stood at the edge of the living room to take a first huge bite and nudged Carly with his big toe, waking him. When Carly looked groggily up at him, Gillam said "Thanks." Carly grinned and said "I get Beebo tonight."

Gillam waved his fork at the rest of them, calling out "Goodnight." He paused, then stepped over to Myra and kissed her cheek, whispering "I love you." She watched him walk back down the hall, eating pie in time to his graceful long steps.

Myra looked at Carly, who had also watched Gillam to the bedroom door. She said "He'll miss sacharit tomorrow, being with Nancy. You want me to go with you?"

He considered it, then said "No. But don't go buy paint without me, I want to be in on that. And Pike Market, too, I want to do half the menu planning this week." He pushed himself upright and gave a round of goodnight kisses. Beebo dashed up the stairs ahead of him.

Allie examined Myra's face and asked "How come you not more worried? You know somethin'?"

"I trust him. More than ever. He's grown up, more or less, and I keep thinking I have to treat him like he was you or Chris instead of that perfect little boy who dogged my steps all day" said Myra, surprising herself.

"Good enough for me" said Allie. She began standing, Edwina beside her. "I can get to sleep on that. But I'll be back for Sunday dinner, if not before."

"Bring your sketches" said Ginny. Sima and Chris were getting ready to leave as well. After last hugs, Ginny walked back to turn off lights and lock the sliding door while Myra started the dishwasher and made sure Beebo's water dish was full. They met again in bed.

"How bad was he?" asked Ginny, laying her head on Myra's chest.

"Not suicidal, I don't think. But immobilized. Smelly, and dehydrated" she said. "Not as bad as I've been at various times."

"I was that way once" said Ginny. "In this house, right after I moved in. Lonely in ways I don't usually care to remember."

Myra pulled her tight. "That's hard to hear. Are you ever lonely now? You can answer that honestly, I won't get weird."

Ginny craned her neck to look at Myra, what she could see of her through the room's dim light. "No, not what I'd call lonely. Alone, yes, often, but by choice and in ways that feel healthy."

Myra moved her gaze over Ginny's face. "I suddenly want to put my fingers inside you, and feel you pushing against me. But I'm pretty sure it's partly because I'm sad you were ever lonely. I want to make up for it, and of course I can't."

"As long as we're clear on that -- no reason not to go ahead" said Ginny, with no grin at all, just that shift in her expression which always made Myra's defenses drop away. Myra bent her mouth to Ginny's.


Friday, May 9, 2008


Once again, my stash of LOLCat images is piling up, so since I'm not doing serious posts this week (swamped), I'll give you a second set of fluff. However, I've now succumbed to the siren call and -- I say with shame -- the first two creations are my own.

Maybe there's a 12-step program that can stop me in time...


Thursday, May 8, 2008


There's been a great thread going on the past day or two over at Dykes To Watch Out For concerning music that rocks our worlds. It's an eclectic bunch, and tonight I followed up on some of the recommendations others made, as well as my own. I found almost all of them on You Tube, and decided to share the videos here with you.

People were comparing versions of "Gracias a la Vida" (written by Violeta Parra), and here's the three mentioned:

Violeta Parra singing "Gracias a la Vida" (audio and stills only)

Mercedes Sosa singing "Gracias a la Vida"

Joan Baez singing "Gracias a la Vida" (audio and stills only)

Folks were also weighing different versions of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelejah", and again, here's the three mentioned:

Jeff Buckley singing "Hallelujah" (audio only -- I have to say, this is by far my favorite)

John Cale singing "Hallelujah"

k.d. Lang singing "Hallelujah"

Speaking of k.d. Lang, someone recommended this:

k.d. Lang singing "Crying" live in Sydney

Someone else recommended Walela, which is Rita Coolidge, her sister Priscilla Coolidge and Priscilla's daughter Laura Satterfield

Walela singing "Cherokee Morning Song" (cheesy stills but good audio; )

Milton Nascimento got raves, and here's one of his songs mentioned:

Milton Nascimento singing "Travessia"

Another rave was for this:

Ruben Blades and Jerry Garcia singing "Muevete"

Of course, I had to jump in and start talking about Doris Day, whom I am rather desperately hung up on. Picture, if you will, a room full of revolutionary San Francisco dykes organizing against the police in the early 1980s, young, furious, androgynously dressed. They stop during a long, contentious meeting to take a break, and relax by singing various uplifting things like "Joe Hill", "El Pueblo Unido" and "Amazon ABC". But one of their favorites is "Secret Love", which they are convinced is a coded lesbian ballad when performed by Doris Day. Yep, really happened. Listen and imagine:

Doris Day singing "Secret Love" from Calamity Jane

Doris Day singing "Sentimental Journey" from the Big Band era (this was my parent's "song")

I also grew up with a passion for Rosemary Clooney. All of her nephew George's dreaminess, smooth demeanor, big sensual eye-rolls and self-deprecating smiles originated with Rosemary. Not to mention a voice from heaven. Check her out in the following:

Rosemary Clooney and Jo Stafford singing autumn songs

Rosemary Clooney does Gershwin -- "A Foggy Day"

And, the ultimate Rosemary doing Gershwin: The brothers Ira and George were extremely close all their lives. When George died suddenly at age 38, he had written the music for a final song but Ira had not yet begun the lyrics. Ira finished the song as a tribute to George, and it completely changes your read of the lyrics when you learn that. (I wrote about this in my post last year A Word After A Word After A Word.) You can hear it here:

Rosemary Clooney singing "Our Love Is Here To Stay" (in 1993 at the Newport Jazz Festival)


Wednesday, May 7, 2008


(Reed Canyon, Reed College, Portland)

Here's the next segment of my novel-in-progress, Ginny Bates, a shorter than usual chunk. All I've got written for this period of time, but hey, it's better than nothing.

If you are already a familiar reader, begin below. If you need background, check the links in the sidebar on the right, fifth item down, to get caught up.

Incidentally, the restaurant where Frances gets her first job is a real place, Simpatica Dining Hall. Click on the link to see their menu and scrumptious photos of some of the foods our gang feasts upon.

Autumn into Winter, 2010

Two weeks before Thanksgiving, Carly and Gillam were up for the weekend. At Friday night dinner, Ginny announced "I talked with Margie today, and Frances definitely has to work on Thanksgiving Day plus the day after. Margie doesn't want to leave her alone, and Frances' family isn't coming up, so we need to decide what we want to do."

"You mean, not do our usual shift on Thanksgiving?" asked Sima, a little dismayed.

"No, of course that. I meant afterward" said Ginny.

"It'll be right before Margie's birthday as well" added Myra.

Allie said "I think we should go to Portland. If we left on Friday, we could spend two days there." She looked apologetically at Edwina and said "I'll do the driving, of course."

Carly said "I'm free. Mom is planning to go away for the weekend with her new girlfriend, and if I come down here to cook at the shelter with you all, she could make a four-day trip of it."

Gillam said "Then count me in, too." As everyone nodded, Myra said "That's eight. Too many for a single car, and with gas being scarce as it is, driving two cars seems crazy."

"Let's take the train" said Allie, an old hand at it. "We can rent a car there, plus we'll have Margie's, that's enough room."

"I think we should surprise her" said Sima. "One of us make a phone date with her at the time of our arrival on Friday, so she's not gone off somewhere. I could do that -- she's calling me at least once a week for a long talk, anyhow. Longer if Chris is home."

"She's been calling us, too" said Allie. "She seems to have our schedule memorized, she always knows when to find us home and free." Sima nodded in agreement.

"I don't think she takes that trouble with us" complained Ginny. "I mean, she's calling, yes, and wanting to really talk -- "

"Well, Ginny, your availability is much more up in the air" pointed out Sima. "And you're the moms, you're supposed to be on tap."

"She even called us last week" said Gillam.

"She's lonely" said Chris. It stilled the table for a moment.

"Oh, surely not" said Ginny in distress. "They've already made friends there, and Frances does have Sunday and Monday off -- "

"Half of which she sleeps from exhaustion" pointed out Myra. "And new friends are not like old friends. Plus Margie's arranged her classes so she frequently attends them in the evening, so she has mornings with Frances. But they seldom go out that time of day, everyone else is at work." She and Ginny looked at each other sadly.

"I was afraid of this" said Ginny. "Romance is not enough, Margie was raised in community."

"Then we'll have to help out" said Myra staunchly. "The restaurant is closing for five days over Christmas, but Frances hasn't seen her family in months, they were talking about flying to Los Angeles for part of her time off..."

"Let's go there, then" said Ginny. "Spend a week in the sun, go back to the Huntington, Venice Beach, there's a million things to do in the area. And that way Margie won't have to choose. We'll buy plane tickets for everybody and book a block of rooms someplace convenient to where we all most want to see."

Slowly, everyone nodded, except Carly who said "I'll need to check with Mom."

"We'll invite her, too, and her girlfriend" said Myra.

Gillam said shyly, "Courtney's family lives in San Diego."

"Perfect, you and she can see each other, too" said Myra, patting Gillam's hand.

The next day, however, when Ginny called to discuss the Christmas option with Margie, sitting as usual on Myra's daybed, the conversation didn't go as smoothly as Myra would have wanted. When Ginny got off, Myra demanded "Is she dragging her heels at the idea of us being around her and Frances on their holiday? Because if that's the case, fuck the idea of going down there for Thanksgiving!"

"No, Myra, she just needs to talk it over with Frances first. It's not about them, it's about Frances' family meeting all of us. They need to be consulted, not have us descend on them uninvited."

"What's wrong with us?" bristled Myra.

"We're the in-laws, honey, you of all people know what that means, even good ones. And -- well, I'm not certain how much Frances's family will see us as actual in-laws, because I'm not sure how seriously they're taking her relationship with Margie. Plus, we're an odd assortment, aside from the dyke issue" said Ginny.

"You mean they may be racists?" Myra was determined to take offense.

"Like most white people in this country, yes. Plus some of us are famous, a lot of us don't work normal jobs, there's no adult males unless you count Gillam and Carly, and I know for a fact Francis is scared shitless of Chris" pointed out Ginny.

Myra giggled suddenly. "As well she should be. Chris hasn't signed off on her yet."

Ginny sighed. "Well, I have. Margie's heart is a good enough indicator for me. I have to respect her."

Myra said softly "How very David of you."

Ginny's eyes went moist. "Thank you, Myra. One of the nicest things I could hear."

"And you're right, Ginny. I'll be your passenger in this stretch of jeep-on. But...I have to say, Gillam didn't register any qualms about the possibility of us all meeting Courtney's folks."

"They're dating, Myra, not planning a future together. Besides -- Gillam's not dealing directly with lesbian oppression."

"You mean because he's not going to be called a dyke himself? Margie doesn't call herself a dyke, either" argued Myra.

"I know. But she's open to the charge, and I think, deep down, it probably bothers her. She was so sure, all these years, that she was not like us, was taking a different path. It mattered to her, being different, being like the 'regular world' as she put it. You and me, and our generation, we had an entire culture and identity to compensate for being deviant. She doesn't, she only has her love for Frances. Meeting her family and gaining their acceptance is probably a critical need for Margie" said Ginny.

Myra felt sudden empathy and concern for Margie. After a minute she said "It's good you were the one to talk to her."

"We take turns, Myra" said Ginny with a grin. "She sounded desolate about not having Thanksgiving here, though she tried to cover it."

"Well, we can at least make the train reservations to Portland" said Myra, turning to the computer.

As it turned out, Narnia almost give it all away when she heard them, or more likely, smelled them creeping up the outside wooden stairs to Margie's flat in Portland. She slammed herself against the front door, warbling and wriggling in a way that could only mean a member of her pack was nearby. Margie was already heading for the door when the knock came. Still, her expression when she opened it and saw all eight beloveds lined up down the steps like a Ziegfield production was joyous enough to make Myra cry. She hugged them in from the misting rain, making incoherent sounds much like Narnia. Gillam and Carly ferried everyone's packages of bread, preserves, herbs, and birthday presents to the kitchen table, and found a place to stack coats. Allie and Edwina carried in kitchen chairs so there were enough seats for everybody, though Gillam opted to sit on the floor against a wall with Narnia sprawled over him.

After almost an hour of conversation, Carly jumped in to say "Breakfast was eons ago, I'm starving, could we go somewhere to eat?"

"Too bad Simpatica is dinner only" said Ginny.

"Oh!" exclaimed Margie. "They're having a brunch seating today, because it's the holiday!" She accepted Myra's cell and called, talking to the manager because Frances was too busy. When she hung up, she said "If we leave right now...but I guess it means the bus -- "

"We have a rental car" said Ginny. Carly scrambled to bring them all coats. Gillam explained to a disbelieving Narnia that they were all leaving again, but promised a long romp outside with her later.

They were seated at one of the long communal tables with another group of four who turned out to be the family of the salad chef. Margie sat at the head, a little in the aisle but the waiters didn't care, she was obviously very popular. The brunch menu was either fried chicken with waffles or a savory crepe filled with fresh corn, chestnuts, creme fraiche and bacon. Ginny had to settle for the chicken and waffles because the crepes had bacon. After Myra's crepes arrived, however, Ginny quietly took a bite of one. Her eyes opened wide and she whispered "Would you go halvsies?" "Happily" said Myra, offering her plate.

When Frances found a moment to come talk with them, the head chef accompanied her. He turned out to be a huge fan of Allie's book, and when Allie shook his hand, she said with a grin, "Poor Frances, she got six mothers-in-law with Margie", including herself in the number. Margie was glowing.

After eating, they made reservations for dinner at 8:00. They picked up Narnia and went to Margie's workshop at Reed where she showed them her current restoration projects. As the artists became engrossed, Gillam, Myra, Carly and Chris went outside into the rain to throw a ball for Narnia across deserted quads. They kept walking northwest from the arts complex until they reached Reed Canyon, with its aquifer-fed lake surrounded by wildlife habitat. They took the trail around it, leashing Narnia to avoid encounters that might prove upsetting to ducks and squirrels. They fell silent, listening to the rain on their hats, the wet crunch of their boots, and the birdcalls. Narnia appeared to know the place well, which made Myra glad: Margie had this as a refuge.

The next day they picked up Margie early -- Frances was still asleep -- and headed for Portland's Saturday Market. Between the food, the artisans, and the live music performances, this kept them busy all day. They had dinner again at Simpatica, where Ginny's tipping had the waitstaff awaiting their arrival. Well, plus Margie's shining face. On Sunday, Frances was able to join them when they went to Edwina's favorite restaurant for brunch, where Margie opened half her presents early, the "ones we can't stand to not see you open in person", as Allie put it. The rest were saved for her actual birthday.

Gillam and Carly asked to go with Myra to Powell's for a short but frenzied expedition through its floors. Margie kept swapping out half-hour chunks with each of her aunties for alone time, while Ginny chatted up Frances. They met again at 3:00 at Waterfront Park. Chris reminisced about being here with baby Gillam and toddler Margie at the beginning of Myra's book tour, long ago. Narnia refused to go further at one point, and Margie said "It's the towers over there at Friendship Circle, they make this weird sound that freaks her out."

Margie and Frances went with them to return the rental car and catch the train back at 6:00. They had a picnic dinner of sandwiches from Simpatica to eat on the trip home. Margie looked completely restored, and kept whispering "Thank you, thank you so much" to her family as she hugged them goodbye.

At one point on the train back, Carly, sitting next to Myra, said "Portland's rockin'. I can see why she loves living there."

"Caught your eye, did it? Are you going to add it to your list of possible settling down spots, then?" asked Myra.

Carly looked at her keenly. "No, there's only one place I intend to live. I've missed it long enough. Soon as I graduate, I'll be coming home again." Myra felt momentarily lightheaded at this news. She reminded herself not to pin her hopes on it -- young people needed room to change their minds. Still, she passed it on to Ginny later, and Ginny's face lit up as well.

Ginny and Myra had settled into a new routine. They got up late, ate breakfast together, ran errands, then separated for lunch until dinner, having dates with friends or working at their own projects. Their productivity climbed. Myra wrote an essay that got accepted by Salon, along with an offer for her to write a regular column there. She accepted and began turning out weekly or biweekly essays. From this, she finally broke down and started her own blog, a mix of writing and commentary that set her fans on fire and gave her a crash course in internet ethics.

Edwina finally got tenure again, at University of Washington. Myra and Ginny were with Allie at their home when Edwina walked in with the news. Edwina broke down sobbing, revealing how much stress she had been under. When she could talk again, she said "Now I come out from under wraps" with a glint in her eye. Myra and Ginny offered to help with any project she named.

Two days later, Sima got promoted to manager at the after-prison nonprofit agency where she worked. They all went out for a celebratory dinner. "We respectable now" said Allie in her toast, which made them laugh uproariously.

Margie called to say yes to the Christmas plans, and tickets were purchased, no longer at a discount. To everyone's surprise, Patty also accepted their invitation, along with her new partner, Thea, who was a taciturn but agreeable American Studies professor at Evergreen. The two of them found a lot to talk about with Edwina, and Ginny remarked Patty hadn't looked this good in a decade.

Myra felt very comfortable with Frances's family, who argued a great deal and teased in ways that Ginny found baffling. Myra did not have a good time during the lunch they shared with Courtney, Gillam, and Courtney's parents, who were liberal but upper class. Ginny said they reminded her of her mother's family and handled most of the conversation.

The best fun Myra had, however, was when she, Chris, Carly and Gillam pulled away from the artists and academics to take the Universal Studios tour. Myra came close to peeing herself when the fake shark from Jaws attacked their tram tour car next to a lagoon -- her brain knew better, but she couldn't stop screaming for a long minute. Carly and Gillam took turns imitating her for the rest of the family later, trying to perfect the high pitch of her shrieks.

Margie drove home for New Year's with Narnia, leaving Frances alone to work and sleep. Ginny dug as unobtrusively as she could, trying to find out if they were having tension, but Margie gave nothing up. On New Year's Eve, Margie went out with Amy and some friends. Gillam had remained in Olympia with Courtney, but Carly was at the house in Seattle and went out with Davonn and his crowd. Margie came back not long after midnight, woke up her mothers to wish them happy 2011, and was pulling out her cell phone as she left the bedroom, so they decided not to worry about her. Carly didn't get home until 3:00, though no one knew it but him and Narnia.

© 2008 Maggie Jochild.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008


(Poster by Ricardo Levins Morales at Northland Posters)

This is a reminder that I've volunteered to be the May host for the blogosphere's Carnival of Radical Feminists. The 14th Carnival will go up here on Monday, May 19th. The deadline for submissions is Monday, May 12th. Click here to submit a post (your own or someone else’s).

The goal of this Carnival is to foreground posts in the feminist blogosphere which highlight or showcase radical feminist analysis, theorizing, process, events, politics, and ideas, and which celebrate and honor sisterhood as it has been herstorically envisioned by radical feminists. This is not a single-issue identity, and posts which address the broad range of feminism's concerns are encouraged.

All submissions consistent with herstoric radical feminism are welcome, whether they are written by men or women, and even if the blogger does not specifically identify as a radical feminist (yet!). For more details about this Carnival's definitions of radical feminism, go here. And if you want the links to the current or past Carnivals, check here.

I'll keep bumping this notice up to the top of my queue every couple of days, to keep it handy for interested submitters. I'll see you all on May 19th!



Here's the weekly best of what I've gleaned from I Can Has Cheezburger efforts. There are some really creative folks out there. As usual, those from little gator lead the pack.


Monday, May 5, 2008


This is another segment of my novel-in-progress, Ginny Bates. This is a "flashback", a portion from 1999 which has only just been written, and would technically occur right after the family meets up with Myra's ex-lover Myra (2) at a Chinese restaurant. It stands on its own, however.

If you are already a familiar reader, begin below. If you need background, check the links in the sidebar on the right, fifth item down, to get caught up.

Monday, 29 November 1999 -- Gillam is 8, Margie is about to be 11

The day the World Trade Organization delegates began convening in Seattle, Allie, Myra and Ginny picked up the kids at Lowell by 11:30. The children did a quick change in the back of the car, Margie donning a plush orca costume and Gillam sliding into a green sea turtle ensemble with a leather shell, both of them made by Belva in time for Halloween. As they caught the bus to downtown, Ginny coaxed bites of sandwich and sips of juice into her excited offspring.

They found the staging area of Friends of the Earth and joined the contingent of around 250 people, the five of them holding hands across the street, each child sandwiched between two adults. The march went down Fifth Avenue to the Convention Center. They listened to some speeches, but the kids quickly grew restless. Myra suggested they take the photos they'd shot to a quick developing place, have them made into postcards, and go home to write letters on them to their elected officials. Once home, Hannah sat with the children at the coffee table, addressing postcards for them while the TV was on mute, hoping to catch news coverage of the day's events.

As Myra was starting dinner, she heard Margie screaming "That's me! There I am!" Hannah had pushed the record button on the tape loaded earlier, so the footage of their progress was saved. They flipped through channels and discovered almost every station had a clip of them -- "No wonder, with how much those costumes cost" said Ginny. The assemblage of video was played over and over again that evening. By bedtime, however, Myra's take on the news was not good.

"It's going to escalate" she said. "And our neighborhood is right on the edge of it. I think a lot of parents are going to balk at letting their kids attend Margie's birthday party here tomorrow after school." She'd meant to keep her voice low, but Margie overheard it.

"What do you mean?" she demanded, coming into the study. "What about my party?"

"I think we may need to postpone it until the weekend" said Ginny. "We want your friends to come, and with the way things are out there -- "

Margie was preparing to bawl. Myra said "How about if you stay home tomorrow, instead of going to school, and we'll walk down as far as it's safe to see what's going on?"

Margie changed gears. "Another march, you mean?"

"Not necessarily" said Ginny. "We think there's going to be conflicts between the protestors and the police, and we can't be in the middle of that. But maybe we could see some of it from down the block. Only I think you should go to school in the morning, long enough for your class to sing you happy birthday. We can pick you up at noon and go out for your lunch."

"Yes!" said Margie, shoving her fist into the air. "Can I wear my orca outfit again?"

"No" said Myra. "In case of trouble, you, all of us, will have to be ready to run fast." She could see this only excited Margie more. Gillam, however, looked worried. So did Allie.

Allie said "There's rumors that anarchists are arriving from all over to agitate, including that bunch from Eugene."

Margie said "My friend Tifney's older sister Mei-xie is an anarchist".

Myra was distracted by wondering about parents whose naming choices for their daughters would progress from Mei-xie to Tifney. Allie asked Margie "Why don't you tell me what you think an anarchist is?"

"Someone who's against making children have to work for a living, and who hates greedy corporations" said Margie glibly. "We talk about it at recess."

"Do you now" said Ginny, her eyes meeting Myra's.

Gillam said "I thought an anarchist was like Sacco and Vanzetti. You know, not a capitalist and not a communist, but the other choice."

Myra ran her hands through his hair as she said to Ginny "I think they're old enough now for 'Justice Denied in Massachusetts'."

"Maybe, but not at bedtime" said Ginny. "Listen, you two go get on your PJs and brush your teeth. I'm going to make quick calls to the friends you invited, Margie, and reschedule your party for Saturday afternoon. When I'm done, I'll come up and teach you about anarchism, about our glorious Jewish foremother Emma Goldman and the rest." As Margie and Gillam collected goodnight kisses, Ginny said to Myra "You need to come up with a plan for tomorrow I can sign off on."

As Ginny picked up the phone, Myra went to the breakfast bar and began leafing through the yellow pages. Allie, who had followed her, said "What are you looking for?"

"Army surplus stores. Gas masks" said Myra tersely. "Damn, none of them are open this late."

"Try one of the big home improvement centers" said Allie. When Myra looked at her questioningly, Allie said "Paint respirators will work." They left five minutes later, putting a note for Ginny on the fridge.

When they got back, it was almost 11:00. Ginny was still up, saying "I was beginning to worry."

"The first two places we checked, they were sold out" said Myra. "Other folks had the same idea. We finally drove almost out of the city to a place that's open till midnight." She emptied her bag on the dining table: Two pairs of respirators in different sizes and a roll of duct tape.

"Oh, god, Myra" said Ginny anxiously.

"I don't intend for us to be anywhere near tear gas" said Myra. "But in a worst case scenario, I want those kids covered."

"Why only four?" asked Ginny, looking at Allie. "Aren't you going, too?"

"First of all, I'm a black dyke. Might as well have a target on my forehead when it comes to cops. Second, somebody need to be here, for emergencies" said Allie.

"We figured watch caps under bike helmets, thick pants and turtleneck, cuffs taped to socks, and enough practice on donning the masks that they'll be okay in a rush. Otherwise, no go" said Myra.

"The radio said they's a curfew for tomorrow downtown beginning at 7:00. I figure be home by dusk, they'll see some activity but the real trouble won't erupt until after that" said Allie.

Ginny sighed. "They're both jazzed. They seem to understand some of these issues better than I do. I'm simply not that worked up about the WTO."

"It's their generation" said Myra. She and Ginny high-fived each other. Ginny said "All her presents are wrapped, and the cake is hidden. We should get some sleep, she'll be up early tomorrow."

"You wanna crash here or risk the streets between here and Queen Anne?" Myra asked Allie.

"Bearsis needs me" said Allie. "I'll go north and cut over. But I'll leave extra food out for him and pack a bag so I can sleep here tomorrow night."

Ginny hid the riot gear while Myra walked Allie to her car. When they slid into bed together, Myra pushed up next to Ginny and said "This time 11 years ago, you were in a world of pain."

"I couldn't believe what she looked like when she came out, a complete person. From inside me. It still seems not quite possible" said Ginny.

"You're a miracle worker" agreed Myra.

For breakfast Myra made pancakes in the shape of anarchist symbols, with bacon and Margie's favorite, deviled eggs. Hannah said she was going to her university classes but would be home in the afternoon if they needed her. She didn't quite approve of the planned outing, Myra thought. Ginny drove the kids to school with a box of cupcakes for Margie to share with her class. Margie was wearing the beautiful sea-green felt hat that was the present she'd been allowed to open at breakfast, from her Aunt Cathy and Uncle Michael.

Myra rolled out dough and made the assortment of pizzas that were Margie's choice for her birthday dinner. She covered them with foil and stashed them in the fridge for last-minute baking. She lay down for another hour of sleep, and Ginny joined her before the alarm woke them to pick up the kids from school. Margie was crazed with excitement and sugar. She had finally settled on giant kosher dogs and lemonade at the Bagel Deli for her birthday lunch outing.

This section of 15th Avenue was much busier than usual on a weekday. Myra lucked out with a parking space, but she stood on the curb and looked toward downtown for a long minute before following her family into the deli. On the way home, she detoured to Broadway and chose a route they could take on foot later.

Allie was at home when they got there. She let Margie open her "small" present from her right away: A pair of Olympic swim goggles. Gillam looked at them enviously. Then Ginny went upstairs and selected demonstration attire for each child while Myra printed out and laminated emergency contact cards to be strung on lanyards around each child's chest.

The training began in earnest. At one point, Myra flung a cup of water into Gilllam's face and said "Don't rub your face! What do you do?" Gillam fumbled from one pocket a wet bandana stored in a ziplock and his other pocket a small squeeze bottle of water. He rinsed his eyes and wiped them carefully. Myra waited for ten minutes to catch Margie unaware before repeating the experiment with her.

They drilled them on every conceivable procedure. Margie grew more excited and Gillam more solemn. Periodically Ginny would interrupt with a shout of "Gas!", and seconds were counted down as each child pulled the mask at the back of their neck over their helmets and tightened the straps while holding their breath. Eventually response was rapid and efficient.

Myra decided against gloves for the kids because they needed finger dexterity. She taped their sleeves to their wrists, and put $2 worth of quarters into each of their pockets, as well as a bus pass. Allie was given a folder of documents and a credit card. Ginny squatted down in front of Margie to say "If you don't obey every single thing we say instantly, without argument, we are leaving for home right then, no excuses." Margie put on a serious face to nod her understanding, but her eyes were dancing.

They had one last bathroom run, ate a power bar apiece with some orange juice, and hugged Allie bye. "Look for us on the news!" said Margie.

"I hope not" said Allie. Hannah's face shared that sentiment.

Myra and Ginny, with the kids between them, walked down East Roy to 15th, where they caught a bus as far as East Harrison. They switched to a bus going west to Broadway. This was as far as Myra was willing to venture. The main crowds were closer to I-5 and beyond. She asked the kids one last time: "If you have to go home alone, which route do you take?"

"Not the bus" said Gillam obediently. Margie cut him off: "Up Broadway to Mercer, Mercer to 14th, 14th to Roy, Roy to home" she recited.

"Is it okay to run?" asked Ginny.

"Yes, if we can see where we are going" they answered in unison. Myra checked Gillam's face to see if he was simply being brave and loyal to his family, but she could find no fear there. This was pure adventure: He believed he was safe with his mothers.

They kept running across people they knew, especially political dykes from Myra's heydey. Much of Capitol Hill seemed to be out for the spectacle, and public opinion was running in favor of the protestors. Whenever a chant started up, they joined in, the children screaming joyously. "This is what democracy looks like" shouted by her kids filled Myra's chest with raw pride.

They made their way slowly to East John, which seemed to be a conduit to and from downtown for demonstrators. When they waited on one corner next to a cluster of young people, mostly men, dressed entirely in black, Myra heard one of the teenagers say "We got FAO Schwartz", which attracted Margie's attention. Myra instantly pulled her family the other direction, crossing the street away from this group. Behind her she heard them begin chanting "No Justice No Peace" and she put a block between them before she said to Ginny quietly, "Looking for trouble, no theory."

After an hour, there was a sudden shift in the air. Myra felt it first and began looking down John from their corner at Broadway, trying to see. The crowds were too thick, and the numbers of taller, broad-shouldered men blocked her view even on tiptoe. Her grip on Gillam's arm tightened and she said to Ginny "Can you see anything?", which was a little crazy given that Ginny was even shorter. In the second that Myra translated a distant rhythmic clamor as "For shame, for shame!", Margie pulled free from Ginny's hand and disappeared into the throng beside them. Ginny screamed "Margie!" and lunged after her.

And caught up with her four steps away by slamming into a man who looked belligerent enough that Myra doubled her free fist as she followed Ginny. She elbowed around him, shielding Gillam on the other side of her, and saw Ginny standing beside a metal light pole which had a flared base. Margie was up the pole, her head a meter higher than Myra's, and her gaze was fixed down John.

"I see pigs on horses!" she cried out, which instantly shifted the angry man into laughter. "Six of them -- no, seven! And there are fuzz with shields!"

"Tac squad" said Myra. "That's it, we're outta here." Margie jumped down in front of Ginny and grabbed Ginny's hand, pulling them up Broadway to the north. Myra crouched slightly and said "Gillam, on my back." He scrambled onto her without hesitation and she closed the gap between her and Ginny, ignoring her knees.

Half the crowd seemed to be trying to match their direction, but the other half was moving against them. They had not made it an entire block to Thomas Street before Myra heard another shift in the sound behind her. The street began to fill, cars and buses immobilized, and suddenly everyone was now going their direction. Margie was tugging Ginny to the side, into a gap between two buildings which seemed to lead into a parking lot. Myra yelled "NO! We don't know if it's open on the other end!"

Margie shouted back "I do, I've been here skateboarding with Amy!" and she surged on. Ginny followed, as did Myra. The parking lot stretched north and south but not quite to accessible street in those directions. However, it was unobstructed all the way to 10th Avenue, and across 10th was another open-looking parking lot, which appeared to be where Margie was heading. It was coming on dark, enough to interfere with vision but not yet enough to activate the street lights.

They crossed 10th and Ginny finally jerked Margie to a halt. When Myra and Gillam reached them, they all turned to look behind them. Between one tiny gap they could see blue uniforms turning north onto Broadway. Myra fished her inhaler from her pocket and took a hit as Ginny said "Do you smell any gas yet?"

Myra had to shake her head, she was too winded to answer. Not good. The cops appeared in the gap they had just used to leave Broadway, still going north instead of their direction but moving in a unified mass on foot, led by big plexiglass shields like icecutters. The crowd which was diverted to the side were being pounded on by burly, enraged cops with batons held like massive shortened pool cues, sideways jabs instead of overhead blows. Anybody struck went down.

Except for one teenaged boy, who doubled over but kept his feet. The cop who had hit him turned back halfway and this time did raise his club for an angled assault on his head. Gillam's voice blasted past Myra's ear: "Don't you TOUCH him, you FUCKER!"

Another load of adrenaline hit Myra's blood. She turned and saw Ginny was leading now, into the second parking lot and angling northeast. She loped after them, clutching Gillam tight at his knees, and when they emerged onto Thomas, they took the quick jog onto Federal and ran north up the middle of the street for two blocks. By this point, the crowds had thinned, cars were moving again, so at Republican they resumed the sidewalk, going east and then north on 11th to Mercer.

Myra had to stop on Mercer again to use her inhaler and catch her breath. She gasped "I can't hear, are they closing in on us?" Ginny said "No. Not coming this way." People in their yards and on front steps stared at them, two women and two children in gas masks and full flight. When Myra could think about taking another step without fainting, they continued east on Mercer, walking now, Ginny taking the rear and turning to listen often.

When they reached East Roy and a stretch of giant old trees shading the sidewalk, Gillam said in Myra's ear, "Mama! I have to pee, I don't think I can wait!" She halted and let him slip down. He was clutching his crotch, his face contorted.

"We'll make a shield for you" said Myra, pushing him toward the wide base of one of the trees and standing at a right angle. Ginny followed suit, saying to Margie "Don't look at him, keep watch behind us." He was horribly embarrassed, but unzipped his jeans and relieved himself with only a little spillage on his shoes.

Myra took his hand again, managed a grin and said "I bet you feel better, huh". He laughed, and suddenly they were all in hysterics. They kept moving, taking the increasingly steep hill of Roy Street slowly but steadily. They were still laughing when they burst in the front door, Juju barking and leaping at each of them in succession.

Allie had the TV on, and Hannah was standing beside the easy chair. They looked extremely relieved at the family's return, and Allie said "All hell breaking loose out there."

"We know!" said Ginny. "We had to outrun it!"

They recreated the past two hours, culminating in Margie's heroic sighting and scouting, and Gillam's scream at the cop. Both children were so proud of themselves they couldn't sit but had to pace the floor. Once Myra could breathe normally again, which took half an hour, she put pizza into the oven while Ginny finished the salad. Sima and Chris arrived while they were doing this, and this time Margie and Gillam told the entire story, rushing to reach their parts in the drama. They were utterly gratified by the amazement Chris and Sima showed.

Hannah said "Pat and Patty called, they don't want to venture out, said they'd come to the party on Saturday. But Ms. Schevitz wants to come, so I'll walk over and escort her."

The Margie and Gillam show was reprised for Ms. Schevitz, Margie now beginning to elaborate on her thoughts and actions a little. As they were eating, David and Helen called, and Margie got on the extension to tell the story for a fourth time. When Ginny came back to the table, she said David was laughing his ass off but Helen was probably calling child welfare as they spoke.

Cake, ice cream, and presents were somewhat anticlimactic. The children were finally persuaded out of their "demo gear" once they were soaked through with sweat, although after he was in a T-shirt and sweats, Gillam put the gas mask back around his neck. Margie stashed the contents of her pockets in her bedside drawer, where a week later Myra found the bandana completely covered in mildew inside its ziplock and threw it away.

The only disappointment was that their dash from danger did not appear on any of the news broadcasts. Much of the violence was shown, however, which sobered up the adults. Margie and Gillam seized on the label "Battle for Seattle" and kept working it into the conversation wherever they could. Bedtime was very late that night.

The next day, Myra and Ginny both slept in while Hannah drove the kids to school. Allie left at 10:00, and Myra came in later from carrying out the trash to hear Ginny on the phone. She didn't pay much attention until she heard Ginny say "I really do appreciate you calling, Bonnie, and we'll deal with it."

Myra said "Your Bonnie?" as Ginny hung up.

Ginny twisted around on the breakfast stool, grinning, and said "She hasn't really been my Bonnie for 15 years, honey. But yes."

"What happened at school?" said Myra, her stomach sinking. "Didn't Hannah warn them to keep their traps shut?"

"Either she forgot, or they did" said Ginny. "At lunch recess, they acted out Margie's version of the extravaganza, complete with some kids playing 'pigs' and others being protestors. Bonnie was the teacher on the playground and she managed to intervene before anyone was actually struck, although Gillam still uttered his clarion cry, substituting 'EFFERS!' for the obscenity." Ginny was now laughing hard.

"Oh, shit. Are we going to be called before the PTSA?" said Myra.

"No, Bonnie explained to the other teachers that we were out for Margie's birthday and accidentally got caught up in the fray" said Ginny. "She put the fear of god into both of our hellions and banned all further riot-based play during recess."

Myra relaxed enough to giggle. "She covered for you. That's decent of her."

"She did remark they were both the image of me" said Ginny fondly. "I'm pretty sure it was a compliment." They hugged each other gleefully.

A week later, Myra took the kids after school to the local anarchist bookstore. Margie got a sticker for her skateboard which read "Visualize Insurrection", while Gillam's sticker for his bike said "There's no government like NO government." On their trips to thrift stores for clothes, both kids began demanding black T-shirts and jeans instead of the bright colors favored by their mothers.

© 2008 Maggie Jochild.