Sunday, March 31, 2013

The First Best Day

a tired, messy child
Yesterday was the most beautiful day of 2013 yet here in SC. I spent a good a part of the morning wrapping my stuff for the student art sale. Then we all went out.

We went to Pita House, which for all you non-locals is everybody's favorite middle eastern restaurant and grocery. We stocked up on some essentials then headed to the park. Am made a friend while Bea and I dug a pretty good hole on the soccer field. (By the soccer field!) James went off and got our produce while we played.

When the kids were thoroughly worn out, we came home and put 'em down for naps. Homework, etc.

And then it was time for dinner.

Dinner was a three hour period of cooking, eating, repeating. I fried up some corn tortillas into taco shells while James got everything else ready. I made a shit-ton of sopapillas that were gone before they got to the table!

After dinner, we took our messy, sticky kids into the backyard for a bonfire. Bea and Am played in the treehouse while James cut firewood and I kept the fire going. Oh, summer, get here already!

When the sun went down, we came in for baths, storytime (The Lorax) and bed. For the kids anyway. I still had hours of research for a speech I'm writing on nuclear energy and James practiced songs for an upcoming show. I oughta do that too. :)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Student Art Sale

We have an art sale coming up at school. So many people have submitted work! I don't know about you, but not much excites me like good student art. The sale is this coming Wednesday and Thrusday. So if you are in the SC area, you really oughta come check it out. The price range is super low, $5-30. Here's some of the stuff I'm entering:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Castaic, CA

So I'm getting re-acclimated to life in the South. Getting all that time away has me wondering, how did I manage such a busy schedule before? I can't seem to keep up now.

At the Greenpeace Action Camp, I stayed in a cabin with a number of other girls. I used my domestic skillz to make it look like this:

Tidy, eh? And I kept my self fairly tidy also. I washed my hands a few times every day, anyway. For whatever that's worth.

This is a good time to say that the food was better than good. It was amazing. And I was super hungry thanks to long days and lots of sun. I ate like 3 times my usual amount, y'all. 

There were around 160 folks at the camp. We were split into four tracks: climbing, boating, blockading, arting. These are (most of) the Arts in Action campers and the giant condor we made:

We also made a snake, a number of banners and signs, some puppets, t-shirt stencils, etc. We learned interesting techniques for DIYing that I'm already implementing here at home. We learned about telling a story through our art, making our text on banners readable and getting across the intended message. Someone gave us tips for getting our political art out on the streets. Another trainer led a four-hour street theatre workshop. We played some fun improv games (right up my alley, you know :) and did an intense role play in which I was the CEO of a coal company. 

I met a lot of people from all over the place and made a number of friends. I hope we stay in touch and encourage each other in our various projects. 

For me, the greatest outcome is that I now have a clearer vision of my own path than before and I can see it stretched out ahead of me. Here in Greenville, SC I had never seen anyone be a non-corporate graphic designer so I didn't have first hand knowledge that such a career could even be possible. Now I have that validation and I can apprehensionlessly* dedicate myself 110% to Arts in Action!

There was so much more than this at camp, but for now, just this much. I have homework to do. 

*It works because you knew what I meant. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Home Again

I'm back from California! I got back Sunday night, but have been so confused with all that time changing. It's good to be back in the South, back with James and these babies.

I learned so much and gained so much in just one week that it's pretty overwhelming. But s'tch-k because I took mad notes. The entire time. I wrote down everything, even my meals. Well, almost everything. Let's not get boring with our descriptions, right?

My homesickness was only kept at bay by the intense camp schedule and powerful winds of Castaic. It's a really beautiful place and I'll show you pictures later if you want. In fact, I think I will show you pictures over the next few days and tell you a lot about what I learned and how it inspires me.

Here's what I came home to:

Here's what else I came home to: a clean house, a bunch of sweet letters from James, an organized studio, an unrelenting amount of homework and the first Darger Pop show in years on the books for April 19th!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Guest Post: Credentials

/// I love James Wesley Nichols' post! Check it out, check his blog out, comment! ///

I read a lot of books and articles, critiques of society and alternatives, activist and radical literature. As a writer, sometimes I'm intimidated by the level of scholarship I'm met with.

Anybody with even a perfunctory knowledge of the goings on of today's world knows that as a species humanity faces a number of challenges to its survival. Given the urgency of the situation and the necessity of immediate action, the idea that academic credentials or the lack of them should hold anyone back from participating is laughable, so the intimidation factor goes out the window.

Instead what we have to do is take a good look at ourselves and see what we have to offer. I may not be an expert in foreign policy or economics, but I'm a fairly decent writer and I can use that to transfer whatever I learn to others who have even less information than me.  If my writing proved to be useless, I could always just carry sandbags or dig trenches.

But if the goal is to raise consciousness, both in oneself and others, then writing and all forms of art and communication become absolutely essential. It doesn't matter if I don't have a PhD in anything; I can hyperlink to someone who does.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Guest Post: Becoming Radical

/// James Wesley Nichols is back with some great stuff. I'm totally on board! ///

From the time I was in high school I'd pay attention to the news and criticize the government, television, business and society in general. I was probably a lot harder to be friends with than I am even now. Mom always warned me not to be radical. For some reason "radical" has become a dirty word, I guess. But back then I mostly aligned myself with the Democrats, who only seemed slightly left of the status quo. Now it has become increasingly clear that the Democratic Party in practice actually lies far to the right of average working voters* like me.

Mom said I shouldn't be "radical," but I disagree. Radical change is what we need.

Here's how defines "radical:"


 [rad-i-kuhl]  Show IPA
of or going to the root or origin; fundamental: a radical difference.
thoroughgoing or extreme, especially as regards change from accepted or traditional forms: a radical change in the policy of a company.
favoring drastic political, economic, or social reforms: radical ideas; radical and anarchistic ideologues.
forming a basis or foundation.
existing inherently in a thing or person: radical defects of character.

Since radicalism is change at the root, then as radicals we are devoted to changing ourselves and our society at the fundamental level. That means we need to become conscious of and understand society and its infrastructures, identify and imagine new institutions and social structures and begin organizing and making our dreams real. To change things from the ground up. It's a life-long process.

Anyone can learn, anyone can change, anyone can imagine and dream of a better world or even a better personal life, and those things are radical when they are acted upon.

* I'm actually not a voter. But more on that later. In the meantime, enjoy this Howard Zinn quote: "If the gods had intended people to vote, they would have given us candidates."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Guest Post: Human Exceptionalism

/// This is a guest post by my sweet, smart husband, James Wesley Nichols. ///

I don't believe in American Exceptionalism.

It's not a doctrine or even a phrase that finds wide mainstream use anymore, having mostly fallen out of favor in the 1960s. But it could definitely be argued to be a thread in the fabric of our culture and is obviously apparent in the foreign policies of our government.

I don't buy it.

What I do believe in though is human exceptionalism.

Not in any religious sense or the sense of a human right to dominate nature, but rather in the sense that humans are the primary actors on the world stage, and as such have the ultimate responsibility for our own fate.

In spite of the political and media controversy over anthropogenic global warming (AGW), there is a broad consensus (roughly 97-98%) among climate scientists that average temperatures have risen significantly over the past several decades and that the cause is manmade carbon emissions.

This is where we come in. An interesting correlation has been shown between brain size and intelligence. Perhaps more specifically, brain mass in comparison to the size of the body is a good indicator of the intelligence of a species. Compared with birds and reptiles, and nearly every other species on earth (except dolphins), humans have the largest brains and most intelligence. [1]

But isn't our intelligence what got us into this mess in the first place?

The odds seem to be against us. Intelligence - our ideas and innovations - created capitalism and industrialism and the ecological catastrophes Earth is now suffering. Maybe our intelligence will be the death of us.

But if we're to have any hope at all for the survival of our species, we have to believe in our own exceptionalism, in our abilities to innovate and cooperate to find a new way. Maybe humanity's defining trait, the thing that makes us most different from all the other animal species on the planet isn't our intelligence at all. Maybe what makes us most human is our ability to seemingly do the impossible. Maybe what makes us most human is our knack for doing superhumanthings

 [1] Carl Sagan, The Dragons of Eden, Random House, 1977, 33-40.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Ev'ry Day I'm Tumblin'

That's right. I am. I queued up a bunch of stuff to post all week while I'm gone. So head on over and see what's what. (hint: there's a link on the nav bar.)

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Don't look for me here. I'm gone away for the week. 

No phone.
No internet.
No devices.
No distractions.

(some posts are queued tho :)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I Miss Them Already

I don't leave until tomorrow. But I miss them already. I'm choosing all the pictures to print and bring with me to California. I have a little blue photo album to stow in my carry-on. How can I leave these darlings behind for a whole ever loving week? What if I get two days in and can't take it?

Oh, boy. It's hopeless. Too much sweet and too much cute. 

And just the right amount of crazy.

Friday, March 15, 2013


This tune is dripping with nostalgia, which is something I think ought to be avoided. In most cases. But here, I think it works. These are two versions of the same tune. Written and recorded by Darger (myownself) at the Wolf Note HQ.

If you like them or dislike them or like one more than the other, do tell. Do.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Action Camp: Next Week!

Action Camp is less than a week away now and I am starting to get excited! Campers got an email today with tons of links. I have so much reading to do! All about understanding how sexism/racism/privilege and divide-and-rule strategies of the 1% play a role in activism.

(That's not the only reading I have to do. James and I are sourcing a lot of books for an info shop we are putting together. Most of the books will come from lists found through ZNet. That's my go-to for leftist reading. They have all kinds of lists so that you can find just the right book depending on your area of interest such as feminism, labor history, race relations, and my personal favorite left program and strategy.)

Besides reading, I have to get ready! This will be the farthest I've been from South Carolina and the longest I've been away from James and the kids. I'm talking to the kids about it so that they know I'll come back and don't think I've abandoned them. But Am just clings to my neck and says, "I wanna go to California." Only it sounds more like, colly-foun-ee-aaaaah, with the emphasis on the last syllable because it is a wail. Poor guy.

Other than that, I am making packing lists and trying not to be nervous about the logistics of cross country travel. Yikes.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Time; Don't Waste It

What should students do when teachers don't teach?

I don't mean they never teach. I mean, lots and lots of class time is wasted. This is happening right now in two of my classes.

In my Public Speaking class, the teacher arrives on time and starts class promptly at 8am. We get out of there by 8:30! I am paying for a full hour and fifteen minutes of instruction, but I'm getting a measly half hour.

This is also happening in Graphic Design 3. Sometimes, we have projects to work on independently, so it's not applicable for those days. But some days, we have nothing to do until the teacher deigns to give us his time. This is usually 20-30 minutes after class was supposed to start. There are also times like Tuesday when everyone hung out on facebook for close to an hour while the teacher wandered around, sat in his office, chatted before he finally started class.

I don't mind some down time, but class time is time I'm paying for. It is time I will be making payments on for years to come. It is time I am not with my children, not helping James earn our living. It is time specifically set aside for learning, specifically for being taught.

I think it is disrespectful for teachers to waste my time. When they lecture, I listen. I take notes, I ask questions to make sure I grasp the material, I read the assignments, I do the projects. My GPA is proof of my hard work and dedication. That is how students show respect to teachers. (In addition to addressing them respectfully and being polite, etc. of course.)

It surprises me that more of my classmates don't seem to have a problem with this. They seem to just be glad he's not making them do anything. I suspect those people won't value their time until they start getting the student loan bills. I've seen them, so I know this is no joke.

Students who pay as much as we do in the US for college should demand rigor. We should demand assignments, direction, critique, academic challenges, etc.

What do you think? Do you think I should just be happy that my degree will be easier to attain?

Friday, March 8, 2013


We are better. Massive amounts of zinc and vitamin C did the trick. :)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Anti-Corporate Anyday

You know how all these pretty blogs have a day of the week dedicated to sharing lovely, expensive things they want to buy? I thought it might be nice to take a break from all those distracting superficialities and turn the brights on the corruption of it all. What do you say?

I heard an ad on the radio that really upset me. It was a Wal-Mart ad. I don't know about you, but I never hear Wal-Mart ads, except for maybe a short sponsor spot on public radio. This W-M ad offered to beat local sales. Bring in a coupon from any local store and W-M will beat their prices!

My family lives in a part of town that a generation ago was comprised entirely of mom and pops. I mean, this area was jam-packed with small town staples like the hardware store, diners, post office, cotton gin, feed & seed, local grocer, etc. Now there's Bi-Lo, a recently closed K-Mart, BP, Big Lots, O'Reilly Auto Parts, Hardees, Wendy's and so on.

Most of the local places are long gone and the ones that remain don't have a chance if a big box store comes in and promises to beat their prices. The Quick Stop Garden Spot workers have grandkids. They can't mark their stuff down any more. Their only defense against corporate bullies is all of us loyal customers. And we are all poor anyway.

But I guess as long as the Waltons want more money, what's to stop them from getting it? After all, profit is the highest value of our society.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Not Serving

My recent post about waiting tables has been one of my most-read posts ever here on my blog. I thought you all might be interested to know how it turned out. Did I go back? Did I call and tell them off? Did they call and rudely fire me? Did we all pretend it never happened? Was I paid all my back tips and given a profuse apology?

What happened was much less dramatic and passive aggressive.

After no communication all week, the very day of my next shift, I got a text from my manager, the co-owner, the boss's wife. It was simple.

"Thanks for giving your two weeks notice. However, we've worked it out so you don't have to come in. I'll let you know when your paycheck is ready."

Monday, March 4, 2013


Being sick, James and I are watching more TV than usual. Which means Netflix. We are in the middle of the Wikileaks/Julian Assange documentary on there. Have you seen it?

I remember when I first heard about him on NPR and it was all sex scandal stuff that just seemed so far fetched and bogus. Back then, I still really looked up to NPR as a balanced, honest news source. But I smelled a rat in that whole mess. Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in the UK for, what, over a year now right?

And it is so obvious that they want to shut him up, they want him dead and gone and forgotten. But not for these made up charges (of consensual sex without protection). Rather, he is responsible for leaking anonymously submitted classified documents that reveal abuses and even illegal U.S. military activity.

One of Julian Assange's biggest supporters is Daniel Elssberg who released the Pentagon Papers in 1971, revealing what really went on in Vietnam. From his website, linked to his name, "Since the end of the Vietnam War, Ellsberg has been a lecturer, writer and activist on the dangers of the nuclear era, wrongful U.S. interventions and the urgent need for patriotic whistleblowing." 

I think it is very important for us to be critical, inform ourselves and dig deeper.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Oh, my dear readers, I need your help. Please share with me your go-to cold remedies. I know it's an incurable illness. I know I have to wait it out. But I need you to tell me that there is hope, that I can do this or that crazy and illogical thing and find some kind of relief. (Like that one I heard about on NPR, the "two hats" remedy. You get a bottle of whiskey and sit on your bed with a hat placed on the foot of your bed. You drink the whiskey until there appear to be two hats. By then, either your cold is gone or you don't care anymore.)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Ginger Ale and Saltines

I have been so sick this weekend! I was up all night and in bed all day. Literally, all day today.