Archive for July, 2008

You at the grocery store

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

I don’t want to name names because I realize you’re just trying to be nice, and you’re maybe a little socially awkward like me and you really have no idea what to say to anyone. I mean, I do much prefer you being nice to being mean, and I appreciate that you don’t duck away or avert your eyes like you haven’t seen me at all. But here’s the scenario, and it happens all the time:

I’m in line at the grocery store, my little pint of Coconut Bliss on the belt, baby propped on my hip. He’s smiling gleeful mischievous as he pulls my hair.

Comes a voice: “Hey? Ariel?”

I turn around. “Oh, hey–how are you? I haven’t seen you in a while.”

“Oh my god, I know, and your baby is so CUTE. Congratulations. He’s adorable!”

“Thanks, I know. I think he turned out rather well.” I’m nodding and smiling and trying not to be socially awkward.

And then you nod and you’re silent for a moment before you continue. “Yeah, you know, one of my daughter’s classmates has two moms, and you know, he’s just a really great kid.”

I keep smiling, wonder why you are telling me this. “Cool,” I say. “Right on.”

“Yeah,” you say. “He’s just very normal and great. I mean, we’ve never had him over or anything–”

And then it dawns on me. You are telling me this because you know that my son has two moms, too, and you want me to know that this is all right with you, and you want me to know that this other boy who has two moms is cool–is normal–and so maybe my adorable baby has some hope of being cool, too, of being normal. Like maybe he won’t grow horns from his head after all, and, you know, you won’t have us over or anything, but my baby might turn out fine, might turn out good enough even to go to school with your daughter.

“Well, thanks,” I say. “That’s great news.” And it’s not like I really want you to be embarrassed, but I’m mildly surprised to see that you’re not.

You’re not the least bit embarrassed!

So I pay for my pint of non-dairy ice cream and go.

California Milk Processors Board goes after Alaska mama

Friday, July 25th, 2008

When she sat down in her one-room Alaska cabin three years ago to hand-letter some slogans promoting breastfeeding on a dozen or so onesies, Talkeetna artist Barbara Holmes had no idea she was threatening agribusiness-powerhouse, the California Milk Processors Board. But such is the nature of the aggressive approach of CMPB in search of trademark infringement, that Ms. Holmes found herself on the receiving end of a highly-aggressive demand letter earlier this month…

The same letter I got in January!

Read Barbara’s story on her lawyer’s blog, or in the Anchorage Daily News

Writing Workshop in Oaxaca – Workshop may be full! Email Ariel if you’re interested in coming

Monday, July 14th, 2008

I’m hosting a writing workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico this winter! The class size is super-limited, so read on and sign up early if you’re coming…

Christmastime Writing Workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico with Ariel Gore

December 11 – 17

As the light of the north wanes this winter, spend a week writing and soaking up inspiration in the sunshine of southern Mexico.

Find your voice as a writer, explore your craft, produce new short stories, get feedback on your work, write that book proposal, revive an ongoing project–even get started on a new book.

On retreats like these, writers can often produce ten to twelve new pages each day. Your pace may be faster or slower, but I guarantee that you’ll come away from the experience with some excellent new work and a sense of creative rejuvenation.

Here’s the plan…

December 11

You’ll arrive in Oaxaca and check into the wonderful Casa Colonial guesthouse where you’ll stay for six nights and enjoy full, delicious breakfasts each morning (Mexican and American fare). On the evening of your check-in, you’ll also enjoy a light cena prepared by chef Teresa Garcia and you’ll meet Ariel and the other writers.

December 12
December 12 is the sacred Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe–revered as the patron saint and Queen of all Mexico. In Oaxaca, she is honored on December 12 with songs at dawn and activities throughout the day–including the presentation of the children to the Virgin, music, fireworks, and carnival rides. Settle into this amazing city, enjoy the celebrations, and meet with Ariel for your workshop syllabus and first writing assignment.

December 13 through 17

We’ll meet for two hours each morning–usually in the living room or covered patio of Casa Colonial.

We’ll share new work, offer critique and ideas, write together, and stir up the inspiration. You’ll spend another two to three hours each day writing on your own. Your rooms have desks, the guesthouse has a library, courtyard, and garden, and the whole city of Oaxaca is pedestrian-friendly and writer-friendly. The balance of each day will be yours to spend as you wish—exploring ancient cities and Colonial churches, relaxing, strolling through ethnobotanical gardens and open markets, riding horseback in the countryside, doing holiday shopping, sampling Oaxaca’s world-famous cuisine and maybe even taking a cooking class.

Optional afternoon trips on these days are planned to the home studios of the best representatives of the traditional Oaxacan arts including Demetrio Bautista Lazo, master weaver in Teotitlan del Valle, and Jacobo Angeles, master woodcarver in San Martin Tilcajete. There will be a small extra transportation cost for these trips.

December 15

Day trip to the pre-Columbian power spot of Monte Alban—one of the earliest cities of Mesoamerica. We’ll head out from Oaxaca City bright and early to beat the heat (and the crowds), tour this amazing archaeological site, write, and hold our daily workshop.

In addition to the group workshops, each student will have the opportunity to meet with Ariel for a one-on-one literary consultation. Submit a story or manuscript excerpt (up to 25 pages) by December 1 for detailed feedback and direction.

The last day of the workshop is December 17—
just in time to head home or to a tropical beach for Christmas.
Wintertime Writing Workshop in Oaxaca with Ariel Gore – Complete Package
Cost includes daily writing workshops, individual literary consultation, day trip to Monte Alban, optional afternoon trips, and six nights lodging with full breakfasts as well as arrival night dinner (Mexican and American fare… vegetarians easily accommodated).
($175 deposit saves your spot; balance due by October 9)

Companion rate
Cost includes six nights lodging with full breakfasts, arrival night dinner, day trip to Monte Alban, and optional afternoon trips (no writing workshops).
($100 deposit saves your spot; balance due by October 9)

Wintertime Writing Workshops Only (you have your own lodging)

Cost includes daily writing workshops, Monte Alban day trip, individual literary consultation, and optional afternoon trips.
($100 deposit saves your spot; balance due by October 9)

Most rooms are double occupancy–though a few are single (with shared bath). Sign up with a friend, bring a companion, or bunk with a fellow writer you’ve yet to meet. Please let us know if you’d prefer a single room (twin bed), a double-occupancy room with separate beds, a double-occupancy room with a king bed, or the family suite… (It will be first-come, first-serve with these preferences… there are eleven rooms in the guesthouse). Do email if you’re planning to bring children or if your additional guest is a child—the cost will vary depending on your accommodation and childcare needs.

If you don’t use Paypal, you can send an email to save your spot and put a check in the mail to:
Ariel Gore
P.O. Box 42522
Portland, OR 97242
Feel free to Email Ariel with any other questions.

Check for current airfares. You can fly directly to Oaxaca, or you can fly to Mexico City and get a bus from the airport to Oaxaca (about 6 hours on the first class bus). And don’t forget to apply for your passport early.

See you in Oaxaca!
*Deposits are non-refundable (unless there’s a major natural or manmade disaster–in which case we’ll cancel the workshop and refund!)

Pregnancy Pact Or No…

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Here’s a brave editorial from Sarah Edell that’s taking a lot of heat over at

The recent news articles about the 17 girls at Gloucester High School in Massachusetts who are expecting babies–more than four times the number of pregnancies that the 1,200–student school had in the 2007 school year–point to a phenomena alternately attributed to a “pregnancy pact” and a statistical blip.

Regardless of whether a pregnancy pact existed among the 17 high school students, and regardless of whether they were using birth control or received sex education, the publicity surrounding the pregnancies is an opportunity to open the conversation on teen pregnancy in the United States, and to evaluate if either access to education and birth control or abstinence are the real issues. Rather, I believe feminism is the ultimate issue.

A woman owns her body at any age. Women should be able to control their fertility the moment it begins. And her desires and the intellectual understanding she has of her own desires are valid at any age or education level. These 17 Gloucester women, and Jamie Lynn Spears, for that matter, chose sex. They got pregnant and they chose to continue their pregnancies in spite of financial autonomy in our culture. We must seek to understand this desire, and we must respect it.

Their decisions are not necessarily representative of broad social failing toward these women, but rather, I suspect, a sign that we still have not been able to reconcile feminism with our antiquated sense of autonomy. We assume that it is better to wait until a mother can independently and financially provide for her child. Yet in traditional cultures, it is an entire family and community that provide for children. We have isolated child-rearing to this elite, moneyed, relatively old strata of society, when it is so natural for young women to pursue pregnancy. Is it not rather smart of these women to get pregnant at 15, while they are still young, have few material worries, and can be confident their families and the welfare system will help them? In contrast, it was rather foolish of me, at 35 and the dawn of my career, to have gotten pregnant, when American middle-class work culture is so virulently antagonistic to working motherhood. And, together, with youthful energy and shared experience, these women will have a community of co-mothers to rely upon. I envy that.

Yes, statistics do suggest that “unwed mothers” – a ghastly, sexist term – and “teenage mothers” suffer greater poverty than “wed mothers over 20,” yet the fundamental problem is not being unwed or young, but rather a culture that places financial self-reliance over community. The solution is complex: Create a culture where laws, social programs and work culture embrace child rearing at any age, and respect a woman’s right to control her fertility throughout her life. Reconciliation of women’s reproductive capability and desires, with Western democracy, capitalism and American society in a way that respects gender equality as a whole, is the ultimate task before us as a culture.

Consciously or not, the 17 Gloucester students did their best to reconcile the forces in their own lives. That effort is feminism.

I am a Money Magnet

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

So, I’ve finally decided to throw my pride to the wind, embrace my inner dork, and hire a life coach.

With an infant at home and a teenager in college, my most pressing need was to double my income. But every time I made a move to increase the cash flow, all my nagging little beliefs about money started bobbing to the surface: Money is the root of all evil. If I charge too much for my work, the people I really want to serve won’t be able to afford me. My work isn’t worth much, anyway. And I get to do the work I love–writing and teaching and editing–what right do I have to demand to be paid? Hard labor is work. This isn’t work. And anyway, money is dirty. Good, spiritual, people like Buddha had no need for money. Why should I need it?

“If you say those bad things about money,” my friend Inga scolded me, “money will get its feelings hurt and money will NOT want to come around!”

I know this, but what’s a girl to do about a depply-held belief? I mean, I’m well aware that these beliefs don’t serve me–living as I do here and now in America where everything from healthcare to education will cost you. I’ve got two kids to support. And let’s face it, Buddha didn’t pay his child support.

My sister, who’s into past life regression and channeling dolphins and whatnot, tells me that she went to see an an ancestor clairvoyant specialist once and found out that our family had taken a 15-generation poverty vow. Fifteen generations!


“When did they do that?” I wanted to know. I was hoping it was 16 generations ago.

My sister shrugged. “How should I know?”

Fifteen generations. Wow, I thought. Doesn’t sound good. But, as I learned from my Catholic priest father, some vows are made to be broken.

So I called up my old friend LaSara FireFox, who also happens be a life coach, and I said, LaSara, I need to make friends with money.

And then she told me how much she charged.

Gulp. “All right,” I squeaked.

And we got to work.

LaSara, who has done an insane amount of research on the gender wage gap, says the gap–which has actually increased in recent years–exists even among self-employed women in competitive fields. Talk about internalized oppression.

So, wish me luck and money on my journey.

I’ll keep you posted. And since I said those bad things about money in the beginning of this post, I’d like to take a moment to clarify: Money, I totally didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I was, in this case, just giving some examples about false beliefs about money.

Money is empowerment! Money flows naturally and easily into my life. If I charge what I am worth, I attract people I want to serve. I also create the time and resources to serve everyone. My work is worth a great deal. I am a money magnet! Even the Dalai Lama loves money. Money is clean. I love money!

What do you think about money?