Mina said to me today in a small voice from the back seat, "Is Frankenstein dead?" Looking in the rear view mirror I said, "I think so." She said, "What happened to him?" I said, "Oh, I think the villagers went after him and I think they killed him. The villagers were scared because Frankenstein was different from them. Out of ignorance, they killed him." And Mina said, "Was Frankenstein black?"
Whoa. But I understood what she meant. We've started our Black History Month talks early and it's been on her mind.
She said, "I wish I could bring back dead people. Do you wish that?" I really thought about it. I said, "I'm not sure. I don't think so." She said, "You don't want me to bring back Martin Luther King Jr.?" I wondered if Mina had enlisted in some revolutionary group at recess. I said, "Yea, that would be a good idea to bring him back. But maybe not all dead people." She said, "I'll just bring back 5-10 heroes." It was brilliant of course, but sad that she had to bring some back from the dead.
Maya called me immediately after school yesterday sounding beat-down. A rumor had been started insinuating that she was bisexual, which, by sixth graders, seems so half-hatched nasty in a forced-adult and TV-fed way. The first Rumor Carrier had said smugly to Maya, "Are you Bio? 'Cause I heard you were Bio." (Can't you hear her bitchy tone?) I interjected. "What's Bio?" Maya said, "Y'know, bio-sexual." I said, "First off, these lame brains have the wrong word." She explained the rest of her day fending off other inquiries about her Bio-ness. She told me that she thinks the rumor got started by a girl named Tatum that used to "date" Maya's best friend Solomon, and when Solomon and Tatum broke up, Tatum started raining nastiness on those in his circle. I, of course, gave my strong and still-bruised 11 year old a firing squad of pep talks that dismissed the small-minded; telling her to be sad for those that need to tear down to make themselves feel temporarily better. I told her all self-assured, athletic girls at some point in their lives get a low, lame jab referring to their sexuality, me included. And lastly I told her that I loved her even if she was, in fact, a Bio. She laughed and I saw her mind release the tension caused by the attacks. By today the rumor had bounded, like a flea, off of her and on to some other poor middle schooler.
In baking news, for the record I used to think that cooking was a monumental waste of time. So much work to be gobbled down almost thanklessly. There were dishes and shopping and the shortage of ingredients. It was frustrating. My perspective has changed. I mean, obviously, since I've been baking 24/7. I savor all steps now, the sensuality of pulling it all together and the fleeting moment of joy it brings people. There is a tradition in Tibetan Buddhism where monks make huge, beautiful sculpture out of colored butter. They spend hours shaping them into the likeness of religious symbols, creating a pleasing and powerful impact as does most Tibetan Buddhist art. Butter is used for such elaborate and painstakingly beautiful work as a gesture that everything is temporary. You offer up your best, creating an artistic and profound impact -- in symbol and in living -- and then it is gone. The offering dissolves, but the impact lingers. The thoughts of compassion will last and do more work than anything physical. Our vehicle melts away and we come back to try again.
Maybe cupcakes aren't that deep. But I offer them still in love. I bake for temporary goodness. Is any suffering alleviated? Minimally I'm sure, but I'm working on that.
Maya's bake sale is on. It has been long work especially since I bake after the paying job and in between my 24/7 parenting gig. But surprisingly baking is not resentful work. It is rich and pretty and fulfilling, and they will all be gone tomorrow.
Speaking of a temporary, artistic impact: The girls and I went to a free gallery on Olvera street over the weekend and caught Joe Bravo's show. Joe Bravo paints on tortillas, y'all.