Category: Random

Random posts by Ava Love Hanna

Art in Austin: Before I Die…

Art in Austin - Before I DieSitting in a nook where a quiet residential street turns to meet the lively chaos of South Congress Ave in Austin, Texas, is one of Candy Chang’s Before I Die walls. Unless you happen to drive through the neighborhood, or walk back that way to avoid the crowds, it would be easy to overlook. It sits in a spot where domestic life, business, and recreation all intersect. The location is a perfect symbol for the wall’s message.

If you’ve never seen a Before I Die wall, go find one ASAP. It’s a fun and truly profound piece of interactive art — just a large black and white chalkboard that asks you to consider a seemingly simple question: What do I want to do before I die? The playfulness of the presentation drew me to the wall, but the question brings me back time and again.

In the interest of full disclosure, while I visit the wall regularly, I have yet to write on it. I read it – laugh at the funny or deviant entries (there are plenty of those), smile at the profound or thoughtful ones – and then quietly walk away. I bring others to the wall and encourage them to write, but I just watch. The simple straightforwardness of the question causes me to freeze. It’s the worst kind of writer’s block… it’s not just about words; it’s about articulating desire and action.

Before I Die Wall in AustinI don’t know what to write. I want to do a million things. I want to do everything. I want to never die; I want to never grieve another loss. But, Candy Chang’s project, born from her own grief, makes me stop and face the fact that my time is limited and I have living to do. These walls are amazing because they look so innocent, so simple, but they hide in them a complex understanding of the human condition: our lives will end. Are we living them? The wall asks us to look inward.

I love reading the wall. Of course, I’m drawn to the humorous entries. My husband’s checked off desire to write on a giant chalkboard, the person who randomly wanted to slap Taylor Swift, the one who wanted to kiss a dragon. My son drew picture of Maleficent because he had just seen the movie. He is seven. He doesn’t need to worry about what he wants to do before he dies; he lives fully in the present all the time.

There are entries that are moving displays of community, of strangers trying to heal each other’s hurt. One entry read: Before I die I want to be skinny. Skinny was crossed out by another visitor who wrote happy next to it, and under it yet another wrote, You’re beautiful. The wall helps us see inside each other.

Before I die I want toMaybe I can’t think of what to write because I’m already living the life I want. Or, maybe I’ve reached an age where I know people, have known people, who were given the deadline. I held my breath and watched them scramble to fill in all the blanks at the last minute.  Or, the most likely answer is that I’m just a big pain in the butt who overthinks everything. Whatever the reason, Chang’s wall does what art is supposed to do – it disrupts. It forces me to stop, to look, to think, to act. It forces me out of the comfortable monotony of my daily rhythm. Its complexity is hidden in its simplicity, and that is what makes it so great.

If you flip the question, if you ask me what I want to do while I’m alive, then I can write a hundred things, a million things. I want to write a book, an episode of Doctor Who, be on the Muppet Show, attempt stand up, travel the world, wake up in every time zone, and on and on. But when you ask the question the way Chang has, when you ask me what I want to do before I die… well, suddenly a whole lot of things seem less important. Everything is valued differently. Playing with my son, holding my husband’s hand, feeling loved, all suddenly top the list. This board is brutal; I walk up wanting to play with chalk and walk away contemplating the human condition.

Before I Die Wall in Austin by Candy ChangThere it is, right? The point. In black and white. You step up to the chalkboard, and it doesn’t matter what your skin color is or the chalk color you use, when you fill in that blank you are the same as everyone else. You can write a joke, a fear, a wish, but whatever you write, you do it with fragile human hands. Like everyone else who comes to the wall: you are alive, you will die. Candy Chang’s Before I Die wall is a gentle nudge then, a playful reminder whispering in my ear – you are here now, pay attention, and go fill in the blank.

The Before I Die wall I visit is located at 206 E. Elizabeth St. in Austin, Texas. Find a wall near you or view pictures of walls around the world here.

Candy Chang will be a speaker at the Texas Conference for Women on October 15, 2015. Register to attend and be inspired by her and other amazing speakers here.

9 Favorite Nursery Rhymes With New Clickbait Titles

Is Your Child's School a Zoo? Click here to find out!Clickbait is everywhere. It’s annoying as hell. So, logically, I felt that the best thing to do was to add some myself. I’ve taken the liberty of converting nine favorite nursery rhyme titles into click tempting teasers. Oh, and I added a bonus limerick just because.

(in true clickbait fashion, each title is clickable and will take you to a page to read the nursery rhyme)


Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater

Jack Sprat

There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

What Are Little Boys are Made of?

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Jack and Jill

Three Blind Mice

Hush Little Baby

Monday’s Child

And Bonus Dirty Limerick:

I did a ridiculous amount of thinking to come up with these… I think I might have permanently messed up my brain.


Everyone Has an Agenda

I drew this comic last year and thought I would re-post it this week in celebration of the supreme court ruling on the defense of marriage act.

The Homosexual Agenda - The Truth Revealed!

I spent a good portion of my week at the state capitol building protesting a bill that would restrict women’s freedoms in Texas. When you try and explain things like sb5 and doma to a 5 year old boy and he looks at you like you’re crazy… not because you are fighting them… but because they even exist in the first place, it really puts it into perspective. Let’s all stop trying to control each others bodies and hearts. No one loses when we let others pursue happiness.

And if I have to pull out my mom-voice, I will: If you don’t like what he’s doing, then don’t do it. No, I don’t care if it’s bothering you. Just go sit over there then. Why do you care what he’s doing? Is it hurting you? Are you losing anything? Did he make you do it, too? No? Okay, then, now you go do whatever makes you happy and he’s going to do what makes him happy, and I don’t want to have to come in here again. 

My Cat is a Jerk, I Have Audio Proof

When you’ve been on the internet long enough, you’re eventually going to talk about cats.   This is our cat, Athens. We adopted him last September, and he is an unabashed jerkface. We got him while kittens were on sale for $20 and have taken to calling him discount cat. As in, “Oh, he’s pushed his water bowl half way across the house spilling massive amounts of water all along the way that he is now playing in? Well, what do you expect from a discount cat?”

Look, just let me have my coffee and I'll bite you in a second, okay?

Look, just let me have my coffee and I’ll bite you in a second, okay?

We love him, don’t get me wrong, but he is a pretty lousy cat. He won’t sit on your lap or climb into bed with you. He doesn’t snuggle. He bites. He wakes us up with yowling at 4:30 am every single day even though he has a self feeder full of food. He attacks his water bowl and spills water everywhere. He randomly attacks the walls and is scratching up the molding on our doorways. Oh, and did I mention that he bites us?

Now, he does do some pretty cool stuff, but it’s dog stuff. It’s like he doesn’t really get the whole “being a cat” thing. He loves to play in water and he LOVES fetch. I don’t mean lame cat fetch where you throw the toy and they just look at you or they go get it and never bring it back. Athens plays real fetch… for hours. He wants you to play with him all freaking day, and if you don’t? Biting time. If he drops his toy next to you and you don’t notice, he will nip you on the leg. Because, as I have stated previously, he’s a jerk.

See, Athens? You are a cat.

See, Athens? You are a cat.

So, why do we keep him? Well, we love him and our son adores him. And, the feeling seems to be mutual. Athens loves his boy and the two are often inseparable.  Kai is gentle, and Athens plays too rough, but they still have fun and look for each other first thing in the morning. It’s like a boy and his really soft, bitey dog.

Sitting in my office writing this essay while hiding from Athens, I started to wonder… why do we even have a cat? Paul and I have always had a cat, never a dog. We say we’re not really dog people, but is there a difference? Apparently, yes. According to Dr. Hal Herzog, a leading anthrozoologist, researchers at The University of Texas found that, “Cat people were more introverted, they were more anxious, they were more interestingly open to new experiences and they were more impulsive.”
Yes, we are anxious because cats are scary.

The other night, Paul and I were in his studio recording some of my poetry for a project. Kai was asleep and I guess the cat was bored so he kept coming in and bothering us. Paul eventually started recording through the outtakes as they got increasingly bizarre. The cat kept sneaking into the room, opening doors, attacking sound foam and falling off of chairs, and eventually biting me because I didn’t know he wanted to play fetch while I was in the middle of recording a poem.

I present to you: Ava being attacked by a cat while reading poetry


I better stop writing and go play with Athens. He dropped his toy next to me a few minutes ago. I’ve tried to ignore him, but he just licked my leg and now I’m scared… Such a discount cat.

Batman, Dora, and Catching Cows: A Few Thoughts on Why I Love Being a Parent

One of the main perks of being a parent (aside from all the love and stuff) is getting a new holiday. In celebration of Mother’s Day on Sunday I thought I’d share my top 3 reasons why I love being a parent:

1. My life is ridiculous and surreal

• I get to start my day with whatever crazy thoughts are stored in a 5 year old’s brain. This morning the first words I heard as I was just waking up were, “Hey, we need that sausage ice tray!”
Let that color your day.

• I get to do what were once mundane tasks like grocery shopping accompanied by Batman.  

Hanging with Batman

Oh, and even though I’m dressed like a hobo and have no makeup on, I will be forced to smile and make conversation with every single person in the store as Batman attempts to “rescue” them.

• Lack of sleep causes awesome dreams when you finally get to rest. Like the one dream where I was panicking because my job was to catch cows, especially this one cow named Mrs. Miles Davis, and she kept getting away while I stopped to apply lemon flavored chapstick.  When I woke up panicked Paul gently reminded me that catching cows pretty much involved saying, “hey cow” and then putting your hand on it.

• I get to say things like, “Please stop karate chopping me in the head.” There is probably no other opportunity for that outside of parenting.

2. I am a member of an exclusive club

• We have rings (dark, purplish ones below our eyes). They help the members identify each other.

• I now have an opinion on the Diego vs. Dora debate, and will vehemently defend my stance in debates with other parents.  [Backpack is a chump, Rescue Pack FTW!]

Rescue Pack!

Oh, and I have my own set of adults-only answers that I mutter under my breath when Dora insists on asking me questions that she clearly already knows the answers to.

• People whom you may never had had anything in common with before will now become part of your tribe as you share stories from the front-lines of parenting.  “Why yes, random parent at the playground, that is a disgusting story. Here’s mine…”

3. It’s fun

• I get to play with toys, go neat places, and hang out with the fun guy at the party all day.

Sombrero FTW

• I get to watch a little person grow up right in front of my eyes. I get paid in hugs, kisses, and the assurance that I am doing everything I can to make him a healthy, happy person who can one day make the world a better place.

• I get reminded that life is short and full of excitement and adventure as I see things through his eyes. Sure, no one likes their job all the time, but I have to admit, this one is a pretty sweet gig.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Getting to know me

Since this is a brand new blog, I thought my first post should give you a little background on me and my family. I think the only way to really do that is to post highlights of some of our actual conversations this year:

That one time we got to go on a date:

[Actual conversation on the patio at Whole Foods]

Me: Do you want the apple fritter or the carmelita? Hmm, that sounds like the name of a European call girl.

Paul: Apple Fritter?

Me: No, Carmelita. Apple Fritter sounds like the name of a trashy southern drag queen.

Paul: [husky southern drawl] My name is Apple Fritter and I want to thank y’all for coming on down here to see me at The Chicken Neck.

That time Paul tried to eat old food:

[Actual conversation in my kitchen]

Me: Is that plate of food from breakfast?

Paul: Yes, but it’s still good, I left it in the microwave.

Me: Umm, food still goes bad in there, the microwave does not stop the food from going bad. There is still air in there.

Paul: No, it’s sealed. Look, if it wasn’t there would be microwaves all up in your face every time you used it.

Me: Okay, I’m going to stop talking to you now.

That time our son realized I might be crazy:

[Actual conversation in our car]

Me (as we are driving past the library): Hey library, yes I know I have a book on hold, but I’m really tired. If you could just bring that to my house that would be great.

K: Are you talking to the library?

Me: [insane laughter] Umm, yeah.

K (as we drive past the gas station): Are you talking to the gas station now?

Paul: Great, now he thinks you’re insane.

And finally, just a typical morning chat with my husband about our future:


It’s a good life.