Sitting 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.
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)
My name is pretty neat: Ava Love Hanna. Hanna is my married name. I only recently added that part after my son was born. For most of my life I was Ava Love. It’s a cool name. It stood out. It was unique.
Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not a typical grown-up. I’m lucky enough to be married to an awesome audio engineer and he recorded me reading, Art Class, the poem I wrote to my son explaining this.
[ I read this essay at The Story Department in October for their From Beyond the Grave show. ]
I grew up in Houston, Texas. If you’ve never been to Houston, I can describe it for you like this: just imagine any dystopian movie and then replace all the crazed brain-eating zombies with crazed brain-eating conservatives and there you go.
To be fair, Houston’s come a long way lately, but when I was growing up there, it was the late 80’s/early 90’s. And Houston in the 90’s certainly wasn’t known for its picturesque parks, art scene, or lesbian mayor. Houston in the 90’s was largely known for its suburbs and its malls, neither of which I felt particularly drawn to. I knew there had to be more to life than to grow up, live by a big mall, and then die.
There are eggs cooking in a pan.
Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what’s on the other side?
The notes drift into the kitchen and I feel them in my chest, know them by heart. There’s a special joy in unexpectedly hearing a song you love right when you need to hear it; a little gift from the universe. Serendipity. He heard it too and runs to me; his 6 year old hands outstretched, inviting me to dance. I move the half cooked eggs off the burner. Breakfast can wait, my dance partner can’t.
This is our song. The one I have sung to him nearly every night of his life.
So the other night I had this dream that I was somehow entangled with religious fundamentalists and I was told to gather a few things that were really important to me before we all climbed onto a big tour bus. So there I was, crying and clutching my wedding ring, a manila folder full of papers… and a coffee maker… That sounds about right, I *do* love coffee (and manila folders).
But I feel bad talking about my love of coffee; I’m not supposed to like it. While it might be a normal part of your day and there’s a Starbucks on every corner, I was raised Mormon and coffee was strictly off limits. It’s a part of the Word of Wisdom, a dietary code for Mormons that forbids coffee, tea, alcohol, and drugs. You know, all the fun stuff.
I’m a poet. I always have been. And even though my writing of late has moved towards essays and magazine articles (money), I will always be a poet.
I love to talk and will spend hours chatting away in person, but when I write I am minimalist, I want to conserve words, I want crystallized moments to explode off the page in just a few sentences. I love the power of poetry. I love its beauty and its truth. And on days when the world seems ugly and gray, I remember that human beings can write poetry and how amazing that it is, and I am filled with hope again.
This is where I’ll be on Wednesday night. Part of the FronteraFest Short Fringe, Bad Parents, will be at Hyde Park Theatre on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 8 pm.
The show is hilarious and was written by the über talented Max Langert, whom I met as an Austin cast member of Listen to Your Mother last year. He and Tristan told touching stories about their mothers, while I was sharing one of my finer parenting moments: The Vagina-Mommy Incident.
You can read more about the show and FronteraFest here: Bad Parents at FronteraFest
He wanted to ride the carousel at the mall. He’s five now, so I got on with him intending only to help him find an animal and climb up. The carousel was old and small, and wobbled as everyone climbed aboard. I put him on top of a brown horse with a flowing mane and wild eyes — It was a good fit.
He grabbed onto the pole with both hands, leaned into it, trembled a bit and looked at me with worried eyes as he surveyed how high he was and felt the wobbling of the ride before it had even begun. He looked up and noticed that the pole was at its low point and asked me if it would go even higher.
He is awake now, this little boy. Aware. He struggles with the lankiness of his legs, tries to understand his changing body as he faces growth spurt after growth spurt in an unrelenting parade. He is no longer an over confident toddler who charges into battle, he sees the world around him and senses danger, feels overwhelmed by noises, is trying to find his place.