Monday, June 26, 2017

Conversation with the Future

Natalie Mora Horberg is an exceptionally articulate fourteen year old.  As I was feeling dismal about the present, I decided a dip into the future via an interview with Natalie is just what we may need right now.  Here she is -- with her enormous curiosity and enthusiasm.  Enjoy.

Q:School’s out!  Do you have plans for your summer vacation?

A:Yeah! My parents both are part of a new art center called ArtYard, this was their first year up and running, and the core members of the ArtYard team are having an island retreat off the coast of Maine! Luckily my little brother Diego and I are able to tag along, too!

Q:I know you love to read.  How do you choose books?  Do you stick with them ‘till the end or stop if you don’t like the book?  What are you reading now?  Do you have a favorite for this year so far?

A:Often times I choose books through the internet by finding out what people I admire like. For example, I found out about the book “Too Much and Not the Mood” by Durga Chew-Bose through Tavi Gevinson, and I read “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki thanks to my older brother, Miro. Also I am very fortunate to have a dad who at times will bring home a haul of books for me to read that he likes. ;) 

I definitely will stop if I’m reading a particularly terrible book, maybe other people find the need to always read from cover to cover, but if I’m not enjoying the story, I will put it down. Occasionally I try to come back to it and start over with a better understanding, and sometimes it actually helps! For example, I tried reading “Lord of the Flies” in 5th grade, then again in 6th, and I found it a lot more enjoyable in 6th. (Though I can’t say that “enjoyable” is the best word to describe Lord of the Flies.)

Right now I’m reading one of the best books ever called, “The Freedom Writers Diary”. It is a compilation of the diary entries of 150 students who, for their whole life, had never experienced the type of love and immersive learning experience that teacher, (genius), Erin Gruwell gave them. Most of them were in gangs, had experienced abuse, and struggled daily to survive as a teenager on the streets of Long Beach. The entries are kept anonymous, but even despite the fact that there are no names linked to the stories you feel like your diving into the heart and soul of each person; like there are no boundaries between the reader and writer. I highly recommend the book to anyone, it is definitely one of my favorites I’ve been reading this year, (besides Carrie Brownstein’s amazing memoir, “Hunger Makes a Modern Girl”). 

Q:You combined your talent for writing and drawing to create a graphic history of WWII.  I showed it to an historian I know and she was really impressed.  Did your teacher welcome your creativity?
Do you have a favorite teacher?

A:Thank you and the historian! Yes, I had been making small watercolor study guides for myself all year and I desperately wanted to make one that my whole grade could use, so when my teacher offered me the chance to do it, I was ecstatic! I rushed home and designed it, then came to school the next day to show him. He was pleased and made copies for everyone! I am still so grateful that he asked me to create it and I hope my teachers in the years to come also invite me to create their study guides! 

I did not really have a favorite teacher this year, I enjoyed them all equally. But I guess if I had to choose, they would be my english and art teacher because those are subjects I enjoy.

Q:You’ve travelled a lot in your 14 years: Spain, France, Cuba, Australia.  Do you have a favorite travel memory?

A:Yes! I am very thankful to have had these wonderful opportunities to see the world with my own eyes, so I try to retain as much as I can! 

In Spain I remember the peachy pinkness of the sunset the time I sat in a wobbly boat with my cousins and old friends of theirs; I played Bob Marley and refused to swim. 

Q:Do you, and the kids at school, concern yourself with current events like climate change, the government, or policies at your school?

A:Definitely. And I even believe that it’s not only me and the kids in my school, but everyone in every school. My generation in general has to be more aware of everything going on, mainly because the problems of today will most definitely affect our future. We cannot wait until then to be active in the environment or in politics. Many of the kids in my school actively participate in groups trying to make the community more eco-friendly, and many know a lot more about current events than some adults may! Of course this is not true for everyone, but I would definitely say that as a whole we are concerned and we want to fight for our, and everyone else’s rights. 

I personally do not want this Earth to die so I read the book “No Impact Man” by Colin Beavan at the beginning of the school year -- a book every single person should be forced to read -- and ended up writing a letter to Colin in the Letters About Literature competition that my english teacher introduced us to! In the end I won a Certificate for Honorable Mention, so I’m eternally grateful that he wrote it in the first place because now people like me get to rant about how amazing the book is to judges and teachers and fellow students AND spread awareness at the same time about how to help the planet out.  

Q:If you could reveal one thing about your mom and your dad that might surprise us, what would it be?

A:Some things that may surprise you about my parents are:

Besides being a film producer and part-time floutist/pianist, my dad does incredible illustrations almost daily of jazz musicians, often in colored pencil and pen. You can find them on his instagram which is: @nettlehorst (He even compiled a book of all the portraits!)

And, although my mom is an artist and the creative director of ArtYard, unknown to most she was actually a great athlete when she was younger! Which sport? Fencing! She even won a second place prize at a fencing competition! 

Thank you so much for interviewing me!

If you want to find out more about ArtYard, click here!

If you want to keep up with me, follow me on Instagram at:


(The photo is of Natalie with her brother Miro.)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

When a Father Dies Young

If I could have my father with me again for one day, how old would I like to be?  Young I think.  Sitting on his lap or holding hands young?   I think teenage years.  I hope he would be a dad who would encourage his daughter to be her own person.  To seek her own accomplishments and fate. He would have had to be a rare man to be of that mind, but there were a few of them back then, so it's not impossible.

In the one photo I have of us together, he is wearing a snappy hat and good suit.  He looks satisfied.
Secure enough to let his children know when he is proud of them.  From time to time.

An absent father keeps your dream life close.  Imagination keeps it going.  Removed from disappointment, an absent father lives on as the "good listener".  Not the real father I ache to have had, but still an influence.

The mind has room for everything.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Lawmaker's Life Matters

I hope that Steve Scalese recovers.  And when he does, I hope he remembers that . . .

A man with a very disturbed public record was able to get the high powered rifle that
tore through his body.

A black lesbian woman saved his life.

He received state-of-the-art health care and carries the insurance to cover the costs.

Think it over Steve, think it over.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Importance of Paper

I asked Elsa about her upcoming show in Oregon and learned she is still working with paper to create her remarkable papercuts.  "This time it's going to be deeper," she said.  "I'm thinking of the versatility of paper as a metaphor for the mind."

I love paper.  My friend Diane gave me some beautiful notecards for my birthday and it was the perfect gift.  I'll mail them out during the year with good wishes while I enjoy affixing my carefully selected stamps.

I miss paper as it disappears from so many familiar parts of our lives.  My newspaper for more than fifty years is barely hanging on.  What's left of it seems not worth salvaging.  And please, please let my library stay stocked with books for as long as I'm around.

We need paper to preserve our democracy.  I'm serious.  Paper ballots are the only safe way to achieve the most accurate count.

And now I will send this out over the internet . . . but I can still make the point about paper, can't I?