birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

No politics

Giving up something you hate shouldn't be that difficult. After all, you hate it. After you do it, you feel like shit. You are angry, even bitter. You can't believe you did it again. But you did. You went all in, no holding back. You got into a political argument with Mom.

She usually starts it, or at least I like to believe she does. The last one, she asked a rhetorical question: I wonder what Paul thinks of Trump's speech in Poland. Now, Paul, is her granddaughter's husband, born in Poland, raised in Hermosa Beach after his mother left Poland looking for a better life for her two children. No love lost with the old Poland. Lots of love for Polish culture.

So I say, I can tell you what Paul thinks. He is not a Nationalist, so he thinks Trump is a creep, or something like that. And then the argument begins. Voices go up a few decibels. I can hear Fox News in the background in her house. She scolds me for being impolite. She would never say something negative about Obama, but of course she did, for 8 years.

It had been months since I'd cross swords with my mom. We'd settled into an amiable banter. How are you feeling? How's the weather in Wichita? We were both behaving so well. And then I blew it.

There must be some itch that I can't stop from scratching. Some reason I really want to get in her face and confront her. But it's foolish. And I know it. She has never entertained any political views outside of her own for as long as I've known her, which is my whole life. Yet, I keep challenging her. We keep fighting.

I've often thought that when we fight, we are acknowledging that the other person is important. Why would be do it if we didn't care about each other? But that's not quite right. We both think the other is simply wrong and we can't bear not making that point.

After Trump's election, I snapped, "We share no values. So let's just stop trying to talk about politics. It's hopeless." She called back and demanded I fly to Wichita instantly. We needed to spend three, yes, exactly three, days together. Never leaving her house, talking about our values. "That sounds really awful, Mom. I'm not doing it." I agreed to write down my values and send them to her. She was to respond with a letter stating her values.

I sent my first draft to my daughter. "Mommy, you can't send her a letter with bullet points. Besides these aren't your values. These are policy positions." A few drafts later, I sent her the letter. And never heard back. Weeks later, when I called to see how she was doing, she thanked me for the letter. "I'd love it if you sent me your values as well." To which she replied, "I don't need to write down my values. I know what my values are."

And there we left it. I'm resolved to stop the madness. She's almost 90. It doesn't matter. Nothing matters. Nothing will ever change. I quit caring.

They Say You Want a Resolution ... Well, You Know...

Spite-Quitting