Monday, February 28, 2011
I won't tell you anything.
I'll stay a closed bud,
Only unfurling when ready, when nourished
With water and breezes and sunshine
I won't surrender.
I'll stay protected
Arms wrapped around mySelf
Only opening when destiny
Whispers in my ear
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
It's one of those deceptively sunny Bay Area days. It looks beautiful from indoors, but as soon as I stepped outside to walk the dog this morning, I was shivering and wishing I had put on another layer. It's also funny because forecasts were sensationalizing a possibility of snow last night . . . and here we are with our standard sunny yet chilly East Bay February day.
This doesn't mean I don't recognize that the weather is doing funny things, though. I know too much about the global effects of climate change to breathe a sigh of relief yet. Yesterday morning I went into work and one of my coworkers said, "So, what do you think about all this talk of snow in San Francisco?" And I said something like, "Yeah, well, you know, climate change is real." I was blown away when he responded with something like, "OH COME ON. You don't think man controls the weather, do you?"
I was stuck! I had no idea where to start with him! He was aggro in a Fox News kinda way about it. I mumbled something about climate scientists, global effects, and overconsumption of fossil fuels, all the while thinking to myself, Oh my god, I actually found one! My coworker doesn't believe in climate change! I don't remember what other bullshit he spewed, but I basically said I wasn't talking to him about it anymore. In most contexts I would be all about getting uncomfortable and having that conversation, but not at work. Not at that job. I was happy to let it go, until he said something like, "You can't believe everything Arianna Huffington says." I hissed, "Don't make assumptions about my fucking politics."
Later, when I was a little calmer, I explained to him that that is why I don't discuss politics at work. He said, "You think climate change is political?" I was flabbergasted! I wanted to say, Yes, absolutely. You fucking privileged white guy who gets to live in Alameda and drive around and not have to witness your land going under water, or temperatures changing so drastically that you can not continue to farm and live off of the land the way your ancestors did as far back as anyone can remember, or live next to an oil refinery like your neighbors in Richmond. Because your people have been systemically oppressing all who don't look like you for all of time. Instead, I said, "Yes, absolutely. Which is why I won't talk about it anymore."
Self-censorship is not my steez, truly, and when I think about all of the draining aspects of my current service job at a gentrifying Oakland business with no analysis (as far as I can tell) about their colonization of the neighborhood in which they have set up shop, it all comes back down to not being able to say what I want to say. I used to like it when it was busy at previous service jobs because it made the time go faster. Now I like it when it is busy at my job because it leaves less time for getting stuck in awkward conversations, like when people say things like, "This neighborhood is really changing. It's GREAT," and I have no idea how to call out gentrification without risking my neck. Because the reality is, I need those gentrifiers' tips to pay the PG&E bill, yo.
I'm now off to my Friday night shift, and feeling mad conflicted, because I'm really hoping it's busy.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
About a week ago, I apparently overloaded our building's washing machine. I was sitting at my desk, probably reading celebrity gossip online, when I heard the unmistakable clanking of an unbalanced machine. I ran downstairs and removed some clothes, and then some more, in hopes that it would work itself out. But the smell of burnt rubber was already filling the air, and I knew it was time to lug my load elsewhere and confess to our sweet yet chatty landlord. After a couple of phone calls, an unannounced landlord visit (and ensuing awkward conversation featuring me, bra-less, in sweatpants & Tazmanian Devil slippers), and a promise for a new machine by this coming Friday, I had a reason to visit my favorite laundromat.
So today, I found myself at the laundromat on 41st and Broadway, where the older lady who runs the place offered me leftover Valentine's Day chocolate, too much information about other people's laundry, like how some kid was going to get in trouble because his momma dropped off the laundry and he was supposed to have picked it up by now, and recipes for scrambled eggs with potatoes now that she had run out of chicken and didn't feel like defrosting more. I love that woman.
As I waited, other people's children scrambled across me and ran their toy cars into me (when did I stop minding that?) I absentmindedly rubbed my head, noticing that my hair is getting long enough to feel more soft than prickly, and began to scroll through my facebook newsfeed on my phone. I saw a link to an article about Libya, mentioning that hundreds have already died, and Gaddafi has ordered more attacks on peaceful protesters. And right there, I sort of crumpled and began crying.
I didn't want the kids to see me and think I was some big weirdo, so I quickly pulled myself together and wiped my eyes discreetly. But my heart was hurting in a big, big way. There is just SO much . . . SO much pain and struggle in the movement toward liberation, whether it's through workers' struggles in Wisconsin or Ohio, freedom fighters in the Middle East and North Africa, black women speaking out against "pro-lifers" who try to speak for them, or just straight up looking out of the window just about anywhere in Oakland.
Even when I'm looking out of my window, this isn't about "those poor people over there." I know it's within these walls, too, and within this human form I am lucky to occupy. And just as I honor my own struggles, my own fight for self-determination, I honor the struggles of other people. I know it is not a pitiable position - to proclaim freedom, and work toward taking our own power and freedom back, wherever we might happen to be on the path, near or far from our destination of liberation. And. And today I am just tired from it. I'm not even out in the streets the way so many other people are lately. But I am weary of the fight, of the struggle.
Some younger, less politicized version of myself once thought that we could just kind of decide not to struggle, and build beautiful new things and systems and ways of relating instead. As I grew and learned and talked and listened over the years, I found myself in despair, believing in the Struggle as the Way again . . . the Only Way, the True Way. Now, I find myself having to create space for both of these, and other paths, all Ways . . . whether they are mine or something I have never heard or thought of before. I have to see the world as it really is, have space for that which I will never know, be, or recognize, and work both against that which is oppressive and hurtful and for that which is beautiful and good.
So I listen to the elder at the laundromat, and smile at the kid vroom-vrooming his toy car into my thigh, and scratch my fuzzy head, and keep on going.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Sunday, February 20, 2011
My partner and I have been celebrating the first anniversary of the first time we told each other that we love each other by drinking champagne in bed and talking about all kinds of juicy things including religion and god. Suddenly I remembered that I had to post today's picture. So there you go.
I'm heading back to bed. Happy Sunday!
Friday, February 18, 2011
It's cold and rainy and dreary outside. All I want to do is watch zombie movies and write love poems and drink tea. But I have to go to work in about an hour for the first of my back-to-back Friday night/Saturday morning shifts. I am not thrilled.
I'm fantasizing about buying a pair of galoshes and a big yellow rain jacket, so I can warmly walk anywhere without getting wet or cranky. Maybe even stomp in a puddle or three. This sounds like a worthwhile investment, and I think it needs to happen soon. I am also positively giddy about Prince coming to Oakland. My sweetie just bought us tickets for his Monday night show, and I can hardly wait until I can be united with The Purple One.
I am mostly thinking happy thoughts and feeling good about myself and the general direction things are heading. I relish these moments.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
(I'm a little embarrassed at how often I wear this sweater. It's just so darn comfortable.)
It's a day of catching up with old friends. I had a coffee date this morning, am going to hang out with some old friends and meet one of their kids in a little bit, then going to take a friend who just broke her elbow (ouch!) some food before later attending a community conversation with queer Palestinian activists with another friend I've been meaning to hang out with. Lots of friends. I need to remember days and weeks like this when I am feeling lonely or unsupported.
Much of this blog so far has been about remembering gratitude. It's a perspective I often forget, and one I am happy to cultivate.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
I have been thinking about how very privileged I am to have choices in my life. Even when I feel very stuck and out of luck, I recognize that I have options - less than some other folks, for sure, but more than many other people I can think of.
The thing is, I've been feeling very sorry for myself lately. I want to spend more of my time contributing my energy, creativity, and all-around smarty-pantsness to a love-based movement for progressive change. I often get frustrated that I haven't found the best way to do that right now, neither through paid work nor through any other work. I sling espresso and pour beer and keep my mouth shut when challenging shit comes up - shit I know how to challenge right back, and challenge very well. I keep learning, the hard way, that keeping my mouth shut really does tend to be best in those situations. And then I get cranky and internalize it, and wish I had the option, damn it! to say what I want to say.
But I think I am missing the point. As jacked as it is that we're all living in this system in which some people just plain don't have what they need, I can't work to change that system if I'm not getting what I need. And I am very lucky to have what I need and also have the option to walk out at any moment . . . because the truth is, I could make it work if I had to. I have choices. I have privilege. And mostly, I'm overall doing okay.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Today, my honey and I made biscuits and a frittata, helped a friend move a futon, bought a couch and boxspring, and got some supplies from a hardware store for a coffee table painting project. Lots going on and not a ton of energy to keep typing. So, enjoy my Day 9 head stubble!
Friday, February 11, 2011
Egypt, Egypt, Egypt! As we all do our own work, face our own struggles, and celebrate our own joys in our own little corners of the world, we can not help but to turn our faces toward the bright light shining out of the heart of Egypt. Today, the President is stepping down. There is joy and celebration, and fear and concern. Authority has been handed over to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which includes Omar Suleiman, appointed thirteen days ago to the position of Vice President by Mubarak himself. What remains to be seen is what his involvement will be in the power transition. Seeing what we've seen so far, however, it seems the Egyptian people will not put up with any more shenanigans. Suleiman better watch himself!
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
I don't want to be moving through this evolutionary phase too quickly, but yesterday I was talking about letting things stick and today I am already thinking about reaching out and choosing things all on my own. Not just that which I stumble across in my path, but those things I create a new path to get to.
It took me a long time to realize I had any choices at all. I'm not sure how it happened, but somewhere along the way I was taught to be grateful for any crumbs that were thrown my way. And now, I know that I deserve to choose: my relationships, my family, my political community, my forms of self-expression, and more. I am allowed to think about what I need and want, and ask for it, and go out and get it. I've known this logically for a long time, but I am really starting to feel it in my bones. And that feels good.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
My head is at the velcro stage. Things stick to me. Little bits of fluff from my beanie. Pieces of string. Sometimes, crumbs. I wonder how they even get up on top of my head.
I'm trying to be sticky, too. Instead of dodging opportunities that come at me, like I so often do (usually guided by fear), I'm trying to let stuff hit me and stick. I think this is a good practice for the velcro stage. Let's see what sticks over the long haul.
Monday, February 7, 2011
It's beautiful outside. It's been sunny for a couple of weeks now, but the past couple of days have been HOT. It's also February. In northern California.
My friend reminded me that it's standard to have a warm spell in the winter in NorCal. But it's been a long time since it rained, and I don't ever remember the warm spells lasting quite this long. I mean, I'm enjoying it. I took a walk around Lake Merritt this morning, and it brought a smile to my face to see so many beautiful brown folks out doing the same, especially since I've been experiencing some severe Oakland hipster overload as of late. But still. The weather feels like . . . a hot, drunk person with a not-quite-right glint in their eye trying to pick me up at a bar. I'm tempted to just go with it and enjoy myself, but I'm pretty certain it's not good for me in the long run.
Another thing that's going on today is that multiple platoons of US Marines are deploying to Egypt. While no one has written a fancy news story about exactly why, I can make a pretty good guess. It's because people are tasting their freedom. And the US can't help but to intervene in that. Especially since an ousted Israel-friendly Mubarak and a free Egypt under new, democratic leadership would create some rifts in the relationship between the US and Israel, and thus less US control of the so-called "Arab world" of the Middle East and North Africa. Namely, their resources.
So the climate changes, and what get here is some extra sunshine in February. The political climate changes in the Middle East and what the people get is the West intervening in their stand for freedom. And it all has to do with resources and oil and money and power. Again. Sometimes I feel like I am having the same conversation with myself every single day.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
None of what I'm thinking today has anything to do with my hair. I'm thinking about colonialism, first and foremost, and how we often talk about it as though it was a barbaric practice of the past, when in fact it is in play all around us, every day. I'm thinking about all of our inherited and internalized -isms. Racism, sexism, classism, and more. And how if we don't take responsibility for healing those terrible scars of miseducation which sit inside us and affect our every action and word, that we are potentially (probably?) contributing to the oppression of others. I hear lots of "well-meaning" people say things that are hurtful or do things that are downright oppressive and negatively affect the quality of life of other people. Words they don't have to say and things they don't have to do to get by and live well. Sometimes I say something, or ask a question. Sometimes I don't. Many factors inform my responses, the most pressing being my own survival.
Today, I am thinking a lot about silence. And how imposed silence of the oppressed is a tool of capitalism, colonialism, and patriarchy. I am thinking about the times I have felt silenced when what I wanted most was to speak loudly on behalf of myself or of others. I stayed silent, because I feared the reaction of the person or people without whom I literally can not pay my bills. With anyone else, I know their reaction is theirs to hold and deal with. But not with the ones who control resources - MY resources. I am stuck in the capitalist loop.
I am thinking: I want so desperately to have the right response and ask the right questions. When faced with these things, I stutter, then smile and perform, like I've been taught to do. I don't want to wear this mask, but I don't ever seem to know what the right answers or questions are anymore.
Friday, February 4, 2011
I just shaved my head. For those of you who know me, that shouldn't come as a surprise. What surprised even me, however, is that I'm feeling pretty sure that will be the last time for a while. Head-shaving has been many things to me - a practice, a morning time-saver, and an expression of gender, sexuality, and identity, amongst other things. I've done it routinely; I've done it after breakups and during manic phases of a lack of patience with myself.
It has also meant a lot to other people. And of course, whether or not their experience matters to me, people will always share. The random head rubs from people I don't know ("Excuse me? Do I know you? Please don't touch me without asking.") The questions. The solidarity with other baldies, whether they shave or are genetically follicle-y challenged. The remarks from usually straight, feminine women: "You can pull that off." (Translation - "You're still pretty enough to not challenge my heteronormative and otherwise mainstream sensibilities.")
It's not that I've been afraid of investing in a head full of hair - it's that I've invested in an ever-evolving hair-identity, to mirror my own ever-evolving identity. Well, I've decided it's time to let myself stretch and grow into a new investment. Cultivation. I will put energy and time into this physical aspect, and be open to the possibility that it will translate into putting energy and time into some other, less superficial, and hopefully more meaningful aspect as well. Who knows? Who knows if this is even really why I am doing it? Maybe I am just bored. Let's see how long I last.
I plan to post a photo every day. Maybe I'll write some things, too. Check back in and comment if you feel like it.
See you tomorrow!