Wednesday, May 22, 2019

pulled teeth & late passports

may day 2019 culminated in a midnight outdoor dance party in west philly. i placed my portable speaker inside the community lending library case which yielded shockingly excellent acoustics across the entrance of cedar park. earlier in the evening i had brought up things we were looking forward to and things we were fearing in the month ahead.

for me it was simple: i feared my upcoming dentist appointment to get a tooth pulled. and i looked forward to my trip to montreal later in the month for the 20th anniversary of the anarchist book fair.

as i sit at my bullshit job typing this, a lingering dull pain persists where my freak wisdom tooth had been growing out of the side of my gums. now it's just a healing wound. it has been nearly a week and yesterday i finally began eating with both sides of my mouth.

a different type of dull pain continues to persist this week as the calendar gets closer and closer to our departure date for montreal: the bureaucracy of the passport overlords. i made the fateful mistake of not expediting my application to renew. it has now been 4 weeks since my materials were shipped to a po box in philadelphia and i am still passport-less with less than 48 hours to go before my friends and i embark on our journey north.

i remain hopeful. but it has been a rollercoaster.

the past couple days i have received various updates on its status. first, that my new passport had been printed. and then that it was being shipped--hooray! but then...that the estimated arrival date was may 27th: a national holiday here in the states and the day we are planning on leaving montreal. i finally spoke to some humans on the phone who were eventually able to communicate the grand passport wizards that i needed it stat. so now i am getting periodic updates as my passports mysteriously departs from arizona on the long journey to my house in west philly.

the good news is that i didn't have to waste a bunch of additional money i don't have to get it rushed last minute. but now it's completely out of my control and i just anxiously wait.

fingers crossed!

Friday, February 08, 2019

you don't like fridays. you hate capitalism.

we're building a new world, all of my friends and me 
it's not an exact science yet, but we have the technology 
now all we need is an economy where everybody will get enough to eat

we usually have free bagels in the office fridays, but not today. the kitchen is under construction so our collective equilibrium is off. a heart-shaped donut did appear on my desk so perhaps there still is hope. and the days are getting longer. i turn up the volume on my desktop, earbuds in deep, as pat the bunny's music reminds me what it's like to truly feel alive again. but that was yesterday. today is eerily quiet and my body has already begun to enter the social construction of the weekend. and later this afternoon there will be free ice cream.   

'cause our friends, they are enough
and our neighbors are enough
and finally we're enough
please help me be, please help me be
please help me be enough

Sunday, December 30, 2018

possibilities beyond the trash fire: looking back (and forward) on 2018

on december 31st, 2008, i moved from northampton to philly--10 years ago, tomorrow. a full decade ago! this is, by far, the longest i have lived anywhere outside of where i grew up. and i really did not plan on staying in philly this long. but here i am...

as i begin to reflect on 2018, this 10th year in philadelphia, i feel more hopeful than the common narrative around me that this was yet another trash fire of a year. i think something shifted this past year. despite the immense challenges ahead, a way out of this nightmare world finally feels possible. it's impossible to deny that our collective political imagination has expanded. what lies ahead is still uncertain, but i am feeling more hopeful now than i have in a while.

this outlook has probably come out of my own experiences in philly. it has been so crucial to build affinity with people here from my radical reading group to the neighborhood abolitionist salon and coordinating events at the wooden shoe. all of these spaces have helped me point toward a liberated new world while also critically taking on the historical legacies of white supremacy, capitalism, and patriarchy. if i didn't have that i would likely feel paralyzed by the trash fire. but paralysis is fucking boring and we have way too much to live for moving ahead...

* * *

so much happened in 2018. in january i moved into a new house, just a few blocks away from where i had been living in west philly. it's been pretty nice going back to my punk house roots, living with a bunch of sweethearts, and paying less money in rent to boot. living closer to the trolley route, i stopped riding my bike as often which has been both a blessing and a curse: i can read and listen to music on my morning commute and avoided getting into any collisions with cars this year. at the same time, i have gotten out of shape and have hemorrhaged way more money than i would like to admit to SEPTA ("we're getting there"). i planned on riding my bike to this coffeeshop (where i'm writing) today, but after failing to successfully pump air in my rear tire, i just resigned myself to walking. and that felt like an appropriate way to close this year out.

walking is still honest.

* * *

in 2018, i stayed busy by organizing a ton of rad events at the wooden shoe: a bunch of queer poetry readings, acoustic shows, and movie nights along with book launches, talks, and discussions on a wide range of issues. these ranged from revolutionary mourning to street medic training to the secret history of tear gas to antifascist education and resistance to greek anarchist organizing to police and prison abolition to overdose prevention to the historical legacies of 1968 to local coalition building to indigenous politics to dreaming up trans utopias to making spaces safer to decolonizing gardens to ecosocialism to troubling islamophobia to feminist re-enchantment beyond witch hunts to grand jury resistance and many events!

i continued to do much of that organizing on the clock at my straight office job. i feel lucky that i have been able to carve out that time on the clock to work on the stuff that i really care about; the work that is actually meaningful in my life. it's bizarre, though, that i am approaching my 3 year anniversary at that job. who would have thought i would be doing that for so long? not me. but it's okay for now as it allows me to live my life and not create too much stress or pain.

i also had the pleasure of seeing a lot of great live music in 2018. almost every band on my top 10 album of the year list came through philly including screaming females, la luz, parquet courts, deafheaven, and pile. i celebrated my 37th birthday by seeing yo la tengo and, earlier that week, mirah at johnny brenda's. i went up to new york for may day and got to see screaming females again, this time opening for the breeders who i love so much. their new album 'all nerve' was my favorite of the year. and i still have never seen the coup live, but their soundtrack to 'sorry to bother you' (the best movie of 2018!) was also one of my faves. and i did get to see boots riley introduce and discuss the film at a pre-screening later in may at international house.

in 2018, i finally got a credit card. this allowed me to take a spontaneous trip at the end of the summer out to chicago to visit my dear friend kelly berry from bard. we celebrated our old professor joel kovel's life on what would have been his 82nd birthday by seeing a musical tribute to the haymarket martyrs. and i sang an against me! song at the eco-collective (where kelly lives) for the touring show on vulnerability 'i am a naked person.' it felt good to be able to say yes and to not really know what to expect.

on labor day weekend i travelled back to cape cod to celebrate my grandmother's 95th(!) birthday with the rest of my family. we reunited again for the holidays with her which was really nice, but also a little hectic and stressful--like the holidays always tend to be.

and now i'm back in philly. 10 years after moving here, i'm appreciating the philly people in my life and missing those who live far away, wondering if or when we'll be neighbors again. i don't see myself in this city forever and that's alright. it's been a good run, but it still doesn't quite feel like...home.

* * *

in 2019, i want to focus on health--both physical and mental. i want to be more conscious of the ways i'm living and work on making healthier decisions. since i haven't been biking, i want to start going to a gym at least a couple days a week. and i want to cook for myself more and eat out less in the new year. this will be a way to save money too and make healthier financial choices in general. hopefully i'll start getting paid a little more too. we'll see!

here's to new possibilities and love to you all in the new year and beyond.   

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

the last moon of the fall

november is almost over and we remember to keep writing down words. we add extra layers and avoid searching for our winter jackets until after the solstice arrives. we remember to prioritize experiences over material possessions and abundant social relationships over the scarcity logic of private property and job titles. we stand in lines for the chinatown bus, music in our ears. we remember to look at the moon each night as it waxes and eventually wanes. and we prepare our hearts for the winter air.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

from a notebook in a west philly coffeeshop on the evening of the midterm elections

as the work day drags on, we sit in our respective cubicles almost 100 miles apart. we listen to the playlists we shared with each other. "yours is helping to make my day here more pleasant." our imaginations are crushed by excelspreadsheets, but the music playing in our headphones keep us centered. this personalized soundtrack to a dreary tuesday afternoon in the office keeps us going. these songs help bridge the gap between the double lives we live. we're physically at work but our minds are hitchhiking across state lines, dreaming up adventures as a bowie song kicks in and the data reports melt away into the gutters of the corporate septic system. "it's like i'm keeping you company at work." i smile and forget what the fuck i'm even supposed to be doing. what am i doing? i wish we were dancing instead. i want to feel this music and nothing else. no more distractions or to-do lists or e-mail notifications. just beats and rhythms and melodies and vibrations and heartbeats. more music, less work.

Friday, November 09, 2018

music & work, revisited

three years ago, i found myself in tuscaloosa, alabama. i had spent the better part of the previous four months travelling with my zine about music and work. my dear friends dave and jo were both teaching anthropology at the university of alabama and were able to set me up with a number of events on campus. these workshops created space for students to share their experiences working in the service industry and the music that made those jobs either more tolerable or, often, even more insufferable. it truly was a space to honestly share our experiences about life under capitalism.

fast forward to fall 2018. a local artist here in philly tracked me down after learning about the music & work project and my zine. she is collaborating with a UK-based artist/composer to explore the songs that workers in philadelphia listen to while selling our labor to survive. the research will culminate in a chorus of whistlers performing an original composition next spring. this is a nod to how workers historically would whistle songs of solidarity together in the workplace. and they would get away with it since the boss was unaware of the political lyrics.

so we were able to connect wednesday night and talk about these questions of music and work. we could've talked for hours, sitting on that bench in rittenhouse square. but then at 6:00 the church bells rang and we walked across the street to the philadelphia ethical society for, appropriately, a panel discussion on philadelphia labor history. 

i'm excited to engage in these ideas again and to be inspired to keep writing and listening and working. 

Monday, November 05, 2018

you don't hate mondays

the worst thing about daylight savings is that it will be dark when we get out of work. on this gloomy, rainy monday i'm dreading the transition into night, into darkness. of witnessing this shift from my desk, through the window of the office building. like some greater force prematurely turning the light switch off on us. and in doing so, extinguishing the possibilities beyond wage labor that we have all taken for granted since april.

but i don't hate daylight savings. i hate capitalism.

on friday night my dear friend nazia shared a preview of her brilliant new book on islamophobia and the paralyzing limitations of liberalism. in a small west philly apartment this group of organizers and educators met to share food and drink, radical inspiration and solidarity. these abolitionist salons will help keep us all sustained in this increasingly dark political moment. i feel so privilege to be part of it.

i also took a last-minute trip to baltimore this weekend. red emma's--the radical bookstore/restaurant/bar/cafe/community center--recently re-opened in an even larger space than their previously location on north ave. i took a bus down from philly primarily to check it out and i'm so glad i did--especially since the new location is just a 5 minute walk from the bolt bus stop. plus i got a one dollar return ticket!

i really could've spent the entire weekend just at red emma's: coffee/books/vegetarian food/coffee/books/beer...repeat. the entire street level is completely dedicated to the food and drinks side of things and the subterranean floor is where the bookstore and event space is located. i ended up buying the new 33 1/3 book there about the raincoats' self-titled album which i can't wait to read.

it was also just really nice to further connect with new and old friends. over beers at red emma's bar and then delicious homemade burritos across town and finally at the weirdest (and extremely fun) karaoke bar i have ever experienced in my life.

my one dollar bus was late sunday morning, but i didn't even care. it felt good to have a mini-adventure and also feel the bright autumn sun on my face before returning to the darkness of mondays and cubicles.