Monday, November 30, 2015

back to...and everyone's the same

last event
last word
last city,
no show.
the ink spills out of my pen
all over my phone
and my journal.
and now 
there are ants.
looks perfect
the song in this cafe
the body 
feels like 
it's failing.
nothing is flawless,
despite what we project.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

a late capitalist rant

so what's going on?

that shift in tone revealed this was going to be a serious talk. and that seemingly benign question was essentially demanding: in order to receive our support you must defend not only what you're doing with your life, but your entire value system. also: we have your value system all figured out. and: this is why it makes us feel uncomfortable...

i believe in relationships, but not partnerships. the only thing that truly matters are the people in our lives that we develop and maintain a vast array of connections with. this is how we grow. this is how we make sense of the chaos in the world. this is how we don't just fucking give up. no one has a monopoly on that--we all deserve way more than that. and this is not about sex. stop saying "just friends." all relationships are important--in different ways. stop saying "in a relationship." we are all in relationships with the people that are present in our lives.

but back to the matter at hand...

i believe in dignity. but i'm also not dogmatic. i don't want to be doing something that i hate, something that is disempowering and soul-sucking for 8 hours straight, 5 days a week. for the rest of my life. fuck that. but it's not even about me. i want to live in a world where that is no one's reality. the current system is unacceptable. but i recognize the reality that this is where we're still at. i just think we need to tear this motherfucker up.

and now it's time to get real.

after putting me on the defensive about the direction of my life, you explained that you're worried about my future. oh, and that you love me. but i don't need the condescending speech. it's actually not helpful at all. and it just shows how out of touch you are with what i have been doing, what i am continuing to do in the world.

i'm actually really excited about my future. but thanks for pretending to care.

Friday, September 11, 2015

these frameworks labeled "home" (revisited)

back at home. sometimes it's less about roots and more like an anchor. that paralysis of childhood, of being stuck with no way forward. but this is temporary. and i wake up from this dream and everything is moving too fast. everything is too real. i open my eyes again and now i'm standing in the dark library. it's after midnight and even though it's haunted, i'm still turned on. you lean against the railing and my ears are ringing in the silence. is this weird? hearts race. ghosts whisper. i don't want to go home.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

this is everything

so. i made it happen. i quit my job, put myself out there, traveled all over, engaged in conversation and ideas, saw old friends, and made some new ones. and now i'm back. i just woke up again in the waiting room, not sure what happens next. this is always exciting and scary. here i am.

and then my phone rang--one of my dearest friends reminding me that the only thing that really matters are the relationships we maintain with the people in our lives. these human connections are all that is truly keeping us going. and if we pay enough attention and continue to care for them, then truly magical possibilities await. this is everything.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

risk big (revisited)

the week before i gave notice at my job, i woke up in a fancy hotel room with a famous author. as we walked up broad street after the bar closed the night before, i shared my wild dream with her--my summer scheme to travel around and talk with people about music, work, capitalism, and liberation. she was into it. after the sun rose and her wake up calls rang as scheduled i sat up on the bed and shared my fears about trying to raise money--both the weird act of doing it and the lurking potential for failure. but i also shared how i keep reminding myself that people like chelse@ clint0n get paid $75K to speak at one place. one night. so raising 5% of that to subsist on for a couple months and make my dreams come true really shouldn't feel that scary or strange. "i'm one of those people too," she added. it's good to already have supporters who have put themselves out there and know what it's like to risk big. now it's time to quit my job and just make it happen. xo  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

taking risks/on a tuesday

it's april and the world is finally starting to feel like spring. a week ago, i celebrated my 34 birthday--a celebration of springtime and against the fear and hatred of growing older and wiser. we embraced the aging process on the dance floor with reckless abandon, dancing as if our lives depended on it.

the next day i didn't really feel any older, but i was hurting a little bit from having a little too much fun on a tuesday. but i got it together, rolled out of bed and biked to temple university for a late morning conversation between two brilliant political artist/designers: my pal josh macphee and ganzeer, from egypt. i always appreciate hearing josh speak about art and politics and his ideas always open up space for my own insights to emerge. it was two years ago to the date that he spoke at university of the arts on an unseasonably hot april evening on the commons and maintaining the historical memory of social movements through art. his comments about justseeds helped inspire a whole new way of approaching my graduate research. it was a breakthrough moment, making me realize i had to look toward groups and collectives instead of individual activists and artists surviving and transforming the current society. 

this time josh spoke about how in this culture that only values profit-making, it is essential to take risks--to counter that dominant logic by building better relationships with people in our lives. if we focus on fostering healthier communities together then we won't need to compete with each other in the capitalist market anymore. he shared the risk he took early on, decidiing to only produce culture within the realm of civil society--outside of both the commercial and governmental spheres. we need to take risks to create the kind of world we want to live in.

and i'm ready for it. it's not enough to just talk about it now. i'm finally getting some writing done on my zine project and next month i will launch a crowdfunding campaign to help me quit my job and follow my dreams. anything is possible... < 3

oh, and later that day i got to meet the amazing adrienne maree brown--hosting an event with her at the wooden shoe around octavia's brood, the new collection of visionary fiction she co-edited. i have so much love and respect for adrienne and it was absolutely the best event we have ever hosted. so, a good birthday overall and magical kickoff of spring '15!

Friday, March 13, 2015

beyond march: springtime dreaming & scheming

anyone that really knows me knows that spring is my favorite season. spring is when i thrive, it's when i begin to scheme and dream, thawing out out after winter stasis. spring is when i begin to feel alive again. in march we occasionally get to experience glimmers of hope--a fleeting taste of springtime possibilities. march is a month of seasonal puberty, a month of transition. four years ago, i moved from west philly to south philly. it was march 17th that i finally moved all my belongings out of the apartment i shared with my ex who broke up with me at the very start of that year. the day before, i began working at a coffeeshop after a period of unemployment. the middle of march last year was also an intense time of change for me. as i struggled to finish my masters thesis, i was confronted with the reality of an emotionally dysfunctional relationship that came to a screeching halt. at the end of that week i was robbed at gunpoint. spring could not have arrived fast enough. and it did arrive. i met with my advisor in new york and made a plan to finish my program by the end of the semester. i triumphantly celebrated my birthday and made it all happen.

this march, i'm at a crossroads. my life feels pretty similar to four years ago. in fact, i'm still working at that same coffeeshop. what happens next? where will this spring lead me? i'm dreaming and scheming. i'm ready to truly follow my wildest dreams. what do i have to lose?    

Friday, February 27, 2015

further consideration

apparently every time i apply for a job 170 other people will also apply. this time, i was informed about the quantity of my competitors but also that my application "was not selected for further consideration." honestly, this was sort of a relief to learn. i felt free again, unshackled from the expectations of this one specific opportunity. now, i can do whatever the fuck i want. the problem is that i'm still searching for what that looks like. yesterday i returned to reading descriptions of phd programs in ethnomusicology. but then i remembered that conversation we had that night at the lost bar and how it makes more sense to just write a zine instead. writing-residency-fantasies persist. give me the whole summer in a conscious space of creation, surrounded by driven like-minds feeding off each other's energy. mmm...sounds kinda hot too. i need a shower now. maybe that will help me figure out what i'm doing with my life.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

living against the blur

i don't want to be jobhunting with you. i don't want to discard our creative impulses in exchange for the empty promises of security and routine, material comfort and health insurance. our eyes are burning from reading about job descriptions, qualifications, and salary ranges commensurate with experience. let's turn off our screens. from now on, we'll refuse to be precarious. let's think bigger and never, ever sarcastically scoff about "just livin' the dream." because we truly will be. let's live our lives in a way that doesn't make it seem like the years are passing us by in a blur. let's start today.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

on (not) keeping it cool

at the end of this past month, i went "home" for the holidays. waking up early on christmas eve, i drove my sister's car to a small deli in the town where we grew up to get a few items for breakfast.

hey punk!

at first, i couldn't tell if this voice was directed at me as i walked to the end of the narrow grocery aisle. 

yeah, i'm talking to you, it continued.

i looked up to see a friendly, familiar face--the guitarist/vocalist of my favorite local band when i was 14 years old. there we stood, almost two decades later catching up. he self-deprecatingly announced that he has stuck around all these years, "living the dream." i told him how i've been in philly for a while now and he asked if i was still playing music. to which i responded that every new year i hope to start a band again...but never do. maybe this will be the year?

he's been recording stuff in his basement and he unenthusiastically promised to send me a link to his bandcamp page. as i was driving back to my sister's house i thought about how great his band was back in the day. and later on i listened to their discography as i wrapped presents; fond memories of that diy community of my youth rushing back to me. 

but i also wondered, why couldn't i tell him that? why did i mostly just feel sadness for his current situation, past glories collecting dust as he ages further into obscurity? perhaps if we shared these sentiments with each other more often it wouldn't be this way. 

how come our culture pressures us to keep it so cool? why are we discouraged from honestly sharing how much we respect and appreciate the people that have touched our lives? 

a couple weeks later, i found myself working at the radical bookstore in philly. the phone rang and the man on the end was looking to speak to someone who took care of ordering. i asked if he was looking to place an order and he responded, "i do a zine called cometbus and i was wondering if you all needed more copies of the back issues?"

and i kept it cool.

on the phone with aaron cometbus, one of the most legendary zine writers of the underground punk world, i remained calm and professional, despite becoming slightly friendlier as i counted the number of back issues on our shelf. 

after i hung up the phone i wondered, why did i keep it so cool? even though i demonstrated that i was familiar with his zine, why did i not feel comfortable saying how much i appreciated his work over the decades? maybe it's because i just assumed he knows and didn't want to hear it. he probably gets that all the time, right?

but what about my friend from my home town? and what about people from the past that are no longer with us? those that we now recognize as creative geniuses, but who--in their time--either toiled in obscurity themselves or struggled with mental health issues that prevented them from realizing their own greatness. 

as my friend ak thompson recently wrote about radical feminist icon shulamith firestone after she quietly passed away in 2012:

No mention is ever made of our collective failure, of the gulf between our willingness to concede Firestone's brilliance and our incapacity to realize a single one of her goals. Under venal conditions such as these, who in their right mind wouldn't retreat?

so, i think it's time for us to stop keeping it cool. let's remember to tell the people in our lives that we love and appreciate them. and let's stop being afraid to tell those whose creative and political work has inspired us that they should never give up and that what they do truly matters to us. 

we all deserve much more. 

Monday, January 05, 2015

new year/full moon

a lot people have anxiety about new year's; the intense social expectations to have fun and make meaningful resolutions for the year ahead.

i love new year's. i love celebrating with the most important people in my life. i love creating a more mindful space to reflect on where i have been and to consciously dream about where i would like to go. i love new beginnings. and i love a good party.

but this year was a little different. my current life in philadelphia feels plagued by stagnation so i decided i wanted to celebrate new year's elsewhere. but then after spending holiday time with family i came back to drop my luggage off and soon realized that i couldn't afford to leave.

so i just made the best of it. i entertained a few party possibilities where friends might be. and then, the night before, reality came crushing down on me reminding me how much i'm ready to move on, more forward, and challenge myself once again. i needed a new year's of solitude to think it all through.

so i made soup. i read and played my guitar. and i reorganized the desk in my bedroom--the one where i finally finished writing my master's thesis this past year. listening to the new throwback hip hop station on my radio, as the night went on, i separated a massive pile of recycled paper from year-old christmas cards and other personal items to save.

and then at midnight i turned off my lights and enjoyed the new year fireworks from my third-floor bedroom window. the impressive show exploded in front of the ben franklin bridge for several minutes. and i was alone, but it felt just right.

* * *

a few days later the first full moon of the new year arrived. yesterday also saw unseasonably warm weather in philly which combined for an extra weird day.

in the late morning, before i biked through light rain to my job, one of the active collective members of the bookstore where i volunteer announced over the listserve that she was leaving the collective. her message simply listed all of the responsibilities that other people would now need to take on in her absence.

less than an hour later, i arrived at the coffeeshop where i work to pay the bills. i was immediately informed that the newest worker (who started in the fall) had been fired that morning.

i stared at the new 2015 calendar as i washed dishes in the back and saw that, sure enough, it was a full moon: upheaval. endings. transitions. but also, new beginnings. new possibilities abound right now.

exhausted after a long shift, i went to bed early last night. in the middle of the night i woke up to the clearing sky giving way to the bright, raging moon pouring into my room. and i couldn't fall back asleep for more than an hour.

i was awoken again a few hours later by a brilliant sunrise through another window. a new day has begun. and i'm ready.