When I was young, my mom used to make spaghetti for dinner often… I liked it, but it wasn’t anything terribly special. White noodles. Ragu name brand sauce. Ground beef. Yum.
Coincidentally, my family used to always love to go to this Italian restaurant called Cascones, a family-owned joint, that I personally didn’t care for too much. We used to go there once a week, and I hated it! I was sick of spaghetti, I already ate it enough, the atmosphere was kinda cheesy and the food wasn’t great. Overtime I tried everything on the menu, EXCEPT their spaghetti, and none of it was very appealing.
I also grew up at my Grandmother’s gift store; that was my day-care. “Carol’s Cards and Gifts and A-to-Z Office Supplies was the world in which I learned the ins and outs of retail and customer service.
One day, Grandma Carol ordered take out from Cascones, unbeknownst to me. She ordered us spaghetti. “UGH, not again” I thought, but upon the delivery of the spaghetti, I quickly realized, that this was the MOST delicious spaghetti I had EVER had!
“What is this Grandma,” I asked?
“It’s Castcones!” she replied. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve loved going to Cascones ever since, and even took Michael my fiancé when we were back home.
Since then, I’ve tried to make Spaghetti at home for years, attempting different recipes, and approaches. Chicken bolognese, meat balls, vegetable, gluten free, all kinds of noodles… and I still have to say, that when I make spaghetti at home, none of it taste as good as mom’s did.
This year at Burning Man, I actually met a man who goes by the name Spaghetti. He drove a Spaghetti Bowl, and what a ride that was! The best mean that I ate at Burning Man was arguably spaghetti out of a MRE bag. Imagine that.
There is very little point to this blog post, other than Spaghetti has become something very dear to my heart. You never know where the best spaghetti is going to come from, but usually, it’s from the home and the heart.
I’ll leave you this with, a song I wrote in 2006 called Something Spaghetti, off my album Ostentation. New album in 2020 coming soon titled: Ceremony | Ceremony
Loving all things Spaghetti-Like,
The funny thing about Burning Man, is that you can plan and plan and plan, and you still have very little idea of what really you’re getting into. I consider myself to be a regular burner, on top of being fairly organized type A personality… a Capricorn always prepared for the unexpected. I tend to spend a LOT of time pre-event and actually on playa during the event organizing my STUFF, so that on a whim, when someone needs a light-up corkscrew, I’ve got you covered. BOOM. #whatimmediacy?
That being said, every regular burner also knows that expectations are pretty much the worst thing you can bring with you to burn the man, because with them, come disappointments. #letitride
This year, the burn was tough for me. Hardest one yet, dare I say. Incredibly challenging personally, and several times I had to remind myself. “This is why we go”. To push ourselves. To go beyond the rational all the way to extreme… because what’s left is pure magnificence. Usually.
This was my fifth official Flaming Guy, though I have been “burning at heart” since 2004, and this burn was actually the 6th time driving to BRC and back again, being that I went twice this year and got to attend the Early Burn ritual that DPW and many of the departments celebrate as their own city celebration before the main event. Quite the spectacle:
DPW Early Burn 8.17.2019
At the same time, I also was over the moon and fantastically fortunate to have had my fiancé in shine, Michael Ngarimu, affectionally known on and off-playa as Kiwi from Man Base, PROPOSE, to ME! Underneath the Man pavilion where the man stood, roughly 60’7” tall and growing, he asked if I would and I said, I do.
Or, at least I will be soon!
Thanks for the engagement shot John Curly!
Damn that man never looked so good!
So why the rough time, you ask? Despite all of my pre-planning making plans to try NOT plan on this “vacation”, between my actual on-playa commitments, my work obligations, and my heart strings being tugged in different directions by old friends and new, I can easily say I had one of my most difficult experience of my life pushing my endurance physically, emotionally and radically. I heard myself saying several times to myself “I am never doing this again… not like this”. Truthfully, most things worth doing aren’t easy. I always did like learning the hard way.
The thing about the playa, no matter how many times you go, it’s always going to teach you something…. Just when you think you know what to expect, it’s going to throw you a curve ball, whenever it’s you future self throwing your present self a curve ball, or perhaps the universe unexpectedly barreling bowl. Undoubtedly, if you’re paying attention, the playa is here to push you to your limit. For better or worse.
“Burning Man… where things to go die” was what I kept thinking. From my bike, to my lights, to cars, clothes, tent zippers… it’s all there to DIE. From the moment I got there, to the moment I left, I almost couldn’t wait to get back to my “real” life (which my good friend pointed out to me is a lot like burning man all the time because let’s face it, cacophony is my middle name). It’s not that I didn’t have moments of fun; but the effort far outweighed the pay-offs initially. (In hindsight… I’m still not sure). Fucking expectations.
Not that Burning Man isn’t great and all that it’s cracked up to be… it’s, quite frankly, my favorite place on earth. I love it almost too much. It’s like an unhealthy one-sided relationship where you put in all the effort but still go home alone. Yet, I can’t get enough of it, and this teaser we get for a week of paradise, isn’t cutting it frankly. It’s exhausting. The preparation, the time crunching at work and after so I can afford to be away for ten days… the drive… the food prep… the set up, the clean up…volunteering, biking, trying to make art, be art, all of it. IT’S. EXHAUSTING.
Bringing my first art piece titled baby “Grace” proved to be an additional layer of interest and responsablity, only in that I was struggling to find time to bring her out to be enjoyed by folks. She did make it to Crimson’s El Diablo lighting ceremony, and the walked out to the Inner Sun for a sundown lighting on Monday.
Grace, made by TJ Lee, at The Inner Sun, made by Nathan Altman, 2019
“Here, take everything of value to you, drag it out to the dessert where the dust that coats everything has essentially the consistency of drain cleaner,” my friend Brita nicely explained as we were communing in the heat one afternoon, “bring it all to a place that we CALL home, but can’t actually create anything of sustenance that will survive in it, and let’s like, see what shakes out, right?”
Wrong. I’m tired. I’m tired, and I want more from my community, more from the “investors”, from the artists, and more from this “non-Profit” organization. Personally, I want more from my time and my investment in a community.
“But what about immediacy, and the radical self evolution,” half of you will chirp… And I don’t want to discredit that need for the temporary and the immediate, but I do want those forces to be working for us, and not against us. I ask you, what kind of church or neighborhood, or community doesn’t invest in it’s infrastructure, in it’s future, and in itself?
One of my favorite installations this year was the “Free Wifi” signs around playa. I only hit one, but word spread fast that the hoax was really a cacauphonous effort to get citizens off their phones. Instead of wifi, you got a never-ending scrolling terms and conditions that read a little something like this:
While I find great humor in this type of art, and encourage it, I myself am the first to jump on the pro BRC Wifi Train. “What do we want? WIFI! And when do we want it? NOW.” We’re exhausting ourselves trying to work, navigate and track people down in a city that is as arguably the most high tech city in the world one might argue, and yet we still don’t have a good way to communicate with each other on-site?
My old ass doesn’t have time to wait around for playa magic to provide, especially if you want my participation at peak levels. And when one of my shows was cancelled, it would have been really awesome if I could have saved some of my friends the trip during dinner time across the sea to a me that wasn’t there. <<insert snarky comment here to appease nay-sayers>>. I know it’s a big ask, I know it’s a big change. And if you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it. I am asking, please, let’s make this city work for US.
WE HAVE GOT TO START CONSERVING RESOURCES FOLKS IF WE WANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY
I’m not the only one that feels this way, and I know our community is divided in some sense. I’m writing this Burning Mannierism Declaration to give voice to the other side of immediacy, because If I am going to continue to participate as a citizen, not only do I value many voices having an active roll in shaping this scene, but I want to know our voices are being USED, let alone heard, and that this is a group effort towards enlightenment. Evolution is one not one-sided. #freeWIFIcentercamp2020 #somuchmore
Hard sell… maybe. But wait, there’s more:
I’d like to radically propose to open Black Rock City for not just a week or two, but for a month or two, during the summer, culminating in the man-burn phenomenon we all still do religiously, without a whole lot of intention or reaction, but rather unguided passion. Let’s us continue to commune, while opening our doors to the masses. I’m serious… we all gather around for this ridiculously awesome ritual that gets more and more insane by the year, and we love it! We all want more! Everyone wants more. Let’s face it, nobody hardly batted an eye when the man pavilion fell away to a cross this year, and frankly nobody needed no. This is cacophony. This wasn’t a maliciously planned act to feed the god of christ’s ego, and everybody who could see it had a chuckle. You cannot plan this shit… at least not all of it. It’s okay to be offended a bit , it’s good for us. And it’s okay to spread our wings. (Of course a BLM permit is a whole other topic, and a whole other blog article).
Yes, I want to see Burning Man establish itself as a still temporary, yet real and functional city during the summer months leading up it’s surmise/demise. Allow artists and people to come from all over the world and make the pilgrimage accessible. This need not be an exclusive event for Instagram models, but radically, make it all INCLUSIVE. Have a family week. Have a sex positive themed week. Show case different artists all summer long. Let different pieces burn that mean different things to hundreds of thousands. Harness that money and put it back into the art and into Burners Without Borders. If we aren’t going to commit to some property and radically change the way we are living full time, at the least, let’s OPEN THIS THING UP and try to let even more cathartic healing come through.
The Temple of Direction, 2019
While I’ve got your year, we also want better street signs…these flimsy crappy wooden ones that nobody can see are not cutting it. Also I think at $400-1000+ a ticket we can afford the comfort of cloth wrist bands if we are going to wrist band folks. Also better Center Camp flags and lighting from a distance, and I’d like to see designated frontage streets to that people can easily navigate the outer roads without having to be bombarded by RVs that add no value to the community. You want the city to grow? We must grow conceptuality too. Let the cacophony work for us.
And yes, most of you will say, where is my radical self reliance? Where is my immediacy? For that, I say, it’s right here, and it radically self reliant speaking up for what my immediate needs are. There are interesting dialogues to have in the interest of evolution and succession, and at the least, I hope we can do it with laugh, hence, the cacophony.
Burning Man. We love you. We want you. No matter how much you argue radical self-reliance, I think it’s fair to admit that we have built a fairly codependence relationship that is flourishing; now we have to foster it if we want to keep it alive. We’ve built this incredible community, with the art, with the organization, with each other, and now I think it’s fair to say that most of us want want more. I’m talking serious relationship level investing. Fly Ranch can be our retreat, but we need land, we need it near the/a city(iet), and it we will require a lot of collaboration and mutation. Metamorphosizing is just the beginning. It’s time to jump.
It’s safe to this this level of changes comes with great difficulties and challenges, and the dialogue between opposing sides is just the beginning… our differences are to be over-come in time and strength in numbers. We’ve got the smartest, most creative people in the world listening, and we are hungry. We’ve all already bitten off way more than we can collectively chew… it’s time, to eat the whole damn thing. Des(s)art and all.
#arewethereyet #iwanttogohome #forreal
I FUCKING LOVE YOU BURNING MAN
Opulent Chill Set Friday Burning Man 2019
First we have to forgive each other.
And then, we must forgive ourselves.
As someone who although was raised Jew-ish, always felt spiritually connected to all faiths, you might be surprised to know that while I do many Jewish things, I am not all that religious. I was raised reform, some of my family is orthodox, much of my work is in a conservative Jewish context, my prayerful nature is certainly Jewish, but I have always been a rail rider… a paradox. How can I be Jewish, and also be…. performing burlesque, singing Kiran to hindu gods, or god forbid eating bacon? I don’t belong fully to any of the laws, and yet I am still a summation of all that I have learned and come to known as comforting in the realm of prayer and spirit. I consider myself to be pretty attuned to all the ways the spirit works, nondenominationally.
So when a few weeks ago I had this sense of dread come over me… I was baffled by this unexplainable heavily grieving of loss. Nothing showed overtly obvious as a reason…My love and work has been steady, I’m not PSMing, Mercury isn’t still in retrograde if you consider that… granted, we live in an age where I fail to see how it’s possible for anybody not to be depressed about this morbid state of the union… affairs… our planet…all that we have created. It’s a boatload if good and bad. That aside… I checked in with myself, and though I felt balanced and healthy, still, there was great sadness.
As people come and go in and out of our lives, is to be expected, and we ourselves undergo new phases of ourselves – old parts dying off, new parts growing – some things forever stay relevant, perhaps like faith, spirit, creativity. The real reality and secret is that EVERYTHING is temporary; we are always learning the process and when we master the process, then it changes. If you haven’t yet noticed, it has become clear to many that attachment is where pain grows. Specifically, unhealthy attachment.
I mentioned I currently work at a conservative synagogue in the Bay Area, and last week a man came in grappling with his mortality. With tears in his eyes he said he has 2-4 months to live and just wants to make it easy on his family. My tears began to flow with him and we hugged and talked…grief is a process, not a destination or something to avoid. And even when it’s not your own grief, it is still overt and demands attention; always better not to be done alone.
Then, in a staff meeting on Thursday, my Rabbi did a short teaching, and it hit me like lightening… he explained that this weekend is Tisha B’Av! The Jewish day of mourning. What is that about?
For those that aren’t familiar, on this day in 2019, Saturday, August 10, at sundown marked the Jewish day known as Tisha B’av. Known as the 9th of the Jewish month of Av, and it has a reputation of being the saddest day of the year. It usually occurs in July or August, and the Gregorian date switches around, it marks the culmination of a three week period of mourning. Twenty-four hours dedicated to the communal mourning of disastrous events that have all occurred on this day throughout history. I thought I would name a few, the first one written in the Bible, our oldest rendering of time, states:
“ …On the ninth of Av it was decreed that our fathers should not enter the Promised Land”. –Mishnah Ta’anit 4:6
…And it was decided the Jews had to wonder the dessert for 40 more years (or something of that nature, I didn’t go to synagogue tonight, because clearly I am not the best Jew. I like to keep my options open… but I instead, worked on this blog post, and dug deeper)
Tisha B’Av commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem, both of which were destroyed on the ninth of Av (the first by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E.; the second by the Romans in 70 C.E.). On this day the many other tragedies occurred, notably the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and from England in 1290. Some connect the day to Kristallnacht, which began on the 9th of November, or to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Perhaps a stretch, but worth noting. Some other dates include:
- The First Crusade officially commenced on August 15, 1096 (Av 24, AM 4856)
- The Jews were expelled from England on July 18, 1290
- The Jews were expelled from France on July 22, 1306
- The Jews were expelled from Spain on July 31, 1492
- Germany entered World War I on August 1–2, 1914
- On August 2, 1941, SS commander Heinrich Himmler received approval from the Nazi Party for “The Final Solution.” As a result, the Holocaust began.
And then, a little further research thanks to my friend Moxie proved to show that :
- 1871 – Chicago Fire 370 dead
- 1989 – San Francisco Earthquake
- 1992 – Hurricane Andrew
- 1972 – NYC heat wave – 891 dead
And the beat goes on. No matter which way you look at it, people are constantly in a cycle of grieving. It’s unavoidable. And yet, here we are, continuing to walk forward in our lives.
Luckily, traditions have developed observations in which to help people deal with these emotions. The jews sit shiva for seven days when someone dies. Many custums have particular rituals with which to honor the dead. #DayoftheDead
Central to the observance of this Tisha B’Av period is fasting. I also found it interesting that during this three week period of mourning preceding the 9th of Av, weddings and other parties are not permitted, and people refrain from cutting their hair or having sexual relations. From the first to the ninth of Av, it is customary to refrain from eating meat or drinking wine and from wearing new clothing. All of these actions are considered a luxury and inappropriate for a time of mourning. Visiting cemeteries is highly encouraged to tighten the sadness. Uniquely on Tisha B’Av, Torah study, meant to be joyful, is not permitted. Some parts of the Bible or Talmud are allowed, like Job or Jeremiah.
Bottom line, the community grieves together.
Now, whatever your ritual or history or beliefs may be… we all feel pain. And we all crave to be understood. Which begs the question:
What DO we do with all this pain? More and more comes every day.
I’ve learned that first, you have to process it and acknowledge it. And then you forgive it. You forgive BOTH sides of the story… you forgive others, and then you forgive yourself.
It’s not easy to admit the truth, especially when some of it has been blocked out potentially. And sometimes, we need a little help doing that. Usually this is easier said than done, and that’s why we developed these communal places to grieve and morn, where it is done in a group setting, facilitated even sometimes. In our communities.
That is exactly what the Temple at Burning Man is designed to do. Organically. No religion. No priest. Just community.
This year, I’m ramping up for my fifth Burning Man, and my mother who recently was told about the Temple at Burnin Man, informed me that she is ready to make the pilgrimage.. NEXT YEAR. “Wow, I thought… just when I was thinking maybe I should do something else with my time…”. And et, why did she want to go all of a sudden?
To my surprise, because someone explained to her the grieving process that happens at Burning Man, at many of the various temples in fact. It’s such an important piece of the journey that is so often overlooked, and something I am greatly looking forward to spending some time at this year. And someday, maybe I can even bring my momma to this sacred place, one that is different every year.
It’s worth mentioning that “the” temple isn’t the only temple at burning man; in fact there are several. I’m honored to be working with this team a bit this year on the playa called Bee Divine . This honey-combed shape temple at Burning Man will guide people into embodying the Divine Feminine through ritual and holding space. “The art piece developed into a large-scale interactive temple that would hold interactive ritual theater,” said creator, Elizabeth Huebner. ” I wanted to create a beautiful temple, but I also wanted to explore how we can choose to create sacred experiences through the use of our own will and imagination.”
In an effort to create sacred space and hold myself accountable for something meaninful, I’ll be working a shift at the Bee Divine and leading my Israeli-inspired Lotus Flower Forgiveness Movement Meditation Ritual at this hive at 7:00 am on Friday morning at Sunrise (location TBA). In the meantime, no #FOMO, If you have something you need to let go of, no time like the present to metamorphosize! #beedivine #callitin #justaskhow
In the name of letting go, I am also really excited to be bringing my first piece of true art this year to the burn, introducing: GRACE …. the cutest baby fire you’ve always wanted! Come, help me feed her, keep her warm, keep her dry, and burn bright all week long. Participants will be invited to help keep the baby alive throughout the week by feeding her wood chips and ascribing an intention to each bite they deliver to her furnace.
You can come find Grace mostly around Center Camp and Pandora’s Bike and Fix it Shoppe at Rod’s Road and 4:30 …. Also we will be at the EL Diablo lighting ceremony Monday Sundown at Center Camp that Crimson Rose leads and possibly even at the main Man Burn event, if the baby can hang! Remember… doing sacred should also be silly… that’s the key to working your way through challenging times. Make it special.
I want to say a special thank you to my lovely friend and playmate TJ Lee for taking my idea and helping make it a reality! Also want to thank Dan Brown for suggesting I make my “fire on wheels” idea into a baby carriage when we were watching the man burn last year …. the world works in mysterious ways! Sometimes you watch it burn from the front row, sometimes you watch it burn from the back row, but it’s all about who you’re standing with that matters.
If I’ve learned one thing about the art of attachment (or lack there of), it is that the more you love, the more you will grieve, it is that simple. Budda knew it. The more you want something, the more it will hurt when it’s gone. And so we make choices based on how much we are willing to risk our hearts. Keep this in mind as you move forward day to day; how much of yourself you give away and in exchange for what.
I encourage you to not shy away from that which you love, but rather, love with a healthy intention and with compassion. You never know when someone is grieving, and THEY themselves might not even know it either. But love and grief are real, it is physical, it’s emotional, and it’s going to happen.
It’s time to start dealing with it. And please know, that you are never alone. Reach out anytime, I always make myself available when it’s important.
New Album called Sermony | Ceremony Coming Soon in 2020!
When someone asks you “what’s your favorite city”, you can bet your bottom dollar that anybody who has ever been to Burning Man undoubtedly will come out with “Black Rock City, is my favorite city”. Anyone who disagrees, I’m guessing that it USED to be their favorite city, and then the cultural direction shifted. Now what?
Oh, how we let our cities define us. The culture we create is directly and deeply interwoven with each city’s unique personality, as in any culture or group of people. We used to have our culture and communities be the focal point from which to dictate our whole lives and interactions. Ceremonies and celebrations were timed by the moon and nature’s seasonal flow. Our communities WERE our education systems, our entertainment forms, and the workforce. WE were the ECONOMY… the economy didn’t define us.
Fast forward to 2019, we couldn’t be further away from that model of life. They say that a tribe usually consists of about 256 people. That’s how many people one person actively keep track of, sincerely. 5,000 is the friends limit on Facebook, and to be honest I don’t know who most of you are anyway. Staying in touch has become so impersonal, we tend to fill up our cups with meaningless banter and scroll-past memes mores than genuine human interaction, whereas at Burning Man, it’s quite the opposite. The emphasis is on the human interaction and not so much on their credibility (who you are and where you’re from). The truly ironic thing about living in the Bay Area, which so happens to be the headquarters of the Burning Man office and social climate, is that we’re surrounded by all this culture, but there’s very little real community. There’s no village, no hub, no center camp for which to commune. And that’s making it really difficult for millennials (and everyone else dare I say) to make friends and have a life outside of work, let alone raise children.
I want my “Cheers” damnit. I want my village. My vibe tribe. I want my center camp at which to commune twice a day. I want to build a new city, and one that doesn’t have to go away after ten days.
Co-creating, the ultimate mission, is our lot in life. At Burning Man, everything is in a constant state of creation; of evolution. Art, is how you create culture and evolve it. Inventing new concepts and revisiting the old. Rewriting the rules as we see fit. Why not? If gravity changed, wouldn’t you adjust as best you could? One could say that the same thing is happening with evolution itself…it’s moving faster than we can document or understand, and possibly moving us back towards old ways of life. That is hard to suppress or make sense of for some of us. Sure, some people would prefer to stay ignorant and “asleep”, while the rest of us, are slowly waking you up. Which life are you living?
It’s no secret, Burning Man is on the forefront of creating and defining culture, in a new sense. Like a quantum particle, always changing, always desecrating and then recreating itself different and better; we have continued to ebb and flow with the changing dynamic that is human existence. Now, our mission is to change the culture.
So what exactly does it mean to change the culture? To push the envelope of precipice? To actively seek out the new and refine it, while still relating to the old…. It’s quite a lot to carry, that’s for sure. Especially when met with so much resistance.
The Ten Principles of Burning Man have helped us understand what it means to be a part of a culture and to change it. That can look like simply participating, actively or showing up, even for the messy part. It can mean being self-reliant and self-expressive, even at the expense of being misunderstood . It means taking chances where no one said it was possible; isn’t that what we are all here to do?
Speaking of the impossible, in the Bay Area community, many reflect upon the somewhat recently shattered communities: Ghost Ship and Paradise Fire. Here we saw very vibrant cohabitation brought down to nothing but ash. The community took action. A few months later, FEMA “stepped in” to ASK some of the active Burners Without Borders leaders and for advice. “What do we do?” they asked. With no money and no resources. “Help.” There’s more to that story I don’t know all the details, but it sets the stage for our collective power and wisdom that could be the change many of us are seeking, if we are brave enough to face it. When there is a task to do, Burners can figure it out and get it done; and then light it on fire if need be.
It’s a delicate place to be. Abiding by our principles, we have to be careful not to exclude anybody or anything. Where does that leave us when people mess up or disagree? Perhaps it’s possible to shift what change looks like:
Let’s take the Tenderloin district in San Francisco’s downtown. Some say the Tenderloin got it’s name because street dwellers and slingers used to bribe the San Francisco police department with steaks and other cuts of meat in order for them to keep their mouths shut and turn a blind eye. (How do you even fact check this? I didn’t; it’s too funny)
Today, walking through the Tenderloin is like walking through the worst horror movie ever written. It’s a living nightmare. I was driving through the streets a few weeks ago and I saw a lively dark skinned man shaking a paint can vigorously with a large group around him. I looked closer, expecting to see him huffing paint, but as the moment passed I could see he was indeed spray painting on the wall behind him, telling stories to go with the motions. People gathered round and listened with interest and desire for human interaction written on their faces and I thought to myself, “THAT is how you change the culture. With art. You rewrite the stories with new lessons, and the art is what allows people to HEAR those messages”
So what if Burning Man is holding the spray can, or the paint brush? What if it’s our turn to rewrite this story of love and kindness and truth? What if we could teach the world how to live together in peace in tribes? How to share and learn from each other and live with art and fun as our focus instead of fear and anger.
Burning Man is no stranger to art. But how do we harness the art? What ARE we trying to say? Personally, what are the conversations we need to have in our lives to deal with our criticisms and understand the other side? We cannot keep going down this anti-global-warming rabbit hole for a second longer.
If I have learned a few things about my time with Burning Man and developing my own leadership skills around community organizing, I can say this: Don’t start the fight if you’re not willing to be the bigger person. Don’t let the need to be right over shadow the desire to get along.
“Being offended should always be the beginning of a conversation, not the end of it,” Said Jamie Dewolf of Tourettes Without Regrets, the legendary variety show in Oakland, CA.
And I am here, to piss you off. To challenge you. In order to push the envelope, we must first open it!
My grandfather always told me, “we’re not arguing, we are brainstorming”.
So, let the brainstorms begin. And the action to follow. Tell me, what are you purveying?
“Creating all this drama while running from our trauma” Professor Nightlife Jones
“Despite all my rage, Im still just a rat in a cage!” – Jai Love
I’ve come to love the sound of the recycling jingling in and out of cans outside my bedroom window on the street below…. not because of the environmental implications, I mean, but because it sounds like home. My home, now. Life on Clement. 94118. I chose this very place, of all the towns and cities in the United States, I picked here. The Inner Richmond. Why? Many reasons. Fate. Chance. Coupled with my proximity to work in Tiburon at the synagogue, and for a variety of other factors involving landscape, environment, proximity and creativity, this is my home of choice. My sanctuary. My center. The eye of my storm.
That’s not to say I don’t doubt myself everyday. Did I make the right choice? Pick the right city? The right job? The right part of town. I KNOW that I picked the right partner, thank goodness, and I am grateful everyday for that clarity. So why have I been so…. disillusioned? So unhappy. What more could I want?
Yes, I do miss my family. But I like it here. I like who I have become. I’m not as sweet as I used to be, but much kinder and smarter, I’d like to think. Rougher. More careful with my energy and time and space. Protective. A mamma bear. I work out now, sort of. I actively DON’T eat cheese at every meal. I don’t smoke… near as much as I used to. I don’t weigh myself down with unnecessary bullshit and small talk with people I don’t care about. So where are these giant waves of sadness coming from? Are they a part of me? Or maybe much bigger than me? Generations larger than I can possibly comprehend, it seems.
And I am open to it. I asked to understand, the human condition. I remember at six-years-old asking for answers of the universe. I read Conversations with God and the Four Agreements at an early age, and lots of other spirituality self help type books that seemed reasonably informative. I remember adults protecting me from the truth, for the same damn reasons we protect our own hearts and tune out our own minds when it’s convenient, which is more often than not these days. Every night we feel the need to turn the volume up or down, it seems. To alter our current state, because reality is not pretty.
And sure, we can blame it on mercury in retrograde, or the solar storms, or claim we are just products of our environment, and that’s nice, to put a name on it. A blame. “Survival of the fittest”, gone wrong. Of course, I am not niave enough to think it is all outside consequences no, I am open to it being all my fault. By no means is my life perfection; though I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The amount of beauty and joy I have been shown far outweighs and exceeds the haunting of mistakes and misdeeds, that me and those who came before have scored. Everything we know is constantly in a stage of flux and transition; growing, changing, building, maintaining. Disruption. Creation. On repeat. New twist. Developed plots thicken. We grow sicker. We discover a cure. It is true, that I have grown sicker, weaker, sadder. And it has been very hard for me to admit that to myself, because once you give it power, then it changes, right?
Upon reflecting of my past, my relationships gone wrong, friendships failed, I have grown discouraged. Though admitting your mistakes is the first step to changing the future. Please know that if I haven’t followed through or reached out to you lately, and I was supposed to, please forgive me. Life has been like a god damn tornado. I lived my whole life in Kansas thinking I’d never seen a tornado, until I got to San Francisco and realized that the tornado was all around me. I was the calm.
Somehow, I’ve thrown myself out of orbit. What was once an eye is now a limb, a gust, an upheaval of old foundation crumbled to new. As I continue to stumble down this dumbfounded road, seeing new walks of life, some pristine and some soot, I recognize my own depression is a result of years of neglect and emotional instability, from my own actions but also from the gusts of wind from other storms, other atmospheres, colliding. Exhausted. Worn.
The storm comes and goes, and so does my vulnerability. As I continue to try and be as present and available to others all the while taking care of my own sanity. I want to do more. I aim to do more. I will not give up on doing more, for myself and for my community.
Sometimes it is as simple as switching your medication.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as saying something. Speaking up.
Saying I’m sorry if you have to.
Admitting your truth and finding your next step.
Sourcing the pain, so you can work on healing the wound.
My friend taught me a learning recently. She said “Sara, you’ve been so open, you’re forgetting to protect yourself”. And then she taught me to clear. After years of being an empath, I now am aware of the consequences of neglecting that power.
“Thank you (insert higher being here)
for clearing all draining and negative energy chords
in all directions of time. “
» three deep breaths – then follow with «
“Thank you (insert higher being)
for shielding me with 1000 feet of silver light
in all directions of time. And so it is”
-From April King_
Ripples that we make go everywhere, in all directions. We make them constantly- some microscopic and some so big we can’t even see that it’s a wave.
I Invite you, to be careful what you put in motion, as it may not turn out like you thought. You may not even be thinking about it consciously at all. Luck is chance and fate is a game. Back and forth. Sometimes you win sometimes you loose and you don’t have to play. You choose to feel it all or feel nothing. Both have consequence. Balance is only possible with out attachment and then constant upkeep of the body soul and mind / space we occupy. None of it matters and it all matters we all could argue reasoning for both. We are that enlightened. And yet we are our own enemy. We hold each other back. We fight the way of nature. We protect what we have know we hold onto tradition and the sacred for dear life maybe for a good reason maybe not. Sometimes both. The complexities of chance and fate and intentions at work here are astronomical unpredictable. The equation is long and the ripples are strong. Waves so big you may not even notice it.
In this day of age we are all ripe and raw. We are BOTH sides of the coin and the paradox. We are all misconceptions. We could all argue both sides of the fence. So be careful what you say and always tell the truth. If you have the facts and integrity and kindness you will come out ahead and if for no one else but yourself. Be your own karma. Don’t forget to breath through it all. I love you. I’m working it out just as you are. Maybe you’ve learned something and have something to teach me. Don’t hold back; please, we need your voice.
“It’s about planting a seed, letting it grow
Nourish it, flourish is, give it grow, flow,
Water it down until the roots take hold
from the leaves on the trees to our breaks get old
Cultivate relationship millions of years,
Keep it strong, erase thereof fears.
Don’t you let no producer tell you that you can’t,
Just make sure you’re careful which seeds you plant”
-MissConception, 2009, Plantin’ a Seed-
Friends and loved ones: This is a poem I wanted to share that I wrote when I was in high school and was considering what it would be like to not grow up. I saw back then and saw fucked up and sad this world was even from a child’s perspective, and I felt it all. I still do. Many of us do. We feel every abusive relationship, every neighbor grudge, even if they are not our own. Every fear tactic, every mass shooting and every war. Every disease. When you feel it all, you just want to feel nothing, and that’s how I felt when I was 16 and just wanted to crash my car into a tree. What were my problems then really? They paled in comparison to what I and many struggle with now and what the world is enduring I imagine. So I wrote this letter, as many of us do/did, to everyone I loved, and in reality everyone who I hated, at the same time. This is in no way a reflection of the relationships that I have or had with these people, but more an overall arching of the opposite of the way I felt, and how much anger, even then, I felt from this cruel and yet beautiful world. Even surrounded by LOVE. Think of what we could overcome, if we all were to listen to each other, and process, rather than black out and shame. Here’s to reducing the stigma and talking about depression instead of hiding from it. -MissConvinced
Thank you for letting me die before you.
I know you never wanted to see this day through
before your own
but this vehicle has crashed,
my body has been thrown.
Thank you for giving me everything you’ve ever done for me.
Funneling your hard earned profit into my college funding –
For raising the sun out of your ass,
and for buying me this car so I could crash
it in front of my mother’s home
so she could see how much I hate
driving down this road alone.
Dear Brother –
Thank you for never taking the time to hang out with me,
I know you had shit to do, we were both busy.
Maybe you never wanted to know me anyway because after this
I am just one less person for you to miss.
Dear Grandma Carol and Papa Sid,
Thank you for raising a rockstar instead of a kid –
For leading me to believe that all of life was one big,
yet very serious joke
and now I’m spoiled and broke…
I have all this SHIT and no where to go
when all I really want is to just go home.
Dear Bubbie Esther–
Thank you for giving me the opportunity
to stand in your shoes so I can see
just how great a depression can be once more…
After all, we are both products of a nasty war…
and while your strength resides in my backbone core.
I’m not sure I can carry this legacy any further anymore.
Dearest unborn child of my throne –
Thank for your patience in womb;
for allowing all of those who came before you to atone, |while I quietly bitch and groan…
Fighting so hard for a soul I didn’t even know
and I’m not even sure I can save my own
to ensure you’re happily ever after so for now
I’ll just talk to me:
The girl herself doesn’t even really know…
I’m not sure of I’ll make it out cold
or surrounded by loved ones of my bone,
but I can still stick-shift down this gratitude road,
Into the unknown, and hope… that I am not alone.