Category Archives: Personal Reflections

The stuff that has nothing to do with the rest of what I write about.

On “The System”

This is your regular reminder that the culture war we are experiencing (with body count and all) is bought and paid for by the wealthiest class as a way to distract from them draining the country and the planet in order to overfill their coffers.

They own the media shaping people’s minds and opinions on both sides, they own (and sometimes are) the politicians. They are defining “normal” and “acceptable” and it’s all nonsense, and that nonsense kills people.

I am well aware that my presentation to most of the world (a fair-skinned male-bodied bearded bespectacled lefty-leaning person with a long-term exclusive opposite-sex partner, amongst other “normal” signifiers) affords me some cultural advantages that my fellow non-straight and otherwise atypical folks do not enjoy.

I do my best to use those traits to raise the voices of those who do not have that visibility rather than to bloviate about issues that may otherwise affect me.

I do this not for any sense of credit or ego, but because lived experience will always be more relevant and important than even the most compassionate speech by those not in as many positions of marginalization.

I’m pretty open about my identity in how I present to the world. I am a Queer person (which to me, defines a worldview as much as anything else). I am not a straight person. Ever more relevantly, I’m Jewish.  My relationship is not traditional in many ways, though it is absolutely committed.

What I do know is that “Normal” feels super oppressive to me, rather than something I identify with. The prevailing culture is so toxic to intentionality, compassion, generosity, inclusion and wholeness and actively suppresses those things with violence and manipulation of narrative. It hurts women (cis and otherwise) especially, men in different ways and affords very little room for others along the spectrum.

Whenever possible, I strive to reject this “normalcy,” and avoid it.  I am very much aware that I have the privilege to do so.

So what are some small things can we do in addition to the political acts of resistance we must take as people with privilege?  What can we do as compassionate individuals desiring of a more whole human experience for all that is not afforded us by how things are right now? How can we move the needle?

Here are a few basic things.  Fuck with the system. Make people uncomfortable. Make out in public. Hold hands with two people (don’t block the sidewalk).  If you’re male-bodied / identified, hug your male friends without slapping them on the back.  Be kind and uncompromising to individuals and merciless to systems and groups. Shut up and listen.

It’s even more radical, these days.

What I’ve Learned, 2015 Edition

I used to do these “What I’ve Learned” lists every year. I’m going to do them more.

  • Resistance is not a reason not to do things.  It may be an invitation to explore further.  It’s also not a reason to shut down and “power through” without feeling.
  • Having a structure to my day is one of the only ways I can stave off feeling like a useless burden on society.  Writing just three things that I’d like to accomplish the night before and being able to cross them off is helpful (a framework I learned from Gina Trapani).  When I don’t do this, it starts a spiral of self-judgment and shame around concepts like “wasting my life” and “not living up to my potential” that actually get me further mired, rather than leading to action.
  • My voice is not essential in conversations about politics, and the best way to use my privilege is to amplify the voices of those being primarily affected by oppression.
  • I am sad a lot.  I have a habit of self-medicating/numbing out to avoid sadness.  I’m trying to sit with it more.  If I can sit with my emotional state for 30 seconds longer than I did yesterday and then numb out if I want to, then that is an accomplishment that I can feel proud of.
  • I have real challenges with internally-generated motivation. Motivating myself and feeling ‘positive’ (i.e. motivating) emotions like excitement and anger get quickly redirected into shame (as well-documented in The Change Triangle).  This motivation -> shame cycle is often misdiagnosed as depression (though I have also historically struggled with depression, I’ve thankfully . I am addressing this. This shall be addressed.

I Surrender

Fine.

I surrender.

I surrender self-improvement.

I surrender “fixing my life”

I surrender making small changes that add up.

I surrender figuring it out.

I surrender doing better and hoping it works.

Fine.

Fine. I’m “so smart” and “things just naturally fall into place for me” and i’m “so lucky” and I’m a “sensitive person” and whatever else takes it all away from me.

Fine, I’ll stay out of your way.

I surrender.

I surrender so that you can make art.

I surrender so that you can figure yourself out.

I surrender so you can keep your image of me intact.

I surrender so let’s talk about you.

I surrender, so I’ll stay out of your way. Out of everyone’s way.

Fine.

I will feel childish about feeling angry. I will feel embarrassed about being hurt. I will throw a tantrum, apparently.

I will find comfort in shame and victimhood and powerlessness and surrender and not in excitement and self-directedness and positive reinforcement.

I will be contemptuous of my flavor of brokenness.

I will accept my flavor of brokenness.

I will find it boring.

It will not solve things.

But maybe they’re beyond solution.

I surrender.

Fine.

It’s fine.

I’m fine.

The troubling history of the crack epidemic in Lower Manhattan: A video

In digging through my storage unit over the holidays, I came across a VHS tape featuring a set of news stories from 1987 about a protest march in the NoHo area of NYC.

Residents were protesting the ‘invasion’ of crackheads and crack dealers into their once safe neighborhood. They ‘didnt feel safe’ and ‘these people should be locked up’ They demanded a larger police presence and the arrest of addicts and dealers alike.

Knowing what we know about the racial sources of the crack epidemic, I find this to be a severely depressing glimpse into the many ways that the powers that be manage to pit us against each other and ignore systemic oppression, as well as the state of race relations in NYC in the 1980s.

NoHo is now one of the most chic, sought after and expensive blocks in the whole city. I should know, I grew up there (and you can see me in some of the news footage as a kid on a bike). I remember very distinctly feeling quite ambivalent about the protest, as even back then I felt that addiction should be treated as a medical issue.

I hope this video is enlightening.