mom joy and swine conspiracies…

my baby sister is the most amazing mama. ever. she blows my mind, she’s 5 years younger than me and 1 billion light years beyond my comprehension in this miracle thing she’s done. i got to spend the weekend with her son, my nephew, and my brother-in-law, and a few close friends who were down to come meet me wherever i was with my nephew and crew. i learned so much, she teaches me so much about motherhood. this time she was telling me about how the modern birthing process – the high numbers of cesareans, and taking the baby away from the mom right away – means that mothers and children aren’t able to bond on the hormonal level the way need to for the mother-instinct to kick in. something like that…it’s all way over my head, but i am encouraging her to write about it. so if you know her, tell her to write about it too.

somewhere along the weekend i lost my nose ring – my gorgeous gold and turquoise nose ring that i bought very special. i woke up and it was gone. the theories abound…it could be inside my nephew. i really hope its not. it could be in the sewers of ny with a bunch of tissue i used to offset my hayfever allergies which showed up severely as soon as i hit jfk. it could be lost in the mysterious book-filled wonderful apartment in crown heights. or…i just have no idea. bye bye nose ring.

i’m jetlagged, my lymph nodes are swollen and my tummy is sensitive, i feel so sick…which of course at this moment feels like swine flu. i don’t think swine flu is funny, i think its a totally horrible thing that so many people have lost their lives to it in mexico, and that it’s spreading so quickly to other places, that the effect will be further harassment and horrors at the border, no good can come of it. in theory, i accept that pandemics are part of the way of humanity. theories are so different from anything i want my loved ones to live through.

so sleepy….


i write this in a whisper. i should be asleep. i was, then i had a nightmare, and now i can’t stop thinking about abandonment. not short-term or flighty abandonment, but the kind of long-term abandonment that many of our elders face, of people who get abandoned not by one person, but by the entire human system.

maybe love never quite comes, and community doesn’t exist in a strong way in most lives in the u.s. so after leaving the family for work or college, raising children, losing a life partner, losing a job, watching people pair off around you, losing friends to tragedy, getting hurt early in life and never being able to recover enough to open up to love…it can happen in so many ways.

loneliness makes people old before their time, makes them take care of others before themselves, makes them susceptible to folks who will take advantage of them, makes them unreasonably strong, sometimes makes them too comfortable with silence.

there are elders i’ve loved who have learned to grieve inside, take things in stride – take impossible pain and put a smile on it.

someone is on my mind and in my heart, her whole life is a huge aspect of how my whole life has been possible, she is looking past this world now and i wonder how her life felt to her, if she’s tired, ready, excited, scared, abandoned.

she can’t tell us. i don’t want to assume, or project, that would be a different form of abandonment.

in my dreams, flashbacks that aren’t mine keep showing up there, emotional flashbacks of moments i remember from oral histories of her life. since i got the news that my great aunt had a double stroke half my heart has been with her, wishing i could be with her, knowing its too late to be with her the way i always wanted to be, getting to know her, getting to document her life, on tape, telling stories. she’s not speaking now. and perhaps she’s done running the world.

and part of me feels like, finally, its ok, let go. and part of me feels like – wait, wait – i need to ask you so much…

i want to learn to be as focused and attentive with elders as i am with my nephew, so open to his wisdom and his learning process, not missing a thing he does, and finding all of it wonder.


my muffin top is all that
whole grain, low fat
i know you want a piece of that
but i just wanna dance

this song, from 30 rock, is so unbelievably caught in my head that i keep finding myself doing little dances for the fake camera that follows me around (everyone has that, yes?). appalling.

i got an immense amount of work done today.

my friend han is doing some fresh work against big bad shell oil, who sponsor jazzfest. he’s looking for NOLA-based organizers and other folks heading that way to do some fun and easy work against Shell Oil starting tomorrow at JazzFest.

i wish i was going…my first jazzfest was spent in a wonderful state, in the gospel tent, watching the tambourine lady. she’s the 11th wonder of the world.

today was a big media day – did interviews about environmental direct action and the homeland security report. there’s no nice way to say certain things, but hopefully i was honest in the right ways!

now i should get some sleep – nephew weekend is FINALLY here, and i am totally ready to go and gaga out this weekend. still praying and lighting candles for my aunt annie, the news is that she is hanging in and doing great.

oh – oakland united! is tomorrow! 5:30 pm at Oasis on 12th and Madison! if you haven’t been, or been recently, roll through. things are even more fun now that we are allowed to bartend or bring in friend bartenders – this time it’s joy, and she is truly a great bartender.

btw, i’m still trucking on the L Word path – i miss Dana! this happened when I was watching 6 Feet Under way after everyone else too, wanting to process the show with folks but i’m years too late. whatever, pop culture. who can keep up?

much more interesting than any television show on today is any page from any william gibson book ever written. i am taking a new one (pattern recognition), unopened, on the plane tomorrow, and my anticipation level is awkward to navigate.

its possible that i am delirious. right now. that sleepy! do you like when i’m vulnerable? goodnight all my lovely little voyeurs!

through like an arrow

last night the matriarch of my father’s family had a double stroke. she is strong in a way that no one else i have ever met is strong. she has played a key role in raising just about everyone, her house has been the community, the safe space, the place to fall. she is ancient and mobile and tiny and her whole face is a huge grin.

in the middle of telling my staff about her at our lock-in today, we noticed that the ruckus mascot, otherwise known as megan’s dog spiff (who has had a broken leg in a purple cast for three months now), was trying to make love to a heart shaped pillow. further proof that any set of circumstances or feelings, from grief to the absurd, can exist in a single moment.

the department of home security listed ruckus as “extremist” and a “cyber attack” threat. responsive thoughts abound. mainly, when you point one finger at someone, the rest of your fingers are pointing back at yourself.

the first day of our lock-in was amazing, exciting…we’re brewing up some good trouble. sadly, i brought a soup that was completely too spicy, folks swallowed it all but we all knew i coulda done better.

i went and got my brows done and got a pedicure. every time i do anything like this, i hear nina simone singing “the other woman” in my head.

i went for a swim to work off some energy. on the way to the pool i heard that song again, “blame it on the alcohol”. this time it made me angry, as anyone who has ever been assaulted under the influence, or loved someone who experienced that, should be. especially this line:

Shawty got drunk, thought it all was a dream
So i made her say i, i i

What I hear the singer saying is, blame it on the alcohol if I turn that dream into a nightmare. Not sexy at all.

So I swam that off, and then sat around hearing some friends talk about the ways people can jerk each other around and hurt each other in the process of learning to love. Vulnerability can feel so many ways. It might be the heat, but I can’t build up a dramatic energy in my heart. Everyone deserves love, to be treated well. But love comes like oxygen, all around you if you give into it, and in an emergency, you have to give it to yourself first before you can really be of help to anyone else.

I can stay present and keep moving forward, some things are within my control and most aren’t. I feel I moved through this day so steadily, like I released myself through it, through it like an arrow. That’s the only way to hold loss and love and life in 24 hot hours.

that hot

yesterday was the hottest april 19th in oakland history at 84 degrees, breaking the record held since 1950 of 81 degrees.

its hot enough that clothes seem silly.

it’s hot enough that i maneuvered into a very awkward position and turned my pilot light off.

it’s hot enough that i took my duvet off the bed and stuffed into a closet where i can’t even see it, because even looking at it makes me feel stifled.

its hot enough that i am keeping the door open, even though that means that several low flying flies have decided to move in with me. i just look at them, wondering if their flying increases the amount of personal breeze experience they get in the otherwise still heat of the room.

i wanted to just share the heat with you in a way that wasn’t a complaint, because i am trying to move past complaining and into appreciating and stuff…

it’s so hot i have to type with my computer 5 feet away from me because it is emitting it’s own vast world of heat, so welcome in the winter, so evil in this kind of heat.

tomorrow it’s going to be even hotter. it feels so hot, and it’s not even that hot in the grand scheme of things – things like deserts.

here’s some other stuff that’s been on my mind lately, since i feel like i haven’t written in a while.

– one is a general call to vampires. i have read enough benevolent immortal women of color vampire stories now that i am kind of open to it. so – if you’re a vampire, and i know you? make me immortal.

– the tower of babel story. you know it? back in the day folks were building a tower, and it was getting too close to heaven, so god made them each speak different languages so they couldn’t coordinate to build. something like that. and i had the thought that perhaps we’re mating (loving) our way to divinity. not necessarily because there’s more interracial dating – but any way in which we find love across language, culture, across difference. if divinity is a state of being, could we get there without it being ego that drives us? could it be a new ending? is it sacrilegious to even think about this?

– i would love if i could get glasses that wrapped around the sides of my face and had a peripheral prescription. this would help with driving, especially actually being able to see my blind spot.

totally separate thing, i got to spend a lot of time around kavitha and jeff from common fire and their amazing baby samiha – love fest, and exciting visioning about the kind of communities we want to live in when we grow up. then, i had dinner with anasa, who used to be at highlander and is now working on some brilliant strategy enhancement at the movement strategy center. oh brain happiness!

sigh. this is fun, but not distracting me from the heat touching my skin so comprehensively, like an omnitactile flesh fiend. ugh. and i say that with appreciation! good night!

now my life is fantastic

maybe it was:
– the moments when i acknowledged that i can never be perfect,
– that i can especially never become the people in my life i think of as perfect, or
– that each time i have gotten to know a perfect person they have turned out to be marvelously imperfect.
– that i love and am loved by a perfectly imperfect person..actually many of them…
– the ridiculous joy i get during those moments when everything in my tiny little studio apartment is in it’s place,
– when i give away half of the clothes in my closet
– truly free time
– dipping into a totally creative, chaotic free space and seeing the patterns within it
– getting three new william gibson books
– spending more time bouncing my brain off others – in person, on the phone, coming out of my solitude (of the past few months) and into a more interactive phase…
– changing my perspective


right now? my life is fantastic 🙂

the good things

this has been an AMAZING weekend. here’s why:

1. farmer’s market now that i am actually getting totally into vegetables. i used to just enjoy the feeling of walking through, past the vegetables to the gourmet olive oil and honey. yesterday i got rainbow chard, broccoli, asparagus, cilantro, yams, onions, carrots, beets…and my olive oil. and i came home and made a delicious green soup puree.

2. swimming. i am pushing myself harder and harder now, beyond when i feel like i might be done, with challenges to swim long enough to get lost in it and not look at the clock. swimming past my mind and into the pure experience of my body, the water, the quiet and water sounds, the resistance of the water against my movements, the completely new set of muscles worked by different strokes. its a meditation now, makes me feel so peaceful.

3. good music + singing. i got to hear valerie troutt live at the red poppy (23rd and folsom in sf) on friday night. she’s a real musician, using her voice as an instrument and a storytelling device. she’s giving a group lesson there today – i’m going. i’ve been writing songs again.

4. in fact, i’ve been getting creative in a lot of ways again, drawing, singing, writing, cooking, thinking. letting it wander. recently heard someone say that people with fast minds and dark edges who don’t work their creativity out go mad.

as anyone who has known me for any period of time knows, i am a perspectivist. the world is all going to hell, or its all conspiring in your favor and miraculous, depends on your outlook. both are true, at all times, and i am fortunate to live a life where i work against the hell we create with our fears and weaknesses. i need to do this other piece more often though, let it conspire in my favor, be miraculous and easy and wonderful.

hope you all roll back some massive rock and come back to life in whatever way you need this weekend. (that’s easter, right?)


tonight was a microcosm of my whole life.

first i went to a house where i took my shoes off, climbed stairs, met up with people shifting through a potluck dinner gathered in the kitchen talking about the most cutting edge nontraditional intentional communities to be dreamed up. im a little soloist in my studio who struggles with interacting with people at all. i love my cave. but politically, i am aligned with the idea of shared space and resources. i may always be a transient being, but i want to land in a place that is home and sustainable and peopled by folks i would want to be around.

a woman i met there said she heard my kfpa interview the other night, speaking as someone who runs a nonprofit ( in this new economy. i talk about ways we have focused our resources, strengthened our network, and generally approached this as a moment to look forward to community, rather than try to look back at false economic stability with longing. when i find the archive i will post it.

then i got lost in berkeley looking for the 700 block of 65th street.

then i met up with one of my favorite displaced detroiters at the brothers and sisters in brooklyn. house music, which i have a new york affinity for. i hear soulful house and i am in a basement in brooklyn, or a too small apartment in chelsea, or a club where everyone’s a welcoming well-dressed smile. another displaced detroiter snapped across the dance floor, and joined us. i really love that city, detroit, more each time i go.

on the way home i heard an announcement for “Financial Assistane Awareness Month”. the existence of this month, to me, is the single greatest argument against having black history month, or women’s month.

then i ran home, so tired, but once i got in bed the sleep was just beyond me. i think i’ve caught it now.

backwards jetlag

usually when i get back from the east coast, i am sleepy in the early evening, and wake up early in the morning ready to go. this time, i have been up late, sleepy for hours but not quite able to get into sleep.

i have gotten my house in order, though there’s more to do, as i have an office’s worth of stuff in the trunk that i have to find space for. anyone who has seen my home knows that finding any space here is an incredible feat – its tiny…

today i went to a spa with an old friend. she told me just before we got there that the place was kind of suspect, and when we got inside it was, best as we could tell, a sex spa. the “hot tub” was more like a really large bath with jets, the “yoga platform” was a straight up bed. but the sauna was a sauna and that was where we spent most of our time, in good conversation. i really really value the level of conversation possible with friends you’ve known for over a decade. half the words don’t even need to be said, all of the patterns are well-worn, the moments of happiness we experience are not taken lightly cause we know more about life than we did in college…

i went grocery shopping, and i only bought vegetables and fruit. i really want only that, some veggies, some fruit, and maybe some fish. i realize that i have balked at the no dairy, no red meat, no sugar, no wheat, etc etc diets…but what i WANT right now includes none of those things. except whiskey. i am me.

in other news, i started watching the L Word, from season 1. its completely entertaining.

my eyes hurt, hopefully that means sleep is near…

songs in my head

what makes some people have songs in their heads? as long as i can remember, i have had songs in my head. sometimes i have gone through the process of finding paper or a computer or a note on my phone to write them out. sometimes i am singing them in a dream and i wake up, keeping my eyes closed until i remember. sometimes i record them.

i hear music almost all the time, if i’m in easy company i sing or dance to it, and people laugh. sometimes i hear a jukebox of every song i’ve ever heard, spliced together into intricate mix tapes; then there’s a segment of it that i can’t recall ever hearing, new genres, new sounds.

there are many kinds of songwriters. the good ones construct really brilliant songs, thinking about the hook and the verses and the bridge and the chords. then there are people like me who just hear songs, complete and whole with words and melodies and harmonies and instrumentation.

when i hear beats, which i do a lot – i have the privilege of hearing beautiful, brand-new beats – i hear full songs over them. at several points in my life i’ve made a plan for a CD, a music career, something like that. but i was blessed with a loud voice and not a great ear. when i sing, it’s an effort of the heart, plus faith. all these songs in my head just live in my head, or on paper, or on a good day, in garageband.

i often can’t hear what’s happening around me because of the song that’s going in my head. if i like it – i repeat it over and over till i can get somewhere and write it down. everything that happens to me shows up in songs – this is fun for loved ones. and i wonder, for all the folks who hear whole inner dialogues, who have multiple personalities, who can’t tell the difference between dreams and waking life, who experience intense paranoia, who are more musicians than human…how do we walk through the world with all these songs in our heads?