Monthly Archive for February, 2009

washington, dc

im sitting in a coffeeshop – saxby’s – in downtown dc. it’s been raining all day, and i’ve been running from one meeting to the next. this is my first time in the capitol since obama came into office, i’m trying to feel the difference – it mostly comes up in the energy of the meetings i’m in.

the overall tone is – this is the worst of times (where is the $$??), this is the best of times (what can we be after $$??)

i’m in town primarily for the capitol coal action (http://www.capitolclimateaction.org/) and powershift, getting to access the fresh and earnest energy of 11,000 students who want to meet and teach and march and dream and act and change the world. i’m proud to be rolling with the action folks from ruckus {including most of the brown action folks, and a lot of the anti-oppression speakers, which is really indicative of some of the shift that this organization has gone thru} – we’ll be training and talkin all weekend, and then on monday we’ve got our fingers plugged into the tactical, contingent groups, action teams, all over!

today i’ve been meeting with foundations, where the tone is fascinating. on one hand, there’s not a lot of money out there for anyone, and the foundation folk i deal with are aware and apologetic about their shrinking resources while also somewhat giddy. progressive folks see this moment for what it is – hard times, and huge opportunities. the economy, and the systems of oppression which create it, are floundering. the foundations on which we have all been building our castles – personal, organizational, societal – they are shifting rapidly.

i go into these foundations with this hopi elder prophecy in my mind:

You have been telling people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you
must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour. And there are
things to be considered. . . .

Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?

Know your garden.
It is time to speak your truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for your leader.

Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, “This could be a
good time! There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and
swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on
to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer
greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let
go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes
open, and our heads above the water.

And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in
history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves. For
the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.

The time of the one wolf is over. Gather yourselves!
Banish the word ‘struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary. All
that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

this has stayed in my mind as ruckus has gotten itself into a super sleek and flexible shape, targeting all of our resources at delivering a strategic impact. i have no interest in organizations existing for the sake of existing. i only want to do work and support changes i am passionate about.

one of the things i am passionate about is my FAMILY so i am off now to see my little sister :)

poetic missive

the pavement is buckling
its opening up in massive holes, which swallow sun
darkness exposed
the only way home is on these roads

i thought i’d swim today
or float, along the far side of my moat
i waded til the weeds filled me with terror

i can’t remember what is false
i can’t remember what is real
i can’t remember what i feel
but i feel

something rests between my bones
something heaves, shudders, moans
something tender to the touch
drives me into myself too much

ashamed to give myself too quick
i dodge the words
the ones that stick are brittle as they’re offered up
am i still here by strength or luck

all my machines break down on me
the jewels fall off
the bondage snaps
i want to journey somewhere new
im tired of laps, brief naps, nightcaps

every step turns me around
each dance brings only injury
i can only look at clouds
and catch my breath
don’t look for me

madagascar solitaire

recently, at a new friend’s house, i fell in love with a new game: madagascar solitaire. (see a pic here) you play by moving these big fat comforting marbles over each other, eliminating them one by one until only one marble is on the round wooden board. when i asked where i could get this, i was told, “madagascar”. right.

not to be deterred, i came home, searched online and found what appeared to be the game, and ordered it. my hands felt the desire for these big smooth warm marbles, to have this game in my house!

today, after a day of learning about somatics – wholeness and embodiment, awareness and sensation – i checked my mail and saw the small package, too small to be the game i wanted. i opened it up, and its a travel size madagascar solitaire. definitely a better fit for my studio, but missing some of the sensual appeal.

another package arrived, full of long-awaited dishes from japan, several of them broken in the journey. the right amount of dishes for me made it though, i am happy to have them, they are a beautiful step in the direction i think of up as Grown. i also got a real soup pot, the big kind with handles on either side. i am a lover of soup, soup as a place to bring together everything left in the fridge, soup as a way to get vegetables into my body under the trickery of seasoning, soup as a comfort through the winter – the dip for warm buttered bread.

bit by bit i am becoming a good cook. not a perfect cook who knows the right way to cut everything or the perfect order for cooking, but a good cook who knows how to make a really delicious breakfast, a really savory soup, good comfort food. i am creative in part because of the stuff i am allergic to – i replaced milk in a carrot ginger soup recipe with coconut butter and it was delightful. i replaced yogurt or sour cream in the soup with a peppercorn goat cheese – mmmmm. i have a few little super delicious recipes i have created, delectable and decadent and they don’t make me sick.

this, i have been told, is a massive step in being able to eat healthy and change my lifestyle: learning that i have the ability to create foods (and the next step would be to grow foods) that are healthy to me and taste good to me. i can and should do this in community, especially as food is the central common theme to all community time. so my mom helps by sending me this soup pot – thanks mom!!

from the bed

state of mind: i feel like ursula, from the little mermaid. that is to say i’m coughing till i am blue, rolling around full of poison. in my dreams i am well. in real life, its been a week since the first sharp pinpricks of flu started poking inside of me. for the past three days its been “just a cough,” which i always underestimate. the cough is not satisfied with rearranging my insides, its really a purging process, against my will.

the ny post called obama a monkey today, in so many words…and to add insult to injury, had a cop shooting him. that’s the part that makes it current for 2009. it was in such poor taste, its such an inexcusably offensive cartoon. not surprising, just disgusting.

whenever i feel sick it slows my roll, and roll is a very hopeful roll speeding along through the world. then when im sick it slows me up and i feel like i see all the dark and demons, the hacking coughs and yellow-green illness of the world, the racist cartoons that expose even more racist actual feelings manifesting in policy and media coverage. i wish i could steam the NY Post out of my reality.

in other news, i am really tempted to write an open letter to foundations and funders right now, as i watch the landscape shift towards desperation all around me. i quell this temptation by rereading excerpts from “the revolution will not be funded” by the women of incite. i quell these thoughts by thinking of time sitting in grace lee bogg’s living room while she wrinkles her nose at the whole 501c3 structure. the energy i want to pour into haranguing funders for not keeping their word would in many ways be better spent learning the life cycle of potatoes, expedient consensus decision making, or how to make rope for climbing gear…that is to say, to believe in the work of my visions, rather than the false stability of the current reality…i know this is a temporary way for movement to exist in this country. i just don’t quite know how the leaders of this moment are supposed to navigate from this tectonic plate to the next one.

i’m seeing stars now, from coughing, feel the muscles through my whole body engaged in the process. the tastes and smells (and sounds and feelings) of my world are: broth, echinacea, lemon cough drops, ginger garlic apple cider vinegar honey cayenne pepper tea, herba tussin tea, theraflu cough strips, wellness formula (the stinkiest biggest pills ever), the strange heat of the nettie pot, peppermint steams, the public process of breathing when your nose is stuffed up and your lungs are triggered by new air, the comfort and then boredom/confinement feeling of the sick bed, the constant advice from every direction, the well wishes from the same places, and letting myself be taken care of for real for once.

now i need a good night’s sleep, tomorrow is the first day of somatics and social justice year-long training, i am excited and nervous!

returning

i haven’t written in a while. here’s some of what happened while i was away:

i experienced some of the hardest friend time of my adult life.

i got the flu at the exact moment when i most needed to have no personal needs.

i got kind of interested in my hair and might wear it out in public again.

i had an experience in a church which reminded me that the number one barrier between believers and…other folks…is a lack of timing when delivering the truth. being present to the situation actually in front of you and responding to it without judgment or answers, with compassion and reflection, that too is a spiritual practice. love jesus, and doubt jesus wouldn’t have come at the service that way. my spiritual beliefs can best be summed up by the song “all is full of love” by bjork.

ruckus started using basecamp. its awesome.

my nephew turned 6 months. he’s so fine, he can eat his toe, sit up and smile, and any minute now he’ll be crawling.

my flu morphed into a wicked cough that makes me see stars in the sunlight. i went all in with hulu, lost online, and netflix’s next instant watch feature.

i missed writing, i came back.

repeat

Im in denver for a layover again, same as last week. Next will be chicago, same gates, maybe same planes. Listening to beyonce.

This trip feels very different. I have no way to plan for where im heading, just keep hearing “be present” in my head.

I am also thinking how much I love ruckus right now. Ruckus needs some volunteers y’all!! So much work is coming, and so few resources to do it! Get at me!

i blame the state

i have realized that i have almost no ability to assign individual blame to folks – folks who commit serious crimes, folks who can’t survive in the system, folks who are depressed or unfocused, kids who are fat.

i blame the state. the government. the system. the man.

in almost every circumstance, i believe it is possible to find personal happiness, to shift perspective enough to live powerful lives that uplift the people around us. i do, however, think it is a privilege to even have the space to step back and consider an internal path to happiness.

not the privilege of the wealthy per se…it also seems to be a practice of wisdom, amongst those who work too much and live lives of duty more than dreams.

poverty, inequality, insufficient and/or biased education, corporate dreams, abandonment, colonization, sexism, domination, and especially racism…these dividers that so far have defined us as human beings have worked effectively to create containers for our potential. we cannot be contained, so we overflow, molten, or we crash at a tectonic level. the result is the infrastructure of failure and misery and violence.

its become a part of my understanding of nonviolence, actually – to always step back and look at the story that led to the moment, be it a moment of violence or other suffering. even, when the moment is most tragic, most incomprehensible, most awkward, most betraying, most…bad – to see it as a result. not the final result, but a result along the path, and a lesson…this is what happens when the state accumulates power, instead of the community growing and sharing power, or the individual becoming a beacon of power.

i may sound abstract, but it is a whole way of looking at things. it is a way to grieve when something happens…”i have someone to blame!”…it is a way to displace someone’s hurtful behavior…they are the result of systems, this behavior isn’t personal.

and when the world seems incomprehensible, it is the clearest way for me to understand, to experience my feelings through an analysis with a clear story.

it is not our purpose to suffer.

shock

after a lovely, drama-free league retreat up on highlander, which was really pleasant…i came down the mountain.

the swerving early morning ride down the mountain made me sick, and when i got to the airport, i was exhausted from four days of travel and facilitation, and ready to be home. on my layover, i got an email that struck like a sucker punch to the nose. one of my dearest dearest friends had a tragedy, and my crew was all together, holding each other. i fumbled with the phone, trying to call or text them with my eyes watering, breath pushed out of my chest, and only the word why, why, why echoing through my mind.

they hadn’t called cause they knew i was facilitating, was busy, was working. am i that person? have i always been?

there are few people in my life i love in the way i love this friend, and i have been walking around with half a mind since i got this news. half of me began the walk to him immediately, and an emptyish shell continued the journey home to oakland. the empty shell adrienne unpacked bags, ran errands, went to dinner, tried to talk to people, got a hard ‘feedback’ call this morning that was totally legit and a long time coming, spent time strategizing on how to get through this economic moment, went to the Y to swim and start my guest membership on the path towards becoming a gym type of person, ran some more errands. then i finally i booked the ticket to go be with my folks, and i landed squarely back inside myself again.

it’s been a while since i experienced this kind of shock. i wish i could push a pause button on life, but it never works that way – everything requiring my full, mature, thoughtful and strategic attention instead speeds up, fast forwarding on split screens, a personal episode of 24. so it goes.

i’m reading a book loaned to me by my girl dani, called my revolutions, by hari kunzru. so far its a wonderful book, a thorough look at the furthest extent of privileged revolutionary thought. my mind as i read it runs the gamut of meta-self-critique – most human concerns are so trite, consumerism is disgusting and keeps us from being present and living, yet most revolutionary thought doesn’t lead to change. the assumption that there is a point is what binds us all. perhaps our belief makes it so. i’ll let you know when i have finished. i’ve simultaneously started watching mad men. two approaches to the same time period that couldn’t be more different.

the exciting news was that i took a tour of the Y today, and got the guest past to try it out. i know i want to join, the free trips are just evidence of my inability to resist a deal. im mostly joining for the pool, the low impact work out. but yoga, dance classes, steam room/sauna/jacuzzi all help. im going to swim till i can walk till i can run till i can dance.

the long lens

Just finished the part of the League retreat that I was cofacilitating, tomorrow catch an early flight back to Oakland.

It was a good thing y’all…to be able to come back to a space of working with the League and, with a long lens, the way that work we did years ago is manifesting today. Many of the things that seemed so important to resolve at the beginning are still being worked on, but the team is made up of such good, human folks. Some of these folks, we’ve seen each really grow thru some highs and lows. Others are new to me, and now are holding each other in the learning process. The authentic diversity of the League has always been a remarkable thing, not an easy thing – but there’s such a respect across vast cultural differences.

I always believe that it is seeing and respecting each other across vast difference, guided by the real impacts and front lines specific to our very different lives, is the healing humanity work necessary for our collective survival.
Which is to say, life is good.

bringing home

People wonder how I can travel so much, but I make home out of a short list of things, and have not missed anything else no matter how long im on the road…here’s the list best as I can remember of things I pack to feel home:

- a clean pillow case, pure beech brand from bed bath n beyond (softest feeling ever), washed in tides vanilla-lavender detergent. I fell in love to that scent, wish it was some natural brand but nothing smells close to as perfect as that smell.

- my scarves, some for wearing, most just to bring color to the room.

- my ouidad curly hair stuff in a travel size holder, even tho I cover my hair, cuz it makes me feel soft.

- my favorite rapper’s t-shirt to sleep in

- clothes that don’t wrinkle, and can be layered or stripped down for temperature.

- my music.

- papaya pills, motrin, and my heating pad make up the perfect portable 1st aid kit

- my alarm clock, which acts like it receives the right time from the galaxy, and doubles as a timer during facilitation

- a satchel of gifted sage and lavender

- my chargers, bless them

- pens, and a notebook

- a book to keep by the bed, even if I don’t read it

When I arrive I grab as many blankets as I can, check for eggs and whiskey, take a shower, arrange my things, and im home.

Then I sleep.