Monthly Archive for August, 2011

back from technology break

ahhhhh.

i have been on a significant technology break these last couple of weeks and it has been delightful! i need to do this more often.

first i was at michigan womyn’s music festival, which i already wrote about some here. what reverberates for me a couple of weeks after leaving was how intense the conversations around inclusion of trans womyn were in the space, and how hard it is to stay present to changing conditions and communities. how part of committing to a community is committing to it’s evolutions.

after that i was home moving slow for a couple of days before going to celebrate the birth of my nephew. he is 3 now, and he is a dinosaur – a t-rex. he watches ‘the land before time’ regularly, and as he watches it he emulates the stomping and roaring of the most fearsome creature before the ice age. watching the movie with him made sense to me finally of the odd stomping and roaring boy terrorizing the kittens in the front yard when i arrived to see him. he is in full speed ahead learning mode, learning to read, learning about fear and conquering it by becoming a t-rex, learning to ride his tricycle, learning about birthdays and over-the-top gifting, learning that he can actually walk all over his auntie and she just loves it.

watching my one year old niece wrestle with her big brother’s birthday was also a study in the human condition. she definitely wanted to share in everything he got, whether that meant holding one of the new dinosaur toys, or climbing on the back of the new tricycle in spite of the danger. nothing else interests her but what he has.

this included auntie time. there was a moment when finn was crawling on me, a t-rex on the mountain, and siobhan started crawling over me too, and i realized that this was absolutely a heaven on earth.

from this little heaven i went to utah to a gathering called creative change, a gathering at the intersection of artists and organizers. it was fascinating, and i emerged with a whole crew of transformers (my shorthand name for folks who are committed to ‘transforming themselves to transform the world’). i got to meet some owls before they were liberated into the wild, and see robert redford (yes mom, i got footage).

came home to find a few friends in town to do black women rock – a showcase of black women artists pulled together by jessica care moore. it very much excites me to see women command a stage, and the artists last night did just that – tamar-kali, lafrae, navasha (from fertile ground), ideeyah, deekah wyatt, monica blair and steff christian. steff did a tribute to tina turner which ripped the stage up completely. my main wish was that hart plaza, where the show happened, was more lenient with end times. i didn’t get enough.

on the drive home we came on what looked like a major street fight happening – i wrote something once i was safe at home, which i want to share here because i am trying to be more transparent about my work of coming into awareness about places where i could develop new, more communal, instincts:

running scared, aug 21, 4 am

it wasn’t til I was
breathless behind the locked door
safe within my few walls
two streets away
and many kinds of miles
that I thought
that it occurred to me
quieter than the city crickets
rioting beyond my window
I could have stayed
(I could have saved that man’s life)
I could have stayed.

the energy in detroit right now is electric in all kinds of ways – more palpable after i have been away for a while. the violence is up, as are the levels of inspiration. change is here, in all it’s full destructive and creative force. towards the end of spring there was great concern about uprisings in response to the pressures and insecurities being piled on detroiters by the mayor’s and governor’s plans. no uprisings have happened in the formal sense – but we are brutalizing each other, killing each other, it can’t be denied.

i got to spend some time with toshi reagon over the past few weeks, and she reminded me there is no end to the work we are doing, to the change we seek. it is ongoing, unfolding before us, as far as we can imagine and beyond that, as far as humans exist. this is particularly important to remember at urgent times, when it feels like we will combust, or we must push ourselves til we are frothing at the mouth because the end is just around the next corner.

while these times feel urgent, my work remains steady. waking up, loving, believing in freedom, deepening the relationships that will liberate humanity, breathing, and knowing i will continue this work as long as i am able.

in the week ahead i get to read a lot of original science fiction, send out reminders to folks who committed to transform their lives at the AMC Octavia Butler session, and re-immerse myself in detroit.

what a blessed life.

mortality (phone blog)

lately I have found myself wide open to my longing for other people, desperately seeking authentic connection in each moment, choosing where I spend those moments.

this past weekend with my family, I clutched my nephew and niece to me, inhaling them. I can get away with that with the kids – with the adults I just stare.

when I look at my family members, and at my friends, I try to permanently etch their faces and gestures on my mind.

I don’t want to forget, and I trust my mind so little these days, having lost people this summer, and still trying to recall their laughters, their faces of surprise and wonder, sarcasm, knowing me.

I share often here about my internal mixed messaging. I’m clinging to these living moments now though I know love is abundant, and being present is a more effective strategy than clinging. I seek the magic in moments I suspect are mundane. and I keep finding love and magic everywhere.

I have been aware lately of my capacity to step back from intense feelings that used to dominate me. desire, hurt feelings, jealousy. my scorpio moon feelings. they blow through, and I bend, but I feel like the world, my life, is making me emotionally resilient.

that may be grief which has shifted me. I know I can’t stop anyone from dying, I can’t stop myself from dying, all I can do is love. its simple to say and so impossibly hard to practice.
>
> I want to be present even as a part of me expands into the cosmos. I long for another now, I long to be unafraid of loss, I long to evolve in some way everyone can see, and I long to disappear, to sleep until I wake up in another space and time, where I  have said all I need to say, given the  adequate number of hugs, and am free of longing for the dead  and the living.

my first michigan womyn’s music festival

stretch and yawn – i am back from a week in the woods with no men. i was at the michigan womyn’s music festival and i LOVED it.

it was deep to be in a space with men so absent, while i am in this moment of meditating on, remembering and loving two beautiful men who have transitioned beyond life this summer.

but it was right on time…i loved the fest because i am in this moment of intense grief that seems eternal, and the theme of this year’s festival was grief and release.

i loved it because i would never have thought of it myself, but it was immensely healing to be in a space where everyone i saw was a woman – to embrace all the ways we can appear, which includes elders to babies, everything along the spectrum from societally understood masculine to feminine – beards to bras, transwomyn, every shape and race and ability imaginable. and all of it in this city in the woods built up from the ground by womyn’s hands.

i loved it because it reminded me of ruckus camp…and who knew – i really like the kind of communal off-gridding.

i loved it because it reminded me of how different we all are – our needs, our desires, how we relax, how we debate, how we learn. it’s boring if you are too often around those who do like you.

i loved the food and being outside all the time – even in the lightning and thunder storm, even in the rain, especially in the deep sun. and even though my body is now an intricate map of mosquito and spider bites that has me grinding against walls and doorways for itch relief like a cat in heat, i loved it.

i loved it because i got to perform with my sweetheart and i loved every second of rehearsing and performing in that space – folks were so supportive i didn’t even get the nervous (throatclosingupdrysandpaperbullfrogstomachstorm) twinges i sometimes get around singing as performance, as opposed to singing in community.

i have lost loved ones this summer, and what they had in common was that they did what they were called to do. i am called to sing, and i got to answer the call in the company of several brilliant performers including invincible, and dj rimarkable for the set, with las krudas and climbing poetree coming up for the encore.

i loved discovering musicians – a whole world of incredible singers and songwriters are out there making beautiful music.

karma mayet johnson probably did the most to drop my jaw with her blues opera Indigo, performed on an acoustic stage out in the rain. this was so beautiful it brought me to spontaneous tears – black lesbian slave era love story just so tender it’s brilliant.

dj rimarkable did some healing work on me from the turn tables, i danced in ways i haven’t moved in years. if i lived in the same town as her, i would be too skinny from leaving it all on the dance floor every time she spun.

my other favorite was seeing the unlikely collaborations happening on every stage. like any family, there are elders in the michfest community, folks who have been to many festivals and hold the stage, integrating new voices – like thao and emily wells – in a nearly sacred way.

i wrote songs on that land, and met a lot of people who i know will just be in my life now, another network of amazing people who want to look out for each other.

there were folks there who had known and loved blair as well, which helped. we stood together during the opening ceremony and wept our hearts out. i came home to a lot of beautiful pieces on blair, including a cover story in the metro times, and a post on glaad’s site.

in a couple of days i will be back together with my family for the first time since my grandfather’s funeral a couple of months ago – this time to celebrate my nephew’s 3rd birthday.

this summer is about love and standing up as my whole self, and i am leaning into it hard because i’m pretty sure that otherwise i would get swept away by all that’s happening.

perhaps change is always happening this fast and it is my awareness that is shifting, sharpening. but from my own little insignificant life to the greater politics of uprisings and famines, it feels like all existence is in a moment of flux.

i am excited to be coming in contact with brilliant minds in the arts, science fiction, activist and other realms who are thinking about how humanity will move through this flux – in one way or another, everyone knows this is a time for deepening relationships, for seeing relationship building as strategic work.

today i was on a call to plan a visit for author margaret wheatley to detroit. i think she articulates concepts we are applying in detroit beautifully, as the relationship building happening here is some of the most radical, forward thinking organizing work in the world.

i am still loving detroit, and michigan, two years in. i love slowly rooting myself here.

at the same time, i keep ending up on the road again. it’s who i am.

a new artist i met through the festival is a bluegrass singer named valerie june. she has a line – “why should I think that heaven is my home / when I am a gypsy / and I only want to roam” – which has made me feel home again in my nomadic instinct.

so the to-do list of my life is shifting, sharpening around love and letting go of anything in my life that doesn’t move me:
– love in every direction
– say it, proclaim my love to those who inspire it
– say yes to any work that is about restoring wholeness
– go where love takes me
– celebrate life, and let it burst from me
– sing :)