Author Archive for Adrienne

Reflecting on Terrorism

It has always been a question for me.

Why?

As a human who has lived a beautiful life, loves my family, has called many places home, has believed lots of humbling and divergent things about divinity, loves my body, and is still scared of death, I have often struggled trying to grasp what would make someone die over a place, a boundary.

I generally understand terrorism to be when a people without an acknowledged place engage in warfare. Generally a statistical minority against a violent majority. It often takes the form of suicide, kamikaze flights into buildings, self-explosion in a crowd, the use of the self as a weapon, as an exclamation point in an argument.

And I have to ask myself, under what conditions would I kill myself?

I remember asking that question perhaps for the first time on 9/11. My response since then has been consistent: that the horror of oppression that exists leading up to an act of terrorism must be unbearable.

I have my own rhythms of melancholy and hopelessness, which undulate on a roughly five year cycle, and which I’ve learned to live through and with. My hopelessness is smart, sometimes smarter than I am. It has great reasons for existing, feels like a logical response to my experience in the world, to unavoidable suffering. But my hopelessness is regularly countered by reprieve from oppression, by great joy and love and abundance and freedom and periods of undeniable emotional and physical safety that counteract some of my other truths.

For me, the only external force that could make me take my own life, and perhaps anyone else’s (still pretty sure this is not possible, though I have people in my life who make me feel violently protective) is feeling unheard in a cycle of hopelessness, in a trap of oppression, with no reprieve.

Powerless and still awake.

On 9/11, I walked from my midtown office to my friends’ home in Brooklyn, through a city of rubble and blood. I ate a dinner of kielbasa and pierogies off a backyard picnic table covered in human and corporate ash. I’d lived in NY for five years that month, dreamed of it for a decade before getting there, and I thought it would always be my home. I loved it. When it was attacked, I needed to know why?

As a sci-fi writer, I get that the idea of hateful lifestyle fundamentalists is appealing, easy like a comic book villain. In a binary mind, it is so fulfilling to have a one dimensional bad person, or bad people. But in my life I have never met a bad person. I’ve met a lot of traumatized people, some of whom behaved badly.

I’ve met prisoners and bully children and drug dealers and sexual assailants and killers and thieves and hustlers. And each one was a human with a story, with learned behaviors and survival strategies, a sliver of life force that hadn’t given up. Some of the people carrying these labels are amongst the most tender, brilliant people I’ve encountered.

People get traumatized individually and collectively. I have both experiences in my life and lineage. Responses to individual trauma can be privatized. Get a therapist, learn to love, stop overeating, forgive someone, choose life. It’s a legitimate effort, a whole life’s work, and for better and worse so much of it can happen behind closed doors, in rooms with sunlight and lavender and people who claim to know how to live.

Collective trauma is louder, harder to hide. It manifests as self-hate and internalized identity phobias, fear-based survival strategies, group violence at a gender or gang level.

It manifests, too, as terrorism.

At an international level, collective trauma is passed around, less like a hot potato, more like live coal in bare hands that no one will drop, believing it will cool to gold. It is searing everyone, leaving no one to offer comfort or a better option.

There is a deep desire to belong in this world, species, land – I have had many teachers say it is one of our deepest most common human longings, and the absence of belonging is one of the most common ways we experience trauma.

I’ve seen this phenomenon with children…my youngest niece wants to play soccer with the bigger kids, wants to be involved. She can’t kick or control the ball with her feet yet, so she picks it up and runs off like Bonnie or Clyde towards the sunset.

Of course, while amusing, this strategy is not long lived. The ball is not meant to be used this way, the other kids cannot just let her take the ball. She won’t have a moment’s peace with that ball. She has to give it back, and be patient as she grows up, learns to play, learns that she belongs to the family whether she can kick the ball or not.

That is the simplest way I understand a conflict/place like Palestine. A traumatized people, left out, forced out of other homes, subjected to genocide, were offered something that was already in use. They ran with it. But the land is not meant to be occupied in this way, and so they have not had, and will not have, a moment’s peace. It has been war, it will be war, until Israel finds a way to return what they can of what was taken, to return dignity to the relationship they have with the Palestinian people they appear to be trying to erase.

I live in a country where this same process happened. Indigenous people were pushed aside, murdered, manipulated, robbed. I believe many of our economic, environmental and health problems, as well as a general spiritual void, are directly linked to that trauma. I don’t think America will be ‘free’ until there is a serious reckoning with that history, and what it now implies for other colonial efforts.

Accountability matters. Truth and reconciliation only works if the truth is really sought, really heard.

The truth, as far as I can tell, is that hate is not a root emotion. The why is not hatred, not at the root. My niece doesn’t hate the other children…she wants to play with them. Israel wants to exist, to be recognized and respected. It wants the world to never again try to eliminate the Jewish people. It is a beautiful and noble desire.

But you cannot transform others.

Not with stolen property, not with apartheid practices of brute force, walls, passes, human rights violations and violence. What will continue to happen is collective trauma, and the growing, desperate need on both sides to end the trauma and begin to heal. The rhythms of Gaza, the demoralization of checkpoints, makes that impossible, currently.

The role the U.S. plays in it is so important. Certain states of mind and heart should not be weaponized and resourced. I can’t imagine giving rape victims an AK47 and saying ‘do whatever you need to do in order to feel safe from men.’ Trauma begets trauma. Yet we pour funding into a situation where collective and recent trauma from a genocide is the undercurrent for decision making.

Of course, my mind comes back to the U.S. for other, current, reasons. A 2012 study found that every twenty eight hours a black person is killed by someone employed or protected by the US government. Stand Your Ground and Shoot First policies combine with white supremacy to devastating effect.

I feel and see us going through all of the options we can find to respond. Asking for justice, creating talking points and memes to educate ourselves and those who fear us, journeying across the country to focus our solidarity, meditating, praying, singing, screaming, grieving, demanding accountability, advocating for policy change, taking to the streets in nonviolent protest.

Movement is growing. I am inspired by the work being done under the hashtag/philosophy #blacklivesmatter – focusing on healing, solidarity, love, care and justice. These efforts highlight to the country and anyone else watching that, as a nation, we are only as far along as our oppressive tendencies.

But I also feel a growing danger. There is an exhaustion. One of my favorite exercise podcasts to listen to is The Read,. Cohosts Crissle and Kid Fury had some shows where they fully expressed their emotions about Ferguson. And Crissle particularly spoke my heart at one point when she said she was just so tired of watching black people be killed by authority figures. Deeply tired.

Yes, there is violence inside the community. Scarcity and poverty create a toxic and fatal self-image inside a people. Collective trauma, like individual trauma, does immense internal damage. The work necessary to restore and transform that self-inferiority has been in progress for years – black power, black love, building up our self-esteem as a people, generating dignity. That internal community violence is tragic and logical, to me. Slavery ended 149 years ago. Jim Crow laws, about 60 years ago. Blacks have been considered less than human in this country for the majority of our time here. Our statistics for prison, education, police brutality – there are few numbers we can look at see a story in which America loves black people more today, to see a story in which America is not still trying to rid itself of us. We have the Obamas, we have Oprah, but roughly every twenty eight hours or so, it feels like all we have are exceptions and skin that marks us like a breathing yellow star in a genocidal state.

In order for slavery and Jim Crow to end, there was a combination movement working the voting path, the legal path, the nonviolent movement path, and the path of armed resistance. And probably many many other paths as well. But in my reflections on terrorism, it feels important not to forget that there were slaves who fought back. There were black revolutionaries who armed themselves in response to the constant violent efforts of this nation to enslave and or erase them.

I was taught, in Department of Defense schools, that indigenous people were scalping and violent terrorists. But the more I have read, learned, listened to indigenous people today, I understand that that was the colonial view, a way to justify the unjustifiable and horrific violence of taking land and life from people.

I believe in the power of nonviolence, it is where I have spent the majority of my political life, working in the realm of vision, conflict resolution, nonviolent actions, and so on. And from that place I find myself trying to understand how much oppression humans can ever be expected to bear? It is from that place that I find myself feeling a deep compassion and solidarity for those pressed into the small box of terrorism, globally.

It feels very important to me to relinquish the safety of victimhood in the context of terrorism. Particularly as an American. I no longer feel shocked, ‘how could this happen?’ I feel more like, with the way that modern colonization and power are being wielded at this moment in our human journey, it shocks me that incidents of terrorism are not happening daily, across the nation, across the world.

I work with a client who monitors prison conditions. The staff is made up of people who have never been incarcerated, and people who have been incarcerated. We were recently in a conversation about what the future looks like – is it better, more humane prisons?

One of the responses, from someone who had been incarcerated for over a decade, was that there is no such thing as a humane prison. It was a simple and deep truth to hear. It didn’t mean that reform work is not useful in the short term, but it absolutely meant that we have to build a common answer to this question: what are the conditions by which we can stand together in our dignity as human beings?

There is no humane way to shoot a black child in the street or in the face. There is no humane way to bomb a city. There is no humane way to imprison another human being. There is no humane way to commit an act of terrorism.

In the same way that we must listen to those who have experienced incarceration if we want to craft a humane and transformative justice in our lives, in our nation, in our time…I believe we must learn to really listen to those we call terrorists.

We need to remember, always, to humanize, to seek compassion, to let no human be outside of the mirror in which we see our own responsibility and our own potential. These are other human beings who have been driven to this edge. Dismissing or demonizing them will not keep anyone safe.

We must know that within each of us, there is that same small blue fire for life, for love, that can burn everything in sight under the wrong conditions. We must learn to consider terrorism as desperation born of oppression and collective trauma, and listen all the way down to the root of that desperation, down to the human.

I am 36

I am 36. It went so quickly this time around, it almost feels like I just time traveled through a massive year.

There have been birthdays where I have thrown parties for thousands. Where I traveled, chasing the sun. Years where I could scarcely revel enough.

It’s been hard to feel celebratory this year. I’ve been trying. Mostly I feel an underlying unquenchable exhaustion, waves of a sort of survivor’s guilt, a visiting sense of numbness, of being fragile, the weight of realizing that it can be a shit world, even with all the miracles and beauty in it…there is inside me a familiar wondering about what I am here for, and if the gifts I have been given can make any impact on this place. Which conversations are worth having? What forgiveness must I cultivate? Can I reach far enough with my light?

My dreams this week have been amazing. Gentle textures, lots of slow flight – where I feel I am really learning to fly, really working my arms. And post moving dreams of organizing spaces, with visitations from loved ones, release, clarifying visions.

I want to share with you a self assessment, write myself into celebration. Heading into 36, I know these things about myself:

1. I am a grown woman. I can do whatever I want. Knowing what I want, with an awareness of the preciousness of time, is becoming a daily requirement.

2. I am a feeler, an empath. I have learned a lot about how to feel so much without being overwhelmed, but I don’t always remember the lessons. If I try to skip a feeling, it runs ahead of me and lays in wait until I appear ready. It never goes away unfelt. I spend a lot of time feeling, and sometimes have to remind myself that this too is a calling. This year included some feelings I wanted to numb at first sight. I always conclude that I wouldn’t give up any of these feelings, eventually it becomes clear that they are all variations on love.

3. I can be hard worker, but my value is not in what I can do for others – I tried that path, I was always tired and thirsty. My greatest gifts emerge from my own curiosity and desire, when I feel balanced, lit up inside, with compassionate boundaries, liberated time and grateful uncompromised yeses. Others benefit from my resourced state because, like most humans, when I am good to myself I become open, generous, clear and creative. But I actually can’t concern myself with what others want, or need, me to do. I cannot live in obligation, becoming an embodied resentment. I have to always start from that which brings me fulfillment, that which makes me work hard with a smile – that is where I am my best human experiment.

4. I am doula and a nomad. In combination. I show up with a smile for difficult and miraculous moments, moments of transition, bringing stories and songs with me, carrying the experiences forward. I used to call myself a trench runner, in a war metaphor, reporting the landscapes and strategies across front lines…but I am not a soldier. I’m a liberating spirit who loves the look of freedom in and on others. I get asked to be a companion at the precipice of life and, recently, death. I feel very comfortable there. I follow that edge across space and time, my home is this fragile planet and I find people I love everywhere I go. I am local within. I relax in transit. I slow down for the birth of a baby, an ancestor or an idea.

5. Every day, for as long as I can remember and as far as I can dream, I am a writer. I am a private person, but this calling is not a private pursuit. When I write, I have to tell you everything, being transparent is perhaps a compulsion. I think our next evolution depends on eradicating secrecy about our pain. I believe what we withhold of ourselves becomes our prison. It’s writing, it’s a sprint north, it’s an escape plan, it’s a blueprint, it’s words. I feel better already.

6. I am a healer and a magician, and I am just learning to hold the fire of my own and others’ energy in my fingers, let the life flow through my body. I am growing in this, healing and coaching more.

7. I am alive, and people that I love are not. I am determined not to let my survival be arbitrary. I will seek and embody light for as long as I have here.

8. I am healthier than I was this time last year – lighter, stronger, more fierce, more shameless, more disciplined, less rigid, more active, more aware, more in love with and in awe of my body. For my birthday I’m going to meditate, go for a long walk, engage my core in planks and pushups, be present with my family, receive the love of my partner, skype with the babies, revel in social media well wishes and feel no guilt.

9. I am beautiful. Not in the way I hoped to be when I was younger, not in a famous person way, but in the way that I am free from the idea of perfection. I love how my thighs move when I walk, I love how my skin tastes, I love how I can feel joy in my jaw, I love this body, this face. Sometimes I look at myself and all I see is life. No flaws, just vibrant outrageous survival and wisdom. Grief has made me realize that the most beautiful thing about people is the life flowing through them. I am so alive, and it is so beautiful.

10. I am a creator. From happy style to sugar shifts to emergent strategy, from love to poems to children’s books to photos to science fiction, most of my life is creating. I spent the last hours of 35 and first hours of 36 creating. This poem came:

The moon is getting heavy
The crickets constant, loud
The river steams up under us
Each space all clamoring crowd

The stars drizzle and they drop
Their light is time tricked out in black
When darkness tastes the sun
She becomes fire all arch and back

This is the sacred moment
The green earth on our tongues
Every day is full of our dying
And all the while we are young

I will not quake and shiver
This heartbeat my first delight
I’m full of nights worth dreaming
I choose to be the light

I will not hush and wander
This whisper bears no spite
I’m full of songs you haven’t heard
I choose to be the light

I will not hide or disappear
My spirit is the mountain’s height
I see the future hurtling home
I choose to be the light

I will not surrender
I know each of my rights
I’m taking all the joy that’s mine
I choose to be the light

The birthday gift I want this year is to be a working writer, to cover rent and food with income from my words. One way you can support that is by becoming a member of this blog. In addition to the things I normally post here, feelings and reflections and lessons gathered, I’ll be posting more original science fiction. I’m going to write whether I’m paid or not, and this will be available to you whether you pay or not, so it’s truly in the spirit of a gift. I’m working on telling the universe what I want, cause that’s what grown women do.

And, see point 1, that’s what I am. I just wrote myself into a celebratory space. Happy birthday to me! Off to meditate. Have a day worthy of the miracle of your life.

i move therefore i am

i just completed moving out of the detroit apartment i have lived in for five years. i moved into the apartment directly above it, with my sweetheart. i learned some things during this move.

1. five years is actually a major chunk of a life. one seventh of my life thus far. so much happened in that home. when i started to let the memories come, tears flooded my face and i had to stop and catch my breath. the heart is so much more resilient than the mind. my mind cannot handle my life at all, but my heart cannot forget even the smallest instance. i remember the first time my niece siobhan visited – holding her in the dark in the living room because she wouldn’t sleep and my sister needed rest in the desperate way only new mothers know. i remember lunch meetings with charity. i remember each of the sci-fi writing salons. i remember love, heartbreak, healing, love, growth, healing, love. yoga. and learning who i was, in conversations, in that place between midnight and dawn, in that space. writing stories that i thought were brilliant and stories that i knew were horrid. needing a sabbatical, taking it, coming home, leaving, coming home, leaving, coming home – i have been the heartbeat in that little wood and brick flesh. it took the better part of a year for me to be ready to let it go.

2. i am a virgo. not that i have doubted it. but it is amazing to feel the righteousness of organization in my heart – the thrill of an empty closet or cabinet, the titillation of seeing a perfect layout behind my eyes. yes, there are other ways to do things. but it is amazing to feel the ‘right’ way like a bell ringing inside! i want to send a special love shout out to my partner because…i cannot imagine trying to land in a new space next to such wild perfection.

3. i have a thing for: matches, stationary and any other kind of paper including post-it notes, sage, sci-fi books, most other books, small decorative elephants, sentimental vhs tapes/dvds/cds, images of beyonce, unread books related to buddhism, candles that seem to have lost their wicks, emotive collages, magazines that hold the potential of collage, shoes and jewelry that i never wear but absolutely display as art, postcards, things my family members gave me, frozen homemade soups, turquoise nail polish, ginger dusting powder from lush (seriously does anyone want some of this? i took it too seriously when they discontinued this stuff, forgetting that i too would change), chopsticks, mugs, and anything that could be considered an altar item.

4. i am overwhelmed. my birthday is coming up (and all i want is to know people read this stuff sometimes, so become a member at any level if this crosses your line of sight) and there has been so much change this year – death and new life and love and health and all the biggest things. i have been pretty sure i was overwhelmed for a little while now, but the move really brought to light how deeply i can only do one thing at a time right now. i apologize to everyone who i was supposed to communicate with or do something for during this time. working to meditate, be in my body, and write daily. working to travel less, cook more, sleep deeper, breathe deeper, slow down. this home will help with each of those pieces of work.

5. it is good to shed. our whole lives become skins we wear. if we don’t grow, life can become this mess we are trying to fit into. i have outgrown the self i was in my old home. i will outgrow the self i am now with any luck.

6. i have abundance, i have a bathtub!!!, i am grateful, and that is all i actually need.

love scholarship lessons 14-20

14. if i want love, i can’t hurt love.

i used to be very cavalier about the idea of boundaries in love. ‘that’s not how humans ARE,’ i’d insist. ‘we must be free, we are mercurial, we are porous, chemistry moves between us, everyone works the systems of human interactions to get what they need, you can no more own a person than you can own the planet, etc.’

i still believe all of this to varying degrees.

but/and! lovers make agreements with each other, agreements that grow trust and transparency as they are held. trust and transparency that lay the foundation for the kind of mutual transformation that i believe can only happen in relationship (not necessarily romantic relationship, but definitely authentic relationship).

lao tzu teaches, ‘if you don’t trust the people, they become untrustworthy.’

if i want to give and receive the kind of all-inclusive trust that allows for transformation, allows me to actually feel loved in real time, i have to be trustworthy. with my boundaries and with the boundaries others set. crossing those boundaries, even if – especially if – i can’t understand them…makes it that much harder for me to trust anyone to hold the boundaries i am learning i need for my own transformation.

grace lee boggs teaches us to ‘transform ourselves to transform the world’ – love is a front line. transforming how i love, and how i treat the love of others, transforms how love can work in the world.

15. each time i name, hold or respect an intimate boundary, my understanding of the purpose of love grows.

self-love first: self-love is not about accumulating a galaxy of ever arching incoming desires, sexualizing every experience. self-love is being able to see every part of myself with compassion. to feel tenderness for all my ways of being, how i was shaped, what i have done with my gifts, where i disappoint myself.

love with another, or many others, it is not hunting. love is a fertile ground for growth. one crucial purpose of love with others is to have people to grow with. to grow out of obligations and depression, to grow old, to grow wise, to grow babies, to grow home, to grow creatively, to grow analysis, to grow freedom, to grow justice – to have another person, or other people, with whom to grow.

when i tell someone i love them, i mean: ‘i am growing with you!’

16. if we are not growing, we are doing something else…often regressing. and there are probably a million good reasons for that – the only one i understand is that there is something in my past that i haven’t really seen. and it is going to keep creeping up until it becomes unbearably present behind me, and i turn and face it, and i truly comprehend it. then i can move forward. if i try to run away, or only cast a glance over my shoulder and keep walking, it will not go away. james baldwin teaches, ‘not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced’.

17. what you withhold of yourself becomes your prison. love is also a process of getting free with another person. and along the way you learn all the cages that can develop within you and between you. one of those cages is built of lies and half-truths, knowing something your partner should know, something about who you are or what you’ve done, and withholding it from them.

i have thought of myself as an open book, but that doesn’t mean my words are in a common tongue. too often i communicate in passive aggressive dishwashing, directive playlists, abstract poetry.

i have had to learn to translate from my heart the truth of what i am feeling and what i need, walk another person through my secret garden, discover the fruits i have grown from desperation, believe in the abundance that makes sharing easy. and most of all, not to leave any part of myself in a cage, being unuttered…left there, my forgotten self creates what prisons create: criminals, humans centered around survival.

no more prisons, not even inside.

18. truth seeks the light, and love is a lightbearing emotion. the more i love, the more i want to show my wholeness. secrets come leaping through my mouth because of love. i can’t hide in the face of love. and as i love myself, i feel no need to keep hidden. healing and moving forward become possible in ways that were not available in my periods of resentment, hatred, insecurity, secrecy.

19. i learn to love in various directions simultaneously, inwards to myself, outwards to others, back to my ancestors, forward to my great great great grandchildren. i learn to love my flawed self as i fall for imperfect others. to love my communities as i become unconditionally lovestruck for my nephew and nieces. love has shown itself to be a liberating, generous and universal emotion. when i feel it in one direction, i remember that love in every direction is possible, is always present.

i would venture that part of what is happening in ferguson is an outburst of love. love of children getting to be children, love of black and brown children, is making the truth of this moment in the american racial construct come to light. this love has our eyes and our hearts extended to where michael was shot down, standing up for him, for the people murdered before him and those who will continue to be killed on this 28-hour cycle until we become too loud to ignore politically, socially and spiritually.

20. love requires practice. listening, speaking honestly, caring, surprising, grounding, calming, supporting, nourishing, pleasing, receiving, declining, creating, teaching, learning. there are so many skills to develop, simultaneously. wax on, wax off. love, love. love, love.

love, love.

michael brown’s homegoing

i have been watching ferguson and feeling many many things. how unique this moment is, and how familiar. how exciting the responses have been, and how exhausted i am by the need to respond. most of all, how to manage all of these front lines, all these black bodies swinging, all this brutality to brown skin.

where i sit in detroit, it is a beautiful, soft, cricket-full summer. and there are masses with no water. the u.n. said it isn’t right, like they said gaza isn’t right. so. there isn’t much relief in the moral high ground.

tonight it is the virgo new moon, and it is a night for prayer, ritual, magic and saying what it is we want. i want the kind of safety that comes when no one is afraid of you, when you are loved unconditionally, when you can make mistakes and live to learn the lessons, when you can rest assured that you will only die of natural causes, when you have every opportunity to live a beautiful and impactful life, when you can be bold and young and vivacious and sassy and creative and brave and tender and old and full of tears, pleasure, laughter, wisdom, new life. and black. i want, i invoke, the safety for black and brown people, for all people, that will come with the healing of the species from the mental illness of racial supremacy/inferiority.

i thought the moon should know.

they called him michael
and he was her only blameless child
and you would have loved him
but he died so quickly,
like a nameless child
(chorus of a song i wrote in high school, for another brown boy who never made it home)

lay him in the dirt
lift him high, raging angels
let him make it home
(for black august on the day of michael brown’s funeral)

remarks from a radical wedding

this past weekend i had the honor of officiating my first wedding. it was a queer wedding, a trans wedding, a love story. here are my notes and remarks from the wedding, crafted in collaboration with martha and nissa, the bride and groom.

We wanted to open with a perspective on love from the science fiction classic, Firefly:

‘You know what the first rule of flying is? … Love. You can learn all the math in the ‘verse, but you take a boat in the air you don’t love, she’ll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells you she’s hurting ‘fore she keens. Makes her a home.’

Welcome to the wedding of Martha and Nissa!

It is a beautiful and powerful thing to be able to witness and support these two in their brilliant love. I am honored to be here, and to affirm before all of existence that love is a transformative force which bends the world towards liberation.

Octavia Butler says God is change. I feel that here. God is also love. Love is the most sacred thing we can learn to do in this life, that we can practice every day, always getting better.

Thank you to everyone here for showing up to witness Martha and Nissa committing to practice love with each other, every day that they live. And we want to take a moment to honor all of those loved ones and ancestors who are not here in body, but in spirit.

Let love fill us all the way up.

(The groom’s brother read from) Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:

9 Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.

(The bride’s sister read from) bell hooks’ all about love:

The moment we choose to love, we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others. That action is the testimony of love as the practice of freedom.

We do this by choosing to work with individuals we admire and respect; by committing to give our all to relationships; by embracing a global vision wherein we see our lives and vour fate as intimately connected to those of everyone else on the planet.

In our society, we make much of love and say little of fear. Yet we are all terribly afraid most of the time. Fear is the primary force upholding structures of domination – it promotes the desire for separation, the desire not to be known. When we are taught that safety lies in sameness, then difference of any kind will appear as a threat.

When we choose to love, we choose to move against fear, against alienation and separation. The choice to love is a choice to connect, to find ourselves in the other.

To live our lives based on the principles of a love ethic – showing care, respect knowledge, integrity, and the will to cooperate – we have to be courageous. Learning how to face our fears is one way we embrace love. Our fear may not go away, but it will not stand in the way. Those of us who have already chosen to embrace a love ethic – allowing it to govern and inform how we think and act – know that when we let our light shine, we draw to us and are drawn to other bearers of light. We are not alone.
     
I wanted to take a moment to honor what it means for community to hold love.

I believe we are all love stories unfolding, learning over the course of our lives how to truly and unconditionally love ourselves, and then be vulnerable enough to let someone else love us.

There are a lot of strong love stories between these two merging families. If we are lucky we have the support of our families, friends, and community as a support structure for our love.

There are moments when we get lost in each other and it is hard to breath, and we need friends to remind us to give our love space, air, light.

There are moments when we get lost from each other and need direction and guidance to remember and rediscover our love.

There are moments when we turn our backs on each other, overwhelmed by the beauty or trauma of life, when we need to be reminded to lean back against each other.

There are moments when we hurt each other, and need community to support us to continue to reach for each other and be honest, speak our needs and let love flourish between us.

There are moments when our love reshapes the world around us, and we need our families and communities to step forward with us, to let us know we are not alone in our joy.

Community, we ask you to join us in reading from On Marriage, from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. The poem is on the back of your programs, please read the sections in bold.

On Marriage by Kahlil Gibran(community reads the bolded parts –poem to be printed in program)

[...]
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

Now, before these two vow themselves to each other, we thought it would be great to say a word on what a vow is.

A marriage vow is a Commitment to be with each other through changes. We are each mercurial creatures – it is a sign of health that we are growing, changing, learning. When we vow to spend our lives loving each other, it is not a commitment to the person standing before us, as they are, forever and ever. It is a commitment to witness and love their changing self. To continue to learn and grow and change and allow our beloved to witness us. Forever is indeterminate. It is a way of speaking about the horizon we can see, and whatever is beyond the horizon. It is a commitment to journey with each other, whatever twists and turns the road may offer. To stay curious, present, open hearted, compassionate, aware of and beside our beloved.

Got it?

Nissa, will you share with us your vows to Martha?
Martha, will you share with us your vows to Nissa
Adrienne: Do you both promise to honor these vows during your life together?
Nissa and Martha: I do.

(yay!!!)

As family and friends, you form a community of support and love that surrounds Martha and Nissa and will continue to sustain them as they move forward in marriage. Each of you, by your presence here today, is being called upon to uphold them in loving each other, and to fulfill their responsibility to love their community. We ask you to enthusiastically stand with them in this love, with these community vows.

I will ask you some questions and if you agree to them say “i will”

Will you who are present here today, surround this couple in love, offering them the joys of your friendship?

Will you support this couple in their relationship?

At times of conflict will you offer them the strength of your wisest counsel and the comfort of your thoughtful concern?

At times of joy, will you celebrate with them, nourishing their love for one another?

Then it is time for the exchange of rings.

Martha/Nissa, will you repeat after me these vows inspired by the great Al Green?

I am so in love with you.
Whatever you want to do is alright with me.
Cause you make me feel so brand new.
And I want to spend my life with you.
Since we’ve been together
Loving you forever
Is what I need.
Let me be the one you come running to.
I’ll never be untrue.
Let’s stay together.
Whether times are good or bad or happy or sad.

Please place the rings on each other’s hands and repeat after me.

‘I give you this ring as a pledge of my love and commitment to our partnership.’

By the power of love seized by me from the state, I now pronounce you husband and wife!

You may now kiss each other!
(Kissing!!!)

Let the wild rumpus start!

collapse, release, feel

I crawl up the hill
My life too full to carry
I practice collapse

I’m writing haikus this month for Black August, a month of remembering and honoring our political prisoners. Wanted to share this one, which feels like an exact statement on my being right now.

I’m heading into an intensive Somatics training that promises to be intensely physical and, I hope, a good place to get still. I’ve been feeling at breakneck speed. I’ve been talking too fast, too much. I’ve been forgetful, foggy, so happy, so loved, so overwhelmed, so lost. I’m excited to sleep in a tent, significantly reduce my technology use, cry, be a body in a natural world, be in that magical place: away.

Till soon.

thank you to the gallant david strathairn!

so.

yesterday i get on my plane and i am minding my business and look up and see this guy:

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i knew him. i could see him in an FBI jacket, in a military get up. what was his name? argh. i knew that i liked him as an actor. i snapped this picture to send my mom who is The Best at ‘name that actor’. watching movies with my mom is like watching movies with a friendly funny embodied IMDB.

i got off the plane and went to the pick up area. he came walking by while i was on the phone with my sweetheart and i told her, ‘one second.’

i tapped him on the arm and just said, ‘hi, i am a big fan.’

he nodded warmly and then i went back to my phone call and he went on down to sit on one of the pick-up benches.

my ride pulls up. it’s my girl jodie who has this very special white van from japan that is all opposites. she drives on the right side of the van, and i as a passenger had to go around to the left (or traffic) side to get in. i am opening the van door when a car behind us pulls right up on jodie, trying to get around us. the driver immediately starts laying in on the horn.

i lean back and wave at the driver with the universal hand signals that communicate: ‘just a second’. i realize she is some sort of official person, though i couldn’t tell you what she was officially in charge of. but she was maybe airport traffic cop patrol?

my waving and logical hand gesture appeal won us no reprieve, she is on the horn like she is personally having a baby that is having a heart attack and needs to rush them both to the hospital, like that level of urgency. plus yelling, ‘MOVE YOUR [curse curse curse] CAR MOVE!!! MOVE!!!!’ (such language in front of the imaginary urgency baby? no bueno.)

jodie and i are shock laughing as i get my bags in, which are heavier than usual because i am going camping, all with the horn blasting. i think: what a bad day that lady must be having! vitriol is spilling from her mouth like so much dragon fire.

then i hear it, the voice of the aforementioned and now overtly gallant actor. he is yelling back!! i daresay he is defending us! he yells at her to back up and stop making all this noise. when she doesn’t stop, he comes around to the driver’s side and gets in her face, both hands pleading as he yells at her to BE QUIET.

i yell to jodie, ‘that guy’s a famous actor!!’ and we both try to see more and then realize the situation is escalating.

part of me wanted to stop and thank him for being such a beacon of appropriate confrontation, but the larger part wanted to avoid jodie getting a ticket, so i slammed the van door shut and jumped in the front seat.

at this point, jodie is in a tight place because dragon lady had driven right up on us in her beeping fury. jodie backs up enough to kiss the lady’s bumper. in the mirror i see the dragon lady open her car door and explode out, all suburban hair-do and high waisted uniform pants.

‘go, go, go!!’ i yell to jodie as dragon lady starts pounding her fists on the back of the van.

we tear off into the stop-and-go airport traffic, laughing like bonnie and clyde, blessed with our innocence. for no discernable reason, dragon lady stays behind, utterly thwarted. i wonder if she realized she was in a yelling battle with the gifted and elegant david strathairn (figured out not by my usually accurate mama, but by google).

so i just had to take a minute to say: thank you! thank you david strathairn! now i am an even bigger fan.

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nuanced voices on the detroit water situation (shifting from false solutions to real ones)

this past week a victory was declared for the detroit water fight. i got tears in my eyes, i got excited. honey we need some victories.

but i also got concerned and started digging a bit because the groups i have known to be working on this (the people’s water board, michigan welfare rights and others) were not mentioned, or posting the good news. as i have focused more on my writing, i have defaulted to the late sister-warrior charity hicks regarding most things about the water issues in detroit. in her absence, i have started tuning into some of my other favorite detroit minds.

will copeland, shane bernardo, shea howell, bill wylie-kellerman and tawana petty have all been saying brilliant things about what is happening and why the ‘victory’ of emergency manager kevin orr handing control of detroit’s water over to mayor mike duggan is actually not quite the success that is being claimed.

shane reminded me, for context, that this is all connected “to emergency management and the bankruptcy. in short, this is not a singular instance or issue but one in a protracted and carefully thought out scheme based on predatory economics.” yes sir.

so, i wanted to share some of their clarifying, inspiring and informative words.

first, from bill wylie-kellerman, quoted in al-jazeera’s article on west virginians driving water up to detroit: “The emergency manager and the mayor have been working hand in glove all along. The mayor doesn’t have any power that the emergency manager doesn’t grant him. It’s a fake appearance of a fresh start.”

from shane: “If you didn’t know any better, you would think that Duggan taking over control of DWSD was a good thing. Citing this as a victory is misleading and self-delusional. Lest we forget, Duggan was part of the emergency manager selection process. Making Duggan in charge of the water dept is like taking it from one hand and placing it in the other.”

i commented that we need victory, and will responded that “the victory is in the fact that they/the power structure is responding and adapting. They are making overtures towards us. The fact that they made two overtures (15-day moratorium and now this) shows that they are struggling with public opinion and trying to silence the movement. As Shane Bernardo points out, Orr and Duggan are for all intents and purposes in the same camp. It is not an objective ‘victory’ but definitely a subjective victory, meaning they are feeling the heat. But we still have to be vigilant to make sure the shutoffs have actually stopped in this moratorium. Duggan is not committed to ending shutoffs – his stance is on ‘warning consumers’. Duggan has significant privatization experience also. Our level of vigilance remains constant.”

shea howell was quoted in a release from the people’s water board, a really clarifying piece on what’s being asked for: “The crowds that brought media from all over the world were not chanting for ‘more advanced warnings of shut-offs’ as the Mayor said he would have given. If you can’t pay the hundreds or sometimes even the thousands of dollars demanded by DWSD, more warning is useless. We’ve received news that 40 people in a Palmer Park apartment have been shut-off. Has Mike Ilitch paid his overdue water bill? Has DWSD moved in to shut off the golf course? No. Corporations can get by while families are deprived. Is this what Mayor Duggan meant when, this morning, he referred to some Detroiters have to pay for the bills of others?”

shea added to me that, “One thing that I think is critical for us to tackle is Duggan’s calculated effort to turn one Detroiter against the other….with his ‘those who don’t pay are forcing those who do pay to have ever higher rates’. This divide and conquer strategy draws on deep rooted stereotypes that dehumanize people who are poor (let’s remember this is nearly half the city – and most of the rest of us are close to it). But in trying to say there are good Detroiters and bad Detroiters, he is trying to deflect attention away form the real structural issues facing the water department including:
1. more than half the water department budget goes to banks to pay debt..
2. a small number of corporations owe as much as nearly half the city and they are not aggressively assaulted.
3. Last month Detroit lost Flint as a customer because of Governor Snyder and legislative action creating a new Flint water system (that was completely unnecessary) taking the scarce dollars needed to maintain existing infrastructure to build a new infrastructure along side it. This will mean Detroit water customers will have to cover a new 12 million…the Flint cost…”

and finally, poet warrior tawana shared these words on real solutions, which have been dispatched to the president via food and water watch: “We know the Mayor’s been handed a hot mess. However, we are clear that this is not a solution to the water crisis in Detroit. An immediate halt to water shutoffs, a rejection of any effort to privatize the water, restoration of all residents’ water currently shutoff and enforcement of the Peoples’ Water Affordability Plan is the solution to this crisis.”

stay tuned in!

one sentence sci-fi story.

sun sci fi short

And then the blue sky cracked open and it was obvious, too late, that we were in and of the Sun, we’d been worshipping a hole in a great fabric, we were ash, breathing.