nanowrimo, BOLD, and other grown folks business

i am writing my second novel this month!!!, so i won’t be blogging much, but wanted to come on here to share a few things:

1. the novel i am writing has a serious and intriguing situation at the center, but no real plot. i am having the time of my life writing it. i hope someone out there is interested in reading racialized parallel universe snapshots.

2. i was just at BOLD in north carolina – black organizing for leadership and dignity. it’s one of the places i go to restore my soul and spirit, my cool, my belief that the living liberation i long for is possible. it’s one of those things that is difficult to explain when you aren’t there, being with black people intentionally cultivating our dignity, our right to feel loved and safe in our black bodies. we move, dance, sing, struggle, change. all of that is everything, but the thing that is blowing my whole mind right now is that one of the participants, an amazing starlight named kesi, said i was cool. me!?!? and then, another southern starlight named aaron wrote a poem for me !!! and he said it out loud. and then he posted it. the poem actually captures the collective experience of BOLD, this is what we do for and with and to each other. if you love black people you should be supporting this organization.

3. i finally set up a payment plan with a certain entity which has been chasing, hounding and disrupting my peace for several years. it is the lowest i can possibly give because i am still politically at odds with the priorities this entity stands for, and at some point i am sure there will be some other solution that makes the need for this payment plan go away. but right now i feel grown and exhaling at having gotten it solid.

4. i am a month into not smoking. so. !!!

5. i am 20 days into a sugar shift and have managed to hold my head up and my sense of decision making power throughout travel – even through the sweet tea pie shaped dessert fried fish wonderland of the deep south. i am doing this and my novel writing challenge in community, and i feel immensely supported, seen and powerful.

6. i have bitmoji now. now i can finally express myself in text messages and elsewhere.

7. santigold gave me this. and sam smith put this on spotify. and i spent most of the month listening to alabama shakes sing joe.

*update: and then erykah gave us THIS!! timely pleasure activist mantra.

8. i took a day off today, which meant i read volume 5 of saga, my birthday gift from my sister autumn. it was INCREDIBLE and inspiring. and then i found this article, and i read it, and i felt – astounded. astounded. imagination goals – this man used his imagination to survive being stranded at sea for 14 months. here is a taste:

“Alvarenga let his imagination run wild in order to keep sane. He imagined an alternative reality so believable that he could later say with total honesty that alone at sea he tasted the greatest meals of his life and experienced the most delicious sex. He was mastering the art of turning his solitude into a Fantasia-like world. He started his mornings with a long walk. “I would stroll back and forth on the boat and imagine that I was wandering the world. By doing this I could make myself believe that I was actually doing something. Not just sitting there, thinking about dying.” With this lively entourage of family, friends and lovers, Alvarenga insulated himself from bleak reality.”

ok that’s all for now. if you miss me, write me a poem, or a story, or a love note, or a anything. besos til december (unless i desperately need to procrastinate, like this, with you)

revisiting the sugar cleanse

Sugar is snow. Sugar is drug. Sugar is statistically proven to strip me of my dignity and my health. And yet.

Sugar is laughter. Sugar is energy. Sugar is of nature, a perfect sweetness in the right balance.

I’m seeking balance again. I feel like I crawled out of the grief stricken battle ground of 2014 with chocolate smeared on my face, and weight that I’d lost the year before (arduously, hardest thing I ever do) returning so easily that I felt guilty for ever trying to leave it behind. I had the moment that I think all people of glorious size have: is this just how it’s supposed to be? Should I just stop fighting?

I adore my body. I spend a ridiculous amount of time walking around naked saying yes goddess octaviafridanina thank you for this body! And also too, I adore health. I love this body best when I feel like I can make intentional healthy choices that my body likes.

I’m also a bit of a hypochondriac (Oh shit is this celiacs? Diabetes? Whooping cough? Do I have a tape worm alien parasite? No? No? But how do you really know? Oh…health insurance? But I’m an artist. Hmm. But what if it’s…and so on) so healthy choices are my best way to avoid paranoid journeys through the haunted house of Web MD.

The best thing I’ve done for myself related to health, in terms of how I’ve felt, was a deep examination of my relationship to sugar. It’s in all the things I like, and it makes me mindless around food. I can order and consume a pizza with no presence whatsoever. When life gets tough, as it did last fall, I can sort of look up and find that somehow there’s an empty ice cream pint on the coffee table. Then my body and energy are all messy trying to remember who I am.

So I declare it here.

I am a Virgo creator in springtime.
I am a self loving human who smashes to-do lists and walks directly towards what I long for.
I imagine worlds and generate possibilities for a living.
I can do this!

So I’m doing another sugar shift starting today. I don’t frame it as a cleanse in my heart, because this is a long long process of unlearning sugar as comfort and rediscovering health. Something like 50 people are doing some version of it too on Facebook (let me know if you want in).

Some tips from last time, and for travel:

– know the possible meals I can have for the day, both what I create and what’s possible when eating out. Time travel to the hardest one and make a plan. Build up to trusting myself to hold the line in the moment.

– be a snack warrior. Have things in my bag that will actually get me through. For me that’s trail mix and tuna.

– decide my adaptations beforehand. Some folks are doing the cleanse with fruit, or with specific grains, or one glass of white wine in the evening. Again, decide what I need to get through it and then lock it in. It’s only 21 days.

– drink so much water. Big glass with fresh lemon in the morning and then keep the bottle in hand all day. When I think of food, drink some water before taking any other action. My skin will praise dance (after the initial toxin flush breakout which I will welcome as indications I’m actually doing it…and not pick at!).

– move my body. Whatever movement feels like a celebration in my body, I’ll do that. For some people it’s running. For me it’s dancing. I’m alive! Act like it.

Those are the main things I can think of as I begin again this humbling daunting necessary journey.

I’m doing this while book touring, so I need all your love and sweetness now. If you see me, you can ask about the cleanse, but mostly ask me how I am, tell me I’m glowing and give me a big hug.

I’m going to seek the pleasure in this experience. Blow me kisses.

circumstance-itarian

i just spent a glorious week in rural eastern kentucky where my food options were largely in the hands of others who were proudly and lovingly serving me breaded chicken, fried catfish, succulent ribs, baked beans, green beans flavored with pork fat, fried okra, buttered corn, buttered mashed potatoes, creamy coleslaw, bacon, cheesy grits, a southern salad made of whipped cream and chopped fruit that brought ‘i-miss-my-mema’ tears to my eyes, plates of watermelon, no-bake cookies, ham on white sandwiches, potato chips, platters of broccoli and cauliflower with ranch dressing, and iceberg lettuce salads with sugary dressings.

i list all of this because navigating it humbled me. i had brought my brilliant sugar free homemade trail mix (pecans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, goji berries and pure cacao), seaweed snacks, brown rice crackers, peanut butter – but nothing substantial enough to take the place of meals. there wasn’t even time to hit a grocery store for basic meats and veggies before heading deep into the country.

and i was fine.

i keep learning things in my sugar shift. this week i learned that i am honing my discipline, but i don’t want to be rigid to the point of self-punishment. in fact, the long-term goal is to be a circumstance-itarian, a term i think i may have created (but am willing to cede creation rights to someone else if i can use to mean this): to have a healthy, local, organic default of food that is very low in sugar (including alcohol, bread, desserts) and high in other fuels that work well for my body (primarily protein, vegetables, good fats) – and to shamelessly revel in the wonders and generosity of the places to which i travel.

this feels crucial, to be open to the wonders of place.

in eastern kentucky the wonders included bourbon, moonshine and ribs. there were lots of other foods which were not unique (like pink cake out of a box), and thus not necessary to me, though my eye kept wandering over to the pink cake and processing childhood memories – pink cake equals birthdays, joy, celebration. and i can process that without eating it.

being able to make the distinction between wanting (i desire that taste in my mouth) versus needing (i need that nourishment for my health) is powerful. i feel my capacity to make the best choice in any given scenario increasing. i don’t always make the best choice, but i can now say i almost always know what it is.

i am also learning the places where i have agency (alcohol, bread, meat) and the places i cannot even dabble a little yet (cookies, sweetened chocolate, chips). all of this is crucial data in this case study of myself.

someone suggested i write a book about this and i am seriously considering at minimum a zine that reflects on the detoxes with rose cole and diane san filippo’s guidance, as well as my own lessons, with somatics, food justice and economic justice lenses on the whole endeavor. because it isn’t just about eliminating sugar – it is tied up in this work of a just transition – how do we bring our human selves, our human bodies, in right relationship to the planet? we stop dousing it all in cane sugar and corn syrup, learn to taste the million sweetnesses of the earth.

i think something about humanity’s future is tied up in this question of sugar, of addiction and nutrition, of nourishment versus feeding a beast inside ourselves. i am playing at a long game here, and i feel more at ease than ever before, more self aware, and thus more free.

what is in your body?