10/31/2011

I must have been about seven years old when I tried to run away for the first time. My room had deep pink walls, and was huge, the biggest place I’ve ever lived, and the first time I’d ever lived in not-an-apartment. We shared a house that my step-grandparents owned while they were living/working in Europe. I’m not sure if my baby brother was born yet, but he must have been on the way. I had already started to show the signs of what was later diagnosed as bipolar disorder. Sometimes I would fly into an inconsolable rage or despair. I broke things. A lot of things. Tore all the clothes from my closet and screamed until my face was dotted with cherry sprinkles of broken capillaries.  (understandably) Cut my father’s picture from every photograph I had, refused to go to school.

But this wasn’t one of those days. I don’t remember where I planned to go, or what I planned to do when I got there, I just knew that I had to get away. I’m almost certain that my father had gone missing in action again, and that I had some thought of looking for him.

I pulled the quilt off of my bed (still have that quilt, still sleep beneath it almost every night) and packed up what I thought I’d need: the dingiest and most-loved of my stuffed animals, my journal, probably my watercolor set, knitting box, and jacks inside, bundled it up and dragged it to the stop of the staircase (earlier, probably that same year, I cracked my tailbone after slipping and falling down those stairs).

And then I asked my mother to call me a cab.

Why?

Because I’m running away, I explained.

Oh. Okay.

The cab never arrived and I’m sure I had to explain myself to my stepfather later, or maybe Mister Jackson, the creepy white-haired counselor who asked me weird questions about my feelings about my vagina (I hated going to see him, hated talking with him, he made me so uncomfortable and did not seem to help with anything).

Heart-shaped box

10/31/2011

At the angry part of grief. In the middle of a radical reimagining of a relationship that I think will look something like “let’s stay friends! …and uh, break up.” Maybe when the grief is not so fresh, playing together occasionally, but with less emotional commitment. Let’s give it plenty of space before that.

I should have seen this coming. For a while now, I think. Maybe the whole while?

What I was most surprised by was hurting so badly after the news crossed the line to understanding, acceptance beyond the bargaining. You know when grief becomes physical, and the heart beats arhythmically and hands shake? Oh yes, that.

Maybe it is not so much this relationship that I am grieving, as all the relationships that I have ‘radically reimagined’ in the last few years. My heart is sore and worn, not fading around the edges but a little frayed from stretching and contracting as it do. From a less than optimistic place, I can tell you: being polyamorous gives you not just more opportunity for love, but for heartache, too. (sounds so melodramatic, but fuck-all, it’s true!)

But at least all this experience is useful for something. I know how to get myself thru this, seeing as how I’m at least a level 6 at that great skill, surviving heartache and getting the fuck on with my life. It takes time, putting energy into other things, but also giving myself space in which to grieve.

I’ve put up my tent. Here, self, you can grieve, in this notebook or that cluttered room. Listen to melancholy love songs until your eyes bleed if you want, it’s fine. The best strategy I’ve found is working on easy tasks that upon completion will make me feel accomplished. Working on bikes, cooking, painting. Lavishing that most precious resource, time, upon my introversion.

Tomorrow is a new day, and with it brings the dawn.

10/30/2011

The silliest most melancholic thought followed me around for most of the afternoon:

Starve a fever

feed a cold

but what do you do with a broken heart?

-RD

re re re re

10/26/2011

Back in the days when I was a teenager
Before I had status and before I had a pager
You could find the Abstract listening to hip hop
My pops used to say, it reminded him of be-bop
I said, well daddy don’t you know that things go in cycles
The way that Bobby Brown is just ampin like Michael

“Excursions”, A Tribe Called Quest

***

I keep learning how. Learn the lesson and break it down, learn it again.

How to: set a boundary, react when someone doesn’t respect that boundary, hold myself accountable, hold others accountable, be kind and compassionate with myself, be kind and compassionate with others…

The learning is everywhere, all the time.

***

Collective work (I wish I could be more specific) continues apace.

The division of labor when we’re actually able to all get behind the work we do together is such a relief. My anxious imperative to do all the things becomes do some of the things, then have your own life.

Learning to say what I mean, mean what I say.

Learning how to say: here is what I am capable of, I will do these things, and not to try to pick up the slack where no one else will. If no one else can do these things, then I guess they won’t get done or we’ll have to come back to them.

And that’s big and scary for me, because I work best off of a sense of urgency, so learning this pacing thing is difficult.

I’ve always had an up all night to get it done kind of work ethic, and to realize that doing that on a daily basis for years at a time is not actually sustainable is a game-changer.

***

Making art, and when I’m not making art, often thinking about it.

Ballpoint and watercolor sketches.

A pocket full of words embroidered with a single kiss.

I wish I could scan this for you, or mail it to the “crush jail” crush, who is non communicado while dealing with some heavy, but I think it’s better to just collage it for now.

Thinking about doing more film work, less sexy, more magical realism stuff. Narratives that portray our lives (what weird lives we lead, you and I, and what joy!) as they are, while telling truths that might not be revealed if I were just to film (or write) our days from end to end.

What if there were a dragon in the lake who ate cops? I mean, my brain has some pretty whacky ideas, and I am delighted by their ridiculousness. More stormbraining to be done, most defs.

Reading a book about writing. Excited about it, even. Have not felt very excited about most of my writing this week or last. Putting a lot of that energy towards the collective project, which gratefully will culminate most of its energy on Friday and give me back the language center of my brain for more creative endeavors.

***

“The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.” – Chaucer

hey reader! i know that lots of folks have experienced trauma at the hands of the mental “health” industrial complex (i.e. abusive therapy, involuntary incarceration, etc), and this post addresses some of those topics. please read with care and feel free to click away as needed. love and light, RD

i wish i had had the resources to do solidarity for incarcerated folks earlier in life, and/or learned how earlier. i remember the myriad times my friends were locked up, the stories they would return with–not just from psych wards, but from facilities we knew as juvie, rehab, or (ugh) “camp”.

here is what i know about how to practice solidarity for my friends when they get locked up involuntarily in the psych ward:

1) get their legal name, especially if they’re a trans person. birthdate can be helpful, too. depending upon where they are incarcerated, the medical staff may refuse to call them by their preferred name, and so you will need to use their legal name with those people.

2) get the name/phone # of the facility where they are incarcerated. if you can, find out what block they’re locked up in. some facilities are really big, and it’s easy for them to “lose” a person if you don’t have specifics.

3) call and ask to speak to that person.

4) call again. you don’t usually get thru the 1st-3rd times. sometimes you can leave a message. in your message, tell them (assuming you’re going to) that you will call back, and when.

5) if you’re able to reach your friend, ask if there’s anything they need. do they want you to get in touch with someone? what do they want you to tell that person? can you feed their cat, pay their phone bill, or complete some other time-sensitive task for them? sometimes it can be simple as letting their sweety know where they are.

6) ask (don’t insist!) if they’d like to be visited. if they don’t feel like being visited, accept their “no.” if it’s a soft no, let them know that it’s okay to change their mind later (like: cool, but if you change your mind, i’d still make time to visit you!).

7) if they’d like to be visited, ask if there’s anything you can bring them to make them more comfortable. food, a particular blanket or stuffed animal, art supplies, whatever.

8) call the day of your visit, and give them a time frame to expect you in, and set a limit for how long you will stay (this is healthy, and part of taking care of yourself!). confirm you will try to bring the things they have requested if that’s part of your agreement.

9) during your visit/over the phone: if your friend feels comfortable discussing it with you, you can ask if they are getting their needs met. ask if the doctor(s)/orderlies are listening to them and their experiences with their own body. sometimes the medical “professionals” will ignore what the “patient” is saying about their prior experiences with certain meds, and the results can be disastrously fucked.

as a person on the outside, you have the power to advocate for people on the inside. you can call the facility where they are incarcerated and ask them to contact that person’s prior healthcare providers, probation officer, etc, and/or to advocate for them to be supplied with whatever they need to survive. it doesn’t mean it will work, but you can try. it’s better than leaving your friends to rot, yaknow?

of particular note around meds and not getting one’s needs met: oftentimes trans people are denied their hormones while incarcerated, which can exacerbate any existing instability and be really really fucking upsetting.

10) keep your friend’s incarceration confidential, unless you are given permission to do otherwise! there’s a lot of stigma around mental “illness diagnoses/incarceration, so make sure you don’t jeopardize their safety by disclosing this information to others without permission.

11) provide support for them (if they want it) when they get out, if possible. that can look like: making them cookies, letting them crash in your spare room, whatever you want it to look like.

12) set and maintain boundaries. this helps keep you healthy.

13) when talking with your friend, use your active listening skills. don’t give them a fuck-ton of advice unless they ask for it. while there are some mental health facilities that offer not-fucked-up care, if your friend was incarcerated without their consent i can almost guarantee you that they are dealing with some level of trauma, so don’t make it worse by being a jerk! you don’t have to validate everything they say, but you can listen. sometimes this is one of the most healing things of all.

14) what else can you think of? i’m sure there’s lots of stuff this is missing, and i’d love to hear other ideas!

okay, time to call back and see if i can get ahold of my friend.

-RD

 

lead

10/23/2011

Maybe there is something to the pattern you lend to the universe when you call its workings astrology, if only because I see so many repetitions in my life and others, cycles like starry nights. Either way, I’m not sure I want to learn to call Capricorn! the way that some folk can.

Work. work. Work. If it’s collective labor, it’s less alienated  labor, right? But sometimes it all feels the same because there is so much to do.

I have missed having a warm presence to curl myself into at the exhausted end of these last couple of days, even tho P. was here on Thursday and let me tangle myself into his long limbed heat. Funny that I so often can’t sleep much, the first night we slept alongside one another I drifted in and out of sleep and almost every time I’d open my eyes his gaze was upon me. But now he can sleep, I heard his light snores as the morning light crept across the lawn and into my window. After we part I keep finding myself thinking, I like this person, as if it is every time a revelation. It feels calm in its own strange way, there is trust building and comfortableness growing in the heat.

When you have more than one sweetheart, people have expectations for what your life must be like: extra sexy, very busy, never lonely, etc. It is funny how little these things feel true to me, maybe because I am still hungry for the kind of emotional intimacy that takes time and a certain kind of connection to build. And as well, my relationships to two of the people I have been closest to are changing, we spend less time working alongside one another than we used to, and I miss it! The third has gone on to live across the country and we barely speak–speaking was never our strong suit, after all, how could such a connection translate into words over wires without dragging out feelings-sand time? Anyhow. I am busy, but in the downtime I think about it, missing the weight of the people closest me, our farflung passions and challenges do not feel like places we can walk along side one another.

Other stuff, too. made Some Big Life Decisions the other day, and wrote out how to get from here to there, but so much of it feels ephemeral right now. All I can do now is make the small steps that will get me there.

Re-read Tara Hardy’s Shoulder Strap Slip before heading out to lend it to a friend. Sometimes I think that femme is an even queerer gender identity than anything along the transmasculine spectrum, and reading her prose reminds me of that. She crackles with witty anger and cynicism, makes me feel less ashamed of my less-than-academic approach to (well) everything. Once I thought: I wonder if I swear too much for the new date? And then Tara reminds me: I don’t give a fuck. I can pack a lot of lead into words, the tools my belt has room for (a whole lot of other tools in that belt).

Okay. Over and out.

-RD

 

rainbow bloc

10/18/2011

Trying to extinguish some of my sense of urgency, since it seems to be giving me…anxiety attacks about the revolution (yeah dudes, you heard it hear first!). I was pleased to find this on PSA today:

Last winter, we acted to burn the bridges of our enemies. We must also build our own bridges to new potential allies in struggle. In order to so, we may also need to burn our black flags–or, dropping the dramatic turn of phrase, we at least need to know not only when to fly them, but when to put them away

Like safe(r) spaces, I want intentionally anarchist spaces sometimes, but I also want a time to build bridges. Building bridges is risky, challenging work, and I’m still learning how to do it without compromising completely. Last weekend we started the project of that by doing a really brief pre-action teach-in that seemed to give folks additional perspective/tools, and (hopefully) open some minds. We’ll see. More to be done, for sure.

I love trading tools. When I play educator, I lend people tools from my belt and see what they do with them. That, for me, was my bridge (one of them?) to anarchism–DIY culture.

I’ve never really been the black flag type. I look more like the rainbow bloc than the black bloc most of the time, funky handmade clothes and goofy nervous smile. But heeyyy, I support a diversity of tactics, as we like to say!

The last week or so has been hard because my body/brain have been operating at a constant level of but how can we build the bridges? it’s uuurgent! anxiety (and inflammation as a result, ugh), so it’s nice to look up from feeling oh-so-crazy to find that…people are already doing these things, and I can calm down for ten minutes, at least. Making change time gonna last longer than that, so it seems.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to curl up next to a very pretty freckled girl who is making the most adorable noises in her sleep.

quantum praxis

10/17/2011

sometimes i think of the way that i experience time as not unlike a bug on a piece of yarn, vis a vis the demonstration of time, space, and tesseration in Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.

i travel back and forth. i know the possibilities and probabilities while living in the universe where these things have happened, these the choices i have made.

***

last night, mid-pee (what!) i travelled back to November 1999. instead of tear gas on television, it was in my face. instead of being struck in the face by my dad, being struck in the face by the cops.

and K. was with me. would she have kept me warm? i doubt it, she was as faithless as i. it’s strange to see pictures of her, her daughters, her husband, on Facebook now.

lord. the time goes so fast.

This this this

10/15/2011

Marita Isabel on white privilege:

When I think of privilege, I think of choice. White folks have so many choices. Systems have been built in the U.S.A. around the dominant and normative white culture. Everything from public and private education to hiring procedures at corporate and even non-profit offices are built around customs of white communities. Success in the U.S.A. is most often based on individual wealth, climbing the corporate ladder, becoming good at what you do as an individual. And because the systems favor white folks and the culture and practices they are accustomed to, white folks have the advantage in becoming “successful”. Some may argue that there is Affirmative Action, specific scholarships and grants for people of color and that those policies actually benefit POCs. But why were those measures even necessary? Because there was a disparity in the numbers of white folks and POCs who were able to naturally access academic institutions and jobs.

[…]

So if you’re white and reading this, you might ask: What do I do about this? My response is simple. Be aware of it. Educate yourself. Talk to other white folks about how they are responsible with their white privilege. Read articles. Books. Write your own experiences down. Be accountable and take ownership of unearned privilege. Try your hardest not to take for granted all the ways in which society reflects you, all the choices you have laid out in front of you because of your skin color. Try to remember that the way you know how to achieve success is not the only way. And that the path to “success” is not so clear and obstacle-free for your POC coworkers and classmates.

10/14/2011

by the time i crawled into bed last night it was this morning. initially i passed out quick, anxiety blurred by that final whiskey sour but then i woke up again with mind and heart racing a couple of hours later, light creeping in from the hall and the basement window showing what looked like twilit morning.
after i got home from open mic, F. and i stayed up late talking about capitalism and the ailing rhetoric of the occupation movement, all its potential and all our cynicism. it feels good to know someone else who is brave with words, this space would not exist without their inspiration and encouragement. my journals would sit ashamed on the green shelf in my basement room, gathering dust and years. instead i’ve boxed them all up, i’m thinking about re-reading them and then burning them. i get tied to the place i am by the sheer fact of their physical presence. when i think about travelling indefinitely i first think, but what about my journals? a ball(point) and chain if ever there was one. sentimentality is useful to me, i better estimate where i’m going (where i’d like to be) by knowing where i’ve been, but sometimes it’s too leaden.
i cherish this space for always feeling like a way forwards, even when i make mistakes. not turns i can take back (or would), but turns i’d take differently if i were to it again. i like the perspective that journaling creates, sometimes it feels like drawing a map both forwards and backwards, reminds me a little of an etch-a-sketch.
this week i have frothed with words, a little at the mouth but moreso at the hand: keyboard, pen, typewriter–racing mind, fluttering heart.

recurring: not as a weight but as a buoy.