August BedPosts!

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There’s no place like home, and BedPost Confessions missed the warm intimacy of our home at
THE NORTH DOOR!

So we are going back!

Join us, back at the North Door, where we have a STELLAR lineup for you to celebrate our return home ~

✰ Mike McCown with a story about sex & connection
✰ Teacher Kate, with an ode to handjobs and dry humping
✰ Ebony Stewart with a story about being a sex ed teacher
✰ AND the inimitable, HILARIOUS, Holly Lorka!

★★ PLUS YOUR CONFESSIONS READ ONSTAGE! ★★

✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰

Emceed by Julie Gillis!

We will have, as usual, amazing giveaways by Little Shop of O’s, Glo’s Goodies,
Karuna Sessions, Sexy Delicious Things, and Package Menswear.

✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ THE BASICS ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰

★★ WE ARE BACK AT THE NORTH DOOR! ★★

8/21/14 BedPost Confessions @ The North Door
[One block East of I-35 on the corner of Brushy Street and East 5th]
Tickets are $10 at the door
The ND Lounge opens at 6:30, show doors open at 7:15, show starts promptly at 8:00
POSTS

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Walking Cliffside With A Tether

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Discussions of mental health issues below:

When I started puberty I noticed that before my periods I would get extremely depressed. Overwhelmingly so, with feelings of dread and despair. Oddly, just 7-10 days after that threshold, I’d feel lovely and strong and capable. My periods weren’t entirely regular (I could thank a high prolactin count for that) so it took a long time before I realized that my moods ran parallel to my cycles.

In college, I got on birth control and that calmed much of my PMS down, but still the pattern was there. Dread, despair, a sense of complete not-rightness in my body. Lethargy, self-hate, distortion of my experience of myself, extraordinarily negative self talk in my brain closing down anything kind. Then, after the period, full-bore ahead with clarity and happiness and extroversion. In my mind it always took the image of walking alongside the edge of a cliff, windy and overcast, the sea and rocks below. Some weeks I was far inland, some weeks walking parallel with the edge, the ocean just in sight.

This pattern wasn’t mild. In fact, there were weeks of missing classes, dropping projects, alienating friends and partners. I talked to my mother and she mostly said we were just moody people, that most of her female relatives had bad PMS. She did share with me stories of severe mental illness in our family which mostly took the form of bi-polar disorder.

There were extreme cases. Attempted suicides and worse. Much worse in fact so bad that I don’t want to write the words down, what happened. No one spoke of those stories to me until they had to, it was such a monster in our families closet. Those stories scared me very much. The rest of the family, hard drinkers and moody, were fine,so she said. My mother reassured me, while I suffered from depression at times, it was just PMS and it was just that. I’d never been manic, not that I could tell, and I’d never had an episode that lasted longer than the PMS week, maybe two weeks depending on my cycle. Still, it was really really frustrating to have a cycle in place of unipolar depression and good weeks.

Later, as I aged, I heard about Pre Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder which is an extreme form of PMS and is related to hormones and serotonin in the brain. Aha, I thought, there it is. Whenever I’d get off the pill, the PMDD would boil over. Back on it, things simmered down to a mostly manageable temperature. I considered taking Prozac (or Serafem, as the PMDD version was branded), but my family’s history with mental illness and the stigma attached, I held fast to this idea that I was fine, I could manage it with vitamins, exercise and carefully scheduling projects and maximum on my good weeks so that if I had to hide out (because my brain wouldn’t let me work) I’d be ok and so would the projects.

This went on all through my 20′s until I had a child at 31. I stayed home with Owen for about 6 months and I had the regular baby blues that new mothers get. But mostly, I thought I was fine. What I remember about that time (and especially the time after starting work again) was this sour sense of my body. An edginess and quick temper. A fearfulness I’d never had, even with all the depression. My depression was sadness, despair. This was different. It was, I’d come to find out, anxiety. Nervousness, paranoia, like my skin was scratchy inside of myself. The worst of it hit when I started a new job. It wasn’t a good position, didn’t really fit me and the woman I worked for wasn’t very nice, but the combination of the anxiety and depression with the new environment and callous treatment sent me into a place I’d never been before.

I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I was afraid of everything. I felt like a permanent victim, terrified of attracting my bosses attention for anything. I lost weight too quickly. I snapped at my husband. I cried a lot.

Eventually I got a new job, went on to work at UT, still more high strung than usual, but far more relaxed than that 6 month period of utter emotional hell.

I got pregnant again and had Evan. The feelings returned 10 fold. I couldn’t sleep. Like, not at all. Like, not even with drinking or with Nyquil. Days would go by with no sleep. Evan had colic so my diet was wrecked. It was like not having skin and feeling raw and enflamed all the time. I feel certain that my husband was a little afraid of my moods, certainly I seemed angry and overwhelmed all the time. There was no joy at all, just fear and anxiety and insomnia and a kind of self-hatred I’d never felt.

I parked at a garage on campus just off of Speedway. I’d often have to park on the 5th or 6th floor and I found myself looking down and thinking, “It wouldn’t really take much to just jump.” And then I’d walk to work. Day after day I’d think that and finally I thought, “That’s not really a rational thought, Julie.”

I went to see my OB and told her about the anger and the insomnia and maybe my birth control pill wasn’t working right. She said, “You have severe postpartum depression. And you are having rare and extreme symptoms and we have to get you on medicine right away.” I fought her on it because, well, I didn’t need medicine. Only mentally ill people needed medicine. Or people that I would tell to get help because there wasn’t anything thing wrong with getting help except when it came to me because if I need help there was something wrong with me personally, morally, spiritually.

Besides, I said, I was breastfeeding.

She implored me to take medicine. My husband implored me to take medicine. My mother implored me to take medicine. She and I had a moment where we skirted around the aforementioned scary story. The story of a relative who suffered from such severe post-partum psychosis that something very bad happened to her child and to her. Something that makes me shake even considering sharing with you because its such a tragedy and it’s so terrifying to think of and I don’t even know if it’s my story to tell, but it impact my entire family and thus my entire life, like a Greek curse that everyone avoided mentioning for fear it would appear somehow in me or a cousin, or me.

I’m not sure it’s my story to tell, but when I finally started asking cousins about postpartum depression, they all mentioned having it, and badly. And my Aunt, my poor tortured Aunt. No help for her back in the day, no help for her child, our family to deal with the legacy of what happened. Just hospitals, courts, trauma on trauma.

And me, so stubborn and refusing to take medicine out of fear and yes, shame, and yes, out of the disease itself telling me that I shouldn’t really trust modern medicine, and the constant negative self talk like a record skipping in my brain that it was probably my own fault I felt bad and that I should just try harder, so much so that I was willing to walk just that close to the cliff’s edge, quite literally.

So what happened next was that I hurt my hand, badly, gardening. So badly that I couldn’t really do much. I collapsed and told Chris everything and cried and cried and felt little and weak and horribly vulnerable like I’d just die for the telling of it all. The intensity scared us both and it was clear I needed, we needed, to address what was going on.

I went and got medicine and Evan went on formula. Within a week, I was sleeping. Within a week, I was not afraid.

I knew what that meant, it meant that what was going on with me wasn’t my fault. It was a disorder. An extreme reaction to pregnancy hormones and my brain wiring. It was the predictable result of a family that never ever talked about PMDD or Post Partum Depression or got therapy or accepted gentleness and help in the face of stigmatized mental illness. No one talked to me before I got pregnant, that this might happen to me that I might develop PPD/PPP. None of us talked at all about the experience of motherhood and what that might do to our brains.

We were all so afraid and so ashamed at the monster in the closet, the histories of relatives reaching back into the 20′s, stories of bi-polar breaks and hospitalizations. Even me, having worked at the State Hospital, I was totally unready to face and hold and take care of that part of me that needed love (and medicine) the most.

This is what stigma and silence can do.

My OB advised me to never have more children, or if I did, to immediately wean and get on meds. PPD and PPP get worse with each subsequent pregnancy. No worries, I said. Two is plenty.

My mind hasn’t really been the same since my experience with PPD. I have far worse anxiety now then I did prior to childbirth. I have struggled with self medication with alcohol, something that always lifted my mood, brought out my inner extrovert, calmed my fears. I definitely kept close to my meds during my mother’s illness and passing, but not always. Because of the oddly cyclical nature of my unipolar depression, its easy for me to forget about the pills and then get things messed up. Bourbon played a role as well, and frankly, not a good one.

Drinking never truly messed up my life, but it didn’t do much but keep me in a cycle of feeling bad in the morning (a part of my brand of depression and dysthymia) and opening a door to feeling good for about an hour in the evening fading into a sense of depression and insomnia, lather rinse repeat. My father drank bourbon, and my mother drank wine. Those two drinks make me feel close to them, or at least that’s how it seems on the surface. Alcohol seemed a tether to the past, to them, to the part of myself that people like, that I’m afraid is the only part they like, the funny happy buoyant woman that entertains, instead of the sad, fearful and anxious woman who doubts herself so much. A tether to who I am, or think I am, but maybe it was more of a weight dragging me down.

I’ve stopped that, for now at least. Maybe for good. Not sure.

Meds though, those helps. Exercise helps, yoga helps, producing work helps, connection helps, spirituality helps, talking about it helps. Sitting with it helps. That’s the real tether, isn’t it? A strong thick harness attached securely to community, anchored deep into the very rock of that cliff, into the core. It’s me attached to me, no matter how close the cliff is, that I’ll be grounded and strong and able to ask for help, support.

You are so important.

We have to talk about all of this. We have to support each other and break out of a culture that tells us that connection makes us weak, and that asking for help should be stigmatized. We are so much stronger all connected, we are so much stronger when we are able to know where we are, know our limits, and get assistance to get healthier. It’s so very hard to be able to describe exactly how tricky and cruel mental illness can be, how it lies and shape-shifts, darkens a sunny day, and plays mirror games distorting our reality. But we, we are all here. And we know what that edge feels like. We are afraid, or at least I’ve been afraid to talk about it.

I don’t want to be afraid anymore.

I want to be able to walk it, name it, see it, and sit with it. But I don’t want to be silent about it and I don’t want you to be either. I want to provide space and care for us all to find our tethers. We each have our own, but we have to connect them together. So let’s work together to do that.

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Fall

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Fall is coming.

School is starting soon and with it’s nearing comes a sense of excitement. I am one of those people who find summers difficult. Part of that may be that I live in Texas with sweltering weather that warms up swimming pools to bathtub temps, even a trip to Barton Springs leaves me hot going in and hot coming out. Summer seems harsh. The sun is too bright and the clothes are too exposing. I enjoy the lack of structure-hey the kids are out of school so we don’t have to get up at dawn-but only for a time. Fall always makes me feel whole.

Fall signals new beginnings to me in ways spring never has. New clothes, new books, new fresh notepads and folders just waiting for words and ideas to mark them. New friends and new opportunities, that’s always what fall felt like when I was young. I have been eagerly asking my children what kinds of haircuts they want, what new shirts they’d like to get. They grunt a bit, not nearly as impressed with the impending end of their summer torpor.

Fall ushers in a sacred time of renewal but also a deepening into home and hearth. That seems even more important to me now, after this summer of so much unrest, pain, war. Planes missing, bombs, relentless killings, fracking and droughts, protests for basic rights, several murderous deaths at the hands of police, a community currently torn apart by racism and police-state provocation. Now, Robin Williams. There is suffering no matter where I look, and it feels wrong in the face of the season, but it remains. The pain boils, perhaps born out of pots simmering for far too long and left unattended and ignored. It scalds, this summer. There is so much weeping from the earth, from the people, children, mothers, activists, so much that I don’t know what it will take to stop it.

I wonder if my desire for Fall comes with a childish hope that when the temperatures settle down, so too will our problems. Perhaps we all will be able to see clear and get real journalism covering real problems, salve the pain caused by institutions, start real healing.

That might very well be naive.

Still, I can’t repress a spark of happiness when I think about coming months, even if they are simply from pattern. From the turning of leaves to the rituals of Halloween, the dense sage flavors of winter foods-squash, pumpkin, soups and stews. Pecans and tamales, chile and eggnog. Fir tree scent and a caress of cold air on bare skin, I relish the energy that comes with the turning of this season.

I can see it, Fall, just around the corner. My heart lightens a little at the thought. I have to hold strong through this heat though, staying with it and not hiding away to avoid the now.

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Less Snark More Education, Please

This morning, I found an article on my Facebook feed from Buzzfeed. I own up to reading online magazines and pop sites and generally I enjoy humor and news and occasionally combined but this article really, really bothered. me.

It’s an article about doctors sharing anecdotes about the “dumbest patients” they’ve ever treated.

Here’s the link if you want to add to their click rates for the day, or if you want to read the article without giving them any additional revenue, click here on the Do Not Link site.

The article is mostly stock photos of doctors looking bemused posed beside the quoted “dumb” situations. Most of the situations have to do with sex, such as:

  • Not understanding how the Nuva Ring works
  • Not knowing that it takes penetrative intercourse to get pregnant
  • Not understanding particular vocabulary regarding how to take medicines
  • Not knowing how STDs are passed or proper use of condoms
  • Feeding an infant coffee instead of formula

All of the patient’s concerns are heartbreaking and leave them extremely vulnerable to disease, unintended pregnancy, and more, and I’m ashamed that they were used for click-bait fodder.

Instead of mocking people’s ignorance on the internet, perhaps we should all be pushing for more comprehensive education about our bodies?

These people came to their doctors because they didn’t know what was going on with their bodies, with their sexual needs, with their health. Some people don’t even have access to doctors (or are too embarrassed to ask), but post on places like Yahoo Answers. They ask questions that may seem ridiculous to all us supposedly well educated and extremely privileged folks, but it’s a huge sign that people aren’t being taught about how their bodies work all over our country.

Perhaps on the surface it seems laughable, like an article just for kicks, but at my age now, and having worked in and around sexual human rights issues for so long, it kills me to see a) how lacking our basic knowledge is throughout our country and b) how mean people are when people are vulnerable.

Right now though we don’t live in a culture where a straightforward article about the systems behind these “dumb patients” are examined (at least not on pop internet sites), we live in a click bait world. It’s callous and it doesn’t offer any real solution to the problem. No where does the article share how the doctors dealt with the situation, just leaves the anecdotes for shits and giggles.

The Buzzfeed article pulled the anecdotes from a subReddit, just as an FYI. I don’t really recommend visiting. I sympathize with the need to vent, because I imagine that doctors and nurses see so much that they can only triage in terms of information and education, but to share it like this? It amplifies the venting into mockery and makes the rest of us think that’s ok.

What are the solutions, that’s what I want to know? How do we get more education into schools, to parents, to adults? How do we treat honest and vulnerable questions as a sign of curiosity and desire for better health instead of “dumb” questions to laugh at? And how do we shift a culture that seems to nearly bathe in snark into one that honestly enjoys earnest community?

I talk about BedPost Confessions a lot, I know. It’s kind of my offering as an answer to some of those questions. We, my co-producers and I, focus on adults and combine education and ethics inside of a framework of entertainment. We select pieces that are amazing, sexy, and well crafted of course, but we look for humanity and vulnerability in our submissions first and foremost. We take confessions from the audience but we don’t read ones that are illegal or cruel (and we get some cruel mocking ones). If the confession is filled with confusion? We try to answer the question. We honor where everyone is at in terms of needing education. We want the space to feel as secure and warm as possible, knowing that people may feel that they are taking a risk coming to the show.  It’s not about “safe” necessarily, but it is about kind and loving, open to vulnerability and learning, at least I hope it is.

We work with a number of sex educators as well, all of whom have had their work cut out for them in the school systems. We offer space to community groups to come and table to share advocacy around sexual rights, and we work with adult stores who offer real educational experiences along with their wonderful wares.

I get it. Snark feels good. It’s easy. Those anecdotes or answers we find on Yahoo are low-hanging fruit for comedy. But that’s not good enough for me. That doesn’t, in my opinion, further real cultural change towards health, pleasure, and wellness. And it makes me mad. Snark may mean that people just don’t see any real hope? I think there is real hope. I’ve talked to enough people after our show, or through groups like Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance to know that real lives are changed when people open up and share in community with empathy and with courage. It is amazing stuff and guess what? There’s humor there, too. Our show is funny, or so I’ve been told.

It just doesn’t wind up hurting people, even if they are just anonymous folks on the internet or the audience. And if it does? I want to know about it.

We need more education, that much is clear. Can’t we do it without continuing a cycle that shames?

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My #FaithFeminism-Holding Not Harming

I want to talk about the Divine Feminine.

Today, after a really nice lunch out on the town, I drove home and listened to NPR. There was a story on Here and Now focused neuroscientists studying the effects of abuse and neglect on the childhood brain. Basically? Abuse and neglect, even in the short term, causes drastic and dramatic effects on the brain, so much so that the scientists were calling it a public health issue and a neuro-toxin.

Which? Duh.

I hate to sound sarcastic about it, but if you look at any mammal that is taken from parents and then malnourished, abused, neglected, you see signs of real issues. They bite, or try to get affection and then hiss. They hide. They have neuroses like being afraid of a particular gender or a sound. Some of those take years to shift and change, and some patterns don’t get reset.

Look at any story or study on kids in orphanages, overbooked with kids who don’t get touched, and you’ll see extreme behavioral issues which take extreme therapy (and time) to heal.

In the story, a mother and father discussed raising an adopted child who had been abused and neglected. He showed signs of this deprivation and it took a great deal of time and effort, love in action, to help him, help him relearn. The words from the parents were validated by the science, which again, I’m happy about, but it seemed intuitive to me. Why wasn’t this known before?

While I’m glad that science proves this (because MAYBE we’ll start to get a grip on really practicing love, compassion, empathy, touch, gentleness and protecting children who then will grow into adults who can do the same for their children), I’m angered that it takes science to create “proof” when the signs are visible and have been for centuries.

It’s not surprising, I suppose. We live in a culture that still holds fast to spare the rod/spoil the child. Really, the rod is what causes the spoiling. It damages the brain, in some cases irreparably.

I’m a Texan, and many Texans talk a lot about Christianity. I think about the small children at our Texas border who have already gone through hell (enough that their mothers and fathers sent them away in the hopes of something better), and now are languishing in detention centers while being faced with armed guards, refusing to let these children come unto us, whole towns voting on keeping them out. Not just here, we have children all over the world facing war and abject cruelty, which only creates cycles which will be extremely difficult to heal from.

I was raised Christian and have struggled with the very idea of faith-just search spirituality in my blog and you’ll see what I mean. I react poorly to what I see as an entirely masculine form of religion. God as a father, cruel and punitive. God as a source of phallic power, women as help-meets. God as a gate-keeper of love, only some receive it. Purity culture, run rampant. It’s left women in the position of servant, vessel, chattel, symbol upon which to project all manner of toxicity and abuse.

The Divine Feminine has been tamped down, enslaved, silenced, kept in the background, and treated generally like dirt while wars are waged in the name of Christ, children are cast out instead of taken in, and women are taught that they are only worthwhile as a supplementary to men, our very body and sexual self considered sinful.

The goddess needs to rise.

Last night, I had this weird half-dream about such a creature, a giant mother-figure populating war torn areas with therapists and healers per person, swaddling people, holding them for as long as it took to heal, settling down nations with a calming force of peace-allowing the tears and rage and fear and frustration, but holding it, not directing outward into more rage but just letting it dissipate and replacing it, over time, with trust.

Maybe it will take a new kind of feminine power/not-power to shift things.

This kind of force could protect the earth, which is traumatized, could protect children who grow into cruelty learned from parents who were taught it by theirs, to hold instead of harm, could allow for sexuality and pleasure and gentleness rather than repression, consumption, and greed. It would teach sharing not dominance.

I don’t suppose that’s actually a theology, or maybe it is, but it felt, in the half-asleep state I was in, to be the answer. Holding, not harming. Stopping, just stopping and holding.

I have not been to seminary. I have not studied a wide variety of texts or books on queer and feminist theology. I just know that there has to be something different, either something very old or very new, and it has to involve a balance bringing women and the pillars of real compassion, the hard work of peace, and the idea of plenty, not scarcity, into consciousness.

There is so much holding to do and we need strong arms, of all genders, to be willing to reach out and take in, breathing peace in and out. A bosom of endless nourishment each to each other, caressing all with milky-sweet breath and gentled touch.

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Clothing Swap!

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All! Tomorrow is a clothing swap at the Women’s Community Center of Central Texas!

“Come bring your unwanted and old clothes, shoes, and accessories, and trade
them in for a new-to-you wardrobe!

All gender expressions and sizes welcomed and encouraged!

Free snacks provided (but feel free to bring some, too)!

Please make sure your items are clean and in gently used condition. If you
want to drop off clothes early, we’ll be open Friday from noon to 8PM
getting ready.

Also, we will send items left after the clothing swap to refugee women and
children at the border. If you would like to bring children’s clothing, we
will have a donation box as well.

Don’t forget to forward this to your friends or invite them on Facebook

See you tomorrow!!!!

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Fadi Skeiker Workshop Happening In Austin

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Fadi Skeiker (a shadow and object puppeteer), has come all the way from University of Jordan to visit Austin and to teach a workshop.

Performing Virtual Advocacy
An event hosted by Austin Community College

Workshop facilitator: Fadi Skeiker (University of Jordan)

Participants in Performing Virtual Advocacy workshop will be guided into devising scenes for three imagined characters who are living in different Arab Spring states. The facilitator will be using applied theatre and devising techniques as tools to craft the monologues of the three characters. Participants will be using social media platforms such as Facebook and twitter as sources of information; therefore, participants are asked to bring their smartphones/tablets/laptops to the workshop; and are asked to do a bit of research on Arab Spring states, such as Syria, Egypt, and Tunisia..etc. prior to attending the workshop. No previous theater experience required.

Workshop is going to be at the 301 Gallery Theater, Rio Grande Campus, Austin Community College (1212 Rio Grande Street). The workshop is free and open to to interested participants in the community.

Monday July 21 from 6-9pm

To register in the workshop, please email or call:
fadiskeiker@hotmail.com
phone: 737.333.9299

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The Women’s Community Center Of Central Texas

I have news!

As of next week, I will be the Director of Development for the Women’s Community Center of Central Texas.

This new organization serves women and girls of our area, providing them with resources, information, education, and more to help them empower themselves and be the best they can be.

Here is a little more from their website:

 

Mission
The mission of the Women’s Community Center of Central Texas is to promote the well being of Texas women and girls and to build positive connections among people and organizations that do the same.

Vision
We envision and work for a central Texas community in which all women and girls have the resources they need to build the lives they want. The Center will be a hub where women, girls, and allies from all walks of life come together to support each other and find empowerment.

Values
Equity – Working within a human rights framework, we affirm the inherent dignity and worth of every individual and the unique contributions they can make to the Center and the wider community.

Community – Fostering positive connections among organizations and people, especially women, and creating spaces for those connections to happen.

Intersectionality – Recognizing that women have very different experiences shaped by their race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, immigration status, and other characteristics, we commit to understanding and supporting each other.

Respect – Board, staff, and volunteers commit to listening to each other and to every person who seeks us out as the experts on their own experiences and treating everyone with courtesy and kindness.

Accountability – Board, staff, and volunteers are all accountable to each other and the community. Every person involved with the Center is responsible for doing their part to build community and create positive change for Texas women and girls.

Positive change – Fostering personal growth for women, the growth of connections among women and girls, social changes that increase women’s well-being, and the evolution of the organization as a force for these values.

I will be raising money, supporting volunteers, helping with events and generally spreading the word and advocating for the center. I’m so thrilled that my own mission and vision are so keenly aligned with the Center, and that I can use all my skills for something so special and powerful.

Look for more of their blog cross posted here, and for more outreach from me in the coming months. Meanwhile, if you’d like to get involved, feel free to contact me here.

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Walking Away

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My 4th was spent in Marfa. Normally, I dislike the holiday both for the reasons you’d expect from me (a disillusionment and anger at our nation for atrocities, racism, and lack of equal rights) but also because I’m not ever too keen on crowds and plastic pedestals of pride and victory, the patriotic emails from politicians and companies both, begging me for my filthy lucre. I do like a good cookout, though. We started the day at Above All Else where there were also several shorts focused on protecting the treaty lands of South Dakota, and impassioned requests from Lakota elders that we all work together to stop the pipeline.

After the films, we went outside to meet with the elders who spoke about their village they’ve established as a protest and barrier against the Keystone. It was so clear to me, under the huge sky with the wind rustling past us, that we must act, and together. A new way must be midwifed. It’s coming, it’s most certainly present, but it has to be born. We all have to do it, and we all have to learn when we are centered in the story using our own individual skills and powers, and when the story is what matters, not us individually. That’s a complex skill, but we can do it. I saw it in action yesterday. Community, real family, interdependence, patience and compassion while holding a fierce line and living so, so differently, that’s what it will take.

The rest of the day we wandered, eating ice cream and getting sunburned. We landed at El Cosmico for their cook-out, by Frank, beer, and cold tubs. A wild encampment filled with dogs, children, rag tag clothes, and dusty arty people both in the Empire, but seeking ways out of it. I felt my privilege so deeply, just being there, and wondered if it was possible to walk away from structures of power when everywhere I go, there they are, so there too am I.

Can we live outside it? Is it so tangled in us that we enjoy our film festival experience all while sharing films about the empire that is killing the planet, dining well, driving long distances in the great desert using fuel. Sometimes my mind gets caught up in itself.

At dusk, we drove to a park on the outskirts and listened to music from the band stand as the wind whipped and the stars appeared in a crescent moon sky. Just looking up is a dizzying experience. The sky extends, like arms or a maw, to swallow you into itself. The stars range from edge to edge, more than I’ve ever seen. My eldest ran to the playground, a scrappy grouping of old metal slides and spinning circles, and watched the display of locally bought and shot fireworks. My youngest and I danced on the pavement to the music, doing the shag, swinging in circles. Sublime.

The darkness fell, and I lost track of everyone, then found them, and then suddenly had a feeling of fear. Existential maybe, but about just flying off the face of the earth into that dark open embrace of space. Even as I was connected to the ground, I tangled my own limbs into my husbands, my children, for extra touch points of gravity. I watched the people laugh and dance, hug and play, thinking of the vastness of the desert, of space, and of our own hearts. So close together all of us, but sometimes it’s so hard to keep ourselves connected. And we have to stay connected, so easy to say. Why so hard to do?

We drove home in the hypnotic dark, sought out the Marfa lights, made up silly theories about them in the car on the quiet ride back. We tumbled into bed, dirty and dusty, reddened by the sun, possibly changed by the day and the kiss of the desert, but maybe not. Maybe we’ll take what we learn with us. Hard to tell what will stick, what we’ll take with us as we walk. Can we even walk away, and can we do it together? Maybe it’s walking towards something. Something better. 

The boys still sleep, curled up like little wild animals, unaware of what the future will bring.

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A recent walk around the neighborhood.

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