I have come to the conclusion that I am burnt out on social media.

Now, I love me some social media. I love talking to people and having conversations. I love catching up on the latest hashtags on shows like #thestrain and pop culture moments. I also like that sites like Twitter can bring about social movements really quickly and get real time information out there. And I like keeping up with my friend’s lives on the FB.



FB is doing things like using images of users in their ads and not letting people have code-names or private pseudonyms. That’s even to the point that a friend of mine, a woman with a Native American last name, was told her profile was locked until she proved it was a name. A real name.

And a writer who just left Twitter posted this amazing piece about how women are attacked online once they start getting big platforms, calling Twitter a “hate amplifier.” Which, if you get that kind of treatment, then you’d really understand the need for the code names. I’ve seen a lot of fights on Twitter. Gang-ups, attacks, counter-attacks, snark, horrible misunderstandings and plain old trolling. I have participated in some of those things and I’m not proud of it. I probably will again.

But I’ve found myself in a kind of trap. I get most of my news from FB and Twitter. My feed is filled with activists and citizen journalists who share really important works. How do I keep up with the news without getting bogged down in the arguments? How do I build my own presence online and off without feeling saturated with negativity and hopelessness (something I wind up prone to after reading post after post about Ebola, race issues, gender wars, bad sexual behavior, economic collapse and thousands of walruses stranded).

I know I should diversify my feed, or perhaps just eliminate who I follow. I also would like to get into more focused conversations about topics.

For a few weeks, I’m going to try to post more here-short posts, longer articles, snippets of things. How I’m feeling. Emotional posts, even. And I’d prefer to take comments here and discuss away from FB. We’ll see if that works. I don’t know if it will. My own site-counters show few hits. I think most people read my stuff via FB and comment there.

Regardless, I need some headspace or a new way of doing things online. So I’m experimenting. Suggestions welcome.

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Darker Stories

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flickr shotsatrandom

Today there was a very good post in HuffPo about things not to say when someone has experienced a great loss. The article was specifically discussing death, because death loss has a very particular feeling and pain to it. Grief can be found in losing other things, most certainly, and it’s real, but this article really moved me because we, as a culture, don’t talk about death other than to cover it up.

The article lists things not to say, 8 of them, to someone experiencing deep grief such as

“1. “Cheer up. Your (loved one who died) wouldn’t want you to be sad.”
After my mom died, people told me that Mom would hate to see me carrying around such pain and that, to honor her memory, I should stop being sad. It’s true that I can’t think of a single time when my mom said to me, “I see that you’re super sad, and I think that’s awesome!”

Sure, Mom liked to see me happy, but for a period of time after she died, I simply couldn’t be happy. When you love deeply, you grieve deeply. Grievers need to be sad in order to get to the other side of grief.

2. “Focus on all the blessings in your life.”
While this message is optimistic and all, it’s not really what a grieving person wants to hear when his world has just been shattered. I mean, I get that it’s better to concentrate on the positive than the negative. Nevertheless, even if a griever appreciates the good things in his life, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s reeling from a monumental loss. Therefore, when someone is newly grieving, he likely won’t feel like yelling from the rooftop, “Hey, look at lucky me!”

(and my personal least favorite)

3. “She’s/he’s in a better place.”

I agree those things aren’t especially useful things to say, but then again, for some people they might be. More importantly, I think we need to consider WHY people say those things. My thought is its because we don’t know what to say instead, and we feel extremely nervous and vulnerable about saying anything at all. We create verbal rituals to pass the difficult moments, which often make the moments longer and harder. We create verbal rituals also to protect ourselves (magically) from death coming near us. Many of us are highly rational atheist types, but I see this kind of “Defense Against The Dark Arts” kind of magical thinking all the time. It shows up a lot in victim blaming, but also around difficult transitions like deaths, divorces, job loss, and illness.

Why not talk about death more and get used to sitting with people in their difficult emotions? It’s hard, I’ll say that. I’ve experienced how hard it is on both sides. I’ve lost a father early in life, several dear relatives in my teens, a boyfriend to suicide, and my mother over a long slow lingering battle with Alzheimer’s. I’ve not known how to share my stories and felt awkward when I did, like I was that weird kid at the party with TMI. I also was comforted in the weirdest of ways by people with good intentions but who didn’t help much.

Mostly, its simply that I wasn’t sure how to asked for what I really wanted that could help me, and others didn’t know how to offer. I’ve been on the other side of it too, saying the wrong things, being afraid to reach out (that magical thinking thing DON’T ATRRACT DEATH!) and been frustrated when nothing I could do could help (most scarring- with my own mother whose grief ran so deeply that I pretty much lost her for about 5 years).

Because of this, I think we should open up a conversation about it to make things easier. Want to talk about death, grief and grieving? I’d love to meet you for coffee or lunch. Have a story to tell about a loss? I’d love to read or hear it. There are several friends of mine who want to hear and share those stories too. I think they need to be told and that we can create a courageous space to share ALL of what they entail-from the sadness, to the absurd, to the (yes) humor that can attend death, and wild frightening moments of emotions that fill us up so much we can’t but pour them out in deep and powerful tears.

Let me know if you are interested. They may be darker stories, but the deserve, and I’d say demand, to be told.

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Welcome, Fall.

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Song for Autumn
–Mary Oliver

In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think

of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

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People’s Climate March

flickrcreativecommons jonathanpercy

flickrcreativecommons jonathanpercy

Join me tomorrow at the People’s Climate March ATX with Shield The People!

From their Facebook Event and Dave Cortez:

Solidarity with the Global Majority
Austin Texas stands with the People’s Climate March in NYC, in calling for accountability from our public leaders to support climate justice. Those least responsible for climate change are those most likely affected by it and those most responsible are the least affected. The advancement of a global environmental justice movement is rooted in action, not words – and is rooted in land, not ideas. Texas stands in solidarity with the global majority who suffer the theft of their land, the extraction of natural resources, the pollution of land and water and the drought brought on by climate change. This is our environment.

Climate justice is social justice!

Sustainability for whom?

The same forces that drive the exploitation of the Earth also drive the exploitation of her people. The continued expansion of the industrial extraction of natural resources leaves people without economic power or access to land. We need power in the hands of the people, not in the hands of corporations. People need to connect back to the land and build sustainable economies that work for everyone. Sustainability means access to land and a meaningful relationship with it. We can only resist climate change when we have the power to ground local economies in the production of culture and land that is equitable and sustainable.

• Support land based struggles
• Support indigenous peoples sovereignty
• Support cultural territory

This is OUR environment.

• Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline – Stand with Shield the People
• Stop mountaintop removal – Stand with Appalachia
• Stop Immigrant Detention – Stand with Immigrants
• Stop Mass Incarceration – Stand with the urban poor
• Stop Gentrification – Stand with East Austin
• Stop Climate Disruption – Stand with the global majority
► Environmental Justice in Austin

Texas is suffering drought and losing its precious water and land resources to fill the pockets of the 1%. Meanwhile there is unprecedented development and hundred’s moving to Austin daily. This is our environment – we must protect it.

What are we doing to combat climate change and create environmental justice in Austin?

1) Make Austin Energy a zero-carbon emitter by replacing the coal and gas plants with solar, wind, energy conservation and energy storage alternatives.
2) Keep Austin’s energy utility in the hands of its people, not private corporations, and make the management of the utility accountable to elected office-holders.
3) End special contracts for the largest corporate energy users, which increase rates for everyone else and put a disproportionate burden on lower income ratepayers.
4) Ensure that all ratepayers get the lowest rates possible by replacing fossil fuels with renewables, and by ensuring that energy conservation and energy efficiency programs are available to lower income stakeholders.
5) Stop the new Decker Gas Plant
6) Supporting the buy outs of homes in the Onion Creek Floodplain and funds to help families transition out of harms way
7) Supporting the demands of East Austin families and students at Zavala Elementary for the closure of the metal foundry Pure Castings
8) Increase access to locally-grown healthy food in marginalized communities without encouraging gentrification.
9) Recognize and support the existing cultural territories in Austin who are resisting displacement through gentrification.
10) Support sustainable transportation

Peoples Climate
Bold Nebraska
Shield The People
Indigenous Women
ATX Climate Action
Sierra Club


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I’ll be at Pride today at Fiesta Gardens with the Women’s Community Center of Central Texas! Later, for the parade, I’ll be marching with BedPost Confessions!!!!

Get out there and celebrate love, joy, bodies, pleasure, and equity!!!!

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Weekly Round Up 9/13/14


Where I’ll Be

Saturday, September 13

I’ll be at Fast Food Women and Morristown at the Women’s Community Center:

Thursday, September 18
The BedPost Confessions 4th Anniversary Show!

Saturday, September 20
Pride! I’ll be tabling at the Festival with the Women’s Community Center, and marching with Bedpost Confessions!

Articles of Interest

The Critical Polyamorist does some field work.

How You Know You Hate Women, in the light of Ray Rice. A piece on words and misogyny.

Collective Carry, women helping women after sexual assault.

Jessica Luther writes on racism, Austin, and Charlie Strong.

In gross news, scientists make cheese using bacteria found on a toe.

Actions and Events

The Taco Or Beer Challenge for Reproductive Justice! Join all of us, Dan Savage and Time Magazine in eating a taco, drinking a beer, and supporting abortion rights. Many thanks to Andrea Grimes!

Saturday September 13

A Candidate Forum for the creative sector and district 7.

Love art? Here’s a great show by artist Jason Vines!

Monkeywrench Books is showing Fruitvale Station and hosting a discussion today.

Sunday September 14
The awesome Butch County is playing at Stargayzer Fest!

Want to learn some new skills? Forbidden Fruit is hosting Oralicious.

Wednesday September 17
Amy Jo Goddard is hosting a call series on sexual empowerment. Find out more here.

Thursday September 18
It’s BedPost Confessions 4th anniversary and our monthly show!

Friday September 19
Allgo presents Drum Talk: Between Skin and Frame.

Help support OutYouth at a special event at RAIN.

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Cruelty Free, Fast Food Women, And Morrison


Come to the Women’s Community Center of Central Texas tonight and tomorrow for two special events.

First, the art opening of Paloma Mayorga’s Cruelty Free:

Join us for the Women’s Community Center of Central Texas’ first art exhibit opening, a project dedicated to highlighting women in art.

“Cruelty Free” by Paloma Mayorga

Opening Reception:
September 12, 2014 @ 6:30pm-8:30pm
Introductory remarks and artist talk at 7:00pm
FREE and open to the public!
There will be snacks and drinks!
**Beer and hard cider will be provided courtesy of Artisanal Imports for those 21+**
Free parking on street after 6pm.

Childcare will be provided just shoot us an email a day in advance: info@womenscommunityctx.org

Paloma Mayorga is an interdisciplinary artist whose work primarily focuses on issues of identity and explores the ways in which the human body relates to its natural and constructed environments. After earning her B.A. in Studio Art from Southwestern University in 2010, she has dedicated her time to working for Latino arts organizations that promote cultural diversity. Mayorga renounces Western lifestyle norms and traditional ideas of beauty in order to illustrate a universal truth that connects all living beings as a means of feminist empowerment.

“Cruelty Free is a series of photographs I’ve created in collaboration with the women depicted in them that reveal disheartening truths about our experiences with and in our own physical bodies. After reading through old diary entries I wrote when I was ten years old, I decided that the negative self image I had created at that age be exposed and turned into a source of self empowerment and connection to other women that may have also felt the same growing up.

For this exhibit, I have asked a close group of friends, colleagues, contemporaries and confidants, who have been incredibly empowering for me in our communal struggle to defeat cultural, emotional and physical issues, to share their own writings. I hope that by exposing the words we use to describe ourselves, we can overcome the cruel ideas that have been predisposed for us about how our bodies should exist, what our minds should think, how we should identify ourselves because of tradition, genetics, or culture that are destructive to our own sense of self. I ask that we all look at ourselves and see our potential, unfiltered from pre-constructed ideas of what we should see, to be powerful, to be influential, to be loving and to be completely and honestly cruelty free.”

The exhibit will be up until November 21st, 2014. Come see it again and bring your friends!

And tomorrow??


Fast Food Women and Morristown

–from the Facebook Event:

For our monthly Saturday screening, the Women’s Community Center of Central Texas and Resistencia Bookstore, casa de Red Salmon Arts, invite you to a special screening of Fast Food Women and Morristown, two films about labor and working-class communities. A discussion with the director Anne Lewis will follow after the screening!

Fast Food Women (1992)
Women in Kentucky, as across the nation, are increasingly applying for jobs frying chicken, making pizzas and flipping burgers for fast food chains. They are not teenagers or college students on summer break. Indeed, they are struggling to support families in communities ravaged by a failing economy. Award winner Anne Lewis documents the low-wage, no-benefit jobs of the ‘working poor’ in America’s new ‘service economy’.

Morristown (2007)
A working class response to globalization filmed over an 8-year period in the mountains of east Tennessee, interior Mexico, and Ciudad Juarez.

Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 6 pm
Women’s Community Center of Central Texas
1704 San Antonio St.
Austin, TX 78701

-This event is a FREE community screening!
-Snacks provided
-Free childcare available! Just shoot Andrea Zarate an email the day before at andrea@womenscommunityctx.org

Resistencia Bookstore, home of Red Salmon Arts, is a liberated space for independent thinking, community building, and creative & revolutionary vision. For more info and film screenings visit the store at 4926 E Cesar Chavez St, Unit C1, Austin, Texas 78702!

For more info on the Women’s Community Center of Central Texas visit http://womenscommunityctx.org/

This project is funded and supported in part by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts and the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division believing an investment in the Arts is an investment in Austin’s future. Visit Austin at NowPlayingAustin.com

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Prayers For The Messy


I am messy.

I live in fear of the unexpected drop-in with a carpet bedecked in crumbs, a bathroom evident of life, a kitchen sink filled with mess and remains. I’ve had eating disorders which I suspect are related to the same root fear and desire for control, the right food at the right time made with the right combination of fats and carbs, the proper perfect amount of exercise all in the goal of control of the body, the control of the mess.

I am messy.

Fear of messes means you don’t risk. It means, often, a waste of energy on making sure things are perfect, rather than enjoying what’s happening in the NOW. It can also be a kind of procrastination technique, keeping yourself (or I should say myself) focused on cleaning or order rather than creation which frankly is one of the most messy things anyone can partake in.

I am messy.

I feel shame around it, the mess, the lack of perfection, the missteps or the waste of time this time I can’t help but use to create order, a facade I suppose of what’s really happening underneath, passions, humors, miscalculations, things inside me that don’t always match up, inconsistent and bumpy.

Do we all feel this messy? Do we hide it in perfect homes or perfect bodies or perfect yards or perfectly ordered lives and careers and rules of how to be? Maybe. I know I feel this messy. Sometimes I just have to forget about cleaning up, and get to doing the work, which perhaps is just the same thing.

The only way not to leave a mess, is not to live.

Here’s a poem and a prayer from a beautifully talented Austin writer, Abe Louise Young.

by Abe Louise Young

(for Emily Joan)

Forget making your bed. Make your desk instead.
Let your bed sheets lie rumpled on the floor
with pillows underneath them
like elephants in the bellies of snakes,
with stuffed animals and a water glass
tipped over on top.

Forget the bed. Put the pages of your desk in order.
Line up the sheets from head to foot.
Smack the dust and grit off. Shelve the books.
Make your bet that what you’ve got to write might crack a boulder
like a light bulb, that a cone of butterflies will stream out,
that you could make a person you’ve never met
want to give birth through her eye sockets.

See those piles of old textbooks,
post-it notes, envelopes
with little plastic windows, job application folders,
nests of screws and nails and grommets,
empty condom packets, coupons for bulk soy milk?
Take it all and throw it out.
Would you sleep in that?

Dream at your desk, then work your mind
through its torque. Mime the regular simplicity
of milking a goat. Every day, twice.
Morning and night.
A squirt of hot goat’s milk
puddles in a metal pail with each gentle tweak
of your mind’s nipples.
If you don’t, the goat will cry.
Have you seen mastitis?

So milk the stream down, thin as silky thread.
Stir the cream slowly so it turns to butter,
then heat it to cheese,
add those herbs you’ve spent years growing
in cracked pots on the windowsill.
Memory sits down gratefully
like an old farmer
and takes off its weathered, sweaty cap.
Out of the sun, off the fields,
in your company. Put out a loaf of bread.

Put your head where your feet should be.
Hug the pillows to your chest.
Pretend you hold a body, soft, trusting,
someone who’s not going to leave at morning light.
These are your readers,
the ones you need, the ones you are lonely,
brittle, adrift without, the other mammals
full of feathers, like you,
who miss their mothers, like you,
are ringed round with zippers, like you,
indented and passive, like you. But not tonight.

The night is big and empty on your desk.
Touch blank paper with your fingertips.
The paper used to be trees; seed,
soil, water and sun, which used to be
your ancestors’ voices and breath
buried in light without a box.
They will lead you to your readers.
You might never know them,
you might die before they’re born.
But tonight, hold them tight.
Make the desk sprout leaves and sing.
Make it feel like a sapling.

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Weekly Roundup 9/6/14


Where I’ll Be

I’ll be at the Women’s Community Center on Saturday September 6 at our Volunteer Work Day sprucing up the Center! Have a skill to offer, in kind donations to give? Let us know!

Actions and Events

The Taco Or Beer Challenge for Reproductive Justice! Join all of us, Dan Savage and Time Magazine in eating a taco, drinking a beer, and supporting abortion rights. Many thanks to Andrea Grimes!

Saturday September 6

ATX Feminist Meet Up! Drink, Eat, Feminize!

Monday September 8
Diversity Outreach Meeting with the Travis County Democratic Party.

Tuesday September 9
It’s a Mayoral Candidate Forum for the Austin Arts Community!

Wednesday September 10
Black Women And State Violence at Treasure City Thrift

Friday September 12
Rise Up! Shoulder to Shoulder Equal Rights Amendment

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My heart is moved

by all I cannot save

so much has been destroyed.

I have to cast my lot with

those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power,

reconstitute the world.

—Adrienne Rich

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