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Turn Toward Suffering; Rest In Contentment

October 29, 2014

turn toward suffering

rest in contentment

welcome jubilation

keep asking questions

*   *   *

and share good company

A Very Good Read On “Rape-Adjacent Sex”

October 27, 2014

rape-adjacent sex comic

 

Really feeling this thoughtful analysis on California’s proposed Yes-Means-Yes law, which would set a higher bar for consensual sex on college campuses.

Avoiding Rape-Adjacent Sex

I do believe them that there’s plenty of sex happening now, that isn’t experienced as rape by either partner, that doesn’t meet the affirmative consent standards proposed.  That could include sex where both partners kind of just leapt into the act, not checking in with each other, but not hitting any snags.  Sex where one or both partners was somewhere past tipsy and within sight of “too impaired to consent” but no one pulled out a breathalyzer and both parties felt ok in the morning (aside from the headache).  Sex with coercion/pressure, where one partner didn’t back down after an initial “No” or “I’d rather not” but the reluctant party felt more like someone who’s been guilted into going to a boring party they would have preferred to skip, rather than someone who was violated.

All of these could hit the proposed new definition of rape, without being experienced as rape every time they occurred.  And all of these might be pretty common at present.

The goal of the Yes-Means-Yes law in California is to kibosh a lot of this gray area, rape-adjacent sex.

In one of the 3 or 4 intimate-abuse interventions I’m passively or actively involved in at the moment, a group of us is supporting a friend who is going through an accountability process — for something very much resembling this “rape-adjacent sex” definition.

It’s the first time I’ve been on the accountability-support side, meaning working with the person who committed harm. That comes with its own set of discombobulations, but one of the main lessons I’m drawing so far is that even those of us who identify as feminist, who have done a LOT of work around consent, can still engage in risky behavior and massively fuck up. A positive way of putting that, though, is that we can all be striving, throughout our lives, to improve our consent game.

The piece quoted above (really good; you should read the whole thing) offers a concrete, socialized-labor strategy for helping to reduce the amount of “rape-adjacent sex” in our communities.

In college, a number of student groups had a designated door watcher for parties.  This person (or these people, if they were doing it in shifts) were supposed to hang around near the exit of a party and check to see if anyone leaving seemed to be heavily intoxicated.  They were basically doing what Allison of Strong Female Protagonist is doing in the comic featured above (minus the superpowers, and plus some attention to people leaving the party alone who might need to be screened for alcohol poisoning). Not a perfect system, but just posting a watcher (and discussing that you will at party planning meetings) changes people’s expectations a little about what kind of behavior is appropriate.

An idea has been germinating for a minute about running sex workshops using Buddhism or “mindfulness” to improve our strategies and skills around consent… we’ll see if anything comes of that. Meantime, I’m grateful for this article, and more than a little annoyed at the guy who complained to The Atlantic that California’s new proposed college consent standards are cock-blocking him. Whatever, dude — take a cue from Louis C.K. and be relieved that you’re not raping anybody.

 

Warming Shame

October 27, 2014

To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the making of bread.

—James Baldwin

Today, for the first time in a long time, I had a big shock of embarrassment. The kind that makes your whole head thicken, like someone stuffed a wool sweater inside your skull.

Knowing I’d be too distracted to accomplish anything for the next half hour, I sat in the corner of my living room and tried to observe the sensations, observe the breath.

Turns out, for someone like me whose body runs cold (bad circulation), the warming quality of shame can feel good, in a way. Aside from the associated horrible emotion, it was actually kinda cozy. And cheaper than a space heater.

Sometimes an unpleasant emotion hits so rude and total, there’s nothing to do but watch, try to stay present, in respect and awe. A certain side of sensual.

Photo on 8-22-13 at 12.13 PM

Three Ingredients

October 26, 2014

1. compassionate confrontation
2. inspiring alternatives
3. a sense of humor

Period of Trust, Period of Openness

October 25, 2014

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I used to think there was one way to be a Militant.

A militant must study and analyze revolutionary history.

A militant must develop a command of the theory of scientific socialism.

A militant must know how to relate revolutionary theory to the real day-to-day life of the “proletariat.”

A militant must be able to hand out flyers and start casual yet political conversations with strangers.

A militant must thrill and captivate crowds with their public speaking.

A militant should attend an average of 3.5 political meetings and/or study groups per week.

A militant should be able to conduct one-on-one political development meet-ups with a partner.

A militant should be able to initiate and sustain local campaigns to build class power and consciousness.

A militant should promote harmony and emotional wellness among comrades and within organizations.

A militant should criticize comrades and accept criticism with humility.

*    *    *


 

Something strange and quiet is happening to me lately, gradual but massive like the movement of a tide.

It’s not that I no longer find these skills important.

It’s more like I’m interested in developing more roles, more archetypes, more specificity and multiplicity within a core range of militant activity. So that people (myself included) can find a Suitable Contribution, the long-term offering that we want to make.

Might need to sketch this out rather than writing it.

More soon.

<3

 

Weird Contentment in Colorado

October 22, 2014
colorado 2014

Colorado, 2014, driving from Boulder to Durango with Dawn.

feeling content these days, and it’s a little disorienting.

nothing is missing. (can it be?)

the earth is vast, the universe unfathomable, and everything alive right now will one day die.

while we’re here, most people are pursuing their best guess at happiness, even if that comes out fucked up and harmful sometimes.

i’m so grateful for this life — for brilliant friends, sweet creatures, solid comrades, revolutionary* forebears, artists and teachers of wisdom, ancestors i’m just starting to get to know.

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i’ve had this Voyaging High before (traveling, spacious, privileged, insulated) and i know it’ll change when we get home to the Bay. the suffering will roil up stark and terrible again: displacement, prisons, transphobia, oil, deportation, depression, exploitation, rape culture, cruelty on large and small scales. it’s not that it’s not here, too. it’s here in colorado, clearly. but as a sympathetic outsider, i get to be patient. i get to trust that the left will reconstitute itself, and might not even be known as the left anymore, but as something greater.

these are funny political prayers, huh?

thanks for listening.


Photos: leonine kitties in Boulder; vistas on the drive south; Dawn with a special lovely kind of doubling-over smile that Dawn makes.

* i don’t use this word like a sexified marketing ploy, but for the simple reason that the magnitude of change required to give everyone on earth access to healthy food, water, shelter, medicine, and education is so great, that in my mind it would be disingenuous to call it anything short of revolutionary.

Abs Like Ciara’s

October 25, 2013

ciara abs

with abs like Ciara’s
you know damn well you’re wanted.

people will admire you, too,
when you lambaste the opposition,
harangue and fulminate with the eloquence of Russell Brand,
smash on your unlucky rivals
(even if the rival is you: your own gross shortcomings).
rubbernecking onlookers, vicarious,
will savor your power with bubbling glee, delighting
in your slicing triumph.

utthita_trikonasana

utthita trikonasana

but who will praise and celebrate when you don’t overstretch in yoga?
when you heed that spooky squeal inside your knee
slowly noticing in triangle pose
that clenching your thigh muscles helps on the right side
but only seems to pull things worse on the left.
where are your accolades for that?

who will smack you a jubilant high-five
when you get off the phone with your cranky, lonesome uncle
having nudged forward a kindly conversation
like a blind, brand-new puppy splayed on its belly,
wriggling inefficiently toward warmth?
 
fortunately or unfortunately, my friend
it might be all up to you.

 

Fall Foods

October 23, 2013

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Butternut squash ravioli with garlic, olive oil, crushed red pepper, and baby arugula.

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It’s not autumn without this old favorite.

Also seen here.

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Honeycrisp apples. Ideal.

I need some autumn inspiration for the kitchen! What are your favorite simple fall dishes? (Or complex — I may not have time to make it, but I’d love to hear about it.)

 

Workaholics

October 2, 2013

There’s an ant massacre in my freezer.

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I’ve never seen anything like it. Reminds me of the D-Day stencils of 9,000 dead soldiers, just done in Normandy last week.

d-day stencils normandy

d-day stencils

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Poor guys. The strangest part is that when the swarm and frosty die-off began, there was nothing even IN the freezer. Really, nothing. Three fingers’ worth of ginger and an old bag of ice from my housewarming brunch — that’s it.

At first I thought the ants might want the water in the ice, but then they could have just stormed the sink where there’s plenty pooling in the undone dishes. On the freezer floor you can see a drip of some caramel-looking substance (ice cream?), but the pattern of the tiny corpses doesn’t suggest the spill as the focus or destination.

On the bright side, now there is food in the freezer. Because I made a trip to the real grocery store, rather than a corner store run, and for the next few days my dinners will graduate from chips-and-salsa to ravioli-in-jarred-sauce or saag-paneer-heated-in-the-oven.

If you know me, you know that this is a sorry state, and somewhat unusual. I like to cook. Hell, half this blog consists of cooking photos.

The simplest explanation is overwork. Too many projects, paid and unpaid. I finish work, exhausted, and rush off to a meeting or plop down to edit a political video. By the time I get hungry, my body is at a total loss for what it wants to eat. I sit and stare into space, trying to key into whether it’s soup or tofu or salad or what. I end up with chips and salsa.

I always wondered how my mother did it: working more than full time and feeding us every night. She used lots of cans and boxes. Dinty Moore beef stew. Frozen peas (which I still love). Stove Top stuffing. Mom didn’t enjoy cooking (unlike me), and though she would grill up fresh chicken or fish, or brown some sausage to throw into the Ragu spaghetti sauce, the main objective of dinner was efficiency. I get it now.

But what doesn’t make sense is why she should have had to work so hard — why any of us should have to work as long and hard and anxious as we do. Shouldn’t we have all the time in the world to cook and feed each other, if we want to? I mean, listen. People used to have to write everything out By Hand. Deliver it on horseback. Then came the printing press, the personal typewriter, and now the computer and internet. We can work a bajillion times faster, more efficiently. But instead of everyone doing less work and enjoying more free time to fucking cook and relax, the people with jobs get squeezed more and more, work longer and harder, and the ones who can’t find a job… good luck to you.

Work, work, work, then die — in a freezer. Hunting for who even knows what.

Undo (Revolution In The Garden With Eliana and Noa)

September 2, 2013

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To tire,
to tire,
to sink down,
a huddle of wilting bones

to be borne up again
by friends.

to stay hip-cocked, ornery
and still, still
breathe deep into the belly.

undo this world, please.

undo every lethal gas attack
the hoarding of clean air
the systematic flogging of our dead
and our living
and our in-betweens in prison,
now on strike, who knows how long.
i know that to undo would mean me too
me this bit of spinach stuck in the teeth of god
and of course that is ok.

here, let me
help.

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