Be Like Water

I’m about to turn twenty-four. Which is just something that happens, I suppose.

In my twenty-four years of living, I’ve thought about a lot of things and done a number of things and come to a very, very few conclusions.

One thing that has always been important to me, though, is water. Not only from a survival, but on a spiritual and psychological level as well. Whether it was the shores of Lake Maxincuckee, the majestic Mississippi, or now the roaring Pacific Ocean, I have always found myself drawn to the constant change of water.

In thinking about water, as a scientist and a human, I’ve distilled (ha) a few key life-lessons from that most miraculous of molecules. Read and enjoy.

1.) Love yourself.

Water is hydrophilic, because of the nature of its polarity, water molecules are attracted to one another. This makes the capillary effect possible and allows trees to grow to such great heights. Way to go water! It is also an important lesson for us as people.

If there is anything that we as a species need more of (and there isn’t much I can tell you) it is love. And I believe that love, like, peace or forgiveness, must in fact start within.

Love, by my definition, is caring deeply about the well-being and growth of someone, and it must start with the self.

As someone who struggles with depression, chronic self-doubt, and occasional self-harm, this is not a lesson easily learned. But self-love makes survival and meaning possible.

Self-love begins with self-understanding and self-understanding begins with self-reflection. I am one who spends a lot of time thinking about why I do what I do, so this hasn’t been much of a problem for me. But for many, especially people who have experienced trauma in their lives, self-reflection is not an easy or enjoyable experience. But I believe it to be a necessary one.

Water, in a sense, understands itself. It orients in such a way that the slightly negative end, the oxygen atom, is in line with the slightly positive end, the hydrogen atoms. In just such a way we must orient ourselves in a way that makes sense: extending our sense of compassion, pursuing what brings us joy, and valuing what is best in ourselves. We may bring this proverbial hydrogen atoms to view with understanding what we see as negative in ourselves: our frustrations, our regrets, our mistakes and cruelties. But always seeing that all our aspects of ourselves are necessary.

We may alleviate guilt at past mistakes, forgive those who have traumatized us, and release fears and anxieties by viewing these aspects as part of our beautiful and necessary polarity. We do not need to remain trapped by our negative traits or emotions, but neither can we always be the positive glowing stars if we are to exist as full humans. Through self-understanding we may achieve self-love and orient ourselves in a way that may allow for sustained and incredible growth, reaching the height of redwoods.

Be like water, begin the process of self-love.

2.) Sustain life.

With this incredible beginning of humanophilia, we may continue our emulation of water by committing to sustaining of life.

It is not an exaggeration to say that water made life on Earth possible. It was in the primordial oceans that the first nucleic acids began to form our fundamental blueprints. From the water the first plants begin their stretch to land. And water continues to be the key ingredient to continuing life.

I’m not saying you have to start creating new life forms all on your, I’m saying we should aspire to such levels of support and catalysis. It is my hope, if I have any life dreams, that I will be remembered as a kind human. I have failed in this in many regards, at times needing to cut people out of my life, at other times finding myself rejected for decisions I make.

But I still endeavor to be a fertile soil for people to express their concerns, to air their emotions, and to discuss their dreams. I hope to be a supportive lattice, a network of fluid affirmation to nourish the yearning desert of so many human hearts.

Yet as I seek to be a part of the gentle spring rain, I also hope to partake in the roaring flood that rewrites the landscape. Social justice is to me not only a matter of politics, but a matter of personal integrity. If I love myself, I am able to see myself in the faces and struggles of the people around me. And when I see suffering caused by systematic injustice, I know that it is not without me, but also within me. It is necessary to sustain life, to fight for justice for all people. I cannot fully love myself, I cannot pursue what brings me joy if I am not fighting for the full humanity of all my siblings.

Water flows to shape the face of the Earth, and I, though a single molecule, have a role in this universal etching.

Be like water, sustain life.

3.) Cycle.

And so we return to perhaps our first scientific introduction to water: the water cycle.

As a child growing up in a Westernized civilization, so much of what I was taught was linear. My plan for my life for example was single-mindedly direct: get good grades in school, go to college, write. There was no going backwards, no looking around, no moving in alternate directions.

But water does not move in straight lines. Water trickles, drops, dives, leaps, falls, and rises. Water moves through stages, now gas, now liquid, now solid, shifting and transforming into a vast array. Even still water is in the process of cycling, evaporating to rejoin its dancing sisters in the sky.

So, too, must I constantly be in a state of changing uniformity, forever myself and forever statically moving. Through research, meditation, conversation, and deep reflection, I am slowly beginning to realize that life will not be a straight line, nor should it be. I learn things and forget them, meet people and lose them, move across the country and stay in the same place. It, like time, is a cycle and flat. It reminds me to live in the present moment, the only moment that truly exists.

Be like water, cycle.

Water has always been sacred to me, life, power, beauty, understanding inside the drops of rain, transformed to trees, grass, and flowers, or beating through the veins of every human I’ve ever known. I will continue my thinking about water, and hope that its lessons will continue to lead me along.

Why the DAPL?

Yesterday, the Army Corps of Engineers decided to pass the final easement allowing for the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

I’ve been thinking about this as momentum builds behind the pipeline. The executive order, the banks that continue to fund it, and the large proportion of the country that view themselves as unaffected and therefore remain unfazed.

The question I hear, often from white men and women, is why should I care?

Maybe it’s the Pisces in me, or maybe my roots in Christianity, or maybe it’s the ecologist in me that tells me with utter conviction that everything but everything but everything is connected.

You may not live downstream of the pipeline, so your water supply may not be in danger. You may not know any members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, so your sense of cultural identity may not be at stake.

But as an ecologist, I can tell you that the mere act of constructing yet another massive pipeline through an already fragile ecosystem, not to mention the possibility (probability) of a rupture that would contaminate the water source for thousands of people and hundreds of acres of land… such an event has major ecological impacts with swathes of downstream (literally and figuratively) consequences. You may not see them all immediately, but trust me, you will.

In addition, our country is already overly reliant on fossil fuels and moving the production of those fuels from foreign countries to our own does not remove this reliance.

Our country, and in truth our planet, is careening towards its own human-induced suicide thanks to practices EXACTLY like this, wherein the environmental impacts are not fully considered or discussed. The Army Corps of Engineers failed to conduct a full environmental review. This is not only irresponsible but downright dangerous, sentencing the entire central portion of our country, already a vastly overlooked and under-valued segment, to once again bear the physical cost of corporate greed.

But, even if all of this weren’t true, the more important point remains:

This. Is. Not. Our. Land.

Honestly, this should be the thought that we wake up to every single day. (Primarily directed towards the white folks in the audience.) No, no one asked to be born here. If you are African American it is highly likely that your ancestors were kidnapped and brought here against their will.

As a white person, though, even if your ancestors weren’t a part of the initial colonization and genocide, our existence still contributes to one of the largest and most prolonged cases of gentrification the world has ever seen.

The question before us then is not only a question of physical survival, it is a question of spiritual reckoning.

You may not believe in human souls, but I certainly hope you believe in humanity.

The question facing us is this: Do we choose to atone for the sins of our ancestors by joining the fight of our brothers and sisters, listening to their voices too long ignored, and ensuring their rights so long denied?

Or do we once again turn our faces, block our ears, and continue our downward spiral into moral decrepitude?

This is the question that faces our country and each of us as individuals. It is the question that answers the initial query “Why the DAPL?”.

Native Americans, the myriad tribes, cultures, civilizations, traditions, and languages, have survived against all odds in the face of continuous brutalization, forced mass eviction, murder, sustained economic depression and spiritual and physical poisoning inflicted on them by white colonizers.

It is long, long past the time that we return the sovereignty that we have unlawfully usurped. It is long past the time we hold ourselves responsible for our transgressions. These transgressions may not have been enacted by us personally, but if we gain from the status quo and remain silent and passive, then we are a part of the inertia that obstructs the arc of justice.

It is long past the time that we stop asking the question “Why the DAPL?” and started asking the question “What can I do to heal these wounds?”.

Thank you for your time.

Here’s Why There Ought to Be a Cap on Men in the Government

I recently read “Here’s Why There Ought to Be a Cap on Women Studying Science and Maths” by a really swell guy named Milo. (Fun facts: he also wrote something called “How I Forced Glamour Magazine to Say I’m Not a White Supremacist”, so you know he’s a keeper.)

Inspired as usual by white men on the internet, I’ve decided to write my own essay about gender caps.

Here’s the hard truth, folks, governing is a difficult and thankless job. You’re going to put in long hours, people will complain to you constantly, and at the end of the day, you probably won’t even get a thank you.

And let’s face it, most men need constant adoration to do anything. Without the sun of approval, men wither up like fragile flowers. Women, however, have been doing thankless work since the dawn of time. You may have had a mother. How many times did you thank her for feeding you or giving birth to you?

Men don’t like to work hard. It’s not their fault. They are biologically designed to seek quick rewards. That’s why they aren’t mothers, and why so many families grow up in fatherless homes. But in the government, you need to commit for at least two years. That’s something that, statistically, men are unable to do.

Let’s look at the facts. Countries where men make up the majority of the government face high rates of crime, poverty, and political strife. In these countries, the death rate is 100%.

Men were not made to have emotions. To govern you need to understand what it is to be a human, and for most men, this just isn’t possible. So we need gender caps.

It’s been thrown around that about one man in a government should be sufficient. We’ll always need someone there to throw out incorrect or irrelevant statistics. And without a man, how will we women know whose approval to seek? So one man should be just about right.

We should institute this at the local, state, and federal level, and all the way down into the schools and the media. Men will no longer be asked to report on items that may require “sensitivity” or “subtlety”.

I don’t know how I feel about this segregation personally. I’d be interested to see what men would do when they no longer have to face the pressure to be moral, upright, and self-sacrificing. As we all know they have been.

Although masculinists want men to be a part of the ruling class, men just weren’t cut out for it. And it’s time we let them take their natural place. Like in the hard sciences, where they’ve been clamoring to be. They really really want to go back to the maths. I can tell.

Let’s free ourselves from the shackles of “political correctness” and enter the world we’ve been waiting for. Men, get out of the government.

Poem from Women’s March

There’s been a lot of discussion about the Women’s March and its purpose and its controversy and I support that. I’m still thinking about exactly what and how I fit into this movement. I know I need to be a part of it, that I must be a part of it, but I also cannot in anyway usurp or suppress the activists who have laid the groundwork for this movement to even occur. With these and many other thoughts, I have this poem which is just one of my many reactions to the march.

As always, thank you for reading my writing.

 

Little girl

dancing in the window

little girl dancing

long-legged grasshopper

gray-headed knight-gown

night grown rich with

sound.

Under sullen sky

dripping rain through lamplight

long feet marching

out of history

into history

out of fear

into awe

out of white

into dark and rich-

brown and gold and red and black as earth.

And above

in  the light-gray-brown-black-red moving swelter

little girl dances

dances on.

 

 

 

Beginning Thoughts on the Prison-Industrial Complex (PIC) and Abolition

Given the promise of increased criminalization, the promise of increased funding for the police state, and the threat of a heavy-duty deportation machine, it is now more important than ever to defund the prison-industrial complex.

If you haven’t read “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander or watched the documentary 13th, add it to your list.

I had the opportunity to hear Michelle Alexander speak at Carleton in my first or second year, it was life-changing.

Basically, post-slavery, the United States needed to find a new source of cheap (read free) labor. And so tada! Prison system began to really take off.

Thanks to a series of laws passed by both republicans and democrats (Nixon, Reagan, our would-have-been first spouse, Bill) and the call for “law and order”, we have a system of (in)justice in place that relies on and perpetuates the massive incarceration of people of color and especially impoverished people of color. In addition, the police force in this country has been militarized to continue this pipeline of free labor, petty misdemeanors have been criminalized, and neighborhoods of people of color are targeted disproportionately.

In other news of how everything is everything is everything. Meanwhile, the likelihood of a white rapist seeing even minimal jail time is negligible. Tell me again how this system is working to protect its people?

So this new executive piece-of-crap would provide funding for an already militarized police force. A force that also unfairly targets immigrant communities. P.S. it’s already started in SF.

Okay, so you may have already known all that. What practical steps can we take?

1. Invest in education.

Not only education about these practices, but also good-old-fashioned education in the United States. That means block Betsy Davos from being appointed to Secretary of Education. You’re probably already calling your reps a lot, but add to the list moving funding away from prisons and into schools.

2. Defund private prisons/ move funding for state prisons to localities.

Again, the root of the problem is capitalism. I should just buy a shirt that says that (ha, like, it was a joke… cuz… nevermind). There’s a giant evil conglomerate called the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and another called the GEO Group which is all the corporations with investment in private prisons. Once again you see the giant banks, Bank of America, JP Morgan and Chase, etc etc. So if you haven’t yet, please consider banking with a small credit union.

Additionally, as far as state prisons go, W. David Bell published a report that suggested moving the funding of prisons from the state level to the local level where the decisions are actually being made. So, now you can pester your reps on the state level, too, and tell them to follow those suggestions.

3. Join the abolitionist movement.

The above to suggestions are ways to help better a corrupt system. But really the best way would be to end the corrupt system altogether. So join the abolitionist movement.

If you needed more convincing, think about the fact that pregnant women in NYC are still being placed in solitary confinement. Roughly a third of prison fatalities are due to suicide (as of 2015 statistics).

This needs to be stopped. There are several organizations already in existence working towards this end.

Critical Resistance sprang from a 1998 conference and has several local chapters (the website is a little-outdated unfortunately). It has some good resources for education re: prison abolition.

Prison Activist Resource Center is a group based in Oakland that seeks to bring the injustice of the prison system to light.

Black and Pink is an organization working for solidarity with LGBTQ prisoners. It has a pen pal directory. Which leads me to:

4. Get to know prisoners.

It’s proven that the best way for ending stereotypes is by personal knowledge. So please, consider signing up to be a pen pal with someone in prison.

I started writing letters to my pen pal a few days after the election. I was nervous at first, unsure what to expect, full of these weird anxieties that I wouldn’t be good enough, that I couldn’t save this person, that he would want something from me that I couldn’t provide.

But I couldn’t have been more wrong. He’s just a really sweet human being in a really screwed up system. Despite all the horrific things he’s been through, my pen pal has one of the most upbeat and optimistic world-views. I am so inspired and motivated by him.

So, for your sake really, sign up to be a pen pal. Or find other ways of connecting personally with people in prison.

Again this is only a starting point. Let me know other practical steps to take. I have to run to work.

Beginning Thoughts On Immigration

First, it’s important how we frame this conversation. Unless you are a member of a native tribe, you or your ancestors are/were an immigrant to this country. If you are white, more than likely some of your ancestors were involved in the theft of native lands and the massive genocide that took place on this continent.

So, the only people who should have a right to pass executive orders about immigration are native people.

Second, since money seems to be the only thing that influences some people, a paper based in the UK reported that decreasing immigration rates leads to a decrease in economic gain, while a different paper based on global figures indicated that an increase in immigration can lead to greater economic benefits.

Here are frequently asked questions answered by the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan, non-profit that seeks to ensure rigorous research into economic policy. It shows that the overall impact of immigration is essentially net-zero on the positive side.

Likely, though, if you’re reading this blog, you don’t need convincing that the recent executive order reducing the number of immigrants, specifically from Muslim-majority countries, is a bad thing. Nor do you need convincing that the massive deportations promised on the campaign trail will not happen on our watch.

It’s important to note, that such deportations, if they should be kicked into gear violate the constitution. Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU, pointed out that a deportation machine on the level that the dung-beetle promised would “shred the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizures”.

So with this in mind, what practical steps can we take to combat the executive order policies and protect current immigrants living in the United States?

1. Call your reps. The executive order still requires appropriation of funding from Congress.  So, this means continue calling your Senators and Representatives and tell them not to appropriate funds to the increased border patrol. I’m still going to call my reps even though I’ve been severely disappointed by the lack of resistance to the cabinet nominees thus far. (For peeps in Oakland that’s Dianne Feinstein 202-224-3841; Kamala Harris 202-224-3553; Barbara Lee 202-225-2661)

2.Support the ACLU. The ACLU have currently filed suit against a certain someone regarding certain financial documents. If you have the means, you can donate to support this fight. Call and be sure that immigrant rights and the aforementioned constitutional deviances are kept in mind. (it’s telling me deviances isn’t a word… isn’t it? Language is a moving target.) There are plenty of local ACLU offices as well that you can support and get involved with. Northern California’s office is right on Drumm Street! That’s near where I work!

3. Find your local USCIS Office. There are two in my area, one in Oakland and one in SF. I don’t know why exactly I think this is important, but if the time comes to protest or to physically stand in the way, I know where I’m headed.

4. Stay vigilant. Probably the most important and most nebulous. SF has been a sanctuary city for quite some time and thankfully our mayor made a statement saying we would remain that way, but I’m not so sure I trust politicians anymore. So I am ready to call and protest if I see wavering on this stance. In general, get to know the immigration stance in your surrounding area, it may, unfortunately be obvious. Here is a HuffPost article about what to do if you witness a deportation. BUT LET’S MAKE SURE IT DOESN’T COME TO THAT.

This is only the beginning of my thoughts. If you have more concrete actions we can take, please feel free to comment. I’m still collecting my thoughts on how to combat the targeting of Muslim countries and how best to support Syrian refugees.

In general, if you are an immigrant, I am here to support you however I can.

This is Not What “Change” Looks Like

This is what a kleptocracy looks like.

So, if you happened to vote in this past election for the orange thing (I’m going to show it as much respect as it has shown me and my compatriots), and you don’t believe yourself to be racist or homophobic (HA), you probably voted because you wanted to shake up Washington.

Putting aside the fact that you placed your belief in a megalomaniac who promised to destroy millions of families both queer and migrant, register Muslims, increase the war against people of color, and cripple health care in general and women’s health care in specific, putting all that aside, you still aren’t getting what you voted for.

It turns out it doesn’t matter if you’re a wealthy politician or a wealthy “business-asshole”, sorry, “bussiness-man”, the wealthy in this country have for the past three hundred or so years been in the business of solidifying and increasing that wealth. If you thought the jingo-pig was any different, well, you’re in for a bumpy ride.

The only thing that differentiates the orange-marmaduke from other longer running politicians is 1) he’s overtly racist and has the support of Neo-Nazis and the KKK 2) he has openly admitted to sexually assaulting women 3) he has absolutely no idea what reality is. I think his tiny hands can’t hold onto the facts.

I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I’m not allowed to write things like this without facing jail-time. I’m not exaggerating. The dingo-baby has already begun attacking the right of freedom of expression, and heaven knows his tiny ego can’t sustain itself when gets a taste of his own treatment. Not to mention he’s appointed Mike Pompeo as head of the CIA, so let’s all celebrate the return of torture.

I said I’d try to be more inclusive in my writing. But it’s 7:00AM and I woke myself up because I was so angry.

Okay, so back to the point. This dung that white people elected to office is not going to shake anything up politically speaking. He is only going to shake more money into his pockets and the pockets of his kkkronies. Why do you think he refuses to reveal his tax documents? It’s probably just to prove a point, right?

I would think this is ironic and divine comeuppance for the United States. That at last we have bitten our own tail: after putting dictators into power all around the world, we finally get a taste of our own medicine. But the problem is, this isn’t going to harm those responsible. They’ve got their safety nets. As always, this is going to harm the most vulnerable populations. In fact, some of those same vulnerable populations are running away from the dictatorships we created only to find themselves once more in the orangutans jaws.

So, what’s my point here. If you voted for the monster, it’s time to face up to the facts and start fighting against what he is doing. You’re probably just angry at me right now. That’s fine. You can be angry at me as much as you like as long as you stand with me to stop the return of torture, protect freedom of religion by opposing a Muslim registry, support working families by sheltering our immigrants, and prove you aren’t racist or homophobic by countering homophobic and racist policies. This means saying NO to the return of “law and order”. “Law and order” is just code for a return to stop-and-frisk, greater prison time with less legal justification and greater militarization of the already militarized police. This means saying NO to anything even close to resembling conversion therapy or the overturning of the 2015 Supreme Court marriage ruling.

So, that’s what I’ve got to say to people who voted for the mass of jello. I mean if you’re just racist and homophobic and hate women, then I’ve got nothing to say to you except that I’m human. And if you think I’m going to take this lying down you’ve got another thing coming.

When the Dictator

When at last the dictator’s reign came to an end, the reins slipping from his tiny hands, his strident yell faded to a hoarse unintelligible rasp, the resistance forces breaking through the final of his gun-toting thugs to find him cowering in his bathroom, there was much rejoicing.

The capital, long savaged by a poisoned potent rain from the years of nuclear fallout, the trees stunted from repeated bombings, the once white buildings turned relatable in their scorched soot-facades, filled with celebrators free at last to enter the streets. They marched as they had not marched for twenty long years.

There was much debate over what should be done with the subhuman mass, whether to execute him outright, to electrocute him slowly, or to simply throw him in a windowless cell, there to spend the rest of his days as he had sentenced so many to do before him.

But at last the resistance determined that the dictator would be hung, suspended in a cage where his obstreperous vitriol could no longer harm the populace.

So they lifted him aloft, until he became only a speck, a swinging reminder of what they had suffered.

And at last the resistance went home to their beds, sleeping off the twenty-year-long hangover. And in their darkened and darkening dreams they wondered, silently and only to themselves, whether they might have done anything more.

Why I Am Marching

The past few months I haven’t been writing.

I’ve made vague scratches at the page, but nothing felt like enough.

Donald Trump is nothing new. He is only the concentrated epitome of racism, sexism, classism, and xenophobia that has long held our country in its claws. His rise to power, however, has granted the more violent racist elements of the country a feeling of empowerment. It is not a small thing that Neo-Nazis and the KKK have both supported the small-handed creature that has now been inaugurated.

The cabinet that Donald chose, or more accurately the cabinet that the power directing his incoherent hate-filled gourd-of-a-body chose, is full of people whose careers have been based on denying climate change, electrocuting young members of the LGBTIQA community, and accumulating wealth at the expense of the marginalized populations. They do not care about me or the people I love.

Already, many of the people I love have lost their health insurance with the repeal of major parts of the ACA. For those who don’t understand what it’s like to wonder how you’ll pay for rent and groceries and utilities, let alone trying to pay for doctor’s visits or heaven forbid emergency surgery … it is demoralizing. It has made the concept of surviving in the United States, a high-wire act already for women and men of color, immigrants, non-binary people, indigenous folks, and the many, many others, an impossibility.

I have felt overwhelmed by the urge to act, the regret at not having acted sooner, the fear that my actions may cause further harm, the frustration of feeling that even when I do act it feels at times insignificant. Even my writing, which has carried me through my darkest hours, even my writing doesn’t feel sufficient for this challenge.

But I’m writing now. I am writing because I need to raise a voice, however imperfect it is, however misguided and idiotic my thinking, I need to speak out against those who do not respect human life. No matter how insufficient I may be, I need to write.

I do not support a Muslim registry. Freedom of religion was a foundation of this nation, and those who claim to be Christian should remember the persecution that once faced their own religion. And should also recall a time when people were isolated based on their religion and then slaughtered by the millions.

I will not allow this to happen while I am alive. I will not. I will fight any semblance of such a registry with everything I have.

I will not support the loss of female autonomy. Reproductive rights, already so fragile, are once again threatened. The most basic right granted by joining a society, physical autonomy, is on the line.

I will not support the continued persecution, imprisonment, and murder of people of color. There has never been an excuse for this enslavement and murder. The fact that this evil has continued essentially unchanged since the 1600s is an abomination. We live in a country that time and again has sacrificed its soul in order to perpetuate a racial hierarchy.

Black women are six times more likely to go to prison than white women. Rates of sexual assault against women of color are higher than the rates against white women. Young black men can be sent to prison for years without being charged. Young Hispanic men can be murdered because they “looked suspicious”.

My words fail. My words will never be enough. But I have to write anyway.

This world needs saving. This world needs changing. And I must use my words as a weapon. I will write fiction that does not evade. I will write fiction that eviscerates. I will write to enlighten and uplift, to tear down walls and build houses. I will write when I cannot write. I will write.

At my core, I believe in love. Love is the way to fight against seemingly insurmountable odds. Love saves those who cannot be saved, recovers what has been irrevocably lost. Love forces my fingers forward, draws my hand across the page, when everything inside of me wishes only to erase.

I love you. I love you completely. I will give whatever I have to protect you. I will put my body between you and the bullet, between you and the registry, between you and the forces that wish to destroy you.

I am small and stupid and insufficient. I do not know anything. But I am here for you. And you are why I am marching.

You are why I am writing.

2016: A Year in Review

Dear Whoever is Reading My Blog,

First, thank you.

I have a lot of feelings about writing a lifestyle blog. 1) What a disgusting, self-serving thing to do, 2) but people have said the blog has been a good thing in their life even though 3) a lot of times I think it’s over-sharing 4) and condescending… so 5) whatever, I’m just gonna keep writing it.

Second, what a very long year it has been. I couldn’t have imagined in January all that would happen in this terrible year.

On the personal scale, I held five different jobs, moved across the country, traveled to Peru, finally let go of an ex who was being emotionally abusive, found out a different ex had sexually assaulted multiple people, and wrote twenty-some short stories, a ton of blogposts, and a novel.

On the public scale, we suffered through the continued shootings of unarmed black people, a massacre at the Pulse Night Club, the continued threat to Native American sovereignty, one of the nation’s worst fires to date, and, of course, the election of possibly the worst creature one could imagine in a position of power.

If there’s anything I’m holding onto as this shit-show of a year comes to an end, it’s the power and wonder of love.

To me, love has always been a verb, a revolutionary and powerful connection that binds people, strengthens the weak, and uplifts the poor. Love is about giving all of yourself without asking for anything in return.

Love is radical, is change, is hope, is action.

Love is what gets me out of bed in the morning, when it’s cold and I can’t think of good reasons to stay alive. Love is what gives me courage when I fear for my life and the lives of my friends and family.

And in 2017 it is my mission to show love to everybody.

I’ve written this before, but love is not about accepting people’s actions, it is believing that they can change.

I will never tolerate a registry for Muslims. I will never tolerate white nationalism or Nazism. I will never tolerate hate crimes against the LGBTQ community. I will never love racism or homophobia or sexism.

But I will always love people. Even those who hurt me. I will always believe that I can show them a better way. Maybe this makes me naive, but it also gives me the strength to continue fighting.

I will conquer my enemies through love.

I’ll leave you with a James Baldwin quote, because he changed my life and will never stop being relevant. “…that we with love shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality, and to begin to change it”.

2017. Bring it.