Thursday, December 22, 2022

How Did I Do on my 2022 Goals? (7-10)


7. Listen to my friends. I feel like I’ve come a long way! Quickly apologizing helped me keep getting closer to a dear, newish friend. A longtime friend reached out to ask me to coach him, and I asked if we could coach each other instead! That was one of the most fun, meaningful, and productive connections of this year or any year—I’m so glad I thought to make the coaching reciprocal!

But, a couple of friendships ran their course. Is that okay? Probably! It’s sad to let things go, but it’s also refreshing to realize that just as people get to stopping points with me, I can get to stopping points with them, too.

Anyway, I think I’m still a crappy friend sometimes, but I’ve made progress!

8. Malcolm Kenyatta for Senate: Volunteer twice per month. I could’ve done a lot more for Malcolm, but his campaign meant so much to me! I gave him a painting! I got interviewed for a documentary about him while stapling flowers to a piece of street art! I love Malcolm, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunities to nag people about this fave in the future!

9. Grow and save money every day. I was SO on my way to this one until I ran my mouth at that meet and greet—it’s hard not to think of my Mighty Writers ending as self-sabotage, though I’m not sure how I would have done it differently! (Except to have NOT GONE TO THE MEET AND GREET—what a weird and not-cute lesson to have learned!)

Dear money, I really do love you. Maybe I’ll figure out in 2023 how to get and keep you.

10. 1-2 hours of accounting weekly. It was more like an hour a month, I’m sorry to say! See #3 and #9. Accounting needs more love in 2023 for sure!

Monday, December 12, 2022

How Did I Do on My 2022 Goals?! (4-6)

4. Festive self-date weekly, flirt all the time!

Heck yeah and heck yeah! Since I’m an Artist’s Way person, I’m supposed to be taking myself on dates once a week anyway, but I often will skate by on, like, going half a block down the street to smell the candles at the co-op annex. Those still count, but this year, I wanted the self-dates to be special.

At first, it was hard. I was still brokenhearted from a romance that ended in mid-November. But I did it. I drove to the OUTER suburbs to see a matinee of Nightmare Alley. It felt grim and lonely, not just because I’d chosen a superbleak movie!

But after a couple of months, I was driving along to wherever and I just thought “I love you.” In my head! TO MYSELF! I was dreamily stopping to take a sunset picture in the Movie Tavern parking lot on the way to see The Black Phone. Equally bleak movie, way-less-bleak heart!

Self-dates make the world feel more open, generous, and playful. One movie night even led to a second-chance love adventure! Two, actually, but those are stories for another blog.

I try to make fresh goals every year, but maybe this one needs to be every year, right underneath “Make stuff whenever I want.”

5. Cultivate my Mighty Writers relationships. This one backfired so badly that “Don’t go to the meet & greet” is one of my guidelines for 2023. Still a heartbreak I just can’t find words for.

6. Two hours Kahn Academy math weekly. Yep! I mastered 7th grade math and I’m halfway through 8th grade math! I got to change my car magnet tutoring ads from K-6 to K-7! Adding a math grade is a pretty big deal, actually! I’m pretty excited about it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

How Did I Do on My 2022 Goals? (1-3)

How Did I Do on My 2022 Goals?! (1-3)


1.     Make stuff whenever I want!

This should be on the list every year forever! It’s both the easiest goal and the source of the most uncomplicated joy. I especially like being petty and low-key at- war with whatever creepy neighborhood busybody keeps taking my “Protect Trans Kids” watercolors down—sometimes I even make them into glitter bombs.

Note: I’m probably a neighborhood busybody too! But for GOOD!


2.     Keep up and ramp up fitness routines.

(If you hate food restriction talk and “wellness” talk like I often do, go listen to Maintenance Phase instead of reading this. It’s the best!)

Pretty good, I guess! I changed some food habits that were bugging me but no doubt added some other unhelpful ones. Oh well!

I always want to walk more, but making long Instagram stories and posts of nature pics has helped me stay motivated, especially since I have a really inspiring muse these days! See #1—creativity is the ultimate source of happiness.

I would like to go back to semi-regular in-person yoga classes in 2023! I stopped because of quarantine and forgot to ever start up again!

OMG I went dancing!!! Like 3 times! Plus to a couple of rock shows! One was in a basement! One was in a go-go club I’ve wanted to visit since I moved here in 2008! I’ve taken good care of friendships with my dancingest friends this year, so maybe I can go 5 or 6 times next year?!

3.     Be 20% less dependent on Amy.

Technically yes. I’ve gotten emotional needs met in other friendships and bonded with my supercute boyfriend! I’ve moved on from my nine-years-divorced relationship in some really significant ways, including settling into a comfortable and celebratory place with our friendship. (Reading Ace helped me see beyond expected relationship structures! I’d almost call us Queer Platonic Partners, but the word “partners” seems a little strong.)

But moneywise, I’m still dependent on my ex-wife/BFF. I felt SO CLOSE to money independence going into the 22/23 school year, but when my Mighty Writers gig crashed and burned at the same time my rent went up (A lot!) I kinda lost my way again.

I really need to add about16 work hours a month, fix my budget, and build my savings back up. Amy and I will always be there for each other, but I want to take better care of HER! And myself!


Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Don’t Worry Darling, Part Three (I Ruin Every Party)


Alexis Bledel On Madmen. All the pop culture Prismas!

In Victory, if you start seeing through your hypnosis, you have to be removed or electric shocked into submission. (Just like Rory Gilmore was that time she was on Mad Men. Fucking Pete.) It’s not good enough to apologize and try to obey, try to fit in, try to follow the script you’ve been given. You have to sacrifice either your life or your memories for the men of Victory to properly feel the confidence, worth, and control they’ve paid for.

The littlest disturbance in the illusion they’re creating has to be snuffed out before it can spread.

In 2008, my then-wife and I were at a family birthday party for my second-littlest cousin. We were playing the family’s favorite game, Encore! wherein you pick a card with a word or theme and sing songs back and forth in teams.

Maybe the word was “kissed” because someone, maybe me, started singing “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry. (OHBOY the queasy-cute aughts version of bi visibility! See also the movie Jennifer’s Body, from the same year.) My first-littlest cousin, maybe six at the time, said “That song is disgusting.”

And, though I hadn’t yet developed my eerily calm teacher voice, I think I was pretty chill when I said “You never know who might be around when you say something like that.”

And my brother, sitting across the gameboard from me, LOST HIS MIND. He was INCENSED with me for saying something so political. I don’t remember what his words were, but they were SPAT.

When I asked him to talk outside and told him to please not treat me with so much contempt, I wasn’t that articulate but I was still pretty calm. Until he said the following:

“You ruin every party.”

(To which Thanksgiving 2016 me could have responded: “Hold my pie.”)

Further back, when I was away on the West Coast, my mom said “We’re so much happier without you.”

Even further back, when I was a little kid and the parents were fighting and my mom told me “This is your fault. I wouldn’t have had to marry him if it wasn’t for you.”

For some reason, the mom ones don’t hurt as much as the brother ones (Though apparently, I do carry them around like rotten treasures.) I identify with my mom’s ability to say the cruelest, stupidest thing when angry and flustered.

But my brother’s contempt is so measured, so purposeful, so sure of its righteousness. It feels like hurting me is a first aid kit he keeps. Like putting me in my place is the surest way to safety, a roadmap, a prayer. It doesn’t matter as much if his world is disrupted if he knows his place in it, above me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Don’t Worry Darling: Being Chaos, Part Two

Rule number one of On Tyranny!

***content warnings: sexual assault, family violence, the Bush Years, 1/6/2021***

Being admonished/censored on the family facebook page is not at all like being frozen in a dream cul-de-sac by the evil incel version of Harry Styles, but the horror it brings up in me is the same. It happened over the summer, I realized it close to my birthday in September, and it crushed any hope or illusion that my brother would ever be on my side, or on the right side of history at all.

Like lots of queer folks and probably non-queer folks too, I’ve struggled with the reality of right-wing relatives. I’ve wondered how some aunts and uncles and cousins could profess to value me and my then-wife-now-BFF, how they could invite us over and treat us with such hospitality and also vote against our right to love who we want to, against our right to own our own bodies.

The cognitive dissonance of hearing the aunt who emotionally rescued me after my teenage sexual assault brought household abuses to a head saying in recent years that the idea of consent was ruining relationships, ruining men. The pain of hearing the mom who did her best to stand by me in that time tell me in 2016 that I create more rape in the world by thinking about it too much. Even after years of good trauma work and wonderful therapists and lovely, LOVELY Prozac, it’s hard not to feel like that lost and bruised teen, lost in a cyclone of random violence, practiced abuse, and institutionalized hopelessness.

That rescuing aunt grew into the most right-wing of us all, and at least one of my cousins followed suit. He worked in Bush’s NSA. At his (the cousin’s, not Bush’s) wedding, which I attended with my then-wife, the priest blamed both Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq on gay marriage having recently become legal in some states. (I want to say he also blamed us for 9/11, but I think I’m conflating that priest with Pat Robertson.) (Jeez a lot of things are supposed to be our fault!)

But! The same cousin had been at OUR wedding, cordial as can be albeit in an American flag necktie! (American flags were strictly a right wing thing in those early war years, it’s weird to remember now that we’ve devolved to other, more upsetting flags.)

I stayed pretty close with the right wing-est aunt, too, until a couple of things happened:

1.     My nice liberal cousin-in-law told me that Aunt Connie (the NSA cousin’s mom) and Aunt Patti were planning to march with the Proud Boys et al on 1/6/21. (The hero cousins of Aunt Patti’s fam talked her out of it! What a bunch of badasses!)

2.     Cousin Jimmy briefly left his wife and kids for another right wing lady and, OH YEAH, TO WORK FOR GUILIANI.

NOTE: I got this info secondhand from Nice Liberal Cousin-in-Law, who got some of it from Aunt Connie, a noted unreliable narrator. BUT! The day did come where I heard his name on Maddow—he was part of the scheme to invoke martial law and seize the voting machines.

HE WAS PART OF THE SCHEME TO INVOKE MARTIAL LAW AND SEIZE THE VOTING MACHINES. And everyone in the family but me is like, oh, this is totes normal.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Don’t Worry Darling: Being Chaos, Part One


***Spoilers ahead!***

***Content warning—gaslighting, immobilization, all things patriarchy***

When the masterminds of Victory are training their housewives, they hypnotize and re-hypnotize them with images of women in synchronized movement, they even, inside the cute prison cul-de-sac of the mind they’ve created, require dance classes to teach them to move together in frictionless harmony. Instead of overtly espousing red pill/incel grievance, the leader talks about order. The Don’t Worry Darling vision of order helps me understand some things, both political and personal.

The Victory men aim to attain this order by literally immobilizing and silencing women and by convincing them they are happy in a pretty, refined, and regressive reality, looking beautiful (My KINGDOM for Florence Pugh’s floral housedress!) and serving the men. The simulation is classic Stepford Wives, where men go off to “important jobs” and women stay home and make perfect roasts. No one really eats or (At least I really hope!) physically fucks. It’s a (nonconsensual for women) happiness machine for a specific, shallow kind of happiness, one that gives helpless- and worthless-feeling men a sense of control and worth.

There’s a scene toward the end. Shortly before Florence breaks though and wakes up, where we flash back to her alone in her living room, just kind of singing and dancing around and being herself. She’s moving her body the way she likes, a moment of privacy and inner joy.

That moment helps me understand what feels so threatening to the real-life gender-policing white supremacist patriarchy—joy that THEY don’t specifically provide or oversee makes them feel like some levee has broken, like some force has overflowed and become a threat.

I still don’t understand why us having our own thoughts, rhythms, choices feels so threatening to them, but I’ve read On Tyranny a couple times and I think it’s just that: creeping, defensive tyranny. It feels us waking up, breaking free, and it wants nothing more than for us to shut up, be still, settle down into a reality they alone create.

The “they” here is I don’t know who. Tyranny and patriarchy steal everyone’s freedom, but I guess not everybody believes that. I guess maybe they (again, I’m only sort of sure who that is) think that if they can silence us (and who, also, is us?) make us be still and obey, then they’ll have a thing they’ll call freedom? No one would tell them that they said the wrong words or bother them with the pesky fact that democracy is in danger.

Oh, I see. Democracy is the opposite of being frozen in someone else’s reality. It’s agency, however vexingly slight. It’s movement and progress and disagreement and struggle, the furthest thing from being still. It’s not a synchronized dance routine, it’s kind of a mosh pit. Or a march. Or a Philadelphia victory parade.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

This Is Creepy, Insight Timer!

In June of 2020 and beyond, I changed most of my online usernames to Defund the Police. I like that little extra way to nag people for justice. It’s still my Design Home handle and the name of my home Wifi—I never think about it. At the time that I was making this silly little stand, not only was the nation rising up against the killings of George Floyd and Brionna Taylor, but Philadelphia was slashing the budget of city arts programs to give MORE money to the police. (One of whom, two years ago yesterday, aimed their car at two of my friends while they were crossing the street during a protest. AIMED A POLICE CAR AT THEM.)

Lots of people, even on the left, are now saying that “defund the police” is an unhelpful phrase we should distance ourselves from, but I disagree. What if, when there’s a problem, we called someone who could actually fix it, instead of someone(s) trained to respond with dominance and force.

My artsy brain pictures a rainbow of cars, not just police cars, gently caring for our city and helping those in need. A soothing light blue car for a therapist, soft pink for social workers, green for wildlife and parks. To care for LGBTQ citizens’ needs, a progress-flag emblazoned fleet. Need to safeguard a particularly nasty pothole or a construction site? No need to bring a gun, just an expert in a cheerful orange car. Purple for clergy-of-choice. Delicious strawberry red for nutrition care. Inviting peach for housing. Silver for elder services.

This is an idealistic picture, but defaulting to calling the police in every urgent situation isn’t working and it is causing lots of harm, including to police. Granted, not everybody (Really nobody besides my BFF and my liberal family members) knows about my rainbow-of-cars idea, but it really bothers me that the phrase “defund the police” feels so threatening to people.

I was so creeped out when I got this message from Insight Timer, where I’d named myself Defund Police (With the tagline of Abolish ICE, plus a bunch of festive emojis) that my tummy did a flip and I started to think about how to restructure my whole meditation routine.

The idea that redistributing TAXPAYER MONEY to less murdery organizations would be seen as “offensive or profane” filled me with facing-the-void type dread. Not really conductive to a nice Yoga Nidra at bedtime.

I think this message from Viv means that some fellow human, in the course of logging on to meditate, was so jarred by the phrase that they decided to report it to Insight Timer. And the app, or at least this one particular person, took this petty, small-minded, fragile, repressive person’s side.

Admittedly, I have plenty of unethical apps. Somehow all my music ended up living on Joe Rogan-infested Spotify. As long as there are nieces and nephews, I will have Bannon-collaborating facebook in my life. But a meditation app somehow seems like it should know better, like it should have access to the better angels of our nature instead of feeling virtuous while propping up a violent system.

Meditation is such an intimate act. I love falling asleep to kind words or a chakra clearing at the end of a long day—it’s one of the deepest and most intimate parts of my relationship to myself. Just as I wouldn’t date someone who is apolitical or a Trump supporter, I’m not going to meditate with “someone” who feels offended and threatened at the tiniest suggestion, the tiniest little two-word nudge at structural change.