So I feel like I kinda jinxed myself yesterday with that pre-wedding post. Because when H. and I were driving down the street on our way to the wedding, we realized our back left tire was flat. SHIT! H. was the wedding DJ, had all the records, and was supposed to bring the sound equipment (which still needed to be picked up in Noe Valley and Bayview), and I had the coffee, tea and fuel for the chaffing dishes to warm up the food. The wedding was in Half Moon Bay. We live in Frisco. SHIT.
We made some calls, and L. (who was getting married) was remarkably calm. This woman has some serious grounding energy. She was like, 'We're cool, don't worry. We'll find someone else to pick up the sound equipment. Just get here safely.' I thought about the giant sea turtles in 'Finding Nemo' that sound like surfer dudes, mellowed out all the time. L.'s soothing voice chilled me out--a little.
While H. figured out tire-changing and necessary repairs I went back into the apartment, but I couldn't just SIT there. I had all this nervous energy and knew that everyone at the wedding site was setting up, getting dressed, hanging all the decorations and having fun. So what did I do? I cleaned. I was like Monica on 'Friends'. Seriously.
Now, I'm not a huge cleaning fanatic but I do like to keep things sanitary (notice I said 'sanitary' and not 'tidy'--the two are not synonymous. I'm a messy girl. Clean, but messy). So I busted out the broom, swiffers, bleach, and baking soda, washed all the dishes, swept the dining room and bathroom, disinfected the kitchen sink, cleaned the toilet and straightened up. I was like the Energizer Bunny with a broom and a sponge instead of a big bass drum. And you know what? I felt a helluva lot better afterwards. And I realized that if I didn't pour my energy into cleaning, I probably would've just ended up getting into a fight with H.--just because I needed something to do! (Did I tell you I have control issues? Well, I also have type-A issues too--at least when I'm in my 'get shit done' mode.)
We were supposed to get to the wedding site by 1pm, we got there at 3pm. Thankfully, there were other technical difficulties (lots of guests arrived late because the directions to the wedding were a bit off, one of my other food committee members had his car break down on him, and the food was a bit late too), so everything balanced out in the end. Thank Goddess.
And, yes, the wedding was lovely. We were out on the patio of a beach house, on the harbor, looking out into the water. The day was cool but not too chilly, and the sun came out towards the end of the ceremony. The ceremony itself was beautiful, a blending of American Indian, East Indian and African influences that reflected L. and V.'s values and heritages. There was drumming and chanting, singing and noisemakers, flute-playing and fire-walking. M.'s decorations made the place look fabulous, and H.'s DJ-ing got everyone up on their feet, as always. I even got on the 1's and 2's for my first-ever public set, spinnin' some salsa and merengue for the crowd. In the end, it was worth all the stress and drama, all the funny break-downs and last-minute changes.
It was love, pure and simple. And I'm glad I was asked to help make it happen. Thanks, L. and V. And congratulations, my sisters.
So I've been helping our friends, L. & V., organize their wedding. Specifically, I was picked to be the food committee coordinator. Sheesh. As many of my friends know, I do love food, but mostly cooking and eating it. Coordinating a team of 6 people to order, pay for, pickup, deliver and otherwise manage food for a wedding of over 100 people is not something I am particularly expert at, or (I now know) that I particularly like.
But L. & V. are like family, so H. and I are doing a whole bunch to make their special day beautiful and blessed. It's a lot more work (and stress) than I anticipated it would be, but I'm hoping that it'll all melt away today under the sunshine by the ocean, and that whatever little crises and problems arise--I've fantasized about everything from the trays of Ethiopian food being catered for the dinner flipping over and splashing all over the floor to the cake just not showing up--I'll just let slide off my well-clothed back.
It's 9:55am and we are running a bit behind--H. underestimated how long it would take him to pack up his gear and get outta here--but I'm fairly calm and relaxed. I've done everything I was supposed to do--made all the calls, arranged for the pickups, and bought the coffee and tea goods--so I'm good to go. Now comes the hard part: letting go of my (significant!) control issues (hey, I'm a Capricorn, okay?) and let the Universe (and the rest of my food committee) take care of everything else.
Phew...I'm breathin', folks, I'm breathin'. This is not easy for me.
"Normal is nothing more than a cycle on a washing machine."—Whoopi Goldberg
Last night after H. and I had been giggling on the couch like children for a half-hour, laughing at some silly obscure joke that only the two of us would get, speaking in our secret language, he asked me, in all seriousness: "Baby, do you think we're normal?"
I sat quietly, thought about his question, looked away for a moment, then answered: "We may not be normal, but I think we're pretty happy. Isn't that all that matters?" In response to which he smiled contentedly and the giggles started up all over again.
Having recently spent a holiday weekend with another couple, friends of ours whom we both love dearly, I reminded him that they were silly too, had their own secret language, sat up giggling late into the night in their tent next to ours. H. finally conceded that he likes our strange, exclusive couple-dialect, the goofy names we call each other, the private little world we create when we are alone. Why else would we be in relationships with other people (romantic or otherwise) if they did not evolve into deeply intimate, comfortable sacs of precious time and enjoyment? Isn't that what we get out of our best relationships?
No, H. and I aren't 'normal' by most standards: he's a queer man, I'm a queer-leaning woman, we're in what is on the outside a 'straight' relationship; he hates sports, loves shopping, and is the neatest and most obsessive clothes-horse I've ever met; I practice Kali, love basketball, and throw my worn clothes in a pile where they wrinkle immediately; we'll most likely end up having a child before we get married (if we ever get married); we're still living out our romantic ideals of our 20s (with a 30s-ish twist of responsibility) traveling often and going on road trips with friends to faraway places; we are radical activists of color; we communicate well with each other and actually work out our problems; and we are both artists, delving deeply and often into our creative efforts like fish diving through the ocean depths.
No, we're not 'normal'. I don't long for the 2.5 kids and the picket fence house anymore. I did once, but when I had it within my reach, I ran away from it like I would run from a pretty but poisonous snake. That life may have made me feel 'normal' for the first time in my life, but I realized it wouldn't make me happy.
1. I'm sick. Haven't been sick like this in a while. Started feeling sick Friday morning, sore throat, achey, fatigued, the usual. Thought I didn't need to stay in bed all day so I ran a few errands for L. & V.'s wedding, which is coming up this Saturday. Even ate a Ben & Jerry's brownie sundae with vanilla and New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream (the latter is my favorite flavor). Bad move. Spent part of Saturday and most of Sunday laid up, exhausted and cranky. I know healing is not always comfortable or pleasant, and being sick this weekend gave me a good excuse to finally watch "Finding Nemo" (I loved it, of course), but I still don't like it. Pout.
2. I don't feel like writing. I had a spurt of creativity on Friday night and a few times on Saturday, but after reading a chapter from Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones about the dangers of being a 'goody-two-shoes' and showing up to the page everyday because it's what you're supposed to do, I decided yesterday to take a deliberate break, to let myself be 'bad.' I know, pretty pathetic, eh? Well, I called in sick to work too, that's bad, isn't it? Pout again.
Are these two phenomena truly unrelated? I wonder. They came upon me so quickly, almost simultaneously, perhaps my sickness and my deliberate no-writing-time are just ways to give myself a well-deserved break. I've been trying too hard to make things better, when maybe all I need to do is just let things resolve themselves (thanks, V.).
I've been known to be a complainer. But I'm been trying to change that, been trying to focus on the positive things in my life so that I can be a happier person.
But sometimes, you just gotta bitch. And there are plenty of things in the world to bitch about. For example...
I am a networker. Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I have a diverse, socially eclectic group of friends and connections, and I work them when I need to. I like to make connections between people who I think might want to talk to each other--people who have common interests, need help on a project, etc. My partner, H., a freelance graphic designer, can attest to my networking skills--at least 70% of his clients have found him through me. I've hooked up friends with new clients, new funders and donors, and probably a few 9-to-5 jobs too. In my mind, that's the way our 'community' is supposed to work--we connect with people, we help other people connect, we build a stronger community, we keep the work (and the $) in the 'Family', so to speak. We help each other out. Scratch each other's backs.
Yeah, I'm blowin' smoke up my own ass, but this stuff is all true. I can network well--usually better for other people than for myself, but that's another story. The thing I want to bitch about right now is the utter lack of networking / back-scratching I've witnessed within my loose circle of creative colleagues. In the political world, this is not the case: everyone networks and introduces up the yin-yang.
Maybe there's some secret password that hasn't been revealed to me yet? If that's not it, why is it that when I attend a reading, I never get introduced to anyone? I always seem to know half a dozen people in the room who know everyone else, but I never get to meet those everyone elses because my contacts are so busy talking themselves up or whatever it is that they do that I am left to my own devices. When I have subtly asked to be introduced to someone, the introduction is usually so nondescript that the person I wanted to meet is thoroughly underwhelmed. Most of the time, I end up introducing myself to people--I said I was a networker--but am always left feeling that I should be getting more help. I mean, I've helped a lot of people meet other interesting folks.
Is this just the way it is in our 'community', folks? Is it too much for me to expect that people will help me out in the interest of keeping our community going, and of helping another struggling artist out? Or am I just trippin'? Or am I just so bland and boring that no one wants to connect me with other folks? Maybe it's just that people think I know everyone already? (I'm the kind of person who introduces people to each other like 3 times just in case they haven't met already, so I just don't get the whole 'I think they know each other already so I don't need to introduce them' thing). This stuff is on my mind lately because I would love to be in a writing group--and I wouldn't mind starting one--but I don't feel like I trust folks I know enough (based on the 'to-each-their-own' individualism I've experienced) to ask them to read my still-tender writings, to be at that level of intimacy with me creatively.
Any insight on this phenomenon would be much appreciated--tips, hints, clues to the roots of this bizarre behavior. I, for one, am tired of doing all the work myself. I want some help, people! My back is fuckin' ITCHY!
Okay, I feel better now. Nothing like a good bitching session to make a girl feel right again.
This weekend, I said prayers for the spirits of the victims of the 9/11 World Trade Center bombings--both the attackers and those that were attacked. My Buddhist training has taught me that separation and refusing to see past our differences is its own kind of violence, and has helped me find compassion in my heart, even when all I want to do is scream and cry, enact vengeance on those that cause me suffering. And the aftermath of 9/11--felt deeply every day since for so many of us--is no different. If we continue to see the 'terrorists'--on either side of this war--as separate from us, as not us, we will never be able to come through these dark times into the light.
I woke this morning thinking of what has happened in the world and in my life since 9/11. I told H. the other day: "So much has happened since then, and it's only been three years. Think of what could happen next?" I was speaking more about the sweeping political and social changes that have occurred as a result of 9/11, but on a deeper level I was also speaking about my own journey, the changes I have experienced intimately. So much has happened, indeed, that these past three years have felt like a short lifetime in and of themselves, and while I fear the painful things that are sure to come, I am trying to look past my fear to the blessings that lie ahead as well.
So here, then, is one perspective on post-9/11 life:
9/11/2001-Terrorists use commercial airplanes to fly into NYC's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington DC, killing thousands of civilians and transforming the Twin Towers into dust and rubble.
9/11/2001, 7am: I wake to hear Larry Bensky on KPFA on my radio alarm clark, frantically reporting that a plane has crashed into the Pentagon, and another plane has flown into the second Twin Tower. I am still half-asleep, nearly dreaming. I cannot believe what I'm hearing is true, think I must be hallucinating. I get out of bed and go to the television--pictures sometimes are necessary for us to believe--and see the now-infamous images of the Twin Towers collapsing, one after another, onto the earth.
I call every close friend I have. I even call my my ex, with whom I have a tenuous but charged relationship, because he was just returning from a trip to NYC and I am terrified that he was on one of those planes. I speak to him and find out that he just returned the night before, only hours before the planes were hijacked.
I am almost delirious with confusion, grief and rage. But I am not angry with the terrorists, not really--I am angry at the US government and military, and the corporate interests that control them, because I know, deep down inside, that they caused or at least allowed this to happen. My speech is peppered with many profanities, with panic and worry about the many friends I have in New York, and about the many people I have never known who are now dead, dead, dead. And for their families and friends who will never see them again.
I spend the day in a state of shock, drifting mindlessly to work--no one was there, too many chaotic reports that the Bay Bridge might be the target of another attack--connecting reflexively with the men in my life--I needed their solid strength, and even their vulnerability was a comfort--eventually taking the Transbay bus back to Oakland with JL. We walk around downtown Oakland, dazed and confused by all that was going on.
That night, Kali class at Pusod for discipline, community and warrior-training, and drunken revelry afterwards across the street with all who had flocked there for warmth, grounding and balance.
October 2001: The US bombs and invades Afghanistan, allegedly because the country is harboring Osama bin Laden, who has claimed responsibility for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Americans right now are a bloodthirsty lot. I hear vengeance in people's voices, on the news. An eye for an eye. Blood for blood. Arab-Americans and Muslims are detained indefinitely with no legal recourse, for no reasons other than paranoia and racism. I am afraid and pray often.
I start work at the Youth Empowerment Center as its Executive Director, driven by my passionate belief that the organization will need my leadership in this fiercely jingoistic and reactionary post-9/11 period. All my activist and organizer friends are psychologically and organizationally brace for the worst. From funding cuts to the PATRIOT Act to the media and journalists ignoring our campaigns because of the overarching urgency to cover all things "War on Terror", we are not disappointed.
12/04: I celebrate my 30th birthday with three parties (one a beautiful surprise party thrown by my close friends). I am determined to exit my 20's with a diva-ish flourish and lots of music and dancing. People at my big bash in January tell me it's the best party they've been to in forever, and when am I going to throw another one? I smile knowingly--we all need the healing that gatherings like these bring, especially now.
1/02: I meet and hook up with H., 'The One.' We quickly form a close bond, and he is there for me in every way I need him to be. Especially when, late in the month, a mysterious and devastating break-in takes place at my job. We suspect that people who don't like us--not just random 'kids' from the neighborhood, whom the police dismissively blame for the crime--have targeted us in order to intimidate us. A new anti-war group has recently found refuge in our organization, and we do not think this break-in is a coincidence. A week after the break-in, an unknown man comes to my apartment--I could see part of his face through a crack in my blinds--and urinates on my doorstep, then runs away after I come to the door to confront him. I live in the back of the third floor of my building. There is no through traffic on my floor except for that of neighbors.
2002: A busy year. My relationship blossoms, but some old friendships are lost. Work is demanding. I start dancing again, performing with Alleluia Panis Dance Theater/Kularts in Heroes. It is good to be on stage again. I have missed the lights, getting ready backstage, the makeup, costumes and artistic cameraderie.
March 2002: The US invades Iraq, enraging longtime allies such as France, and setting a dangerous precedent for pre-emptive strikes against small and relatively nonthreatening Third World nations. A wave of direct action hits the streets of San Francisco and all over the world and is met with police aggression, further radicalizing a whole slew of young people who want to change the world. Over the next two-plus years, ANSWER and United for Peace and Justice stage marches, rallies and actions, mobilizing hundreds of thousands of people into the streets to protest this unjust war. But is war ever really just?
December 2002: I celebrate my 31st birthday. H. organizes--all by himself--a small party for me at a Thai restaurant in the Richmond district. Birthdays are often touchy for me. Coming so close to Christmas, they often get forgotten, or I get those 'birthday-Christmas' presents that I find somewhat insulting. But this birthday is perfect: mellow, warm, full of good food and good conversation with friends. Gura M. remarks afterwards that I should hold on to H. She has never seen me so relaxed. I let him handle everything that night. I allowed myself a night off.
2003: The war in Iraq intensifies, despite Georgie Jr.'s declaration in May that major combat is over. I watch him on TV as he descends upon an aircraft carrier somewhere in the Middle East, fully outfitted in flight gear, as if he really is the Commander-in-Chief of this military operation. He is a puppet, a figurehead. But the troops cheer for him, young soldiers with families back home welcome him with embraces and smiles. I am so saddened and confused by these images. I turn off the TV.
July 2003: I go to Cuba with the Venceremos Brigade, participating in a challenge to the US embargo and its ban on travel to the socialist island nation. I wanted to go not only to be part of this act of civil disobedience against an unjust blockade, but to see Cuba for myself, see what a socialist country looks like, acts like. My trip to Cuba changes my perspective on politics and social movements, gives me a new historic lens through which to see my own activist work, and shows me that another world is indeed possible. A world where education and health care are free (although medicines are hard to come by and Cuban doctors often make less than taxi drivers due to the tourist trade), where music swirls all around you, and where corporate advertising is almost nonexistent. Where people have a clue as to what's going on in the world and don't see you as their enemy even though your country has caused them untold suffering.
In Cuba, I meet other brigadistas from Martinique and we speak a funny patois of French-Spanish-English, successfully communicating across culture and race. I tell them we have to fly from Cuba to Canada and then cross the border into the US, when Miami is just 90 miles away. They call our 'President' "un fou"--crazy.
In October, I move across the Bay to Frisco, not entirely voluntarily. I am sad to leave my beloved Oaktown, but I know I'll be back. It takes me two full weeks to really move everything out of my apartment, to say good-bye to the home that nurtured me during one of the most difficult periods of my life. I burn lots of sage, take my time cleaning up. When I am finished with my prayers of thanks, I lock the door behind me and don't look back.
Towards the end of the year, work has gotten more and more difficult. I think about moving on. In December, I take my winter holiday with H. in southern California, visit G. and family in a city by the ocean. We drive caravan-style to Palm Springs, where the quiet is pervasive and I can smell the scent of Hollywood money wafting through the air. I take my first trip to Joshua Tree, an hour or so away, and am stunned by the calming formations of rock and sand that at times look like human figures, at other times like otherworldly mountain ranges. The park is huge, and although we drive around for two hours exploring, we are only glimpsing its possibilities, its beauty.
December 2003I celebrate my birthday with H. in Palm Springs, quietly, with good wine and so-so food. The stars above us in the desert sky are mesmerizing. I don't really want to leave. The next night we spend New Year's Eve G., M. and the kids, basking in the warmth of the true family we've created for ourselves, guiltless that our blood families are far away and, perhaps, missing us.
2004: The war in Iraq continues, and recently the death toll of just American GIs has hit the 1,000 mark. I am incredulous that the humanity of Iraqis--the people we are supposedly fighting for--is so ignored in the media. Rarely do media outlets report on the total death toll of Iraqis, including civilians who are not part of the fighting. Maybe it's because the Pentagon doesn't release those figures. Doesn't anyone want to know?
In February, I quit my job. The situation at work has become untenable. I cannot continue there in good faith. I know it is best if I leave. It hurts for everyone involved, but sometimes what is healthy for us is also painful. In the long term, I know everything will be okay.
I start writing again. I vow to only work part-time, to let my writing and creativity become the main priority in my life. I begin my study of Buddhism and Buddhist meditation. Although I am resistant, I wonder about this non-violent approach to life, to one's own spirit. I find great rest in these practices, and a deepening of my understanding of myself that I had not thought possible. A new world of possibilities, like the opening of a lotus blossom, seems to reveal itself to me through meditation.
In May, I attend Movement, Detroit's free, three-day electronic music festival. I fall in love with techno music--a surprise--but am disappointed by the lack of house and 2-step at the festival. Still, it is an amazing experience, being surrounded by dancing crowds in Hart Plaza and feeling safe, like I belong here. I take a picture of H. with one of his idols, Kevin Saunderson. He is smiling like a child, spontaneous and happy.
I start this blog in July. And here I am.
9/11/2004: The RNC is over. But the "War on Terror" continues. On the homefront, over 1600 protesters (and some innocent bystanders who got pummeled by the cops anyway) were arrested at the RNC, 1400 more than were arrested during the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention. My friend Oscarchoy tells us all about it, blow by blow. The resistance gives me hope, makes me realize that people are still willing to put their bodies on the line for justice, for what they believe is right.
The Presidential elections are to take place in 8 weeks. I am frightened and excited about what the future may hold. I have been hesitant about going to a 'swing state' to register voters--wondering if that's the best use of my energy politically--but I know I must do something to make sure Georgie Jr. doesn't get elected again. I don't like Kerry, don't think he's much better than Bush on some issues, but he is not George Bush. And somehow, right now, that seems like enough. Time will tell if I--and all the other committed activists out there doing their thing to turn out voters to the polls in November--am right. I cannot fathom what another four years of George Bush, Jr. will do to this country, to the people on the streets, in our communities. I don't want to envision it. I'm not going to.
I am hopeful, perhaps naively optimistic, that truth will win out in the end. I hope I'm not wrong.
More big-ups to another funny-as-fuck comedian (see post below), Margaret Cho, whose blog I just found via Oliver's, proving my point that these comedians are pretty radical folks who serve the people by making us laugh at all the political absurdities that abound in our world.
One last big-up to Moveon.org, which is kicking major right-wing ass with its to-the-point, down-home TV commercials that really speak to everyday folks. Give money to Moveon.org if you haven't already done so, people--unless you're a masochist and want to witness another four years of Georgie Jr. destroying our environment, our diplomatic relations with long-standing allies, and our economy.
I watched an old Richard Pryor standup show last night--thanks to A. who lent it to us--called "Here and Now." I have to admit that my most recent memory of watching Richard Pryor was seeing "Brewster's Millions" about 10 years ago or more, so I'm not a Pryor expert. But the man had something to say, and made me realize how conservative, intolerant and regressive the USA has gotten in the past two decades.
"Here and Now" came out in 1983, when I was 11 years old and somewhat politically aware--I had wanted Mondale to win the Presidential election, more because he was an underdog than because he represented anything meaningfully for me--but not so aware that I understood how Reaganism was quickly and decisively shaping this country's image and ideology with right-wing reactionary sound-bites, full of vague visions of a "City on a Hill" and other such crap. In the meantime Reagan's policies helped to rapidly create the now-ubiquitous urban "homeless problem", and secured the US's reputation as an imperialist, war-mongering world superpower.
So if I'd seen "Here and Now" when I was 11--my parents let me watch R-rated movies now and then--I wouldn't have understood the political references that are sprinkled throughout, such as Pryor's quips about:
US intervention in El Salvador: "Yeah, we be sendin' advisors down there and shit. It's like [gestures as if taking out a gun and pointing it towards an invisible victim] BOOM! 'That's how it goes, son. Take my advice and do it that way.'"
Meeting President Reagan-: "I met the President, and I'm tellin' you, we in trouble...I could tell the man didn't like me....He's look like a dick. Not even a hard-on. But just a dick with clothes on. That's why he want them MX's and shit, so he can get off: 'Shoot one of those big babies off!'"
After spending time in Africa: "I know how white people feel in America now--relaxed. 'Cuz you hear a police car comin' and you know it ain't comin' after your ass."
On how Mexico lost much of its territory to the US: "Fucked around negotiatin' with white folks, lost all that shit...they shoulda just kept they mouth shut and say, 'No, this is mine and I don't want no deal or nothin'. Keep yo' shit.'"
Although I love Dave Chappelle and his show, as well as Chris Rock, I can feel that they're both way more radical than they can come off on screen, partially because they probably have to tone down their politics because we live in such conservative times (just look at the smack-down Bill Maher got for calling the US 'cowardly' in the face of terrorist suicide bombers).
Richard Pryor was living and working in a different time, before corporate media consolidation and censorship were taken as givens and the left still had some kind of base. Pryor could get away with saying some cool shit and still be biggest standup comedian of the 1980s.
Of course, he is funny as fuck. After an hour of watching him, I could feel my heart swell with hope--hope that laughter can help us see some of the big truths about ourselves and the world we live in that we'll need to survive these crazy times.
I've spent the last few days readjusting to City life again after camping in the forest (btw, I kinda felt like an Ewok, all camped out in the middle of a redwood grove--like I was on the forest moon of Endor). I don't think I'm re-adjusting as well as H., my partner, who jumped right back into the noise and heat of the City (what is up with this crazy heat wave, peoples! It's fuckin' 80 degrees in San Francisco!). Maybe I'm more of a hippie at heart than even I thought possible, or maybe City life is just not all it's cracked up to be.
I have this ear condition that's been bothering me for the past year or so, ever since I got a weird ear infection that was so painful that I actually took antibiotics for it (I'm not a big fan of Western medicine and rarely take their pills, so you know it was bad). Not a smart move. Ever since then, I've had recurring ear pain and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) that gets especially worse when I'm out and about in the City all day, hearing Muni buses roaring down the street two feet in front of me, cars honking in rush hour traffic, people talking loudly on BART, etc. The doctors say my hearing is excellent, and that there's nothing wrong with me, but this pain persists and I can ever hear internally sometimes--as in, I can hear my blood beating inside my body. A nice metaphor for this period of introspection in my life, but kind of a pain in the ass.
All the noise that is part of City living is a big reason I'm having a hard time re-adjusting. After almost 4 days in the peace and quiet of the redwood groves, where the only sounds you hear in the daytime are ravens squawking here and there and birds hopping around looking for food among the fallen leaves, the urban din assaulting my being is at times almost deafening. Having lived in Oakland--which, despite its 'Boyz in the Hood' reputation, is much more tree-filled and a lot quieter than Frisco--for most of the past 13 years, I long for a slower, less hectic urban environment.
Or maybe I just want to be back amongst the redwoods, in my tent, surrounded by nature. I even made a s'more the other night to try to re-live my camping experience for a brief moment, but alas, it didn't taste as sweet. In fact, it tasted sterile and dry, like dust with chocolate.
But on a postive note, I did have some scrumptious Ethiopian food at Colucci's with L. and V. in Oakland the other night (the Segue Alicha is the bomb, if you eat beef)--and you can't grill that on a campfire stove, can ya? I guess there are some advantages to City life, after all.
Just returned last night from a camping trip (my first in about 3 years) in Mendocino County's coast redwood forest, which is peaceful and lovely, and just what this stressed-out City-dweller needed to regain a sense of balance. I'd never really spent much time in California's redwood forests, and they are stunning--perfectly straight, elegant and stately living things, some of the oldest and definitely the tallest living things on the planet! I think I've fallen in love with them, which means I'll be getting a little obsessed with reading and learning about them in the coming months. Yes, I am a brown-skinned-city-slicker-tree-hugger-girl and proud of it!
I had no idea that only 4% of the old coast redwood stands remain, thanks to profit-driven logging efforts by lumber companies. At least one company, the Mendocino Redwood Company, which was the target of a campaign a few years back to save the redwoods from unnecessary logging, has committed to harvesting redwood lumber in a sustainable way. I don't know enough to know whether this is really possible--I'm always rather skeptical about 'green businesses' that grow out of the corporate world rather than the environmental or social justice setors--but I'm curious and plan to find out more. If any of you out in Blogworld know anything about these and other redwood conservation efforts, please email me.
We were camped out next to the South Fork of the Eel River, which is still pretty low this time of year, but there was still enough water in the two nearby swimming holes to wade in and cool off. It was trippy to think that in a few months, these nearly dry riverbeds--now visible and walkable and filled with smooth river rocks--will be flowing freely and possibly even flooding the land nearby.
Our campsite was tucked away in a small clearing of young redwood and other trees, giving it a calm, spiritual feeling that I will long remember. The morning sunlight peeking through the trees was gorgeous, and the chipmunks, squirrels and birds who scrambled around nearby reminded me to tread lightly. Even the loud, sometimes offensively racist, drunken white college kids camped nearby who disrupted my sleep every night couldn't keep me from enjoying the sparkling canopy of stars high above.
Hope your Labor Day weekend was equally enjoyable.
That phrase above has become the catch-all motto for the global justice movement, but far from being cliché I think it sums up perfectly the attitude we need to have if we are truly going to make change from the bottom up. So many people I know in my daily life--family, friends, people I meet on the street-and even people that I have worked with in the social justice movement lose sight of this--that despite all the fucked-up shit that's going on in the world, despite our imperialist government and the corporate media's control of our airwaves and all violence and war we see in the world, that another world, a better world is possible--and more profound still, another world is being built as we speak, by people all over the planet. Here's a good example, thanks to Leny, the Women's Gift Economy Conference in Las Vegas, of all places! If we can envision another world in the midst of Vegas neon and slot machines, I know it's got to be possible!
Now I'm really off to go camping. Just had to get my final blog spasms out the way before being Internet-less for the next four days!
Besides the fact that Donnie Yen--IMHO, the most to-die-for, gorgeous, talented and fierce kung fu movie star since Bruce Lee--is only on screen for about 15 minutes, there is no excuse to not see Hero, Zhang Yimou's epic spectacle of color, light, wind machines, stunning period costumes, beautiful actors and vicious kung fu and swordplay.
It's taken long enough for Hollywood to release this film in the US--a 2-year delay! I had to wait 2 frickin' years to see this movie on the big screen. And I refused to watch in on DVD until I'd seen it in a theater first. Just wouldn't have the same affect. And I have to say it's been worth the wait. I know a movie is good when it inspires me deep in my gut to want to get up and start swinging my kali sticks in concentric circles. (Or maybe it was seeing Tuhan slice the air at Gura and Rhett'spamanhikan). I also have a special T'boli weapon that I acquired more than a year ago but have yet to practice with. I think I need to get back into the swing of things before I bring it to class, though.
I can't figure out why Donnie Yen is not a huge star in the U.S. already--besides the fact that American audiences lack a sophisticated taste in martial arts films and martial artists. No offense to Jet, who is another favorite of mine, but Donnie's better-looking, just as good a martial artist and actor (if not better on the acting tip--I mean, did you see the scene in Iron Monkey when he tells his son not to cry?), and he has a spine-tingling screen presence that just lights up any scene he's in (Donnie's the only thing I remember about Highlander: Endgame, really).
The only explanation I've heard that makes sense as to why Mr. Yen is not a household name is this one: that maybe he doesn't want to be a big movie star. My friend D. thinks Donnie is quite content to direct his own films and do martial arts choreography and other behind the scenes work. I can see why that might be the reason, and it makes me like Donnie even more that he is so multi-talented. But I still want more Donnie on the screen, kicking ass and being beautiful. I want to see more Donnie, more Donnie, more Donnie! Don-nie YEN! Don-nie YEN! Don-nie YEN! (Whoa, I must've caught the RNC protest-chant bug from my comrades out on the frontlines in NYC).
Enough already, I need to go pack for my camping trip. Go see Hero already.
I've been absent from posting to my blog for the last few days because I've been hella busy with writing, work and other political commitments (I'm a newly-recruited board member of Media Alliance and I'm going to be doing some facilitation work with SOMCAN in the South of Market neighborhood of SF), and getting ready for this weekend--I'm going CAMPING on the Eel River in Mendocino County, and I can't wait! H. and I are going with our good friends A. and N., two of my favorite people in the world, and super-committed activists themselves who rarely have a moment to spare, so having them to hang out with for three days is a real treat.
But despite my hectic schedule, I've had a little time to catch up on news about the RNC, including Oscarchoy's arrest-story, which gives you a fleeting glimpse into the world of police aggression if you haven't been lucky enough to be a first-hand observer yourself.
More later, I'll try to post once more before I take off for the great outdoors.