wait for the change

The last time I posted here, it was the Dark Place that was on top. Winter is like that – it gets into everything, greys it out, pushes it down with its heaviness.
It seemed to take forever for Spring to get here, but just when it seemed like it would never arrive, there was the peek of green through the brown and grey and black… and hope once again rose forth. A collective cheer of relief rose up.

mosaic7e4dddd73935e72a045bf3c9e6d100adcb429e39

Just like seedlings, people need nurturing too – even as grown people or plants, we have to take care to get what we need to thrive. Winter is a bit tough for me in general, and now that I’m in an industry that has the most busy season when it’s cold, the demands to be “with it” and energetic don’t really mesh well with my natural inclination to mope and hide during the grey days. Luckily, spinning is a skill that works well with downtime, and spinning bright colors helps perk up my mood.

stuff I make

Lately, I’ve been feeling the tug to run away to the woods. I used to spend a lot of time taking walks or hiking along the Rivanna in Charlottesville… and here in Baltimore, there are so many gorgeous rivers, streams, and wooded parks tucked in all over the place – it’s just a matter of finding the time to get there. The lyrical-poetical-dreamer part of me needs the contact with the magical smells and sights.
Once, I broke off the path and went to look at some goldenseal that was growing wild… and I found a small patch of indian pipe growing, like icy little faery flowers from the forest floor. I’ve been longing to find a tiny secret tucked between tree trunks, to find a little natural beauty that’s waiting for the right eyes to see it.

I’ve been patient, waiting for the change. Now it is happening, and I want to be right in the middle of it.

I write, as openly as possible, about my experience with depression and abuse, and my ongoing recovery. I share opinions. I promote compassion and change. I talk about music. I also write poetry and short stories. I like to share them here.

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Threeravens Yarns and Fibers - By Xiane

Lay bare your heart, induce the will of love / to restore what little faith that you may have lost

This is the dark time of the year.

Both in season – it is Winter Solstice, the longest night, the shortest day – and in mental state. The lack of light gets to me. I try really hard to keep my head up, but the relentless lack of sun makes me tired, makes me sad, makes me numb and full of every emotion all at once.

Last night I watched It’s A Wonderful Life. That was a blessing and a curse for someone like me, at this time of year. Like George Bailey, I have tried really hard to support the community around me. Sometimes it is utterly uplifting… occasionally, it is totally heartbreaking, especially when you know that you’re just spooning away at the ocean. But trying is more important to me than standing on the sidelines and not doing anything at all. And the payoff for it all is that I find that I have the best assortment of friends that a girl could ask for, in any lifetime.

 

no man is a failure

 

That’s what made me cry like a dang baby last night while watching the movie… maybe it’s my hormones, maybe it’s that now that I’m older I truly understand the messages in the movie. Who knows. All I know is that when everyone brings in their savings to help George, I know that moment. I have been the recipient in that moment, and I have helped to facilitate that moment for others. It is the time and space where it hits home the most what it is to have Community, to have people who truly have your back and will help you when you are falling.

My most sincere wish is to be able to give those moments to others who need them most. I get so frustrated by humans, our way of putting blinders on to shield out the parts of the world we are afraid of or don’t agree with or are unable to connect with – but I can’t live without us and our moments of shining compassion, heartfelt humor, and tender connection either. I would rather foster the good moments as much as possible.

We only get one trip on this planet. I want mine to have meant something, somehow, to someone. I want to know that if I had not been here, things would have been worse, not better. And I want to leave here with my heart and head filled with all the amazing moments that reaching out has brought me.

Welcome back, Sun. Please bring me more compassion, more hope, more energy, more love. Please bring those things to us all.

 

I write, as openly as possible, about my experience with depression and abuse, and my ongoing recovery. I share opinions. I promote compassion and change. I talk about music. I also write poetry and short stories. I like to share them here.

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One look relives the memory

nanowrimo So… hi. It’s been a while.
And it seems that I’ve managed to convince myself [with some help!] that it would be totally appropriate to try NaNoWriMo again. While running a retail business. During the busiest month of the retail year. Because reasons.
I know. Ballsy, Xiane. That’s me!

What am I writing about? I don’t know yet. I usually write Urban Fantasy. That might still happen. The characters I’ve been playing around with for 10 years still have stories to be told. There’s also some stories based off of my crazy, turbulent 20s that might be fun to tell in a pseudo-fictional format. Though that might be asking for trouble…

I do know that no matter what, I should get back into writing here to get in the swing of it. I do blog regularly at Threeravens.net, but that’s all business/fiber arts, no fiction or current events or whatever. Facebook sorta took the motivation to post here regularly. I look back at my old Livejournal and I see how prolific I was being, even when I was just reporting on the mundane bullshit of the day that seemed important then. I should get back to that. Not LJ, but writing just to write. That’s how one keeps sharp, right?

Since I constantly write stories in my head, especially late night to help me fall asleep, maybe that will give me writing fodder for this. I dunno. I haven’t planned anything. I should probably get to that, eh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I write, as openly as possible, about my experience with depression and abuse, and my ongoing recovery. I share opinions. I promote compassion and change. I talk about music. I also write poetry and short stories. I like to share them here.

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Why doesn’t it count?

Oh hey, looks like it’s time for another one of those vaguely feminist rants about human sexuality! (another FB note that led to a few people telling me I should really post to a blog or something, so here we are)

Lately I’ve witnessed or been part of a lot of conversations about sexuality. This in itself is not newsworthy, if history tells us nothing else, it’s that people love talking about that stuff all the time. However, I’ve become more aware of something that I had previously come across but not paid much attention to. The idea that only heterosexual intercourse is “real sex”. For your intimacy to count, there has to be a penis and a vagina, and they had better be touching each other or you’re not really doing it.

Seriously? By that standard, I know several gay or trans folks who have never had “legitimate” sex. According to Catholic church rules, there are a lot more virgins out there than one might imagine. Of course, this is not a surprising attitude among people who rant about sex being only for making babies (because there are only 7 fucking billion of us, and we can’t have people thinking it’s cool to get away with enjoying themselves or experiencing intimacy without paying for it in healthy white babies or we are doomed). It isn’t even surprising among people who are feeling insecure or uncertain about their sexuality and want to convince themselves that that time they hooked up with someone of the same gender doesn’t change their current sexual identity because it wasn’t real sex it was just, you know, fooling around. Or people who end up in bed with a friend and are afraid if everyone admits it was sex, it might change their relationship for the worse. There are a ton of ways to justify this mind set, and although I wouldn’t agree with them I can sort of see how it might be rationalized. It’s a joke even the liberal sorts of folks make without often assigning much meaning or seriousness. College experiments and drunken mistakes. It didn’t count, you know?

However, I think it cannot be expressed enough how harmful this kind of thinking can be to everyone. How many teenagers are out there having sex without being prepared for it emotionally because blow jobs don’t count? How many relationships are devalued or dismissed because of this narrow definition? To take it to a darker place, how many victims of sexual assault are told that what happened to them wasn’t really rape because it wasn’t “real sex”?

I was recently accused of reducing sex to a meaningless social exchange or a frivolous selfish act during a debate about abortion rights, ironically because I suggested that sex is essential to the human condition and something that consenting adults should be able to practice without fear or ridicule. This struck me as odd considering that the implication was that sex was nothing more than a necessary step one must endure when making a fetus. It isn’t like I don’t think casual non romantic sex is possible, or even that it’s bad or wrong in any way. It isn’t that I think sex needs to be treated as a grave and serious event (that would be pretty awful, wouldn’t it?). It’s that I think we need to expand our definitions of acceptable, valid, sexuality and not hide behind euphemisms to avoid calling it what it is. It’s important. It’s recreational. It’s intimate. It’s real. None of these things are mutually exclusive. Something to think about at least.

Kali

I am prone to both violently rejecting people taking me seriously, and insisting that I have serious things to talk about. I also enjoy silly hats, puppets, and protesting the evils of capitalism while drinking massive amounts of fair trade coffee.

A guest blogger position you say? PERFECT!

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All the cool kids are doing it

Yesterday I heard someone complain that they don’t like it that the kids these days are sometimes doing nice things just because they want to be cool. I mean, I’m paraphrasing here, but that’s pretty much what it boiled down to. I’m going to have to disagree. Aside from the fact that “I helped raise money for victims of natural disasters before it was cool” sounds like the punchline of a terrible meta ironic hipster joke, I can’t really see the downside to community organizing and caring about your neighbors becoming trendy (some of you are going to start thinking greenwashing and I totally went there too because I’m a hardened cynic who doesn’t know how to be happy but that’s another topic for another time).

I can see it now… a family displaced by flooding or earthquake damage or evicted after a draining legal battle with the bank that may or may not own their house and unable to wait for disaster relief or government aid due to massive credit card debt sits in a hotel room funded with the help of some high school kid who wanted to feel like they did something worth bragging about on summer vacation. The camera zooms in on the mother making a sandwich for her son and a reporter asks “So how are you coping after what happened?” “Well,” she replies, while screwing the lid back on a jar of peanut butter, “It’s really fantastic that our friends and family and our entire neighborhood came to our aid when we needed it the most. The only thing I worry about is those darn young people letting it change their priorities in life. It’s just terrible that people who might not normally want to help started down this path because of peer pressure, you know? Next thing you know they’ll be thinking about going vegan or mentoring children in after school programs.”


I can dream. :)

Kali

I am prone to both violently rejecting people taking me seriously, and insisting that I have serious things to talk about. I also enjoy silly hats, puppets, and protesting the evils of capitalism while drinking massive amounts of fair trade coffee.

A guest blogger position you say? PERFECT!

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I found a way to make my vote count

Today the president came to my home town, Charlottesville, VA to make a speech about how we shouldn’t give up hope. About how the other side wants us to loose faith in the system and stop trying to change the world. About how we could make a difference if we keep trying really hard and don’t let the pessimists crush our ambition. I couldn’t agree more. This is why, as I sat in the lovely theater downtown and watched hypocrisy in real time, I began to lose my mind. I left a room full of people applauding as Obama took credit for ending the war still being fought by mercenaries and soldiers who are now allowed to be gay but can still be imprisoned for questioning their role in an illegal war.

I remember how excited I was when I turned 18. I could vote! My opinions were now the opinions of an adult and could be backed up with action. As bitter and cynical as I already was at that point, I still thought just maybe my vote could accomplish SOMETHING. I was adorable really.

In the eight years since then I’ve lost hope, fallen on hard times, and recently regained a sense of optimism about the future and given up on voting in favor of going out into the world and trying to find other people who want to make things happen. At this point I can only see voting as validating a sham. As one of my friends brilliantly put it “I know the government has power over me, but voting feels like I’m agreeing to it. The state is giving you an option of being stabbed or shot. I’m saying I don’t give them permission to kill me.” This doesn’t mean I’m for tuning out or giving up, it just means I’m going to try other tactics.

When I expressed this in a short rant on Facebook, I was immediately called naive, accused of not participating, and told that not voting for Obama meant I was helping Romney get elected. This was at the same time easy to dismiss coming from people who admitted to not being involved on non election days, and angering because how are you going to criticize my lack of faith when your years of voting got us here? No, sorry. I refuse to be motivated by fear or peer pressure on this one.

Then… I had an idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I finally figured out how to make my vote count. I’m pretty excited about this election. :)

Kali

I am prone to both violently rejecting people taking me seriously, and insisting that I have serious things to talk about. I also enjoy silly hats, puppets, and protesting the evils of capitalism while drinking massive amounts of fair trade coffee.

A guest blogger position you say? PERFECT!

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I’m losing ground today – I think it works better that way

Keeping my head up is a continuous struggle.

It’s not that I don’t WANT to be upbeat and positive. Hell no, that’s not the case at all – in fact, considering how many balls I usually have in the air at one time, I’m pretty upbeat and happy generally.

When the stresses get to be too much, I have an answer. It’s not a solution, but it is a method of coping.

I’m running right inside you
What happens? What happens?
I played a black sheep for a day

When you feel like the world is crumbling, go outside.
I’d float away if I could, like the Lady of Shalott, with less tragic dying hopefully.
I’d like to escape to the sea.

I write, as openly as possible, about my experience with depression and abuse, and my ongoing recovery. I share opinions. I promote compassion and change. I talk about music. I also write poetry and short stories. I like to share them here.

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Disclaimer: Strong opinions ahead. To avoid injury or offense, avoid closing your mind for the duration of the post.

This was originally posted on Facebook, but I got so many messages immediately after I decided to share it here also. It’s something that comes up often enough as an atheist questioned about my morality that I figure it might come in handy for anyone else trying to explain that it’s quite possible to be ethical without involving god. It even has a helpful diagram!

Ok. So earlier today on Facebook I posted the quote “Here’s the problem with technology: it allows people who don’t believe in science to use it.”

 

This is funny. Let me explain why: The application of science allows us to create many useful tools. Often we use these tools without understanding why or how they work, and this has allowed many people who actively campaign against science education (because they don’t believe it explains the workings of the world as well as say, the bible or the magical talking crystals they worship or whatever) to do things like drive their cars to anti-science conventions and listen to Glenn Beck on the radio, radios and cars both being inventions that would not be possible without using scientific methods to learn about the world and then apply that information to engineer things like engines and radios.

 

Actually wait, that’s kind of tragic and pathetic. But I digress.

 

At some point, someone will feel the need to attack what I’ve posted because they don’t get it. I usually try to explain, but I keep making the same mistake over and over and falling into an unwinnable battle that leaves me grumpy and wondering why I can’t just shake people until they agree to start making sense. The mistake I make, is often that I assume we are all on the same page with what science is or isn’t, and what it’s for, and that we also all understand what religion is and isn’t and what it’s for. One of my friends mentioned this at some point and I realized where things were going off track. I made a picture to help clarify things.

 

Ok, so here we are. The thing is, science is NOT a substitute for religion. The reason is that the scientific method (and its practical applications) does not have anything to say about how one should use information or technology gained from its use. It is not a code for living, or moral behavior. It’s neutral. An individual who chooses to accept a fact based reality still must come up with their own code for ethical behavior. If one desires to be kind and do the right thing, and also has an understanding of the consequences of their actions, they will probably do a decent job of it. Some people who embrace reality still end up being asshats, but it’s an unrelated personal failing.

 

Religion on the other hand, not only offers it’s own, usually completely nonsensical explanation for how the mechanics of the universe operate (which for some reason people often cling to despite mountains of evidence contradicting it), it attempts to offer rules for behavior as well based on nothing more than “God(s) said so”. Some of these behaviors, are nice, some are terrible, but the problem with even the “nice” rules is that they are dogma, not based on people considering why they should or should not do something and what kind of person it makes them. Christianity is far from the only offender in this area, but if you challenge someone who is homophobic and the reason they give you is “The bible says being gay is wrong”, that’s it. You can’t argue with them, because their justifications aren’t based in reality or logic. As they say “You can’t argue someone out of a position they didn’t argue themselves into”. Non religious people can also hold these misconceptions of course, and a dogmatic atheist is just as wrong, but religion openly embraces the idea that it’s ok to follow rules for no reason other than it says so in your list of rules that god wants you to follow even if it’s hurting people.

 

I’ve been hurt by this thinking personally many times, and so have countless other friends and strangers around the world. I care about this argument because I care about people, not just because I’m a snarky know it all who needs to be right. Actually, I don’t know a lot when it comes to specifics. I don’t have a degree in any of the sciences, or a ready list of facts for everything. What I DO have is a mind capable of reason. You do too, and for the benefit of humanity, I want you to use it for good as much as possible.

 

So on one hand we have a system that lets us learn about the world but leaves it to us to decide how to act based on a personal moral code. On the other hand we have a system that encourages people to base their live choices on made up stories with no evidence to support them and often directs people (or lets people use it as an excuse for harmful behavior) to do really awful things in its name.

 

Why would you ever argue faith over knowledge?

Kali

I am prone to both violently rejecting people taking me seriously, and insisting that I have serious things to talk about. I also enjoy silly hats, puppets, and protesting the evils of capitalism while drinking massive amounts of fair trade coffee.

A guest blogger position you say? PERFECT!

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talking about your troubles it’s a crying sin

Spinning your wheels.

Spinning out of control.

Putting a spin on it.

It makes my head spin.

I’d rather spin a yarn.

I’ll be over here, spinning myself to life.

I write, as openly as possible, about my experience with depression and abuse, and my ongoing recovery. I share opinions. I promote compassion and change. I talk about music. I also write poetry and short stories. I like to share them here.

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Influence, accountabilty, reality checks, and giving yourself a break.

Yesterday it looked like it was going to storm, so I headed out for a walk. I was hoping to get caught in the rain. In times of stress, I need to do something that takes away some aspect of control, and summer storms are perfect. There is something intensely soothing about just giving in and getting soaked and not even trying to stave off total dishevelment. There are no ear buds full of sound to separate me from the world, and no one else around to distract me. When it’s good, it makes me think that this sort of experience is what the Islamic concept of “submission to god” in it’s pure pre-organized religion form must have originally been inspired by.

It is a good opportunity to think without interruption. One thing I’ve been thinking about and talking about a lot in the last week is the question of personal responsibility. Specifically, how much is it fair to ask of people when it comes to addressing the problems of the world? On one extreme I know that there are people who are willing to become fugitives living “off the grid” and giving up anything they can’t grow or craft themselves including modern medical supplies and coffee. This is, in my humble opinion, batshit insane. On the other end of taking a stand, there are the folks who honestly seem to think buying free range eggs is their fair share of world saving action. This is even MORE insane. Whatever reality those people inhabit, I want in on that.

Let me be clear. This is not about one-upmanship. This is not a guilt trip either. I think that most people, if they are honest with themselves, understand that the amount of suffering in the world is vast. Even in America where I can live below the federal poverty line in ways that most parts of the world might consider decadent, divisive wealth disparity, social inequality, and an obscene flaunting of excessive wealth in the same place that people are dying because they can’t get medical care is a daily reality. At a certain point, something will have to give, either in the direction of a revolution away from fear and towards hope, or a downward spiral towards a violent crash. So what do we do about it?

None of us is perfect, and we shouldn’t expect to be. Unfortunately, along with polarization in the realm of politics, it seems harder and harder to suggest a middle path without extreme defensiveness on the part of “crazy radicals” and “spoiled middle class whiners” alike. If you ask people for more, they often attack your lifestyle or dismiss your concerns as paranoia, or they claim your expectations are unrealistic and that the reason other people can do more is that they are better off. If you tell people that you think they may in fact be a little too fanatical for a meeting of the minds, they accuse you of being an uncommitted wimp who isn’t willing to make the real sacrifices. Is this fair? In either case?

I live pretty low impact compared to the average American. If the economy relied on people like me to regularly buy new things instead of repairing them or buying used goods and purchase services rather than mostly relying on friends or myself + wikihow , it would collapse instantly. However, I can do this in large part because of the excess a lot of other people engage in and because my priorities do not involve children or student loans. I buy fancy coffee. I threw away two egg yolks the other day despite listening to a TED talk on worldwide food waste issues. I do volunteer work regularly, try to engage in my local community, and seek out opportunities to educate myself about ways to be a more responsible citizen. I also waste much of my spare time creating social divisions by mocking hipsters, purchasing and enjoying cheap plastic goods made by underpaid workers overseas, and squandering what remains of my health and disposable income by drinking diet sodas produced by truly sinister corporations. I am both a shining example of progressive activism, and a terrible person and shameless consumer who is helping to bring the planet and society closer to its doom with every sip of my white (privilege) mocha.

There must be a reasonable expectation of effort without the shaming or accusations of lacking empathy. I can say without hesitation that on the whole, people are NOT doing enough. The evidence is all around us. The world is hurting way more than it needs to. It can be tempting to say there isn’t much we can do given the limited impact of consumer choice and the fact that one person recycling bottles isn’t going to change an entire economy based on waste and infinite growth. Besides, why should YOU live like a scavenger and give up most of the luxuries of the first world if no one else is going to? You’ll just end up hurting yourself for no reason, and don’t we ALL know a bitter martyr who took that path? Don’t be that guy. But do be a better guy. Everyone can do something a little better. Everyone can start living a tiny bit more responsibly. These small changes will not save the world, but they may help to create a social norm of responsibility. The battle you choose might not make everyones life better, but it will definitely make SOMEONES life better. It sounds trite, but it all adds up. And while you are making small changes and reevaluating your immediate needs vs. a brighter future and trying to figure out ways to make the BIG changes happen? Consider this. I believe that the most important thing anyone can do is to approach every problem with as little ego as possible. If you see being asked to give something as having something denied to you or being told you are “doing it wrong”, it will end with nothing but bad feelings and the same problems (now with 120% more spite and resentment!). I cannot begin to tell you how often I hear people proudly proclaim that they are going to do something selfish or bad for the environment, not because they want to, but because “fuck you hippie” (childish much?).

Who am I to think I can tell you not to eat veal or buy a third car? Heck, I’m no one. I’m not an authority figure, or your real dad, or your nagging conscience. I’m just someone asking you humbly to make kindness and responsibility to your community your priority over never letting anyone tell you how to live and confusing things you desire with things you deserve. I am also a fellow terrible human being, suggesting that I hope it’s ok to not feel shame for enjoying the good things that life allows us to have. :)

P.S. – Originally I wanted to write about the upcoming G8 protests happening around Camp David in Maryland. I decided against this, but you should totally check it out. Cool stuff is happening. This is some of it.

Kali

I am prone to both violently rejecting people taking me seriously, and insisting that I have serious things to talk about. I also enjoy silly hats, puppets, and protesting the evils of capitalism while drinking massive amounts of fair trade coffee.

A guest blogger position you say? PERFECT!

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