Seeds Already There


On the surface, I get the appeal of highlighting moments that signal a stark separation between recent ends and new beginnings. Enduring long enough to realize those separating moments can make them feel like monumental achievements. For instance, a dissertation defense. A cross-country move. A new job. A new relationship. Another calendar year. (According to some metrics, that’s a relatively comprehensive synopsis of my own life over the past two and a half years.)

Living in those moments, the experience of transition often feels more excitingly palpable and present than other stretches of life – a time of change invites that unique mixture of reflection about what is and has been and hope for what is yet to become. It encourages letting go of hang-ups and moving on – unburdened – from the challenges we have (or have not quite yet) overcome. And the opportunity appears ripe to set out into a still unknown future, which, thanks to the sheer quality of going from something-already into something-not-quite-yet, we often intentionally orient ourselves as if moving through doors that open onto an even more open possible future.

Despite the inherent uncertainty, the utter lack of anything remotely close to a promise that things will work out with some degree of goodness, success, joy, or prosperity, we tend to value times of transition like we value the seasonal emergence of spring out of winter – it’s a moment for hope to override cynicism and for us to envision the possibility of more metaphorical sunshine, blossoming trees, and clearer skies.

However, technically speaking, as sure as the sun falls and rises, it also rises and falls. The summer also turns to autumn and then cold and darkness descend as winter. These, too, are times of change.

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Making the Point of Life About Every Day – #HaveAReallyGoodDay

A few weeks ago, a friend came over to my place to talk. He was really going through it, so I fed him some homemade chicken soup and made sure that the lighting was appropriately soft, warm, and cozy. As our conversation transpired and enough time passed to warrant my making of a second course – stovetop popcorn and fresh mango slices – he finally asked me, “Don’t you ever wonder, ‘What’s the point?’ You know, to life. Like, what’s the long-term goal here?”

I swiftly replied, “I think the long-term goal is to just have a really good day.”

My response wasn’t a pat answer that I already had tucked away somewhere in my mind. It just struck me and I said it. After I said it, I decided I liked it.

And thus began my latest personal project for living, complete with the adoption of a new hashtag: #HaveAReallyGoodDay. Sure, you can use it if you’d like. Let’s start a movement… Continue reading

On Loving Keira Knightley’s Boobs Almost As Much As My Own

On Thursday night, every potential status update came out wrong:

“I have always loved Keira Knightley’s breasts, but now that she’s exposed them, I love them even more.” Nope.

“Seeing Keira Knightley’s un-photoshopped boobs confirms my early adoration of them.” True, but still nope.

“Hey, I think I look like Keira Knightley!” Shit, no.

I didn’t want to make it sound like I loved seeing Keira Knightly’s breasts simply because they actually are spectacular, but after seeing the picture of her and her un-retouched boobs, I desperately wanted to share it.

In the moment, I couldn’t have explained why I wanted to do it. Even now, a couple of days later, I still don’t know if I can articulate it. But the photo was more than poignant for me. It was powerful, and I was moved but not exactly inspired. Deep down, I felt something akin to relief but stronger than validation.

Ultimately, I think it was the feeling of reclamation.

I’m not about to post my own topless photos, but I did want to show what reclaiming my own chest looks like. Apparently, it looks like a no make-up selfie in an American Apparel bra because I’m not a professional photographer, it seems like making nudity a political statement is a special move reserved for celebrities and artists this month, and I’m not Keira Knightley or Chelsea Handler.

If this all seems a bit melodramatic, don’t worry, I know how it sounds. And I’ve been waiting for the feminist critiques of Knightley’s so-called “brave protest” to start rolling in (read more about this online trend here). After all, Keira Knightley is a stunning woman who, like so many famous celebrities, is a thin white woman with great bone structure who naturally fits nearly all of the beauty norms and standards of American culture. (Also, perhaps especially because she is a famous actress, Knightley’s intentions are completely irrelevant to the swaths of wide-eyed, sexually-exploitative, BroBible-thumping straight dudes who are thinking, “BOOBS? SCORE! And I don’t even have to hack, creep, or coerce to get a look?!?!”) Finally, maybe the whole thing really is just an ingeniously-timed publicity stunt to help promote her next movie.

We could raise many a skeptical eyebrow to Keira Knightley’s boobs and the effectiveness of this particular anti-photoshop protest, but I just don’t care. For me, this is personal.

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A Letter to Elliott: On Education, Philosophy, and Feminism, Or, What Sucks About School and What We Can Do About It

Dear Elliott,

Let me begin by extending my most sincere apology for letting so much time lapse before responding to your message. In the spirit of publicly thinking through philosophical issues, I hope you also accept this very public reply as an acceptable way to engage with the topics you presented, namely this: What possibilities does schooling present for instilling and furthering ethical education and action towards social movements, like feminism, in particular?

Before I address your question about an ethical and socially-oriented approach to education, I want to express how honored and grateful I am that you found my videos and appreciated their intent and content enough to shared them with your classmates. However, I can’t say that your peers’ “interesting response” to Porn with Strangers and The Anal Bomb was misguided. Although it may not have been your aim, I think it’s quite reasonable for them to assume that you were encouraging them to partake in anal sex (or at least consider their so-called “natural” responses to even the idea of it) in order to address their potentially latent homophobia and sexism. After all, in those videos, I’m not-so-subtly hinting at the idea that sexual practices and “personal” preferences can and often do reflect politically-charged cultural values and subject positions (all the puns intended!). Kudos to you for provocatively engaging your peers at an all-boys school on issues of ethics, pornography, and sexism! But I digress…

The real reason you reached out to me was to raise questions about the role of education, how education relates to society at large, and if/how/when/where feminism fits in regarding how we educate future generations.

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Let’s Talk About TEDx, Baby

…all the good things, and the bad things, that may be…

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Photo by Bruce Tracy

It finally happened! I set a goal. I worked toward it. And, over a month ago, I found myself standing on that infamous red-circle-of-a-rug on a TEDx stage. But I’m still struggling to understand what to make of my experience.

So this post is about disappointment.

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Honest Confidence and the Lies of the Best

It’s been another busy month with lots of challenges, changes, great opportunities, and much room for growth. I don’t know if it’s the product of the slow, subtle crafting of my own thinking or a cruel joke by a menacing world (…I think it’s more of the former), but one of my greatest challenges and opportunities as of late involved the collision of these things – personal introspection and an opportunity to speak. I spoke on a question that’s been hanging around my mind for years but suddenly became especially – even painfully – relevant to me over the past few months.

“How does one become more confident?”

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Why I Go Into Hiding During Feminist Storms

My piece inspired this illustration by Jonathan Swailes.

My piece inspired this illustration by Jonathan Swailes.

Please pardon my unusually long absence – I’ve been so busy geeking out for the past couple of months that I couldn’t find time to blog (Well, that and my life just got super crazy, but I’ll save that for another day, another post). I did, however, manage to do some writing! In fact, I wrote a short piece for the Intersectionality Issue of GEEKED, a feminist magazine entitled, “Intersectionality, Or, Why I Don’t Write for Feminists.” Given all of the internal contradictions wrapped up in this article, it was surprisingly difficult to put together. It didn’t help that the only way I could figure out how to write it was to call myself out as a bad feminist.

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