Hint: Use 'j' and 'k' keys
to move up and down

adriennemareebrown

The only way to deal w/an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion. -Camus
- love, science fiction, revolution, life -
twitter.com/adriennemaree
adriennemareebrown.net

facebook makes life less regrettable

Robert Frost spoke of two roads diverging in a wood, and choosing the one less traveled by. There are so so many more than two paths…and moments of choice are constant.

I’ve realized that facebook is a way to peek at alternate life paths, paths I might just as easily be walking. And in nearly every instance, there is deep relief and freedom in watching paths unfold that were almost mine, but aren’t.

There are more ‘well-traveled’ paths that I absolutely wanted to take at various points in my life. Perhaps, if anyone would have walked with me, I’d be living a different set of miracles now. I wasn’t brave enough to walk those louder, populous paths alone.

The road less traveled by has consistently provided shelter and spiritual respite for a bruised young sensitive ego, in addition to being fertile with divergent wonders. I’ve come to prefer the quiet, learned to be very satisfied in my own heart, seeking the rare company of fellow adventurers who like to gasp and create in ways that align with my own patterns of observation and reflection.

And because of the modern moment of personalized technological life sharing, I get to see in real time the way those unwalked paths unfold. And feel the freedom of not being on those paths, feel the gratitude for the life I’ve chosen, through my cowardice, bravery and particular responses to fate.

I’ve heard it called JOMO, the joy of missing out. Some of my JOMO (almost/ungranted wish) paths:

The jobs I almost took/kept
The coworkers I almost had
The unbearable power and responsibility I almost shouldered
The fellowships/grants I wanted
The crushes I almost confessed my ‘love’ to
The relationships I almost fell into
The friendships I thought would thrill me
The boys and girls I thought were so brilliant and broodingly attractive
The people I thought I should have children with (!!)
The cities I almost moved to
The ambition I almost centered
The sacrifices I nearly normalized
The places I wanted to stay when I’d outgrown them

More than any other social media (though I sometimes have these moments on Instagram and Twitter too), Facebook has just been helping me notice how I have been so fortunate in my deferred dreams and near misses.

And the deep joy/JOMO I experience at seeing someone else walk a path that I nearly journeyed, when it was so clearly for that person and not for me? That joy is total!

And I’m sure there are other people out there reveling in not being in my shoes. It’s just so wonderful.

So, let’s honor the random awesomeness of this moment in technology and communication as a sci fi win. Facebook’s exposure to other people’s lives is making my own life increasingly less regrettable, and making me more curious when things I think I want don’t happen…or don’t sustain. I rejoice in apparent failures. Sometimes. At the very least, I’m starting to frame things that seem like thwarted loves and rejected dreams and mercury-retrograded plans as opportunities for future JOMO.

Love wins.

1 week ago 3 notes

Tagged with:  #IFTTT  #WordPress

While we are singular, we are not alone.

Just finished facilitating a bunch of brilliant LGBTQ people from all over the Upper Midwest, gathered by an inspiring and accountable regional foundation called PFUND.

There were some folks, primarily from Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, who have been at the forefront of the movement locally and nationally for years. Inspiring.

I was deeply touched by the number of people in isolated rural settings, especially in the Dakotas, who have found themselves and come out to live their truths in spite of having few models or relationships, and literally no spaces, to indicate that they would survive, thrive.

While we are singular, we are not alone.  Seeing that, seeing other people realize that, is healing.

There were two children present with us, a young child and a 6 month old baby. Knowing that this self-liberating circle would form the normal for these kids…this work does something divine to my heart, brings tears to my eyes.

A poem came during the work:

Sometimes I feel I am
just behind my own life.
Out a breath ahead
my great heart dances.
Almost caught up,
I sway
Longing to surrender.

Sometimes I feel I am
inside a cracked glass gift,
a small dropped globe
gone fragile as a gasp.
Mute, scarred and wondrous,
I press
my palms to bleeding.

And sometimes I feel I am
in the soft grip of the goddess,
womb deep in the long crevice
of her sacred life.
Light as a prayer
I realize
I, too, am forever.

Love wins.

1 week ago

Tagged with:  #IFTTT  #WordPress

"i have a life to garden.
a multiverse to wake from sleep."
- giants, nayyirah waheed (via nayyirahwaheed)

(via nayyirahwaheed)

The city said it was a seasonal sinkhole but she didn’t believe them. That presence she’d been feeling burrowing under the house must have gotten out, and now it could be anywhere! #scifishort  (at purple house deux)

The city said it was a seasonal sinkhole but she didn’t believe them. That presence she’d been feeling burrowing under the house must have gotten out, and now it could be anywhere! #scifishort (at purple house deux)

Tagged with:  #scifishort

I Learned it from Watching You: Healing Legacies of Trauma and Abuse in Queer Communities

wildseedculturalgroup:

image

“Who taught you to hate yourself?” Malcolm’s words had me locked into his 1962 speech hungry for more of his anti-white supremacy shade. At the time I was a daughter of the “golden era” of hip-hop - Public Enemy, X-Clan and Boogie Down Productions were heavily involved with the shaping…

Perfect sky for leaving the first statewide environmental justice summit in Michigan, hosted by Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition. It’s been a dark time, the light is bursting through, and it all comes through relationships, critical connections, getting naked with our truths and waging love. #grateful #resilient #skyfetish #earthlover (at Michigan State University)

Perfect sky for leaving the first statewide environmental justice summit in Michigan, hosted by Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition. It’s been a dark time, the light is bursting through, and it all comes through relationships, critical connections, getting naked with our truths and waging love. #grateful #resilient #skyfetish #earthlover (at Michigan State University)

Meet Busi (boo see), fierce fern. I will keep her alive! (at purple house deux)

Meet Busi (boo see), fierce fern. I will keep her alive! (at purple house deux)

Reflecting on Terrorism

It has always been a question for me.

Why?

As a human who has lived a beautiful life, loves my family, has called many places home, has believed lots of humbling and divergent things about divinity, loves my body, and is still scared of death, I have often struggled trying to grasp what would make someone die over a place, a boundary.

I generally understand terrorism to be when a people without an acknowledged place engage in warfare. Generally a statistical minority against a violent majority. It often takes the form of suicide, kamikaze flights into buildings, self-explosion in a crowd, the use of the self as a weapon, as an exclamation point in an argument.

And I have to ask myself, under what conditions would I kill myself?

I remember asking that question perhaps for the first time on 9/11. My response since then has been consistent: that the horror of oppression that exists leading up to an act of terrorism must be unbearable.

I have my own rhythms of melancholy and hopelessness, which undulate on a roughly five year cycle, and which I’ve learned to live through and with. My hopelessness is smart, sometimes smarter than I am. It has great reasons for existing, feels like a logical response to my experience in the world, to unavoidable suffering. But my hopelessness is regularly countered by reprieve from oppression, by great joy and love and abundance and freedom and periods of undeniable emotional and physical safety that counteract some of my other truths.

For me, the only external force that could make me take my own life, and perhaps anyone else’s (still pretty sure this is not possible, though I have people in my life who make me feel violently protective) is feeling unheard in a cycle of hopelessness, in a trap of oppression, with no reprieve.

Powerless and still awake.

On 9/11, I walked from my midtown office to my friends’ home in Brooklyn, through a city of rubble and blood. I ate a dinner of kielbasa and pierogies off a backyard picnic table covered in human and corporate ash. I’d lived in NY for five years that month, dreamed of it for a decade before getting there, and I thought it would always be my home. I loved it. When it was attacked, I needed to know why?

As a sci-fi writer, I get that the idea of hateful lifestyle fundamentalists is appealing, easy like a comic book villain. In a binary mind, it is so fulfilling to have a one dimensional bad person, or bad people. But in my life I have never met a bad person. I’ve met a lot of traumatized people, some of whom behaved badly.

I’ve met prisoners and bully children and drug dealers and sexual assailants and killers and thieves and hustlers. And each one was a human with a story, with learned behaviors and survival strategies, a sliver of life force that hadn’t given up. Some of the people carrying these labels are amongst the most tender, brilliant people I’ve encountered.

People get traumatized individually and collectively. I have both experiences in my life and lineage. Responses to individual trauma can be privatized. Get a therapist, learn to love, stop overeating, forgive someone, choose life. It’s a legitimate effort, a whole life’s work, and for better and worse so much of it can happen behind closed doors, in rooms with sunlight and lavender and people who claim to know how to live.

Collective trauma is louder, harder to hide. It manifests as self-hate and internalized identity phobias, fear-based survival strategies, group violence at a gender or gang level.

It manifests, too, as terrorism.

At an international level, collective trauma is passed around, less like a hot potato, more like live coal in bare hands that no one will drop, believing it will cool to gold. It is searing everyone, leaving no one to offer comfort or a better option.

There is a deep desire to belong in this world, species, land – I have had many teachers say it is one of our deepest most common human longings, and the absence of belonging is one of the most common ways we experience trauma.

I’ve seen this phenomenon with children…my youngest niece wants to play soccer with the bigger kids, wants to be involved. She can’t kick or control the ball with her feet yet, so she picks it up and runs off like Bonnie or Clyde towards the sunset.

Of course, while amusing, this strategy is not long lived. The ball is not meant to be used this way, the other kids cannot just let her take the ball. She won’t have a moment’s peace with that ball. She has to give it back, and be patient as she grows up, learns to play, learns that she belongs to the family whether she can kick the ball or not.

That is the simplest way I understand a conflict/place like Palestine. A traumatized people, left out, forced out of other homes, subjected to genocide, were offered something that was already in use. They ran with it. But the land is not meant to be occupied in this way, and so they have not had, and will not have, a moment’s peace. It has been war, it will be war, until Israel finds a way to return what they can of what was taken, to return dignity to the relationship they have with the Palestinian people they appear to be trying to erase.

I live in a country where this same process happened. Indigenous people were pushed aside, murdered, manipulated, robbed. I believe many of our economic, environmental and health problems, as well as a general spiritual void, are directly linked to that trauma. I don’t think America will be ‘free’ until there is a serious reckoning with that history, and what it now implies for other colonial efforts.

Accountability matters. Truth and reconciliation only works if the truth is really sought, really heard.

The truth, as far as I can tell, is that hate is not a root emotion. The why is not hatred, not at the root. My niece doesn’t hate the other children…she wants to play with them. Israel wants to exist, to be recognized and respected. It wants the world to never again try to eliminate the Jewish people. It is a beautiful and noble desire.

But you cannot transform others.

Not with stolen property, not with apartheid practices of brute force, walls, passes, human rights violations and violence. What will continue to happen is collective trauma, and the growing, desperate need on both sides to end the trauma and begin to heal. The rhythms of Gaza, the demoralization of checkpoints, makes that impossible, currently.

The role the U.S. plays in it is so important. Certain states of mind and heart should not be weaponized and resourced. I can’t imagine giving rape victims an AK47 and saying ‘do whatever you need to do in order to feel safe from men.’ Trauma begets trauma. Yet we pour funding into a situation where collective and recent trauma from a genocide is the undercurrent for decision making.

Of course, my mind comes back to the U.S. for other, current, reasons. A 2012 study found that every twenty eight hours a black person is killed by someone employed or protected by the US government. Stand Your Ground and Shoot First policies combine with white supremacy to devastating effect.

I feel and see us going through all of the options we can find to respond. Asking for justice, creating talking points and memes to educate ourselves and those who fear us, journeying across the country to focus our solidarity, meditating, praying, singing, screaming, grieving, demanding accountability, advocating for policy change, taking to the streets in nonviolent protest.

Movement is growing. I am inspired by the work being done under the hashtag/philosophy #blacklivesmatter – focusing on healing, solidarity, love, care and justice. These efforts highlight to the country and anyone else watching that, as a nation, we are only as far along as our oppressive tendencies.

But I also feel a growing danger. There is an exhaustion. One of my favorite exercise podcasts to listen to is The Read,. Cohosts Crissle and Kid Fury had some shows where they fully expressed their emotions about Ferguson. And Crissle particularly spoke my heart at one point when she said she was just so tired of watching black people be killed by authority figures. Deeply tired.

Yes, there is violence inside the community. Scarcity and poverty create a toxic and fatal self-image inside a people. Collective trauma, like individual trauma, does immense internal damage. The work necessary to restore and transform that self-inferiority has been in progress for years – black power, black love, building up our self-esteem as a people, generating dignity. That internal community violence is tragic and logical, to me. Slavery ended 149 years ago. Jim Crow laws, about 60 years ago. Blacks have been considered less than human in this country for the majority of our time here. Our statistics for prison, education, police brutality – there are few numbers we can look at see a story in which America loves black people more today, to see a story in which America is not still trying to rid itself of us. We have the Obamas, we have Oprah, but roughly every twenty eight hours or so, it feels like all we have are exceptions and skin that marks us like a breathing yellow star in a genocidal state.

In order for slavery and Jim Crow to end, there was a combination movement working the voting path, the legal path, the nonviolent movement path, and the path of armed resistance. And probably many many other paths as well. But in my reflections on terrorism, it feels important not to forget that there were slaves who fought back. There were black revolutionaries who armed themselves in response to the constant violent efforts of this nation to enslave and or erase them.

I was taught, in Department of Defense schools, that indigenous people were scalping and violent terrorists. But the more I have read, learned, listened to indigenous people today, I understand that that was the colonial view, a way to justify the unjustifiable and horrific violence of taking land and life from people.

I believe in the power of nonviolence, it is where I have spent the majority of my political life, working in the realm of vision, conflict resolution, nonviolent actions, and so on. And from that place I find myself trying to understand how much oppression humans can ever be expected to bear? It is from that place that I find myself feeling a deep compassion and solidarity for those pressed into the small box of terrorism, globally.

It feels very important to me to relinquish the safety of victimhood in the context of terrorism. Particularly as an American. I no longer feel shocked, ‘how could this happen?’ I feel more like, with the way that modern colonization and power are being wielded at this moment in our human journey, it shocks me that incidents of terrorism are not happening daily, across the nation, across the world.

I work with a client who monitors prison conditions. The staff is made up of people who have never been incarcerated, and people who have been incarcerated. We were recently in a conversation about what the future looks like – is it better, more humane prisons?

One of the responses, from someone who had been incarcerated for over a decade, was that there is no such thing as a humane prison. It was a simple and deep truth to hear. It didn’t mean that reform work is not useful in the short term, but it absolutely meant that we have to build a common answer to this question: what are the conditions by which we can stand together in our dignity as human beings?

There is no humane way to shoot a black child in the street or in the face. There is no humane way to bomb a city. There is no humane way to imprison another human being. There is no human way to commit an act of terrorism.

In the same way that we must listen to those who have experienced incarceration if we want to craft a humane and transformative justice in our lives, in our nation, in our time…I believe we must learn to really listen to those we call terrorists.

We need to remember, always, to humanize, to seek compassion, to let no human be outside of the mirror in which we see our own responsibility and our own potential. These are other human beings who have been driven to this edge. Dismissing or demonizing them will not keep anyone safe.

We must know that within each of us, there is that same small blue fire for life, for love, that can burn everything in sight under the wrong conditions. We must learn to consider terrorism as desperation born of oppression and collective trauma, and listen all the way down to the root of that desperation, down to the human.

I am 36

I am 36. It went so quickly this time around, it almost feels like I just time traveled through a massive year.

There have been birthdays where I have thrown parties for thousands. Where I traveled, chasing the sun. Years where I could scarcely revel enough.

It’s been hard to feel celebratory this year. I’ve been trying. Mostly I feel an underlying unquenchable exhaustion, waves of a sort of survivor’s guilt, a visiting sense of numbness, of being fragile, the weight of realizing that it can be a shit world, even with all the miracles and beauty in it…there is inside me a familiar wondering about what I am here for, and if the gifts I have been given can make any impact on this place. Which conversations are worth having? What forgiveness must I cultivate? Can I reach far enough with my light?

My dreams this week have been amazing. Gentle textures, lots of slow flight – where I feel I am really learning to fly, really working my arms. And post moving dreams of organizing spaces, with visitations from loved ones, release, clarifying visions.

I want to share with you a self assessment, write myself into celebration. Heading into 36, I know these things about myself:

1. I am a grown woman. I can do whatever I want. Knowing what I want, with an awareness of the preciousness of time, is becoming a daily requirement.

2. I am a feeler, an empath. I have learned a lot about how to feel so much without being overwhelmed, but I don’t always remember the lessons. If I try to skip a feeling, it runs ahead of me and lays in wait until I appear ready. It never goes away unfelt. I spend a lot of time feeling, and sometimes have to remind myself that this too is a calling. This year included some feelings I wanted to numb at first sight. I always conclude that I wouldn’t give up any of these feelings, eventually it becomes clear that they are all variations on love.

3. I can be hard worker, but my value is not in what I can do for others – I tried that path, I was always tired and thirsty. My greatest gifts emerge from my own curiosity and desire, when I feel balanced, lit up inside, with compassionate boundaries, liberated time and grateful uncompromised yeses. Others benefit from my resourced state because, like most humans, when I am good to myself I become open, generous, clear and creative. But I actually can’t concern myself with what others want, or need, me to do. I cannot live in obligation, becoming an embodied resentment. I have to always start from that which brings me fulfillment, that which makes me work hard with a smile – that is where I am my best human experiment.

4. I am doula and a nomad. In combination. I show up with a smile for difficult and miraculous moments, moments of transition, bringing stories and songs with me, carrying the experiences forward. I used to call myself a trench runner, in a war metaphor, reporting the landscapes and strategies across front lines…but I am not a soldier. I’m a liberating spirit who loves the look of freedom in and on others. I get asked to be a companion at the precipice of life and, recently, death. I feel very comfortable there. I follow that edge across space and time, my home is this fragile planet and I find people I love everywhere I go. I am local within. I relax in transit. I slow down for the birth of a baby, an ancestor or an idea.

5. Every day, for as long as I can remember and as far as I can dream, I am a writer. I am a private person, but this calling is not a private pursuit. When I write, I have to tell you everything, being transparent is perhaps a compulsion. I think our next evolution depends on eradicating secrecy about our pain. I believe what we withhold of ourselves becomes our prison. It’s writing, it’s a sprint north, it’s an escape plan, it’s a blueprint, it’s words. I feel better already.

6. I am a healer and a magician, and I am just learning to hold the fire of my own and others’ energy in my fingers, let the life flow through my body. I am growing in this, healing and coaching more.

7. I am alive, and people that I love are not. I am determined not to let my survival be arbitrary. I will seek and embody light for as long as I have here.

8. I am healthier than I was this time last year – lighter, stronger, more fierce, more shameless, more disciplined, less rigid, more active, more aware, more in love with and in awe of my body. For my birthday I’m going to meditate, go for a long walk, engage my core in planks and pushups, be present with my family, receive the love of my partner, skype with the babies, revel in social media well wishes and feel no guilt.

9. I am beautiful. Not in the way I hoped to be when I was younger, not in a famous person way, but in the way that I am free from the idea of perfection. I love how my thighs move when I walk, I love how my skin tastes, I love how I can feel joy in my jaw, I love this body, this face. Sometimes I look at myself and all I see is life. No flaws, just vibrant outrageous survival and wisdom. Grief has made me realize that the most beautiful thing about people is the life flowing through them. I am so alive, and it is so beautiful.

10. I am a creator. From happy style to sugar shifts to emergent strategy, from love to poems to children’s books to photos to science fiction, most of my life is creating. I spent the last hours of 35 and first hours of 36 creating. This poem came:

The moon is getting heavy
The crickets constant, loud
The river steams up under us
Each space all clamoring crowd

The stars drizzle and they drop
Their light is time tricked out in black
When darkness tastes the sun
She becomes fire all arch and back

This is the sacred moment
The green earth on our tongues
Every day is full of our dying
And all the while we are young

I will not quake and shiver
This heartbeat my first delight
I’m full of nights worth dreaming
I choose to be the light

I will not hush and wander
This whisper bears no spite
I’m full of songs you haven’t heard
I choose to be the light

I will not hide or disappear
My spirit is the mountain’s height
I see the future hurtling home
I choose to be the light

I will not surrender
I know each of my rights
I’m taking all the joy that’s mine
I choose to be the light

The birthday gift I want this year is to be a working writer, to cover rent and food with income from my words. One way you can support that is by becoming a member of this blog. In addition to the things I normally post here, feelings and reflections and lessons gathered, I’ll be posting more original science fiction. I’m going to write whether I’m paid or not, and this will be available to you whether you pay or not, so it’s truly in the spirit of a gift. I’m working on telling the universe what I want, cause that’s what grown women do.

And, see point 1, that’s what I am. I just wrote myself into a celebratory space. Happy birthday to me! Off to meditate. Have a day worthy of the miracle of your life.

i move therefore i am

i just completed moving out of the detroit apartment i have lived in for five years. i moved into the apartment directly above it, with my sweetheart. i learned some things during this move.

1. five years is actually a major chunk of a life. one seventh of my life thus far. so much happened in that home. when i started to let the memories come, tears flooded my face and i had to stop and catch my breath. the heart is so much more resilient than the mind. my mind cannot handle my life at all, but my heart cannot forget even the smallest instance. i remember the first time my niece siobhan visited – holding her in the dark in the living room because she wouldn’t sleep and my sister needed rest in the desperate way only new mothers know. i remember lunch meetings with charity. i remember each of the sci-fi writing salons. i remember love, heartbreak, healing, love, growth, healing, love. yoga. and learning who i was, in conversations, in that place between midnight and dawn, in that space. writing stories that i thought were brilliant and stories that i knew were horrid. needing a sabbatical, taking it, coming home, leaving, coming home, leaving, coming home – i have been the heartbeat in that little wood and brick flesh. it took the better part of a year for me to be ready to let it go.

2. i am a virgo. not that i have doubted it. but it is amazing to feel the righteousness of organization in my heart – the thrill of an empty closet or cabinet, the titillation of seeing a perfect layout behind my eyes. yes, there are other ways to do things. but it is amazing to feel the ‘right’ way like a bell ringing inside! i want to send a special love shout out to my partner because…i cannot imagine trying to land in a new space next to such wild perfection.

3. i have a thing for: matches, stationary and any other kind of paper including post-it notes, sage, sci-fi books, most other books, small decorative elephants, sentimental vhs tapes/dvds/cds, images of beyonce, unread books related to buddhism, candles that seem to have lost their wicks, emotive collages, magazines that hold the potential of collage, shoes and jewelry that i never wear but absolutely display as art, postcards, things my family members gave me, frozen homemade soups, turquoise nail polish, ginger dusting powder from lush (seriously does anyone want some of this? i took it too seriously when they discontinued this stuff, forgetting that i too would change), chopsticks, mugs, and anything that could be considered an altar item.

4. i am overwhelmed. my birthday is coming up (and all i want is to know people read this stuff sometimes, so become a member at any level if this crosses your line of sight) and there has been so much change this year – death and new life and love and health and all the biggest things. i have been pretty sure i was overwhelmed for a little while now, but the move really brought to light how deeply i can only do one thing at a time right now. i apologize to everyone who i was supposed to communicate with or do something for during this time. working to meditate, be in my body, and write daily. working to travel less, cook more, sleep deeper, breathe deeper, slow down. this home will help with each of those pieces of work.

5. it is good to shed. our whole lives become skins we wear. if we don’t grow, life can become this mess we are trying to fit into. i have outgrown the self i was in my old home. i will outgrow the self i am now with any luck.

6. i have abundance, i have a bathtub!!!, i am grateful, and that is all i actually need.