Monthly Archives: May 2014

52 Photos: Sugar!

This week’s prompt was sugar. Here are a few from the archives:

Sugar cane with passion fruit in Portugal:

sugar and passion

Sugar skulls at the market in Oaxaca, Mexico:

sugar skulls

This flower looks like it’s made of sugar to me:

sugar petal

And I colored my own sugar one year for sprinkles on cookies:

red sprinkles

Finally, my friend Karyn’s shop sign, in reverse, which is still as sweet:

sugarpill

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The Absurdity of Failure

When all else fails, there's tea

What am I afraid of?
I’m afraid I’ll never work full-time again. Which really means ..
I’m afraid I’ll never have work that pays me a living wage.
I’m afraid I’ll have to go back to working in an office with mean, abusive people.
I’m afraid my work will never be valued.
I’m afraid I won’t be valued.
I’m afraid of going after what I really want and not succeeding.
I’m afraid to talk about my experience at Amazon.
I’m afraid I’ll die alone.
I’m afraid I’ve passed my prime/missed my opportunity.
I’m afraid I’ll write my book and no one will care.
I’m afraid to try new things related to employment.
I’m afraid to speak up for myself.
I’m afraid of failing.
I’m afraid of disappointing the people who love me.

What am I not afraid of?
I’m not afraid to travel to foreign countries where I don’t speak the language.
I’m not afraid to try new types of food.
I’m not afraid that my partner will leave me.
I’m not afraid of using technology.
I’m not afraid to talk to people.
I’m not afraid my family will stop loving me.

I seem to have two kinds of fears: the ones that paralyze me, and the ones that I can manage without feeling overwhelmed. For the ones that overwhelm me, I don’t have any way to break them into smaller components. There’s no incremental path to work through that fear. Those fears feel like a solid, massive wall without any doors or windows, no openings whatsoever.

I’m afraid of failing.

Judith Halberstam wrote a book a couple of years ago called The Queer Art of Failure. From the description about the book:

The Queer Art of Failure is about finding alternatives—to conventional understandings of success in a heteronormative, capitalist society; to academic disciplines that confirm what is already known according to approved methods of knowing; and to cultural criticism that claims to break new ground but cleaves to conventional archives. Judith Halberstam proposes “low theory” as a mode of thinking and writing that operates at many different levels at once. Low theory is derived from eccentric archives. It runs the risk of not being taken seriously. It entails a willingness to fail and to lose one’s way, to pursue difficult questions about complicity, and to find counterintuitive forms of resistance. Tacking back and forth between high theory and low theory, high culture and low culture, Halberstam looks for the unexpected and subversive in popular culture, avant-garde performance, and queer art. She pays particular attention to animated children’s films, revealing narratives filled with unexpected encounters between the childish, the transformative, and the queer. Failure sometimes offers more creative, cooperative, and surprising ways of being in the world, even as it forces us to face the dark side of life, love, and libido.

I wrote about failing a couple of months ago. Re-reading that post, I realize I have more to say. Because there’s a piece about mistakes that I haven’t addressed. In American culture, my perception is that mistakes are not tolerated. Hello, “three strikes you’re out” and all that. In my experience, mistakes weren’t tolerated in the business/work setting.

Last week I was asked where I feel free to make mistakes. “Yoga,” was the first word out of my mouth. Because the flip side of all this talk about failure is success. This is what Halberstam is getting at, too.

How have I defined success? By results. And when I look at the “results” of the fruits of my labor, I feel I have nothing to show. I recognize this is fear talking. And that’s why the yoga practice is so different. Because what are the markers of success in yoga? It’s not the physical, outer form, but inner things that are felt. Maybe they are quantifiable? But for me, the biggest markers of success in yoga are qualitative, not quantitative. I think this is the success that Halberstam may be talking about. In my failure to “make it” in the corporate, high-tech world, I’ve freed myself from even having to make the attempt. I have to keep reminding myself that there are many other arenas, many other venues, and many other ways of being in the world that are just as valid.

As I’ve said in my (hu)manifesto, failure is when you stop trying, stop making the effort. I want to create an environment for myself that not only tolerates mistakes, but encourages them. I learn from my mistakes. I don’t want to be punished by them.

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52 Photos: Criss Cross

This week’s prompt was Criss Cross. A few photos from the archive:

A knot at Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto:

crossed knot

Crossed knot at Hasedera Temple in Kamakura, Japan:

buddhist knot

Skylight at Bendel’s Department Store in NYC:

skylight at Bendel's

Celtic Cross in Seattle:

celtic cross

And finally, a snowy knot in Seattle:

snow knot

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52 Photos: Fire

This week’s prompt for 52 Photos Project was fire. The first picture that came to mind was a picture I took in 2005 of lava on the Big Island in Hawai’i. But it turned out that was before I had a digital camera and I never got it scanned or digitized. I suppose I could figure out where the print is and hunt it down and scan it now, but … well .. didn’t happen.

And then my friend Rebecca posted a picture that reminded me of this coal-powered iron I took in Kampot, Cambodia:

coal-powered iron

A few other fun flame pictures:

Jack-o-Lantern in Seattle:

jack-o-lantern

Temple Candles in Nara, Japan:

temple candles

Lamp/chandelier in an office in Portland, Oregon:

lamps in nest

Playing with Fire (chocolate!):

Playing with fire

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Getting to Know You …

Fear the mouth of truth!

Last week I was invited to participate in the ImpactHub‘s Host program. As part of the process of getting to know one another, we were all asked for a bio. For some people, this may be as easy as cracking a few eggs and frying them up in the pan, but writing a bio for me has always been fraught.

There’s the moment before the revelation, and the moment after. There are calculations and divinations, multiple “what ifs” and a few myths thrown in for good measure. I waver between sharing what I think is acceptable and what will get me killed. Fear, my old friend, has often won these battles. I may share one thing that I think is just on the edge of acceptability, just enough to sate the appetites, without sharing the things that scare me the most. I want to be accepted, to feel that I belong (and not get killed).

Fear lies to me. It yells at me. It tells me if I expose the things that are most important to me, I give all my power away. But as long as I keep them close to my heart, I’m in service to the fear. It’s when I can stand up to the fear, and stand in my truth, that I stand in my power.

The irony is, as long as I hide these parts of myself, I also deprive myself and others of intimacy and real connection. You cannot know the real me if I don’t share my full, true self.

In the interest of this exercise, here is what I shared:

Ask me about: writing, yoga, vegan cookery, queer theory, gender theory, travel, science fiction, marriage equality (and LGBT issues), graphic novels, slowing down.
What am I looking for: broaden my connections in Seattle, learn more about what people are doing to make the world better, friends, part-time work to support my art.
What am I good at? I’m an information hound. If you are looking for something specific, I can probably find it for you. I’m great at connecting people with resources, whether that’s another person, an organization, or an article. It’s why I went into librarianship!

Not too different from my Twitter bio:

Pirate. Werehedgehog. Queer femme. Writer. Librarian. Dork. Blooming at my own speed. Earnestness is my superpower.

I was nervous to share this information about myself. I feared I was going to present a piece of information that would make people run screaming from the room. Much to my disappointment, this didn’t happen. But this is your opportunity. Take it now, or the monster under the bed might pop out.

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Give Big!

Shoes for flying

Tomorrow, May 6th, is the Seattle Foundation’s Give Big day. Last year I gathered a short list of local Seattle organizations that qualify for the Give Big day. I’m going to do it again!

The idea is that if you donate money to your favorite non-profit orgs, it will be stretched by a giant pool of money available in SF’s coffers. Here are a few of my favorite very small orgs doing great work. I know the people intimately involved with the day-to-day operations and encourage you to add one of them to your giving today. Your donation will go much farther than in some of the big-name ones.

In addition to:
Nonfiction Media
One World Now
Theatre Off Jackson
SHARE/WHEEL

I would like to add:
Solid Ground – Solid Ground ” works to end poverty and undo racism and other oppressions that are root causes of poverty.”
Byron Schenkman & Friends – a tiny group of Baroque and Classical musicians. If you’ve never had the pleasure of hearing Byron perform, I hope you will one day.
KBCS – a local radio station that “produces and broadcasts quality programming that supports more inclusive interdependent communities.”

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Where I’ve Been

faces in stone

I asked on Twitter this morning if anyone had any questions. One pal wanted to know every place I’ve traveled. Oof da. I must admit, I’ve always felt reticent to talk about where I’ve been. But I’m taking steps to share more of myself, and travel is a big piece, so I’m going to attempt to compile a full list.

I did make a list of the places I chose to travel, but this list is every place I’ve been. I’m going to stay at the country level, unless I’ve only been to one city within that country, in which case I will list both. For the United States, I’m going to try to list all the states I’ve visited.

North America

United States:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Hawai’i
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusets
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Wyoming

Other Countries

  • The Bahamas
  • Canada
  • Grand Cayman Island, Caymans
  • Oaxaca, Mexico
  • St. Lucia

South America

  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Ecuador

Europe

  • Budapest, Hungary
  • France
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Portugal 1
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Switzerland
  • UK (England, Scotland)

Middle East

  • Israel

Asia

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Notes:

  1. the hyperlinks will take you the sets of pictures I’ve taken from those trips