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Reflections on a morning well spent

I need to remind myself that, in getting out of the house, I often expose myself to great beauty and blessings.

Yesterday was a day of reckoning with myself and all of my loose ends, among them an overdue shopping trip. I set some lofty intentions for today:

  1. Get up by the second alarm ring (nearly achieved.)
  2. Get dressed and out quickly (achieved well enough.)
  3. Do my shopping (achieved.)
  4. Treat myself to a coffee from the local actually down though it might seem fancy schmancy coffee shop as a reward (very well achieved.)

All of this before sitting down at my desk to work at 10am. Lofty goals for someone like me, but somewhat to my surprise I got up and got it done this morning, aided by the simultaneously energizing and calming effects of a lovely California sativa.

In the course of these fairly mundane errands, I managed to experience the following:

  • Three heartfelt compliments on my Afro, two from Black women, the other from another person of color. One of the women called me “honey” in the course of her compliment; the other asked if it was all mine, and I replied, with guilty pride, “all mine!”
  • Two Black women using terms of endearment for me, the first cited above, the latter “sweetheart” coming from the older woman checking me out at the grocery store with the kick-ass pair of brow-arched eyes tattooed on the back of her neck.
  • The opportunity to be exceedingly polite and gracious to many people, including all of the people mentioned above, especially the woman at the grocery store who was dealing heroically with fallout from the store’s EBT system being down. My mom taught me nothing if not impeccable manners, and it brings me joy to treat as many people as I can with a politeness that I hope communicates my recognition of their beauty, dignity and worth.
  • An influx of new knowledge on just how great my favorite coffee shop (Akat Cafe Kalli) really is, accompanied by the pleasure of spending money and indulging in a delicious cold brew coffee with minimal guilt over the harmful impact of my actions.
  • Parallel knowledge that the Oakland Indie Coffee Passport as run by Marc at Shift Local might actually be pretty neat, in part because it’s run by folks of color from the East Bay who seem to get how hip coffee can be part of damaging gentrification and demonstrate that “getting” via the selection of coffee shops included on their list (one of which is Akat!)

All of that before 10am! I may need to keep this up.

Dream, 8/11/15

Originally posted on Facebook.

While lying in bed preparing to get up and face the day, I remembered a dream I had last night and felt compelled not only to write it down but to share it with my friends. (I’m sharing with my Facebook Friends but thinking of the friends in my dream, my friends and comrades in Oakland.)

I was in the vague, inaccurate dream landscape of my hometown, near my old house. I was distraught about the same myriad things that kept me up last night in waking life. I was alone, felt lost, at my wits’ end, so I started running. I used to do that all the time in real life–just start running when I couldn’t take a situation anymore. I’m not much of a runner, but it was always a physical relief combined with a often irresponsible, sometimes even destructive escape.

I ran and ran. I was barefoot and knew that wasn’t smart, but it didn’t hurt. I reached the cemetery near my old house, where my Dad, my great-godfather Clarence, my paternal grandma and grandfather are all buried. The cemetery is a fixture in my dreams, the only piece of permanent landscape in dreamtime Hillside, NJ, which I never really thought much of until just now.

The dreamtime Evergreen Cemetery always changes, though. This time it was more like a park, with a river running through it. I looked down to the river, thought of running down there, but saw so many folks down there on the banks. Mostly Black folks, mostly men, all people I didn’t know. I couldn’t be around people I didn’t know. I wanted to be alone. So I kept running on the street.

I ran and ran. And suddenly I was running through a demonstration, a direct action, right smack in the middle of a main street in my own hometown. Many people participating in the action, not many watching or stopping. The people in the action were my Black friends, my community from Oakland, many of the people I’ve thrown down with or supported in actual actions in recent months. They were righteously angry, their shouts were urgent in calling for justice for Black people.

I kept running. I thought to stop, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. I was too distraught. It felt like I literally couldn’t slow down, like my feet were self-propelled. I started crying because I knew I should turn around and go back but I couldn’t.

But then I did. I just did. Dreams are nice like that–you just do, all of a sudden, without as much of the fretting and time and processing that happens in waking life. I just stopped, turned around and was suddenly back with them, with my friends, my people. I found one of them, fumbled sheepishly through excuses of why I kept running. My friend waved it off because the excuses weren’t important. What was important was what was going on around us, and I was there, now.

And then the dream ended.

And now I start my day.

On the passing of Maya Angelou

As I took my usual morning scroll through my Facebook feed, I saw one, then two, then more and more quotations from Maya Angelou. After the third I realized this was no fluke and most likely meant one of two things: today is her birthday and she’s getting way more wonderful tributes than I’ve seen for her in the past; or today Maya Angelou died. I think I knew it was the latter but held out hope until I saw the first post confirming that she has died. Rest in power, Dr. Angelou.

The news hit me hard, not just for the loss of Maya Angelou herself, but for the ever-increasing understanding of how many brilliant artists and activists will die during my lifetime. It’s one thing to treasure the work and life of someone who is already gone; it’s another entirely to share time on this earth with them and then have them go. Thinking of those losses that have happened already and the ones yet to come made me feel overwhelmed and a bit despondent–how can we possibly recover from so many losses?

Then I remembered that brilliant artists and activists are being born every day, that I’ve had the good luck of being surrounded by them and by knowledge of them in my life, and that we won’t run out of beauty and brilliance so long as we continue to tend to it. I’m left with a renewed commitment to seek out and support those cultivators of beauty, truth and justice in my own life and world.

Originally posted on Facebook

My notes from the 2012 Allied Media Conference

I’m a bit of an obsessive note-taker. I actually count note-taking as one of my unique skills and I love to practice it. Good thing the Allied Media Conference gave me plenty of opportunities to do so! Every session had an Etherpad set up for it for folks to do collaborative note-taking in real time; here are all of the notes to which I contributed, with links to the original session info and some annotation here and there.

Thursday

  • May First/People Link Network Gathering: notes and session info
    A MF/PL People’s Movement Assembly to discuss our movements’ priorities for the Internet

Friday

  • Healthy Organizational Communications: notes and session info
    AMAZING session from the AORTA collective, so I took copious notes for Palante to study
  • We+Design = Collaborative Design: notes and session info
    Brilliant designers & artists showing us their work and how they do it.
  • “Secret Survivors” Documentary Premiere: session info
    Neither I nor anyone else took notes. I was too busy watching and being utterly blown away (again) by the beauty, bravery, and fierceness of my friends & comrades who are part of the Secret Survivors project.
  • DiscoTechs UNITE! Part 1: notes and session info
    Now I’ve got schemes about a DiscoTech (short for Discover Technology) in NYC…

Saturday

  • Son Jarocho: Iniciando un Movimiento: notes and session info
    Conquering fear of dancing in public while sober, part 1. Plus I got to learn to play some basic chords on a jarana!
  • DJ Geekout: notes and session info
    Conquering fear of dancing in public while sober, part 2. Never have so many people had so much fun dancing to slideshow presentations.
  • Worker-Owned Webmaking: Tech Co-ops: notes and session info
    I didn’t take any of these notes, because I was one of the presenters! But these notes ROCK and I <3 all the people who contributed to them.
  • Securing Our Online Communications: notes and session info
    Tons of practical information and resources.

Sunday

  • Science of the Oppressed as Artivism: notes and session info
    MINDBLOWING. For real though. I can’t even. Seriously, read the notes and click those links and find these brilliant minds and KNOW THEM. I couldn’t take any notes on Micha’s part because she had us out of our seats for my first ever participation in Theater of the Oppressed.
  • Keeping Track: Surveillance and Organizing: notes and session info
    I loved this session because I learned so much about our communities’ needs around tech, privacy, and security.
  • Wrap-Up Session for the Webmaking Track: notes and session info
    I didn’t take these notes because I was facilitating, w00t! Such a valuable session for me as one of the Webmaking track coordinators!

Note that I didn’t miss attending one session block the whole conference. This despite running on 5 hours or less of sleep per night, no naps. Running on fumes of fabulousness!