Posts Tagged ‘anger’

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Impromptu road trip. I am not taking as many pictures as I might have expected, but I also haven’t gotten to where I am going, yet. I did stop in Idaho to take in the lake for a bit.

Thanks for that, dude.

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
― Edmund Burke

This Ghomeshi thing, how his friends and community are admitting to knowing he was up to some shit, brings to light some ugly things for me. Ugly things that encouraged me to continue raping in my sex life. Ugly things that effected me when I broke out of my own cycles of abuse at the hands of others.

I’ve been thinking about that Edmund Burke quote a lot lately. Thinking about myself, thinking about the agonizing impotence of many people who have let me down, standing aside, watching. Thinking about how that contributed to how long I remained an unconscious rapist. How long I remained in corrosive situations that deeply, deeply damaged me.

Most pointedly, these events have been reminding me of something a man I know said. Something that angers me, and has been the perfect surface from which to reflect my collective grief and rage.

It was something this person said about the man who raped me in April, when I told them — a close friend of his, who had lived with the rapist for a period of time — that I didn’t know how said rapist, whom he hadn’t seen in a while, was doing, because I didn’t speak with that guy anymore (and why).

His response was: “Yeah, I’ve seen how.. selfish, his maleness is.”

Yeah. No. This shit needs a do-over.

Let me tell you a little story. See, me, as a woman, and the friend of mine who was also dating the same man who raped me this year, as a woman, both talked with him about his creepy behavior. We talked with him about it in the context of our own discomforts and boundaries which he sucked at respecting, was always rubbing up against and trying to push past. But it went even farther than that.

We figured out we both got the creeps from him in the same way and, because we considered him a friend, we had a *fucking intervention* with him about it. He was all appreciation and ears, as he normally was when we were swatting him on his fucking nose about being a pushy cockbrained asshole; wanting to know how he could do better, because he didn’t wanna be “that guy”, even though it turns out he, acting like “that guy”, and continuing to return to behaving like “that guy”, was totally “that guy”.

QUACKs like a duck? Hmmmm.

A few months after this friend and I took him to dinner and schooled him, the guy I’d had consistent confusion around and periodic boundary conversations with raped me after witnessing my getting shitfaced drunk while choking on massive waves of grief.

Additionally, he had sex with me without the condoms I’d had to constantly insist that we fucking use because he made sure to remind me every time we had sex that he’d been ‘tested’, and for a special added bonus, did so without having told me he’d stopped using protection with one of his other partners months before.

The next morning, and throughout the week-long shock period before all the elements of his dickbaggary had come to light and I dropped him like a sack of hammered shit, he’d already started bitching to ME about how bad *he* felt, expecting me to be his fucking support system for it.

Here’s a thing that I think people on the more powerful aspect of this sexist patriarchy spectrum are missing: Even when the courageous miracle happens, where someone who is being leveraged upon by this system of ours that has trained us for thousands of years to see femininity as property, stands the hell up for themselves within their relationship, it *doesn’t work*.

The women these people are fucking have zero power to influence the unconsciously indoctrinated cultural behavior of these men. Zero.

The reason for this in my experience is that there’s not enough incentive, when women these men are already getting their toxic masculinity validating sex from, speak up. They are the people with whom that creepy fucking approach was proven to work on already. They are the people who have shown investment in that approach, and in the person behind that approach. They are the people who have already volunteered to represent what is silently and unconsciously hated and objectified, people with whom that physical bond is already established.

It’s like throwing a toothpick into a volcano when a woman who is in an active loop of this behavior stands up and says that shit actually, well, stinks. They are the people who have been putting up with the fucking shit and listening to the fucking excuses and still giving up that good ol’ validating sexual property.

I suspect it really doesn’t work from that being-fucked position when attempting to influence people who apologize for this behavior, either; The men who stand on the sidelines listening to the struggles the women they fuck are having with the pushy abusive men in their lives, or the harassing ‘nice’ guys on the streets. I spent the last 7 fucking months, learning that one.

It’s really easy to sit back and say, ah, well, let her handle it, when you know something is wrong. It seems like the really nice, polite, proper thing to do; mind your own business, and as a bonus, cover your own yellow ass.

It’s also really REALLY easy to look at the results of a mans misogyny and abuse manifesting in the woman they’ve been dating, and decide she’s just off her rocker and that’s more of a problem than what might have been wrong with the way she was treated by the guy.

I know how easy that is, in part because it is what happened with the one “top” (HAHAAHAH) I dated, who used to get pissed and entitled toward me for not liking the sex he’d pressured me into trying in the first place. Who had been gaslighting and lying to me about the multiple people he’d been cheating on me with for the entirety of our relationship. Who had been systematically breaking down my psyche with his lies and selfishness, and done that while he was using the Edward Cullen stare on me and talking about babies. Who I had been calling out on his shit over and over and over again and being met with lies and accusation.

When I finally, finally cornered him in his lies and that relationship finally, finally hit the fan, everyone who seemed to have had any influence on the fucker, including prominent voices in the sex positive and BDSM communities we had both been a part of, stayed ‘neutral’ and watched bewildered as I had a fucking nervous breakdown. Many of them lifted the abusive sociopath to the top levels of the festival community I had once been a part of, all while failing to understand and even shaming me for being so fucking angry and betrayed by them for it, not seeming to grok how I could feel so abandoned and unprotected by their complacent niceness toward him.

You effect what you have your attention on. And too many of you have your attention on proving women aren’t being truthful, proving that you’re the good guy by standing back and doing fuckall to actually act like one, proving that it’s women who should be accountable for some boundary pushing asshole that YOU KNEW ABOUT ALREADY raping them and “making” you feel like cowardly shit.

Well you know what? You *should* be feeling like shit, hiding your real power behind willful impotence and listening to yourself talk over the women who you claim to give a fuck about.

Use your fucking privilege and get the fuck in the ring with us already.

I know you’re dying to throw it around, because every time I talk about this stuff, there’s a gallery of you at the ready to chime in and tell me about your intellectualizations of my life as a female. There’s always a few of you to press your resistance toward accepting that my life experience is real into my conversations. There’s always a few of you to talk about what you think from your objective perspectives needs to be “done”, and usually it has to do with what you as a fucking man think *I*, or “they”, need to be doing.

I’m telling *YOU* what needs to be fucking done, you clueless wounded fuckers: Drop your own sexism, that shit that helps you think your philosophical opinion of this issue trumps the lived experiences of the people who actually fucking deal with it, take your incredulous self-involved topic-shifting bullshit the fuck out of my facebook threads, and then go work to drop the act that being neutral about the abuse, sexism, rape and misogyny you see in other men is anything but fucking cowardice.

This is tough love purification by fucking fire. This is ending thousands of years of conditioning and inertia. Your greatest self can only rise from the fucking ashes of the lesser you, and here I am the motherfucking flame thrower. Stop telling ME you’re not that fucking guy: tell other MEN you’re not that guy, and tell them WHY, and actually BE NOT THAT GUY when you fucking say it, or I will FUCKING INCINERATE YOU. Grow some FUCKING BALLS and stand the fuck up for the women in your life, stand the fuck up for the men you want to see other men grow to be.

That best friend of yours isn’t a “White Knight”, he’s a sexist who thinks women need his saving, and he probably hates them for it and abuses them and that’s why all his girlfriends are fucking crazy and can’t seem to function. That friends boundary pushing-coercive maleness isn’t ‘selfish’, it’s fucking rape, and it’s probably why all the women he dates eventually refuse to ever talk to him again. Use your fucking privilege to be the fucking change.

And yes, it IS fucking street harassment, and here’s a guy doing what you should be doing: Working his ass off to walk the fucking walk, and contributing to other guys on how the fuck to walk it too.

But there he was, that close friend of the man who raped me, a person that the guy actually valued, listened to, had meaningful conversations with, looked up to, a person who wasn’t relied upon for their dick-wetting validation, tsk tsking in the seat next to me — because aww, how unfortunate that male mans selfish maleness had bit me in the ass, too; that maleness he’d seen and grimaced at and knew was fucked up — who had been in the position to take a stand and to make a difference. And he didn’t.

Thanks for that, dude.

And by thanks? I mean fuck. You.

Experiment: 1000 words

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

Challenge: Relegate my targetedly offensive language (against women, mentally ill, etc).
Duration: Ongoing

Compendious Result: The road, she is long.

I’m exploring how my language use reflects in the social consideration I’ve been developing the last few years. I rather automatically say a lot of things that bother myself now, after discovering that everything I historically thought was funny, isn’t.

Looking at this closely and exploring new words is how I’m re-establishing a sense of humor. The things we say matter. Basically what I am going for – in general, but not necessarily with this exercise specifically – is cultivating the skill of expressing rage in a way that respects my emotions AND other people.

I REALLY don’t want to give up motherfucker! Or bastard. Or bitches. Or bitchery. Or douchebag. I will very much miss cuntary too. Such a classic. I dropped ‘pussy’ years ago, because calling someone that is fucking stupid. ‘Wuss” or ‘fucking twit” is way better.

But what’s been seen can’t be unseen. I want shit to fucking change, and if I as one dedicated person can’t consider ways to make fun of someone without insulting their single mother, insulting the lovers of mothers or their fucking feminine hygiene, what god damn hope does the world have.

I’ll be keeping my blasphemy, though, thank you very much.

How it’s going..

I have been racking my brain for a long time trying to come up with a quippy fun insult like ‘bitchez!’ or “motherfuckers!’ that isn’t a) Degrading of femininity and/or b) culturally appropriated, since I can’t say either of those things anymore without feeling like a fuckass. And “fuckasses!” doesn’t ring.

I’m also working my way out of calling shit retarded, since battling mental health stigma is important to me. That one is hella hard. ‘retard’ and ‘fucktard’ and ‘lactard’ and ‘glutard’ — all those ‘tard’s — are where I slip up the most. Currently the frontrunner replacement is “lobedonor”.

I posed this conundrum to facebook and got a lot of good response. “Shit for brains”, “fools”, “wankers”. I am rather partial to “Knuckle Draggers” and “punkass”.

Also considering “suckers”, but wanna say it suckahs, which brings up the appropriation aspect. I like ‘homies’ but I’m white as your 6000 thread count fucking sheets, and save for a slip up a couple days ago when calling EBT grocery shopping ‘ghetto shopping’ I’ve dropped ‘ghetto’ too.

I’ve been leaning on ‘shit’ for my cussing a lot more of late, and “Meatbags” is a pretty solid staple of mine. For more direct insults, I quite like using “prolapse” to get my point across.

Interestingly enough, ‘bitchez’, which is what spawned this whole examination, gets to stay:

Alright. I have done my due diligence. I have explored my intentions, my stances and my sensitivity. I have searched far and wide for a manner of expressing that feels as right or as gleeful and I have found mostly self censorship and confusion. I have walked the path and searched the soul and hence forth it is written: I am keeping ‘bitchez.’


Funny, how things work out.


Friday, July 25th, 2014

Sometimes, I remember what it was like to let someone who knew me hold me. Conjugated, wordless.

Someone who watched me churn and struggle with you and cry so hard I choked on myself. Cry so hard my face felt like it was going to fill and burst with blood and fall off.

Sometimes, I remember what it was like to keep someone who knew me as more than my fight with you inside with me. Someone who helped me fathom hope and victory.

Someone who helped soothe me away from you, who offered me moments of solace, a temporary haven from the war.

Sometimes I remember that haven, and the bitterness of it being gone feels like choking all over again, the tears frozen behind the caverns of my face.

You’ve taken all of them from me. All of them. Wanted me for yourself, left no room, no choice, no rules or structure around it. No matter how I have tried to keep them it always comes back to down to you, and me.

You have me now. All to yourself.

You can scream at me, you can rip my insides out, beat me down, and I won’t call on him to help take it away. I won’t drink illusion and migraines to transport myself and make your blows hurt less. I won’t coax another soul down my throat to satiate you and help me forget and remember at the same time.

It’s just you, and me. Like you wanted.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that if you have me alone, if you isolate me, you will win. You’re thinking you will again rule us, you will consume me, wear me down, and I will stop resisting, I will stop looking for a better way. I will stop pushing through, stop seeking. I will stop changing.

I thought that, once, too.

But there’s something I suspect you didn’t think through, as you cackle and rise and celebrate, filling my head with pain. Something you’re forgetting, demon, while you loft and billow and pound at your puffed up chest. Fighting and sneering and looming, clouding over my mind. Hurting me. Hurting me. Slashing at me with your jagged viciousness, my fists futilely covering my head.

I’ve taken away the places you had to hide.

And I’m coming for you.

An ode to acrimony

Sunday, June 8th, 2014


Year of the Nee: 1 down, 11 to go.

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

It’s been just over a month since I began my year of celibacy and no intoxicants, coupled with the lesser goals of avoiding sugar and not cutting my hair, for the purpose of supporting and providing a foundation to integrate the metaphysical growth spurt I am going through.

The celibacy and lack of substances has been so natural I’ve barely noticed a change, other than to smile a little when I think about how much money I save by not having a drink when I eat out, which has only happened a couple times since I’m saving for a trailer and didn’t make ‘not obliviously starving myself’ a priority this time around.

Another observation I’ve had is the overwhelmingly positive response of people when I have occasion to share about this – usually when I’m being offered weed or a beer. They offer, or ask if I drink/smoke, and I say yes, that I do, but I’m a month into my year off. They invariably respond with pleasant surprise, immediate acceptance, and sometimes praise and pensiveness and questions.

Which is funny, since I had imagined being cajoled or mocked most of the time.

People aren’t doing that. They are interested and impressed and respectful. That in and of itself has felt very healing and grounding. And it’s been nice for my faith in humanity; It appears perhaps I am not the only one who has grown up some.

I will just mention briefly that I’m very glad not to be putting this aspect of things to the test regarding sex, and simply removing the option from my life has been ideal for me.

The hair cutting thing didn’t go as well, which is fine, because a) I cut my hair myself b) I left part of it the length it was and c) it looks completely awesome.

This will come as a shock to.. probably nobody. But it’s been unsettling for me, after 34 years of manufacturing identity reliant on the opposite. I am starting to get that I am, fundamentally, a really fucking genuinely nice person.

Like, painfully caring.

Perhaps it’s not so much that I’m only just now getting that; It’s likely more that I am starting to finally accept it.

Like, really accept it.

In my guts and in my cells and in my felt senses, rather than just carrying my squish around in the back of my head to fuel my general distaste for dumbfucks and mean people.

I am starting to experience with acute awareness and observation how the things I’ve come to automatically do to protect myself, like blame, and pick arguments, and being verbally abusive, have corroded my integrity and my ethics; I’ve moved beyond simply philosophizing and mentalizing about them to stewing in it — not wallowing, but stewing. Feeling it. Feeling what it really means and does to me to be that way.

Here’s the tip of what I’ve learned:

I value compassion and kindness more now than I used to. I’ve been seeing it in the people around me. In how I’ve suddenly become intolerant to witnessing anger and aggression, even justified anger and aggression, yet have been caught in the reality that I default to being that way myself if I’m not really careful.

I’ve been really fucking tormented by it. Really screaming about it and pushy and compassion baiting and disgusted with people, but struggling to accept my anger and own capacity for cruelty.

“When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people.” ― Abraham Joshua Heschel

I can admit that deep down I want everyone to be ok and for everyone to be harmonious; I can admit that my desire to blow up every fuckass government and financial facility full of fuckass government and financial people in the country is a wish rooted in the desire to do better for the world I live in.

However my sense of self hasn’t caught up to that. I am still in a deep state of transition and identity dysphoria (Ok well to be fair when am I not really THANKS MENTAL ILLNESS THANKS A LOT).

The problem is that while my admiration is shifting, and has been shifting for a very long time, and I’ve made strides in that direction, I still too often value my own intelligence and biting wit more than my kindness.

I’ve as yet been unwilling, and truthfully, unable, to give up and let go of my biting intellectual bratty truth teller call-you-on-your-shit tough love ‘fuck most everyone except you of course’ identity.

Plus, as with all significant personal transformations, most of the people in my life also identify me in that way, and largely unconsciously encourage me to stay there.

Moving further toward the balance point I am seeking there (the snark is staying, mmmkay.) has helped me see how this inner turmoil presented itself in my life; I’ve equated that need for harmony, with wanting people to like me.

Unpacking that has been a real bitch.

I’ve discovered that at the heart of this, I, the person in the room who most often says what others are thinking, who calls out the shit and the elephants, who asks the hard questions and gives the hard answers, absolutely hates confrontation (“Which is funny, since I had imagined being cajoled or mocked most of the time.”).

Yes. I do. I hate it. My face gets hot. My voice cracks and wavers. I shake and feel like I might cry. I feel as though I’m on a chopping block or in front of a firing squad. My guts knot up and I feel prone to attack and rejection and death. My legs shake. I want the ground to open my up and swallow me. It feels fucking horrible.

And I do it anyway. It’s part of who I am and it’s part of what I value about myself. At my best I stand up for myself and for other people and am the person who first says “This is wrong.”

Yet even asking a person to stop rudely yelling on their cellphone in the open lobby of my office building gives me a flowering anxiety deep in my guts, as though I were attempting to tweeze a chunk of corn from between a rabid demon lion’s teeth. With my face. With loaded guns pointed at my head.

Though I call it to me dozens of times in a day, and berate myself when I don’t engage in it (I kicked myself for weeks for not confronting a teenager who hit her dog in front of me; which I didn’t do because I would have been fucking batshit at her about it), I hate confrontation so much that I constantly prepare for it when it isn’t there.

Like the diarrhea inducing anxiety waves I ignored for years when I’d be putting on my face and armor to go out clubbing, a classic example of invented confrontation that I’ve since overcome by accepting myself as an introvert, I’ve known this for some time, but avoided really feeling it.

Ok. This moment, like the last few thousand moments today, might be a confrontation. So let’s armor up. Big breath, suck it down, be commanding, be rigid, be no bullshit, walk fierce and scowl a little, tell them to stop, stand up for yourself, what the fuck is that shaking in your voice, what kind of weakling are you anyway, why are you so afraid of some dumb stranger, you’re in the right, they’re annoying everyone else too you just have the balls to say something, you’re always the one who has the balls to say something, you’re the strong one why don’t you fucking feel like it, see it’s over now but you’re still freaked out, but nothing happened, but you’re still freaked out like 10 minutes after, you won! You’re a FUCKING LEADER! What the hell is wrong with you?

I know what’s wrong with me; Though I’ve cultivated esteem and self caring over the years, and yes, I am a natural leader, I’ve yet to master in myself the art of fighting fair.

And for me, as someone who has a lot of fucking fight in them, that is an absolutely vital foundation to have. And I DO NOT HAVE IT.

I’ve the skills, and knowledge, the drive, and I’ve done a lot of work here; but what I’ve been missing is consistent practice. Only in my direct work with clients, and in very important, long thought personal confrontations, or in rare-ish charmed instances when access to that toolkit was quick and easy, have I consistently actually incorporated my knowledge of compassionate asskicking.

So, confrontation — of any kind or scope — most often feels like an untamed wild card that could explode at any moment. Because I often handle it like an untamed wild card that could explode at any moment, and I desperately want for the person I am confronting to manage that for me; By liking me. And oftentimes I approach that by being, basically, as unlikable as possible.

“It’s not your job to like me – it’s mine.” – Byron Katie

Now that I’m settled into YotN a bit, the experiments can begin. Each month I am going to try to root something new and specific by going to an extreme of some sort. For June, my goal is to not complain for a month.

Yep. My goal, is to not complain for a month. Keep laughing. It’s ok.

There are too many reasons why this is a good idea to list out. The most applicable one here, is that I think fighting fair starts with the little things, and the things I say to myself, which are mostly, frankly, still pretty awful.

And, I don’t really know how to limit my complaining to doing so effectively. I mean, I do, I just.. don’t.

I’m doomed to repeat this pattern as long as the fight in my head stays the way it is; biting, judgmental, self righteous, intolerant, offensive, aggressive, dehumanizing, self-pitying, belittling, alienating and superior. So it’s time for a bath.

Approaching fighting with compassion and fairness is a life long practice. I will never be perfect at it and I don’t expect myself to be. I choose to live an intense life; I will devolve sometimes, understandably, and that’s ok.

But I have seen this as a hurdle to jump over all my life. In this quiet, in my healing cocoon nest space I’m evoking, I see it as a hurdle I can topple over, and start stomping on, instead.

Compassion baiting is bullshit and I don’t put up with it anymore.

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Ever wonder why being judged for responding ‘too angrily’ pisses you off even more? Good insight here.

I discovered “5 Big Problems with Compassion Baiting by Katie Loncke” a few months ago, and loved it. I related to it in terms of the obese shame demon the article had helped me figure out I’d brought back with me after doing a 10-day silent meditation retreat in January.

I really needed to hear it at the time, to allow for it to be ok to feel the gamut of human emotion again, not just the zen shit.

Recently, I really needed to hear it again, for entirely different reasons.

Fuck compassion baiting. Bunch of invalidating patronizing horseshit.

Chilling. Accurate. Infuriating.

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

When you fly Virgin Upper Class out of Heathrow, you go through a separate set of airport security.

With a ticket that costs $4,000 round-trip, you swipe your boarding pass, go up a sleek private elevator, and pass through security and passport control that is delighted to see you. “Lovely suitcase,” they coo. You’re whisked away to the Virgin Clubhouse, with its free facials and single-malt scotch. Except briefly, you never interact with the airport’s general population.

Some months ago, I got to fly first-class from London. Until then, I’d never realized it wasn’t just a recliner in the plane and some cheap bubbly, but rather a separate sphere of being. In first-class, you weren’t groped or barked at or treated like a combination of a terrorist and a cow. Instead, paid servants pretended your presence was a gift.

After years of work trips crammed in coach, being forced to show my underwear to the TSA, I felt like a guttersnipe in a palace. I loved it, but it was also deeply strange. “These people don’t really like me,” I thought, no matter how skillfully they acted like they did.

Until you see it, you never realize how separate the sphere of the rich is from that of everyone else.

I came from a middle-class, divorced home. As is typical, the upper-middle-class end of the split went to my dad, and the lower-middle-class to my mom. Like most people trying to make it in an impractical profession, I spent years living in rat-infested tenements with roommates who threatened to kill me in my sleep.

Unlike most artists, I started to make money. Not 1 percent money, but more than my mom ever dreamed of. Once I did, I started to realize how broken the idea of American meritocracy was.

Meritocracy is America’s foundational myth. If you work hard, society tells us, you’ll earn your place in the middle class. But any strawberry picker knows hard work alone is a fast road to nowhere. Similarly, we place our faith in education. Study, and the upper-middle class will be yours. Except the average student graduates $35,000 in debt.

Artists too have their myths. The lies told to artists mirror the lies told to women. Be good enough, be pretty enough, and that guy or gallery will sweep you off your feet, to the picket-fenced land of generous collectors and two and a half kids. But, make the first move, seize your destiny, and you’re a whore.

But neither hard work nor talent nor education are passports to success. At best, they’re small bits of the puzzle.

A fine artist, (successful, credential-festooned, with inherited money), told me that I was too focused on commerce to be an artist. A real artist endured poverty. Being poor was edifying, filled with moral uplift. I spent weeks in a murderous rage.

I’ve never been poor. I have always had the safety net of loving, middle-class parents. But what he said brought me back to me at 20, feverish and propped up against a subway pillar days after an abortion, on my way to a naked-girl job that I thought would get me raped.

What the artist was pretending he didn’t know is that money is the passport to success. You claw a few bucks and use those to get more cash, while never growing ill or vulnerable, never caring for a child or sick parent, never letting your place slip on that greasy pole.

For my friends and I who fought our way to moderate financial success, money came from transgressing society’s norms. It might have been fucking rich dude after rich dude you met on Seeking Arrangements. It might have been stabbing your stomach each morning with a syringe of hormones, in order to sell your genetically desirable eggs. With much luck, it required doing the ambitious work everyone said you weren’t ready for, then getting mocked and rejected for it, until, slowly, the wall began to crack. You could never do what you were supposed to, never stay quietly in your place.

My friends who came closest to attaining the American Dream did it by breaking the rules on how to get there. The standard plan—college to secure job to home you own—was either unattainable or a path to the American debt nightmare.

Those with money usually think they deserve it. But most people who make the world run—who care for kids, who grow food, who would rebuild after natural disasters and societal collapse—will never be rich, no matter how hard or well they work, because society is constructed with only so much room on top.

Once, I met with a man who runs an idea festival. He was a great admirer of businessmen who became Buddhist monks. “I don’t like protest,” the man told me. “It’s too much about ego. Ego is the problem with America.”

I thought of the workers busting their backs lifting boxes at warehouses, while an electronic tracker yelled at them to work faster. Are their egos too big?

So much of the difference between the experiences of rich and poor comes down to kindness. Kindness is scarce. Kindness must be bought.

If you have money, you can pay to live in a bubble of politesse. Excellent wine choice, sir. Here’s your gift bag, madam. Often, you don’t have to pay for it. The mere promise that you might will keep you sipping prosecco and deserving of servile attentions. Soon, you think this treatment is earned.

Meanwhile, we treat the poor with casual cruelty. Single moms on welfare have their homes searched by police to make sure they’re not hiding a man in the closet. But it’s too much to ask bankers to justify the bonuses they sucked off the public teat. The poor get stop-and-frisk, drug tests, and constant distrust.

Newt Gingrich, whose idea of hard work is refraining from cheating on his wife, suggested that poor kids learn work ethic by working as unpaid school janitors. Rich children’s work ethic is presumably absorbed in utero.

I told the festival coordinator that we needed a radical redistribution of senses of entitlement.

My own sense of entitlement served me well. I got my first job at a candy store when I was 14. I worked in the stockroom. I would open a box, take out a smaller box, put a rubber band around the smaller box, and put it back inside the big one. I lasted two days. This job, I remember thinking, does not make use of my intellectual abilities. When I did need work, I went straight into the naked-girl industry. Honest employment was a treadmill. It’s extreme privilege to believe your life is too valuable to waste.

Every dollar I clawed, whether it was from modeling or an early gig drawing cocks for Playgirl, served to amplify my advantages. Art is sometimes seen as gnostic freedom. But being an artist means you’re in thrall to cash.

My last art show would have been impossible without the money and network of contacts I’d built. I never could have hauled massive slabs of wood up to my old fifth-floor walk-up—never could have painted them in the lightless room I once shared with three roommates. Without an assistant, I never would have had the time to paint my show. Without sponsorships, I never could have afforded the paint. Sometimes, curators look at the work, and say, “Why didn’t you ever paint like that before?” I’d answer, “Because no one gave me enough money to be able to.”

A decade of practice honed my talent. But cash let me express it. To pretend otherwise is to spit in the face of every broke genius who can’t afford materials or time. It’s to say I got here because I’m better than them.

I am good. But it’s never just about that.

An artist, like an activist, is expected to financially hobble herself. Purity is as important as survival. There’s a constant criticism for earning “too much.” But as we slash the social safety net, once basic things—a home, college, a dignified old age—become mirages. It’s near impossible to live the average American dream on the average American salary.

Not talking about money is a tool of class war. A culture that forbids employees from comparing salaries helps companies pay women and minorities less. Ignoring the mercenary grit behind success leads to quasi-religious abundance gurus claiming you can visualize your way to wealth.

Even we successful artists do it. It’s easy to ignore luck, privilege, and bloody social climbing when you stand onstage in a pair of combat boots. It’s easy to say that if people are just good enough, work hard enough, ask enough, believe enough, they will be like us.

But it’s a lie. Winning does not scale. We may be free beings, but we are constrained by an economic system rigged against us. What ladders we have are being yanked away. Some of us will succeed. The possibility of success is used to call the majority of people failures.

Celebrate beating a treacherous system. But remember, there is no god handing out rewards to the most deserving. Don’t pretend that everyone can win.


I don’t want to play.

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Everywhere I turn and look
Someone around is telling me
How the only way to keep good relationships
is to be playful
And the only way to be a real woman
is to not care about being sexy

Everywhere I turn and look
Someone around is telling me
That the only way to make money from my art is
to spend every waking minute of my life
pouring my soul into the laps of strangers and
asking them for handouts

Everywhere I turn and look
Someone around is telling me
How the only way to be good for the people around me
is to think positively always
And the only way to salvation
is fucking love

Fuck love.

I don’t want to be playful.
I want to fucking screamcry
like an angry
raging baby and
slam my door
in your smiling fuckass face.

I don’t want to have to overcome
being fat
or haggard
or missing a fucking limb
so you can see I’m a worthwhile
deep person
because I have a fucking persecuted vagina
that men want but are afraid of
and I know
how to put on eyeliner

I don’t want to pretend
that I’m not a fucking introvert
who wants to be paid first
and loved later
for my god damn
soul sucking

I don’t want to pretend
that the first thing I see
when someone tells me a lie
or fucking hurts me
is their god damn good intentions

Fuck your good intentions.

I don’t want to pretend
that love is the be all
end all
of what life is about

Even if
that means
you’ll find someone else
to play with.

Meeting the maker

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

I’m pretty sure I’m at another one of those places in my life where a big internal shift is about to click into place after multiple weeks of limping around funny, like when every step hurts your ankle because the bones aren’t lining up quite right.

I am transforming. It is intense and embarrassing and lonely and hard.

Any minute now I’m going to start those ankle circles again and this time, on maybe the second or third one, something is gonna snap and suddenly my leg will fizzle in relief and come back to life.

As part of this multifaceted, uncomfortable time, I am finding that the internet — which has been my line for social interaction for most of my life — especially in times like these, doesn’t seen to really work for me anymore. The interactions I do have online nowadays are weak and hollow feeling when all is said and done, like a fancy dinner you drive away from in a fancy car, but it’s in exchange for your soul and your health which are far more valuable. My relatedness with technology and the internet tastes like cheap chemical candy once the bulk of it has melted in my mouth.

Which brings me to the other piece of my skewed anklebone puzzle; My anger, which I often focused through online tirades, isn’t working for me anymore, either.

And dammit, I fucking like my anger! I didn’t run an early 00’s “Courtnee’s Hate Mail” column on stileproject for fuckin nothing!

The upshot is that my perspective has deepened to the point that I am uable to blast that adolescent, fiery hate without being distracted by the tender underbelly and potential consequences of slashing at it. As such, I don’t rant like I used to, as often as I used to, and for Previous Me that was a major stress outlet for a long time (not to mention a source of endless amusement).

I think the best example of this movement in my life, at least the most shattering one, would be an experience I had recently where I met a celebrity that I had previously foam-mouthed ranted about online, in person.

Not only did I meet this person, who I never imagined I would meet, I met them in the context of my massage practice. They had come to me for healing and support.

In that moment that I received the email reservation request, I thought maybe my friends were fucking with me. Kinda wanted that to be the case, but, I think I knew it wasn’t. I began the process of soul searching to determine how I would respond to it, every shitty, petty, mean thing I had said in my rant neutralized — Simply at the thought of potentially interacting with them face to face, things I had written in a vacuum, things I actually believed and meant at the time, vanished.

It was then that I remembered the little uncertain voice that had been whispering at me while I was writing, the one that caused me to take the rant down a day later. The one that tells me that the way I historically harness and point my anger isn’t working anymore. The one that tells me I have to go back to work and level up, again.

*sigh* again.

And I knew that this person contacting me was no joke, and no accident. I knew that I needed to step into the opportunity to take responsibility for what I had said, why I had said it, and to approach this client with integrity. And I had about a half hour to figure out how I was going to do it.

When Amanda Palmer arrived, I said there was something we needed to talk through, and I told her that I needed her to know that I had said some pretty shitty things about her on the internet.

I explained that while I had had some true disagreements with her, what I said was bullshit. Mostly, it was uncalled for vitriol from all sorts of places in my life that I had projected onto her image as a celebrity – and that was why I had said the things I had said.

I confided that I needed for her to know that about me before I could be comfortable sharing an intimate energetic connection, such as having my hands all over her. And I said I was sorry. Because I was.

The response to my emotional risk was overwhelming. Tears, relief, and “I was supposed to meet you today” kind of overwhelming. The massage was magical, as was the massage I gave Neil after working on Amanda.

After they had left my massage studio, I checked out Amanda’s blog, to gain some kind of insight into why she thought meeting me that day was kismet. I was taken aback by how powerful the experience had been for me, and as someone who is generally on the other side of the coin, invoking transformations and shifts for others, I was interested in what made this situation uniquely mutually beneficial.

I found a lot of similarity and relatedness there.

This person had come to me from a very vulnerable, familiar place, and we had deeply connected. That would not have happened had I not had the courage and insight to risk myself, cop to having been an asshole, and opened myself to the possibility of rawly connecting with the real person who had presented to me, as the real person I also am.

The night before I met Amanda, I was falling asleep on my office floor to a flimsy cocktail of a few pills on top of champagne. I had just sold a painting and been taken to an amazing meal, yet I was on my floor crying, fantasizing that by some miraculous fluke the chemicals might align just right and I wouldn’t wake up.

Clearly, the universe had other plans.

Anger Management

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Throughout my life, I periodically run into people who are infuriatingly incapable of taking responsibility for themselves. Even when acknowledging that there shouldn’t be one, there’s always a reason, an excuse, some kind of explanation as to why what happens in their life and the effects their decisions have on others ultimately aren’t their actual fault, really.

When a persons inability to own themselves and their mistakes effects me personally, this behavior arouses my deep, penetrating anger. I find it insulting and calculatingly offensive. I see it as inexcusably dishonest to claim ownership of yourself and still behave like a fucking wimp. Sometimes, I find myself yelling obscenities and colorful insults like ‘flaming sack of curdled assbarf’, and ‘dicksnot’, and wishing death via car fire upon these types of people. In jest, of course – but seriously, fuck these fucking impotent shit spewing fuckers.

I like my anger. It’s funny, it’s effective, and it helps me get motivated when action is necessary — but it’s not always the most useful aspect of coping. The sooner I can let the slew of cuss words out somewhere, the faster I slow down and remember when I was incapable of comprehending how I manipulated and controlled my surroundings through what was, ultimately, emotional retardation. I recognize, while I sometimes see it as malicious and lazy in other people, how rarely it was about that when I was constantly failing myself no matter how hard I tried to be a good person.

I remember how incessantly difficult it was, and how much raw will power, determination and resiliency it took to pull my head out of my ass. How I spent 10 years before that moment running around digging trenches in my psyche looking for evidence of my villainy, having convinced myself that what I was doing was good inner work.

I remember when it made sense to stay stupid, to remain confused, to sabotage my life and my progress in order to avoid responsibility for the neglected brilliance I was pissing away. I remember, as I wanted to grow out of my skin so much I’d slice it open myself, how being that person allowed me to wallow in safety, and to hide.

I was like a beaten dog pressed into a corner, shivering, snapping and displaying for anyone who dared the mange and sunken eyes. I wanted it. Occasionally, people got bit, and I felt for them. But being wretched let me shirk my tasks as a human being, and for a long time, being stunted and dim was worth it.

I remember how crushed I was when I realized that I lacked the ability to be cause in the matter of my own life because of how little I believed in myself. How guilty I felt when I realized that deep down, I’d been blaming the people I loved for that deprivation inside me. For not understanding me when, frankly, I didn’t understand me, or the true motivations for holding myself down.

I remember how sobering and scary it was when I finally conjured the courage to face, and act upon the answers, to the questions I had been asking myself. How big the world became when I saw the potential influence I could have from a place of inner strength, when I’d mostly just reacted and seen myself as a shallow robotic shell trapped in a vicious loop.

I remember the weight in realizing that embodied living meant the real work I’d finally stepped into was never going to be over. I remember wondering how long it would take to feel better, and being terrified of what little might be left of me once I escaped the strangle hold of my sadness.

I still feel echos of that struggle, scanning for that terrible evil person that would make some kind of sick sense of why life can be so god damn hard. I remember overcoming being enslaved by that debilitating mindset and paying my fucking dues revisiting that place, thinking I could save others from it. And now, in my 30’s, when I see my peers still pulling the same shit I did when I was 20, I get annoyed. Sometimes I get hurt. And then I get angry. And then, I get compassionate.

And then I let them go.