The Valentine’s Day KISS Principle (February 14, 2013)

The Valentine's Day KISS Principle



It’s 11:00 am on the morning of Valentine’s Day 2013. Thus far I have suffered a nocturnal bite to the nose from my partner JC (an odd manifestation of some interesting dream) and have had bloodwork done to verify the proper function of my kidneys. Hardly the stuff of traditional romance, yet I’ve never felt happier or more loved than I do this Thursday.

The story of my life so far has taken some unbelievable and heartbreaking turns, yet this is the year I finally feel as though I’m coming into my own. No longer a confused stranger struggling to integrate my consciousness with the maps and scripts presented in girlhood, I reflect a confidence and security that I long believed impossible. Some of this evolution can be attributed to hard, painful personal and professional choices that brought me to the brink of what I thought I could survive. Other parts are owing to years of intensive psychotherapy with a trusted professional. The rest is self-reflection and the clarity of perspective that comes from silencing old, destructive voices. The dependable love of a man who really sees me and still likes the view certainly doesn’t hurt.

St. Valentine’s Day, from the traditional perspective of American consumerism, is a manufactured event with a definite marketing message: to love means to spend. It is only by lavishing trinkets, candies and expensive dinners in crowded restaurants upon our nearest and dearest that we can show the appreciation we are too busy or lazy to express the other 364 days of the year. But this year feels different and it’s not just internally. Friends, colleagues and unknowns alike appear to be, for lack of a batter word, more grateful. Are the root causes grand and general, a sort of collective relief that we’re all still here despite the lingering effects of the Great Recession, the paralyzed toxicity of the nation’s governing processes and a post-9/11 awareness that our lives are no longer insulated from what happens “over there?” In an era of so many big, complex challenges that start from the moment we open our eyes each morning, is it that much easier to notice and appreciate the small things?

Whatever the dynamics, I’ve experienced no small amount of satisfaction today reading open expressions of love from corners often regarded as cynical and jaded. It’s like an unwritten resolution was passed that, at least for today dammit, we’re going to experience joy in the connections, labor and hobbies that make struggling tolerable. There’s something poetic in that.

My contribution is to suspend examining the titular U.S. Navel of my personal blog and keep it simple. I love my life as it is today. I love my career and the direction in which it’s traveling. I love my partner, the one who nourishes my body, mind and soul. I adore the friendships I have built and the reciprocal delights of those strong bonds. I cherish my family, diverse, untraditional and thus, completely perfect. There will be plenty of time for overthinking and strategizing tomorrow and the days to come. Today is about gratitude for where I am and what I experience – in this moment.

An Argument for Anarchy (June 1, 2010)


It’s hard to imagine that the American public has ever felt more powerless in a given period of history than it does now, with the possible exception of the Great Depression. However, even during that awful fiscal and social crisis, there seemed to be a sense of agency – a pull yourself up by the bootstraps mentality that told citizens to wake up and each day and keep fighting. The idea was that if you toiled hard enough after suffering a bad break, recovery was possible.

It’s certainly hard to grab ahold of that sensation now. Millions of jobs have been lost since the “Great Recession” began in 2007. But this time, we sit in the middle of an economic rebound that doesn’t include employment creation. The eliminated positions in finance, construction, manufacturing and other industries may never come back. Companies have learned to do more with less, aided by the technology ironically developed by thousands of H-1 visa workers who find that their services, and thus their vision of the 21st Century American dream, are no longer required.

Oil leaks into the Gulf by the millions of barrels, and we are told this environmental catastrophe may last another couple of MONTHS before we can even begin cleanup. We accept this with a resigned weariness that is beginning to take the shape of a national spirit. We didn’t vote to authorize this deep well drilling, and if there’s nothing the Federal Government can do about it, then certainly John Q. Public can’t solve the problem either. We must all sit our hands and wait patiently for the villain in this nightmare, British Petroleum, to figure a way out of this mess before the Gulf region becomes an ecological holocaust. Fishermen lose their livelihoods, animals die, plants are coated in black sludge and still we must wait for the same non-information to be spoon-fed to us each evening on the nightly news.

Millions of families lost their homes in the housing bust, and their retirement savings in the market crash of late 2008. Individuals and their dependents try to climb out of their personal fiscal craters while Bank of America, Citibank, JP Morgan and other agencies responsible for the mess post more robust profit earnings than ever. The always inept Congress debates punishment while these corporations laugh all the way to the bank.

What is the lesson taken away from these developments as well as the BP saga? Big business, not middle America, is what matters. Most of us can feel free to take a long walk off a short plank for all that our little lives mean in the grand scheme of Federal health. Just ask the families who lost loved ones in the BP oil rig explosion. Their bodies were never found, yet this is not a headline.

Where voices were once heard, raised up to effect a shifting of the national consciousness, and beget change, a organized movement is now required. The Tea Party was written off as a fad until Glenn Beck and his multi-media platform gave it some validity. Candidate Obama’s surge to victory on the shoulders of small donors already seems so antiquated.

So what’s the solution? How do we, to borrow a phrase from the Tea Partiers, “take back America?” How do we return the USA to its heyday as a Republic that is actually run for the people, by the people? Because it seems that preserving the status quo is what has actually become un-American – not as Mr. Rand Paul claims, criticizing the corporations who are slowly breaking our spirits.

The system is shattered and those of us (including me) who were naïve enough to believe that one man as President could fix it, are removing the pixie dust from our eyes to find, to our shock, that we may just need to start from scratch. America has become the proverbial ship that is so off course that it may be sunk before it ever finds the right path.

With each passing day, I am beginning to wonder if that is such a terrible idea to consider.