America, the Beautiful and the Broken

I’m sipping my morning coffee while looking out my writing room window at the auburn trees set in patchwork design against a soft blue sky. And I can feel it. I can feel the beating hearts all across America as we wait for the election results to be announced officially, even as we know exactly what they are.

President Biden. Vice President Harris. This we know.

And just to type those words together sends a current of heat and comfort all through my being. The amount of anxiety, damage, and depression the last five years have caused us as individuals and as a collective society has been immeasurable.

We tried our best to soldier through it. It was not easy. It has been traumatizing and terrifying to watch and experience every. single. fucking. day. You cannot imagine it. Only living through it can teach you what it is like to realize how very much you have to lose and to feel helpless as you watch it being taken brutally, monstrously, intentionally, indifferently, cruelly.

But we turned toward each other. We found each other. We the ones who believe in decency, dignity, compassion, justice, equality, liberty.

We came together and we turned our pain into action and we voted out the insidious evil. It will not be enough, of course. There is still much deep soulful, ugly, and difficult work to be done. An activist I adore said it this way: we have cut off the head of the Hydra, but we need to get to the heart.

For me, I have become so much more clear. Much more aware of the trouble we face as a nation and a world, and also aware of what it will take to fix it. We are the leaders we need. We are the healers. We are the spirit and the answer.

But for this moment in time, as we hold each other at the dawning of a new day, a new season of hope, I am feeling so many things at once. Relief. Gratitude. Overwhelming gratitude for the kind and decent and hardworking citizens of our nation who made sure the election was executed smoothly, methodically, safely.

But the biggest thing I am feeling now is love. Love for all of the people in my life who rallied and worked to secure this major epic victory. Love for a country which is broken but trying like hell to heal.

And you feel it even deeper still when you know you earned it. Chose it. Fought day after day after excruciating day for it. Together. Just like we will have to keep doing, forever.

 

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Photo by Jakob Owens

How I’m Surviving Election Day USA 2020

It took four agonizing, traumatic, vile years but today is finally here.

Election Day in the USA and already nearly 100 million of us have cast our votes. Since I already turned in my ballot weeks ago (and verified that it was counted) I almost wanted to ignore today to spare myself the jitters, nausea, and lightheaded sickness that is watching the votes be counted.

Ha.

I’m too invested in the outcome to not look, to ignore, to check out, tune out now. If you are voting today, power to the polls, baby, stay in line, bring a mask, chair, water, snacks, joy and peace and resolve. And get the sticker, too. I wish I had the sticker.

If, like me, you are feeling anxious about whether Biden will win, I offer you these thoughts today in case they help. If not, well: whiskey.

The past four years have changed me in fundamental ways and I will never be the same. I will never be as naive, passive, or – ironically – fearful as I was four years ago.

I have learned too much both about the horror that can come when we don’t pay attention, and also about my own strength when forced to reckon with hard truths. Racism. Sexism. Discrimination. Authoritarianism. Democracy. Republic. Gerrymandering. Electoral College (fuck that, btw, we gotta kill that off). Protest. Truth. Lies. Pandemic. CDC. Environmentalism. Journalism. Messaging. Hope. Despair.

All of these concepts are radically changed, heightened, clarified for me now. I know how to use my voice in a way I never have before. I know what it means to decide once and for all what I stand for, and what I absolutely will not.

I have clarified my relationships. I know where I want to be and with whom with a clarity and conviction I never had before.

And I share all of this with you today because I know there are millions and millions of us who feel this way. And we can have deep hope in that. We can expound upon our collective strength and power rooted in that.

Because we are changed. We are newly formed. And we are not going away. No matter what happens today or tomorrow or this week or these next three months, we are not going back to the way it was ever again.

Resolve. Vigilance. Compassion. Kindness. Trust in science. Activism. Awareness. Awakening. Democratic participation.

These are the new normal.

No matter what happens today. We will never be the same. And my guess is, that is exactly what the wanna-be-dictator is so desperately afraid of.

Stay safe. Stay dangerous. I’ll see you on the other side.

Whatever that is.

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P.S. If you are alone tonight and don’t want to be (nobody should be), join me and thousands of others as we stick together virtually via Janaya Khan’s Instagram Live here: @Janayathefuture They have held my head and heart together all along. 

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Photo by Tuva Mathilde Loland

Culture Wars, Activism, Election Countdown, and Being Creative in a Critical World

It’s Friday (mercifully!) and in this week’s Episode 3 of our new podcast, which I host weekly with my insanely talented screenwriter comedian cousin Mark, we grab our drinks and get right into it.

The countdown to November 3rd is staring us dead in the face and we chat about what extremes are doing to our country. Extreme polarization, extreme voter suppression, voter intimidation, ridiculously long lines, new rules for voting by mail, and so much more.

Is there still hope? Will we get through it? There is and we will and we talk about that, too.

And since we try to dig into two topics in each episode, in the second half we dive into what frightens us as artists about the idea of being ‘canceled’ by people who are quick to judge and shame our work.

Creatives, activists, and artists – all humans, in fact – have to be able to make mistakes in order to grow. But how much free expression can we get away with in hyper-critical times like these?

No matter what happens, remember, we have each other and we have laughter and love and gin and we are gonna be okay. Promise.

Relax and join us on Spacetrash Podcast on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts!

 

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Photo by Nicole Geri

Killing Season: On Getting Through Election Week

Next week is gonna be a shit show. Even more than the last four years have been. The exploding culmination of all the corrupt entitlement, bigotry, lies, whining, blaming, killing, flailing, drama, chaos, wild accusations, scandal, deceit, sickness, and ignorance.

Our emotions will be played, manipulated, strung out, trampled, extorted, abused, and weaponized against us.

For weeks I have been counting down the days until Election Day in the USA. But the truth is ‘Election Day’ is now. It’s already happening. I think something like close to seventy million people have already voted in this country. An astoundingly large number of votes have already been cast and we still have five days to go before November 3rd.

It is heartening. And yet. The amount of anxiety that crawls beneath my skin is massive and constant. Fortunately for me (and I sincerely hope for you) I am surrounded by precious friends and family who help me to get through with laughter, love, and the strength that comes with the fabric of community.

I am lucky. I am privileged. I am blessed deeply. For this I am eternally grateful, and even still I never thought it would come to this. Not here. Not in America. Not in the land of the free and home of the brave, which is a sickeningly cliche thing to say, I know.

Why write any of this?

I’ve no clue if it is helping – me or you or anybody.

Because I can’t not write this. I can’t not capture in words the reality – the stark shrieking reality – of this time. This exact moment in history.

I write it as it happens knowing that very soon this time will be over, gone, swept away like grains of sand upon the winds of change.

We may have never thought it would come down to this one election which will decide the fate of our lives forever. Will we recover by trusting science and taking care of the least of us or will we be thrown into the darkest period we have ever known and possibly ever will, under the sadistic rule of a blood thirsty dictator.

We may never have thought this would be a choice to be made in our lifetimes. If you are like me, you are incredulous that this “choice” is so hard for some people to make.

But here we are.

It is what it is.

We have to play this as it lies.

We have anxiety and fear and disorientation.

But we also still have a voice. We still have power, resolve, community, hope, determination. We still get a vote and vote we will, and have, in massive numbers. Do not stop now. Do not stop ever.

Because this isn’t over on November 3rd. For myself, I am already practicing extreme self care in preparation for next week when every minute will be another shock, another surprise, another rant, another abuse of power.

What I keep believing in, though, is that what we are witness to is the final gasp of patriarchal power trying desperately, grossly, furiously, to keep its wrathful grip on a society which deep down it knows has already left it for dead.

We are not going back and we are not going away and we will not stop and we will not be silenced.

I don’t know what America will look like over the next three months, no one does. It is unthinkable yet highly likely that this president will tear us to shreds just for spite whether he loses or wins, concedes (ha) or doesn’t. He is already working quietly behind the chaotic scenes to dismantle the civil service, to gut and discredit the vital structures of science, environmentalism, social justice, journalism and many others, from the inside out.

Destruction. Demolition. Burn it all down, they don’t give a fuck about life of any kind. They are a cult of death, built on death, death as currency to gain more power and wealth.

But I do know that right now, recording this exact moment in time, while we all watch and wait and pray and guess and wonder AND VOTE, we can all feel that we have already been fundamentally changed forever.

We have been driven to the brink and forced to look ourselves square in the eye and answer for who we are, who we believe ourselves to be, what we expect not only of our leaders but of ourselves as leaders in this fight.

The next few months are gonna get ugly. But maybe if we acknowledge that now, we can take back a bit of our sanity ahead of time. Try to remind ourselves, over and over, that we will win.

No matter how long it takes.

 

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Photo by Annie Spratt 

 

 

 

Autumn Erotic

He lights her cigarette and spreads her legs as wide as they will go before unzipping her skin tight jeans and leaving her there, exposed, arms behind her back, in the straightback chair.

Her boots are rich tall buttery leather, heels like towering city buildings.

The upstairs attic room is rustic textured dark wood and low gray-gold lighting, as outside a large open widow, the autumn evening drapes its muted oranges and yellows, deep greens and chocolate browns, down along a mountain range swathed in thin white fog.

She watches him as he moves expertly about her, she is motionless, yielding, as he pulls roughly at the holes in the torn denim at her knees, ripping the soft fabric open further, revealing sudden peeks of taught porcelain skin.

Stealing her cigarette, he steps back to observe her, naked from the waist up, strawberry hair cascading down over her pale smooth breasts. He curls his lip into a sly smirk as he blows smoke in her direction, the taste of sin and spice, and her crystal blue eyes flash with the electricity of what it feels like to be observed, objectified, studied.

Seen.

Desired.

Adored.

Under his gaze she comes alive, a graceful animal, heightened, within the wilderness of skin, bone, exposure, excited by the earthy scent of the coming darkness of night.

Made to sit still, obey, arouse, pose as instructed. For pleasure. She is a mysterious gift, a playful nymph, a work of exquisitely tousled art, fine sculpture, ribbed, malleable clay.

He knows it is the limitations he places around her like invisible restraints which will penetrate, cause her to overflow her wanton cups, mouth, lips, eyes, hips, sex.

She leans back to shake the blazing waves of her auburn hair, just to feel them whisper against her bare back. She needs to be touched. She needs to be pet. His pet. Feel his generous strokes of affection. Protection. Command. Encouragement.

Sensing her want as it crackles in the air between them, he stands behind her and gently places the cigarette back in her mouth. As it grazes her tongue she bites the tip of his finger – teeth digging hard into his delicious flesh – and he drags the force of his palms along her jaw before tugging her hair tight inside his fist.

She arches her long elegant neck and struggles against the hardness of the chair. The divine torture of the friction it creates causes her to moan aloud.

That’s a good girl. Let me hear you, baby. 

His hands trace her collarbone, then move in unison over her breasts, caressing, kneading, pinching her nipples to stand fully erect, obscene, as the molten heat turns to liquid lava between her thighs.

Moving the sweet pressure of his touch down along her aching skin, stopping for just a breath at her navel, before skimming the thick fingers of his right hand over her throbbing, swollen slit.

As the evening sun slopes quietly behind the purple of darkening mountains in the distance, she is wide open for him.

Her ragged panting hot against the pulse of his neck.

A living, breathing, silent primal beg.

 

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[A note to my new and long-time readers: I write so many different kinds of pieces on this blog. I love to write erotica, but I haven’t felt compelled to do so in a while, as my nerves have been so very frayed by the current societal scene in America. Just this morning, though, I came across a gorgeous image of a woman posing nude in front of a window which looked out at rolling mountains covered with multicolored autumn trees. And I was suddenly deeply moved to write this piece, to me it is a celebration of our inner and outer seasons, of our truly ecstatic nature as erotic human creatures, wanting for the pure trembling joy of expression, exploration, adoration, and the kind of intimacy which sparks the flickering fires of lust. There are many kinds of freedom. I want them all.]

 

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Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy

Blueprint of Emotion (audio)

 

Having spent the bulk of the day pretending to be someone I’m not, I think about what love could possibly mean in a world as fucked up as this one, slide the key into the ignition and make my way home.

I pass the kids playing basketball on the courts near the baseball fields which stretch out along the road next to the tall apartment buildings with their white painted balconies.

I’m driving into the setting sun, flinching in the raging orange glare, in search of meaning in the patterns which have become the blueprint of my life. Time has moved so quickly while standing still.

There is a noise that distance makes. There is a rustling, a sifting sound of discontent that grates in the veins, reminding you of what you could have been if only you had done things differently.

The melancholy static of phantom pain, the ghost of a life at the sides of your breathing. And is it a mirror we find ourselves in, is it a window through which we find our faces reflected in the midnight snow.

The poets dream, it is our most cherished and distorted obsession. It becomes sustenance, somewhere as we emerge from innocence, it becomes blood.

By the time I’m home the evening light is fading and gorgeous, glinting along a single silk thread swinging loose from a spider web which straddles the electric wires outside my window.

In the privacy, in the silence, everything I held back so tightly for hours on end becomes unraveled from around my little aching bones.

There is smoke in the night air against my lips.

Falling leaves.

A faintly veined fragility in everything.

 

 

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Photo by Thirteen J

 

Coming Clean: Say What Needs to Be Said

To speak your truth out loud changes the molecules of the atmosphere inside of you, and outside of you.

This is the part of writing that keeps writers coming back. It’s electrical. Molecular, biological. In the forming of the thoughts, the critical thinking, observations, research, the thirst and hunger for knowledge, for perspective.

Perhaps this is why those in the heights of power don’t want us to talk about politics. They don’t want us to imagine a better, fairer, kinder way.

They don’t want us to have a voice.

Because they know that once we have all of that, once we have a clear vision and the ability to articulate it compellingly, we become powerful, too. We become much harder to control, to silence, to intimidate, to crush.

As of this writing, there are fourteen days left until November 3rd. Once these fourteen days are over, they are gone forever. What has been said and done to bring about our future will have been said and done and laid to rest.

If there are things you feel bubbling up inside of you, truths you want to speak, influence you want to have over the outcome of this choice we must all make about the future of our country and the world, and the life we will lead going forward into 2021 and beyond, it is time to say them out loud.

The hard conversations. The pushing past our comfort zones to engage in a kind of speak that may be brand new, it may feel cumbersome, it may feel overwhelming.

It is time to say the thing that up until now you were afraid to say.

To make little quakes in the universe with your thoughts and words and feelings. To electrify the atmosphere within and around you. To alter the biology of this nation, this society, this collective experiment.

A strange and oddly beautiful thing has happened to me over the course of the past few weeks as I endeavored to express my perspectives and observations, views and feelings, surrounding the upcoming US election.

I knew it would be unsettling in some ways for me to speak about politics in such naked fashion, to essentially say the things I had been thinking inside silently for so long.

What I did not expect or see coming was how I would be changed, transformed, even, by doing so. When you go where you feel you don’t belong and stick it out, you find you do belong. You belong everywhere, in all things, in all situations, where you feel called to be.

Not because you are a savior or prophet or some sort of anointed guru with all the answers, but because you are human. All of this world is your world. All of the topics are your topics to wrangle with should you so choose.

This is not just about one election. This is about your life. What you allow yourself to be and become. What you believe matters. What is at the very heart and soul and core of you.

Will you speak the truth even if your voice shakes? Even if it means you will have to stand alone in some instances? Stand out and stand up?

The days are growing short and the time is now or never. Perhaps the person you want to be is the person you are already.

You just have to say it out loud.

 

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Photo by Taylor Harding

Why You Gotta Talk So Much Politics?

Sunday morning.

The sky is ice blue behind electric orange trees, leaves rustling slightly in the cool autumn air.

The past week was chaotic, loud, confusing, and intense. It has been many weeks like this and I know the one ahead will only be different because the madness will increase exponentially from now until election day, and then still beyond that.

Trump will not go quietly, graciously, or with decency. He will claw and fight and rage and gnash his filthy teeth to get what he wants. To hold tight to power with childish stubby little fists.

We know this. In fact, it is one of the few things about him you can count on. Rage. Lies. Jealousy. Vicious cruelty, criminality, corruption.

And so it is.

I light a pine scented candle, sip my coffee, open my laptop and begin to write.

In times like these, when the spirit is relentlessly drained each and every day, each and every hour, I have to remind myself to breathe. I have to be vigilant not only about what is happening outside and around me, but also inside me.

I feel everything underneath my skin. Creatives always do. Our senses are heightened, we see not only with our eyes, but with everything we are made of, everything that we are.

I know the week ahead will be full of hope and energy, a fierceness of purpose, an ever sharpening eye on the prize. We must win this election. And we must never stop fighting with compassion to right the wrongs of our past and present, and give all of our hearts, minds, souls, bodies, talents, to creating a future worthy of our little ones, our children, and our highest selves.

Someone asked me the other day why my writing has “gotten so political.” And I laughed at first, shunning the ignorance of that question. How can it not? I think to myself. What else could it or should it possibly be in times like these?

But then I did take pause.

And as I sit here looking out over the rooftops and up into the bright sky blue with promise and possibility and great great heights, it occurs to me that everything is political.

From the air we breathe to the art we make to the words we speak.

It’s just that maybe we only notice its fever pitch when we are fighting for our lives.

 

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Photo by Kharytonova Antonina

This Is How It Happens Here

On November 3rd we vote for a system of American government.

We choose between democracy or fascism. Republic or dictatorship.

A life of hope and freedom and possibility or a life of cruelty and imprisonment and injustice.

What continues to astound me is how many people do not see this.

And I wonder, do they see it but don’t believe it?

Do they think it could never happen here?

American exceptionalism is not a real thing, though we have been taught to believe in it.

We are not exceptions to the rules of humanity, we are not immune to the insidious takeover of authoritarianism.

Any society made ripe with fear and division, crime and deception and greed, will collapse into chaos.

Under the right conditions, any body will break.

All flesh will tear.

We are made of the same stuff as any other body, any other country.

Just as vulnerable.

This is how it happens.

Is happening.

We are in it.

And this election won’t heal the wound.

But at the very least

we have got to stop the bleeding.

Vote.

 

 

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Photo by Ewelina Karezona Karbowiak

Liar, Liar: Why We Must Protect the Integrity of Speech

As writers, we have talked about why we must protect our freedom of speech. But what I think doesn’t get near the attention it should is not just the right to  freedom of speech but the necessity of the integrity of speech.

The integrity of speech meaning to speak the truth, even and especially when it is hard. Even and especially when it is inconvenient and uncomfortable. To speak the truth as the first priority in the relationship.

The integrity of speech means using language to bring people together rather than divide them. Knowing the best way to do that is to be both compassionate and transparent.

To be honest with people is to respect them. We are all adults in the room. We can handle anything so long as you give it to us straight.

This is how to build a society around trust, which is the strongest bond there is between any two people, any two groups, any two nations.

What we have lost over the last four years is the trust of our nation’s people, our ability to respect each other, listen to each other, protect each other.

We have lost our allies around the globe for the same reason. Lack of integrity. The president is incapable of understanding the value of community. He is incapable of empathy. He is incapable of using language and communication to unite people, protect people, honor people.

He is incapable of keeping his word, which, by nature of the office he holds, is our word.

His words become our words when we elect a man to speak for us.

His lies become our lies. His delusions become our fears, our confusion, our crippled and dwindling power.

We must be extremely discerning when it comes to giving a president – or anyone – such awesome power to speak for us. Trump is a liar and a conman. That is all he has ever been and none of it will change because it can’t. He can’t.

On November 3rd (26 days away as of this writing) we vote for integrity, transparency, truth, community, unity, true power.

We have seen the alternative. And I’m pretty sure most of us would agree we’ve seen too much.

And at the same time, not nearly enough.

 

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Photo by Gerardo Marrufo