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

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

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 

Spacetrash (my new podcast)

It’s been a gruesome year to say the least and stress is running high, especially now in the U.S. as we approach what is arguably The Most Consequential Election in history. But all that angsty jazz aside, I started a new creative thing with my cousin and dear friend, Mark, and I wanted to share it here with you.

Way back in June of this year, Mark and I were hanging out at a beach rental, drinking and staring up at the stars from the wide open rooftop deck overlooking the ocean, and we traded ideas about creating a podcast where we chat about modern day culture and how we maintain our creativity during the chaotic mess that is 2020.

In our first episode of *Spacetrash* (to be fair, a satellite drifted by as we were discussing things upon that rooftop deck, and also, as I just said, we were drinking well into that beautiful starry night) we laugh, we lament, we pontificate, and philosophize and hope and despair, and just generally riff on all manner of creative timely topics from writing to screenwriting to reality tv, to space junk, to long distance relationships, and so much more.

This is a completely new project for me in the sense that my writing has been generally ethereal and melancholy of late, but this podcast? This is just me having fun with someone I love so very dearly, getting to know each other’s perspectives on art and culture and modern life in general.

You can listen in on Spotify, click here.

I hope you enjoy it! If for no other reason than the world is shit right now, but we can still find joy and revel in it wherever and whenever we can. Or we can just make it up as we go.

Because I will be straight with you, I have not been able to write or think or create or communicate in the same ways ever since March of 2020. Literally everything feels up for grabs right now. Like everything.

My emotions are all over the place at any given moment. My worldview warps and changes and collapses and rebuilds itself over and over on the daily. It is maddening and maybe because of that, I am clinging tight to those I love, hoping against hope we all come out okay on the other side.

Whatever that means.

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Photo by Billy Huynh

You Can Feel the Seasons Click

The cool night air smells of a spicy stiffness, it licks its sharp tongue against the bare skin of my legs where my black tights don’t quite meet my beat up sneakers.

He hands me the flask as we make our way up a low hill which overlooks a graveyard. Turning to sit under a tree, I take a deep swig of the peanut butter whiskey we brought along for festive reasons, though they feel a little more stale against the apocalyptic background hellscape of just another day.

The whiskey is too sugary for him so I’m swallowing more than my share which seems to trouble neither of us, so I curl up inside the warmth of my jacket and observe the twinkling lights of the town below. He leans against the trunk of the tree, speaking something so low I can’t understand him, just observe the way the dim light outlines his profile in the empty air.

You can feel the seasons click underneath your skin. The moon hangs high in the vast midnight blue sky, half lit. I think about the empty promise of equality and the illusion of balance. The way day and night are of equal hours now for a while.

He holds onto daylight while I scratch my fingernails along the spine of the darkness, coaxing night. I want it all over me, the darkness, like rich soil buried beneath an endless field of pristine white snow. What is that saying about thinking you are burying a thing when really the thing was a seed and so it began to grow?

I do not fear the darkness or the coming of winter. There has always been fire enough in my bones.

Lighting up a cigarette, he sits down close to me and exhales a grayish plume of smoke into the increasingly frigid air. His fingers interlace with mine among the weeds. I think of Halloween and innocence, the child’s play of trick or treat.

Soon we will make our way back home and do the things we always do. But for just a few moments, we scan our eyes out across the tiny headstones like some kind of nocturnal animal headlights.

Nothing is forever.

Some things are destined to be carved in stone.

In the silence, I can hear our hearts beating in unison, feel the warmth of blood and whiskey in our veins.

You can smell the burning of days gone by, the offering, the sacrifice, the cyclical nature of all things. You can feel the seasons click underneath your skin.

 

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Photo by Tania Medina

Geometry of Desire

We come to understand the triangulation of desire. We see the lover, the beloved, and the obstacle which separates them from one another. Desire requires this separation, without it the structure of Eros collapses in upon itself.

The lovers wish to remove the barrier, dissolve the boundaries, to become one. This is the nature of the craving, the need for union, the longing for dissolution of the boundary. The aching for sacred violation.

And this, of course, is impossible. All time cannot be removed between the two, all space cannot be destroyed, for we are human creatures, bodies and minds and souls, made of our own flesh and bone and skin and psyche.

We are destined to remain within ourselves, to remain individual selves. All the while, within each of us, a longing which can never be fulfilled, never be satisfied.

There are some of us who seek for even the slightest satiation of these needs, sparking, burning, flashing in the dark.

And here we have the poetry that is desire. The poetics of loss, of need, of want, of the tragic beauty of the bittersweet emptiness.

Star gazers. Seekers of knowledge, tasters of the forbidden fruit. Practitioners of the art of seduction.

We beckon, we sing our siren songs for no one who can save us from ourselves.

Ouroboros.

Desirer of the desire, wanter of the want.

 

 

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Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy

 

Something to Believe In

It’s about having something to believe in, he says to me with something quite like, but not exactly, conviction in his eyes. As the words jut from his mouth like a stiff tongue down the throat (more probe than aphrodisiac), I watch his hands moving in such a way as to emphasize his point, which I think he thinks is revolutionary for me but in reality causes me to question everything I’ve ever thought about him all over again.

This is not a rare occurrence, my questioning of him, my questioning of myself, of the entire meaning of existence and my specific mysterious random place within it. If I could take a stab at it, I would guess I cycle through what could be called a collapse of certainty or lack of confidence in a world which proves itself untrustworthy at many a turn, every hour on the hour.

And here we sit, across from one another in a small room, coffee and cigarettes and he looking exquisitely poised as he gazes poetically out the window at nothing in particular. A tiny bird zips by, catching my eye in the split second its small body appears, then disappears, in the afternoon sun.

Observing the tense of his jaw, the subtle flex of his strong arms as he tilts back in his chair, I can feel the way I build up and knock down each emotion he causes to swell up within me. I know exactly what love feels like and I don’t know anything at all about love.

I ride and swing empty punches at the waves. Meanwhile, in his palms he wishes to offer me the idea of belief, as if in justice or peace or charity, kindness or boldness or nobility. Belief as some kind of final resolve, so I can relax. So I can sleep. So I can move ahead.

So I could be less intense, less afraid.

As if the questioning would produce, suddenly, some kind of satisfying answer. As if the questioning itself weren’t the only thing I trust.

 

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Photo by Yohann Libot

Through to the Other Side

Morning is still a deep ocean blue outside my window as the cool air moves in over my skin. Accepting the periwinkle dawn’s invitation into another day, I slide out of bed and into a hoodie and head downstairs for an obscenely large mug of coffee.

I read the news on my phone, or a bit of it, before clicking the stupid thing off and tossing it face down on the desk in my writing room. The news of the day is the news of the minute is hardly news at all when you’re so jittery you can’t remember what’s come before or after anything else.

And this is, of course, how they want you. Internally chaotic, externally enraged. Afraid. So twisted into knots that you oscillate yourself perpetually between two states of being: immobile and flailing. Away. Out of their way as they make their way into a brave new apocalypse.

But you know what they say, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you.

I make my way through a day as anyone might, coffee, writing, office, wine, dinner with my beloved, with whom I discuss some things and not others because we have learned each other well by now. Time passes and you arrange yourself into the habits and kinks, making of commitment and attraction as nuanced a cocktail as you can divine.

As the sun is swallowed behind dark clouds of nightfall, I consider giving up the bottle for good, but decide now isn’t the time and sink into bath water hot enough to turn the soft skin on my thighs bright red as I submerge below lavender bubbles. There is a hardness inside which melts a little into the beautiful heat, steaming itself off of my bones, soothing my numbed nerves.

As I lower my face beneath the water I imagine another place and another time, and a childlike innocence sweeps across my tender lost little heart. When I come up for air and open my eyes, will it be different? Will it be better if we make it to the other side?

 

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Photo by Velizar Ivanov

On Aligning with Your Soul’s Desire

This isn’t my usual type of content, but fuck it, it’s my space and I feel deeply compelled to write about some of the things that go on in my daily experience right now as they relate to the current climate of revolution sweeping across my country, and across the world.

I was speaking with a very dear and precious friend a few days ago, about living authentic lives, as in: lives which bring us joy, challenge, and fulfillment as women. And how we feel “crazy” when we follow our calling, our spirits, our soul’s desires. We feel misaligned, out of whack, but we also have never felt so alive, so renewed, so fulfilled, gratified, energized.

So OURSELVES.

And I got to thinking maybe we feel crazy when we are aligned with our spirits because our whole lives we were taught what we “should” align with was the world’s expectations of what we are supposed to do, who we are supposed to be.

This alignment with false promises put us at odds with who we were truly meant to be. Deep down, we knew it, but couldn’t name it. We longed for ourselves but looked outside instead, as all women are taught to do, for validation.

All our lives we were conditioned to believe aligning with the patriarchy, with capitalism, and with commercialism, was the right thing to do, the right way to be. So when we finally begin to align with our soul’s calling instead, we feel disjointed in exactly the way we are meant to on our journey to our Selves.

We are dislodging from our conditioning so that we may get in order with our Truth.

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Photo by Izabelle Acheson

I Walk Right Through You

I bite my lip and hold my tongue as the fog rolls in, thick, heavy, white, like a translucent apparition wrapped around the stained glass hallways of my mind. The air coming in through the bedroom window is so damp it wets the sheets I’m spread out on, they are gummy against the stickiness of my bare skin. I shouldn’t leave the window cracked open but I can’t write if I feel trapped. It wastes the a/c and causes the glass to frost over with cool mist so I can’t see the outline of trees, just a greenish blue glob of darkness beyond the droplets of sliding pale blue sky. I shouldn’t smoke indoors but I do, I shouldn’t drink so much but I’m fairly certain by now that fuck everything is a new kind of pop religion counterculture. The only logical reaction to a 24/8 nihilistic news cycle, yoni eggs, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the ridiculousness of ‘self-care’ touted on social media platforms built to sell you back to yourself over and over again for cheap. You thought maybe I could entertain you, keep you company, stand at the center of the ring underneath the pink satin lights of a candy-striped summer evening. Drink champagne with you. Dance for you. You thought maybe I would make you feel safe and seen and heard and worshiped for a while. As I stood before you naked, blank, stared off into a distance where I exist only as light, only as sound, a distance I knew you would never see because your heart is closed while your eyes are hungry, lazy, ignorant. Your mouth, warm and affectionate, twisting your hips in the hopes of opening doors. When I leave you, the discomfort is stale on my gums like the aftertaste of the last crumpled cigarette from the bottom of my bag. It will do the trick in case of emergency. In case there is no other way out, you always have me, you figure, which is good enough for now. But even as I walk the gray stone streets of this unfeeling city, heavy with chunks of glass buildings lodged in my chest, underneath the rubble I can still feel you. The pulse of your hopeful devotion keeping time with my heels on the pavement. The faintness of your tattered heart, oblivious, still quietly beating.

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Photo by Kevin Laminto