Truth Tellers

ImageI’ve been watching Skins again, that ridiculous teenage melodrama crack addiction of a show.  Aside from the pleasant brainlessness of watching fictional British high schoolers make bad decisions over and over, Skins does have occasional moments of virtue and insight.  In one of my most recently viewed episodes, shy gay Emily explains to mildly autistic genius JJ that she is going to counseling to be better at sharing honest things about herself.  Not a bad idea.

So here are some truths about me.

I am captivated by theory (political, scientific, social, you name it), but spending too much time thinking about it doesn’t really make me happy.  Practice does.  Dancing.  Cooking.  Living and acting connected to my body and emotions rather than relying so heavily on my head.

I.  Love.  Androgyny.  This doesn’t always have to look a certain way, though I think we’d all do better in life taking a leaf out of David Bowie’s book once in a while.  For my own self, androgyny means I end up looking kind of like a cute anime creature.  Manifested in my kind of sort of lady friend, it’s a delicious muscular athleticism.  In men I enjoy, it’s a sinewy, aesthetically attentive beauty.

I am an equal blend of introversion and extroversion.  No one expects this.  Most acquaintances assume I am all extrovert.  They are wrong.  I love people, particularly in one on one/small group settings.  But I need my space, my cats, my journal, and books books books to relax and retreat to daily for recharging.

What are a couple of your  truths?

Words to Live By: Nelson Mandela

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.” -Nelson Mandela

This is not a new quote.  It has spread through the internet on countless blogs, and likely used by teachers, therapists, and commencement speakers to the point of exhaustion.  But like many deeply insightful but overused statements of wisdom from world leaders, the significance of Nelson’s words did not strike me until reading them in this particular moment in this particular essay, in this particular place and time in my life, an era of personal rediscovery and personal re-empowerment.  As I ground myself in my own strength and self respect, these words are perfect for contemplation and meditation.  I want them to sink into my skeleton, to infiltrate my metacognition, to infuse my realigned priorities.

Let us hold our darkness but embrace and live from our light.

I am my own Breakfast Club.

The Rebel.  The Jock.  The Recluse.  The Beauty.  The Geek.

Image

I am not necessarily these precise beings.  Rebel, yes, by default really, considering I am a volatile creature of passion.  Jock not so much; I’ll have to get over my completely illogical fear of the lifting machines at the YWCA first.  Recluse from time to time.  Beauty, meh.  Geek, absolutely.  I want to be a graphic novel character for Halloween.  Seriously.

My breakfast club is more specific, more particular, and its denizens were determined until recent days to exclude each other out of seeming necessity.  But no more.

We have the Intellectual, a studious and introverted creature who is insatiably curious.  It is she who is leading my research project on intentional community as well as my return to volunteering at the library.  For a long time the Intellectual disdained the Lush, an ostentatious partier, dancer, and pursuer of substances and good times of all sorts.  While still not anything resembling friends, the Intellectual and the Lush are willing to be in the same room at long last, eying each other warily across the way over a book and a drink respectively.

Then there’s the Homesteader, a nesting type who is happiest when quilting, cooking with local veggies, or making homemade bug repellant from vodka and essential oils.  She desires rootedness and connection, a place that is shared and beloved.  The Explorer craves connection too, but of a different sort, the variety that is much more transitory and serendipitous.  A campsite river view at sunrise.  Friends of friends of friends in a city at midnight.  The Explorer and the Homesteader have learned how to share the baton, however, and that meaning is built both in spontaneity and in months and years of hard work.

Finally, both above and within and inside the other four breakfasters, there’s the Dreamer and the Skeptic.  As you’d imagine, they’re still at odds much of the time.  The Dreamer sees possibility and opportunity everywhere she turns, while the Skeptic is quite convinced that it’s all to no avail, in the end.  The Dreamer wants nothing more than to create, because what else can she do when the world is so beautiful.  The Skeptic scoffs, because it is almost certain that anything the Dreamer creates will be forgotten.  But they are beginning to coexist.

The Intellectual.  The Lush.  The Homesteader.  The Explorer.  The Dreamer.  The Skeptic.  A motley crew, to be sure.  Yet they’re finally discovering how to learn from each other.

AnooYou

I am an organizer by nature, by nurture, and by necessity.  Whether it is my internal community of Selves, my community living situation, my neighborhood, or a wider network of affiliates, I see connections and create change.

Currently my organizing impulses and energies are flowing into re-prioritizing my life, post bike tour, post reawakening of my Self.  I’ve never had any trouble keeping myself busy, rather my problem has always been choosing between the marvelous array of causes and communities of which one can be a part.  Hence, organizing.

As the NEW LAUREN I will channel my energies and focus on…

Books – joining book groups, volunteering at the library again and/or Boneshaker Books

Community – finding new housemates, beginning a research project on urban intention communities/cohousing, potentially finding a spiritual community?

Food – themed dinner parties, attending the Sustainable Farming Association conferences, maintaining and building on the edible/medicinal garden at the house

Feminist Culture – biweekly lady salon group, creating a wall collage of inspiring women

Queer Culture – all of the things! (this is literally what I wrote in my journal); dance nights, book group, burlesque shows, spoken word, etc; I have been eagerly lapping up all the queer lady blogs/websites as of late, especially Effing Dykes and Autostraddle, and it’s making me hella excited to get back to the gay haven that is the Twin Cities

Physical Embodiment and Wellbeing – join the YWCA again, go dancing more frequently, yoga, solitude walks

With these things, so am I, and so I shall become.

Interlude: My Love for OITNB is Eternal.

If you have not seen Orange is the New Black yet, open a new tab, log into Netflix (or get an account.  Now.  Seriously), and prepare yourself for an all nighter.  This show is fabulous.

Image

The cast hangs out!  For fun!  Celebrating their birthdays!  So cute OMG! (Thanks Autostraddle for the photo.)

This show has women, queers, people of color, relationship drama, critiques of the prison system and other aspects of culture.  It’s holistically, perfectly, and outstandingly stellar.  Like as in outer space.  And I absolutely cannot wait until the second season begins.  Especially since it turns out that Laura Prepon is happily returning, contrary to rumor.

Now I’ll go back to pretending I don’t watch/care about tv.  Until early next year that is.

An unexpected end, an uncertain future, and love.

Against all expectations and most logic, I ended my Mississippi River solo bike tour early.  If I’m honest with myself, there was fear in the decision.  Fear at entering territory (ie the South) even more unknown than the hundreds of miles I had already covered.  Fear also in letting down the multitudes of old and new friends that were impressed by my stamina and proud of my stamina, for just the day before I made this critical decision a college friend of mine waxed poetic on the Facebook on my pedal-toned calves and general chutzpah.

Clearer and deeper than this fear, however, was my sudden awareness that I had accomplished what I set out to do, something difficult to quantitively evaluate due to my lack of pre-ride mission statement, but something of which I was entirely certain nonetheless.  In overly simplistic and sentimental summary, I set out to find myself again.  Somewhere in the last year the muddle of my life and divorce and commitments and obligations and overwhelming number of possibilities overtook my core self, and she was misplaced.  Not lost, but off meandering somewhere in greener pastures while my logical self tried to little avail to get things in order so she could return.  Yet routine and obligation (a persistent bugger) made self rediscovery challenging, if not nearly impossible.  Hence the solo bike tour, a time apart from friends and failures and chronic juggling.

I set off down the Mississippi River on the Parrot to recommit to myself, the only person with which I will reside forever in this life.  I set off to relearn the joys of guilt free solitude.  To be interested in my Self again.  To accomplish something under my own steam that was not regulated or required by another.  It just turns out it only took me to St. Louis to do this.

So who am I, now?  I am more resilient than ever before.  I am increasingly comfortable without a ten (twenty, thirty, etc) year life trajectory.  I believe in my charisma.  I am in love with cities.  I am inspired and invigorated by LGBT and feminist culture, and plan to immerse myself in both of these things and explore my identity within them when I return to Minneapolis.  My bicycle is a part of my being.  I love and need other creative, communicative, interesting and interested humans in my life, while simultaneously being unapologically committed to pursuit of solitude whenever I crave it.

I may yet be a politician, a farmer, a writer, or something yet undiscovered.  My path will contain both heartache and passion for certain, because I cannot help but live 110%, always.

Be in love with life with me.  This is it.