Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down.
Earlier today, December 31st, 2011, I filed my thirty-day notice of intent to vacate my San Francisco apartment.
On the one hand, I simply can’t financially afford my little studio in the Tenderloin any longer. No, I don’t have another apartment lined up, and no, I don’t intend to find one. Instead, I’m about to leap off this cliff and grow my wings on the way down. Yes, I’m scared. And, yes, I’ll be okay.
On the other hand, looking back on it all now, leaving not just San Francisco but the very notion of a permanent address behind seems an inevitable path. Early in 2009, I wrote about what kind of man I am. I had few answers, and many questions:
[A]gain, I ask myself, who am I? What is my sexual submissiveness without the dominant presence that revived it when I had given it up those four long years ago? What is my career when I have achieved, for me, an unprecedented level of recognition after 8 long years of being in the workforce? What is my contribution to my own future, and to people like me who are still young children today?
What kind of man am I if so much of the world I live in refuses to see manliness in what I am? Because today, having considered the possibility that I was perhaps a woman at earlier stages of my life, it turns out I am a man. And I am going to make the world know it is good to be the kind of man I am.
Then, in January of 2010, I wrote about what kind of world I wanted to live in. Again, I had few answers, and many questions:
Many of our current societal systems are unsustainable. We all know it. We’ve all felt the effects.
Global financial crisis. Depreciation of college degrees. Ecological disasters. Massive civil unrest resulting in groups of unhappy, violent people (“terrorists”). If we as the human race are going to survive the century, we simply have to change the rules of this game. And that starts with normal people like you and me committing to doing what we want to do, not what we were told we have to do. I wasn’t comfortable playing by the rules of the so-called well-schooled majority, and I’m no longer comfortable playing by the rules of this economy. I now aim to change it.
And I’m not willing to merely survive, because I demand excellence and happiness. I demand it of myself, and so I demand it of you.
I believe there is more value in doing, being, and getting what I want than in sacrificing it. I believe that there is more richness in the world than can be measured with all the world’s riches.
Doing good work is priceless not because its execution is necessarily of superb quality, but because its value can only be determined by the people who find it useful to them. But I can’t magically transport us out of the economic jail of living paycheck-to-paycheck that so many of us are in. It’s going to take many intermediate steps to get us from here to a place where the value that people create by doing what they love is also what sustains us.
And I have only the vaguest of idealistic dreams for how I’m going to help get us there. But I do have those dreams, and I can’t ignore them.
Holidays or arbitrary markers like a “new year” are difficult times for me. Either they seem an excuse for thoughtless hedonism—parties without purpose, drinks without delight, gifts without generosity, kisses without chemistry—or they are permeated with an intolerable veneer of culturally-imposed “togetherness” that leaves too many out in the cold, often literally. And yet….
And yet, this year has been remarkable. I was angry—oh, so angry—and frustrated that I could not explain exactly why. But, slowly, that began to change. I was sad, and I felt isolated by a system that had conditioned me to feel alone. But that, too, slowly began to change.
I adopted the designation “Social Justice Technologist” without having any real idea of what that means. But in talking to others about it, I refined my own understanding. Yes, I am interested in using telecommunications technologies to improve the world, but I no longer define “technology” so narrowly.
A social justice technologist is someone who works to improve the technology—the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes—of social justice movements themselves. “The technology of social justice” is as social as it is machined; its componentry includes both carbon and silicon. How do people interface with themselves and with their cultures? With other cultures? What is the DNA, the vital code, of a human relationship? Can the conditions necessary to nurture empathic, compassionate communications between human beings and their natural environment be replicated, and if so, how? How do “edge cases,” one-offs, weirdos, become (sub)cultures?
What is the personal genesis of self-empowerment? Are there invariable, atomic elements common among these experiences? If so, what is the most effective way to infuse the largest number of people with these positive experiences in a way that successfully engenders autonomous power for each given individual? Is there a single, critical pressure point on which we as a community can converge to instigate the crumbling of sex-negativity and the rise of an authentically sex-positive worldwide social order? If so, I want to find that pressure point, that crack in the hegemony, and direct every single ounce of strength I have there until I have no life force left.
The world will follow wherever we lead it—kicking and screaming if they must. I promise you that. And that’s when the impossible magnitude of what I was thinking about hit me like a ton of bricks: I can not do this alone.
Thankfully, somewhere in the midst of all this theorizing, all this doing and failing and doing again, something magical happened: I began to understand how to connect with you. One piece, one memory, one story at a time. Bit by digital bit, I reconstituted myself in a form both evanescent yet permanent enough to squeeze sufficiently through the static walls surrounding us and feel the spark of possibility—a mental liberation more akin to psychological rebellion than physical revolution, but an imaginative seed nonetheless. I embraced the fortune of my privileges and the plight of my oppressions.
[L]et's bomb the factory that makes all the wannabes. Let's burst all the bubbles that brainwash the masses.
And so, while many others are out on this New Year’s Eve, I’m at home taking stock not only of the past year, but also of all the stuff I have. That coffee table I never used, those folding chairs still folded in the corner, the extra pair of linens I never needed to wash because I never used them. Those hand towels. The desk at which I’m sitting and wrote so much. My bed. That pile of electronics in the corner.
It’s all just stuff I don’t need, distractions I can’t afford, things I hardly used. The only reason I have them is because I was afraid of not having them, because I was made to believe I was supposed to have an apartment, with stuff, purchased using money from a job I don’t like to make me feel better about having that job I never really even fucking wanted. And now, I’m not so afraid of that anymore.
So I’m giving it all away. On January 6th, 2012, I’m inviting you to show up at my door, look around my apartment, find something you like, tell me you want it, and if it’s not already been spoken for, it’s yours. Seriously. Quoting from the event I put on Facebook:
Here’s the deal: I have a lot of stuff. […] There’s no way I can carry it all while I travel. So before I sell most of it, I want to give my personal community (that’s you!) first dibs on taking it all FOR FREE.
All I ask is that if you take, say, a frying pan, next time I’m in your neck of the woods, please make me an omelette on it. :) If you take my squash racquet, treat me to a game of squash next time I’m in town. You get the drill.
After that? I’m off to the East coast again. And, if you haven’t been reading my blog in an RSS reader, you might have noticed my travel itinerary is now visible on my sidebar, along with my current whereabouts. This information, along with details regarding my basic needs like food and shelter, is also on my new “Cyberbusking” page. And if you are reading my blog in an RSS reader, you’ll see a note at the bottom of all my entries reminding you that I’m jumping off this cliff and trying to grow my wings on my way down.
I’ll need help, and I’m still learning how to ask for it; to date, your retweets, reblogs, and the other ways you have engaged with me through this telepathic non-magic of the Internet has been profound, and profoundly appreciated. Thank you. I also want to keep helping others—and I think I can. So in addition to the above, I’ve added a contact form at the bottom of my “Seminars” page where you can tell me more about you and what you’re hoping we can make happen together. Because, as the song goes:
As far as I can tell, it doesn't matter who you are, if you can believe there's something worth fighting for. The colour of an eye, the glory of a sudden view, the baby in your arms, the smile he always shoots at you. Believing in nothing makes life so boring, so let's pray for something to feel good in the morning. […] So live for tomorrow, and do what you have to.
My tomorrow is also a callback to my past. After the East coast, and after I complete the legal transition out of my apartment in January, I’m planning to travel to Denver, where an amazingly talented core set of unorganizers have laid the groundwork for KinkForAll Denver, and I’m going to support them however I can. After that, I’ll be presenting at Atlanta Poly Weekend 2012, and then—if I get some help traveling from Atlanta back to Washington, DC—I’ll see about participating in this year’s MOMENTUM Con.
But, really, who knows what the future holds? I don’t.
As for right now, as the revelry of New Year’s Day 2012 becomes louder with each passing tick-tock of the clock, I sit here, preparing myself to say goodbye to the stuff in the walls I once called my house. Truth is, that’s all San Francisco was; a house—never a home.
Maybe I never had a home. Or maybe I ought not have defined “home” so narrowly.
Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place. Suddenly it moves with such a perfect grace. Suddenly my life doesn't seem such a waste. […] Come what may.
Save one thing: “the revolution” isn’t “coming.” It’s here, now. Forget New Year’s “resolutions,” reject anything and everything that doesn’t feel right to you; this is a chance of a lifetime. For our own sakes, let’s take it!
And since this is my story, if there’s one thing I hope to learn from this opportunity above all others, I want it to be how to love and be loved in return.