January 14, 2016

Dating a man who worked in forensics gave me a new perspective. Rupert’s day job gave back so much. He worked specifically on sexual assault and battery, and he helps get criminals off the street. While my two startups bring people joy, at the end of the day, I’m just helping people drink better cocktails. 

I want to do more. 

I booked tickets to D.C. for the inauguration. I nearly made it out to Standing Rock. I gave free hugs in San Francisco at the Ferry Building the morning after the election and in Oakland during the protest later that same day. Then 36 people died in the Ghostship warehouse fire just down the street from me. 

I live 2.8 miles from Ghostship. I thankfully didn’t lose anyone in the fire, but I have a friend who was first on scene and three others who almost attended that night. I knew I’d found my pro bono work. This was local. This was important. This was where I could make a difference. 

I attended a meeting at Omni Commons a few days after the fire. We broke out into groups, and I announced to the fundraising group, “I’d like to create a non profit that raises money for DIY warehouse spaces at risk of eviction or that are simply dangerous.” I quickly saw that I was in good company. 

Four short weeks later, we’ve created a fiscally sponsored non profit and have raised over $15,000. We have an attorney, a former fire fighter, the architect that wrote the Oakland fire code, several pro bono architects, artists living in at risk warehouses, and their advocates. I’m one of three leads in the finance group, and while every other team has one lead, the three of us operate as one. We’ve only just met and we just feed off each other in the most amazing way. 

I’m home from a fundraising event with nearly $500 cash on my desk. A few friends organized an event at a small bar in Alameda, invited some bands, and contacted us. Of all the funds related to Ghostship right now, Handsome Hawk told us, this was the one that had boots on the ground and was actually working in the DIY Spaces. He gave us a moment at the mic. I started us off by thanking Alameda’s Fireside Lounge and Handsome Hawk, the evenings promoter. I then asked the crowd for a moment of silence to honor the 36 lives lost in the fire. Quieting an entire loud bar was an amazing feeling. It was moving. I was inspired by the moment of silence the DJs asked for at the Flaming Lotus Girl’s fundraiser. The benefit it provided was that we had everyone’s attention. Isaac spoke about the community’s proximity to the tragedy. Everyone in that room was no more than one degree away from at least one of the 36. Ari wrapped it up with info about the fund and asked people to approach us with questions between bands. 

And the band played on. 

We have two more events benefitting our fund this month. We have a Facebook page and a website and an Instagram account. I am being put in touch with reporters and city officials. 

Most importantly, we are making a difference in our community. Community was there for me when the man who inspired me to make a difference died at age 45 in a motorcycle accident.The guilt that I felt when I saw myself beginning to move forward with my life without him has faded, and now I am honoring him and respecting his memory by remembering how high he raised the bar and not settling for anything less, be it giving back, career, love, familial relationships, and friendships. 
Safer DIY Spaces can be found here

December 24, 2016

Tonight, my parents told me they hated me as a person. I knew this. They told me they think I’m a loser, a slut, and a drug addict. They said my tattoos are disgusting. They told me that my wonderful children are that way because of who they are as people, the luck of the draw, and that I did nothing to contribute that. They disrespect me as a parent and as a person. 

I told them I don’t need their approval, that I think they are mean, judgmental, and terrible parents. They take no responsibility for their nasty and immature behavior. Somehow, they think they were ideal parents when I was a child, and that they are above reproach now. 

Their very behavior this evening proves that wrong. 

While what they said of course hurts, it actually feels good to have it out in the open. I know who I am, and I’m sorry they can’t see that. No one in my life treats me the way they do. I have a wonderful relationship with my children. I have an amazing community of close friends. My love life is complicated right now because my partner died recently, but I am not a slut. Even if I were, my sexuality is not a bad thing if it isn’t hurting anyone else. They just want to shame me. I’ve never done anything to hurt them, but I suppose different and having different values from them is enough. I value my uniqueness. I thrive when I march to the beat of my own drums. 

This happens often with them. They have done this before. I’m so fed up with it and I don’t want to do it anymore. I won’t do it anymore. I told them tonight I’m not coming back to their vacation home. They were surprised. Why would they be surprised? Would they really expect me to walk into their web again? At the end of the conversation, I told them I just needed two things from them. The first is to let me be my children’s parent and to not compete or act like they are. The other is to not talk about me behind my back, especially in front of my children. My kids have agreed to hold them to this. 

While my parents have walked around angry for two days, I’ve gone about my life like nothing has happened. I’ve smiled and enjoyed myself. Why should I let the poison they swallowed kill me? 

I spent the rest of the evening laughing and hugging my girls. We had a great night together. They told me they disagree with everything my parents say about me. I told them I’d love them unconditionally no matter what life choices they make. 

That’s what matters.