Joe Namath and a Toad

[When I left Zendik in September 2004, I remained a true believer. For more than a year, I executed “Deathculture” fantasies in hopes of preparing myself to return and commit for good. One of those fantasies was running a personal ad.]

“Good-looking, fit SWF, 28, seeks fit SM under 45 for dating and other adventures. Let’s ride the cosmic Ferrari* really fast; you can shift and I’ll steer and work the brakes and gas.”

Thus runs the personal ad I have placed in the Chico News & Review. The man I’m about to meet—the first to respond to said ad—has told me on the phone he looks like Joe Namath— Continue reading

Miami Phish, New Year’s 2003

[In late December 2003, after breaking up with the man I saw as my last best hope for lasting love, I went selling with an all-girl crew to Miami. Surrender, exhaustion, and lack of a boyfriend opened me to a few precious nights in flow.]

Growing up in Brooklyn I knew what to expect every year, two days after Christmas: my favorite dinner of no-frills macaroni and cheese with ketchup; a homemade chocolate cake with the legend “Happy Birthday Helen” looped in purple, green and orange goop over a thick crust of chocolate icing; and a handmade card garnishing whichever cheap metal-plastic aggregate I was currently lusting after—a clock radio, a curling iron, a red-white-and-blue accordion like the one the rabbit-eared urchin in Gummo plays while perching forlorn on a toilet. I sprang awake at dawn on birthday mornings, eager to start my span of being special, and greet my personal new age.

On December 27th, 2003—the day I turn twenty-seven—I bolt out of my sleeping bag for a different reason: Continue reading

The Gift Circle: A Space for Weaving Relationship

[I gave this talk on November 16, 2014, at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture. From October 2013 through June 2015, Brooklyn Ethical hosted the Brooklyn Gift Circle. Thanks to Dror Kahn for creating and posting a video of parts of this speech. You can watch the video here.]

It seems to me that we Americans are stuck in an abusive relationship with our economy. When it hits us with homelessness, hunger, poverty – when it clocks us with debt, exhaustion, wage slavery – we don’t whirl on it and yell, “Cut that out! You can’t do that!” We don’t grab our neighbor and say, “Hey – the economy just punched me in the face – did it punch you too?” Instead, cowed, we bow our heads in shame, keep our mouths shut, and vow to work harder. If only we were smarter, better educated, better networked, more driven, more skilled, more talented – the economy would love us again, and the hitting would stop. Continue reading

The Trailer

[At Zendik Farm, sick people – “sickies” – were quarantined, that is, exiled to the trailer or a date space, supposedly to prevent them from infecting others. Quarantine did not prevent illness from spreading. But it did have side effects.]

Being quarantined in the trailer is hell in some ways, heaven in others. It’s hell because, after years of being around people constantly, you’re all alone. You have no one to talk to, and you can never be sure what people are saying about you. You never know when there might be a knock on the door, heralding a “friend” bearing news of the definitive—and bad—psychic cause of your illness. Continue reading