Monday, December 28, 2009

patriarchy zine- calling for submissions!

i'm looking for submissions to a zine about life in patriarchal society. stories, rants, essays, poetry, artwork, whatever you want to do. deadline is 2/1/10. tell yer friends!

if you want to submit something- please have it zine ready. landscape page format (so that the long sides of the page are the top and bottom), 1/2 sheets, wide margins.

folks keep asking me- what do you want? what's it going to be like? the answer is that i don't know. i have no idea until it's all before me and done. when i organize other people, i consciously try not to control them. i lay the framework, get some foundation down to allow everyone else's creativity to shine. then i step back, wait to see what comes, and something beautiful and unique is invariably born. my favorite projects are those that i have the least to do with. all i know is this- lots of people struggle with our patriarchal society and lots of people want to be free. but it's hard. we're alienated from one another, afraid to talk to one another, we feel powerless and alone. so i decided to put out a call for submissions and see what happens. so far it's been good. i've had feedback from many people, local and in far away american places- many are really excited that this project is underway and many are planning to submit or already have. how about you?

email it to me: or contact me that way so we can work off a handoff/mailing address if it's not something you can email.


Sunday, December 27, 2009


free radio chukshon is now on 103.3 fm in tucson.  now all of tucson can hear it.  it's on from 4-midnight, mon. thru sat.  4-9 on sundays.  check it out!  you can also listen online at



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

moving on

my head is clearing, little by little and i have an insane and unprecedented abundance of creative energy.  it was very stifled before.  my eyes are opening up as the fog clears.

watched a great documentary on charles bukowski and have gained a lot of inspiration from learning about him.  he worked hard every day and wrote every night.  he was also a misogynistic drunk- but the documentary put all that in perspective and conveyed how he was very human.  anyway- the bit about how hard he worked at his day job and how he did his writing all the rest of the time hit home.  it's where i've been for a long time.  writing and creating on the weekends and evenings.  sometimes i'm too tired for it- but i need to keep going anyway.  there's fire inside me and i have to keep feeding it.  the flames of creativity.

i had an intense dream a few nights ago.  i woke up in the middle of the night and knew it was important that i remember it all, so i told it to my cat and instructed him not to let me forget.  the dream was about how it doesn't matter if the machines/capitalism/patriarchy/anger/etc win.  because as long as we're free, no one can take that away.  real freedom is internal and real freedom is untouchable.  


Saturday, December 12, 2009

opening up

this world makes us afraid of each other, afraid of ourselves. we distrust strangers, simply because we do not know them. to open up, attempt connection, embark on conversation- we open ourselves up to the potential of misunderstanding, of cruelty, of obligation.

when we embark on conversation with strangers, we open up the possibility that the person will become significant somehow. perhaps we'll find we have something in common, perhaps we'll disagree. either way- there is an obligation that comes with the acknowledgment that one is more than another random face on the street. when ANYONE becomes SOMEONE- suddenly we care a bit about what happens to them. we become emotionally obligated to care.

in earlier times- conversing with strangers would have been a norm. it would have been a basic fact of daily life. but today, in our world of anonymous computerized grocery store checkouts, constant handheld communication devices interfering with opportunities to interact with people immediately around us, and rampant fear of anything unknown or different- life can be lonely and terrifying.

talking to strangers is nothing short of revolutionary.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

writing is like throwing up

i've blogged with this title more than once.  but it really IS like throwing up, only it takes way longer and is in some ways more uncomfortable.  i finished a piece i've been working on for the last couple months.  and suddenly a great weight has been lifted.  it's really done.  well... it's not done done cuz i still have to do all those little finishing touch type things and it will be turned into a zine so i still have to do that and make copies and all that.  but the hardest part is over.  all that mental wrestling and worrying and trying to get the words right- that part is done.  i think now that perhaps my emotional strife of recent weeks is largely due to this writing project.  cuz suddenly i feel way better.

it's totally like throwing up.  i heave and some words come out on the page... i think i'm done, but there are still dry heaves happening- false starts and lots of staring at the screen doing nothing.  then another productive heave, then nothing for awhile.  and then, just like when you're done throwing up- you just sort of know that it's over.  you said what you had to say and it's all done now.  you can move on, brush your teeth, go back to bed, tomorrow's a new day.

thanks to the veterans, i had today off.  my paycheck is gonna suck, but i'm definitely enjoying today.



Sunday, November 8, 2009

the egg cracks

i am a complicated mess of conflicting emotion.  

i thought i was just angry.  turns out there was a lot more to it.

i reached a point sometime in the last couple years, where i'm realizing how messed up i am from my 32 years of being socialized to behave/think/feel in certain ways because i am female.  that's great.  i figured out that i've been lied to and manipulated my entire life.  so- now what?  once the egg cracks open, where does the baby bird go, if not back into the same frustrating world?

Saturday, November 7, 2009


makes me cranky.  but i know in the end it's for the best.  i don't even feel like i want to imbibe... i just know that normally i would and that the absence of all that is making me irritable.  i haven't smoked a cigarette in about 2 weeks, though.  that's pretty good.  my lungs feel happier.

and detoxing in other ways.  non chemical ways.  trying to figure out who to negotiate my way through the challenging maze of emotional confusion that is human socialization.  at least, human socialization as i know it.  i'm not good at faking things.  people really frustrate me and it's hard to let go of.  letting go of it all is exactly what i should be doing, though.  a long time ago it occurred to me that a person is not inherently annoying.  it isn't because there is something in them that makes them annoying to others around them.  it's that the others around them aren't able to control their annoyance and blame their own emotional reactions on the person who is the object of these emotions.  my frustration with humanity of late is the same thing.  it's not humanity's fault that i'm frustrated.  it's my fault for having unrealistic expectations and standards for the world, to the point that i am constantly frustrated by these standards not being met.  and then i'm not really any fun to be around either.  

so anyway, that's what's been going on with me.  feeling really frustrated with other people and with human beings in general.  when i was in europe, i walked every day and was in love with everything.  i came back to tucson feeling like it was where i belonged and that i had all this great stuff going on here.  these days i find myself questioning why i felt like i should be here at all.  

bleak.  whiney.  frustrated.  pretty lame, really.  

Sunday, October 25, 2009

on disillusionment

a person who isn't involved with radical projects isn't able to see them at work, or to see the change that they do. from the outside, it seems cut and dried- they're just a bunch of stupid kids, punks, men, anarchists, angry feminists, whatever. but from the inside, one is able to see things evolve, change, grow over time. real change is slow- but it's real and it's happening. if you aren't tapped in, it can be easy to dismiss it all, to think that nothing works and nothing changes. to me, the simple things are the most revolutionary. the fact that people can work together to achieve some goal without anyone making any money out of the deal or being told what to do is a challenge to capitalism and to the horrific status quo we're all suffering from.

just because you don't see it doesn't mean it's not happening. it's a struggle for sure, and fraught with frustration. i'm not immune from it either- i get annoyed with people's thoughtlessness and bored in meetings, too. sometimes i'm so frustrated that i hole up on my own to take a break from it all. i understand all that, i really do. we are all so f*cked up by our society and the supposed norms that no one really fits into that none of us know what to do. it's a struggle for people to learn how to do things differently- how to be different kinds of people- people who don't need to sell themselves or buy things to be happy, people who fix things, make things, create things, people who work together and trust one another. but the learning curve is what it is. it doesn't mean that things aren't happening. it means that real meaningful change is slow and riddled with challenges.

but the fact is, change is happening. it's revolutionary change. let me give an example or two. friday night there was a show at dry river. i use the show example just because it' s recent and fresh in my mind, but the same could be true of any other event we put on. friday was the last show for a band made up of long time dry river folk and there was a huge turn out to see it all happen. it was rowdy and crazy and a very appropriate send off for this particular band (whose shows often include nudity, costumes, an exploding drum set (they only blew up a drum set once- new year's 2008), and lots of love). the crowd was full of all kinds of folks. very young punks- cutie pies who ranged in age from about 12-14. high school kids, out of high school/college kids, older folks (like me!) who are involved in dry river, and other older folks who don't usually come around the space cuz they prefer bars. it was a diverse, but packed crowd.

enter the revolution: our door is donation only- people know that, word gets around. it's a direct challenge to capitalism, because we really aren't invested in making a bunch of money. we have a huge show coming up this week (built to spill, yo!) and we're going to be set for quite awhile after that, so the pressure to make rent wasn't an issue at all for friday night's show. not that we stress about it much anyway. somehow, our community always makes sure we have our rent, even if we cut it close sometimes. for the kids who come to dry river regularly (mostly the high school, out of high school/college age kids) they know the drill. if they have money, we need it. if they don't have money, we love them anyway and they don't need to feel any embarrassment that they couldn't pay. for the people who don't usually come around dry river and who were there possibly for their first time- they see that the space is something very different from what they're used to. we don't sell anything (bands often have merch for sale, but that's about it), we don't require payment at the door, and nobody works there. we're a community running a space. for those of us who are involved most regularly- we all know each other. we know who to ask when a problem arises, we know who to check in with when we're not quite sure how to handle a situation. we know that we're empowered to make decisions ourselves. that is nothing short of revolutionary as far as i'm concerned.

there is a girl who is involved with the collective and dry river- she's about 20 and has been coming around about as long as i have- 3 years or so. she, like the majority of the regulars around dry river, is part of a very inspirational movement of sober youth. they aren't really organized and it isn't something related to religion (although some of them practice some religion or other)- but they all go to shows, play in bands, support each other, and are fiercely loyal to and protective of dry river. and so this girl saw some things going on at that show that shouldn't have been- people who don't usually come around and who aren't invested in the deeper meaning of the space had alcohol there. they were being rude, doing things that could have resulted in stuff getting broken and people being hurt. totally of her own volition, she got up on the mic, stopped the show, and gave everyone a piece of her mind. sure, there was one idiot who yelled, "f*ck you!" but there were many more who applauded and cheered for her and who, like me, really appreciated that she had the courage to say what she did. she was empowered, knew that the had the support of the dry river community, and took steps to put her own energy out there. she didn't need to ask anyone first because she knew it was okay and that we'd support her.

there is a boy who comes around dry river. i think he started coming at some point in the last year, while i was out doing my grad school thing. he's about 13, very thoughtful and polite, and totally into the punk/metal scene. he knew that people were drinking in the space friday night- they'd snuck in some of those alcoholic energy drinks, which is pretty easy to do since they look like a can of soda or iced tea or something. and this 13 year old kid took it upon himself to explain that dry river is an alcohol free space and asked them to take it outside. and they did it! just like the girl who got up on the mic, this boy knew that it was okay for him to act on behalf of dry river. i don't know if he thought about it consciously or not- but on some level he must have known that he had our support and that it wasn't necessary to ask someone what to do- he could just do it.

in what other place in tucson would you see things like that? there are some other grass roots, anarchist/radical projects happening and maybe they have a similar vibe. but in the context of a place that engages/supports/empowers people of a wide variety of ages and backgrounds, i think dry river really is unique. we have a long way to go- of course it's still a mostly white, mostly male place (i'm working on that, i really am!). it's often messy- for some reason it never occurs to anyone to wash the dishes they use, the toilet barely works, and there are all sorts of frustrations that come up just because they always do when people try and work together. but to me, the real change that has happened in dry river throughout the four years of its existence outweighs by far the frustrations and challenges. the point is- we rise to the challenges, we deal with the frustrations, we talk to each other and learn how to trust each other's strengths and tolerate our weaknesses (cuz we all have them, right?). in the end- the fact that dry river exists makes it revolutionary. the last four years have been a time of immense growth and change in dry river, as people connect to the deeper meaning behind the space, learn how to interact differently with one another, take responsibility for the impact they have, and use the empowerment provided by the space to create positive change.

i'm sorry that people give up. but i also realize that if they aren't going to be involved and they hide behind the idea that nothing matters and no one can change anything, then they won't see it happen. in very stark contrast, revolution is all i see. not just at dry river- but in really mundane ways, too. people biking, making stuff, deciding to throw neighborhood parties for strangers, volunteering to help bring about change however they can. i see revolution everywhere. it's happening, whether or not everyone acknowledges it.



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

pondering revolution

it's something that happens deep inside.  it's more than political upheaval, more than any economic system.  it's who we are inside that needs changing.  in my humble opinion, the only way this world will ever change for the better is when we seriously tackle the task of changing ourselves.  we've all been fed the same lies about who we're supposed to be and what we're supposed to be to be successful.  it's all really hard to let go of.  but if we really can let go of it all, and reconstruct who we are and the ways we relate to one another- great things await.

it's all about being free, right?  free to be our truest selves.  free of the constant pressure to make money and rise up to the top of our respective corporate towers.  for some folks, it works to drop out of sociey- travel light and not feel too concerned with how or whether the bills get paid.  for people like me, most people, it's not that easy.

and so the struggle is to break free while we're still enslaved.  perpetually enslaved by the dollar, debt, corporate greed, and the law.  the struggle is to find a way to be happy and to feel free- to feel like you spend your days doing what you really want to be doing.  but we're all trapped.  

when i came back from europe- i walked around like a person with newly opened eyes.  i saw all this societal imprisonment that most folks never think twice about.  i saw it everywhere and i felt above it all.  i felt that i'd been liberated at long last and that once i was able to see it all, it could not beat me down again.  but it has.  the pressure to be all the things i'm supposed to be gets me down while my back is turned.  i find myself trapped in mindsets i thought i'd left behind.  but i don't want them anymore.  i'm sick of constantly feeling like i'm too much of this and not enough of that.  i just want to be me.  and i want you to be you.  because you are the most beautiful thing i've ever seen.  

Sunday, October 18, 2009

new projects

i haven't written anything in awhile.  mostly it's because i've been busy doing things other than sitting in front of my computer.  but today is the first writing day in a long time.  as usual, i find myself much more eager to update my blog than to actually start writing.  

i have become involved with a very interesting new radio project.  saturdays at 6 is an hour you might be particularly interested in.  tucson time, of course.

work is sucking all my energy these days.  kids are beautiful and i love them.  i learn a lot from them and treasure the relationships that i have with them.  but i am not cut out for the work week.  i don't like forcing myself awake through caffeine every morning, i don't like how tired i am every night, i don't like it that my energy is primarily dedicated to my earning potential.  it's a real drag.  hopefully this is my last year doing work that drains me all day long, 5 days a week.  i know most "work" is this way.  but i'm convinced that there is balance out there and that i can find it somehow.  

my future is still uncertain.  so is everyone else's- but i'm still planless and will be planless probably until sometime in late spring.  the choices are, in order of my preference:

1.  stay in tucson and do my phd in geography here.  i like tucson.  i love a lot of people here and have found many who tolerate my awkward smart girlness and make me feel safe and loved.  i have good community that i don't want to leave.  also, academically- i like the department here a lot.  there are good people doing interesting things and i feel like i'd fit in (as much as i fit in anywhere) and be able to do my thing and strike the energy balance that i am lacking at present.

2.  move to kentucky and do my phd in geography there, at uk in lexington.  i have a number of friends who already live there and so that's a huge plus.  i like all those people a lot and would like to live near them.   the department is pretty into radical thinking and supportive of abnormal ways of doing things.  it would be a good fit for me.  but- i really hate being cold and i don't want to leave tucson for all the reasons stated in option 1.

3.  if i don't get funded, i won't be able to do either 1 or 2.  that means i have to find a job and make some money.  i am optimistic about this option, although it almost surely means i have to leave tucson.  maybe there's something i could do here that would pay me enough to handle my student loan debt- but probably not.  one cool idea i had was that i could look at working for an non governmental organization in the middle east and just have a big adventure out of the states for awhile.  that's a totally nebulous idea that i haven't really investigated- but it could be cool.  and maybe then i could be someplace where there are middle eastern anarchists and that could become part of my research/writing and i wouldn't be as sad to be out of school as i am now. 

no matter what happens- my path lies in the anarchist movement.  if i have to work a day job and continue that other, much more important, much more meaningful part of my life outside the parameters of "work," then i shall.  it's a beautiful thing that is changing the world around us and i want everyone to know about it.  academia is a pretty narrow and incestuous institution, so maybe that's just not the right place for me to be.  the fact is- it's the only thing i've ever really seen myself doing or wanted to do.  be in school for as long as possible, eventually be a professor, teach classes and continue my own research.  summers off, occasional sabbatical semesters- it's not such a bad life, especially since one way or the other- "work" is going to be a constant part of my life. 

now that you have the update on my potential future, here are a few big things on my mind of late:

1.  intoxication holds me back but i'm not sure what to do with that yet.  except to say that i'm really not into drinking alcohol at the moment and have become increasingly frustrated with the social impotence and apathy that accompanies our socialized urge to "party."  

2.  proprietary relationships with carefully defined rules and regulations are not for me, but it's really hard to break free of that conditioning.  it's also really hard to strike up new relationships with people because everyone operates on the ownership/rules/regulations model.  i find myself regularly in the company of men who see relationships in proprietary terms and who talk about women in ways that make me very uncomfortable.  they make me feel like i am the object of some great conquest, but i'm not.  i struggle to know how to deal with it.  lately it's just been making me really angry.  at the same time, i know that these men are just as confused and trapped in our repressive society as i am.  just that they don't see how they could break free.  i feel like i've broken free in my own mind- but that's only the beginning.  the hardest part is talking about it with people in a healthy way.  it's all very confusing.

3.  i want to be back in school.  i want to be back in school.  i want to be back in school.  maybe if i say it enough times it will come true.

4.  months ago i felt like a giant hurricane swirling full of energy and motivation.  today i am a pitifully powerless drizzling rainstorm.  i'm working on that.

5.  prison is ridiculous.  did you know that the united states has 25% of the global prison population?  it's pretty terrible that we live in a world where, when someone is naughty, we lock them up in a concrete box and expect that to fix things somehow.  it's disgusting that the prison system exists.  there are a lot of activists who work on prisoner support, which is great.  but usually the focus is on supporting other anarchist/activists who are in prison.  they definitely need our support and i'm glad that there is energy in that direction.  on the other hand, the vast majority of people in prison are not activists or professed anarchists.  there are many websites out there with lists of prisoners who want penpals from outside.  this can be a very rewarding experience and i encourage you to consider writing to someone who is in prison.  imagine if your life was spent in a concrete box.  you'd want someone to write to you.

whoever you are, i hope you are doing well.  sorry for my long silence here in the blogosphere.  life has caught me up.  all in all- things are flowing along.  and i am always reminded that there are many people out in the world struggling just to survive.  in comparison to the fortunes of many- my life is a paradise.  my task is to never forget that or take it for granted.



Saturday, August 29, 2009


has been flowing like water, in it's own direction, uninhibited.

and it's good.



Friday, August 28, 2009

friday and a song for you

and i'm glad.  

i'm working on some writing projects.  things are happening.  more soon on that topic.  maybe later this weekend, depending.

i'm also working on sewing projects.  spent last weekend cutting things out and prepping them... perhaps this weekend will be sewing interspersed with writing.  that actually sounds fabulous and i hope it really happens that way.  i also hope i do yoga.  i like yoga a lot and i always feel better after.  but somehow it's so hard to get up and take that first step toward actually doing it.  the continuing saga of my struggle against myself.

please listen to this song by eric ayotte.  it's called father nurture.  



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

alexandros grigoropoulos

was a kid who was killed by cops in athens last december.

i wouldn't have gone to athens if he had never died.  the riots happened because of what happened to him- the collective outrage over his murder was the catalyst for widespread rioting that went on for weeks.  it all happened last winter.  and so i sat, last winter, at shot in the dark in tucson, supposed to be writing my thesis but distracted by all the youtube footage coming out of greece.  it was all the same time as when i was planning my trip to france and decided i should pick one more place to go, since i probably won't be heading to europe again anytime soon.  the riots were happening because alex died and so i picked greece.  

he was with a couple friends and a cop rolled by.  stories differ as to exactly what happened, but the basic outline is fairly consistent.  it's pretty rare that cops go into that part of athens (exarchia) and when the car rolled by, alex and his friends yelled and threw rocks at it.  the cops got out and one of them shot him.  and so alex died- some punk kid just like so many other punk kids i know.  with a sweet smile and a healthy mistrust of authority.    

i don't really have a point, i guess.  just looking at pics of alex and thinking about the kind of person he was and the significance of his death.  

i wish people would be nicer to each other.  

Sunday, August 16, 2009


and now i'm back.  it's been awhile since my last post.  i've been away from the computer and internet access and have been immersing myself back into my life.  even though i was in town last year- i wasn't around much and didn't see folks often, so it feels like i was away for a year, even though i was really here all along. 

i'm happy to be back home in the desert sun with good friends and my beloved feline companions.  been re-involving myself with dry river, which has been awesome.  there are many amazing things that happened over the last year that i had nothing to do with and i've been delighting in the fact that the place keeps going, in it's organic and constantly evolving way. whenever folks step out for awhile, their absence is compensated for by new energy in the form of new folks getting involved and taking things on in their own way.  it's anarchy and it's a beautiful thing.  it's always riddled with the constant challenges inherent in human interaction, but with folks' love for the space, the community, and the symbolism of it all taking precedence over self-interest.    usually.    :)  

i started sewing, and that has been a very satisfying thing.  my mom is an amazing seamstress and always has some project going.  when i was a kid, she tried to teach me many different times and i wasn't a very good student.  but lately i just decided to dive in and learn- i have made some things i really like!  i think the secret to sewing is that a person has to be okay with making a lot of mistakes, going through the tedium of correcting them, and working through that process until something decent has been created.  and everything i make teaches me something new.  it's like anything else in life- the struggles and the process of making mistakes and correcting them teach us about ourselves and about how to do things differently in the future.  the seam-ripper is your friend.  both metaphorically and as a sewing tool.   

work, however, is a bit of a drag.  i started back two weeks ago.  i even have a job i like, but i feel myself growing increasingly resentful that 40 hours of my precious energy are dedicated to feeding the capitalist machine that i hate so much.  the folks who run my workplace do not have my respect and i don't like that they have authority over me.  i'm rather resentful of the whole situation, to be honest.  i'm trying to get over it- i enjoy the folks who i work with on a regular daily basis and that's the most important thing.  the people who run the place put in appearances periodically- i nod and smile and then go back to whatever i was doing.  really, i have it pretty good compared to lots of other job situations i've been in and i shouldn't complain.  but i do anyway.  such is the nature of my relationship to hierarchical power structures.

i'm a bit sad about not starting back to school myself this time around and feel rejected by the academy.  i know funding is tough all over and that i am one of many folks all over the united states who would have started (or continued) a grad program this year if only money were available.  i've been trying to not make it personal.  but there is still a bit of a sting there.  i feel like academia is really the only place where i fit- precisely because it is there that i can not fit and it will be okay.  i found the programs that suited me best and even was accepted to my two top choices.  but without money, it doesn't really matter.  i can only hope that things will be better next year and i'll be funded.  if i'm not funded next year- i think i'll put that dream aside for awhile and look elsewhere for my path.  it's a sad conclusion to come to- but the loan sharks are circling already and i can only keep them at bay for so long.  if i'm not in a phd program, eventually i'll have to do something to make some money or leave the country or something.   

i have many grad student friends who are gearing up to go back in the next week or two.  my situation is bittersweet- i'm happy for a break from the rigor of academic life and from the pressure of it all.  i think i'm still really struggling with how to be me in the face of the masculinized competitiveness of academia and i think this year will be good for me in terms of making my own way and contributing things on my own terms.  on the other hand- the pressure is a good motivator to produce quality work and i already miss the constant intellectual stimulus.  this last year i realized that i had many female friends in academia who feel the same way i do about the machismo side of it all.  and now i'm out of the loop.   

and so i'm back to my old life again.  some new perspective gained from time away.  i realized a lot of good things about life in the united states, particularly in the context of the radical movement, when i was away from it all.  we have a good thing going here and i want to dedicate my life to studying about it, learning from it, telling the world all about it, and hopefully leading more people to live outside this beastly machine that constantly threatens to devour us all with our own consumerism and helplessness.



Sunday, July 19, 2009


today i wandered around exarchia for awhile.

athens, like many big cities, is divided up into smaller districts. really they're just big neighborhoods. it's the same kind of thing as in seattle, eugene, tucson, and other cities in the states. so exarchia is the anarchist stronghold. it goes beyond eugene's whitaker and tucson's dunbar springs. in exarchia- the cops don't even go in. there are certain understood boundaries around the area and cops aren't welcome within these boundaries. cops adhere to this because it's understood that, should they enter, revolt will follow. it's interesting because in other areas- cops have a really large and overtly dominating presence. near the parliment building (where apparently prostests are held on average twice a week) there is always a bus full of riot gear ready to go. serious riot gear- i could see helmets and shields and imagine there's a lot more that they don't leave hanging in the window. then as you walk along- there are cops stationed at nearly every block, in twos or threes. sometimes with little pistols in holsters like they have in the states- sometimes with full on machine guns ready to go.

but here's the thing- it's really all for show. before the riots of last winter, when a 15 year old anarchist boy was shot and killed by police, it had been since the 1980s since anything of that severity happened. here's a little bbc piece about the situation overall. the cops here are trained to be really threatening but not actually kill anyone. same as in the states, i guess. but still- the presence is different. i passed two riot gear busses today, totally ready to go. and the guys walking around with their machine guns out- how can you not hate that and want to fight back? i'll be unpacking it all for a long time, mentally speaking. these are just first impressions for now.

i asked a bit about it all and was told that the police presence hasn't increased since the riots last winter- it's always been this heavy and is nothing new. but i think exarchia has increased its notoriety, anyway.

the grafitti is insane there. the ground floor of every single building there is literally covered in grafitti. stencils, posters, tags, messages in greek, english, and spanish. covered. i took tons of pictures and i promise i'll post them when i'm back home.

the best thing all day- really all week since i've been here- the most beautiful thing i saw in this place was a lovely little guerilla park, built on the site of an old parking lot. d.i.y. guerilla gardening at it's finest- the folks in exarchia got together, decided to make a garden, cleared out most of the concerte- dumpstered wood and the things they needed and planted a wonderful park full of benches, tables, interesting bits of artwork, trees, flowers, and edible things... i saw many tomatos. i was moved to tears, sitting there, actually. after walking block after block of dirty streets and grafitti everywhere that says "fuck the police" and other similar messages of anger, frustration and hate- this little park was a testament to people coming together to create something beautiful. and honestly- this tiny park in the middle of anarchist exarchia was the cleanest place i'd been in all of athens- even the touristy areas where my hostel is located. and there was a big sign at one corner that said, "love is possible." maybe it doesn't make sense how i've explained it here- why it was so moving and emotional. it just meant a lot to me that here, in athens, on the other side of the planet from my little world in tucson- there are some other anarchists out there who are trying to build something positive and loving in the midst of so much anger and frustration. this little park really inspired me and made me understand that i have like minded people all over the world- people who are sick of the status quo and sick of the way our world priveleges the rich and institutionally powerful- and who are trying to build something good in spite of it all and not succomb to hate. it's too easy to succomb to hate and really, love is the stronger force.

and so tomorrow i set off into the sunrise. i'm looking forward to being home. it's been a good trip. i saw many things and learned a lot. but now i'm out of money and feeling increasingly guilty about borrowing from my mommy, who doesn't have so much to lend out. anyway, i'm back to work in a couple weeks and things will even out again. all the same- i'm surrounded by these rich american kids in this hostel- kids who've been everywhere without batting an eye and who are just here to drink and get laid. grrr... but i must not succomb to hate.

i hope that whoever you are, wherever you are, you are happy and enjoying yourself. if you're not- go take a walk and smell some flowers or something.



Friday, July 17, 2009

athens love

when i first arrived in athens- i was scared. so much noise- cars, buses, motorcyles, taxis all honking. people yelling greek over the general chaos of the streets. there aren't really traffic lights like we have in the states and the way the streets are ordered at all mystifies me. i wanted to curl up away from it all and i wondered if coming here was a mistake.

but now- i kinda get it. and i'm starting to love it. it's rough and gritty. it's passionate and emotional like the way greek is spoken. there's grafitti everywhere- anarchist and other kinds. but lots and lots of anarchist grafitti. and really- it's everywhere i've been. and i've walked a lot in every direction. it's a huge city and by the time i leave i will have only covered a fraction of it- but still, i walk hours every day in new directions. and the grafitti is everywhere i go.

there are stray dogs and cats all over the place. the kitties come up to me when i talk to them. the dogs laze about in the sun.

the anarchist scene here centers on athens polytechnic university- located in the district of athens called exarchia. i went there today and walked around. tomorrow i'll go back for more.

also today i walked up to the acropolis. it's right in the middle of the city at the center of athens and it's the highest point in the city. i could see all the way to the sea, with boats winking in the distance.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

nevers-> paris-> dublin -> athens

whew. it's been a whirlwind of places and things lately.

i left nevers on saturday. goodbye tiny nevers!

then i went to paris. stayed saturday to tuesday in a little hostel with my friend from nevers (via the oregon days) and had a great time seeing things and walking al over the city. paris is really an incredible place. i see now why it gets talked about so much. i saw some wonderful things. two hightlights were the catedral notre dame of paris and the louvre. both buildings were insanely huge and beautiful. there is nothing like either of them in the states- nothing that even comes close. i took tons of pictures but i think i'll wait to post them when i'm back in the states and not on a public computer in athens.

and of course i got my picture taken in front of the eiffel tower.

then on tuesday i flew to dublin for a layover on the way (although totally out of the way) to athens. it was green and raining. after the days of walking long hours all over paris, i was happy just to sit and eat airport food and watch the people going by. i got on the plane and was seated next to this really nice older irish couple. before long- he was buying round after round of beers and i was pretty drunk by the time we got to athens. it was great fun.

i got to athens on tuesday night. the hostel is in a good location- literally right behind the acropolis and there are lots of interesting things all around. i figured out where the riots of last winter happened and i think i'll set out to explore that area tomorrow morning.

some unexpected financial trouble hit. or maybe i should say- "doh! i messed up!" and so after a call to mommy- i've changed my ticket to go back to tucson 10 days early. i'm happy about it. now that the new ticket has been procured and i'm done figuring things out and sitting on the phone on hold with various airline related folk- its all good and i can set out and enjoy my last four days in athens. i miss tucson- friends, cats, cozy little apartment in the sun. and my bed. i really miss my bed.

so that's it for now i guess.



Friday, July 10, 2009

on being free

long ago, a wise man called yusuf islam said, "if you want to sing out, sing out! if you want to be free be free."

this has been my theme song since before i ever heard it. i don't care what anyone thinks about my hairy legs, the way i dress, whether or not i speak proper english (or french!), or any other external aspect of me. the only thing i've ever cared about is being completely myself and being a good person. that's really the only thing i care about. moving through life the way i need to, spending time with the good folk of the world, and being happy on my own so that i can be of some use to the world and bring some good into it without dwelling on all the ways i am superficially inadequate in the eyes of others. i've never considered social convention a valid reason to change oneself. in fact- social convention generally originates in some ridiculous primitive human urge anyway. who cares what everyone else thinks? everyone else is why we've had wars and plastic surgery and razor burn.

i think the secret to happiness is that, well, first of all- you'll never stop having times of stress and difficulty. there is no state of perpetual "happiness" where we'll never be sad or lonely or depressed again. but beyond that- i think the secret is in figuring out what you need as an individual and setting about getting those needs met so that when difficulties arise, we are strong and able to meet whatever challenges life throws at us. no one else can do it for you. we all have needs. basic physical ones- like food, water, shelter, clothing. anyone who has spent time with children knows that we can help one another meet our physical needs and anticipate those of the folks around us. but the harder to define needs- like occasions of solitude and compansionship, mental stimuation, moments of spiritual communion and contemplation- those needs we can only define for ourselves. if we are unhappy because we need solitude but don't set about finding time to be alone, our unhappiness is our own and no one else is to blame. if the unhappiness lies in the company one keeps- there are 6 billion other folks out there in the world waiting to meet you.

just some things rattling around my brain lately, i guess.

we are responsible for our own happiness. only the individual knows their own soul and the things that it needs to be free.

so if you wanna sing out- sing out!

and if you wanna be free be free. (cuz there's a million ways to be, you know that there are).

i go to paris tomorrow and on to greece on tuesday. the french leg of the trip has been quite the experience. i'm ready to move on.

and i miss tucson. friends, monsoons, cats, and my quiet little apartment. soon... about three weeks to go.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

tales of a french wedding

my nearly non-existant french was sorely tested over the weekend, as i attended festivities in honor of my host's sister's wedding. the french are insane drinkers and serioulsy- everyone, old women, young children, bride and groom, and the majority of the guests- were up dancing and drinking until the sun came up.

and i ate duck. fatty duck, i guess it's known in english. it was okay.

the highlight was a 13 year old kid i met who has learned english from watching american rappers on youtube. initially he walked up to me and said, in heavily accented english, "what's up, man? i'm a mother f*cker." he then continued on, as i laughed hysterically, doubled over because it was so funny. his french family members who were nearby stared at us and seemed unable to understand why i was so hysterical. he spoke pretty good english, but really the only things he knew how to say were horribly offensive and rude. and he had a really thick french accent. it was one of the funnier things that i have encountered of late.

another funny thing that happened- well, at the time it wasn't funny at all, but now it is- we stayed the night at the bride's house, only she and her husband weren't there because they'd stayed someplace else. so at about 6 am- really we'd only just fallen asleep, there came several knocks on the door and shouts from outside. i was on the couch in the living room and couldn't hope to talk with them in french so i just sat there, figuring the noise, which by this point also included repeated sounding of a doorbell that sounded like a fire alarm, would rouse my french speaking friends. it didn't. i sensed that, inevitably, whoever was outside was going to find their way in and i began to plot my escape. before i could move, however, a drunk frenchman began crawling through the open kitchen window. i sat up on the couch and watched, horrified, as he was followed by more drunk frenchmen, a couple children, and a pregnant french women. someone opened the door and more drunk french people streamed into the house. seriously- there were about 20 drunk french people who just appeared out of nowhere, as if from a clown car. i just stared at them. one of them asked me if i slept well and i said no. they were there to attack the newly married couple and when they discovered that the couple had slept elsewhere, they began to leave. for me, however, the damage was already done- i couldn't get back to sleep on the couch for fear that drunk frenchmen might stream through the kitchen window again at any moment. i cursed the french to myself- their insanely difficult language, their drinking habits, and their reluctance to speak the english that i know all of them speak. i knew later the event would be funny and would make a good story- but at the moment- i hated france.

my french has progressed exponentially since my arrival, but i still talk like a 2 year old and if it wasn't for kindly middle-aged women who take pity on my and my ineptitude, i would get nowhere around here.

other highlights- my host's grandmother was an eighty something year old english woman who moved to france in her late teens and had 11 children. she told me one of the things she had yet to do in her life was to eat a real american hamburger. she was pretty amazing and was among the dancers up at 5 am still drinking and dancing after the wedding.

speaking of dancing- the band at the wedding specialized in covering ameican music. it was pretty ridiculous and highly amusing.

i leave france a week from today. saturday i'll go up to paris and spend a few days before i fly out to athens. it's been a good run overall. lots of lessons about life and being happy and being me. i miss my house and friends and cats in tucson. but time away has been good for me. what i needed? i guess. i expected to feel completely relaxed the entire time i've been gone and to have none stop epiphanies and adventures. there have been adventures and epiphanies- but also a lot of fatigue and frustration.

life is full of the drama of human beings. it's just the way we are. we are emotional creatures sending out our wierd vibes and mixed messages and confusing the people around us, who in turn do their thing and confuse us. it's just the way it is with human beings and the only way to escape it all is to isolate oneself and hole up in a cabin in the woods with no contact. but i don't want that. maybe for a few days or something, but along with other people's drama comes other people's beauty and joy and passion. and i like beauty and joy and passion. along with shared glances at just the right moment and the peace of friendly silences among people who know eachother well. i like all those things and i like friends.

when i left i felt like i was escaping other people, escaping my own emotions, feelings of inadequacy stress. big suprise- france has people in it, too, and drama between them. and i still have my own turbulent emotions and stress and inadequcy. so it must be that these things exist everywhere and my job it to deal with it inside myself. and so my growth as a human being continues.

mostly i just want a giant cup of coffee with soy milk in it and 50 cent refills. that's what i miss most about america.


Friday, July 3, 2009


random shot of a street in geneva

and another one, from near the catedral saint-pierre

the coolest carosel i've ever seen in my life- in the botanical gardens in geneve

lake leman. it's a massive lake in the center of geneva and reminded me of where the columbia meets the ocean or puget sound or some other giant ocean-like body of water in the middle of a city. the lake was very helpful because-since i like to wander off following my whims and not pay attention to where i'm going- it was easy to get my bearings. it was sort of like seattle- the water is at the bottom of town and everything is up hill from there.

sweet anti-fascist stencil art from geneva. this nice lady is throwing her swastica in the trash. good idea!

i got back to nevers yesterday from a few days in geneva. i had planned on just being there a night and then cruising south from there- but once i got there i quickly realized that if i didn't spend at least a few days there wandering the city, i'd regret it for the rest of my life. it was an amazing place.

there was anarchist grafitti all over the place and i found a really cool infoshop/bike coop/housing space that was covered in all sorts of interesting grafitti and posters. also generally there were lots of socially aware stickers and spray painted things all around and i was very happy about it. geneva is a unique place and very different from anywhere i've ever been. to begin with- switwerland is a pretty diverse place. there is no "swiss" language- people speak italian, german, or french depending on where they are. and most folks have some english proficiency as well- fortunately for me. beyond the international nature of switzerland itself- geneva is home to the world hq of the united nations, unicef, the wto, and a bunch of other international agencies. so there are all these international diplomatic types wandering around everywhere. and students. i stayed in this great hostel that was next door to a grad school for international relations. dude who ran the hostel told me that the place had 130 rooms and there were people there from 55 different countries. seriously- it was like nothing i've ever encountered.

then there are the rich folks. geneva is a popular tourist destination for rich people and initially i hated it there because the rich people were everywhere, in their fancy clothes and shopping at all those crazy expensive places- louis vitton, chritian dior, crap like that. ugh. who cares? oh yeah, rich people. i took pride in my traveler's stench, beat up tennis shoes, and the fact that i'd only brought one change of clothes with me. there were tons of super-fake, magazine beautiful people everywhere and i hated them. but i made myself get over it because geneva is a big place and there was a lot to do and see without getting caught up in that. and just for the record- it is an expensive city to be in, but if you ever make it there, cheap hostels abound. it just takes a bit of research to find them. i had a really sweet set up- a decently priced room all to myself with a little kitchen in it. so i just got groceries most of the time and that saved me a lot of money. plus the hostel had this cafeteria-cafe thing in it that was very reasonable. but it was really wierd to be travling in my style and walking where all these disgustingly rich people were.

um... moving on from bashing the wealthy...

hightlights of the trip-

the botanical gardens. seriously one of the most beautiful things i've ever seen in my entire life. i wandered for hours, smelling flowers, getting lost in greenhouses full of the most exotic plants, and walking barefoot in the grass.

by chance, i got there the year of jean calvin's 500th birthday so there was all this stuff around about the reformation. i learned a lot about it all and hung out in the catedral saint pierre, where calvin preached. i guess he lived in that part of town as well, so i was walking the same streets that he did. geneva was a refuge during the reformation- people were getting burned at the stake and drawn and quartered all over the place in france, germany, and england- but geneva was much more accepting. it was all very interesting- but i was struck again by the total absense of any women in the history of the whole thing. i went to this museum of the reformation that had room after room of historical information- but only about poeple with penises. perhaps i'm beating a dead horse here- but it still annoys me that 500 years ago- "progress" for me would have been being able to read because my husband decided that i should be able to teach the kids about the bible. i mean- it's great that someone decided the bible should be translated so that folks didn't have to rely on the priests to know latin and greek and everything. i just get tired of knowing that i wouldn't have been anything just cuz i don't have a penis. and i was already annoyed about that sort of thing because all the rich people epitomized everything i hate about traditional gender roles- all the women were super dressed up and showing a lot of skin while the men were fully clothed and got to walk around in sensible shoes. pretty disgusting.

all in all, the disgustingly wealty aside, geneva was a great place and i really loved it. i hope some day i can be there awhile longer to really dig into it, but i got a good start. immediately after arriving there, the strange justaposition of anarchist grafitti and rich people told me there was a lot more to the city than the private banks and super expensive hotels for the wealthy. indeed, every direction i went, i found myself surrounded by interesting people and beautiful architecture. there are random fountains, statues, and parks all over the place and ordinary genevans seem to do a lot of kicking it outdoors. the lake was beautiful and there were many grassy park type areas all along the lake. every time i left my hostel, i tried to set off in a new direction and see as much as i could. but in the end, it was time to go and i had to say au revior to unexplored sections of the city.

that's it for now. i had written more but the internet crapped out on me and i lost it, so this will have to do.



Sunday, June 28, 2009

some pics for you


on one of my first days in nevers, i walked outside with my hosts and said, "look! a parade!" it turned out to be a labor protest. it was interesting- in spite of my gripes with this complacent small town i'm in (see yesterday's post), seeing this was really cool and showed me how different things are here. people regularly protest things and aren't afraid to be seen in the streets like this. on the down side- the protests are generally organized by the unions and so people aren't really taking to the streets of their own accord- they're just showing up on the day the union folks tell them to. but it's more than folks do in the states, and so i was happy to see it. and che. this particular protest i think was put on by the educators' union.

from the amazing cathedral in nevers, i give you gargoyles. an infinitely interesting and highly amusing architectural development that i wish we would embrace in the states. this cathedral is about 5-10 min walk from my friends' apartment where i'm staying.

this is one of the towers that is part of the wall that used to surround nevers in the good ole days, back when cities were walled and there was only one way in or out, through the gate.

this is a duck on the loire, the river that runs through nevers. it's lovely and i like to walk by it.

the aforementioned cathedral of nevers. it was originally a roman construction, but was overhauled in the 14th century in gothic style. it was accidentally hit during air raids on nevers during world war 2 and most of the stained glass windows were demolished so now they're done in a more modern style. it took them nearly 20 years to get things back in order after the bombing, but in the course of things an 8th century roman baptismal thing was discoverd below the actual cathedral. it had been forgotten for hundreds of years.

this is the ducal palace of nevers, sort of like the county seat. nevers is in a region called nievre- the guy who oversaw all of nievre historically lived here. nevers is a city in the county of nievre, in the larger province of bourgonne- aka burgendy. like the wine. yum.

today was a nice day. we drove around and ended up going to this archeological site on a mountain called mont beuvray. originally there was a celtic city there, around the time of jesus. then it was subsumed by romans and became a roman regional capital. in the 19th century, an archeologist discovered it all and excavations are still happening. i took some pictures, but they don't really show much. it was really interesting, though. hard to picture it today, as now it's all forested and were it not for the tents covering the archeologists' holes in the ground and various signs posted around, you'd never guess there was once a pretty good sized city there. this history here really is incomprehensible to me, the naive american. i can't imagine what it would be like to visit a place like that and feel that history as your own. whenever i see something human made in the states that is more than a couple hundred years old, it's something native american and i can't claim it as my own and feel that ever present guilt in knowing that my poeple pillaged their people. here, when a french person visits a 2000 year old french ruin, they know that it's theirs and that those people are where they came from. in america it doesn't work that way.

last night we went to an art show reception. part of it was really pretentious and i had to bite back my snorts of cynical laughter. especially when the music came on. michael jackson featured prominently, much to my dismay. the one good american song they played- debaser, by the pixies, got vetoed by somebody about 1/3 of the way through so they could play more crappy american dance music from the 80s. parts of the reception were cool and i had a nice conversation with this woman who was very patient with my terrible french. i told her about my search for anarchists and she had some ideas and was very interested in the whole thing. all in all, it was good to see the french folks get down- lotsa drunk dancing going on and people enjoying themselves.

that's right- now i have "terrible" french and am leagues beyond where i was when i got here nearly 3 weeks ago when i simply had none. little by little.



Saturday, June 27, 2009

and so

i'm still in nevers. it's a very cute town, but also kind of a drag. people's primary activities here are buying things and drinking. not really my style.

and i feel more objectified by men here than i do in the u.s. it's really ridiculous. i expected france to be way more ahead of the game. but in many ways it's more backwards than the u.s. some basic trends that never seem to have caught on in france:

1. cigarettes are bad for you. women still smoke while pregnant here and most people i've met smoke.

2. you should clean up after your dog if it craps on the sidewalk.

3. if women wear tiny high heeled shoes all the time, they won't be able to do much except sit and look helpless.

4. not all women like to be stared at. did the feminist revolution somehow miss france? i thought it was international, but perhaps i was wrong.

very basic things. somehow these tidbits of wisdom never reached france. i've been going through a lot here, intellectually speaking. i expected things i have not found and have found things i never expected. men oggle me on the street and i hate it. i hate it in the states but it's way worse here. women definitely are expected to fulfill a particular social function here- namely, to look good when standing next to a man. it's very 1950s and disgusts me. it makes me realize how great my community of friends in tucson is. most of the men i know there are very aware of how messed up it is that women are perpetually seen as objects of attraction. i have many male friends who deliberately try to resist the patriarchal and dominating upbringing boys face in our society and they are very conscious of these aspects of masculine culture. in the same way, i know many women who, like me, strive to overcome what we've always been told we should be- submissive weak little things who look good on some big man's arm.

in france- not so. men still seem to be under the impression that i will be complemented if they stare at my breasts while they talk to me about this or that. not that this sort of thing doesn't exist in the states- it happens to me all the time, actually. the difference is that in the u.s. there are some people who are trying to do things differently, like my aforementioned comrades in tuscon. i have yet to find anyone like that here. i'm sick of constantly feeling like my body is an object of either attraction or rejection (here and in the states). i hate that i worry about men finding me attractive. i wish i could just not care and live totally for myself. i'm trying, anyway. i suppose it's one of those lifelong struggle sorts of things.

one exciting thing happened earlier this week, greenpeace volunteers came to nevers. they weren't from here- i could tell that right away. nothing activist related happens here, except for very specific, top-down union organized labor protests. cool when compared to the absence of such things in the u.s. but not at all radical. they aren't working toward anything really different. not that greenpeace is all that revolutionary or anything, but they do some good work and people involved are usually pretty cool and at least trying to bring some progressive change into the world. i took it as a hopeful development. i talked to a couple of the greenpeace folks and asked them where the anarchists were at. they agreed with me that there were none in nevers and i should look elsewhere. one kid said he was from grenoble where "there are beautiful mountains and beautiful anarchsits." so i think i'll head that way soon. monday i'm going to try my luck with the trains again. i have some destinations in mind, all to the south. we'll see how it goes. grenoble, lyon, montpellier, toulouse. this time i'm not worrying about booking a hotel first. bonjour, adventure!

sorry this is so ranting. i've been learning a lot, but like most things worth having in life, it's been a bit of a struggle.

been reading tons. highlights so far-

bakunin, god and the state (in french! it's slow going but i'm getting it)
hunter s. thompson, the rum diary
ayn rand, the fountainhead (actually i read this before i left az but i loved it)
raymond carver, short stories
harry potter (it's a perennial vacation favorite of mine)
oscar wilde, the picture of dorian gray
emma goldman, various essays on anarchy

while i'm on the topic of my perpetual struggle to be myself in the face of this dominating emasculated world- i love emma goldman a lot and am very thankful for her existance.

i gotta go... but lest you think i'm having a terrible time- i'm not. it's everything i hoped for- i'm being educated. i'd rather undergo the painful process of learning how troubling the world really is than live a blissfully ignorant lie. and really, i can't complain too much. i sleep in everyday, wander around town from coffee shop to park to coffee shop again, reading, studying french, and taking pictures. and there is an adorable little kitten to love on. i have even met a couple people of interest. of course my inability to communicate significantly limits my interactions. but that was also what i wanted when i went on this trip. i wanted to be lost and alone in a world i don't understand.

i've been taking pictures. lots and lots. maybe next time i'll post some more.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

dijon sucked

okay parts of it were cool but it was the 1st place i've been here where there were lots of stupid americans around and french people who were obviously sick of them and- by virtue of my accidental status as an american- me.

people were obviously annoyed with my inability to communicate rapidly in french. i couldn't find a hotel because the whole town was full of idiot frat boys whose parents had sent them to france for a few days. i ordered a salmon sandwhich that turned out to be raw salmon stuffed into a bagette with lettuce.

Monday, June 22, 2009

off to dijon

if all goes well, i'll be gone a few days.

found the addresses of some anarchist stuff. think lucky thoughts for me.



finding a cheap hotel in toulouse isn't going well. looks like tomorrow i'll be going somewhere else...

i feel the need to be out of nevers awhile. the clermont adventure worked out well. going somewhere random in the am and returning in the pm. so maybe that's what i should do instead. there are interesting things everywhere.

music day

last night was this music festival all over nevers. apparently it was a french cultural holiday known as "music day" in which cities and towns all over france have music in the streets. it was fun and interesting. my favorite part was the punk show at the skate park. i went to my first punk show here the other night (puny runt was headlining- i don't get why but bands here tend to have english names) and found myself missing dry river and all the kids back in tucson. and i couldn't help but picture particular friends from the tucson scene superimposed on the nevers kids. my impression of punk in france so far is that it has many surface differences- subtle things in style of dress and the way people get down in the pit (although so far french pits got nothing on dry river's angry love). but punk is still punk and it warms my heart to find that even in tranquill nevers, there is a healthy population of pissed off disaffected youth.

there were many other wonderful things besides the punk show. i took a bunch of pictures- i'll post them later. i'm wandering off again tomorow. after the clermont train adventure i'm feeling more confident and am going to head to toulouse. it's a much bigger trip- i'll have to change trains a few times and it'll take about 8 hrs. to get there. not exactly sure how long i'll be gone. a couple nights at least. there are a few different anarchist projects there that i want to check out. aside from paris, toulouse has the most anarchist stuff listed online. who knows what that is in reality- could just be that it's the place with the most tech savvy anarchists. but i'll go check it out in person and see.

also last night i was introduced to an iraqi man who owns a kabab shop here. my friend who introduced us told him i speak arabic. i tried. but linquistically i'm such a mess right now. i couldn't remember the most basic things and ended up speaking this gibberish combination of french and arabic. i feel like a two year old. french is hard. if they'd just spell things the way they say them, i'd be fine. but no. leave it to the french to pretentiously flaunt their insanely difficult language at foreigners who have no hope of understanding anything.

i'll post pics when i get back from the toulouse adventure. i hope you're happy and enjoying your life.



Friday, June 19, 2009


yesterday i got up and decided to take a train somewhere. i didn't really know where and didn't really have a plan. i don't like having plans, actually. i mean, of course i had a loose plan about this trip and have been making arrangements as to where to stay and that sort of thing. but i don't really like to do the guide book travel thing. i'd rather just wander aimlessly and figure it out as i go. plus, whenever i'm out wandering, i seem to find myself exactly where i need to be. i also feel that i am my most authentic self when i travel aimlessly. there's a rhythm to the universe that i feel tapped into and the right things always seem to happen at the right time.

i got to the train station here in tiny nevers and bought a ticket for the next train that was leaving- destined for clermont-ferrand, a place i had never heard of. i also had no idea how far it was or where it was located in france. i figured it couldn't be more than a couple hours, though. the train system here is pretty amazing and way cheaper than trains in the states, but you can't just take one train from one end of france to the other- there are these various hubs where different routes connect and if you were to travel someplace really far you'd have to change trains.

turns out that clermont-ferrand is sw of nevers and about an hour and 20 min train ride. not bad. i got there and realized immediately that it was a pretty big city. much bigger than nevers, pop. 40,000, anyway. i bought a return ticket for the last train that evening and then had about 7 hours to wander. and wander, i did. my legs are sore today, in fact. the first thing i saw right outside the train station was a sweet flier for some anarchist events. there were apparently several consecutive days of events scheduled- things like planting vegtable gardens in public spaces, various squat commerations, communal dining events- that sort of thing. my heart was warmed. nevers is adorable, but really homogenous and bland. i tried wearing my beloved shredded black hoodie with the patches and people stared at me. but in clermont, it was different. there was a much more diverse population and i saw many women around who defied the french norm of super-feminized daintiness that prevails in france. i swear- the women here all walk around super dressed up all the time, in tiny shoes with high heels. and i thought american women had it bad...

but i digress. i left the train station and found the poster and was happy. then i found a cemetary and walked around that awhile. i like cemetaries. french cemetaries are interesting because there are family graves, where everyone is buried on top of everyone else. honestly- many of the graves are the same size as american graves, but somehow they cram like 8 people in there. after the cemetary, i walked around awhile and found a place to eat my lunch. then i found myself walking around michellin land. you know- the tire company. apparently they are from france. yet another thing i thought was american and it turns out it came from europe. there have been a lot of those for me lately. so i walked through several consecutive blocks of michellin factory and was beginning to get the impression that was clermont's thing and i had a long 7 hours ahead of me waiting for my train to go back to nevers. but then... i saw a gigantic spire shooting up into the sky across the city. i decided to head there. when in doubt- head for the local ancient cathedral because it's usually amazing and located in the older, interesting part of town. after several setbacks in which i ended up bypassing the cathedral and finding myself back in michellin land, i made it- and it was worth the entire trip. after spending some time refreshing myself by a lovely fountain that was probably built around the same time as the cathedral, i finally found it. turns out it was the cathedral notre dame of clermont. made of black volcanic rock in super-ornate gothic style- it was incredible. i wandered around there for a long time, went inside to check it out- the stained glass windows were gorgeous and the whole experience was profound. i didn't realize it at the time- but apparently there are lots of cathedral notre dames in france, the one in paris of course being the biggest and most impressive. but the clermont one was pretty amazing. originally it was the site of two basilicas built in 450 and 949. the cathedral was built over those sites (of which now only the crypts remain underneath) from 1248-1285. pretty sweet.

the end.

Monday, June 15, 2009

france is old

there are insanely old buildings all around me, all the time. yesterday we visited an old cathedral that was originally constructed by the romans and then overhauled in gothic style in the 14th century or so. it's just a short walk from my friends' place.

i went to a bbq with a bunch of french folks who didn't speak english. it was at this lovely community garden that folks have going here. if i had drawn a picture beforehand of what i thought a french bbq evening would be like- it would have been exactly like what happened. a group of 8-10 folks sitting on blankets on the ground, surrounded by lush greenery. bagettes and bottles of wine abounded. a guitar was passed around and once in awhile someone picked up the harmonica. i had no idea how important the bagette was until now.

i can't get over how much american music is here. yesterday i saw a guy with elvis tatoos all over his arms. it's annoying, actually. i mean- it's good to see french folks have a healthy respect for bob dylan, but i was really looking forward to listening to french music. seems like i hear american music more than french.


Friday, June 12, 2009


jetlag sucks. i couldn't sleep last night- read a book until about 5 this morning and then told myself i'd sleep till 10 or so and then be able to sleep at a reasonable time tonight. but instead i slept till 2. ca va.

dunno what i'll do today. wander, i suppose.

i hope you have a nice day.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

and some pictures

first is the sacred heart cathedral. you know that scene in amelie when she has him meet her for the album handoff? he runs up the stairs to a little telescope thing and then down to a living statue with a pointing hand. sacred heart is where that scene was filmed. i was glad that i watched amelie over and over again before i left.
next is some detail from the arc de triumph in paris. it's a giant arch that napolean built.

my new friend. currently he is perched on the back of my neck.

and a painting of a fish in a paris alleyway.

next is the little theater of happiness. also in a random parisian alley.

the sacred heart cathedral was riddled with tourists, but it was pretty great. there was this living statue guy outside. he moved slowly, semi-dancing with his flower. and then there was an interesting old monastary across the street.

next is the view of paris from atop the sacred heart catedral. pretty sweet.

lastly- i love the patios on french apartments. there are many with flowers.

soon there will be pictures from nevers. i slept off my jet lag most of today and didn't take any pictures. although i did successfully order myself a cup of coffee in french. it was a tremendous accomplishment.


day 2

hi friends-

got into paris yesterday morning. my friends met me at the airport and we wandered paris awhile before heading to nevers, where they live and where i'll be for the next month or so.

discoveries so far:

french keyboards are different from american (making typing excruciatingly slow)

french people don't drink water (true desert girl- i've still got my water bottle next to me at all times)

french people don't carry their coffee around with them

french kittens are just as cute as american ones

french people are less afraid of strangers and are more likely to talk to random people than americans

french people listen to a lot of american pop and are unaware of indy music

wine really is cheaper than water

it is interesting to be in a situation where i don't speak the language. i feel it all at the tip of my tongue, but actually communicating is hard. i'm confident it will come. i just have to keep trying.

today i found a circle a carved into the sidewalk near my friends' apartment bldg. i was happy.

i have been taking pics. i'll post them soon.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

tucson activist walt staton

i leave tucson tomorrow.

anonymity will soon be mine.

have you heard about the fate of walt staton? he left lifesaving water out in the desert and is now facing the possibility of jail time because he "knowingly" littered. it's pretty ridiculous, especially considering walt and other no more deaths folks routinely go out into the desert to pick up trash. so far this year, around 80 people have died crossing into az from mexico. they died because they didn't have water. i hear walt is in good spirits about it all and is optimistic that he can appeal the decision. good luck, walt.

check out the democracy now piece on him.