If I could only ask you to do one thing for me, for a span of about twenty minutes, all week, all month, I would ask you to please watch this video. It’s possible that this feels so profound to me because of material and ideas I’ve already begun to process, but I just can’t pass up the possibility that you might feel the same. So if you feel like trusting me for a small chunk of your time, this one, this one right here is what I’d choose for you.

Stroke of Insight (Jill Bolte Taylor @ TED)

Let me know what you think.

No Fear


This fear thing does not serve us well.

We might think that it protects us, keeps us from harm, furthers our best interests… but it doesn’t.

Unless my fear is getting me out of the path of a rabid, rampaging animal intent on doing me physical damage, my fear is useless to me. It does not protect me. It does not keep me safe. If it has any use at all, it is only to show me where I am afraid—where I must find courage. And even then, it only serves to help eliminate itself.

If you are acting out of fear, you are chaining yourself down. You are creating something that controls you and impedes you. You are not doing the “wise, prudent thing”. You are doing yourself a disservice. You are darkening your light. You are under a freakin’ bushel.

If you are like me, you have been acting out of fear your whole life, and you don’t even notice it anymore. You do things because you’ve learned that they should be done a certain way. You don’t even realize that the reason you still do them is that you’re afraid. You are so numb to the nature of reality that you can only essentially monkey-see, monkey-do—safe, familiar territory.

If you are like me, you feel good when you break out of the pattern, once in awhile. But by and large, you are still under the fucking bushel. You are still doing so many things just because you’re afraid. Unconscious, unquestioned.

I don’t know. Think about it.

Experiments in Religion

I adore this post in Tim Ferriss’ blog:

What Happens When an Agnostic Follows the Bible Literally for One Year?

I encountered the story about AJ Jacobs a few times over the last few weeks (this is the same guy who wrote the radical honesty piece for Esquire) but hadn’t had a chance to really look at it. In this entry, Tim does an interview and the result is a really nice summary of what’s going on, and what everyone thinks about it. If you have any interest in religion, you should definitely take a look at this! There are definitely negative and positive aspects of the experiment, and I think I know people who will be particularly surprised by one or the other. Definitely take a look if you have a moment. Awesome.

For the Soul

I’m going to start this with a disclaimer: I adore the Colbert Report. I pretty much adore everything Stephen Colbert does, and on top of that, I eat his ice cream. (Read: I’m a fan.) But today I have some things to say about a segment he ran that touched a few nerves. That said, it’s only comedy, and I’m not offended by it. But I still wanted to say my piece. :}

Last night the Colbert Report ran a segment on an exotic dance studio in New Jersey. The focus was pole dancing. When the segment started, I got all excited. More neat pole dancing stuff! You see, I get all my pole dancing information from a net friend on the west coast. She started Seattle’s first ever pole dancing school, and I’ve really enjoyed hearing about it over the last few years—so my excitement was utterly justifiable!

As the segment played, I started to get a sour feeling in my stomach. Oh, I expected the clip to be laughy—we’re talking about Comedy Central, after all. But I don’t think I expected the angle to be so… dissatisfying. My exposure to my friend’s school is strictly text-based, and I’ve never taken a class, or even visited the school. But it’s funny how plain text can make such an impression.

Here’s the segment on Comedy Central’s site, if you want to take a look.

After watching the whole thing, I felt as if the Colbert Report had really managed to misrepresent pole dancing instruction, and the very quality of the concept. Hell, I don’t care that they did it. It’s fake news. But I’ll be damned if I’m not going to set the record straight, and give you a chance to see what’s really going on. I don’t know anything about Johnna Mink or her Jersey workshops—they may have been misrepresented too, for all I know. But I do know about this other thing, whether anything else comes up to its standards or not. And it’s really worth saying something about.

It’s called Pole for the Soul.

I haven’t known Krisha well or long, in the scheme of things, but she’s said a great deal about her business, over time, and why she started it. What I’ve learned from her particular perspective on pole dancing instruction has really been nothing short of inspiring. For Krisha, it seems there is breadth and depth to the way she makes her living. It’s something that feels missing from the workshops Colbert covered in Jersey. And I think it’s something that’s missing in a lot of people’s lives, all over, everywhere.

It doesn’t seem to me that what Krisha teaches is about putting on a show, or your partner getting a private treat, or even being able to nudge yourself into that shallow stripper stereotype that so many people seem to like so much… for so many of the wrong reasons. It’s not so much about getting to finally be the sex object. It doesn’t even have to be about sex.

It seems to me that Pole for the Soul might be about something really different. The impression I’ve gotten… is that it’s about you.

It’s about becoming powerful. It’s about building yourself into the person you want to be; it’s about shedding those old stereotypes and preconceptions. It’s about taking the layers and layers of buffering we have wrapped around us—what we constructed to pad and protect ourselves from the world that is often bad and scary—and peeling them off. I’m not making a stripping pun (amused as you may be); we all have those layers. We can be strong without them. Finding out who we really are underneath is an incredible thing. We are so often so different, when that happens.

You know what a warrior I am on issues like this. This is my bag.

And so even though it was disguised as a joke in the clip, the woman who said thoughtfully, “I would say my husband enjoys it… probably more than I do”—That makes me sad. And don’t even start me on the guy who likes to pretend he’s not a pig. I don’t think Pole for the Soul allows spectators at all; the only people present are the teacher and the students, which I think is awesome, and enforces the idea that it’s not about someone else. I have to remember, too, that the Daily Show and the Colbert Report really don’t have to work too hard for the shocking quotes they get. People give them willingly. Those people are out there, and they don’t seem to have thought about the wonderful things they can do for themselves.

This is why Pole for the Soul’s take is so refreshing, and revitalizing. It’s revitalizing to read—I can’t even imagine what it’s like to take one of her classes. And man, does she get good reviews.

The Colbert clip had some pretty weak comments about personal power—but now you know. It’s true. In fact, it’s way better than you thought. Self-discovery? Creative expression? Confidence and strength and personal power and awesomeness? It’s definitely out there. You just have to look in the right places. But this is the only teacher I’m willing to vouch for. ;}


Today I had a totally unexpected (but really interesting) conversation with one of my cousins. We were talking about religion and spirituality, which is not something I would normally just bring up out of nowhere—but this time it had been on my mind, and all of a sudden we were discussing it.

Has that ever happened to you?

I have been feeling unhappy about the level of closeness and communication (or lack thereof) that I have with my family, my blood kin. My father and I have conversations, and I have them here and there with my mom and sister. But for the most part, I don’t really get to communicate seriously with family members. I barely know my cousins, aunts, uncles. We see each other at family functions less since I’ve moved, but the things we talk about are still all small talk. What have you been up to lately? Nothing much, just the usual, school, work, etc. Repeated till the cows come home, man.

Some of my friends in Austin are really close to their families. In some cases, family members are their best friends in the whole world—they talk about everything. Blood is not their only connection.

Man, have I been jealous.

But today it became really clear to me that the only barrier to this thing is in me—is in my assumption that my family’s “not like that”. And whatever kind of creature or unit my family is, it is still made up of people. They may not all be people I get along with, or people who would agree with me in a drawn-out conversation, or, hell! even people who are capable of processing the sort of things I like to talk about. But that’s sure as shit no reason not to try. How am I ever going to know if I don’t look into it? Pbph. How indeed.

PS. I know I haven’t talked about “meligion” yet. But I will. I swear. If you’ll just be patient, and let it, ah, coalesce in my head… scout’s honor.


Watching The Pursuit of Happyness with Marty, I thought, This is the kind of movie where he will win, in the end. He has to. And other movies, I know I have thought, The end is going to be bad. And I will just have to sit here and take it.

But this one, I stay with it. No matter how many rotten, demoralizing things happen to him, he’s in that kind of movie. It will get worse and worse but in the end, it will all come together. It will be worth it. He will be lifted up, and so will we.

It’s not what’s going on now. It’s not what you’re going through now. It’s what kind of movie you’re in. I know what kind of movie I’m in. What kind of movie do you want to be in?

I’m pretty sure… we get to pick.

Reoccuring Annoyance No. 15502

Why doesn’t anyone seem to understand that if children were thoroughly educated about sex, they would make less stupid sex-related decisions? It doesn’t matter what your religion is, or what your morality dictates about sexual behavior. If people don’t have information to allow them to behave intelligently, they almost certainly won’t behave intelligently. You can’t just ask them to do what you want. They have to know why. It’s not a well-informed decision if no one’s been informed. And sex is one thing that can’t be avoided just for lack of good information. Go ahead, try.

To Paul Melvin

Tuesday night I found out that a really good guy had passed on, and I knew I had to mention it… I just didn’t know how. And honestly, I still don’t. I haven’t the vaguest idea what I’m going to say, but I’m going to say something.

Let’s see what I’ve got.

When I was in classes at university, I spent some time singing in the local Methodist choir. It was a college gig – we got paid a little bit, and the folks at church were always wonderful to us, and we got to be spiritual on a weekly basis. It was pretty nifty. You all know by now that church jobs fall lower on my favorites list than many other things, but I was always glad of the time I spent there. It was a pretty good place.

At the Methodist church I met the Melvins. I met Brad Melvin, and I met his wife, Debbie. They conducted the choir. I met Paul Melvin and somewhere along the line I met Dick Melvin, too. The Melvins were neat. They were Good Folks. Paul was the father of Brad and Dick. Paul was an excellent fellow. There was no one in the world niftier than Paul. He was clever, and funny, and he goofed around during choir practice. He had a kind voice and a kind heart and he was just the best bloke you’d ever meet. Period.

I sang in the choir for most of my college time, off and on. I sang in a choir in Youngstown with both Brad and Dick. Later I worked for Dick’s publishing company for a rocky couple of years. Paul worked there too, helping here and there. I honestly don’t know (or care) what his job description was. That crazy office was smoother and gentler with him around. The days Paul came in were always better than those he didn’t. Sometimes he was golfing, or not feeling well. Sometimes, I’m pretty sure, he just slept late. Dude, I’d forgive Paul anything. He was the best part of that place.

I don’t really remember the last time I saw him. I tried to give him a call about a design lead he’d left me, once, but I never managed to get through and the lead fell through the cracks anyway. I no longer sang with the Methodist choir or the Youngstown group, so I saw no more of Brad or Dick Melvin, except for a brief dinner discussion I had with Dick awhile later. That was long ago now. I regret having lost touch with Debbie, who I believe conducts a church choir in Poland now. There are no more Melvins in my life, and I think that’s probably sad. But that Paul, he was really something. There wasn’t anyone in the world like him, and maybe there still isn’t. What can you say about someone like that?

If he happens back, I hope he crosses my path. If he doesn’t, he’s probably up there playing golf and crackin’ jokes and making someone’s day extra ‘specially good. That’s kinda just what Paul did.


I’m sorry to be the one to bring you news but I thought you’d want to know, being friends with Debbie, and more than your fair share of Melvins really. It’s not really appropriate email material but it beats reading about it in the paper. Paul passed away tonight. If you prefer, I’ll let you know when calling hours and the funeral are. Paul always liked you a great deal. Long after you parted ways with OGR, he spoke very highly of you. I haven’t really processed the loss yet. He’s as close to a grandpa as I had since I was a kid, and I only worked with the man for a few years. He’ll be missed, for certain.


Paul’s calling hours were last night, and his memorial service was held this morning at 11am in Poland. I wanted very badly to attend one or both, and (as I unhappily expected) my schedule just refused to allow me either. Getting that email broke my heart. It still feels broken, three days later. But I’m going to remember him here, on my own, for what it’s worth.

If I never meet him again, I can say one thing. I can say that he was really one of the high points down here. That was one good dude.

I’m havin’ a drink to Paul Melvin. I’ve got a big bottle of extra special celtic whiskey that I think will do the trick. Those who knew him ever spoke well of him. If ever he crossed your path, please do the same.

Bottoms up!