For the Love of Beet Juice

by Megan M. on March 26, 2009 · Comments (Blog) |

I was making a video where I explained how I’d just taken a very nice nap and had driven two hours from Austin to College Station and how we’d left two hours late and I was pretty freaking tired when we got here but I had some food and juice and slept and felt better and was thinking I should work but mostly just sitting around waiting for dinner when I spilled beet juice on my shirt and gasped, because I didn’t bring any extra clothes for this weekend, so I abandoned my video and washed out my shirt in the sink and then couldn’t figure out how best to dry it until I rung it out rolled up in a towel and then had the simply grand idea to do this perilous thing:

I only got what I had coming—I should have been making a more interesting video!

What I should have done was make my video topless, in order to properly illustrate the post I’m going to make about Aggiecon’s sad, sad 2008 anti-nipple policy. Since my shirt’s all dry now you’ll have to do without the Real Live Nudity (my condolences), but I WILL show you the gorgeous prints I picked up last year (they have excellent nudity) and I’ll tell you the story of how I came to purchase them. It is a brave tale of woe and circumspection, a tale of courageous deeds and fair maidens rescued from the clutches of evil censorship overlords. Promise.

I might also tell you about how I found a vloggification solution for way less than I expected, and while I’m waiting for my JVC (which I should have sometime next week, I think) I will be making a few Aggiecon videos with my handy dandy Flip Ultra. This thing is pretty spiffy, folks. We’ll see how it holds up. ;}

And now, back to work—my master tasklist waits for no one. (Well, sometimes it waits for me…)

Update: Marty came back to the room with news of the art show. We’ll post more later, but for now: “The Boobie Guy.”

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Poverty and Purpose

by Megan M. on March 25, 2009 · Comments (Blog) |

I feel insanely passionate about making people understand their options—their talents, their strengths, their innate holy-cow-ness—but I mostly think in terms of people who are living the same kind of life I am. People who have a place to live, family and friends, emotional support, access to (sometimes very) basic health information and services, transportation, and food. People who find themselves in scary situations, sure, but people who already have a very decent foundation on which to build a better life for themselves. I had thought some about people without those things before reading The Blue Sweater, but I don’t know if I thought about it enough. My passion for waking people up to their own potential hasn’t changed, but I have to wonder now what one has to do with the other.

What does confidence and purpose and passion and awareness mean if you can’t eat? Can’t keep yourself healthy? Can’t keep a roof over your head? I believe they can make the difference between a person who stays poor and a person who improves their own lot, but there are still missing pieces. If you don’t have a certain basic quality of life, can you even spare energy to consider these things? If I found myself without any resources, maybe I could—because I’ve already done it, I already know how and I’ve seen the results. But it’s hard enough to raise yourself up when you have most of your needs met. I’m having a hard time imagining the same process without family, food and shelter. When I say I’ve had a hard time buying groceries, I mean it—but I will probably always be able to eat somehow, even in the hardest of times. If I couldn’t eat, if I had to live out in the elements… I probably wouldn’t be preaching to you about confidence and purpose and passion and awareness.

I wouldn’t have the guts.

Would I?

Is there something to all of this, even for people who have much graver concerns than I do? Most of the people reading this blog do have their basic needs met, do have some resources to draw on, many of them (I might argue all of them, because I always do) are in an excellent position to mindset+action themselves into the place they want to be. Anyone with access to the internet has a huge array of options at their disposal. “I can’t” means less and less to you and I every single day. But what about everybody else?

I suppose this is one of the reasons the work of Acumen Fund appeals to me—they’re not about hand-outs or charity projects. They’re about giving people the tools to build themselves up. I resonate powerfully with that mission. It’s what I want, too. Teach a man to fish, folks. And maybe it’s just a difference in scale: Teach a man to fish. Teach him to connect with others. Teach him to use the internet. Let him teach others. Help him set up a fish consulting business. Make him the primary source on the web for fish information products. Then he has a fish empire. He’ll be fine.

Nope. I don’t know what it all means yet. But I’d love to hear what you think.


You’re about to witness a late night rant. Let’s see how coherent it turns out, shall we?

I’ve actually been going about this all the wrong way.

I’ve been putting off important parts of my life “until I have more money,” but I’ve been discounting the very mechanism that continues to bring me money, month after month, even when I am down to a week between me and the Big Scary Abyss of Doom, the very mechanism that has never failed me so long as I maintain confidence in it.

That mechanism is real, undeniable need.

Sometimes I call it “desperation.” (I do not recommend that mechanism. Please use a different one whenever possible.) But it’s not hopeless the way desperation is—it engenders action, not despair. My best work (my most amazing feats of daring and success) happen when they absolutely need to.

And whatever you call it (even if you say “desperation” but don’t really mean it), there’s something to be said for having a working mechanism. I’ve been examining my life for a method that turns my “three week margin” set point into a “three month margin” set point, and continues to improve from there. The whole time, the whole time, it’s been right there in front of me. So let me explain how this works:

Let’s say I have $2500. Awesome! $2500, I say to myself, that will pay most of this month’s bills. It will get the rent paid and we’ll be through to the 15th or so. Fantastic!

Then I will go to the dentist and the dentist will put on his Bad Face and say “OMG!!1eleven, you need a root canal!” And I will say “WHAT!?? I DO NOT!” and the dentist will say “OMG!!1eleven you SO DO and it will cost ELEVENTYBILLION DOLLARS.”

Then I will pass out.

Nightmare, anyone?

When I wake up, I will say, “Well crap, I guess we have to pay them eleventy billion dollars. Write the bad dentist man a check.” And then (probably after I obtain painkillers for my pending root canal) I will go about deciding how to make more money. Because, well… I have to. Whining, fearing, arguing, none of this will help, so I mostly don’t bother. I just fix it.

Sure, I’ll be nervous. Sure, I’ll feel some trepidation and worry a little about whether I can do it. But mostly (because I’ve done this a ton of times now and I know that it always SOMEHOW works out) I will enforce a sense of confidence and determination, and I will get the thing done. Even down to the wire, all kinds of excellent things can happen to turn things to my favor. The trick is to plan well and make them happen much sooner than later.

And I can do that.

I don’t know why I can’t do that when I DON’T need the money in the next three weeks. I’m still working that part out. It’s a fascinating process.

And in the meantime, there are things we “need.” Not root canal need, but state of mind and organization need. Like bookshelves. Incredibly useful and legitimate business expenses that I’ve been putting off, a whole list of them. Groceries (those are nice, I like those). And we haven’t really bought new clothes in, gulp, probably a few years now. (Hell, they don’t even have to be NEW. Just new to US!)

I’m not talking about hauling off on a daily sushi binge; I’m not talking about spending a great deal more money than is usually in our budget every month. I AM talking about increasing that budget gradually, planning for it, and proclaiming myself capable of dealing with the additional margin. Why on earth not? Many lookers-on were skeptical that Marty could quit his day job and we could both survive perfectly well working for ourselves. Listeners shuddered when they found out that we added a big monthly car payment right around the time he quit. Oh yes, and then our rent went up!

Would you like to guess how many times we’ve actually been unable to pay our rent? Go ahead, guess.

ZERO. (Was that what you guessed?)

How about how many times we’ve had to negotiate a payment plan with a utility company because we couldn’t send them a check?


Never happened.

We’ve gotten rid of bills here, added other ones there. And we keep paying them. And 99% of them have been paid on time, every time. That doesn’t sound to me like two people at the brink of destitution. It doesn’t sound to me like people who are incapable of improving their lot in life. It doesn’t sound to me like people who must be content with the boxes they’ve been dropped into.

That sounds to me like two people who can get what they need, when they need it, because they’re capable, courageous, clever—and alliterative, an attribute you must never underestimate. All I have to do is buy the things I need when I need them, and create more income to cover them. It won’t be hard—especially if I plan well, take it in reasonable increments—and especially after the money is spent. Then there’s no going back. I’m great with the Point of No Return, man.

I am not crazy. These are not crazy ideas.

YOU can do this, too. All you need is to make the decision, be brave, and carry through. Almost ANYONE can do this. I’m not even sure I need to use the word “almost.” If you look deep enough inside yourself you’re going to see the same things I’ve seen. Tremendous will power, infinite creativity, true ability to put yourself wherever you want to be. I don’t doubt it for a second.

Anyway, after we pay April’s rent, I’m probably going to buy a freaking bookcase. Or something else on the long list of things I’ve been putting off.

Think about it.

PS. HEY! YOU! Yes, you. I hope you don’t think this is a good excuse to do something incredibly stupid with your budget. I’m talking increments here, people. I’m talking confidence and increments. Be reasonable. But be BRAVE.

PPS. Oh! No, no root canals. That was just an example. Incidentally, though, that exact brand of spur-of-the-moment root canal has happened to me in the past. It was scary; we got through it just fine. I don’t expect any more root canal escapades, honestly; I stopped eating sugar and started drinking just gallons of green juice. I’m probably in pretty good shape.

PPPS. Our scenario assumes, of course, that “eleventy billion” is less than $2500. Just pretend.


Killing With Conformity

by Megan M. on March 22, 2009 · Comments (Blog) |

Bob Poole asked me about my take on America’s educational system and in my attempt to provide him with a coherent response, I blew a gasket. It popped out of my left ear. I have no idea how to put it back. Where the hell does it even go? (I don’t think I have enough cash in my account to hire a mechanic, either.)

I decided to give it pride of place on top of the TV set. It’s kind of a memento, you know? Of frustration.

When I first watched Sir Ken’s TED presentation I just about burst into tears. I was lucky, man. I went to a great school that had a pretty reasonable slot in the budget for arts and theater. (What? You didn’t know I was an arts & theater kid? Have you even been paying attention?) Oh, there were boxes, there was plenty of math and science and there was plenty of “You’d be a Good Kid IF…” But I made out better than most. I was educated in a private, Catholic institution for almost all of my pre-university schooling—there were nuns. There were a lot of smart people, too.

I can’t even grasp what most kids grow up with these days. Kids in public schools deal with way more bullshit than I can even really grasp. (My one year in public school in seventh grade was QUITE enough for me, thanks.) I hear more horror stories about misguided teachers wantonly crushing the spirits of brilliant, creative, unorthodox-and-amazing children than you could shake a stick at. But it’s the school system I want to shake a stick at. Because we’re all but living in the dark ages with this industrial crap. We’re not training kids to work in factories anymore, people. They need to be prepared for the real world—the one we have now, and the one after that, and the one after that. They need to be flexible and wise. They need to be strong and compassionate and brave. They need to be warriors of the soul, leaders who take us forward, voices that challenge us to grow.

And we’re teaching them to put down their brains and do everything the same.

It makes me itch all over just thinking about it. And I could rant forever, but I’m going to stop here and point you to Bob’s post (wherein the rest of my diatribe is contained). Go read what we had to say.

You haven’t seen the end of this one.


In Your Face, Fear! (Leading the Anti-Squelch Brigade)

by Megan M. on March 21, 2009 · Comments (Blog) |

Embarrassment. Fear. Dread. Uh oh. What will happen if they find out?

You know, I used to feel this way all the time. I used to feel this way about every little thing under the sun. And you know what?

I still feel this way a lot.

But now I remember what it is, and what to do with it.

What I don’t do is act on that fear—on my good days. When I feel it, I try hard to listen so that I can confront the thing I’m afraid of. What? What was that? Afraid of what people will think if you don’t shave your legs today, huh? Terrified? Imagining what they’ll say about you? Creating pariah scenarios in your head?

Oh yeah, really?

Time to get rid of all the razors and see what actually happens.

(Would you like to hazard a guess as to whether anything actually happened?)

As important as unrepressing myself was to the direction my life has taken—to everything I do now and everything I want to be, and all the skills that are allowing me to move forward—I’m still afraid when I post something to do with sex. “Sex is bad,” something says. I will be rejected for being willing to discuss it in public, it says. But you know what? That rarely ever happens. (I just did it again yesterday in a spectacularly entertaining and ridiculous way, so I’ll let you know if I get any more fallout than usual. That is to say, none.)

The thing is, I really care about the public dialogue about sexuality, even if I don’t write about it often these days. So knowing that I fear that discussion is really frustrating for me. Knowing that, I want to confront it whenever I have the opportunity. I think it’s the right thing to do. I think our fears need to be confronted.

That’s how we grow.

It’s not just about sex. It’s not about dating, or marketing, or cold calls. It’s not about parties or chatrooms. It’s not about flying in planes or swimming in deep water or moving to Africa. It’s not about having fuzzy legs, either. It’s not about polyamory or veganism or making new friends or launching a new business or any one thing.

It’s about you. It’s about who you’re meant to be. It’s about the person you can grow into, the person you’re moving toward, the person that happens if nothing squelches you. You don’t set out to be squelched. You set out to be amazing. So why would you let anything get in your way?

Get rid of all the razors in the house, or start writing about the topics that scare you, or whatever else you have to do to confront that voice in your head. Hell—it might be the only thing you have standing between you and greatness. You’re not going to let that stop you.

Are you?


Minimalist ASCII Genitalia

by Megan M. on March 20, 2009 · Comments (Blog) |

All right. I have to try and qualify exactly why this was so funny. (I am not going to even suggest that it’s NSFW, because that would make this whole situation just that much funnier.)

First of all, you should know that I think sex is awesome.

I think sexuality is a wonderful thing to express, to explore, and to share with other people. (What is sex, after all, but a sort of sharing—even when it’s with yourself?) I think pornography, for all its many flaws, is a grand institution that should be protected, not destroyed. [click to continue…]


By Yourself

by Megan M. on March 19, 2009 · Comments (Blog) |

They tell you this when you get started, but most of the time it doesn’t sink in until later. It’s very exciting to strike out on your own—to do the thing that can’t be done, or to be one brave person in a sea of sheep. It’s incredibly empowering. There isn’t any feeling like it in the world. But sooner or later, this other thing happens—this not so great feeling thing.

Sometimes doing your own thing means feeling very scared and alone.

When you’re the only person who can get your rent paid, there isn’t anyone left to blame or appeal to or confide in. If you’re the person coming up with the ideas that allow you to do what you do, you have to keep coming up with the ideas—there isn’t someone to spell you and unless you plan well, there aren’t any vacations.

Unless you’re just stupidly lucky, your parents won’t swoop in and save the day. Or your aunt. Or your ex-boyfriend.

More than that, when you take the less-traveled path, very few people understand what you’re going through. It’s not just a matter of confiding; it’s a matter of another person knowing where you’re coming from, having actually been there themselves. Sometimes you have to push through by yourself, and man, it’s not easy.

But you have to have faith that you will get there—even when three weeks of income turns into one, and your support structure falls away. You have to have faith that this thing you’re doing is real and meaningful and worth it, that you have value and the world recognizes it (when you need it to do so now more than ever). You have to re-examine the details and turn out the cracks where you’ve made baseless assumptions and discover resources you’d forgotten. This is where the thin layers of fat get consumed, where you start to get stronger and come to know what kind of person you really are.

Can you do it? For real?

This is where you find out for sure.