i have long been slightly on the fence about going barefoot. i definitely like the way it feels and i also appreciate the foot protection and speed afforded by shoes. Today i fell off the fence.
“You know that there are studies showing there is a preventative effect on Alzheimer’s and other aliments by going barefoot.” Feonix said.
And i saw my mind decisively shift. Even if there was only a small chance that there were significant health benefits from walking barefoot more often, i live in places where i can often easily be barefoot. And on this day i was working at a craft fair on the beautiful Lyndhurst estate outside New York City, and i kicke doff my shoes. i carried them with me some, where they made occasionally convient detached pockets, but mostly this afternoon i was bare foot on grass. More generally on the commune it is fairly acceptable and accessible to be mostly barefoot, Rowan has modeled this behavior for his full 17 years of life.
Am i sure this is better for me? No.
And i dont need to be completely sure to try something which might be good for me and see how it works. And it also works for me to step out of shoe conformity, to test whether we have hurt ourselves by donning shoes.
And there is a kind of primitive appeal to the entire idea. What if this presumed benign technology turns out to be the source of a number of problems ? Have we heard this theme before?
The organizers made a deal with the forces which control the weather. “If you don’t really need it to rain, it would be great if you could hold off until after the celebration”. With this deal struck, the rain remained at bay until after the circle was open.
One of the things which is significant to me personally is that my son chooses to come to these rituals. Last year he played the role of the element of fire during the callings. When i was a kid, there was nothing about the spiritual or religious experience of my parents that i would choose to do.
Part of what gives people confidence to try climbing the poll after the dance is complete is that even if you don’t make it, the crowd cheers for you. It is not about success, it is about being willing to take a chance and try.
Willow’s first home schooling lesson from me was about swearing. I give him a dollar every time he can pick my pocket without me noticing, and he is getting pretty good at it. My son has a dreadful disrespect for the police. i totally forgot to get breakfast for him the other morning. And tonight his 17 year old friend Rowan turned down the midnight laser tag adventure we (Willow and i) organized, because it was going to be too exhausting (Willow is 11).
The joke is that my style of child care will get me to the cover of Negligent Parenting Magazine.
And it was charming working with him on this evenings activities. In a series of staccato conversations it came together.
“Laser Tag – let’s do it!” Willow wanted in on this new game
“We’ll drive in the Acorn car i have.” i offered
“I will get Rowan and Evan to come.” Willow offers
“I will call Craig about Adrian” i suggest
“Where will we meet?” Willow inquires.
“Let’s meet at MorningStar.” i propose
“At 10 PM, we will be ready.” And he turns and walks out of the dining hall with an air of confidence i find unusual in kids his age, but i don’t see him at all clearly.
So let the fine editors of from Negligent Parenting bang on my door. i am helping craft a curious titan, who seems unafraid to take on anything.
Craig and i lived together at Paradox in the late 1980s. This sprawling group house was in the Castro district of San Francisco. While we were not close, we were certainly friendly. We shared a razor, which would not be a big deal, except that Craig is HIV positive.
Before you start ranting about how crazy this behavior is, remember what San Francisco was like at this time. HIV was a death sentence then and the Castro was the center of the epidemic. Which means we knew more about AIDS then than most people do even today. We knew the virus died in 90 seconds at room temperature.
Craig’s first story tonight was in part about passing trucks on the curve. It is not so much about a reckless style of living as it is embracing the idea that if the odds are against you then you make sure there is a lot of life during your days. Long before he got HIV from a blood transfusion, Craig was supposed to die of hemophilia. Turns out he is good at not dying on schedule. His first story got me choked up. Craig is far more personally daring as a story teller than i am.
And he is much darker. It turned out to be quite a good balance with us alternating tales. My stuff tends to be upbeat, hopeful or funny. Craig’s stuff tends to be heavy, somber and deep. He told stories about trapped chimps on tiger ranches. I told radical fairytales of feisty princesses and juggling paupers. Craig told inspiring stories of his daughter’s struggle looking at two parents who were supposed to die. i balanced with a number of Willowisms.
i definitely felt my skills sharpen listening to Craig. His prose is rich and descriptive, his timing more polished than mine. The audience seemed engaged and pleased. We’ll do it again when i come back through, perhaps on a bigger stage than the co-housing common room.
You can find more of Craig’s stories on his blog.
I’ve been telling stories about Willow the last couple of days.
At age 2 Willow said, in response to me asking where some toys were “i assume they are under the tower”
At age 4 when asked what he thought about having two dads he replied “i guess i lucked out”
At age 6 when asked what he would say to the police if the car was stopped and he was not in the required car seat “i dont have ID, i will just lie.”
At age 8 after i told him he needed to clean his room he replied “With what authority do you tell me this?”
At age 10 on Dec 21, 2012 at the mythical end of the Mayan calendar when was asked his thoughts on the pending end of the world, he responded “I am disinclined to believe any religious text that is found written on a wall”
Crystal asked me to shock his Social Movement students at Cal State Monterey Bay. This felt like a high bar, so i offered to entertain them and provoke their thinking.
i presented about all the folks who had said the world was going to end unless we dramatically change our behavior (Club or Rome, Carl Sagan and nuclear winter, Rio 1992 and sustainability, the Peak Oil kids and now climate change). i put them in small groups and asked them to discuss what things they could do a better job of sharing.
But it was (predictably) the second part of the class which got the most eyebrows raised. I talked about polyamory and the astronomy of the Star family (and bragged about various Willowisms). The group exercise was to talk about their relationship with jealousy and report back on if they liked it and how they might change it.
But the thing that Crystal was most excited about was the idea that polyamory was a minority relationships model and as such was discriminated against in most peoples thinking. i pointed out that if you get involved in a poly relationship and it does not work out, you are quite likely to say “Polyamory does not work” or perhaps “Poly does not work for me”.
But if you are on the other side of a failed monogamous relationship you are more likely to say “Joe is an asshole”. It is quite possible that your poly relationship failed because Joe is an asshole, or because Joe is not even poly. We rarely say “Monogamy does not work”
[80% of students reported being shocked.]
It was a state of the art liberal protest. There were no planned arrests at this action, to make it as accessible and low risk as possible. Celebrates had been arrested the week before. There were 34 people who got arrested after this big march of 45K participants.
What made it state of the art were the websites for the planning and the giant TV screens at the base of the Washington Monument.
What made it liberal was the frequent appeals by the speakers to patriotism and American ingenuity. There is nothing particularly American about climate change, this is a global problem.
And while leadership from the US would be great, we could be working on this from a non-nationalistic angle.
And for this protest, they are using all the tools of a classical domestic political campaign. Senators spoke at the event. The big call was for Obama to keep his promises.
“I don’t remember anyone’s birthday” i said.
“You will remember mine.” Hawina replied almost 20 years ago now.
And as usual, she was right.
While i dont put much stock in this particular celebration, many people and the community think these things matter. It especially matters when you turn 50 and start getting pension hours. This slightly recklessly designed system is one of the more clever things about Twin Oaks (which Acorn sadly does not mimic). For those who tuned in late, I live in an egalitarian community, where we dont work for money. Instead we work a quota of 42 hours a week and in exchange for this the community covers almost all our costs. Including but not limited to food, clothing, housing, some education, some entertainment, full medical and dental coverage and most transportation. Your quota starts to go down an hour a year when you reach age 50 (as Hawina did this year). i am not 55 and will soon be getting my 7th pension hour (dropping my quota to 35 hours a week, when i am at Twin Oaks only). Making quota is not a problem for me, i am generally over quota and i often operate within labor collectives. But i care about it in the context of whether others can live here and how we take care of our aging population.
Hawina is an expert in designing the birthday parties she wants. This year was no exception. We played games, especially her group game favorite Werewolves (aka Mafia). And it is the super powered players which make this game interesting. There is a “curious girl” who can peak and see who everyone is, but if she were revealed the werewolves would try to get her right away. There are lovers who’s lives are linked and in one game the lovers won, despite the fact that one was a werewolf and the other not.
Similarly, Willow redesigned capture the flag for his most recent birthday, by adding super powers and special zones. He has taken Games and Strategies classes at his Cville based home schooling group for several semesters now and wants to control the playing field (just as i generally do). Of course, as a funologist, i am all over this. I even got the kids to do a funological review of the game immediately after it in which they suggested some great changes to the rules to improve the game (including: alternating sides of the asymetric field, moving bases in from the edges to avoid boundary breakers from repeated jail breaks and running out of the boundary to avoid capture, and adding a time limit to how long you can be in the safe zones).
It is my son’s birthday, but this is my present.
Hawina: “Willow, some people think the world is going to end tomorrow”
Willow (age 10): “I am disinclined to believe any religious text that is found written on a wall”