sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2015-11-28 03:32 am

For anyone who needs it, but especially for HB.


November 19, 2015
by Kaitlyn Boulding


Questions to ask yourself before giving up:

Are you hydrated?
When did you last
glut your thirst
with a handful of spring?

Have you eaten anything
besides emails or your fingernails
in the last three hours? Have you
pulled the protein out of an oak
tree or palmed an avocado
pit this month? Are your forlorn probiotics

languishing on your butter shelf?
Are you dressed? If so, does your skirt
strike matches alight
as you walk by? Can you melt
it a little around your waist
and ribcage? Are you resisting

a dream? Wrestling a dreamless night? Let yourself
take a bath in your bed
clothes for fifteen minutes,
no pressure to fall asleep. But make sure
to turn off all your beehives
first. At least take them out
of your bedroom.

Have you uncoiled the ropes of your legs
and strung them along the length of the city
today? Have you let a lake or a snow bank
sketch silent letters on your back?
When did you last give away

your unworn clothes, your well-fitting
metaphors? Tell a neighbour or a person across
the coffee shop counter how well
they catch the light.

Have you snugged into a seedpod
in the past couple days? Do you need
a massage? Complete something

smaller than a lichen: return
a library book, or a letter, or a look,
or a relationship you regret. Sew
a button on that’s come loose. Crack
a window. Crack an egg.

Do you feel unattractive? Rub your skin
with smooth stones
or strong magnets. Wear sunglasses.
Take your reflection in
on the surface of a puddle.

Give yourself ten minutes.
Give yourself ten years.
Give yourself an orgasm.
Give yourself a change of seasons.
Give yourself a new lover.
Give yourself a to-do list
written with sidewalk
chalk and hopscotch across it.

Have you been working really hard
shovelling all the sidewalks
of your friendships?
Remember it takes time
to recover from exertion,
especially when you are a seedling.

Know that your friends want to send help.
They want to send daffodils and their extra hands
to braid your hair. They all want to be deciduous trees
and long semi-coloned sentences for you.
They want to.

Remember: you are a comma, one
beloved earring, a house
circled on a traveller’s map,
sometimes misplaced,
but never an imposition.

Everyone feels like a hallway
at some point or another.
But you are a room
that people enter to stay.


Kaitlyn Boulding is a poet, a child-care provider, and an adjunct professor in the department of Modern Languages and Classics at Saint Mary’s University on unceded Mi’kmaq territory. She holds an MA in Classics from Dalhousie University and thinks, reads, and writes about women and weaving in the Ancient and Contemporary world.

Image by: Liz Toohey-Wiese

This poem was sparked by reading this articleabout self-care and wanting to help a friend.

“Questions to Ask Yourself Before Giving Up” is from our FOOD/LAND Issue (fall 2015)

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sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2014-06-10 11:42 pm

some things? Possibly there are five.

 1) Over the weekend, something great and also awful happened. One of the little kids in our co-op was briefly not accounted for. All of the ground-floor homes have backyards that open onto a central courtyard, and the courtyard is gated with a deadbolt at each end. So we're all relatively easy about letting the kids run around and be marginally supervised (but still within a protected area) even when they're little. If we don't see one of them we can probably hear them, and this was they get to just play without being followed constantly. Anyhow, this two-year-old had been inside w one of his parents while the four-year-old and other parent were outside. The indoor parent was washing dishes, and then didn't see the 2yo and thought the 2yo had gone outside, and then discovered that one of the gates was open -  &c &c, kid turned out to have gone and "hidden" in older sibling's bed - so when parent called out, kid stayed quiet because hiding. It was all sorted in short order.

But the thing that was so heartening about it all was that when the parents started calling out for that kid, neighbours literally poured out of their houses to look. Within two minutes a dozen people, easily, were calling his name up and down the street, searching every part of the place and out on the street side as well, fanned out and calling his name and getting passers-by, including a taxi driver, involved. It turned out to all be fine, but it was pretty heartening to see how quickly people in various states of pajamas went tearing out of their houses and fanned out around the building. 

2) This reminds me that my dad once shared the following wisdom: if you're ever looking for a something visible at street level (a car especially) and it's important, call every cab company and offer $1000 to the driver who finds it for you. 

3) I'm tired, and there's all of everything to do again tomorrow. Whee. I am sending myself to bed as soon as I've managed five things worth. Because lets face it, I am a Virgo like who some days.

4) I am so enthusiastic for our summer of houeguests. Everyone is coming to visit, nearly, and lo, I am gladhearted. I love having a guest room for this very reason, especially one that's so cozy and welcoming with a big comfy bed.

5) I have asked my Secret Agent Lover Man to please bring Corn Chex and Cheez-Its back from the states and thank you. These are American pleasures I jprefer never to be without, and I am a little surprised that they haven't made the jump over the border. Cheez-Its, you guys. Cheez-Its are delicious, and such a perfect little cracker. 

5a) Now, sadly, I want Cheez-Its. ::sigh::

sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2014-06-05 09:16 am

five things make a thing.

 1) Weesauce had a total meltdown this morning and I have no idea why. He was finishing his breakfast while his Abba went to get the car, because we were running a bit behind this morning. And then suddenly he shoved his feet in his Crocs and tried to run after Abba and go with him to get the car, and when I told him no he dashed off anyhow, and then back to me in reply to my stern voice, and then away again, and then back again, sobbing broken-heartedly about... missing a trip to the garage? I have no idea. Usually, even if his feelings seem really outsized in comparison to the actual thing, I can at least get a handle on what's at the root of it. This morning, no idea. 

2) I'm trying to make arrangements to teach a class someplace, and this person keeps asking for things I don't have, like a video of me teaching it or a "detailed outline," all of which seem reasonable, but this is the most specific vetting anyone has tried to do on me in a long time and I'm simply not used to it anymore. I finally  said, okay, name a few sex educators you really respect whose judgement you trust, and I'll ask whichever of them has seen me teach for a reference. I don't really know what else to do. I don't blame this person for wanting to assure herself about the fitness of presenters, I just don't really have bona fides anymore. Is problem. 

3) There's not enough coffee in the world today. I'm tired of being groggy and sluggish.

4) It's only Thursday, and I am so infuriated about the news that my head feels like it's full of bees. First this bullshit Chicago Sun Times business that Laverne Cox isn't a woman and trans people are all delusional, and then the new sex work bill proposed in Canada is a brutal hateful attack on all sex workers and their friends and families, and that's before you even count various atrocities elsewhere in the world, present and historical. 25th anniversary of Tiananmen square, which apparently some terrifying percentage of 20 year olds know nothing about. I'm so mad and scared I'm exhausted - I'm like a pinball machine that's gone TILT. Maybe this is why I can't sleep and wake up fogged out. How long can one human operate at this level of upset?

4a) I am self-medicating with rom-coms on Netflix in the background as I work. It helps a little. 

5)This weekend, we're getting a fancy convertible for free as a Klout perk, because I am a big social media blah blah, and we're taking it to Niagara Falls to ride the tourist boat and eat overpriced fried food all together as an anniversary trip. I am looking forward to a treat. 

sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2014-05-20 09:57 pm

5 things.

 1) I have a new fitness program, a new project management utility, and we're working on a household budget. I am in grave danger of becoming a responsible adult.

2) Though, I did have chocolate milk and popcorn for lunch so. Maybe it's not so all-encompassing yet. But I am trying to locate my ducks, with the eventual intention of coaxing them into something like a row.

3) I am working on getting comfortable with the exclamation point. I keep being afraid of not sounding sufficiently good-natured via email, and so I'm learning to go back and strategically deploy exclamation points, because I cannot bring myself to use emoticons, no matter how hard I try. Which, to be honest, is not at all: I'm a throwback to the days before emoticons (yes, children...) when one conveyed emotions in text with asterisks or doubled colons. ::chuckling:: Also, you kids get off my lawn! ::gestures with cane::

4) This weekend was a festival of gardening here, and now there are flowers all around and odd clots of mud everywhere. I'll take it. Now, I need to keep everything watered, apparently - that's my gardening job, since I don't really know enough about anything else to do it without significant supervision. But I can soak dirt. Who has two thumbs and can make mud?

5) I don't know. Four was a stretch, to be honest, but I am trying to get back in this habit since I like it so much when friends write with their updates. I'm hatching a big new project, I'm not sick anymore, small human remains lovely and exhausting. I'm beta-testing the new kidsbook and fretting about how few of the beta-tester's I've hear from so far, which is one (hi, [personal profile] tircha !). Yeah, things happening. Watch this space.
sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2014-05-18 10:32 pm

I tilled.

 I would like you all to know that today I tilled the actual damn soil for my husband's garden. Sheep manure, hoe, untold gallons of water, and a lot of chopping and pulling. Now it's a glorious dark mudpit of rich, fertile soil and I am exhausted. Win/win.

(I mistyped the first 'win' as 'sin' and, when I looked at it, started grousing and I made the change: "No not sin, virtue. The opposite of sin. I was diligent, that's a damn virtue.")
sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2013-08-02 03:03 pm

an excerpt

excerpted from Constellation of Intimates. from the forthcoming Blood, Marriage, Wine & Glitter. ©S Bear Bergman 2013

..."The best thing for me—in all the many gifts of my chosen family, the very best thing—has been feeling that I am seen as the person I am, and loved for it—not measured against old hopes or expectations as I am in my family of origin, but valued for what I’ve done in the world as the person I am. I can count on my chosen family to understand how big a deal a particular honour or accomplishment is, to talk through complicated problems (especially the kind of problems that really benefit from the advice of an old and close friend who can and will say, at a certain point, “Mister, I love you, but this is just like it was the last four times. We need a different strategy”). They know what I overreact to and what I under-react to, when I’m actually feeling brave and when I’m just putting up a front, when to boss me a little and when to let me go off and do something potentially foolish—all the sorts of intangibles of intimacy that we gain very slowly over time. They can’t be rushed; they come with experience and patience—just as my old friend Jonathan, scion of an apple-orcharding family of seven generations, could take one bite of an apple and tell you not just the varietal but how soon it would be ripe, if it was late or early, what kind of weather conditions had contributed to the balance of sweet and tart, and the qualities of the flesh. He would describe the correlation between the rain last year and the taste in my mouth in a way that presaged his choice to later live as a monk for quite some time, and then become a writer after that. It was all there in his eighteen-year-old self, like the apple showing the conditions of his life (and his understanding of even a single, simple apple’s nuance, the product of a daily osmosis of information and experience since before he could remember). It’s a relief to feel so known, on a level that’s both beside and beyond any narrative I might be creating. Especially since I’m so often involved in creating a narrative.

Relief is exactly the right word—my chosen family, and especially my constellation of intimates, is my harbour in the world. Some days I really need one. But it’s not just an end-of-the-day sense of relief, the kind where after the travails of a workday you get to finally take your shoes off and put your feet up and have a short measure of something nice and an episode of The West Wing. That’s a nice thing; it’s a daily pleasure and over time the daily taste of it contributes to a much longer wellness. But this isn’t just that. This kind of relief is also a relief from a lifetime of solitude and doubt. Every phone call and email tells me that all the dire predictions made about my ability to ever make friends or coax anyone into loving me were unfounded. (I already knew they were unkind.)

The ways in which the people with whom I have planted and grown great intimacy, whether while naked or dressed or both, make a lie out of the pervasive myth that people like me—fat or queer or trans or unrepentantly nerdy or polyamorous or difficult or some of those things or all of them—that people like me (and maybe like you too) don’t get to have families. Not wonderful families, not families full of warmth and heat and light and the clean fresh air of love that lives in the truth. They shame us and scare us; they try to make us normalize ourselves with the threat of loneliness. We resist it so long that then when we can lay down our arms, sometimes we just need to cuddle up and cry for a while (or, at intervals, forever), and having a way to do that is as much a pleasure as the first moment a painful injury finally doesn’t hurt anymore—the relief radiates like the sun.

There’s another kind of relief worth mentioning here: the relief of having such an important thing named and recognized so well. When Ishai asked me about my constellation of intimates, I also felt the relief of not having to start at zero and explain everything I value and cherish in the world of relationships. It was a shibboleth; I knew immediately that despite the fact he’d offered me something called a vegan Reuben sandwich, we were nevertheless together in a profound way on some of the most important issues in my universe. I walked through the door he held open for me that afternoon, at that wobbly little café table, and into a whole new wonderful life."

sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2013-07-02 10:42 am

some things I'm really enjoying right now (an incomplete list).

1. Mr. Weesauce is a late-to-bed, late-to-rise kind of a kid (we joke that he's on the disco schedule). Left to his own devices he goes to sleep at 10pm and wakes up at 9am, which makes it relatively easy to go to evening things with him if we want to as long as we make sure he's had plenty of dinner. But the thing I love is that sometimes when we get home late after being out all together we sit at the kitchen table and have a little snack all together before bed. Usually just a little something, milk and crackers and maybe some berries or other fruit. But there's something about the late snack that feels connected and peaceful and minorly transgressive by North American parenting standards, and I don't have to care if he eats one cracker and then wanders away and then comes back and eats a chunk of grapefruit, because it's not a meal and therefore no one has to enforce rules about meals (except for food staying at the table). We're all just ridiculously delighted with ourselves and each other, that's all. For no reason. Who cares? Have a popsicle.

2. I hosted one of the Pride Stages this weekend, Saturday evening and again on Sunday afternoon, and I enjoyed being able to say hello to friends and neighbours as they went by. This morning I ran into our neighbour Bob, a lovely older (late 60s) gay man who lives just above us with his equally lovely (and very flirtatious, in a nice way) partner Dick, who confessed that the friend with whom he was strolling Pride found it tremendously impressive that he had been greeted by name from one of the stages. I am also delighted by this, also for no reason.

3. My miraculously resourceful husband has secured for us the services of a student librarian for the summer, and this person is going to come and make order out of chaos in our various book collections. The librarian is pretty waxed about this because we have a lot of out-of-print and/or rare and/or first edition queer books, and we are equally waxed for what I assume are obvious reasons. It's nice to imagine order being imposed upon the current situation, which is rich but profoundly disorganized.The beginning of the culling is also taking place, as we let go of some items we can just as well own as ebooks for how often we want them, and the handling of pretty much every book in the mutual household library is also a great pleasure. Because, books.

3a. And some of what I have come across I didn't remember how much I loved, or who gave it to me, or where I was (physically or emotionally) when I first read it. There's an essay in my favorite book about books about this very phenomenon, and I am keen ro revisit it.

4. It's quiet and cool at home, and I have a husband-made iced maple latte. Even though I am still struggling to recover from Pride and all its attendant exertions (and running out of key meds before a statutory holiday; not my swiftest move ever) I'm still just pretty damn happy in a slightly overtaxed, swoony, early-train-home kind of way that I cherish for its bittersweetness. The too-bright light, the private smile at the memory of last night or the last few, the welcome burn or ache of an overused body, the ill-advised ice cream for breakfast because, at a certain point, why not? 

sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2013-02-26 10:54 pm

five things make a post

 1) I got to co-keynote a conference today with my Secret Agent Lover Man [ profile] ishai_wallace , and it was so satisfying. We're a good team, and I like him so much, and he's smart and says smart things. But also we got to do a whole schtick, of which I am also so fond.

2) I did the event with my dear [personal profile] tigerflower 's handkerchief in my breast pocket, flying like a favor into battle. Very satisfying and much remarked upon.

3) Then we flew home. Things happened. Things of a Mercury Retrograde nature which I do not care to discuss. 

3a) Except to say, rargh.

3b) And also that flight attendants with a moderate Scottish burr are ideal, and all flights should have one.

4) A new book cover is going to happen, and it is not making me wail and rend my garments anymore. This is due to the good offices of my SALM and also, especially, the indefatigable [personal profile] zevinboots who synthesized the good bits out of all the ideas thusfar and made something good. Several somethings good, actually; Facebook is still weighing in on book cover finalists and there are strong partisans for each.

4a) For those of you playing along on Facebook, we're going with a version of the glitter on a wood floor cover (not that font for Glitter, though). But however you voted, I really appreciated all the time, help, and input.

5) I had a total New York moment today. After all of the events in #3, we were queued in the sleet for cabs and the first cab in the queue was refusing to pull forward, despite the fact that the security guard was instructing him firmly and repeatedly to move along without a passenger. He wouldn't go, which meant the half-dozen full cabs behind him couldn't go, which meant nothing moved as he tried to argue with/mansplain to her. Finally I'd had it. I shouted "Hey!" at the arguing cabbie in a way that is 100% my dad, quintessentially New York, guttural and sharp, and then "We're all freezing out here! Whatever this is is, move it along!" 

He grimaced and complied. Everyone around me said "Oh, thank you," in these incredibly relieved tones. 

sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2013-01-31 10:38 am

making something out of nothing

 Sometimes, I do storytelling events called Speakeasies. They're the story equivalent of a house concert - intimate venue, informal vibe, small group all scattered around someone's living room; I named it a Speakeasy because I wanted to preserve the slightly in-the-know feeling while moving away from the formality of a salon, which is the other thing it sometimes gets compared to. People very kindly host me and twenty or so guests in their home (for which you don't need nearly as much space as you might think) and I give a full show - three stories, a little break, and then three more, making for a show that lasts about two hours, all told.

Typically, they're Pay What You Can. I have a fairly strong bias toward the idea that arts and culture should be accessible for everyone, but of course, "accessible" means so many different things in so many different circumstances and I'm not always in control of the event or the space. In this moment in my work, I am taking on accessibility in a variety of ways. One of them is by trying to move some events off of campuses and into community spaces. Economically this is harder on me, because campuses have Student Activities money and can use it to fairly compensate a working artist (like me) for their work. Community spaces are usually not rolling in dough, as they say. But if I can get a university gig I can often stay an extra day and do a community event, thanks to the good offices of my beloved [ profile] ishai_wallace who is willing to hold down the homefront while I'm away a lot. Anyhow, people pay what they can and for the price of whatever that is they can come sit in someone's living room and have a snack and a thing to drink and dig a little show.

I love these events. It's difficult to tease out exactly why, in some ways - they are definitely not the event at which I make the most money, not the one at which I have the largest audience. I don't tend to sell tons of books or make new converts to my fan base even since most of the people who attend were fans to begin with. I think the love comes from feeling like, in such a small space, I can really be with each person in the room, rather than a monolithic Audience. In a living room, there's really no division between the Talent and the Audience: no stage lights to illuminate me and shade you, no moat to separate us, no mic to amplify me and silence you (or the cat, or your grumbling belly, or my phone vibrating in my bag). The authenticity kind of gets turned up to eleven by default, and ultimately that's great for me as a storyteller. It means that if you're in it I can tell, and if you're not I can know it and work to bring you in.

It also feels, in a somewhat woo way, like the home-space both add something to the show and gets something from it. This past weekend I was honored to be hosted by a lovely person I met at Gay Spirit Visions, a gay men's spiritual gathering at which I was the featured speaker a few years ago. There are some ways that the gathering does things I don't really enjoy (mostly leftover 1970's-era cultural appropriation from First Nations like whoa), but I adored (and bonded and stayed in touch with) a lot of the people I met there, especially the Faerie-folk. The house from last weekend, in Atlanta, was true and unmistakable Faerie-space, lovely in all ways, with bits of magic tucked everywhere and ornamentation on All The Things, in the way that transcends the tacky or the overdone and lifts the entire place into another realm of fabulous. 

Because the space was so lovely and the energy of the house so warm and peaceful, the Speakeasy took on the flavor of it. I could feel how settled and relaxed everyone was as they arrived and had a chat with other folks and helped themselves to some of the snacks our host had set out. The best Speakeasies are like this - you don't need a grand space, just a kind space. 

But also, in my experience, an event like a Speakeasy leaves something behind in a house. The stories linger, the audience's feeling of warm contentment, their laughter and their sad sighs of recognition and the shivers of their loins and the moments of reaching back and catching their partner's hand when something strikes them right. It feels good to leave behind the aftereffect of good words well spoken, of enjoyment; to leave the space better than I found it. A few Speakeasy hosts have reported just sitting in the room after everyone's gone, drinking the last half-glass of something, replaying their favorite moments from my stories and the guests conversations. 

In the days after this sort of an event, I always feel privileged in my work. It feels like the frankest magic - being able to make a living and a life and a whole pile of feelings out of absolutely nothing. When I'm feeling crunched for cash or frustrated by being away from my family, sometimes I consider getting a proper job and giving it up, I'll be honest. But this week, these weeks, I honestly feel like I must be G-d's very favorite, to be able to do this work as my work, to bring what feel like such marvels into being. Out of nothing. 

sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2013-01-28 11:24 am

four unpleasant things (and one very nice one) ultimately make an only slightly unhappy post.

 1) It's snowing in Toronto - and all over the Northeast - and all my travel home today is fucked up. Now trying to decide - do I just give up and rebook (again) for first thing tomorrow morning? Or do I go to the airport and wait it out in the hope of getting home tonight? I really want to go home. I miss my people and I have to leave again on Friday.

2) My kids' books did not make the American Library Association Rainbow List. I have very, very, very many feelings about this. 

3) Someone sent me a mean email, based on their privilege and assumptions. On another day I might just /dev/null all future communication from the sender and chalk it up to Some People, but today it sucks. 

4) [redacted]

5) But my flight upgefuckeheit resulted in hours more of time to spend with one of my very favorite people in the whole wide world, and that's delicious and I am so glad about it that the other four things sting a lot less.
sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2013-01-17 05:36 pm

tour schedule public service announcement:

I am a lot of places in the next month, including Atlanta, Chicago, and all over Atlantic Canada. Tour schedule is at, just click on the calendar to see a list. I'm still filling in some of the information, but: tell your friends! Bring them with you to shows! Send them emails forested with exclamation marks and get them on down to see me. 

(If you have been diligent in this regard, let me know. I travel with prizes for the best QueerTown Criers.)
sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2013-01-10 11:35 pm

okay, well:

1) My second attempt at jap chae was relatively successful. I'd feed that to company with one more tweak.

1a) That's another vegan meal in my repertoire, as well.

2) That very late call from my brother was a pocket-dial, not any of the things I was imagining when the landline rang at 11pm.

3) Atlanta is going to work out, and so is Chicago (though a little differently than I thought).

4) My Secret Agent Lover Man made me the most extraordinary chocolate chip cookies. Without exaggeration the best cookies I have ever had. If I 'd had these before we got married I would have written an endless supply of them into the marriage contract, is how good.

5) Yids crack me up. This morning on Facebook I posted:

"Let it be known throughout the land that on this day I, Sason Bear Bergman, a Jew from New York, successfully removed a boat rack from an automobile without injuring myself or damaging any inanimate objects."

and the flow of hilarity poured in. Cheered me up, on and off, all day.

6) Also I got the damn rack off. I didn't even hit anything with anything.
sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2013-01-10 01:50 pm

one thing makes a post.

 Please can nothing else break today? Thank you.

Edited to add: okay, please can nothing else break?
sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2012-12-17 11:00 pm

All I Ever Needed To Know About Rape Prevention I Learned At Preschool

 Five things we tell our two-year-old son to help him grow up resistant to the messages of the rape culture:

1. We hug people for as long as they would like to be hugged, not for as long as we want to hug them.

2. We don't put our hands or feet in anyone's clothes without their permission.

3. We ask people whether they would like company or privacy when they're in the bathroom or changing their clothes. If they say they would like privacy, we wait until they are ready for company again.

4. When someone asks or tells us to stop the game we're playing, first we stop and then we ask why.

5. When we rumpus*, we watch our friends' faces. If they look happy, we can keep enjoying the game. If they look upset or scared, we stop rumpusing and choose a different game.

(I was thinking about this because I reminded him of number two this evening as we were snuggled up and he was flicking the waistband of my shorts with his tiny toes. He pulled them out instantly - he knows this rule - and his response made me realize that without really thinking about it as such, we had given him some pretty useful foundations about boundaries and consent. If he keeps respecting those few simple rules, fully comprehensible even to a two-year-old, he'll be in pretty good shape as a man.)

(clearly, I do not literally mean /all/ he or anyone will ever need to know; I stole the title from Robert Fulghum's insanely popular 90s-era book "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.")

*our household word for wrestling/roughousing/partner acrobatics type games.

sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2012-12-10 05:12 pm

five short things make a short post.

1) The Matt Nathanson song "Come On Get Higher" is really dirty and kind of hot.

2) I want a working Kindle and a Blue Sun t-shirt. 

2a) Also I would like my passport to appear. I really need it.

3) I almost certainly have the energy to throw together kik alicha for dinner, yes? I mean, it's like three steps.

4) All those fucking live-on-beans-and-rice-you're-getting-enough-money food assistance asshats completely fail to take into account how much time and skill it takes to make beans and grains taste good, night after night. Five years of dedicated practice and I'm just now finally somewhere.

5) And a week off. With husband, without kid. Because he is one hundred million things, but relaxing isn't any of them.
sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2012-12-04 09:52 am

Five things about work make a post about work.

1) So for six months I've been sitting on a really great set of live, off-the-floor recordings of me and Ivan E. Coyote at Empty Sea Studios in Seattle, and we're going to make a live CD out of them. I am reluctant to Kickstarter it because I don't really needs "kickstarting", per se, I mostly just want to take pre-orders in some relatively tidy internationally enabled way.

1a) It'll be a downloadable album. Though I suppose with the kickstarter model people could kick in extra for video clips or, uh, other things. I dunno, what would your dream backer reward under $25 be? Under $50?

1b) Pre-orders of the album will be $8, I think? $10 at shows.

2) I'm actually writing this sitting outside with my coffee. It's just barely warm enough for me to the comfortably, but I am seizing the opportunity on account of who knows when I'll get to do it again? Also, I feel slightly rugged and terribly Canadian, out on the patio on 4 December. Check me out.

3) Last week I had fan mail from three different high school students, each of them totally authentic and a little heartbreaking and full of questions that boiled down to "how can I manifest myself in the real world the way I am in my head?"

3a) I cannot help but think about what a good question this is. How, indeed? And perhaps more importantly to me this morning, why does our willingness to ask this question start to dwindle so substantially as we get a little more tumbled by life?

3b) Okay, I actually know the answer to that question. Perhaps a better question would be: how do we /stop/ that happening?

4) I have a beloved friend, a beautiful writer, who has more or less checked himself in at the monastery (or perhaps a shack at the foot of the hill upon which the monastery is built) and is "awaiting further instruction." Another thing I am thinking about the morning: it seems like it would be wonderful to have the freedom to wander everywhere and anywhere and so on, in the subtropics, warm sun and fresh fruit and monkeys and muses around every gorgeously unfamiliar corner. But I honestly don't know if I would like it. Maybe for a week or two, but not for longer I don't think. I do better in the mix. Or at least, I suspect so - this may be one of those things I don't need to try in order to decline.

5) People keep looking at me out here, tapping away, and smiling. Like "Oh good, there's still someone outside."

5a) But also, brrr.
sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2012-12-03 11:19 am

Blog Hop (or, I swore I'd write and canot think of anything else so fine, JAC, you win).

What's the working title of your next book?

Families Album. It used to be All Right Then, I'll Tell You Both but the work....evolved.

Where did the idea for this book come from?

You know, I write and travel and tell stories and meet people and do things while I'm writing and travelling and so on, and at some stage it becomes a cycle, right? More audiences means more stories. The beat goes on.

Also, some of you might have heard that I had a kid, aka - in my grandmothers' lexicon - I've "started a family". So that, of course, got me thinking about what family I have started and when and what family I already had and children and reproduction and heteronormativity and monogamy and the privileging of a certain model of family and so forth and so on and book.

What genre does your book fall under?

Non-fiction. Really fucking queer nonfiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Hard to know, since they're all real people. Philip Seymour Hoffman could play me, he's good at writers and weirdoes and he's not too skinny yet (I'd prefer John Goodman, but he might be just a bit too much older).

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

(I am still trying to figure this out for my author questionnaire. There's something about family trees, I think, but the thing I really want to get to is all the ways we make family and what happens when you just let them all coexist)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It'll be out from the fine folks at Arsenal Pulp Press.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your man­u­script?

I'll let you know when it's done. It's not due 'til April, so that's obviously plenty of time, right? Wait. Right?

What are you listening to as you write?

I have the new Namoli Brennet Live album on quite a bit, and also (don't laugh) the soundtrack from the movie Pitch Perfect. Plus my standby track, Mr. Brightside by The Killers, which somehow always makes the thing go.

Okay, wait, maybe my sentence about my work in progress is something about how my family would not be best recorded on a tree, but as a star chart - constellations of intimacies, galaxies of bodies come in and out of one anothers' orbit, all type and manner of gravitational pulls and seasonal events and new mysteries and re-classifications. Brilliant and powerful and not always predictable.

Yeah. That'll work.
sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2012-12-01 10:29 am

five assorted things make an assorted post.

 1) Just got the contract for my next book from the fine folks at Arsenal Pulp Press. Working title, unless I change it in the next month, is Families Album. Look for it in your better bookstores (if there are any actual bookstores left) in September 2013.

2) I have embarked on yet another in an infinite lifetime string of self-improvement projects in order to help me write more and feel better and so on. This one involves an app (as all self-improvement projects must in this decade by order of Steve Jobs) called Goal Streaks. It's just the appification of the Seinfeld "don't break the chain" thing, but it provides me with daily ticky-boxes on several axes, and it's very flexible. Maybe this will be the system that succeeds where all others have failed in helping me build better habits. Maybe the act of attempting to Build Better Habits is actually the part of the process I need. Who knows. Regardless, I have started with a very modest pair of goals, and we'll see how long this lasts.

3) The other goal, in addition to getting some &%$#@! writing done every day somehow, for the love of webfooted friends in the forest, is to work my way through the Muller System exercises. It's a series of low-impact core strength exercises and flexibility routines designed to be done once a day for about fifteen minutes - Muller encourages that you throw open the windows and stand in front of them, taking the light and air, as you exercise in your loincloth first thing in the morning - but I am opting to skip this part. If anyone in Internetland would like to Muller with me, make yourself known and we can be throwbacks together. 

3a) This Muller-ing became possible because I hurt my knee at a show (one of these modern chase-around-after-your-character things, very enjoyable) and my doctor, she of many good ideas, prescribed for me Arthrotec twice a day for a couple of weeks. That went beautifully, and I eventually tapered myself down to one a day which was good, and then I ran out and stopped taking them and was suddenly back to waking up in pain and misery every morning (a bodily condition in which I would have killed you with a rusty grapefruit spoon if you had suggested I do even gentle calisthenics in the morning, loincloth or no). I went back to the doctor and asked for the good stuff back please, and now I spring out of bed and start doing hip circles while breathing deeply.

4) It's the holiday season. Usually around this date I can kind of get a temperature on what my holiday-season experience might be like, based on how aggravated I am already about Holiday Season shenanigans: namely, being invited to Christmas activities which are being billed as Holiday Activities. Listen, have a Christmas event. Have twenty-four of them. I might well come and share a few with you. But don't insult my intelligence, my religion, and my family by inviting me to things like a Holiday Tree Decorating Party, as though any other winter holiday other than Christmas has any truck whatsoever with a tree, as though by substituting "Holiday" for "Christmas" it's magically an inclusive winter-holiday event.

4a) It's like when lesbian and gay orgs change their names or mission statements to LGBT, but make no changes whatsoever to their policies or activities.

4b) There's no such thing as a Chanukah Bush. Don't even start with me.

4c) See? This is what I mean about my emotional temperature re: The Holiday Season. 

5) I think I have just wrangled a Atlantic Canada tour into place. Acadia University, Memorial University, University of Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton University and St. Francis Xavier University. I've never been to PEI, and I have longed to go to Newfoundland for some years now, so I'm pretty keen on this turn of affairs. Even if it is happening in February.

5a) I'm sure everything will be fine, though, right? Right?

sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2012-11-21 01:20 pm

5 things make a post about mourning

 1. It was Trans Day of Remembrance yesterday. I have observed each of them. My longtime friend Gwen is the founder of the event, and I have participated in some kind of TDoR event every year (though for the first few years, those events were internet-based). 

1a. For quite a while, a poem I wrote was read at many TDoR observances, though it seems to have somewhat expired. It's from my brief 'spoken word' phase, but the effect of it was right for the events, I felt.

2. I was able to attend a portion of last night's Toronto TDoR event, and then I had to take Mr. Weesauce home because he did pretty well for about 50 minutes and then started his Runaround Sue routine, and it seemed to be distracting people, taking them out of their intention and moving them into a "who's making all that noise?" place. My Secret Agent Lover Man stayed to speak, and I brought the munchkin home.

3. It was a really excellent event. Reflective and challenging and full of forward-looking talk about how to protect each other better. It was made by people I like and/or respect in Toronto, and how this turned out - down to the glimmer of the strands of fairy lights all around the room on the floor, enclosing us in a circle of light - were very right for the moment. I was grateful to be able to be there.

4. Israel and Palestine. I have been staying largely off Facebook because I cannot even with people and their opinions, so many of which seem so flattened and uncomplicated. I am praying for everyone and mourning for everyone. I would like to see this come to peace in my lifetime, in a way that values the dignity and humanity of everyone involved and allows all parties to live, work, and raise their families without fear and without hatred. Please G-d.

4a. Please don't comment with your opinion about Israel and Palestine. Please. It will result in me killing this post to avoid any discussion, and I would rather not have to do that.

5. I am missing some people a lot today, for various reasons. Especially Will, from long long ago, one of my dear, dead friends.

sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
2012-10-17 10:42 am

five ways of looking at a rargh.

 1) I feel like I am made of rusty cogs and old socks today. Like cogs and socks that have been left out in the rain for a month. I slept poorly and it's a cold and wet day of weather, and I had bad dreams besides.

2) And the weesauce was a whiny fusspot this morning too. He dissolved into tears and misery five times before 9am, for things that would normally be either very minor upsets or simply no thing at all. Either he's getting sick or he's waaaaaay overtired. Possibly both.

2a) ::sigh::

2b) There are all sorts of things I need to be doing right this minute.

3) Our local parks are full of Chinese women the size of my forearm, doing tai chi or falun gong outdoors in all weather, fearlessly stretching and bending and sometimes also having a chat. They seem to be made of other stuff. Nicer, newer stuff that hasn't been left outside overnight even one time. 

4) There's a giant university that's now hugely, incredibly late with a large check and it is really fucking my shit up. Giant bureaucracies are giant and bureaucratic, indeed.

5) Okay, well. Evidently today is going to happen whether I want it to or not, so. Maybe today is the right day to buy a slow cooker. That's a kind of a treat, right?

5a) Hey, do you have favorite vegetarian slow-cooker recipes?