Thriving through apocalypse

So. How do we survive apocalypse?

I’m not gonna play around as the white [manly-enough] privileged dude to pretend that I’m the one to tell you the answer to that.

And, I’m a psychotherapist, so yeah it is my responsibility to support folks in surviving whatever or whomever is trying to kill them

And, I’m a queer psychotherapist, so y’all, Listen Up!

This is a PSA for all who are wondering what the heck we can do when our guts are screaming CODE RED like we might never get to drink coffee again

(sorry if you hadn’t thought about that)

Or eat pizza, or ice cream (don’t worry those aren’t going anywhere)

I’m just saying this is a PSA for all who are wondering

Like, what’s the protocol for apocalypse?

What the [eff] are we supposed to do?!!

If you’re really wondering,

you know already

Between us, I think we already have what it’s gonna take

And lots of us – WAY more of us than the news will ever let us know –

Are already doing what it’s gonna take

And, I know lots of us are feeling lost and kinda – a lot – scared

So this poem’s for us

(In addition to a PhD in clinical psychology I’m also a pastor’s kid so I know sometimes I get a little preachy but just humor me and roll with the ideas)

I’m gonna try to synthesize – sum up and highlight important parts of – some of the wisdom that brilliant indigenous folks have been conjuring up for millennia, and more recently adrienne maree brown gathered into her books emergent strategy and pleasure activism

on how to survive the end of the world

OK first I need to rephrase my question cuz I’m all about surviving

But I am All About thriving

How can we thrive through apocalypse?  

How can we school that apocalypse so good that every filthy rich wall street magician turns his multiple mansions and estates into gardens run by school kids growing veggies and herbs they deliver to homes for the elderly who are out to pasture in dream homes where they can pass along their stories to the youngsters who bring them dinner?

  1. Think about what you love, and what will give you pleasure in the long run. Do it.
    1. In moderation, in the ecosystem congruity with everything else that you love doing, live saying ‘yes!’ and ‘no’ always in the service of ‘yes’ to what is life-giving
  2. Notice what feels like it really works. Notice what makes you feel like you can do it, like you’re capable and competent, ready to learn, connected with others who are learning.
    1. Try and do those things – that make you feel capable and competent – for other people too. When you don’t feel capable and competent, stop! Say no, in service to your ‘yes’ to what helps you know you can do it
  3. Pay attention to what you pay attention to – do you want more or less of it in the world? If less, pay attention to it less; if more, you know!
  4. Listen. To what makes it easier, to what makes it harder, that can be the same thing, we learn as we go. It’s about adapting, and we might learn the same thing, many times 😉 Let everything teach you.
  5. Think of yourself like an oak tree, covered in trampoline – whatever doesn’t help you grow, let it bounce off; what does, absorb it in, let it go down to your roots, which are intertwined with lots of others’ roots
    1. If someone hurts you, they hurt all of us, and they need to repair the damage they did to the ecosystem
  6. Because all of us need all of us. Independence is a complete illusion born of imperialism. Interdependence is the way this entire universe has always – will always – function.
  7. Which is pretty handy, because if you ever feel out of ideas, connect with somebody. Brainstorm, imagine every possible solution and then create some more possibilities.
  8. As you’re doing all of this, make sure to make time for reflection, writing, document your data.
  9. When you find solutions, practice them; when you’re exploring solutions, experiment, mess around see what works and learn from what doesn’t.
  10. So I know this piece got a little abstract but I hope I could condense the basic tenants of emergent strategy that adrienne maree brown has gathered and presented for us. The last overarching theme underlying everything is, live with intention. What we do, how we live, how we relate to other people, matters. Do it on purpose.

I’ll close with a quote from the book: “The future is not an escapist place to occupy. All of it is the inevitable result of what we do today, and the more we take it in our hands, imagine it as a place of justice and pleasure, the more the future knows we want it, and that we aren’t letting go.”


Ode to life’s small pleasures

My body is convinced that some pollen native to Missouri is actually a treacherous threat and

Thus, it would be better for me to not be able to breathe

At all

I am sitting in front of the air filter silently counting “in –1 2 3 4 pause – out 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8”

having been unable to take a proper breath for several hours now.

My beau perceives the crisis

Stands behind me, hands on my shoulders,

Working tender confidence into my back

He spends 30 minutes

Trying to teach my lungs

The air is safe

Reminding me

My shoulders

don’t need to carry it all

Made up of words invented by Shakespeare

Resolve is made up of re (to do again), and solve (to effectively answer a problem)

When you’re bumping your gut along the lonely howl of quarantine

It’s easy to think this state is fixture – an existence established

Nah, let the resolve embrace you

Yes, we have to solve the same evils, over and over again

With them always showing up pretending to be something different, someone new

Don’t be fooled

Re solve your hesitation, re solve your uncertainty, re solve your chagrin

This kinda devil you know how to answer to

Start with the questions

Dawn the undressing of society’s luggage

There’s no traveling today

We’ve got homes to build

We’ve got economies to metamorphize

And ecosystems



Noiselessly radiant

Securely generous

Their invitation unappeased

The last sound

The last sound I want to hear before I fall asleep

Is AarBear’s low growl snore

the way his dozing face looks like

A 30 year-old toddler

I expect him to be cozying a baby kitten

Or a kangaroo

Or maybe a bear cub

I’ve even checked before

And then he sleepy chuckled

maybe to something happening in the West Wing episode he’s nodding off to

Small smile slightly stretching his lips

I realized he love murmurs in appreciation

to, well, the universe

Loves being alive with all these beings

Lives to appreciate, laugh, comfort, and build

Platforms to hold us up, in whatever way will make it easiest for us to be us,

will reflect our light in dazzling rainbows of dancing shining symphonies

This is so effortless for him

He does it in his sleep

How to make change while in COVID-19 quarantine

  • [Some brainstormed ideas in April 2020]
  • Have a conversation in which you learn something and teach something
  • Call a relative or acquaintance w/whom you disagree and tell each other stories
  • Write your own stories. Write about what inspires you, about whom you care about, and what they do that makes you smile
  • Gather insights into what works to bring joy. Collect these things in whatever way brings you most pleasure – a list, a pile, an idea box, an Instagram story chain (Rocknebula)
  • Read, watch, listen to other people’s thinking, ideas, creativity (watch Instagram Rocknebula)
  • Notice what is most desirable for you
    • What would it require for anyone who also finds that pleasurable to experience it regularly?
  • Notice what annoys you.
    • What frustrates you, what tightens your jaw?
    • What becomes hot coals in your gut, burning because all they can do is burn
      • Where does their heat energy go?
      • Let it become adrenaline
      • You can choose what to fuel
  • Notice who else benefits from your anger
  • Notice who else benefits from your pleasure
  • Notice what and who you listen to when you have all the free time in the world. What leads you to listen? What keeps you listening?
  • Notice what questions you ask. What leads you to ask them?
  • Notice what you want. Notice what you enjoy. Enjoy what you enjoy.
  • Notice the expectations you have for yourself. Allow yourself the patience to expect in terms of values and fractals. What we value small we value big.
  • You are simultaneously acting out society’s problems and solutions, ways of being that undermine these problems. What we attend to grows.
  • You don’t have to think about whether it is a problem or a solution. Think about what you love, and why. About what brings you pleasure, now, and in a month, and in a year, and what you are grateful to yourself for now, and will be in a year, 5 years.
  • What do you do most effortlessly? (What feels effortless, even when it takes a LOT of effort?)
  • How do you love most effortlessly?
  • These are your gifts. Give them when doing so brings joy.
  • Smile whenever you can. And it’s OK to cry, deeper than you’ve ever cried before. The world is crying, and smiling, with you. Do both and love yourself for it.
  • You are an opportunity

and this

is an evolutionary moment.

Live how you love.

We need you to.

We need you, too.

Dialectic Irreverence to Dysphoria

Dialectic: The process of bringing two contradictory truths into synthesis
For example, full acceptance, and desire to change
Irreverence: Sauciness, disregard of things that are usually taken seriously

This poem is called Dialectic Irreverence to Dysphoria
(it’s a trans poem about my body)

for me
would be a chest that’s all muscle
A bust of firmness and power
A voice that roars or sails in falsetto,
the same 4 octave range I had before testosterone, moved down an octave
Beastly legs that flutter or flurry across the dance floor
And between them,
The depends on the day or the dream
My brain thought I had a penis until I had sex
and couldn’t PIV [penis in vagina] like my subconscious expected
Thanks to some insightful incisive lovers and hella community support,
I LOVE my c***
[c***, by the way, is the only word encapsulating all aspects of “female” genitalia; I use it honorifically]

But I realized a few years ago
after a series of dreams in which I had a perfect, medium sized, beautiful c***
That maybe …

I get excited
Because I want one
because having one would feel so RIGHT
Not like (strap-on) loving to  **** **** **** right,

and hit a painting on the wall

I don’t know why I need this
my brain is just fricking convinced I have a penis
and I literally relearn I don’t on the daily
But my c*** and I are so fricking happy we Are Not breaking up

I’m polyamorous with my genitals
If I could waive a transformation wand I’d have a penis just above my vagina,
some balls I could magic on when I was in the mood
I think if we could put our bodies together like we put together Mr. Potato heads
there’d be a few of us who’d feel at home in that option

There’s a part of me who would love to rest in the big comfy, cozy king size bed
laden with pillows and poofy quilts that I imagine this body I just described would feel like
(Cis people: y’all live in this home, right?
Bodies that feel like 800 thread count sheets
a warm bubble bath?)

In real life my chest flexes strength and it’s pliable as hell
On top of my pecks, two little gopher borrows whose gophers only pop out for the right gardener
My voice is a cute guinea pig in a really small cage
Lost an octave when testosterone moved it down,
And another when I almost died and they had to trache into me,
(Vocal chords, like guinea pigs, are happiest in pairs
But one of mine got paralyzed so now I’ve got one lonely guinea pig in a 2 octave cage)
My legs are definitely beastly, dragons spitting glitter fire
Between them, insert my band’s song “… ”
I’m an adventure
Gophers, guinea pigs, and dragons

I reject the dysphoria binary of home versus adventure
I am in the serenity of soaring on open wings
There is joy in this dialectic irreverence to dysphoria
A co-creation of all of us
Lovers, family, community
We accept the comfy cozy bed we might imagine a body home could feel like,
and we irreverently kick off from the nest

we create embodied euphoria

And we fly

I think it’s the magic in this flight that made trans people the shaman, the medicine people,
in societies going back to the beginning of humanity
The trans body
is dialectically irreverent to intelligibility
The trans body is uncategorizable,
divine mystery
We are question marks
ending every assured assertion about ‘biological’ sex

Our bodies live in the place every person finds when they drop the script handed them

And search for holiness

Three years after death offered me lollipops soaked in chocolate

I’m reflecting on the experience.

When death asked me for a date, it was a dark and rainy night.
I was pedaling quick to meet friends,
someone driving a big hunk of metal didn’t bother to slow for a look, drove into me,
knocked out a few ribs,
shook my brain good

I was knocked out so some people cut my clothes off me, took me to the hospital with some sirens,
Put me in an incubator
Death came along with syrup dripping from his tongue then
Gave me some frosting coated candy canes
Said “Hey you look hungry. I just wanted to give you my number.
If you ever call, I’ll be waiting for you baby.”
I was hungry. Unconsciousness doesn’t feed the soul much.
I was looking for life, I was in the mood for a feast,
I figured life would come swooping in, wearing a beautiful white translucent gown,
Feeding me strawberries with her fingers
presenting a five course meal of green salad, lentil soup, roasted veggies, cheesy casserole, and blueberry pie

She never showed

I was hungry
For days
Death kept dropping by with his sugar
I fought
In an empty room with a table and a phone
A post it with death’s number on it
My body was getting to be too much work for my soul
That post it was starting to glow
Those lollipops soaked in chocolate that death has promised me started to sound like a whole lot better than nothing
(all that life was feeding me)
my soul picked up the phone
said, “I can’t fight for this body anymore, this brain’s all busted and swollen, life forgot about us, she’s never bringing dinner,”
“Hey baby!” somebody said
“Yo kid”
there was a chorus of them, souls in this room with me,
they took the phone out of my hand, said “shit son, you don’t even like lollipops!”
“I’m hungry,” I said, “I thought life would come and bring me dinner but she never showed.
I can’t take care of this body any more, and this brain turned into a baby.”
“Child,” said the chorus
Life doesn’t come knock on your door like a trick-or-treater
Life isn’t sitting around creating, you lazy mother f***.
We create life.

We’ve got your body, don’t worry about that
We made your salad, soup, veggies…we can’t make your casserole
Only a Minnesotan can make a hotdish proper enough for you, honey
We’ve been waiting,
We’ve been here holding you,
And you’re just staring at that telephone like it calls someone
Like there’s a soul who loves you who isn’t in this room with you right now
Come on baby
Stop thinking you’re alone
Stop waiting for life to come along

Make it

We need you

make some freaking casserole


(December 7, 2015)



To the Male Gays / ze

To the Male Gays / ze

  •     Looking for slim to slender, swimmer’s built or ATHLETIC STR8 acting guy
  •      Normal, masculine guy here
  •      XXX, muscular kinky here. Prefer muscular, masculine and athletic non smoker
  •      any normal and masculine guys out there? Looking for some safe fun here
  •      No fats No fems …just XXX XXX that keep it private…XXX dude here
  •      into other masc bros only
  •      Verbal aggressive masc XXX (XXX / XXX) looking for service from XXX XXX boys who know their place. XXX should be novice to experienced, clean, masc and discreet. SIR is not into BS
  •      Only looking to talk to masc dudes only

Adam4Adam profiles.
(Yes, Adam4Adam still exists, for all you who think grindr took over the internet hook up scene.)
That was through page 2; I took any profile that mentioned gender
This poem is to the male gaze(ys). Both kinds.
What does it mean to be masculine?
what makes you a man?
Us gays, we’ve been called unmen ever since men started owning women as a means to manhood
And we love men
We know more about them than most straight men do
We’ve been called sissy, pussy, faggot, weak, gay, as the worst you could be called
We learned early that these names meant we failed to do man just right
In the end, a lot of men don’t care what XXX XXX XXX as long as it comes from a man
When you’re a man you’re always cool, never scared
I mean sometimes you can say you’re scared, as long as it’s clear that you’re not really scared, or as long as it’s clear that you’re making fun of yourself for your fear
Most importantly, you’re never afraid to prove yourself
Always sure of yourself, never uncertain
If you don’t know, state certainly that you don’t know
Unless it’s a dumb thing not to know, like how to shave or how to wear a tire,
then it’s better to say nothing or lie
But no one can know you lied, because you’re always honest
Always XXX, never XXX
Always winning, never won
Always chill
Synonyms: collected.

Different kinds of chill are ok.
It’s OK to be angry, if someone is threatening your control of the situation ie not doing what you told them, chill angry is definitely OK.
If that someone is ridiculous, angry angry is OK but you Must remain In Control at all times.
Chill sad is definitely OK, like when someone dies or you’re heartbroken, although the sad part of chill heartbreak should only last until your bros get you drunk
Stressed chill is OK, when you’re under lots of pressure and you have to do it right, zero in on your target activity, prove you’re the best, ignore any distractions and calmly badass your champion way through

Always firm in conviction
Always standing on your own two feet, never leaning
Always resolute, never indecisive
Always strong, muscular, able to lift, hold, throw, push, whatever needs to be moved, never weak and failing
Always focused, never distracted
Always holding your liquor. Effortlessly.
Always firm, never soft
Always XXX when you should be, never XXX
Always grunting, not moaning, or sighing, groaning, or squealing. Grunting.
Always initiating, or responding ready
Because men are always ready
Men are always becoming men
Always watching other men

If this is tiring
If silencing our fear, holding insecurities an arm of denial away
If our manhood is a, burden, shall I say
Better not to let that show
If we want to feel, want company in our feelings, want someone to be with us in them
Better make it clear we’re not feminine
Not girly, femmey, faggy
Better it’s obvious femininity isn’t desirable
laugh at your female friend for being ‘such a slut’
grab her ass on the dance floor, I mean, you’re gay
Make it obvious femininity isn’t something you want, it’s something you control
This burden of manhood’s a lot easier when you’re laughing at someone
Or just, a little better than someone

That old man needs a haircut even more than he needs a new pair of pants,
which, in that outfit, is quite an accomplishment
That princess in his widebrimmed hat with a collared shirt, bowtie, and hoodie?
some people just try too hard
Masculinity’s a ladder
Someone has to be on top
and you know, most of us aren’t trying for that
long as we’re somewhere further up than down
Some of us started from the bottom, now we’re here
Even Drake wasn’t born with a XXX and breasts grown at 13
[XXX, by the way, is the only word encapsulating all aspects of female genitalia;
I use it honorifically]
Some of us know the intimacies of manliness like we know the roofs of our mouths
If others didn’t see it they just weren’t looking in the right way
It’s amazing what I learned from watching as a shut out
What came naturally to me when I said hello to my body for the first time.
Easier to confidently decide shit and have other men validate my masculinity
Than to hesitate in thought, vulnerably
It was easier to hate my breasts
Easier to objectify people with breasts,
than talk about my feelings with other men

You know I realized, writing this piece,
that I know a lot about masculinity — we all do
I don’t actually know as much about gay masculinity
It’s a world I’ve been a guest in for a long time — I might always be a guest
I know how to be the cutie
I know how to be so comfortable in my body — so shameless and assured —
that you can be uncomfortable, not sure,
and that can be a secret neither of us acknowledge

I wish I could find more men who are as thrilled to be in their body,
as I always need to be in mine next to theirs

Speaking of bodies
Can we talk about those?
Quote, from the internet: “When I wake up next to my boyfriend I feel like ursula, he looks like, Vin Diesel.”

When I finally realized I’m trans, I couldn’t look in the mirror without shuddering.
Everything I saw was fat
I’m a skinny kid — then I was 120 pounds maybe
but my thighs were so pillowy
my face had so much
my chest was all flabby
I was all too much of the wrong thing
and I lacked
Everywhere, I was so short of…man
I couldn’t flex fat
I needed the space provided, the authority granted, the recognition that muscle would give me
I wanted the eyes trailing me across the room,
the eyebrows, smile, and nod
the appreciation of a real man.

As I was becoming a gay boy I found a whole bunch of other boys
who saw something similar when they looked in the mirror
we all had an ideal we were lifting, running, skipping desserts toward.
We weren’t trying to become calvin klein underwear models
but we wouldn’t mind if “hey stud, your body’s on point, how often do you work out? I could bounce a quarter off your ass,”
rolled off the stranger’s tongue as he bought our drink.

When I went on testosterone and my voice bestowed manhood
I was bestowed humanness
It became easier to accept the ways I’m not quite
I mean, I had to do a lot of push-ups and pull-ups,
I worked out, I worked to make this body
I still work
Health is important
But now I’m working to stay in shape, not really working to make a man
most of the time
or at least it’s a nice by-product

I know a lot of men who say they’re just working out
but sometimes, mostly they’re working to make themselves men
and that can become a need that’s never met;
or rather it feels like it’s met today on Monday,
and by Wednesday, it needs to be met again, and Friday, again
and the need can become an impulse the runs a man

We have beautiful minds and souls, they belong in beautiful bodies that will carry us long
But thinner, stronger, faster, fitter
So many of us are running hamster wheels
Toward that perfect body
14 – 42% of men with eating disorders are gay or bi
Ten times more gay men than straight men have symptoms of disordered eating
Thin doesn’t mean healthy
Fat doesn’t mean unhealthy

Beauty and size only relate in the way you occupy your body
As in, the proportion of you that believes you’re beautiful is the size of your beauty
There are ways we demonstrate that belief we’re not even aware of
our body is beautiful when we’re beautiful

No fats? No femmes? Masculine dudes only?

Don’t we have enough straight people telling us we’re not really men?

We telling each other that, cuz if we push someone down on this ladder of masculinity,
it makes us a rung higher?
Makes our bodies a rung sexier?

I think I was misogynist, as most men, because
We’re jealous
When did you last hear a woman being told to “woman up”?
They’re not climbing this ladder
We hate on femmes because we hate the way we’re treated when we don’t do man enough
Trans guys, we hate on womanly things because we hate how we’re treated
when we’re seen as women,
I get that
but you know it’s easy to love being treated like a man
when that means being treated like a person
All of us men hate how we’re treated when we’re not manly
So we run hamster wheels to become perfect men
What if we got off the wheel and kept running?

Out of this cage – what is this cage? –
we’d find a whole bunch of women running down misogyny
it’s a forest fire,
we’ve been throwing gasoline on it –
been playing the same game as every man who ever called us a fag
There’s a whole bunch of women wielding fire hoses
There are whole bunch of hoses just lying around waiting for us to grab them


On Marriage, Part 1: Log Home

So I grew up Christian
When I went off to college I was excited because I figured I’d probably meet my future husband there
I didn’t actually picture myself, no idea what I was wearing,
He was all balled out for the wedding, tux and all that, tall and smiling, arms spread, and when he kissed me
Well, I was in a blizzard, screaming wind, whitewash of snow,
ice from everywhere at my face, so much ice at my face,
and as he pulled me, there was a cabin,
all logs and solid, smoke out the chimney,
and he caught my eyes and the door opened, – was it real? –
his lips – yes, inside, so quiet,
his tongue – safe,
and the fire, the heat
I knew exactly what it would feel like, this kiss
This haven in all the unknown
This house would be here
Log homes last forever
Those lips would always
Reach for me
The heat would always
Laugh away the snow

I’d been taught that was the marriage kiss
Only marriage
Taught that other kisses would come along, playing to be the log home
And they’d be Lincoln logs, just teaching you, feeling sturdy but always falling apart
And when you found the person who built a real log home for you
Your kiss at the altar, and the dance floor, and especially your marriage bed,
That was when they brought you in
Into safety
You’ll never have to prove yourself again
Who you are is validated,
they’re grateful for the things you do, for who are you, you matter
you’re always hot.
Burning hot
Fucking beautiful
So I get it
I get why people want that
Back then I didn’t know that any log home built like that is coated in gasoline

What if your log home only has room for two of you,
And one day you come home,
And find someone else in your bed?
Over half of this country’s log homes burn down.
But there’s something so appealing about living in a wooden house
That’s coated in gasoline.
It feels so James Bond, right?
You’re never happier that he’s alive
Than after he’s back-flipped, jumped a couple rooftops, slipped between three dozen bullets
That marriage kiss makes you a champion because
Everything says your logs should be roaring red and they’re not,
And they’ll never be, and you’re lucky as hell,
Because you found the ONE person in the WORLD
Who won’t ever strike a match
It feels AMAZING!
And gay people deserve this too, right?


This is some bullshit!
I don’t want a relationship that’s meaningful because of what hasn’t happened
I know lots of married people who say
they’ve got friends who are amazing scarves, hats, mittens –
They’ve got buddies in snow caves who make a mean hot chocolate
I’m from Minnesota, I love winter
Hats and scarves make all the difference
But I’m really not seeing why we don’t just build log homes we can all fit in
Skip the gasoline
I want a home that’s made of life lovers, friends, co-parents, family,
all kinds of life partners
What would that home look like? How do we build that?