The Competition

Over and over again I am not chosen. Over and over again I want real love. I have been the wife and the mistress. I have been the girlfriend to beautiful women. I have been the daughter to a jealous mother. I have been the best friend holding a place for an eventual husband and kids.

Men stay in sexless relationships and flirt with me. They don’t choose their partner, they don’t choose me, they don’t choose themselves.

Men have stayed with me and flirted with others. The glacial divide widening. They don’t choose me, they don’t choose another, they don’t choose themselves.

Women tell me they love me. They love me, just less than they love men. I become the competition. They claw out my eyes in spite of the words “poly” or “triad” or “partner” or “love”. I become part of their Faustian bargain. An unwilling, unwitting, participant, in a religion I don’t even believe in.

And so I feel rage. At the bottom of that rage is the deepest sadness. The sadness of never being chosen. Or maybe just never being connected with. Never being seen. Of having my heart ripped out by men and women alike. By friends, lovers, partners, parents, siblings. Of people competing with me in a contest I didn’t sign up for and don’t want to participate in.

So I lay down in the middle of the road and let the cars run over me. You win. Everyone wins. I’ll just be here becoming flatter. Eventually my clothes will meld into the asphalt. And people can run over me for all of eternity in their race to win the competition.

The empty meaningless competition.

Present Board

2019 was a rough year. It was strewn with relationship carnage. I said goodbye to three partners and my entire “polycule”, which was about 60 people and included a lot of friends. I filed a harassment order against an upstairs neighbor who was threatening me with violence. And I moved twice. Most painfully, I ended relationships with three immediate family members, both of my parents and my sister. I think I hit a breaking point. Enough was enough and it sort of all happened at once. I was tired of being taken for granted, walked on, not appreciated, abused.

The Winter Holidays of 2019 were searingly painful, numbing, and I almost didn’t make it through them. On New Years Eve 2019, my metamour from my last remaining partner gave me a one card tarot reading. While I don’t really believe in tarot readings, I have become fond of them as a tool for self-exploration and learning more about other people in group readings. That NYE night, I drew “the World”, which is basically the best tarot card I have ever heard of. It literally talks about Nirvana. Below is the card and the description.

“The World card in the tarot deck has a dancing figure at the center. The dancing figure on the card has one leg crossed over the other and holds a wand in either hand. She symbolizes balance and evolution in movement.
The green wreath of flowers that surrounds the central figure is a symbol of success, while the red ribbons that wrap around it are reminiscent of infinity.

To encounter the World in your cards is to encounter a great unity and wholeness. It symbolizes the moment when the inner and the outer worlds – self and other – become a single entity. In some traditions, this state is described as enlightenment, or nirvana. There is a recognition that the individual self is profoundly linked with all other things, and that we all dance and sway along the flow of life to one rhythm. Not only do you hear this rhythm, but you participate in it – following the dips and the rises, the joys and the sorrows.

The meaning of the World card is fulfillment, achievement, and completion. This shows that all the efforts that you have been putting in place are starting to pay off. It reflects that you have completed a major milestone in your life and you have built the resilience to withstand challenges. The World may indicate completion of a long-term project, study or any other major event in your life.

The World card shows that you have a desire to give back to the community in various ways. You have a commitment to make the world a better place because you understand that everything is connected.”

So then there was this global pandemic in 2020- you all may have heard about it- Coronavirus? Well, at first it seemed pretty incongruous with a tarot card about “nirvana”. But I actually think maybe there is some bittersweet correctness about all of this— me getting out of my little academic corner and out into the wider world, having a compulsion toward service in the best way I can be of use- helping people navigate the waters of this pandemic, connecting and reconnecting with friends and family around the world. I definitely have been following the dips and rises. And I do see how everything is connected especially with the news and “becoming purple” politically. I do feel aligned with what and where I am supposed to be maybe for the first time in my life. Who knew that place would be out of the ashes and into a pandemic and from a pandemic into the world.

So tonight I made a vision board. Except it’s not manifesting a future I want. It’s actually a vision of what is. It’s part memorial, part lessons learned, part feelings. I guess I am envisioning exactly what is and I’m sharing that with the world.

It also comes with a sound track- Philadelphia Mix— I live in Philadelphia now, with a former partner and good friend. In a little bubble. For the present moment.

Happy Pandemic Friday.

A case against “Karen”. Her dual roles in calling out racism and silencing powerful feminist women are impossible to untangle.

“Karen” has become a very popular internet meme stereotyping a particular “type of woman”, most often used in reference to middle-aged upper-middle class white women wielding their privilege to promote violence against people of color. This is absolutely a problem in society and has insidious historical roots in white women falsely accusing black men of rape in order cause lynchings. The quintessential example of this has been Amy Cooper who this past May, called the cops on a black man (an action that we have seen can endanger his life ie. George Floyd) because he asked her to put her dog on a leash in Central Park. Cooper was video taped saying “”I’m taking a picture and calling the cops,” “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”. This is awful and this idea needed/needs to become conscious in the mainstream in order for people to alter their behavior.

However, “Karen” and more generally names for women in general has another purpose. That purpose is to legitimize misogyny and silencing of women. In particular, it’s to silence powerful feminist women who have done nothing “Karen-like”. The quintessential example of this is Jess Phillips, member of the UK parliament and shadow prime minister of domestic violence and safeguards. A vocal feminist, MP Phillips was subjected to rape threats and was stalked at her home after objecting to International Men’s day. A tweet calling her “shadow Karen of domestic violence” received over 11k likes on twitter. MP Phillips has been championing protections for victims of domestic violence during COVID-19 and while she has been called “Karen”, she has no accusations of racism to the best of my googling.

This alternative use of “Karen”, to silence powerful feminist women, criticizing them down for being unaccomplished, unattractive, and annoying- the usual barrage of physical and double-standard personality insults hurled at women (none of which have anything to do with racism) is illustrated in the top definition of “Karen” from the Urban Dictionary:

“The stereotypical name associated with rude, obnoxious and insufferable middle aged white women. Karens take everything wrong with the typical over entitled western woman and crank it up by several thousand percent. They are a mutated subspecies that descends from the Soccer Mom, and have many of their traits. Such as a short temper, a crown bowl haircut, an unnecessarily large SUV to take her kids to soccer practice and be a menace on the road, etc etc.”

The “Karen” meme is now a staple of white male rage against women with most twitter hashtag users falling into this demographic. It also has been championed by white guy comedian, Dane Cook (notoriously misogynistic) and a vitriolic viral rant by a guy on reddit against his ex-wife (r/FuckYouKaren).

Here are some choice quotes from Dane Cook:

  • “weakness” is his favorite quality in a woman (twitter)
  • He advised audience members to “go fuck a dirty whore. That’s the best therapy.”
  • He reminisced about that time he “chainsaw-fucked” a “disgusting whore’s cunt.”
  • He talked about how girls would do anything for him “because I’m me.”

I implore us to give up on “Karen”, especially on her hair style and her age, and have a conversation about racism that doesn’t have the dual purpose of legitimizing and inciting violence against women. It detracts from the message and creates further destruction.

People don’t like it when you give up your privilege.

People don’t like it when you give up your privilege.

Why would you do that? they say.

You had so much privilege. So many people would want that. And you, you can have it.

You can be the THING that everyone values. You were on track to have so many accolades by such a wide number of people.

You must not be ok. You must just be having a hard time… right?

I am ok, I say.

The struggle is real. It’s real for everyone. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not ok.

If I wasn’t struggling, I wouldn’t be learning.

And… I don’t want to be a THING.

The price of those accolades is steep.

The price is self-actualization.



 To become more and more what one is. To achieve the full realization of one’s potential and of one’s true self.

To be what the average person in the ruling class thinks everyone should be, is not to be me. It would be quite the coincidence if the real me was exactly that.

I could be that THING, but I don’t want to be.

I want more. I want more interesting.

I want to struggle. I want to learn.

I want to be surrounded by people who are ok with me not being a THING. More than that, I want to be surrounded by people who are happy that I’m not a thing.

People who are happy that I’m me.

Regardless of my privilege.

Anyway, what could be more privileged than self-actualization?

You have to get through all of Maslow’s other needs to get there- physiological, safety, belonging and love, esteem.

Maslow was a demanding dude.

I wonder what people are going to say when I try and level-up into self-transcendance?

“In his later years, Abraham Maslow explored a further dimension of motivation, while criticizing his original vision of self-actualization. By this later theory, one finds the fullest realization in giving oneself to something beyond oneself—for example, in altruism or spirituality.

He equated this with the desire to reach the infinite.” 

At that point, it probably won’t matter to me.

Learning to not feel compelled to defend my personal decisions from the judgements of others, is part of the journey. I would guess.