Light in the Darkness


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This last weekend I had the pleasure of working with Students For Liberty at the 6th Annual Students For Liberty Conference. Prior to moving to Los Angeles the liberty movement was the defining issue of my life for four years or so, including living in DC for three years and working full time for SFL for two. While the principles of liberty and the social benefits of them are still at the core of my philosophy it is not nearly as visible in my day-to-day life. Due to this removal from liberty activism I came to the conference with a perspective that was unique for me.

First off, the ISFLC provided an opportunity for me to see how I am perceived by others. I probably met over 100 people at the conference who I had only interacted with online and I found my online presence is similar to how I want to be perceived. I am pretty universally known as the guy who unapologetically loves Ke$ha, who not only believes drugs should be legal but encourages their use to expand the human experience, and someone who tries to break down the misconceptions about sex and relationships by living the philosophy. The private discussions I had with people at this conversation has really reinforced in my mind that I made the right decisions shifting away from policy and towards social pressure that punishes consenting adults who do not conform to “traditional” male/female monogamy roles.

Secondly, it was incredibly inspiring. I’ve seen this annual conference grow from 300 people floating around a couple of college rooms to 1500 participants taking up two conference floors of the Grand Hyatt, two tapings of the Stossel Show, and a conference hall filled with dozens of partner organizations. While the quantity of participants seems to increase exponentially the quality and diversity increases also. What is often stereotyped as a middle-class white male American view on individuality, freedom, and personal responsibility is starting to bloom with people of all colors, classes, genders, and creeds. I have been to conventions for Campus Progress and College Republicans and I have never seen so many people fly from around the world at their own expense to discuss ideas, tactics, and just celebrate human potential for peace. With this growth comes increased media attention, though the media still tends to falsley classify libertarians as part of “the right” libertarians continue to emphasize our unique philosophy that provides a consistency that is unparalleled in modern politics.

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Playa Bound!!!!

Okay, this will just be a crazy post. I got my Burning Man ticket and I am crazy excited to get back home!!!! This is my third time going and it looks like it will be very different than previous years. I certainly don’t know what the future holds but it looks like right now I will be going with one of my partners and will be one of the more senior members of my social circle. There is tons still up in the air but there may also be many of my friends, new and old, going this year. I don’t know, I’m crazy excited and can’t really stop smiling. Burning Man is my birthday, new years, Christmas, home, travel, adventure, community, blargh, retreat, place of peace, love, cuddle puddle, everything in one crazy unbelievable week. Maybe I will even take a few pictures this year.

Undie Run Complete!

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On Saturday I completed the incredibly easy and incredibly fun Cupid’s Undie Run here in Los Angeles to raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Overall the organization raised $1,000,000 to help fight cancer and provide support for children in need. My part was incredibly small but I am eternally grateful to my supporters who gave the money they could. My impact was small but I did earn an open bar which certainly helped give me some liquid courage. Overall I ranked #40 out of #480 in Los Angeles which isn’t half bad.

I had an incredible time meeting people and coming together for this event. One of my partners was by my side and though both of us are a bit introverted we managed to speak to a stranger or two. Hopefully next year I will get a team together and we can make an even bigger impact. Hanging out with beautiful people in your underwear, drinking, dancing, and celebrating all for a good cause is just a win for everyone. Thank you to all my supporters and I hope to see you next year in your skivvies.

My supporters:

  • Derek Langsley
  • Alec Weisman
  • Jimmy Goicoechea
  • Leah Miller
  • John DeGratto
  • Stephen and Julie Taylor
  • Kelly O’Keefe
  • Anonymous
  • Brian Reiswig

Finding Home

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This week I had two amazing experiences when I was able to check out two places that I may get to live. I’m moving out of my current place around March 1st and instead of rushing last minute I have started searching now. My current roommates are amazing and I will miss them, I never got as close to them as I would have liked due to my own personality and work situation, but the few times I had hanging with them were great. It isn’t often you will come home to a Buffy The Vampire Slayer marathon or can discuss police raids where everyone has personal experiences. I am optimistic though that wherever I end up next it will be an amazing chapter in my life.

The two places I have checked out so far share the same spirit but have some stark differences… and I love them both. The first place was a co-op near USC filled with some of the most passionate, friendly, and eccentric people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. I could feel the positive and motivated vibe to change the world radiate from every person I met. The welcomed me in, talked to me, and even let me participate in a figure drawing session they were having. I don’t think I have ever put pencil to paper in an artistic way but I actually had a really good time trying… I am a sucker for new experiences and it really opened my eyes to the visual arts. This is a home with many people who dumpster dive, have vegan dinners together, go to protests, host parties, art events, and respect all peaceful self-expression. This is a sex-positive home where the who in “who do you love” means the individual and not the gender.

The second place was near Culver City and had fewer people filled with a calm serenity. The current occupants are burners, festival-goers, fire dancers, mermaids, and acrobats. The huge yard has fruits, herbs, vegetables, and chickens spread about creating an atmosphere of sustainability and harmony. I fell in love with it instantly when I saw the colored lights up in the trees and the warmth of those who live there. I almost bypassed social norms and went straight in for a hug instead of a handshake. This is a place where personal intimacy, meditation, and balance is absorbed through every pore.

Both places are amazing and reflect the values that I pursue: peace, love, intimacy, and balance. They are yin and yang, action and inaction, adrenaline and seratonin… and my spirit would be happy at either one. I think I made a good impression but that normal fear creeps up into me, I was too shy, nervous, and introverted to let my light shine through. While I hope that I have the opportunity to live in one of these places I am not worried, even if they both find someone who fits better than me (not surprisingly there are many people looking to live in each place) it gives me such joy to know these peaceful sanctuaries exist that accept people for who they are. Places that would accept a peaceful, poly, happy, sex-positive, open, person like me with all my scars, experiences, and aspirations.

Bang With Friends

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As many people know a new website was launched last week called bangwithfriends.com. The purpose of the website is to allow an anonymous way to see if any of your facebook friends would be interested in hooking up. The format is simple, you simply go to the website and allow it to connect to your Facebook, the website then brings up all your friends with their names and photos. You click the ones you’d like to “bang” and if they pick you also you both get a notice. Pretty simple and straightforward.

Unfortunately, the website is incredibly crass, sexist, and obviously targeted at college age heterosexual men, a demographic that is already comfortable with the one-night stand scenario. In order for this website to work it needs to appeal to a wider audience with a focus on safety, anonymity, and removal of the borderline pornographic images that flood the site.

I think there is a huge market for a website like this that would allow friends to add a sexual element to their relationship without the risk of rejection. After talking to two female friends they also mentioned it would provide women of that age an opportunity to experiment sexually beyond heterosexuality in a way that won’t risk their social standing. I also see a market for things beyond sex… like options for “go on a date”, “cuddle with while watching a movie”, “make out with”, or whatever. Intimacy is much more than “banging”.

I have used the website a bit (though I don’t think any of my connections would be shocked if I picked them given my views on sex and intimacy) and I think it may signify a new market. With the world increasingly becoming entertainment, relationship, and information economies there will be increased demand for experimentation in our social habits. While the website is juvenile I think it shows a market demand that can be filled by something more professional done that actually empowers people to have new experiences and reach their potential.

Protector

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“a warrior is an animal who has been challenged but has stayed true to himself or herself.” – Ke$ha “My Crazy Beautiful Life”

It’s been a long week for me. Personally and professionally, it has just been exhausting. In reality it has been a long month so far, I really haven’t had a single day off of work since New Years and the rest of my life is in a whirlwind. The last ten days have included two breakups among my social groups, my own breakup from one of my partners, the police raiding my work office, the busiest work week so far, and the news that I need to find a new place to live by March 1st. I’m tough but it has been exhausting.

It isn’t really how all these things have hit me directly that have started to wear on me, it is the indirect blows. For example, the police raid on my work had little to do with me but my boss was out of town and I quickly assumed the roll of rock for the office. I love my office mates but with my experience in the army and my crazy life in general I am much less likely to get rattled by scum bag cops. I became a focal point for my coworkers, someone to latch on to when they got nervous. I was also a counter weight to some of the police who were kind of assholes. The police told me I could leave early on in the process but I refused, I wasn’t going to leave my coworkers behind. So, while the impact of the actual event was minimal against me it was exhausting acting as a rock, but really that is the role I am used to and kind of enjoy. It seems many of the things we love are often the things that also exhaust us.

I have been doing a lot of self reflection lately (thank you restorative yoga!) and come to realize that there is a second side of my Rock coin. Yes, I am often the stable ground that people come to when there are relationship issues, work problems, or whatever (I still don’t know why they come to me but I am happy to help when I can), but I also seek out a preemptive strategy of protecting my friends when I can. In fact, when I am least comfortable I take a step back and appoint myself the guardian of the group. If I can’t enjoy myself I want to make sure those I care about can. One example of this was at Burning Man last year when a group of us had taken some shrooms at night and were walking around. I am not a social drug user so I was feeling a bit anxious and uncomfortable, to combat this anxiety I started looking out for threats. Realistically there are not any threats at Burning Man, it is the most loving place ever, but it comforted me to be observing others and making sure the situation was safe.

The more I think I about it the less I am sure if this is a good thing or not. It seems that defaulting to a “the world is dangerous” point of view might not be the best way to cope with things. More meditation on the issue needs to be done, but it really comes from my love for my friends and I can’t imagine a more noble thing to do than protect and secure them so that they can be happy.