Tribe

My partner and I have been in Southern California for the last few days, which is why I’ve missed blogging the last few days. Between going out, catching up with friends, and recovering from drug-fueled nude parties that raged all night (mostly kidding) I haven’t made the time to blog. It was a conscious decision and I don’t feel bad about it.

Visiting LA regularly is pretty important for my partner and I. As much as we love cycling and travelling we need to visit our tribe regularly, and many of them live in Southern California. As much as we didn’t fit in with the culture in this area there are wonderful people here who make our lives complete, in many ways they make life worth living. Having people you can talk with about anything, cuddle on the couch with and do nothing, or know you won’t be judged for your looks, thoughts, or deeds. People you can be naked around, physically and mentally. True love exists in friendship, and I am forever grateful for the friends I have here.

Our time here is always too short. A week goes by so quickly when the nights are filled with laughter and the days filled comfort. I wish we could stay with our tribe longer than just a few days at a time. We daydream about a time in the future when we all live in the same town, though realistically that won’t happen. Despite our common interests and love for each other our lives are heading so many directions. We have different passions and different cities we want to live in… though it would still be the tits if we could all just live on a farm together hanging out around the bonfire and showering outdoors.

That day won’t ever come, but that’s okay, we live in a world with many options. No matter where we live a Facebook message or a quick flight can reconnect us. My tribe is spread like a spiderweb around the world, some of the wires are strong and some weaker, but they all connect me to my friends. LA may be a focal point but it is made stronger by the connections to Dallas, Portland, DC, Charleston, South Africa, and beyond.

There was a time when keeping in touch would be impossible, but now technology has allowed for me to stay connected to those I love. This isn’t an excuse for neglect though. As Baz Luhrmann states in the greatest song ever “Everybody is Free to Wear Sunscreen” (see below), “Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle. The older you get the more you will need the people that knew you when you were young.”

Some of my tribe did know me when I was “young”, though that is a relative term. I guess some of my “newer” friends will be my old friends when I am in my 50’s. My best friend, who lives here, has known me since 4th grade, nearly 25 years now, but we have many dear friends here who feel nearly as close to us and I can tell they will be with us in the decades to come. There is a certain bond that grows stronger each year, as long as we work to stay connected and grow with each other. Technology is magical, but it can also feed complacency. When something is easy to do any day it becomes easy to push off until tomorrow, and the next thing you know a year has passed.

So, as this trip gets closer to the end my mind is on my tribe. The chosen family who made me who I am and put up with my nonsense. I love them and often miss them, the moments I’ve shared with them have made my life the amazing experience that has been so far.

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Worldwide Naked Bike Ride

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of participating the Worldwide Naked Bike Ride in beautiful Los Angeles, California. The weather was perfect for a ride through the city and my friends and I had a great time joining 250ish others in the peaceful event. Like most things it meant different things to different people, some were advocating for green energy,  body positivity, both, and neither. The participants themselves were generally courteous, polite, and friendly. There was also great variety in what people “wore”, our group was mostly body paint but some people had costumes, masks, and “au naturel”.

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As a self-proclaimed sex-positive, body-positive advocate I felt incredibly comfortable laughing, talking, and biking with people in their birthday suits. It is just skin and it is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. I strongly believe that the world (and America in particular) could benefit from more non-sexualized nudity. Making the the body taboo is harmful to every individual and society as a whole. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees and many of those who disagree did not believe in passive, peaceful, respectful dialogue to voice their disagreements.

There were two times during the ride when I actually felt a bit unsafe. While I am comfortable being naked in public and private it is not the optimal condition if I need to defend myself or others. The first time was when the route took us down skid row. I’m not sure who planned the route but I feel like this was a mistake. Skid Row is a generally impoverished area of Los Angeles where many homeless people settle. While most of the people we encountered either ignored us or laughed when we were in the Skid Row area we were met with profanities and sexual comments being shouted at the women. It quickly became uncomfortable when people started leaving the sidewalk and approaching us on the street. Luckily things did not escalate and we were on our way quickly.

The second time was a little more concerning. We were all riding along a beautiful bike trail along the Los Angeles river when we passed a group of men who did not appreciate the beauty of the human form. Instead of ignoring us and waiting for us to pass they ended up trying to fight one of the organizers and threw at least one punch. Regardless of your views on public nudity, sexuality, or anything else you should not resort to violence. I do wonder what these individuals who were shouting homophobic slurs at us would have done if our crowd of 250+ naked people would have decided to defend ourselves with force. I can’t imagine it would have ended well for them. A few minutes later along the bike path we passed a park where a women had two small children playing, she started yelling things like “faggot”, “gays cause AIDS”, “I wish you would all die”, and such at us. I’m not sure how she could look at a naked body and determine sexuality (I sure can’t) but this definitely confirmed that homophobia is alive even on the Left Coast, and the example this mother was setting for her children is that anyone who is different deserves death. A scary thought.

But, I hate to dwell on the negative. It was an incredibly positive experience. The VAST majority of people who saw us waved, honked, flashed peace signs, and laughed at our group as we passed them. I’m sure their are dozens (hundreds?) of videos of us on YouTube, I’m tempted to check them out just to see if me and my body make a random appearance. There are some pics floating around and we had a camera which was misplaced, but hopefully it will materialize soon so I can share some. I had a lot of fun and I look forward to doing it again next year, though I should definitely wear more sunscreen.

Well, it seems my backside made the news, I have “Your Body Is Beautiful” painted on my back. Most of these articles show nipples and penises (THE HORROR):
LA Weekly ArticleLAist Article, Grist.com, Huffington Post

And here are a couple links if you are interested in more information:
Official Website, LA Bikeride FB Page

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I heart Los Angeles

 

I-heart-LA

I love Los Angeles… and for some reason that seems to baffle a lot of libertarians.

Southern California (and LA in general) has come to represent all the evils of statism run a muck. The economic policies continue to be a drain on the economy and new regulations are driving jobs and businesses away. They hate guns like many progressives but can’t seem to embrace marijuana as fully as other western states. California is all that can go wrong, yet I still love it, even if my fellow libertarians bash it.

I love it because my happiness is derived from more than an economic rating. The beaches, the culture, the opportunities, and the people all outweigh the mandates by state and local agents. I certainly pay higher taxes than I’d like, but I live in a city where I can openly discuss sex and drugs without being cast out. Even among libertarian circles in DC the idea of openly advocating for drug use is frowned upon at best. I am happier among individuals with shared values, regardless of the elected officials in the region. To allow  ones happiness and actions to be determined by the government is to cede control of our lives to the very institutions that libertarians claim have no authority over us.

There is a certain irony in being called foolish for living in such a statist place by people who live in Washington DC and have often never spent time in LA. Even those who have visited LA make the same stereotypical complaints (it’s too big, traffic sucks, etc) that reflect a tourist mentality who spent too much time in Hollywood. LA is the only city I’ve been to where you can find any social group you wish… burners, Buddhists, hipsters, surfers, professionals, artists, musicians, students, conservatives, liberals, anarchists… LA has it all. It also has a thriving underground economy that seems to flourish despite ridiculous laws that shows the entrepreneurial spirit that is strong and difficult to measure.

LA certainly isn’t perfect, I’d love to have lower taxes, better firearm laws, and a less militant police force, but I love it. Not everybody will like it here, but I think more people should visit and come to understand it before just blasting it due to some measure of government intrusion. There is so much more to life than evading the state.

Yoga

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After 8 months of travel, settling in, being broke, being busy, and procrastinating I went back to yoga last night. Man, I have really missed it. As an INTJ it is always really nerve-wracking to start anything new in a class based setting. I like to slowly observe and process things first and that is rarely possible for a yoga class. I did make the decision to start with the Restorative class at this studio and I think that was the right choice.

The class was mostly breathe work and slow, long, deep positions. In the 75 minutes we only did 4-5 positions but they were long, this provided a great opportunity for a meditative atmosphere and plenty of time to get comfortable in a new surrounding. The instructor, Denise, was incredible. She was patient and attentive to the fairly large class and made time for each student. Even in LA it is tough to find a studio that is affordable, has classes at a time and place that I can get to, and provides a comfortable environment with instructors that I connect with. The Yoga Place fulfilled all my needs (and having a Groupon didn’t hurt either).

There were many first time students present who were incredibly friendly. In fact, it took me by surprise when several people initiated conversations with me. I’m always a bit shy in these situations and it is a struggle to converse sometimes. I think it will go more smoothly in the future when I am not as overwhelmed by a new studio, new people, new instructor, and new class format. I think my yoga mat may have made people think that I was more experienced than I was, I have a beautiful mat from Devi Yoga that was absolutely amazing. If you are looking for a new mat I recommend you check out their beautiful selection.

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My awesome mat 🙂