Thursday, September 3, 2009

from the string fever collective, berkeley branch
Hey everyone, thanks for the feedback and emails so far, it's been amazing. And pretty nerve-wracking. Ambiguity is scary- What if people don't like it? What if there's just dead silence because it sucks? I didn't get support about stuff that mattered to me as a kid, so I have a poor understanding that the most important thing is that I just do what I do and have fun with it... which I have been, very successfully so far.

So our thriving international collective of two is getting this thing rolling, and yesterday night I got home to a timely little package waiting for me, mailed from Mumbai and addressed to:


(that's my thumb)

It contained a small battered journal. Nice!


Shelley and I met at a leadership training in Washington, DC, in the summer of 2006. We'd both cut off all of our hair right before arriving in DC (Shelley had shaved her head), and I remember having some conversations about what that was like for us. We hit it off pretty immediately, and since then we've had lots and lots of conversations, about head-shaving and otherwise.

One topic of conversation that has come up OFTEN is the theme that this blog is named after: the metaphorical strings that all lead to different possibilities and life paths. Whenever I think about this, I see myself standing in the middle the world, holding the ends of 827176 strings that all lead off into different directions, needing to let go of some of them so that I can follow others to where they go. Some strings I'm holding: Grad school? Backpack and travel through South America? Save up for the down payment on a house in Oakland? Live and work and surf in Hawai'i? Move to Brooklyn? Learn to farm? For myself, the difficulty has been in letting go. I have felt emotionally homeless for a long time and I'm also blessed with an infinite number of possibilities around where to go and what to pursue- no real constraints other than time, a nonprofit salary and not knowing myself very well. All of the different possibilities have all held the idea and possibility of Home.

So a couple of years ago, Shelley suggested that we keep a journal together to write and think about all of this biznatch. We mailed it back and forth a couple of times, but then the last time I saw it was when I mailed it back to Shelley in April of last year, whereupon she *cough* squirreled it away, re-found it, squirreled it away again, and finally took it to India with her.

And then I got home last night and there it was. I got to read through all of the things I'd written. Here's an excerpt from something I wrote on Dec. 22, 2007, before leaving for Chiapas:

I had a moment, while driving around running errands today, where a clusterfuck of thoughts went through my head re: Mexico--
--Damn, I really want to go to that club opening on Saturday night, but I won't be here.
--Wait... did that travel agent ever get back to me about my flights within Mexico?
--Did she ever ask for my credit card info?
--Hey, maybe I don't have to go...
--Wait, I want to go.
--Oh shit, what if she never booked me?
--Damn, I want to go to that club opening.
This happens every time, always- the ambivalence and push-and-pull that guarantees, every time, last-minute doubts and scrambling. For what? For 12 days in Mexico. My brain is trying to make decisions as though it's a question of moving there.
I think that's why it's so hard for me to let go of strings. Every move I make feels paramount in a way that is disproportionate to reality; and everything that I give up when I make one decision also has consequence that is disproportionate to reality.

I want to say that I've gained clarity on this high-stakes ambivalence, but I'm still workin on it. What I do know is that I'm here in Berkeley nine years after I first moved here. Most likely I would have been decently okay if I'd followed any of the other strings on my list, but a few years ago what I did instead was: put myself in therapy to figure out why I was so f'ing unhappy, smoke a lot of weed, make some career decisions, move from Oakland back to Berkeley, take a handful of road trips, and start trying to cultivate a sense of Home inside of -- instead of outside of -- myself.

It'll be interesting to come back and revisit this question again of choosing without regret- to stop and breathe, take photos, and see where this string goes.


  1. life really doesn't get better than this:
    - taking photos
    - snail mail
    - weird stamps & "3rd world" envelopes
    - seeking answers to life's biggest questions
    - getting to work on a project with a dear friend that is pure fun and not related to making a living (...yet? ;-) let me know if anyone hits you up with a book deal and then we can decide if we want to be sell-outs, k?)

  2. dude. totally. this is why i don't date. :)

  3. This is an awesome site. Beautiful images from my home (Oakland!) and from afar. Love the prose and voices you both have here. I'm happy to say that I remember when you met at GSLI in 2006. Someday when you're both more famous and beloved than you already are, I can have a wee claim to that fame... I was there when it all began. ;)

    Rebecca (formerly of CUSA)

  4. hi, rebecca. wow, it's really good to hear from you. thanks for the comment. what are you up to these days?