To Grammy…

My last living grandparent died a year ago, on August 28, 2015. My father’s mother.

Constance Jacqueline Bouchard Erickson. We called her “Grammy”. She was 83. I don’t have a happy memory to share, really.

I last saw my Grammy when I was about eight or nine years old. I don’t remember much except the smell of cigarettes and particular sensations, like the feeling of the upholstery of her couch and the way her voice touched my ears.

She and my mother disliked each other tremendously. From everything I’ve been told, they had two major things in common: they had the same birthday (November 27th) and they couldn’t stand each other.

Continue reading To Grammy…

The Winter Solstice

Though I’m a fairly agnostic atheist now, I was raised neo-pagan. My mother is a Druid High Priestess, my father a Wiccan priest. Several people have asked me to write about my experiences being raised this way — sometimes I consider it. In the meantime, here’s a snippet. Continue reading The Winter Solstice

The Avens-Approved Burning Man Supply List

So, you’ve decided to go to Burning Man. You found a ticket & have read the 10 Principles of Burning Man. You even read the Survival Guide.

You may or may not have friends you are going with, but you’ve requested that vacation time & you are determined to make it to Black Rock City & see what everybody keeps talking about.

Make sure you’re well acquainted with the guides that BM provides. Make sure you have a car pass for the vehicle you are traveling in (they want to encourage carpooling, you will not get in without your car having a car pass). The next thing you do is you end up asking one of your friends who has been going if they have a recommended supply list.

There are so many out there on the web & all of them are pretty awesome. Mine is a decent, every-growing production that has served numerous friends of mine in the past, particularly as I add colorful contextual commentary. However, there are definitely more comprehensive lists out there, I promise you that if you follow my list you won’t forget anything essential. You just might miss some of the treasures Mama’s dug up.

For the following list, I have included links that go through my affiliate program, so if you feel like buying “through” me, I appreciate the support. Thanks! Continue reading The Avens-Approved Burning Man Supply List

The Formula for Wanting

My friend once asked me, why do we want what we can’t have?

It’s something I’ve thought about a lot. Living in Las Vegas, I saw many people let loose from their normal self-restraint, and watched as they deviated from the character they were, or pursued things far different than what they claimed to value back home. Continue reading The Formula for Wanting

See Me

I have a lot of passions, some of which I advocate very strongly for. I think we all have things we care tremendously about, whether it is a way of life, or religion, politics or a particular hobby.

I hate to call myself an activist, I feel like it’s not the appropriate term for me, despite my level of political involvement. I would call myself a political writer, but I think I already explained in another post how I feel more like an “interpreter”. Mostly, I just live the life I wish to have – trying to be a positive example of the things I invest my time in. Continue reading See Me

The State of the Avens

Judd & I at the Tesla event. I was so excited I could barely handle it.
Judd & I at the Tesla event. I was so excited I could barely handle it.

I turned 27 this past Friday. The night before, I had the good fortune to attend the unveiling of the new Tesla Model D. Friday night, a small group of incredible people I am so grateful to call friends gathered for dinner to celebrate my birthday. On Saturday, I went to the premiere of a new documentary called The Culture High (which I recommend highly). On Sunday, I spent the better part of a day playing with my adorable little niece-of-the-heart. It was an amazing weekend. I am tremendously lucky for all the incredible events and people in my life.

I haven’t done a formal update about my life in quite a while. I guess now is as good a time as any. I’m calling it The State of the Avens, because we all know I’m a little too obsessed with politics and nerdy references. Continue reading The State of the Avens

The Interpreter

Wednesday night during an interview, I was asked to describe my writing style. I gave a little explanation about how I tend to speak from personal experience, I try to make the jumble of thoughts in my head accessible to other people, and to be conversational about it. I don’t ever want what I write to be difficult to read.

I started stewing over how this became my writing style, and hours later, I decided that blogging about the way I blog was not too meta for my own blog. So here’s my attempt at explaining it. Continue reading The Interpreter

I’m A Product of Feminism

I was born and raised as a feminist by my mother, who is exactly 40 years older than I am. My mother went to college in the 1960s in New England, where she tried to open a bank account but they wouldn’t let her unless her husband or father co-signed as an account holder. She wasn’t legally allowed to have a credit card until 1974. She got married in 1975, and legally, she had no right to refuse to have sex with her husband until the late 1970s in some states (and 1993 in others).

The Pill was introduced in 1960, but she couldn’t legally use it if she wanted to – it wasn’t until 1965 that the Supreme Court ruled married couples had a constitutional right to possess it, and wait, she wasn’t married yet – it wasn’t until 1972 that the Supreme Court ruled unmarried people also had a constitutional right to possess it. Then, of course, there was 1973’s Roe v. Wade, protecting a woman’s right to an abortion before fetal viability, though my mother told me often she’d never exercise that right. Continue reading I’m A Product of Feminism

When “Pro-Life” Isn’t

The featured photo above this post can be found in Ashton Pittman’s beautiful photo essay here.

Today is May 31, 2014.

Five years ago today, Dr. George Tiller was assassinated. He was shot point-blank through the eye on a Sunday morning, in front of his family & his congregation. He was at his church, where he was serving as an usher. There were children and families there.

Dr. Tiller was no stranger to the violence of the most extremist anti-choicers – his clinic was firebombed in 1986, and he was shot five times in 1993. He was wearing a bulletproof jacket the day he was killed, which he’d been doing since 1998 due to threats.

He operated his clinic out of Wichita, Kansas, where he’d been performing abortions since the 1970s after hearing about a woman dying from an illegal procedure.  He was known for being one of the only doctors in the US to perform abortions in the third trimester.

He performed numerous abortions to save women’s lives and often performed abortions for women who discovered their child would be born with severe or fatal birth defects. He was constantly pressured through violence and protesting to cease providing abortions, but he never caved to their demands, and someone murdered him for it.

There are now only four abortion providers who offer abortion services after 21 weeks in all of the US. They are under constant threat from violent anti-choice activists.

Today I make a donation to my nearest abortion clinic, in Dr. Tiller’s name. He will continue making a difference in the lives of women, every time he is remembered for his strength, courage and conviction.

In the US, since 1993, eight people have been killed by violent anti-choice activists. Since 1991, there have been 17 attempted murders, and since 1977 there have been more than 6,400 reported acts of violence against abortion providers, including arsons, bombings, kidnappings, assault, death threats and arson.

There are people who are legitimately pro-life.

The people committing these acts of violence certainly aren’t.

Rest in peace, Dr. Tiller.

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” – Anais Nin