Tag Archives: avens o’brien

Winter Solstice 2019

In Old Norse tradition, on each solstice & equinox (each quarter year), we gather together to present a toast, a boast, and an oath. December 21st is the Winter Solstice. I do a personal version of this each quarter for myself (I grew up doing this with my Grove, which honored Celtic & Norse traditions), but I’ve decided that starting this Solstice, I will start sharing my toast, boast and oath publicly on my blog.

Usually the “boast” would be about something that came to fruition over the past quarter year, but since this is my first one publicly, and was included in my Solstice letter in my holiday cards, I’ve included a run-down of the highlights of my whole year.


My toast is to my friend Ali Cat.

I met Ali on AOL Message Boards nearly 20 years ago and we met in person for the first time in March of 2018 when she attended our mutual friend Arachne’s memorial service here in LA. She was in her mid-40s when she died of cardiac arrest unexpectedly last month. She was a good friend, a constant presence in my online life, and I will miss her tremendously. She was one of the most generous people I’ve ever known, constantly giving more of herself than she really had to spare. She is missed, but those who knew her knew she wore herself out, and now she rests without pain. My toast to Ali Cat!


My boast is that my life overall is very good and full of progress. In the final week of 2018, I moved in with Judd. This summer we celebrated the 7th anniversary of our first date. We’ve spent the year falling deeper in love, learning that we like living together, and mostly how to bribe each other’s pets to like us. 

His cat, Abby, is still skeptical of me, but always cute about it. My Quaker parrots, Petrie & Kiwi, are now 22 years old, and they don’t mind Judd approaching their cage as long as he’s giving them treats. Justice, my 8 year old footless conure is also subject to woo by treats, and will jump on Judd’s shoulder on occasion, though, of the 3 current birds at home, he has bit Judd the most. They’re slowly winning each other over. We keep the cat & birds apart though. 

Work is solid. I’m still consulting for Thoughtful Media Group, whom I’ve been working with since 2014. I handle their outgoing accounting each month. I also work closely with Judd on cannabis ventures which continue to expand – we’re working on building out and funding a fully vertically integrated cannabis company, which will handle product from seed to sale. It’s very exciting. 

Activism has been great as well. I gave very well-received main stage speeches at Anarchapulco and AnarchoVegas as well as the Libertarian Party of NH’s convention this year. I spoke on 3 panels at Freedom Fest as well as 3 panels at the Australian Libertarian Society Friedman Conference. I took well over 20,000 photographs and released over 9 albums of my photography, primarily at conferences and other events.

Other experiences this year included hosting a fundraiser for Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard in November, taking a helicopter ride over New York City in October, attending my first Ephemerisle in July, hitting some personal credit milestones over the summer, finding my baby birds (Friday & Sunday) a new home with a great family in June, helping with Los Angeles’ Yuri’s Night, and yet another Burning Man in August/September. I also did tons of karaoke, including adding Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball and Peggy Lee’s Why Don’t You Do Right to my regular rotation.

Additionally, I was recently invited to join the Board of Directors of Feminists for Liberty this year. It is a fantastic organization and I’m proud of the work we will be doing.


In 2020, I have already committed to a speech at NH Liberty Forum in February and attending the Libertarian National Convention in Austin in May. Likely (unconfirmed) additions to my schedule include Anarchapulco in February, LibertyCon in DC in April, and Freedom Fest in July. I’m enjoying giving speeches and am getting better with each one.

I’m finding myself in a more comfortable place where I have more time to devote to things I really care about, so I’d like to be more active in the non-profit space with Feminists for Liberty and my own non-profit I’ve been trying to get started. I also plan to write more to bring attention to things I feel need it and to help my friends and fellow activists find ways to make their personal projects more successful, for the betterment of all of us. 

My ultimate goal (to make all the aforementioned happen) this coming year is to get better at my own personal time management, because doing so will make me more productive in all areas of my life. There is so much I wish to do and the only thing in my way is my own tendency to procrastinate.

A Valentine (Again)

Four years ago today, I posted a short entry to express affection for a man who’d been making himself a little home within my heart.

At the time we’d been dating for about six months. I teased him regularly that the shelf life on most of my relationships was less than eight months, and as he approached that mark and then surpassed it, he often joked that he was running out of time on my attention span and he’d lose me soon.

Early in our relationship, he shared his lack of fondness for Valentine’s Day. He’d avoided it every year, even when seeing someone, he told me. Women knew he wasn’t going to make plans with them that day, and that was that.

So when our first Valentine’s Day approached, in 2013, I assumed his personal tradition would hold true. I was living in Las Vegas, he was in Los Angeles. I wasn’t disappointed about it — I knew what to expect because he told me what he was like.

The day before Valentine’s Day was a Wednesday, and he sent me this adorable picture of the two of us, and told me he wished he could spend the day with me. I asked if he was serious.

He said yes, but he was leaving to shoot 2013’s International Students for Liberty Conference on Friday, so he’d be flying out at 8am the morning of the 15th.

He said if I could get to him for Valentine’s Day, he’d buy my return ticket home. So, at 5:30pm on the 13th, he purchased a ticket for me from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, same time as his flight to DC.

Last minute flights were a bit out of my price range, so I befriended a random German tourist who had decided to rent a Ford Mustang and drive from Las Vegas to Los Angeles on Thursday morning.

I’m not kidding. I met the German dude on Craigslist. He was 25ish, having his “American road trip” experience and was happy to drive me to LA for free just for the company for the 4.5 hour drive.

Thursday morning I hopped into the car of my new German friend, with just a backpack and my heart on my sleeve.

I arrived at his house mid-afternoon, bid good-bye to my chauffeur, and we spent the day and evening together – we made dinner and watched the movie Ted. We stayed up all night talking (and not talking), and in the morning we headed to LAX for our respective flights.

It was a perfect Valentine’s Day that neither of us expected.

I drew this for him on 2/14/2013.

Right before Valentine’s Day two years ago, we decided, very amicably and mutually, to break up. We wrote loving testimonials to each other and meant every word. The response from friends and followers was enormous and loving, and we were so grateful that our communities that we were both so involved in did not have to “choose sides”. We stayed close afterwards, and over time the lines we’d drawn eventually blurred between us.

Now he’s my Valentine again this year. Whether this lasts another 6 months or 6 years or a lifetime… I love our story and these adventures we have.

I’ll admit, I see us both as people who see the world and what we get from it as something within our control and ability. Like: I’m this way, and so this is how I react, this is how I want this interaction to go, this is what I do, and this is what I expect to happen.

I think when it comes to love, we’ve both let go of a number of our assumptions, because engaging in this story together as it unfolds is new, challenging, exciting, and unlike anything either of us has really done before.

Maybe it’s just a kiss, frozen in time, echoing back over four and a half years of very influential memories that keep us coming back to one another. But it’s special and it’s real.

I can’t say if it’ll last. I’ve never been out this deep before.

But I love that he’s my Valentine.

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 Amazon.com 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

Right Place, Right Time

The drop of a dubstep song and the scent of tequila: Las Vegas. A place where they pump extra oxygen into the casinos and clubs to keep you wide awake and dissipate the scent of cigarettes. I called it “home” for less than two years, but sometimes I feel I lived two decades inside them.

I like to believe that my life in Las Vegas made me a better person. It taught me so much about human interaction, the highs and the lows of life, and how you never know exactly what somebody else’s personal struggles are, no matter how perfect their makeup or how thick their wallet is. Living and working in Las Vegas was a study of the human condition – and how I can make someone’s day or night tremendously improved by my influence. Continue reading Right Place, Right Time

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 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