CUAV’S 2010 Safetyfest was a spectacular highlight of the year. It was great to be a part of the planning process as a member of CUAV (Community United Against Violence), to help launch, in April, a festival of events designed to build safety in queer and trans communities. Events included everything from self-defense workshops to opening and closing celebration parties, and it was all thanks to the combined energies of community members giving time and money and resources to help empower each other. I was so thankful for the chance to lead a writing workshop and an open mic, where folks astounded me with their presence and words. Planning for Safetyfest 2011 is now underway, which is very exciting. Watch this look back at Safetyfest 2010 here!
Continuing my membership at CUAV has been a highlight of 2010 in general. Opportunities have ranged from being a part of transformative Safety Labs to reading poetry at rallies in support of social justice. Not to mention building community, and growing as a person in all that I’ve learned along the way.
Another great part of 2010 was volunteering with the inspirational people of POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights) in various capacities. They do really great work that helps a lot of folks, and empowers folks with the tools to help themselves, and the time I’ve spent with them has taught me a great deal about organizing in ways that can really enact change.
· U.S. Social Forum
This was one of the great opportunities that came with being an active member of CUAV – the staff invited me to be a part of the delegation that attended the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit. The USSF was a conference of activists and organizers who brought knowledge and open minds to share with each other tools for making change. For example, a workshop with the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) featured a panel of folks speaking on immigration and shared BAJI’s findings on black communities’ involvement in immigration rights movements. There were so many workshops at the USSF that it was hard to choose which to attend, but being me, I tried to pop into as many of the arts-related workshops as possible. Workshops like “Art is Change” with Anasa Troutman were enlightening, and I was inspired not only in my own writing, but also by the power of words to move others, as I saw people like Anasa making a difference in folks who would carry her words across the country and to the rest of the world. I’m grateful still for that time spent in Detroit, especially because now we continue to share what we learned and what we shared with others while we were there.
In an exciting milestone for my writing, in 2010 I got a short story published for the first time. Transfer Magazine published my short story “The Single Woman’s Guide to Surviving a Miscarriage” in Transfer 99, and gave it the Leo Litwak Award for Fiction. Whoo!
· Quiet Lightning/sPARKLE & bLINK
Some of my most thrilling moments this year were all thanks to Quiet Lightning, a local reading series that’s given a great range of writers a place for their words. They gave me a place during Litquake in October, and again in November, and I’m so thankful for those unforgettable experiences. Hell, I’m thankful just for Quiet Lightning, whether it includes me or not, because Rajshree Chauhan and Evan Karp are doing something wonderful for the San Francisco literary community. And with Quiet Lightning, of course, I’m also grateful for sPARKLE & bLINK, the publication featuring each month’s readers (which they also generously offer for free on Scribd).
I’m thankful that this year has introduced me to the thriving literary community that’s such a lively part of the Bay Area right now. I’ve had such a great time at events like Quiet Lightning, Literary Death Match, the Living Room Reading Series, 14 Hills events… I could go on, and there are plenty more I’ve yet to see as well. To say that it’s exciting to witness and participate in such a vibrant scene hardly captures how thrilling it all is, and I can only hope for what the next year will bring as we walk through the doors that are opening for writers in and around San Francisco.
· HIV prevention
I feel like I can’t not mention my so-called “day job.” If my writing is the side of me that is the wild, unstable artist, then I guess my stable side is what has me walking the streets of the city at odd times of the night in an effort to prevent HIV. Working as a study recruiter for the AIDS Office of the San Francisco Department of Public Health has been challenging in some ways, but it’s been a highlight of 2010 in that I’ve been a part of an extensive effort to reduce HIV infections, and for some, substance abuse, and along the way I’ve had the chance to learn about other people by connecting directly with them.
· Writing Ourselves Whole
Another that can’t go unsaid – I’ve participated in several of the incredibly transformative workshops of Writing Ourselves Whole, and recently I’ve had the pleasure of working with the workshops’ facilitator, Jen Cross, with some of the duties that help her efforts to reach others move forward. This is another of 2010’s gifts for which I’m immensely thankful, and I look forward to connecting more with Writing Ourselves Whole in 2011.
· Graduation / Grad school
And I can’t leave out, of course, my graduation in May from the Creative Writing department of San Francisco State University. I feel like I’ve taken a long journey through school, so I had a whole lot to be thankful for upon reaching graduation. And now I’m looking forward to the next step, as I apply to MFA programs. Maybe I shouldn’t count this as a highlight until I actually get into grad school, but deciding to move forward with the process has been a highlight of the year for me.
Okay, so if you’re counting you’ll know that this is actually highlight #11. But I couldn’t resist adding it, because I wouldn’t have the platform to go on this rant of reflection and gratitude without this blog. I would definitely call Inkblot a highlight of 2010 because it’s been a part of my growth as a writer, it’s helped me connect with people I admire, and it’s been one way I can share all that I’ve learned from the thrilling and critical moments of the year.
Thanks for being a part of it all with me. Have a safe night. Happy New Year!