Everyone is saying “me too” and men are aghast and outraged.

Guess what bucko’

I’ve been raped by men nicer than you.

I have been assaulted by men who write feminist manifestos on their facebook walls.

I have been harassed and coerced by men you admire, perhaps you’ve read their books, or listen to their podcasts.

You probably think they are decent human beings.

Most perps are not monsters, they are your bros, they are you.

I’m in California, six hours north of San Francisco, to visit a cannabis farm and learn about the plant from the roots up. IMG_7186If you know anything about me, you know I’ve never really been that interested in pot – so this is a new fascination. But not because I’m smoking it. I’ve been working with web pioneer Aliza Sherman to build a women’s cannabis community.

Contrary to what I’ve always thought, cannabis is not just for a bunch of stoner kids laughing at really stupid jokes as they melt their brain cells into their couches. Smart, successful women are using cannabis to help alleviate anxiety and depression, and using it to manage health and wellness issues like menstrual cramps, menopausal symptoms, and chronic pain. Women are also using different strains of cannabis to focus themselves, enhance their creative process, or relax after a long day at work or caring for their loved ones.

And now that 95% of the US population lives somewhere where cannabis is legal, people aren’t just smoking it. You can use it in all kinds of ways: from vaporizing it, to eating it, to absorbing it through your skin. You can get oils and extractions from the plant that separate the THC (the psychoactive) from the CBD (the anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic). There are even cannabis-infused personal lubricants (I may not be into smoking it, but BOY HOWDY, ladies).

Legal cannabis sales topped $6.7B last year, and sales are predicted to rise to $22 billion in the next five years.

Anyway, back to my trip to California. I stopped in a small mountain town to visit a “head shop” I found on Google maps. (Head shop is a colloquial name for tobacco/marijuana paraphernalia shop.) The shop was humming with young men and beardy old guys. It was decorated with Grateful Dead tapestries, skulls, and posters of pot leaves superimposed over buxom swimsuit models or skinny grey aliens in baseball caps.

headshop-interior-glass-pipes-water-pipes-paraphernalia-300x225This store, like many others I’ve been studying, was definitely not built for men nor for women like me in mind. Therein lies the rub: current cannabis culture is fairly intimidating – and frankly juvenile – to women of a certain age. And while I’m confident that the staff there was knowledgable and well versed in how to use the variety of grinders, pipes, bongs, and vaporizers in the shop, the store didn’t exactly welcome anyone outside of that particular culture.

I was hoping I could buy some CBD chocolate to relax my body on the cramped airplane ride home, but even though this shop had 1000 different sci-fi inspired glass blown pipes, there was no cannabis to be found. The woman at the counter said you had to order it through a delivery service. Even though weed is legal in many states, including California, each state and municipality has different rules and regulations about sales, consumption, and possession. It’s still the “wild west,” and it can be pretty confusing.

What is clear is that women spend $40 billion dollars on alternative medicine and an additional $5 billion dollars on health and wellness advice. And since it’s a well-known fact that women make 80% of purchasing decisions in households, shouldn’t cannabis be courting us? Shouldn’t this industry be creating on-ramps for women who are beginning to introduce (or reintroduce) cannabis into our lives?

Before now, there was no national resource, network or trusted brand for women to learn how to integrate cannabis into their lives. But Aliza and I are working to change that. We are launching an online community (that also has an offline element) for cannabis wellness especially for more mature women.

Ellementa will help bring cannabis wellness to the mainstream. We are producing instructional content to guide women to quality products with an additional element: women’s communities. We are organizing Gatherings and events across the country, face-to-face to meetings for women to talk about and learn about cannabis wellness together. You can sign up to learn more about Ellementa here.

IMG_7772As for me and California, I’m getting a feel for the countryside, and the grow rooms smell like fresh pine and fruity pebbles. For real. I’ll tell you more about that later.

I stopped dreaming wide open things after this election. I woke up in worry, and I didn’t like that, so – along with my subscriptions to various newspapers, I also subscribed to poetry and literary magazines. I know the worry is warranted, this is not normal. But I can’t live in worry, and I refuse to wake up there. So, for the last several months, I have been waking up and instead of looking at my phone or the news, I’ve been reading poetry with my morning coffee.

Today, I read this line in a Poetry Magazine from April of 2014 that I bought at a used book store:

“We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of the world” – Jack Gilbert

And I’ve been thinking about that stubbornness, about risking delight. I’ve been thinking about how in times of great peril allowing ourselves to feel delight and gladness feels like we are betraying the worry and pain in the world. Often, when we feel good during times of great stress and fear, we worry that by not diligently tending to our fear, our feal will become invalid in some way, that we will somehow laugh ourselves into denying anything is wrong at all.

So, when we feel good, we guilt ourselves into feeling terrible again. We don’t let the light in. We don’t risk delight. But I think, hobbling our emotional guidance system in order to match the chaos and destruction around us is akin to working for the enemy. Especially if the enemy is counting on us to be afraid and play small.

I’ve been working on approaching this world as a love object, a beautiful place to nurture and be nurtured in (as opposed to a frightening and isolating place to exist).  I’ve been wondering about how to unite with people against the fascism we see unfolding within our government. I’m trying to understand how to come to this fight with a mindset that risks delight.

When thinking about our government’s move toward fascism I think about anti-intellectualism. How our current government is at war with science and the press. And I think this specific brand of anti-intellectualism has roots in hyper-masculinity. Intellectuals that embrace the complicated and interdependent nature of our modern world are considered sissies and not “real men.”

I am beginning to understand that this regime and its supporters are operating from a fear of becoming feminine. No matter how they dress up what they are doing, that is the base fear… because the “feminine” is a complicated system of relationships. It is not simple or single point transactional. It is not easily predicted or controlled.

Thinking about the rise of systems after WWII, about how quickly we complicated the world of men with machines and global relationships. How frightening this was to so many people that were not part of building those complicated systems.

When our regime’s rallying cry of “make America great again” is invoked, the great they cling to is a simpler less complicated ideology that no longer works for our time. So what they are doing, is trying to brute force reset our country to before these complicated systems were put in place. Why? Because they are afraid of being forgotten, of being left behind, of losing their identity. The are afraid, so they build walls.

I don’t want to be afraid.

So this morning I am trying to find my balance between resisting our current administration and knowing that what is needed is a revolution of the heart. Punching nazis and making room to pull the silent majority over their walls and out of their fear.

And I feel like, maybe by pinpointing where our culture evolved from the simpleness of climbing decision trees to the complex way we fly through possibility clouds it will help me understand how to do this.

I am working on keeping my mind, my eyes, my hands, and the throttle to my heart wide open… on understanding fear without succumbing to it.
If we succumb to fear, we become like the current regime. Stuck, unable to evolve, resorting to brute force resetting the world to a walled-in identity that no longer serves us but we’re too afraid to abandon.

So what I’m proposing is we put it all on the line. We risk delight. We fight, but we “care bear stare” the shit out of those motherfuckers – with open hearts that are unafraid.

“I have eaten too many words,” Stephanie said, then proceeded to vomit an entire library across the kitchen floor.  Alan was halfway back from the linen closet before he realized a tea towel wouldn’t un-spill a library.  He dropped the towel where he stood, next to a stack of 700s, and rang a professional.

The librarian answered the phone. He hesitated, then stammered out “Do you, have… you ever tried printing all million pages of Wikipedia?” He couldn’t bring himself to say what just happened, not aloud anyway, that would make it real. The librarian wasn’t amused. She muttered about the importance of expertly verified content and hung-up. If he called back now, told the truth, what were the chances she’d believe a library much like her carefully curated one was vomited up in seconds all over his linoleum floor?
Alan wondered if he could be high? He wondered if there was any way he could go back in time to see if he’d taken drugs that morning? Time travel seemed more real that what had just happened, and that logic itself would have convinced him he had ingested something had he not immediately tripped over several copies of Gulliver’s Travels.
Stephanie was still standing in the kitchen door when Alan hung up the phone, she was wiping the corners of her mouth with her thumbs and looked paler than he’d ever seen her. By the way her body was slowly pitching, he could tell she was getting ready for another wave. There was no way Alan was going to let her vomit in his kitchen again, and fuck it all, if it was another library it wouldn’t fit in there anyway, it’d break out the windows and walls.

The smell of old paper singed Alan’s nostrils with nostalgia, it was overwhelming. His eyes stung and watered; thoughts of hiding his pockmarked teenage face in outdated computing books, trying his best to be invisible.  His emotions couldn’t take it, he had to get out of that kitchen fast, and he had to get Stephanie out of that kitchen before she completely destroyed it.
“Has this ever happened before?” he asked her as he forcefully grabbed her arms and tried to spin her out the kitchen’s back door. They stumbled and kicked at volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica as they went. “I didn’t even know they still published” Alan said, half amused.

Stephanie stepped out of the door and into the sunlight. She opened her mouth to answer but the language that came out was French and Portuguese and Spanish translations of Kafka, burying the begonias! Her knees bucked and she fell forward, scattering the stack of Kafka translations haphazardly into newly planted rows of string beans and squash. She began to cry big drops of black ink. They fell on the brick patio and beaded into small black pearls.

Alan watched the tears sink into the porous rock, leaving grey ghosts on the brick he and his father had laid the year previous. Stephanie’s hands were over her mouth as she tried to stop crying, her face was a red blotchy mess covered in greying stripes of inky tears. Alan, for the first time since Stephanie stepped into his kitchen, and maybe for the first time ever, felt sorry for Stephanie and patted her shuttering back. “I liked you better when you devoured math,” he joked, “At least it came back-up in tiny exponents.”