Autumn; my favorite time of year is finally here along with the blessings of cooler weather for Central Texas, and Winter is not too far behind. The festivities will well and truly begin for me with the airing of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”. I don’t know how many of you grew up watching the seasonal cartoons specials, and movies, but I did; and this happens to be one of my favorites. Like many latchkey kids, TV was and is to this day a comforting friend; one that helps me to mark the change in seasons, celebrate holidays, and do happy dances for my adult-wannabe-geek changes to gadgets & media. I’m starting my yearly search for my favorites to either watch on Netflix (now that they’ve gotten their act together) or the multitude of cable channels I have at my disposal.

What I’ve also begun to do is grab my favorite snacks, and newly found tid-bits to try from online recipe sites. Unlike Snoopy, I’ll have more than toast, jelly beans, and buttered popcorn to serve to friends this year, and to donate to my look area food bank. Growing up in New York City in my mixed African-American/Native American/Pennsylvania Dutch family meant that holidays were all about the food. Our holiday tables were an example of the excess that many Americans go to for Holiday season. Just so long as the house smells like your favorite roast beast with undertones of Nana’s baking, especially anything made with cinnamon, brown sugar, and vanilla meant that the season is upon us. This year, like the last few will be different for so many American families, so Mom and I have already come up with our plan to donate time and in-kind to families in need.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re gonna cook, and decorate, and generally make merry. We’ll also thank everything that is holy (thank you Buddha) that I have a good job, can pay my bills, and make a good home for us. We’ll also say prayers & chant for those in need. I hope you find the link below helpful for your holiday cooking escapades, and remember what yo’ Mama taught you and say “Please and Thank You”. Give just a lil bit more this season; it’ll come back to you in unexpected ways.

I’ll come back with an update on giving resources for the Holidays, my cooking experiments, and all that’s fun for the holiday season. Have a great one y’all!

How to make real vanilla extract in time for the holidays.

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Posted: 0 18th October, 2011 in Holiday Season 2011, The business of Entrepreneurship

That’s what I first said, “Never in a million years would I go over there”.  Yep, you should really try to never, ever say never; cause it will always comes back to bite you in the ass, literally.  I said this in 2003 when Dave went over, then again in 2004 when Rene and Lloyd went over, and it wasn’t until Dawn had been there for a few months that I decided, that maybe I could do it as well.  Going to Iraq as a civilian contractor was one of the many things over the last 10 years that I said that I would do… uh huh, yeah right, never in a million years.  And not for the reasons you might assume.  I certainly did not agree with why the US invaded Iraq, and yes I’m using the word invaded instead of rescued or any other term to describe the political and financial motivations of our nation’s leaders to go to Iraq.  Nor did I have the respect for military folks and their jobs, which for many of them is voluntary, which a lot of us forget.  This adventure was certainly not one that I had on my bucket list.  I am definitely not sorry that I went, nor that I spent 3+ years over in the sandbox.

So why did I go?  When 2006 began, I was in the middle of all kinds of crap, not the least of which was being one of America’s millions of working poor.  It was not my idea of who and or what I wanted to be, and although I had friends and family who gave plenty of support, I was determined to get out from behind the 8ball.  So, I applied; and I got lucky — I got an offer that I could not and did not refuse.  I freely admit that I took advantage of the job opportunity, and the idea of making 3-4 time my normal monthly earning made the deal even sweater.  I planned to stay for only one year, the length of my initial contract.  Yep that didn’t last long at all.  There was plenty of talk of going home during the 6 months of 130+ sweltering heat of the Iraqi summer, but once it started to cool off and after my first vacation, I wasn’t going anywhere.  I thought back to what I would be going home to; you know that bird in the hand versus the bush thing…  Yeah, not even.

Several of the people who I talked to over the last 4 years want to know: Wasn’t I scared?  Wasn’t I nervous about going to Iraq?  Frankly, I was much more intrigued and excited.  Really excited that I was going to earn a butt load of money doing a job I am well qualified to do, and really excited to see the world.  I’m not sure why I wasn’t nervous or scared.  I can tell you that I did have a very intellectualized idea of the living conditions, but I didn’t have the faintest idea what real life was like: to live and work in the middle of a war zone, even after hearing stories from friends and family who were already deployed.  They told us during orientation that we could be living in large tent with eight or more women, not have access to shower or bathing facilities for days at a time, and more importantly, we could get shot, die from toxic gas attacks, or any other numerous very unpleasant ways to die!  No, my mind was not focused on these facts at all.  I figured it would be like a bad, very rough, hot, dusty camping trip.  Stop, please, no need to say it.  I know; I was going to a war zone: “to be deployed within theatre”.

What was I thinking?  I’m not sure, but in hindsight, it was probably the best way to go into a situation like that.  I acknowledged the possibility, but I would not let fear keep me from taking the first step: I’d never accomplish anything with my life letting fear rule.  Yes, I was very, very lucky.  Many of the civilians and certainly the military folks who went to Iraq either didn’t come back, or came back too injured to make it in “normal” day-to-day life.  Too many came back so fucked up that they reenlisted or went back as contractors because civilian life just didn’t make sense to a heart and mind messed up by back-to-back tours of duty without a break to see and be with family.  So messed up, that to this day the military can’t provide adequate medical care to heal the enormous hurts to the body, mind, and spirit of our wounded vets.  I still don’t agree with why the US government sent US military, and spent millions of dollars for the US to go to war in Iraq.  After living and working in Iraq for 3 years; meeting and working with Iraqi’s who took their lives into their hands each day to work for the US military and the Department of State; working for the soldiers, airmen, and seamen who I never met; I know that doing my job to support them was definitely worth it.

I met some truly amazing wonderful people: American’s, Iraqi’s, Pakistani’s, Afghan’s, Pilipino, Bosnians, Albanians, Nepalese, and Bangladeshis to name a few.  I also met some fuckers, American’s mostly, who should hope they don’t ever meet me in a dark alley.

The stories that I’m going to tell will be about my experiences in Iraq and the other countries I’ve had the chance to visit; and more important to me about the people that I’ve met.  Stick around; you don’t want to miss the next installment.

They say that aspiring writers should either 1. Write about what you know; and/or 2. Write about what you love. So that’s what I’m going to do. There are things that I love like traveling, writing, dancing, bdsm/kink, leather, practicing the Nia Technique, eating, cooking, gadgets, watching movies, and there are things that I know and want to know more about like traveling, scuba diving, teaching/practicing the Nia Technique, leather history & practices,writing. Ohh, and sex. Did I mention sex. I’m just sayin’ that it’s all gonna be in there.

I had the very great privilege to attend the Keynote delivered by Mia Mingus for the Femmes of Color Symposium.  Below is the video of the inspiring words from this modern warrior for peace & social justice.  She is real; she is magnificent; she is inspiring.

“Mia Mingus is a queer physically disabled woman of color, korean transracial and transnational adoptee writer, organizer and community caretaker.  She was raised in St. Croix, USVI, spent 12 years in Atlanta, GA and has recently moved to Berkeley, California.  Through her work on disability justice, reproductive justice, queer liberation, and transformative justice; she recognizes the urgency and barriers for oppressed communities to work together and build alliances for liberation.  She believes that love, care and kindness are political and, though her work for liberation changes and evolves, her roots remain firmly planted in ending sexual violence.”  You can find the rest of her bio on her blog “Leaving Evidence

Hello All,

 and welcome back!  This week is the 2nd Femmes of Color Symposium.  This year’s conference is a Gateway to  Action!   All about femmes of color and how we are making community and becoming our own best allies.  Come  see all the happening with a fun fierce group of femmes from all over the US and abroad.  Happenings and news  are guaranteed for this amazing event.  Friday is  an absolute bounty of femme performances, cause you know we  do it all: sexy shimmy, wordsmith’s to tantalize your brain, and tickle your senses.  Come check us out!

On the eve of what is sure to be an altogether amazing weekend, I had the great pleasure and privilege to interview the founder of the Femmes of Color Symposium, Ms. Kenya Simone Daugherty.  She is a northern-born yet southern-raised phat afri-native buddhist lesbian activist, idealist, womynist and bridge builder.  

A 2nd generation femme cultivating ties within and acting as a catalyst for her various communities
by creating femme space within the greater LGBTQ community.  THE FEMMESPOT, a femme community
is just one of her early creations; 6 years of coordinating the people of color gatherings for one of the largest LGBTonline sites is another accomplishment of this Renaissance Femme.  She founded HIRSHE — an
online femme/butch of color community, she presented at the 1998 femme conference, was a member of the steering committee and presented at the femme 2006 conference.  Now she comes full circle and is the conference chair for the Femme of Color Symposium 2011 .

Take a listen, and then come join us for a wonderful weekend in Oakland with the Femmes of Color Symposium 2011.

We look forward to seeing you there.

The Femmes of Color Symposium is coming to Oakland!  It’s only a week away, and
I’m gonna be there with some of the most amazing women in the world. You should come
and join us for all the fabulous femmes, amazing performances, sensational speakers, & much, much more!

This year’s Keynotes are two amazing women: Mia Mingus & Jessica Holter

Performers from all over the US and Australia are starting off our weekend in a sizzling
hot show on Friday the 19th. Come play with us in Oakland:  PERFORMERS

Femmes of Color Symposium is proud to present

Fox’s Vaudeville & Variety Show
Friday, August 19th – Doors Open at 8pm
Show starts promptly at 8:30pm
House of Music, 3rd Floor
420 14th Street (Google Maps)
$10-$20 Sliding Scale (no one turned away for lack of funds)

All of this and more is yours when you register for the Femmes of Color Symposium 2011!

Looking forward to seeing you in Oakland next week!

Ciao!
Lori

Greetings everyone,

The Renaissance Femme is now a podcast!  I had the very great pleasure of speaking with Spring Opara, the President of  Black Gurlz Ink.   We are both participating in the Femmes of Color Symposium 2011 in Oakland, California on 19-21, August.

Spring is the President of Blac Gurlz Ink – www.blacgurlzink.com, a greeting card business that specializes in creating premium greeting cards for the LGBTQA community and is a graduate of the Women’s Initiative, Simple Steps to Success business program. She holds a BS degree in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley and served 5+ years in the US Air Force.  She is a published, lesbian of color, writer of erotic fiction; her short story, Sex and Chocolate, was published in the, Ultimate Lesbian Erotica 2005, anthology published by Alyson Publishing, Los Angeles.

I hope you enjoy our short visit, and will return for new episodes of our podcast “Revelations from the Femmeverse.

Thanks for listening!

Ciao!

Lori