Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

16 September 2019

Not a Medical Doctor

Me: I've been a little stressed. It's better now, though. I'm fine.

Cousin Kyle Who Just Had a Baby: Angel, you need to come back to the Bay. And when you come, I want you to do something. I want you to spend a few days with us, and just... just allow the baby to work his magic on you.

Me: Are you seriously talking about your weeb like he's a dream vacation? Like, a few days barefoot on the beach and I'll relax, except 'the beach' is the baby smell wafting from his tiny skull?

CKWJHaB: YES! No regrets. You're gonna see. You'll see for yourself. Also, when we get off the phone, I'll send pictures of the cartoon face he made while taking HIS FIRST BATH.

(He really did. It was a cartoony face. My cousin is high on the best drug in the universe—the drug of progeny. I love it, partly because I love him, but also sociologically.)

30 June 2019

A Flicker of Thought for People's Park

"It's got the worst bathroom in the East Bay... but it might be the last truly free place left in America."

So says Stark Mike in Emma Silvers' article, "Contested Territory," about the latest existential battle for People's Park in Berkeley. It was printed in California, UC Berkeley's alumni rag.

I never read California. Whenever I see it, I'm grated by the idea that there are nine schools in the University of California system, 23 Cal State schools and countless other state universities besides, but Berkeley got to claim "Cal" for itself, as if there's something especially Californian about it. It smacks of the careless entitlement that makes Americans call ourselves, well, Americans, as if all the other countries sharing North and South America are spin-offs or off-brand versions of the United States.

It's been 13 years since I've graduated,.I've moved at least four times, and California keeps finding my address. The magazine is now a given in my adult journey, harder to shake than any possession I may be more inclined to call mine. It shows up in my mailbox, inexplicable but inevitable as sunrise, even as jobs, pets, relationships, country, and politics change.

The result is that I tend to ignore it.

The People's Park article grabbed me, though. I don't know why. Back at school, the legend I heard was about volleyball courts: The land belongs to the university, which tore down housing and has tried using the space for any number of things people find reprehensible. Notably, it once erected volleyball courts, and People's Park supporters came swinging mallets, hammering at the smooth, flat concrete of entitlement until it cracked.

People reclaimed it, grew things there. It's an idyllic story—us against The Man, and we won!—but mostly I remember that it reeked of pot and chaos: Unkempt and snarly plantlife, filthy bathrooms, shouting transients and slummin' schoolkids—born-again converts to liberalism, defenders of Those Less Fortunate who, in a home game, probably crossed my high school quad in an anxious, judgmental huddle, like the lot of us were muggers.

People's Park is again, and like always, under threat. The variables: A housing crunch for students, a clever chancellor who doesn't just want to convert People's Park into dormitories but social housing, too. There's even word of erecting some kind of plaque, and keeping space preserved for public activity (likely better-manicured than the current iteration). She's generating surprising support from fronts typically resistant.

Age transforms even things you thought you understood into abstractions. That's perhaps its main function—to remind us we know nothing, over and over again. I am sad, maybe felt I had the right to resent and avoid it, because I didn't realise how fragile People's Park was, never fully absorbed what it meant—a folly typical of youth, not just of people but of all things too young to digest history, including our own country.

We are only now beginning to understand how fragile our own values and freedoms are, how easy it is to reverse generations of advancement.

All of this is to say, I wish I'd held my nose, suppressed my own entitlement, and crossed People's Park at least once. Next time I go home—less and less these days, an unspooling, elongated tragedy in itself, given how hard I worked to escape it—it may not exist, and one more holy land will become mere mythology.


25 May 2019

An orientation sandwich

I recently learned about Now (versus About) pages and dig them. I'm also mindful that it's been nearly a year since I've written in—no surprises there, perhaps—and every time I do write, it's some effort or other at distilling where I am Now.

This will be no different. This time, I thought it might be fun to try making an orientation sandwich that could comprise past, present and mid- and long-term future, which could lend better light on where I am presently.

(Live and uncensored! Little did I know that in buying this URL as a lark, I'd be experimenting with unpacking that concept in all the most pedantic ways possible.)

Immediate past: My soul brother died. It'll be nearly a year, at once long and short. It wasn't easy to steal time to mourn, but I did: Lone lunches and a three-month subscription to a sensory deprivation tank, where I could lose all sense of time in a single hour, to study my pain and also death.

What I learned was good. You know what? Look at death sometime. It's not grim. It's like a sad slow dance with your dad, a good-bye that is heavy on both sides. If death can be personified a moment, I think it recognises its cost and is the opposite of callous, like jaded doctors. I think we must also recognise that death is what makes our lives dear.

Now: Just came back from Hamburg, where one of my oldest friends wed, and I was the only one who didn't speak German. Next trip: London for a panel on diversity in esports. Yesterday: Gave a talk at Sup de Pub about esports, advertising and marketing. Spent all night building my presentation, because I pissed away the previous two days indulging an obsession with cutting all the vines on the agency's façade, for which I rightfully earned a blister and the mockery of all my colleagues.

But I have no regrets, because my presentation was Choose Your Own Adventure style, and a riot.

Romain and I have been living a fun creative spurt. I'm exploring witchcraft, systems theory, herbology and the old myths; Romain's on a bread- and pottery-making extravaganza and will now begin a meat-curing season. We recently repotted all our plants and turned our spare room into an office for my experiments, both of which were way bigger projects than I thought (though he seemed to intuitively know, because he's more of a details thinker than I am).

I'm still trying to maintain six hours of sleep, with middling success, though my hydration experiments are going fine because I recently became addicted to tisane.

Elsewise: Trying to stay off social networks, to study my life without them. Reading books made of paper, not pixels. (The Pharmako series by Dale Pendell is quite lush and informative. I recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in plants, poison, myths, health, drugs, addiction, anthropology, art, magic, poetry, literature, beauty, life, or death.)

I'm making my own deodorant, lotion and perfume. The latter is going iffily and I surrendered to a sizeable purchase at Diptyque recently. Here's a snippet of conversation I had with the vendor, who stayed with me all through my decision making process, which was whimsical at best:
Me: Do you wear the same perfume always, like a signature?
Him: Oh, no! Everyone in the store, we change perfumes almost every day.
Me: Why? Do you feel like a different person when you change perfumes?
Him (betraying, after a brief pause, the beginnings of a smile that indicates we've wandered off the social script and come into something truly revealing): Yes. So much, every time, yes.
Also: I threw out all my tight pants. I worry this means I'm surrendering to a gently expanding body, and in some respects that's probably true. Mostly, though, it probably means I'm in my mid-thirties and can't be fucked about it anymore.

Hurrah: Running a company will never be simple or relaxed. But we are now twenty-ish, with a reasonable diversity ratio, though it isn't ideal and I worry about it every day. We've just launched an adapted sociocracy model we call Hurrahcracy. It isn't perfect, but it's promising, and I'm surprised and gratified by how nicely it's landed. The biggest issue is vigilance in leadership obeying the rules, because if we don't, who will?

I'm also traveling a great deal more for our various social responsibilities. I don't mind this, but I also didn't expect it to be so intense, nor so sudden.

Muse is chugging along grandly and will soon be a year old. People really like it (who would tell me to my face that they didn't?). We've got an additional writer in the stable, and one of my favourites. Cannes Lions is around the corner.

My dreams are more vivid and I note them in droves. Last night I dreamt I was walking about naked—not by choice, but obliged to deal with it—and trying to convince the people I encountered it was a perfectly normal decision that I made for quite evident, understandable reasons. People nodded along, clearly half-convinced. Apt stuff to mention on a site sometimes mistaken for porn.

Mid-term: Time to write. Time alone. The beginning stages of a slow-moving plan to perhaps leave Paris. Me and Romain want other adventures, beach and garden and newer and more experiments. I love Paris—loved it the other night, when I left work late, met my girlfriends very late, then walked home, later still, listening to the clap-clapping of my shoes against concrete, my shadow cutting long through lamplight. I love that I can do that, and come upstairs to find Romain smoking on the balcony, gazing down at me.

Long, strange nights, a city replete with secrets, the menagerie of friends, the surprises encountered on terraces.

But I can love other things, too. I will love silence, and sand, wild forest and sunlight peeking through trees. I will love being barefoot, toes in soil. I will love giant vats of fresh rose petals that I will use to make secrets.

Otherwise: A strong passive income for Hurrah, to make our big stable of talented people feel just a little bit safer. Hurrahcracy set in place, a well-oiled machine, kinks manageable and themselves smoothed out in a clear and systemic process. We are considered a global agency.

Muse flourishes, simply matters more, and to more people.

I see new things.

Long-term:

Hurrah as a multi-country operation, with the complications that come with that; I'm fine if we have the right people to help, and hopefully we do. I'd like to find a way to divorce some percentage of our operations from reliance on the economic system. It's something I spend a lot of time thinking about.

A more stable esports, brought partly to life by the efforts of federations that share the same goals. Codes of conduct, finally. A bubble that pops, but gently, because we all prepared for it in not-stupid ways.

Muse, equipped with a good stable of solid writers and a lovely, widely-regarded reputation.

I quit smoking (Christ, I'm tired of smoking) and we spend more time outside under naked sky, unimpeded by time. Lately I like being barefoot.

Biggest learnings lately:

  • When someone demonstrates who they are, believe them.
  • Listen closely to the stories people tell about themselves. This little mythology will play itself out in every choice they make, every decision, every conflict, every motivation or effort.

Latest Quote:

"The creation continues incessantly through the media of man."—Antoni Gaudí