Fight The Spread Offense

NOTE: I have been and will be guilty of every thing I point out here.

Sometimes it helps to close your eyes, sometimes it helps to keep them focused on a blank space on a wall or a picture you like. Do what you need to do. But I want you to imagine a dot. Let that dot be any color you (or it) want that dot to be. Keep that dot in the center of your eye/mind and start to work on your breathing. Start by just breathing in and out regularly. Feel the air enter on the breath in, then feel it pass on the way out. Repeat but with each passing breath, let the air flow a little deeper. With each breath, keep your eye on that dot. Try to make more and more space in your mind for the air and the dot.

Focus. Repeat this for a while.

After you’ve given yourself some space, check in:

Has it been a while since water? Drink some.

Are you in need of sleep? Take it.

Are you hungry? Eat something good and good for you.

Now, make some space for your inner monologue. Ask yourself:

What’s troubling you this week? Be specific, clear and give equal space to:

What are you looking forward to?

Now we’re ready.


I’m gonna go big so I can get small and personal here. Sorry this is so long, but I wrote it just for you.

In times like these, I like to think back to the beginning of all this. The Trump cabal was quite clear with us because apparently all bad guy villains follow this insane logic where they tell you exactly what they’re going to do before they do it… they planned from the beginning, to overwhelm you with fear, horror, and shock. They needed it because everyone knew they were unprepared, had shitty leadership from the top, and couldn’t be anything but what people feared. To accomplish this, it became clear that they were going to run what they call the “spread offense” in football.

To be short, the spread is (IMO) bush league strategy where you flood the field with offensive players in weird places. It makes it look like you have an intimidating team when really all you have is a shitload of people with (maybe) some skills running around causing confusion. In grade school and college ball, this got really popular and it has moved into the big leagues. It’s a rushed strategy, often used without so much as a huddle so that people have some semblance of a plan.

I fucking hate it.

I don’t hate it because it’s good, and it really is a good move sometimes. I hate it because it brings out the worst in people. It makes offensive players think they’re tactical gods for figuring out that you can really fuck people up by making the defense run around all crazy (wow such genius.) It makes coaches play lazy ball because they don’t need to focus as much on what they practice. And, most importantly, it places way too much attention on the quarterback (who usually has too high of an opinion of himself anyway lol.)

They have us scrambling because we’re playing their game for them. We’re obsessing over every single horrible thing that happens and pulling out the typical defense that they clearly blow right through because we’re eating the spread. We react and let our opposition control the narrative and responses. We are only consistent in our reactivity and outrage. Plus, everyone is throwing themselves at what they see without thinking about what strengths they have as an individual to contribute to work.

How do you fight the spread? Well, in football most folks go for a defense that relies on disguise and disruption. In this case it means that you need to think about not being so straight ahead, “line up sound and make ’em beat us” defense and instead play a mental/psychological game. You need to think hard, prepare well, USE A FUCKING HUDDLE, and play your position with clarity and joy of the game. Forcing the team on offense to rely on skill and training instead of Tasmanian Devil-style “tactics” differentiates between the professionals and the amateurs pretty quickly.

Here’s the thing: right now we are experiencing a coalescing of conservative forces into what we know as fascism. It is frightening but also pretty predictable, which makes it feel worse. In this time politically, we’re compelled to react. The feeling is so real and genuine for people and I wholeheartedly respect the need for all manner of feelings. I cringe in horror as I watch my friends, comrades, and family jump onto every headline and show up ready to yell and wear themselves out. It has fundamentally changed my view of things that I used to hold dear in an oppositional moment, issue campaign or larger project requiring social change.

If we want to fight this political spread offense, we all need to get comfortable that we’re not playing the same level of ball we’re used to while simultaneously living in a new time. Our movement work up until this point hasn’t done what we’ve wanted it to do and we are living with the result. I submit this plan as my Attacking the Spread Social Movement Defense (8 points, 3 sentences per point because the 8-3 is GOD.)

1. Every player needs to figure out their role on the field according to assessment and then play it because truthfully, we need skill more than we need passion at these positions. Not everyone needs to be tackle or lead organizer. For right now, respect the coach and stop trying to play every position because you’re fighting anxiety over the fact that Donald Trump is a madman.

2. Every player needs to respect their minds and bodies enough to hear when they are exhausted. Dude, if you went from issue campaign to street fight to political campaign, GO HOME ACTIVIST YOU’RE DRUNK. Also, fucking hydrate because your FB stream is cloudy and smells like asparagus and we need your urine as clear as your mind.

3. If you haven’t huddled, you’re not ready for the game. Actions planned in days require either a lot of people, money, or organizational structure (or all three!) Not everyone is built for rapid response either and there’s no shame in it (see Rule 1.)

4. Trainings are for hustlers and only hustlers are allowed on the field. Everyone needs to build skills regularly and they shouldn’t be penalized for it. There’s no shame in making time for it, building it into meeting agendas, and rearranging work to allow for political education.

5. Human needs and accessibility (including childcare, etc.) are not a weakness that is to be ridiculed, but a strength to be utilized on the field. Some of our best players are queer non-conforming POC moms with disabilities (or some other combination of badassery) and we should treat them like the star players they are. The other side has so few of them and are less brilliant as a result.

6. Know the difference between rules that protect us all and conventions that limit us because knowing that is knowing what to smash to pieces on our way to victory. We’ve fallen into the trap of not knowing that being a bad sport looks different depending upon time and style of play, just like it was totally uncool seventy years ago to play football looking like a member of ZZ Top. Nowadays, those linemen get their own Sports Illustrated issue.

7. Squash all beef immediately. If you have needed to apologize to someone for some foul shit you did, this is the perfect playoff game to hug that shit out so you can all play like champions. Our poisons often come closer when we sweat, so why not eliminate them with warm feelings and a large, cool drink of water ahead of time so we’re not all fucked up at the worst possible moment?

8. Solidarity is contagious and intimidating. Recognize the feeling you currently have, seeing your opponents lining up and working in concert, as a bizarre feeling of envy. Let their presence as a unit be your inspiration to emerge as part of a revolutionary Voltron full of power – pulsating with hope – that can inspire other people too.

So now that I’ve rambled on and on, lemme be clear for you Joshua:

A smart professor I met told me that fascism emerges like an infection when old structures crumble and/or fall into disrepair and nothing exists in their place to support the society that needs something, ANYTHING, to define itself. Eradicating that infection means building new structures and coming up with new ideas that make societies better. Find the things in your life that you treasure and explore what they need to thrive. This means everything from career to relationship, body to mind. Then, put yourself into their betterment THROUGH political education. I don’t mean party politics when I say this (though some people enjoy that and I don’t begrudge them.) What I mean is, help build political movements, organizations etc. that can reinforce the things that you love and use the natural talents/interests/skills/obsessions that you possess to do that construction. Remember and respect the fact that you can’t do everything. You’ll always need a team, so find your folks and build with them.

If someone in your life (or you) are LGBTQUIA and that matters the most to you, become the best hustler for that as you can.

If you or someone you love is POC and that matters the most to you, educate yourself politically around it and act from that knowledge and power.

Whatever it is you do, root it in expertise that emphasizes humanity, a truthful history, accountability, and clarity of thought because these are the things that fascism (like any infection) seeks to destroy.

Through it all, cling to the people and passions in your life that bring you joy. Use that joy as power and fuel because through everything, it’s what will sustain you.

Revolutions, as Jyn Erso said, are built on hope. I love you, even though we barely know each other. Be ready because when we get the ball… we’re gonna need to run like Hell.

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Either Way, We’re On The Ground

 

The weekend is a relatively new concept in the modern world. What we now define as the weekend was first successfully negotiated by a union in 1929 (Amalgamated Clothing Workers) and we now just kinda naturally fall into it.

A new approach that takes this further could save our lives. The New Economics Foundation has recommended moving to a 21-hour standard workweek to address problems with unemployment, high carbon emissions, low well-being, entrenched inequalities, overworking, family care, and the general lack of free time. The Center for Economic and Policy Research states that reducing the length of the work week would slow climate change and have other environmental benefits.

Let the fall be natural but intentional this time. Pay attention to the arrival of it with open eyes. Recognize its presence and let your breathing match what it asks you for. Allow your body to fall out of the work rhythm and walk into one that isn’t defined by your profession if you can. Concentrate on remembering that some time, however small you define it, is meant for you to determine the purpose of and that time is important.

Breathe. In and out.

Drink water.

Have a meal on your own terms.

Check in with yourself.

What revolutions occur when we we allow for leisure? What new ideas are waiting? What new relationships seek us out?

I had it all figured out Wednesday.

I was gonna put this whole thing down in one furious shot, walking my fingers over the keys like I was Monk or Mahones (shout out, Peace, and Black Love to Danielle.)

I had lots of ideas about what to say and how to say it.

At around 1 pm, I started getting congested only to realize by 3 that it was either reaaallllyyy bad allergies or I was getting sick. I was furious. Couldn’t this wait until after vacation? Couldn’t I JUST ENJOY ONE FUCKING THING!!!!????!!!! ARGGGHHH!!!!

Then I remembered my last brain doc appointment.

There was a lot to that last one because South Korea but he pointed out that no matter the obstacle of that trip, I didn’t lose my mind. He informed me that all the triggers for a bipolar person were present and I came back whole – though understandably crispy – and that’s something to remember. We closed agreeing on the idea that I should be proud of myself and he asked me if I was going to take a vacation. I told him we had plans at that time for Hawaii but volcanoes etc so we might need a new plan. He put down his clipboard and basically said:

You can either plan a landing or experience a crash, but remember that either way being on Earth is in your future. Give your body and brain space to relax and refocus. Reconnect with your family. Remember your need for play. All of that grounds you.

I held it and didn’t let my brain punish me for respecting myself. I fought on my way out of the office and into the car on the way home. I’m not very good at pushing back on this voice, so it is real work that I have to do every time I have an appointment so I don’t lose what I have built.

This rest isn’t something we earn. Our bodies need it to survive. Work is important, but not more important than sleep and personal time. Space to heal is important on the deepest biological levels and there are lots of things we can do to encourage that healing. One of those things is to recognize that need and respect it.

So, I’m working on just making space for the congestion and wheeze. My body needs me to listen. I’m seeing this moment as encouragement to relax and expel some things (emotional mucus!) that I’ve let remain too long.

Besides, there are worse places to recover than Belize.