Entries tagged "” loss"

Burying Uncle Ed’s Leg: My latest story on CBC

My Uncle Ed buried his leg. For real. It turns out that it’s an Orthodox Jewish practice. My story and about it aired on the CBC show How to Do It today. It’s a funny one. You can read more on the show in development I mention in the piece, Everything Is Subject to Change, here.

Video of my #ContactCon performance (4 min) : When my too big to fail institutions failed me. Loss and the Net.

Doug Rushkoff honoured me by asking me to be one of the 10 people giving an opening provocation at the very inspiring conference he and Venessa Miemis convened the other day called #ContactCon. It’s was a conference focussed on what people could actively do to concretely fulfill the promise of the Net.

Our role as opening provokers was to give people some inspiration about what the Net needs. I knew I would focus on emotional and a connection on people since that’s what my performance work centres on. I only had four minutes to make an impression and move the room.

I also knew that the other speakers, like Scott Heiferman, (founder of meetup) and Eli Pariser, (founder of MoveOn) whom are all wonderful and whose work I admire weren’t performers. And while people spoke about the importance of making the Net human I wanted to make the room feel human as I made my own points. I wanted to shift or sculpt the social space in the room. Later that day, Doug called it “repasting the room” when he thanked me for my performance

Usually, if I had more time, I’d then use the openness and emotional connection in the room after what I did to shine focus on people in the room and to draw their stories out. I explore some of how I do this in shows, and how these “mechanics” of  conversation or tummeling work  in this other talk I gave at Google and teach people how to do it in UnPresenting.

And some people asked me afterwards as I discussed social and emotional engagement if its necessary to be heavy and sad to pull a focus like that. No I don’t believe so. I think you have to be genuine. You have to work with what’s truthful for you right then. Believe me, it’s a lot more fun for me when it’s hilarious. In time, this story will also be hilarious. At least some of the time.

I’ve written all this to give some context as to why I did what I did in this provocation. It was a chosen performance. Usually this opening up of the room happens in a performance or “talk” of mine. Because there was no time for it I got responses all day long, many in the bathroom from other women (a sure sign you’ve hit a nerve). I choose to open myself up and be vulnerable and honest in these moments but it can be tiring. It’s been a difficult and profound year for me personally, a year of biblical kinds of loss. I’ve moved from place to place with one suitcase for over a year. I’m ready for home and settledness.

This video doesn’t give context. I’m not sure it conveys how it felt in the room before, during or after I spoke. I did shift the feeling in the room which was my goal. I’m proud of that. I’m proud that I can be publicly honest about something difficult. I do know that institutions, even the ones we helped to build, fail. And I do know that outsourcing a sense of self to them also fails us.

Occupy Wall Street points to the institutional failure and shift that has only just begun. I am learning every day how to self-create and collectively create what is needed to feel home in a life of change. This is a huge opportunity for those who make online and off. The goal is not to have something static forever. I’ve learned the hardest way that we really don’t have control.  That kind of making is an illusion. We want to be ourselves and feel safe and feel together. I know I do.



127 Hours, loss, and tequila bar wisdom


photo: Chris Applegate 

I saw the film 127 hours last week. It made a big impact on me. (I liked it a lot more than Social Network. It’s a very interior film and will take you as well as a virtual thing can, to a place of feeling what matters about being alive to you. Log line: a climber cuts off his own arm to survive. Spoiler below).


I was in a bar last night and found myself talking with someone very tall visiting Toronto from Vancouver. Did I mention that this bar’s specialty was serving just tequila and making mid-town professionals comfortable on a night off? It wasn’t really my scene.


I mentioned the film. This woman sharply zeroed in her energy and delivered the pinnacle scene to me: “I made that boulder. I made this moment. This boulder has waited it’s entire life for me…” She hasn’t seen the film but a friend did and he told her about it. This friend saw the film a few days after this happened to him:

Continue reading…

I miss you Felicia

I just found out that one of my best friends at law school died. She was too young to die.

And too awesome to die. Can’t Death swop her for someone without a fabulous sense of humour? For someone who wasn’t such a presence?

There is nothing lawyerly or logical about her being gone. One day she thought she had the flu. The next day, she is gone. I can’t call her up.

I wish I had a digital photo of her but I don’t. All my pictures of Felicia are from just before the web….from the days when having free LEXIS-NEXIS access felt like having a secret pass to the world.

Felicia is one of the only people I’ve known who made me laugh every time we spoke. Damn. I just wrote “is.” Continue reading…

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