3 More Things I’m Learning as a Small Media Business Owner

About 5 months ago, I wrote an essay titled “3 Things I’m Learning as a Small Media Business Owner.” The title of that essay was pretty self-explanatory. I wrote that essay as a nice personal memento — for while the 3 lessons I had learned were not exactly profound & earth shattering (the first lesson in that essay was simply “be extraordinarily aware of my mission & values”), those 3 lessons were profound… at least to me. I’m sure you’ve been there. When you sincerely throw your full self into a new pursuit, abstract concepts that might seem banal (like … Continue reading 3 More Things I’m Learning as a Small Media Business Owner

Tragedy & Choice

Content Warning: Everything going on right now. On January 31, 2021, I wrote an essay entitled “5 Years Ago in Reno” in which I reminisced about my second-ever union organizing drive. In that essay, I explained that at one point during that campaign, helping the workers at a small rehab hospital in North Bay win their union, I worked “28 straight 14-hour days.” I wrote that I had “never worked so hard in my life” and that “a week prior [to my 28 14-hour-a-day sprint], I had crashed my car in pure exhaustion, falling drowsy at the wheel.” I wrote, … Continue reading Tragedy & Choice

10 Year Pepper-spray Anniversary (Speech)

(This is a speech I delivered on November 18th on the UC Davis quad — during an event remembering the ten-year anniversary of the UC Davis pepper-spray incident. The event was organized by UC Davis Cops Off Campus, Young Democratic Socialists of America at UC Davis, and other campus organizations.) Hey all, my name is Ian. And ten years ago, I was a freshman here at UC Davis. I was 18 years old then — and I’m 28 now. Honestly, I look out at this crowd, and I *can’t believe* it’s been *ten years* since me and my fellow student … Continue reading 10 Year Pepper-spray Anniversary (Speech)

Some Meandering Thoughts about Passion

If you asked people who knew me in middle school and high school what type of person I was like, you’d probably hear a bunch of things — ‘weird,’ ‘socially awkward,’ and ‘disagreeable’ would be among the descriptors. But a descriptor you’d probably hear frequently was that I was deeply, deeply Passionate about the things I cared about. Really, I didn’t ‘care’ about things; I Cared about things. And while most of my interests have shifted at least in some capacity since I was a teenager — an affection for computer animation shifted towards videography/photography, a fervor for political debate … Continue reading Some Meandering Thoughts about Passion

5 Years Ago in Reno

Simpler times. I vividly remember this. The context was that I had finished working 28 straight 14-hour days organizing Vibra Kentfield, a small rehab hospital in North Bay. (On top of the grueling all-day schedule, I was regularly waking up at 3am to phonebank through swing shift — or otherwise sleeping in my car at a park adjacent the hospital.) I was, at that point in the campaign, a one-man organizing team, assisted only by a lead organizer and Andee Johanna Sunderland, who was “outside team” (driving around and visiting workers at their houses). I’d never worked so hard in … Continue reading 5 Years Ago in Reno

The End of Organizing Essays?

From mid-2015 to November 2019, I somehow managed to write a (usually) fairly long essay about organizing on Facebook about once a month. I started writing about standard Leftist theory, then about organizing theory, then about social-emotional dynamics more generally, and then most recently incorporating very abstract spiritual/ existential concepts as they might relate to organizing. I haven’t written anything in the last four months. I haven’t felt inspired to. Not that I haven’t wanted to. As I sit in my room doing nothing but textbanking/ phonebanking folks all day, I don’t think I’ve ever had this much energy in … Continue reading The End of Organizing Essays?

Thoughts on Being a Career Sell-Out, Part 2

I was walking around Old Town Sacramento this afternoon to de-stress. I needed it. It’s been a wild ride these last couple of weeks for me: I’ve gotten into a new romantic relationship, I’ve been hard at work organizing San Francisco non-profit clinic workers into the Union, I’ve launched a photography business called Jolie Media (and already done several gigs), I’m on the board of a non-profit for young progressive professionals called New Leaders Council, I’ve been helping the Outreach Committee for Sacramento for Real Rent Control, I’ve been attending committee meetings for the Democratic Socialists of America, I’ve been trying to hold onto … Continue reading Thoughts on Being a Career Sell-Out, Part 2

7 Years Later & a Spiritual Shift

I never figured out what happened to that jacket haha. It’s hard to personally conceptualize that it’s been seven years since the incident. Over the last seven years, I’ve managed to write and post an essay on my FB about once a month. For the first two years, most of those essays were about the nuances and contradictions of the radical Left. The next three years’ essays centered around organizing theory. And the last two years’ essays have largely been about trying to understand how the social world and the emotional world interact with each other and how the social … Continue reading 7 Years Later & a Spiritual Shift

Start with Experience, Not Ideology

Main point: Many people filter their experiences into representations of their (oftentimes political) ideology. Don’t do that. That’s bad. Instead, follow your experiences and integrate that into who you are. 1. Debate.org This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who knows me. When I was a teenager, I spent about four to six hours a day debating philosophy, theory, and politics on an online debate forum. I made 1000s of posts on there. (You know these long rant-like pieces I do here on my blog? I can read many of my first manifestos — which had way, way worse writing, and … Continue reading Start with Experience, Not Ideology

The Meaning of Life

For a couple of years now, I’ve been trying to articulate what the meaning of life is to me in a succinct but thorough and accurate way. I think I’ve finally been able to write that down, and at least for the moment, I’m satisfied with it. For anyone who cares or is interested (or you’re just bored), here it is: For me, real fulfillment is a fierce and totally ruthless engagement with life. Engagement with life — every present moment of it — is the payoff itself. That means doing the hard work of soul-searching to figure out who … Continue reading The Meaning of Life

Thoughts on Being a Career Sell-Out

When I was in college, I was depressed. Maybe you might be able to relate with this. I would go to class, and do everything in my power to let the time pass by quicker: doodle, day-dream, zone-out. After class, I would go to the dining commons and eat as much unhealthy food as possible in order to numb myself, most of the time to the point where I would be in massive amounts of pain. Then, I would go back to my dorm room and watch hours and hours and hours and hours of Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and torrents. … Continue reading Thoughts on Being a Career Sell-Out

Agency, Trauma, & Pepper-spray: 6 Year Later

The other day while styling my hair, I accidentally sprayed some hairspray into my eyes. Don’t get me wrong — it hurt. But not in the grand scheme of things. For those who don’t know this about me, back in 2011 I was involved in a viral protest that became an international news story. Sometimes — among Leftists in Northern California — people will tell me how that incident helped shape the way they see the world and how it was important for their development. The incident was important for me too. It was seriously traumatic (on top of being … Continue reading Agency, Trauma, & Pepper-spray: 6 Year Later

An Exposition on Mental Health & Organizing, Part 3: On Self-Worth, Authenticity, Organizing, and Existential Paradoxes

Summary of Previous Chapters PART 1: My Story In Part 1 of this series, I outlined my personal journey with mental health and organizing, concluding that using organizing to build my ego was an endlessly futile struggle, and that ultimately — if I continued on the path I was on — I was going to continue to feel more and more empty on the inside. Instead, I concluded that I needed to “try to derive happiness, self-worth, meaning, and social fullness totally from the inside.” In other words: I needed to stop basing my self-worth on organizing, and instead, learn … Continue reading An Exposition on Mental Health & Organizing, Part 3: On Self-Worth, Authenticity, Organizing, and Existential Paradoxes

An Exposition on Organizing & Mental Health, Part 1: My Story

When I tell people today that I used to be an introvert with paralyzing social anxiety, people generally don’t believe me. They don’t believe me because it’s taken years for me to get to the point where I can (usually) talk with new people comfortably and with ease — from a place where stuttery 10-second “hello how are you” greetings could send me down a spiraling self-hating, socially anxious depression to a state where I joyfully talk with random workers every day for a living. My first year of college, when my social anxiety and depression were at its all-time … Continue reading An Exposition on Organizing & Mental Health, Part 1: My Story

On Love

Yesterday, I met up with an ex. We were involved with each other for almost 4 years, and it had been a year since we has last seen each other… an emotional ride, for sure. Here are some things that I’ve known about how I experience reality and love, but through our interaction yesterday, I’m feeling these points more deep in my nerve endings than I ever have. I’m sharing these, because… why not, and maybe also I’m wondering if others feel similarly. * You never stop loving someone. You just learn to love them differently. (And there is other … Continue reading On Love

New Year’s Feelings Waiting for Janus

Last work day of the year. For the first time in my life, I am content. How lucky am I! A year ago, I was coming off having worked 28 days in a row (not a single day off!), doing 16-18 hr days, every single day. I was (for the most part) a one-man organizing team for this small rehab hospital of about 200 workers. I poured my heart, sweat, and soul into that campaign – but way more than that, my committee of worker leaders put everything that they had and then more on the line. I will never … Continue reading New Year’s Feelings Waiting for Janus

In Support of Friendships with Racists

I had a great, deep, fun conversation with a racist/misogynist. What’s more? I want to see him again and become better friends. Let me tell you about it. Last Friday, I wanted to decompress after a long work week with lots of late nights. So I went to Corner Pocket Sports Bar, which is quickly becoming my favorite bar. There’s a lot of activities to do there (pool, darts, games), they play my favorite music, the beer and food selection is great, and it’s only 5 miles away from my apartment. I’m finding I always have so much fun. Anyway, … Continue reading In Support of Friendships with Racists