Refuge Recovery: An oral history of the book with Gary Sanders

Gary Sanders, one of the original founders of the Refuge Recovery program, sits down with me to discuss how the Refuge Recovery book was written collectively based on the meetings that were already happening in LA.

We discuss the program itself, the early days when the program was being developed by a group at Against the Stream LA, the process of collectively assembling the book and much more!

TL:DR; The book was not written by just one person, it was assembled by a group based on the the group experience of running years worth of Buddhist Recovery meetings. Whether we consider Noah our teacher or not, the RR book is a necessary and invaluable resource for our meetings and our lives.

Read on below to find links to everything mentioned in the video and a full transcription with timecodes!

Continue reading “Refuge Recovery: An oral history of the book with Gary Sanders”

Refuge Recovery meme: I was alone before

I love wholesome memes, and couldn’t pass up the chance to extoll the virtues of Buddhist practice and community to finally defeat addiction:

Animated image of dracula, labeled 'addiction" and saying "You couldn't stop me before", followed by an image of three people, labeled "meditation", "me" and "community". The person labeled "me" is saying "I was alone before"
Meme by me, Jer Clarke. Inspired by Refuge Recovery

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Celebrating one year of sobriety with Refuge Recovery

Today marks the one year anniversary of my quitting pot completely and hopefully forever. On November 22 last year I packed up what I had left of it, gave it away, and haven’t looked back once with regret. Since then I also got sober from a bunch of other other things that were dragging me down, like alcohol, video games and porn.

photo of the refuge recovery book being read, with candles in the background.
Me reading the Refuge Recovery book last January. Accepting that addiction is suffering is the first step.

Living a clean life is easier than I thought it would be, and as far as I can tell, completely worth it. If you are currently in a place where you do things you know you shouldn’t, and wish you could stop, please know that it’s possible.

The challenges of doing what’s right are significant, but the suffering of doing what you know is wrong will always be worse.

refuge recovery logo

Maybe I could have made it here without Refuge Recovery and Refuge Recovery Montreal, but at this point it’s impossible to say. RR is an amazing set of Buddhist teachings about awakening from the suffering of addiction, as well as being a fantastic and supportive sangha (community) of fellow renunciants to practice and celebrate with. The RR community has been there both in person and online. If you are looking for help, please investigate their book and meetings. For a Catholicism-addled atheist like me, the RR program was a much-needed reprieve from the theistic approach shared by most of the 12-step programs.

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me over the past year. To my family who is always there and trusting me to do what’s best, my friends who accepted my sobriety without making it weird and especially to the Refuge Recovery sangha who have welcomed and supported me.

Suffering in this life is unavoidable, but all beings have the potential to awaken and experience freedom from it.

May we be safe and well 🧡
May we be free of suffering ❤️
May we be happy and content 💙
May all beings live at ease 💟

image of a buddha statue wearing a rosary
Mexican Buddha prays the rosary too just in case 🙏🏻📿🇲🇽

A Buddhist Guide to WordPress Development

Below are the slides from my WordCamp Montreal 2018 talk A Buddhist Guide to WordPress Development. 

It’s an unusual WordCamp talk for sure, as it is mostly about an ancient religion rather than a state-of-the-art website app, so I hope some can find it valuable.

FWIW if you just want to learn about Buddhism, and don’t care about WordPress, this would probably be useful to you either way ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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They Broke The Facebook IA Plugin for WordPress and Here Is The Workaround

Learn about the 2018 bug in the Facebook Instant Articles for WP plugin which remains unresolved and which stops your IA posts from getting updated on FB when you update them in WP.

I wrote this up for my beloved Global Voices contributors (i.e. my job), but it applies equally to anyone authoring content on a WP site with the IA plugin running. If you are the admin for a publisher that cares about having your FB users see up-to-date versions of your content, maybe you should share it with your authors too ? ⁉

Facebook Instant Articles: Thou shalt re-scrape thine articles after important edits

If you’re not sure what FB IA are, check out my WordCamp talk on the subject: F******k Instant Articles: How do they work?

Global Voices and Amber: Preserving the web and combatting linkrot with free culture and free software

Very happy to share the news that Global Voices has fully implemented Amber, a project from Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University that backs up every site we link to in case it ever goes down ???

It was a big project getting Amber to handle our 100k post archive, but the satisfaction of having a tool like this be part of my job is exactly why I cherish working for GV. It’s a bit of a love note to GV, The Internet Archive, and the whole endeavor of preserving the web both socially and technologically ?

Thanks to Carl Alexander, who works with me on the backend and programming side of Global Voices, together we came up with some great patches for the plugin that we shared back upstream on Github ???

GV is Preserving the Web in Amber and Why That's Great News

Gender Disobedience and Disobedients

I love the expressions “gender disobedience” and “gender disobedient” as alternatives to “gender non-conformity”. They are great for describing queerness and transness from the perspective of people who intentionally subvert gender norms.

This post is me google prospecting on the term “Gender disobedience” because I found no interesting results and thought the concept needed a homepage.  I hope my thoughts on the subject are interesting to you, especially if you yourself happen to be gender disobedient. To read more about me and my particular gender check out About Jer and Gender.

Protest sign saying Gender Liberty For All with the trans logo
Disobey all the conformities. Photo and sign by me.

In praise of gender non-conformity

If you are careful to do things expected of your gender, or just happen to, you are “gender conforming”. If you do things that aren’t expected of your gender, for any reason, you are “gender non-conforming”.

Gender non-conformity is an essential concept because it’s so unspecific about the reasons or details. It’s needed when you don’t know someone’s gender or gender presentation goals.

Many people identify as “GNC” as an identity or attribute, especially because it can describe both cis and trans people across all genders.

Gender non-conforming is also an important label for those who consider themselves cisgender, yet behave in ways associated with other genders.

The only thing I don’t like about “gender non-conforming”, for myself, is that it can also describe people who do it unintentionally, or naturally without any particular agency. I don’t just happen to be non-conforming, I put effort into my disobedience.

I am gender disobedient

I love “gender disobedient” as a label because it feels like the active form of non-conformity. Disobedience is something I do, not just something I am. 

I reject the common gender system as it exists today, and I want to subvert it with my own style and behavior. I accept that the rules exist, but refuse to abide them.

 Disobedience in other parts of life can be dangerous, and obeying is important for everyone’s safety, but when it comes to gender presentation, I think breaking the rules is safe and wholesome.

Not all rules were meant to be broken, but some of them must be.

Gender norms burden and oppress us.

DISOBEY THE CISHETEROPATRIARCHY!

About Jer and Gender

TL;DR My name is Jer and I am not a man

My gender is non-binary, which means I am neither male nor female, the two states possible in the gender binary. I identify as agender, which means I do not believe in my own gender and/or don’t have one. Both of these mean I am genderqueer, because they are weird.

I was assigned male at birth (AMAB) with the name Jeremy and the pronouns he/him. I feel like I have been failing my male assignment my whole life and have decided to drop the class.

Jer is my real name. Most people call me that and it makes me happy. Jer is also much more gender neutral than Jeremy so it’s important to me that Jer is considered my full name. 

Please use they/them as my pronouns to talk about me in the third person rather than he/him. Usually you should just say “Jer” instead of he or him and “Jer’s” instead of his like “I say Jer’s name the first time I mention them in a sentence.”

I will not be mad if you forget and I am happy to answer questions if anyone has them. I’m hoping you will accept me as I am and do your best to respect my identity.

This shouldn’t be a huge shock to my friends

If you know me well, this information is probably both news and ancient history. Here are some things that most of my friends take for granted:

  • You should call me “Jer”, it’s shorter, it’s more fun and it’s what I prefer.
  • I don’t fit into masculine stereotypes about most things.
  • I often come off as a gay man and love it when people mistake me for one.
  • I also wish I was a lesbian.
  • I’m a raging feminist and SJW about almost everything.
  • I wish everyone was gender neutral.
  • I’ve never felt like I am a real man, or wanted to be one.

Maybe that last one is a bit heavier than most conversations get, but it’s been true since university, when I learned that gender and sex didn’t have to mean the same thing.

At the time no one told me about non-binary, genderqueer or agender as identities I could have for myself, just the option of being binary-female if I wanted. That option didn’t and doesn’t have much appeal to me, it would just be another kind of drag like the male drag I’ve been doing my whole life.

Recently I’ve been reading about gender and the different labels and definitions people use to describe themselves. The more I read about gender non-conforming people, the more I realized I was reading about myself.

What makes me non-binary?

This list isn’t necessary, but I’m including it for anyone curious what, in particular, being genderqueer means in my own life.

  • When people say “him“, “guy” or even “Jeremy” about me, it reminds me that my internal understanding of myself doesn’t match how people think of me.
  • When people use male language like “handsome” to describe me, it feels inaccurate.
  • When people use female or unspecific language like “beautiful” it makes me feel good.
  • I tried growing my hair so it would look more feminine and I love it.
  • I tried nail polish for a goth party and loved it so much I wear it most of the time now.
  • I tried dresses and skirts and it made me feel really happy.

I don’t know how I will present in the future, but you can expect me to do things that “men shouldn’t do” with my fashion, grooming, behavior and everything else. This is okay both because I’m not a man, and because men can do anything they want whether they are trans or not.

Maybe in the long run I’ll seem “normal” and everyone will assume I’m a man, maybe I’ll be perfect neutral androgynous and everyone will be confused. It seems very unlikely, but maybe I’ll get to a point where people think I’m a woman.

Either way I suspect I will always be non-binary inside, and I plan to live that reality in public.

Thank you for your attention if you’ve read through all of this, and for any understanding and patience you can bring to the challenge of honoring my identity and wishes.

Readings

agender pride flag
Agender pride flag from Wikimedia

Humblenoia: A fear of ironic compliments

If you are truly humble then someone giving you a complement makes you feel a little bit humblenoid.

Humblenoia is that feeling when you hear something nice about yourself, but you don’t believe it.

The humblenoiac is often found refusing compliments and, paradoxically, arguing against their own merits.

Readings

F******k Instant Articles: How do they work?

Watch the video of my talk!


Here’s the slides embedded from Slideshare.

Continue reading “F******k Instant Articles: How do they work?”