if , then .

Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of
do the things that no one can imagine.
~The Imitation Game

tonight i had a lucky thing happen. though i’m not sure it was really luck at all. the way that things led to one another strike me as more probability than luck, and i think the subject of this post might agree.

after attending a book talk last week by Marc Solomon regarding his new publication “Winning Marriage”, our hosts The Welcoming Committee gave all of those who attended tickets to see the preview of the upcoming feature “The Imitation Game“. now, i hadn’t heard much about the movie prior, other than it would star Benedict Cumberbatch, the charmingly cantankerous lead in the fantastic series “Sherlock“. once i found the description on imdb, however, i knew this movie was for me.

when in college, i was required to fill a math credit for my liberal arts degree. to this day, i am thankful for my liberal arts gen-ed reqs for giving me the chance to expose my mind to things i would have never been willing to test out on my own. with “required risk”, i explored openly and ended up choosing three minors based on elective classes, including my math class. now, this was math that made sense to me because it was based on words. yes, words. the class was based out of the Philosophy department and was titled “Beginning Logic” (if you attend UNH, it is still available under PHIL412). my instructor, Rudolph Valentine Dusek, was a wildly entertaining introduction to why i would grow to love this course – he’d often go off on tangents about something seemingly unrelated to the course topic only to link back in at the last second with a reason why logic was relevant. “if this, then that” (if x, then y; if a, then b; https://ifttt.com/, etc.. it made perfect sense! i was hooked.

so how does this relate to the movie? Alan Turing, the subject of “The Imagination Game”, was familiar with logic as a budding mathematician in the 1930s. we studied Turing in many of my Philosophy courses, including my introduction to him during Logic. as Turing developed in his thinking and studies, he ultimately created “The Turing Machine”, which was the start of computing, including one of my personal favorites, the vending machine.  and that’s not just because there are tasty treats, interesting items, and refreshing or warming beverages inside; NO! it is because you put in specific coins and bills and the machine is able to know what to give you based on particular selections. F A S C I N A T I N G!

a still of Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing from “The Imitation Game” – image from theimitationgamemovie.com

i’ve always loved numbers, even though math doesn’t come easily to me. i can learn any math, but it takes me longer than say, how to write a sonnet, or a new yoga pose. but the idea of numbers, and how we connect to them, is mesmerizing. i have a habit of adding numbers, typically seeking to find my favorite number: 9.

when i found out i would have tickets to the movie, i was ecstatic. the only issue was i had to work until 7, and we were asked to arrive at that time for a 7:30 showing. i was worried i wouldn’t make it (i emailed Ashley at TWC, of course, because sometimes my lateness, even when i can’t control it, makes people anxious!), so i was pleasantly surprised to find myself there just before 7:20pm, with enough time to get a soda and popcorn before the movie started. when i arrived, we received numbers for entrance to the show. my number was 153. 1+5+3=9.

the imitation game ticket

now, i’ve been having a bit of a go of it lately, and the fact that i made it to this movie on time, (albeit unexpectedly alone) snack in hand, and with a ticket number equalling 9, i felt like i was in the right place. and the movie was fantastic. even though i sat in the 2nd row, the cheers and laughter of an lgbtqa crowd made me feel at home and welcome. watching the film unfold, pictures of a war my grandfathers fought in, loss, suffering, a mind stretching to express it’s understanding, the pain of a misunderstood life was palpable to me.

Alan Turing was a gay man, arrested for “indecency” in 1952. he took his own life in the summer of 1954, in between the births of my parents, at the age of 41. he was barely 30 when he cracked the German Enigma code, helping to end World War II and saving millions of lives.

we are lucky to live in a world that has been made vastly different by this one man, although he was never valued for his whole self. considering the people in my theatre tonight, some of whom have full-time jobs related to lgbtqa advocacy, and all of whom rely on computers to function daily, i know we would not be where we are today without him. i left with a grateful heart and a sense of urgency to find my own Turning machine, to know my own gift and make it come to life.

here’s to finding and knowing our own worth.
and, yes, i give the film a 9.



the swap begins.

back in the end of April, i went to a fantastic swap. if you aren’t familiar with community clothes swaps, it’s a time when a group of folks gets together, brings clothes they no longer want (and accessories, books, whatever), and makes trades/donations/etc. i didn’t know many of the people at this particular swap, but that doesn’t usually matter as you all just sort of jump in to a pile of clothes and see what comes out. this was a beautiful mix of people across age, gender identity, and skin color. there were a handful of babies, too, content to be in a room full of joyful people, happy to see them and happy to be present. our host, Emma W. (the kind of person who makes you feel like you’ve been friends for years), welcomed us with instructions on where to put different types of items for swapping, a special locale for our own things (so as not to accidentally swap them!), and a warm kitchen full of freshly made food.

i have never been to (and hope to never experience!) a swap where people did not also potluck a whole mess of their own specialty foods, ranging from classic chips and dip and day-old muffins, to fresh baked homemade bread and organic and locally-sourced vegan casseroles. i might suggest bringing a few small, individually-wrapped packages of the food goods you’re sharing for those of us who might also want to swap FOOD (think holiday cookie swap, but even more awesome because it can be any thing, any time!).

we love swapping all of the things!
swappers love good cooks, books, and lovely swapped looks!  (photo cred: Emma W.)

one of the first notable “swappers” i learned about was Amy Lynn Chase, of Haberdash Vintage and Crompton Collective fame, who co-founded The Swapaholics in 2009. i somehow stumbled across Amy on social media and started seeing her pop up all around me. Amy is one of the most creative and collectivist entrepreneurs in the region, and she has played a huge role (in my opinion) in reinvigorating a thriving community-based movement in Worcester. i was lucky enough to meet her at the SoWa market in Boston a few years ago, and i have to say, she lived up to the hype. if you haven’t checked her out, you can find her here. plus she has the cutest dogs and chickens. if you want to go straight to those of the four-legged and fiendishly cute persuasion, click here. (here’s a direct link to one of my favorites, featuring Emma (not the swap host!) and Penny: super pups)

 frantic swapping!   swap crew left photo: i was so swap-excited that i couldn’t get my finger out of the way in time!
right photo: searching through, examining, and trying on. (cred – Emma W.)

since learning about swapping, i’ve been to a handful of them. i actually managed to go a full two years without purchasing any new clothing because of my swap finds. a feat that, if applied to even a few dozen people, would reduce supply and demand quite naturally. sustainability is actually a huge part of all of this. not just in terms of reducing the supply and demand of an industry that can sometimes have a pretty wide and dark underbelly. but in terms of connecting people to one another. of sustaining our access to financially accessible clothing, shared emotional and physical sustenance (because we can also fill our friend groups and our bellies full of goodness), and a network of like-minded supporters. true sustainability is that of the environment, our finances, and equitable communities. (to learn more about this concept, visit ACPA’s Sustainability Committee page and the ACPA monograph Toward A Sustainable Future)

swap3sometimes it’s nice to try something completely unique (photo cred: Emma W.)

people have asked if it’s weird to see others trying on your clothes and hearing their comments on them. personally, i enjoy the friendly jibes. or the excited squeals. and i love it when someone else tries on a piece of clothing that i loved that fits them perfectly and makes them feel like a new person. it’s different from dress up. we’re actually helping to create each other, in context and community.

after the swap, whatever is left is usually donated. Emma’s swap donation plan was to bring any items remaining un-swapped to Boomerang’s, a greater-Boston-based thrift shop dedicated to helping end the fight against AIDS. their efforts directly benefit our community’s health, education, and future.

you can do swap whatever way you like. host a public event with a low fee cover to raise money for charity. have a get-together with friends to refresh your wardrobes. swap with family at the holidays to donate extra items to agencies in your area. the beauty of swapping is that it’s whatever you want it to be: fun, feast, or fundraiser.

every time i’ve attended a swap, i’ve successfully left with a lot more than clothing. swapping is about community, connecting with others in a way that reduces waste and increases connection. you swap clothes and swap stories; try on outfits and new ideas; trade belts and shoes for affirmation and kindness. a true swap is one where you can be honest about what looks good and doesn’t because it doesn’t cost you anything. you can leave with more or less than you came with and it doesn’t matter because it’s different than what you brought in. and the best part of a good swap is, that you’ll be different, too. 

super swap outfits swap walktesting out some swap outfits! (photos courtesy of Emma W., swap host extraordinaire, pictured on the far left and the far right in purple-y excellence)

many thanks to Emma for hosting this swap. big love to Libby who invited me to come. and giant swap hugs to all those who were present for sharing your clothes, your food, and yourselves. here’s to many more swaptastic events to come!