Erin O'daniel is a writer, artist and gender expansive womxn living in Duluth, Minnesota

Radical Substance

AHHHHHhhhh! Dating, sex, family, friendship, building community in northern MN. It seems there is a stable consistency and a lack of substance. So substance… what is in that word?  I look further, accept people where they are and am given so much. And I want more. Something multi-dimensional.

If one more of the crush possibilities sends me a GIF with the face of a white woman saying some bullshit about wearing matching socks, I’m literally going to scream. Instead I focus on how one friend lifts me up like a favorite record on repeat in her letters. A southern lover is a yes woman full of eagerness and skillfully who plays with the truth. Meditation group digs almost deep enough for me to discover my buried bones, is so profoundly loving I fly after our time together. 

In many parts of my life, I’ve got criticism down. I was taught that to not have critical analysis skills leaves one one dimensional, and here I balance discipline with the gentle. Why don’t I lean in to this part of me rather than be scared about what it will “manifest”. Trust my balance of substance and light. I’ve honed in on my own light this past eight years and know how to use it, tap it, enjoy it, share it. Now there is this fantastical reemergence of my feminisms. I am So in love. Love love love love love as I read theory and sit in meetings and plan events and … dig into conversations and ideas that have radical substance. This is living looking at/from so many angles.

The people I’ve drawn into my life the last eight years have lent buckets of goodness. I am filled with appreciation. And I want more. There is something missing here. I think of my last lover in NC. She was substantive. Edgy and artsy and so full of love.  Another southern lover is soft, so warm and… our relationship has its limits. Literally in terms of geography and what we know and share together. It's basic, as in emotions and bodies. Which are important but limiting. I get angry at my irritation and yet… it’s real. I feel limited by all of the above.

So I think of Villa Villekulla. Radical substance is hir/his… my middle name. My gender expansive self. I want to tap the total essence and substance of me. Be willing to learn even more and make mistakes and lead and love. Love up Duluth and call in more. Know what and who I’ve done and how these relationships serve me and lean into new unlimited me. This is about training my brain and head and body. Letting go and allowing Villa to steer, trust my human foot on the gas. Trusting the new and substantive places I can go.  Right now SiMC is the option, the new place to travel. And Duluth feminisms.

I was reading about the Trans Siberian railroad last night. Imagining myself finally traveling to Russia, maybe China, maybe Sweden. Here, feeling the expansion of me. Allowing new to shape me after all this comfort. Build on this surety. Hmmmm, maybe that’s what I’ve created. Comfortable work, comfortable home, comfortable relationships.

I received a letter from a new radical young penpal yesterday. I’m aware of the different feelings I have reading her/his letter. There is something different there. Lived, gender non-conforming experience already,  radical substance.  So I name this desire of mine. To know the radical substance in me. Ultimately, allow Villa to take the reins. Know that already I am being drawn to others who want the same. I allow myself to be filled in that way. Deliciously, decide not to be scared by powerful womxn, trans and gender variant folx like myself. I redesign my tribe. I want others wildly and steadily living on the margins, committed to moving edge to center center to edge, closer to me. I’ve stepped into a new defining of Family. And feel the ground laid by the recent past, hold appreciation in one hand and desire in the other.

So radical acceptance meets radical candor meets Radical SUBSTANCE. As in all that has come before I’m filled with gratitude for and now I crave something different. Don’t shove anyone or anything away, judge or yuck the yums around me, I just focus on what I really want. Allow myself to be completely certain and step into new space. Allow myself to confidently feel and say something or someone feels stale. Of course I can still get/find good in it. I am crazee talented in that department. And I want more, am shooting of multiple rockets of desire.

And am loving up parts of all this comfort. It’s been important for me to feel, know, allow, enjoy. Grow into. And I desire different, dynamic, intersectional feminist community, queer family, supportive enthusiasm, commitment to collective liberation, and crazee great work. Radical substance, meets relaxed mind, meets changing the status quo by investing in local social justice movements, meets wildness, wealth, joy, happiness, wisdom, beauty, well being, local queer romantic partnership, great sex, creative and professional success. Why did I ever think it was a trade off? That I couldn’t have all of the above. And human comfort. Ahhh the believing in and feeling all of me. BAM!!! My new practice.

So these people, this place that offers such comfort, allow me to hold onto it all. Continue to love all up. As I reach, stretch, shimmy, scream, sex her/them up into new forms and shapes and people and projects and riches and cash and love and light.  How radically substantial can I become and hold onto the wisdom and kindness and values and love that I’ve built rooms for in my heart. To believe there is ALWAYs room for big me and loving me and radical feminist me and wildness loving me and sex positive me and discerning me and expressive me and ally me. Always always always. That is radical substance.

Dear Eleanor, Frida, Audre, Alice,

Y’all created so much in your lifetimes. Did you surround yourselves with people of radical substance and people of frivolity? I don’t want to use the word light- feminists are multi dimensional and there is so much light in each of us. Audre and Frida you found radically substantive womxn to love. Tell me about them please and thank you.



Trade Offs- From Where We Live to Why We Have Sex

Drinking Love Potion All Day Every Day