Avens O’Brien: Right Place, Right Time

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Avens O’Brien



Originally posted by Avens O’Brien at Taste It Twice. Avens O’Brien was LPNH Vice Chair from 2006-2008 and currently resides in southern California. She is also on facebook here and here.


The drop of a dubstep song and the scent of tequila: Las Vegas. A place where they pump extra oxygen into the casinos and clubs to keep you wide awake and dissipate the scent of cigarettes. I called it “home” for less than two years, but sometimes I feel I lived two decades inside them.

I like to believe that my life in Las Vegas made me a better person. It taught me so much about human interaction, the highs and the lows of life, and how you never know exactly what somebody else’s personal struggles are, no matter how perfect their makeup or how thick their wallet is. Living and working in Las Vegas was a study of the human condition – and how I can make someone’s day or night tremendously improved by my influence.

I had the enormous pleasure of being paid to bring people on incredible adventures. To celebrate their birthdays, their weddings and their special occasions. To find them drugs, or women, or the best table in the club. To make sure their friends got back to their hotel safely. There were so many people who told me “today is the best day of my life” and I was there, not only to witness it, but to help make it happen. It was immensely joyful, no matter how often it was their buzz talking.

I may have left Las Vegas, and the life where cash was handed to me and I was suddenly responsible for making sure someone else was happy. However, I aspire to the kind of life where I can profoundly positively affect someone else’s journey in a single interaction, perhaps even just in passing. I try to do this through so many avenues; from my writing, to my superfluous Facebook posts, to engaging, even briefly, with people who don’t obviously offer a direct benefit to me, they just seem nice. I realize at times I stretch my own bandwidth a bit thin, but I have a special appreciation for sincere kindness, and try to exercise it as often as I can.

I have been struck at times by stories people have told me, sometimes years later, of a single thing I did for them, or something I said, that hugely impacted their life, and I barely remember it.

One night in March of 2013, I had been out all night with a girlfriend, drinking and partying, when we headed home at some ungodly hour. We were both hungry, so we stopped off at this little restaurant away from the Vegas Strip. We were the only people in the place, and were being silly and flirtatious with our server while ordering random items from the menu.

A cute, scruffy guy walked in and sat at a table not far from us, alone. We teasingly coaxed him over to us, shared our meal and various stories of Vegas nightlife. I got his number, and friended him on Facebook. There is nothing about this story right now that makes it extraordinary in my life. I talk to strangers all the time. I invite random people into my world for fleeting moments and copious amounts of laughter. I was just being myself.

We all left at the same time and we hugged him goodbye before parting. I never saw him again.

On Saturday, I received an email in my inbox. It was from him. It was long, and it was beautiful, and it was heartfelt. He described in several paragraphs the context of us meeting, of the years, months and days leading up to that night in March of 2013. His story was one of heartbreak, and depression, and utter hopelessness. He had decided to commit suicide.

The night before he planned to kill himself, he drove down the street to his favorite restaurant in Las Vegas to have a meal alone. Two vibrant, warm and kind women invited him to their table, and shared a meal with him for less than an hour. That simple act of kindness sparked a small amount of hope and life inside him he had sworn was dead.

He reached out to tell me what I never would have known otherwise. That I saved his life.

We’ve both moved away from Sin City, away from the neon lights and the secrets we may never tell another soul. We’re still friends on Facebook. Though I met him for less than an hour in March of 2013, and I don’t honestly know if I will ever see him again, I feel profoundly connected to him, and my heart could burst with the love I feel surge through me.

As I read his letter, I was blown away. Here it is, this thing I aspire to. To profoundly positively impact others’ lives without even knowing it. To simply be myself, and for myself to be enough to ignite hope, or passion, or joy. In this case – to save a fucking life.

I keep wanting to say thank you to him. Thanks for not giving up. Thanks for taking a chance on yourself. Thanks for being brave and getting through it. Thanks for reaching out when you were strong enough to tell me what I did that I didn’t even know. Thank you for validating the way I live on this planet, for making me feel like I am doing exactly what I intend to.

We live so much of our lives having to make quick judgement calls about what is worth our time and how we should behave. It’s powerful to realize that sometimes we’re just flying blind – with no idea what battles others are fighting below the surface. We cannot know. It would take more energy than any of us have to learn the particulars of every single person we come into contact with. However, we can live a life where we always try to err on the side of kindness to make up for that. That’s the life I want to live. Thank you, to the man who confirmed that’s the life I’m living.

39 thoughts on “Avens O’Brien: Right Place, Right Time

  1. Andy

    I fail to see how this story is relevant to this site. Just because it was written by a person who is a minor party member it does not make it a relevant story that is worth posting.

  2. Jill Pyeatt

    Ms. O’Brien is indeed an extraordinary woman.

    I like this article, which focusses on an individual dedicated to making a difference. I know there are many people out there who are trying to do just that–and we should let others know about them. In the first place, good people should be shared, but, also, perhaps names and faces for our alternative thinkers will help the cause.

    Congratulations to Avens, and to Paulie for sharing this!

  3. Andy

    “Jill Pyeatt

    February 20, 2015 at 12:41 am

    Ms. O’Brien is indeed an extraordinary woman.”

    She may be, but I don’t see what this has to do with the mission of this site, which is to post news about minor parties and independent candidates. Not everything that a minor party member or independent candidate says or does is newsworthy.

  4. paulie Post author

    Posting opinion pieces by anyone with an alt party title is one of the things we do, and have done for a long time. It’s not just news.

  5. Jill Pyeatt

    Jeez, Andy, sometimes I just don’t understand you. I posted my above comment before I saw yours.

    What possible harm is it to you to feature an activist who furthers the libertarian message in a different way?

    I, for one, would far rather read something like this than endless arguing over minutiae in philosophy, or hearing over and over again that a certain petitioner got stiffed, or that the LP is hiring the wrong kind of petitioners.

  6. paulie Post author

    We’ve featured plenty of people’s opinion articles (even a few of Andy’s).

    And Jill is right about Avens.

    Also:

    The LP should be all about people helping each other. When we do that, there is a lot less incentive to turn to government for help.

  7. Andy

    “Jill Pyeatt

    February 20, 2015 at 12:51 am

    Jeez, Andy, sometimes I just don’t understand you. I posted my above comment before I saw yours.

    What possible harm is it to you to feature an activist who furthers the libertarian message in a different way?”

    What does this article have to do with political activism? Not everything that a minor party member says or does is newsworthy and deserves to be an article.

  8. Andy

    “paulie Post author

    February 20, 2015 at 1:45 am

    I’ve answered that already.”

    I don’t even see the words Libertarian or Libertarian Party in the article. I think that you were just looking for an excuse to post the picture.:)

  9. paulie Post author

    I don’t even see the words Libertarian or Libertarian Party in the article.

    It’s at the top in the blurb. “Vice Chair of LPNH” which I am sure you know what that stands for. Under long standing IPR rules that is all the reason I need to post an article here. We’ve been doing that for years, so why the sudden issue with it now?

  10. paulie Post author

    I think that you were just looking for an excuse to post the picture.:)

    Well, it’s certainly a spectacular view, but the article is very worthy on its own merits, with or without picture.

    I think you are just looking for something to complain about.

  11. Martin Passoli

    “The LP should be all about people helping each other. When we do that, there is a lot less incentive to turn to government for help.”

    The personal is political.

  12. Andy


    paulie Post author

    February 20, 2015 at 1:56 am

    ‘I don’t even see the words Libertarian or Libertarian Party in the article.’

    It’s at the top in the blurb. “Vice Chair of LPNH” which I am sure you know what that stands for. Under long standing IPR rules that is all the reason I need to post an article here. We’ve been doing that for years, so why the sudden issue with it now?”

    No. This person was a Vice Chair of the LP of NH a few years ago. What does this have to do with now? Does a non-political story from any other former state LP Vice Chair deserve to be an article?

    I’m sure that there are all kinds of former LP committee members that have all kinds of stories to tell, but it does not make them all newsworthy.

  13. paulie Post author

    This person was a Vice Chair of the LP of NH a few years ago.

    I post opinion pieces from former party officers and candidates all the time. Nothing in our rules says that their title needs to be current.

    Does a non-political story from any other former state LP Vice Chair deserve to be an article?

    On occasion, yes.

    I’m sure that there are all kinds of former LP committee members that have all kinds of stories to tell

    Send them to us and we will consider publishing them.

    but it does not make them all newsworthy.

    IPR publishes more than only news.

  14. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    Let’s admit to the elephant in the room. The author is a young, attractive woman. The photo certainly emphasizes her physical (rather than intellectual or political) assets.

    Sure, others’ opinions have been posted before. But there are so many opinion pieces, most never get posted.

    Any young, attractive woman is going to draw attention out of proportion to her achievements or importance. I’ve seen it in other professional areas.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with young, attractive women joining the LP, or using them to improve the LP’s image. But let’s be honest and admit that that’s likely part of the reason for posting her musings and photo.

  15. Mark Axinn

    I agree with Andy and Root’s Teeth that this piece has little to do with the usual IPR subject matter and the photo (and fact that Paulie finds her beautiful inside as well) were determinative of its inclusion.

    So what?

    It’s a nice piece. Paulie, Jill, Jed and others do a great job (on a non-pay volunteer basis) adding lots of good content to this site, and if they want to run something a little off the usual trend, that’s thier perogative.

    I enjoyed both the photo and the story.

    I also like the Trojan Horse in the prior story and the Roman orgy scene (next story). Heck, sometimes I even like Paulie’s horrible rap youtubes he posts.

    Andy, give this one a rest please. Pretty girl. Nice tale. Perhaps not as saucy as many others she has (or wants us to think she has) or as boring as many we have.

  16. Avens

    I would sort of agree with the posters above that I’m not entirely sure what this piece has to do with current political activism/reporting. However, I am honored that you felt like sharing it, Paulie.

    I don’t spend much time on IPR to tell you if the reposting of it is appropriate or not.

    I’d encourage the readers who are curious what the heck I might have to do with liberty, to check out my website (www.avensobrien.com) which has much of my writing and some tales of my activism. I’m a second-generation Libertarian who was raised to believe you have to live the life you wish to have in this world, and lead by example. I recently published a list (on my Facebook, because people asked) of my “credentials” in the liberty movement dating back to childhood, and my activity in the anti-war movement.

    My life contains personal stories, as well as various political experiences – including my recent work at Euro Pacific with Peter Schiff, and my involvement with numerous political groups, LP politics, campaigns, and outreach.

    I appreciate that people find me to be a pretty face. For those who do wonder how that is relevant, I’d encourage you possibly to check out another essay of mine, also personal:

    http://tasteittwice.com/2015/01/27/see/

    Relevant points:

    “There will always be people who observe me as an object.”

    “My appearance is certainly a vehicle for attention. I enjoy compliments on it, but it is temporary and it is not my primary value. Attention, however, can draw people to my writing, to my work, to my passions. It can bring people into thinking about liberty, or thinking about liberty differently than they do. There are many other subjects and ideas I advocate for – I hope it can help bring those to others’ attention in a positive way.”

    “I will use the assets and skills and privileges I have to highlight that which I care about, because I can. It doesn’t make any of those assets or privileges or skills the most important thing about me or the most valuable. I don’t think any one single thing about a person defines their value. I think people are beautifully complex and their unique measurement of all their qualities makes them who they are.

    A cake isn’t made with just flour. Without the other ingredients it’s not a cake at all. People aren’t just their looks or their color or their creed or their beliefs or their smarts or their disadvantages or their privileges. They aren’t just flour, or just eggs, or just frosting. You’re not just one of those things. Be cake. Acknowledge other people’s cake.

    A cake with beautiful frosting can be tremendously delicious or it can taste like shit. Maybe you just bought the cake because it was pretty. I like to think that people drawn in by my appearance stay because the rest of me is quality. I like to hope that.”

  17. paulie Post author

    Avens, the rest of you is tremendously high quality. And as you point out, nothing wrong in using your looks to draw some attention to your thoughts and causes. If you get into making youtube commentaries, I think you’ll be a huge hit. Are you ready for the fame? 🙂

  18. paulie Post author

    I see that Avens is already ahead of me on that youtube idea….

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA9j-KjQ2il3h6OY6qyO0aw/feed

    In her first adventure, she gives the pompous Molyneux a well deserved parody skewering:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ek3H7Cd2TQ

    For those who prefer serious essay form:

    http://thoughtsonliberty.com/the-truth-about-stefan-molyneux

    http://thoughtsonliberty.com/stefan-molyneux-the-gun-in-the-room

    Metacommentary on the youtube clip is at https://aonarach.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/the-truth-about-bunnies/

  19. Steve Scheetz

    I like the Avens story, and I believe it absolutely does belong here. The story demonstrates Libertarian ideals in practice.

    She helped people, not because government told her to, but because she WANTED to, on her own terms.

    If that stranger had to wait for government to help, he would be dead now.

    I say THANK YOU!! for the inspirational story! I hope IPR finds more of these, even if they do not have a Libertarian spin to them!

    Sincerely,

    Steve Scheetz

  20. paulie Post author

    Exactly! If we don’t help each other out the government will “help” us more. The whole machinery of big government is working to destroy voluntary interactions like this and make people turn to the cold embrace of regime bureaucracy and its partner corporations for help.

  21. Andy

    “Avens

    February 20, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    I would sort of agree with the posters above that I’m not entirely sure what this piece has to do with current political activism/reporting.”

    You see, even Avens agrees with me that this story article is not newsworthy!

    My comments were not in anyway an attack against Avens, but rather to point out that IPR was not living up to its journalistic standards. There have been several important stories that have not even been covered here in articles at all, like in early 2013 when former Libertarian Party Presidential candidate, Michael Badnarik (who also had run for state legislature and US House as a Libertarian, and who was going to run for Sheriff as a Libertarian if he had not been hit with health problems). released a new book called, “The Secret to Sovereignty,” I mentioned it to several IPR writers thinking that surely, a former LP candidate for President releases a new book would be newsworthy enough to merit its own article on IPR, yet it never got one. Another example was the Free and Equal Colorado Governor’s Debate. There were articles on IPR about the build up to the debate, yet after the debate happened, there was nothing. The debate was video recorded, and it is posted to YouTube, yet I don’t recall if getting an article on IPR. I was in Colorado and I attended this debate, and I let it be known that I was there, yet nobody asked me for any feedback.

    So if I see a non-political fluff piece like this getting coverage, while IPR ignores what I’d call much bigger and more relevant stories concerning minor parties and independent candidates, I think that it is worth pointing out.

    I am not saying that this could not have been posted here. It could have been posted in the Open Thread for February 2015. I just don’t think that it merited being its own article, because it has little to do with the purpose of this website, which is to report on minor parties and independent candidates.

  22. paulie Post author

    “You see, even Avens agrees with me that this story article is not newsworthy! ”

    That is not what she said. See the rest of her remarks.

  23. paulie Post author

    There have been several important stories that have not even been covered here in articles at all, like in early 2013 when former Libertarian Party Presidential candidate, Michael Badnarik (who also had run for state legislature and US House as a Libertarian, and who was going to run for Sheriff as a Libertarian if he had not been hit with health problems). released a new book called, “The Secret to Sovereignty,” I mentioned it to several IPR writers thinking that surely, a former LP candidate for President releases a new book would be newsworthy enough to merit its own article on IPR, yet it never got one.

    It all depends on who is actively posting articles at the time and what piques their interest. I think early 2013 was one of the times I personally was taking a break. I seem to remember spending several months completely offline in 2013. The fact that a lot of things don’t get posted doesn’t mean we don’t have “journalistic integrity” just because we step slightly outside the usual bounds, but still well within our guidelines, on a rare basis to add a little “spice” to our usual fare at other times. We aren’t robots, and results sometimes vary.

  24. paulie Post author

    I was in Colorado and I attended this debate, and I let it be known that I was there, yet nobody asked me for any feedback.

    Actually, I did ask you to liveblog it or write it up afterwards, and you said your computer and phone were not charged up or something.

    So if I see a non-political fluff piece like this getting coverage,

    I disagree with your characterization of it as “non-political fluff.”

    while IPR ignores what I’d call much bigger and more relevant stories concerning minor parties and independent candidates, I think that it is worth pointing out.

    You’re entitled to your opinion, but those of us who actually do the work of posting the articles are entitled to have our opinions count more. Our individual level of enthusiasm for posting articles here comes and goes, and there are times when we have more time for it than others, so yes, some things don’t get posted, and at other times we may reach out and expand our horizons a bit. C’est la vie.

    I just don’t think that it merited being its own article, because it has little to do with the purpose of this website, which is to report on minor parties and independent candidates.

    Your opinion has been given all the consideration it’s due, and then some. As I have said, you interpret our purpose more narrowly than I do.

  25. Avens

    Technically any of my articles on Thoughts on Liberty have an “exclusivity” agreement. The original content must be linked back to, and you cannot use the whole article, but you can quote much of it.

    My writing on DL Magazine is non-exclusive, attribution requested.

    My writing on Taste it Twice is ad hoc, attribution requested. I recommend “To Win Hearts and Minds” for political commentary on that blog.

    My writings can all be found on http://www.avensobrien.com.

    I’m considering two new offers of publication.

  26. paulie Post author

    Thanks!

    Of course, I’ll attribute anything you write to you. I’ll keep that in mind about ToL and I’ll take a look at the one you recommended.

  27. Andy

    “paulie Post author

    February 21, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    ‘I was in Colorado and I attended this debate, and I let it be known that I was there, yet nobody asked me for any feedback.’

    Actually, I did ask you to liveblog it or write it up afterwards, and you said your computer and phone were not charged up or something.”

    I was unable to do that at the time due to being in transit. Regardless of what I could have done, why didn’t IPR have more coverage of the Free and Equal Colorado Governor’s debate after the debate happened? The debate is posted on YouTube, yet I don’t even recall anyone ever posting the video here.

    “I disagree with your characterization of it as ‘non-political fluff.'”

    Even the person who wrote the post which you posted here does not think that it was appropriate content for a news article here. Why? Because the article had nothing to do with minor parties or independent candidates, or with politics in general.

  28. paulie Post author

    Regardless of what I could have done, why didn’t IPR have more coverage of the Free and Equal Colorado Governor’s debate after the debate happened? The debate is posted on YouTube, yet I don’t even recall anyone ever posting the video here.

    Dunno. I believe this was during a period of several months when I was not posting any IPR articles. I can’t control what other people do and couldn’t overcome a mental block I had to start posting articles myself until I did, which was maybe a month or two later, by which time we had long since moved on.

    Even the person who wrote the post which you posted here does not think that it was appropriate content for a news article here.

    Once again, no, that is not what she said. She said she does not spend enough time at IPR to answer that question and is glad I posted it. I do not and did not claim it was a news article. Not all IPR articles are news articles, as I already explained several times.

    Because the article had nothing to do with minor parties or independent candidates

    Incorrect. The author had been an alt party officer, and that’s good enough for us. Furthermore, you are repeating yourself pointlessly, and wasting my time in having to explain this yet again. Your opinion has already been noted. Please move on.

    or with politics in general.

    Disagreed as well, for reason myself, Steve Sheetz, et al already noted above. The article is staying; if you don’t think it belongs here there are over 14,000 other articles that you can comment on at IPR.

  29. Philo Sophia

    I’m sorry to have skimmed this entire exchange of comments just now, but it was too painful. I am glad, however, to know the truth about bunnies. Avens, your poise is refreshing as ever.

    Lighten up, folks 🙂

  30. Avens O'Brien

    “I’m sorry to have skimmed this entire exchange of comments just now, but it was too painful. I am glad, however, to know the truth about bunnies. Avens, your poise is refreshing as ever.

    Lighten up, folks”

    Thanks!

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