I'm sitting next to all my luggage (or my emotional baggage I should say), waiting for a shuttle to the airport, proudly wearing by Barbara Kruger shirt that says "Your Body Is A Battleground." This shirt is my armor today, helping me feel ready to face the new world, which is very different from where I left it 12 days ago. I hear that there's protests in airports happening today. There's yelling in the streets. And honestly, I feel so unprepared for what I'm about to walk into, having been secluded from so much of it, nestled in my little artistic cocoon, surrounding myself with like-minded people, sharing our hopes and fears regarding the new administration. Do I really have to leave all that? Yes.
I might not be prepared for what is happening (are any of us really?), but I know this is not okay. This is not normal. There's a lot of pain, sadness, and anger circling us. And we have a choice to either feel beaten down by the news or rise up and join the revolution. I choose to rise. It's time for further action. Please don't just sit back and watch it all fall apart. It's time to do something. For me, that includes continuing to call and send postcards to representatives, joining the marching in the streets, talking to people to gain perspective, encouraging others to rise, and fundraising for/donating to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. It primarily includes writing, because that's my voice.
The election and all that's happened since then was definitely a wake up call. But guess what? Now I'm awake and it's time to get back to the real work.
I said I was going to write one blog a week, and I'm committing to that goal. Now, my brain is nearly mush. It's been a long couple of days. There's been marching, crying, hugging, and work. So much work. But the other night, January 19, I pulled out my journal and jotted down the following words I want to share with you here:
"The last day of some greatness. The eve of a new presidency. I lie in bed in Park City, Utah, part of something larger than me. Everything is a movement. We are a movement and we can't stop moving. We can't stop fighting. We must stay strong, aware, and full of light. Light drowns out the darkness and illuminates the beauty hidden in the shadows. We the people. We, the people. Not us versus them. We. The power of unity and love. Not me and these few people. All people. All of us. In order to form a perfect union. Union. Unity. Like a quilt. We are like fabric. Like a flag sewn together, representing our divided colors, blending together in harmony to create something magnificent.
We will not be broken. We will rise. I refuse to give in to the fear. I refuse to back track and live in the past. We are the future. I am the future. We and I and you and all of us, we fight on. We carry the conversations forward and piece together what we can, peacefully.
Now I sleep. Scared of tomorrow but knowing we've been through worse. We rise and grow and carry on. We survive."
For over a week now, I've had the song "Be Prepared" from The Lion King stuck in my head. I haven't watched the movie recently, and just asked my partner to see if maybe he's been whistling it (he hasn't). So there's no logistical reason why this would just appear in my head. Unless... maybe... subconsciously I'm having this image on repeat in my mind and am literally telling myself to be prepared for what's coming on January 20th. Maybe.
The other day, I was walking to my favorite Thai restaurant to pick up dinner. As I was approaching the restaurant, a car whizzed by me on the street and some guy yelled something to me about a pussy out of his window. It really shook me up. I went home in tears trying to figure out why I was reacting the way I was. Yes, it was jarring and came out of nowhere, but I think my tears were coming from a place of pent up frustration and fear. I took it so personally. It's as if that guy knew I had a "Nasty Woman" t-shirt in my closet. He knew, and he saw me as "one of them," one of those crazy angry feminists. He knew how to hurt me and dig that knife a little deeper into my wound, reminding me of what we lost the day after the election. It broke my heart and made me angry at those who are thinking it's okay to objectify and demean others who are "different" like that. Because that's what it's coming down to isn't it? Us versus them.
I remember learning about "us versus them" in my musical theatre history class in college. It's a concept we can all relate to, even if it's not just people versus people. It can be us versus poor living conditions (Rent), versus the newspapers (Newsies), or even versus "the man" (School of Rock). But looking at what's going on in the world today, there's a lot of this happening. We see it in the long Facebook arguments. We hear it on the news. We feel it in our bones. And we're all learning as we go on how to be prepared for the next act.
I was recently introduced to the work of Seth Godin. A very large book of his was quite literally dropped into my lap, and as I flipped through the pages, I gazed upon words and photos that filled my heart with such comfort. This book started off as a blog and developed into this amazing piece full of inspiration. His entries consist of insightful quips and detailed observations on life.
It reminded me that while I have this blog, I don't have to write the perfect post every time. In fact, I'm going to embrace the imperfection of it all and set a goal for myself to post one blog entry a week. It could range from a sentence to a lengthy essay, but either way, I think the important thing for me is to keep creating.
For now, I want to share that last night I ended up writing ten pages of a new play that's been on my mind for far too long. I sat down at my desk with a glass of whiskey, lit a balsam and fir candle, and let the dialogue pour out onto the page. It might not be Shakespeare, but I'm very excited to see where it goes.
In 2015, my dad and I got phoenix tattoos for my birthday. His is this bright green color and has a flowing shape. Mine is a black outline and symmetrical. We had them designed to match our personalities. My dad had chosen a phoenix for us each to get because he related to it’s mystical powers and thought it would be appropriate for us as we’ve molded into different versions of ourselves throughout the years.
But at the year anniversary of getting my tattoo, I found myself heartbroken. I had thought that upon having my skin soak up the ink, my life would immediately become more gratifying. There were all these changes I expected to happen. There was this ideal version of myself that I had hoped to become, but in the summer of 2016, I found myself in therapy, not writing, and felt victimized for how life’s game had played out for me. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. I was supposed to get the tattoo and life was going to get magically better. As I was voicing these thoughts to my partner, he reminded me that I was forgetting the most important trait the phoenix represents: rebirth. A phoenix must burn and rise from the ashes to become a new version of it.
2016 was definitely a year of burning for many of us. Beginning primarily with the election and all the celebrity deaths we felt so connected to; we were also witness to so many terrors that made us feel that our world was in fact coming to an end. I know I’m not alone in feeling that 2017 does represent a year of rebirth, now that we’ve finally closed the chapter on 2016. But we need to keep in mind that there are greater challenges facing us as we find our way in this new world. I for one am continuing to find my role in society as a woman, a white privileged woman, who wants to use her voice to help better our society.
The day after the election was one of the roughest days of the year. I remember putting on my makeup like I was preparing for battle; unsure of the world I was walking into. I questioned my idea of feminism and wondered if I was part of the “white feminist movement” ignoring others around me, drinking the “male tears” Kool-Aid and complaining about everything wrong with society instead of doing something about it. I was depressed for a long time. I tried writing about it, but couldn’t put the feeling into words. I attempted to push forward and put the call to action for politicians, and found hope among friends doing the same.
The greatest struggle I had towards the end of 2016 was the balance of staying up to date with all the news but not letting it weigh me down. I wanted to be informed, but found myself having a nightmare of Steve Bannon transforming himself into a shark and feasting on a Muslim family in front my eyes. It is an image I will never be able to get rid of. So I found myself wondering how to care about everything, but not too much so it didn’t cause sleep deprivation. I wish I could tell you that I found an answer to achieving this balance, but it continues to be something to work on. It continues to be a part of this person I have created in my mind, this ideal version of myself I want to be.
After Carrie Fisher’s death last month, I was journaling and wrote down the following: “She is a woman I am continuing to admire and want to live my life a little more like her: with zest and sass, not taking every damn thing so seriously, and tearing down a fascist.” That is what I strive to be more of in 2017. I’m tired of sitting on the sidelines, saying how unfair life can be. I’m tired of not believing in magic and the good in people. I’ve decided I’m going into this year with strength and hope.
Yes, there is this version of me I want to live up to, this version of this woman with the phoenix tattoo I’ve been scared of for far too long. And there is nothing more limiting than doubt. So I pledge right here, right now, to live up to the person I’m meant to be. And I ask that you do the same. Instead of making resolutions this year, let’s make a pact to live up to our full potential. Let’s stand united instead of against each other, and open up the dialogue instead of shutting it down. A new chapter has opened for us and the pages are blank. We have the power to make it anything we want. So let’s not burn the pages of 2017, but hold it up as a symbol for all that we can and will be.