This is Where You Belong

The seed was planted on Thursday, when Maureen O’Connell reminded us to love our community, to listen to the members of our community, to recognize the wounds of our community and work through it. Can you love your community starting from an individual level?

Something in me perked up at that. If I continue to lean on my walls, then am I any better than those who chant for us to build actual walls? If I continue to get hung up on my own emotional baggage–although valid and real and important–will I ever make any real progress with the people around me? Will I ever become more than? What if I stop living like this time is the climax of my story? What if I stop thinking that my story is the most important?

The seed was planted. It quickly busted through to the sunlight.

It was Saturday morning, after the ice and the cold. I stood in the big, bright lobby of the Door County Auditorium. I was still reeling a bit from the sustained eye contact of Riley, our waitress at Wild Tomato the previous evening. Ann, the weekend barista (“no one else could come”), poured my coffee and asked if I wanted her to save some room for cream: No, thank you. “Good girl.” She made a face. “I don’t take it with any of that stuff.” No, no, I said. It detracts from the good stuff. Black like my soul. My usual joke seemed out of place here.

She offered me a free pastry. “You’re our guest.” Okay, Ann.

Ann’s short gray hair stuck out in tufts around the base of her collar. She was wearing a yellow zip-up that boasted the home of the coffee and pastries: Base Camp/Door County

She came from around the pastry table to speak with Ruth and Terry, not married, not together, just friends sitting and eating flaky baked goods together. I watched them, taking breaks from the Door County tourist magazine we had taken from the hotel lobby. Ann included me in their conversation via eye contact. It looked like I was more involved than I was when B.C. came out, all mic’d up and ready for his talk. Loving my community. He was nervous. He refused a cup of coffee from Ann, “Oh, I’ve already had two cups this morning.” But did sip from my cup in between bites of his kouign-amann, which Ann had described as a cinnamon roll with just sugar. It was buttery and crusty and incredible, but this I would not learn until the next day.

B.C. gave his talk on The Limits of Moral Progress. The dozen people who braved the icy roads found it riveting, perplexing, important. They clapped and laughed and asked questions. Terry turned out to be a retired philosophy professor/computer guy. Ruth asked for B.C.’s slides to share with her husband, Peter. I felt the relief of it, the overwhelming-ness of it. Ann and Udula (?) stopped us to chat more in the back rooms. Udula was one of the last to come through Ellis Island from Yugoslavia. She remembers the needle of her immunization. To stand there in front of her and discuss immigration was… surreal. Here was someone with a right to life. Someone clearly intelligent and invested and…a country is such a privilege. A nation is a first world problem.

We left the auditorium and ate cold pizza in the hotel room. We drove to the art studio and I felt…here were people who have lived. Here are people who have chosen to make a life here, on the edge of the world. In a place that’s embraced by winter–ice clinging to all the trees, snow on the rafters, set-up in the eaves of the roofs like I’ve never seen before–in a place that’s enclosed by winter where everything seems dead, I felt a piece of my consciousness come alive. Blinded by the white I thought, isn’t this where you’ve always wanted to be. And it just continued as we chatted with the lady in the art studio, as we sat in the sauna and I thought of the shape of ribs poking up for the sky, as we talked to the Lure bartender about her impulsive move to Door County, as Joel described his car dealer job and his girlfriend a bit more sheepishly, her clerk job. I thought about it as I watched the servers at Bier Zot. I thought about it as we drove back, the podcast finishing up, the road winding through the dark, past the bluffs over the lake. Past all the white snow I could not see. What is this feeling? Like I am finally plugged in, charging up.

Sorry, M baby

I actually have a lot of thoughts about this that aren’t anti-Melania: https://nyti.ms/2lukuU3

This appeared in my Twitter feed with a line about “tradition in the garbage” and although I support the org that tweeted the article, I had to return to the caption after reading the article to confirm my suspicion that it was somewhat sexist in nature.

Reasons I have thoughts about this article:

  1. I am mildly obsessed with and perhaps overly-sensitive to misogyny. I called my housemate out on his sometimes sexist comments, attitudes. Told him that sometimes he does things and I have to consider: “Is this a tally for the you-might-be-sexist column?” I was a little drunk at the time, and had I been sober, I would have said so in a different manner. I didn’t mean all that I said, but I meant what I said. You have been conditioned to hate women. Pay attention.
  2. Misogyny is rampant. We can’t help it. We’re taught to hate women; we’re taught to hate ourselves. Case in point: 53% of white women voted for Pussy Grabber McFuckFace – lest we forget. It’s obviously not framed in you are worth less, hate yourself. It’s framed in this other way– acceptance of men and their preferences. Bending to the will of the patriarchy because the patriarchy poisons everything. That’s just the way men talk; Lady Gaga was boring; I don’t get along with other girls. How do you work in a system that is built against you? You internalize it. I honestly believe so many of the world’s problems are based in hatred of, disgust with, disrespect for women.

And so what if Melania doesn’t want to be the White House Wife? Like, do you think she does any of those things related to making the house a home for PGMFF on the regular? That’s not their lifestyle. They pay people. Also, she’s not even from this country. What could role of White House Wife signify to her? The “tradition” might be lost on her. The point might not mean anything to her. It could be ignorance, or it could be a statement. Regardless, I kind of admire her for it in a way. That nonconformity. That rejection. I’m not going to play nice and I’m not going to do this thing for you. I won’t bear the brunt of your poor decisions. My life isn’t your life. You can’t interrupt my life.

It will be interesting to see though, how the every-American-woman responds to this–those white women who saw themselves in the PGMFF couple. Who thought Melania, as a pretty slim white mother, had something to offer the country. Something they could relate to. Something HRC was lacking. I don’t know what it will take…I don’t know when the every-American-person will realize … It doesn’t matter. [It matters: Melania and PGMFF have nothing to offer you. They are nothing like you. They can’t relate to you. They don’t know you. They don’t think of you. Your revolution is nothing like theirs. They are Marie Antoinette in the castle. Who are you?]

Women have to draw the line somewhere. Women have to stand for something.

And what’s up with this White House Wife gig, anyway? Really? Really. I’m only surprised that I never dwelled on it before. It’s fucked up. It’s beyond gendered.

To confess

Why do I write? Some days it seems incredibly self-serving, self-involved. Some days I am overwhelmed by how concerned I am with myself. Partly, this is just how I am. My desire to burrow deep within my thoughts. My desire to burrow deep into the meaning-making of others I deem worthy. The world as I know it can only exist within me, so that is where I prefer to spend my time, and maybe this is why I write. To pull that world out of me and give it a moment of other…something beyond I can see for once.

And then I read and I think, or this is why I write. Words that match my inner world. Feelings that match things I know yet cannot speak of. I write to find the truth in things. The truth in me. To create a space where my perspective is the loudest –when my mind is the type to lend equal weight to too many voices. To take a break from everyone who keeps me from saying what I want to say.

  1. I’m still afraid of not being loved by the people I love.
    1. Because I have left and stopped loving. Nothing is this simple, but the simplicity of those endings haunts me.
  2. I want to be seen as I am and as the person I want to be.
    1. Impossible. Selfish. Idealistic.
  3. I close my heart to be with myself, forgetting the answers I seek are often outside of myself.
    1. Blind. Short-sighted. Bad habits.
  4. Are there benefits to gain if I stop thinking and writing long enough? If I stop thinking of the things to write.

If I stop trying to project sense onto the world, will it make more sense? Because I am the only barrier between me and the world.

It’s never Over.

“You’re not an angry person.”

I am good at not. I feel my emotions acutely, but I’m good at not letting them bubble over. Years of being the peacekeeper; years of being the rock; years of not wanting to make sense of the world–I let it be.

The anger persists.

I sat at the bar eating gross carnitas with strawberries. (The things white people do in the name of Taco Tuesday.)

Residual anger hummed around my fingertips as I resisted shoving the gross taco in my face and resisted chugging the german beer in front of me.

What.

My friend described a dream meeting he had with administration. A dream of whatever you want; let’s keep you; let’s do this. You deserve it. And his dream made nonsense of my lived nightmare, and I saw red. I wanted to throw my plate on the ground. I wanted to throw my drink in his face. All of this to a man I like, I value, I cherish. Because patriarchy. I rub the match stick in my bicep. Another friend makes a menstruation joke out of his upset stomach. NO.

I hate them in these moments. Men. I hate their lack of understanding. I hate their easily won-overness. I hate their softness. I hate their inability to stick to their convictions. I hate their ignorance of their privilege. I hate their shapeless bodies and their ugly sweaters and their stupid haircuts. I hate the way they walk. I hate their musky boy smell. Grow up. Quit smelling like a dirty child.

I hate their fickleness and their obliviousness. I hate their simple life philosophies: stop making jokes about the things that make you uncomfortable, especially the woman-things, and start fucking doing something. But male privilege always wins.

The way I have to move about the world because of the likes of you, and you get to act like this.

I am always fucking angry.

The woman contract

I’ve been thinking a lot about domesticity. Because of abortion rights, national healthcare, borders. And I think because of communal living. Sharing spaces makes me want to develop boundaries. To share a space I have to drop my boundaries and restructure them. What is necessary for successful domesticity?

Equality starts at home, does it not?

The other night I asked a friend about his marriage. If he felt that all relationships have to stand upon a certain amount of…unevenness. He is extroverted and his wife is introverted and he often submits to her preferences, wishes, style of being. I ruffled a bit at his response: “yes.”

Yes. Maybe because I want only to consider my way.

I wander the spaces of my house. Must I submit to you? The house. Must I sacrifice to keep you? And I do, in many ways, submit to the other beings. To the way they are in the world. Part of that is life as woman. Part of that is life as a chameleon. I can live in any condition.

I reflect upon my parents’ marriages. Domesticity built on inequality. Domesticity. Domestic spheres of women. The emotional labor of women. The emotional labor of the one at home. The one in charge of the home. Does every home need a head?

I watch from the sidelines. The women I know engage in intimate relationships with men, and always there seems to be that division. We are this way in the quiet of our room. But that equality does not hold outside the bedroom.

Does it?

The unevenness. It makes me resistant. This strange sense I’m fighting that all successful relationships have to be unequal partnerships in some way. A match of opposites like protons and electrons. Like positive and negative spaces have to exist, so that a new space can be created. People have to complement and maybe that is the requisite for unequals in some way.

But life as a woman. What if we listed the sacrifices? Not in martyrdom, but in…show and tell. But in…a reality check. But in…consciousness raising…

Who will run the frog hospital?

 

Coalition

I don’t know what my personal form of resistance should be.

I find myself less interested in helping others feel comfortable when they create an uncomfortable space for themselves. I find myself less interested in reaching out and cushioning them.

I find myself laughing at those uncomfortable moments, laughing at the things I usually resist, laughing at those things I usually fight. Tired. I can’t save you.

The administration is too close to home. Too close to how my office is run. Too close to the ineffectual leader I’ve been dealing with for 3 years. We went through all the proper channels to try and affect change. We made appointments with the ombudsperson; we collected notes to document what we meant in fact; we watched as policies suffered and programs failed to meet their objectives. We thought–once you see it you will know, and everything will be rectified. The notice was taken, but the reaction was not what we expected. Instead, we were gaslighted. We were told that we were in the wrong. We were ineffectual. We were lacking. I cried a lot. I felt like a professional failure.

People have since scattered–onto jobs where they are deemed sane, where their expectations are average, mediocre even. I have turned inward, using the opportunity to inspect my own professional capabilities and assumptions. I still wait for change, but I do not hope for it. My colleagues approach me aghast as they learn about the situation as if it too is somehow still new and unknown to me. It’s funny that we all want to live in a world that is fair and just without working for it. It’s funny how inexplicable the opposite can be.

We all want to pursue happiness and liberty, yet so often when we are in a space to create that for ourselves and others, we let fear and ignorance prevent us from succeeding.