It has taken me nearly 32 years, but I have finally become a fully initiated, angry, emotional, pissed off, pissed on feminist liberal. It is embarrassing that it’s taken me this long, and there are some embarrassing explanations, and it may help you to know that I’ve been on the road for a good decade, but I’m not going to go into that now. I’m saving it for my memoir. We can talk about it later.
Right now, I want you to watch the hell out of this video.
Seriously. Right. Fucking. Now. Especially if you’re in New York or LA or very close to either. Please. Pretty please. I’m not typically a beggar, but I’m begging. Do it. Now. Because tomorrow is the reckoning. It’s the day you could march on some jackass big money bank that’s allowing Romney to commit public assery cubed.
Then, once you’re done, I want you to click here, and go give these people a little bit of your money. It’s a little bit of money that will probably help to make you a happier, healthier citizen of the world NONVIOLENTLY.
There is nothing wrong with you. You are self-aware and strong and wise. You are making the right choice. You are the only one who should make that choice.
Sex is fun. It is all right to still want to have sex, even if you don’t want to have children. This does not make you a slut, harlot, brazen, whore, or any other. It makes you a mammal.
If, in the course of having sex and fun, you get pregnant, you have some options. You will know what to choose. You must listen to yourself, regardless of what others say.
Only you will have the right answer. Trust your gut, not your head. Do not trust the billboards that you’ve never noticed, the ones that say, “Pregnant? Need Help? Call Catholic Family Charities.” Those people do not have help. They have guilt-inducing dogma and rhetoric.
It is all right to get your tubes tied. If a doctor tells you he won’t, go to another doctor.
It is also all right to change your mind. If you change your mind post tubal, there are other ways to become a mother.
Maybe you know this, it has informed your choice: Children are devastatingly difficult. When you’re a mother, you reinvent yourself. You become Somebody’s Mom. You become the arbiter of another person’s physical, emotional, and mental health. It is the hardest thing, and not everybody should do it.
It’s all right to hate the people a little who shake their heads at you and tsk and say inane shit like, “You’ll change your mind. Being a mother is beautiful.”
It’s all right to not be friends with people who act like you’re some kind of retard because you don’t have kids and don’t want them. The ones who say, “Only a mother can understand.”
It’s all right to cling to your youth, your beautiful, unstretched body. It’s all right not to want to want to be pregnant. It’s all right not to want stretch marks and tits that sag and to be a pod. It’s all right to want tattoos on your torso more than you want babies. This does not make you vain and selfish. This means you have plans.
It is good to have plans. It is all right if your plans do not include children.
If you like to be alone, you’re not strange or a cat lady, a witch, or some kind of progressive weirdo. You’re a person who likes to be alone.
If you want to be married or coupled for the long term, it is all right not to want to have kids, just be sure to pick a partner who also does not want to have kids, and for similar reasons to yours.
Sisters, I am a mother, and I love my child. But I am a mother who is a woman who never wanted kids.
I sometimes say that I’m a little glad that I became a mother in the way I did. That I wouldn’t have made time for it.
But many, many more times, even though my kid is surpassingly cool and funny, and even though I love her more than I love breathing, even though motherhood agrees with me on the whole; I feel good about acknowledging that I’m really sad that I didn’t follow my gut and give my baby up for adoption.
Child goes to a school that is full of poor kids. Child is a poor kid.
I am proud and resourceful, so Child’s experience of being a poor kid is different from some of the poor kids she goes to school with. We are also not always poor. We are never rich, but we are sometimes lower middle class instead of poor. It is the way with freelancing.
Child’s first grade teacher told me that she typically loses about half of her students to moving for reasons of financial hardship.
That totally blew my mind. When I was little, we got maybe one new kid a year, and occasionally kids wouldn’t show up for the following year, but they NEVER left in the middle of the year.
Another thing that blew my mind?
Last year, Child was in a special reading program. So every day, we did the hour’s worth of homework Child got from her reading help and from her regular class. Her reading teacher thanked me repeatedly for helping her with her homework, for holding her accountable.
I thought, “but that’s what parents do.”
I take child to school every morning because we live too close for her to get bussed.
And every morning, we working poor people kiss our kids goodbye in our work outfits, some of us are in our pajamas. Some of us are incredibly young, pushing strollers, or pregnant, or too skinny, or too round, or wear clothes that were obviously somebody richer’s castoffs.
A lot of the parents’ voices rattle from smoking too much. Have kids whose backpacks smell like stale cigarettes. A lot of the parents have stringy, unwashed hair. A lot of the parents leave the dropping off to the grandparents. A lot of kids come with somebody else’s parents. But there’s a real feeling of community and teamwork in these moments.
They feel like home to me. They feel like moments full of people coming together in a ritual.
Yesterday morning, it was raining. I often think it’d be a fun view from the air, all the bobbing umbrellas, then the clusters of them at the entrance to the school while people keep themselves, their kids, other people’s kids dry.
When I was little, I barely had to go ten feet from my front door to another dry spot. I was released within inches of my elementary school, under an awning.
The kids at Child’s school know about trekking for blocks, and they see the value of an umbrella, which is something I had no concept of until I was in my 20s.
And as I crossed High St. on the way to the Pajama Factory, I saw a dad on crutches, getting drenched, shuffling five kids across the street, and I thought, “maybe it’s anecdotal, but there’s a guy who recognizes the importance of getting his kids to school safely & on time.” He stood, impervious to the rain, watching the kids, made sure they got onto school ground safely.
And as I thought more, I think it’s not anecdotal. The poor parents I see interacting with their kids obviously love them. They obviously care about the education. The trouble is, it takes a lot more hours at $7 to make a living than it does at $30, $100.
And all this ridiculous rhetoric about how poor people are lazy, and Romney’s denial that he’s dismissive toward Americans who don’t pay taxes make me crazy with anger and frustration. I wonder how many times Romney, not his hired people, helped his children with homework.
How is there any universe in which somebody parenting multiple children and working full time for minimum wage–regardless of the choices, circumstances, etc that led them to that life–could be considered to be lazy? Working part time for minimum wage and parenting a single child is a greater task than anyone sane would take on outside of parental love.
The fact is that the working poor do not have the time or energy to deal with their kids’ homework. When the greater pressure is making sure the kids are dressed and fed, who gives a shit about a math worksheet?
It’s not right that our world is like this. It’s not right that anybody would complain that people who live in poverty don’t have to pay taxes. It’s not right that there are individual humans who receive enough money annually to pay for private educations for every single one of the underserved kids in my county. Or that those same humans are pointing their bloated, greedy fingers at the poor–of whom they possess no realistic conception–and saying, “You’re the problem. You are. You’re the reason America’s broken.” How can a group with no voice break America?
But people–even the working poor–listen. Why?
I would love to understand. Please help me. Do you understand how it happens that the filthy stinking rich people who hang out in their luxe mansions, summer homes, golf courses, race tracks, and order more food get to blame and criticize people who have so little they can’t even see to their kids’ educations properly? And why anybody with a modicum of sense would agree?
What is your profession? I’m dying to know. I will show up there and take over your clients. I will prescribe their pills or write their briefs or cobble their soles. I can slice and stitch with the best of them; after all, I took Home Ec.
Or maybe I should show up at your workplace and insist that you show me what you have learned to do over years, what you have paid to learn, and how to do it, free of charge? Or maybe I should laugh at you when you say that one must diagnose the disease before making the incision?
Here is how we writers become so: We spend years feeling tortured, true or not, and scribbling onto any scrap of paper that’s large enough for a word or two. We have journals. We have burned some of them. We have saved others. We have many half full, many overfull. Then we pursued writing-related tasks with vigor, fading into the background in school and work to observe, store up material, notice how people talk and act and are. We have been called odd snobs, different, dangerous, powerful. We have been taunted and less frequently heralded our “gifts” with the word. Our gift is obsession with the music of language, the ability to tune in.
We have read with quiet abandon. We have studied the written word, intentionally, osmotically, we find no greater joy than in the annals of another writer’s imagination. We have allowed others’ voices to inform, infuse our own. We have studied, studied, and continue to study the story, how it works, when it’s working, when it’s not. We have made our rookie mistakes in the privacy of our own rooms or in the semiprivacy of our educations, writing workshops, writers’ groups, families, friends, LiveJournals.
We do not insist that these mistakes be proffered publicly. We are not proud of them. We do not hear editors’ rejections or suggestions with scorn for gatekeepers. We thrive in rejection, we allow it to make us better, we recognize that we may never have success. We do not write for publication, we write for writing, for self, for art, for work, for pain, for pleasure, for sex. If we are published, of course we are pleased, but we do not begin with that in mind. We begin with the word in mind, the story, the sadness, the soul, the voices, the joy around us.
We do not begrudge you your desire to be heard. But we wish you would stop blabbing so loudly about how unfair the world that does not welcome your scribbling is. We wish you would remember how you toiled to learn your trade, the one that is not book writing. We wish you would stop believing that because you can speak you can write. We wish you would stop thinking of writing as a cash cow.
Please, write. Please do. There can never be enough writers. But before you fire up CreateSpace and start selling your print-on-demand for $24, read. And read again. And read until your eyes are dry and shrunken. Until you’ve read more books than anybody you know. Then write. And write long and hard. Until you’ve logged millions of words, tens of thousands of pages. And once you’ve done these things, you may be surprised how many of those pretentious, self-aggrandizing, gate keeping, nay saying, parade raining editors are willing to reconsider your work.
I am annoyed and saddened by the limitations of the scope of the rhetoric.
I am convinced that my vote simply doesn’t matter (though I show up at the polls, just in case), and that rich people are totally in charge of this country, whatever histrionic of republic in which we choose to believe we participate.
And since I’m reasonably certain that unless I get 1% rich (and when I do, boy oh, look out white dudes), I can affect no change, even if I experience wild success in American Letters, I’ll still be a woman, I’ll still be a kooky arty liberal (by appearances, though I am an anarchist/libertarian in my soul), and I would seriously prefer to spend my energy and intellect on more spiritually/culturally rewarding pursuits.
Despite all of this, I could not control myself when the very tippy top of my Facebook News Feed said, “Wanky McWank Pants and 10 other friends like Mitt Romney.”
So I posted the following status update:
So facebook just told me that several of my friends *who will remain unnamed out of respect for their freedom of speech* “liked” Mitt Romney. For a fleeting moment, I considered unfriending every single one of them.
In my mind, I was being flip. I was pointing out the beauty of our illusion of freedom of speech.
When I re-read my status update, I was maybe a little chagrined to realize that, to Romney fans (i.e., humans without critical thinking skills), my status update would be offensive.
But my chagrin was short lived. It was quickly followed by a belly-sinking sense of my own doofus-like state. I should’ve kept my typing fingers still.
I pride myself in staying out of political discussions. I try to maintain a professional attitude and presence in social media. Like to as I might, I do NOT talk smack about people (except for fans of Mitt, apparently), and I do not make personal statements about my relationships, friends and relatives with whose actions/behavior I disagree, or my innermost feelings, dark as they may be.
This Me, of whom you get a sense on my blog, is about 70% persona. People who know me in life can identify the differences between the Me who writes here and the Me who lives in a place and does mundane things like put on socks and go up and down staircases.
I think that any writer would tell you that she inhabits a more perfect self, or a less perfect one, depending on the scenario, when she writes anything.
I think this is why people publish the letters that writers write to people and each other. We are never simply sharing the news. We are always spinning.
This post is supposed to be confessional. I think I lost a “friend” over the facebook status. Based on his ranting, I’m not sure I mind, but I would like to hope that that above-quoted status will be the last thing of a political nature that I personally write on Facebook. Henceforth, I shall only share news articles and comment on other people’s political statuses.