Notes From The Road.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nicholas_t/2789113344/in/photolist-5fsWe7-diugKp-o6qxW-ehDioj-8YPQQ4-9QPp9-6Mdx3F-4Mxiuu-4mAQff-cadkCj-cT5RAY-4xSKzt-5LDsRZ-64W8kL-7TYWbb-9LE1CS-nGwmYu-7dTyrL-mWzQjZ-bYfPzS-djCqm-f1Eu12-89ytzh-qeKBw8-avAjXu-fW3cSS-FNWa4-g6K4Z-5APGkK-5fzZ5b-ao19br-5HMTxE-4hJkMi-ef8Fhz-fxZTv-7hMxyh-ddSJg-8XLpCR-4oLyv5-5GsUpX-dd9GfR-mGnJWn-8tsqTm-81JA6w-aqtYNJ-k3D94x-fcbKFp-7RTdXx-4r96YV-y994Y
Flickr user Nicholas A. Tonelll

Today I drove 40 miles south, then a few hours later I drove back. I saw at least ten cars pulled over, but only got a look at four of the drivers. Two black; two white. I wish I could say I believed there’s a chance the six drivers I didn’t see were white.

Christians, if you’re going to drive like assholes, maybe don’t have those WWJD bumper stickers or icthyses placed prominently on the rear end of your car which I will undoubtedly see as you cut me off.

Brokeass white people with Romney Ryan stickers left over from ’12, one of these days I really will rear end one of you. Know how I know your asses are broke? You drive Jeeps and Ford Escapes from ’89 that almost look lacy for all the rust. Your cars make more noise than semis, and not cos you installed a muffler enhancer. And at least half of you drive around shirtless.

Anybody reading this have any experience with 4th graders and pickup lines? Asking for a friend.

Thinking about law school and getting a PhD with equal lather lately. Anybody know the starting salary for a social justice lawyer? HAHAHA.

Sometimes, I eat onions then I smell really bad.

Nobody in my family loves the Green Ralph Lauren cologne the way I do. Anybody who wears that wanna follow me around so I can inhale deeply your delicious odor like a sweaty perv?

My student’s incomplete is due on Monday. I will turn in his grade on Friday. Don’t know why I feel so anxious about whether or not he will actually turn in his incomplete. Maybe it’s related to the fact that I haven’t been brave enough to view my scores on rate my professor dot com.

Finally, I’m 34. It’d be really unfair if I were really perimenopausal. If, in fact, I am, I am looking for a gynecological surgeon for some pro bono work on my uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. You may keep them for study. Say you found them in a dumpster. I don’t care.

Sometimes, A Gal’s Just Gotta Rage

from Flickr user Thoth, God of Knowledge
from Flickr user Thoth, God of Knowledge

By now you’ve heard about the SCOTUS  Hobby Lobby decision.

SCOTUS stands for Supreme Court of The United States, but during the past few days, I’ve been rather startled by the acronym’s similarity to the word SCROTUM.

If you’ve been hiding under a rock, here are some links:

They Want More

Ruth Bader Ginsberg is THA BOMB

Hillary’s pissed.

Corporations are people but women are not

What the actual *profanity* *PROFANITY* PROFANITY AT INCREASING VOLUME!!!!!

Then, Jon Stewart quoted Hillary saying The Bible is the most influential book of her life. Honest to god, I can’t believe the transparency of the pandering. What the hell, Hills? Are you strident or not? I say the answer is not.

Maybe she went on to describe the ways in which The Bible has been bastardized by Christian rhetoric. Maybe she means the parts where Jesus is an all-around good dude who had positive ideas about how to be a human in the world. But what is more likely? Her team of Election Manipulators have encouraged her to say shit like that so as not to fully alienate the Religious Right (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days).

It pissed me off.

Other things that pissed me off?

Hobby lobby has no trouble paying for viagra. Sort of like Medicaid has no trouble paying for Penis Pumps.

Nigerian school girls are still missing.

There have been 74 school shootings in the last two years and Gun Lobbyists are still bastardizing the second amendment to “protect” a regular citizen’s “right” to bear arms.

Sexual abuse and assault is still rampant in our culture.

Which, as a mother of a female child, TERRIFIES ME. I’m scared to leave her out of my sight when not in our home. I’m scared some mentally ill person she goes to school with will decide this fall is the fall to tote a little firearm to school and rain bullets.

I’m pissed that I have to worry about that.

I’m angry at how powerless myself and all the other people in the whole country who are worth less than several million dollars are.

I’m angry that the Clintons have the gall to declare themselves broke-ass after their stint in the White House.

And today I’m really fucking sad because a kid I grew up around (our grandmas were BFFs), went to school with, who had loads of friends and was a genius at fixing cars, killed himself.

He killed himself because his dad shot his mom when he was 4. He was there. He killed himself because of domestic violence. He killed himself because of somebody else’s mental illness and gun violence.

I am so wound up today that, after I couldn’t locate my previously existing Yoga DVD, I went to Target and bought two. I did about 50 minutes worth of cardio Yoga and Yoga for stress relief and I feel reasonably calm now. For the rest of the afternoon, I am going to finish reading Eat, Pray, Love, and I am going to try to figure out how to move to space in between frustrated crying jags.

Hopefully I will be refreshed and calm enough to lead tonight’s writing workshop.

What do you all do when you’re full of rage? Am I the only grownup who gets enraged to the point of distraction?

 

 

 

Funk Life With Community and Woodpecker

From Flickr user DNAMichaud
From Flickr user DNAMichaud

I have traditionally avoided funks by being addicted to productivity. If I am constantly in a flurry of activity, I cannot introspect enough to be depressed.

I become anxious if I’m not getting stuff done. (I think, lately, because I’m scared of facing myself.)

But this semester, I have intentionally lightened my load.

The result? I have been in a 3-month long funk of rage and sadness.

The usual thing (writing) isn’t helping. Neither is working out. Though I’m still doing both. Less than I’d like to be.

I have been getting much, much less done; and I’m trying to be okay with that. It’s hard.

I’m not saying this to elicit pity, so if it is your impulse to say something like, “It’ll get better!” and “You go girl!” please don’t. I know it will get better. I am totally going.

I am sharing about my funk because funk shouldn’t be taboo. Because women’s funk especially should not be taboo. A lot of us have memorized lessons that say, “contentment is not your birthright: internalize and adjust, you can make everyone happy.”

I’m calling shenanigans on all that. That shit is a recipe for an eternal motherfunking funk.

There’s a lot of media about women in extreme funks: substances and addiction, abuse, approximate or near life-ending funks.

This funk I’m having isn’t anything like that.

This is a low-grade, sometimes ignorable funk. But ignorable funks are dangerous: my intuition is lower, I feel like checking out. Ignoring things that are important can have lasting physical, emotional, and financial consequences.

But funks are also a healthy part of the process. And I’m learning how to use it to be a better person, instead of just ignoring it or launching back into a frenzy of hyper productivity. I’m making conscious, deliberate, steps toward no mo funk. Or low mo funk.

Part of my funk is the result of plugging into books about women, about feminism. Intentionally becoming more tuned in to my daughter’s education (which is fucking depressing and a post for another day). Paying attention to politics.

Looking at myself and the ways in which my religious, rural upbringing has shaped the way I think about myself and other women, how I have voluntarily believed(and sometimes still believe) I am not worthy or deserving of things that, frankly, I want. Basic things like professional fulfillment and money and self-assurance, confidence, and to be taken seriously by people in authority.

I’m staring the fact that I talk myself out of a lot of self-confidence directly in the face.

I’m trying to figure out how to stop getting in my own way when I want to communicate in important and meaningful ways.

I am trying to get to the locus of my fear.

I am trying to become a better woman so I can teach my daughter to be powerful and self-actualized and know how to ask for and pursue what she wants without feeling like an imposter.

And over the last few days, I’ve had a couple of experiences in my communities that made me feel relevant. And strong. And proud.

So I want to take this moment to be grateful for my communities and share them with you.

One of the communities, the best one is the Wilkes Creative Writing community. Just being connected to so many productive writers gives me the warm fuzzies. So many of my peers, friends, colleagues, and teachers from Wilkes are doing amazing things.

This is 5 out of 900 things that just crossed my Facebook feed yesterday and early this morning.

The fabulous Trilby wrote me special to ask for a submission to her new online journal, Red Lit. (You should check it out and submit, too).

And an editor at a tiny press who has my manuscript has been sending me poems and links that my work reminds him of, challenging my thinking and being generally awesome.

And the facebook group dedicated to raising awareness to Opt Out of Standardized Testing for PA has provided assurance that I am not, in fact, insane. And encouragement and advice when I was seriously millimeters from letting apathy win.

I had a wonderful, long, simpatico conversation with a district administrator when I showed up to opt Child out of the PSSAs.

And last week, after a failed hour with Angie’s List and web searches for talk therapists in my region, I put out a Facebook update asking for recommendations of secular (you wouldn’t believe how difficult this is in my area), female talk therapists so that I can get help to untangle this mess in my head. This mess that I don’t even have specific words for. My friends delivered. And I even have insurance. Thanks, Obamacare.

It feels good to do things that give me power and that I want to do. Small steps.

Anybody care to share a moment of funk? Or a month or year? How did you get out of it? or How did you cope?

WTH Femme Files: Mothers without men and movies without women

CC License_classic_film_WTHFemmeFiles1
From Flickr, used under Creative Commons attribution license. Flickr user Classic_Film is the owner of this image.

Most of us who are mothers have enjoyed a man, if only for a few minutes.

One of the things I do with my current man (he is worth it) is to (very occasionally) watch awful movies. The most recent? PACIFIC RIM. Really, Guillermo? My man said, “Yeah, he did it so he could get enough money to do something more interesting.” Somehow that doesn’t fly with me, even though it should: I wait tables so I can do something more interesting (write, read, grad school, general thinky awesomeness). I want artists who get paid livable sums of money, however, to be above all that.

The upsetting thing about PACIFIC RIM was not the poorly written screenplay, the wooden characters, or the insane, bullshit, lazy names for types of immense badass creature/robots. I mainly expect these things from CGI action apocalypse movies (I know, I know, there are one or two great ones, but pointing that out every time somebody mentions the general badness of the genre isn’t really doing anything to elevate our culture, is it?). The upsetting thing about PACIFIC RIM was that there was only ONE female character. Screen after screen of literal oceans of dudes. One of the halves of the Russian Jaeger team may have been a woman, but I couldn’t tell, and if she was, she got blown up sometime during act one.

Which leads me to the wonderful article by Geena Davis about making Hollywood less sexist. Take a minute and giver a read. You won’t be sorry. But in case you don’t have time, she suggests taking half of all male characters in any screenplay and making them women. No other changes, just played by a woman.

Which wasn’t actually where I intended to go next at all. I wanted to tell you about this NPR story I heard about Black Twitter that brought up a thing that makes me feel my privilege in a way that is, if more aware, certainly uncomfortable. Go listen to this NPR interview with Meredith Clark who’s writing her dissertation at UNC about Black Twitter. Or read the transcript. In the middle of a conversation about influential hashtags, specifically #solidarityisforwhitewomen, here’s the quotation that made me THINK: “#Solidarityisforwhitewomen when conversations about gender pay and the gap ignore white women earning higher wages than black, Latino, and native men.”

Yeah, howzabout that, anyhow? How can I help make solidarity for people of all colors? How can I be a better, more thoroughly informed ally? How can I do that without alienating good white male feminists? Or even just the white men I care about? Should I care if I alienate them?

Which leads me to this short French film called “Oppressed Majority where men are cast in typical women’s roles and women are cast as men–even pissing in alleys and running without shirts. The director is Elanore Pourriat. It’s only about five minutes long. If you’re like me, you’ll be all, Why did that make me sooo uncomfortable? The intro to the film is right–we stand for this very stuff every day when the roles are “traditional.”

Which makes me wonder why it does not make me uncomfortable that out of the thirteen short stories about motherhood I recently read (from a book called Stories of Motherhood) twelve had men who disappeared like the Russian Jaeger pilot, who were dead, or who were only in the stories peripherally, who the women in the stories seemed quite happy to be without? Of course, a short story is a different thing from a film, and in each piece, the absence of man/father worked to develop the conflict between mother and daughter (or son) and mother and motherhood. But why do women write stories about motherhood without men?

Which makes me wonder, too, why I tell other women I think they’re pretty when what I should say, and what is nearly always as or more true is, “I admire your mind. I am glad I know you.” Why do I tell my own daughter that she’s pretty more often than I tell her she’s smart? Why do I, sometimes thoughtlessly, passively participate in these age-old tropes, rhetorics, and massive piles of sexist bullshit that affect all of us women, the ones Justine Musk hints at when she describes the process of finding her Deep Yes in her TEDx Talk?

Any of you routinely getting your mind blown by your obsessions?

Anything to share or add?