On Feminism: Me Too

It’s Tuesday. I’m sitting here after a particularly draining session with my personal trainer. I told her I needed to work so hard that my brain shut off. I’ll feel my abs until Saturday and my brain is still going.

I’m tired. Exhausted is actually a better word. If there a word more severe than exhausted that’s actually the right word, but I don’t know it. Physically yes, but also mentally and emotionally.

It comes in waves. The frustration. With the “boys will be boys” and the “that’s just who they are” and the need to put on a smile and go about life as if everything is just perfectly fine because it’s easier if you play the ostrich.

I volley between angry and heartbroken and scared. Sometimes I feel all three. Mostly, just heartbroken and scared.

I see things I didn’t see a year ago. I’m more tender to them. I react differently. I don’t laugh at the unfunny jokes. Sometimes, when I’m brave I even say I don’t find them funny. Occasionally, I open my mouth and say more. I wish I didn’t regret it, but often do.

I don’t want to be that person. The stick in the mud. The angry feminist. The raging voice that grates and annoys.

But I am angry. And I am a feminist. If only because I realize now how it’s still necessary to be one. We still live in a world where men find assault or the bragging about it okay, or worse, funny. Women who still blame the victim. We still have bullies who haven’t been taught our personhood is a right not because we are someone’s wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend but because we EXIST.

And I don’t know what else to do with my voice. I’m tired of swallowing it down and smiling and running away and keeping peace. Maybe people need to be annoyed? Why aren’t more people annoyed? Why aren’t more women just PISSED?

I don’t know how to find the balance yet. I don’t sit well in tension. I worry, I fret. I want people to like me. But I don’t know how long I can want that because as much as I want to be liked, I want things to change more.

I’m angry and heartbroken and sad. I’m more than exhausted. I’m absolutely terrified and uncomfortable and I don’t know if any of the things I do or words I say are going to matter one tiny little iota.

But I won’t be quiet.

Juggling Act (Where I Beat a Metaphor To Death)

Quite a few years back, my very wise grandmother told me the key to juggling everything is to know which balls bounce and which balls break. “As long as you’re keeping the important stuff moving, letting a few things drop isn’t going to be the end of the world.” Granted, my grandmother is the kind of woman who, at 80, was scrubbing her kitchen ceiling just a few weeks after open heart surgery. I’m pretty sure she could handle whatever you threw at her and ask for more.

I am not my grandmother.

And did I mention, I don’t know how to juggle?

It’s the end of September. I should be settling into the routine. I know library day is Thursday. I know the days they have gym. Violet needs to bring her flute on Mondays and Wednesdays and gym clothes Mondays and Thursdays. I know the checklist I have to rundown with each of them in the morning because their brains are full of thoughts that don’t include “jacket for recess”.

The problem is my brain is also full of thoughts and instead of my inner monologue saying, “It’s Monday, remind Violet to pack her flute and the gym clothes.” It says, “It’s Monday. Dear god, I need to take the dog to the vet and I need to get to the grocery store. And don’t forget to pick up Abram’s medicine. And make sure to wash his jersey so it’s ready for tomorrow. And Jesse has a meeting tonight so be sure to tell Violet she needs to hurry up after swim so Abram can get to bed at a decent time. And look at the time” and then I’m yelling, “GUYS, WE NEED TO GO!!! LOAD UP!” and the flute gets left at home.

Please don’t be one of those people who talk to me about packing everything up the night before, because our evening rituals of school work, dinner, sports activities, getting ready for bed, and trying to get to bed at a decent time are busy enough. Changing what time of day the monologue goes off in my head doesn’t solve the problem.

In the midst of all of this, I’m fighting a severe case of bitterness. I don’t know why it’s hitting so hard but it’s a constant drumbeat in my head. “I need more joy. I need something just for me. I need to feel smart and valuable and important and seen. I’m so tired of being everyone else’s. I want to be MINE.”

That ball filled with the dreams, ambitions, and goals that are *just for me* is waiting to be picked up but I’m scared. Scared to throw it into the mix because I’m scared of dropping it again. It’s dented and cracked and so much more fragile than it used to be. With so many other precious things to keep moving and a penchant for picking it up only to let it fall again, maybe it’s just easier to leave it on the ground?

I know this isn’t new. Our mothers and grandmothers had these same conversations and with fewer options. I know that in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, my concerns are somewhere toward the top which in and of itself is a blessing. But the drum is still beating and I’m still trying to keep all the balls in the air and staring at the one I’m too scared to pick up.

When is it safe? When is it unselfish? What can I let fall to pick *me* back up?

I don’t know if there is a good answer, but I’m looking for it.

On the Election: Take Two

To the Trump supporters, those who don’t think it matters that much, who don’t viscerally fear the outcome, think I’m melodramatic for feeling this way, this post is not for you. Go away. I don’t want your eye rolls, your derision, your inability to see that what happened last night is a travesty. If the result of this election hasn’t brought about a crisis of faith in you, I don’t want you here.  I am holding a funeral for the faith I had in this country and I need the support of fellow mourners.

****

Last night, I sat on the floor of my living room and wept. I cried so hard that my husband asked if he needed to be worried about my personal safety. The thoughts and feelings are whirling in a deluge and I don’t know how to find the contentment I felt just yesterday while I was going about my day. I don’t know how to mesh my thoughts that people are basically good and kind and decent to the reality of a racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic president.

And because I can’t make words work – because they come pouring in fits and stops that I can’t string together to make sentences – I’m sharing some links. And I’ll keep adding to them to reference whenever I need hope.

As I look at the world and my children and wonder how to help them keep their joy and innocence despite my despair: This poem.

This playlist. Loud. (Remember blue collar Democrats? Yeah, I miss them.)

A post on kindess. Because we need more of that.

Lin-Manuel’s twitter feed. (I broke my social media ban and went to Twitter yesterday for tweets like his.)

Because I process all things while knitting and I have the pattern for this scarf (or stole) as member of her last year’s color ways club, I think I’ll have to pick it up. It’s intricate and a bit advanced for me. Meditation and peace seeking via knitting.

Words that say what I feel better than I ever could.

This post. Not just for our children, but for everyone who feels scared right now. We need to keep each other safe. We need to keep fighting against the hatred and anger.

A list of pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-earth, anti-bigotry organizations that could use your support. (Thank you, Rita for pointing it out.)

And finally hope. Every bad thing I’ve ever said about millennials? I’m taking it back.

****

For those of you still here, please know I’m grieving with you. I feel your pain, your loss, your confusion. You aren’t alone. We will get through this. Together. Even if we don’t know how. Even though the words sound trite and empty. We will get through this.

 

On the Election

Person holding an American flag on wooden table

I heard the news.

I watched the debate.

I thanked God I wasn’t on Facebook.

I heard a friend say, “It’s not like it matters who is president anyway. The world will go on.”

I thought of my friends, my family who would vote for him.

I thought of my friends, my family who wouldn’t vote against him because “She’s just as bad, if not worse.”

It made me think…how many woman have been moved on, grabbed, kissed, fondled without consent?

I was a kid when it happened. About the same age my daughter is now. Playing hide and seek. And I had no clue. I never told anyone. I just stopped hiding with him because I didn’t like how I felt when he stuck his hands down my pants. I didn’t even really get that it was wrong or that there were people you should tell until I was an adult. (Hi, my name is Kate and I still live in a bubble of naiveté). And then you find Kelly Oxford’s timeline and realize there are so many of us. Too many of us.

Now there is tape of a 60 year old man bragging about something no one should ever do and ten years later, he’s on presidential debate stage.

His defense is that it’s “locker room talk”.

This isn’t funny or cute or “boys being boys” or acceptable. This is rape culture. And it’s time we stop allowing it and show our girls and perhaps more importantly our boys that women are people. And we don’t treat people that way. And we don’t talk about treating people that way.

It does matter who gets elected. Hillary Clinton is not just as bad as Donald Trump.

And I have no room for debate.