Even Though

I have been writing this post for weeks in my mind. A follow-up to a vulnerable declaration of fear and self-hatred. I have started many other post since my last. Happy put together posts about revelations that have found me the past few weeks. I will post them at another time.

This is not a happy put together post. I am not happy and put together in this moment. I am trying to ride the tornado that is the words being typed by me right now.

My husband and I have decided to stay in the country we were born to. I wanted to feel happy about this. I am working my way toward happy about this. Another post will dive into that.

This post is not about the choice itself but more so a plea to the many who stand saying that anyone still upset by the results of November 8th should get over it or look at it from a new perspective. Should find the positive in the situation. I beg you to close your mouth and open your ears and your eyes.

We all have blinders. I have them. I am pro-choice and pro-traditional marriage. I have blinders to women who are contemplating abortion. I don’t know their stories or their names. I have blinders that prevent me from seeing the true struggle of the LGBTQIA+ community. The election results have had massive effects on so many. Many many negative effects. These people have a right to fear just as you have a right to tell them that they’re being crazy. You can tell me that, but it doesn’t change my reality. It doesn’t change the fact that I am almost certain I just had a panic attack. Your thoughts don’t change how I feel.

 

I went to see Rogue One with my husband and friends. I didn’t want to see it but wanted to make my husband happy. He loves Star Wars.

I am about to be a buzzkill. If you don’t want my truth please stop reading now.

I watched. I saw. I cried. I held back sobs. I saw…I saw…

Aleppo

Vietnam

Afghanistan

WWII

I saw Aleppo. I saw Aleppo. I saw Aleppo.

With every advance of the rebels there was a quick and painful sacrifice. As the audience around me seemed to be enjoying an entertaining film I tried not to wail. I tried not to sob. Half-way through I just wanted it to stop. I needed for it to stop, but I didn’t want to ruin it for my husband. So I stayed seated. I stayed and watched.

I feel crazy. How can I be the only one who sees that those Rebels are us? I know I’m not crazy because after the election so many found hope in this idea. Maybe it’s that for me from the beginning of Donald being a serious candidate, I have seen the worst case scenario.

I could die. Before you tell me I’m crazy talk to the young lady who may lose her arm because she believed in the cause of the NoDAPL movement. Then look back in history, go back 30 years, think about the AIDS epidemic. Think about the many gay men who died because of prejudice. Go back another 50 years and look at the lynching post cards.

Even before Donald was elected these thoughts of the worst case scenario raced through my head. Would my husband and I have to flee? Where would we be safe? People thought I was crazy. Then Donald was elected. A fear came true. I know I need to stop letting confirmation bias skew my thinking. But when I try to say, “Yeah, I’m just being paranoid,” a new video of people saying “Hail Trump” while proudly doing a Nazi Salute pops up.

So I sat and watched and kept seeing my friends on screen. Amazing people who I know will fight. Seeing myself. Knowing that while I hope good and justice will prevail there will be sacrifice. There always is.

While yes, horrible things have always happened and will continue to happen, I woke up to a new world order on November 9th. Things are not ok.

 

When the film finished I quickly gathered my things and made a b-line to the car. Aleppo, Aleppo, Aleppo. People are dying. We, a global community, are watching people say their last words via twitter. We are helpless. Fuck us, they are helpless and we watch.

I was able to make it to the car but could no longer hold back my fears or the sobs. Things are not ok. Yesterday my husband and I had to leave a restaurant because the table next to us was making overtly racist comments continuously. Not about us but they just kept going on about Native Americans and the current President of the US.

The tears came and then a wave of fear. It can go so bad from here. It can go so bad from here.

Nowhere felt safe. There’s the corner where my husband and I were honked at. Here’s our apartment. There’s the gay couple who will most likely become a target. There’s the deaf woman who will most likely become invisible. There’s our next door neighbors who proclaim Christ and most likely voted for a hatemonger.

I headed to the bedroom closet. In the dark, I tried to gain control of my breathing. My husband frantically tried to calm me down. He tried to say it was going to be ok. He tried to say that I would always be safe. Then he started to cry. He knew. He knew that if we would have said anything to the table at the restaurant he wouldn’t have been able to protect us. Three against one, not good odds.

This was the worst. He shouldn’t have to feel that way. He shouldn’t have to feel like he can’t protect his wife. We have only been married for 3 years. He should have to know that truth yet. It’s too early.

 

Eventually I was able to gain control of my breathing and the wave of terror released me. I will be ok. I will wake up tomorrow and clean my house and do Christmas cards and love my husband as deeply as I can. I will focus my attention on trying to be part of the solution. I will read books about creativity. I will go get checked out by the doctor to make sure my lungs are ok. I will think about my many projects. I will buy comics. I will swim at the Y. I will do all of these things.

 

I will do all of these things and keep doing all of these things and stay in this damned country that breaks my heart and makes me feel shame. I will. I will. I will.

Even though

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I wish I was White

Three days of the new world after the US election…

Day 1

In the early hours of November 9th  my priority was consoling my friends and family. I wasn’t shocked. A deep fear came true. My paranoia had ensured that we had some semblance of a plan. Failing to console those I love, sleep found me around 3 am.

Waking up very late, my Facebook feed found me. The rush of pleas for action from my liberal white friends were too much. My bedroom closet held me as I tried to prevent the sobs from finding their way out of me. I had work to do. I had to go to work.

I was able to get my husband to work and myself. At 3am we were leaning toward leaving the country. This had been the plan. My husband thought I was crazy at 3am but before I left him at work he mentioned that Malta would be a good choice. I told him that I felt myself wanting to fix it, the country. Not for me but for my mija yet to be named by our pregnant friend. Who will protect her? I wondered. I promised him I wouldn’t act on anything.

The world felt different. Every white person was now a threat. Hyper vigilance flooded me with anxiety. Paranoia fueled the hyper vigilance. All white people are now a threat. I live in a place where 216,133 people voted for Donald. We only have 570,955 eligible voters. Over half of the people here voted for Donald.

For work, I had to do some shopping. I found myself not making eye contact. A white man in a suit came up behind me in a coffee shop and I jumped away. What would happen now if he tried to hurt me?

Is this how white people have felt all the time? Fearing that people of color might hurt them. Assuming that people of color are always a threat until proven otherwise. It was exhausting.

A flower shop I visit often was my only respite. I knew I was safe there. The owner came and gave me a hug and then gave me flowers before I left. But…

I had to go back out. To prevent from hyperventilating I came up with a way to difuse the fear. “They’re robots. They are all robots. Cops are robots with only one gun and I can see it. I can see the gun so it’s ok. They look like droids from Star Wars. Those droids are harmless. They’re robots. They’re robots. They’re robots. They’re robots…”

All day, if I didn’t know you and you were white you were a robot. My own racism moved from passive to active.

I left work early because I could. I couldn’t keep the sobs back anymore. At home and knowing I was safe I released the sobs.

After work, my husband and I headed to a friends. I needed to play with my mijo. It was a nice night. I received an apology for being called crazy for having thought through what we would do if this happened. That was nice.

There was a moment. My pregnant friend was truly terrified. She is pregnant and moving somewhere where she couldn’t get the right care for her children was not an option. But…

My mija is going to have beautiful olive skin. She is going to look closer in skin tone to me than to her mother. My friend knows and understands what this could mean for my mija. I could see the fear and uncertainty in my friend’s eyes.

Coming home the deep sadness found me again. I asked my husband what he needed. Should we stay and fight or go? He was on the fence and we agreed to take our time to make this decision. Then he asked me what I needed. What did I want? What did I desire?

I could have lied, but I just said, “I wish I was white.”

Day 2

After a day of trying to avoid eye contact and feeling like I was traveling back in time. A time when raping women was done by gentlemen regularly. A time when you could lynch a black person for having the wrong look on their face. I wanted to try to be me. Loud, bright, radiant, vibrant me.

Driving to work, I turned up my music and sang and danced. Work was quick, my last day at the job. I received many thank you’s and compliments.

My boss, a large emotional joyful strong man said he was proud of me. I love him and his hug was a huge comfort.

Then off to work with kids at an after school program. It was rough but ok.

My dad called to check on me. Before the election we had a conversation. He believes that I am overreacting. One of the many people who think/thought I am crazy. “Now you know where you live,” he said. It was hard to hear him. I felt broken. He was trying to reason with me and my emotional brain couldn’t hear the words.

Quick dinner with my hubby then off to play board games at another program with kids. I submitted an application to a leadership program. I so deeply desire to not lose momentum. I want to keep growing for as long as I am able and still breathing. Then a late night movie with my hubby and friends.

On the walk in, I was trying to get my husband to explain to me how it is to be white. Is it possible that being a white person means that you can’t see the world the way I do? Can’t see that there exist many America’s depending on who you are? At the concessions counter, I tried to engage the cashier in conversation. I was trying to still be me, a person who cares about people. My voice was too soft for her to hear. She didn’t hear me.

We made it just in time for the previews and found our seats. The people behind us kept placing their feet on our seats. The first time that my seat was kicked I tried to rationalize. Maybe it was a kid, maybe it was a person who had really long legs, maybe…maybe…maybe.

When no apology came I tried really hard to just stay in the movie. When the second kick came I decided to move seats. I told myself that it didn’t matter who this person was. When the movie was over though, I had to know. I looked up to see an adult female with dark hair.

She and the man with her had put their feet on and kicked my and my husband’s seats throughout the movie. Maybe it was purely an accident. Maybe they were just grumpy. Maybe…maybe…maybe…

When they left the question I asked was, “Did they see me?” On the walk to the car, my husband said that he didn’t want to say anything because he wondered if the seat kicking had to do with the color of my skin. He was afraid of what might have happened if we said anything and didn’t want the trouble.

As we walked up the stairs to our apartment I apologized. My husband is white and if I could just be white too maybe we wouldn’t be having these problems.

I wish I was White.

Day 3

Deep sadness found me again. I didn’t want to do anything. This was the first day of a chosen time of unemployment. It was supposed to be a joyous day but I didn’t feel joy. It was my freedom day.

I wrote a little while my husband slept. Then I tried to laugh with my snoozy husband. I asked him what he wanted to do today. He said he wanted for me to enjoy my Freedom Day. He got up and headed into the living room.

My writing partner and I touched base. We had been doing this almost constantly since election night. She had found the most profound sense of strength while I was still swimming in deep sadness. She shared with me images of Kamala Harris; a woman who had inspired my writing partner. We agreed to meet later in the day to talk about the future of our writing. We agreed that we were both different people now and that this was a new world.

My husband cooked breakfast while I watched TV. Then we enjoyed Hamilton’s America. It felt good to feel something other than sadness. I felt jealous and inspired, but I couldn’t write. I choose comfort instead. My husband and I cuddled and napped until the afternoon.

When we finally woke up my husband headed to the living room. I drew myself a bath and then met with my writing partner. We talked about who we are now. We talked about planning our next moves. We talked about a desire to take an aggressive stance toward our writing. There was work to do and we we’re going to do it.

Coming out of the meeting I noticed an email response from a friend. There was a group of Lutherans meeting about race relations. She had invited me. Feeling super vulnerable I wanted to know what I was walking into. In her email, she stated frankly that she didn’t know if this meeting would be a safe space for me.

I talked to my husband. He instantly said he would come with me. I didn’t want to put him in danger. I want to protect him and all the people I love and now my skin more than ever puts them at risk. I needed him to know that if we stayed this was the new reality. From here on out we would be at risk. Not like when we lived in the city. In the city, we were rarely ever truly alone or isolated. If a person wanted to harm us there was the chance of someone helping. Here, where we are now that is not the case. You can go on a walk in a neighborhood and not see another human the entire time. Then he said, “You would not be putting me at risk. The hate and racism of the other people would.”

No decisions were made. We headed to dinner and planned on a movie after. We talked about a novel we are in the beginning stages of writing together. During dinner I was still on edge a bit. Everyone around us was white. My new paradigm meant they were all a potential threat, but I had my new shoes and looked great. I felt like me and that kept the fear at bay.

We came home deciding to save the movie for tomorrow and build a fort. Instead we headed to bed and fell quickly to sleep.

 

+ + +

 

Now it is day 4. I still wish I was white. I don’t want to have to fight. I don’t want to have to live through history. So many have said over the past few days that we are stronger. We being people who have been marginalized, killed, oppressed and other wise beat down. Surviving that makes us stronger. Having something to fight for makes us more powerful.

All I want though is to be safe and be me. I love people and believe in them. As my faith in God grew I went from saying “I believe in the good in people” to “I believe in the God in people”. Adam’s creation story tells us that God breathed life into him which means that each of us has a little bit of that inside. Now that my faith is in a wonky space I think it’s both. I believe in the God and good in people.

This means that I don’t want to walk around life feeling that everyone I don’t know is a threat even if that’s true. I’m sure on some levels it is. You never know what a person is capable of and I choose not to limit the potential of anyone.

Moving forward I don’t know what my husband and I will choose, to stay or to go. I know which way we’re leaning but I don’t want to commit that to the written word until we’ve decided. I don’t know many things about the days to come. I don’t know who I am now.

I wish I had wise words to sum up this post, but I don’t. I guess I wanted it out in the world to serve as a view into one person’s experience. This is what it has been like for me. Hopefully that’s useful to someone.

Loving Grandpa Trump

A few week’s ago a thought ran through my head. What if Donald Trump were my grandfather? Not right now, but in the future after he became president and most likely began the second American civil war and started a holocaust.

A cartoon version of different conversations between me and Grandpa Trump flooded my mind. Adoring him at age 6, beginning to question him at 10, starting to hate him at 13, running away at age 15 unable to accept the reality of who my grandfather was.

Being a biracial human, I know that my grandparents were only forced to truly look at their own racism when it was too close to home. My Papa, who I love with everything I have, shared with me recently that he was horribly racist toward white people in his youth and child rearing years. Growing up a black man in a segregated small town in east Texas I can understand why. He said it was only later in life and through his faith in God that he realized this was wrong. “It’s wrong to hate,” he said.

Knowing this I want for Donald to have a beautiful biracial grand-daughter. I want for him to face the reality of his words and consequences of his actions.

More and more I see that all bullies are scared, insecure humans trying to hurt you before you can hurt them or seeking to fill a void within themselves through the pain and suffering of others. It would be great if Donald were just evil. Then I wouldn’t feel disgusted with myself and guilty when part of me, a part that I have tried to get rid of, wishes for a lone sniper bullet to find him.

The truth as always is more complicated and nuanced. Donald is a man. A man who didn’t create the rampant racism within our country. Who didn’t fill the air with hatred toward the other. Or make it acceptable for men to objectify and violate women. While he is profiting greatly off of these things, he didn’t create them. We the American people did.

We refused to get uncomfortable. Refused to call out our friends and family when they said something offensive or morally wrong. Refused to stand up for countless victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Refused to sit at the table and have the hard conversations. Instead, we happily only listen to people who agree with our worldview. We yell and demean anyone who dare think differently than us.

So, what now?

I’m scared. I’m afraid that I might have to leave the country to prevent becoming a statistic in a history book many years from now. I’m horrified for my nieces and nephews.

But…I don’t think hating Donald is going to fix anything. And even if he died peacefully in his sleep tomorrow we would still be a country where being a non-white human means a different existence. And where having breasts and a vagina means violence or the threat of violence is just part of your life.

Regardless of what happens 13 days from now, I hope that we as a country can start looking in the mirror and start being uncomfortable. I hope that we can choose peace and love, because I’m not certain hate is going to win the minds of Donald Trump supporters. Maybe if we can speak to them in love and ask them to imagine how their world might change if they had a child or grandchild who looked like a Trayvon Martin or a Daisy Coleman things might change.

I’d happily be adopted by any Donald Trump supporter willing to hear me and comfort me in this time of great uncertainty and fear. If that’s what it takes for my fellow Americans to see me as someone worth listening to, I’m game.

And maybe if those of us opposed to Donald being our president could adopt the people in our lives supporting him as our parents or grandparents or sisters or brothers we can find a way to an America where everyone is truly free and safe and can pursue peace and happiness.

Maybe…

That’s what I’m hoping for.

I love my messy house

i-love-my-messy-house-2
My favorite room in my home.

Today for the first time ever in my life, I felt a pure sense of love and happiness for my home. As a former military brat, my family moved around a lot when I was growing up. I would come up with grand design plans for each space. I believed that a space, the four walls, would tell you how they wanted to be designed if you would just listen. I never finished one idea completely. I would run out of time and then it was off to the next place.

Now I live in a two bedroom apartment with my husband. We have been here for three years. Slowly blending all of our stuff; his Bobba Fett figurines with my knick-knacks, all of our books and furniture. It’s not done yet. The spare bedroom is still covered with boxes we need to talk about. All of my items for large art projects I have yet to start and his boxes that I haven’t peered into. But, it’s our house.

For me, home is people. A city can change, but for the most part that sense of home in my experience comes from the people I love occupying the particular space they’re in. I wouldn’t say that a place has ever really felt like home. Places feel familiar of course and memories provide the warm feeling of nostalgia. Cities have heartbeats and I can remember the time when I walked to the beat of a city’s heart. Until this morning however, I have never felt that sense of home people talk about.

Moving around a lot has provided me with a different sense of roots. I have a bag of seeds and plant them along my travels. Gardens to visit across the land and tend to if I choose.

This morning something shifted. I have been reading this book, A Creative Companion by Sark. It encourages me to put things up on my walls. To feed my creative and whimsical side by claiming the space around me with loving reminders or powerful wisdom. While the focus of the book is to embrace your creativity I feel what it’s really trying to do is help you embrace yourself. To love yourself. To love where you are. To spread that love around to others.

i-love-my-messy-house-1

I wouldn’t say that I’m there yet. If I‘m brutally honest I don’t love myself, not unabashedly, not without doubts and caveats. I am working on it though. Everyday I’m trying to learn to love me just as I am.

Today felt like a first step. I love my messy, cluttered, comfy, fun house. It is a safe space where I can be me. Be a goofy, silly human or a sad human or a lazy human. If I can accept my four walls, the space I occupy often, then maybe I can begin to accept me. That’s my hope at least.

So if you’re still reading this I suggest one thing for you today. Take a moment and sit in your favorite room in your house. Look around as though you are at a museum. Do you like what you see? Could you love what you see? If no, grab pen and paper and make something you like and tape it to the wall. It’s one small step, but maybe it will lead to love and acceptance of more than your house.

No Heroes or Villains

I awoke from a dream where I got to tell the person who hurt me everything she did wrong. It felt really good. She understood how she had wronged me and seemed somewhat apologetic as I walked away, vindicated and triumphant. It was a beautiful dream.

I have only been deeply hurt a few times in my life. Realizing that just now, I realize how lucky I am. I think there are a few reasons why this is true.

  1. I have learned recently through my shrink that as far as relationships go I only have three camps: stranger, acquaintance, and intimate. There is one more past those; but only one person has ever made it past intimate and that’s my husband.
  2. If someone upsets me I think through it deeply. Why did they do this? What did I do to contribute to the situation? And on and on and on.
  3. I can’t stand unresolved anything. If I have wronged someone or someone has wronged me I would rather it be addressed as quickly as possible.

All of this means that if someone upsets me I talk to them quickly depending on what camp they’re in. If they’re a stranger, I will generally go through the thinking process just a little and then it’s resolved, for me at least. If they’re in acquaintance camp, I may not care one way or the other if the relationship ends. That would suck but life is short and I don’t like having unresolved stuff in my life.

So, for something to deeply hurt me a person has to be in a position where I don’t feel comfortable confronting them directly or close enough that I don’t just cut them out of my life when they are unwilling or unable to change the behavior causing me hurt.

This describes the only two people who have ever deeply hurt me. The first is my mother. We are great now, but that took a lot of time and therapy.

The second person is also a woman who is old enough to be my mother. Although her behavior often lacked that level of maturity and I don’t think she has any love for me in her heart. Of late, I’ve been struggling to forgive her. Hence the dream. She essentially bullied me out of my job. That may give her too much credit, but she’s the reason I left.

With my mom it was easy to forgive. She begged for it. Although she could never really know how she hurt me at least she wanted to make things right.

With the other woman, I don’t think she cares. The dream was wonderful because I got what I wanted. In the dream, she understood how she had hurt me and felt bad.

I find myself wanting to paint her as evil. She was the villain in my story. And although my shrink is helping me to see that most likely her actions had very little to do with me and everything to do with her; that doesn’t stop me from wanting to slay the dragon or melt the witch.

We are programmed to desire justice. Of course when everyone sees themselves as the hero of the story things get complicated. Who’s justice?

It would be so much easier if the woman who hurt me was truly evil, but that is not the case. For her, she was the hero and I the dragon or more likely simply a peasant who became collateral damage.

A few days ago I watched this movie, Radio Rebel. It’s a Disney TV movie but was enjoyable. There was only one person who was painted with one note, the principle. She relished in the agony of her students and once defeated quickly leaves the story. Maybe this is because in order for there to be a hero we can’t feel for the villain.

So where does this leave me and my dream?

I guess I have to acknowledge that maybe for this situation there are no heroes or villains. Just people doing the best they can. She was doing the best she could and that just happened to be the worst for me.

The Selfish Seduction of Stasis

Recently I have had one desire deep and true. I have wanted for everything to stop, stasis. Sitting in my kitchen sorting mail I opened yet another invitation for a wedding. In frustration, I threw down the invitation and loudly proclaimed to the room and my husband sitting working on his D & D campaign not really listening to me, “I want everyone to stop! Stop having babies. Stop graduating. Stop getting married. Just stop.”

I meant it.

Then my uncle died a few weeks later and I was reminded that the world doesn’t care. The world as a whole macro-sized village does not care about the death of one person, it doesn’t stop and won’t stop for anyone. I learned long ago this hard truth.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I know that people care, tiny micro-sized people within the village of the world care, but generally the attention of those people is fickle and short.

So when my uncle died, I kept moving with everything that had to keep moving. It may be different in other industries, but in the theatre the old adage, “The show must go on.” is just a loose translation of the world doesn’t care.

And even though I knew this truth: that the world doesn’t care, my desire for stasis only deepened. More and more I wanted all things to stop. At an event two days before my uncle’s funeral I was sharing my desire with a perfect stranger who said simply, “Stasis is an illusion.”

The 8 year old sci-fi nerd in me wanted to scream, “But in the future it won’t be. Star Trek tells me so!” I didn’t say that and tried not to let the statement bother me. I didn’t care if stasis was an illusion or a lie or impossible. Stasis is so deeply what I wanted. That is all that mattered.

It was on a walk with my husband that I was able to verbalize what I was coming to understand and couldn’t ignore. The perfect stranger was right. If I could make everything stop, make all things stop growing and moving. If I could make the grass stop growing, and the birds stop chirping, and all things still; it wouldn’t matter. The world would keep rotating anyway. And even if I was able to achieve what I wanted; where would the worms live if the grass stopped growing? How would the birds be able to make new birds without their mating calls? What would prevent all things on this planet from flying off without gravity?

Stasis is a lovely lie. A dream of how to preserve life. A desire for it to matter to everyone else as much as it matters to me that my uncle breathes no more.

I wish this weren’t true. I wish it was possible to stop or even slow down, but even if I did. Even if I slowed down that wouldn’t make everyone else stop. And I guess this is the true lesson to learn from Star Trek stasis pods or Rip Van Winkle’s deep sleep or Ripley’s drift through space.

Although you can take yourself out of the world and create a false sense of stasis, when you return everything else will have kept moving. You then get the task of trying to catch up.

So while, stasis looks really good it is only a mirage and even if it were possible it would end the world for everyone. I guess that means we all get to suffer sometimes. And hopefully you have a bunch of tiny micro-sized people from the macro-sized village of the world who have long attention spans and aren’t easily distracted.

My Optimistic Who

For about the past six months or so I have been deeply questioning my faith. Entering into a new phase in my journey with God. This shift has caused my world view and overall life perspective to shift. I found myself becoming more pessimistic. Then asking questions about the nature of pessimism and optimism.

Lately there has been a picture in my head. The picture of my optimism. She looks a bit like Cindy Lou Who from The Grinch Stole Christmas. In my mind, she is surrounded by a protective circle of clear bright light. All around her though is darkness threatening to snuff out her life and light. This fragile image is what represents my optimism. It is something to be protected. Something to hold on to.

On a daily basis, there are at least 10 things I come across that could send me into the darkness never to be seen again.

I feel things. I don’t understand how anyone who has heard the wails of mothers gently holding the bodies of their dead children in Syria doesn’t end up in the fetal position on the floor. It is only the little who in my mind that helps me to try to see hope. To give the benefit of the doubt to people. People who themselves don’t hesitate to be their worst selves in front of me. To share freely with me the darkness and ugly within them.

In addition to this, I am not one who looks away or tries to hide from the darkness. I am the dumb brave individual standing and staring into the darkness. As tentacles reach out from the dark I say “Hi” and try to make friends with this odd creature. Where others run, I stand and question. I try to understand even to the detriment of my self. I guess you could say that I lack a sense of self preservation. The running joke I have with my husband is that he has to have enough self-preservation for the both of us.

Today as I did yoga and thought about the affirmation for today “I awaken,” I finished the sentence in an interested way. “I awaken my optimistic who.” In my mind, I think she lives in my hips. An odd visual I know, but that is where she exists. She protects my womb and supports my center and breath, my power. She helps me to feel sexy and dance and move through this world.

With this simple observation I realized that my optimism wasn’t dead or being covered by the darkness. She was just sleeping and I had to awaken her. I had to consciously seek her out. And when I did that her light would shine so bright that darkness could never overwhelm her.

If this was the case for me maybe that is the case of others. Maybe their optimism looks more like a bear and is located in their head and so when it sleeps it rests for such a long time you would think it was in a permanent coma and was never going to wake up. Maybe these people consider pulling the plug on their optimistic bear. What would it take to convince them to not take this action?

My husband often says that we are just in a swing toward apocalyptic themes in our thinking and culture today and eventually we will swing back toward utopia. That utopia will come again to fill our minds, hearts and dreams. I’m not very patient.

The thought of having to wait sucks. Don’t get me wrong I love all of the apocalyptic stuff. Maybe a little too much. I love the movies and the comics. But. There is a but for me. I want the light.

My longing for optimism is like the longing people who experience winter feel. You spend months bundled up. Then the sun comes back. When you get to feel the sun on your skin you have to smile because it feels good. You know that soon the birds will come back and the flowers will bloom and there will be spring and there will be summer. There is hope.

I want hope. I want light. For this world and those who are surrounded by darkness. For them I want light.

So if you happened across my blog and took time to read this post, thank you and I have a challenge for you. Take some time today and think about your optimism. Where does it live? When was the last time you tried to awaken it or feed it? Give your optimism some time today. Maybe then we can begin to change the tide of our culture and return to a time utopia and light. Here’s hoping.

Unrequited Like

I live in North Dakota. I am not white or a farmer or of Nordic heritage. This week I realized something. I like it here. It’s cold, the people are xenophobic, I have had more health problems here than any place I have ever lived (I am a former military brat). All this, but I like it here. Then why I am sad and bitter and frustrated? The simple truth is North Dakota doesn’t like me.

I haven’t been in serious like with something/someone with no reciprocation since middle school so it took me awhile to realize what was going on. I can’t ignore the tell tell signs anymore though. When I ask North Dakota how it’s doing it just says “Fine” and scurries away to avoid further conversation. I don’t get invited to any of North Dakota’s party’s; they are reserved for Norwegians and Lutherans or Catholics. Even the land is trying to kill me slowly. I am in my late twenties and my knees ache from the cold.

It sucks knowing the place where I currently live truly doesn’t like me and won’t anytime soon. Feeling this I can’t imagine how people from here feel. I have encountered a few who are different: feminist, brown, atheist, childless by choice. These people stuck out like a beacon of hope. For a while, I thought well there are a few others who stick out like me, maybe it’ll be ok. Sadly that is not the case. If you are different here the waterfall of sameness will slowly try to erode away the pieces of you that aren’t like them. Slowly and painfully you lose your will and desire to try to change this place. Why try for people and a place that doesn’t appreciate your work and will fight you every step of the way?

If these wonderful people who are different are lucky they will get out. I have realized that is the only option. It makes me sad. We could have been great North Dakota. Sadly it was not meant to be, but just like the unrequited crushes I had in middle school this pain too shall pass.

The Importance of Journaling

While on vacation, I took a moment to read some early entries in my current journal. I have been journaling pretty consistently since I was about 13. During college I started titling my journals. It was my way of naming the current chapter of my life. Then usually around the time I was about to run out of pages in my journal a new one would leap out to me at a book store or I would receive one as a gift. The next chapter of my life was ready to start.

For the past two or so years I have been using an old journal. One of the first ones that I started writing in when I started journaling. It was a gift from my Aunt that has guided questions in it. What is the weather today? News about family and friends? Current activities? What brightened your day? What have you done to brighten someone else’s day? Then a general section to account things going on in your life. At some point when I was fourteen I abandoned the journal.

As a writer, people often gift me journals so I have a pretty large collection of them waiting to have their pages covered in my words. When I picked this one up again to start writing in it I guess I was looking for the comfort of guided questions.

Looking at old entries from my 13 year old self the memories flooded back. Old friends, first crushes. The voice was so different than my current one. It was interesting looking back and seeing repeating themes and desires. Seeing how I have changed and not changed.

Then my husband and I went to visit the interpretive center where we were staying. We took our vacation at Ft. Stevenson State Park. It was our lucky day because the center was open late in the season due to a festival going on in the town nearby. The lovely old man at the gift shop said he was willing to take us through the small two room building and share with us some facts about the fort.

One of the facts struck a chord with me. He said that the General of the Fort had kept a journal. It was from this that they were able to gain an idea of what life was like for the soldiers. The man from the gift shop was able to share funny anecdotes about the soldiers and fort life based on the General’s journal. For example, through the journal they learned that many soldiers were put in the fort jail often. They were a rowdy bunch not just blank faces in an old photo.

All of this has made me realize how important it is to journal. To keep a record of your life. You never know how important that journal may be later. The perspective you can gain about yourself and about the changing world in general.

While social media has made it easier to keep an account of your life there is something false about this account. How many people report factually to their 500+ stranger friends about the comings and goings of their life? Social media has made each person a celebrity.

So this makes journaling all the more important. A journal is a space just for you and those you choose to share it with. There is no reason to lie to yourself about what is going on. No reason to try to paint things better than they are so that you will get more likes or comments. The blank page of a journal is a free space where you can share how you feel and what you truly think without having someone tear you down for it.

As we head into the second month of the new year I encourage to you to take a moment and journal. You never know how important your words may be later to future generations. Or even just for you.

Fighting Sweetness and Light

I just finished a Christmas time play. The play is short and lovely but not amazing. It plays on the human need for sweetness and light. As a young theatre artist living in a one theatre town I often find myself fighting against these things. Saying things like “nostalgia is just a place of ignorance or selective remembering”.

I am surrounded by people who limit all forms of art to entertainment. For me that is the bare minimum. If a piece of art regardless of the medium doesn’t provide some form of entertainment it hasn’t even begun to do its job. In my region however that is all an audience expects, to be entertained. They don’t expect or want to be moved or made to think and something really wrong has happened if they are made to feel. These for me are what art is meant to do. So I fight against farce. I fight against joy. I fight because I want for the people around me to understand that when art is at its best it can open up your world, it can change your life.

The thing about this play I just finished is it reminded me that sweetness and light and nostalgia aren’t bad. It’s ok to want to be comforted by something that doesn’t make you think. It’s ok to want to selectively remember for an hour. The play reminded me that sometimes great things can come out of work that does this. A movie comes to mind, Forest Gump.

This movie reminded people that although the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s were a rough time in US history it wasn’t all bad. I think the difference between this movie and much of what the audience in my region wants is that Forest Gump doesn’t forget the bad. Sgt. Dan is still bitter and angry and broken but he isn’t the star of the movie; he isn’t our focus. The writers of the movie however don’t shove him out of the frame. They don’t say you can only look at the good by forgetting the bad. Rather the writers and director of this movie make a choice to focus on the good while allowing the bad to still exist. What a hard thing to accomplish; but by doing so they strike a beautiful middle ground. They created a movie that is happy and joyful while still being real. This gives me hope.

Hope that maybe in my work at the theatre and my work in my writing I can find this middle ground. I can stop fighting joy. Maybe if I can find the middle ground then the audiences in my region can too. Here’s hoping.