In addition to potty train, I am required to teach a teenager how to drive? Parenting is bullshit.

by renegademama

There are so many parts of parenthood that strike me as absolutely illogical and impossible, and yet, we have to do them.

Beginning with getting a baby out of a vagina, or even being pregnant at all, actually. Enduring the last month of pregnancy. Not a thing, and yet, we all do it, repeatedly.

Potty training is another one: Oh so NBD I’m just supposed to get a toddler who last week didn’t mind sitting in his own excrement and sticks blueberries up his nose to communicate with me about when he has to urinate.

Cool good talk.

And yet, all four of my kids now use a toilet. Weird.

Maybe I’m just old and tired, but I have to say, above all insane requirements of parenthood, the most baffling and batshit is “Teach your teenager how to drive.”

Okayyyyyyy let’s talk about this. My teenager, a 16-year-old, who takes frequent Snapchat selfies and inquires about “when I’m going to actually start parenting my children” is supposed to enter the roads with common humanity, 3,000 pound boxes of metal on wheels barreling down freeways at 70 MPH, half of their drivers drunk or texting, while I sit at home hoping for the best.

HOW ABOUT FUCK YOU INSTEAD.

I don’t even know who I’m talking to.

But for real, this ain’t right. The first time I sat in our minivan with my teenager in the driver’s seat, I noticed how she looked like a tiny baby in charge of the Pentagon. Like a toddler at the front lines wielding a mini sword, much like our POTUS, perhaps, only significantly more moral, reasonable, and capable of intelligent thought.

So not like him at all.

I got my phone out and told my husband to deal with it since I was for sure about to have a breakdown and needed to pretend none of this was happening.

It’s my go-to parenting move until I come up with a better one.

When we got home, I told Mac, “Um, she’s terrible at this.”

Now, I realize the whole learner’s permit thing is to remedy the “terrible” thing and my kid is responsible, smart, and careful, but I think she needs to be driving for about three years before she’s let out into the wild world of assholes and other nondescript rush-hour drivers who are for sure hellbent on crashing into her.

But no. We’re supposed to do this for a few months then let her drive. In the world. On roads. Without parents but with Snapchat. Hoping for the best.

 

Can I just simply fucking opt out?

Can I just not do this and call it a day? Like potty training, I’d just like to wait until this phase passes, but this one ain’t passing.

Everybody keeps saying “But she can drive her siblings around.”

Sure good plan. But first, tell me: What exactly are you inhaling?

I can barely comprehend letting her drive herself around, let alone her chattering, flailing siblings arguing incessantly because they never get to choose their song on Spotify.

Never. Okay? Never ever.

Also, 100% suddenly regretting some of the driving decisions of my life. Every time I made a hasty turn, took that call, sent that totally required text at a stoplight, or fished around behind my seat to retrieve the monster truck the toddler just dropped and is now screaming about – why didn’t I think of this?

I just wish parenthood would stop asking me to do insane shit that could lead to death.

Okay? That’s all I want.

In other news, can we talk briefly about the fact that parents are supposed to teach a child how to drive precisely at the time when that child believes to the very core of her being that her parents know nothing?

Who the fuck formulated this plan?

Us: “Brake.”

Teenager: No action.

Us: “BRAKE NOW.”

Teenager: Eye roll. Brakes. Looks at us like “How is it that you’re so old and yet know nothing?”

Us: “WE ARE TEACHING YOU HOW TO DRIVE YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT WE SAY WHEN WE SAY IT I SWEAR TO FUCKING GOD.”

 

Great. Yes. Teach a teenager how to drive. This makes sense.

Let’s learn to drive.

There is nothing in this post except wonder and awe at the insanity of this endeavor, much like putting my teenager on the road.

High five. And to the dude who flipped my kid off because she wasn’t going fast enough: If I ever find you, I’ll kill you in your sleep.

It’s fine. I’m rational.

Yay road rage, metal boxes flying down the road, and loved ones!

 

YOU THINK I’M A RISK FACTOR? AT LEAST I’M NOT OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE

******

Did you know that
Amazon editors chose I’m Just Happy to Be Here as a “Best Book of 2018 So Far” in the

– wait for it –

HUMOR category (?).

Who knew Amazon editors had such a jacked up sense of humor? (This is not an insult.)

Anyway, that made me particularly delighted, because we talk a lot about the book’s seriousness, and not much about the parts where I, at least, laughed my ass off writing it. Nice to see that aspect of it highlighted.

Thank you, Amazon editorial staff.

 

13 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | July 23, 2018

I’m done behaving. It got us nowhere.

by renegademama

On my book tour, on a flight between Washington DC and Austin, Texas, I sat in the window seat with an empty seat beside me. A man in his sixties sat in the aisle seat, and about halfway through the flight, I got up to pee. He moved to let me out.

When I came back, I stood next to him and said, “Sorry,” kind of shrugging, annoyed that I had to annoy him. I stepped back to allow him to get out of the seat to let me in.

Oddly, he stepped back toward me, positioning himself in the aisle directly in front of me instead of stepping forward so I could go in behind him. His position would require me to squeeze past him in the tiny aisle, my body pressing against his.

Surprising myself, I refused to do it. I just stood there. Fuck you, man. Get the fuck out of my way. I don’t want to touch you, and I won’t, and whether you’re doing this to be creepy or out of sheer lack of social skills, I don’t care. Get the fuck out of my way.

I stood there and stared at his back until enough time passed that it got weird. He looked back at me and I motioned for him to step forward so I could get by. He didn’t move. I said, “Move forward so I can get in behind you.” I didn’t even say please.

He looked at me irritated, like I was insane, like not wanting my groin pressed against a stranger’s ass was an irrational request, and I realized I have fucking had it with the tiny courtesies I extend to men who demand space in this world at the cost of women.

I am done with it.

My new approach, when it comes to these mediocre, posturing white men – because let’s be real they’re pretty much the only ones I notice doing this – is get the fuck out of my way.

A man did his manspreading thing against my legs on an airport bench. I moved my legs to press against his, until he adjusted. He was in my space. I was in my own. He can move the fuck over.

A man did his mansplaining thing, explaining how publishing works, even though he had never published a book and I, um, have. I looked at him and said, “Why are you explaining my own career to me?”

When acquaintances tell me to “settle down,” or “calm down,” etc., because I have the audacity to speak openly and passionately about a topic, I tell them to calm down. I get to speak, and loudly.

I haven’t always been this way, and the truth is I have always accepted a certain level of bullshit from the men around me – ones I know and don’t – even when it made me very uncomfortable, or angry, or put me in positions of holding my tongue to “keep the peace.”

I’m not talking about a refusal on my part to extend common courtesy, or about sharing space with other humans, men and women. I’m talking about no longer catering to men who CHARGE THE WORLD with their voices, bodies, and assumed power to trample women around them.

I usually deferred to these men, hating myself for doing it, wondering what people would think if they saw me doing that. I’m supposed to be a feminist. I’m supposed to be strong. I’m so tough on the page.

But I have been programmed in a misogynistic world just like the rest of us. I have been sexually abused and nearly raped. I’ve been taught to be ashamed of my body, told my voice was like “nails on a chalkboard.” I have had sex when I didn’t particularly want it. To appease. Because I thought I owed them, led them on.

When I was younger, and thin, and thus interesting for the male gaze, I looked away when cat-called, walked faster. Shirked, while my blood boiled in humiliation. I never said a word.

I have listened silently while men ranted on and on about their mediocre knowledge, even if I knew more. Not always, but often, because something in me said, “You be quiet and let the man speak.”

I ain’t a fucking shrinking violet, but more often than not, I moved my body to accommodate theirs. I don’t even know exactly how I learned this behavior, but literally and figuratively, I shrunk to allow them space.

 

But lately I’ve been wondering: What did all this fucking good behavior get me?  

It got me a nation who elected a pussy-grabbing president. It got me millions of people voting for a party that wants to remove my daughter’s dominion over her own body. It got me no paid federal maternity leave, fat shaming, and a rising maternal death rate. It got me Harvey Weinstein (at every turn) and less money on the dollar. It got me “cover up in public when you nurse.” It got me the vast majority of the domestic labor.

And I’m white. ALL of this is worse for women of color. All of it.

As a whole, it got us damn near fucking nothing.

There’s something viscerally infuriating about looking at my country and realizing it voted against my body. Against my child’s body. Against my freedom. And for my assault.

And so I’m done. I’m done catering to overbearing, sexist men. I’m done stepping aside simply because they’ve righteously demanded it. I’m done keeping my mouth shut and I’m done pretending I’m smaller than I am to feed that delicate male ego, or because I am afraid of something I cannot quite define.

Am I angry? Of course I fucking am. I gave the world a chance, and played by the rules, and all it got us was “I moved on her like a bitch.”

From the President of the United States of America.

So get the fuck out of my way, and then, maybe, if I feel like it, and you shut the hell up long enough to hear my voice, we can talk.

Clearly, there’s no space for anything else.

 

Note: I wrote this piece a few days ago, and in between then and now, I read this, and, though a bit off topic (and it needs a whole blog post to itself), I want to draw attention to the intersectionality of all this. That we, as white women, while demanding our space in a man’s world, need to be acutely aware of how we take up space in a white world. Love you all. 

*****

Though it is about recovery from alcoholism, one of the overarching themes of my memoir is the sanctity of motherhood and how it is, in short, utter bullshit.

Practically the whole book is calling out the vapid narratives surrounding motherhood, telling my own story of battling with erasure, inadequacy (both real and imagined), and finding some peace in there, somewhere.

Check it out.

Also my upcoming tour dates

45 Comments | Posted in feminist AF | July 18, 2018

“Not doing shit about it” is a viable parenting approach

by renegademama

In the past two weeks, I’ve received two messages from mothers who are fed the fuck up with their baby’s sleep situations.

Or, perhaps better said, lack thereof.

They are tired, overwrought, and at an absolute loss for how to go forward. They tried sleep training, realized it wasn’t for them, while also realizing their current situation of, um, not sleep training, is also “not for them.”

A motherfucking quandary indeed.

They asked me how I survived it, and I started thinking about how I endured that exact situation. And I mean exact. I have been precisely there, multiple times, for months. Years?

 

And I’ll tell you what I did: Nothing.

Well, no, I tried shit occasionally and then returned to the “fuck it” place.

Eventually, I gave up the fight – the methods, the approaches – and accepted that some aspects of parenting simply suck ass, and we don’t have to do anything about it.

We can just let it suck until it passes.

We can not love it and take no particular action to fix it.

Incidentally, I believe the enjoyment of my parenting is in direct correlation to my acceptance of the bullshit I cannot change. OMG I sound like a 12-step meeting.

And holy shitballs does this disturb and appall the parenting expert brigade.

YOU DO WHAT? NOTHING? THAT’S NOT PARENTING. IT’S LAZINESS.

Maybe.

But is it laziness? Or is it a realization that all relationships involve a level of bullshit we cannot eliminate, and our misery only increases when we fight it, fruitlessly, for years, running ourselves ragged for the silver bullet, the key, the Thing That Will Solve the Problem Once and For All.

Anybody ever, oh, I don’t know, tried to be married?

Mmmmkay, you see my point.

 

I have one kid, George, who liked sleeping alone in cribs. One. And I mean she preferred that shit. It was very weird.

But the other three? They were somewhere on the spectrum between “I prefer to sleep next to you” to “IF YOUR NIPPLE IS NOT RESTING ON MY LOWER LIP I FEAR I MAY DIE.”

Human pacifier? I’ve been it. Arm numb from baby head on it? Yes. Lying there feeling like I’d give my left lung to not touch a small sweaty baby? Nailed it.

I have slept in a bunk bed. On a couch. My husband has slept in other beds, or on a couch, so I could have a night with some space from the baby. We’d have a kid on the floor, two in the bed, him on the couch, me pissed off in the bed. One kid with us, two in a twin somewhere else. We have created all sorts of ridiculous arrangements to get some sleep and not go insane.

Were they shitty solutions? Of course they were. Did I know they were shitty solutions while we were doing them? Of course I did. Were they not actually solutions at all, but instead, sad bandaids? Um duh.

And of course I didn’t adore it. I’d wake up with the exhaustion like lead across my cheekbones, my frustration gathering in a knot at the base of my skull, pain from the tension pulsing behind my eyeballs. I’ve felt delusional. I’ve felt insane. I’ve felt defeated and hopeless.

“We have to do something!” I’d scream into the cold, dark night. I’d text friends. I’d read blog posts. I’d read books. We’d set out with great determination to sleep train. But at some point, quite early on, I would hear the wails of my baby and know it was not for me. It just wasn’t. It can be for you. I truly don’t give a fuck what you do with your baby, and we all need to do what we need to do in the context of our lives.

Ultimately, I accepted that my disdain of sleep training was greater than my disdain for my exhaustion.

And when I finally let that settle, when I settled into the fact that I would not sleep train, AND I would be fucking tired, I got happier. The fight was gone, and thus, a lot of the suffering.

I knew it would pass someday, and I knew that it could just be kinda shitty until it did.

I gave myself permission to not fix it.

 

Because really, that’s the mental torture, isn’t it? The idea that we have to “fix” it, that we have to read and work and strategize and get it under control, that there is some holy grail out there that will make infant parenting and kid parenting and teenager parenting smooth and chill and uniformly successful. Or at least manageable.

It’s a lie. It’s a sales tactic. At least it has been in my experience. What I’ve learned is that my power is limited, and I am in a relationship with an autonomous human being, and I can discipline and support and love and teach, but there will always be something occurring between us that I cannot manage, cannot perfectly comprehend, and, by God, CANNOT FIX.

We do our best, we learn and try, but some things will just be hard, really hard, until they’re gone.

The truly irritating thing here, friends, is that I sleep as little now as I did when I had infants in my bed. My four-year-old comes in at 3 or 4 in the morning some nights, but most of the time, I’m on my own, just me and insomnia, thinking about things and solving the world’s problems.

Annoying, right?

 

I’m not saying we check out of our parenting lives, that we say “Meh, not my job” or “Can’t fix this,” or whatever the hell as soon as a problem presents itself.

What I’m saying is that I think we (or “they”) really try to convey parenthood as a thing that can be contained, managed, and organized if we just read enough books, buy the right gear, listen to the right teachers.

And they sell this idea of the way things “should be,” of the way families “should look,” and we work and work and work and work and it never fucking looks like that, so we figure we need to work harder, try harder, buy more shit, read more books to get the outcomes they promise.

What happens if that messy bullshit IS the way it’s supposed to look? If my husband and I playing musical beds is, well, what mostly works for us? What if it just ain’t that big of a deal? If sleeping next to a baby for a year or two is not that big of a problem when taken in the context of the 80 or so years of our lives?

I want to punch myself in the face for just saying that, because I know how those years feel like eternity when you’re in them, and I sure as fuck ain’t over here going “Oh, honey, it passes so fast, enjoy every moment.”

What I’m saying is that now, 16 years later, with no babies in my bed, I still face “problems” every day that baffle me, that take my breath away with the weight of their complexity. One child’s tantrums and my questionable reactions. Another’s schooling and dyslexia. Another’s gender presentation. They’re massive. They’re bigger than me. I feel like I’m scrambling up the face of a rock wall sometimes, a panic to get to the top, to do it right, to fix it.

I think sometimes we just have to sit down, look around, and love – because from there, the way becomes clearer, and maybe we remember we have what we need, and always have, to parent the children who were meant to be ours.

A pic Mac sent me once when I was gone for a night. I believe his face says it all.

*****

DID YOU KNOW I SPENT A GOOD PORTION OF MY LIFE

NOT DOING SHIT?

I have not always been the shining star of humanity I am now.

I realize this may be hard to imagine.

And I definitely give a shit about you reading this book.

I’m going to set up a live Q&A discussion FB situation next month, so get the book and read it and ask me anything. I shit in a bag and kept it.

I will talk to you about anything you want. The shame ship has fucking sailed.

Also, HEY! I have four author events coming up, the first one is tonight. Hope you join us so I’m not sitting there speaking to myself and maybe my mom at the local ones. Yay!

Kramerbooks, Washington DC, 7/11 at 6:30pm (tonight!)

BookPeople, Austin, Texas, 7/13 at 7pm (Friday!)

Books On Stage, Cloverdale, CA, 7/19 at 7pm (I sorta grew up here!)

Barnes & Noble, Folsom, CA, 7/20 at 6:00pm (Why can’t I stop with the fuckin parentheticals!)

 

 

I can’t make you care about the agony of children

by renegademama

This morning my four-year-old son, Arlo, woke up on the other side of our king bed, pushed himself up onto his hands, looked over at me and yawned.

“Morning,” I said.

He gave me a big closed-mouth smile beneath wild blonde curls and scooted against me, as he always does, resting his head against my bare chest.

He slept in our bed until he was three or so. Now he sleeps in another room but invariably toddles in to join us around 3 or 4am. Somehow, I always know he’s coming. Do I hear his footsteps? I wake to watch him wander in the door, and I scoop him up and flip him into our bed, between my husband and me, where we all fall back to sleep.

This morning, he had a question. “Mama, why do you smell so good?”

“What do you mean?”

“Your body. It smells so good. Why do you smell like that? The whole house smells like you, it smells so good. Why does your body smell like that?”

He looked at me with real curiosity, evidently wanting a real answer. I told him I didn’t know, and kissed his head, and thought how sweet that is, a little guy wondering about the elusive smell of the mother – her skin, her sweat, her soap, her shampoo, her odor foul and beautiful.

Who knows what it is, really?

I remember my mother’s smell. I remember the feeling of being against her skin, her arm, the softness and warmth of her body. I remember it felt like home. Like everything would be fine as long as I could inhale that scent, the scent of something I knew like air, though couldn’t define or grasp.

It’s just the way we need our mothers, I suppose. The good ones, at least. The ones who mean all those things.

As a kid, I was preoccupied with the idea of my mother dying. Of her leaving and never returning. I wrote about it in my book. I would sit for hours on the couch, or what felt like hours, rocking and listening to “M.A.S.H” (her favorite show), willing her to not be dead, imagining what I would do if she were. I would work myself into a near frantic fury, sometimes crying, praying, begging God to let her come back, and in my little brain it was so real, the abandonment.

If she wasn’t in the room, she might as well be dead.

Eventually I would hear the garage door go up. I would hear her rustling on the porch.

Alive. Home.

She’d let me crawl into bed with her. I’d fold against her. Her smell.

Oh, the mother. She’s back.

My son asked me about that today, and it made me think of the children separated from their mothers at our borders, of the visceral, physical pain of a child yearning for her mother, of the actual blood craving a reconnection to all that she knows of home.

In this case, quite literally.

 

I wonder how you teach somebody to give a shit about that. To not care if the mother is a “criminal” who wandered across arbitrary national lines – although most of them are “guilty” of misdemeanors – to not care if she “shouldn’t” have done that thing, because we are talking about families.

We are talking about a child.

How do you teach somebody to feel the agony of a child aching for his mother’s skin? Her smell. The only one in the world.

The only one in the whole fucking world.

My mother always came back to me. Over time, I knew she would, and I could tell myself “She’ll come back.” But it didn’t help.

The yearning of a child isn’t rational. It isn’t reasonable and it isn’t intellectual. It is a yearning in the bones, in the blood, in the same blood that raced through the body we shared.

In our womb. In our waters.

I think of those children in beds alone, with no idea where their mother is in that very moment. A phone call or two. A few moments on video. But at night, in the dark, where is she?

Her actual body.

 

Why do you smell so good?

Because I am yours, son. Because we shared a body once, and when you’re young, it is still somehow ours – and for a long, long time, my body is, for you, that old, sacred home, the one we know in our blood but not our brains, that has no right to be tampered with, because it is our tiny shelter in a giant, unforgiving univers. For those few moments, I am all you have.

I don’t know how to make somebody care about that. Perhaps they forgot their own humanity, their own love and blood.

The smell of home doesn’t give a shit about borders. We deny a child that for political gain. To teach them a lesson. And these people do it in God’s name? The Bible?

How strange these people are, picking and choosing the book’s teachings. Baldwin calls this hypocrisy “self-serving moral cowardice.” Have you ever heard it stated more perfectly?

Because immigrants have “broken the law” (and this, you know, is up for debate), they deserve torture? Their children deserve torture?

Self-serving moral cowardice.

Well damn, I guess I should thank God I had the dumb luck to be birthed me in a nation where we could live safely, not forced to a border to survive. How noble of me!

And you apologists: Thank God you were born in a nation where you don’t understand fleeing your home with nothing but your body, and your baby, who wails for nothing but your sweet sweat. Now, “home.”

I can’t make you see a world you’ve forgotten. But how cold it must be where you live.

 

***

Every time I write about this country, if feels obscenely small and self-serving to share my book, and yet, well, I am trying to feed my family, and this is my contribution to the world right now.

Some words. Some truth. I hope it helps some people. We have to remember our creative work matters, maybe now more than ever?

So I’ll keep telling you about it, and this week, I had the nice surprise to learn that Amazon editors chose I’m Just Happy to Be Here as a “Best Book of 2018 So Far” in the

– wait for it –

HUMOR category (?).

Who knew Amazon editors had such a jacked up sense of humor? (This is not an insult.)

Anyway, that made me particularly delighted, because we talk a lot about the seriousness, and not much about the parts where I, at least, laughed my ass off writing it. Nice to see that aspect of it highlighted.

Thank you, Amazon editorial staff.

2.07K Shares
37 Comments | Posted in FUCK TRUMP | June 25, 2018

You are not going crazy. America is gaslighting you.

by renegademama

Let’s get something really fucking clear right now: We are being gaslighted by our country.

At this point, without willful ignorance or staunch denial or some super special cocktail of both, there is no way to dodge the reality of our country.

Whatever hope any of us had (spoiler alert I had none) that Trump “wouldn’t be that bad” has crashed by now, and we are left with detention centers for children ripped from their parents’ arms, alongside a mural of our dictator.

Wait. We aren’t supposed to have a dictator.

When our President refers to a murderous dictator running a totalitarian state as “very honorable” and “very smart,” somebody who “loves his people,” stating that it’s an “honor to meet [him],” you have two choices: Admit Trump is dangerous as fuck and wholly anti-democratic or bury your head further in the motherfucking sand.

The ship has sailed. We are here. POTUS lies so much we don’t even care anymore. He refers to the free press as “our country’s biggest enemy.” That shit barely makes the news.

Meanwhile, Russia’s meddling in our 2016 elections remains unaddressed. Not only is it unaddressed, our President advocates for Russia on the global stage, aligning himself with the world’s dictators while shitting on our allies. (Sure am glad he’s taking care of that pesky threat known as “Canada.”)

They’re trying to gut health care, again. Net neutrality is gone.

Meanwhile, Trump attacks actors in misspelled tweets and the White House remains a revolving door of appointees and Antarctica is melting. We can’t even care about climate change. That’s like way low on the list, amiright? Think about that.

The hits just keep on coming, so, so fast. Every fucking day. And we’re expected to just carry on. On the one hand, what else are we supposed to do? We have to live. We have to feed our families and raise our kids and pay our rent.

But all this “normalcy” in the face of absolutely not normal at all creates a sense of dizzying and lonely dissonance. Gaslighting. The sycophantic GOP in Congress just twiddling its thumbs letting this shit all slide, as if it’s just business as usual. Gaslighting. Fox News has clearly become state propaganda and millions of Americans believe that shit. Gaslighting.

I walk around in a perpetual state of ARE YOU NOT SEEING WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE? Even with some acquaintances. And family members. People are flat out fucking delusional. Somebody tried to argue recently that Trump is bring people “together.”

WHAT NOW?

Gaslighting.

Jesus, this sucks.

We are forced to carry on our lives in The United States of Fascism Light. We have to just keep on living. We see democratic principles being systematically annihilated every fucking day, maybe hour, and the never-ending news reels just cover it and cover it like it’s standard politics and the GOP does jack shit and we see what’s happening but all this inaction by the people in power tells us every day, all day, that everything is fine.

Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.

I read Twitter and Facebook and comment sections of news articles. Trump supporters quote the Bible and call people liberal snowflakes, citing shit Obama did, rejoicing in some idea of regaining America greatness, of vague nostalgia, while they get fucked by the oligarchy and don’t even see it. Their bigotry is so rampant they’re just overjoyed at the prospect of “tough on illegals” without recognizing what it really means that we’re removing children from their parents. They love Trump’s posturing, his Big Man persona, failing to see how they’re being played. The rich simply rejoice in their tax cuts. Dizzying. Infuriating.

As if any of this is the fucking point.

This isn’t about us vs. them, folks. This is about the soul of our nation and thus the soul of its people, and it’s about where we’re headed, and how we built this, and whether or not we can survive it.

Am I overreacting? Being hyperbolic? Maybe. But explain to me a detention center for children with our President’s face painted on the wall. Explain to me a President attacking the free press. Explain to me a President who FLAT OUT DOES NOT CARE that Russia meddled in our elections. Explain to me his praise for Kim Jong Un. Explain to me his constant barrage of lies. Explain to me the Congress doing nothing to stop him.

I have no answers. How could I?

What I want to say to you, friends, is that what we have to do right now, every goddamn day, is look for the truth.

I’m not referring to the media. Yes, do that.

But right now, what I’m talking about are the artists. The people speaking the truth of humanity, of love, of freedom.

Read more than you ever have. Read James Baldwin and Toni Morrison and Tolstoy and Austen and Sylvia Plath. Read everyone. Read every fucking day, even just a little.

Follow @nitch on Instagram. Follow painters and poets and weirdos. Follow the ones making shit. Right now. Do it.

Get your ass to a museum and look at some art. Look at local art. Look at fancy European art. Look at photographs and sculptures. Watch people doing amazing things with their bodies and hands and minds.

Turn your music up. Turn it way, way up. Get thee to festivals and dance. Bring the annoying children. Dance with them, too. Dance in the living room. Turn it up so loud you think your ears may break. Your favorite songs. The ones that rip your heart out. The ones you loved when you were young.

We have to stay centered, friends, grounded, in life, in the people speaking truth, in those with the moral courage, then and now, to insist on the power and beauty and creative force within all of us, to revolt and resist and survive, or we will grow tired, and we will forget, and we will give up.

We are living right now in a nation that’s lying to us, every day, forcing us to deny and ignore what see with our own fucking eyes, what we know to be true, and that’s a horrible way to live. A horrible way to raise children. A demoralizing, confusing way to live.

Remember you aren’t crazy.

You know the truth and the truth knows you.

We must insist upon it.

And vote in November or I’ll kick your fucking ass.

I love you. Art. Art now.

He’s learning guitar and playing these old songs and the kids and I sing along. We have to not forget.

***

“I suppose some of us don’t have the luxury of neatly wrapped truth, of affirmations that rest on our tongue like peppermints. Some of us need to be doused in gasoline and set aflame, until the truth consumes us, and we have no choice but to recreate ourselves. A collision, I suppose, when one must choose to live or die.

I didn’t want to feel better. I wanted to live.
I didn’t want the pain gone. I wanted it to mean something.

And when I found my voice, I found a purpose for every moment I had lived. I found power in every blackened room in my mind, every fear, every molestation, every sad parent, every futile word and nightmare memory.

Because it led me to you, to the place where we are the same, to the place where words draw a line from my bones to yours, and you look at me and say, “I know,” and I look back at you, thinking, Well I’ll be damned, I guess we’ve been here together all along.”

 

40 Comments | Posted in politics | June 14, 2018