New words, new home.

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Hey friends! Just a note, cause some of y’all have asked. I am now writing over at seekatewrite.com. I felt like it was time to start fresh and well, it’s my party so I’ll move to a new blog if I want to! Hope to see you there. ❤

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Yes, that’s right: Go F*ck Yourself 2016

screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-7-23-40-pmDear 2016,

Go fuck yourself.

Yes, that’s right. Go. Now. Buh-bye.

So, fine, I am a silver linings kinda gal and can usually pull something out of the general shit show that is my life… but.

Honestly? I kinda can’t lately. It’s one thing after another.

Hey there, it’s me, pity party table for ONE. Just ONE. Cause it’s JUST ME dealing with all the shit.

Have I mentioned I have a penchant for drama? A small flair.

I’m not going to drive off a bridge or run away to a remote and unreachable island or finally crawl into the bunker I’ve been digging under the backyard (kidding, mostly) and eschew daylight and wi-fi for the next 4 years.

At least, probably not.

I did however recuse myself from Facebook until the New Year and dammmmmmn that feels good. (K, except, I don’t know when anyone’s birthday is nor will I make it to any events until January cause I won’t be reminded, but it’s AWESOME otherwise.)

But like, what the ACTUAL fuck 2016?

We’ve lost numerous artists, gained a misogynistic, narcissistic, Cheeto faced leader of the free world– oh and I got a divorce, spent time with and broke up with two man-friends rather dramatically each time, and by the way gained a few pounds that no one can explain except maybe my birth control pill or just, you know, age.

Really.

I found out today that a wonderful, talented, creative father of two passed away with no warning at the age of 42. I know other 42 year olds who are self-centered creeps who abuse their bodies on the regular and are going stronger than ever… What the actual.

And what about those babies. Those sweet babies and their daddy.

Disclaimer: I don’t want those 42 year olds to perish. I don’t. Just maybe we could make a small trade for their souls. Kidding. Mostly.

This week alone…

We’ve watched the mistrial of Walter Scott’s murderer (how there’s actually a question in anyone’s mind I don’t know. I pray that there’s something we don’t know. Pray.)

We’ve heard heart-wrenching testimony from witnesses at Mother Emanuel. I have a new and dear friend who lost a sister there… I sent him a text bathing his family in love and light and we’re sharing a meal soon, but just… just.

My heart for their hearts.

So much of this year has been about unfathomable loss.

I want to find the light.

I want to find a body in the dark that matches mine and doesn’t shy away when our reluctant hearts begin to meld.

I want a partner who doesn’t clip my wings but let’s them unfurl.

I want to parent my boys with fierceness and love and wells of patience.

I want my boys to have a male role model worthy of their sweetness and devotion.

I want the world to be a safe place for all. Full stop. No negotiation.

I want to pause before I react.

I want to understand you and the ways I have hurt, belittled or made you feel less than.

I want to know where I can meet you that will feel safe for you.

I want to let the Divine into the spaces that feel cracked. Golden repair for sacred hurts.

I did a lot of great things this year– I traveled, I wrote, I danced, I sang, I loved.

But I lost.

So much.

So.

There’s a new day, a new morning just around the bend.

I feel like a toddler learning to walk. Top heavy and timid. But upright.

Up.

There you go friends, she found it. She found the silver lining.

Onward.

Unless Someone Like You Cares a Whole Awful Lot

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-8-39-44-amWhen I was a young girl, I was obsessed with Anne Frank. I read the book, the play, watched the movie. In my teenage years and on into adulthood I have held on to a fascination with historical fiction- and non- about the Holocaust. I think I read story after story simply because could NOT imagine that that was a thing the world allowed to happen. I visualized myself as Anne. I visualized my self as the heroes who hid them; could I? Would I? Would my parents? Would my circle of people?

Or would we turn a blind eye to protect our own families?

And is there a right answer?

Do you protect your own or do you risk it all for all of the others?

Is there actually an end and a beginning between you and I?

Does it matter if there is?

In college, while studying abroad in the UK, I traveled around Europe quite a bit. The scenes from those books whispered in my ear. Passing through the German countryside by train– not lost on me. Being stopped and forced to de-train by a shouting Czech soldier (there was a “mad cow” outbreak in Europe at the time; we had to decontaminate our shoes)– not lost on me.

And then, in Amsterdam, I had the great privilege to visit the actual Anne Frank house. To climb past the movable bookcase she described so perfectly, to walk up the stairs behind it that hid the staircase and into the room where she slept- her childhood clippings still attached to the wall. From the street, it was just any other house but walking into it and through the rooms made me hold my breath- it felt sacred. It was.

Hers was just one story in all of the stories- the one we all know the best. Those haunting little girl eyes–her words still etched on our hearts today:

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” 

Today, we woke up in an America where one of the proclaimed leaders of the alt-right movement is now in the President-elect’s inner circle, hate crimes over the past week are being downplayed, the media is portraying a solid family man who will move to the middle, and folks in the opposition are starting to fight amongst themselves.

Reading those books as a child, I wondered how it all happened, how could Germany have voted this man into power? And let him keep it?

No one USED the word “Holocaust” until after it happened; until we needed a term for it. A dictator doesn’t walk out into a rally and say “I’m a fascist and I am going to exterminate most of you.” It happens very slowly. It creeps in. It sits just under the surface until someone cunning enough to flip it over and expose its belly comes along. And at that point? Too late, we’re on our backs and cannot flip the turtle. We will flail and kick and fight– but we are decidedly on. our. backs.

To my people preparing for our response:

First, the world is watching. And we have a responsibility to right this wrong. We don’t have the luxury of giving him a chance.

Second, please let’s stop fighting amongst ourselves. Please.

Yes, give advice on how to be an “ally”– but don’t shame me for wearing a safety pin.

Do not fight about who is MORE marginalized than anyone else in this group. If one of us is, ALL OF US ARE.

Third, think before you react. Now is NOT the time to fuel the childish backlash about “sore losers.” There has never been a more important moment to GO HIGH.

Fourth, if you are a person in a position of privilege, now is the actual time to come out of your comfort zone. This is actually not a drill. This is the time. Donate. Speak up. Question church leaders. Push back on friends who get lulled into complacency.

Here me Trump supporters:

I know that by and large, you who voted for Trump (well within your constitutional right, so lefties let’s stop the finger pointing; if they showed up to the polls, they are actually better than some of our friends who didn’t vote out of “protest”) are not blatant racists, alt-right, KKK.

The problem, though, is that your vote, whether you knew it or not, signaled a hall pass.

You decided that an endorsement by the KKK was forgivable if only “our” jobs come back. You shrugged off the suggestion of registries for Muslims. You were able to overlook the sexual assault charges of a minor now pending in court.

You helped flip the turtle and then turned your back.

Turning a blind eye got 6 million people exterminated in Europe.

At the very least, I hope that I am being an alarmist here and that we all go back to happy, ignorant complacency (note the sarcasm drip) and well filtered Instagram photos. I would be so, so happy to own that; I was so wrong! He’s a total sweetheart! Those white supremacists in the cabinet are my BOOs y’all, I was sooooo wrong!

But.

What if I’m not? Are you prepared for the consequences of your complacency?

This is a question that you actually, today, must ask yourself and then check out resources on how to take action.

Whatever you do, do NOT be silent.

“What is done cannot be undone, but one can prevent it happening again.” –Anne Frank

 

 

 

A Letter to the Broken and the Triumphant, All.

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Taken with a hopeful heart, days before the election. Our Lady, still standing tall. Welcoming all. Guarding our beloved NYC; Ellis Island pictured on the left, where so many of our immigrant families passed through.

Dear World,

I feel like someone died. I feel actual grief that has come in waves all day. I couldn’t cry last night from shock, and then, the tears came hot. Every meeting I had at work today started with a debrief of how and why this affects each of us so personally; stories of immigrant families, Muslim spouses, feeling like 9/11 all over again. There were shared tears among colleagues and shared opinions that no, let’s not cancel meetings today, we keep doing the good work we’re all so passionate about in education and diversity. Cause Lord knows, that’s kinda all we’ve got today.

I do not feel grief over Hillary Clinton losing per se, though I am heartbroken that we came so deliciously close to shattering the glass ceiling, only to have it replaced with a steel ceiling, reinforced with bars and a “Keep Out” sign firmly nailed to its gate.

The grief I feel is for the loss of the nation I thought I lived in. 

I have to take a moment to put on display my incredible white, straight and wealthy privilege. See, I thought this was just all actually going to be ok. Cause in my world? There’s no stop and frisk. There are no hanging effigies. There are no rafts across cold oceans to get to a better life. There are no parents and children separated by undocumented work. There is no fight to gain and lose and gain and lose my right to marry.

And those of you who relate to any of the scenarios I just mentioned? Well, you’re likely not as surprised as some of us today. Cause that’s all so real, you already knew. Ferguson knew. Baltimore knew. Detroit and your poisoned water knew. Pulse Nightclub knew. Charleston, we should have known. But we don’t fucking learn and haven’t since Fort fucking Sumter.

The weight of the incredible, underlying, not talked about but omnipresent, hatred for anyone who’s not white and male came crashing down on me in the last 24 hours. I thought we were mostly ok. We are not.

I had to tell my sons that something unexpected happened last night and watch as my 7 year old’s tears came spilling over with worry about his father who is a (legal) immigrant.

I also had to recuse myself from Facebook for a bit. I am having a really hard time with my immediate community– and the utter lack of empathy in this very, very red conservative state. If I am being honest, I couldn’t even make eye contact with anyone today. I walked around with the bitter taste of anger rising in my throat and “how fucking could you” throbbing at my temples; at the schools, the grocery store, the gas station. I want you to wear giant red TRUMP signs across your back so I know who to avoid. So I know who to protect my children from.

The challenge though? That’s the exact vitriol that I am trying to squash in the world. When they go low, we go high. I know.

But can I go low for like a second or two before I go high?! I just want to wallow and eat cupcakes MICHELLE OBAMA, OK?! 

Also, the people who voted for him are my neighbors, their teachers (though not all and believe me I know who you are and I cried tears of relief in that school parking lot today knowing he was with you), probably some of my co-workers, definitely people at church, and on and on.

I’d like to flippantly blame this on living in the South, but darlings, that map was BLAZING red from sea to shining sea. From the Mexican border to the Canadian frontier we’d all so desperately like to storm right about now. Places that have not turned so crimson in history blew up.

We have a sickness in our country; there’s a cancer of hatred, mistrust, racism and lack of education about our fellow Americans. It has spread so aggressively that we elected a reality TV star who openly talked about sexually assaulting women to the greatest seat of power in the world.

Lovies, I believe we have hit our rock bottom.

On a more personal note, I do not recommend getting a divorce and having the election of 2016 10 days apart. I feel doubly victimized and trodden on by men right now. By the system. By the mere fact that I have a vagina and therefore cannot be President, don’t get paid the same amount for equal work, and am likely about to have many, many of my reproductive rights taken away by a group of white men who think they know what’s best for my uterus.

I said to friends that the day of my divorce was in the top three saddest days of my adult life and now, I have a 4th. All days of unimaginable grief. Of waves and waves of sadness. Of lost hope. Of feeling unworthy. Of shame.

Of having to pull my shit together and just get on with it, cause that’s what we ladies do.

Got a vagina and uterus combo? Then you know how to power through an important meeting, appointment, deadline, surgery, presentation, dissertation, case, performance (I could go on and on) while your insides feel like they’re being ripped out from you, hemorrhaging at a rate that would put a man on the floor in under a minute; a smile plastered to your face.

We know how to suck it the fuck up and do the thing.

I will wallow today. Today I am taking my day. I am also going to remain angry at those of you who chose hate over hope for just a minute longer cause I get to.

Side note: if one more actual fucking WHITE WOMAN goes on television and says “He just tells it like it is” I will actually punch you in the throat. Damn straight he tells it like it is– but that statement does not mean what you think it means. It means that he will also screw YOU over. Or just screw you, cause he can grab any pussy he wants.

After today though, AFTER TODAY, we put on our pant suits and sensible heels, and we walk firmly forward. This cannot have been for nothing; we have work to do country. Roll up your fucking sleeves and get to it.

And if you voted for Trump and somehow made it this far into this piece… I will extend a hand to you if you promise to squeeze it back in love, kindness and open heartedness.

I want to understand your fear; hate like that can only come from fear that is deep. I want to understand your sense of loss and uncertainty; shame and grief are often displayed as bullying. I want to flip what I assume to be true about you.

I also want you to meet me in the middle. To promise to meet someone new; someone LGBT, someone of color, someone foreign. To listen to stories from people who are “other.” Let’s bring each other into safe spaces and reach across the aisle. Even if we don’t make it all the way across– let’s just promise to try. Even if we’re a little shaky, we promise to try.

I also want you to fucking renounce the KKK because that shit is unforgivable. Like, leave that old, nasty uncle behind in the woods to die, and come along with us now.

Tomorrow, we move forward. Tomorrow, we shall overcome. Tomorrow, I put on my listening ears. Tomorrow, we link arms. Tomorrow, we civilly disobey. Tomorrow, we become the America I believe we can be.

Onward.

The Wave

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A few weeks ago, I had a simple outline of a wave tattooed on the back of my left arm because I am in the middle of a roaring ocean. And while everything in me is screaming to jump out of the waves and fill my time and head with activities, busy-ness, noise, people, food, numbness… I am constantly telling myself “Sit in the wave, Kate. Let it wash over you. Let it carry you. Just sit in it. Feel the wave.”

This mantra has played over and over in my head for several months. Sometimes, I am bobbing on the surface, scanning. Sometimes, my toes are being gently lapped by the foamy tug of the sea while I stand firmly on the shore. At other points, I am sitting at the bottom of the ocean, anchored to the sandy floor, looking up at the surface and wondering how I’ll ever get there. Sometimes it’s tossing me around like when I was a kid on the Jersey shore, my boogie board sucked out from under me and at the mercy of the tide.

Other times? I just float.

Sit in the wave.

Tomorrow is the day my divorce becomes final.

Divorce is such a BIG word. It’s a heavy word and it begrudgingly bears the broken marriages of thousands and thousands of people before me. It will happen in an insignificant 15 minutes in front of a judge who will ask me some questions and sign a flurry of papers, closing the open parentheses of almost 10 years of a life lived together; children born, holidays celebrated, laughter, fights, lies, reconciliations, grief, joy, adventures. We will be ushered in and out by a bailiff and everyone else will go about their day, long after my sensible flats stop echoing in those cold courthouse hallways.

Feel the wave. 

I am a planner and a doer and I so want to know what I will feel like when I walk out. Will I look different? Will I feel lighter? Will I want to cry or shout for joy?

Let it wash over you.

The end of the marriage is not what’s sticking under my heart today. It’s the continued shared life as parents of two incredible boys who asked for none of this. We have yet to unlock that mythical creature known as “co-parenting” and I applaud anyone who can consistently, purposefully, continue to parent with a spouse who no longer shares your heart, your joy and your dreams. I don’t know what it looks like to have that and I am learning that absolutely everything in life falls across a spectrum of so-called normal. My co-parenting and yours will never look the same. I’m also a little pissed off at the Instagram culture we live in and the stunning images over and over again of people doing this with seeming ease and grace. That’s decidedly not us. I marvel at shared holidays and weeknight meals- how did you get to that place? I can’t say I really WANT that place, but fuck, how did you do that?

Let it carry you.

There are many things about this breakup (THE breakup of all the breakups) that are uncharted territory. But the main difference is who I am in all of this. My natural inclination is to control, ignore and replace the feelings immediately with something else more fun, more distracting, more appealing. But this time, I am taking my time and not really doing too much of anything.

I am also not trying to get anyone else to own these feelings. These feelings are all mine; not my man-friend, not my kids, not my friends, not my parents, not my ex.

I have found myself actively pulling back hard from lashing out at those around me; holding my tongue, deleting texts, walking away from would-be reactions. It would be so easy to slip into passive aggressive fights right now. It would honestly feel GOOD to get someone else to feel a little bit as bad as I do. But. It’s not theirs, ANY of theirs. These are my feelings and I am stubbornly sitting right next to them, hand in hand, like peaceful protestors rallying for their cause.

Just me, holding on tight to my little buoy of jaggedy pieces; sometimes we sink, sometimes we float, but mostly we just hang out.

This is a tidal shift for me; this is a sacred move toward something becoming whole inside of me; that long-felt mismatched puzzle piece, all weird and busted and never quite right.

There was a meme on FB this week that I shared; a call to use just four words you’d tell yourself at 17. My friends responses were incredible– and mine?

“You will be fine.”

And even with everything the last few years have brought- I know those words are true. This will be fine. It won’t be like AMAZING, cause really? It’s a fucking divorce not a trip to the chocolate factory. But it will be fine. The kids and I will move through this; I will continue to explore my own heart; I’ll soar, I’ll crash, I’ll love my kids, I’ll find new passions & we’ll start over, likely more than once. And it will be fine.

We’ll continue to write this story that forms the strange little tapestry woven around us.

Sit in the wave, Kate. Let it wash over you. Let it carry you. Just sit in it. Feel the wave.

[Be My Guest: 2] Lines for the Locker Room

Friends, this post is my humble honor to share. My dear friend, Ashley-Ann, approached me about a guest post regarding recent “locker room” talk. I was all HELL YES girl and expected to read something witty, cool, and unique cause those three words about sum her up. We know each other from the local theater world and she is a firecracker. She is also a woman who has spent a lot of time in football locker rooms as an official and therefore I knew her perspective would not disappoint. I did not, however, expect to sit in front of my laptop frozen in place, chills down my spine, bearing witness to her incredible story. Please join me in creating a safe place for Ashley-Ann’s story to land. I am a firm believer in truth telling and the power of putting words around your experience, sharing it on your terms– when you give it to the world on YOUR TERMS you own it. YOU. Note the unwavering power she exudes in this post.  

Thank you Ashley-Ann for your perspective, for trusting me to gently place this here, and for being a truly badass warrior in so many ways.

There’s been quite a surplus of talk about what happens in locker rooms lately: what sort of discussions occur, behaviors exposed and what sort of dynamic the “locker room” encourages. I have lost count of the times the phrase “boys will be boys” has been turned loose in dialogues. If you haven’t read Chris Kluwe’s epic response from the point of view of an NFL player, I highly suggest that as a first-hand account of locker room talk.

So how would I, a middle class, female college professor in my early 30s have any idea or any reason to care what goes on in the boys’ locker room? Simple. Because I’m in there myself, and unlike Vegas – what happens in the locker room doesn’t stay in the locker room. 

I may be a college professor by day, but for 4 months out of the year, I change out of my 4 inch stilettos and business attire and into solid black football cleats (which are very hard to find in my minuscule size, just so you know) and zebra stripes. I’m one of two female high school football officials in the state of South Carolina, so I spend a surprising amount of time in locker rooms. Not only in the locker rooms but on the sidelines, in the huddle, amongst coaches and players, in between players and players, and as the brunt of angry fans’ mouth diarrhea. So what does this experience afford me? Just that – experience.

I’ve been in multiple situations that would make other people blush. What most people don’t know is that as officials for Varsity games we arrive in street clothes and change and go over our pre-game responsibilities. For the bigger schools with more money, typically they rent a hotel room for the evening. Believe me – I have gotten a fair share of odd looks when I check into a hotel room with 4 or 5 other, mostly older, men. Really bizarre looks.

But for the smaller schools with smaller budget we get dressed in one of the school locker rooms. I’ve changed and showered in hotel rooms, boy’s locker rooms, girl’s locker rooms, all with a crew of men around. I’ve changed in cars, closets, behind lockers, in stalls, even an athletic director’s office or two when the small locker room was just wide open space. And not once have I ever encountered any conversation that has EVER made me feel uncomfortable.

I’ve had all types of crews. Younger guys who have new babies at home, marital bliss, relationship woes or work struggles. One has the most astounding record collection and an affinity for Jazz, so we have some pretty amazing conversations on music. Older guys who might let slip the occasional curse word and then blush and apologize for offending my delicate sensitivities. My typical response of “don’t fucking worry about it” soon puts them at ease. I’ve played martial counselor, college admissions advisor, tutor, child behavior advice giver, cultural attaché to the theater scene in Charleston (another passion of mine), a listening ear and a friend. If any of my crew members ever thought of me in a sexual way, it was never expressed. If things were said behind closed doors, I never heard. I was never sexualized or exploited. I was simply allowed to be. To be ME.

I guess I’m lucky in that way. And yes, I’ve run into some sexist pigs through my role as an official. I had a coach tell me once that I must not be able to use my flag because I had it employed elsewhere to help with my menstruating (I paraphrased for the sake of any delicate ears). I have had a few coaches and athletic directors call or email asking if they were required to pay for a separate hotel room or if I needed any “special accommodations” (and I’m not paraphrasing that one!).

To some my femininity in the male centered world of football may have been some sort of disability requiring “special accommodations,” but for the most part I’ve rarely felt more myself or that I was allowed to be myself, ironically when the barrier of my femininity was removed and the chromosomal chasm was ignored. Instead of being the “female official,” I was simply “an official.”

So why does this matter? Well, in light of Trump’s latest verbal plunge into I-Stick-My-Foot-Into-My-Mouth-Itis the culture of the locker room has been questioned. Trump’s claim that telling someone he would grab a woman “by the p****” has been “trumped” up to just the way boys are in more ways than one. So my question is where is the line?

There has to be one right? There always is. Where is that line in the locker room that makes it ok to make comments that afterwards you would have to rinse your mouth out before kissing your momma? Does it stop at the locker room door? What if you aren’t finished with your conversation? Can you press pause and then continue in the car? By nature if it’s considered ok to talk like that in certain places, then logically there must be rules about how it is conducted right?  What are the god-damn rules of locker room talk?

And after all, it’s just talk, right? I mean, as long as Trump didn’t actually put his under-sized delicate digits onto a woman’s special place it doesn’t matter. WRONG. Words ARE actions. When you open your mouth whether it’s to yell at your child, praise your spouse or just let out a shriek of pure happiness, you are committing an action.  Thoughts are involuntary. Words are not. While we cannot control what pops into our head, as the consumer driven jingle writers well know, we can control what comes out of our mouths.

I fully believe the writers of Avenue Q got it right with their song “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” in that we have biases and faults by simple human nature, but by recognizing these flaws we can overcome them. We make a conscious decision to tell that racist joke, to cat call at the hot chick across the street, to tell your boss to shove all your overtime where the sun don’t shine. And therefore we should be accountable for our actions: by being labeled a racist or a womanizer, or getting fired.   

I can hear the nay-sayers now saying I’m naïve or that the “locker room” conversation didn’t happen only because I was a female in the room. Well, I can tell you that I’m not naïve, not in any way. If anyone would have picked up on a sexual comment or a funny look, it would have been me. And why is that you might ask? Because as a victim or sexual violence I have a heightened sense of danger in those situations. I’m that person that always stands with her back to the wall at parties. I’m the one who upon entering a room notes which way the exits are, which one is closest. I’m the one with the mace and the self-defense classes. I’ve lived through it. I have seen the signs. I have witnessed what happens when “locker room talk” isn’t stopped at just talk and when those locker room lines don’t exist.

I’ve never told most people I was raped when I was 17. It took me over a decade to tell my own mother. Most of my family has no idea and will only find out if they read this post (Hi Dad!). And why is that? Why is it that as victims we feel that we are the ones who have to be ashamed? That there is something wrong WITH US? Why do we feel like Hester Prynne, and that if we don’t smile and push it away that everyone will see that we are marked. That bright red “A” branded on us every moment thereafter means that we are weak or damaged or just plain fucked up.

We see clearly the lines in our “locker room,” what we CANNOT talk about. Why is it we can talk about Donald Trump wanting to pussy grab, but we can’t talk about how when you fight back against a rapist you can pull every muscle in your thighs, or how hard it is to walk after that. There is no conversation about trying to hide that pain on top of the emotional damage so no one finds out. You can’t tell anyone because you don’t report it for fear that no one will believe you. Never spoken is the next girl that monster rapes and how she ends up almost dying from bleeding out from internal injuries and your guilt that comes with that knowledge. Imagine it all started with a smile at a party, a slap on the ass and an offer for a ride back to your car.

So here’s my question for you – if it is just “locker room talk” and boys will be boys, when and where is the line? Is it before you grab a woman’s ass on the dance floor at a club? Is it when you hit on the waitress at the local restaurant and hint that she can earn more tip later (wink wink)? Is it when you have a girl in your car and drive her to an isolated spot so no one will hear her scream?

I’m asking this of the males today, men and boys, where is that line? There must be one by simple logic. Is it only when you have a familial relationship with the target of such talk that it bothers you? Why is that? After all, the woman you are sexualizing may not be your daughter, but she is someone’s daughter, or mother, or sister, or spouse.

So I ask you to think about that locker room line next time you go to speak to or about a woman, and do you really want to cross that line?

Institutionalized

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-8-25-52-pmI started this post a couple of weeks go… prompted by my impending final divorce date and the fact that I have to bring a witness who can answer 5 questions about my life– to prove that, no, I have not rekindled a relationship with the person I am trying to divorce. The state puts the onus on ME to prove that I am really, actually serious about wanting to end my marriage; the money, separation, custody agreement and year plus of waiting are not, apparently, enough. And the ex? He gets to sign a paper and not show up. This post was going to be about feeling re-victimized time and again in this process… but now it’s bigger than that. It’s about all women. It’s about all that we have at stake today. It’s about what we could lose, who we need to be for our future, and where our moral compass lies.

I know it’s not a surprise that our court systems let us down now and then (ahem, giant understatement, ahem) but through the 18 or so months I’ve been wrangling a divorce in this great state of South Carolina– I have to say, I feel victimized over and over and over.

That’s what I wrote and then left dangling in draft form because it felt whiny and overplayed. Wah, wah we KNOW, women are paid less than men, women bear the burden of all of the things, I am a giant feminist, yadda yadda.

But now I’ve decided to pick it back up again because feeling like an institutional victim extends beyond me. It extends to the millions of women, and marginalized people, that our country backs into unmovable corners every single day. And our systems not only allow it, they are built to sustain it.

Also, the fact that I had so internalized this dialogue about women being whiny complainers showed me something about how deeply this runs, when in fact we are the lesser-treated, less-respected, more often attacked and vulnerable group. And don’t get me started on folks who IDENTIFY as female or somewhere on the spectrum… lest they be OF COLOR, well, even worse.

We all know the current election is a giant shit-show, yup. And usually, when politicians are involved, le shit is le show. Totes. But what was a funny, SNL-writer’s goldmine, just got unquestionably actually icky. And scary.

I am almost out of funny. Out of snark. And that’s really saying something for me. I don’t know where we begin to fix this broken thing.

I wrote an earlier post about WANTING to be so jazzed about our first woman President and I will vote for her, unequivocally yes. I, at times, identify with her. I was cheated on. I have borne the brunt of that searing shame and picking up the pieces for my kids just like she did. And she did it in the WHITE HOUSE.

I loved the Humans of New York piece where she talked about being the only woman in her law school classes- yes, yes I get that. I’ve seen her speak in person during this campaign and it did give me chills when I thought- look at HER, yes look at HER GO. Pant fucking suit and all.

So what is it?

I think the it is something I very rarely talk about publicly. The it is my faith. My faith in a loving and gracious God who created every actual human as they were meant to be. Every hair on your head– your black, white, brown, immigrant, gay, beautiful head– woven as some force beyond ourselves meant you to be. EXACTLY AS YOU ARE.

To be clear, I don’t think it’s about Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, or Buddhist– it’s about moral compass.

Where are we folks? Where is our NORTH? Because I feel like we are walking around, lost in the woods, seeing the same damn tree over and over, but afraid to veer off course and INSISTING LOUDLY THAT WE KNOW THE WAY. What’s guiding our choices? What small, still voice are we listening to on right/wrong? Why are we so lost and how do we find the way?

I worry that we’re addicted to busy.

I worry that we’re addicted to stuff.

I worry that we’re addicted to social media and validation through likes and re-tweets.

I am guilty of all of the above.

I said something online this week about un-friending me on FB if you are voting for Trump. First, I think I mean it, but I don’t think that actually aligns with my values and what I just wrote there about loving you exactly as you are, so that’s a conundrum. I can accept difference of opinion- fuck we NEED different opinions.

But I cannot support hate. And what’s gotten so scary to me is the HATE I see this man spewing– and even more shocking to me is that SOME PEOPLE SEEM TO NOT SEE IT. I am afraid that the addiction to busy, to noise, to fear, to media, to not feeling all the feels… has allowed a societal numbness to take root. We are institutionalizing ever more deeply, hate.

And what scares me even more is that there are people who identify with what Trump is spewing as fervently as I find it horribly offensive. 

Some people listen to him and go YES FINALLY SOMEONE IS SPEAKING MY TRUTH.

And that, THAT is the stuff I think we need to unpack. Why is that someone’s truth? Some part of me wants to label them as trash (being way brutally honest here)– just nasty rotten trashy folks who don’t know better. Um, super moral compass-y of me huh?

But, is that really the case? Likely not.

We are disconnected from one another. We are disconnected from a grounding in moral compass. We hide behind screens and lob horrible nastiness at strangers. We have become an unfeeling, institutionally angry society.

And, I got nothin’.

As usual, I come to the end of writing about my feelings on a subject I am passionate about and feel a little lost- because I have no solution.

I am a results-driven gal– I like checking off boxes. But these? They feel leaden. These boxes we need to check feel intimidatingly large. They feel impossible.

What I can do is make my little space of the earth just that much less hate-filled. That much less busy. That much more purpose-filled. I can take time to be present to my people. I can say how I feel and tell my people I love them. I can volunteer. I can donate. I can pray. I can run. I can take long walks hand in hand with someone I care for. I can listen to my kids snores as they drift into dreams.

I can, and I will. I might need some reminding, but I know you’ve got me friends.

And… I reserve the right to post snark on the interwebs when I watch debates, cause dammit, I am human and can only promise to re-route so much.

Take care of each other please. Take care not to further internalize or institutionalize hate that marginalizes. I know there are others of you out there and I know we can take small steps northward.

xo

 

 

I don’t know how, but it will be.

14380199_10209674727576327_844603503778424680_oSo, I’m just going to go ahead and put this out there, cause I’m a putting it out there kinda gal: there’s something really strange about talking to your ex-husband about his new girlfriend moving in in the next few months. Like, “really strange” is not actually the appropriate word choice. Are there words?

Divorce continues to be this very two-steps-forward/three-steps-to-the-oh-fuck-where-did-that-come-from. I am a linear person. I like project plans and low-hanging fruit. I program manage a team of program managers for the love. So this? Just wow.

I am not sitting in a pool of regret, not even a little. I am enjoying my independence and freedom. I love date nights with my equally independent man-friend; he has his life, I have mine, and we find places to intersect and places to do our own thing. And it’s working. Weird.

I wouldn’t want to go back to the relationship where I just didn’t feel like myself. Where I was working SO HARD to keep the world spinning. And where my hard work was never reciprocated. No thank you, at all. No, sir.

Except.

There are times where I feel so very alone, even when surrounded by very well meaning people. It hits me at weird times, “wow I am the actual only person doing this right now. Parenting. Making decisions. Paying the bills. Doing the adult-ing.” I see people look past me, searching for my other half or glancing at my ring finger when we’re out and about doing activities that are squarely in the family-outing zone. Nope, just us, table for 3. Yes, yes I do have my “hands full,” thanks for noticing.

I had a really low moment recently after I realized that I don’t have an emergency contact. I know that sentence will cause a flood of “I’ll be your person!” texts and messages. I know, and I love you all for it. But my point is that there’s not one person who is obviously the appropriate person a team of doctors could call if a decision needs to be made or like, if I trip and fall on my face at a water station during a race cause drinking and running at the same time are not my strong suit.

I don’t have a lobster. That’s a scary realization. When that line appears on the gazillions of forms we have as parents, runners, travelers, chronically-ill… ? Well, it’s just really, painfully, glaringly, blank.

Here’s the flip side. I am a person who puts some undue pressure on herself. Mm’k, a lot. Like, all the pressure. And I have been banging around in my own, loud head about showing the kids what a really solid relationship looks like. My heart breaks when I realize that they don’t have an example to look to– and they don’t have a clear model of how a man should treat a partner. For some reason, this is the thing that is sticking with me. I guess it’s easier to worry about them, than about me.

So this girlfriend moving in (ack, all the ack)?  While it makes all sorts of alarm bells go off and makes me want to just drown in a tub of ice cream soaked in white wine (oooh, there’s a concept, wine floats?! I digress), I also have a tiny twinge of hope. Teeny, tiny. What IF they are actually good together? What IF my boys are able to see their father loving someone appropriately? Or, at least, better than the last time?

The pressure would be OFF OF ME. I can do my independent man-friend, dating, living life THING, without feeling that squeeze. Truth is? I don’t know if I want to be married ever again. I don’t know if I even want to live with someone again. I like what I am doing right now.

Ok, we can unpack this in about a million different ways. First, likely my kids just need to be loved and feel secure, no matter the structure of our family. I know. But try telling that to my overactive brain. Give a whirl, it’ll be fun. I’ll make popcorn and watch.

Second, my kids at a basic level need happy, fulfilled parents. And if dating someone, but not like diving in full-frontal into the FAMILY zone, is what works for me today? Then they’ll have a happy mama who’s being loved. Just not in a cookie cutter way. And honestly, when have I EVER been cut into a cookie? I am like that misshapen ash tray we all made for our parents in the 80s before we knew smoking was bad.

Third, I know that I will die a zillion deaths the first night they spend in a home with their Dad and his new girlfriend living there. I will hate it. And I will worry the whole, entire time. I will call to check, a lot.

Sidenote: I will also avoid watching Dateline cause that shit terrifies me every, actual time. It’s always the single mom, the recently divorced or the spurned lover turned child-killer. I always watch it and I always should not.

But then, I will probably go over to my boyfriend’s house. And love watching our show together or grabbing a drink, enjoying the freedom to choose a relationship that works for me, right now.

Last night, before that call about the moving in, the boys and I saw a gorgeous rainbow reaching across the sky. I thought, “wow, beautiful. Thank you Universe, I hear ya. High five back at ya girl!”

And on the way home, with my brain reeling and my jaw clenched, there was another rainbow, only this one was even more brilliant.

The colors were perfect and it was a complete ark, end-to-end, reaching through the dark and swirling sky. And when I looked closely I saw another much lighter, also perfectly complete, rainbow hovering just outside the brilliant one. And I thought “Oh Universe, you sweet, wild thing you. This will be ok. I don’t know how. But it will be.”

I repeat: I don’t know how, but it will be. ❤

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Love Warrior

LoveWarrior.pngI was overjoyed to receive an Advance Reading Copy of G’s book. I mean, I am a Monkee through and through. I have been a fan for years, seen her speak multiple times, hugged her sweet Mama and Sister, and have mutual friends; all of whom are a part of G’s wild group of warriors, spanning all walks of life. Some of my dearest tribe members are women I met through the power of G. That book I’m holding over there is strong, raw, beautifully crafted and a gift from the deepest corner of her heart to all of us. So why has it taken me so long to write about it? Why haven’t I shouted from the rooftops? Because, like G and so many of you, I have a very, very hard time sitting with pain. And this book? It touched me right in my most raw spot. It’s salt in a wound that has not healed. But it’s also perfection– and it’s going to move you.

The day that I found out my “News” the first person that I messaged via FB was Glennon Doyle Melton.  She wrote right back and said “no matter what, know that this is not about you. Not. About. You.” It seemed impossible at the time that infidelity had nothing to do with the other person, the person left behind at home wondering, simmering, smoldering, hurting… but she was right. Of course.

And I knew that she knew because she’d written, to some extent at that point, about her own experience on her blog when her News came down. We Monkees rallied around our girl, and at the time I thought– holy hell. Just holy hell.

What I didn’t know is that several months later, I myself would be sinking into my own personal, and holy, hell. One all too similar (shockingly so) to her story.

When I heard that G was writing this next book on the very topic of her News and subsequent journey, my first, rather visceral, reaction was “I can’t read it.”

See, she stayed and I didn’t. And I thought, “what if I read it and realize I made a mistake? What if it’s too hard for me to read? What if they are too perfect at the end?”

And then, I sucked it up and pre-ordered, knowing I’d have months to work myself up to it. I didn’t have to READ it when it came. I could just put it on my nightstand with Brene, Elizabeth, and G’s first book. They’d all just hang.

Except.

The ARC copy showed up early with an ask to post reviews and help lift one of my very favorite people as she gives her newest word babies to the world– her most important and scariest to write words yet.

I thought, “Shit, now I have to read it. Fine.” 

Cautiously, night after night I took a deep breath and read as much as I could. And, of course, nodded, laughed, AMEN’d, cried, rejoiced, and thought “Girl, wow. We are all so much more alike than different.” I wondered if that was a shame or a joy, given the circumstances. Yes, we’re alike, but we’re alike in jagged, jacked up ways. Might we still be alike in the redemptive ways, too? I hope so.

Friends, I saw myself in every part of this book– and I didn’t look away. I allowed G to gently hold up a mirror because she herself was so, so brave in sharing each and every word of the book. When you read this book, because you absolutely must, you will realize that you too, have a mandate for truth. You too have a story to tell– even if it’s just to yourself. G’s Love Warrior is as much a memoir as it is a call to action. For you to recognize your own BS and bravely walk into the truth.

I’m still very slowly and reluctantly on that path. In fact, I am trying desperately as I type this to not call forth my “Representative” (G’s term)– aka the person I think the world should see, wants to see, believes me to be because she’s fun, funny, quirky, OUT there. All the things I am not really, totally, on the inside. And instead, just write from the shaky place where all the parts of me meet, joining my mind, body and spirit; just as G describes in this book. It’s the least I can do.

Friends: who reading this, right now, needs to read this book? Needs a copy of it? See, I pre-ordered and then was gifted this now dog-eared, busted up and loved on ARC copy. So I am going to give away my pre-order copy! Please comment here on the blog, or on my FB page before midnight Monday and I’ll randomly draw a name the day the book officially drops: Tuesday 9/6 and get it to you as fast as I can.

Glennon, sweet friend: THANK YOU. Thank you for this book, your word babies, and trusting us with your raw account of a deeply personal matter. This book is going to touch lives in ways you cannot imagine.

xo

 

An Open Letter to Dan Bacon: Lemme get this straight.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 9.41.59 PMDear Dan Bacon,

Ok, so let me get this one really, actually right. You wrote a whole ARTICLE that is now PUBLISHED  for other actual human eyes to see- spouting your expertise on how to get girls with headphones on to talk to you. Yes? Mmmmk.

Setting aside the total douche-baggery of that pursuit for a moment, when I look at the homepage of your blog, below is the checklist of your expertise you’re peddling to other men who are, theoretically, actually looking to you for advice, which in and of itself is unfathomable. But let’s just say it’s true.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 9.11.39 PM

You, dear misguided, what’s-wrong-with-so-much-of-the-world-today, total bag of pricks, HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE.

So, because I am a nice, kind, helpful woman, who like, KNOWS ACTUAL WOMEN, I will shine a light on the day in the life of a gal trying to 1) survive, 2) deal with and 3) just navigate around total douche-canoes like yourself.

(Note my fanciful variations on the word “douche”– aren’t I sweet and spicy all at the same time? It’s probably the hormones. You should ask me if it’s that time of the month.)

See, dearest Dan Bacon, just tonight, in scrolling through my social media feeds I’ve encountered:

  • at least one rapist convicted and set free after just 3 months of prison time for a heinous assault, cause he was a “good boy before that”
  • a famous singer who got a slap on the hand for literally knocking the crap out of his girlfriend was just arrested AGAIN for assaulting a woman
  • your d-bag article is viral– while rape victims bear the burden of proving their crime happened even if they were drunk/wearing a short skirt/went home with them

Today at work, I heard a group of men laughing about a woman who was likely “grumpy” and had a great bro-laugh about one’s suggestion to tell her to “calm down; they really love that.”

In this great state where I live, the burden of proof is on ME to show not only intent, but opportunity for my husband’s infidelity and because I was unwilling to be aggressive in court and share that proof, I have had to wait over a year to be allowed to divorce him. Also, if I don’t change my name that very day during my 15 minutes in court, it’s $1200 and several months in court thereafter. TO TAKE BACK MY MAIDEN NAME.

Yesterday at the gym in a room full of wide open machines, a man chose the treadmill next to me and did the side-eye stare for a full 5 minutes while I ignored him until he left. (Clearly he didn’t read your article or those earbuds would have magically flown out of my ears and we’d probably still be engaged in a sweet make-out sesh right now.)

Daily, we are bombarded with images of a “mean” “sick” Hillary dragged through the coals about the cost of her suits– while Trump gets away with spouting hate rhetoric that is supported by members of the Klu Klux Klan (who actually, literally openly voted for him). How much do his suits cost? Oh, you don’t know? No one’s ever asked? Interesting.

And Anthony Weiner (I mean, WEINER, ammiright?! You should totes bro hug it out with him, I think you’d get along famously.) is FINALLY booted out by Huma– and she is the one who has to ask for the world to give them privacy? Fucking Weiner should be out there on his KNEES begging for forgiveness from all of us, but mostly his WIFE AND CHILD. Not Huma. Huma should not have to be the voice. She’s borne enough.

I could actually go on and on because sadly there are umpteen-million good examples of where we women have to tip-toe around douchbaggery at its finest.

But I fear dear Dan Bacon that I’ve likely lost you already. I mean, you’re probably still up there looking at your own picture and admiring the BACK OF THE HEAD of the woman you have on your website, cause God forbid you even give her a face.

Bottom line: if a woman has her headphones on, she would likely like to listen to the thing she selected on her device. She is not avoiding you. She is not even a little bit thinking about you. She is not being coy. She is not being unapproachable. She is not being ANYTHING other than a person listening to music. Or a podcast. Or books on tape. Or anything that is not YOUR MOUTH SPEAKING TO HER.

Dear Dan Bacon, on behalf of all the women on the entire, actual whole planet known as earth– please stop. You are the problem. You are why we are scared. You are why we cannot even anymore.

Repeat after me: I shall not write any more douche-canoe-filled-with-vomit articles about anything other than how I shall work toward empowering women, supporting feminist causes and making sure equal work means equal wages.

Oh wait, what’s that dearest Dan Bacon? Huh?

Sorry, I can’t hear you very well– I’ve got my fucking earbuds in.