I have many heroes, and reading their writings, or speaking with them, or seeing them interviewed has been very important to me, especially since the election.
It occurred to me recently that it is important to tell people that their good work means something to me, specifically. Some of my heroes have gained recognition for their work, some have not. Either way, I want to let them know that they inspire me and lift me up.
So, I am starting a project to write a letter every day or so to a hero who has inspired me to do better, to give more, and to keeping fighting for a better world.
My first letter went to Jimmy Carter. He has been a hero of mine for a long time. I cast my first vote for President for him in 1976, in an old fashioned lever-pull voting machine in a country store in Red Hill, Alabama.
I am not going to publish my letters, but I will keep a list on this blog of who I write.
Apparently, the allotted time for shock, sadness, mourning, anger and fear has expired and my Facebook timeline is starting to fill with “likes” and “shares” of assorted Trump-supporting asshats who are eager to explain to all us elitists why Hillary lost and why we should get over it.
Well, the strangest thing happened while I was debating whether to unfriend or just block the gloaters. I got Over It.
I don’t mean I’m not still deeply pissed off, worried, and aghast at what America has done. But I’m not wasting another single minute of my time reading about what percentage of what demographic in what state went for Hillary or Trump and why. The freaking Ku Klux Klan spread fliers around neighborhoods near me on election night. The KKK. In Birmingham, Alabama. In 2016. The most evil hate groups feel emboldened by the election of this unqualified, narcissistic, sexually deviant braggart. This is not the way I thought my country would be at this point in my life. I thought the battle for basic human rights for all people would be over. I thought constitutional rights won at the Supreme Court level would stay won. When I was twelve years old, I saw a man walk on the moon, sent there and brought home again by brilliant men and women using slide rules. I thought by the time my children were grown, we would, at the very least, have figured out how to get clean drinking water to children all over the world, but we can’t even do it for America.
I just read a headline on Twitter, and it grabbed my attention. I haven’t even read the article, because the headline alone was inspiration enough. It said, “Welcome to the Fight.”
If I offend you with what I am about to say, and you feel you can’t talk to me, that would make me sad. But this needs to be said: please do not quote Franklin Graham or Mike Huckabee or James Dobson or other privileged, politically connected and influential white Christian men to me. They are hypocrites. Yes, exactly the kind Jesus cautioned us not to be. They are “seen by men.” They hold influence and power, and they have their reward. I don’t want to hear from them about Jesus’ plan for this country. They excused horrible speech and actions so that their tribe could win the election. Now they want to tell us that this was God’s will? Nope. I’m not listening to that rubbish.
What I am doing is joining the fight. I will stand with all whose freedoms are threatened by Donald Trump and the GOP. I will stand with women, the disabled, people of color, people of ALL religions, athiests, agnostics, LGBTQIA people, indigenous people, undocumented people, children, artists, prisoners, the homeless, care-givers, teachers and all who are marginalized and treated as “lesser than” by the patriarchy.
To those of you who were just elected to office here in Hoover, Alabama, your actions in the first council meeting made me wary, but I will stand with you. I will have your back while you do the right thing. I will go through fire with you to recognize and serve those who are most in need in our city. I will push you toward transparency, because I understand transparency is hard.
I will call out bs and anything that smells like bs. And I will shout the word of your successes from the hilltops.
I am joining the fight that I expect to last the rest of my life. It is the fight to do whatever I can to bring peace, create greater equality, ease suffering, and leave a livable world for the next generations.
Bigotry, authoritarianism, oppression, patriarchy, you’re on notice. I. Am. Over. It. I am putting on the full armor of a pissed off woman warrior. There may be more tears in the future, in fact, it is very likely. But not today.
I am the checkboxes of life: daughter, sister, college graduate, wife, mother, friend. I am a Honda and a modest surburban house. I am PTO, Band Boosters, college dorm rooms and first apartments. I am the empty nest.
I am high cholesterol, and ten or so extra pounds. I am Sertraline for depression, and Clonopin for anxiety.
I am the sixties and seventies. I am a farm in north Alabama. I am a tiny rock schoolhouse and an old yellow bus. I am tomatoes and okra. I am a long line of schoolteachers and others who treasured books and poetry. I am ghost stories and family tales. I am the Johnsons of north Alabama, decended from England and genetically eccentric.
I am Bible school and Sunday School. I am Jesus Loves the Little Children and Just As I Am. I am white patent leather Mary Janes, Easter dresses and baked ham. I am baptism by immersion and I am disillusionment.
Because my mother often quoted, “There, but for the grace of God, go I,” I am compassion. Because I always had enough, but saw children every day who didn’t, I am gratitude.
Because bad things sometimes happen to children, I am childhood sexual abuse. I am years of guilt and repression. I am therapy and healing.
I am words, but not math; perfectionism, but mad disorganization; good food, but bad cooking. I am cats, not dogs; chocolate, never coconut, and always, always libraries and book stores.
I am 59 years of houses, apartments, neighborhoods, friends, events, weddings, wars, babies, car repairs, tornadoes, Presidents. I am a young mind.
I am sometimes fear, but more often optimism. I am Liz.
Writing creates a certain connection with the world that I often can’t attain in person. Even with my closest friends and family, there are still some walls that remain. Maybe this is a personal failing of mine, but I keep certain beliefs and desires and dreams behind the wall because they are too tender to hand over to others – especially the others who I love and respect the most.
When I write, and publish my writing on my blog, I tear down the wall and become my most honest, authentic self. I often have a moment of anxiety before I click that “Publish” button, because I am putting my heart out there, defenseless, to those who know me well, family members, those who know me only by reputation, and also strangers.
I blog because there is a certain exhilaration in writing and publishing on honest, heartfelt topics. Love me, hate me, be indifferent – this is who I am. When I write, I have the freedom to be real. This is why I want to “Blog Like Crazy.”
I often feel so frozen, as if I can see all the things I want to do, but I spin my wheels and never really get anything completed. I am an expert level procrastinator. All my energy is inside my head. I compare myself, unwisely, to people who are doing great things in the world. Not a smart way to live. But I had an idea that if I had a big white board, I could write down the things I have accomplished that made me feel good and proud, and then I could look at them and know that I am not frozen, and not just sitting here watching time pass. Continue reading “Write it Down; Move Forward”→
30 things I love right now:
1. My YMCA membership.
3. The My Favorite Murder podcast
4. Atlanta, where my son lives
5. My cell phone (I know, I know)
6. New friends discovered during the recent municipal elections
7. The home stretch of our 18 month kitchen renovation
8. My funny, sweet husband
10. @SarcasticRover on Twitter
11. My reading journal
12. My fitbit
15. Elizabeth Kolbert’s books
16. My tattered boyfriend jeans
17. Bryan Stephenson, author of Just Mercy
18. My cat, Zoey
19. Gerbera daisies
20. Fantasy house hunting on Zillow
22. The blogging community
23. Trying new craft beers
24. My sons, the best young men in the world
26. Having my depression and anxiety under control
27. Paper calendars and planners
29. My new passport
30. The 3 wonderful kids I babysit
I have yoga class in a few minutes. I totally don’t want to go. But I will go, and afterwords I’ll be the most self-satisfied person in all the land for going. I’ll probably mention it to no less than ten people. “Yeah, I worked out today. Just a little yoga class, you know….”
Which reminds me of of family saying we have. The -isms. You know those things someone said one time and it was hilarious, and so it gets repeated over and over through the years, completely out of context, and no one outside the family gets it, but the family laughs hysterically?
My niece, Beth, was an absolutely adorable toddler. She drew the attention of everyone. But she was a little fearful of new experiences, which is really funny, since she’s now the Rockin’ Adventure Mom of three boys. Anyway, when it came time for that rite of toddler passage, the first ride on the train at the zoo, Beth didn’t want to participate. She let everyone at the zoo know this quite loudly. And being our family, we* took her on the train anyway. Screaming. She shrieked the entire 5 mph ride around the park. The monkeys went nuts. I believe they thought one of their own had finally made it to freedom.
Well, when it was over and we thankfully got off, the Child Abuse Family, covered in toddler snot, Beth announced to all the assembled folks waiting to get on the train with their non-screaming kids, “I ride de train.”
So proud of herself. “I ride de train.”
“I ride de train.”
She told everyone at the zoo the rest of the afternoon. The cotton candy vendor heard about it. A guy emptying trash. Everyone. They were all so happy for her.
So for the last thirty years, we brag about our accomplishments, even when we had to be dragged kicking and screaming to get them done… “I ride de train.”
“I ride de train.”
Anyway, I’m off to yoga. I probably won’t scream during class. Hopefully. But I’ll be back to brag about it later, definitely.
*I wasn’t actually there, but I’ve heard the story so many times, it feels like I was.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so writer’s blocked in my life.
Since I wrote that first line, I’ve gotten up three times. Good grief.
I can’t imagine any topic more dull than someone writing about how much trouble they are having writing.
I have interesting topics. I just can’t write them. One is about my son’s upcoming trip to study this summer in Paris, and how freaked out I am that he is going to travel alone to a huge city where he will have to figure out public transportation, money, getting to the University every day, keeping up with his stuff, and figuring out where to wash his clothes. Continue reading “This Blog Needs an Enema”→