Notes from the Road
Part Four: Minneapolis
Weird news flash: Touring is exhausting. In the cab on the way to the hotel from the airport today I had my first moment of really kind of being over the traveling. I love working. I love being employed. And I love being employed in this play with this company. But the traveling this much is exhausting. And traveling on a day off does not make for much of a day off.
At the current hotel I have a mini-fridge and a microwave. I’m not sure what I can get that’s microwaveable that doesn’t need to be frozen. The thought of eating EZ Mac for the next week makes me want to stick my head in the microwave.
I do have my tiny crockpot, but the only sink I have is in the bathroom and I don’t have any counter space to speak of.
I’m really looking forward to going back to Seattle for a couple weeks to recharge with Monty. I’ll be able to see Ryan, too, which will be really welcome.
A press release went out this morning announcing the official Broadway Revival of The Secret Garden, which, of course is really exciting, but I haven’t had any word from the team and I don’t know if the new director wants to keep me. And, of course I’ve gotten texts and tweets all day about it and I have no more information than anyone else. I was surprised as anyone when the news came out. So, I’m anxious and exhausted. It’s not a good look.
I think I’m going to finish this post since right now I’m Gloomy McGloomenstein.
Notes from the Road
Parth Three: Chicago
Chicago in winter is cold. Like, freeze your cheeks off, burning fingertips cold. I’m told I should visit The Art Institute, but honestly? I’ll plan a trip back here in the spring when it’s not brutal. There’s a woman who sits on the corner of Randolph and Wells with a sign that says she’s 65 and homeless. I’ve been half tempted to bring her back to my hotel room. I don’t know how anyone could survive on the streets here.
Ryan came to visit the first week of our stay here, so I haven’t really been outside much at all. I think I converted them to The Church of Sleep. They were fairly neutral on the concept of Sleep, but after spending a week in my temple, they’re a believer. I don’t claim to be the founder of The Church of Sleep. I know there are billions who have seen the light (and then turned it off). But I’d say, at this point, I’m like a High Priest.
Here’s a quandary: If everyone in your dreams is you, then what does it mean when you have a dream about a friend you haven’t seen in person in years AND you cast him as someone else?
Speaking of which, I just suddenly remembered that I dreamt Cherry Jones was on General Hospital?
We had our first weekday matinee yesterday and let me you, the scissoring joke landed flat as a pancake. Not even crickets for that one.
I’m not implying that older people don’t know what the concept of scissoring is. I’m not so naïve that I don’t know old people used to fuck all over the place, too. I’m just saying they probably call it something else. Grandma Lorraine is like, “Back when I was at Bryn Mawr, my best friend, Suzanne and I used to get naked ‘basket weave’ each other like crazy!” And you’re like, “Grandma… Please go on.”
This is what happens to me when I get cabin fever, folks.
Ryan bought me a little two-quart crockpot for the stops on the tour when I don’t have a kitchen. Last night I tried the Tex-Mex chicken and rice I made, and I put so much hot sauce on it I ended up running around my room like Yosemite Sam looking for a bucket of water to douse my tongue in. It turned out I didn’t have a spare bucket of water, so I used a spoonful of peanut butter, a banana, mouth wash, and half a bottle of wine. Ryan thinks I should write a tiny crockpot cookbook…
I’m almost done reading Parable of the Sower. It’s super terrific and I highly recommend it. And just for clarity’s sake, “sower” rhymes with “lower” not “sour.” I was going around calling it Parable of the SOUR like an asshole until Ryan referred to it properly and then I was like, “Oh. Right. That makes…a lot more sense.” Sower (rhymes with lower) is an actual word.
It’s not that I’m dumb, guys. I just have a lot in my brain and I have to prioritize. For example, I went to my website host thingy to see about posting this blog and remembered that I hadn’t paid for the hosting renewal despite many reminder emails, so now apparently, as of this writing, I don’t have a website anymore. That’s one thing that was (not) in my brain. I have to buy winter boots because apparently being miserable on the walk to and from work and thinking, “I can get away with not buying new boots. I only have to make it through Minneapolis, Boston, Schenectady, Cleveland, and Des Moines,” isn’t really working out for me. One of my students booked a Disney Channel show with some insane contract and I’m super happy for her, but I had a horrible day dream this morning about having to rescue her from a trailer when she’s in her early 20s because Disney chewed her up and spit her out and destroyed her life. Also, all the podcasts I listen to about people murdering and cannibalizing others takes up a lot of my focus. Plus, there’s all the time I spend thinking about food. And then there’s all the praying* I do. *sleeping.
The point is, I have a lot going on.
I’m going back to church now.
Notes from the Road
Part Two: DC
I'm sorry if the formatting on this post is garbage. Technology is at once the bane and savior of my existence.
I’ve been struggling with a serious case of writer’s block due mostly to low grade depression and generally feeling overwhelmed. The holidays were a lot. My family came out to Seattle to celebrate with us. It was good to see them, but I always get stressed when I’m with my family. I was so happy to get to spend extra time with Monty, but it was tinged with the knowledge that I would be leaving again soon. It’s hard to stay in the moment.
Also, I fell in love.
I’ve been having weird feelings about admitting that publicly because those of you who know me or follow me on social media know that I fell in love this summer and that blew up in my face. The Internet trolls who live in my head are going, “Really, Daisy? You fell in love again?” You would think, after that last debacle, that I would have built a fortress around my heart. What can I say? I’m gay. And my heart remains open despite every indication that it shouldn’t.
We met on OKCupid. It was supposed to be a casual, while-I’m-in-town kind of thing. A one off. But the one off turned into a two-off, which turned into a three-off, which turned into a date, which turned into a sleep over, and you know how the rest goes. Basically, it’s my fault for having such good taste. History notwithstanding…
Ryan is one of the most enthusiastic, positive, open-hearted people I have ever known. I sometimes worry that we are too opposite in the way we see the world. They are eternally optimistic and hopeful, where I have kind of given up on humanity. They are kind and generous and trusting where I am like, “What are you trying to get out of me?” They’re like a puppy where I am like an old, fat, house cat who is just fucking over your bullshit.
But they love me.
Ryan is by far the most complimentary person I have ever dated. And it always seems genuine. For someone like me who generally thinks people have ulterior motives, it’s been a bit of an adjustment to be complimented so frequently and whole-heartedly without being suspicious. They told me I have cheekbones for days, for crying out loud. In my 38+ years on this planet, no one has ever commented on my cheekbones.
Also, not for nothing, Ryan is hot as fuck.
Ryan is married to a wonderful (as far as I can tell so far) woman named Sam. Sam sent me a beautiful Facebook message when I got to DC welcoming me into the group. I saw the message pop up and my I-was-raised-in-a-repressive-patriarchy-where-I-was-trained-to-treat-other-women-as-the-enemy radar went off, so it was a pleasant surprise to be so warmly welcomed.
I have theoretical experience with Polyamory, having studied it for my own edification about 10 years ago, but this is my first real practical experience with it. It has been a remarkable experience. I’m reading More Than Two and finding that most of the suggestions they give for how to be ethically Polyamorous should apply to anyone regardless of how many or how few people they chose to love. Mostly it’s about learning about your own needs and how to advocate for yourself, and how to take care of yourself without expecting other people to do it for you. For example, last week, Ryan and I got to video chat every night of the week because Sam had plans, so on Monday night I didn’t find out until late that Sam and Ryan would be home together that night and I had a bunch of feelings about it. I think if I had allowed myself to go with my kneejerk reaction I would have said that I was jealous of Sam and angry at Ryan for choosing her over me. But after probably half a minute of reflection I realized I wasn’t jealous or angry. After all, Sam is Ryan’s wife and they live together. I know that. That’s the arrangement I’ve entered into. I suppose that doesn’t mean I can’t be jealous ever. But that wasn’t what was going on. I just realized that I was disappointed because I had expectations and assumptions that were wrong. So, I took a minute to let myself be sad and then I thought about what I needed to feel better and I asked Ryan to let me know ahead of time in the future when they weren’t going to be free in the evening so that I can manage my expectations. And, y’all, that’s just a good lesson in life.
Needless to say, after my last experience with my ex who got freaked out when Kurt bought me a t-shirt, or if I even mentioned the fact of his existence, being with someone who understands that multiple kinds of relationships can be had simultaneously is not only welcome, but it necessary. Kurt and I are in each other’s lives. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not just out of obligation, but out of love and connection. Moving forward, the people we chose to have in our lives are going to have to not only respect that, but welcome it joyfully.
Okay. That was not what I was thinking I was going to write about when I sat down today. Life is a journey, huh, people?
Barack and Michelle Obama came to the show last night. You know, just fyi. BARACK AND MICHELLE OBAMA CAME TO THE SHOW FOR MICHELLE’S BIRTHDAY. No, we didn’t get to meet them. But for 95 minutes I was in the same building as Barack and Michelle Obama. It’s probably just as well I didn’t meet them. I would have started crying and then I probably would have been carted away.
This morning it was announced that our Idiot in Chief is making it legal for healthcare professionals to deny services to people on religious grounds.
This feels good. I’m glad I did it. I keep telling myself I should go for a walk, but it’s tits cold out and fuck that. The truth of the matter is, I like being in bed. Whether I’m sleeping, writing, reading, having sex, or live-tweeting The L Word, bed is where I’m happiest and it’s time for me to embrace that fact and feel good about it. Thanks for being in bed with me.
Notes from the Road
Part ONe: Seattle
I kept Monty home from school on Wednesday because he was complaining of a sore throat and had been coughing throughout the night. He absolutely could have gone to school, but my feeling is, if you can afford (time and/or money-wise) to keep your kid out and prevent the entire rest of their class getting sick, do it. It’s a courtesy to the other parents and, eventually, to yourself again… I’m painfully aware that most American parents don’t have the means to do this because our system is garbage. But if you can, you should. Also, I’m leaving in less than a month, so a day with Monty was welcome.
I was worried that keeping him away from screens was going to be a challenge. Play time activities are not my forte. But we did all kinds of nifty things. We spelled words. We played with blocks (he got upset with me because I asked him not to knock the affordable housing complex I was building down. I can be SUPER unreasonable). We listened to music and jammed out. I tried, unsuccessfully, to build a fire. We took out all his stuffed animals and counted them, and jumped on them, and buried ourselves under them.
At one point he took out his favorite rabbit, Rabbit, another rabbit, Dotty, and a small mouse and said it was a family. The mouse was the baby, and Rabbit and Dotty were the “Parentmates.” Parentmates, you guys. In this case, Rabbit and Dotty were sitters, presumably raising the mouse baby together.
I have been trying to figure out the right terminology for my relationship with Kurt. “Baby Daddy” is… let’s say problematic; Reductive, to say the least. “Co-parent” is okay, but also kind of reductive. But “Parentmate?” Sure, it sounds like a term used in a science fiction novel. Like the person to whom you’re assigned to raise offspring with in order to repopulate the nuclear war ravaged Earth. But, it’s also kind of perfect. Kurt is not just Monty's Dad to me. He means more to me that just the identity of being Monty's Dad. He's my Parentmate.
Parentmates, people. Get on board.
Notes from the Road
Part One: Seattle
I was listening to my news podcasts while making breakfast just now, yelling at my phone every two minutes in response to the horrific GARBAGE going on in the world, and I felt compelled to sit down and write. I don’t know what I want to say, necessarily, but considering I call myself a writer, I figure I should heed the call to write when it strikes, regardless of cohesive ideas. Especially given that I have seven rounds of Words with Friends waiting, and a new Nintendo DS (Thank you, Liza Walter!!) with a handful of games I’m eager to play, the compulsion to write is unusual. As Dorothy Parker said, “I hate writing, I love having written.”
And yet (or and so?) here I am.
I don’t know how or where to begin with the state of the world. It is honestly terrifying. If I were unemployed right now, I’d probably head down to Alabama and help Doug Jones. I don’t know much about him besides headlines I’ve seen in passing, but I do know this: He’s not a pedophile. Jesus Christ.
Al Franken resigned today. Democrats have generally taken the high road when it’s come to dignity and morals, not stooping to levels many republicans will to win votes, or calling on fellow democrats to do the right thing in light of accusations or scandal (Bill Clinton notwithstanding), and sometimes we (I) wonder if we should go ahead and play as dirty as the other side does. These are scary times and sometimes it seems like we’re moving backwards, but all in all, haven’t we, as a country generally moved forward in terms of civil rights? I’m talking about the larger picture. Yes, our record is still deplorable in many, many ways, and we have a long way to go in terms of granting every human being basic human rights, not to mention equality, but we have been moving forward in incremental steps and I wonder if that’s because we have refused to get into the mud with the other side. We take a few steps forward and a few steps back, but I think the momentum is generally in the right direction. So as scary and as important as the loss of Franken is to the Senate, it may be the right thing in terms of the way this country deals with abuse toward women. Zero tolerance is zero tolerance.
It seems like the GOP’s long game is about securing money and power for a very small group of people so that when the shit does inevitably hit the fan, they imagine they’ll be shielded from it (perhaps they should ask the French how that worked out for them…). Maybe our long game is securing basic rights and dignity for everyone so that life gets generally better for everyone. And that means sometimes falling on our sword?
I don’t know. I’m overwhelmed and sad and California is burning.
But. Monty asks to cuddle with me every morning. So, I have that. I don’t know what I’ll do when my time in Seattle is up. I may end up Tindering my way through the country just for cuddle-buddies. (TBH, full disclozsh: Monty is the only person I actually want to cuddle with.)
He’s a bit obsessed with my belly. I think it started last spring when he learned that he was in there when I was pregnant. He asked to get back in. I explained that he was too big, and he curled himself up into a ball to try to be small enough. Ever since then he wants to look at, squeeze, and sleep on my belly whenever he can. He likes it when I push it out and make it big. Last week I told him that someday he’s going to meet someone with a big, fat belly, and they’re going to fall in love, and he’ll get to cuddle that person and their big, fat belly. This morning he made me tell him that story again.
When I dropped him off at school this morning, his classmate, Kennedy, who was seen yesterday morning sobbing in the corner because her breakfast plate was blue and not pink, announced that she was going to marry Monty. She going to have to stop worrying about the color of her plate and start eating what's on it if she wants that to happen.
I'm really good at parenting.
Notes from the Road
Part one: Seattle
When Monty was about a year and a half, a friend with a kid the same age asked what she should do about her kid trying to climb out of her crib. I suggested she put her kid back in a sleep sack for a while to discourage her from climbing at night. Another mother with a kid around the same age as ours said, “No, no, no! She needs to learn how to sleep with a blanket!”
She needs to learn how to sleep with a blanket.
Take a moment and imagine an adult who never “learned how to sleep with a blanket.”
“Where does this thing go?! Do I sleep on top of it? Do I throw it in the air and somehow position myself so it lands on me? Do I wrap it around my neck? How does this work?! WHY DIDN’T MY MOTHER HELP ME LEARN HOW TO USE THIS THING?! CURSE HER!”
Kurt and I recently went to a parent-teacher conference at Monty’s pre-school. Monty’s teacher was a bit concerned because Monty brings his stuffed rabbit to circle time every day and always uses her for show and tell. She also mentioned that he’s having trouble putting letters in the correct order when he’s writing words. Also, he holds his fork in a fist.
In his defense, he’s four.
I went to his class for a Thanksgiving lunch and saw the posters all the kids made. In true American schooling fashion, they all made exactly the same damn thing. A collage turkey with the words “I’m thankful for” written at the top, the things they’re thankful for written in the feathers, and at the bottom “Happy Thanksgiving.” I told Monty how proud of him I was and how impressive it was that he wrote words. Then I saw the other kids’ posters and realized, Monty’s was really a mess. I mean, it was truly a collection of letters in a mish-mash. Two feathers had the words “mom” and “dad” which he never calls us, and the third was just scribbles. At the bottom, as best I could make out, was written, “THAXXXX4Y HAL,” in a variety of font sizes. The closest another kids’ writing was to Monty’s was one that said,
Which, at least, is decipherable.
So, yes, we need to pay some attention to Monty’s writing skills. And it’s a good reminder. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in how good he is at drumming, or how comfortable he is around adults, or that he’s doing pretty well with reading, that we forget there are other skills he might need in life that require our focus.
That said, he’s four, and I’m fairly confident he’ll figure out that letters need to be written in order from left to right to form English words. I’m pretty sure he’s not going to walk into his freshman orientation at college holding his stuffed rabbit. And the chances are good that eventually he’ll develop the dexterity to hold his fork in an “acceptable” manner.
THAT BLANKET THING, THOUGH.
Notes from the Road
Part One: Seattle
I was talking with a castmate and friend the other day about my co-parenting situation with Monty’s dad, Kurt. It’s too complicated to explain, and since I’m interested in keeping readers, I’ll skip it. Suffice it to say, I’ve been living in NYC since May while Kurt and Monty have been in Seattle. It’s largely due to finances. It sucks and it’s far from ideal, but it was the only way we could find for me to continue pursuing my career. We didn’t know how long this arrangement would last, only that it wasn’t permanent and that the end goal was to get to a place financially where all three of us could live near each other in NYC.
I told my castmate that it may be we end up finding a three-bedroom place. It would be more affordable than getting two two-bedroom places, and certainly more livable than the both of us living in studios with Monty shuffling back and forth between us. That shit ain’t cute.
No one is suggesting that this is an easy solution. For instance, it would make dating difficult, to say the least, but frankly neither of us are at a place right now where we’re trying to find partners. It turns out I love being single. Also, between my career, my child, and the tornado that exists in my head, I don’t have time for anyone else. And whoever we both do end up dating, they’re going to have to be 100% on board with our arrangement. Kurt and I are close. We get along really well. And we’re raising a human together. And that’s that. Neither of us have room for jealousy, possessiveness, or insecurities.
My castmate asked if I thought maybe we were setting Monty up with false expectations about the way the world works; That parents who separate usually don’t live together anymore. It’s a fair question. But here’s the thing, I think the way the world works now is pretty terrible. Extreme hetero- and gender-normativity, along with virulent misogyny and homophobia have created a system in which most families can’t function in a healthy way. Parents stay married “for the kids,” or because it’s financially impossible to separate, and if they do separate and make their kids deal with the logistics of their failed relationship. People marry who never should have. People have kids who definitely never should have. And MOST of the time, if one parent has to sacrifice their career in order to raise the kids, it’s the mother. No one sneezes at the thought of a father working so much he’s rarely home. But people ask me constantly if I feel guilty for not being with Monty. (The answer by the way is “yes,” but I’d be suicidal if I gave up my career.)
So, what’s the false expectation? What’s the damaging lesson we’re teaching Monty? That two people who love each other in many ways and have a kid together can figure out a way to make it work so that their child grows up with both parents around? That making enough money two have two separate places big enough doesn’t seem to be in our wheelhouse? That people don’t have to be romantically involved in order to make a relationship that is “supposed to be” romantic work? That people are capable of all kinds of different relationships? That his parents love him so much that they decided to buck tradition and figure out what worked best for their family?
I told my castmate that when Monty is old enough to understand the concept of romantic love we can explain to him that his parents used to feel one way for each other and they’re relationship changed, and they figured out how to make it work. God forbid he learns that people are complicated, and relationships are nuanced. What if he grows up to be the kind of person who doesn’t blindly accept what everyone else tells him about the way his life should be? What if he learns that men and women can have relationships with each other that don’t involve sex or romance? What if he learns that even after we stop loving someone romantically we can still care for them, be kind to them, and carry on with them in our lives? What if he realizes that he can choose to keep people in his life based on how they enrich each other’s lives, and get rid of the ones who are damaging? What if he comes to view relationships as living things that change and grow and require maintenance and attention?
I left my castmate and met up with Monty and Kurt at the playground. I asked Kurt what he thought about how we would explain things to Monty when he’s old enough to understand what romantic love is.
“Daisy,” he said, “I’m almost 50 and I still haven’t figured out what romantic love is.”
Amen, Brother. Amen.
Notes from the Road
Part One: Seattle
For years I hated autumn. I never knew why, exactly. But well into my twenties I would get depressed when September rolled around. Both serious breakdowns I’ve had in my life were in the fall. Fall of 2007 was particularly awful. I got fired from two shitty survival jobs; one as a customer service rep for a psychic hotline and one as a front desk “girl” at a pole dancing gym. I got fired from a pole dancing gym. My car got towed one night when I went bowling to try to blow off some steam. It cost hundreds of dollars I didn’t have to get it out of impound. And I spent hours sitting in the hallway at the psych ward of UCLA medical center waiting for a doctor to tell me to admit myself (I didn’t). I got kidney stones two years later. In the fall. Fall was not my season.
I can’t remember when, but one year in late August I felt my hackles go up as I braced myself for the onslaught of September, and I finally took a moment to examine why I was pre-freaking out. Future tripping. And I realized it was because I associated fall with school starting. Even though I was a good 15 years out of school, I still felt the same dread I’d felt as a kid, packing up my backpack and lacing up my off-brand high tops, to drag myself to that special torture known as school. All those post-school terrible autumns were, I think, due in large part to my belief that fall was a nightmare. Perception is half of life. Or something pseudo-profound like that.
Every year I’d buy a new Trapper Keeper and vow too myself that this would be the year I kept it neat and organized. Everything would go into its designated folder or pocket. And every year, by the end of week one that Trapper Keeper was a fucking disaster area. Papers everywhere. Plastic pockets ripped and rendered completely useless. A pencil hole right over Donnie Walberg’s face from when I absent-mindedly took my math class anxiety out on the Trapper Keeper’s pristine cover.
I’d be disappointed in myself. This year was going to be different, I’d told myself. This year I was going to be that person. And when I’d proven myself wrong, I’d give up. As though there were no coming back from a messy Trapper Keeper. Like promising yourself you’re only going to have one slice of cake, then realizing you’ve eaten half of it, and then finishing the whole thing because fuck it, you’ve gone that far, might as well finish the job. School for me was one experience after another that proved to me I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t organized enough, smart enough, disciplined enough, pretty enough, popular enough (or, like, at all).
When I realized that my hatred of fall was linked to my hatred of school I was able to rewire things enough in my brain so that when I did start feeling that inevitable panic as back-to-school commercials began to play I could remind myself that I wasn’t going to be going back to school. That I had, in fact, survived school, messy Trapper Keeper and all, and came out on the other side, and could now enjoy fall with its crunchy leaves underfoot and fireplace fire smells. And now I love fall. This year in NYC, it didn’t feel like fall until late October and that was a disappointment. The first day it really felt like fall was thrilling.
Now I find myself with a new conundrum. Every time I have an out-of-town gig I think, “This time I’m going to unpack right away. This time I’m going to get on a responsible, adult-like schedule. This time I’m going to wake up at a reasonable time each day. I’m going to take advantage of the free continental breakfast in the lobby. I’m going to go to the gym regularly (or, like, at all). I’m going to buy groceries and actually eat them. I’m not going to go out to eat. I’m not going to stay up late. Or drink too much. Or watch garbage TV. I’m going to write every day!
And I find myself on day four, sleeping until almost 11 a.m., missing the continental breakfast, looking at the groceries I bought and deciding to go out to eat, throwing out left-overs from take out I bought and didn’t eat, and completely not unpacked.
BUT, I am actively fighting that voice that’s saying, “Fuck it. It’s too late now. Just go all in. Spend all your money. Drink that whole bottle of wine. Watch another episode of Friends. Sleep until 11 a.m. Free breakfast is for suckers. Make your bed? For who? Rifling through boxes and suitcases is almost like rifling through organized drawers. You’re just going to have to pack up again. In a month and a half…”
My Trapper Keeper may already be a mess, but it’s not falling apart yet. I can salvage this. My utter lack of organization is not inevitable. I AM NOT MY TRAPPER KEEPER!
Or, more to the point, my Trapper Keeper is not me.
I’m sitting in my hotel room in Queen Anne on day three out of town with The Humans tour. Seattle Rep and our housing is within spitting distance of the Space Needle (or the “Speece Naddle” as Monty calls it), but my view is of downtown (I assume it’s downtown. That’s usually where they put the tall buildings) and of a lot of construction. Seattle is under-going massive new construction now that Amazon is in town. I count 14 cranes from my living room window. Most are building those hideous glass, and grey, and often orange (?!) “luxury” condo buildings that became a scourge on the skyline of downtown Brooklyn in the last five years or so and are everywhere.
I haven’t listened to my morning news podcasts, yet, or checked Twitter, so I don’t know what awful tragedy took place over night, though I’m confident there has been at least one mass shooting. Do we even call them “mass” anymore if fewer than 10 people are killed? I remember when Columbine happened. I was horrified, but somehow not shocked. Even though it was the first attack of its kind and we were all supposed to be shocked, I remember feeling kind of numb. I felt awful for the victims and survivors and their families, but I never felt like it was out of the realm of possibility enough to be shocked by it. I felt some shock after Sandy Hook, but even then, I thought, “Yeah, people are sick and awful. This is what happens when awful, sick people have access to killing machines.”
DO NOT MISINTERPRET ME, I’m not saying our mass shooting crisis is the fault of mental illness. I have mental illness. The only person I’ve ever wanted to kill was myself. And my sister’s ex-boyfriend… And, frankly, I think we’re all mentally ill to some degree, or at least suffering from PTSD to some degree or another. My generation was raised by two generations of survivors of horrific wars. Our grandparents and our parents survived World War II and Vietnam respectively, even if they didn’t serve; war permeates every aspect of our lives. War really is hell. Vietnam was not just some montage of walking through jungles while Credence Clearwater played in the background. It was a living nightmare. And thousands and thousands of the men and women who did survive it went on to have children without ever processing the atrocities they committed in the name of patriotism. Those are the people who raised us. Of course we’re all damaged. And then there’s our joke of an education system and organized religion, both of which teach blind obedience to “God” and country, both of which are completely false concepts.
Anyway, we’re all broken. And we’re being “lead” by a group of sociopathic monsters whose hands are bound by the NRA and the Koch brothers. So, no, I’m not shocked when a broken person, who is a product of this backward-ass broken system gets his hands on a tool built for ONE PURPOSE and uses it for that purpose. And if you are still shocked by that, then you’re deluding yourself.
We made some progress last night across the country in local elections, especially with women and people of color being elected, including electing the first trans woman to a delegate seat. In Virginia, no less. So, that’s good. Maybe the system really can be changed from within. Maybe we don’t need to upend the whole thing and start from fresh.
Monty’s dad talks about visiting a museum when he was a kid that proclaimed to have George Washington’s ax that he famously chopped down the cherry tree with. “Come see George Washington’s actual ax!” When they got there, a museum guide explained that, over the years, many parts in the ax had to be replaced due to age and wear. So, George Washington’s “actual, authentic” ax had had its handle replaced. And its blade. And its handle again. And the parts that held the handle and the blade together. “So,” Kurt said to the museum guide, “It’s not actually the ax that George Washington used.” “Sure, it is,” the guide said, “It’s just been refurbished!”
Maybe that’s what we’ll do. Piece by piece, part by part, we’ll replace and refurbish the parts of our country that have been worn away or have become outdated due to age and wear. A legislative seat here, a law there. And eventually what we’ll have is a brand new country that pretty much resembles the original but with new, working parts that serve it better.
“Come see ‘The Original United States of America!’ Now with more tolerance, fewer guns, and a lot more grey and glass ‘luxury’ condos!”
And now I’m off to rehearsal where I get to play make-believe and get paid for it. Now that is shocking.
Trigger warning: Rape
When I was 16 or 17 I was in college at a school that catered to younger students. Ostensibly we were intellectually done with high school. I don’t know how many of us really were ready for college, either academically or socially. I think their main criteria for acceptance was whether students could pay tuition or not. Most freshmen were 16 or 17. I turned 16 in my freshman year.
There was a small group of boys whose parents were low-level somebodies; one of their fathers was Slim Goodbody. They were wealthy, white, NYC prep school kids, complete with the privileged attitudes, blaring-loud rap music, and baggy pants. They were snotty shits. They were also not attractive. By any stretch. But they had a facebook (an actual facebook) that they used as a catalogue for girls. They put stars next to the girls they wanted to fuck. I have no idea what their stats were. I don’t care. But I would bet that they didn’t get much action.
One night I ended up in one of these kids’ dorm rooms with a friend of mine. I’m not going to use his name, but I will say he had no neck. Like, his head ended and his shoulders just began. I can’t remember if this was in my first or second year. I feel like it was in my second year, but I’m just not sure. For some reason the three of us were watching porn. I was really uncomfortable. I didn’t understand the point of watching porn with people you weren’t planning on immediately sleeping with and I wasn’t planning on sleeping with of either of them immediately or, ever. When the, ahem, film was over, my friend said she was heading back to her dorm. I got up to go with her and the No-neck asked me to stay. I said no. I looked around for my shoes and could only find one. He told me he’d hidden the other one. My friend laughed and left. I’m going to repeat that. My friend laughed and left. She heard me say I wanted to leave, heard No-neck say he hid my shoe, and she left me there with him. She’s a therapist now.
No-neck came on to me. I said no. What proceeded was an hour or so of him talking me into having sex and me saying no and asking for my shoe. Maybe it was less than an hour. I have no idea how long I stood there telling him I really didn’t want to have sex with him and I really wanted to go home. It felt like forever.
I finally gave in. I said, “Fine,” and sat down on his bed. Then he asked me for a blowjob. And the whole thing began again: me saying no and him begging. My old roommate and I had bragged the semester before about how good we were at giving head. He said I needed to prove it. I held firm and refused. I guess he decided to quit while he was ahead and take what I was extremely reluctantly giving him.
He humped me for a few minutes and came. I felt filthy and small and filled with shame. He got up, dumped the condom in the trash, walked over to his stereo, and said, “Hold on,” and stared into space for about 10 or 15 seconds, and then said, “I was farting that entire time.” He turned his music on full blast, walked out of the room, came back with my shoe, and tossed it at me.
“It was in the freezer,” he said.
I got dressed, put my freezing shoe on, and walked back to my dorm alone.
I dropped out of school shortly thereafter, had a nervous breakdown a few weeks after that, and ended up in a psych ward. That was not all a result of the rape, there were a lot of factors, but it was definitely one of the final straws.
It took me many years to come to terms with what happened that night and admit that it was rape. I have carried around the shame of this. Even now, 20 years later, I hear myself thinking, “You could have walked home without your shoe,” “You shouldn’t have been watching porn with him,” “You shouldn’t have bragged about blow jobs,” “You shouldn’t have said yes.” I said yes. Well, I said “fine.” And even if I had eventually said yes, it would have come after many, many “nos.” No one should have to say no twice.
I can not imagine wanting to have sex with someone who says “fine” after I’ve coerced them. I can not imagine coercing someone into having sex with me. Recently I was with a woman who said she didn’t like doing a particular thing and it never occurred to me to ask her again. Why would you want someone to do something to you or with you that they weren’t totally enthusiastic about?
No-neck is not alone. Hell, he’s not even the only person who sexually assaulted me. This is common. I have an ex who’s entire m.o. was “getting women” to sleep with him. Some men think coercion is foreplay. Listening to some of the stories coming out about Harvey Weinstein, I’m not at all surprised, though it is traumatizing and deeply triggering. Listening to him beg Ambra Guiterrez to come into his hotel room and to not “embarrass” him is sickening. I started shaking when I heard it. I’ve heard those words. I’ve heard that tone. I have been Ambra. So many of us have.
Coercion is rape. Coercion is rape. Coercion is rape.
To anyone who has experienced sexual assault (and there are billions of us), I love you and I stand with you. You are not alone. It was not your fault. It doesn’t define you. You have nothing to be ashamed of.
We are strong. We are beautiful. We are warriors.