The wonderful part about the experiences I just described is their overtness. Once, racism was men in hoods burning a cross on your lawn. It was separate entrances and separate water fountains and the back of the bus, and if people didn’t know their place it was okay to remind them who’s in charge. The great thing about those folks was: at least you knew where you stood. A man with a noose has clear intentions, about as easy to spot as a harvest moon on a clear autumn night. In a best case scenario, with a bit of discretion, you could avoid these people entirely. In a worst case scenario, you could at least defend yourself.
And so when I read self-righteous posts from bloggers who reject putting ads on their sites because they “aren’t for sale,” I can’t help but bristle with resentment over the implication that those of us who are trying to make a living off doing the thing we love just aren’t as authentic simply because, unlike them, we need to make an income to survive. That we’ve lost our cred because we want to do what we love as our job and somehow, you know, eat and pay our bills and keep a roof over our kid’s head, too. It’s mind-numbingly frustrating to hear anyone claim moral superiority based on the fact that they have a husband whose paycheck covers all their needs, without stopping to realize that’s not the case for most of us. Some of us don’t even have a spouse to share our financial burdens with. Some of us have to fight alone, without anyone else to rely on for financial support, in order to do this thing we love if we want to keep doing it as devotedly, and regularly, as those of you with breadwinning husbands do. And we aren’t sellouts, and we haven’t sold or even tarnished our souls (or our writing, for that matter) for the almighty dollar. No, sadly, we just aren’t lucky enough to be as privileged as you are.
This isn’t the first time Backpage.com has been in the headlines, but with today’s protest planned at the The Village Voice headquarters in NYC, hopefully it could be one of the last. The Village Voice is a weekly newspaper that features investigative and progressive news articles that cover New York, NY. It’s free to locals, but is also distributed across the country. The paper itself has long been heralded for its contributions to journalism and the arts since its founding in 1955 by American novelist Norman Mailer.
I have a handful of hours (9-2) where I can work, catch up on emails, get errands done, exercise, update GGC, and even though five hours seems like a lot of time, it's not. Especially when there are giggling babies one room over. I know working from home is a total blessing and "best of both worlds" like scenario. However, there are some days when it feels "worst of both worlds" as in... I never feel like I can focus on work because I feel guilty not being with my babies. And then, when Tamara goes home and I'm with my kids, I feel guilty that I can't put the finishing touches on work. It's hard not to feel like I'm half-assing everything especially, today, when I'm feeling completely behind on life, barely dressed with a calendar full of appointments I shouldn't have made. And then there's Spring Break next week, which further complicates matters. Do I take a week off? Can I take a week off? Should I just not post something today? Is it weird to write a post about not posting? How about a post about not posting about posting?
When the tears need to fall, I let them fall. When the laughter comes, it comes from deep inside of me, from a place of real gratitude and hope. That's what cancer does: it hones everything down to its essential parts - the scary ones and the beautiful ones. Everything becomes so real.
So I spend my days with this constant push-pull between fear and hope. I try to soak up the beautiful moments, leave them untainted by fear. I pray and I try to let it all go.
I had three kids in four years, all of whom turned out to be really lousy sleepers and exceptionally strong-willed. In short, I didn’t sleep for six years, I dealt with more ear-shattering tantrums than I can possibly count, and I sure didn’t love every minute of it. I wished away a lot of days, yearning for a time when things would get easier, when I would finally get some rest, when my kids wouldn’t be so demanding. But then I had my last baby and my perspective changed a little, knowing she was our family’s final installment. I was still bone-tired, but instead of just wishing the fatigue away, I slowly moved into a more mindful state of it, saying to myself, “Right now I am so, so exhausted. My body and mind have been sucked dry and I am weary. But I won’t always feel this way. I am feeling it, living it, passing through it, and it’s all going to be OK.” I gave myself permission to truly feel The Tired, and by doing so, I found myself focusing less on the exhaustion and more on the curve of my baby’s brow, the sweet smell of her freshly-bathed head and her rosy cheeks, thankful for the beauty she brought to my life.
I've heard the Hunger Game haters say these books are vile and send a horrible message to young people. They are uncomfortable with the society Collins depicts. "It won't be long and this world could be as evil and inhumane as the world in the Hunger Games," they argue. To this I say, as long as innocent children are kidnapped and enslaved to make our chocolate and eight year olds are killing other eight year olds so that we can wear shiny rocks on our fingers, we are already living in the world of the Hunger Games. Welcome to Panem.
Just this past week, I had two Somali girls over for a sleepover. I have known them since they first came to America almost 8 years ago. As I was driving them around, Manoi, age 14, told me she has a boyfriend now. She then told me she is planning on getting married in 2014. She is currently in the 8th grade. The activist, missionary part of me almost took over, right then and there. I can feel this aspect of my personality kick into high gear at a moment’s notice: I am the kind of person who talks loudly about the misogyny of Eminem and Chris Brown to eye-rolling teenagers. I write manifestos against “Princess Propaganda” and vow to never let my daughter watch The Little Mermaid. Around the refugee girls, I am always, always talking about college. . .
There are clearly a lot of factors at play: Motherhood places inherent demands on our energy level and time. Spontaneity is more difficult. Extra planning (e.g., child care) is required. Priorities and interests change. And so forth. However, friendships are important. There's even a large body of research that highlights the numerous physiological and psychological benefits of close female friendships. Motherhood -- despite all of the joy it brings -- can often be isolating and stress-producing, and it has long been known that social support can protect against the adverse effects of stress. And reaping all of these positive effects can only come full circle and make us happier in general and as parents.
We have to start talking about this. We have to start being honest about how we feel and why we feel it. We need to stop agreeing when people say, “I don’t see color.” C’mon. Lying is not helpful. We see it! It’s there! And so we need safe places to talk and listen and say the wrong things and be forgiven and try again. And once we’ve figured out what’s deep inside us and how it got there, we need to learn how to balance the images and ideas we present to our children – so that their collective subconscious becomes different than ours. Truer. We need scientists and psychologists and movie producers and writers and teachers and parents involved in this peace making process – not just politicians and protesters.