in recent years



my president is black

I’ve been sad and angry and overwhelmed since the night of November 8th. I’ve cried and missed work and alternated between furious and hopeless and been both at once. I’ve even blamed myself for the results of the election because I let myself prematurely write a tweet about electing the first woman president. (My elementary school teachers regularly told me I’d be the first and I wanted to thank Hillary Clinton for making it seem like I failed because I was too young, not because I turned out to be a huge disappointment.)

I’ve been all those things because the 2016 election results are garbage. Because I’m angry that I’ve now lived through the Electoral College taking the presidency from the Popular Vote winner TWICE and this time by a margin so massive it embarrasses the entire institution. Because the election was meddled with by foreign powers and no one cares. Because the man who will be president tomorrow is a bad man, a stupid man, an ignorant, hateful, and petty man. Because misogyny won. Because fake news won. Because women and POCs and the LGBT+ community and disabled people have lost massively. Because people still insist that Bernie would have fared better. Because people are demonizing Clinton for losing, for running, for daring to try to serve her country further in the highest office. Because no one is adequately interrogating what they read and believe. Because the arts are going to suffer. Because the environment is going to suffer. Because real living human beings are going to die.

Today I am all those things, but I am mostly sad. I am enormously sad. Because, while President Obama’s politics do not align with mine perfectly and while I disagree massively with many decisions made while he held the office, I never once doubted that he had the best interests of the American people in his heart. Obama is educated and smart and supremely well-spoken*. He reads for fun and because he believes it helps him better himself. He’s a phenomenal writer. He loves his wife and his kids and his dogs. And he has always, always struck me as kind.

I just keep thinking about what the last eight years have looked like with the Obamas in the White House. How proud they have made me feel just by doing the best that they can with what they have. Eight years of congressional obstruction and we still got the ACA that saved my life. Marriage equality. A stronger economy and corporate regulation. Environmental protections. A record number of clemencies.

And it makes me happy and proud and miserable. Because our future looks nothing like the last eight years and the people I live and work with are responsible for it. I hope that we’re overreacting. I hope that it isn’t as bad as it seems. I hope and I hope and I hope. But I also #resist. I refuse to normalize. He wasn’t popular, he isn’t qualified, and he doesn’t have a mandate. And I will take whatever action I can for as long as I can to try to prevent him and those who have put him in power from destroying an America that functions for all the people who live in it.

After eight years, I am still surprised frequently that I lived to see the first black president. I lived to see the first black president. I lived to help elect the first black president. I lived to re-elect the first black president. I lived to see the first black president.

And I hope I live to see the second.

*I know that isn’t a compliment white people should direct at black people and I keep Googling, trying to figure out if it’s ever okay to say, but I would feel like I was leaving out one of the things I have loved most about him if I didn’t. Obama’s speeches have always been phenomenal, his off-the-cuff answers are sharp and thoughtful, and his actual speech-making is stunning, elevated without ever sounding pompous. I’ve never heard a president more skilled.

current nightmare: home-buying

Things I Have Learned While Trying to Buy a House:

   1. Don’t buy a house. It’s terrible. Find somewhere with rent control and stay there forever.

   2. Real estate agents vary widely and you should probably not pick one based on the recommendation of your very polite coworker.

   3. Loans are stupid. There are lots of words that are totally nonsensical and even by the end of the process it is unlikely that they will ever actually make any sense to you. Math is stupid. Money is stupid. Interest rates are nonsense.

   4. People are gross. Everyone’s basement is stupid (No doors on the bathroom! Five-foot ceilings! Literal tree roots coming through the concrete!) and no one’s bathroom is clean enough.

   5. It’s stupidly hard to come up with names for houses so that you and your buying partner know which stupid house you’re talking about at any given moment.

So, yeah, hi! Crys and I are trying to buy a house right now and it’s honestly my worst gentle nightmare. We’ve gone to see one place twice and are trying to make an offer on it, but business in North Dakota often works on some sort of time-space continuum that we have not yet been invited to join. The real estate market is super weird here right now, so it’s not that I don’t partially understand, but like, we saw this place for the first time more than a month ago. Momma’s tired. Momma’s ready. Let’s have a house now, thanks.

the waking dark by robin wasserman

I have a lot of feelings about The Waking Dark, so let’s talk about that, eh? Spoilers! » more: the waking dark by robin wasserman

ready player one by ernest cline

Ready Player One was okay but also awful! And I kind of have a WHOLE BUNCH to say about it! Spoilers! » more: ready player one by ernest cline

nineteen years of hole’s live through this

Live Through this was released on April 12, 1994. I was nine years old and just about to finish out third grade at a new school. I was tall for my age, fat, smart, and already just a little bit angry at the world around me. I’d started my school year at a brand new school and my big sister had just moved out of our house. I was just starting to become someone and music was the thing — the thing I loved first, the thing I loved before books or movies or television — that was helping to make that person.

Nineteen years later, I am twenty-eight years old and just about to finish up my first year in a new state. I’m no longer tall for my age, but I am still fat and smart(ish). Music is still the first thing I ever really loved, but I’m in a serious relationship with television at the moment. My idea of what “someone” is has changed dramatically and I’m okay with how I turned out most days.

Nine years old seems insanely young to me now, impossibly young — too young for Hole probably, too young for anything, honestly. But I grew up with wonderful, involved but permissive parents and KROQ and the Los Angeles alt-radio culture of the mid-90s, so young or not, I first found my footing as a human being in Green Day and Candlebox and Nirvana and Tori Amos and The Offspring and Alanis Morrissette and Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. And Hole.

I remember standing in my bedroom screaming into the handle of a sponge mop to every single song on Live Through This. I remember scrawling lyrics out on binder covers and backpacks. I remember listening to it in the dark with my best friend Marian. I remember burning candles and shadowing my eyes with black eyeshadow and slicking my mouth with red Wet & Wild lipstick and screaming those songs like the words were being exorcised from me, like I’d die if I left them in for too long. I remember staring at that album cover, at young and barefoot and probably-not-all-that-far-from-my-age-at-the-time and still kind of unbelievably cool Courtney Love on the back. I remember the cracks in the plastic CD case.

I remember being angry — so angry — at so much, at everything. Angry at nine and at twelve and at fifteen and at twenty. Angry at myself for being fat and weird. Angry at the kids who were mean to me and at myself for being impossibly meaner back. Angry at the people who didn’t listen when I was hurting, angry at myself for getting hurt, for letting other people hurt me. Angry at the world in the most uncomplicated ways, the most individual. I was angry because I was hurt.

I remember.

I couldn’t have told you in 1994 when I bought it on cassette at Tower Records at the West Covina Plaza or a couple years later when I bought it on CD at the same Tower Records or a year after that when I had to rebuy it because I’d worn my first copy out or when I rebought it digitally because I couldn’t take the skips from my ripped copy any longer — I’d have probably just said I liked it a lot because Green Day was my favorite band and I would’ve felt like a traitor — but Live Through This was the most important album of my youth. And nineteen years later it means more to me than ever.

I didn’t call myself a feminist in 1994, partially because I was nine years old and I didn’t really know what that meant and partially because I was raised by a father who called feminists “feminazis” and if there was one thing I wouldn’t have wanted to do in 1994, it was disappoint my father. I didn’t call myself a feminist in 2004 either because I was raised by a culture that taught me that feminism meant female superiority and that I should strive for something my conservative poli-sci professor called “equalism” but was actually code for the patriarchal bullshit status quo. I call myself a feminist now and I try very hard to be a good one, an intersectional one, an engaged one.

But I’m also angry. Still angry, so angry. And where my anger was indistinct and personal when I was young, anger built on hurt and sadness, it is anger directed at the system now, at patriarchy and rape culture and misogyny. At the incredible violence women face, institutional and political and personal.

Before I really knew why I was angry, Hole gave me a voice for it. Before I understood what it meant when a boy with a blond bowl cut chased me and my best friend around the playground at my first elementary school and flipped our skirts up, laughing, I was angry. Before I understood why a yard aid pulled me aside and told me not to play on the monkey bars because my shirt was “too short” and everyone was looking, I was angry. Before I saw the aggressive challenges from boys in high school because “girls don’t like metal” as acts of sexism, I was angry. And even though I didn’t really know it, Courtney Love was shaping that anger, asking questions that I wouldn’t understand for years, and planting the furious seeds of something that would shape me monumentally as an adult.

As an adult, that anger raged, rages through me every day. Every time I see another woman sliced open on a television or movie screen. Every time I’ve been groped or catcalled or hit on through the open windows of my vehicle. Every story I hear about street harrassment. Every time a politician thinks they have a right to make rules about what people can or cannot do with their uteruses. Every single time I’ve heard “Nice tits” or “That mouth would look great around my dick” or “You’re fat but I’d still fuck you.” Every story about assault or rape or abuse.

Every time I remember the world I live in as a woman, the world the women I love have to live in, the world every woman has to live in, I’m angry. So angry. And at nine, at twelve, at fifteen, and nineteen, and twenty-two, and twenty-eight, I was angry and, even when I didn’t understand the forces behind the objects of my fury, Hole was there to give that fury voice and shape and color and direction. Courtney Love was there. Nineteen years later, she is no longer the sole voice of my anger, but she’s still there, familiar, always and eternal, and for that I will be forever grateful.