Sup everybody? At this moment, the television in this sushi restaurant is playing sports and it’s all I can hear. My brain feels a bit frazzled honestly. Today I began my teaching semester and, since the holiday season began and ended, life has thrown some radical changes – no judgement of bad or good, however. These changes are necessary and welcome as much as they were surprising and challenging.
Dedication: Today, I dedicate this newsletter to my students. I teach at a community college and my students are adults ranging from 17-65 years old. They are from diverse backgrounds and work hard for the education they’re receiving (mostly). Back in 2002, I started attending ACC and worked 2 jobs while taking care of my grandparents. It took me 4 years to graduate with my associates (a 2-year degree) and then transferred to Appalachian. I respect these students and their experiences because I’ve been there. Teaching critical thinking to humans from Alamance County is a feat I couldn’t have imagined getting into – but it is sacred work, as much as I may bitch about the tedious “process” of working in a public education. I found myself looking forward to teaching today for the first time since I began last year. I blasted Lizzo on the radio about being my own Soulmate and taught two fabulous classes filled with students who seem to give a damn. Nothing could be a better gift. I’m real with them, present them with difficult, thought-provoking material, and honor their opinions while challenging them with the task of examining from where those opinions originated. Rock star status.
Song: Soulmate by Lizzo – that’s the song of the day. If you don’t know Lizzo, here ya go. You’re welcome. Soulmate by Lizzo Interview with Lizzo on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, my biggest celebrity crush. Daily Show Lizzo Interview I am in love with Lizzo’s amazing messages – they are transformational and challenging patriarchy at EVERY TURN. *yes, please*
Quote: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Dr. Maya Angelou *application yall*
Dear humans, TONIGHT special airing solo show on facebook live show hosted by Neville’s Quarter! Lex and Brian are hosting and I’m their grateful guest! Look up Neville’s Quarter on Facebook to see the live show tonight at 6!
More shows to come yall! So much love! Tune in tonight~!
TuesDayNewsDay Vol.2 Issue 17, October 30th – CAUTION: Trigger Warning – this newsletter contains triggering sexual violence references. Please take care.
Dedication: Today’s issue is dedicated to my therapist Karen. Today, while going through what came up in therapy, I realized I would drive to the place, where in October of 1990, I was first molested. I was seven years old. I decided I would drive there, sit on the ground and take a photo. I would also take something of the earth to work with this healing. As the idea came to me, a light bulb exploded in my head. Karen said, “Anita, don’t take your wounded little girl there without your whole adult self holding her, seeing her, and telling her that you are there for her no matter what. You are her nurturing parent now, hold her in your arms.”
I pulled my car into the driveway for the first time ever on my way home from therapy, realizing I have never driven into that driveway before in my life.
This spot, which I have to drive by every time I go to my grandparents’ house, is also a block from where my mother still lives with the pedophile step-father just across the railroad tracks. When I say this healing is a daily, a moment to moment process, I mean it. Literally facing those places every day has wrecked havoc on my insides – but I am resilient and strong, vulnerable and honest with myself. The place is a vacant lot in a trailer park on Pomeroy Street in Graham, where my home used to sit. Now it’s an empty, dirty space with an overgrown concrete platform over which there was a carport. Under that porch, I remember having to take all of our stuffed animals outside to be thrown away because there was such a terrible flea infestation. I remember sneaking up late at night after everyone was asleep, turning on the television to watch Alfred Hitchcock and the Twilight Zone, my face about an inch from the screen, ever wary of any sounds coming from my mother’s end of the trailer lest I get caught.
Vividly, I remember the game we were playing that night in October. My baby sister, a developmentally disabled boy named Jason, and his sister Tasha and I were playing charades. Jason and Tasha were the teenage children of my mother’s red-headed boyfriend. We played in teams and it was decided we would go into the closet to decide what animal or character we would pretend to be. I was seven years old, my sister was 2. I was on Jason’s team. Jason was sixteen. (Typing this I can feel my heart racing and the old familiar anxiety aching in my chest and shoulders, my left eye and cheek twitching.). When we went into that closet and Jason molested me, I was too afraid to move, too afraid to scream, too afraid to fight, too afraid to do anything at all except to freeze. So, I froze. I could feel his icy cold, trembling hands on me. To this day I can still feel the darkness of that closet, the walls closing in around me. When we came out of that closet, I was sick. I don’t remember anything else. I don’t remember the game, nothing. I remember after they left that night, I told my mother what happened. She said to me, “Honey, if it happens again, let me know.”
Those words etched endless caves into the crevices of my heart. Those words are the haunting. Those words represent the moment I knew I was on my own. With no one else to turn to, my grandparents were gone to Disneyland at the time, I was completely alone. I prayed and prayed and heard nothing. Those words mark the day when I, as a seven year old, realized that god didn’t exist and that I wasn’t worth saving. Those words created children’s tears. They cannot be undone, and of course, it happened again.
Despite those memories buried deep in endless caves and my mother within shouting distance, I went. It was my nurturing, accepting, loving, and whole adult self who sat on that ground. I felt the cold, wet grass and soil underneath me. I looked at the trailers to the right and left of me. My phone was propped on the very metal bracket that once held that trailer to the ground. I snapped a shot of me sitting on that sacred ground. It took less than a minute. Leaving, I searched for a four-leaf clover in the tiny patch of yard, but found none. Instead, now a big green black walnut from that place is with me. I plan to do some ritual with that walnut. It tried to escape twice from me before walking up my back-porch steps in Saxapahaw. Something inside told me not to bring it inside my house, so I left it on the back patio table. It is not clear what kind of ritual will come about, but it is sure to be a powerful one of releasing the physical ghosts of that moment. It will be one of forgiving my mother for not knowing or realizing what she was doing. It will be a process of exorcising the grief and trauma which has been sitting in my bones and blood, blooming into the person you see today. Today is all I have.
Quote: Choice is all we get, change is all that’s real.
Song: Silence is the song today folks, listen to your heart beat. – my Tuesday video song series is available here: TuesDay Song Series Video on Facebook
Today’s post wasn’t meant to be this way. The events of today were not planned, but have made a mark. The words of my song, Darlene, record this event in a lyrical, symbolic sort of way. Being an artist is a privilege because it lets us put words and visions to feelings and thoughts. We are able to somehow transform our feelings into a universal language others can share. Today with Karen, I admitted to trying to let go of my fears: people won’t like my arts and I’m not good enough to walk in the footsteps of my idols. Slowly and purposefully, she said, “Let’s transform that. You are working on your language, so let’s start here.” So after thinking, my mouth said, “I am letting go of my concern for people not liking my art or me as a person.” I do not need validation of others to justify my existence. This self-work is Sacred. I feed on it; it makes me feel more and more alive and free every day to uncover and unleash the demons. Turns out, they aren’t demons at all. They are one scared, frozen little girl, stepping into who she is destined to be, not solely a victim of her circumstance. I looked Karen in the eyes today and spoke my gratitude for her being here with me this last year and a half of journeying, visioning and healing. It was the first time I’d ever asked to hold hands with anyone. With our feet on the floor, we grounded, I closed my eyes and saw little Anita sitting on my right knee. There Karen prepared me to go sit on that patch of grass, which someday, I will drive by without flinching. I will drive by proud to have been seated there.
Monday… July 1st
Today, right now, I feel peaceful. I am sitting on the couch with my coffee, grey cashmere sweater score from the thrift store, tons of reading material and my ankle propped up on ice. This whole process of surgery and healing has taught me so much I never really understood – how important the pause really is. The caring for your body in a way that reflects that you ACTUALLY care about what happens to it and how it functions. It’s unbelievable to me that I went so long without really taking care of this ankle, or thinking about this at all… the life of childhood sexual abuse survivors perhaps – but I’ll only speak of my own experience. I think back and see so many unspoken, unseen barriers to recognizing the problem. I never want to be that distracted and oblivious again in my life. Therapy, Al-Anon, music, and most of all that Divine resilience spark from somewhere within me (and us all, right?) has put me in this place of submission. I know I’ll be taken care of. What a privileged feeling?
Right now, my mind goes to the families on the border of our country, the refugees trying to find a safe place, a home, the war-torn families of people across this world who truly DON’T know that they’ll be taken care of. Sitting here, I truly don’t know what to do about that. Is there something to be done? Is there nothing to be done? I can’t take on the weight of the world alone. How is it that my conscience (I’m teaching about conscience and morality in my Critical Thinking class this week.) is so heavy from the knowledge of what is happening around me but also the feeling of being incapable of doing anything about it. Is that not the essence of trauma? Am I wrong that everything will be taken care of? Is this a false sense of security in some unseen force? When I have been abused in the past, I didn’t know what to do so I froze and allowed it to happen until is was over and I could escape. Some don’t escape. My escape was in my mind, as my body was being invaded. What of right now? Is my escape the comfort of my mind since there is this seemingly limited amount of impact I can make on the atrocities of this world? (I made 74.50 Friday night performing to send to the Border relief organizations sending lawyers and food/water/proper care to those families.). It seems like so little… I curiously don’t feel shame. That I am proud of, however there is guilt – the healthy spark to do something to rectify wrong-doings comes from guilt. I didn’t create the system in which we live, yet as I live and breath, I benefit and continue to perpetuate its eventuality.
Are we all going through trauma right now, on a cellular and spiritual level right now, if not physical (since it’s all connected)? The world feels to me to be chaotic and mean, and while I sit here with my coffee, it’s hard not to think of all those who are unsafe and literally grasping for their lives.
From therapy, I learned that many truths can be simultaneously existent – the ever-present paradox – the both/and – not simply the limiting either/or. Literally, I believe this is the only mindset which can release me from my own rambling, concerned yet paralyzed state. Also, it’s the only perspective which can shed light on numerous co-existing perspectives of abundance which are hard to see while thinking about the suffering of this world. I never just think about the suffering, I FEEL it. Everyone can. It is impossible not to (even if you are unconscious of it, it impacts you. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)) – it is all recognizable and at times, insidiously invisible. So why is it that the joys and the love and the light is so hard to absorb and hold? Again, that shift in lens is the antidote for the tunnel vision. A trusting that somehow, those positivities are truly out there in and amongst the negativities. …and if you venture out to the furthest reaches, perhaps those challenges (in hindsight) give us the tools we need to survive.
In an attempt at gross summation and perhaps even over-simplification – maybe we can cradle in our palms these painful knowings and trust that they are providing insights about how to better live, how much more aware I can be to not only see and recognize, but to act upon those recognitions to create a more just world in one fluid, unnoticeable and perpetual movement with the intention of good?
“On Good and Evil” – Kahlil Gibran (I find deep feeling insights every time I open The Prophet.)
“And one of the elders of the city said, Speak to us of Good and Evil. And he answered:
Of the good in you I can speak, but not of the evil.
For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?
Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts it drinks even of dead waters.
You are good when you are one with yourself.
Yet when you are not one with yourself, you are not evil.
For a divided house is not a den of thieves; it is only a divided house.
And a ship without rudder may wander aimlessly among perilous isles yet sing not to the bottom.
You are good when you strive to give of yourself.
Yet you are not evil when you seek to gain for yourself.
For when you strive to gain you are but a root that clings to the earth and sucks at her breast.
Surely the fruit cannot say to the root, “Be like me, ripe and full and ever giving of your abundance.”
For to the fruit giving is a need, as receiving is a need to the root.
You are good when you are fully awake in your speech,
Yet you are not evil when you sleep while your tongue staggers without purpose.
And even in the stumbling speech may strengthen a weak tongue.
You are good when you walk to your goal firmly and with bold steps.
Yet you are not evil when you go thither limping.
Even those who limp go not backward.
But you who are strong and swift, see that you do not limp before the lame, deeming it kindness.
You are good in countless ways, and yo are not evil when you are not good,
You are only loitering and sluggard.
Pity that the stags cannot teach swiftness to the turtles.
In your longing for your giant self lies your goodness: and that longing is in all of you. [I am brought to tears at this moment reading this line again.]
But in some of you that longing is a torrent rushing with might to the sea, carrying the secrets of the hillsides and the songs of the forest.
And in others it is a flat stream that loses itself in angles and bends and lingers before it reaches the shore.
But let not him who longs much say to him who longs little, “Wherefore are you slow and halting?”
For the truly good ask not the naked, “Where is your garment.” Nor the house less, “Where has befallen your house?”
Another memory I heard singing in my ears while typing this, “I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch, he said to me, “You must not ask for so much.” I saw a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door, she cried to me, “Hey, why not ask for more? Like a bird on a wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir …I have tried, in my way, to be free.”
– Bird on a Wire, by Leonard Cohen.
Nothing is left unresolved, only momentary feigns of understanding…
As the sun rays were warming the trees in the morning of Colorado skies,
I was kissing the air in thanks that I was still breathing.
As the snow effortlessly perched on top of all the green things,
I walked around the block, ran a bit, then slowed down to be grateful once again.
As the woodpecker pecked at the top of a light pole,
I stopped to gaze and wonder.
As this journey moves ever further,
I realize that it is where I have never been.
As I begin to understand the little truths and the big questions
I ask more and more and will play with a spring in my step,
as the snow perches on a blade of grass,
to become snow once more.
Road trips make me giddy …and lighting a candle before I start my work in the political world helps me to feel more cozy. That’s what I’m doing right now.
So I live in Beech Mountain now and it’s been in the lower teens as far as temperature goes for the last week. I moved and stacked a cord of wood last night in 25 degree weather and I’m leaving town today.
Excited to go and sing with my dear friend on his newest album. I’ll be there for the weekend. It is going to be lovely embracing the musical spirit in someone else’s dreams and making them a reality. I love to harmonize with other voices. This is where my musical background comes to the forefront, singing in choirs fills my heart with gladness.
Next I’m traveling home to Alamance County where I will be celebrating thanksgiving and visiting with all of my dear pals from Saxapahaw, NC. I am very much looking forward to Jazz night at the Eddy and hosting Trivia with a music theme. I hope that all my homie humans will be there and they can commiserate my leaving and staying gone while also celebrating my momentary return. I will also be purchasing a couple of jars of Saxapahaw Honey. That makes me happy. I will be staying with my grandparents during this visit, that also makes me very happy. I am so glad they are happy and healthy and I look forward to spending some quality time with them.
On the 30th I will be taking the TRAIN to New York City. It’s an all day ride and I can’t express how excited I am about that. I love love love traveling by train. Once I was taking the train from Minneapolis to Chicago and it was glorious. I was sitting in the all glass car, playing guitar and singing for the people around me, making friends, and discussing politics when suddenly, there she was! The Julia Belle Swain! Shining in all her glory and oh how I wished that train would have slowed down so I could have stolen a better look at her. I stood up from my seat and exclaimed, “The Julia Belle Swain!” pointing out the window looking like a child who’s just seen the moon for the first time (maniacally and excitedly with bug eyes). Needless to say, everyone on that train was wondering what else was wrong with this woman they have to ride with for several more hours.
When I get to NYC, I hope to see some dear friends and catch up with the city of a million smells. On the 1st, I’ve been invited to a gala in Brooklyn recognizing my executive director for her amazing dedication to the cause of getting money out of politics and advocating for fair elections. Joan Mandle is an amazing woman whom I admire very much. I have worked for her now for about 4 years and I hope to continue because I believe in the work that we do. Tuesday, I travel to Sarah Lawrence College to speak on a panel about student engagement, local civic participation and money in politics and then I am giving a training/workshop on lobbying in New York. It is very encouraging that my student at SLC has worked so hard and is very passionate about getting this event together. I must say however, that public speaking still makes me nervous. Singing, dancing, speaking, all of it gives me butterflies.. at least in the beginning. It’s because I care.
After I’m done in NY, I’m flying to Tallahassee. YAY for Tallahassee! They are the first city to pass the Anti-corruption act (https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LhEFehRWApM ) and I get to go there the same day that there is a Granny-D (famous public financing of elections advocate) commemorative walk for campaign finance reform! Link to the event webpage: https://www.facebook.com/events/1510499305868963/ I’ll be arriving late, which means I may not be able to make it to any of the events, but hopefully I get to meet up with my alumni student who’s been helping to organize these events. The main reason I am traveling to Tallahassee is to visit my sweetheart who is down in Thomasville, GA selling Christmas trees. I helped move about 100 of those trees, so I hope I sell at least one. I am very much looking forward to being in the deep South for a few weeks – mostly for the cuddling factor and getting to see my man in his holiday Elf suit, but also for the frequent visits that we will take to the Bradfordville Blues Club. The BBC is on the chitterling circuit, otherwise known as the blues trail. http://www.bradfordvilleblues.com http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chitlin’_circuit
That’s about it for now, safe holiday traveling for everyone and remember to think about and pray for those in need, and then actually DO something about it.