"I Am Enough because I Say I Am" and Other Revelations

I have been telling myself some delusional story that I am not a writer, that I could not possibly identify as one, forever. I tricked myself into believing it was true despite the fact that as early as elementary school, I experienced most moments of my life with a narrator in the background. I crafted whatever I was experiencing into sentences and into short, fragmented stories. I wrote a short story in elementary school that was bound in a hardback book, took creative writing in high school, excelled in grammar, became a phenomenal speller despite having failed most of every spelling test I ever took in elementary school. I even considered majoring or minoring in creative writing at my college, which was KNOWN for its creative writing program and which produced the author of that one book that they turned into a movie about escaping an island with Leonardo Dicaprio in it. But I didn’t think I was a writer. I thought somebody else was more qualified to claim that title. And my sacrificing of identity didn’t stop there: somebody else was more qualified to study costume design, somebody else was more qualified to step up and perform a dance in front of the Emmy-winning Mia Michaels, that somebody else, that somebody else, that somebody else.

I got so mad the other day thinking about how I have put myself in a box to prevent me from taking up space that I thought other people deserved more. I was cleaning at the time and this narrator sentence formed in my head, only it didn’t go away, it kept knocking, knocking, knocking, bumping into my skull, begging me to listen and give it space. The sentence morphed into the first few lines of a poem and I grabbed a pen just in time to catch it as it all came pouring out.

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Writing this poem was a bizarre burst of creativity that came out of nowhere and ended as abruptly as it started. I feel like I vomited that poem out. Like one giant heave that cleared my head, splattered all over the page in front of me, and left me exhausted but feeling a little better.

The crazy thing about writing this poem is that I probably wouldn’t have realized what had happened had it not been for Big Magic. Big Magic is a book by Elizabeth Gilbert about living creatively and without fear. I finished it a couple weeks ago. In it, she describes a fellow writer’s experience with poetry:

“As [Ruth Stone] was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out, working in the fields and she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barrelling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming . . . 'cause it would shake the earth under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point. That was to, in her words, "run like hell" to the house as she would be chased by this poem.The whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. Other times she wouldn't be fast enough, so she would be running and running, and she wouldn't get to the house, and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it, and it would "continue on across the landscape looking for another poet."’

I felt that same experience for the first time in my life the day “I Am” hurled out of me. It was euphoric. My hand moved quicker and quicker to keep up with the thought and by the end of the poem, my words were big and lose and sprawled over twice as much space as they should have. By the end of it, I had taken up twice as much space as I should have. I realized that when I took up space with my creativity, I wasn’t taking space away from anybody else. The space for creativity is endless.

The experience was almost like an exorcism--only an exceptionally pleasant one where my inner voice made itself heard and acknowledged in concrete form. It said, “I am a writer because I write. I am a writer because I say I am. I am in charge of my identity.” To that voice, I say, “Rock on, you bad bitch.”

Don't Pray for Las Vegas

Don’t pray for Las Vegas.

Don’t change your profile picture in solidarity.

Don’t post a status about how hurt you are to see that this has happened again.

If the only action you’re going to take is to condemn gun violence from the safety of your couch to people who are mostly in agreement with you, don’t bother.

Now, I’m not condemning anyone’s religious preference or

how they choose to heal their wounds.

I’m condemning this laissez faire, “We care!” mentality

that “proves” that we care and “proves” that when others hurt, we hurt, too, that “proves” that we have an ounce of humanity left within us.

I’m condemning the unspoken elephant in the room that when you say, “Pray for Las Vegas,” you mean, “The only thing I will do for Las Vegas is Pray.”

You mean, “I care, but not THAT much.”

You mean, “That’s just the reality of the world we live in these days.”

You mean, “I will not google my representative.”

You mean, “I will not call or email my representative.”

You mean, “I will not speak out against gun violence except to do so with my fingers on a tiny glowing screen.”

You mean, “I will do nothing, but I will hope that somebody else does something.”

You mean, “I will let this world turn to ruin as I sit idly by.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I am sick of this “cog in the wheel” mentality, this, “I’m doing something, see?!?” when “doing something” means knowing what you’re doing is not enough and not caring to do better.

It’s lazy.

It’s privileged. It’s refusing to believe that the victims of all of these mass shootings assumed they probably wouldn’t die due to gun violence instead of old age, an accident, or cancer.

Don’t WAIT for somebody else to do something, grab the problem by the shoulders and face it square off. CALL YOUR SENATOR. TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO CALL THEIR SENATOR. DEMAND BETTER OF THE PERSON WHOSE JOB IT IS IT REPRESENT THE CITIZENS OF AMERICA. DEMAND BETTER OF THE PERSON WHOSE JOB IT IS TO REPRESENT YOU. Until you direct your attention to your representative, they don’t HAVE to do jack. Posting to Facebook and failing to contact your representative is like doing your homework and refusing to turn it in.

We're Gaga for "Five Foot Two"

Watching Lady Gaga’s new documentary, Five Foot Two, is a cathartic experience. It is so validating to see yourself reflected in somebody so successful. To know that she has her struggles just like you have yours and that she’s not always the turned-on character we see her as is so f*cking cool.

In Five Foot Two, we see Lady Gaga at her most human self. She’s not always glamorous. She doesn’t put on a facade to disguise when she feels like shit. She talks about her physical pain and her trauma. She goes to the doctor and lists the slew of medications she’s on. She gets ready in the morning and goes to work. She talks about her journey to self-acceptance. She visits her grandma and plays the title song of "Joanne" and says that she wrote it for her. They’re in a small apartment with dated furniture and she asks permission to eat a persimmon. She goes to a baptism for one of her family members. By the end of the documentary, we have been gifted a true and honest glimpse into her personal life. This documentary is not about Gaga, but about Stephanie Germanotta.

The fascinating thing about Gaga is her drive to create and channel her pain, physical and emotional, into art. She focuses in like a laser beam and gets the job DONE. I also loved that she’s not always the most eloquent person. In one shot, she’s on a stoop late at night after a recording session. She's talking about Madonna, and how she wishes Madonna had told her to her face that she didn’t like her work. She sounds like she might be a little drunk, but it ends up in the documentary anyway because it’s clear that her motive with Five Foot Two is to document her reality: the good, the less glamorous, and even the average.

It is empowering to see Lady Gaga working to live the life she wants to live--that it doesn’t come easy, but she knows she’s in charge of her destiny. Thanks in part to this documentary and my own most recently begun journey with my mental health, I am slowly giving myself permission to live a life that I want to live. Giuls and I have been talking a lot about accepting our mental health issues here at Fab Feminist. For anybody who lives a ‘curated’ life, it is especially empowering to talk about your mental health with others. You don’t have to divulge the gritty details; to simply tell another person, “I am currently dealing with PTSD,” or “My depression and anxiety have gotten the better of me lately,” gives you so much power. Power to admit that you are not your mental illness; power to say that you are not responsible for the side effects of your struggle. I hope Five Foot Two also offers you some solace in your mental health journey! As always, Giuls and I are here to support our Fab Feminists in any way we can.

When an Apartment Hunt turns into a Panic Attack.

Anxiety is a f***ing b.

You might feel like you're doing everything right, moving forward with your life and then BAM. You're in the midst of a panic attack.

Sometimes, the cause is obvious sometimes, it's something small, sometimes it's completely invisible. For me, I think it's all of those combined. How can you know which came first? Little things become harder and harder for me. Like doing laundry became impossible. I started feeling incapable of getting ready for work until the absolute last minute. After a certain point it's almost like you're trying to make it harder for yourself, but really it's just that exhausting and everything seems impossible. 

I was apartment hunting with my boyfriend. That's what set it off I think. I had so many tours scheduled and so many unstored numbers of landlords and brokers in my phone in so many different locations in a span of 24 hours. We ended up at the Realtors office instead of the apartment we were meeting the realtor at (which I realized was his fault because he never actually sent me the god damn address and had his office address listed). A fucking waterfall just opened. I started sobbing these disgusting, snotty sobs, accompanied by those deep uncontrollable noises emphasized by gaps of air you only produced when you cried as a child. Why did I schedule all these meetings this way? I guess I spend too much energy trying to cater to other people's schedule to the point where I burn out on my own.

 I feel this immense pressure to always be on top of everything. Yes, it's definitely a bit of a control issue that gets out of control, ironically. But it's these moments (which probably happen a few times a year tbh) that serve as my wake-up call. 

I must be reminded sometimes to re-commit to myself. I don't always have to be the one rearranging my schedule for a stranger's comforts. I don't always need to be the one to move off the sidewalk when someone's also using the sidewalk that I'm equally entitled to. I don't have to always say yes to plans I don't have the energy for, or to make those plans work because I said I would even though. 

I can't see to get out of bed. Sometimes you have to put yourself first and not apologize for being selfish. Because it's not. Selfishness and self-care are very different. Don't apologize for your anxiety or depression. I'm sure as hell not going to anymore. (well, until my next panic attack, that is.)