A Kind of Ode to Surviving
I am tired.
I woke up with Bikini Kill in my head this morning.
I woke up this morning feeling like I'd only gotten three hours of sleep. The feeling that you've completed a REM cycle, but not enough of them. And I realized that since January 20th, I haven't really gotten a good night's sleep.
I woke up this morning wanting comfort, something familiar. Something shrill, gritty, something that could express my anxiety and anger and exhaustion and 'tude because I'm too fucking tired today.
I've been trying to be kind to myself this week. I'm behind on so many things. I'm behind on #52essays2017, and I'm embarrassingly behind on my 33 Days of Horror project. I get so ambitious. For some, writing an essay or a post a week is completely feasible. They do it and they don't have trouble doing it. They do it on time.
That is clearly not me. But I'm trying though. And I'm trying to be kind to myself. Keep in perspective all the plates I have spinning, and tell myself that it's okay for me to write in my Passion Planner that my focus for this week is "Rest and Recovery." That my personal to-do list for this week is "Write Essay #4" and "Mail package." That's it. (My professional to-do list is much longer. Maybe that's the trade-off.)
I marched in two protests in the space of 8 days. I seriously contemplated stocking up on poster board because there is no end in sight.
I've started a bunch of books but haven’t finished any of them because I can't figure out what I'm in the mood for.
I'm not in the mood for any particular tv show, but I've found comfort in watching WWE with M because it feels cathartic to watch some people beat the hell out of each other with no investment in the outcome. Because I know it's not real. The stress put on the bodies in the ring is real, but the drama isn't. For some reason, that comforts me.
Before going to a No Ban, No Wall protest, I made New Jersey Crumb Buns. The recipe is in the latest issue of Cook's Country, and when I decided to give it a try, I didn't realize that I would be making protest signs while I waited for the dough to rise.
I'm no good at cooking up a snappy, hard-hitting protest sign. I think too much about it. I want it to perfectly express my sentiments. I'm too much a poet when it comes to the protest sign, I think. M's is perfect -- his is the pink one. It's simple and unequivocally true.
Mine is the green one. Aside from the fucked up "C" in "country," it is inaccurate. This country was actually built by the violent colonization and genocide of the people who already lived here. It was built by people who were kidnapped, put on a boat, brought here, and forced into slavery.
I thought of that when I was halfway through outlining my letters with a Sharpie.
My mother immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines. My father worked long hours, so in those first few years, it was my mom and me, all day, every day. My mom and me and her friends -- all Filipina immigrants. Though I grew up in rural Nevada, I spent more time with immigrants than I did with white folks.
I never learned Tagalog or Ilocano. I would sit with my mom and her friends and just listen. I never needed to know what was being said, but I took everything in -- every gesture, intonation, eye roll, wrist flick, hair flip, laugh.
I look back on my childhood and see so much that's familiar and comfortable, so much that I'm nostalgic for. And so much that is untranslated. Unknowable.
A friend saw my Instagram post of my protest signs and crumb buns, and she gently and kindly called me in on my inaccuracy. And I’m thankful for it.
When I made my protest sign, I didn’t intend to erase our history of genocide, colonization, and slavery. When I made my protest sign, I was thinking of my mother and all of her friends and the people I grew up with.
In the grand scheme of things, the sign I made is not the biggest deal. But I hate to think that I was careless with my words. That with one sentence, I could erase the complexity of history. And that that sentence would be something that I held up at a protest, a place that I believe, at its best, should honor and reflect intersectionality and complexity.
No one will remember my sign, and anyone who did notice it has most likely and hopefully moved on. And I’m still here, trying not to beat myself up, trying not to be embarrassed.
This is what I mean some days when I say I’m trying to be kind to myself.
I started this essay two weeks ago. Since I started it, I’ve been traveling and working and not diving too deep into social media, trying to keep my head above water. I’ve been surviving, trying to keep myself at a baseline of care. Keeping myself fed, doing yoga when I can, seeing friends because I know I need to, keeping my energy reserves at just full enough to get by.
I don’t know where to end this. I just know that I’m tired (it’s only been three and a half fucking weeks of this administration), and I’m emotionally curling up next to all the things that give me comfort.
And I’m trying to get back on my feet. I’ll get there.
For now, though, I'm going to let this essay be what it is: messy, raw, trying to find itself, not quite getting there. And I'm going to let it go so I can move on to the next thing.