Author Archives: vegawriters
I woke up wanting to write.
That’s either a good thing or a sign of my ego thinking that everyone on the planet deserves to hear my opinion, so we’ll see how this mood directs me.
I can say though that one reason I want to keep up this blog is because I need some kind of public way to comment. I logged into facebook this morning and I saw Shaun King posting story after story of the hate crimes that are confirmed since the election and I got ready in to reblog and I couldn’t. Because I live in a social media echo chamber and I couldn’t keep traumatizing my marginalized friends and family who have already felt and seen this. Over and over again.
A friend in that same echo chamber posted about how she needs to walk away for a while. From the echo chamber. Because she just needs to get her head back together.
I was speaking with another friend last night and he was talking about how he hasn’t gone out to any of the protests yet because he needs to figure out where his focus is going to be with his activism. Too much of everything and we all get burned out.
My neighbor is a musician and she said this morning that she can’t even look at social media. She’s just entering the world through music. That’s how she’s dealing with this.
My mother and I were talking last night about her years in activism and how there comes a point where you just stop wanting to get arrested – no matter the cause.
And all of these feelings are valid.
It’s going to be a long four years and we need to figure out what works best for us, each, individually. Some of my dearest friends are going to be at every rally. Some are going to be educating everyone they know. Some are going to make sure their kids are safe every night.
Someone I respect tweeted out this morning – “There is an implicit nobility in fighting for yourself or your family or even your country. Be guided by purpose not vanity.”
I really like that. Are we, as we come together in this brewing storm that is about to be Trump’s America, fighting to show we fight or are we doing it for a purpose. For me, for my friends and family, I can say completely it is about purpose, but I think his words are a good reminder of what can be the risk of our next four years of protesting.
She says, writing a blog post into the void of the internet.
I guess my point is simple for the morning:
Pick your battles because we’re in a war. I hate using that term, but we are. We have been, really, since 1492. But right now, there’s a war on, like it or not. And the President Elect used his position of power during the campaign to light fires and fan the flames of Othering in this nation. At this point, his policy positions are all but irrelevant because he is the face of every single hate crime that is happening right now.
But, to my point, pick your battles. You can’t be everywhere. You can’t fight everything. And your echo chamber can cause sensory overload.
Still, though, follow Shaun King. He’s doing the work most reporters aren’t: he’s covering each and every hate crime that he can. Follow Dalton Walker, Elon James White, Amy Goodman, and more. Support journalists of color and listen, really listen, to what they’re saying.
And make sure you’re on the phone to the local district offices of your congressional delegation. Tweets and facebook won’t help. CALL THEM. Locally.
Just remember – the echo chamber might be loud and traumatic, but this stuff is happening – whether we’re reblogging it or not.
Day … 3?
I slept today. Fuck, the Trump Administration hasn’t even officially taken office and all I could do today was sleep. I feel like I should get out my journal and write this there, but I promised myself I’d be productive and my level of productivity was unloading the cups from the dishwasher. I did start it and put pillows on the couch and I slept. God did I sleep. Sorry, Bruce. I didn’t finish the coffee today.
I guess I needed to.
I’ve spent the last few days in this haze. Social media meltdowns at midnight, ranting and rambling (at least it’s coherent) and challenging people on everything from protest to you know, racism. I told someone last night that they actually terrify me. He is so anti-Muslim … and he’s an ordained minister … and serves in the military … and all I can think is “this is the person we send to the Middle East?”
After one of my naps today, I woke up to 35 notifications and at that point it all became friends only on facebook. Yes, that is my confession. I could only handle the pressure for about 2 days. I’m not meant to be a politician, I’m not meant to melt down outside of my bubble. My echo chamber.
This is my public platform. It has to be. For the 5 people who read it, right? Because I’m so incapable of keeping up a normal routine. At some point I need to figure out how to make this something more than my mouthing off at the world every few months – in between album reviews.
But I need social media to be a reasonably safe space. I can ignore twitter haters but facebook needs to be that place where I find some sense of sanity. Because there are people there who are so much smarter than me – whether they are more moderate and have differing worldviews that I need to embrace or they are so to the left of me that I look conservative – I need their strength and support. And their cat photos.
I need to not get bogged down in screaming into the winds when dear friends are posting tearful videos about how they are scared of being homeless and having their heath care taken away.
Politics is about more than group think. It’s about the personal. And I take it personally that our new President Elect whines about protesters but he won’t denounce the KKK rally in his name. He shook the hand of the first black president while accepting the endorsement of an organization that wants him dead.
I take that personally.
I had a very smart poli-sci professor explain the world once, and it’s stuck with me. Keep in mind this man was an admitted libertarian – socially moderate, fiscally conservative. And he explained that when politicians want to run the government like a business, you shouldn’t take them seriously. Because you might want a smaller government, but you can never want it to be run like a company board room. That takes away the checks and balances that our founders put into place. Government isn’t supposed to be efficient.
It also isn’t supposed to have messiahs.
To a conservative base, one who feels economically disenfranchised in a global economy (and we have one and we gotta deal with it), I can see why a businessman like Trump would make some kind of sense. Not only does he understand the money stuff, but he’s not afraid to call out the other. It wraps it all into a ball of fear and says “I’ll fix it! I’ll raise your paychecks! Don’t worry.”
I often felt like Bernie was that as well to the left. There were so many promises and yes, yes, yes, he had plans on how to make these promises a reality, but it felt like if he didn’t do it all on day 1, well, riots.
I’m not saying Hillary was a perfect candidate. In fact, many of my friends were incredibly surprised when I came around to supporting her. I wasn’t supporting Bernie completely either. But I’ve always been critical of her. And, looking at life under day 3 of Trump’s America, I feel like I was critical of her because it was safe to be. Because I knew she’d let me be. And not only would she let me be, but so would her supporters.
See, here’s the thing:
I want a viable, multi-party system. I want these other candidates to show up during the mid-terms, not just when we’re running a presidential election. I want the Legislative Branch to once again be the most powerful form of government. I want the presidency to stop being a reality TV show.
I want Jill Stein to show up tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. I want Evan McMullin to run for congress. I want Gary Johnson to keep talking. I want new parties to rise. I don’t have to agree with all of them. But I want them to rise. This true blue democrat wants her own party to be fixed. I want neoliberalism to stop being a safe haven for white saviors who think donating to UNICEF is how we fix the world. I want Rachel Maddow to run for office. I want Elizabeth Warren to meet with the Water Protectors in North Dakota.I want Tammy Duckworth to be President and I want Kate Brown in the Senate and I want Ilhan Omar to be President and I want so much more than what my country is giving me.
I’d also like open borders, RBG to live forever, and a pony. But hey.
We’re in it now, guys. This global economy is a thing and to pretend it isn’t is stupid. We need programs to support our returning troops and to forgive student loan debt and we do that by raising taxes on the richest of us and accepting that Ronald Reagan was in fact not some financial saint and populist just because he was also an actor.
We’re in it. We “liberals” have to face our problems and accept our leaders are problematic. And for the love of anything in the Universe, we need to step in front of those who would harm us as a global community. We need to be real about our presence in NATO, we need to have honest conversations about what it means to be for human rights, and we need to sit down across the table from those who are truly scared of the other, and ask …
This election is about more than what’s going on around us right now. It’s about more than my checking my car for vandalism and my not wanting my girlfriend taking the train home at night. This election is a reckoning.
The joke was that this election was the series finale of America. It’s not a joke.
The show is over, folks.
So the question is, will the spinoff be anything worth watching?
It’s the defining memory of my childhood.
I’m sitting on the floor. My mother is on the couch. I am maybe ten. Possibly eleven.
And it is being explained to me that there is a law that is in congress (I understand congress, right?) and it’s going to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else.
I look at my mother who has a disability and in that moment something clicks in my pre-pubescent brain. It is the moment I realize what it means to be different. And that’s funny since I am a non-Mormon girl in Utah and I’ve spent my childhood being mocked for every reason from being poor to being weird and I’ve chased kids away for calling my mom a “retard” but see, in that moment, it clicked for me –
It was one thing to be “Different” and it was another thing to have the law say you were.
I got it then.
It wasn’t just the stupid people around me that thought we were different. The president thought we were different. The congress thought we were different. And she looked at me and said, “There’s a chance I could be arrested at some of these protests we are going to and are you okay with that? I mean, if you run for president some day, that could hurt you.”
Let’s put away the laughter there. I was ten years old. It was 1989. Girls didn’t run for president. No matter what my mother was saying.
It’s funny. I don’t remember the Americans With Disabilities Act being signed. I know that my mother always supported that Bush Sr. stood by the law. I don’t remember the day it was signed. I don’t remember the protests. I remember my mother telling me that she wasn’t recognized as a full citizen under the law.
It was legal for the kids in the neighborhood to call her a “retard” to call us “retards” because of her disability.
I remember her telling me why my father wasn’t listed on my original birth certificate. Because they weren’t married and what if they split up? Her having a disability meant I could get taken away. I’ve read the paternity papers.
They didn’t even bother to get my name right. And the papers assumed that the courts would take me.
I was eleven when my mother became a fully recognized citizen of the United States. She was born here, to a teacher and a radio journalist. And her legality wasn’t delayed because of immigration issues. It was delayed because she had the unmitigated gaul to be born with a disability.
So you can imagine what it felt like when I saw our president elect mock reporters with disabilities. When I saw him kick a kid with Cerebral Palsy out of a rally. You can imagine how it felt when I saw President Obama hug that same kid.
I was 36 years old when the United States recognized me as a full citizen. Almost exactly the same age as my mother when the ADA was passed. When the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down by the Supreme Court, I ranted and raved about how much had been thrown under the bus by queer activists as we fought for “marriage” but oh my god, I was LEGAL. When my partner of five years was admitted to the hospital for a cardiac arrest that was seconds from killing her, the hospital did not turn me away.
For 27 years, I’ve spent my life painfully aware of what it means for the law itself to see you as “less than.” And I, as a white, reasonably CIS looking woman, have no understanding at all what it means to be a person of color who is railroaded by police, immigration, politicians, and everyday citizens. I have no idea the fear that my sisters and brothers and other folk are feeling right now.
But I know what it’s like to be ten years old and realize that the law doesn’t consider your mother to be someone worth protecting. I know what it means to be 18 and live in fear because police are arresting same sex couples. I know those fears.
I feel those fears today.
No, I don’t believe that a Trump administration is going to repeal the ADA. I don’t believe that tomorrow, marriage will again be outlawed. I do believe we will see rollbacks. And we will see them because people look to their leaders. They look to what those we elect say and those we elect want to please those who voted for them.
The ADA passed because a Republican Administration decided it was an important fight. The repeal of DOMA happened with a rather conservative Supreme Court. Leaders. In please to do just that – LEAD.
So what then?
What next under these leaders? These bullies we have put in place?
What next for the ten year olds who are more than aware right now that their families are not considered full citizens under our laws?
As I type these words, I see cops flying by the windows – most likely to the scene of a protest taking place mere blocks away. Most likely to arrest those who are standing up for the rights of those ten year olds – and their parents. As I type these words, I don’t know what happens next, but I do know that no matter how we choose to speak out, we MUST speak. Even when our voices shake or our fingers catch on the keys. However we choose to speak, to protest, to stand tall, we must.
Because somewhere, there is a ten year old kid who has been made to understand that they are less than.
I had the honor to be a part of the Bi Cast this week!
Hall’s baritone is a perfect fit for his cool, “California” style. While clearly inspired by reggae, Hall brings forth a smooth mix of softer rock, piano, and alternative rock chord progressions that create an image of West Coast beaches at sunset, cool breezes, and long chats by the fire with the people you love.
If Jon Bon Jovi and Richard Marx had a baby, it might be named John Taglieri…
Yeah, yeah. Every writer’s blog has a whole series devoted to this kind of stuff. We all know it. Freelancer Problems. But, a post popped on up facebook today that wouldn’t let me go. And since I’m also getting back into freelancing on a regular basis, I thought there was no better place to start than here:
Posts like this go around all the time. In fact, there’s a whole series of videos from a rock and metal producer on YouTube and he talks about the costs of producing and why you pay for what you get. But today, it stuck with me. Maybe because the guy who posted it is one of my freelance clients and I really like him. He also can’t pay me for my work.
Gotta say it – I feel nothing but sympathy for the producers getting bullshit like this sent to them. But writers are expected to accept as little as NOTHING for our work. All in the name of exposure. I love writing, I love doing it, and I will take on limited projects for free, especially while rebuilding a portfolio that used to kick ass. But writers have families to feed too, and paid work is often as little as $.01 cent a word. A 150 word article can take anywhere from 1-2 hours to write, when you put in research and editing. So, when you do the math, I’m making $1.50 an hour, if that article only takes an hour to do.
So put that in perspective:
If a writer has a full time day job to support their family, that eats up 8-10 hours of their day. Come home, get settled into the night, deal with family, etc. That leaves anywhere from 5-6 hours to write. That sounds great. But let’s say a 200 article takes 2 hours to write, including research, writing, editing, and submission. And then that writer has to wait to find out if they are going to be paid their $2.00 for that time. While waiting, they accept another “job” but this one doesn’t pay. This is a review of a TV show. Which means that it’s at least an hour to watch the show, another hour to research the history of the show, and then at least an hour to write a 500 word review and edit. All for no pay. And then, it’s bedtime. So if the writer is lucky, they’ve made $2.00 for 5 hours of work.
Yes. Writing, like art, like music, it’s all about the blood and sweat and tears that are put into projects. A novelist who is just getting started will toil and toil and toil for years, staying up late into the night while crafting those perfect 90,000 words and there is a good chance that not a cent will be paid back for that time. Just like a musician will work a dead end telemarketing job to fund an album. And an artist will sell canvasses for $25 at local coffee shops.
But the fact is, writers are expected to put up with a lot of abuse and the argument is that there is someone else in line who is willing to do it. And more and more, jobs that pay, pay based on the number of “clicks” to a website. Which means that really, the owner of the site is making the money. For the record, there are sites that pay real money and there are countless blogs and facebook pages out there dedicated to making sure that writers are aware of the markets that pay.
I don’t mean to ramble and I don’t mean to make this about money. Because writers will write. We’ll write until our fingers bleed and the carpal tunnel is so bad we can’t sleep. We’ll live on coffee and lose partners and we understand how lonely ramen tastes.
But really, my point is, I’d like to see more of these text message memes pop up about writers having to accept this kind of work. Period.
My new article about Salt Lake City’s When She Speaks open mic is up on HowlRound.Com.
Having just celebrated it’s five year anniversary, When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution has found a comfortable niche in Salt Lake City, Utah’s populated poetry scene—most coffee shops have some kind of open mic or slam during the week. Despite this popularity, something that resonates through many of these performance spaces is the overwhelming presence of men and the male gaze. But once a month, women gather to share their stories at Jitterbug Coffee Hop, a small coffee shop with a Betty Boop theme….