If you’re reading this, that means we made it through 2017. What seemed like a hopeless quagmire of shit and doom in January is still an insane quagmire of shit and doom, but maybe it’s a little less hopeless. A little less shitty and a bit less doomy. At least, in the way that I’m choosing to view it, the world is still broken, but nearly one year into the most powerful country in the world being run by a bile-spewing fleshy cesspool of fetid narcissism, I’ve seen plenty of clear reminders that he isn’t the one with all the power. I’m still angry. I’m still worried and freak out a lot, so when I catch myself sinking and letting my imagination overwhelm me with worst-case scenarios, I look elsewhere. I follow the advice of Mr. Rogers, and I look for the helpers.
Lately, though, I don’t stop with the helpers. I look for the fighters. The resisters. After watching a qualified woman lose the presidential election to a pussy grabber who can barely cobble a sentence together, I was angry that once again, women didn’t seem to matter. Well, fuck that. I found some sanity and comfort by looking to the helpers and the fighters, especially the women. There’s strength in numbers, and women are so fucking strong.
I found so many helpers and fighters and resisters in the place where I live, that I constantly turn to cope with being a fleshy meaty sack of feelings and thinky burdens. I found them in stories.
Every year, I try to read as many books as I can, which is never as many as I want to read. This year, I’ve read around 80, and while I read a variety of authors and subjects, I put some strong, interesting, and intelligent women on my reading list.
And I binged on complicated, funny, and ass-kicking women.
And I watched a lot of movies.
All of these stories, and all of these women, real and make believe, have been incredible therapy. Like Felix says in Orphan Black, “So, to my galaxy of women, thank you for the nurture.”
I made a conscious decision to spend less time engaging on social media, to consume news in more controlled doses, and more time absorbing and producing stories. This is not always easy, and some days I fail. I’ve been meditating every single day for almost two years. While this doesn’t make me immune to stress, it has made a difference in how I react to stressful things. Starting in the spring of this year, I began working out vigorously every day. I tracked my progress, while strange lumps and growths began appearing all over my body. Muscles, I think they’re called. Taking care of my mind, and working hard at making my body stronger, while filling myself with so many stories made the quagmire of shit and doom something that could be reckoned with; a thing that could be conquered.
Then, a magical thing happened.
Women everywhere were telling their stories. Every story made a difference, and those stories proved that women DO matter. ALL women.
I have said it before. I will keep on saying it for as long as I am able to say things. Tell your stories. Stories matter. The world is built on stories. Stories bring about change and make us better versions of ourselves; stronger, smarter, and more human.
I did not share any #metoo stories, but read so, so many. I felt like since I have already told some of those stories here and through my fiction, and will continue to do so, that at that time, it was enough to simply say, “me too” and listen to others. I’m glad I did.
Over the past few months, a couple of those fictional stories have been published online.
Combustion is a story about two women and how sex, relationships, life goals and pregnancy are complicated and intertwined. You can read it at The Fem, a literary magazine devoted to publishing inclusive, diverse, and feminist poetry, fiction, nonfiction. You can read it for free here.
Hummingbird’s Monster, published at Viewfinder Literary Magazine, is a little different. It’s a sort of love story between two very broken people. Like most love stories, there’s a corpse involved. Because of course there is. If you would like to read it, go here.
I’m feeling a little more hopeful right now than I did one year ago. At least, the light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t look like an evil demon train from Hell anymore. Now it resembles something more like a bunch of helpers with illuminated smartphone screens standing in a tight cluster.
I hope you feel more hopeful, too. I hope you tell your stories. I hope you fill yourself with a galaxy of stories and that they fortify and nurture you enough for what comes next because who know what in the hell 2018 is going to bring. Whatever it is, we can handle it. We’ve got this shit. And I know we will walk through it to the other side with some great fucking stories to tell.
More stories. Less quiet. And Happy New Year.