“We can tell future generations, ‘I was there when Pussy Grabbed Back,’” Diana says as she colors her protest poster for the Women’s March in Kansas City. “If there’s one thing we’ll get good at in four years, it’s making pretty signs.”
It’s the first week of the Trump presidency.
Stories from the ground, live in America.
Friday January 20th 2017, which will now be known in history as a day of national depression, I woke up to overcast skies and Donald Trump swearing in for four years of patriarchal abuse, entrusted with enough power to stroke anyone’s ego into convincing them that they alone hold the answer to women’s bodies, irrelevant lines in the sand separating our humanity and where all the money and violence should go.
I ate breakfast, took comfort in the Black Lives Matter protesters outside the White House being live streamed online, then biked downtown to join my country in protest.
Kansas City met at City Hall downtown with protest banners, flags and signs in all different languages. Anti-fascist flags, trans flags, gay pride flags, black power flags, “Pussy Grabs Back”, “Wikileaks>CNN,” signs. Protest banners in all different languages. Chants of “Black Lives Matter” and the smell of horse shit in the rain as the police made their way past on the equines. Leagues of grown men in bullet proof vests surrounding a crowd of young people with gay flags and peace and love signs with a liberal amount of vagina celebration thrown in.
Men in suits and ties from the court house across the street came outside to watch. There are three drones overhead, which I am beginning to associate with our new generation. Our parents’ generation never knew a world where big black bugs with red eyes buzz above you and stare down at you and, if you seem a little too rebellious, recording your features and linking with facial recognition software to track you (doxxing). Helicopter overhead as well, media or police? No idea, all I know is that you can’t hear the speakers shouting resistance because of the helicopter and drone’s whirring. I see a few of my old coworkers from the refugee resettlement agency, along with a few refugee friends.
I lock my bike around a streetlight, and join in the crowd.
I feel a huge sense of disappointment. With my own life, and my country’s. Here I am without a job, and here I am complaining about the people with jobs. The people who did what they had to do to get to the top. I’m filled with a lot of complicated feelings. Not wanting to participate in the system, but then knowing that that is the only way anything has ever changed. By those engaged.
And so I’m torn between reading fiction all day, or reading hard hitting news about the impending death of the world as we know it.
And I realize that journalism is the writing that I’m doing. And the writing that I love best. The here and now. I don’t want a life of escapism. I want a life of action. I don’t want to be paid to write. I want to write on top of a full time job because I care.
I was very optimistic after the election. I was sure we would see radical social justice movements arise with this break in the system as we knew it. Someone was going to change American democracy for the better by getting rid of the electoral college, making new laws for application to the presidential nomination, and Trump and his team would somehow be impeached before they even started. Maybe.
We can always die at any moment. So live it to the max. And really try. Something I’ve always had a really hard time with. But I want to redefine myself. Get back to where everyday is everything. Living to live, and living to live.
There’s not ever going to be a time whenever I am done being present and taking in the new, and just want to reflect on the old. For years, I’ve wanted to take all my experiences and write them into a book. But I realize that’s what I’m doing now. I’m a blogger, not a novelist. There is a difference, and it’s good to recognize it and move on.
I wake up Saturday morning to Democracy Now! Live streaming the Women’s March on Washington.
This, this is the unifying force the feminist movement has been looking for! 2nd and 3rd wave feminist coming together in a public space and sharing ideas and priorities with a focus on intersectionality.
I’m sweating with excitement by the third speaker, who happens to be feminist leader Gloria Steinem. “This is the upside of the downside. Outpouring of true democracy like I have never seen in my life.” Gloria states that common sentiment among people that “we will all register as Muslims if we’re asked.” She continues that “god is in the details, but goddess is in the connections.
“Make sure you introduce yourself to one another so we can decide what we’re doing next. We’re never turning back.”
We were breaking down walls between each other today, and the days to come women around the US were proclaiming. There were 600 sister marches worldwide today, and an estimate of 3 million people marching.
“94% of black women voted for Hillary. We march, and I need your help with this one brothers and sisters, we march even for the 53% of white women who voted for that other guy.”
“We will not stop until women enjoy equal status,” Roslyn Brock, a representative from the NAACP. “Black women exercise the right to vote larger than any other group in this nation. Yet we are continually left behind, even in the movement for women’s rights. In the words of the great Sojourner Truth, ‘Aint I a woman?’”
“My sisters, let us declare we’ll organize, fight til victory is won. Courage will not skip this generation. Peace and power.”
“I know I was pulled up here as the resident homosexual. So let me queer our notion of love.”
“Women are criticized more harshly and wrongly at every level of power and politics,” the mayor of DC, a woman of color says. “We need every woman and man to speak up for us.”
A rape survivor who helped to pass a recent sexual assault bill through Congress speaks.
Then Michael Moore spoke for way too long wearing a red baseball cap that was eerily similar to the president’s, instead of pink pussy hats like the rest of the crowd. He got interrupted by a “nasty woman” who spoke over him mid ramble and took over the stage.
“I am a nasty woman.
“Viagra and Rogain are not taxed but pads and tampons are. Is the bloodstain on my jeans more embarrassing than your thinning hair?
“… we are constantly on guard and hoping you don’t mistake eye contact for physical contact. Our bodies are for our own pleasure and for birthing a new generation of nasty women.”
“We will prove to be among some of Donald Trump’s worst nightmares.”
After being a little disappointed with the seeming majority leadership of white women in this diverse, intersectional march, I was excited to hear from Palestinian-American organizer Linda Sarsour:
“If you are looking for a direction to go now: look to the women of color. We will lead you.”
Diana comes over to Carp and I’s apartment and we fill out our signs for the Women’s March on Kansas City. We leave for the mile walk to the park where it is being held, and we are joined on the sidewalk by many other marchers with signs making their way there as well.
Arriving, we find a sea of people numbering around the 10,000 mark. “Abuela power,” “Mount Nasty,” “A vagina brought you in, and vaginas will vote you out,” “Viva La Vulva.” Tiny rubber finger puppets of hands on one girl’s two middle fingers raised into the air. Little girls holding signs and networking for the women’s movement of tomorrow.
We hear from immigrants, women who have been raped or sexually assaulted, and women who have faced police brutality, racial and gender profiling, women who’ve had abortions, women who haven’t, trans women who have faced hate crimes and women who are Muslim.
“As long as you men have claimed to protect us, you’ve failed to do so. We need more women in politics and positions of power because the status quo of violence against women is not good enough.”
“Women march to bars in America, our new reality,” Diana states after the march as we make the long walk up the hill to Martini Corner.
Finding a decent bar we are seated and served by the same waitress that was with us on election night. Full circle, two and a half months later. We prop our three protest signs up in the window next to our table, and take a seat.
I drink one, two, three, I grab a fourth beer as I contemplate the world that we live in. Back to the drawing board. I feel much more depressed after two days of protests than I did before they even began. Because I realize what a long road this is going to be to have any impact at all in the country. We’re going to have to find a way to persevere, and not get discouraged. The fact that all these people showed up today is hope. And we’ve done enough today. We relax now. We order stromboli and celebrate the 21st century.
“Like I say, I want to get a witch skull.”
My vegetarian friend Diana is trying to persuade my boyfriend to go to the witch shop down the street, we’re three beers in after the Women’s March in Kansas City, and we’re continuing to go.
A bunch of people trying to forget their lives tonight.
“Jazz- it’s like cats talking to humans.”
Three white men playing jazz while we sit in wonder and dumb drunkenness in front of them. An American heritage.
Booted out of two bars.
The twists and turns of being a writer.
“I feel shit. I feel shit. I feel tshite. True garbage. True heritage.”
“Annie don’t pee in my yard. Goddamn it. Want to take another shot, man?”
Hot piss in public places. Success story of America.
I’m embarrassed of my country. I’m embarrassed of the world.
The three legged dog with black spots on white, looks like someone has put him through the wash with a pen. Highlighting his nose are dark pink lipstick kisses on his face and a cut from the dog park.
Focus on what’s around you. Breathe. Smell. Always good. Self can be.
“I am yet unconvinced of the human drama,” Carp states.
I feel overwhelmed and underwhelmed. I’m not sure whether I should dive into a book, or the newspaper. There is so much happening in the world right now.
Obama reversed global gag rule when he took office in 2008.
“It’s a targeting of a policy that will impact the most vulnerable women in the whole world,” the Vice President of Planned Parenthood said.
Speaking on the phone with my brother, I see our political divide though we share so much in common.
“It’s a weird generation. All the rebellion. We are creating a new generation brought up on ‘I don’t care what you say, I’ll do what I want.’ It’s not breeding a culture of compromise and working together,” he says.
“I think it’s more like, I don’t care what you say if you’re trying to control me or my body. I don’t think you can ‘work’ with people who are actively trying to control you.”
Culture is moving on without them. People you can’t convince, but move on march on.
I took a new job with refugee resettlement again. I’m starting in a week, but before that I’m headed to Austin to visit a friend and write the city.
I am taking a Spanish class. My professor is nice, married to woman from Mexico City and “teaches and speaks Spanish as a hobby and a lifestyle.” He’s a unique man with an interesting personality that I hope to capture on paper over the next few months.
I hope to be submitting to papers and keeping up with current events with reflection to my own life and interests. I am committing to journalism. And paving my own way with my own personal brand.
“Ask them how they want to be called. We are a guest in the prison, we play by the prison’s rules. But we treat the inmates with respect and try to give a little bit of humanity back to them.”
We are going to be starting a reading and writing book group with inmates soon. Average reading level of 11th graders, but reading ranging between illiterate and college professors.
We never ask an inmate what they are in prison for, because once you learn that, you can never unlearn that.
Do you still want a witch skull?