Resistance: Making Room for Making Art


Because I’m dutiful and generally complete what I begin, I just finished a collage I started before the election. I’d wanted to weave paper, prints of paintings, and had already cut slits in Paul Klee’s Twittering Machine. Next was to cut strips from Cézanne’s Fruit Bowl, Glass and Apples. The prints came from a stash of fine art books I kept from the many dozens David recently gave away to declutter his studio. The piles now in my study are a rich resource I feel okay about cutting up because making art with art makes sense to me.

But does making art still make sense? Since the election the sliced Twittering Machine and the Cézanne print had sat untouched on my art desk. What difference did it make to a world that suddenly felt so out of tilt to make this collage? What difference does it make to work through another revision of my memoir? Does any writing other than poems and essays and blog posts that push back against the current rise of intolerance and tyranny make sense?

Because a hard wave attempt at tyranny is what’s happening. This isn’t abstract. White men without compassion or empathy for others, white men who believe they should be in charge of everything because that’s the way it’s been for much of human history in the Western world and they like it that way, will soon be leading our government.

Is going on with my life, satisfying my need to create, normalizing what’s happened? There’s a strong push to not normalize this election and I’m totally on board with that. Trump is setting up a government of men (maybe he’ll throw a woman or two in there) who want to take away civil rights, reproductive rights, the separation of church and state, and the right to vote if you’re from a constituency they don’t want to have an equal say in how our country is run. Which is everyone who doesn’t fit in their particular narrow definition of who matters and who gets to have a voice.

So where does creativity for the sake of creativity fit in a stance of firm resistance to demagoguery? Is there room for the beauty of art?

I’m glad I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic before the election. Her embrace of creativity and permission to make things just because it makes you happy and makes beauty is a message of hope. If we let go of our impulse to create, whether it’s a collage or a lyrical poem or a loaf of bread or tool bench or a blog post protesting the rise of white supremacy, then the world really does get dark.

We need to make room for creativity and the beauty that brings because that’s part of our voice, and isn’t that what we’re fighting for? For everyone to have a voice, to be able to be who they are in the world as long as they’re not hurting others?

Yes, I know this could be criticized as an highly privileged, elite, coastal, liberal point of view. What about people who work three jobs and have no time to be creative? What about people who have no voice? What about people living in the shadow of a controlling partner who doesn’t give them a single free moment to breathe?

I felt despair as I wove the strips of paper for my collage, but that despair made me really think about all these questions, and recall Gilbert’s book, and remember that even in the midst of the worst times we need to get up in the morning and make breakfast and do the laundry and make pies for Thanksgiving. And make art.

Making art is part of my resistance. Creating is asserting voice. The collage I made isn’t going to do anything to stop the white fuckboys from trying to control our lives.

But it made me happy to make it. They can’t control that.


My Twitter Addiction











My name is Grace and I’m addicted to Twitter.

In the weeks leading up to the election Twitter became a constant source of both anxiety amplification and reduction. I checked my feed obsessively, looking for good news about a new poll, or another misstep by Trump, or news, like Comey’s letter to Congress, that I knew would be bad for Clinton. Every time I had a quiet moment, my phone was in my hand and I was hitting the little blue bird.

I’m not alone. Yesterday’s NY  Times has an article “Breaking Up With Twitter” that describes almost exactly what I’ve experienced.

If I stayed in my own feed in Twitter I was okay, but I kept clicking in to hashtags I thought were going to reflect my own view of the campaign, only to find them full of hateful vitriol. Getting in to bed at night to read, instead of picking up a book, I picked up my phone and clicked links and read about rallies and campaign strategies and what Nate Silver’s latest forecast map looked like.

Finally, I decided I was going to limit myself to checking the 538 website and the NY Times. But then I’d be back on Twitter and ended up subscribing to the Washington Post digital edition, in addition to the Times, because I couldn’t get enough news fast enough and I had to be sure I was always on top of what was next, what was breaking, what the progressive journalists I admire were saying and what trolls were saying back.

Between the hateful tweets swamping any election related hashtag and the nasty comments in the Times and Post, I started to wonder if there was any place left in the world to have respectful disagreements. At one point I tried to take solace in Facebook, but that became as bad, people yelling at each other through comments and trying to have political discourse through cross posting of links to stories out of their own echo chambers.

Election night I did manage to get off Twitter fairly early and go to sleep. I was exhausted by weeks of anxiety and hoped to wake up to good news. When I did wake up at 4:00 a.m. and checked the NY Times I was horrified to see “Trump Triumphs!”

Sitting at my computer, stunned and feeling sick, I clicked in to Twitter. There was the best tweet I’ve read in months, from the writer Gary Shteyngart. “Want to change this country? Write a book. Read a book to your children. Tell your friends about a great book. Get off twitter. Now.”

Last night I read two books to Emilio, one of which sent him into giggling fits and I giggled along with him. I talk about books with my friends and family all the time and am hosting my book club this week (The News From Spain, an excellent collection of short stories by Joan Wickersham).

Writing a book? Not so much lately, as my pre-election anxiety took me so far outside myself and any kind of productive focus that I haven’t worked on my memoir for a couple of weeks.

I’m not going to normalize what has happened with the election. I’ve already been to one protest and plan to go to more. I’m upping my activism in anti-racism work and I’m always active in ending violence against women. That’s not going to change.

But I’m not going to let the divisive discourse on social media absorb my energy anymore. Good-bye nasty Twitter hashtags and disparaging comments on news articles and comment-thread-fights on Facebook. I’m quitting. For real.

I have a book to write.

But you know what’s most interesting in all in this? When I just searched Twitter to find Shteyngart’s tweet to be sure I had it right, I didn’t. It starts with “Read a book,” not “Write a book.” But I guess what I needed to see was “write.”

Defeat the White Fuckboys – Vote on Tuesday!


Thanks to Samantha Bee for so perfectly labeling the part of America that doesn’t want to lose all the privilege their whiteness gives them, that doesn’t want black and brown people to do as well as them, that doesn’t want women to have any authority over their own lives, and particularly, their own wombs.

There’s a lot of ground to be covered here, but I’ll concentrate on the white boys’ intent to gain more control back over women and their bodies. I’m working to learn more about how white privilege and racism and classism and gender stereotypes all intersect to oppress people, but men’s control of women is something I know a lot about

Ever since our ancestors figured out, early in the history of the human race, that men inseminate women, that the miracle of creation is not women’s alone, men have been hell bent on controlling women so they can be sure any babies produced by the women they’re controlling are theirs.

So stupid. Controlling a woman and telling her what to do might be a way to make sure any babies are yours, but it requires vigilance and abuse and denigration and it’s certainly not the best way. Respecting women, celebrating women’s strength, holding abusers accountable when they harm women — that attracts women, that keeps a woman at your side, that motivates a woman to keep you at her side to help raise those babies.

So what about all the women who support white fuckboys and their views? I won’t describe someone else’s life and experience, but I do know from working to end violence against women for almost 40 years that feeling trapped by current circumstances, violence, intimidation or expectations from their childhood entangles many women with partners who are disrespectful and controlling.

A week ago Friday when I first saw the news about Comey reintroducing Hillary’s emails into the election (and let’s remember, everyone, the George W. Bush White House “lost” 22 million emails), I understood again how hard it is to win as a woman if the white boys really don’t want you to. But actually, it isn’t white boys that are the problem. It’s white fuckboys, the ones who can’t stand the idea that a black President will be followed by a woman President, the ones who really think being white is better and should give them more control. How did they lose so much control?

Well they’re poised to lose even more which is why they’re so desperate. Looking at demographics, soon there won’t be enough of those white boys in this country to hold on to any control they have left unless everyone else agrees they should have it.

But already we’re at a tipping point, before white people in the United States are outnumbered by minorities. There are enough straight white women and men who are fine with sharing citizenship and power over their own lives with black and brown people, gender fluid people, LGBTQI people and women. Not only do they think it’s perfectly fine to have a Black President followed by a President who is a woman, they think it’s about time.

So white men who are losing their control over women, over the number of black and brown people in the country, over the ability to deny freedom and autonomy and power to all those “others,” are grabbing as much final control as they can, like taking ground in a war. If they can pull us all back to a place where women don’t have access to reproductive choice, where hatred and violent acts against black and brown people, Muslims and Jews, is okay, where groping and denigrating women is fine, where voting is difficult for black and brown people, where income disparity keeps increasing, then it will take that much longer to get back to where we are today.

Except we don’t have to go back at all. We can, and hopefully will, go forward. Vote for justice, decency, community, tolerance and diversity on Tuesday.

Vote for Hillary, then keep voting Democratic all the way down the ticket.

Give those white fuckboys the defeat they deserve.

Still #NOTokay


People across the United States are celebrating last night’s World Series victory of the Cubs and choosing a new President. How are these events related? Both offer an opportunity to push back against the culture that condones abuse of women.

The Cubs acquired Aroldis Chapman in a trade with the Yankees this summer, knowingly taking on a man who abused his girlfriend. Although he denies having hurt her, he doesn’t deny having shot a gun into a wall multiple times during a fight with her last year and didn’t dispute his 30 game suspension. Did it bother the Cubs that Chapman is an abuser? Or was it more important to win a World Series?

Cubs president Theo Epstein claims he talked with Chapman prior to the trade and that Chapman was “heartfelt” in his answers. What does Chapman say about that conversation? He doesn’t recall the details and was “sleepy” while they talked.

Now the Cubs have a World Series win and an abuser to thank in part for that.

Here’s the connection with the election. I’ve had to accept over the past several months that I share this country with many people who are not only comfortable with Donald Trump’s racist, misogynist, and xenophobic views but welcome the opportunity to share their own such views.

But I also think there are many people supporting Trump because they are anti-choice and their religious convictions are driving them to accept the hateful aspects of Trump because he may be able to deliver a Supreme Court that will over turn Roe v. Wade. Still others will vote for Trump because they view themselves as Republicans no matter what and will swallow what they don’t like about Trump to vote with their party.

What both supporting the Cubs and Trump leads to, however, is condoning a culture of violence and abuse of women. Any time we support anyone who has been abusive to women, whether it’s firing a gun to frighten your girlfriend (and most likely strangling her, as she originally told police) or groping women and bragging about it, we tell ourselves, our children, everyone, that it’s okay. Nope, #NOTokay.

As Adrienne wrote on Facebook today, about the Cubs victory last night, “You don’t knowingly employ someone who not only broke a law but abused someone. You know what it does to young boys and girls when a team puts him on the big stage? It sends a message that it’s OK. It sends a message that if you’re talented enough you can do anything you want with no repercussions. That’s not fucking ok. That perpetuates a culture of abuse of women.” In Trump’s case, it would be that you’re rich enough that you can do anything you want. 

The Cub’s shouldn’t have acquired Chapman and Americans shouldn’t hire Trump to be President. It doesn’t matter what piece of good you think you can pull out of the mistake of elevating an abuser to an exalted status — that he can pitch the shit out of other teams, that he could make abortion illegal again, that he can help win the World Series, that he can implement a fiscally and socially conservative agenda — it’s still a mistake.

Abuse of women is #NOTOkay now and forever. Remember that when you make choices.