Yesterday I went searching for a book I was planning to read as research for my ‘Intersections’ writing project. The book I was looking for was ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg, the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The book caused a stir a few years back when it was published because it was made out to be a guide for women in the corporate world. Well, I found a copy yesterday in a used bookstore but as I leafed through it and read a few pages here and there… I said to hell with this shit and put it down and didn’t buy it.
Women don’t have the time or the half-assed luxury of ‘leaning in’ anymore. Our democracy, our rights, and our lives are under heavy assault from right-wing religious nutcases and corporate-American assholes like never before. And besides, we tried that ‘lean in’ shit and did it work for us? Hell no.
Now I’m sure some lovely detractor will say I shouldn’t be ranting and raving here and burning my bra and all that crap. To those detractors I say this: Phyliss Schafly is dead and buried and you’re not bringing her back to life to kill the ERA because we’re past that shit now.
Yesterday I snapped inside as I realized why I’ve been avoiding my writing is that I don’t want to be like everyone else. I don’t want to write books that are more sad-and-sorry for myself than anything. I’m through with being sad-and-sorry for myself. I wrote something yesterday I haven’t posted yet because it’s still in rough-draft form but I danced around it for a few days until I figured out why. I danced around it because it could have turned into a sob-fest woe-is-me piece of limp bullshit, but instead it turned into a potential ass-kicker. It turned into an ass-kicker because I realized although I may not have done a lot of things most people have, it doesn’t mean I can’t do them going forward once we have a pandemic response team in the White House that actually knows what the fuck they’re doing.
What brought me into sad-and-sorry for myself territory was the death of Eddie Van Halen, one of the most talented and innovative guitarists of all time. Eddie’s music with his group Van Halen was the soundtrack to a lot of lives, and to a lot of hanging out and partying. That put me into sad-and-sorry territory because I don’t have those memories of hanging out and partying. There are a lot of reasons for that I’ll elaborate on in my book ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ (and the piece I started yesterday was the beginning of that). But what took me out of sad-and-sorry was telling myself that going forward, I can make new memories. I can’t go back and relive the past but by the Goddess I can move forward and live my life and kick the living shit out of the over-protective voices that kept me from hanging out and partying like I should have.
Speaking about this, or in my case, writing about it was a challenge because it’s pretty revealing. But I figure with what I’m working on with my ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ project why not go all the way? I mean, there isn’t some bullshit criticism that will be new to me when this goes public and since I’ve dealt with that all my life and am still standing, walking, and breathing, I’ll deal with it. Mostly I won’t acknowledge or engage with it, but if I have to I will stand up and quote Kamala Harris: “I’m speaking.” And I’ll say that especially if I get interrupted, or talked down to, or have someone come at me with well-intentioned bullshit intended to shut me up.
I’ve read a few self-help/memoire type books over the last few years but I’m glad I didn’t indulge in a steady diet of them. Because now when I pick one up and leaf through it, I’m putting it back down again. And that’s because I’m beginning to truly realize I know not only what I want to write, but how I want to write it. Best of all, I’m beginning to learn how to take my own advice.
I am telling myself now I am not going to get into sad-and-sorry for myself. I’m not going to tell myself I’m an unlovable and unworthy slob because I’ve been silent for so long and have a past without a lot of memories that most people have. If someone doesn’t like me for the way I’ve lived and the lack of experiences, they can go straight to Hell. And I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, or come at me with pity, guilt, or remorse either. I keep telling myself now I’m not responsible for someone else’s feelings and how to deal with them. I’m responsible for how I feel and deal with my emotions, and how I interact with the world. But if I’m not doing something wrong, and someone just doesn’t like that and tries to tell me I’m wrong and an unworthy fuck up, they can go to Hell.
I did manage to buy a few books yesterday instead of the one I set out to. One of them was ‘Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?’ by the late great Molly Ivins. I grew up reading her newspaper columns and cried hard when she died (#FuckCancer). I want to be like her and write and say instead: I not only can say that, I just did.
So say it, and live it. And don’t lean in, but bring your own folding chair to the table and take your place as the late great Shirly Chisolm once said.