process 3: by the time you read this

Maybe by the time I’ve gotten the guts to write this for the world, this will have changed, and I will be at peace with it.

I am wondering today about how much honesty I am holding back for fear of having to hold myself accountable. I write in this grey notebook the really hard stuff. I doodle on the backs to make it easier on myself. However I’ve been thinking a lot about personal accountability lately, and how I, will allow an opinion or history of myself to become more true because I feel it’s easier on the people around me. I know there are some of you that will completely understand and not judge, but I am also confident there are others who just won’t get it. Which is fine, I feel very little responsibility towards those who will not understand, but I still feel some.

I am really good at holding myself accountable for the things that I want to see, but almost always I am terrible at doing the same thing to parts of myself that I do not want to accept are there. There is a beautiful amount of self-awareness in my life, but with the good kind of self-awareness comes the painful kind, the kind that sees the accident happening and still is like, nah I’m going to let it keep going because this feels good. So I pick and choose, like any human would. Hold yourself accountable or let the action feel good, and I am, like many things in my life, split down the middle on that one. I know what I believe, it’s just placing it into action.

This one was hard to write, not because of the subject matter but because I truly don’t want you all to know what the other entry was about in my little grey book. I think this was kind of a breakthrough to me though, because now I know what the harder parts of this whole thing is and it’s the subject that I attempted a piece on today. I think realizing the small bits and pieces that are going to be more difficult in the long term process is important early on, I think anticipating them but not dreading them is super important. I also think decision making as to when in the process you as an artist wants to tackle the emotionally difficult parts of the process.

As always

talk to you soon

-bri

Process: 2

Today Goose our house cat is keeping my company as I write my process post, he is warm and cuddly and is very particular about who touches him and where. I am much like a cat.

Today I am considering how to write about death, specifically watching it. I felt a strong memory today of my grandmother and I think it was reminding me to do something. I wrote the other piece and it’s graphic, and I wonder how to escape the cliches that come with describing someone who is dying. How do I write the scene as it was, not how I want to remember it. Peace is a lie in those last days, no matter what anyone tells you.

So I wonder how to write in depth about that, how to conquer memories that are so recent and so raw that I can’t separate myself from them, so I can’t worry about what the reader thinks. I don’t know what I think. I do know that the safety I feel here in this place, with my housemates and Goose are making it easier to write these raw pieces that are not ready to see the light of day, but they are real and tangible. They are honest and scary and they make me feel powerful, even if I’m not ready to share them yet.

Creating in a place of hopelessness or codependency or danger is harmful to me, I’m realizing that I can much better bring an artistic vision to life now that I am safe than I could in other more harmful situations. I can make work in those places, but it isn’t as good, the pain and the lessons are fine, but only when I have a minute to breathe. I finally have a minute to breathe. Life is always going to be painful, but the power of home and community lessen that pain more than anything in the world. The fact that I could call my friend up yesterday, say I’m having an art crisis, and just talk it out is really beautiful. Did we come up with an answer? absolutely not, but to have a community both in proximity and a phone call away is so essential.

I enjoy writing about process, because it feels more real even though I’m not spelling out what I’m referring to. If there’s anything I know a lot about it’s good and bad places to make art out of and from.

Anyway

Until next time

-bri

House Cat: Goose

House Cat: Goose

Death is for the Living

It’s been a year since Grandma died, I wrote a post on my facebook page on the actual date, but here I’d like to explore how complicated it is to grieve someone who was as beautiful, passionate and difficult as she was. We tend to romanticize the dead, we tend to forget any of the hardships that were caused by that person. My grandmother was a beautifully generous human but she was also stubborn, and extremely particular, which is something that I definitely inherited from her. She was hard to live with, she had rules that didn’t make sense to me, but I would walk through hot coals for her. Pat was what you’d consider a difficult person to her family but the most wonderful person to the people around her, memories shared by friends are so different from the dark parts that we saw even before she got sick.. She was an excellent teacher, many remember her as an extremely strict teacher, she was also an incredibly creative educator, who’s students learned a lot from her. One of them is a brain surgeon now, she taught him how to read, up until she got very sick, he still wrote to her, he still sent her a calendar of his photography from travels that you can only take when you are a brain surgeon or and equivalent. Humans are so multifaceted that boiling it down to only the good things is doing a disservice to their memory.

These conflicting emotions are something that after a person has gone from this earth we are not supposed to explore, however isn’t healthier to remember the person as they were and not exclusively the wonderful things that they contributed to their family and friends. We are all complete people with very dark and very light parts of our personality, when I go I don’t want to be remembered only by the good things I do, I want to be remembered as feisty, stubborn, creative and a little bit of an ass. Maybe growing up Irish Catholic I was taught to suppress anything that bordered on emotion, and it’s easier to smooth out the edges of a person who died because we are so afraid to speak ill of the dead. I have no interest in speaking ill of my grandmother, but I would like her to be remembered as she was, tough as nails, loving, but withholding to everyone except her grandchildren.

I think in order to become better at dealing with grief in death we need to tell all of those stories, we need to accept that everyone is imperfect, especially when it’s someone so close to you, someone you lived with for almost eight years. The processing of the complete person would make it easier to move on, if one of the stages of grief is anger why don’t we as a society choose to process that emotion along with the other ones, the denial, the depression, and the eventual acceptance. Anger is so frowned upon in our society, it’s a valid emotion and it’s so important when used productively, righteous controlled productive anger is so essential to making change in the world, but that is a different entry.

As a society we need to get better at processing death, we need to look at the person who has passed as a complete person and not the romantic version especially for those of us closest to that person. Thinking of a human in one dimension is a disservice to their memory, I at least want to be remembered as more than just the good parts of my life. Mistakes I’m positive that is how she would want to be remembered as well, she was proud of her stubbornness, she was proud of being the strict teacher and the strict mother, she was even more proud of being the doting grandmother.

I know that this post may anger family members, if it does, I’m not sure how well you knew her. She was a beautiful generous person who had wonderful flaws that made her what we all are, human.

It is possible to love someone without reservations, but to also remember them as they were. Generous, obsessive, creative, particular, and complicated. Humans are complicated and they don’t stop being so once they are gone.

Hold on to the good, hold tighter to the great, but remember we are all three dimensional people and should remembered as so.

I miss you Grandma, you were a beautiful part of my life, and continue to influence me to this day, I love you more than I can express, and even with the regrets I have about not being honest with you or not holding on to your lessons as tightly as I should have, I still think about you every day, I still wonder what life would have brought you if you had not been taken by dementia and cancer maybe we would have shed the Irish Catholic guilt and shared more of ourselves with each other.

Today I am stronger because of you, not only because of the wonderful wisdom and lessons that you taught me but also because of the imperfection that you showed me, that it was okay, that we could still be strong people despite all of that.

As always

With love

-bri

Community Building: Say Yes

I’m coming up on a year since I started this writing project, I’m also coming up on a year since my grandmother died. If I look back on the past year the transformation has been unreal, and I suppose on the actual anniversary of those two events I will write about those things but I want to write about the big lessons this year. In all honesty the really hard parts of this year set me up for the change that came within the last month and a half, it’s not often that I feel at peace, it’s even less often that I feel completely comfortable and safe, and for the first time since college I feel both of those things.

I was speaking to a friend yesterday about the post college slump in creating things, and how long it’s taken me to start wanting to make stuff again. I graduated a long time ago, and I have no series to show for it, I have a lot of images, I have a lot of individual work, but I feel like there should be more. This friend is going through the same thing that I was, but they are a little younger so I am a little bit further along on this extremely frustrating journey of wanting to create but not being in the right environment or headspace to do so. This conversation reminded me that I have to approach the people I love with as much compassion as been shown to me, and it also reminded me that sometimes I can be a dick, and sometimes I do not listen to other’s pain when there is pain in my life. I love this friend unconditionally, and I’m glad that despite my being a bit of a dick, we can hug it out and be fine. That’s community.

It’s taken me years to realize that as long as I’m creating something (anything) I’m on the right path, and that sometimes it takes artists years in between creating things to do something else. It’s time to stop making excuses though, I am surrounded by passionate, creative, and wonderful people which feeds my creativity in a way that the art school environment did. Without deadlines holding each other accountable has done wonders even if it’s indirectly, just being around creative people makes it easier to create.

I don’t think we are meant to do any of this alone, I’m really good at isolating myself, but judging by the amount of work I’ve put out since graduating that’s certainly not working. Community building is a reignited passion for me, when I was in high school I started a small music venue, I never felt better bringing people together to share a passion, and now I get to do that again, this time with a group of people that feel it’s just as important as I feel it is.

We live in houses with closed doors and fences and walls between us, we say hello to our neighbors, but how often do we get to know them? Do we still bring them fresh tomatoes from our garden? Do we still host events at our house that create community? This new home that I’m in we do, and I cannot speak for the housemates or the people who come and feel comfortable here, but it has changed me. It has changed me into a more conscientious person, I feel more like a child and more like an adult all at once. I am amazed sitting on the deck each day watching the trees change and light shift. I am delighted by putting my hands in soil and will be even more delighted when we have food that we’ve grown ourselves. It is incredible to have a group of people who say yes to things and follow through.

Passion makes the world go ‘round, and maintaining that passion is so difficult in a world that really just wants to beat you down. Having a healthy thriving community changes that. So the goal for the next year is to keep fostering that community, keep making this place incredible, keep combining our talents and skills to continue making this a place where we all feel at peace and safe.

So say yes, and follow through. It’s an improv rule, and when used correctly it can make something magical.

With love

-bri

Live

This is a post that is incredibly important to me, and is very terrifying to post on the internet, but I think it’s important, and I hope that someone might be able to get something out of this. I am feeling vulnerable and scared about how raw this is.

Also, Not everyone in my life can see this post, I would appreciate it if you can read it to keep the comments on this post and not attempt to share this anywhere else.

CW: suicide, mental illness

vine2.JPG

I tried to die last month. The reasons why are long gone from my memory, as if my brain reset itself the second I realized the consequences of my actions and that it was too shocking to hold on to.  When you are in crisis permanence is unimaginable, and after that crisis is over, you realize that your reasons weren’t rational or that the pain will eventually pass. I don’t use this as an excuse, it has hard to fight a battle with no real words to describe it, I am glad to be alive, I have been doing well. I have been creating things that I value, and that I think have value to other people. I have tried to take my life once before. That is all I will speak of on that part.

 

I am often trying to come up with words to help people understand what it’s like to have everything going pretty well on one level, terrible on another, and terrifying on the other. There are so many good things in my life right now. New people and experiences that make me feel grateful for how much I don’t know and how much I’m going to learn. I am making things, I feel loved and I love.  Which brings me to the point that a person could have everything going for them and still be depressed. Check in on your friends. There is so much more happenin, and I think mental illness sneaks up on you like this, I make it no secret that the past year of my life has been chaotic to say the least, but I rose to every challenge, I did what I needed to. Still I suffered. So there is pride for getting through the sludge, but there is resentment for continued suffering. I gained some of the most valuable relationships and cut some very toxic people out of my life, but still I suffered. I am working on letting it go, I’m working on being a little better at breathing and a little worse at letting all the stress get to me. When you are sick, there is so much you have to do to take care of yourself, and when you do not take care of yourself you end up in danger.

 

That is what happened, I neglected a part of myself I knew better than to neglect, and in a way it felt good. Not to be on top of it, it felt good. Giving in to your darkest thoughts feels good, like you’re pulling one over on the world and on yourself. When in reality you’re just lying. Lying by not reaching out, lying by not practicing self-care, lying feels good for a moment, but it hurts in the long run.

 

Having bipolar disorder is hard, because one minute you are completely even-keel, medications are working, everything is roses. Then there’s the thing where your illness adapts because you’re not being quite as diligent at keeping up with staying healthy mentally, you stop checking in with yourself, or your doctors, and you start telling lies to the people who would push you in the right direction if given the chance. You want to be fine without all of the extra work, because you’re tired, and the extra work makes you even more tired, and if given the choice you’d probably stay in bed so much more than is healthy.

I speak about this because honesty from people who have the same illness as me, who have similar experiences, would have made a huge difference when I was younger. People who glorify mental illness have not experienced or are in denial about the truly dark parts.

 

The other thing that I value so much is frankness, talking about the feelings immediately before and after, and how always I have felt relief that I did not go too far. I always want to live even if it takes a little while before my survival instinct kicks in. I have always regretted the action, and I have never regretted waking up. Always. I will point out that suicide hotlines are bullshit and if you’re feeling that way please get yourself to an ER. This time I chose not to because of traumatic experiences in psychiatric wards before. Because of that decision, I scared a very good friend of mine, who stayed on the phone with me until I was definitely okay.  I can’t express how grateful I am, I don’t think I will ever be able to express how grateful I am to her.

 

Guilt is useless, but it does not mean I do not feel it intensely, I am working on that.

 

Hopefully, for me this is a “scared straight” moment, I never want to make that kind of permanent decision ever again. I never want to make another person feel the way that I made my friend feel that night. Unfortunately mental illness is unpredictable. There are so many promises I wish I could make, but I do not want to be responsible for breaking those promises unintentionally. I know how hurtful my actions were and I’m even a little bit sorry for posting this blog, but I want this to allow for some healing on my part, and maybe someone relates to what I say enough to go get help.

 

I am okay though, I know for some they will need further proof or more reassurances. There is not even a tiny part of me that wants to die, and I’m getting the help that I need, and I am getting better. Healing is not linear, and sometimes it goes up consistently for a very long time and then takes a nosedive, sometimes it goes backwards, sometimes it drops fast and corrects itself faster.

 

Talk about stuff. Love each other. Don’t choose to be alone.

 

love,


bri

"Bad Art"

My day job is framing, I enjoy it for the most part, I get to look at art all day, I work with my hands, and I don’t have constant interaction with the public like I have had in the past. People are still exhausting, retail is a wild ride, I’m sometimes kind of a jerk but I’ve got it pretty good. I adore the good pieces, and working with people who love the good pieces. I’ve seen some cool stuff. Originals are the most fun, because then I get to pick another artist’s brain while I design for them, especially when it’s done in a medium in which I have no experience. Then I’d say it’s seeing artwork from all over the world and hearing the stories about those pieces and where they were collected. Seeing artwork with names I recognize is also pretty cool, I framed a Banksy once, it was a road sign from Britain with one of his monkeys on it. I looked it up, it was worth more than I will make in my lifetime. No pressure.

I learn the most about art from the badpieces though. There’s something that switched in my brain about three months into starting this job. At first when I saw an “objectively bad art piece” my art school brain went into critique mode, thinking about things I would have done differently, or things that would have been pointed out in critique as formal no-no’s. Things that would have gotten not great grades in my courses at school. Also note that I’m not talking about poorly executed art here, I’m talking about conceptually weak pieces with strong technique. Art done by beginners or people who are learning their technique is a very different thing, and most definitely should be framed nicely at least once during one’s artistic journey.

The current shop I work in I physically frame 10-20 pieces a day, as well as taking the orders of anywhere from 20-100 clients each week, and it has made me think differently about how I see critique. I still think it is the most valuable tool an artist has to get better on an individual level, but I don’t think it should ever be used to judge people’s taste in work. Having to work with work that I don’t appreciate has been an awesome challenge, because having to design something nice for a piece I don’t like has taught me a lot about making work myself. I often fall flat, much like I do in my art practice, but when I nail it it feels really good. It’s slowed my judgement because it doesn’t matter what I think about it, I still have to make it work. It’s made me realize that I might feel a little bit gate-keeper-y about the art world and I should work on that, because I don’t believe in doing that when it comes to politics or any other intellectual pursuits so I should check my privilege on that one.

Mostly the “bad art” has made me kinder, don’t get me wrong I still raise my eyebrows every now and again, we once framed a 30x40 inch spring break themed porn poster signed by the actresses. I also recently framed a knife that had definitely seen some shit. There’s a lot of weird weird images that I can never unsee. I’m nicer in my head about it all now and that makes my day much better. I think we learn more about art from accepting a thing that we don’t like than we do from enhancing a thing that we do. Both are valuable, but as a human I think I learn more from the former.

Anyway

until next time

-bri

Signs and Chaos

It’s been a while friends, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind, I am sitting on an entry but it feels too vulnerable to share at the moment, maybe someday when I’ve honed it down to the perfect words. I’m an avid believer in ripping open wounds for art, but only when you’re ready.

For now you get a very tired not at all thought out post so godspeed.

I’ve been thinking a lot about signs lately, and that’s weird for me because I don’t believe in things coming out of the woodwork to push a person in one way or another. However I do think our brains start looking for patterns when we’re at a crossroads personally, maybe that’s an atheist’s cop-out to something they don’t understand, maybe it’s the same thing as believing in some sort of spiritual guide, maybe it’s not. I’m not here to argue religion. The reason that I’ve been thinking about signs from above or around is because if I were a believer in them I’d be extremely excited at this moment of my life because somebody is trying to tell me something, and the message is not subtle, which of course frustrates me because I subscribe to the Michelle McNamara “it’s chaos, be kind” theory. I don’t think there is a rhyme or reason to this universe or even this lifetime.

I know I’m being obtuse, because I don’t want to talk about what I’m talking about, but as always for some personal accountability I’m putting it in black and white.

It’s a short entry back, I’m hoping to get back to working more consistently here soon. I’ve been writing but it’s not for here at least not yet. It feels good to have a few projects up in the air even if they aren’t done or close to done.

Anyway

hope all is well

-bri

home, part three; the healing part

The Aetna hold music sounds like the soundtrack for an extremely sad depression era silent movie. Either they’re really self-aware or some employee has a great sense of humor.

 I’m home again, part three in less than 365 days, the past two years have been hard. Frozen to my bed unable to move, hard. Sad, defeated, and confused hard. I found my voice this year though, I got brave. I got angry. I got honest. I took my time back, and while there have been some significant cracks in the armor, I’m coming out of this better than I was.  I found some confidence. I learned to ask for what I need.

 I think this time it’s a fit, this home, I hope so because I can see the future and it’s going to continue to be hard for a little while longer. I try not to be a downer when I write on here, which is kind of why I haven’t posted in a while. There’s been so much happening that I figured it’d be better once I’m on the other side of it, I’m not, nor will I be for a while, so instead I’m going to focus on the little victories to try to prevent or postpone what feels like inevitable insanity.

 While I’m not completely unpacked, for some reason my sense of urgency in this case has gone out the window, I am comfortable which is nice. I can sleep, which is surprising, and I’m having trouble being my usual curmudgeon self because there’s a lot of joy here. This free spirit loves a consistent housing situation.

I have never felt as lonely or as loved as I have in the year of jumping homes. My heart is split right down the middle, as if only part of me feels seen and the other part is still hiding away trying to avoid the trauma. Eventually the permanent stiffness in my muscles will relax, eventually this healing will help more than it hurts, because I’ve done this part before, I’ve done the healing part. I’m actually pretty damn good at the healing part, I bounce back alright, and that’s all this is. Growing pains. This time I’m a little older, this time I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it feels so far away. This time the fire is back. Passion balances out the pure exhaustion. This time I have a voice. This time I have a vocabulary.

Hope is paralyzing, but it is also energizing. I choose to have it energize me because I am tired of having it paralyze me. I am tired of feeling like a statue watching the seasons pass.

So I suppose, this is home part three. The healing part.

a follow up for our "male allies"

Before I start this post I would like to say how exhausted I am. I am moving, I have spent hours doing research for this post, and I don’t think I will even put a dent in what needs to be said. I have spent emotional labor finding articles and stand up for you boys to consume, take in, take to heart, and start this learning process that you seem so passionate about.

You should be doing this work.

In the past few days I have felt both heard and dismissed, amplified and talked over, angry and all sorts of confusion and chaos when it came to the responses I’ve been getting. I’m hoping to get them clarified, I’m hoping for some real change, but the bar is set so low right now I’m sure any type of change feels refreshing, but as I’ve said in comments responding to my other post, we have seen this before.

The following is the follow up post to my letter to the Declaration of Male Allies. Before I begin, I’m going to clarify some comments I made in the responses to the comments of the post, I do not apologize for anything that I wrote in that entry, I stand by the strong language, the righteous anger, and the underwhelmed feeling that many of my sisters and I feel.

A friend who I have been speaking to in the aftermath of the start of this conversation gave me a good pull quote for this blog entry so I’m going to use it.

“Even if you put the big, nasty transgressions aside,
a lifetime of micro-marginalization [and aggressions]
can add up to a whole pile of righteous rage”

So here’s my new challenge, before we continue this conversation. I’m going to give you boys some heavy lifting, but in fact, this is still me doing the emotional labor of all this research, and crowd sourcing from other more well read friends of mine. I urge you to read through, watch, and absorb the variety of voices I’m going to put into this entry.

If your reaction is “I do not have time for this” you are not doing what you set out to do. Period.

First, some definitions, according to Merriam-Webster.

Feminism:
1. The theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2. Organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.

Sexism:
1. Prejudice or discrimination based on sex, especially discrimination against women
2. behavior, conditions, or attitudes, that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex

Patriarchy
1. Social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal
dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line.
2. A society or institution organized according to the principles or practices of patriarchy

Misogyny
1. a hatred of women

Hostile Sexism
1. The one most people think about. Openly insulting, objectifying and degrading women.
Benevolent Sexism
1.Less obvious. Kind of seems like a compliment, even though it's rooted in men's feelings of
superiority. It's when men say women are worthy of their protection (off the sinking boat first) or that
they're more nurturing than men (therefore should raise children).

These are just a few, I am linking an article here with some further definitions that include language related to race, sex, gender, and some internet slang that may not be recognized right away.


Now to ease you all in I’m going to start with some important stand up comedians.
Hannah Gadsby: Nannette: a master class in marginalization and trauma

Bridget Christie: Stand Up For Her, some good laughs, some unique perspective, and some excellent physical comedy.

The Degenerates on Netflix
Specifically
Liza Treyger
Yamaneika Saunders
Christina Pazsitsky:

Anything by Margaret Cho

There are so many more, so many more important voices, but I think this is a good start.


Essential viewing for those who identify as “good men”
Hannah Gadsby: To the Good Men

Here are some articles, which I will continue to add to as I get them in from the crowd sourcing I’m doing.

Roxanne Gay

Read her twitter, read her books, read her essays

And while we’re at it, a conversation between Hannah Gadsby and Roxanne Gay

The Grey Area in the Me Too Movement

I know the man this piece is written about, we went to college together. He has been accepted back into the journalistic circles, he appears to be an ally and a leftist, but from stories of people he victimized in college, I know for a fact he is not an ally. This is why we do not trust initiatives like this, this is why we have trouble with follow through or with people claiming they will fight for us. We’ve fought for ourselves for so long, we are used to it.

How White Feminists Oppress Black Women

This one is not only for the men, but also for the women. Folk music is overwhelmingly white, and the idea that POC do not want to play in folk music type venues is complete horse shit. Just like the idea that it is impossible for you to find women to play in your bands is complete horse shit. Go to a college, find a bad ass brilliant music student. I guarantee they’d be thrilled to play with you.

Feminists who Exclude Trans* Women are not Feminists at all

This is another one that is for both the men and the women. There was shockingly little language involving the LGBTQ+ community in any of the posts or follow up posts. We cannot solve all of the inequality issues in one fell swoop, but to exclude the language completely is unacceptable. Non binary and trans folks need to be included in this conversation.

Male Allies are Not Our Saviors

Stop using allyship to score brownie points. We do not buy it anymore.

This is a start, this does not touch the nuance or extent of conversation that needs to happen in this conversation, and what I think is headed towards actual debate, not online debate.

Do not talk down to us, we have seen this before. Do not do the mansplaining thing. Read the posts on facebook, carefully and take them in as well as the very few resources I have provided here, there has been an incredible amount of intelligent strong women bringing up very important points that according to your responses I’m not sure y’all have been reading and or taking in.

If you have further resources or thoughts please feel free to add to the comments. This was a lot of work, and I have not even scratched the surface. So this is your homework boys, read and absorb, do your own research and work, then come back with a better understanding before we continue this conversation.

To the Declaration of Male Allies

I am not an insider to your community, but I am also not an outsider, you might know me from Budgiedome e-mails, Falcon Ridge, or promotional photography for musicians, or just sitting in the audience loving what you all do.

 

I have been a folk music fan from the time I could understand that the voices you hear from your car radio or CD player could be seen in person, on a stage, after my first concert I had stars in my eyes and never looked back. Even at a very young age I knew you all were my people. I am not musically inclined, so I contribute by community making, and art, I photograph musicians, I help organize shows.  I have made friends and family through the folk music community, who have become invaluable in my life. 

 

 

So that’s a little bit about me.

 

The first time I felt uncomfortable at a folk concert I was sixteen years old and it was because a performer generously said my name on stage in an attempt to help me out with my budding videographer career (now turned photographer). So an audience member took it upon himself to start bothering me after the show, luckily the performer saw what was happening and stepped in. I was lucky.  I’m going to repeat that, at sixteen, at a folk music concert, in a Unitarian Church, I was lucky. 


I am not a touring musician.

 

This was not the last time, and the last time probably wont be the last time. Occasionally those who have made me feel uncomfortable have been people who are supposed friends.

 

Male folk in this community, you can do better than this. I would say that I cannot believe that your way of “supporting” women artists was to write a long winded explanation about how you feel safe and how you wish we felt as safe as you did. We don’t.  We probably never will. I am not surprised. 

 

We’ve been taking care of our own for a long time, (see female musician stepping in when I was 16) we’ve got lists, and tactics, and we know when to bring a friend. Trust me, if your name is on that Male Ally list and you aren’t a male ally, we know. 

 

I wish I could say that it’s shocking to me that your first instinct was to drown out voices of women coming forward with a weirdly performative declaration how you all are good guys and are pledging to make better things happen for us. I am not surprised. 


Nothing really shocks me anymore, I do get angry though, but nothing surprises me. 

 

I know your intentions are good, but please shut up. For once in your lives shut up and listen, amplify the voices of the survivors, but do not add your own comments they are unneeded and distracting. I cannot speak for other people but I am sick of hearing it. I run into the same thing in the fine arts community, in my day job, and in life in general

 

Do not make this about yourselves. We are tired.  You do not deserve applause or thanks for signing something that should just be basic human decency.

 Actions including money, are the only way that you make this right, call out your friends when they say something problematic, in public, in front of other people. Not just when it’s convenient for you or when there are women present, every time. Read and share things written by survivors, learn about micro-aggressions.  Learn about gaslighting.

If you want women and non-binary folks to feel safe make them feel safe, but listen to them.

 

I’m going to ask you to do some heavy lifting here, because it’s your fucking turn. Hire more touring women, and include trans women and non-binary folks and women of color in that rotation.  Don’t perform at a venue when you know the presenter is a creep. Hire more women to play on your CDs or in your bands. I’m sure that generic young white dude with the guitar plays some great backup, but I’m also positive you can find someone who isn’t a generic white dude of the same caliber. 


And on a slightly selfish note, maybe as tax for having to do this emotional labor at eight am before work, hire more visual artists who aren’t men. 

We do not need your protection, we need you to stop the behaviors that make us need protection, and that’s all of you, even the “good guys.” 

 

In the folk music world we live in an isolated bubble, but we are also supposed to be accepting of all people, of all folks. Folk music meaning: For the people, passed down from generation to generation. Do we really want this to be our story? Drowning out voices of marginalized people because we want some pats on the back? 

 

So Ally List, step the fuck up. You are not our saviors. You are taking one tiny baby step by putting your intentions into writing. Maybe you’ll get that applause when there’s some real equity in this and every other industry. 

 

If you do not follow through though,

 

Words, words, words.

Changes

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I rarely post photographs of myself on my blog, but I changed my hair today, I change my hair drastically for two reasons, an upset in my life, or a huge change. Right now I’m dealing with both, I am filled with a sort of hope and excitement that I haven’t felt since undergrad, I feel like I’m moving toward a place in my life where my passions and other’s passions are going to lead to learning. I am an artist because I want to be a student forever, I love to learn. On the other hand my life has been significantly upturned majorly four times, watching my grandmother die, and moving three times all in less than a year. I am doing an exceptional job holding it together, if I do say so myself, but there are a lot of emotions that go along with it. I think partially through this writing project (and years of therapy) I’m dealing it in the healthiest way I think I ever have, and I’m pretty goddamn proud of that. Maybe I’m numb to the chaos, maybe I’m becoming a sort of well adjusted, who knows?

I think this slow build since I graduated undergrad has led me to this. It took me a little longer, to get past the arrested development caused by losing much of my youth to mental illness. I’m learning how to stand up for myself, I am less reluctant to ask for help. I believe people when they tell me they love me and I truly mean it back. I’m still stubborn as hell, but I’ve stopped almost all destructive habits in my life. For someone like me, this is probably not permanent, but I’m realizing each time I crawl out of a hole I get better at it, faster at it, and the holes get shallower.

There are so many obstacles put in front of people with chronic illness both mental and physical, many of those issues would be resolved by things like universal healthcare, jobs that don’t change your hours weekly, fair pay, and all of those things would be helpful to everyone.

I digress, it’s a really good feeling to want to make things again, there's something missing in me when I don’t have that drive.

Anyway, here’s to a few more weeks of chaos, and then to starting over.