Last night I dreamt that I was caught in a train station during war time. It was night, and I was trying to buy five tickets to get out. A long armed robot was in the station picking people off, it caught a whiff of me and because I smelled like vanilla it chased me down into a corner. It was going to kill me, but it did not because I offered it a vanilla cookie I had made.
Many of you have now read my most recent essay, "I'm Not Really a Waitress" over at the Roar Sessions. Most of you have been exposed to me giving Trump Tower the finger. And if you read the piece, you know that I was p*&$y grabbed on the subway, and until I heard that this had happened to others, anger eluded me, only to erupt when I woke up to the fact that this kind of behavior is widespread. In the piece I grapple with my anger and its expression. I behave rudely in public for the first time in my life, and then struggle with violent thoughts in the privacy of my own writing space.
I ended the piece with no easy answers. There was no wrapping it up cleanly. It was published on November 7th.
Since writing the piece I have continued to think about why my anger laid fallow for so long, and one thought I have had was this. Diminishing its meaning, filing the experience as an odd-one off that took nothing from me was a survival strategy. It was a way of keeping the reality of my vulnerability as a woman on the streets of New York City at bay.
Because the other side of my anger, I understand there to be grief and fear regarding the primal vulnerability of my body, which, in the end, is the primal vulnerability of all bodies. To have acknowledged that in my twenties would have been difficult, near impossible really wth living in the city and needing to make my way as a young woman. And in part was possible because while my body is in its way vulnerable, it's less vulnerable than most.
In my essay I go on to share with readers a disturbing rage fantasy, which I included because I felt it said something important about a universal violent impulse that lives in consciousness as a primitive reaction to realized vulnerability. When you encounter folks in grief after the election, it is grief over this primal vulnerability, especially of black bodies, brown bodies, bodies of women and others who have mostly skirted on the fringes of power over the course of history, and the accompanying fear that these bodies are now more vulnerable than ever.
Anger is a healthy response to the violation of bodies, but what I want to refine and commit to continue to refine here on my blog and in all my writing, is the process of being with anger, such that it becomes a workable force that bends the arc of history toward justice, especially in the forms of safety and inclusion for a diverse community of people. I do not regret my anger, but also understand it to be powerful and if confused with hate to be dangerous. I vow to harness it to become ever more useful in fulfilling the promise of our democracy and the requirements of our planetary interconnectedness.
My mother is a Jungian analyst. I have been raised to believe that dreams come to us to aid us toward our health and growth. They are poems, riddles that may suggest uncanny solutions to problems, not that there are easy solutions to any of the large challenges we face as a planet or a nation. In my dream last night, a vanilla cookie kept the monster at bay. I did not perish. I lived to see another day. In a sense, the vanilla cookie is the solution the dream offers the dreamer.
I've tried lots of different interpretations on in this paragraph today. None of them feel quite right. But what I cannot help but point out, and want others to understand, is that the white cookie keeps me safe. My privilege keeps me safe. Many bodies are much more at risk than they were before Tuesday night. Those who walk safely among us have an obligation to use our privilege in whatever form we experience it to protect the more vulnerable and to protect the principles of democracy.
Whatever it means, I plan bring my very most sincere effort to the work and I hope you will join me.
Take good care. With love and commitment.