Show me what democracy looks like?

Photo credit: Jessica Greco & Neil Johnson

On Saturday, January 21st, I was proud to join the Women’s March for America in Boston, Massachusetts, in solidarity with millions of inspiring women and men across the globe. It was an invigorating experience that made me feel for the first time in months a fragile spark of hope for our future. I marched to support the rights of women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, refugees, immigrants, Muslims, and anyone and everyone that feels afraid or oppressed by our new administration. I marched because what is happening in this country right now isn’t normal and should not be normalized. But I’m also increasingly aware that politics and justice in the United States have always been far from normal or fair. I don’t really feel qualified to discuss politics. I feel like an impostor and a fraud, lacking the skills to speak authoritatively on any political subject. I’ve said this before. But I can’t be silent, even if I lack eloquence.

I’m white and I benefit from the privilege that comes with being white. I acknowledge it. I also acknowledge that there are people of color, LGBTQ folks, activists, immigrants, Muslims, refugees, and on and on that have been fighting a battle for social justice long before I have. I acknowledge that diverse voices are what we need right now. I acknowledge their stories are different than mine and I need to hear them. I want to listen to you and your anger and your sadness. I acknowledge that 53% of white women voted for our new president despite his hateful rhetoric and are complicit in not being able to see past their own self-interests and their own bubble. And quite frankly, that is some bullshit. Feminism is only useful if it is intersectional. Justice is only true if it serves ALL people, regardless of race, religion, creed, gender, sexual preference, and sexual identity. This is not a movement that should only benefit white women. This is about EVERYONE, especially those who are most vulnerable. Everyone has a different experience and that must be taken into consideration in our fight. Just because something doesn’t impact you personally doesn’t mean it’s any less of an issue. It’s very, very real for the people suffering injustice.

Often, I feel very powerless, despite the privilege I know I have. I feel very small and lacking. I’m working to educate myself and listen: to read diverse voices and accounts of American history and feminism. I’m trying to read good journalism and find the truth. I’m embarrassed that I don’t know more, that there’s been a lapse in my education when it comes to social justice, but I’m trying to fix it and become a better informed citizen and openly acknowledge my faults. I’m going to do what I can to serve all our people. And I’m sorry we failed you not just in this past election but over and over again throughout history. I’m sorry we weren’t there when you needed us. This system is so bent and twisted with systemic racism. White people are responsible for centuries of oppression, something that has never quite gone away no matter how many people want to claim that “racism is over now.” (Spoiler: It’s really, really not.) I recognize there are terrible, invisible institutions embedded in the foundation of this country that need to be confronted and dismantled before we can move forward.

It feels impossible to change people’s hearts and minds, to get them to see what they perceive as other as human. We’re all just blood and flesh and life. But people can be truly monstrous. Likewise, it’s hard to see the political right with anything other than fear and contempt, especially when it seems like all they want to do is hurt us and take away our basic rights. But the politicians serve us: the people. We are the people of this country, and people shape this nation if they are willing to work for it. And I am here to serve you, all of the people of these United States, however I can: marching, making phone calls, showing up, speaking out, calling out injustice whenever I see it, listening, learning, having hard conversations, handing out flyers. Whatever you need. I want to help.

I come to you humbly, acknowledging my privilege, and hoping for something better.


P.S. The Women’s March has put together a political agenda entitled 10 actions for the first  100 days. I hope you’ll join me in resisting and taking action together:


To IUD or Not To IUD?

I’ve spent the last couple months or so agonizing about whether or not to get an IUD (an intrauterine device). If you’re not aware, an IUD is a little bit of plastic or copper they place in your uterus to prevent pregnancy. It’s one of the most effective birth control options out there. To be honest, I’m not entirely comfortable sharing personal details about my reproductive health choices with the Internet, but I feel like this is something a lot of people I know are going through and I wanted to add my voice to the conversation. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I have been on the birth control pill for about 10 years. And it’s fine. I don’t love it. I don’t hate it. I have a permanent alarm on my phone to make sure I remember to take it. (9 PM, destroy all babies.) I’ve been thinking about switching to an IUD for a number of reasons. I’m curious if it will alleviate some of my moodiness (as I know birth control pills are loaded with a lot more hormones). I’m also a little worried about being on the pill for such a long time and what that might be doing to me. (Though I’m also of the attitude if it isn’t broken, why fix it? So many questions.) But mostly I’ve been constantly meditating on this because of the current political climate in the United States.

There are a LOT of dudes in government that want to take away my access to birth control. They want to make it more expensive and harder to get. The last few years I have spent zero dollars on my birth control. This is thanks to the Affordable Care Act (seriously, thank you Obama, you are the best), something the Republicans are desperately trying to repeal as we speak. Under the ACA, I get my birth control pills for free! I also, if I choose to, could get an IUD inserted at no cost to me. But I’m not sure how long that will remain an option. Because of my anxiety about whether or not to get one, I’ve hesitated. And now I’m worried it’s too late. If I got one next month, would I still be able to afford it? And if not, what will I do? There will certainly be a cost if I remain on birth control pills. Should I just do that? What if they try to take that away too? What if I can’t afford it at all? Why is this even a thing that I’m wasting valuable worrying space in my brain on?

Ignoring the mounting political chaos, from what I’ve read and what I’ve spoken to my health care providers about, there are a lot of benefits to getting an IUD. So many women sing its praises: shorter or no periods and super duper effective at preventing pregnancy (even better than pills). You set it and forget it. Wham, bam, no more cell phone alarms! I’ve heard the insertion process can be very painful, but it varies from woman to woman and the right cocktail of painkillers and anti-anxiety medication might ease that. Many, many of the stories I’ve read are women saying how much they love their IUD.

But the possible negative things I’ve read about are TRULY HORRIFYING. It could perforate the wall of your uterus and end up in your stomach and you’d have to have SURGERY TO GET IT REMOVED. It could fuse with your uterus and you’d have to have SURGERY TO GET IT REMOVED. These are very rare occurrences (about 1 in 1ooo women). That’s 0.001%. It’s very unlikely, but it does happen. And the accounts I’ve read are harrowing enough to give me pause. Also it’s very effective at preventing pregnancy but only if it remains in place. From what I understand, if it falls out of position (which is possible), you could get pregnant, so proper maintenance is key. There’s also a risk of ectopic pregnancies (i.e., when a fertilized egg stays in the fallopian tube and not your uterus) and that could potentially kill you. Again, this is highly unlikely, but POSSIBLE. I’ve read some women don’t like the hormonal ones (it made them ill or worsened their acne) and some women don’t like the copper one (it made their life a nonstop Carrie). The possible cons are very real and very scary, but also fairly unlikely (or so I keep hearing).

I’m not sure what to do. Currently, I’m looking at the Mirena, which is the 5 year hormonal option. I’m pretty scared about all the possible risks and am very afraid it will hurt horribly, but the benefits are pretty amazing so long as I’m not the 1 in 1000 women. The one thing I am certain about is that I want to make sure I have access to adequate and affordable birth control options. I take birth control not only because I want to prevent pregnancy but also because I suffered for years from difficult and extremely painful periods, something I really do not want to go back to. So currently I have a bunch of leaflets from my gynecologist and an open invitation to make an appointment, if I so choose. And I need to choose, soon.

I’d love to hear your stories and any advice you might be able to offer. Feel free to comment or shoot me a message!


So this is the new year…

The new year is always kind of a letdown. It’s new! But everything feels the same. This year in particular I am wary, bordering on hopeless. I want many, many things. I make lists. I’ve started a bullet journal. I plan for a future that seems to be getting farther and farther away from my reach.

I find it difficult to speak eloquently about the issues facing our country and our world. Who am I? Just one citizen, armed with a New York Times subscription and a liberal Facebook echo chamber. I’ve been doing my best to educate and inform myself, but everything moves so quickly. I feel vastly unqualified.

The political situation in the United States has been a test of my compassion. I read about people who may lose their health care and people who still remain uninsured. I read about hate crimes. I read about fear. I read about women fighting for their rights, our rights. I read about the danger to our climate and environment. Everywhere around us there are vipers, dangers close at hand. Since the election’s close, I’ve felt a constant state of crisis. It’s paralyzing. It might sound insincere, but I worry about everyone. These stories tug at my heart and cause a tightness in my chest. I’m just concerned and I don’t know what to do with those feelings without letting them swallow me up. It’s difficult to see the people on the other side of the aisle complexly when I can’t understand why they’d want to pass legislation that would do so much harm. Why can’t they see? Am I missing something? Is it me? It’s tempting to just unplug and retreat.

But that’s not really an option now, is it?

I have publicly announced my One Word for 2017 to be “Fight.” This term has many applications. Personally, I want to fight for myself and my desires: my career, ambitions, and future. This means prioritizing myself, even when it feels like it isn’t the right thing to do. I have a tendency to accumulate projects, specifically other people’s projects. I am a pretty good manager. I like to help other people get things done. I take a great sense of pride and accomplishment in that work and dedicate myself fully to what I do. But I want to have something that is mine, where the stakes feel higher, and where I care so very deeply because it’s mine. This might mean having to say no to certain projects, which isn’t something I’m good at. I hate feeling like I’m letting people down.

There are projects I’d like to complete and work I’d like to do, if I just gave myself time and permission to do so.

I want to fight for this country, whatever that entails and whatever I can contribute. I know I come from a more privileged position than some people. I hope I can use whatever influence I might have, even if it is very small, to guide this country in a better direction, even if that means calling Congress every week or marching up and down all the streets of Boston in the cold or just saying something when I see an injustice.

Today I was sitting at my desk, listening to Michelle Obama speak publically for the last time as First Lady. As I listened, I wept, silently wiping away my tears. What a gift the Obamas have been these last eight years. I came into my adulthood just as President Obama was first elected. I want to be strong and hopeful. I don’t want to be afraid. But I am. It’s so hard not to be when it feels like so much is at stake, when I fear for myself and millions of strangers. In the face of so much unknown, we will just have to keep trying: be vigilant and wait and see where we can be useful and what we can accomplish.