Me Too

Me Too

“Me too.” Just two words and I waffled over whether to post them for over 24 hours. Not because I didn’t meet the qualifications, but because I felt that I barely met them. On a scale of 1 to 10, harassment to assault, (which should probably be more like a scale or 8 to 10 because it’s all incredibly damaging) I was entry level, at best. And what right did I have to equate myself with women have borne the full brunt of what misogyny can do? Because yes, I have laughed off uncomfortable commentary, I have invoked non-existent boyfriends/fiancés/husbands to escape the advances/offers of men who cannot grasp the concept of an unclaimed woman, I have changed subway cars to avoid being alone with both too many men and too few, and although I never feel particularly unsafe in New York City, I am I never not aware that I need to be very aware of where I am and who’s around me at all times. Because to be caught slipping, is to be caught. Which can almost sound like victim blaming, I know, until you realize that this walk we’re trying to navigate is paved with ice and littered with banana peels and marbles. We are all slipping. All the time. It can’t be helped. The odds are just not in our favor. And the devastating truth is that for me to have lived this long with no major violation is not normal. I have lived an exceptionally lucky life to be able to say that nothing has ever happened to me. So how dare I post, “Me too” when nothing has ever happened to me.

Except… and then I remembered.

I was 20 when my parents divorced and my mom, sister and I moved into a house a few blocks from my grandma. My sister and I brought our bedroom furniture in the move, but my mom left all hers behind, so since she didn’t have a bed, she slept in my room in my bed and I slept on the couch in the den. No problem, no big deal. Until that early early morning when I woke up and felt someone standing over me. I don’t remember what time it was, but it was still dark and all I could see was the outline of a family friend. Someone who had known me since I was child and had been staying with us for a few weeks, sleeping on an air mattress in our living room. But now he was standing over me. And then kneeling next to me. And then jacking off. And I was just laying there. Frozen. Pretending to still be asleep while trying to filter through and regulate so many thoughts… what is he doing here he thinks I’m asleep should I scream I have to still be asleep I don’t know how to scream I’m not breathing I have to breathe so I can scream but it might just make him mad he’s not hurting me stop breathing so hard you’re supposed to be asleep heart slow down he’s gonna hear you and know I’m not asleep and if he knows I’m not asleep breathe don’t breathe scream don’t scream just wait just pray just God please please God please… and then I heard a door open. And I could hear my mom moving down the hall. He heard it too and laid down on the floor. And we were both frozen. Both waiting. Listening. But she didn’t come all the way down the hall, she had just gotten up to use the bathroom. We both listened as the toilet flushed, the bathroom door opened and my mom’s footsteps started retreating back down the hall. She wasn’t coming to save me. So I had to make a break for it. With him still lying on the floor, I sat up, threw myself over the back of the couch and ran down the hall. My mom was just climbing back into bed when I burst into the room, shut the door behind me and collapsed against it, “He… I was… and then he… he…”

He didn’t hurt me. So nothing has ever happened to me. I even remember thinking at the time, “Wow. It took twenty years for something that kind of bad to happen to me… and it wasn’t that bad. I’m so lucky.” And I still am. So damn lucky. That that is the worst thing misogyny has done to me.

Except it’s not. The actual worst thing misogyny has done to me is to make me feel legitimately lucky to have moved through this life relatively unmolested. Because it’s all relative. So fucking relative that not having been physically sexually harmed by a man is not the expectation, but the exception. There is something wrong when I consider myself extremely lucky, fortunate, blessed to have made it safely thus far; when the disrespect, denigration and devaluing of women is so commonplace, so usual, so expected and so extreme, that my experience doesn’t even rate to me. Because I know what’s out there and what’s happening to women everyday. Everywhere. In every industry. And so I know I have a lot of nerve posting “Me too,” when all things considered, nothing has ever really happened to me.

The Cracks

The Cracks

I dropped my phone the other day. Facedown. On the hard, hard floor of Target. So I was zero percent surprised to pick it up and see an array of cracks branching across my formerly unblemished screen. “What luck.” I thought to myself. “What a f*cking curse.” Bonus points to anyone who knows what that quote is actually from because it really wasn’t that serious. In fact, I don’t think my screen is cracked at all. See, I have one of those protective privacy screens that makes it hard for people to see what I’m up to and is supposed to make it hard for gravity and hard surfaces to triumph, so I’m pretty sure the damage is only protective screen deep. But at the same time, I still haven’t removed the screen protector to find out for sure, for sure. Not yet. I’m pacing myself. Because God knows I’ve discovered more than enough cracks in other things lately. Myself included… myself mostly. But it ain’t all bad.

I posted that snippet on instagram two weeks ago, but I wrote it three years ago. A fact one of my friends found hard to believe in light of some of the drama that has been unfolding in and around me in recent times, but it’s true. All this new drama is actually nothing new. It’s just bigger and better. Because so am I. (And so are you!) I remember feeling really deeply about what actually inspired those words three years ago and now, I just find it all deeply amusing. And fast forward three years… I know I’ll probably feel the same about everything swirling around me right now. (Assuming we survive y’alls president. Yeesh.) Because a lot changes in three years.

For example: I started this blog three years ago. And I did really good with it for a good amount of time, but this year… it has been a struggle. Because my struggle with singleness has changed. As a writer, I never want to pretend, I don’t want to try to guess how someone is feeling or (even worse) tell them how they should feel, so anything I’ve written here has always come from the perspective of: This is what’s happening, this is how I feel about it right now and this is what I’m hoping against hope will prove to be true in the end. And the end is still out there, still unwritten, still unknown, but I feel like I’ve said just about all I have to say.

Just about.

I think I’ve got ten more in me. And the reason I think that is because I have decided to write ten more posts and then add “SingularShe” to the list of chapters I closed in 2017. Because I’ve got other work to do and if I’m honest… I have used this blog as a distraction and a shield more than I should have.  It gave me an audience and instant gratification in so many moments when I should have buckled down and done the hard work on the books, the scripts and the scores that have been waiting to see the light of day for years. In some ways, this blog had become a protective screen.

But it’s cracked now. And when so many of my fears about singleness were (and are) actually fears about legacy, my name and what my life will actually be remembered for once it’s all said and done, I realize that I have a lot of work to do. And no more time to waste. Especially when so many of the direct hits I have taken lately have been aimed specifically… some might even say strategically… at my legacy, my name and what (if anything) I’ll be remembered for.

So it ain’t over till it’s over; and it ain’t over yet, but it is wrapping up. Because if I learned anything from dropping my phone (and I probably didn’t), it’s how much my phone means to me. Because (#humblebrag) I drop and/or knock over plenty of things in an average week and none of them come close to recreating the “Dear God have mercy on me!” feeling that an iPhone freefall inspires.  Because few things are as valuable, not just monetarily (shoutout to Verizon and the money they take monthly) but personally – my phone is full of information and memories and conversations, my phone, like my writing is full of me and who I am and what matters to me. And it would be a tragedy to lose that.

Because if everything in the world has taught us anything lately, it’s that anything could happen tomorrow and nothing is guaranteed. And I know that seems like a real dark whomp-whomp kind of thought, but it doesn’t have to be – because it’s also true in the opposite direction: phenomenal things can happen and we can defy all the odds. Those NOs and rejections and denials we’re so afraid to face are not guaranteed. But in trying to protect ourselves from possible hurt, we too often insulate ourselves from great possibilities. But no more. It’s October. The perfect time to be audacious. (#AudaciousOctober)

So let’s take some risks. Let’s start some things… and end some things… let’s think about what we’re keeping protected and why… and what we want to leave behind when it’s all said and done… and let’s get cracking.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

– Leonard Cohen –

7.5

7.5

This time last week, I had no idea where I would be living today. My sublet was ending on Friday and I had known that for over a month and had been searching for the next place for just as long but… nothing. Nothing had come together. So I had booked a mover with only half helpful information – a pick up address with the drop off location still TBD. Awkward. So awkward. And frustrating. And annoying.  AKA: So very New York. And I’m not gonna lie – it was hard. Emotionally more than anything else. Moves are usually stressful due to finances, but thanks to my job, my side hustles and tax season, money wasn’t even an issue. What was a very real issue was the feeling of not just being uprooted, but feeling completely un-rooted. And being stuck in this cycle of not really belonging anywhere. Or to anyone.

Moving in New York is nothing new to me. I just did the math and since arriving 90 months ago (in October of 2009), I have moved 12 times. That’s an average of once every 7.5 months. Can you imagine that? At some point every year (twice in the really good ones!) packing up everything you own and moving it someplace else. It is exactly as fun as it sounds. And absolutely exhausting. And I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I moved on Friday night and by Sunday evening, I had every box unpacked. “Seriously?!” One of my friends was shocked (and I imagine, mad impressed.) “It took me 6 months to get to the last box!” Which isn’t unusual at all, but the way my vagrancy is set up, I just can’t afford to wait 6 months to unpack a box I’ll be repacking in 7. So if there’s something I can leave boxed up for 6 months, it’s something that I can leave behind. And I do. Not just when I move, but in day-to-day life, I’ve gotten really good at realizing that things are just things. And letting go of them. Because it’s all just stuff. And whether it’s something I bought or something that was given to me – if I got it once, I can get it again. Bad days and general annoyances aside, my life is on an incline, it’s getting bigger, better, stronger all the time. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not where I was and to be afraid to let go of something because it’s the best I’ve ever had and “what if I never get it again??” is to be afraid that this is as good as it gets and that God has done all He can. But I know that isn’t true.

And that’s what I had to remind myself of in the moments when I just wanted to walk away from everything. Those moments when everything about the situation was screaming how much I didn’t matter, didn’t belong and didn’t have anything to show for all the years here. And honestly… there were some moments when if a door had opened someplace far far away, I would have thrown my cat in his carrier and run through it. But NOTHING was opening up. Except in Brooklyn. And I never got that desperate.

Ask anyone who knows me how I feel about Brooklyn and they’ll probably tell you I hate it. In fact, you can ask around and even people who don’t really know me can probably tell you two things: I love cats and I hate Brooklyn.  They are well-worn facts from the folktales oft told about Jani The Cat. But are they true facts? Well… they are like Lifetime movies: based on real events, but exaggerated for entertainment value. I don’t have any real issue with Brooklyn. I just don’t have any use for it. I feel about Brooklyn exactly the same way I feel about the artwork on the wall across from my desk at work – it’s there but who cares? And what most people don’t know is that once upon a time, I almost moved to Brooklyn. I actually got selected in one of those housing lotteries and was thisclose to moving into a brand new building in the Crown Heights area when the subject of pets came up at the lease signing. And being the crazy cat lady that (anyone can tell you) I am, I had to turn down the keys to that brand-new-elevator-with-laundry-in-the-basement apartment.

But because we had already gone through all the paperwork the management office asked if we might be interested in living in another other building they had. In Washington Heights. And that was how I ended up living (and loving!) uptown. Which is where I ended up building a connect group. And building friendships. And a life. And I know it’s different for everyone, but for me… I just have a conviction that uptown is where I’m supposed to be. So even with the clock running out and the possibility of being homeless skyrocketing, I would see ad after ad featuring open spots in Brooklyn, and I never even considered it. And no one ever suggested it. Not seriously.

Which is crazy, right??

You’re literally days away from have NOWHERE  TO LIVE and you won’t even consider putting your crazy conviction aside.  Well… I’m also on the edge of NEVER MAKING IT, but still can’t quiet this conviction to keep writing. And I’m definitely within spitting distance of being SINGLE FOREVER but still can’t shake the conviction that there is someone great for me.

So this move, was a different test of faith from the million before it. It was a trial by fire of believing a particular area is where you’re supposed to be and waiting, against all reason, for a door to open. And you know what? A door did open. This time a week ago. I set up an appointment to go view a room that had just popped up on Gypsy housing. It was a little more than I wanted to pay for another roommate situation, but the pictures looked pretty nice and desperate times, right? So I went. And I met the new potential roommate. And I thought, “Yeah, okay. This could be good.” And I was pretty sure that it was going to work out, but I didn’t want to say anything until the sublease was signed and the deposit was in. And that didn’t happen until Thursday evening. So I didn’t know for sure for sure until the day before I was moving.

And it wasn’t until the day after I moved that it hit me what an amazing door I had walked through. In the borough/area I love. In the best building/apartment I have lived in so far. Cat-friendly. With an elevator. Laundry in the basement. In a spacious bedroom. With two windows. And two amazing views of the Hudson River, GWB and New Jersey.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…

It is an Ephesians 3:20 kind of situation through and through. And it’s a new touchstone to remind me (and hopefully a testimony to encourage you) that you’re right where you’re supposed to be AND right about where you’re supposed to be. And what is for you, is for you and the clock may be ticking, but it’s actually on your side because it’s counting down to the open door that is just for you.

(And yes: 7.5 months from now, this sublet will be over and I’ll be moving on again, but I’ve already decided that I’ll be buying. And I’m already looking forward to seeing what “better than I can ask or imagine” is going to look like in that situation/process.)