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.

Best Ever

Best Ever

Have you ever had a moment of realization and growth that you felt really good about suddenly turn around and kick you in your face? I have. Just this past week. There I was, fresh off my last post about not being afraid to let go of things because even if it’s the best you’ve ever had, it’s not the best that God can do and then 17 minutes later I’m crying because I have just written one of the best lines ever and I don’t want to give it away.

For a year now I’ve been working with an up and coming artist on his debut album. It’s a project that started out small and no-budget, but has grown and now has some pretty serious steam and momentum behind it. I started the gig as a favor and didn’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about the future of it, but dammit… this kid has got the goods. And he’s gonna make it. And my writing is part of that. And overall, working on this album has been a great experience. Within every song there have been moments of inspiration and frustration and some point where I hated everything about it and wanted to quit. And then just past that… somehow… it would all come together. And we’d be on to the next one.

And it’s not my album, but there are obviously pieces of me all throughout it. And there are moments and lines that I really love in each song, but there have only been three times when the writing has actually moved me to tears. And for two of those times, it wasn’t the brilliance of my lyrics as much as how they stepped right on something I was feeling at the moment. But the third one… I thought “Wow. This is a really good lyric.” And I got really sad at the thought of giving it away.

Because what if I never write something that good for myself? What if I’ve peaked and it was all for someone else? So for a good 24 hours, I had to do some soul-searching. Because it’s easy for me to let go of places and things, I know money comes and money goes, but what about what I really have to give? My gifts and my talents, my words and creativity — what do I do with this urge to hold back, to be selfish, to keep the best for someday for myself?

Well, I wish I could say I heard the voice of God say “Don’t be silly! Of course you haven’t peaked!” but I didn’t. If I heard anything it was just the question being thrown back at me “So what if you have?” What if the greatest work I ever do and the best contributions I ever make are on behalf of other people… would that really be the worst thing?

Honestly… Yes. Because God’s not done with me and I am still extremely selfish. But also… No. The worst thing would actually be to hold back today’s creativity and then spend too many tomorrows trying to shoehorn it in somewhere it never belonged.

So I let the lyric go. I gave it away. And now, looking back with the added wisdom and experience of approximately 6 days, it’s actually laughable to me what a legitimate struggle that was. I still think the lyric is amazing, but as I was working on some lyric ideas for one of my shows yesterday, I could feel the old magic lurking and I knew, I know that I’m only scratching the surface of what’s possible. Because God doesn’t compartmentalize generosity – He’ll honor any area we choose to live with an open hand in.

So I’m really grateful for this album project. For many reasons. But mostly for how much it’s stretching me. And teaching me. And reminding me that experiencing that Ephesians 3:20 better-than-you-can-ask-or-imagine means having to let go of whatever I could ask or imagine and probably thought was the best thing ever.

Because **spoiler alert**: it gets better.

That Wasn’t So Bad

That Wasn’t So Bad

Have you ever looked at a picture of yourself and thought “Oh. That wasn’t so bad.” It happens to me a lot. Is that weird? It is, isn’t it? Because it sounds like I spend a lot of time looking at pictures of myself. But I don’t. I’m just saying that when I do see a picture of myself, I usually look better than I remember thinking I looked at the time. Usually. There are some pictures out there that exist for the sole purpose of keeping me humble. And keeping my haters justified.  But for the most part, looking back reminds me how skewed my current perception probably is.

Because I tend to obsess over the negatives. As part of my goal to launch a theatre company this year, I recently held a reading/listening party for a new show I wrote. And afterwards, a few different friends asked me how it went and if I was happy with it. And I had to answer honestly that no, I wasn’t. But I was never going to be. Because I never am. Because nothing is ever perfect and I am always going to fixate on what went wrong. During the first half of the reading, I was absolutely convinced that at least 80% of the audience was going to come up with excuses to leave at intermission. I was braced for it. And then it didn’t happen. They stayed. And afterwards, their questions and comments seemed to indicate that they didn’t hate it. And I didn’t hate it either… after two days of relentlessly picking it apart and putting it back together in my head. The reading was on Saturday evening and on Tuesday morning I made peace with it. And I’m pretty proud of that. Because that was record time for me.

But I want to get even faster in 2017. Faster to forgive. Faster NOT to forget. And faster to look back.

  • Faster to forgive. Not just others but myself. 
    “The only people who never fail are those who never try.” I’m not gonna like it, but I hope I rack up a record number of mistakes in 2017. Not maliciously, just meanwhile. In my attempts to move forward. And when I do, I hope I’m as fast to forgive myself as I would be to forgive a friend who I knew was doing their best to do their best.
  • Faster NOT to forget. To not let the bad block out the good.
    I lost two friendships in 2016. I mean cut out, radio silence, won’t-like-my-instagram-posts-anymore (#passiveInstaggression) lost.  And because there were no conversations and attempts at contact were rebuffed, the only reasons I can find in retracing our steps are so petty, that they’re almost award-worthy. (With the award being a no-expense paid trip to the nearest White Castle. Enjoy.) But I was shook. I found myself getting paranoid and waiting for my other two friendships to fall apart. Except… I don’t have two other friendships. I can’t tell you off the top of my head how many friendships I didn’t lose in 2016 because I haven’t been obsessing about those.**  But I should have been. I should be. When I’m losing things, I need to be faster not to forget all that I still have.
  • Faster to look back. And appreciate now for what it really is.
    I started re-watching “The Office” in December. So for a few weeks it was my constant background noise. And when it got to the last episode I was blown away by this Andy Bernard quote that I had forgotten: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” However faulty and flawed and far from the mark I am at this moment, I’m closer to where I’m headed than I’ve ever been. And when I look back on me three years ago, five years ago, ten years ago and I look back on the things I thought I’d never get over, the answers I didn’t have, the ways out that I couldn’t see… I have so much grace and so much gratefulness for those previous (dumber) versions of me and what I know now because of them. And I’d like to get better at looking back on these days while I’m still in them. And at giving myself grace and the space to learn what I don’t know yet.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting bolder or just getting older, but I feel like I’m getting over myself. I’m not necessarily worrying less about what other people think, I’m just not letting that worry have the final word. Because we’re going to fail. We’re going to fall. We’re going to lose things. And our lives are probably always going to look awkward to us as they’re unfolding in the moment. But someday, with some perspective, we’ll probably realize “Oh. That wasn’t so bad.


** I fully realize and acknowledge that not everybody is going to like me all the time. And fully realize and acknowledge any number of people have legitimate reasons not to. Yourself included, probably. So if you’re reading this and you are still my friend, you are a true Christian and da real MVP. And I promise it’ll be worth it someday.