Sunday, June 18, 2017

It's All Your Fault, Dad: Thinking of You on Father's Day

As always, this is voice text due to problems with pain. Therefore, forgive the crappy grammar. Also, forgive anything else I can blame on it, pleasenthanks. Difficult to edit this way.

I used to blame my parents for a lot of things. Right now, for Father's Day, I want to talk about the things I blame my dad for.

(Pause for mom and dad to say, oh lord, here we go)
This is all positive.  No worries, Mom and Dad. Look, see? I even put a happy photo here!

   I'm the one smiling. Had to point it out since you can't tell which one of us is a boy.

Little girls swam without shirts in the 1980s, at least back on Buffalo Creek, we did. Anyway, I'm an "old spinster." Yep. I'm almost 40 and never married. While I know the more higher education a woman has the more likely she is to remain single, (oooh, I got a bunch and I') I now realize that isn't the entire reason I turned down all my 456,987 marriage proposals.

Wrong. Just 3. (but who keeps track). I'm so funneh! To me. Mostly to me.

I used to wonder exactly why I never settled down, wondered why every guy disappointed me in the end. Was I choosing bad guys because my parents weren't good enough? Because they screwed me up in the head how all parents screw up their children?

Like all young people who have spent 5 minutes in therapy, in my early 20s, I happily learned to blame my dad for my choosing to go out with "the wrong" guys. Mom was, of course, to blame for everything else. EVERYTHING. You're welcome, Mom.

Also, every. thing.

My parents aren't perfect, duh, so I thought, of course anything shitty I've done is completely their fault! Man, makes growing up to be kind of not perfect way easier to accept, huh, if it isn't your fault, right?

Now that I'm an adult, er, at least on paper, I realize I never settled down for very long because I grew up with this particular image of what men should be. It's kind of unrealistic. Mostly. It's mostly unrealistic.

How does a person meet anyone who could ever measure up to her idea of what a man should be if she has been raised around only the highest quality men? Imperfect men. Flawed, of course, like all of us. But good men. Men with honor and purpose. Dignity. Smarts. Men made of durable and quality fabric--the men in my family certainly are made of just that. Not just my dad, but my cousins, uncles, and my brother. Now, I also have an honorable, high-quality man-in-the-making teenage nephew. Good men raise good men, apparently. 

I have another post I haven't yet finished about my extended family. Stay tuned. But I digress...

I've always cared so much about Dad's opinion. He may not know this, especially after all the yelling and blaming and shit he's had to put up from me my entire life. AND I'm an author, so I'm really, really good with words.

You're welcome, Dad.

Kids grow up and do that to their parents, blame them. I'm sure it wasn't in the "What the Expect When Expecting" book. Pffft! Wait a second, I was born in 1978, nobody read manuals like that back then. It was sort of learn-as-you-go style of parenting.

                            Monsters, lady. You can expect little monsters...

How I still have brains in my head after all the helmet and seatbelt-less activities I did as a girl, I'll NEVER know.

Back to my point. Dad. I didn't realize how great my dad was until I hit maybe 30. Maybe I was immature until then (riiight, as if that's changed much). Maybe that was normal. Or maybe I'm dull because of all the aforementioned helmet-less stuff. I was a badass on roller skates...

....outdoors. On asphalt. On dirt. Downhill.

Ok, maybe he wasn't THAT responsible of a dad. (I'm kidding. Mostly)

Dad was always respected by everyone. Still is. ANYBODY with any sense who knows Dad cares about his opinion because he's a stellar person, a rarity these days, especially in my state of West Virginia where SO many have fallen into drugs and deadbeat fathers are in abundance. The fact that my dad is a successful businessman and has been a strong leader in the community, is very impressive considering he was a camp kid raised up a holler in the hills of West Virginia. (like his daughter)

Coming from where we were raised, becoming someone so intelligent with so many talents is VERY difficult. Urban children in decent urban areas had (and have) advantages people from my creek could never dream of. But here he is, a successful businessman, self-taught craftsman, and a natural leader. Smart as a tack, too. He doesn't lose his temper, even faced with a complete idiot who can't hold his tongue. Which is more than I can claim about myself. Ask the last idiot I ran into. (wheeee!) Again, I'm joking. (mostly)

His word is completely his bond. He is responsible and dependable. He's honest. He became all of these things even being raised in a coal camp, a neighborhood of four-room houses (many with no plumbing). Getting soda or a new toy was a major treat when he was a kid, never mind having more than one coat or pair of shoes, never mind having lots of books.

Dad was kind of a bad ass. Look at him standing around with some of my uncles. They were all badasses. (Ok, they thought so least in this picture they appear to have thought so)

                         Dad is pictured here in the sweater vest

My God, that is a sweater vest. Well, nobody's perfect.

Dad was a coal miner for years. He had a wife and two children and managed to drive to classes at Marshall University in the meantime. Marshall is 2 1/2 hours away from our camp, I might add. He earned a BA and became an RN as well. He would serve as a beloved union leader throughout my childhood and later go into business for himself with help only from my mom.

Without many advantages, he became successful and a good person, even while people with all the advantages in the world turn out amounting to shit. He can hold his own in conversation with the most educated and he can get along with just about anybody else, too. He isn't quick to judge, something I'm still trying to master. 

Dad always did what he had to do in life to care for his family but he sought his dreams, too, in spite of whatever obstacles. I will never forget when I was a kid and I found 100 books in the attic all about building and plumbing and wiring a home, and some blueprints. The list of things he has taught himself is long. If he wanted to know how to do it, he learned. You can kind of see where my high standards come from. I was raised thinking men should be like all the ones in my family. I expected a lot. 

When a healthy man complains about working 8 hours because he doesn't think he gets paid enough for sitting in an air-conditioned environment typing on a computer, (aaand his job is a 10 minute drive and adjacent to Starbucks), I'm not really sympathetic. When a talented, healthy, intelligent man won't get off his ass and make his dreams come true but bellyaches about oppression or how hard his pampered life is, I'm not sympathetic. When a man isn't honest when no one is looking, he has no integrity and integrity is what matters to me. If a man won't stand up for his family or community, he has no honor. And dependability. A man has to have that.

In college, I always knew that if something went wrong that Mom couldn't help with, I could call Dad. I did. Well, because, most of my life, there was nobody as dependable as my dad.

I call and ask about car trouble, apartment trouble, job trouble, health trouble, people trouble… come to think of it, almost everything kind of trouble. And I've seen my brother becoming the kind of man his family calls, too.

Me and my brother Johnny, learned from him that any problem can be solved by making a plan and there's almost always a solution to every problem, but if the crap situation is the one time out of 1 million problems to which there is no solution, we are strong enough to tolerate whatever, because we come from good, strong men. People have complimented me my entire life about my strength. It was gifted me.

My curse of having high standards began young. If Dad was disappointed in us, it was the WORST thing in the world. Dreaded words: "I'm really disappointed in you, kids."

                         Boooo. Can't Mom just whip me instead?

He was a man of few words, and so when he said anything you really paid attention.  I grew up in an old coal company owned neighborhood we still refer to as a "camp" although the mines no longer own it. We were all called "camp kids." Anyway, the camp kids cared if they disappointed Dad, too.

I remember when one kid stole some fishing gear and Dad gave him a good talking to. That boy had tearful eyes after. He was a "little shit" as people on Buffalo Creek called kids who were constantly in trouble. (Ok, sometimes we all got called that) This specific little shit did not care at all what his mother said or what the teachers at school did but was bothered deeply by Dad calmly expressing his disappointment.  I saw that kid's face after he talked with Dad and it was the only time I ever felt sorry for that brat. Ever. 

Being an adult whose dad is highly respected in his community and family gives you high standards for the people around you, gives you higher standards for yourself. But being a 10 year old who sees her dad respected by even the meanest of "meaner'n snakes" camp boys was probably where my impossible standards were truly born.

Then, dear Lord, Mom just had to come from a family of nothing but honorable men who  also raise honorable children. Talk about making dating difficult for me, y'all. Gawd.

But I'm glad I never settled. For one, living alone most of my life gave me lots of time to write and accomplish things that mean the world to me, like spending lots of time undermining my brother's authority with his three children who I love dearly (I don't really undermine him...much) and writing, also singing and doing a million other things that have been amazing and fulfilling (and some things that turned out to be worthwhile mistakes).

Thanks to my extremely high standards, I've had LOTS of free time to not get married and thusly, figure out who I am and to figure out how to care for others, to nurture children that aren't even mine who needed me at different times in their lives (I don't just mean family). Etc. etc.

If you ask my partner, the one who finally suits, who finally measures up (almost all the time) he'll tell you I tried to run him off for quite a while because I was SURE he HAD to be full of crap. (Re: too good to me to be true)

But he won, finally, after much trouble. Poor guy, bless his heart.

It only took dating boys since I was 15 until 38 years old to find this unicorn of a person (but that's another essay, too)

I finally have some good friends in my life, too. Good, high-quality folks. Three children who aren't mine but who I'm grateful I had all this time for.

And finally, after all these years of being completely mistaken, I am correct in saying, I'm a really happy person and Dad, it's all your fault.

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Love, your youngest, whom y'all still refer to as, 


Monday, June 12, 2017

Nipples Don't Need Freed: Women and Girls Do

(First, ain't nobody got perfect grammar in here, specifically people who have to use their voice to write blogposts on their Iphones. So, get over it Grammar Psycho)

On the "Free the Nipple" march. 

I have some free unsolicited (you're welcome) advice- instead of marching and/or gathering to "free the nipple" (you're gonna see some boobs if you attend) out of some misguided idea that walking around with your boobs hanging out while demanding people not sexualize your boobs (thinking it will end sexual assault or somehow make people look at your boobs as a non-sexual body part,) go DO something actually constructive with your time. 

Women and girls need you. 

Your nipples are fine. Sorry. I didn't mean "fiiiine", I meant they're not under some kind of threat just by being covered by your shirt.

Why, instead of helping their local community in a Real Way, are "feminists" standing around with a bunch of like minds congratulating themselves for being so creative in coming up with yet another non-issue to "tackle"? I will tell you why. Because today's fighters for equal rights are out of touch with Real Work for the highest good of all. And they don't really want to do the Work, even if they are old enough to know what that work is.

Unlike back in the day of sane feminist leaders, "feminism" today (I don't use that word no mo') isn't focused on making martial rape illegal or earning us the right to vote or getting us into college for an education equal to that of men or giving us the legal right to sue a boss who says he'll fire you if you don't screw him. 

Those were Real Issues. That shit was worth fighting for and our grandmamas and our mamas did just that. They fought hard and won, handed us a bright torch and we..... 

...stayed home from work one day to make a point. (Which po' women can't do) Put on pink "pussy hats." (Which just keep your head warm) Stood around with signs. (Which. Yeah; he's still president) We even put Ashley Judd on a stage and let her spit her righteous indignation at women and men who already rabidly agree with her. 

We wear ALL the t-shirts. We got ALL the cool bumper stickers. (Don't forget your jacket button!) and we got refrigerator magnets with cool quotes from famous women. but now? Now, we are really working hard! We are coming to a street near you and showing our tits to end the sexualization of tits. 

Um. *scratches head* Huh?

Way to go, new generation.

*slow clap*

Today "feminism" is sexy. It's trendy. It's very, very WHITE, middle-class-self-serving soft-core feminism, a feel-good "movement" where we don't move shit but our OWN emotions. These events make us FEEL like we are changing lives of women and girls by sitting out on work that day or marching with our tits hanging out. 

It's exciting. I get it. Carrying signs and wearing hats and letting your boobs hang out can be exciting and feel really in your face.

Sorry about the pun. It just came.....OUT.

Ha! (Oh, laws a mighty somebody stop me)

While you are walking through the street with your boobs hanging out, there are kids (mostly girls) being sexually molested by their family members. We have too few CPS workers and the ones we do have are far overburdened and so kids don't get rescued. But to solve this weeeee.....what do we do? We walk by their houses with our boobs out. These kids live on every street. Our self-serving parades help them NADA. 

How about instead of protesting the illegality of showing your nipples, an "issue" only privileged women give a shit about, why not go raise money for a domestic violence shelter or donate items? Maybe go volunteer at a rape crisis center? Hell, BUILD a rape crisis center. Go become a CPS worker. Start a program for School teachers that will help them recognize children who are being abused at home and put in place a protocol for teachers to follow if they have suspicions? Come up with an idea for a law to help assault victims and suggest it to your legislators. Maybe tackle the problem of insensitivity to victims of rape in the judicial system and even hospitals. Start a program for at-risk kids who need extra help at school. AND, start that program in the BIGGEST SHIT hole neighborhood you can find. Many of these ideas are already in place. Sometimes they aren't as refined as they need to be. Often, they aren't perfected. Go help make the work mama and grandmama did more perfect. Go do NEW work, too.

Maybe go write a book like bell hooks or start a magazine like Gloria Steinem. Maybe do something, anything TANGIBLE to lend a hand to women and girls affected by REAL issues. Hell, you can even write a bitchy Blogpost like this one, urging women to ACT now to help underprivileged women and girls get a better education, to ACT to help end sexual violence in homes and at school. Maybe you can convince your school district to offer a sex ed for boys (and girls!) where teachers talk about rape. Maybe "normalizing" (y'all's word) talking about sexual assault will offer Real Results? 

And while you're at it, accept the fact that other people will always sexualize other people. Men and women. Gay and straight. Trans or not. It's a thing. In every culture. And just because it's a thing and boobs are parts that men (and women) really like, does not make it inherently bad or sexist. It makes us sexual creatures looking for visual aids. 

I NEVER imagined I would, 20 years after beginning my involvement in equal rights, be looking at the very people whose ideas I used to support and shaking my head because their ideas are useless, impractical, and completely ridiculous. I never thought I would be embarrassed because the Real Movement our mamas and grandmamas started would be turned into this parade of self-aggrandizement by my misguided, undereducated generation. Sigh.

The advice part?

Take that pink "pussy hat" off, put your tits away, put the sign down, and go buy 25 boxes of tampons for the domestic violence shelter, while you're at it, drop off a coat for a homeless woman. Buy her some coffee.

They sleep all over the city.

The nipples ain't what needs freed. WE are.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Dear Reckless Driver Barbie

Dear (unhinged) Reckless Driver Barbie: You may remember me. I may or may not be the only person you nearly hit with your car last week. (This is in West Virginia, in case you're one of those traveling acts)

But I'm the one you nearly hit with your two tons of steel, then cussed until a fly wouldn't light on her. (As we say down in southern WV) Well, you need to sit down and listen to a gown-up before you hurt your traffic-law-ignorant, big-mouth, bullet-proof self. Listen here.

After you failed to yield and I slammed the brakes to avoid your hitting me, you rolled down your window and went on a pretty spectacular tirade. I tried to gently respond to you so you'd calm down. Never escalate Crazy is my rule. Treat Crazy like Sane and you may come away without bullet holes, I always say. Who knows if Reckless Driver Barbie is packin', right? Accessories sold separately but still, you never know. First lesson, stupid young'n, cussing a stranger is serious danger. 

You don't know it but you're LUCKY I'm who you nearly hit. Me? I'm the person who picks moths out of mud holes so they don't drown. I can think of half a dozen psycho hillbilly bullies I grew up with would've been tickled to have an excuse to drown YOU in a mud hole had you cussed them. HORRIBLE  things could've resulted from your ridiculous behavior had I been the type who carries a weapon and goes around looking for a fight. You can't act that way. You're going to get killed or best case scenario, get your ass beat.

I didn't even yell at you, though you deserved it. How did I keep my cool?

Second lesson. Calm the F down by thinking about someone besides yourself. I was getting angry. Really angry. I was in a lot of physical pain that day, (a solid 8). So, to stay cool, which is what smart people who like to keep out of trouble do, I told myself, maybe you were having too bad a day to be kind. Maybe your mother just died and you were leaving the nearby hospital. Maybe you just found out your child has cancer. Maybe your fiancé was killed. Maybe you're actually a good person having a momentary lapse in judgment because your life is riddled with unsolvable problems right now. (Those exist) We all have lapses. (And some unsolvable problems) It's a rule. Being wrong sometimes is also a rule.

Lesson three. Do NOT presume you are correct. All of us are wrong sometimes.

For example, I am not a "stupid fucking bitch" and you DID have to yield to me. I even went home and googled, double-checking traffic laws to make 100% sure I was correct (and I am). There ain't no way to learn a damn thing in this world if you never consider the possibility you're wrong. (Even when you know you're right)

You looked like one of my Freshman students, so you're getting the student treatment. I wanted to talk to you and teach you these lessons. (I can't help it. It's a problem) But you were too loud to hear me. I feel sorry for your boyfriend if he ever pisses you off. 

He's probably the poor guy in your passenger seat. Bless his probably at the-end-of-his-rope little heart. I hope he corrected your knowledge of intersections so you don't do similarly in the future. I hope he took time (before he dumped you) to teach you the first two lessons, too.

Also, if he forgot to suggest it--join a metal band. Seriously. 

Your voice reached such decibels that I'm sure every elementary school kid within a ten-block radius now not only knows the words "fuck" and "bitch" but can put them in a sentence. Effectively. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Thank You Letter: On Being Loved Although I Am "Green"

Dear Family & Friends,
This song below is about "being green."  And this post is a thank you to those who love me anyway. Remember the song from Sesame Street when we were kids? "It's not easy being green"? When I heard it as a kid, I learned being different was Ok. Thank goodness I learned that early. Because, turns out, I would grow greener with age. Ha. And everybody in school would notice. Which at the time, I thought was a bad thing. Who knew people would love me anyway once I grew up?

This post isn't about that entirely. This post is a thank you to those who love my greenness then and still do. This post is a big thanks to those family and friends who helped me survive this past year. I had a very tough time this last year. Health problems, surgeries, slips in my recovery from drinking, and a couple (unnecessary and embarrassing) romantic disappointments. Health issues of family members worried me a good deal, too. I've survived one insane, abusive neighbor. I lost a child in need who'd befriended me when he was (appropriately) taken by CPS for his betterment, to a place with food, water, and electricity. It was a good development in his sad life, but broke my heart to see him go. I still can't look at fruit cups or string cheese without tearing up. I also lost my precious Nosy, my beautiful rescue street cat, who sat on my lap and purred through every inch of pain.

Fuck 2016, for the most part. Plus, it got Prince. What the hell.
This is even for my very new friends who would talk to me briefly, often late at night. You didn't know anything was even wrong. But your conversation about your new shoes, you grandmother or your jokes, those helped me sleep that night, or make that doctor's appointment in the morning (after I'd lost my will to keep trying to get better). You helped me show up the next day for another painful procedure. And most of you didn't even know I was in Hell.
This list of who helped and how is endless. And endless. (and also, endless) This thank you is for all those who helped me survive through ways big and small, phone calls, texts, brief visits, for all the people who randomly checked on me, and for those who consistently invited me places they KNEW I'd cancel going (but invited me anyway because they knew it felt good to be invited), for those who listened to me cry, those who constantly said they love me, those who asked "what the doctor say today?" (after the 50th doctor), those who sat beside me saying nothing when I just needed another presence in the room, those who helped me fetch things I needed to feel better (the phone, water, heating pads, blankets, the TV remote, Jell-O)

This is for all of you. And who thought I would have anyone who would care at all? Me being "green" and all that? That's the most amazing part, people loved and love me, enough to hold me up every now and then in the best way they know how, even if just a small way. I'm grateful for it all now. When, honestly, before, the alone feelings almost engulfed me. But now, I realize I wasn't alone. It was just the illness that made me feel that way. I had people.

Some crappy things went down very recently, too. But I've had some support. (Again) Today, I'm thinking about all my family & friends who love me for my separateness, my unique, my eccentric, who love me FOR (not despite) my weird, my clumsy, my sometimes oversensitive, my intense, my sometimes awkward, my hyper, my often inconveniently spontaneous invites  to things 2 hours away or things happening RIGHT THEN (ha), my big, loud laugh, all my differentness.
I ain't got many friends I see or hear from often, but the ones I got love me for my being GREEN. And I know my family has always got my back and accept me for who I am. For example, my friends and family don't mind my unapologetic use of Appalachian dialect straight out of southern West Virginia (in writing and speech) even though I have two graduate degrees in English and writing.

Thank y'all a million times for your support. And if I can do something for you, please let me know. That is a REAL offer, not just something I say.
Here's to spring, exciting beginnings, rebirth, growing things in the dirt and in the heart, bravely! Here's to sun, long days, warm nights, hooting owls, and wild singing crickets, and more crickets, and green, green frogs calling to each other (and us?) just outside our doors. I love y'all to the summer moon and back. I can't wait to see what becomes of my new friendships and who will come to love me for my green-ness in the coming year and who I will embrace in return for theirs, too. Happy spring, friends! 🌈🌞
Even after all this darkness, today, maybe not tomorrow, but today I am as grateful as a frog in spring. And I am loved even though I am my own odd shade of GREEN.

Peace & Blessings,

I won't name my specific friends and family because you already know who you are. Thank you from the bottom of my green heart.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Why I'm No Longer a Feminist: Move the Talk to The Real

(Sorry for the crazy spacing. I suck at blogger, honestly. And for the grammar/spelling because I'm lazy)

And Let's Begin...

No more "F" word label for Andi. (feminist) I'm not a feminist anymore. I'm going to borrow an idea from a poet I know named Crystal Good who recently said, "I'm not a feminist. I'm an Appalachian woman. We never take the day off."

I like that better. Yeah.

I'm not a feminist. I am just Andi. I'm a hillbilly. I'm a writer. For now.  I don't want to talk about fake corporate feminism (which is the focus of the article I'm responding to). I'm more concerned with a more pressing problem- Fake Individual feminism. I've been annoyed with this the last few weeks. Boy, oh boy, am I glad to find a good example of it so I can better articulate. Someone decided to write an article dogging the "fearless girl" statue, pictured here:

God isn't that awful! Just a travesty to feminists everywhere! (sarcasm)

The author outraged at this statue sparked my thought which is useful I suppose, to get people thinking, but primarily, articles such as hers, promote worthless discussion and anger among groups activists need to persuade AND among activists themselves. Gawd, don't piss me off. Get us all excited and passionate!

She didn't. So, Imma try here.

This piece is me doing my tiny part to change the conversation. To change what we are doing to help women and girls in the US and abroad. No. Wait. Lemme revise.
Actually, I would like to stop the conversation entirely-the ones about statues,  word-choices, labels, television commercials, Beyonce's clothing, which group within groups suffer the most oppression, overcompensating for your own privilege, what we should be most angry at, and about what--

instead of talking about all THAT shit, I want to turn the Talk toward the Real. The Real, aka, shit that matters to real women and real girls.

First read this piece that is entirely worthless, both a perfect example of outrage culture and a great example of why many people who activists NEED as allies, can't stand the "F" word (feminism). This article is why so many people do not listen to you, my awesome women activists.

Because what she writes about here is SO common, focusing on the petty!

Click here to waste your life:

Why The Fearless Girl Statue Sucks (not the actual title but basically)

Her point is that a corporation who doesn't employ many women has put up a statue encouraging the bravery of women and how that is hypocritical. Sure. It is. But is that shocking? Not to me. Is it horrifying? To her. (she must not see much horrifying shit)

But maybe she is horrified. However, the piece she wrote will give her LOTS of readership since outrage culture is so popular right now and so is Fake Individual Feminism. (I just made that term up. You're welcome)

As we said as kids, well, no shit Sherlock. Of COURSE companies that do stuff like this often do it for personal gain. Lots of people exploit causes for personal gain, even people who claim to be feminists do it to get readers, fame, money, etc. (See what I did there? Yeah ya did)

Many people have good intentions and do a poor job of helping, which is forgivable. I know I did at age 19. I was wrong about many, many things as I feebly tried to help women and girls. I'm sure I'm still wrong quite often. (A few times today, no doubt) But man, I know I'm right on the money this time when I say, this bullshit writing has to stop.

It divides, alienates, and pisses people "outside" of the cause off. but not in a light-a-fire-under-your-ass-to-help women and girls sort of way, just a if-this-is-inequality-this-is-total-bullshit-and-I'm-shutting-down kind of way.

Let's not be mad at Fearless Girl statues or the companies that implement Fake Corporate feminism to get ahead. Their hypocrisy matters not. It's what the look of the statue represents that people enjoy. Of course companies have been jumping on the bandwagon of the popularity of "feminism" for well over a decade.

Anybody have a chart documenting the rise of how companies manipulate the new "feminism" to sell stuff? Somebody, do your PhD dissertation on commercials that appeal to feel-good activism and Fake Individual Feminism! Maybe someone has already.

I'm sure someone out there has a comprehensive list of hit songs about "empowerment" and "body-acceptance" like "All About that Bass"  (er, I mean, skinny-shaming songs like that All About that Bass. Yeah, it goes both ways, dickheads)

ANYWAY, my point is, what this company did is not at all new. Unlike this smartass article of hers that annoys people who need to care about issues of women and girls, this statue actually hurts no one and inspires people who view it even if the company is hypocritical. I'm not saying this statue will change the world drastically but is it really that horrifying? Is it that offensive?

Oh, everything is offensive nowadays, isn't it. Because we have the luxury to be. (or some of us do) But really, we all do compared to other nations, not that this reduces the importance of suffering here.

Bad things are happening to women here. Sexism is real. But we don't talk about The Real. We're pissed off about statues. But inequality is real. And women and girls NEED the rest of our people to take notice. How can they when my voice, your voice, our voices, are drowned out by garbage about statues? By outrage culture?

Shit that Matters (moving to The Real)

We sit around, privileged as fuck, arguing about semantics and statues and bullshit that doesn't matter while crimes against women like rape in the military, in psychiatric facilities, on-campus, and on reservations is especially rampant, poverty and homelessness among domestic violence victims and women in general is SO high, lack of quality education and social resources for girls and women from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds is SO common etc. etc. etc. Women are being murdered, three a day, from  domestic violence. 20,000 people called  domestic violence hotlines a day. 20 people are physically abused every minute in the US and most of these are women. Half of all rapes are by someone the woman knows and half of all those are by spouses. And let's not forget oppression of women globally, women being buried alive because they were raped, honor killings, genital mutilation, sex trafficking. ALL of this is happening.

But people are writing articles tearing down something as minuscule as a statue. And a statue that inspires people to boot! Privilege at its finest.
And women online are wasting their time and space in their heads thinking and talking about this crap instead of thinking about The Real. Nooooooooo.

I'm not sorry you are offended by a statute. I am not sorry I don't adopt the right labels for your comfort. I'm not sorry I can sit down and talk rationally with the very people who deny equality is even an issue. I'm not sorry I think parades in this country in this time period are worthless. I'm not sorry I hate words like "intersectional feminism" or all the categories of feminism. (categories PERIOD, in fact) I think pro-anybody who wants to fight for justice category will work for me. (I’m not putting that much thought into this part. It’s useless to me)


I am very sorry there is a woman working two  minimum wage jobs right now who has minimal reading, math, and verbal skills because of where she was educated. I'm sorry  psychologically she is at a major disadvantage due to witnessing her father beating her mother as a child  and she was raised in a community where there were no resources for her. I'm sorry about the difficulty of her life. I am sorry for what she cannot contribute to her community or pass on to her children because of her disadvantages. And I'm sorry for how much of this has to do with her being a woman.

I am sorry to her because we sit around talking about statues instead of children whose futures are dark because they are living exactly how she did as a child.

I'm sorry for all the shit I went through as a girl and still experience to this day, too. I'm sorry for the uphill climb life is for all girls, the ones I love included.

No more F word for Andi.

Fake Individual feminism has taken over. But then like I said before, I'm retiring from activism. OK, I may still run my mouth on my blog. maybe. This decision is still up in the air.

But for right now, I want to stop the conversation about noting and turn the talk to The Real.

On Skipping the Women's March (and retiring)

My Last Act of Resistance: This Advice For Privileged Feminists: I'm retiring from activism but first I need to point out what I think is wrong with white feminism. I want to do one more resistant act – and this is it. To offer advice and get some shit off my chest about white feminists. And feel-good activism.

I started my feeble attempts to try to change the world for the better when I was 19 years old. And I've done a little good. Tiny actual, tangible good. Almost 20 years later, I'm stopping for my own sanity. Which is my choice.

Meetings with financially stable white women standing around talking about white guilt and wearing T-shirts and holding signs because they have time and privilege to do so has finally grated my nerves for the last time.

These women go to their meetings and make themselves feel good while a poor woman is unable to afford a babysitter. she walks to work at the dollar store and has to leave her kid with her drunk boyfriend. These women stand around at meetings while women of all races are being beaten and murdered every day, three a day in fact, it's just getting old, listening to these white women stand around discussing shit that doesn't matter. Small details. Arguing over semantics on Facebook. Arguing over what Beyoncé wears.

An example of privileged feminists engaging in feel good activism – "A day without women" it's supposed to be a strike. I don't agree with this protest. It actually gets on my nerves. It implies that our value as women lies in our ability to show up for a job. How was walking out of your position somehow a protest? What about the women who can't afford to walk out of work? This is a strike for women who are privileged. It excludes low income women, unemployed women, single mothers, stay at home moms, disabled women. Etc. I see some protests and I understand why my conservative friends disagree with them. And what exactly will change the day after this protest?

Then there is the overcompensation for white guilt that is useless. Some vegan white chick told me if you are a black woman you have it worse than anyone. She doesn't shave her pits, that makes you empowered apparently. Not shaving. But she can afford razors so that's a choice. Is it empowering to make a choice you can afford to make. How about White women who like to dress as "whores" who think it is empowering to do that although some other women (of many shades) don't have that choice and HAVE to walk the street as actual whores, because maybe they grew up in an effed up home and can't read and didn't have any privileges at all. How does choosing something other women can't and celebrating it make you empowered.

Yeah, so vegan chick told me black women have it worse than anybody. "If you're black you might as well not live. if you are a black woman you might as well give up. We have to fight for them."
She knew a lot. She knew statistics. She knew their history of suffering from books. But who is she to sit around and talk about that in this manner, to me. How weird and uncomfortable that was. And how I thought if I was a black woman would I fantasize about slapping the martyr complex out of her mouth? I'm not sure but I did as a woman with very white skin and privilege like hers. OK well, maybe not just like hers because I'm broke. And she gets paid as a teacher to teach little black kids how to change their community. That shit makes me uncomfortable too. I think probably some of them don't have enough to eat like the poor white kids on that side of town that came to my house for food. They got bigger shit to worry about than Learning community activism in the third grade.
Feel-good activism, the awareness races in their T-shirts and meetings are annoying as hell. I went through those phases which is ok as long as you grow past it and sometimes I want to March, too. But things changed after I got older.

And I learned more about Real suffering, about real oppression, about classism and racism and sexism in ways I never imagined when I lived in a shit neighborhood and had problems that were major, including rats and an abusive (of me) male neighbor, and children who weren't being fed in the neighborhood. Finding needles in my flower bed. People shooting up in the parking lot.
People trying to get into my kitchen windows 3 AM. Men harassing me on my way to my car. I would like to add here that all of these crazy people were white. I would also like to add none of this shit is new to me. But all at once kind of is.

But no one helped. Absolutely no one helped. I asked everybody I can think of – even the mayors office. Friends in government. The building inspectors. The cops. The humane officer's. Thank God I was able to move. Finally, the planning department did do things after I moved (after I emailed the director and raised 8 shades of hell). Because the employees ignored me before. Basically.
Daily, I think about the women in that shit neighborhood who cannot move. The ones who have to live with rats. I couldn't sleep at night for nightmares about these damn things – as big as cats.
I couldn't sleep because I was so Afraid I would see another rat because I heard them daily. I couldn't sleep for fear my window would get broken in by my drug addict neighbors, fear my psycho neighbor who kept a stool outside my window would finally crawl his fat ass through. (But I kept stuff in front of the window. My dresser)

This crap is awesome for existing PTSD by the way.

I couldn't sleep for listening to the animal he abused. I still think about the women who cannot get out of that hole. And then I think of the white ladies at their little meetings with their little T-shirts talking about black women and poor women and what they're going to do and how none of it makes a damn difference to the women's stuck in the holes with the rats. I think about the white vegan chick who doesn't shave her pits (driving a Prius helps guilt) telling me how bad black women have it. and how this too was about her guilt. Her useless self-serving guilt.

If you are living in a decent neighborhood, and you can afford a T-shirt, and you can afford the gas to go to a meeting… do something better. Start an organization that actually makes real tangible changes. Doesn't just win votes for people and make vegans who don't shave feel good about themselves so they have the energy to walk into a classroom and tell little children how to change their community. You know, the dirty and hungry kids who can't concentrate.
Do you want to March?

March your white ass down to the dollar store and if you see her walking, give her a ride home.
Start a fund to give local women money for babysitters. Better yet, put money in a damn envelope and slide it under her door when nobody's around. Don't film and put it on YouTube either. Leave groceries or clothes for someone who needs them. And do it anonymously.
Give some shit to the local domestic violence shelter. Give them tampons, socks, blankets, whatever the hell they say they need.

Put up a little libraries in a shit community. Which I was going to until I realized my neighbor would tear it down like he did all the other anything I put outside. Or he would pee on it how he peed on my porch. Spit his tobacco on it. How he did my car.

Go set up a tent in the middle of the shit neighborhood and talk to people about how to get into college. How to get their GED. Give them information. Give them a list of rehabs. Write something about the causes and put it on the Internet or pass it out. Aggravate the shit out of your lawmakers. Just do something besides go to meetings and wear T-shirts.

I ain't doing nothing else. I'm going to get this book of women's writing published. I'm going to write a blog post about a bill needs passing. And I'm going to help women individually when they need it.
This post is my last resistant act.

Thank you for listening and letting me share. March ladies. March. Some of us are just too tired.
Andi has left the building.

Do Some Shit: Why Did I Write This Again?

I got friends disagreeing with the "Day Without Women March" and they are getting whooped half to death online just for not walking IN line. "A day without women." Good idea. I reckon. A day off? A strike? That's neat and all. And visible and loud. Gives me the feely- feels too, to see women out doing stuff that feels neat.

Thing is though, the abused and dying and impoverished women and girls cannot take a day off from their shit lives. Take all the days off you want. Post about it on Facebook.

While you do all that and feel really good about it--women are dying from domestic violence , (3 a day in the US alone), trafficked for sex, tortured and killed in "honor" killings, living on the streets, going without health insurance, falling through cracks as little girls and growing UP (down?) to smoke crack and hook on the streets, being sexually assaulted, (and watching her rapist continue to lead the debate team on campus) etc. etc. etc.

Do some Real shit. Not Neat shit. Not self-serving Feel-good shit or arguing over speeches at award shows shit, what Beyonce said shit or who has it the worst shit. (Trans. Straight. Gay. Black or poor or white or red or southern or northern)

You can do other shit! Not necessarily loud or in the street shit. (We already done they shit) Not wearing some hat bullshit. Not standing around hollering in the street shit. No holding signs or hands or.... That time has passed already shit because the world knows we are here, but who is scared of a loudmouth? A pack of angry dogs with bark and no bite? (Nobody)

Don't argue about what you can't say. Or think. Don't holler at people who already (or will learn to) hate your ass. BUT-

There's legislation you can come up with or help pass. Assholes in congress you can meet and hold accountable. Shelters and crisis centers that need your donations and volunteer work. Etc. etc. Women online who could really use a great website on domestic violence. Posting cute shit on Facebook about "Happy Women's Day!" Will not cause fewer women to die by acid or fire or hammers or fists or guns.

It will not shelter homeless women or their kids. It will not put a bottle in a baby's mouth. It will not teach so and so walking the street how to read. It will not get little girls off drugs. (And IN the classroom) Taking the day off work is NOT similar to sitting in the front of the bus. It will NOT end violence or poverty.

Pink hats and rousing speeches by stars will NOT untie the hands of law enforcement who WOULD arrest your stalker if only better laws were on the books. Signs about rape will NOT end rape or hold rapists accountable. Glass ceilings will not be shattered by yelling. (Or singing for that matter)

You don't need an organization. You don't need a leader. You don't need instructions. You don't need signs. You don't have to be in races. You don't have to have T-shirts. You need yourself. Your brain. Your muscles. Your ideas. Your specific gifts and talents whatever those are. Get out of the March, away from the herd, out of the sheep, walk down the street and go do, do, do. Stop expending energy pissing people off who hate you already and go slay.