Conversational Free Speech

I have never been one to subscribe to the #tbt trend. Most items of note from my past that are truly “throwback” would probably involve several less inches in height and my at-the-time-on-trend Sally Jesse Raphael glasses. I’ll leave such pictures to my parents, whom post aplenty. But the other day, when discussing the merits of Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate, I had a visceral flashback. Wait, I thought, I’ve had this conversation before.  Could a woman be trusted with the highest office? Does she look like a President? Is she qualified? While I maintain everyone’s right to their own political opinion, I was gobsmacked (not being hyperbolic here) that EIGHT YEARS and a Secretary of State post later, the question of resume could still come into play.

Aside from pondering the regressions of women in politics, there was another “flashback” of sorts I had during this exchange. CosmoGirl! My first major-publisher freelance (emphasis on the free) gig. I was eighteen and did my own make-up, hair, script, and unfortunately for my calves the next few days, my own stunts.

The next chance I got, I was on the computer frantically Googling–I wasn’t yet sure if the existence of these captured moments of a youthful ideologue was a testament to my conscientious spirit, or an embarrassing remnant from a girl who thought the world was wonderful.

That internet search only resulted in broken links to a now defunct site, and my worries were forgotten. Until today. Until in a wine-fueled cleaning spree (a weird combination, I know), I found a sharpie-labeled CD. Holding this somewhat foreign piece of technology (none of the laptops in my household have a CD-rom drive), I felt like a girl who just found a VHS tape labeled “dance recital”…come to think of it, I have those too.

With a mix of curiosity and dread, I fired up the desktop and held my breath. And it wasn’t too bad. She looked, and sounded, like a sketch of who I am now. The main features were all there, but a little off. Her lines were smooth, rounded. She hadn’t become jagged with time, age, or disappointment. It was like looking at a kaleidoscope under water, distorted in a beautifully complex way. And I mourned that girl.

That girl believed in possibilities. She hadn’t yet experienced sexual harassment, or workplace misogyny. She truly invested in her community, hopeful for the possibilities of hard work and innovative compromise. She hadn’t been told no when the answer should have been yes. She had never heard that she couldn’t do something because, you know, women can’t do that.

Loss is a process. It’s difficult, and messy, and it hurts. Loss of self is heartbreaking. Not the that-relationship-didn’t-work-0ut heartbreak. Not an I-didn’t-get-the-job heartbreak. Loss of self stops you in tracks that you are no longer sure belong to you.

This video made me laugh, and tear up, and then laugh some more. Sometimes, you just need to see life through your eighteen-year-old eyes. It’s a beautiful view.

 

 

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Ring Them Bells

bell

When you tend to write about your real life, you are constantly asking yourself the question, “is that too real?” Deciding what to share is a daily battle between a proud, authentic self, and a calculated and logical side that is always looking out for the future.

The conversation goes a little something like this:

Immediate Term: “Is this something I can say out loud?”

Short Term: “Do I want my mom to read this?” (because she will read it)

Longer Term: “Do I want my kids to one day read this?”

Longest Term: “Should this be my legacy?”

Now, I’ll be the first to admit, that is a lot of pressure to put on a singular piece about a past heartbreak or a current obsession. But it doesn’t matter. Each personal essay, or think piece, or yes, even listical, leaves me momentarily drained. I am not able to write without feeling. I cannot turn in a piece that I just feel “eh” about. Maybe if I could, I’d be more productive.

I know this about me. But that’s not it.  That’s not why I think and re-think before hitting that “Publish” button. The thing is, you can’t un-ring that bell. Once it out there, it’s like a middle-school nickname or a scar from that time you fell out of the tree you weren’t supposed to be climbing. It will always.be.there.

If writing is a catharsis, then this line of thinking is in direct opposition of that aim. How can a massage be relaxing if at the same time you’re furiously typing away on your iPhone? Yet in this cultural moment, it’s hard to unplug when technology feels like our lifeline. Apps add convenience to every day drudgery, but we perceive it as necessary. How did the Pilgrims live?!?

How do we prevent living online from killing our life? Bravery is a choice.

 

(Image Via Verdin )