Wednesday, May 31, 2017

I feel like the internet is not really working.

I left a Facebook group today UK Playwrights Forum. I left with a flourish of grey that usually I condemn as flouncing.

I think on-line communities are immutably tribal or narcissistic and I'm worried about it. This whole internet thing isn't a very good forum for speech. This is what happened:  I write plays and before that I was a lawyer. The process of becoming a lawyer involved large amounts of socializing, time spent learning the profession by observing others in the profession and not only what the others did,  what kind of people they were.

I didn't really do this after my first play Baby Love Time, I wrote plays by myself. I thought until today that I could use more socialization. I used to have a wonderful time in the 00s: there was an active and diligently-managed playwright's forum on People disagreed and argued, but 90% of the posts and discussions were about helping each other in the immediate and difficult challenge of writing a play.

So I joined UK Playwrights Forum to find that support and that socialization. I made two posts. The first was from a Canadian theatre company giving advice on being your own dramaturg. That was met with a storm of criticism where self-righteous, insecure dramaturgs belittled the uselessness of the exercise of being your own dramaturg. So that was fun. It ended with dueling production credits.

I drew back, noticed that most of the posts were boring self-promotion but then recently got a FB memory of an article begging actors to scour scripts for clues about their characters and to memorize the script on the page. I posted it. Cue outrage from people who say that this is the job of the director.

It was the nasty orthodoxy and the insecurity in the subtext of the comments that annoyed me far more than the actual comments themselves. It really showed people trying to prove their worth as a playwright by denigrating the observations made by others. It was that simple and that sad.  Free speech is really shrinking all over. What is replacing it is this shrill orthodoxy. I see it in politics, I saw it on the FB group I left, I see it horribly taking shape on University campuses. The shrill orthodoxy is grounded in insecurity and fear. Such are our times. The internet does not disperse this insecurity and fear, it fosters it.

Playwrights of all people should know that in the end there is only this moment and a person is speaking to a person, a person with a rich backstory probably beyond your imagination, a person with conflicts and challenges that may well exceed your own. If you are only shouting them down, think how much you miss out on. This is why playwrighting I unfortunately concluded recently does involve being kindhearted as well as honest. To others and to yourself. So off to another place.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Enchilada Reading of the Treason Play

 So I decided I was going to run this reading the way that I wanted to run the reading. Seventeen years of being a playwright and a lawyer have led me to conclude that law as a profession really rewards fundamental mistrust of every person, but being an artist requires finding true connections with people and being a playwright requires being very self-aware. So all this stuff has to go down about love and trust. Ack! A playwright has to be self-aware about her unconscious motivations and constantly seeking to remedy her own blindnesses.  That process of bearing knowledge of your own weakness requires love and support, of yourself and of others.  So you must give love and support. Francesca Reid, who was my beloved Joan, Lady of Wales in the reading said it last night over enchiladas: I am a professional human being.

So one thing I have noticed is that my core brain doesn't really distinguish between religions, sovereigns and corporations. I went to church the same way I went to court the same way I go to the theatre now. Looking for truth. Now I write plays and I look for the truth of human relationships and it's good, actually, I think, that I have a lot of models for getting at the truth - the Christian years, the lawyer years, the corporate years, the expat experience. The model I have now involves me staying calm. This requires alcohol and good Mexican food. I don't trust people to make good Mexican food in the Uk so I have to make it myself.

My experiences with Bill Clinton Hercules, Kerching and Wedding at Cana taught me that a reading with actors pushes a play forward in clear ways.  But it's dangerous to expose an early draft. It's not really dangerous beyond the dangerous and frightening feelings of vulnerability that accompany honesty. But that shit stings, so I opened the evening with guacamole and Prosecco and sincere thanks that the actors I had were good people, were kind people, and were shit-hot actors. The French accent that Nora Silk created for Isabella was mesmerizing, and the contrast between Rachel's Oxbridge enunciation and the troubled brogue of Joan's Welsh accent was heartbreaking (that was Francesca again).  Robert Fitzwalter, the baron, was played by Sam Donnelly. This guy is gorgeous and bearded and a synthesis of all that is good in Jude Law and Tom Hardy. I fear he will be a film star before this play gets a big production. And Guy Masterson was a revelation as Stephen Langton. You have to hand it to Masterson. He can really deliver an authoritative presence, even on an orange folding chair in my kitchen after chicken mole enchiladas.

My rules for the reading were that I had to have fun, I had to let myself have fun, I had to be the real me, and so we had it at my house so I could see my kids, and I invited my new friend Pippin who also is a Dartmouth medievalist and I invited this wonderful young director Richard McNally and he read the stage directions. My house was full of love and respect last night.

I basically ran the reading like a dinner party at my house with a reading tacked on to the end. The reading was a gift to me, the chance to hear the words and to know --in the several moments that my heart was singing --that I had written a line we could keep.

I used Dona Maria Mole base but it still took me forever to make the Mole sauce. But Mole is the best. It is good for establishing those true connections. True also for a decent guacamole and some quesadillas with loads of fresh jalapeno studding the melted cheddar. Enchilada Readings are definitely a new working model.

The flag below is the flag of St. Edmund. It was on St. Edmund's Day that the secret meeting to create the Magna Carta was held. Hidden in plain sight in the middle of a festival. A meeting attended at risk of execution for treason. A risk that was much, much higher for women. Anyway, spoiler alert, in the play the UK has already broken apart and Ireland has united and Scotland has left and so there's only Wales left, and England has decided to shower a little attention on her. In need of a new flag, a group arises who says St. George's flag is associated with violent racism, and so St. Edmund's flag should be adopted. Especially as the dragon is a nod to the Welsh.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

true story 1: the magic shop

George Street, St. Augustine, Florida, 2017. The inside was painted black with a tiny stage and hot despite two ceiling fans and two anemic portable air conditioners. We had bought the jumping lights, multiplying red sponges and a trick deck for my son when he was ten.  He is now thirteen; in the slanting light of adolescence, the dusk of his childhood. We found the magic shop again just a few weeks ago.

We went looking for it to buy a flaming wallet, a purchase my husband had forgone on our first visit - a choice he bitterly regretted.  He couldn't have been more eager to part with $70 when he found out they were still available. Unfortunately he got very good at the trick very quickly. It really turns into a fireball.

While we were paying for the wallet we spoke to the magician, mid thirties with puppy dog brown eyes. He remembered us from two years before. He had long hair then, and when he showed tricks to the customers he used the stage and he was fine. But lately he hadn't been fine. Suddenly he was telling us about not being fine and said that he always wanted to visit England but he was too scared to get on a plane, fear of flying and what could he do about that.

In an intensely American way at a magic shop he put his cards on the table, saying the truest desires of his heart, inspiring in the listening humans a similar unguarded heart.  He was doing something that -for British people- is much scarier than flying. He was exposing an unguarded heart.  He only had a few seconds with us at the till. The walls and traps we erect as protection are very time-consuming.  In Britain you have to talk about the weather for, well, fifteen years and counting.

I didn't really reply other than I couldn't keep my eyes off him.  He had got to the heart of the matter in fifteen seconds. I am older now and more careful in my advice. What the hell do I know anyway?  We did not give answers and my kids were already outside the store jonesing for ice cream so it was just me and R looking at him, but in my own slanting light I think maybe that is an answer, that all these stupid words are not at all the magic.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Being a Lake by Robert Wrigley

He has never dreamed of being a lake
in the high mountains, and now he wonders why.
Surely there could be no better, in the way
of dreamy aspirations to be clear and cold
ad swum through by trout. To allow the sunlight
far into your depths, to have depths no one
will ever visit. To be ceilinged by ice
and many feet of snow in winter, to shine pure blue
into the pure blue of the sky, to show the stars
the stars, to be drunk by wild animals
And to admit an occasional human,
who, because of the memory of having been there,
might dream of being there. Being there.
Not a visitor but a dreamer, dreaming
this very lake is what he's always wanted to be.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Love Khalid Masood.

So the Archbishop of Canterbury called the results of the terrorist attacks a “victory for what's right and good over what is evil, despairing and bad”.

It was part of an endless capitalisation of the drama of the lone man who killed four people. So swiftly has the British press become American!  But just like the Brits have the Black Friday sales without having Thanksgiving, here we have endless propaganda about how good and brave all the MPs and police are, without anyone really actually believing that our MPs and police are good and brave.  In the post-truth age, the press and the State shamelessly try to manufacture feelings of loyalty and an understanding of the State as good. Whose interests does it serve? Is it at all true? 

Can you see the racism, the imperialism, the self-congratulatory disgusting tone Welby's comment? How essentially non-Christian it is? We are who is right and good and the terrorist is who is evil and bad. That is the thinking of a Trump voter. That is the thinking of a Pharisee. There is one person Jesus would have tended to above all others on that bridge, and it wasn't the people that the Archbishop of Canterbury called 'right and good', it was a fifty-two year old man born Adrian Russell Aja in Kent who somehow became convinced that the activities of England in the Middle East were so unjust that the heroic thing to do was - well, in 1984 parlance, Eric Blair (George Orwell)-style, throw acid in the face of the child.  Strike out for freedom. 

The only job Christians have in this situation is to love Khalid Masood (the enemy) and try to understand why this happened. To pray for him. The Church of England is in a unique moral space. It is endorsing the sitting government. It has all those people in the House of Lords. Rarely do I feel more hopeless about the future of the world than when I see the Church being the reflexive yes-man for the status quo. I felt sick, really sick when I heard this quote at breakfast. . Jesus, it's like being in North Korea listening to the news. We are good and the enemy is bad. Listen to my tales of heroism by us, the good people, be so proud of us. Don't worry, the Prime Minister is ok. We know you love her very much. GAH. 

It used to be back in the day when people had backbone and principles and weren't run by money and corporations, it used to be that the church would be critical of the state. Even to the point of conspiring with the powerful to force justice. Now the church is trivial, weak, disappointing and of all the evil on show this week in London, Welby's comments are really competing hard for first place.  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Let It Glitter - reprint from 2012

This month is March Madness, and I ain't talking about basketball.  I have had sick children, husband, cats, it has been all about vomit and diarrhea and sleepless nights and with that deteriorates my mood and in the last few weeks I have fallen into a pit.  The only good thing I can say about it is that I am able to realize it is falling into a pit.  I know that intellectually but not viscerally.  Because when my mood descends, when the horror of every moment is all that makes itself known to me, I do not have the strength to imagine otherwise.  You suffer when you are bipolar, like I imagine you suffer with Alzheimer's or cancer.  I would venture to say that my personal mental configuration, when suicide looms as a wonderful alternative, the most seductive thing in the world, I would venture this configuration causes comparatively a lot of suffering.

And with it comes a drop in competencies, I don't eat as well, I don't exercise, I miss appointments, I forget things. And with it comes, at least it seems to me on this run, sort of a radical drop in the strength of my immune system.  This plummeting mood is hand in hand with garden variety viruses, but three of them in a row.  Owain and I have both had them and take turns being sick.

And work, well, the evidence of my life stands in stark contrast to the conventional wisdom that part-time work is never really that challenging for bright women.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha. 

So things have been stressed and sad, and there have been pale children and hundreds of wash cycles and scrubbed toilets, and there have been cancellations of big events that mattered to me and many evenings of exhausted collapse.  Things fall apart.  On Sunday I asked if Rhys could go through the McDonald's drive thru for dinner on Sunday.  It tasted so good.  There are hours of television, and me so short tempered and sad, but there are also good moments, good moments to explain to Owain about bipolar and why it is this and not him that is making me sad.  This is tough stuff, but, you know, he can handle it. And there are good times too when they really help out when I am fragile and they believe in their own ability to help and make a difference when they see it in my face.  Yesterday Liberty put her own diaper and pyjamas on and brushed her teeth by herself.  She is three.

She is very Joan Crawford at the moment.  She will put her hands on her hips and shake her finger at you with the most dramatic delivery, telling you exactly what you should not do and why.  But that same passion translates to everything, good things, what she plans to eat for lunch.  Just planning what we are going to eat for lunch can cause that girl shivers of delight.  She is painting a lot, and since Christmas has requested access to a glitter shaker we got for her birthday.  She puts some glitter on the paintings as accents.  But last week when she got her shaker, she shook every piece of it on to the floor.  I didn't see this. I was probably posting something bitter about the Olympics on Facebook.  Anyway, when I saw it I sighed and looked at my daughter ruefully and said I did not want to clean it up.

Hands on hips, finger in the air, "NO MOMMY!  NO MOMMY!  LET IT GLITTER"

I left it there in the rug, the little Chinese pugs glinting here and there, I left it and looked at it.  So I am letting it glitter, all the broken pieces of my life, all the parenting mistakes and shortcomings, all the tears streaming down cheeks and vomit reflecting in the toilet bowl, there it is, it is glittering, it is my life.  Letting it glitter is the best antidote, the best antidote to my personal mental configuration.  I am going to let it glitter. Then I remember that now I am typing away to my heart's content, and that the play will come, and Spring will come, and all I need do to honour this life is to let it glitter.

Friday, March 17, 2017

You are NOT IRISH and you will NOT BE WEARING GREEN (reprint from 2009)

My mother is Welsh and emigrated to the U.S. in the early sixties. To her, the Irish were the people who bombed innocent people in London, killed police and endangered a generation of children in Ireland. They were, essentially, terrorists. Lawless killers. Worse than that, they were the Celtic people who got all the good PR in the States.

The Irish have St. Patrick's Day, leprechauns, New York cop accents, Lucky Charms cereal, pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. What did the Welsh get? Nothing. We have a super cool flag with a dragon and promote leeks, which are very healthy, but no one really cares. In fact, "welsh" is kind of a depressing word. It means to be dishonourable and renege on a deal. (Welsh on a debt, for instance) I wrote a complaint letter to the Economist once: "Not to compare the plight of the Jews with the plight of the Welsh", I said, "but why are you saying the U.S. is "welshing" on foreign debt when you would never say the U.S. was "jewing down" interest rates on the debt?" It got nowhere. But I know I'm right.

I think the superior Irish PR has to be down to geographic distribution, right? The Welsh came to the U.S. and settled where there were mines, in rural Pennsylania. The Irish settled where there were gay parades, bar fights and police corruption, in Manhattan. O.k., I'm kidding, the Irish brought those things to Manhattan.
So I thought when I moved out of the States in 2001, I would be free of the whitewash job done by the red-headed midget in the green suit. I moved to London and a lot of Londoners have no time for St. Patrick's Day either. . .two sides to every story, you know, including the one between the IRA and the English, and no matter how you slice it a lot of bombs went off during the 70's and 80's in London thanks to the Greens (and a lot of those bombs were funded by passing the hat in bars in Manhattan).
But no such luck. My son's nursery was in Kilburn - they billed it as West Hampstead, but it was about 50 ft from Kilburn High Road, one of the most Irish parts of London. And I'll be goddamned if they didn't spend all of freaking March colouring little leprechauns and four-leaf clovers and rainbows and pots of gold - incredibly annoying. I had to do an intervention and give them Welsh flag dragon colouring sheets for St. David's Day. ( Much cooler than leprechauns) I also tried to do a mini-Eisteddfodd at my son's school - the Welsh singing festival (again, I know no one cares). I tried to scale it down for 3-year-olds. We ended up doing the chicken dance. The kids loved the chicken dance but now all the employees of Teddy's Nursery "West Hampstead" think that the Chicken Dance is Welsh. No - if you take one thing away from this blog, it's that the Welsh lay no claim to the chicken dance. 
So back to my Mom. She was pretty incredulous when even in the small town in Western New York where I grew up, we were told by our teachers to wear green on St. Patrick's Day. To her this was obscene. We were absolutely forbidden to wear green ("You are NOT IRISH") and in fact, lately my mother has admitted that she scoured our wardrobes and dressed us in orange, the colour of the Nationalists. I am sure no one in Corning knew the significance of her dressing her children in organge, but I imagine it gave her some grim satisfaction. In fact, bitter, silent denigration of other Celts may be the single most Welsh thing my mother did. Well, that and perpetual Welsh cakes.
I actually am pretty unclear what it means to be Welsh. When I was at Oxford in the 80's, my boyfriend at the time walked past Jesus College (the Welsh college on Turl Street) with me and remarked (before he knew my mother was Welsh) that all Welsh are short, hypochondriacs and liars. I think this was my working framework for quite a while.
So maybe I'm jealous of the Irish with their superior PR. I certainly am jealous of their playwrights. Martin McDonagh, Conor McPherson, Frank Guiness, Enda Walsh, Brian Friel. Holy shit, they really do write the best plays. I think it has something to do with them being warlike.
Which is why it is absolutely killing me to watch the American show Star Wars: The Clone Wars. This animated tv show chronicles the adventures of Anakin Skywalker, Princess Padme, R2D2, Yoda and Obi wan Kenobi during the clone wars. There are a load of new characters too and the accents are hilarious. The blustering stormtroopers lacking self-awareness? Australian accent. The female sith lord? French accent. Of course. And best of all, the pacifist racoon people who colonized a remote planet rather than take sides in the Clone Wars? IRISH! That kills me! To hear these racoon healers spout Buddhist/Swiss peace talk in a thick Irish brogue - I am on the floor. IRISH? Irish people take sides in a pinball game! Someone make George Lucas go see the Leiutenant of Inishmore. Having Irish pacifists is kind of like having Welsh life coaches. OK, I know no one understands that. Which I guess is the point of this blog.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

It is Margaret you mourn for

to a young child

by Gerard Manley Hopkins
MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older        5
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:        10
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Sing the Movie and Kimmel bringing the peasants into the Oscars Ceremony

The premise of Sing the Movie and Kimmel bringing the underclass in to gawk at the luminaries in the Dolby Theatre have something in common.

While these are sweet and light-hearted moments they show me that the chasm between the underclass and the super-rich is so very wide that to cross that chasm is inherently comedic, and only ever done at the whim of the super-rich.

In the movie Sing, the talented performers had no hope to achieve their dreams of their own accord. Their only hope was external to themselves, a third party, a third party of unimaginable wealth. Only when that third party was impressed were their dreams possible. It is the X-Factor sweep at the knees of the American dream - you do not make your own dreams come true. If you are fortunate, one of the ruling class will look on you with favour and then you will get the fame you want.

In the Oscars moment, which was handled with grace by Kimmel, the tourists on a bus thought they were viewing costumes at the Dolby and were ushered into the ceremony. The joke is in part the surprise, but it was the vast gulf between the tourists and the audience that was apparent to me. I loved how Kimmel threw a little mini-revolution making Theroux hand over his sunglasses but my heart died a little more because two assumptions underpin these contemporary cultural moments: (1) fame and wealth are the only dreams, and (2) it is not up to you, powerless underclass, to make these dreams come true, it is only the grace and favour of the elite.

We have even in the last ten years entrenched a class system this far. Our poor children!

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Siren Song of Donny Tinyhands

 So I marched and it was good.

 It does not make bearable the news.

 I watch my country fall to the darkness of serving money. I see the ultimate loyalty is to what we own and what is ours and what is not theirs. The House of Representatives worships an orange man with a golden palace. It is delicious for many to sink into the mindless slumber of unthinking support. I wonder where virtue has gone.

In me stirs a longing for sisterhood, for autonomy.  In me stirs the fire of revolution.

What began on January 21 was a movement, and now we must keep moving. It's World War Z and movement is life.

No one will invite you to be in this movement, maybe, except me.

What we need is not to fight what is, but to move toward a beautiful vision of what can be, to create a choice for justice that is real and compelling and takes power, that takes power by the force of its virtue.  We need to imagine a world where all are fed, and all have autonomy over their bodies and their lives. We need to imagine a world where the parasite of humanity has been taught to allow the host to thrive. Thrive. The gag order on the EPA chokes this vision, and silences us. Scares us.

Rise up. Not from fear but from your wisdom. Rise up for your children and your children's children.

The enemy to be defeated is not the Mexicans. It is not the Muslims. And further - there is no enemy. There are only the injustices before us.  Not even DT is the enemy.

The Siren Song of Donny Tinyhands will not be defeated by seeing him as the enemy.  He offers something to his followers. We must offer something more to ours.

The Siren Song of Donny Tinyhands will be defeated by composing a better song, and singing it, a fight song or a symphony - Mahler's 3rd maybe. A song of the earth, and of women, birds, dolphins, bees, slavery, refugees, drought, oppression, education, compassion, a song of justice and courts and wisdom, a song for humans dancing, touching and smiling. A song for this fragile earth, our island home.   A song to the humans of our past, a song to all our gods and angels. Let a song rise up that we can even dance to. The song will not include borders and sovereigns and corporations, derivative trades and shareholder returns. The song will not include multinational tech companies. It will not include Democrats and Republicans.

Even the tiniest strain of the song of justice and compassion, even a snippet, can unseat the primacy of the siren song of dictatorship.

First we need to hear it, and if we cannot hear it, we must compose it.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

What should my sign say?

What follows is a query from a woman with a broken heart.

Tonight I heard of the ludicrous confirmation hearings, and how our cabinet will have bought their positions for money or worse. Our government was run by people with a common ethic of public service and that era has now and truly ended.  The pigs live in the farmhouse now. And it's the logical end of where we have been headed, the hijack has been heading our way for a long time. As Bill Clinton Hercules admits, money is the most powerful god of all.  Money ate democracy.

We stand on the brink of the end of democracy. It is up to us to save it. It is up to you and me. The marches across the globe will be so powerful, I can feel it already, I know they will be, but they will be powerful like a play, it will be fleeting. By any god you believe in, by the moon and the stars and the fragile earth our island home, by the legacy of Jesus Christ and Superman and Thomas Payne and Danny Kaye and Nina Simone and all you and I hold dear, I swear on all sacred things that you cannot be done after the march.  We can't think for a moment our job is done. This is the recruitment meeting run by all of us trying to recruit all of us into bringing about a better world.  Or at least avoid handing over a complete cesspool to our children.

I don't mind much where we start, with the Greens or with the Women's Equality party, with Anonymous or local councils, or the courts, we can all pick a place. We don't live in the times of Martin Luther King, Jr. Getting beat up by the cops doesn't translate into any social gain. The 1% is too insulated now, too apart.  We have to win elections and court cases.

So the query to you is what should my sign say? I mean my old standby from Occupy, which became a personal mantra, is on the picture on this blog: Justice Is Possible. And the great thing is that I'm just some dork, but I am some dork who studied the philosophy of law, and has practiced law, and knows a few things here and there about the rule of law. So I like that slogan because we need hope.

But it is yesterday's news. I mean, I do feel such hope with the Women's Equality Party. I feel like by serendipity, they have walked into their time. I would be proud to hold their banner.  If you know me, you know my dreams and you know the dream of mine that I gave to Bill Clinton Hercules and you know that in my dream, one reluctant woman was key to everything, she was old and fat and uncomfortable but she knew what she had to do was sit there, and she pinned down all the paper things that bring us suffering: she pinned down the primacy of shareholder return, the bloated consumerist values of the West, she pinned down the endless growth that endlessly hurts the earth. She did it. She is us.  So how about: The Future is Feminine? Or a line I wrote into a play last night: Liberty and Justice are women?

All this self-referential stuff is really mostly for my own amusement. How can I inspire the resolution required for social change?  I have to admit - being so broken-hearted makes me prone to falling in love and I recently fell really in love with Hurwitz's score in La La Land. I really never thought that there would ever be a new swing score with the vibrancy and depth he has. I mean, it reminds me of Bernstein. Goddamn.

 A number of possible signs from La La Land:

Here's to our hearts that break
Here's to the mess we make

Here's to the rebels
And ripples in pebbles.

And what about the Christians? As always I wonder at the culture which gives people the overwhelming sense that everything is all right. Everything is not all right. Read the beatitudes and think of Trump and Brexit. Possible signs: Blessed are the merciful, Blessed are the peacemakers.  Paul was a tentmaker. Jesus would never grab someone by the pussy. That kind of stuff.

Then there is the fury that rises in me and I want to recruit for some stone cold treason. I want to be a threat- not with violence but with a very good plan. A legal plan. So I want people to be inspired to the extremes that I have felt since 2011. I mean, welcome to the march everyone, I've been here for a while and I have nothing but love and respect for you. You may find that this changes you. And you may find that the times change you, and change your life.  So Revolution! is one I am thinking about.  I like Love Not Hate and also love Bridges Not Walls.  I would love a tie-in with Thomas Paine and the American revolution.

I will bring my Anonymous mask.

Mostly I attend this march to demonstrate my broken heart. Dance a dirge in measured sneakered feet. Maybe that will be my sign. Just a broken heart emoji. Maybe that is all I can do now. I mean, I think we are all a little traumatized but what can I say? There is never a good time to get in there and fight. There is only now.  There is a fire to extinguish. We have got to turn this ship around. I know we can do it.  It's going to have to involve real people making personal sacrifices, but real people making personal sacrifices doesn't strike me as any good for a marketing slogan.

I keep thinking of that quote from Marianne Williamson. Any line from this is perfect:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Maybe I will do something simple. Let Your Own Light Shine. 

If Not Today, When? If not us, Who?  - That was on one side of one I carried at the Occupy Planning/NHS protest on Westminster Bridge. On the other side it said:

Governments Should Serve People, Not Banks. 

That one really does get to the heart of a lot of this (including Brexit, surprisingly, through the catering to capital.

My Daughter's Name Is Liberty. 

That one is good too.

Fiat Justitia Ruat Coelum: to those with a sharp eye, this Latin legal dictate was printed on the back of our Christmas cards. It means: Let justice be done, though the heavens be torn asunder.  That is a good one for our times, because it is ballsy and empowered.

What sign do you think?

Another one I was considering earlier this week: Screw You Consumerist War Pigs. 

Along with Love. 

I hope you will tweet to me at @rachelmariner all the pictures of your march and I hope you will tell me what your sign will say.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Why I'm Marching

So I'm going to this Women's March in London a week from Saturday. I knew from the second I heard about it that I would go. Come with me.

I'm feeling bad. In a post-truth world I don't know what to believe.

I don't know if the President Elect is a Russian spy. I don't know where even to get the news: the bias from all angles feels false. Feels hollow. Feelings are where justice comes from, right? Because it goes from a feeling that something is unbearable to a resolution to change it, to action. The big victories for humans - the progression of our virtue and our civilisation - they started in the feeling that I am having now and that you also may be having now especially in light of Brexit and our White Witch Prime Minister, in light of Trump and the Russians, in light of Calais, Aleppo: the world is dark. Curse the darkness or light a candle, that's your only goddamned choice.

The resolution to change anything is a kind of betrayal, even lighting a candle is treason against the darkness. All justice comes from treason though. The Rosa Parks - Vaclev Havel - Antigone kind of justice - it comes from betraying what is there before you today. Perhaps the usefulness of this march is to empower us to begin our long betrayal.

To quote Danny Kaye performing The Maladjusted Jester:

"The first step of all isn't hard to recall for the first step of all is to stand."

I don't think it's enough to march. It's not enough to raise awareness. It's not enough to call attention to the problem. It's not enough to write plays where for a shining moment people are inspired and then they go back to their lives. Even if everyone had that feeling it would still just be a feeling. I mean we have to do something.  Since Danny Kaye is never wrong:  the first step of all is to stand. This march is the first step toward treason.

Since Occupy I have read and thought about what protest should look like now, and I agree with Micah White that really there is no point in going out into the street in terms of influencing people who hold power. But I'm still going. Because first, sometimes it's not rational. And second, Danny Kaye. Sometimes you have to express yourself with your body. These screens aren't doing it for me, and the more we get into this lake of shit that is the situation with Russian hacking, the less I want to engage with social media. Liking something on FB is not the same as using your body to stand.

You know what I do a lot right now? Give my kids foot rubs and hugs. Look them in the eye when they are talking to me. I am making sure I am surrounded by reminders of humanaty, simple human things.

And in that quest for being human, I find an overwhelming desire to heal. Others feel total despair right now, I see us turning thing ocean liner around.  Maybe Micah White is wrong. Maybe taking a stand will make a difference. If not in the world, then in us.

I hope I'm wrong on this one but I find the younger generations overly docile and too deferential to authority. Their parents didn't let them develop their judgment. Generation X  may be the last generation able to do what needs to be done. My generation has the money and longevity now to heal the many wounds of the world. We can get elected, we can organize, yes we can.  The only way to do that is by not demanding justice, but by being powerful enough to implement justice. Win elections. Change governments. Open courts. Pass laws. Take power. Treason.

We think of ourselves as powerless to take on the injustices of our time. Consumerism and unregulated capitalism have captured our imaginations. They have captured all of our time. And then, with respect to activism, everyone is in their own lovely activist ghetto: their church or school. But those aren't working. It's time to imagine the kind of world we want for 2027 and start to make it happen now. By claiming power. It is time for the lawyers and the playwrights and the Christians and the moms, the farmers and the cowmen, the campaigners for peace, the guardians of human rights, the stewards of the earth - to call ourselves all those things and become all those things. It is time to stand.

Come with me.