Thursday, January 26, 2017

it felt like a calling ~ not one single arrest

Not one single arrest.   MORE than 500,000 people marching FOR and  So really, all you have to complain about are the f-bombs.  Well, fuck you.

And fuck everyone who said "be careful".  Now is not the time to "be careful".  "Careful" makes you afraid and leads to bad decisions which can kill you.  PAY ATTENTION.  Pay attention.  And if "fuck" gets their attention, if pussy hats gets their attention, well, then pussy pussy pussy as one of the itinerate preachers at the march was saying.  "If you are not one tough pussy then you just a ho ho ho," he said.

The going, it felt like a calling, that moment when a link came across from a recently acquired friend of a friend about a bus ticket that was very affordable, and a timetable that meant only one day that I couldn't cover the barn.  Not only do I not get paid if I don't go to work, but I need to make sure *someone* is there to do the work.

It felt like a calling, like I had to do this, like "can I think of any reason at all we shouldn't be doing this?  Because otherwise I have to do it."  I booked the bus tickets, I believe, on November 27.  Pretty early on.  And yes even the threat of violence from those not supportive of human rights were not a reason to not go.  As in the civil rights marches, they were a reason TO go.  But in the face of 500,000 women (and their supporting men and children), even the ones who would like to be violent become afraid.  Wall of meat-head bikers, indeed.

I tried to think of everything.  Of course you can't, but I had stuff if anyone had a blister from walking so much, I had period pads, sunscreen, rain ponchos.  I had my mother's shoes, a good decision.  I had on exactly the right amount of clothes.  Except for snacks and water and money and maps, we didn't use or need anything we took in those clear bags.  I actually can't remember now what I forgot, except for my toothbrush.  And we forgot to take the beer on the bus so we just bought more in DC.

I thought I would take photos but there were two problems:  the new batteries were duds, and it was too cumbersome to get it out and put it back up, and I decided to just let it go.  I got a few, the girls got some good ones.  But it did mean that I didn't get what I'd hoped to of us.  Other people did but I haven't found them yet and likely never will but if you ever happen to see my signs in the photographs of the march, please let me know.

It felt momentous.  It felt like history.  It felt like I couldn't not do it.  I had to add my body to the masses that said, "No, this is not normal and this is not ok."  Because, simply, it is not.  I cannot believe people were this ignorant.  I cannot believe people were this bigotted.  I am a woman, and I have felt the weight and the walls of patriarchy many many times.  And it is time for it to stop.  Period.

And it is time for the lies, errm I mean the alternative facts, to stop.  There was no crowd at the inauguration, the 1st amendment is as important as the second, and refusing to sell one's soul to a corporation does not make one a bum.

Let's see if I can tell the story straight through.  The girls and I left leisurely.  I forgot my pad but we knew it not a mile away and came back and got it.  We drove up.  Ate something.  Checked out the bus pick up point because that exit sounded like a clusterfuck and it was and it was a good thing because I missed part of it in the dark and it was only having already done it that helped me find my way back.  We went to the motel, really really nice for a low end motel that was even at that giving us a huge break.  Allies.  We went to the grocery store.  We repacked for the bus.  Turned on some TV because we never actually see any.  Wondered if we'd sleep.  Sort of slept.  I got up at 1:30 and started coffee to brewing and took a shower.  We got dressed, poured coffee into the nice thermos I'd bought just for this and have probably needed for a long time.  I'd also bought, I admit, new underwear, a new bra, and new nice wool socks.  Pink and turquoise.  We put the "do not disturb" sign on the door and left.

Then I had the trouble getting there but then we got there and, once again, I left my pad.  At least it was in the truck.  We settled in.  It was exceedingly foggy.  Two pee stops.  I lost at earring at the first one and daughter #2 found it.  I didn't take advantage of the second one and should have.  As the sun came up, I tried to peer through the tinted windows and see something.  It was just flat.  Turns out it was just outside Mannassas.  Almost there.  We opened the coffee.  It was hot and good.  Daughter #2, of course, had made a friend on the bus.  She always does.

Everyone was up and paying attention as we drove through DC.  There were already lots of buses but not nearly as many as would be there when we got back.  When we got back a sea of buses stretched out and we thought, oh my lawd, how will everyone find their own bus?  We got out of the bus and didn't have a clue where to go.  And then people just started moving.  And then there were more and more people.  And someone directed us up if we were walking.  And then, there we were, on East Capitol, walking.  The sidewalk filled.  The bike lane filled.  Shortly it spread out a little bit, or we found a hole in which to walk and there were no more buses unloading onto the sidewalk to maneuver around.  Shortly we passed a church with a man outside telling everyone to come in if you need water or a clean bathroom or just to sit down for a minute.  He would still be there making the same offer when we came back, and it would bring all of my emotions to the surface and I would almost break down.

We walked and daughter #1 fussed because none of us knew, exactly, what we were doing, but I had a good idea and mostly it was to flow.  I don't like to get behind slow walkers.  I don't want to be rude but if you waddle, could you at least not take up the whole sidewalk.  I understand that is your pace.  That is not mine.  Especially not right now.  I need, I NEED, to get there.  I don't remember passing a whole lot more interesting on the walk in, except the really really nice city workers.  One traffic cop in particular, just sunny and smiling and directing so nicely.  One trash truck in particular, leading us in whooping, and we must have passed him (or him us) three or four different times on the walk in.  All the MLK quotes in the yards.  Lots of signs in windows showing support.  And people.  We thought then, it was a lot of people.  We didn't know anything yet.

So when you get in close the houses give way to BIG government buildings.  And then there's the Capitol.  "It's a lot bigger than it looks in photos," the girls said, and we weren't even very close yet.  "It is where both houses of Congress meet," I said.  I know they know this but to really grasp it is another thing.  We go around by way of Independence.  I think about getting off of Independence but don't.  I don't know quite where we are when we basically get stopped.  There is a big building, and a woman dressed as Justice who is beautiful, just absolutely beautiful.  It is all Art.

Big A Art.  I'm not a big Big A Art person.  I think a lot of people think they are engaged in Big A Art when they are just, well, not.  Art with a Big A has something to Say.  She had something to say.  Big A Art touches something, resonates somewhere, and like beer or wine, people have different tastes, are touched and moved and angered by different things.

The signs were Big A Art, taken as a whole.  So many signs.  Saying so many things.  Passionate, disturbing, hilarious, creative, clever, and unfailingly gramatical.  A word about "vulgar".  It is ART.  Art has something to say, and its purpose is not to make you comfortable.  Learning does not happen in one's comfort zone.  Women walked around dressed as vulvae because women do not yet have autonomy over our bodies -- the ability to say no (or yes) to sex, the ability to decide to have or not to have an abortion without some nosy busybody trying to stick their nose into it.  Vulvae parade around
BECAUSE of this.  Because you have no right to have any say over my vulva.  And until you shut up about my vulva, I guess it will parade around, making you uncomfortable.  Well, maybe not me, but I loved the vulvae.

We got to whatever is before 3rd and it was pretty much a standstill.  We went around the other side of the Museum of the American Indian I think it is, the first one there, all round and interesting.  Although "went around" is misleading.  We were generally standing so close together that I thought, if something goes wrong and there is a stampede, we are dead.  I thought it enough that I told the girls, "If there's a problem, don't worry at that point about staying together, worry about standing up.  Just stand up.  Because if you fall down you are dead."  Yeah, catastrophizer me strikes again.  But I
believe in having plans.  Because sometimes the bottom falls out.  Moving felt like molecules of water rubbing against one another.  Set an intention to try to go in some general direction and flow that way.  Eventually we got around to the other side of it and it was no better.  There was a fence around the Mall, and Don's Johns in there, and maybe a foot per person, maybe a little more some places.  Let's go there.  Eventually we made that.  And we just stood awhile relieved to not be crushed but still a bit claustrophobic.  We thought to move up the mall to see if we could get over to Independence and perhaps see the stage but it kept getting more crowded and we'd been in that crush once and no.  We moved to the johns on the other side of the Mall, got in line and used them (such a nice system that), found a gate out of the Mall.

We joined throngs moving toward Constitution.  We were still, or back, on 3rd at this point.  Past the corner we see a hot dog street vendor.  Let's get in line.  We discover it is only 11:30.  We wait a long time.  We help the line move so that it goes along the sidewalk instead of across the sidewalk and into the street.  We get three hot dogs from two black men with accents I can't quite identify.  They are out of chili but have kraut, caramelized onions, and relish, plus mustard and cheese on the side.  I take the onions and the cheese.  It is the best hot dog EVER.  Spicy hot.  Paying for them, the guy says, "You guys are great!  We didn't sell half this many yesterday and we were here all day!"  Their tip jar was also filling up rapidly.

We walked up Constitution.  We passed the "wall of meat-heads" Bikers for Trump -- six whole guys sitting demurely by more Don's Johns under a sign.  We took a photo, laughed at their absurdity, and went on.

I think we went to the bleachers and sat then for a time.  We could see the Newseum and were in front of Natural History I think.  We sat there with our signs displayed in front of us and enjoyed the signs that walked by us.  Every so often, all day long, a high and loud "wooooooooo" would start somewhere, often the stage I think, and it would run through the whole crowd, through the whole city, like a wave except auditory.  It was thrilling.  Daughter #1 had to remind me to wait until the wave reached us as I was always wanting to just go ahead in my excitement and wooooo away!  We sat there a good while.  Someone needed directions and I got out my maps.

At a bit before one we thought we'd make our way up to try for the March.  7th was packed.  I think the spontaneous drum circle was at 9th.  There were a couple of fire and brimstone preachers who, when they'd start their spiel would get drowned out by the chant, "Love not hate!"  At one of them, my daughters sang, "If you're happy and you know it, it's a sin." I think at 12th we walked over to Madison, and at that corner was the most colorful preacher:  He was just a guy standing there with two megaphones and mostly what he said was, "Pussy pussy pussy," over and over again.  At one point he said, "Pussy pussy pussy.  If you aren't one tough pussy you just a 'ho'.  Ho ho ho."  He was pretty entertaining but I can't figure out quite how he worked God and Jesus into his spiel.  We also got a "Jews for Jesus" card about here. 

At 14th Street we sit on the curb to wait for the parade.  There had been no "day of" updates, never a place we could see or hear the stage, no official word about anything going on.  Daughters had asked how many people I thought there were and I said, a lot more than they expected because this isn't handled well.  It was fine, because the energy was fine, because we as women are determined to have our rights and the rights of all humanity peacefully if at all possible.  And because this was us, taking care of each other.  The energy was incredible.  The care was incredible.  But the organization for the other 300K was not there.  So we organized ourselves.  Before long and at about March "time" (scheduled time), people started going down 14th as if it were the March.  We had no idea if it was or wasn't.  We watched and enjoyed for awhile and then joined in, marching and chanting.  And that was really incredible.  There were still people on the sides, people recording, everyone cheering, everyone happy.

But when we got to the Ellipse there was only a seemingly very nervous Guardsman waving people past the entrance.  There was a food truck right behind him and that really made him nervous, people going there.  Beside of him was a woman yelling that the organizers had confirmed that we were more than 500,000 strong, that there would be no ending ceremony, and to please march on down (somewhere) then disburse on the sidewalks.  Emphasis, on the sidewalks.   The chants changed to primarily to, "Whose House?  OUR House!"

We walked to the next cross, which is 17th.  Some marchers continued forward.  We turned right.  I thought, hey, at least the girls can walk past the White House and see it.  I know it is closed to traffic now but I didn't figure it was closed to foot traffic.  Before we got there, however, a Secret Service cop was parked in the road and rather unamusedly telling people to get on the sidewalk and out of the road.  People complied.  Then forward progress stopped and no one back there knew why.  It was because this cop had stopped them.  Nope, you can't cross the street.  Everyone is looking around, people are continuing to walk forward past those of us who had stopped with polite body space.  And then a motorcade drives by.  Oh, the high pitched woooooo, the jeers, LOUD.  Secret Service cops looking just a tad concerned.  People did step off the sidewalk, just to be seen.  I'm sure the cheeto was leaving with his cheering section to go to the CIA for his self-aggrandizing talk there.

Then we get up to Pennsylvania and we can't walk down even.  Basically with that closed, you can't even see the White House.  "Whose House?  OUR House!"  So we walked on up, to H and across.  You might glimpse a bit of the WH from across Lafayette Square, but it is pretty far away.  It was really the only anger I felt all day, to be denied OUR House, to even walk by it.  It was all fenced off, all of Lafayette Square.  One guy was inside the fence, going for the fence, with a Secret Service guy close on his heels.  We walked on instead of watching what happened (probably nothing) but I don't know how he was getting out because I didn't see any opening in the fence.

And that was pretty much it for us.  We walked on down H Street toward JFK where the buses were.  Somewhere around NY Ave we ducked into a McD's for a rest and a milk shake.  When we came out, part of "the march" was continuing right down the middle of H Street!  Going with traffic so only disrupting behind them, LOUD so probably pretty big.  Daughter #1 wanted to join in but I said, "I *really* don't want to get arrested in DC."  And so we didn't.  But this group or others we saw and/or heard several more times on our walk through the city.  "Whose streets?  OUR streets!"

We must have gone down 7th because we passed the Verizon Center, a street musician who got our $, and found Capital Spirits or some such and bought some beer for the bus trip back (since we'd
forgotten what we'd brought to the hotel room at 2 in the morning).  It was a long way to lug it back, but we saw plenty of other people doing the same thing.  We must have then gone up E since we passed a metro, and then we passed Union Station where I think we sat on a bench for awhile.  Daughter #1 was whining in the funniest manner, "Carrrrryyyyy meeee.  I want the strollerrrrrr."  We all laughed.  We didn't go far then, to Stanton Park for another rest.  We had LOTS of time and knew it.  And we were really tired. 

Ingram Memorial Congregational Church came to our rescue next: "Come in!  Do you need water, a CLEAN bathroom, just to sit down awhile?  You are WELCOME here."  They either were having or had had a birthday party in the basement.  It is amazing I can find little to no information online about this church.  But it was an amazing place and people.  And that was when I had my emotional breakdown.  The girls, you see, went in first and I waited on the steps.   And these people were all just so welcoming to us.  We who have too often been, not enemies but skeptical of each other, wary.  Will we old white women really be there for Black Lives Matter?  We must be.  We must all be allies.  There are hard questions to answer, like will we stand silent when we see racism around us, coming out of people we love, will we risk that?  We must.  And I wanted to hug him, but I was crying and trying not to and I knew I'd ugly sob if I did it so I sat there, wiping my eyes.  And then I went into the bathroom and stood in line and tried to act like I was normal just dabbing my eyes and people would talk to me, church members and people in line, and I would talk back and my eyes were just shining and it was all ok with everybody.

After the church, there was another street musician.  We stopped to pull $ out and he started singing and I started crying there too.

And then we were back to JFK and finding our buses.  We were early.  The bus driver was late.  We sat on the somewhat damp asphalt, waiting.

 Back on the bus, everyone was excited, talking, for about an hour.  Yes, I think our society is one of the worst patriarchies ever (isn't it amazing that the election of a black man brought the bigotry hiding in every heart to the fore, and the election of a bigot has brought misogyny to the fore?).  Yes, I think the 1st amendment is in GRAVE danger.  Not two hours out we stopped at a rest area, surprised to do so so soon.  After that, pretty much everybody was asleep for the ride.  I woke only as the bus changed gears getting close to our drop off, maybe 5 minutes before.

I feel like I cannot shut up.  I feel like I must do SOMETHING political  And that doesn't mean post on facebook or sign a petition either.  I must call, I must write, I must visit, I must plan and support, and yes, I must march.

And I must wear my pussy hat everyday.  I will make more versions, some for summer.

"Tell me what democracy looks like.  THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!"  Yes, we are a democratic republic.  No I do not want mob rule.  I want rule of LAW, no respecter of persons.  The whole and entire Constitution, 1st Amendment, 2nd Amendment, 4th Amendment, 14th Amendment, 15th, 19th, 24th, ALL of them.  And yes, tangerine jesus is my president, meaning he works for me, not me for him.  He best watch his step.

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