Stop Defending Neo-Nazis


I originally posted this on my personal Facebook, but I think it’s a message important enough to share on multiple platforms.

In the wake of an act of domestic terrorism, I have seen a bunch of you unabashedly defending self-proclaimed Nazis and white supremacists. Whether directly or indirectly, you’ve had the backs of people who want my friends to die. And I am absolutely disgusted by everyone who believes that’s acceptable.

One of the most common arguments that has been proliferated over the past week has been that people from the left need to be more tolerant of the type of reactionaries who perpetuated violence in Charlottesville. In fact, many of you are saying, we should befriend klansmen, speak to them calmly, and refrain from returning what they’re doling out.

If you buy into this argument, then I have a lot of questions for you. Why should people on the left be the only people who are courteous? Why must every ounce of thought, emotional energy, and basic human decency in this debate come from the left? Why is there absolutely no expectation at all, whatsoever, that the people on the far right contribute even one iota of kindness or consideration?

Most importantly, why do you insist that this debate is even possible? How can anyone have a rational conversation with one of these people––especially when these people enter the discussion with the assumption that their fellow interlocutors are subhuman? Why do you insist that people on the left remain amicable with villains who think they are subhuman? Why does that make sense to you?

I’m not an expert, but it certainly seems that you are making it easy for Nazis and white supremacists to scream their horrendous ideologies from the streets––and at the same time, you are silencing the voices who are trying to condemn evil. It certainly seems that your rhetoric is upholding a history of atrocities and carrying them into our era.

Allow me to repeat something. The extreme-right people who took to the streets in Charlottesville want my friends to die. And they may very well want your friends to die, too (although, if you’re one of my addressees here, I have to wonder whether or not you are truly a friend to anyone who is threatened by reactionaries). But you’re still defending them.

That’s unacceptable. If you don’t recognize why that’s unacceptable, then please, explain yourself. At the moment, I can’t fathom one logical reality in which defending Nazis––people who want to kill the people I love most in the world––is okay.

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Being a Writer in the Age of Trump


Like many of my peers, I felt the world shatter on November 8, 2016. I spent that night watching ABC’s live election map with a group of my friends; we all expected that the results would offer us hope and safety. As we were chatting eagerly, one of those lovely people, Veronica, recorded herself with her laptop’s camera.

“I’m going to show this to my kids,” she said. “I want them to know what it was like when the first woman president was elected.”

Another one of my friends––Matt, a human calculator––counted up the number of states that were poised to turn blue. According to his estimations, Hillary Clinton’s victory should have been a shoe-in.

But then Matt was wrong. And then Veronica closed her laptop. The faith we had had in our fellow citizens drained out of our bodies. Nearly half of the country had cast ballots for a man who threatened the existences of seven of the nine people in the room. All of a sudden, seemed that our lives were not valued by the majority of the people around us.

There’s no need for me to go into the societal/political/global fallout of the election that ripped apart all standards of kindness and human decency. We’re all aware of it. This is a post about the personal implications of living in a world that doesn’t care if you are safe. For multiple affected groups––women, people of color, Muslim and Jewish Americans, the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities, among others––the red map that glowered from the television forced us to question our identities and our places in the world. And as a writer, that has been an steep and treacherous process.

Not longer after that fateful night, I penned one shoddy attempt at a poem about the November devastation, but otherwise I haven’t had much success in describing my distress. My spirit is empty. All I have left is my anger and a sense that I have been profoundly betrayed. What’s the point of being a poet if no one would care if I died? Why do my characters matter when the vice president of the United States condones child abuse? Why should I devote my soul to metaphors and assonance when I ought to be yelling and marching and fighting for my life?

Certainly, art can be a pathway to social action. A novel can spark a war for freedom. Carefully crafted speeches can move crowds. Poems can stir solidarity between marginalized people, creating unbreakable forces of resistance. But I hardly have the audience for that sort of impact, and it seems more imperative than ever to make my every action direct. The best use of my knack for writing would be in the composition of a letter to my senators. There’s no time to pique my muses with love or flower petals or quiet moments when I need to protect my friends.

I’m too angry to dwell on beauty. I can’t even think about art for art’s sake. Self-improvement is no longer about creating ever-better verse, but rather about eliminating any tendency in myself that might have helped put a monster into the country’s highest office. All I can do is shout and cry and focus on the tangible world, where tangible people are facing tangible threats, and tangible police officers are murdering tangible unarmed black civilians, and tangible hate groups are burning tangible crosses, and tangible billionaire celebrities are ogling tangible teenage girls, knowing they can get away with tangible rape and tangible assault because no one will believe the very, very tangible victims.

I can’t be bothered to emulate Billy Collins anymore because I’m too busy emulating the civil rights leaders of decades past who thought they were fighting the final fight. And I’m too busy realizing that we are still generations away from the final fight.

I’m too busy justifying my anger to write poems about my anger. I’m too busy restating the fact that my sadness and my disgust have merit to develop symbols for my feelings. If I seem distracted, if my recent stanzas seem subpar, know that it’s because I don’t go a day without fearing for my future––or wondering if there is even a future to fear for.

The just-world hypothesis has been supplanted by reality, and yet scholarly articles are telling me to empathize with people who wouldn’t bat an eye at my death. This is no environment for idealists; poetic fancies have no place in a world driven by hatred and bigotry. Everything I know about writing, every element of my writer’s identity, is irrelevant to the emotions that unite us, and that destroy us.

In 2017, creating art feels useless.

I don’t want to be a source of gentle diversion. I want to set people’s hearts on fire, send them to the streets, create action from dissatisfaction, let people know that they did something cruel, convince people to change their minds so that they truly understand “never again,” and help eradicate the forces that have put passions on hold.

To be realistic, I doubt that I can do any of that with lyrical quips or witty anecdotes. Over the course of the past eight months, my life’s purpose has shifted.

I can’t spend all day with notebooks and dreams anymore. My writer’s soul doesn’t matter when so many human bodies are at risk.

Ciao for now,
Mikki

Awake


In the third grade, I had my first stint with mental illness. My only real friend had just moved away, and no one wanted to play with me at recess. I was depressed, big time, and I was also working through grief at the loss of my friend. The stages were evident (retrospectively) in the narratives that went through my head as I tried to sleep. Some nights I would cry. Some nights I would invent stories in which who had abandoned me continued to wrong me; some nights I would scream my anger at her. At eight years old, I would spend some nights thinking seriously about death. But it wasn’t until the next school year that I started to understand that these thoughts were anything out of the ordinary. lonely-child-1024x678In the fourth grade, after she saw me hitting myself repeatedly during tests, my teacher sent me to weekly group sessions with the school counselor.

It’s gotten worse since then, but it’s also gotten better since then. My depression comes in waves. The stresses of elementary school, junior high, and high school all took their toll on me. So, too, has the unforgiving coldness of winter, as well as the unrelenting loneliness of summer. Depression is not a constant companion, but it is a consistent companion.

My anxiety, on the other hand, does not come in waves. They aren’t as bad as they could be, and I’m always learning to ways to negotiate with them, but they never leave. Ever. In fact, I’m not totally sure where my anxiety stops and my nervous personality begins. Fretting is ingrained into my very aspect.

I was born an anxious person. I was also born a sad person. That’s sort of my point, my raison d’être: to be anxious and sad. It makes me see things that other people ignore, and it allows me to be introspective. In that, mental illness is what makes me a writer. I’m only an artist because I was wired incorrectly at the factory.

Maybe I should be grateful. Continue reading “Awake”

An Open Letter to My Hair II: The Long and Short of It


About four years ago, I wrote a post entitled “An Open Letter to My Hair.”

And, well, things have changed for me since then.

After I was introduced to feminism, I started to learn more about myself and my relationship with femininity. I came to realize that long hair was not really helping me feel feminine, even though it is the traditional prescription for women and girls. Its frizzy, tickly nature weighed me down until I felt more like an ogre than a girl. And although Princess Fiona is a lovely lady, the swamp life wasn’t really my speed.

I was done with long hair. For about a month, I would ponytail it, then tuck it into a knit hat with the tips sticking out to appear like bangs. My face seemed rounder and younger, but I still preferred the short hair look. So, finally, I got it lopped off.

casually anonymous picture of my pixie cut

casually anonymous picture of my pixie cut

Best decision ever.

Now that my abbreviated waves rule over the lands, I’m happier and more confident with how I look and who I am.

The responses to my haircut were overwhelmingly positive, with only a few people thinking it okay to suggest that I should grow it back out (Hint 1: it’s not okay. Hint 2: I won’t). Only a few times have I been mistaken for a guy–– which is great, because I’ve never felt more female.

Yes, my icon has been a lie for some time nowscreen-shot-2016-11-12-at-11-09-25-am. I’ll change it––as soon as I find an avatar generator that allows the user to put short hair on a woman. Until then, I’ll continue living a lie online, while being my truest self in person.

I might not look the way a woman is supposed to, but that doesn’t matter. Because I feel like a woman is supposed to.

CIao for now,

Mikki

A Mostly Sensationalized Account of Something I Noticed Today


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It’s strange because I thought I was over him. He never crosses my mind; I no longer get the urge to speak to him. But I still, quietly, seek him out, I watch him stand up, and when I see pictures of him I still wonder what it would be like to hold his hand––to kiss him. My subconscious can’t let go.

Why is it that people feel these varying degrees of love? I can’t say I ever loved him, that’s for certain, but I can’t say I never loved him, that’s just as certain.

The myth perpetrated is that we fear love. I disagree. We aren’t afraid: we’re confused, we’re lost. We fear love only as we fear a friendly Labyrinth––not with a desire to escape, but with a desire to learn, to comprehend. It is most unfortunate for us, then, that we will never find constants as the maze continues to shift around us.

There is no unconditional love, only shades in a scale and those that do not fit in a scale. I believe what I had for him was pink––a tough, blushing fruit. It was never meant to be meaningful. But it’s always meaningful: eye contact with an intimate is meaningful; intimacy with a stranger is meaningful. Meaning is inevitable. Meaning floods our worlds, washes our veins, colors our blood red.

It’s nonsense that we are confused by our own feelings, knocked out by our own passions. “Why would you love him?” someone asked me. The truth is, I don’t know why I love. And I would bow in reverence to anyone who could spell out the complete reasoning of their heartstrings.

I write because I cannot control. I cannot control love, so I’ll keep talking about it with pompous air while I reveal little, if anything, of value.

Ciao for now,

Mikki

Brink: A Poem


What is the surface?

Spastic unfurling, reflection

of the tiniest orbit

into a compact orb.

Undulating, rolling out

dancing and reacting.

Painting of orange, painting of black,

backwash of blue,

a receiver and demystifier,

everything is quantum.

Bits lay about, bits

that make a whole, a form, a figure.

Rounded fractals that sparkle

and others floating in

murkier mutterings.

The throbbing pulse,

the proffered answers, not entirely prophetic,

the call to challenge

join me.

Rocking, cradel, lullaby, torment––

across the rocks to the floor,

away from the surface. Far below.

And the emptiness,

as it surges,

is realised to have been there all along.

The heartbeat was only a façade

for the vast

and the endless

and the unstoppable forces

that knowledge cannot conquer.

There is no other beauty

like the worshipped binary

existing as a comfort, if only

to hold back ugly honesties.

 

And that is what we think now,

sinking.

Below the layers

of sunlight creeping in,

there is an admirable serenity.

There is no black

no white,

only undertones and overtones of gray.

Finally, to lack is to have.

Finally, we possess all things.

Spring


Hey there, grass. It’s been a while. Nice to see you again. How’s the lawn holding up?

I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed the color green. (Hint: it’s a lot.) The birds chirp in the morning as I wake up. The precipitation comes as rain rather than snow. I have died and gone to heaven.

Maybe this sounds unoriginal. I know everyone who lives north of the equator is going through the same thing right now. But bear with me for a moment.

I am one of those people who will sit out on the porch and listen to the rain go down the sewer. Sometimes I’ll sit at the end of the driveway, watching the cars pass by and feeling like an endless piece of the universe. My favorite thing to do is ride my bike through the forest, and to be absolutely shrouded in trees and the rippling sound of the creek as I pedal.

You know what I’ve been seeing for the past few months? The inside of my house. The inside of my classrooms. Everything has felt so very inside. I have curled up inside of myself, socially and emotionally. I haven’t wanted to wake up in the mornings.

But now the sun is shining! The grass may be mostly dead, but it’s still grass! And grass is like a promise. Mother nature is telling us that she still loves us. Soon, she will make us happy again.

Today I wore a skirt and boots. I’ve been wearing jeans and tee shirts like every other person who doesn’t care too much about their wardrobe for a while, but today I put in effort. And that means something. I’m beginning to unfurl from the cocoon I’ve been tucked away in all winter, and it’s only going to be uphill from here.

If you are only patient, you’ll be able to watch the flowers go from bud to bloom and fill the world with color. We’ve all waited this long, we’ve all been hanging off the edges of our seats, and now the payoff has arrived. I know I will relish it with every moment. This is the climax. Enjoy.

Ciao for now,

Mikki