I really can’t believe I’m two years into this little blog and solo project. Two years since I walked away from all of the organizations I was involved with, organizations very dear to my heart, and tried to be my own animal. It honestly doesn’t seem like that long ago. Especially because I would have imagined accomplishing and producing much more by now. But life is not all about accomplishing and producing. And transitions take time and energy. And every little animal is different and must find its own little way.
First on my blog to-do list is to rewrite my mission statement and I might as well start now, thinking out loud here. When I started doing this I had a lot to prove. I was irritated by the lack of mutual respect, communication, and willingness to change, in my little corner of the anti-prison community and I was self-conscious about quitting. I wanted to show everyone I could just as well or better running a website, sending donations, keeping up with visits and letters, by myself. That’s why the initial framework sets through the walls up as if it’s an authority on political prisoner support. Which it isn’t.
Obviously, in retrospect, those initial ideas seem very childish and silly. Very quickly the isolation, the feeling of being misunderstood, the heartbreak of giving up on organizations I thought I’d be with forever, the nursing of wounds of betrayal and disappointment, the martyr complex, it all started to catch up to me. I suddenly felt very empathetic with others who had fallen off the activist perch. I felt empathetic with others who felt uncomfortable in activist spaces or who didn’t know how to begin. Or who were trying to build a way of relating to movement work that was more inter-generational, more inclusive, less burnout-martyr inclined. I wanted to throw in my lot with others who may also feel lost like I did.
Now I was ready to be a leading innovator of new sensitive approaches and of course the first step was to read and absorb as much as I could from others I identified as leaders in these fields. Trouble was, the more I learned the less I knew. I found people, bodies of knowledge, tendencies that I had been ignoring because of my narrow focus. I found lots of people were way of ahead me. I found myself in a period of listening, questioning, learning and in the process feeling so humbled and novicey that I didn’t have a lot to contribute to the conversations. And simultaneously my self-exploration and self-affirmation as a genderqueer femme on the feminine spectrum has continued to deepen and grow, which is distracting and unsettling and focus-shifting and terrible and great and whatevs.All this time I’ve been treading water as a former swimmer and diver in a broader and shifted version of my old pp/pow supporter community, mostly keeping up with letters, visits, donations, campaign work, events but slowly and not as easily. There is always something I’m meaning to post on throughthewalls.org and often I am behind and by the time I’m ready to post, the topic is no longer considered current news. Twitter sometimes steals the show. That’s where I am current and topical! I encourage everyone who reads this blog to follow me on twitter (@throughwallsny) but I know, not everyone reading uses twitter and that’s okay.
Anyway, click here if you’d like and you can see my first post. You can observe that I meant to post in tandem with a series of anniversaries (May Day, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, anniversary of Bobby Sands’ death on hunger strike, anniversary of the bombing of the MOVE house in Philadelphia) and I was late for all of them! I think it’s nice that I wove them together a little bit and I like the personal, vulnerable tone and sentiment. I don’t think I should have tried to keep up with anniversaries. I could spend all my blogging time trying to keep up with current prisoner news, anniversaries, events, etc but for what? There are clearly many better sources for all of that online (see my Blogroll and News sections on the side). I have been wrestling with vague ideas about a way forward for my own work and I think some of it might benefit others as well. I have felt too in between things to write about it. Also the internet has brought out my shyness! I am not interested in starting drama writing about people and organizations in small communities, who I know, and who know me, and risking saying something wrong and/or being misunderstood. I don’t want to be oppressive, offensive, or disrespectful if I can help it. I don’t want to spread any of my negative or self-defeating feelings. I don’t want to say things that others have already said.
But I can’t believe I’ve been stewing for two years! I think I need to shit or get off the pot. I think I need to start doing what I set out to do and speak my mind. Sometimes I am too nervous about what I might say but I at least need to be scribbling in notebooks and work out at least what do I think, then maybe I can decide what to show the world.
I want through the walls to go in a more personal direction and I know that’s gonna turn some people off but I think it’s gotta be kinda like my first post: this is lost burnt out little me, slipping but doing my best, trying to figure out how to be part of meaningful struggle throughout my life– and/or how to contribute to the foundations of movements that can include more kinds of people for more of their lives. My favorite posts I’ve done so far are reflective ones.
I recently got the chance to see CeCe McDonald, as well as Reina Gossett and Dean Spade in a live #NoOneisDisposable conversation and it was so so affirming and amazing, especially so good seeing CeCe out of prison and feeling her attitude and energy. CeCe said something that I know is cliché but it really resonated in me: something like, you gotta do you. You can’t be living for someone else’s expectations. Gonna see what I can do with me.