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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.

“I AM NO NOBODY”S SIDE BECAUSE NOBODY IS ON MY SIDE” — Treebeard, the Two Towers?, J.R.R. Tolkien, SOURCE:

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 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.

Janelle Monae lyrics poster design by Monique Sterling

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.

Dean Spade, CeCe McDonald, and Reina Gossett #NoOneisDisposable

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.

So a little while back, a new era dawned with the end of the Mayan calendar and a little while later the Roman calendar ticked over and we found ourselves in 2013. Soon the lunar new year will begin as well. And though a blizzard storms towards my region as I write this, in the heart of the snow season, spring is not too far away.

“During the morning of 21 December, in observance of the change in Baktún, or the beginning of the new Mayan era, thousands of indigenous support-bases affiliated with the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) concentrated themselves at the entrances of 5 cities in Chiapas (San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Ocosingo, Altamirano, Palenque, and Las Margaritas) before carrying out silent marches through each one. This was understood as a symbolic act, given that some of these cities were taken by the EZLN during its insurrection of 1994. On this occasion, covered with ski-masks but lacking firearms, carrying the national flag and the Zapatista one together, the Zapatistas directed themselves to the principal plazas of these cities, where they erected kiosks which were raised by all. After this, they left as rapidly and orderly as they entered. Preliminary reports spoke of 6 to 10,000 Zapatistas in each location.” Source:

So now is a good a time as any to reflect on beginnings and endings. I may always remember 2012 as the year I gave up on myself as a member of some organizations and tried to see what kind of animal I might become on my own. I’ve been haunted by feelings of being lost and feelings of being free.

I’m trying to resist the temptation to justify my relative inactivity. The struggle is not going to organize itself— there are things that must be done— and/but I owe myself, I deserve care and understanding. Both of these things are true. So-called “activist burnout” is hard for me to talk about but I think it’s important to talk about— for me and on the chance that what I say might be useful to others.

All of this was/is part of the reason for this blog.

When I read Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha’s post in October, I felt humbled and blown away.

I was just now staring at this blog entry above, trying to find the pull quote that I wanted to show you but I can’t do it. The whole thing is context so read the whole thing if you missed it back in October or like me, need a refresher. All I can say is, when I read it I immediately felt like an idiot. I said to myself, of course you were burned out and destroyed by what you were doing to yourself. Of course unlearning all of that is going to take some time.

As I just now finally got around to reading through the links on the following post,

I have more of the same feelings.

Then more recently, Kersplebedeb posted about blogging

Eight Years of Sketchy Thoughts

his blog. Kersplebedeb said,

“It has been eight years since i started this blog, basically as a way of trying to figure out how to develop and explore some political ideas and perhaps also deal with a period of political and personal isolation i was going through. It “worked”, and provided a space not only to try and figure some things out, to record things i would otherwise have forgotten, and to try and elaborate a set of political reference points.”

This is very encouraging to read. When I was contemplating walking away from some political organizations, to have some faith in myself I needed to imagine where I might land and what I might do. I tried to think of what “one-person projects” existed in the world of political prisoner support and related endeavors. And then I thought of Kersplebedeb as an example. Apparently, eight years ago, K started trying to do what I’m starting to try to do now and “it worked.” So that’s good to hear.

There are so many things I want to read and re-read and one book I should probably re-read soon is this one . . .

Aftershock Confronting Trauma in a Violent World: A Guide for Activists and Their Allies pattrice jones ISBN: 9781590561034 Book (Paperback) 100% Recycled Lantern Books, Flashpoint Series List Price: $15.00 5 x 8 inches 264 pages February 2007 “Aftershock is about the real war against terror—the struggle for a world in which nobody lives in fear of atrocities perpetrated by human beings. Every day, people who push against violence and injustice or pull for peace and freedom must face their own fears. Many activists also must struggle with “aftershock,” the physical and emotional reverberations of frightening, horrifying, or otherwise traumatizing experiences endured in the course of their activism.”

I thought putting all of this together in a blog post would bring forth some more profound thoughts of my own but that doesn’t seem to be the case and that’s okay. What I can say for now is, thanks folks.

“One sunny mornin’ we’ll rise I know/ And I’ll meet you further on up the road”
— (from a song that Johnny Cash sang on American Recordings, not sure if it’s his or not)

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