invective

This is from a journal I share with my sister, Katie Daniel. In the picture below, the handwriting is mine, and the drawing is hers.

Invective by Durght

Sit down every day, every goddamned day, sit down and do it. And don’t give me any guff about your muse or being blocked because you do so much shit every day — complete and utter shit — that is neither inspired nor inspiring. You sit down and write emails, make phone calls, count the bills in someone else’s cash register, and you don’t whine to your boss about not being inspired.

Can you believe you have a fucking boss? You who used to be so fond of saying “You’re not the boss of me,” are now saying “yes sir” at every turn to every corporate douche bag who comes around the corner. Frankly, your six-year-old self would’ve given those guys the finger.

What ever happened to the you who thought you could do anything? What ever happened to that girl who thought she was a total superstar just because?

If you can make that blessed little hellion sit down, be polite and answer phones all day, for the love of god, for once, one hour, even one minute — for every day you  make her sit down and do this bullshit, you — the responsible adult asshole — owe it to her to sit down and fucking write.

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American Grief

American Grief by Durght

For our souls. For the things we don’t have anymore. For innocence. For fashion victims. For seasons. For clothes. For vegetable gardens and flower beds wilted through with all our forgetting to water and doing it later and never really looking at it. For nonsense and small talk.

For fresh air and vacation days. For long summer afternoons. for having no plans. For faith. For the Dream. For remembering our dreams. For fantasy. For what we don’t know. For long lost secrets. For extinct species. For language. For truth. For trust. For the illusion of non-partisan politics. For government. For Freedom and justice for all. For human faces. For the concept of freedom and human rights as not mutually exclusive. For organic beauty. For undesigned bodies. For laying on the grass in the sun looking up at the sky through squinted eyes at the warmest, purest blue.

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the human validation system

A cute doll

8/8/12 Stuck at BWI for the next several hours. The only appropriate thing to do is people-watch and write.
Attention BWI animal owners: The BWI Marshal service animal and pet relief area is located on the lower level …

People with loud cell phone ringers. White girls with R&B ringtones. White dudes who stare and shake their heads. Me being the girl who loves the flamboyance but doesn’t want anyone to stare too hard. Uncomfortable even with the over-the-spectacles stare of first class passengers.

Ellie says I have MFA voice. Actually, I said it, and she confirmed it. I said it tentatively, hoping to be contradicted but believing it to be true nonetheless. Ellie was honest: Yeah, I think you’re right.

I have had a fear of being labelled a “confessional poet” as male academics once labeled Sylvia Plath. And why should that bother me? I love Plath, after all, but do I believe in the value of her work? To me personally, yes. But to the world at large? The phrase “daddy issues” comes to mind, a cultural joke to dismiss the unquiet mind of the lady author, model, artist or entrepreneur. Are you angry? Daddy issues. Are you lonely? Daddy issues. Are you horny? Daddy issues. Because what else would drive a woman to express herself so flagrantly? She needs attention. She needs validation. She’s got daddy issues.

Me and my promiscuity and my daddy issues

But I don’t have daddy issues! I might have some third grade math issues (I never memorized my multiplication tables completely and still imagine “touch points” on numbers for basic addition), and seventh grade dance issues, but not daddy issues.

What I do have for sure are issues making friends with other women, not because I dislike them or they dislike me but because there has been bred in us a distrust of one another. We want to be friends, to support one another, and receive the support that can only come from a woman friend — someone who sees what we see and knows what we know.

But our cultural habit of dismissing women in general — their writing, their art, their ideas — keeps us from seeing one another truly as humans and as peers. Every intelligent woman thinks she is different from “other women.” We all think we’re alone. We feel, furthermore, that we have to prove ourselves. We feel like aliens. An intelligent woman feels like a toy that came to life on the shelf one night and looked around alarmed at the dead glassy eyes on either side.

Doll face

“I can’t be one of these! I’m not one of these! I must convince the shop keeper that I am not a toy.”

We have become trapped by the metaphor. Of course we’re not toys. But if we’re not, then how can we believe that they are?

Noticing something about my writing: I tend to start out meta, go macro, then go micro … then what?

The issue at hand is personhood. You’d think that was resolved ages ago when women secured the right to vote. “Congratulations — it’s official now — you’re a fully valid human being.” Except not. Because you have daddy issues or something. Because your value is dependent on factors: your taste in clothing and music; your choice of friends and romantic partners; the color of your skin; your ethnic heritage and its associated genetic traits; your weight and by association the foods you choose to eat. If all of these factors fall into the acceptable range, then you can consider expressing your opinions, beliefs and ideas as a valid member of society. Should your baseline criterion fall outside the acceptable bounds at any time, your status may be temporarily lowered or revoked entirely. It is therefore of utmost importance to keep up appearances whilst expressing any thoughts whatsoever. The thoughts themselves must be fact checked, sanity checked, sensitivity checked, and double checked — just to be safe.

Aside: Has anyone written a guide for the acceptability of women in the past few years? Someone should get on that. I keep proposing one but no one seems to have taken me up on it. It would be complete with sizing charts and a points system for various ethnicities. I’m scared to do that because a lot of people will hate it, especially if I am honest about the way people (men? women? everyone?) value women of different races on a different scale. For example, if you’re Asian, you get bonus points for being pretty, but if you’re overweight, you get some points subtracted. I guess you could say it’s a sliding scale. Anyway, I’m not sure if women would find it hilarious or horribly offensive. I’m afraid people find this type of honesty insulting, even if on some level they know you’re right.

Korean Dolls

After all the required forms for thought checking have been signed and your Valid Human Status has been confirmed, you may venture to express one opinion at a time. When submitting an opinion, keep in mind that should you make any future statements that deviate from the prior submitted opinion, points will be deducted from your overal Human Validity score.

Go back. Go back, Mary. Get this under control. I am urging myself to stay focused and also to keep writing, to see where this leads. Because this is not about “society at large.” We all know society is this way, don’t we on some level? But this is about me. For now, at least.

I have let this fear trap me. The mere threat of being harassed into submission has effectively caused me to submit voluntarily. I may not look like it with blue hair and tattoos and self-employment, but I have censored myself, stifled my voice, and shut myself up in deference to haters, shit kickers, and judges of all stripes. They are anonymous commenters, the boys club of reddit, condescending intellectuals, conservative relatives, and even the yoga community which is full of secretly self-righteous pseudo-sages.

Endings are the hardest part to write. The question is splayed wide open: So what now?

How does one reclaim a voice? Reclaim the right to full expression? Opt out of the bullshit TSA-ized Human Validation System?

I thought transcribing these pages would give me time to process it and come up with an answer, but I don’t have one yet. I’ll just leave this here.

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how to write to your government representatives about marriage equality

I think a handful of Marylanders read my blog, as I do happen to live in the state. I’d like you to know that our legislature is soon to debate a bill to recognize same sex marriage. We’re very close to getting this bill passed, so now is the time to email your legislators about it!

Guys, this is really simple, and it’s really important. Here’s how to follow through:

  1. Go to MDElect.net and enter your address in the search bar at the top, then hit “enter” or click “find.”
  2. Check out the menu bar on the left — it should show you a few names of people who represent you in the government.
  3. Click the names of your state senator and state delegates. This issue is currently in our state legislature, so contacting your national representatives will not be particularly helpful.
  4. When you click their names, you’ll be taken to their individual profiles, which include their party affiliation and detailed contact information.
  5. E-mail is the easiest thing in the world to do, so e-mail them your opinion on this issue. If you’re really motivated and amazing, you can also call them.

In case you don’t know what to write, here is the exact e-mail that I wrote to my representatives. You’re welcome to copy it word-for-word if you like, or you can adapt it to reflect your personal feelings on the subject. I recommend that you at least plug in the correct name before hitting send.

Dear ___,
I’m writing to you today because I want Maryland to be the next state in the movement to respect equal marriage rights for all Americans. It bothers me that in our national conversation, we’ve resorted to using the clumsy rhetorical shorthand of “legalizing” gay marriage. Love is never illegal. Although it may be intoxicating, it’s not a drug, and it’s certainly not a crime. In times like these, when there is so much suffering, violence, and poverty in the world, we need to honor, celebrate, encourage and welcome love in all its forms.
As your constituent, I am asking you to support legislation to recognize same-sex marriage in Maryland when ever you have the opportunity. The right of consenting adults to marry whomever they love is a basic human right, and for a community to refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of such loving relationships is nothing better than petty bullying and group think. We can do better than that.
Please support the equality of all Marylanders, all Americans, and indeed all human beings by supporting marriage equality in Maryland.
Sincerely,
___

In the event that you are reading this and you don’t agree with me, well that’s just a darn shame. But you, too, deserve to have your voice heard, so go ahead and write to your representatives as well. After all, this country belongs to all of us, and the one thing we shouldn’t do is simply hand over all our ideals and let someone else make all our decisions for us. Go ahead and speak up.

xoxo,

Miss Dirt

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the internet is not just for porn (but SOPA and PIPA could ruin that, too)

Dear Friends,

January 18th has come and gone, but the threat of SOPA and PIPA remain. I would imagine that anyone reading this blog is already aware of and opposed to SOPA, PIPA, and any other form of internet censorship. However, just for good measure, let me give you this:

I realize that my blog is just a little site that doesn’t get boat loads of traffic, but as a lover of technology and information, I have a vested interest in protecting the internet — and if you’re reading this site, then you do, too.

Look, I don’t advocate for piracy at all. I believe content producers (musicians, artists, writers, photographers, and the people who help make that work happen) deserve to be fairly compensated for their work. But that’s not what SOPA and PIPA are about.

SOPA and PIPA are perfect examples of poorly written legislation (or connivingly written depending on how you look at it) that simply reinforce the idea that in this so-called free country, the people with the money are the people with the power. These bills don’t serve the interests of individual artists. They don’t serve innovators. They don’t support communication or the sharing of ideas.

They are simply bad legislation, the enforcement of which would result in yet another bureaucratic clusterfuck, the likes of which has become all too common in this country and tends to result in the further disenfranchisement of people like you and me.

My fear is that not only artists and bloggers but also journalists and technological innovators could be powerfully impacted by SOPA and PIPA. From the journalism perspective, these bills could make it possible for someone like Rupert Murdoch to claim copyright infringement thereby causing a story he doesn’t like or an entire publication to go dark. From the tech innovator perspective, the brain cycles of those geniuses who bring us amazing tech advances every day would go to waste on trying to make the internet itself comply with the absurd, red-tape-wrapped regulations that these bills propose.

As a writer, as someone from a family of artists, as the wife of one of those people who makes the internet a fucking amazing place to be, and as a friend of geniuses and nerds of all stripes, I am asking you to continue your opposition to internet censorship. The power of the people, a strong journalistic tradition, and a high value on innovation are the things that make this country one worth living in. Let’s make sure it stays that way. Contact your congressional representatives before Jan. 24, and tell them this legislation is wrong wrong wrong.

xoxo –

MissDirt

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