Word Vomit Wednesday - Flagged

 Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about random thoughts or a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own (unless otherwise indicated); I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

*At the time of posting this, I was and am still partially banned from sharing things on Facebook without any explanation from Facebook.*

Last week I was flagged on Facebook for “hate speech” much to my surprise and to the surprise of pretty much everyone I know. And, if I’m being honest here, I actually felt more inconvenienced than upset about it. I probably should have felt more upset about it because it’s indicative of an enormous and terrifying cultural trend: censoring critical thought and expression while protecting harassment, threats, and bigotry. I have no idea who reported me or what about me or something I posted (I only posted twice last week and I rarely engage with Facebook anymore except to post this blog and work for Female Frequency and maybe “like” some of my friend’s posts) was found to be problematic, which is part of the problem with reporting on social media platforms. No one has any idea what the fuck is going on and nothing is actually accomplished.

I talked to my friend (I’ll call her Viv for this piece) who co-founded and worked for an organization whose intention was to provide support for victims of online harassment. And what she found while working with Twitter and their global trust and safety departments was pretty abysmal. First of all, these are very small departments that employ very few people. Which makes discerning legitimate reportings and enforcing consequences for the hundreds of thousands of claims that come in weekly to be virtually impossible. And because these social media companies don’t want to shell out the money for more manpower on this issue we’re left at the whims of algorithms that end up doing more harm than good. By having bots that are programmed to find keywords and then trigger a ban based on those words removes any kind of discussion about First Amendment rights and protections.

Algorithms have no concept for context and nuance. You can’t define hate speech and symbols without also discussing context and you can’t pretend to care about the First Amendment if you can’t determine what speech is protected and what warrants consequences if there are no people having those discussions while working on cases. By setting up these algorithms you may be able pick up on that Neo-Nazi’s multiple profiles, but you’re probably also lumping people who educate about World War II in with the bigots as if they're in any way equitable. They’re obviously not even close. That's one way in which these social media platforms are doing a great disservice to it’s community members.

While Viv was working at her organization, she had the rare opportunity to personally and directly bring cases to global trust and safety which would expedite the process for her clients significantly. Even then, there were still many obstacles. No two social media platforms have a uniform way they deal with reports and they all require different types of “evidence” from the users filing complaints which users are either not aware of or have no idea how to obtain them. Not only that, but harassment is still just not taken seriously. According to Viv, even after personally bringing forward very serious cases involving death threats it still took 48 hours for any action.

The excuses for not doing more organizationally and even legislatively, is this bullshit idea that the Internet is too fast to even think about putting real protections for people around hate speech, threats of violence, threats to reputation, privacy and consent. Excuse me, but that’s just fucking lazy. So lazy and unwilling to do the work are these social media companies, that they opened up this country to major national security threats (hello, Russia Investigation). And it’s appalling that the people on the Internet who do cause harm and who express themselves with violence are only ever given a slap on the wrist. Why even have a reporting system if no one is going to be held accountable for their actions? Which brings me to my next point. Oftentimes reporting someone (as was in my case last week) is the harassment behavior.

Trolls employ reporting as a harassment tactic CONSTANTLY. My first personal experience with it was last week, but I have seen it happen over and over again to, in particular,  to BIPOC (black, indigenous people of color) activists and advocates (mostly women) that I follow on various social media platforms. And it is enraging every time that these people who are either educating, observing, asking, or sharing are policed at virtually every turn. THAT’S FUCKED UP AND REALLY NOT NECESSARY. But because there is no real discussion or real people discerning the difference between hate speech and a truth that may make someone feel some discomfort, reporting is abused and used violently toward marginalized people. Much in the same way all our other institutions are set up to uphold those same white supremacist and patriarchal standards.

If our society is going to progress in any way, we need to get this mess sorted out. Free speech does not mean one is free from consequences. If someone is being abused they should feel like they’re going to be heard when they reach out. When someone has been flagged, they need to be given specific reasons why something they did or said was deemed inappropriate and be held accountable appropriately, not just given a link to the site’s guidelines. And if someone uses the reporting system in a violent way they should not only be appropriately held accountable for that but also have it communicated to them why what they were reporting was not considered hate speech, etc. Fostering discussion and education through healthy communication practices is something we definitely need in these spaces. If these platforms continue to rely on these algorithms instead of having qualified humans facilitate we are never going to have the resources or professional support that we deserve in these spaces.

Katie Louchheim suggests that if an opinion makes you uncomfortable, go see a therapist before projecting your bullshit inappropriately on others.

Word Vomit Wednesday - AMERICA. Fuck... yeah?

 Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about random thoughts or a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own (unless otherwise indicated); I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

 

 

Tonight I went to my parent’s house for dinner with some family friends, ate homemade pie, and watched some fireworks off in the distance while playing Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” Today is the 4th of July and in the good ol’ U.S. Of A, that means marking our independence as a country. It’s a holiday that I’ve never given much thought to, but just took as a day to hang out with people I love and eat a ton of food. The past couple years has had me, and many other people, starting to think a little more critically about the habits of our country and what it really means to be an American. To be completely honest, this seemingly benign holiday has become a difficult one to celebrate. In the words of one of my favorite people on Twitter, @OhNoSheTwitnt:

 “Celebrating Independence Day feels weird now. Like when Facebook sends you a birthday reminder for one of your friends who’s dead.”

Yup. Let’s just take a look at some of the bullshit we’ve been dealing with since June:

  • At least 8 white supremacists, including admitted pedophile and rapist Nathan Larson are running for federal and state office.

  • 45 called for Samantha Bee, a private citizen, to lose her job.

  • Scott Pruitt spent $1560 on twelve custom fountain pens.

  • The Pentagon reported that U.S. Military operations killed 499 civilians in 45’s first year in office.

  • The EU filed a WTO case in response to 45’s tariffs.

  • Manafort was sent to jail.

  • At least 2,300 children have been separated from their families at the border since the implementation of the DOJ’s “zero tolerance” policy.

  • Baby Concentration Camps

  • The 45 administration withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council.

  • 45 went from calling the people crossing the border “rapists” to comparing them to vermin “infesting” the country.

  • A white male terrorist with a history of misogyny and white supremacy murdered five journalists in Maryland.

  • Surprise! Stephen Miller is America’s Goebbels. *Fun Fact: He’s a Jew! Wow, a Jew who becomes a Nazi. What a neat party trick!

  • ICE is the new SS

  • Space Force

  • More than 600 members of Jeff Session’s church filed a formal complaint accusing him of “child abuse,” “immorality,” and “racial discrimination.” Hey Jeff, you may want to rethink your interpretations of the Bible when your entire Bible study class kicks you out. Just sayin’.

  • 45 rescinded an Obama-era rule meant to protect the Great Lakes and oceans bordering the U.S.

  • Melania is complicit. Duh.

  • Despite a signed executive order to keep migrant families together, there is no actual plan to reunite the nearly 2,300 already separated children with their families.

  • Reported abuse of the kids in the Baby Concentration Camps.

  • 45 plans to meet with U.S. President Putin next month.

  • The “Unite the Right” organizer received approval to hold a “white civil rights” rally on August 12th on the National Mall.

  • The White House plans to merge the Education and Labor Departments.

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders was kicked out of a restaurant because of her continued ride-or-die chick status with 45.

  • Naturalized U.S. Citizens are beginning to be targeted and stripped of their citizenship.

  • Sean Spicer has a new talk show. I’m not going to beat around the bush that he’s been hiding in, but fuck whichever network decided to give him a platform.

  • Federal debt is expected to exceed the size of the economy within a decade.

  • The United Nations estimates 18.25 million Americans are living in “extreme poverty.”

  • The DOJ is drafting a plan to overhaul the U.S. Asylum policy.

  • Rep. Maxine Waters had to cancel multiple events due to a very serious death threat.

SCOTUS Special Programming:

  • Fake clinics are allowed to lie to and manipulate women bc free speech and who gives a fuck about women they’re not really people just baby incubators. Thanks SCOTUS!

  • It’s totally cool to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people if you have a religiously-sanctioned heterosexual agenda.

  • 45’s anti-Muslim rhetoric is being upheld in the form of the Muslim Ban 3.0.

  • Justice Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court. After the announcement, it came out that Kennedy’s son, Justin, worked at Deutsche Bank for more than a decade and loaned Trump more than $1 billion.

     

    All of that was just ONE MONTH. I’m actually stunned with how we’ve been keeping up as much as we have. I have so many WVW’s that I started and then just wasn't sure if I should post because by the time a week or even a few days passed, whatever I had started writing about seemed almost irrelevant. On top of that, I’ve begun to emotional process the realization that whatever illusion of America I felt like I knew and was real has been completely shattered and I’ve been having a time coming to terms with and understanding what this country is and how it has always been and trying to reconcile how to function in a new, productive, and more informed way. It’s overwhelming as fuck, but our only choice right now is to remain hopeful and channel that hope into action and solutions that get us back on track to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all. This Fourth of July is a clear reminder that we are still not free. We need to fight for our freedom every single day in whatever ways we can.

    Today is a complicated day. We’ll probably scorch our food on the grill to commemorate all the bridges we’ve burned to the ground, get drunk on ice-cold brewskis of freedom that do the double-duty of feeding our addiction to lies and illusions while numbing us from feeling the real weight of the dire situation we’re in or the discomfort of actually having to be accountable for the ways in which we’ve been complicit in getting here. We’ll bask in the glow of fireworks, like bombs over Baghdad and every other middle eastern culture we’ve had a hand in destroying while playing the “1812 Overture,” a composition celebrating Russia’s victory over the invasion of Napolean. A tradition that began when it was first played in a Quaker Oats commercial in 1965. Stealing someone else’s anthem via capitalism and claiming it as our own. There’s nothing more American than that.

     

     

    Katie Louchheim has decided to identify as “tired.” 

Word Vomit Wednesday - 1 is Not the Loneliest Number

 Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about random thoughts or a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own (unless otherwise indicated); I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.






About three weeks ago my brother got married (woo!). This event also marked the 8th time I’ve been a bridesmaid. I am always honored when I’m asked to be a part of someone’s bridal party. It really means a lot to me to know how much our relationship matters to the soon-to-be-wed person that they would want me in that kind of a supportive and active role in a ceremony that has great significance for them. What it doesn’t mean though, is that I’m the 30-year-old spinster who can’t get my life together (ie: find a husband and “settle down”) who settles for being in a perpetual “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” scenario. This apparently confuses and concerns many people. Especially when I exhibit emotions at aforementioned weddings. I often become emotional at weddings and that’s usually because of two things: 1. Empathy and 2. Being present.

I am an extremely empathic person, sometimes disablingly so. I pick up other people’s vibes and feelings so often and often so unconsciously it can feel like I’m a human Dyson that hasn’t been turned off and has all this shit swirling around inside. Being an empath has made me a more compassionate person and critical thinker. It has also given me a lot of problems with really knowing myself when I so seamlessly internalize other’s thoughts, feelings and beliefs as they typically become so entangled with my own. Additionally, setting boundaries has been a major struggle for me. If I can’t figure out if my feelings are mine or not, how and where do I need to draw the line with myself and others? Fortunately, I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of work on that and that’s where being present comes in. Learning how to be present has been imperative to my emotional and psychological survival because it allows me the time and space to not only know that I have the ability to turn the empathy vacuum on or off, but to determine when, how much and with whom. When it comes to my experience as a bridesmaid I’ve been able to tap into those to things and allow the timbre of the occasion, the joy, and the heartfelt moments to affect me in a moving way. Also, if I see someone cry you can bet I will start tearing up.

Does all this make sense or are you still waiting for me to start sobbing about the sad state of ruin that is my love life? Hate to disappoint, but I’m really happy with where I’m at. Which is single. What really gets me, though, is people not hearing me when I say that and not believing me when I say that. Whether my expression of emotions is even registered for some people or not, they don’t believe me when I say I’m not interested in marriage. Frankly, it’s offensive. I understand that that may not be the other person’s intention, but impact matters more than intention. In fact, the only time intention is really worth consideration is when it is in alignment with impact. Otherwise, I highly suggest learning how to be accountable for your shit instead of putting it on the person you’re having a negative impact on. When people have pressed me about this topic and not taken themselves accountable, I’m left with so much emotional labor. I usually have to steer the conversation to some bullshit like, “maybe I just haven’t found the right person yet” just to get them off my fucking back because, for whatever reason, they can’t grasp the idea that marriage is not the end-all-be-all for some people.

When I was in second grade, I remember overhearing some of my classmates talking about their weddings and who they wanted to marry. All I remember thinking is, “What am I going to do with my life? How will I make an impact on the world?” There is nothing wrong with wanting to get married and have a family. There is nothing wrong with wanting to find your life’s purpose through work and career. There’s nothing wrong with being single and starting a family. There’s nothing wrong with being in a committed monogamous relationship and never getting married. The list goes on and on. There are so many valid and varied ways to live a fulfilling life… and yet. That first path I mentioned still seems to be deemed the only meaningful one. And that sucks. It sucks for someone like me who has really tried with this dating and romantic relationship thing and it all just feels wrong and like a nuisance. I have never not been miserable in a romantic relationship. It’s taken me a long time to realize that it’s not because there’s something wrong with me, though.

We’re conditioned to this very limiting hetero-normative narrative about what dating and romantic love and marriage is all supposed to be and mean to us. And none of it is particularly realistic and it hasn’t jived with me. So, why am I going to keep engaging in something that I know for a fact doesn’t make me feel good? Why would I spend so much time and energy on that when I can invest in myself and the things that make me feel joy? When I can put love and energy into relationships that already add so much to my life, like my friends, family, and mentors. Those relationships are just as valuable as romantic partnerships. We have to let go of the stereotypes and we have to stop jumping to conclusions about people when they’ve made deliberate life choices. We also really need to stop trying to be “right” about other people’s lives. Seriously, get a fucking hobby and let people be. And if you’re curious because you genuinely don’t understand, ASK THEM. If they agree to talk to you about it, something no one is required to do, LISTEN TO THEM. Don’t try to force your perspective on their experiences. You’re not gonna change their minds and it’s just rude. And if no one wants to talk to you about it, whether you’re rude or not nobody owes you anything, GOOGLE IT. People word vomit their life experiences on the internet all the time (hello and welcome to this very meta episode of WVW) and you’re likely to come across many stories of why people live the lives that they do. Newsflash: it’s not always an indication of being sad and lonely. People’s lives are interesting if you keep an open mind to them!

I could continue on and on about societal expectations on women (they’re fucked up and completely unrealistic so stop it) and talk about all the statistics of heterosexual-identifying people that state that single women are the happiest demographic just behind married men while single men and married women were reported as being most unhappy with married women being the unhappier demo. While this doesn’t represent every single person’s individual marriage, it does make it clear that marriage is an institution that generally only favors men. Because patriarchy. But, I’m not going to go into more of that because I’m not being paid to educate people and it's a great example of a topic you can practice your Google skills on. Try it out!

Anyway, I’m happy where I’m at in my life right now and I’m going to keep living my life based on my values and my intuition whether anybody else likes it or not.

Katie Louchheim hates vacuuming.

Word Vomit Wednesday - Simulacrum

 Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about random thoughts or a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own (unless otherwise indicated); I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.




I’m sitting on my parent’s couch with a heating pad hugging my left shoulder blade because I apparently strained it while trying to see around the very tall woman seated in front of me at Centennial Hall. And while Finding Neverland was a very cute and harmless production, it was definitely not worth this misery and I think I’m feeling more sore about that than I am about the pain itself. Couchella 2018 is about as big of a bummer as every Coachella that doesn’t have Beyoncé performing. It’s also forcing me to literally sit and reflect on this past week in Tucson. This trip has neither been all fibro flare-ups nor without stress entirely, but what it has been is bizarre. I’m coming back to a place that I consciously ran away from partly because I didn’t feel like I could be myself there. Or even find out who that was. It was a place where I felt so trapped and afraid of and frustrated by everything. As the cosmic joke that life can be would have it, my healing journey indicated that it was time to go back and dig into the shit I thought I left behind. As I now know, no one ever leaves anything behind. Wherever you go, there you are and sometimes in order to move forward you need to take a few steps back.

Random Kanye West-style philosophical rambling aside, it is weird being back and knowing that I’m not just heading to New York for good at the end of the week. I’m here seeing my family, family friends, and even some friends I haven’t seen since high school and so much feels unnervingly unchanged. Except for me. Every day I have had a sense of anxiety and unease and it’s not about moving back for this sabbatical. It’s more this jarring out-of-body sensation of recognizing a schema, situation, or dynamic and just feeling slightly off within it. I’m taking that as a positive thing. Because while I am not totally at ease I’m also not totally off-kilter either. I feel more grounded in myself and less like I’m compromising my authenticity like I was when I left almost 11 years ago. It indicates growth and a realization that I have more power in situations. But, it’s also a very naked and vulnerable feeling. Feeling those feelings in these situations that recall seventeen years of previous experience in living here is incredibly confusing. Almost every day I’ve been texting friends telling them how anxious I am, how I can’t just sit still and relax, how I’m constantly looking over my shoulder when I’m out in public, how I’m having such trouble sleeping and I just don’t know why. You would think I was under Witness Protection or something.

No matter where I go I sense this essence of a Katie that no longer exists and it’s obstructing my view of the situation. Like the town is haunted by this emotionally wounded child that just doesn’t have the skills or knowledge to pass on. I don’t know if it’s just my memories coming into sharp focus and confusing the past for present reality, but every day there’s been a moment of haziness where the next thing to do, say, or go is either muddled or doesn’t exist at all. So, maybe that’s the job I’m supposed to do here. Picking up my life one place and putting in another is not the challenge. I’ve done that quite a few times already. And I don’t think exorcising or slaying the demons is what’s called for either because, as I am painfully aware of right now, that will probably just cause strain that cannot be helped by a few hours snuggled up with a heating pad. But maybe learning to face them and help them across the vale will help me actually move on too.

 

 

Katie Louchheim is looking into a career in supernatural diplomacy.

Word Vomit Wednesday - Where is the Music Industry's #MeToo Moment?

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own (unless otherwise indicated); I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

 

If you're a human who exists and is somewhat aware of things happening around you, you've probably heard these two words a lot recently: me too. These words no longer hold the same meaning they once had. No longer are they bouncing with excitement when a common interest between new friends is revealed or jumping in to join brunch plans for the weekend. It turns out, those two tiny words in the English lexicon have been carrying an enormous weight and are now wielding their true power. Activist Tarana Burke started the #MeToo Movement nearly 10 years ago as a way to help victims and survivors of sexual assault and harassment feel supported and know they're not alone. 

Fast forward to October 2017, both The New York Times and the New Yorker came out with harrowing stories from women who alleged harassment and assault, by now-disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Since then, stories highlighting everything from inappropriate and harmful behavior in the workplace to coercive and manipulative behaviors by men on casual dates have been starting long overdue conversations and taking powerful men down left and right, across all industries. All except one. The music industry. And because I am not an idiot and you are not an idiot, we know that it's not because the music industry is a beacon of light in the darkest corners of our culture, but one of it’s worst offenders. So, why is the music industry’s #MeToo moment so long overdue? 

Art in itself aims to push the envelope and the boundaries of what is considered “decent” by whatever cultural standards are being upheld at the time. It’s also a way to underscore hypocrisies, build empathy, and look at our lives from different perspectives. Music, especially, is a gift in the ways it can get straight to the heart of feelings that cannot be expressed fully through verbal communication. In the mainstream, Rock ‘n’ Roll became the vehicle, the code of conduct and the badge of honor for, specifically, the men who became it’s stars. But the puritanical American environment it proclaimed to be railing against was just the flip side of the same coin. While it was claiming to subvert norms of the day, really what was it but another pulpit for white men to preach, set the narrative, and do whatever the fuck they wanted with almost zero consequence. Whether it was the men onstage or the men behind the scenes, exploitation (of women, black musicians, etc.) has always been the name of the game. In an industry that prides itself on being anti status-quo with the tagline of “Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll”, it sure does everything in its power to maintain it. The counter-culture as a facade of just our shitty culture. Since it really only applies to men, it also makes the sentiment less rebellious and expressive and much more insidious. 

Everything that we hear and know about going on in these other industries is and has been going on in the music industry. So why is it that, when we know someone can sing or play their ass off or produce some great records, we turn a blind eye. And it’s not like women haven’t tried to fight back. When they fight or attempt to take control of their careers and lives the smear campaigns are brutal. She was on drugs, she’s a diva, she’s a liar, she’s just a groupie looking for a payout, she’s having a mental breakdown, look what she wears onstage, she didn’t write those songs, how many people did she have to blow to get that famous and successful, didn’t she know what kind of business she was getting into, and on and on and on. 

One of the only stories we’ve heard anything about in the past couple of years is Kesha’s battle with producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald. Her case went public as she began to fight him in court in hopes of being released from her contract, in which her record label Sony would only allow her to release music if it was with him. Though her collaborations with him on hit songs like “Tik Tok” catapulted her into the mainstream, it was at a steep emotional, psychological, and economic cost to her. It came to light that Dr. Luke put her through a wringer of alleged emotional and verbal abuse, manipulation, drug use and rape. (For a timeline of the case, click here). Who the fuck would want or even be able to muster the energy to try and work collaboratively with a predatory piece of shit like that. But Sony stood by their man and a contract that she signed with him when she was just a teenager. They couldn’t have cared less about her career let alone her well-being as a human. Her recent performance of new music at the Grammy’s was from the first album she was legally allowed to release in five years. And her legal entanglements with Dr. Luke and this nightmare is still far from over for her. It’s still unclear whether she was only allowed to release the music because he gave her permission to do so. Which, if true, means that he is continuing to profit off her and her pain which he has personally caused. This is sickening. 

Her story, though, is not unusual. This industry has a habit of preying upon very young girls and women, turning them into objects of sexual desire for men, and dismissing them when they no longer want to play by those rules. A friend of mine who was in a band that used to go on Warped Tour in the summers, recalled to me that at seventeen-years-old she would be ushered into clubs by music industry men and touched inappropriately and in ways she was not comfortable with. And because she was so young she had no idea what to do about it and probably no one to report to. It’s not like this industry has a functioning HR department. This experience is one of the more tame ones that I could write about here. It’s a predicament that is familiar to a majority of women and it’s the same no matter what part of the industry you’re occupying: executive, A&R, production and engineering, artist. If you’re a woman or female/femme-identifying person you’re facing an uphill battle in a fortress that’s foundation is entirely made out of the objectified bodies and subsequent victimization of women. This excellent article here, highlights just how the industry is set up to fail women.

Another more well-known abuser that literally nothing has been done about is R. Kelly. Not only does he currently have multiple women trapped in various homes, completely cut off from their families and basically being used as sex slaves, HE’S. A. PEDOPHILE. Y’ALL. Remember when he married a then fifteen-year-old Aaliyah (RIP) when he was almost thirty? Yeeeeeaaaaahhh. But because of a combo of him having “talent,” being a punchline on a very memorable episode of South Park, and seeming to only abuse black women people just turn their heads the other way. You best believe though, if he had fucked a fifteen-year-old Taylor Swift when she was starting out there would be no more after parties in hotel lobbies and all of the women trapped in his closet could be set free because he’d finally be trapped behind bars. This industry, literally, let’s men get away with pretty much everything. Women could not matter any less. 

Women don’t have time for this type of fuckery, so we’ve been making our own spaces to create music, polish our engineering and producing chops and pass on our knowledge to female, transgender, and gender non-conforming youth. AND YET. Without a beat there will be a yearly article wondering aloud where all the women producers and engineers are. It is BEYOND fucking frustrating. It is the laziest piece of journalism, if you can even call it that, ever written. There are groups and labels all over the world that exist to support and connect female music professionals. I can name six off the top of my head: Female Frequency, Soundgirls, Women in Music, Women’s Audio Mission, Beatz by Girls, Gender Amplified, Inc. I’ve worked with Female Frequency for the past three years and for about a year I’ve been in charge of their #tbt posts in which I highlight a woman and/or queer artist/producer/dj/engineer etc. and I find them with just a simple Google search if I’m not already thinking of someone specific. I swear to goddess I will strangle the author of the next “Where Are All the Female Blah-Dee Blahh Blahs” if they don’t start talking to actual female professionals in the industry and critically thinking about how the music industry has and continues to shut views out that don’t fit in a nice white cishet patriarchal narrative. Here's one of the only articles I have ever seen to not pull this bullshit. 

A sliver of this ignorance was showcased recently in an interview that NARAS (the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) president, Neil Portnow gave to Variety in which he said, in so many words, that if women wanted to be successful in this industry they needed to “step up.” Just so I don’t go through my intense feelings of anger as I write about this again, I’m going to leave a snippet of a piece I wrote that was one part response to his comments after the most recent Grammys and another part Female Frequency #tbt featuring the incredible Amanda Palmer and her response to his completely out of touch statement: 

“...when an ignorant and brutally out of touch Neil Portnow got on that Grammy stage this past weekend and told women in the industry in the condescending patriarchal way that so many of us are accustomed to that they need to “step up” to be successful, I took a deep breath. He just spoke in front of an audience that included Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monae, Pink, Lady Gaga and so many other of the most successful, innovative, and vocal women in our industry and told them that they are not doing enough. He stood on that stage that Kesha had just poured her pain and heart out in a song about her healing from sexual assault to an arena filled with people who were complicit in the system that allowed her to be assaulted and abused and even prohibited her from doing her job for four years and implied that those roadblocks were her fault. This kind of vile proclamation is not new to many of us. Palmer released a statement this week in response, “... I stepped up, dear industry dudes, I am making a really healthy salary every year and paying an entire team and hundreds of other musicians and artists and producers to collaborate with me in getting art out into the world. I am doing this all without the Grammys, without the major labels, without the completely corrupt radio stations, without the news media, without television, and without acknowledgement from any of the industry awards or contests, ever. So suck it, Neil Portnow. No woman in the industry needs to be told to ‘step up.’” She goes on to request the following action, “Women have been stepping the fuck up, and you have every opportunity - more than you ever did - to support them, now. When they step up, be the stairs” (you can find her full statement with this link). Be the stairs and lift up marginalized voices. That is the only way parity is going to happen and this is why Female Frequency exists. And Soundgirls and Beats by Girls and Women Beatmakers and WIM and WAM and the list goes on and on. We have stepped up and continue to step up in an industry that has made it clear that our points of view and experiences are not welcome, so we’ve made the space for them to have a voice. We are mastering our crafts and we are excellent at what we do. The #MeToo movement has yet to have the impact on the music industry that it desperately needs to, but I’m not worried about that. In the event of the reckoning about to hit, and it will most definitely hit, I have a suggestion for Portnow and his like-minded ilk: if you don’t want to get steamrolled I suggest, sirs, that it’s time for you to step aside.” 

The backlash was swift and soon reports began coming out about the emergence of a “female advancement” music industry task force at NARAS with a statement from Portnow, “I understand the hurt that my poor choice of words following last Sunday’s GRAMMY telecast has caused… I also now realize that it’s about more than just my words. Because those words, while not reflective of my beliefs, echo the real experience of too many women. I’d like to help make that right.” First of all, a half-assed non-apology is not a great a start. We’re not doing that anymore. Because so many of these statements have a history of being empty and as excuses to save face in the court of public opinion, the idea of a task force whose goal is to “do more to overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community” sounds like a whole lotta unspecific bullshit. Because this is the thing, if The Academy specifically, and the industry at large wanted to change they’d have to tear the whole thing down and start anew for that to happen, and that’s not going to happen unless it’s forced to. This industry is predicated on the objectification of women as a vehicle for cishet white male rage and desire. Until that view is obliterated, nothing of real value will change. 

 

Word Vomit Wednesday - #WINNING

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

 

Hey all, happy Wednesday and Valentine’s Day! I’m still working on my #MeToo/Music industry piece for you all so, expect that in the next few weeks. There’s just so much about it to work through and my head feels like it’s going to explode every time I sit down to write it and that’s why it’s taking SO LONG. In the meantime, I would like to share with you some good news that I received this morning: MY HEALTH INSURANCE IS COVERING MY BIRTH CONTROL!!!! You may be thinking, “Ummm, isn’t birth control supposed to be already covered by insurance, like, by law?” And to that I would respond, “Our White House is full of white supremacists, sexual predators, and dogmatic followers of Gilead and nothing mAkes SEnse or MaTTeRS ANYMORE. EVERYTHING IS CHAOS HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA?”

Before my maniacal cry laughter makes you completely back away from me, let me give you some background. I have had to be on birth control since I was about 12 years old because of period pain and symptoms that were reminiscent of being stabbed repeatedly in the uterus by a ghost (for those of you who already know this part of my story feel free to tune out). It turns out that I was not being physically assaulted by the paranormal once a month, but had a fun case ( and by fun case, I mean incurable disease) of Endometriosis. After going through maybe two or three types of birth control pills that were available at the time, it became apparent I was going to need stronger stuff.

For eight years I got a shot of Depo Provera in my hip every three months. Was this birth control that helped me be pain free and function like a normal human being (really teenager, so as normal as a teenager can be) covered by insurance? NO. DUH. Remember, as much as our health insurance sucks now it sucked WAAAAY more before the ACA passed. Anyway, my expectations of getting any medical help from anyone but my parents was extremely low. So, when I switched back to the pill (there were more options now) it was as seamless as it could be. I didn’t have to try a million things, my doctor gave me samples of Loestrin FE to try and I felt fine on them. Because this was still pre-ACA it wasn’t covered, but once the ACA passed…. IT STILL WASN’T COVERED.

Loestrin FE (which later became Minastrin and is now Taytulla) was not covered because it is not a generic medication so you have to prove that you can’t take any other meds before they’ll cover it, otherwise you will have to pay out of pocket for it ($130 - $224 a pack). For a while, if my pill got rejected my doctor had to file an emergency appeal stating that I needed it to manage my endo and later (when I did try the generic) that I couldn’t be on the alternatives because they threw me into depressive spirals. Usually this was all it took and then I’d be ok for another year. Wash, rinse, repeat for about 6 years. About a year and a half ago I decided to try a different pill and I felt fine on it for awhile. I later decided it wasn’t for me and to go back to the pill that I’d previously been on and I expected the process to be the same as it was before. Except this time, they didn’t care that my doctor had submitted my medical reasons for needing to be on this particular formula. They rejected it. Twice. And let me tell you, they came for the wrong bitch.

I took the stack of rejection papers they mailed to me, highlighted and made notes all over them and decided to fight them. It’s been close to a month of being on the phone with many CVS Caremark agents, playing phone tag with my nurse at my OB/GYN’s office (she suggested we should get our own separate hotline), requesting documents, sending documents and even reaching out to start finding legal representation if they continued to give us shit. And this morning, my nurse called me to tell me they caved and will be covering my birth control for the year. It was the best news I could receive and I’m dropping off a nice bottle of bubbly for my nurse at her office tomorrow. Seriously, get you some medical professionals that fight for you and support you. We all deserve that. Also, I need you to let this sink in for a bit: this ordeal was JUST about birth control. The victory aside, this experience screams to me how in trouble women’s health and reproductive rights are right now. Not that we’ve ever been in the clear, but that’s another Word Vomit for another Wednesday.

While, if push comes to shove I have the privilege to have the option to pay for this medication out of pocket, it was so important for me to be vigilant about my care. It was important to let them know that I know what I’m worth and what I need. It was important to me to not stay silent because that’s how they get away with treating people like a bottom line instead of a person. I don’t know why my insurance ultimately decided to approve my medication, but I have a feeling it was partly because they realized that they were dealing with someone who isn’t easily intimidated by a stack of papers, who knows that they have no grounds or basis for denying me care, and would fight them til the bitter end.

 

 

Katie Louchheim would like to give all the Valentines to all those medical professionals who have dedicated their lives to caring and supporting women and our health. You are invaluable and you make the world a better place for us all.

 

Word Vomit Wednesday - A New Year and A Breakup

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

CW: Rape/PTSD

Hey all! The first month of the new year is coming to a close and I ended up taking a much longer hiatus from the blog than originally intended (my bad) and that’s partly due to a mix of a lot of travel, some big changes happening in my life, as well as this month being a very tough one emotionally for me. More on that later. First, I want to tell you about some of these changes I’ve been making. The most significant change for me this year, after living in New York for nearly 11 years, is that I will be leaving and moving back to Tucson this summer. I don’t know how long I’ll be in Arizona for, all I know is that I am viewing my time there as a Sabbatical to help me work on things I am passionate about, be closer to my family, and figure out where I want to go next. This breakup with New York has been in process for the past year and a half, maybe even two years. At this time I finally feel ready to make the move and embrace what happens.

I first started seriously thinking about leaving when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and PTSD and was looking at it purely through a health lens. My thinking went, if my nervous system is overstimulated and causing me to be in pain to the extent of not feeling capable of holding down a job or just living my life generally, living in an overstimulating environment might be a major contributor, right? While that is true and perfectly sound reasoning, I wasn’t entirely convinced that I was actually ready to make the change. My logical self and emotional self were not quite at odds, but were definitely in conflict. My health became priority #1, but I struggled to rectify the idea of leaving New York when I still hadn’t accomplished what I set out to accomplish by moving here in the first place. Big dreams like being the first woman to win a Producer of The Year Grammy or having a creative presence everywhere from stage to big screen, to goals that society tells us we need to be, like being a fully independent human with a house and well-paying job by age 25 hadn’t exactly panned out as planned. I had to come to terms with the fact that me being able to live and thrive is more important than killing myself over standards that were set by those who would never even consider my particular reality. I had come so far and so close to having the career I wanted that to admit to myself that over 20 years of studying, performing, working my ass off to establish myself that this path was not right for me anymore. I felt like I failed myself and I needed to process that too.

As I spent this last year feeling pretty lost, I realized that the reason I’m even here and have gotten to do and experience the things that I have is because a 7-year-old Katie realized singing was awesome, that music held a space for her that no one and nothing else was able to when she needed it, and decided to dedicate almost every waking moment to learning and mastering as much as possible. I’ve been living my life based on the dreams and aspirations of a 7-year-old kid which is pretty wild if you think about it and also entirely understandable why, at 30, I would  now have different needs and visions for myself. I owe a great debt to that kid though. She had the imagination to dream big, the audacity to ignore those who felt she was weird and unrealistic, the undying belief in her own worth and potential, and the dedication to continually work hard at something she was so passionate about. That kid was pretty fucking awesome and I owe her a lot. I think she’d still be proud of me and unbelievably stoked by the things I’ve been able to do and the people I’ve met and been honored to work with even though I’m not the rock star she intended for me to be. Kid Katie, thank you.

Career and dream stuff aside, there’s NYC itself. For anyone who lives or has lived here, it’s really unlike being anywhere else. The city is so dynamic that it’s almost like another person in your life. That’s the main reason why I’m calling this move a breakup because it feels like the end of my longest, most serious relationship. In fact, it is my longest and most serious relationship. Once the thought of leaving popped into my head, I was all of a sudden being bombarded with memories at every turn. It was as if New York was bargaining with me saying, “But remember all those times?” Of course, I remember those times. Like any new mutually felt relationship it was the beginning of an exciting new world opening up. The newness, endless possibilities for adventure and success were intoxicating and even the challenges gave way to immense growth and opportunity. I was able to start fresh in a place where I barely knew anyone which gave me the freedom to shed old roles that I never felt were me and try on some new ones. There were really great times. And drunk times, times of being in sheer awe of where I was while walking through Central Park, the frustrating times of waiting for the MTA to get their shit together, great concerts, weekend trips, beginnings of some of my most valuable friendships, then end of some very toxic ones, and also some of the absolute worst times. Times that I thought would finally break me.

I’ve grown a tremendous amount as a person and have learned so much about myself as a result of living here. What I know about myself right now is, that at some point I went from living here out of excitement and possibility to living here out of fear of what a failure I’d be if I left. Not the best ingredients for a healthy relationship. I’m also at a point where I finally feel clear again about what I want to be focusing my time and energy on and the things that were once challenges here, are now obstacles getting in the way of that. So, this is what leaving New York will mean for me: I’ll be able to focus more and be more consistent with this blog, put up the accompanying podcast, and work on a book that I hope to turn into a graphic novel and have published. It’s been difficult to give what I want to give to these projects while living in a place where it takes so much time and energy to just take care of the bare essentials of survival. Now that I’m committed to these projects and have more clarity of a path, leaving for more open space and room to think and live is a no brainer. I’m feeling extremely grateful that I am no longer afraid to take that leap. Thank you New York for helping me arrive at this place.

Just as new years are opportunities for reflection and instituting change, we are who we are and we bring all of our parts of us with us into the new year. I’ve had some trouble posting this blog the past couple of weeks because my PTSD has been acting up. The continuation of stories and discussions from the #MeToo movement coupled with this month being the 4-year-anniversary of me being raped has been very emotionally and physically draining. As I write this, I feel like every muscle in my body has been lifting weights for 72 hours straight even though all I’ve done is read and watch The Shannara Chronicles on Netflix. Dealing with flashbacks, conscious and unconscious triggers, reemergence of uncomfortable feelings of shame, guilt, and rage has meant I’ve needed to be more loving and gentle with myself during this time. This part of myself and my experience is also still very hard for me to talk about.

Thankfully I’m getting better at healing. I know that these feelings will not last forever. Experience has taught me that I’m stronger than the shittiest moment that my brain puts on loop, and that gives me hope. As we enter 2018, I’m feeling extremely grateful, strong and excited. We all have a lot of work to do so, let’s make the changes we need at the pace we need. Let’s keep important conversations and actions going and discard anything that no longer serves us. Onward and upward!

 

 

Katie Louchheim just dumped a f*ck ton of word vomit on you so, as a palate cleanser go check out her cool new blue hair on her Instagram @ktjlouch. Happy New Year!

Recommended Listening: “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me - Dionne Warwick

Word Vomit Wednesday - Yearly Wrap-Up

 Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

 

This year has been a doozy. Where last year everything and everyone we loved seemed to drop dead every other day, this year has brought about us picking up the pieces and laying a foundation for the country and lives we want. It has not been easy. Between one natural disaster after another, being gaslighted by the president, white supremacists feeling emboldened, more mass shootings by white men with histories of domestic violence, to shitty politicians and policies (the repeal of Net Neutrality JUST happened. Fuck you Ajit Pai.), and tweets that could possibly set off a nuclear holocaust (and more!) this year has been stressful AF. We have had a constitutional crisis nearly every single day. And we're still fighting. Since the Women's March on Washington the day after 45's inauguration we have not stopped and because of that, real changes seem to be forming. We are in high-tide with no chance of slowing our roll in sight. Meeting, marching, voting, calling our representatives, and taking down the patriarchy has become a daily part of most of our lives and it's making an impact.

Tarana Burke's #metoo movement has begun to hold men accountable for their actions and complicity is in the oppression and subjugation of women while letting women and other victims/survivors of sexual harassment and assault know that they will finally be believed. Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought charges against high-ranking connections to the 45 Administration in his investigation of collusion with Russia. We voted in women, POC, and transgender folx into offices (firsts for many districts) that have traditionally been held by middle-aged white men. And, Alabama, voted in Doug Jones, a champion of civil rights, instead of an alleged pedophile and let the GOP and RNC know that they wont stand for their party over people bullshit. 

There will continue to be highs and lows in the coming year and as we head into 2018 midterms, but if 2017 is any indication, we're going in stronger and more determined than ever.

 

On another note, I will be taking a few weeks off of posting WVW so I can focus on spending time with my family and resting over the holidays. I will be back in the new year with new posts and... the podcast! I'm really looking forward to getting that part of all of this going :) I want to thank everyone for their support and comments and DMs about the blog and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season. 

 

Katie Louchheim would really just like to be on vacation now.

 

 

 

 

Word Vomit Wednesday - Apology

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

 

 

Thanksgiving was a little rough this year, which means that for a person living with chronic pain and illness, like myself, a huge amount of time to heal afterward was necessary. I was so stressed out this past holiday that the moment I got back to the safe space that is my apartment, my body turned into a brick and I was unable to get out of bed for a good 24 hours. The following days were spent being in intense physical pain topped off with an emotional state of hyper-vigilance and panic. It’s taken me over a week to “normalize” and feel like myself again. My days generally focus on checking in with myself constantly and making decisions based on what I’m feeling and how much energy I have. It makes it hard to commit to anything because my energy can (and does) change at the drop of a hat. And because there’s no known cause that medical institutions can point to for Fibromyalgia, I end up having to try a million things to see what feels helpful and what doesn’t.

My life is literally in my own hands. And it’s a full-time job. So, below I’d like to share an exercise that I have used off and on that has been really helpful for me on my healing journey with chronic pain (and other wounds) and maybe it can be a tool that you can have in your toolbox too. I’ve used this tool to write to younger versions of myself that needed soothing and understanding and to specific body parts that I’ve historically been angry with. Every time it’s hit an emotional nerve that has led to some form of catharsis and deeper understanding of myself. This week I wrote a letter to my fibro asking for forgiveness and extending an olive branch for moving forward together. I added a new component for myself by writing a response letter as my fibro. This second part was extremely powerful for me because I was able to give voice to a part of myself that had important things to say and needed to be heard.

Here are my letters:

Dear Fibromyalgia,

 

I have been feeling really tested this week. I spend all the time and energy I have working with you and around you. As much as I feel like we’re figuring things out sometimes weeks like the past couple hit and I find that I just don’t know what you want. I know you’re helping me to acknowledge areas of my life and feelings I need to work on, but why does it have to hurt so much? I know it’s out of trying to help me and protect me. I cannot express how eternally grateful I am for that. Especially since, you’re probably very used to being treated so ungratefully from me. I’ve minimized you, ignored you, blamed you for holding me back in life and equated you to weakness. So now that I’m trying to be open to conversation and to building a relationship it can feel like the levees breaking and I’m drowning. I’m trying not to view this that way anymore. Maybe this is more like me breaking out of the cocoon you’ve turned my body into so that I can eventually break free into the form I’m supposed to be. Becoming is not and has not been easy. Or glamorous. Or simple to explain. And it’s taking a really long time. I’m learning to trust the process and I’m learning to listen and take appropriate actions for myself. I’m sorry for not trusting you and for treating you like you didn’t matter. Because in doing that, it’s meant that that’s how I’ve felt about and treated myself. I hope you can forgive me and that we can continue to move forward in friendship, even in times of regression. I will keep in mind that, those times especially, are reminders to treat both of us gently.

 

Your friend,

KT

 

 

Dear KT,

 

Thank you for this letter and your apology. I know how earth-shattering and difficult these past few years have been for you. This has been a learning process for me too. As you’re growing and learning, I’m having some trouble letting go. What can I say? Old habits die hard. I’ve sprung into action so immediately and for so long for you that it’s hard for me to find other ways to help you to manage what life throws at you. You’ve been through alot and I’m extremely proud of who you are and all the work you’ve been doing. I will always be here for you and I look forward to continuing moving forward together. Even if that moving forward sometimes looks like stepping backward. Like you said, becoming is not easy. And I know when you finally emerge from one form to the next you will realize and take ownership of the power you have and lead a life that is meaningful for you.

 

Love always,

Fibro

 

Katie Louchheim is here for the destigmatization of mental, chronic, and “invisible” illnesses and hopes you are too.

Word Vomit Wednesday - 30 Things About Being 30

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself. 

 

Hello lovely people! Today’s WVW will be a departure from the usual content because 1) it’s suuuuuper late (I meant to post last week and not this week) and 2) I turned 30 last week (hence why I did not post)! To commemorate this new decade and because we live in the Buzzfeed era, I’ve decided to do some personal reflection and make a list of 30 of some of the more important things I have learned up to this point. Some lessons took a very long time to sink in, some I had to learn quickly and unexpectedly, and some I’ve always had with me. In no particular order, here they are:

 

1. If you say you’re going to do something, do the best you can. You’re allowed to take your time. You’re allowed to change your mind. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad or flaky person if you’re not always able to follow through.

 2. Manage your damage. You deserve healing and people in your life who recognize you as human instead of punish you for it. It is the hardest, least selfish, and most rewarding work you will ever do. Give yourself that gift.

 3. You have a lot to offer. Don’t feel pressured to only give what people may want of you, but figure out how and what you want to contribute on terms that make sense for you.

 4. The most important relationship you have is with yourself. As cliched and overly-simplistic as this statement is, it’s also true. No one is going to be with you as much or as long as you will be with yourself. Figuring out how to be the best you for you makes things feel a lot easier and can even help make approaching your other relationships more manageable.

 5. It’s ok to be vulnerable and it’s imperative to be selective about who to be vulnerable to. Feeling vulnerable is all about feeling safe and can also very much be about context. Not everyone can or should be entrusted with your heart and your experiences, so paying close attention to picking up on who is safe and who isn’t is an important skill to develop. Which brings us to...

 6. Listen to your body. For pain, red flags, pleasure. You may not understand exactly what your body is telling you in the moment, but it’s important. We get so many messages about how we should be and what we could be doing. While a lot of this messaging is meant to help us to be our “best selves” all it really ends up doing is making us distrustful of our own experiences, instincts, and intuition regarding what is actually best for us.

 

7. Trust yourself.

 

8. People will treat you like shit. Sometimes it’s systemic based on who you are and other times hurt people hurt people. Either way, dump those people and situations.  They will only hold you back.

 9. It’s ok to be angry and to show it. In some circumstances it’s absolutely necessary. Anger and rage are basic human emotions and are not indications of the kind of person one is, but who would know that based on how our relationship to anger is so fucked up in our society. Women aren’t allowed to express it and men are expected to express it frequently and violently neither of which are healthy for individuals or the community at large. Healthy relationships to our anger (and other emotions) can let us know when a boundary is crossed and can give us the energy necessary to assert ourselves.

 10. Be curious. Ask anything and everything. The less mysterious the world is, the less fear is controlling the steering wheel in our lives.

 11. If you can, travel as much as possible. You’ll learn things about the world and about yourself by getting out of your comfort zone. Sometimes, just going out in your own backyard can be enough of an inspiration or adventure. 

 12. Stop feeling bad for wanting and needing things. Toughing shit out just because that’s what we’re told to do is terrible advice. All you’re doing is suppressing important information about yourself.

 13. Friends will come and go, and with them many gifts and insights into different moments from your life.

 14. There is nothing wrong with you. Even if you’re suffering, it may not have anything to do with who you are or anything you have done.

15. There might be something wrong with you. Sometimes if you’re suffering there might be an underlying condition that warrants investigation.  

16. Take your medical health into your own hands. Don’t settle for medical professionals who don’t actually help you find the answers and treatment you need and also make you feel like shit about it. Your health is more important than their God-complex. 

17. Things that once held the most importance to you may change due to unexpected circumstances. Embrace the change and reevaluate your priorities by putting yourself first.

 18. Mourn the person and dreams you thought you would be and have accomplished by this point. Just because things didn’t come to fruition the way you once imagined they would, doesn’t mean those dreams were stupid or a failure. Those parts of you and the space they occupied deserve to be honored. 

 19. Throw societal expectations out the window and learn about who you are instead. The world, and you, will benefit more from showing up as your authentic self than what you think the world wants you to be.

 20. It’s none of your business what other people think of you.

 21. Use your privilege to make space for other marginalized voices and allow others to make space for you to use yours. But, and depending on what space is being occupied, don’t wait to be invited to use your voice.

 22. You will face very difficult and sometimes traumatic situations in your life. You may struggle with decisions in the moment or for years afterward, but there is no right solution. There is only what will be the healthiest for you, sometimes on a moment to moment basis.

 23. Ask for help. As a being that is human, you have limits. It’s ok to know what those are and ask for assistance. No one expects you to be able to do everything yourself and if you find yourself surrounded by people who do, you may not be surrounded by the healthiest people and/or you’ve somehow infiltrated a robot army. So, back away s l o w l y.

 24. Spend time with the people who are most important to you. This seems like a no-brainer but can often feel like a huge challenge. We come up with all kinds of excuses not to be together: too much work, not enough money, who will watch my cat, etc. Sometimes we really can’t get away, but a lot of times we just need to get off the grind.

25. VOTE AND CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES

 26. You may have people you admire and works of art that you love for all kinds of reasons. Creativity can unite us, help us empathize with one another, and speak truth to power. Once a person wakes up to the power structures that affect and oppress us in daily life, they will also realize that no matter how much joy someone, a song, or a film can bring, it does not mean that it may not be problematic AF too.

 27. Allow life to happen, but not too much. Be more proactive in your own life lest you get too swept away in other people’s decisions.

 28. Figure out your boundaries and set them. If others don’t respect them, that’s a reflection of them not you. And take that as a cue to dump those people as fast as possible. You can’t change anyone so don’t continue to kowtow to people who think your feelings/needs are not as valid as theirs.

 29. People will surprise you. Just as you are changing, so is everyone around you. Sometimes these surprises will hurt and other times they will move you to the happiest tears. 

 30. Allow yourself to acknowledge all the good things in your life, everything you’ve accomplished, and the love you get from others. It’s ok to accept and be recognized for your awesomeness without deflecting or self-deprecating. Because you’re great, no excuses needed! 

 

 

Katie Louchheim could not be offered enough money to EVER want to relive her 20s. She has a feeling the best  is yet to come. 

Word Vomit Wednesday - Anniversary

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

 

 

This time last year I parted ways with my girlfriends, bleary-eyed and in a fog. We didn’t even finish watching the coverage because we knew where it was heading. This time last year my numbness from shock slowly morphed into dread as I cocooned myself in a shield of blankets as the realization of how much more danger my life and the lives of many began to sink in. I was mortified, humiliated, and utterly heartbroken. The eerie silence of the street outside my window as the sky cried echoed my state of mind and the minds of many that day. This time last year I didn’t know how we were going to make it through the next 24 hours let alone the next two years. Last night, a year later, I finally feel relief. Our fear fueled into action made an enormous impact. Look at what we accomplished:

Congratulations to Danica Roem. Roem made history by becoming Virginia’s first openly transgender elected official. Not only that, but she beat the legislator who authored the abhorrent and infamous Bathroom Bill. Let that sink in for a second. She will be joining Virginia’s House of Delegates.

Congratulations to Larry Krasner on becoming Philly’s new DA. As a civil rights lawyer, he has made a career of defending activists, standing up to and suing law enforcement.

Congratulations to Phil Murphy on his gubernatorial win in New Jersey.

Congratulations to Andrea Jenkins on becoming the first openly transgender woman of color elected to public office in the US to the Minneapolis City Council.

Congratulations to Ralph Northam on his gubernatorial win in Virginia.

Congratulations to Lee Carter on his win in Virginia’s House of Delegates in the 50th district.

Congratulations to Justin Fairfax on becoming Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and only the second African-American to win a statewide post in Virginia since Reconstruction.

Congratulations to Sheila Oliver on becoming Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey, and being the first African-American woman to hold that title.

Congratulations to Michelle De La Isla on becoming Mayor of Topeka, Kansas.

Congratulations to Ravi Bhalla on becoming the first Sikh American mayor in US history, of Hoboken, New Jersey.

Congratulations to Mazahir Salih, a Sudanese immigrant, on being elected to the City Council of Iowa City.

Congratulations to Vi Lyles on becoming the first African-American woman mayor of Charlotte, Virginia.

Congratulations to the state of Maine for putting your health first and expanding Medicaid.

Congratulations to community activist Justin Brannan on winning a City Council seat in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Congratulations to Bill de Blasio on his second term mayoral win in NYC. (Please be better because you’ve kinda sucked these past few years. Good talk. Love, New Yorkers).

Congratulations to Chris Hurst on joining Virginia’s House of Delegates.

Congratulations to Attorney General Mark Herring on his re-election win in Virginia.

Congratulations to Joyce Craig on becoming the first woman to serve as Mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire.

Congratulations to Michael A. Soriano on becoming Mayor of Parsippany, New Jersey.

Congratulations to Manka Dhingra for her special election Senate seat win in Washington State.

Congratulations to Yvonne Spicer on becoming the first mayor of Framingham, Massachusetts.

Congratulations to Janet Diaz on becoming the first Latina member of the City Council in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Congratulations to Booker Gainor on becoming the first African-American mayor of Cairo, Georgia.

Congratulations to Laura Curran on becoming the first woman to hold the County Executive title in New York’s Nassau County.

Congratulations to Lisa Middleton on becoming the first openly transgender person to be elected to a non-judicial office in California, joining the City Council of Palm Springs.

Congratulations to Wilmot Collins on becoming mayor of Helena, Montana. He is a refugee from Liberia, and is the first black mayor in Montana’s history.

Congratulations to Elizabeth Guzman on becoming one of the first Latinas elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

Congratulations to Hala Ayala on becoming one of the first Latinas elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

Congratulations to Melvin Carter on becoming the first African-American mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Congratulations to Lydia Edwards on being elected to District 1 of Boston’s City Council.

Congratulations to Kim Janey on being elected to District 7 of Boston’s City Council.

Congratulations to Jennifer Foy on being elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

Congratulations to Wendy Gooditis on being elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

Congratulations to Kathy Tran on being the first Asian-American woman elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

Congratulations to Jennifer Boysko on being elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

Congratulations to Kelly Fowler on being elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

Congratulations to Tyler Titus on becoming the first openly transgender man elected to a seat on the Erie School Board in Pennsylvania.

Congratulations to Delaware County (Delco) on becoming Democrat-controlled for the first time since Pennsylvania became a state in 1787.

Congratulations to Jerry Shi on being elected to the Edison, New Jersey School Board.

Congratulations to Falguni Patel on being elected to the Edison, New Jersey School Board.

Congratulations to Jonathan McCollar on becoming the first African-American mayor of Statesboro, Georgia.

Congratulations to Brendan Barber on becoming the first African-American mayor of Georgetown, South Carolina.

Congratulations to Mary Parham Copelan on becoming the first African-American mayor of Milledgeville, Georgia.

Congratulations to Vernetta Alston, a queer death penalty attorney who has helped exonerate black men with DNA evidence, for being elected to the Durham City Council.

Congratulations to Jenny Durkan on becoming Seattle’s first woman mayor since the 1920s (the first was Bertha Knight Landes in 1926) and first lesbian mayor at that.

Congratulations to Phillipe Cunningham on becoming the second openly transgender person to be elected to the Minneapolis City Council.

A majority of these positions that once were red now bleed blue. And a fuck ton of old, white, cis-het, republican men were rightfully fired from their positions. Exclusion and discrimination are disqualifiers. We don’t need public servants who only serve a portion of the public. This time last year everything changed. More people were inspired to take action, run for office, and fight for the America that we want to be and not the America we’ve historically been. Our resistance is strong and yesterday was just the tip of the iceberg. History was made and we wholly deserve to celebrate this moment. Then we get back to work.

 

Katie Louchheim says “Onward and upward!”

Word Vomit Wednesday - Conspiracy Against the United States

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

 

This week started off with a BANG (welcome to Scorpio season!). #IndictmentMonday did not disappoint those of us who have been waiting for some small dose of sanity and justice to peek it’s head through this dumpster fire of a year. Also, can we just let it sink in that it’s been almost exactly ONE YEAR since the election? This short period of time has felt like what I imagine living in a dimension where the Upside Down and all three seasons of Rick and Morty banged would be like. Potentially super entertaining to watch, in reality an absolute nightmare. And since none of us seem to have a portal gun to use to escape or Eleven’s powers to fight back, it’s been a little rough. It hasn’t been all bad, though. Having these turds in the White House has woken a lot of people up to how sick this country is and how it’s been sick from the beginning.

You can’t come to a land already inhabited by people, start murdering and raping them and then claim your intentions are for the pursuit of happiness. You can’t build a nation on the unpaid and often abused and raped backs of people you stole from another continent and claim to believe in freedom and justice for all. As a country, we have not dealt with the fact that our nation was founded in the near-genocide of a majority of our native people and cemented in the slavery of black people. If we cannot address our past, we will never heal. We won’t be able to create the solutions that will actually be helpful for all Americans and we will never be the land of the free and home of the brave. We will remain a place where people who are considered “other” will be continually fighting the limitations put on them and where too many white people will remain cowards. That’s the real conspiracy of the United States. The American Dream does not exist. We’ve grown up believing a complete lie.

I do have hope that things can be turned around. Because we’re not a particularly old country, I would say this could be seen as a huge growth spurt. We’re either going to come out of this an even bigger butthead or we will start learning how to walk our talk. In my own experience, I feel much more involved in our political landscape than I ever have before. I feel like I have so many more resources about how to understand how our institutions work and the best ways to contact our representatives to make our voices heard. Growing up it was instilled in me how important it was to do our civic duties. For the longest time for me, that only included voting and jury duty. I remember thinking that if I really got involved in the political landscape I wouldn’t be able to pursue other dreams that I wanted for my life.

Obviously, that was a very extreme conclusion I came to. It has become clearer that politics don’t need to take over, but do need to be some sort of an active presence in our lives. Just like anything we need to do for ourselves: vacuuming, running errands, and picking up the kids from school. Keeping in touch with our representatives to express our concerns somehow needs to be normalized as something we actively engage in because it just needs to be done. Not only that, but as I become a more active participant in my own life in many other ways, the happier I am and the less disappointed and apathetic if things don’t go my way.

The only way for this country to reach the potential of greatness that it has is if everyone becomes more active in some way. We put so much emphasis on vague words. What if, instead, we clarified what the word “freedom” actually means or the word “great”? If you talk to different people about what “freedom,” “great,” “liberty,” “American Dream,” etc., mean to them you’ll probably get a lot of different answers. There’s so much intellectual capital in this country that maybe if we just start to clarify what values these words and symbols actually represent, we could start working toward incorporating those values.

America doesn’t have to be great again. We’re already great and we’re awesome enough and strong enough to tackle these major demons of ours. What America needs is to grow up.

 

Katie Louchheim fails A LOT at #adulting which has made her smarter, more curious, assertive, and generally in a near-constant state of frustration.

Word Vomit Wednesday - System Update

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

 

I wasn’t really sure about what to write about for this week’s WVW. There is no shortage of things to write about, as we all can probably exhaustedly attest to. As I was thinking about my piece from last week, I recognize that I really need to acknowledge the privileges that I have more often. I don’t always want to talk about things that are immediately happening in the news because I often get to a point where I get so overwhelmed I just shut down. I don’t feel like I’m able to think through the issues clearly because I’m either feeling nothing or too many things. So, for some moments I opt out. That is a privilege. Even though a lot of these things do have a huge and sometimes immediate effect on me. The fact that I can opt out and have the space to build myself back up to fight is a huge privilege. It’s a privilege that everyone deserves to have.

So, while there are a bazillion and half important issues that need to be touched on and discussed and because of certain privileges that I have I cannot be an authority voice on many topics. And in a lot of cases I shouldn’t be. Because of my experiences with white privilege, thin privilege, etc., I realize that I cannot provide the most nuanced and authentic pieces on a huge range of topics. What I can do is elevate people’s voices that do have first-hand experience in areas that I don’t. SO. This is what I’m thinking. Once a month, WVW will be an interview with another badass human about issues that are really close to their hearts. AND since I do the audio engineering, and with permission from the interviewees, I could also create a WVW Podcast where all you lovely people can listen to the interview in its entirety.

Those are my thoughts! I am open to hearing suggestions on topics you all think are lacking right now or ones that need to be repeated or if you know or are a badass human that wants to sit down and Word Vomit with me, shoot me a message!

 

Katie Louchheim loves to be with people but also has very intense anxiety about people, which makes things very confusing for her brain sometimes. Fun!

Word Vomit Wednesday - Yup, That's A Lot of Us

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

 

I’m kind of tired of writing about how fed up I am. This feeling is definitely not exclusive to me. If the “me too” hashtag (which was originated by activist Tarana Burke, a *black woman, ten years ago) that exploded this week is any indication, about 50% of the world population is fed up and tired. But that’s also not news to me and it’s not news to anyone who came out and said “me too.” I also just want to say how moved by the many women who came out and wrote the most poignant, searing, powerful essays inspired by this. I feel like so many have already said what needs to be said and has been saying, basically, forever. I’m not entirely sure what else I can add to the conversation. I’m also extremely grateful to the women that wrote in more detail about their experiences and also what they expect from men in terms of action items.

I’m grateful to these women because 1) I'm not ready to do the former and 2) for the latter: I don’t want to do that. My threshold for explaining things to men, like why I deserve to be treated like a human and not a sex object, is completely full. I can count the men I can have tough conversations with, without feeling like I’m unimportant or on trial, on one hand. My worst nightmare, since I was a child, was growing up and being stuck in a relationship where I have to repeat myself over and over and over again and just have to constantly cater to someone who needs me to ask them to do something instead of them just taking the initiative and doing something because it needs to be done and shouldn’t have to always fall on me. That is my circle of hell. And one of the reasons I have remained perpetually single for thirty years.

I don’t know what it’s going to take for men (particularly white, cis, hetero) to make the effort to change. I’m heartened to know a few individual male people who do stand up, I just wish what they were doing was more contagious. I feel so jaded most of the time. I am optimistic that every time there is a wave of #metoo and #yesallwomen that it deepens the cracks in the proverbial glass ceiling. But can’t we just fucking demolish the glass ceiling already? It doesn’t need to be there. It just takes up So. Much. GODDAMN. SPACE!!! I’m over it.

I’m over being suspicious all the time about what people’s intentions are with me. I’m over developing relationships with people and feeling that deep drop my stomach takes once I realize this person sees me as less than. I’m tired of not being considered. Not being asked what I think or how I feel about something. I’m tired of being called “sweetie” by well-intentioned men who don’t realize it’s only a term of endearment when my father calls me that and otherwise it’s just infantilizing. I’m over Donna Karan and her bullshit. No, Donna, what someone chooses to wear or not wear NEVER indicates "asking for it." Fuck off. I’m over thinking that I’m making friends and then realizing that I stop hearing from folks because they realize that I don’t want to bone them. I’m over the constant reminder that I’m only good for one thing.

I’m really tired of women constantly baring their souls and nothing ever fucking changing. I’m going to conclude with saying that for everyone who wrote a “me too” status, I love you. I support you. I see you. I believe you. And thank you for those who have shown me your support in return. For those who chose not to share, you and your experiences and choices are valid. I love you and I support you. To the activists who are constantly fighting for us and keeping us thinking critically no matter how tired and over it they are, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

*Black women are oftentimes the leaders and originators of our most important social justice movements and are also erased from the stories once white people get involved. It is our responsibility to give credit where credit is due.

 

Katie Louchheim is hopping on another hashtag in an effort for men to take on the burdens of their actions rather than putting them on us. From Liz Plank: “Your shame is not ours. No sir.” #HimThough

Word Vomit Wednesday - Blessed Be the Fruit

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

CW: Sexual Assault/Violence

 

Today was both #NationalComingOutDay and #InternationalDayoftheGirl. While these are important and empowering sentiments to have and keep having, there needs to be more of effort to making society an actual safe and equal place for women and LGBTQ+ folks to live. For anyone who is marginalized there is an obstacle course manual that we’re constantly referencing as we go through life. Living in a white patriarchal heteronormative society requires us to anticipate every possible outcome to survive. (Check out this article from a POC perspective on what that looks like). For some people, the decision to come out or to report an assault or rape can mean anything from the loss of a career, family, money, and reputation or even one’s own life.

In terms of coming out with my bisexuality, I’ve been very lucky to have friends and family that are supportive and don’t think there’s anything wrong with me or that I’m going through a phase until I meet “the right guy.” But, as we know, there is still a lot of hatred toward the LGBTQ+ community here and around the world and many youths become homeless because their families won’t accept them. Brazil is one of the more recent countries to start cracking down on LGBTQ+ communities with a judge approving “conversion therapy” and in Chechnya gay and bisexual men are being murdered in what’s being called a “Gay Purge.” We need to do better.

We also need to do better when it comes to rape culture. I’m so sick of writing about this. I’m so sick of rarely really feeling safe, rarely feeling like I’ll get ahead in my career, rarely feeling 100% comfortable in my relationships (personal and professional) with men because I’m just waiting for them to try something. I’ve been conditioned to feel this way and to try to avoid any situation (which is basically every situation you can possibly think of) because these things have happened so many times to me. They have happened so many times to women and some men I know. They happen to millions of women all over the world every day. So many women are conditioned to not trust men because we’re treated like children, nags, and receptacles for getting them off. It’s disgusting.

What makes this whole thing even more devious is sometimes these men have so much power we’ve been told we just need to “play the game” and we’ll be fine. First of all, that is never true and secondly, it’s abusive as fuck. Here’s a quote from model and actress Cara Delevingne recounting Harvey Weinstein assaulting her:

“When I first started to work as an actress, I was working on a film and I received a call from Harvey Weinstein asking if I had slept with any of the women I was seen out with in the media. It was a very odd and uncomfortable call… I answered none of his questions and hurried off the phone but before I hung up, he said to me that if I was gay or decided to be with a woman especially in public that I’d never get the role of a straight woman or make it as an actress in Hollywood. A year or two later, I went to a meeting with him in the lobby of a hotel with a director about an upcoming film. The director left the meeting and Harvey asked me to stay and chat with him. As soon as we were alone he began to brag about all the actresses he had slept with and how he had made their careers and spoke about other inappropriate things of a sexual nature. He then invited me to his room. I quickly declined and asked his assistant if my car was outside. She said it wasn’t and wouldn’t be for a bit and I should go to his room. At that moment I felt very powerless and scared* but didn’t want to act that way hoping that I was wrong about the situation. When I arrived I was relieved to find another woman in his room and thought immediately I was safe. He asked us to kiss and she began some sort of advances upon his direction. I swiftly got up and asked if he knew that I could sing. And I began to sing… I thought it would make the situation better… more professional… like an audition… I was nervous. After singing I said again that I had to leave. He walked me to the door and stood in front of it and tried to kiss me on the lips. I stopped him and managed to get out of the room. I still got the part for the film and always thought he gave it to me because of what happened. Since then I felt awful that I did the movie. I felt like I didn’t deserve the part. I was so hesitant about speaking out… I didn’t want to hurt his family. I felt guilty as if I did something wrong. I was also terrified that this sort of thing had happened to so many women I know but no one said anything because of fear.I want women and girls to know that being harassed or abused or raped is NEVER their fault and not talking about it will always cause more damage than speaking the truth. I am relieved to be able to share this… I actually feel better and I’m proud of the women who are brave enough to speak… this isn’t easy but there are strength in our numbers. As I said, this is only the beginning. In every industry and especially in Hollywood, men abuse their power using fear and get away with it. This must stop. The more we talk about it, the less power we give them. I urge you all to talk and to the people who defend these men, you are part of the problem.”(*I made these particular words bold).

This is only one example of the bullshit Harvey Weinstein pulled for 30 YEARS. This was an open secret for 30 years and people just let it happen. How worthless must women be seen as in the eyes of so many to allow this monster to abuse his power and assault and rape women who were trying to make it in their chosen industry. The fact that other women were used as a tactic to make Delevingne feel safe in a dangerous situation is horrifying. The use of physical intimidation and threats is classic manipulation. The trying to rationalize and give this man the benefit of the doubt when her boundaries are so clearly being ignored is incredibly sad and upsetting. The only thing I can compare the actual feeling to is when you’re watching a horror film and you get a sense of impending doom in your chest because you know something bad is going to happen. And she knows something bad is going to happen but feels powerless to do anything about it. On the flip side of the misogyny coin is Mike Pence. I’ve seen a lot of people on the Internet try and say that if we lived with the “moral compass” that Pence exhibits then that would solve a lot of these problems. Except it wont because his point of view, just like Weinstein’s, is that women are liars and men just can’t help themselves. Let me make something very clear:

MEN. IF YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE YOU CAN BE NEAR A WOMAN WITHOUT WITNESSES BECAUSE YOU INHERENTLY THINK SOMETHING SEXUAL WILL HAPPEN, YOU ARE A DANGER TO SOCIETY.  

STOP BLAMING WOMEN FOR TRAUMA YOU CAUSE. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

We live in a society where we’ve brought people up to believe that women are irrational and cannot be trusted. Sometimes to the point where women can be so dissociated that they don’t know how to trust themselves. This makes it difficult to feel safe reporting crimes if you already know you’re not going to be believed. That’s partly why when one person comes forward more people flood out in the open. It feels safer when you’re not alone. And Delevingne is right, we do just need to keep naming these people so that hopefully the justice system will begin to change in a way that will actually serve justice.

Trauma at the hands of men is very tricky. I want to name my rapist and abusers, but I’m still stuck in fear. I believe it is a responsibility to name them, I’m just not ready. I still shut down. I’m still traumatized. And that’s just where I am in my healing journey. I’m glad that these conversations are happening more often and I’m hopeful about male allies are beginning to speak up and take women’s stories seriously. We still need to do better. Our country elected a sexual predator to be President of the United States. We have a long way to go.

For another in-depth take on why survivors/victims don’t come forward, Evan Rachel Wood posted this today.

 

Katie Louchheim is thoroughly disgusted a majority of the time.

 

 

Word Vomit Wednesday - The Art of Violence

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

CW: Violence

You know what I’m going to write about today. I know that I have to write about it today. We’re all fucking exhausted about having to rehash the same shit over and over again. So, I’m gonna ease us into this topic from another entry point. This weekend I went to two pieces of immersive theater. The first was a piece about well-known serial killers and the second about Cleopatra. And, to clarify for anyone who doesn’t know, immersive theater is basically when the wall between the audience and the show itself are broken. The audience is able to interact with or even become a part of the show. The first one was set in an enormous brownstone in Harlem where one was able to walk up and down various flights of stairs and in an out of multiple rooms, happening in on actors in various scenes. This sounds pretty cool, as most of the shows trailing on the heels of Sleep No More, which catapulted this type of theater-going experience into the mainstream, do.

Except, in the case of this show, it was a horrible idea. Sleep No More, for example, is a retelling of Macbeth. A very well known story that even if people have never read it before they’ve at least heard of Shakespeare. This serial killer show was not a story. There were no metaphors. There was no self-reflection or nuance to call upon. It was people brought into a house to relive young boys and women being raped and murdered by glorified white men. I’m shaking as I write this. This is not edgy. This is not pushing the envelope. This is exploitation of our minds, bodies, money, not to mention, the victims of the brutality of these men.

To contrast, I could not have looked more forward to The Cleopatra Experience the following night (not least of all because my friend Talia Thiesfield was slaying as the queen herself). The venue was morphed from black box to nightclub with pink lighting and an Ariana Grande remix playing to set the mood. I sat on a silver cushion and immediately felt relaxed. I’ve never been a club kid, but being surrounded by music with people who were ready to have a good time and hear a story about one of the greatest leaders in history as the audience became citizens of Alexandria, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. The story was told through topical club bangers and pop-melody perfection, a catwalk competition down The Nile and the exploration of love, betrayal, leadership and the difficulties faced when a leader is also a woman. It was a fun, thought-provoking, and moving piece.  

The fucked up thing is that a real-life Octavian could have marched himself into the theater as we danced in celebration of Cleopatra’s victory over Rome with guns a-blazing and snuffed us all out. That seems to be the normal thing, right? We can’t do anything enjoyable without fear that we’re going to be gunned down. Our kids can’t go to school, we can’t go the movies or concerts or clubs or our places of worship. Nothing that makes us feel connected and alive. And we’re expected to be ok with that. We are so oversaturated with violence that it doesn’t even occur to some people how fucked up it is to put on a show where the audience is immersed in identifying with the killers while hearing and watching the brutalization of people. As I wrote about in the first WVW (Comedic Complicity), the art that is made is a microcosm of what is happening culturally. It’s fucked up that people won’t name white men that terrorize people as terrorists and make any and all excuses to not do that when all evidence points otherwise. It’s fucked up that the focus is on them and not on victims and survivors and they’re families. It’s fucked up that many politicians refuse to stand for comprehensive gun control even when children are murdered.

We can talk all day about the 2nd amendment and the misuse of mental illness and a million other talking points until we’re blue in the face. But until those things from the previous paragraph are seriously reconsidered, this will happen again and again.  People who want to kill people will always find ways to do so, but we can be responsible and compassionate to the rest of us who just want to live by setting up society to make it more and more difficult for those who would harm to actually do it.

 

Katie Louchheim is “Free Fallin’”

Word Vomit Wednesday - Things More Offensive than Taking a Knee

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

Since we all like a fun Buzzfeed list, I made one of my own: 

                                       20 Things that are More Offensive than Taking A Knee                                                                                    CW: Trauma/Police Brutality/Violence                                             *The order does not indicate significance

1. Dontre Hamilton, 31, shot 14 times by Officer Christopher Manney. Reason: Existing as a person with paranoid schizophrenia. He was not armed. Officer not charged. (Milwaukee, WI)

2. Eric Garner, 43, choked to death in an illegal chokehold by Officer Daniel Pantaleo. Reason: Selling loose cigarettes. He was not armed. Officers not charged. (Staten Island, NY)

3. Trayvon Martin, 17, shot to death by civilian and serial domestic abuser George Zimmerman. Reason: Wearing a hoodie. He was not armed. Zimmerman was not charged bc Stand Your Ground Laws in FL, seem to allow murdering unarmed children. (Miami, FL)

4. Michael Brown Jr., 18, shot to death by Officer Darren Wilson. Reason: Suspected armed robbery. Michael Brown was not armed. Officer not charged. (Ferguson, MO)

5. John Crawford III, 22, shot to death by Officers Sean Williams & David Darkow. Reason: Shopping at Walmart. He was not armed. Officers not charged. (Dayton, OH)

6. Ezell Ford, 25, shot to death by Officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas. Reason: Existing with mental illness. He was unarmed. Officers have not been charged. (Florence, CA)

7. Tamir Rice, 12, shot and killed by Officers Timothy Loehmann & Frank Garmback. Reason: Playing with a toy gun. He was unarmed. Officers not charged. (Cleveland OH)

8. Rumain Brisbon, 34, shot and killed by Officer Mark Rine. Reason: Officer mistook a pill bottle for a weapon. He was unarmed. Officer not charged. (Phoenix, AZ)

9. Freddie Gray, 25, died of spinal cord injury after being arrested by police. Reason: Running away. Allegedly carried a switchblade. All five officers were not charged. (Baltimore, MD)

10. CURRENT EVENT BONUS!!! The people of the United States Territory of Puerto Rico. After being ravaged by Hurricane Maria that left the island without 100% of it’s power, potable water to only 40% of its population, 16 people dead so far and more will start dying if they continue to go without resources. 45 has not only blamed the island for its issues and has refused to repeal the Jones Act which would allow Puerto Rico to receive foreign aid in this crisis. Reason: They’re brown and 45 probably doesn’t realize that they’re American. 45 is an asshole. (USA)

11. Sandra Bland, 28, found dead in a cell three days after being arrested by Officer Brian Encinia. Reason: Failing to signal when changing lanes. She was unarmed.  Officer was fired and indicted for perjury, no one charged in her death. (Prairie View, TX)

12. Alton Sterling, 37, thrown to the ground by police Officers Blane Salamoni & Howie Lake II and shot. Reason: Selling CDs. He was unarmed. Officers put on administrative leave, but not charged. (Baton Rouge, LA)

13. Philando Castile, 32, shot multiple times in his car by Officer Jeronimo Yanez in front of his girlfriend and her five-year-old daughter as he was complying with proper procedure and reaching for his gun license. Reason: Broken tail light. Was licensed to carry a weapon and was following proper protocol. Officer put on administrative leave, but not charged. (Falcon Heights, MN)

In this next part of the list I’m going to acknowledge some of those murdered from the transgender community. Transgender women of color face more violence than any other group and have been dying for decades. Here are a few of those who were killed this year alone:

14. Mesha Caldwell, 41, shot to death on Jan. 4, 2017. Still under investigation. (Canton, Mississippi)

15. Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28, murdered by Joshua Rayvon LeClaire. He was charged with murder and manslaughter. (Sioux Falls, South Dakota)

16. Tiara Richmond aka Keke Collier, 24, fatally shot on Feb. 21, 2017 on the same street that two other transgender women were killed on in 2012. (Chicago, IL)

17. Chyna Doll Dupree, 31, shot and killed while visiting friends and family. There have been at least nine reported murders of transgender people in Louisiana since 2013. (New Orleans, LA)

18. Chay Reed, 28, shot and killed April 21, 2017.  (Miami, FL)

19. Sherrell Faulkner, 46, died on May 16, 2017, of sustained injuries from an attack on Nov. 30, 2016. Police are treating the assault as a homicide, no arrests have been made. (Charlotte, North Carolina)

And for what makes all of the above possible…drum roll please…

20. White Supremacy/Fascism. When a person is privileged enough to get offended by someone using their 1st Amendment rights to create a dialogue of how differently America treats it’s brown and black citizens, rather than being offended by the treatment of brown and black citizens, then that person is probably a white supremacist. Those people are culprits in the treatment of and the deaths of those above and the millions more that I did not mention here. If we want the flag and the National Anthem to mean anything, we need to heal our deep hypocrisies. We cannot claim to be “the land of the free and home of the brave” when so many of our fellow citizens remain shackled.

Katie Louchheim believes that black lives matter more than a fucking ball game.

 

Word Vomit Wednesday - "I'm Embarrassed" A Poem by KT

I’m embarrassed

It’s not me, it’s definitely him

There’s no “both sides” to this thing

Honestly, I don’t give a fuck if that pisses people off either

        I didn’t even choose him anyway and he still gets to represent me to the rest of the world

 

It’s embarrassing.

                 He can barely string a coherent sentence together

                                                           He’s ruined one of my favorite Elton John songs for me

Like, I won’t be able to listen to that song and not think about him and the apocalypse he’s promised to bring to the world

HE MAKES EVERYTHING ABOUT HIM UGH

 

You know who else is embarrassing?

His supporters

Ya’ll are embarrassing

And basic

And boring

 

Dear NYT, WaPo, The AP and basically any other journalistic source,

Stop doing pieces about what his supporters were thinking and feeling

WE ALL KNOW WHAT THEY’RE THINKING BC IT’S CONSTANTLY SHOVED DOWN OUR THROATS ALL THE TIME

I could read a thinkpiece from 1930s Germany and it would say the same thing

I could read a thinkpiece from the 50s or 60s in this country and it would say the same thing

Nothing these people say is interesting

How about a story about how the black communities in Charlottesville feel and how they navigate their lives and what they need?

How about speaking to undocumented people about their stories? How they came here, why, what they’ve been through, what they need.

How about promoting the voices of experts in authoritarian regimes, community organizers, and education and peace movements?

How about including indigenous people in the conversations because, I don’t know, this was their country first and for some reason we treat them like shit?

How about that?

 

So embarrassing.

                   Hollywood

                        Stephen Colbert, James Cordon, Jimmy Fallon

                                                                           You really give zero fucks

                                                                                  Did you get those laughs? Did they feel good?

At least we’re all used to being embarrassed by straight white men by now, right?

                                                              Such disappointments

Not to mention dangerous. Normalizing the American equivalent of Goebbels on national television

                                                                             The moment I think the bar can’t get any lower

                                  I think, at this point, we’ve surpassed all of Dante’s rings of Hell

               Who knows where the fuck we are now

Lucifer’s looking down on us thinking his icy cage isn’t so bad after all and musing about what kind of fucked up shit we all did to get here

Now, I’m no authority on Hell by any means

But, are we allowed to make requests down here?

I would like to request a rooming assignment switch so I don’t have to be in the same circle as the dumb-ass politicians who think that giving Trumpcare an even dumber name will be enough to try and trick people into not finding out that the bill is actually Trumpcare because they are evil, vile, embarrassing people

I will pay extra. Thx Satan

 

Should I be embarrassed that when I now hear the song “Rocket Man”

                                                      I fantasize about 45 and Kim Jong Un peeing on each other?

 

I don’t endorse white supremacy, start pissing matches with dictators with nuclear weapons, assault people, incite violence…

so, nah.

 

Katie Louchheim is thinking about everyone impacted by the earthquakes in Puerto Rico, Mexico and LA, and to everyone still suffering in the aftermaths of Harvey and Irma.

Word Vomit Wednesday - Traveling While Healing

CW: Sexual Assault

 

A little over a year ago I realized I needed to change my life. I had been living and bumbling around New York City for nearly a decade and was finally receiving some great career opportunities and a sense that my life was coming together. This “sense,” of course, was something I was just trying desperately to convince myself of. The fact is, I was constantly getting sick and was consistently in a huge amount of pain. Which wasn’t new to me. I’ve been in physical pain since I was, at least, eleven or twelve years old and just coped with it because it was my “normal.”

Jump back to June 2016. I’ve been to an allergist, ENT, had a CT scan of my sinuses, given so much blood to labs for testing I might as well have been at a blood drive, and I’m sitting in my PCP’s office as she’s going over results. I know exactly what those results say before she opens her mouth. I’ve been in this scenario over and over and over again in the course of my 29 years on this earth. The verdict: I’m healthy. Or, as the lab results put it, “unremarkable.” Oof. (My whole body is one giant flaming knot and the medical establishment has to then go ahead and bruise my ego too? That’s low). Given that all the labs came back fine but I was still in so much pain and had so little energy, my doctor diagnosed me with fibromyalgia.

What is fibromyalgia, you ask? In a nutshell: no one f*cking knows. Is it an autoimmune disease? Maybe. Are there genetic components that would make a person more likely to develop it? Perhaps…? What are the best ways to treat it?? *Shrug*. Essentially, it’s a diagnosis that doctors of the western persuasion give to people who they just don’t really know what to do with and don’t really have the growth mindset to figure out. *Side note: fibromyalgia has been strongly linked to trauma, which does make sense in my particular case, and I will come back to this later. So, one of the ways in which I began to make changes to my life in order to heal was making more time to travel.

It started off small, taking the Amtrak to visit friends in Vermont in August, heading out West to visit family in Washington, California, and Arizona in September, hopping on a quick flight to Montreal for my birthday in November. It felt so good to get away. I was all of a sudden having new experiences while also spending time with people I care about. Every time I left it felt like the “refresh” button was being pushed on my life. I began to feel like I was living my life instead of watching it pass me by and I began to be excited about the future even though I was still hazy about what it looked like. One thing that I knew for certain was that I needed to put myself first in ways that I had never been able to before (i.e. not feeling bad about having needs and getting them met). Which, let’s be honest, can be truly terrifying in and of itself.  On top of that, I still needed to contend with many American medical institutions. If you don’t know anything about the healthcare system in America, here’s the Cliffs Notes synopsis: It’s a shit show and everyone is screwed except for super wealthy people. Fun!

I literally didn’t go to the doctor, any doctor, for years because it can be such a nightmare and it overwhelmed me to the point of defeat. I didn’t see the point in fighting if I was never going to get the help I needed so I continued to ignore all the messages my body gave me because that’s what I knew how to do. The difference between late-twenties Katie and early-twenties and child Katie though, is that late-twenties Katie knows that she is worth fighting for and deserves better. She deserves better treatment, she deserves respect, she deserves getting what she needs come hell or high water. I (thank you third person, your services are no longer needed) am only one person and, chronic illness or not, need help and shouldn’t be shamed or ignored for asking for it.

Here’s what I know about traveling with chronic conditions. When traveling, medical issues don’t just go on vacation from you. And it’s imperative that you have a doctor you trust to communicate with you if something happens while you’re away. This was not the case for me. On the aforementioned trip in September, I was just coming out of severe withdrawal from a drug my doctor (who is no longer my doctor) had put me on to treat the fibro, which my insurance (which is no longer my insurance) decided to, out of the blue, no longer cover. Not even the amount to wean me off (it was some serious shit). It was one of the most frightening experiences of my life. So frightening that I was afraid to go to sleep in case I died. Not a trip that I was planning or am planning to take any time soon. By the time I got to Washington most of my withdrawal symptoms had gone. Except on the second day there. My right leg seized up and I was unable to walk for the rest of my stay in Seattle with my brother and his wife. Oh and I was in an excruciating amount of pain. So, what did I do? I called my doctor. For three. Straight. Days. I left so many messages that one time I got a recorded voice saying that the health clinic’s mailbox was full.

Thank goddess I was with family and that they didn’t mind pushing me around in a wheelchair or switching around plans so I would be in the least amount of discomfort before heading to California. Thankfully, by that time the pain had let up and of course that’s when my doctor #nolongermydoctor decided to call, chastise me for not going to an ER (FYI: unless I am bleeding out of all of my orifices I refuse to enter those rings of hell and that’s a whole other article in itself), and ultimately offer nothing useful in trying to help me in case it happened again. This should have been my first big tip-off that I needed to find another doctor. Instead, I convinced myself it was a fluke until she and her office pulled similar shit with me right before I was leaving on a two-month trip that would take me from New York to Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, back across the United States to The Bahamas, then finally back to New York. Once again, thank goddess for my uncle who is a retired doctor and was able to call in my medications for me the night before I was leaving and with a half an hour before the pharmacy closed.

For people who have chronic illnesses, or any illness that requires medication and who plan to travel, one thing to find out about from your insurance company is a “vacation waiver.” Because I was traveling extensively for the first time and out of the country, I needed to have extra refills of my prescriptions so I didn’t run out and burst into flames (*not necessarily a side-effect of stopping medications early, but you never know). I was surprised and relieved that my insurance actually offered a waiver specifically for that purpose. So make sure to give your company a call and find out what the waiver is, how long it’s effective for and how many times a year you’re able to access it. This was probably one of the only times where my insurance was actually helpful.

So, what have we learned so far? Living with chronic illness means needing to be on top of every medical issue to make sure that it helps you live your life rather than keep you stuck and in pain. It is no easy task. Some medical professionals will not help you. On the flip side, vacation waivers! Besides keeping in order all of the things meant to keep a person with chronic illness functioning, there is still needing to deal with symptoms. Chronic illness is exactly what it sounds like. Chronic, consistent, every moment of every day. Some days are better than others. People can also be happy and chronically ill at the same time. Around the time that I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia I was also diagnosed with PTSD (told ya I’d get back to trauma!). It is very common for people who have been diagnosed with fibro to also have a history of and are survivors of trauma including sexual assault/abuse, which is the case for me.  It’s kind of a chicken and egg conundrum which is also why treating fibromyalgia is so difficult. Not only do scientific and medical institutions know very little about our nervous systems, they also can’t treat the things that can trigger us.

I could be anywhere in the world and if my brain senses anything resembling my traumatic experiences, my nervous system goes haywire and I’m stuck in our very primal fight, flight, or freeze mode. And it did happen. Here are examples of the most extreme experiences from my New Zealand/Australia trip. One time was walking around in Melbourne with my mom. I felt so overwhelmed from the moment we got there and once that feeling set in it did not go away. Even eating didn’t help. My body felt like it was on fire, I had no patience for anything, I didn’t feel safe, I just needed to get back to my room and my stuff as soon as possible. The other time we were heading to Dunedin, New Zealand. The night before we got there, I woke up super early in the morning because I started having flashbacks of my assault. I don’t know what triggered them, it just sucked and it took me forever to get back to sleep. When I woke up to get ready for the day I realized I couldn’t move. My hips felt like they were locked and it was extremely painful to do a few things. Things like: lie down, sit, modify my position to get from lying down to sitting, standing, and any movement in general.

Being a person with chronic illness who also wants to function in society and explore the world is really hard. You can’t leave your disease in your desk at work to take care of when you get back. You can’t leave your symptoms with the cat-sitter. You can’t even put your baggage in your baggage to whip out just in case you have a day where you’re not doing anything. It’s just going to be your travel companion no matter what, and it will pop up when it gets the message to. The way society is set up does not make it easy for those of us living with chronic illnesses and even the most well-intentioned people don’t understand or know what we really need. That also doesn't mean that you're going to ruin any travel experience because you have particular needs that you need to put first. At this point, my healing journey is tied into all of the other journeys I’ve taken and will continue to take. Right now my takeaway is learning to accept myself no matter where I am and what I’m feeling. And have better doctors because ain’t nobody got time for that bullshit.

Katie Louchheim is a wide-eyed wanderer who takes a lot of pics of where she goes and is not opposed to a shameless plug! Follow @ktjlouch on Instagram for awesome travel pics, blurbs about living with chronic illness and more.

 

Word Vomit Wednesday - Immigrants: We Get the Job Done

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

This week’s edition of Heartbreaking News is brought to you by DICKKK (Dumb Insipid Callous KKK). DICKKK, in an attempt to make itself look bigger and stronger than it actually is, decided to go after children this week. Because nothing makes you look more manly and tough than fucking people who have very little to no control over their lives. Dreamers are eligible to be recipients of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and rescinding Obama’s 2012 executive order will put nearly 800,000 people who were brought over as children in a precarious position in an already difficult situation for them. So many of these people have never known another country. They may not even know another language other than English. They also are not allowed to have any federal aid and if they’re working (91% are) they are paying taxes to support US. I’m just trying to figure out what good deporting people who didn’t have a choice in coming here does.

Unless a person is Native American, everyone has an immigration story about coming to this country. The top three stories I can think of are 1) wanting to build a better life for themselves and their family 2) fleeing persecution and disaster and 3) being stolen from their country to be forced into slavery. This country was literally built on the backs of the people that fall into these categories. A group of racist and sexist white men may have written the foundation of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” but it’s us and our families that made it a reality. Clearly, we’re still finding out all the fucked up ways in which the system is still rigged against most of us. No matter how much we have built or served this country, this past year has been a cruel reminder that the advances we thought we had made were just an illusion. The idea that this country is special and the place to come if you are looking for better opportunities is bullshit. A concept cannot function unless it’s put into practice. Otherwise, it’s just a theory.

What this country is, in practice, is racist and stupid. And underwater and on fire. At the same time. While we have made some strides, the system still primarily favors rich, white men.  Rapist Brock Turner raped a woman and only served three months. Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice played with a toy and was murdered by police. White supremacists can march with torches, spewing hate and beating up Deandre Harris with no police intervention. Peaceful protestors in South Dakota protecting the land from DAPL are “provocative” and are shot at with rubber bullets and tear gas. A sexual predator, racist, anti-Semite and liar are elected President of the United States. “But her emails, WAHHHH.” See where I’m going with this?

To the people who believe that immigrants are taking their factory jobs and money: grow up. Those jobs are not coming back. You know why? Because capitalism and because robots are cheaper and more efficient than you. They don’t need benefits, healthcare or sick days. Unless you can compete with that, it’s time to get to the root of the actual problem (capitalism, systemic racism, systemic sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.) and stop blaming brown children for everything from your economic situations to your insecurities and inadequacies.

Katie Louchheim wouldn’t be here if members of her family didn’t escape from Europe and would really appreciate if people would stop being DICKKKs and just let each other live.