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.

 

Word Vomit Wednesday - Shit Storm

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 haven’t known what to make of each passing day in our present state for a while now. I’m constantly battling normalizing this new “normal” in my brain so I maintain some fight in me to try and make it so this country does not keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. But every passing week feels like we’re experiencing two-years worth of horrors. There’s just not enough time to process, take action, makes changes, hold on to any glint of sanity. It can feel like we’re all drowning. To be fair, people in Houston are literally drowning and instead of getting immediate support from 45, he chose the impending storm to pardon a member of his swamp, former Maricopa County Sheriff and present piece-of-shit white supremacist person, Joe Arpaio because he “assumed the ratings would be far higher." Whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean.

Oh yeah, and the police are allowed to use military-grade weaponry again. That will be fun for all of us when 45 throws a tantrum by declaring martial law. 

And we can’t forget that in the same breath he has begun to implement a plan to get transgender folk out of the military and create stipulations so they also can’t enlist in the first place. Although, as I am writing this, Defense Secretary Mattis is putting all plans for the ban on hold to instead, hold a formal review of the impact the ban would have.

I want to get back to Houston, though. Harvey has been devastating Texas for three days now. As I write this, the death toll has reached 30 people and the rain is not expected to stop for at least another day or two. There have been stories of badass civilians getting on boats and rescuing folks who couldn’t get out in time and stories of so-called Christians refusing to provide shelter in their 16,000 capacity mega-church until they were called out on it and then changed their stance to taking people in when “the cities and county shelters reach capacity” because it’s too hard to walk Jesus’ talk when you only care about lives when they’re giving you millions of dollars to preach. And people who have lost everything or are dead can’t do that for you, can they? We all see you and see through you Joel Osteen. You could really take a few pointers from businessman Jim McIngvale

I’ll leave all my feelings about that situation for another WVW. Right now, the people of Houston (on the anniversary of Katrina, no less) really need help. I’m all about trying to make sure money and supplies actually get where they need to go, so local orgs for people on the ground there are great! The Red Cross is always going to get donations, but before giving to them maybe read this article first.  

Besides The Red Cross, here are some other alternatives:

Houston Undocumented Communities Flood Relief Fund 

Katy ISD

The Vista Community Church

Copperfield Church

Islamic Center/Masjid Al-Mustafa

The Jewish Federation of North America

Jewish Family Service of Houston

These are only a few of the community centers, religious establishments and other groups of people organizing to serve those in Houston. If anyone reading this knows of any other great places, please post their info in the comments below.

I don’t know what else to say, but I’m leaving to be with family over this long weekend and I’m excited to spend time with and hold close people I love the most in this world. I hope you all can do the same.

Katie Louchheim misses monsoon season, but not that much.

 

Word Vomit Wednesday - Comedic Complicity

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 starting off this series, probably appropriately, with Tina Fey. (I’m pretty sure my use of the phrase “word vomit” began shortly after watching Mean Girls). Recently, Tina did a bit on SNL’s Weekend Update commenting on the events in Charlottesville, VA, which has garnered quite a bit of criticism. Before I get into what was said I want to point out that constructive criticism, especially for things/people we love and enjoy, is important. No one is perfect and we’re going to get things wrong. When it comes to art, in all its forms; music, comedy, film, videogames, fine arts, etc., we are being presented with a microcosm of what is happening in a larger context. We are also dealing with a particular perspective, which is immediately directing that particular microcosm. And what that all means is that, no matter what the intentions of the creator are, the things that are still fucked up (privilege, implicit biases) are going to show up and by being put out there for the public, those sentiments will then be reinforced.

Despite all the bullshit happening, that has actually been going on for way too long, a majority of us are working toward breaking down white, hetero-patriarchal institutions, ideals, and behaviors within society. In order to keep doing that and progressing forward we need to be able to call out problematic sentiments and be listened to rather than policed by people who hold more privilege and don’t understand how a joke can be damaging. Now, without further ado, let’s get into it.

Problem #1: Weaponizing the bodies of drag queens.

Drag queens are fierce as fuck, but that does not mean they should in any way expect to be the front line of defense. Portraying them as if they need to be feared only marginalizes their communities more. Which leads me to…

Problem #2: Weaponizing/creating fear around black men’s bodies.

Again, perpetuating fear of black men only makes black men more vulnerable. We already see how some cops, people that are supposed to have their shit together and protect everyone, lose their goddamn minds over seeing a black child in a hoodie. How is it that people are still equating black men with being inherently violent? Let’s cut that shit out. As enjoyable as it is to imagine people beating the shit out of Nazis, we really don’t have to sacrifice black men to do it. These fucking snowflakes give themselves strokes just by thinking about Fearless Girl.

Problem #3: Sally Hemings.

It took me three times of watching the clip to finally catch this part of her bit, mostly because all I heard was muffled noises from having so much cake in her mouth when she said it. And if it weren’t for the POC in my news feed talking about it I would not have gone back a second and third time to try and figure out what she had said. When it did come through for me, I just felt really confused and uncomfortable. I’m still confused and uncomfortable. This is just me, and I feel like I’m lacking some education as to how that joke was 100% connected to everything else she was saying, but to refer to a woman who was enslaved and consistently raped by one of the most powerful and influential men in our history as a throwaway joke at the end felt really off.

What I did think she did well, but which also upset many people, was the whole “let’s sit back and eat cake” thing. For me, this felt appropriately aimed at white women on the right and left alike. The ones who don’t want to get involved and just want everyone to be kind. The ones who think it’s enough to say they’re not racist or anti-Semitic but don’t do anything to back up those claims. The ones who think it’s enough to spend money at Jewish-owned this and POC-owned that, as if their spare change is going to do anything when those storefronts are attacked by mobs and those families forced into camps, or hiding, or murdered publicly. The ones who felt like it was in their best interest to elect a white supremacist, sexual predator and con man to be the 45th president of The United States.

White women have a reputation for phoning it in. The allusion/comparison to Marie Antoinette seems scarily accurate. Pointing to many white women’s delusions of what is happening and how it affects people and pointing out their inability to see any need to act even when their own heads are on the chopping block. White women are at once, beneficiaries of white supremacy and oppressed by the sexist and misogynistic attitudes underlying it. Seeing all that on display in a comedic context is understandably upsetting.  Mostly because it’s hard to know if the audience it was aimed at satirizing (complacent white women) was able to even recognize it. And it’s terrifying for those of us whose existence in this world is revolutionary in and of itself. Slavery, the Holocaust, the Civil Right’s Movement are all in recent memory. Those of us born with these legacies know that all of these things happened because our white neighbors either turned their heads or were participating in the physical violence.

Furthermore, and I can’t believe I have to lay this out but here it goes: If something someone says or does brings up feelings (positive or negative) it’s totally valid to say, “Fuck, this made me feel (fill in the blank).” The thing that’s not ok to do, is to retort with, “It’s a just a joke, that’s what satire is supposed to do.” If this is you, I have some words: you’re missing the point and you’re being an asshole. Jokes can still be funny when they’re not at the expense of marginalized people. I saw a lot of POC get policed about their feelings about these jokes. I saw a lot of Jews get policed about their feelings about these jokes. WHITE PEOPLE, YOU NEED TO SHUT UP. When marginalized people express concern about something, that’s your cue to take it seriously, put aside what you THINK you know, and listen. It’s an opportunity to see another perspective, and learn some empathy. I’m not saying you’re not allowed to have your own opinions, but fuck, could you please just stop hijacking conversations and making them about you? You don’t know everything and policing the thoughts and feelings of marginalized groups who do have more experience in these arenas is white supremacy in action. It’s called a micro aggression. Get used to hearing that term. You do them. A LOT.

On another note, I would like to point out how much harsher the treatment of women is in any field. In comedy, right now it’s Tina Fey while a few months ago it was Kathy Griffin. There are plenty of men out there who say heinous shit and are not called out on it at all or, if they are, they’re given a slap on the wrist or a career boost. The double standards need to go. If we’re going to put such an intense microscope on a brilliant comedian like Tina Fey, let’s be just as critical with everyone else.

 

Katie Louchheim likes cake, but likes the end of white supremacy even more.

Diary of Katie Louchheim

Below are thoughts and feelings of mine that have been brought forth by current events. My expressions below are solely my own, I do not claim these experiences to be anyone else’s or claim to speak for everyone with similar backgrounds or feelings.

Pretty much since the election I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts together. I feel like I’m being torn in a million directions. I wake up every day praying that this is an episode of The Twilight Zone, or a really fucked up dream I’m having and not reality. But I know it’s real. I’ve always known it was real. Growing up Jewish in Arizona was a constant reminder of my otherness while being within the Jewish community was a constant reminder of how much we’re hated solely based on that otherness. The weird thing about never knowing what it’s like to go to your place of worship or day school without security and metal detectors, or that when school gets cut because there was a bomb threat at the JCC or a swastika tagged on one of the synagogues in town, is that these things are not normal. And yet, by the time I was a young child they were completely normalized.

Maybe it didn’t seem so bad because I’ve had a complicated relationship with my Jewish identity so siding with people who were suspect felt easier. Or because that insecurity balanced out with my white privilege.  When people didn’t know my heritage, I definitely benefitted, and still mostly benefit, from that. That’s the lie of assimilation, though. There’s something off-white about living in America while having a Jewish background. (Obviously, for Jews of color it’s a whole other ballgame). Once that part of my identity was known I became “nice for a Jew” and “pretty for a Jew” but I most certainly was not nice or pretty enough to make me human enough to open up the minds of those bestowing compliments to me with their backhand. It would be me; alone, trying to toe the line between making a good and diplomatic impression while also denying a part of myself and any emotional reactions to people and instead, making sure to accommodate their feelings. I didn’t realize how small I was making myself in these situations. And how much responsibility I was shouldering that wasn’t my business to shoulder at all.

One time in high school, a bunch of us choir buddies were asked to sing at one of our friend’s churches. We went, sang a song about Jesus, nailed it (sry, too soon?) and then were forced to listen to this preacher sermonize about how non-Christian people are going to hell. At which point I turned and looked at my friend (an Iranian Zoroastrian) and we both just rolled our eyes because we were so used to this treatment by people toward us. Fucking jaded as fuck from this shit by 17 years old. I think the girl who asked us to go apologized after. I really don’t remember. At this point, and honestly since the dawn of time, apologies are not enough.

Being nice is not enough. There are no “both sides” to this equation. It’s not ok to tell people being brutalized that they need to identify or compromise with their abusers. It is not my job to hold your people accountable. Or hold your hand through your discomfort. White Christian folk, it’s yours. If I had been at that service today, I would have just gotten up and walked out. I don’t have the tolerance my younger self had for bullshit and no one’s fuckery is entitled to my time and space.  It is not my job to constantly try to prove my worth to people who already believe I’m worthless and taking up space that belong to them. All I know, without a doubt, is that my life is more important than White Christian Feelings™. The lives of my friends and family and all the various communities we are members of: POC communities, LGBTQ+, immigrant, Indigenous, Muslim, etc. are more important than White Christian Feelings™. If YOU have feelings it is YOUR job to go to a therapist and work on them and not culturally appropriate the use of tiki torches by using them to throw a tantrum while waving Confederate and Nazi flags, ramming your cars through crowds of people, and beating the shit out of peaceful protestors.

I try to be a good person. I know that majorities of people in this country are also trying to be good people. But, I’m going to level with you white Christian folks. I don’t trust you. I also have a lot of resentment toward you.  If you’re hurt by me saying that, I don’t care. It’s taken me a very long time to admit this. It’s taken an incredible amount of work to unpack and uncondition myself to the idea that I’m a bad person for feeling this way and for not seeing the “many sides.” But, you don’t deserve my trust. You’re not entitled to anything from anybody. Once again, YOUR problem. Tough titties, bro.

When I started seeing images of the gathering of angry white men with torches on Friday night, I had a feeling I wasn’t going to be able to participate in the onslaught of coverage of what was happening in Charlottesville, VA. I was right. The moment I opened Facebook and saw image after image and article after article of the Pasty Wasps Boys parade screaming anti-Semitic slurs, racist drivel, and throwing their arms up in Sieg Heil to Fuhrer Trump I found my breath catch in my throat. Those images turned into the countless hours of footage of the Nazis and their methodical tactics to exterminate our families shown to us every year to make sure we never forgot. The shots of piles of dead bodies found and photographed by the liberators morphed in my head from unknown members of the tribe to my parents and my siblings. Lifeless forms hanging from trees became my friends who dare to be themselves; worship who they wish to worship, love who they love, celebrating being black as fuck (Talia, I am living for you and your InstaStories right now and forever and always). It took me almost a full twenty-four hours and a hiatus from social media to get the panic attacks to stop.

Never again. Our communities make a point to pass down the atrocities we faced so we can make sure these things never happen again to anyone. Why don’t you learn what has happened to us? How is it that our heritage, which is intertwined with yours, weighs so heavily on only our hearts?

 

Do you not have hearts?

 

What exactly is wrong with you.

 

Here’s a collection of other things that have been swirling around in my brainhole:

- Have we past the point of no return for democracy in this country? I’m afraid of staying in this country until it’s too late. I’m afraid of leaving this country that I love and have so much hope for and not knowing if I’ll have more confidence in my survival instincts at the end of it or live with feeling like a coward for the rest of my life. Then again, some of my family made it here in time. Others were murdered and dumped in a grave they were forced to dig themselves.

-I was in Israel with my family in June and I remember I had a moment while sitting on the roof of the hotel we were staying at in Jerusalem with my dad. I remember feeling very quiet and comfortable. I thought of a conversation I had had with my aunt a few weeks prior when she had said that when she went to Israel for the first time 30 some years ago it amazed her that she was in a place where everyone was Jewish. Then, it clicked. I realized that despite the fact that Jerusalem and much of Israel is religiously diverse and that there is still a hugely unsettling political environment present there, that I was in a place where Judaism was accepted. It was a norm. I was in a place where I didn’t have to explain myself to anyone no matter what my actual beliefs, practices or lack thereof are. That’s when I thought, “Wow. This is what it must feel like to be a White Christian back home.”

- I love this country. Maybe, more accurately, I love the concept of this country. I’m a 6th generation American. Which means that my lineage has been here almost as long as this country has been the United States of America. Which also means my lineage has been oppressed while actively engaging in and benefitting from the oppression of others. Immigrants were able to come and build a life for themselves as a result of the genocide of hundreds of millions of First Nations people. My five-times great grandfather fought in the Civil War against the Union. He was not allowed to fight with his fellow southerners and instead was in a separate infantry specifically for Jews. Everything about this sucks. I can only guess that this relative was doing what he felt was right, as way to assimilate, get closer to the American Dream, I’ll never know. Here’s what I do know: The Confederacy lost, as they should have. State’s rights my ass. And failure is a good thing. Failure means things have the potential to be better. It gives us a chance to sit back, deal with our filth, and clean it out. Something this country still hasn’t done.

#BlackLivesMatter

#StopDAPL

#NoBanNoWall

#LoveisLoveisLove

#TransisBeautiful

#WomensRightsAreHumanRights

#ImmigrantsWeGetThe Job Done

#DisabledandCute

#Resist

CREATIVE CONTRIBUTION: Sound Designer Katie Louchheim

Hi all!

I am very excited to be a part of an amazing project called Descendants of the Chalice doing sound design. I recently wrote a blog post for the project which I will be reposting here (and I'll share the links to our Indiegogo campaign and the Descendants' website so you can read all of the other great contributions and hopefully help us bring this project to life!)

I hope everyone has a very happy holiday season and amazing new year! I see you 2016. :)

For much of my life, my body has been enemy number one. I have been trapped in this cage of flesh my whole life and no one will let me out. I dressed it up like a temple. I treated it like a battleground. I have done everything that I could think of to flee from it.

 

Now I am feeling my anger. Infuriated and I’m ready to be honest about it.

 

I got my first period at age 11. I was diagnosed with Endometriosis at age 14, thankfully, much earlier than most people when they are finally properly diagnosed. My parents were definitely on it when it came to diagnosing the physical symptoms, however, there was very little information ever given. I was trapped in this body that was being dragged from doctor to doctor, appendages pricked to rule out anemia, countless birth control pills prescribed and consumed in hopes of lessening my pain and flow from super plus to regular, laparoscopic surgery, more invasive colonoscopy and upper endoscopy (both of which I had to remain awake for), injections of Depo Provera in my hip every three months, missing sixty days of school a year due to the insurmountable amount of pain and nausea my body put me through every month. Once diagnosed, I was given a vague description of the disease. Mostly just what can happen if you have it and what happened in my particular case. Pictures from my laparoscopic surgery showed tissue in my body that the endometrial lining from my uterus attached itself to and then continued acting like endometrial tissue creating a reservoir of blood around my internal organs. And that was it.

 

Is there a cure?

“No. “

 

What causes the uterine lining to start acting that way?

“No clue.”

 

So, is it an autoimmune-type disease?

“Maybeeeee??”

 

Not much has changed in the almost fifteen years since I was diagnosed. (For a brief and comprehensive rundown of what is known about Endometriosis see Cristen Conger of “Stuff Mom Never Told You” talk about it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gKU2tzv1zg ). The only difference now is that women are beginning to talk about their experiences with the disease. The physical, emotional and psychological tolls and all of the work and life experiences missed out on or moved numbly through. Lena Dunham and Padma Lakshmi spoke about their experiences in a recent issue of Lenny. Many doctors have misdiagnosed women with the disease because they are not taking the women’s concerns and pain seriously enough. As a result, doctors confuse endometriosis with other physical ailments like appendicitis or brush it off as whining or a mental imbalance. All the while women have to suffer the consequences. We lose time at school or work, experience relationship-related stress, miss out on important time discovering self-careand personal exploration. We suffer from intense pain that creates a personal culture of shame for not being able to work through it, fear of appearing weak or drawing attention to oneself, and on, and on, and on.

 

As I read their anecdotes it felt as if I had written them myself. Their feelings, fears, and experiences felt almost identical to my own. One of the most difficult things about having Endometriosis was how alone and unrelateable I felt. Lena Dunham and I are very close in age and if I had known that I wasn’t the only adolescent person to have been diagnosed with this disease, it would have made all the difference. Maybe I wouldn’t have beaten myself up so hard about feeling like a failure of a human being. Maybe I would have given myself a chance to be a teenager during the times I was feeling well. Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten in the habit of living my life totally disassociated from my own body. Maybe I would have felt that I could leave my room and be more open and engaged with my family. The fact that this is all coming out now, as opposed to then, points to some much larger culprits that had some very conditioned and deeply ingrained messages. I’ve begun to realize that it’s much bigger than just the disease.

 

I’ve begun to realize that every flicker of rage that moves through me has been greatly displaced. Instead of directing my anger to where it should be going, and should have been going my entire life, I harnessed and focused it all on my body. My anger is more appropriately aimed at both societal conditioning and from certain messages I received in my particular family culture. Our lives are so gendered and, as women or women-presenting people, so much of “taking care” of ourselves is wrapped up in superficiality that makes us products for consumption and use of the male gaze. And my reaction to that is typically, “fuck that shit” and then refuse to make any decisions at all.

 

Instead of taking care of my body, I grew resentful of it and ignored it.

 

There is something about getting my needs met that feels destructive. A feeling that if I am happy and taken care of, that it’s at the cost of other people’s happiness and well-being. I don’t know whether it’s competitiveness with other women that has been fed to us through the patriarchal spoon or the fact that we’re also taught to be sorry for everything including our own existence. Most accurately, it’s probably both and was definitely a major reason as to why I’ve had a lot of trouble asking for help and really feeling the pain that I was going through. The message that women are the weaker and fairer sex coupled with the idea that there can only ever be one queen bee in any situation contributed heavily to my feelings of inadequacy and that I needed to be tougher and stronger if I wanted to be the best and to live life on my own terms. Every time someone made a comment about my naturally thin frame and every time I got sick were instant reminders that my body was useless and only holding me back.

 

My body has been the enemy for so long and my uterus, in particular, has been such a burden on me that I even refused to engage in any potential romantic relationships because I felt that I would only be a burden to the other person. Who wants a diseased girlfriend who’s scared to have sex? In this hyper-sexulized culture we live in, I figured no one would be willing to be patient with me, especially as a teenager. My feelings and pain would never matter that much to anyone.

 

And I was right. My pain didn’t matter when I got my first period and was made to feel like I was being a jerk because I was hurting. My family had gone over to our best family friend’s house for dinner, as we often did, and I spent the entire time sitting on the couch in front of the TV with my arms crossed over my stomach. It didn’t feel like a normal stomach ache and I really just didn’t feel like I could do anything but sit. On top of that, I remember it being insinuated to me that I wasn’t being a good sport or was being high-maintenance or something, which, of course, hurt my feelings and made me feel even worse. It wasn’t until we went home that night and I went to the bathroom and saw the blood in my underwear that I realized what happened. I showed my mom, she confirmed, and that was that. My pain didn’t matter when I would close myself off in my room because I had no other coping skills and felt like I was a monster or just nonexistant to my family. My pain didn’t matter when my grandmothers would continually bring up and imply the importance of having children. My pain and my being didn’t matter when I was raped by a coworker and earlier in the evening when he told me that my idea of consent between two people was “a fairytale.” And in that case, I disconnected from my body a second time.

 

Getting basic needs met has typically felt like a struggle. While I’ve been getting better with this aspect, paying attention to my body and the signals it’s sending me, I sometimes relapse and fall back into not responding to those signals. I’ll wait a ridiculous amount of time to go to the bathroom, I won’t eat for very long periods of time. I only go to the doctor if I’m out of contact lenses or my birth control prescription needs to be refilled.

 

Self-care is a tricky thing. It’s difficult to know what it actually means. We’re constantly telling each other to take care of ourselves, but what does that really entail? Is it annual doctor visits and regular yoga and kickboxing classes? Maybe its  nights out with the girls and a planned vacation here and there. Maybe. While all are important, they also just feel like another thing I need to put on my to do list in order to fulfill the idea that I have a healthy, fulfilling, and successful existence. Even if I’m having a really good day, or week, or few months I never feel like I’m fully taking care of myself. I feel like I’m constantly sacrificing something. I wish I could just go through life feeling nourished, accomplished, and driven. I wish I could feel comfortable in my own body without having to constantly be reminded of or defined by my reproductive system.

 

In my family, and as I am realizing more and more in broader society, if you didn’t like something that was going on or if someone was doing something that made you uncomfortable it was emphasized that the only thing to do in those situations was ignore it. This way of thinking is inherently fucked for many reasons. I’m sure the reasoning behind it is that it is assumed that the offender will eventually tire of doing the offensive thing.  This may be true, but these are the other things that are taught in those situations: entitlement, disregard of other people’s feelings and boundaries, lack of compassion, lack of compromising skills, lack of personal accountability and responsibility, and lack of empathy. What it teaches the one who is taking offense: your feelings don’t matter, you’re boundaries don’t matter, and neither actually exists. The one being offended is made to deal with and be responsible for the offender and the offences against them. In my life, receiving these messages lead me to down-play any feelings or gut instincts I’ve had in both benign and dangerous situations as well all experiences wonderful and terrible.

 

If a family member or roommate does/says something that bothers me. Avoid. A cat-caller harasses me on the street and then gets angry and demeans me, chases me down the street, etc. Ignore. I accomplish… anything. It’s not a big deal. And in the case of the more terrible ones I always had this sense that they were somehow my fault. That in some way I chose these experiences and feelings rather than more reasonably they were actually someone else’s fault, or an experience of a normal range of human emotion, pain from having a disease, or pain from just going through puberty. It was as if the Endometriosis was my fault, which snowballed into it being my fault when I was rear-ended by a plumbing truck at age 18, it was my fault when men treated me poorly and made me feel uncomfortable, it was my fault I was raped. But none of that was my fault. I didn’t choose any of those things. Who in their right mind would? Just the thought in itself, is completely ludicrous. Those thoughts happen, when feelings and experiences are ignored. The emotional and psychological effects last much longer and can create much deeper cycles of dysfunction and stagnation if they are not worked through and validated from the get go. Telling women that suffering just comes with the territory and to just deal with it, is a problem.

 

The feelings of being a burden and a monster were some of the other baggage I have carried moving forward. And it has taken me a lot of practice of getting in the habit of sharing my experiences and authentic feelings and realizing that I’m not going to destroy the person I’m sharing them with. I’ve often been told I’m cool. I never intended to be “the cool girl,” letting situations roll off my back and giving everyone I meet the benefit of the doubt even if they crossed some of my own boundaries and continued to do so. As laid back a person as I feel that I am, I do think it partly became a habit because I never wanted to seem like a crazy bitch and I figured if I let people be who they were, they would return that favor. I didn’t understand for a long time that I could accept people the way that they were and still have boundaries, standards, and needs. And that if anyone felt I was a crazy bitch for having those things and expressing them, then those were probably people I could and should leave behind.

   

I also began to realize that keeping all of my experiences and stories to myself was what was creating a huge burden on me and when I started to practice sharing I found that I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t a monster. So many of our stories are shared and we don’t always know that because society has shamed our completely human experiences into silence. I volunteered to escort patients at an abortion clinic this recently. There were only three protesters there (since the terrorist attack on a Planned Parenthood in Colorado, the swarms of regular protestors that typically line the block have laid low) and a reporter. The reporter asked me a couple of questions one of which was “Do you feel safe as a volunteer?” I replied that I did, although, I know the great risks in being an escort. The reality is I could be killed volunteering at an abortion clinic, but that the risk is worth it if it begins to change the perception of women being shamed for being born female and for making decisions for themselves. All decisions, let alone ones concerning our bodies. Because the reality is also that because I exist in this world as a woman I am a target no matter where I am. Until the ideas and the language we use and are systematic in all of our institutions to keep that true are discussed, challenged, and dismantled myself and all other women are in danger of being assaulted and killed no matter what.

 

Why don’t we know more about Endometriosis even in the 15 years since I was diagnosed? Why did studies on the clitoris only start being funded in the 1990s? Why is female pain still not taken seriously within the medical community? Why is it that it’s accepted that boys just play with their penises right out of the womb, but the fact that I and other girls were exploring their bodies and masturbating at 4 or 5 years old and there’s no conversation of it? Why is our sex education only in relation to birthing children while boys get to learn how their bodies actually function? As women, we don’t learn about how our bodies work sexually and we are completely divorced from our anatomy in a way men rarely ever are. We are so objectified and so many women only talk about their bodies with their sexual partners and maybe their doctors that it’s hard to not think of our physical beings of separate entities to ourselves.  I find myself guilty of this constantly, literally thinking of my body as a vehicle to get me from point A to point B and nothing more. It’s taboo for women to talk about our sexuality, even with doctors, except out of the context of being desirable and exciting enough for a man. (For another excellent point of all of these topics, see our project’s wonderful creator Arden Winant’s contribution from a few weeks ago). This heteronormative lens and our lack of knowledge of ourselves only gives us a sense of shame about ourselves.

Furthermore, why are sex education classes not coed? Seriously, if boys (let alone girls) had to learn how the vagina and clitoris function maybe we wouldn’t have to deal with such terrible and disappointing sex.

 

Women are not a mystery. Saying shit like that is a cop out to not see us and treat us as fully-realized human beings and just leave us behind.

 

 

I am not a mystery. I and everything I do is not an extension of male fantasy. I am in the audio production and engineering field and when I go to an Audio Engineering Society Convention, I am not the wife or daughter of whatever male I’m standing next to, I’m your fucking colleague. I am allowed to say fuck and I am allowed to experience and express the completely normal human emotion known as anger. There is generally a lot of talk about “empowerment.” I honestly don’t know what that is. “Female empowerment,” “sexual empowerment,” I don’t really know what these things are supposed to mean and I don’t think I really care that much. All I feel like I can do is help myself live. What did emerge from thinking about these moments was just the idea of care. How do I care for myself in the most trying moments? How do I allow people to care for me in moments where I need it? How do I celebrate myself when things are going well? These and many more questions have been swirling in my subconscious and in the past year have been the main focus of my life. I go to therapy, I share my stories with friends, family, and whoever else I’m ready to share them with. I work my ass off 1) because I love it and 2) because I have to prove I’m on the same level as men by being better than them (hint: because vagina). I go out with friends, I go out in general. All in hopes that it will make my life better and will make the lives of women in general better. I’m still fuming as I write this because the end of being treated like second-class citizens is nowhere in sight and it’s hard going out everyday knowing that I am at risk just because I happened to have been born in this body and I choose to actively exist in it. I still hate that I am made to be aware of my vagina and uterus every single minute of every single fucking day. However, I am no longer in the pain that I once was in and I am continuing to heal. I will no longer accept that suffering is my cross to bear.  I will not be silenced.

 

To support women and teens with Endometriosis and research of the disease please visit the Endometriosis Foundation of America (https://www.endofound.org).

To support women’s health, in general, please support Planned Parenthood and other similar institutions and organizations (https://www.plannedparenthood.org).

Descendants of the Chalice (https://www.descendantsofthechalice.wordpress.com)

Our Indiegogo campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/descendants-of-the-chalice#/

Follow Katie’s adventures @ktjlouch on Instagram

Her misadventures at Katie Louchheim on YouTube

And her specifically musical adventures at www.katielouchheim.com

 

 

In Sickness and In Health

About a month ago I had a dream where I got married. To myself. My own personal views on marriage and initial fear of pathological narcissism aside, I woke up feeling really impacted by the vision. As I mentioned a little bit in my last post, last year was probably the lowest point for me and the years prior were also pretty tough.  At some point last year, I decided that I was going to change a lot of things, the most important of which was not selling myself short and not settling for anything or anyone. Little did I know at that time, that I was giving myself some incredibly valuable gifts. I was committing to myself and committing to loving myself.

 

At the time, it just seemed like the most obvious and progressive thing to do. I’ve never been the complacent or apathetic type. My brain is always buzzing, my body’s always moving, I always want to do more, see more, learn, feel, experience as much as I can. If there’s a problem, I want to find the best solution. Even when I’m resting I’m always doing it actively and with a purpose. Which probably sounds a bit oxymoronic. But that’s just how I function! Onward and upward, all day every day. So, when I started having panic attacks from being triggered just walking down the street, the obvious solution seemed to be to find a therapist to talk to regularly and help me learn to navigate through the world and difficult situations. When I was in a job where I felt disrespected and was not given the growth opportunities that were explicitly agreed to, not learning anything, not being paid a living wage, I quit! When I’ve had relationships where either I’m doing all the work or just being dumped on all the time without any consideration for my life, feelings, or humanity I’ve stopped engaging.

 

I’ve learned that there is no point in wasting time and energy on things or people that make you miserable. You don’t get a prize for suffering more, you reap rewards when you are proactive and create rewarding situations for yourself. So, things that I felt were just tools and decisions to help me grow and move forward, were actually so much more than that. I was beginning to teach myself to recognize fear and realize that clinging to it and other people’s expectations was not loving myself nor was it helping me thrive or make good decisions. I didn’t have to “tough it out” or fix and accommodate every relationship. I didn’t have to be grateful for every job that came around because it was a job. I could have standards and be choosy.  And I could be grateful to the ones I took because of their importance.

 

 

Since I began consciously being better to myself, my life has changed dramatically and very quickly. My career goals and life have become more focused and in reach, I’ve reconnected with values that had gone by the wayside, I’ve been able to manage difficult situations with much more ease and less anxiety, and I’ve felt more grounded in my authentic self than ever before. The work never ends, but it feels less and less like work with each step forward I take.

 

 

As I saw myself being taken to my wedding by a very understanding friend and reiterating to her that I wasn’t marrying anyone, that this was just something I was doing for myself, and then seeing myself in a white dress standing in front of the officiant, I knew I had picked well.

 

 

Dream on babes!!! Xoxo KT

 

 

P.S. Let me know what your thoughts in the comments below, or share with me what dreams you’ve had that made an impact on you! I would love to hear your stories! ALSO, I am committing to providing more content in blog form and some pre – pre – pre – production youtube awesomeness (I will keep everyone updated on that project as it keeps developing), so if there is anything anyone is interested in me talking about just let me know in the comments!

 

 

When an Opinion Falls in the Internet Forest, Do You Have to Accept it When You Hear it? (Including this One. I Know, So Meta!)

**TRIGGER WARNING** This post briefly touches on subject matter of a violent and sexual nature

I very recently had a Facebook interaction with someone that I'm more commonly used to having in person. I don’t know what the intentions of this person were or why he was so triggered by a picture I posted. (You can check it out here: https://scontent-lga.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpa1/v/t1.0-9/11079618_898068430256368_5968793295066056208_n.jpg?oh=3667709a0dd0fd2f51b3411c9bdfb0d1&oe=55A5CEEC).

 

In one of the very rare and tiny windows of spare time I had I checked my Facebook and saw this picture on another friend’s wall. It resonated with me on multiple levels, so I shared it on mine. As a side note, I am always happy for people to comment, I would actually love if there were more discussions taking place. It’s also fine if no one likes or comments on what I post. Facebook and social media for me, as I think for a lot of people, is just another and different vehicle for expressing yourself in whatever way you feel is right in that moment. I feel like I have also been extremely lucky when I have touched on really sensitive subjects. There have been some incredible, intelligent, validating, kind, and thought-provoking conversations between my peers and I’m really proud to know all of these people even as my degrees of closeness with them varies widely.

 

This particular conversation, however, was different. It was so judgmental from the get go. The person in question decided to take it upon himself to say in about two sentences that I was not championing the right people by posting this photo (speaking as if he already knew what my intentions in posting this photo were) as well as then speaking on behalf of the person in the photo (Audrey Hepburn: humanitarian and iconic film actor. Also has been dead since 1993) to say that she would want me to be good, graceful, humble, and quiet little girl and not post a picture of little ol’ her and her accomplishments. Real women are nurturing to everyone excluding themselves and suffer quietly (I’m paraphrasing based on my feelings that arose when looking at his actual words in front of me).

 

In a nutshell: I express myself. I am then told to shut up and do something else.  Oh, and that I’m wrong. So, I’m not allowed to fight for my own voice, but expected to just do that for other people?? Not only that, but I’m just supposed to accept his opinion about me because he claims to be a feminist and an ally even though the only indication he gives of being one is that he knows how to use those two words in a sentence?

 

There are many, MANY problems with this, (white savior complex, taking ownership of another human being/s, inserting oneself out of sheer self-importance, whining when someone disagrees with you or doesn’t respond to you in the way you want them to then reasoning that person is a man-hater because why would anyone ever disagree with your highness, perpetuation of “it’s just a compliment” despite how it makes the person on the receiving end feel and completely ignoring the social constructs that make thinking so pervasive and hard to escape, perpetuation of “you asked for it” because it’s “a public forum” as an excuse to not take responsibility for oneself and be a dick, etc…  all of which I won’t be able to touch on here but can always go back to in another post). The initial response from this guy indicated that I am not a good person, that I’m so blinded by my own privilege, that I’m so oblivious to all the suffering that exists in this world, and that I am not doing anything about it. Here’s the thing though.

 

There is an overwhelming amount of suffering and injustice in the world and so many voices that need lifting up, but I can’t make every issue my issue. I also can’t fight other people’s battles for them. There are some battles where “my help” will not even be wanted and it is not my place to insert myself. In those cases all I can do is step aside and create space for them. I’m doing everything that I can. Every. Day. And I’m the first person to beat myself up over whether I did enough or did the right thing in every single situation and interaction that happens throughout the day. When I got that comment it was at the end of another day of being up at 6am to have class from 8-1pm, an almost hour long train ride with major construction delays to get back home to feed my cat, feed myself and try and get some rest before having to leave for work at 2:45pm where I serve and make people bubble tea until 9pm but don’t leave until 9:30 because I still have to clean and close the shop. I was exhausted.

 

I am in school 5 days a week, work 2-3 days a week, I have voice lessons twice a week, therapy once a week, I have to eat, sleep, do homework, travel from points A to B, C, D, F, create. SURVIVE. I am constantly up against ingrained and institutionalized sexism and misogyny both personally and professionally. In the midst of living my life and attempting to accomplish the list above I’ve been chased down the street by men because I refused to accept their advances by setting boundaries. I’ve been called racist for doing the same thing. I was raped last year by a coworker and I am constantly going back and forth as to whether to go to the police and go through living that experience again. I was completely uprooted in all areas of my life because of that incident and after a year I have finally begun to process and get out of the dark hole it put me in.

 

I have a father who tells me that my boundaries are important and I should never apologize for setting them and standing up for myself. I have a mother who tells me I don’t have to be a martyr and that I’m never responsible for others especially if they are treating me in a way that is abusive, and hurtful. I’m grateful for my parents. And I’m grateful for the amazing friends, support groups and mentors that I have. Not many people are as lucky. I also know there are people in much worse situations than I am, and I’m grateful for where I am.

 

 I try every single day. I try to better myself. I try to be better to myself.

 

It’s so hard to wake up every day knowing that the world expects you to be perfect. To be all of these contradictory things all at one time, not giving a fuck if those things have to do with you or any other real human at all. I want to be a hero. I want everyone to be happy and no longer oppressed. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fuck up big time. I also want to make a comfortable living doing what I love to do. I want to travel, have experiences, create memories and tell stories. I’m fighting every day figuring out how to manage everything. But I’m limited in time, energy, and support.

 

I’m not perfect. I’m just a person. And I’m trying. We all are. Sometimes all I have to inspire me in a day is a picture of Audrey Hepburn with short blurb about her story to keep me going on this path. Because there was someone I can point to who I can relate to and who came before me who did it, which means that I can too. I will never stop sharing my voice and I will never apologize for having one. I will not let assholes think that they know what a better use of MY time is when they have ZERO perspective into what I actually do and care about in MY life.

 

So, if an opinion is expressed does it need to be accepted just because it exists? The answer is no. And since no one can ever truly knows what another person is going through, withholding judgment can really go a long way.

 

I’ll leave it to one of my homeboys for the final word:

 

“I might disagree with your opinion, but I am willing to give my life for your right to express it.” -Voltaire

 

 

One Year Anniversary

Today is a milestone for me. Today is the one year anniversary of a new beginning. Of me escaping horrible trauma after horrible trauma in such a condensed period of time. It is the anniversary of being dragged into unimaginable depths and rebuilding from scratch. Rebuilding every single aspect of my life and of my being. It is the anniversary of my promise to myself to never, EVER settle. To live the life I want, and more importantly, that I deserve. A year ago I was surviving and today I'm thriving. A year ago, my life was full of pain, anger, humiliation, and an unendurable amount of stress. Today, I'm filled with hope, vulnerability, and real love. 

There is something almost magical about the human spirit. It can be thoroughly crushed until barely recognizable, but it can never be destroyed. We are so much stronger and more amazing than we give ourselves credit for. If you can, and I believe you can, make the commitment to yourself to be good to yourself. 

To believe in yourself.

To love yourself.

No one has the right to take your agency away from you. You are special and you deserve better.

Love Always. KT

Welcome!!!

Howdy and welcome to my brain hole!

     I am Katie. Sometimes KT if I want to seem clever or like I'm so busy that I don't have enough time to fully spell out my name. And by "busy" I mean watching marathons of Gilmore Girls on Netflix. But, I digress. I am a singer/songwriter, perpetual student, busy (unrelated to Gilmore) body, mom to a Gatsby, adventure - seeker, binge watcher of Cristen Conger videos, and about a million other things. This blog will be a place for all of my musings, experiences (both personal and professional), stories, songs, and pictures of my cat. Thanks for checking me out and I hope to see you along for the ride! 

 

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”
― Hunter S. Thompson