Two weeks ago I was part of Yeah That's What She Said's Motherland event at the Knockdown Center. It felt different than other events I've been in because my mind was on process, and many of the talks I had with other makers went back to that. The dedication and energy and pushing. Putting in the time just because we want to know that we’re building. Knowing we have to follow up on emails, and not always wanting to. Finding that building a website can be oddly therapeutic. And of course, feeling weird things and reminding ourselves that we can feel other things too, that we can work around our discomfort and doubt and fears.
At Motherland I met artist and organizer Viva Ruiz, who runs Thank God for Abortion, a movement aimed at de-stigmatizing abortion. Their mission is to “eliminate the criminizaling stigma around abortion one t-shirt at a time. [They] are occupying a light and apology free space in a conversation that even in the left is fraught wih guilt and secrecy (Thank God for Abortion zine)". Viva’s table was filled with 'THANK GOD FOR ABORTION’ t-shirts. I loved them, but if I was being honest with myself, the thought of wearing the shirt sounded stressful to me. I asked Viva how how she deals with the controversial aspect of her work, and the possibility of blatant hostility. Viva admitted that at times she has felt threatened and scared. Because just as I’ve suspected, people have found it okay to threaten her life and safety. Which is very rich coming from pro-lifers.
Viva said something to me along the lines of: “It’s hard sometimes, but you pick your battles. You have to know what you’re okay standing up for, and once you accept that some people won’t be okay with it, you care less and do what you have to do”. I appreciated the reminder: it goes down to what what I'm willing to fight for.
There was an exhibition at Motherland by artist Agnes, that gave me major heart eyes. Her photography was soft and stunning, with deep blues that got me in my eternal blue feels. She put so much care in the details; her guest book and handmade business cards did me in. That night on her Instagram I saw that it was her first exhibition; I felt even more inspired, and so proud and happy for someone I had never met. Her art and words resonated with me, and her acknowledgement of process was affirming and very timely. Agnes mentioned the importance of documenting it, of people sharing the process part of their journey. And I'm here for that; because we all need to know that it takes effort and sweat to constantly show up and do the thing.
I’ve always found it grounding and affirming when people share their process, the good times and the confusing days. Knowing we're all going through it grounds me and humbles me. People don't just wake up and make the masterpiece. Even if they did, I wouldn't find that very interesting. I'd rather know about someone that grows in it. That makes and lives and feels it and creates things out of that. I want to know what it looks like for other people to make, and to find the time for it. I want to know about the days that feel like a movie, and the ones where it's heavy and we're leaning on each other, or making for survival, because sometimes leaning feels heavy too. I want to know I'm not the only one wondering if I'm moving fast enough, or struggling with focusing long enough to finish a project.
Last weekend I tabled at No White Flowers for White Powers, a POC punk show put together by No Flowers Collective and BUFU. I brought my printed zines, and a new one that was inspired by the event, titled "be your own punk!" , which I'm hoping to expand on soon. FWFWP had live music as well as artists showcasing and selling their art. There were also astrology and tarot readings, video projections that gave me major editing feels, and lots of qpoc magic. The mosh pit looked very tempting, but I didn't feel like getting hit so I stuck as close as I could be without being in it. And honestly, I had forgotten how cathartic punk can be. It's great for releasing pent-up energy, which I seem to have a lot of lately.
I was also very happy to run into the ladies from Mujeristas Collective. They’re talented and driven and powerful, and I'm so glad that they're doing their thing. They make zines and lead workshops and discussions on self-love and healing. Getting to chill with them at Motherland and No Flowers for White Powers was a lot of fun and I'm excited to share space again. Steph from Mujeristas wore a ‘THANK GOD FOR ABORTION’ shirt to FWFWP that she got from Viva, and that was very cool and affirming to see. Homie also went for the mosh pit (I felt very proud).
Motherland and No Flowers for White Powers have been reminders of the many sides of the process, and how energizing it can be to get outside of my head and be in intentional spaces, surrounded by art and music and qpoc babes, and people that are also growing through their work. I've been very grounded by people's openness and passion. My mood as been up and down, and lately I'm tired all the time. It really helps to know that there's so much cool stuff happening, and that people are also making amidst (and sometimes because) their feels and messiness.
I want to let it all inspire and invigorate me and remind me I'm not alone in this. Because as much as I need to spend time by myself, I very much need to connect and engage. I need to be outside, feeling and seeing the magic in other projects and people. I'm working on the energy thing; it feels that I've been on a mission to figure out how to have enough energy to be present for all of it: my people, my job, my projects, myself, all the cool things happening.
I'm here for the breakthroughs and the healing and the ache, and the fight. I will always want to know what we do in our stubbornness to do this our way, to build the lives we want. Even when I'm quiet and drowning myself in fic, I want the sky pics.
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