a letter to my senator


The Challenge:

Write a blog post using 50 words given to me by 50 followers on my KatyKatiKate Facebook page.
  
A Letter to My Senator

whoooooooah little lady
this isn't gonna be about your babymaker
is it?
because i'm not
i don't
that's not
ahem

Dear Sir,

My name is Katie Anthony. 

I am a writer, a mother of two young boys, a volunteer with the community garden, and a constituent living in the township of Up Your Goddamn Ass. 

That’s right, Pookie. Get comfortable standing at meetings because I’m not going anywhere, mkay?





I was a freshman in high school 9 miles away from Columbine on April 20, 1999. I was in soccer practice when one of the other girls whose dad worked at a news station said that there had been a shooting at Columbine. At the time, it was inconceivable. I can’t decide which feeling is worse: surprised and afraid in 1999, or resigned in 2018.

I can’t decide which lede is worse: “It was the worst school shooting in U.S. history,” or “At the time, it was the worst school shooting in U.S. history.”

I took my son to his kindergarten open house last week. I stood in the cafeteria watching my son, his brother, his friends, mill around spilling Goldfish crackers on the floor as they explored the folding tables that in only a few months will become boring and normal to them. I wanted to cry.

NO, Senator, it wasn't because my baby was growing up too fast. It wasn't because I didn't know what I was going to do with all that free time when he went away to school all day in the fall (in case you were wondering, the answer is "write a lot more blog posts" and "feel shocked at how quickly 3 pm arrives because I was going to go to yoga today oh well I'll just eat this muffin and hit yoga extra hard tomorrow.")

I wanted to cry because I was looking at these children in the context of Columbine. Sandy Hook. Parkland. I was looking at these children not as future scholars, but as future victims. 

I fucking resent that. I fucking resent my inability to enjoy the bittersweet melancholy of sending my baby to school, because there's nothing in my heart right now but a hard, hard prayer. A prayer as hard as armor.

Not this place. Not these kids.
Please.

Now here's where you come in, Senator.

Unless you’re about to express profound reverence for the generation of unbelievable students that has managed to organize sapient and empathetic public statements, and flame scared old men on Twitter with the most savage of #casualburns, then sit down and take a double of your migraine meds because I’m about to learn you up.

First of all, understand that these Parkland students are the vindication of the value of life, personified. Next time you talk pro-life to me, you better be talking about pro-THIS-LIFE.

Second, remember that the Parkland students are the most recent wave, and in some ways, the most easily-consumed wave of young activists against gun violence. Think of all the students who have been fighting gun violence for decades: the young men begging for their lives whom you would dismiss as thugs, the young women marching out of class in an act of transubstantiation that turned them from human flesh into your mid-morning fucking snack. Wipe your chin, Senator. There’s a daub of carmine that I’d swear was ketchup if I didn’t know you so fucking well.

I know, it was a risk to bring up people of color while I’m posted Up Your Goddamn Ass, Senator, because I’m pretty sure that nothing’ll make you shit your pants harder than the idea of intersectionality. But hey, I’m a mom, and a woman on the internet and I’ve had to get copacetic with a steady stream of both actual and metaphorical shit.

These students -- all of them, not just the Parkland newcomers who have reignited the national debate, but all of them, and especially the students who have continued to scream into our faces while we smiled at each other and declared America post-racial -- are not sugared-up toddlers going cattywampus.

They’re not hormone-crazed brats marching to get sriracha added to the condiment bar in the cafeteria, or to make every day Waffle Day.

They’re not scamps armed with rolls of TP and a penchant for tomfoolery.

And I’m sorry to burst your moist little paranoid fever bubble, but they’re not crisis actors funded by the communist vagenda. This isn’t Emma Gonzalez’s big break.  She is not looking forward to flipping a big fat bird to Madison who plays “banjo player #3/Owl” in the Tampa Children’s Theater production of “Mr. Bojangles and the Great Kotton Kandy Kerfuffle” as she struts out of the dressing room with a guffaw: “I’m off to the SHOW bitches!”

These students are people. No, you don’t get to call them kids. Not when you’re weaponizing their age against them in an attempt to undercut their honesty. You lost the right to call them kids when you stopped treating them like kids, when you stopped seeing them as beloved children that we have a biological and moral duty to protect from harm, and started seeing them as a pain in the ass obstacle to your next payday.

These students are people, and very soon, voters. So pop a lozenge, clear your throat, and get ready to start walking back an entire career’s worth of pusillanimous time-wasting whimpers about when is the right time to talk about guns (not now) (still not now) (sorry for your loss, hold please.)

These students can hear your spinelessness, they know what you picked to prop yourself up in the absence of a God-given backbone, and I know what you picked, too. It was money.

You know, you could have made money other ways, dude.

You could have started a spiffy artisanal cotton candy shop on Etsy. That shit packs well. You could have apprenticed with the premier squeezebox tuner in the tri-state area. It’s a dying art, y’all, but the squeezebox is forever and these babies aren’t gonna tune themselves.

You could even have married the oldest sister-wife who managed to escape the compound, and then pressured her into writing a memoir that you could option to Lifetime. Even that would have been better than building your backbone out of blood-stained money, because at least then you’d only be selling one life away for your own profit.

Dangit, I’m tired.

The thing is, as an adult woman I’ve internalized my job description and generally know how to play by the rules:


  • Be gloriously beautiful, possibly even described as pulchritudinous by my creepy SAT tutor who called me it and then told me to look it up with a wink;
  • Shine bright like a diamond, but always remain slightly less luculent than you
  • Smile. Perseverate;
  • Always have a chapstick and a few stray bobby pins in my handbag;
  • Understand and cheerfully accept that my life is less important than your money. My life is less important than your personal relationship with Jesus. My life is less important than your boner.
And my life is – HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I’m sorry, it’s just so obvious that it feels like a hilarious slice of ballyhoo frosted with extra shenanigans that I’d even have to say it out loud – my life is so, so, SO much less important than your right to know in the back of your mind that you could murder me and 79 of my closest friends in less than a minute if we got too mouthy.

Evidently, I’m at the place where I’m laughing about my worthlessness. #PanicGiggles #Despairadox

I call it a despairadox (get it? Despair paradox?) because on the one hand I feel deeply moved by the ability of these students to unify, stand together, and use their votes and voices to move the needle on gun violence.

On the other hand, I feel deep despair. These are children. They could be mine, but they are somebody’s. They are standing because we didn’t, couldn’t, tried and failed to protect them. They are using their votes and voices because we didn’t, couldn’t, tried and failed to make the world safer for them.

They should not have had to be good at saving their own lives. Not yet. That was our job. 
That was your job.






But instead of saving kids’ lives (which honestly, dude, how are there two sides to that story? You do know that sometimes when you play devil’s advocate, you’re advocating for the goddamn devil, right?) you got persnickety with “what counts as a militia” with all the groping faux-logic of a traveling phrenologist, and tried to convince us that it was bad manners to talk about how to prevent tragedies that you call stochastic but which are in fact the epitome of fucking preventable.

In some ways, it’s too late for me to fight this battle for myself; I’ve already gotten used to being whoever you want me to be, being nice to avoid getting murdered. Unlearning those cheerful, safe poses will be so much fucking work. If we were talking about me, I wouldn’t be living here, Up Your Goddamn Ass, Senator.

(PS, there’s a definite gurgle and miasma of panic shits in here, which I’m going to take as a sign that we’re making progress. I remember feeling like this on November 8, 2016. That was the Tuesday that I came down with a week’s worth of the Trumps.

PPS, I’d also like to point out that “gurgle” is a super gross example of onomatopoeia.

PPPS, totally just made you say “gurgle.”)

Yep, it’s late. It’s too late for me to feel entitled to life.

It’s too late for you to feel empowered to protect it, you saggy-assed elephant hornswaggler.

But these students. These people. These inimitable young leaders, the ones who get invited to the news and the ones who don’t, remind us that the values we’ve allowed long enough to root are still impeachable. It’s not too late for them.

There have been lots of jokes about how the world is turning upside-down:

Leaders are acting like kids and the kids are acting like leaders. Up is down and down is up. Nor’easters in March and sunshine in Seattle. I had Chipotle for dinner and I feel super energized like I just wanna wear a bodycon dress and get on a trampoline. And why is it getting dark in the middle of the day?

It’s a scary time to look for normal, not least because in the act of evolution we have to fully understand the tattered, too-small skin that we’ve been wearing. We have to confess that we’ve been lying, this whole time, when we said it was all okay.

Today, right now, these times feel as rare as a total eclipse, a time when the rules of nature feel flexible and unsure. This penumbra is a terrifying reminder that everything we believe is true – that the day will be light and the night dark – is subject to change.

And if we flip that coin to the other side, then that same shadow is a miracle, a thrilling invitation that everything we believe is true – that our government is past humanity and our children can’t be saved – is subject to change.

Even you, Senator. Your station, your invitations, your spine made of money, your ass-shaped dent in this fine leather chair. They are all subject to change. You are subject to change.

That’s either a warning or an invitation. You choose.

Regards,
Katie

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2 comments:

  1. You would do this world a great service by finding women representatives that you align with in thought and policy to collaborate with to help write their speeches. Or, run for office yourself. The former being easier and far less stressful, I'm sure. Either way, I admire the fuck out of your ability to so eloquently put into words what my frustrated mom mind can't. Keep fighting the good fight, we need you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for this. I didn’t get the reference to transubstantiation of young women walking out? Also agree with the above comment. Thanks again ❤️

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