Angles and Lighting

There’s a meme I saw once that said something to the effect of “Are you better looking in person or in pictures? Look, I’m funny.” That’s me.

Don’t let this picture, or any picture I post on the internet fool you. I do not look like this in person. Or in a lot of my unposted pictures, actually. This is the result of lots and lots of selfie practice. I’ve learned how to utilize lighting and angles to make the most of my corporeal form.

Take this picture as an example. I was feeling very ’80s that day and decided to capture it.

I rarely use filters. Instead I prefer natural lighting. Sunlight at the right angle is so kind to me. It gives my ghastly paleness a glow that’s almost healthy. This is why most of the selfies I post on Instagram are in that one spot. The lighting tends to be perfect there.

Notice the angle. That saying, “Get my best side,” has truth to it. My left side is my best side. My face isn’t nearly as symmetrical as society requires it to be. Mostly my nose is a little crooked and it veers towards the right side of my face, leaving the left side a little more open. Also, my cheekbones are pretty fab in general, but my left one is a little more pronounced. And that head tilt? Hides any sign of double chin I sometimes seem to have. Also, for whatever reason, my smirk is left-handed. And that is my go-to facial expression. So, that’s why a majority of my selfies are of my left side with a touch of smirk.

Also, notice the slight twist in my body. Gives the illusion that I’m a bit thinner than I really am. It hides my fat arms and smooths some visible rolls. I like this better than the ultra-above angles that a lot of people do in order to make themselves look thinner.

I don’t have a full-length mirror, so I rarely post full body pictures. Not because I’m ashamed, but because I simply don’t have the tools. When I do post those, they’re usually taken at work (where the lighting is soft and mostly kind), and I still do that twist to help make my fat look the best it can.

I made this picture my Facebook profile pic and got loads of lovely comments about how pretty I am. One even said “Beautiful inside and out”, which we all know is a damn lie. But it goes to show how deceptive the smoke and mirror tricks can be.

Get me out in the real world, when I’m moving around and existing and outside a perfectly captured moment. I am not so pretty. God, get me under the fluorescents. Talk about unkind lighting. After sitting in front of the mirror for an hour while my stylist does my hair I wonder how I’m not chased by the villagers with torches and pitchforks. Laziness on their parts, I suppose.

But see, that goes to show that sometimes even I buy into my own illusion.

I’m actually pretty confident in my appearance for the most part. Most of the time I like what I see when I look in the mirror. Of course, I also know what I see in the mirror isn’t what most people see. I am rather enamored with myself.

Even when I’m not pretty like my picture.

“How’s the Writing Going?”

Let’s be clear: asking me this question even in the best of times is assault. Because we all know that you don’t really care how the writing is going. You’re just being polite. It’s up there with “What are you working on?” You don’t care. It’s just a polite question you ask before launching into a long story about your much more interesting life.

However, in the current bad times, asking me this question is now felony assault. Because it ain’t going great. And I don’t want to talk about that with someone who doesn’t actually care.

I was struggling with my writing before this endless panini, before the routine exasperation of telling people to put their masks on, before the constant stress of being forever understaffed at the library. I’ve been struggling for a while and baby, it ain’t necessarily getting better.

Blogging consistently is a challenge. That I’ve managed to put out two blog posts a week for two different sites for the last couple of months is nothing short of a miracle. Writing 1,000 word flash fiction stories for Patreon has been the extent of my fiction writing outside of NaNo in the past few years. And this year’s NaNo is looming and I’m looking at it with dread because I don’t know if I can do it. I’ve tried everything to get my fiction flow back and the dam is still in place, only letting through a trickle.

I’m still getting ideas, though not at the same pace that I used to. Just the other day I got a random idea for something that would be a fun film script. I jotted it down and I hope that one day I find enough mojo to at least outline it.

I miss fiction writing. I miss that buzz, that sensation of getting lost in my work, surfacing an hour later like I’d been swimming with mermaids and that first gasp of air reminds me that I’m human and I’ve just done something incredible. I’ve had fleeting bits of that, but nothing like it used to be. It makes me sad.

It’s not like I’m not writing at all or that I don’t like the writing that I am doing. I like doing the blog posts. I’m rediscovering my joy in that. I like doing the Rerun Junkie posts over at aka Kiki Writes, even if they can be a bit involved. I’d love to do a pop culture book one day. I really would. And I like running off at the mouth here about whatever. I like doing the scripts for the library’s podcast. Podcasting in general has become a big way I spend my time now. There’s not as much writing involved in Book ’em, Danno, but there is some.

It’s not like I’m not living up to my name. Kiki is still writing. I’m just not writing what I thought I’d be writing. I’m not being KikiWrites the way I thought I’d be. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe this is all part of the evolution of my writing existence and one day I’ll get to come back to fiction writing as my main thing. But for now, it’s not.

So, how’s the writing going?

Not the way I’d planned.

But it’s going okay.

Sometimes I Forget Myself: Fat Ass Edition

I spent this past summer with my hair dark pink. I was bored, needed a change, and it had been ages (literally about 20 years) since my hair had been pink. Seemed like a no-brainer to me. And I enjoyed the summer with my dark pink hair.

Here’s the thing.

I often forgot that my hair was pink.

Like, I would just go along, doing the day-to-day things in my life, and not once think about my hair being pink. It just didn’t occur to me. Or it would occur to me later, like when I went to lunch with my great-uncle and cousins and then after I got home realized that I had pink hair the whole time. Nobody said anything, of course. It might have been a couple of decades, but they’d seen me with pink hair before. But still, I didn’t think about it at the time because there I was on a Sunday afternoon, having lunch with some family I hadn’t seen for a while.

The same phenomenon occurs with my fat ass as well.

I often go through my day-to-day life forgetting that I’m fat. This is my body and I inhabit it and I move it around and do the things and it just doesn’t occur to me that I’m fat. I’m just me. Existing. Doing stuff. Being. This is my reality. I often forget how big I am. I’m just living life.

It’s a strange thing when I can pontificate about how society abhors a fatty and logically know that I am judged by my size, but also, I’m so accustomed to living life in this body that the bulk of it doesn’t occur to me. I know how to work all this girth. Do I go jogging? Absolutely not. But do I do HIIT workouts? Yeah. Do I do yoga? Yeah. Do I still belly dance? Sometimes. Am I still flexible? Yeah, though I have my less-than days. Can I work an eight hour shift on my feet, busting a butt cheek to get all of my work done? Absolutely. And I do it all without thinking too much about my size.

Actually, I think more about my persistent patellar tendonitis than I do my weight. Probably because the pain from that affects how I go through my days more than my size does.

And I do a whole lot of other things too without thinking about my fat ass: grocery shopping, hanging out with friends, talking shit with my coworkers, reading a book, playing with the stray cats we’ve adopted, visiting with family, working on podcasts, eating, drinking, breathing….the list is endless. I do all sorts of things without thinking about my double digit pants size.

You’d be surprised how much fat people DON’T think about being fat, how much they don’t think about food or dieting, how much they don’t spending every waking moment pining for a smaller existence to better fit into a thin-obsessed society. Because they’re busy doing other stuff, regular life stuff, and they forget themselves in that.

Look at it this way: Once you get used to driving a land yacht, you don’t think too much about parallel parking that beast.

You know how to drive it.

I Am Not Tolerant

You know how that roundabout goes.

You call out some jackass with a bigot complex for their blatant hate-braying and they get cute and say “You’re not being very tolerant.”

Well, joke’s on you, sport. I’m not tolerant.

Tolerance implies putting up with something or someone. But I’m not putting up with a bigot’s shit anymore than I’m putting up with, say, a trans person’s existence. I am not tolerant.

I am accepting.

I accept a trans person’s existence. I accept a non-white person’s reality of dealing with racism. I accept my fellow bisexuals’ experience of bi-erasure. I accept an immigrant’s existence. I accept a non-bianary person’s pronouns. I accept the realities that the poor in this country experience. I accept the need for body autonomy. I accept the existence and experiences of the disabled. I accept the neurodivergent. I accept furries.

I also accept those who choose to be bigoted. I accept those who invoke a religious exemption from kindness. I accept those who deny their privilege while also wielding it in a harmful way. I accept those who prioritize their convenience and comfort over the health and well-being of others.

And I treat them all accordingly.

I accept the reality and truths that are presented to me.

Because I am accepting, not tolerant.

I accept that you want to be a hateful waste of space and I will not allow you in mine. I accept that you had a wide variety of personalities to choose from and you chose to be as unpleasant as possible and that choice is incompatible with my personality. I accept that you chose to be a piece of shit and I will scrape you from my shoe as needed.

Because I am accepting, not tolerant.

I don’t have to put up with your “opposing views”. I don’t have to put up with your wrong-ass opinions. I don’t have to put up with your conspiracy theories and mangled facts and warped religious beliefs and anti-science screeds typed up on a science machine. I don’t have to put up with your hate and violence and general tomfuckery.

I don’t have to put up with any of it.

Because I’m accepting, not tolerant.

Keep that in mind the next time you want to get cute.

The Trash Panda of Movie Consumption

Let this be the FAQ of my movie viewing habits.

Because I disappoint a lot of people with my movie viewing habits.

Have you seen…?

No.

Just accept it now that I probably haven’t seen it and may never see it.

Incredibly popular movie? Probably not.

Oscar winner? Most likely not.

Movie you just know I would love? No and you’re probably wrong. Leave me alone.

I had a friend a hundred years ago who was absolutely appalled by all of the movies that I hadn’t seen so he set out to rectify it. He gave me movie homework. We also ended up watching a bunch of movies together. Some I liked, some I didn’t. I’ll never forgive him for making us sit through Brotherhood of the Wolf.

The point is that he tried, but even with all of his efforts, I still probably haven’t see it. Accept this truth into your heart.

I Half-Ass Movies All the Time

If you ask me if I’ve seen something and I tell you I half-assed it, this is what I mean.

I’m notorious for watching movies without the sound on. I put on the closed captioning, put that bitch on mute, and let it ride while I do other stuff. If I find myself paying more attention to reading the closed captioning rather that doing whatever else it is I’m doing (probably writing, who am I kidding), then I put the sound on and watch the movie with a little more attention.

However, sometimes it takes a couple of half-assings before I bother.

Sometimes I never bother at all.

This happens most often during FearFest in October with the newer horror movies. I just leave AMC on for the duration and turn up the sound on the flicks that catch my interest or the classics that I probably have memorized.

I Don’t Wanna Watch New Stuff Because I’m Still Re-Watching My Faves

Okay, this actually applies to a lot of people, but I’m definitely a comfort watcher.

This is why I have Clue memorized. We watched it every day one summer when I was a kid. Ditto Police Academy 3, 3 Ninjas, Encino Man, The Great Mouse Detective, Fatal Beauty, and Tango & Cash. Yes, we were definitely watching movies we shouldn’t have been, but it was the ’80s/’90s. That’s just how we lived.

And it’s why as a grown person I watch Halloween when I’m having a bad day or The Fog when I’m in the mood to be cozy. It’s why I will spend all day watching the Alien movies or a Friday the 13th marathon. It’s why I watched Delicatessen ever day for a week and Ghostbusters: Answer the Call every day for a month. Don’t ask me why. It’s just the groove my soul needed at the time.

Occasionally, I will try new things and sometimes end up loving those new things so much that I will watch those things every day for an extended period, too. It soothes me and it makes me happy.

And we all want me happy, right?

The Movie Theater is Not a Religious Experience for Me

I know for a lot of people they need to see that new flick opening night in the theater and that’s great.

I’m rarely one of those people. There’s only a handful of movies I’ve felt the urge to see opening weekend, let alone opening night. Typically, I wait for a Thursday matinee to hit the theater here in the cornfield because it pretty much guarantees the place to myself. Or I’ll wait longer and go to an odd time showing at the “big city” theater.

The older I get, the worse my sensory issues seem to get. Seeing a movie in a theater can be a downright painful experience for me. It’s gotta be worth it.

That said, I do appreciate the big screen experience for some movies (Jaws was amazing, for example), it’s just that I don’t necessarily need to make that trip to Nirvana as often.

You Know That Movie Is Bad, Right?

Yes.

In fact, there’s a good chance that’s why I’m watching it. I have a true love for garbage movies. Maybe it’s because trash knows trash. I don’t know. But some of my favorite movies are objectively bad and they make my heart happy.

But there’s no need for you to go out of your way to point this out. I don’t care. If you wanna be Roger Ebert in your film viewing, groovy. I do not. I’m here to enjoy myself. Sometimes I can do that just by letting my brain go; sometimes I’m rewriting the movie as I watch it. But either way, I’m entertained and that’s what counts.

Whenever I choose to share whatever movie I’ve watched on Twitter, I always feel the need to accompany it with this disclaimer in regards to quality: I hate watch Jason Takes Manhattan every time it’s on TV. You do not want to debate quality with me.

So, the next time you get uptight about what I watch, or more likely what I haven’t watched, just remember that I am not your target audience.

Everything Is Terrible

Between the pandemic, the politicalization of the pandemic, a corrupt and cruel government that continues to fail the people -Hell, there was a failed coup attempt just this past week which will probably see no punishments and will be normalized- and the constant daily stresses of it all, it’s easy to ask “How do you create in a time like this?”

Counterpoint: How do you do ANYTHING during a time like this?

There is this foolish notion that circumstances like this somehow lead to great and productive creativity. That art is like a diamond and it’s brilliance can only be created through intense pressures. Well, I’m no artist and I don’t create anything that would qualify as art, but let me tell you, this is wrong, especially for a hack like myself.

It’s no secret that I was struggling before all of this shit came crashing down on our heads. My productivity was down, hampered by self-doubt, depression, and stress. I actually felt, though, at the beginning of 2020 that I might be coming out of that. I thought what I needed was a shift in direction to get my productivity jump started.

And then came the ‘rona.

This past year has just been miserable. Writing has been relegated to an afterthought for the most part. I had several projects planned for 2020. I always plan more than I know I can do in a given year just because it gives me a big picture view of what I need to do and helps me pick my priorities. I did two of the writing projects on the list (I did finish Book ’em, Danno Season 1, but that isn’t really a writing project) and one of those was NaNo. That’s it. For most of the year, I didn’t even have the energy to think about writing. Hell, I couldn’t even blog on a weekly basis like before.

And that really bums me out.

I feel like a failure on a daily basis. Not just with the writing, but really, with everything. And that feeling doesn’t contribute to a lot of productivity in any area of my life. There’s a list of things that I’m going to spend my vacation week doing because I just haven’t had the energy to get them done. They aren’t difficult things. Maybe a little time consuming, but nothing that requires a lot of effort. And yet, I don’t feel like I have the energy to do any of it.

I’m just scraping by, day to day, bit by bit. It’s overwhelming, it’s too much. I’m constantly exhausted. I cherish the days that feel almost normal, that I feel almost normal. I try to be as productive as possible then because I know that it won’t last. It’s a drag.

I know that I’m not the only one that feels like this. It’s a collective trauma that we’re dealing with here. We’re all tired, pushed to the brink, doing our best to get through.

I guess that’s what this post is.

Acknowledging that we’re all doing our best while everything is terrible.

Have a Bad Day

I woke up from a dead sleep at 4am with an anxiety attack. It had something to do with the day job, an insignificant thing that my broke-ass brain decided was a much bigger issue and decided to flail about it despite my repeated attempts at logic and reason. It took almost two hours for me to get back to sleep and even then, I ended up having fitful anxiety dreams.

This set the tone for my day. It colored everything I did. How I interacted with other people and dealt with them, how I went about my writing and my day job shift. When I finished my exercises in the morning (because I made myself do them), I sat on the floor with my head in my hands for twenty minutes, inert. I knew that it was going to be a day. I was going to be out of sorts.

And you know what?

I let myself have a bad day.

There’s this idea that bad days should be avoided at all costs. Do whatever you can to not have one. Don’t let that one moment ruin your twenty-fours hours. Change your attitude, change your perspective, other people have it worse, don’t let it get you down.

Granted, no one wants to have a bad day, but I think so much of that is because people don’t like dealing with other people having a bad day. It makes them uncomfortable. It’s awkward. They don’t know what to say or what to do. So, they tell you not to have one so they don’t have to deal with it. Which perpetuates this idea that bad days are some kind of failing. To have one means you’re not fighting hard enough to be happy and therefore not burden the other people in your life with your unpleasant, unkempt shit.

In the past, I would have struggled to turn my frown upside down and that struggle would have made my bad day worse. I would have pushed and everything I touched would have gone to instant shit. Like the Midas touch, only crappy. Instead, I knew from the minute I woke up with that anxiety attack that I was going to have a bad day and I accepted it. I didn’t wallow in it. I didn’t take it out on anyone else. I just acknowledged that this was the day that I was having and it was okay. I was allowed.

The result?

My day wasn’t great, but it didn’t get worse. It was bearable. I was more productive than I thought I’d be because I didn’t push myself. I gave myself an out for everything on my schedule. I forced nothing. I took nothing personally and I ate comfort food for dinner. I let myself be, I had my bad day, and I didn’t make anyone else uncomfortable in the process. My day ended up being grey instead of black.

And it ended better than it started.

Two bowls of cereal have that power.

So, I’m Depressed. Now What?

I’ve been in denial about it for months, but it’s true. I’m struggling with a major depressive episode right now and have been for a while. I haven’t wanted to admit it because that means I have an actual PROBLEM instead of it just being a bad day or PMS or lack of sleep or stress. But when there are more bad days than good, the excuses run out and I’m left with the truth.

I’m depressed.

What does my depression look like?

Well, from the outside, I look fine. I’m the kind of person that puts all of my energy into maintaining the basic illusion of functioning. I shower everyday, I eat most of the time, I get dressed, I show up to work when I have a day job, I get my work done. And since I’m an introvert anyway, nobody notices that I’m socializing even less than usual and never leaving my house.

Meanwhile, the chemical imbalance in my brain is ripping me apart. I can’t focus. I can’t problem solve. Everything is overwhelming. I can’t do things as well as I did or I think I should be able to and I’m falling behind and I can’t catch up. More and more things get put off until tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. I don’t have the energy to do anything because every last bit I have is going into maintaining the most basic level of functioning. I don’t have the brain space to write blogs. I barely have the ability to tweet. It takes me forever to accomplish a writing project that would normally take me no time at all. I’m miserable and I don’t see how to fix it and I kinda wanna be done now.

What’s truly frustrating is that the logical thing to do, the advice everyone gives you, is to ask for help. However, my brain has every single rational argument why I shouldn’t. Nobody cares. Nobody has time for your shit. They’ve got problems of their own. There’s worse things going on in the world. Your bullshit is insignificant in comparison. You had a good day last week, right? You’re fine. You’re not depressed. And even if you are, nobody is going to believe you. They’re going to think you’re faking. They’re going to think you’re just a lazy piece of shit. They’re going to roll their eyes and do a jerk-off motion behind your back because they KNOW you’re just doing this for attention, for sympathy, so you don’t have to work or be a responsible human.

So, why am I admitting it now?

It was the realization that there were more bad days than good and that the fallout from taking advantage of a good day (thinking I was totally fine now, everything back to normal) was so debilitating that it made me admit that my brain was not of the okay. But it still took me several days to say the words out loud to another human because, hey, who cares, right? I’m just being a drama queen, saying I’m depressed. It’s just an excuse for me to be lazy and worthless. What do I have to be depressed about? I’ve got any easy life since I’ve so successfully avoided being a real adult. I don’t even have a real job.

Man, if only my brain chemistry could relate.

It turns out that it was probably my bout of anemia that kicked this all off. One imbalance triggering another. The depression might have gotten better as the anemia was treated except that’s when I was in the middle of the disastrous day job that had me so stressed out that my hair was falling out and my anxiety was so bad I couldn’t sleep. That pretty much sealed my fate. Quitting might have helped my stress levels (though my hair is STILL growing back), but the damage was done to my mental health. I haven’t been back to that store since I turned in my keys because just driving by can give me an anxiety attack. Quitting just affirmed what my depression knew to be true: that I’m a loser who can’t even handle a little stress at a crappy day job.

And I’ve been simultaneously ignoring it and battling it since.

Why put this out in the public sphere?

I don’t know. Because I’m tired of pretending I’m okay. Because I’m tired of maintaining the facade of a functioning human. I’m struggling to function at this point. The idea of getting another day job right now is so overwhelming that it makes me want to panic. Hell, just leaving the house makes me sweat.

Because by saying it out loud, I’m admitting it’s real and by admitting it’s real, then I have to deal with it. Time to drag myself out of the pit. I know how to do it. I’ve done it before (though, thankfully, this time is not nearly as bad as it’s been). I just have to remind myself to be patient while I put myself through the paces. Depression doesn’t go away overnight, which is bullshit.

Because by saying it out loud -I’m depressed- I am showing people what depression can look like. I look perfectly fine right up until the minute that I’m not. And that’s a disastrous minute. It’s the minute that everyone refers to when they say, “We had no idea anything was wrong.” You don’t. Because I can still laugh and crack jokes and have a good time and function well enough to fool an audience. I can have good days. And I can still go to sleep and hope I don’t wake up. I can still wish to fade away so I don’t have deal with all of this anymore. I can still feel miserable and utterly hopeless.

Neat, huh?

So, please be patient with me while I right my ship because laws knows I will not be. Fixing this is always the worst because I have always struggled to be kind to myself. I never feel like I deserve it and the depression just amplifies that. Right now I’m coasting on the kindness of others and I’m going to be needing a lot more of that kind of help. It’s going to take me a little while to get back to what I consider normal, so.

Hang in there.

We’ve Already Discussed This. Writing Is Work.

“Are you coming with us?”

“I can’t. I gotta work. I’ve got 2,500 words to write for NaNo.”

“That’s not work.”

It was a throw away comment in a conversation I had earlier this week, a dismissal of my excuse not to go more than anything, but it still stuck in my skin like a barb.

That’s not work.

I’ve already discussed this, probably more than once, in the time I’ve been writing with the intent to make a profit, but I suppose I should say it again for the people in back.

Writing is work.

The prevailing idea is that if something doesn’t get you a regular paycheck, then it can’t be work. Unfortunately for many of us pursuing some sort of creative field like writing or art, we don’t get regular paychecks. Honestly, we would like to. We’d like to be paid a fair wage, dollars per hour for the work that we do. We’d like that regular weekly or bi-weekly paycheck like so many other jobs provide.

But the reality is that we don’t get that.

And because we don’t, there’s this myth that what we do isn’t work.

It is.

It’s the most frustrating kind of work in this capitalistic society because we will put in a ton of effort on a project that might never yield one cent for us. A story or a novel that never sells. An article that languishes in pitch hell. And even if we do get paid, rarely is it ever fair compensation comparable to the amount of work put into it.

There’s also this idea that because we set our own hours and/or work from home that writing is not work. It’s actually more work when you think about it. How easy is your job when you’re constantly interrupted by the people around you? How long does it take you to get one task done when people keep stopping by your desk to chat? How easy is it for you to get back into your groove? How frustrating is it when you lose that groove ten minutes later because they’re back again?

Yeah. That’s my reality when I’m trying to write.

Writing is work. Yes, I have to hold day jobs from time to time and I currently don’t have one, but my ultimate goal is to comfortably support myself by writing and writing alone. I want writing to be my only full-time job. I wish for it to be my career.

No, it is not backbreaking, sweaty labor. No, I don’t have to leave my house to do it. No, I don’t have a boss in the traditional sense. And no, I don’t get that regular paycheck.

But I earn every penny I make from it. It is work. It is MY work.

Now don’t make me say it again.

This is America

Someone posted a meme on Facebook showing pictures of people being rescued from the horrible flooding due to Hurricane Harvey. The caption read: “America is not what happened in Charlottesville. America is what’s happening in Houston.”

Bullshit.

America is both.

America is Joel Osteen not opening up his megachurch to Harvey refugees just as much as it’s a preacher going through floodwaters to search cars for people who might be trapped.

America is a Nazi running down Heather Heyer just as much as it’s two young people rescuing folks with a kayak.

America is the people price gouging water and food during a disaster while people share and donate to aid charities.

America is a president screaming that CNN is fake news while those same reporters are rescuing folks trapped in their houses.

America is “17 year old male found fatally shot in the backseat of a police cruiser in Akron, OH” while SWAT team members in Houston, TX are carrying children to safety through floodwaters at the same time.

America is ICE leaving immigrant women and children stranded at a bus station and a community group swooping in to save them.

America is the richest citizens criticizing those who didn’t leave Houston while a 60 year old woman wades through waist deep water to get to her $10 an hour job.

America is the $700 billion military unable to assist in a major disaster while the Cajun Navy is deployed.

America is Texas politicians asking for financial help for Hurricane Harvey after denying help for Hurricane Sandy.

America is a place that experienced Hurricane Katrina, but learned very little from it.

America is all of these things.

America is a brutal. It was conquered by genocide and built over their graves by the bodies of slaves. It’s racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic. It’s prejudice and oppressive to the poor in favor of the rich. A person’s worth is determined by their job and their bank account. Right now, the voices of hate are being emboldened by those in power as they demand walls and pardon men who violate the Constitution. You know. That sacred piece of paper with all of those amendment and the Bill of Rights, though it seems that most folks are only keen on the first two.

But America is also human. There’s a lot of love and kindness confined in these arbitrary borders. There’s hope, too. There’s resilience and courage. And you see that when you watch a woman rescue bats from underneath a bridge so they don’t drown. You see that with the teenagers rescuing people from Hurricane Harvey in their boat. You see that in the small group of young people who stood holding up a sign denouncing white supremacy while they were encircled by Nazis bearing torches and throwing salutes. You see that at every Pride parade. You see that when 15,000 people turn up to shout down hate.

It’s all America. All of it. It’s a tightly woven tapestry of horrible and terrific. You cannot untangle one thread from another.

When you say “this isn’t America”, you’re discounting the experiences of others, you’re disregarding history (if you even bothered to learn it outside of those standardized tests in high school), and you’re turning a willful blind eye to the injustices and suffering around you so you can focus on an ideal that doesn’t even exist.

America is not great. America has never been great. But, America could get better.

The first step is admitting it.

This is America.