The weeks since the election have been hard for me. I’ve thought about so many things but have struggled with writing them out. I know and love people who believe our country needs Trump, and I want to understand their position. I want to feel good about the future of America. But right now, I’m feeling scared and sad. I’m hurting over the fact that we elected a president who has no political experience and openly encourages sexism, racism, xenophobia and homophobia. I get that Clinton was an imperfect candidate and that the working class has been ignored and underserved. God, do I get that; I grew up in Mt. Washington, KY, with a hardworking, underpaid mailman as my father and a loving, mentally ill mother who had to declare bankruptcy because of her medical bills. The bank took our house when I was sixteen-years-old, and the only reason I went to college was because I got a full scholarship. So yeah, I agree that this country needs a change, that it needs a president who will stand up to Wall Street, who will fight to support working and middle class people. But I just don’t see how Trump, a millionaire businessman, is that person. And even if he is that person, I can’t swallow the level of oppression he supports.
My mind has been running wild, and I’ve made a serious effort to limit my news intake, to read only reliable sources (like The Guardian), and to read articles written by people of many viewpoints, not just my own. Throughout all of it, I keep coming back to four basic ideas that our country, our world, needs more of: love, kindness, honesty, and art (in my particular case, words/stories and music). I wrote about the first two concepts in an open letter to my son that will be published soon in MUTHA Magazine (stay tuned), and now here I am embracing the other two.
I’ve prided myself on being honest in my writings. But the honesty I’ve shown you, dear readers, is a polished and slaved-over honesty. Being a writer with OCD is a strange experience, a magical curse of sorts. I heavily debate individual words, replacing and replacing them as I reread a hundred times. Commas and semi-colons, too. Sentences get moved around, put back in their original place, moved around again. This is normal writer’s work to an extent, but my brain takes it overboard. Detail-oriented doesn’t begin to describe it; I forget to eat, I neglect my friends, my brain often gets stuck in weird, repetitive thought loops that I struggle to turn off, and I lose a lot of sleep. But, I have a healthy list of publications in magazines that I’m thrilled to be a part of, and these publications have allowed me to connect and converse with people I would otherwise never have met. And this connection is what it’s all about. However, it’s time for me to be more honest with you, for my own personal sake and for community’s sake. This level of editing not only drives me crazy (I should certainly dedicate more time to meditating and petting my dogs, not to mention the fact that I’m a mom of a toddler), but it also puts up an unnecessary wall between you and me. So allow me to introduce you to my new column, Brain-Picking Becky.
The main idea behind Brain-Picking Becky is that each entry will only take two hours from start to finish*. They may be diary-esque and personal, or perhaps cerebral and wandering. They might be connected to current events or totally in the clouds. Each one will revolve around a topic I believe we as Americans need to be talking more about. Obviously I will edit this column to some degree, but I’m challenging myself and promising you that all that I won’t make any edits to the writing once I’ve posted. The whole point here is honesty, and how honest is it to go back days later and alter something?
This scares me. But it also excites me. I want to reach out to you. I want to understand you. Please comment, send me emails, find me on Facebook and Twitter (a name like mine is hard to miss). Tell me if you disagree with me or think I’m wrong, and tell me why. This country needs people who can honestly talk and honestly listen, and I want to be one of those people.
P.S. Writer friends, if you want to take the one hour challenge, I’d love to post you up here. Feel free to write your own musings, respond to something I’ve written, or ask me for a prompt. All forms of writing are more than welcome!
*The original rules were one hour, but that was way too hard so now it’s two.