You know what they say about a picture and a thousand words....
When I get angry, when I feel deflated, helpless, hopeless, I start cleaning. I’m not talking about light dusting and running the vacuum around the house for a minute. I’m talking manic, take no prisoners violent cleaning. The big ugly couches' slip covers, Venetian blinds. The garage, gutters, drains.
I am hanging on to some vestige of control.
Yes, I’m going to vote, yes I’m canvassing everyone I know, everyone I don’t know. I pester the tellers at the bank. The young guys at the hardware store. The checkout ladies and men at Kowalski’s, Walgreens. I solicit people on planes.
I give to Kamala Harris, Kristin Gillebrand, NARAL, Planned Parenthood. Every day there’s another plea, another imminent catastrophe that my 20 dollars will help fix. I am broke. And I am also broken.
I write as I clean, melodies come. I see pictures, I hear phrases. All give voice to the exhaustion and overwhelm.
Yesterday at Sotheby’s, Banksy’s “Balloon Girl” self-shredded after the bidding closed on its 1.4 million dollar price.
An alarm sounded. Bidders and auctioneers, well-heeled, well-entitled, oohed and aahed. But in the video, it seems like they hardly noticed.
Maybe Banksy brokered the transaction himself - cheeky! - and then tripped the shredder before he fled the building. A saucy “fuck you” to the hypocrisy of the art world. The irony now is that the piece could be worth even more – “it’s a cultural moment” – than before it was ruined.
It is definitely worth more now, to me. This morning as I read the headlines about the “event,” Balloon Girl said everything I've not been able to muster.
Her face is blocked by the heavy gilded bottom of the frame. Her body, shredded, dangles below. The red balloon, heart shaped, escapes, drifting off without her. She’s trapped between the frame and what’s left of her legs. Hope. Elusive. Gone again.
It’s an image I won’t forget.
It's the innocence of any little girl. And the inevitable ravages women face daily over our lifetimes. The small assaults and the large. We accrue the currency of our dismissals, quietly, carefully, but it never adds up or pays us back. We stockpile so much anger and resentment, we don’t even realize how deep it goes until moments like the Kavanaugh hearing.
And then it is roars up, unleashed, and it’s poisonous. And It is heartbreaking. And I just don’t know where to put it all.
Old white men, The President chief among them, and some old white women too (Susan Collins, SHAME!) are belittling our experience. Laughing at our outrage, our “left wing” dangerous, obstreperous revolt. How dare we.
And so I clean, and so I write, channeling my poison to the positive. I’m moving on to the tool drawer. Tomorrow, the next day, November 6? watch out.