Yesterday was pretty grueling. For a lot of reasons I could outline in detail so that I can come back later and run my finger over the sharp edges of those reasons and remind myself how they hurt, but I’m trying to be nicer to myself. Long story short, don’t piss off the restaurant industry, especially not the part with a good PR machine.
One of the most frequent questions people ask me when they meet me is “Aren’t you afraid you’ll get shot?” This is so fucked up, I can’t even tell you. I mean, I get that this is growing pains, this is what it means to have worked really hard for a long time and to have built an audience and to have a kind of public persona people have opinions about. But it does fucked up things to hear over and over again not just some equivalent of “Don’t you know how people punish mouthy women?” but that specific question.
I am not afraid, not really. Fear is paralyzing. I am this word, this word I do not know, that is kind of raw but numb and sad and tired and resigned but also full of rage, that I feel and then keep moving.
During the library fiasco, a person I thought was my friend said–or at least I took it as her saying–that there are people who complain and people who do things and she seemed to feel as if I was in the complaining group and thus wasn’t really putting myself out there in any meaningful way. What have I done for the city, after all?
Which, I have to tell you, on the one hand, I think is a good point. My work matters very, very little. It’s just me with an opinion. That’s what they pay me for. But if it isn’t worth anything, why does it cost me so much? Like, I think that’s the mindfuck part. I agree that the stakes are low, but let me run you down the list of people who other people think probably want to shoot me. People who, judging by their words and their behavior, I have to agree may indeed want to shoot me. Maybe I’m not doing this for the city, maybe I don’t feel like I’m doing much, but it can’t be that I’m doing nothing because look at this bullshit in response to it.
The other mindfuck part is the people who seem to think I must just delight in being provocative and so wouldn’t I love to hear all the ways people are upset with me, all the things they’re saying behind my back, like these terrible things must be what I want so sharing them with me is just you making sure I see how I’m succeeding.
But I don’t want success in this realm. That’s the other, other mindfuck. I want to write stories, fiction stories, people enjoy and find moving. This I do because Tennessee needs loud, opinionated women and someone was stupid enough to give me a chance to be one for a while and I’m holding the line as long as I can so other women know that this is a possibility.
I’m doing this because it needs to be done. That’s the reason. Not to “fix” the city or to “tell” people who deserve to be told or to make myself feel important when I’m not or whatever. This is the work that needs to be done. Of course someone better than me could be doing it. I know that every day. And I am hopeful and joyful to see what that person or those people will get up to when they appear.