Wine in New Zealand

Waiheke Island, New Zealand. Visiting this winery was the definition of the good life.

Once upon a time on my blog, I used to do this series called Let’s Go For a Drink, where I would tell you what’s up with my life as if we were sitting down and having a drink together. I recently read back through those posts and immediately thought, holy shit. Who is this person?

Obviously, it’s me. But it’s a version of myself that’s hard to remember. So much has changed in such a short amount of time, it’s strange to try and place myself back in those spaces and times, knowing what I know I know. However, for that same reason, I want to jump back into the thing I created and keep it going — allow it to serve as a testament to how people do and can change year after year.

How have I changed? Well, for one, I called my now-favorite TV show, Girls, “dumb” and discussed how it glorified bad decisions made by women my age … Oh, jeez. Reach past the fact that we’re looking back at my feelings toward a TV show, and consider the pervasive cultural impact here. When you do that, one might see that there quite a few problematic layers within my initial feelings toward an unabashedly feminist show — really, the first show of its kind.

All I can say is, there’s hope out there for all those women who feel feminism is a dirty word and believe that acknowledging gender inequality requires a victim mentality. There’s hope because back then, I was one of them. I’m not sure I was fully conscious of my feelings, but damage had clearly been done. Lucky for me, I’m undoing it now.

I also used to be OBSESSED with running, triathlon, and basically punishing my body in more ways that one. If you read even one of my former Let’s Go For a Drink posts, you’ll see it.

It wasn’t all unhealthy. In fact, a lot of it was really empowering — running a triathlon is a badass thing to do, no matter why you do it. But for the most part, running and training, for me, required an all-or-nothing mentality that most of the time felt consuming. The same is true for how I dieted. I have entire notebooks full of lists of everything I ate, every single day for months at a time. For some people, that might be a healthy practice — one even recommended by a doctor. But for me, it was a negative, obsessive, and anxiety-ridden behavior.

It’s taken a long time, but I feel like I finally have a healthy relationship with food, exercise, and my body. I don’t feel the need to write about it all the time which is such a relief. Of course, I have moments of insecurity (does everyone?) but overall, I’m much kinder to myself than I was a few years ago, and that’s a pretty big victory.

I’ve changed in other ways, too. And I’m sure when I look back at this post or another post years from now, I’ll be gawking over how much I’ve changed then, as well. In the meantime, I’m going to keep doing what I do — living and talking about it along the way — and have fun with this blog series because frankly, I really like it and I hope you do, too.

So, now for the good stuff…

If we were having a drink together right now, I’m not sure what you’d be drinking, but I’d be having some red wine. Probably a Malbec, because if I’m being honest, that’s literally what I’m drinking right this minute. I would sigh loudly and probably say something along the lines of, “Do you feel like the world is ending? Because I feel like the world is ending.” I would ask if Trump’s totalitarian regime has also caused you to question the basic existence of our reality, if you’ve also started looking for glitches in the Matrix, or if you think I’ve just completely lost my mind. However you respond is fine because I’ll likely not show any emotion. The onslaught of executive orders over the past week have taken their toll and like most of America, I’ve aged roughly seven years in seven days time. That’s the right ratio, right? One year to every one day?

Anyway, if we were having a drink I would tell you all about seeing Roxane Gay read at the Central Library on Tuesday. It was wonderful. She read a few excerpts from her new book, Difficult Women, which I purchased at the event and started reading this morning. After reading, she answered questions from the audience for probably close to 40 minutes.

It was strange to me how many people asked her for personal advice. There were questions along the lines of: Should I stay in Indianapolis to fight the good fight? Or move away to a more liberal city? My friend who embodies feminist values won’t define herself as such. What can I do? As a white woman, how can I be more intentional about practicing intersectional feminism and be an ally for women of color?  These are not bad questions, by any means, I just found it odd that so many people assumed she might be interested in their personal struggles. But maybe that’s harsh of me. Because clearly, Gay was okay with it — she answered each question with honest advice, in a way that was never scolding or dismissive. I was impressed but of course I was impressed … she’s Roxane Gay.

What I took away from this phenomenon — reading event turned therapy session — is that the people of Indianapolis seem desperate for an icon of feminism on whom they can depend and look toward in the chaos that is our current world (Gay has no intention of residing permanently in Indiana). The mostly-female audience was hanging on for dear life to Gay’s every word, myself included. We laughed aggressively at every joke she told, sat straight up in our seats to pay better attention to each story, and gave her a long, loud standing ovation at the conclusion of the event.

One of the strangest moments occurred when one of the board members from Indy Reads took the podium to make, as she described it, a hard ask for donations to the cause, promoting and improving adult literacy. As she listed her many community roles, mentioning that she served as the Communications Director for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, the audience exploded with applause and yells and whistles. This was not the intended response. The board member was listing these roles not to draw attention to their causes, but to explain why this cause, Indy Reads, is the one most near and dear to her heart. Unfortunately, it didn’t matter. There was no controlling the audience, who was chomping at the bit to continue basking in the glow of the women’s march last Saturday, and now a visit from one of the most notorious feminists in our culture, Roxane Gay.

If we were having a drink right now, I would tell you that I’m volunteering at the Julian Center tomorrow, and that I’m excited to get involved with an organization that not only needs help, but provides crucial care and support to so many women. I think it’s going to be small acts like these that provide some solace in the coming months. Doing what you can to help out, donating your time or your money, taking action however big or small is more important now than ever.

I often overwhelm myself with this idea in the mornings — usually when I head straight to Twitter or Facebook or my NYTimes Morning Briefing email before I take some time for myself to get my head right. Understandably so. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the news right now. If you turn away from it for even just an hour, you’ve missed at least five major events. But I know better. I know that progress is slow and steady, and that it’s not doing anyone any good to feel hopeless or helpless. Instead of stressing out over all the bad, I want to try and focus on doing what little good I can do everyday. Whether it’s calling my representatives and senators, volunteering at The Julian Center, giving to Planned Parenthood, or educating myself and others on issues of equality.

My biggest concern right now is the distrust so many people feel toward our government and our leaders. If we can’t trust our leaders, I hope we can get to a place where we can at least trust each other, the people. I think the women’s march was a good start.

If we were having a drink I would wish you a very happy Friday (YAY!) and would, of course, ask what your plans are for the weekend. I have no desire to do much other than read, color in my coloring book, drink more wine, maybe watch some movies, maybe attempt to leave the house to go to a boxing class … If it’s not obvious, I try not to leave the house when it’s snowing. And it’s currently snowing. Is it spring yet?

Anyway, this week has been a doozy — mentally, emotionally, and for me, physically (thank you, boxing, for allowing me to take out my aggression on the reg … who knew I loved hitting things so much?). Let’s make sure we take care of ourselves and get plenty of rest and do some stuff that makes us happy. If we’re the resistance, we’ve gotta stay healthy, strong, and most of all, prepared.

Thanks for sharing a bev with me. If you made it this far, please consider signing up for my weekly newsletter, The Friday Report. It’s pretty fun, always feminist, and is just one more cool, creative way for us to connect across the interwebs. You can check out past issues here to see if it’s something you’d look forward to every week. And then…

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Cheers to you, lovely people. Talk to you soon —