Why You Gotta Talk So Much Politics?

Sunday morning.

The sky is ice blue behind electric orange trees, leaves rustling slightly in the cool autumn air.

The past week was chaotic, loud, confusing, and intense. It has been many weeks like this and I know the one ahead will only be different because the madness will increase exponentially from now until election day, and then still beyond that.

Trump will not go quietly, graciously, or with decency. He will claw and fight and rage and gnash his filthy teeth to get what he wants. To hold tight to power with childish stubby little fists.

We know this. In fact, it is one of the few things about him you can count on. Rage. Lies. Jealousy. Vicious cruelty, criminality, corruption.

And so it is.

I light a pine scented candle, sip my coffee, open my laptop and begin to write.

In times like these, when the spirit is relentlessly drained each and every day, each and every hour, I have to remind myself to breathe. I have to be vigilant not only about what is happening outside and around me, but also inside me.

I feel everything underneath my skin. Creatives always do. Our senses are heightened, we see not only with our eyes, but with everything we are made of, everything that we are.

I know the week ahead will be full of hope and energy, a fierceness of purpose, an ever sharpening eye on the prize. We must win this election. And we must never stop fighting with compassion to right the wrongs of our past and present, and give all of our hearts, minds, souls, bodies, talents, to creating a future worthy of our little ones, our children, and our highest selves.

Someone asked me the other day why my writing has “gotten so political.” And I laughed at first, shunning the ignorance of that question. How can it not? I think to myself. What else could it or should it possibly be in times like these?

But then I did take pause.

And as I sit here looking out over the rooftops and up into the bright sky blue with promise and possibility and great great heights, it occurs to me that everything is political.

From the air we breathe to the art we make to the words we speak.

It’s just that maybe we only notice its fever pitch when we are fighting for our lives.

 

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Photo by Kharytonova Antonina

This Is How It Happens Here

On November 3rd we vote for a system of American government.

We choose between democracy or fascism. Republic or dictatorship.

A life of hope and freedom and possibility or a life of cruelty and imprisonment and injustice.

What continues to astound me is how many people do not see this.

And I wonder, do they see it but don’t believe it?

Do they think it could never happen here?

American exceptionalism is not a real thing, though we have been taught to believe in it.

We are not exceptions to the rules of humanity, we are not immune to the insidious takeover of authoritarianism.

Any society made ripe with fear and division, crime and deception and greed, will collapse into chaos.

Under the right conditions, any body will break.

All flesh will tear.

We are made of the same stuff as any other body, any other country.

Just as vulnerable.

This is how it happens.

Is happening.

We are in it.

And this election won’t heal the wound.

But at the very least

we have got to stop the bleeding.

Vote.

 

 

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Photo by Ewelina Karezona Karbowiak

Liar, Liar: Why We Must Protect the Integrity of Speech

As writers, we have talked about why we must protect our freedom of speech. But what I think doesn’t get near the attention it should is not just the right to  freedom of speech but the necessity of the integrity of speech.

The integrity of speech meaning to speak the truth, even and especially when it is hard. Even and especially when it is inconvenient and uncomfortable. To speak the truth as the first priority in the relationship.

The integrity of speech means using language to bring people together rather than divide them. Knowing the best way to do that is to be both compassionate and transparent.

To be honest with people is to respect them. We are all adults in the room. We can handle anything so long as you give it to us straight.

This is how to build a society around trust, which is the strongest bond there is between any two people, any two groups, any two nations.

What we have lost over the last four years is the trust of our nation’s people, our ability to respect each other, listen to each other, protect each other.

We have lost our allies around the globe for the same reason. Lack of integrity. The president is incapable of understanding the value of community. He is incapable of empathy. He is incapable of using language and communication to unite people, protect people, honor people.

He is incapable of keeping his word, which, by nature of the office he holds, is our word.

His words become our words when we elect a man to speak for us.

His lies become our lies. His delusions become our fears, our confusion, our crippled and dwindling power.

We must be extremely discerning when it comes to giving a president – or anyone – such awesome power to speak for us. Trump is a liar and a conman. That is all he has ever been and none of it will change because it can’t. He can’t.

On November 3rd (26 days away as of this writing) we vote for integrity, transparency, truth, community, unity, true power.

We have seen the alternative. And I’m pretty sure most of us would agree we’ve seen too much.

And at the same time, not nearly enough.

 

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Photo by Gerardo Marrufo 

Does Your Vote Even Matter?

“The line between freedom and fascism, love and hate, justice and injustice, is us. It has always been us.”Janaya Future Khan

A common reason some will choose not to vote is because they will say their vote doesn’t matter anyway. That in the grand scheme of things, their one little vote means essentially nothing.

Another common one, which sounds similar but is of a different nature, is that they will not vote because they reject the system as a whole. That the whole political establishment is a mess, a disgrace, a lost cause.

Or they don’t like either candidate. They are both corrupt. Both filthy rich privileged out of touch with the average citizen.

And to all of this, I would say: Could be. It is true that there is corruption and disgraceful behavior. It is true money and politics are too deeply entrenched with one another. It is true neither candidate – this year especially – is the ideal representation of either party.

Also true at the exact same time (as 2020 has taught us so well to hold two difficult and opposing truths at once) is that “the system” we are talking about is democracy. Democracy is the system we’ve got. If we don’t want to keep it, what is the alternative?

Because throwing away your vote, and if enough people do it, is a good way to end the system. We are watching democracy crumble and fast, right before our very eyes. Is that really what we want? To let this shit burn to the ground because it isn’t working exactly or ideally the way we want it to?

We are in this now, like it or not. Difficult or not. Frightening, frustrating, disillusioning or not.

The only way to force democracy to work for us is to start by using our votes to choose what we want, one election at a time. You don’t get just one vote. Over your lifetime you get hundreds of votes in hundreds of elections, which is plenty enough to start steering the ship in our direction of choice.

If we want change, we have to do this from the inside out.

I was listening to Austin Channing Brown, a best selling author who speaks about racial justice, faith, and Black womanhood, and she suggested people who are struggling with whether or not to vote, or if their vote matters, to vote for the candidate who would do the most good for the most oppressed among us.

I understand feeling small. I understand feeling like your voice is just one among many – too many – to matter much at all. But we need to begin to open our minds to thinking beyond just ourselves, just voting for the candidate we as individuals like best, to looking at our society as a whole and where we want all of us to be in the long term.

If you have a better vision for this country, if you want us to get better, to get stronger, more compassionate, more free, you must vote in the direction of those things. Not because it “matters” in the grand scheme of things, but because it matters to you.

Does your vote matter…to you? Because in this election, we are holding the line between freedom and fascism, love and hate, justice and injustice.

Our democracy is broken. It is fragile and trembling, dangling by a thread.

But it is not beyond repair or beyond hope if we act now. Now, in fact, is all we have. Trump will do everything in his sadistic power to steal this election and ramrod this country into the throws of authoritarianism, he has shown us exactly who he is time and time again for years.

If you think your vote doesn’t matter now, try to affect the system in any meaningful way without having a vote at all. Without the right to protest. Without the right to speak truth to power without fear of violent retaliation.

I am voting Biden so I can look myself in the mirror on November 4th and the rest of my life knowing I did the very least I could to protect the people I love the most.

And the hard truth is? Just voting isn’t near enough, but it’s the only place to start.

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P.S. Please follow me on Instagram @allisonmarieconway and share quotes of my work if any of this resonates with you. It is a quick, kind, effective way to express your views with those who love and trust you most. Thank you!

P.P.S. If this post resonates with you please share it on WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and/or any other platforms where you think it will reach like minded people who need to feel more empowered and less alone as we approach November 3rd. Words that resonate should be shared so communities can be made stronger, held more precious, and made less afraid. Get Out The Vote for Biden/Harris 2020.

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Photo by Roma Kaiuk

Open Letter to Artists in Dark Times Like These

We fight for ideals, but we live in reality. In some ways, this kind of dissonance will always feel hopeless. But this is also where artists shine. We know that the space between vision and reality is where creativity and potential thrive.

It’s twenty eight days until the election in the US.

The election which will effect the entire globe in dire and serious ways. I have encouraged us to not sit this election out and vote. I have expressed why as a writer I believe in my core that we must preserve and protect and secure our rights to freedom of speech, protest, and speak truth to power. And why we must vote Trump out in November.

Today I wanted to remind us that it’s totally normal to feel hopeful and hopeless at the same time. To loathe the dystopian reality we are living in and at the same time fight for a better future with fierce compassion and strong conviction.

If 2020 has taught me anything, it is that we are being (forcibly) taught to hold two opposing emotions at once. Hope and fear. Dread and love. Compassion and numbness. Energized and depleted. We are being stretched so thin in our hearts, souls, minds, bodies, and spirits, and this kind of maddening growth is so painful and so frightening.

If you feel out of your mind from one second to the next. If you are fighting to get out the vote, to have hard conversations with friends and family. If you have suffered loss and grief and pain and you look around and see only the same reflected back to you all the time. You are not alone in that. I feel that, too.

I feel all of that, too.

And yet.

We will get through if we stick together. If we focus on the love more than the hate as best we can. You can bring your hurt and pain and brokenness to this fight. You can bring all of who you are to this fight. You can define your Why in this fight and allow it to fuel your contribution.

We can be creative in times like these.

Artists are born for times like these.

We know personally and  intimately what it means to take our pain and turn it into a vision that creates the reality we want to come alive.

We are not helpless, we are hurting.

If we are gentle with ourselves, and honest, we can work with that.

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P.S. If this post resonates with you please share it on WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and/or any other platforms where you think it will reach like minded people who need to feel more empowered and less alone as we approach November 3rd. Words that resonate should be shared so communities can be made stronger, held more precious, and made less afraid. Get Out The Vote for Biden/Harris 2020.

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Photo by Peter Bucks

Why I’m in This Fight for Democracy Itself

I grew up in a family where we could talk about cultural issues and have open debates on things while still respecting one another, listening, sharing, trading thoughts and views on the political scene.

It was normal for me to listen in as my parents and grandparents, my aunts and uncles, offered their perspectives on issues at the dinner table and I wanted to be part of the conversation, too. It felt like everyone was welcome to be part of it.

In my family there are Republicans and Democrats and Independents.

As a lifelong Democrat, I have never been this involved in a political campaign but it is crystal clear to me that this election is the most consequential for our country and the world.

I am in this fight for democracy itself.

As a writer and a creative person I believe we must maintain, protect and uphold the freedom of speech, the freedom to protest, and the right to speak truth to power without fear of abusive, violent retaliation or suppression.

I have seen these freedoms being deliberately eroded, and fast, over the past four years, the truth and facts distorted, hidden, ignored, and blatantly manipulated, causing more and more people to be afraid to speak the truth in media, in the streets, in high levels of government and even in our own families.

The only way to achieve equality and justice for all in this country and to fight climate change all over the globe is to protect our fundamental rights and freedoms to communicate hard truths with full transparency when it matters most.

Because if the truth doesn’t matter, then nothing does.

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P.S. If this post resonates with you please share it on WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and/or any other platforms where you think it will reach like minded people who need to feel more empowered and less alone as we approach November 3rd. Words that resonate should be shared so communities can be made stronger, held more precious, and made less afraid. Get Out The Vote for Biden/Harris 2020. 

Isolation, Oppression, Terror, and Why This Election is Like None Other in American History

“Just as terror, even in its pre-total, merely tyrannical form ruins all relationships between men, so the self-compulsion of ideological thinking ruins all relationships with reality. The preparation has succeeded when people have lost contact with their fellow men* as well as the reality around them; for together with these contacts, men lose the capacity of both experience and thought. The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.”
Hannah Arendt on Loneliness as the Common Ground for Terror and How Tyrannical Regimes Use Isolation as a Weapon of Oppression

For the record, I would like to be writing about anything else but I am compelled to write about the only thing that matters on an existential level for the next 33 days which is making sure that everyone who is considering voting Biden-Harris on November 3rd actually gets their ass to the polls and does so.

Because this is not a game. You do not get to opt out or turn it off or leave or put the responsibility on anyone else. Just by living here, you’re in it.

And beyond that, it may just be our last shot at maintaining the Republic we claim to stand for and love. All well and cute, but what are we willing to do to protect and preserve it? Gonna get in the fray, figure it out, and raise our voices?

There is no time for sitting on the sidelines when this election is so consequential. There are people in my life whom I love dearly who I know glaze over when I say things like it absolutely matters a great deal that Trump is owned by Putin. That our “leader” is part of an international crime ring and to him America is just another commodity to be broken up and sold.

That his being $450MILLION in personal debt makes him, and therefore us in the US, extremely and exceptionally vulnerable to foreign influence.

He will sell out America to save himself.

He is already doing it. Authoritarianism is not creative, it’s all by the book, and it follows a predictable pattern you can see unfolding if you know what to look for, if you listen to those who know because they have studied it all before.

The sad thing is, those who are cheering this President on will be just as abused and neglected as those who aren’t, maybe even more so.

I was on a few days vacation with my husband when, low and behold, the first Presidential debate took place. If you could call it “Presidential” or, for that matter, a “debate.” I tuned in a few random times and became so disgusted I turned it off.

I know full well Trump appeals to certain types of people. I get that. But what I am concerned with now are we the people who can see and hear and watch and understand the racist dog whistles, the wholesale disregard for human life, dignity, honor, truth, the brutish obnoxious ignorance that is the current President and how dangerous a combination are his ties to Russia and other foreign oligarchs, dictators, and authoritarians, his massive amount of (hidden and in plain sight) debt, his pitting of us against them on every level until everyone of us is paranoid about each other.

There is a reason someone in that much debt (even in much less) is not given security clearance to know top secret information. But here we are. He’s got it and he is tremendously vulnerable. Keep watching the money story. Keep following the money.

What I am asking us to pay attention to – pay full and hyper attention to – is how we are being sold line after line of this bullshit made up binary which stunts our thinking, crushes our vision, and leaves us little room for envisioning a better stronger more inclusive and resilient Republic: Left vs. Right, Republican vs. Democrat, Black vs. White, Rich vs. Poor, Privileged vs. Oppressed, Right vs. Wrong, Traitor vs. Patriot, Winner vs. Loser.

And how this is tearing us away from each other, dividing us against each other, in the service a regime hell bent on destroying the world around us before they ever have to pry their hands off their own wealth, power, or greed.

Maybe your choice wasn’t Biden, he wasn’t mine. But this is not about Biden, it is so much bigger than that. If you want to continue to live in an America where there is freedom of speech and the ideals of dignity and justice for all are upheld, Biden is the only one who gets us remotely close. We clinch this election and then we fight tooth and nail to get us where we want to be.

Democracy is work. It cannot stand up for itself we have to do it ourselves, together.

People isolated are easier to control. When you cannot tell fact from fiction you have no more grip on reality so an entirely new reality is written for you. A reality which serves dark money and dark purpose.

This election matters because if we do not vote on the side of Democracy, we may never get the chance to vote at all again for a very, very long time.

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P.S. If this post resonates with you please share it on WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and/or any other platforms where you think it will reach like minded people who need to feel more empowered and less alone as we approach November 3rd. Words that resonate should be shared so communities can be made stronger, held more precious, and made less afraid. Get Out The Vote for Biden/Harris 2020.

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Photo by Mitchell Hartley

Spacetrash (my new podcast)

It’s been a gruesome year to say the least and stress is running high, especially now in the U.S. as we approach what is arguably The Most Consequential Election in history. But all that angsty jazz aside, I started a new creative thing with my cousin and dear friend, Mark, and I wanted to share it here with you.

Way back in June of this year, Mark and I were hanging out at a beach rental, drinking and staring up at the stars from the wide open rooftop deck overlooking the ocean, and we traded ideas about creating a podcast where we chat about modern day culture and how we maintain our creativity during the chaotic mess that is 2020.

In our first episode of *Spacetrash* (to be fair, a satellite drifted by as we were discussing things upon that rooftop deck, and also, as I just said, we were drinking well into that beautiful starry night) we laugh, we lament, we pontificate, and philosophize and hope and despair, and just generally riff on all manner of creative timely topics from writing to screenwriting to reality tv, to space junk, to long distance relationships, and so much more.

This is a completely new project for me in the sense that my writing has been generally ethereal and melancholy of late, but this podcast? This is just me having fun with someone I love so very dearly, getting to know each other’s perspectives on art and culture and modern life in general.

You can listen in on Spotify, click here.

I hope you enjoy it! If for no other reason than the world is shit right now, but we can still find joy and revel in it wherever and whenever we can. Or we can just make it up as we go.

Because I will be straight with you, I have not been able to write or think or create or communicate in the same ways ever since March of 2020. Literally everything feels up for grabs right now. Like everything.

My emotions are all over the place at any given moment. My worldview warps and changes and collapses and rebuilds itself over and over on the daily. It is maddening and maybe because of that, I am clinging tight to those I love, hoping against hope we all come out okay on the other side.

Whatever that means.

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Photo by Billy Huynh

You Can Feel the Seasons Click

The cool night air smells of a spicy stiffness, it licks its sharp tongue against the bare skin of my legs where my black tights don’t quite meet my beat up sneakers.

He hands me the flask as we make our way up a low hill which overlooks a graveyard. Turning to sit under a tree, I take a deep swig of the peanut butter whiskey we brought along for festive reasons, though they feel a little more stale against the apocalyptic background hellscape of just another day.

The whiskey is too sugary for him so I’m swallowing more than my share which seems to trouble neither of us, so I curl up inside the warmth of my jacket and observe the twinkling lights of the town below. He leans against the trunk of the tree, speaking something so low I can’t understand him, just observe the way the dim light outlines his profile in the empty air.

You can feel the seasons click underneath your skin. The moon hangs high in the vast midnight blue sky, half lit. I think about the empty promise of equality and the illusion of balance. The way day and night are of equal hours now for a while.

He holds onto daylight while I scratch my fingernails along the spine of the darkness, coaxing night. I want it all over me, the darkness, like rich soil buried beneath an endless field of pristine white snow. What is that saying about thinking you are burying a thing when really the thing was a seed and so it began to grow?

I do not fear the darkness or the coming of winter. There has always been fire enough in my bones.

Lighting up a cigarette, he sits down close to me and exhales a grayish plume of smoke into the increasingly frigid air. His fingers interlace with mine among the weeds. I think of Halloween and innocence, the child’s play of trick or treat.

Soon we will make our way back home and do the things we always do. But for just a few moments, we scan our eyes out across the tiny headstones like some kind of nocturnal animal headlights.

Nothing is forever.

Some things are destined to be carved in stone.

In the silence, I can hear our hearts beating in unison, feel the warmth of blood and whiskey in our veins.

You can smell the burning of days gone by, the offering, the sacrifice, the cyclical nature of all things. You can feel the seasons click underneath your skin.

 

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Photo by Tania Medina

Dissonance

Everything is nerves. The coffee tastes sick, or maybe that’s the bile churning in my stomach. In my throat. My mind is chewed up inside the newsfeed as it makes of me, my neuroses, my tendencies, my addictions, a feast.

I am studied. I am a study.

I do not know how I feel because I feel so much I have had to go numb to survive. A little bit, I just breathe a little bit. Everything in small bites, tiny sound bites like a digital water torture I sign myself up for. Sign myself into. Login. Pay for. Pay handsomely for.

Somewhere across town a panicked woman watches a panicked man flashing on the screen and validates her own fears against his. Fear is manufactured, you know? They promised manufacturing jobs would return.

The coffee is cold as I shiver beneath my nest of blankets, window open to the chilled autumn air coming off the street. Inside the room inside my mind I feel the tension rise and fall with the spinning in my belly. The cognitive dissonance of these days is jarring. The threat is overwhelming because it is us.  The line between existing and not has always been us.

We are an experiment. We are the cure and the disease. We are the lab and the secretions. The junkie and the drug.

It’s finally fall which means we are finally done with the wretched scorch of the sun. I’ll take the razor sharp blue sky, the orange blaze of another season burning by. I adore the changing leaves, crimson cinnamon air, and the frigid ocean waves glittering in dazzling white morning light.

And all the while, the terror. A family torn apart. Entire lives and their dreamers, up in smoke. Comedians. Fundraisers. Artists. Soldiers. Models. Click bait. Murder. Botox. Kitchen supplies.

The pornography of a life distorted. Voided out. Blocked.

And I know I have to try. And I know they tell me it’s ‘now more than ever.’

I know it’s how they want us. Colliding with ourselves inside.

 

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Photo by Omid Armin