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 

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

Fixation

The world is awake. It is Tweeting and bleating and screaming and angry and jilted and fucked, abused, furious, offended, opinionated, angry, nervous, outraged. Stupid. Conflicted. Livid, pretty, petty, cruel, obstinate.

Already.

It is Sunday morning. 9:09am. I have my coffee and my notebook and the air coming in is a glorious sixty seven degrees and blustery, pushing the trees all around like leafy green rag dolls. The sky is pale blue, washed with thin wisps of white cloud.

My neighbor has fired up his ridiculous lawn equipment so he can make those perfectly obnoxious straight lines around the edges of his property on which appears a political sign in support of a lunatic whose name I cannot even bear to speak let alone read or write or repeat.

He thinks he is protecting himself. He prays to a god he made up, to be spared a fate he himself controls all on his own.

And the most powerful are the most afraid, how much they stole, how much they have amassed, how much they stand to lose, so they tighten their grip around the throats full of hunger and confusion.

*How are you today?

It will always be the ones who are most cruelly treated who rebel.

This is the way of it. There is no other way, you see.

So get your coffee and read your newsfeeds. Share something, say something, do something. Try a little harder to not think about normal so much, it’s exhausting searching for something that doesn’t exist.

A word, a savior, a cure, a fix.

*How are you feeling?

And the wind turns heavy and brutal, and the bough breaks as the hinges come off of everything that was once held together so neatly. We watch in horror, stationary, we watch, we watch.

The world is awake, wide awake, as it all happens.

They tell you to write it down.

Write it down so you don’t forget.

There was a time before.

And this is how it felt.

*Are you doing okay?

 

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Fourteen Years Ago Today, Time Broke Away from Itself

On this day fourteen years ago, my mother died in the back room of the house we opened and closed our lives in. When it was all over, the pine trees stood in the front of the house, reaching, heavy, immobile in the terrible heat.

I want to say the sun was setting because I am certain it was. How could it not? How could it be any other way at the end of everything. I want to say it was dinner time.

But then, suddenly, somehow, it wasn’t.

It was supposed to be something else, it was supposed to be a different time. A longer time. A time so much farther off that we shouldn’t have been able to see it. Let alone hear it in the ringing in our ears as dishes were done. Prayers were prayed. Let alone touch it, here at the center of the heart in our trembling hands.

We will be back, we whispered to her just moments before she made her departure from us forever. Forever, arriving and departing, at dinnertime.

But there would be no eating, for there was no time any of us could understand. No breaking of bread, no explanation, no dinner. Time. There would be tear stains searing down the skin which covered the numbness. There would be I am so sorry, there would be drinking late into the night on the back deck, voices, both familiar and unfamiliar, in the darkness, as she was taken away.

Taken away from us.

Grief moves through you, in and out of each of the shattered windows in your soul, like wind, empty, hollow, invisible, whistling.

Looking for something it cannot name, it cannot find, it cannot see.

For years and years.

 

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Photo by Kristina Tripkovic

// untitled //

are you okay
it seems like the corners of your eyes
have fallen
it seems like the way you hold onto my hand is
flowers dying on the cherry wooden table
next to a beautiful vase
by the window left
like curtains alone with the breeze.

up against the wall i thought i heard the sounds of time
footsteps coming down the hall
are you okay
when i’m in here they don’t tell me anything

the carpets are greensea and the dust
chokes the daylight.
i’m turning in my sleep
footsteps leaving down the back stairs.
screen your calls, you have no more to say but
i am waiting and the calls cannot get through
i’ve disconnected all the lines
not knowing is not better
(are you okay?)

but i’m afraid there will be no answer
so i keep the questions folded in small creases
inside my paperfoil heart.
i’m okay i’m okay i’m okay.

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// I Looked Up //

I looked up and I saw
you coming.
I saw the way you
have entered my life in footprints

I had mistaken for music.
The sky began spinning
golden spheres of watercolour globes
melting teardrops upon thick stems.

Life will be water. Life will bleed.

These were the endlessness of
fields wet with gray which unfolds forever.
I saw you raining up from the ocean
from clouds full of darkness.

I pulled your broken bones
from my throat
and we went again hungry.
They were affixing my lashes with feathers:

my eyes became heavy
my eyes became soft.

I saw you coming
and I saw you leave.

I wait for you
counting hymns in silence.
I watch the way sunlight
burns through the trees.

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For Andy 

// Superhuman Gifts //

As the flash of another day burns the tall glass buildings down to graystone, we move closer to each other like an uncomfortable evening fog. You are whiskey and I am torn blue jeans. We are both bare feet and distraction.

We are together even when we are apart, an impossibility it would seem, and so very far apart when we are together.

What is it?

I can feel it. The weight of too many worlds hanging like lead from your tired limbs.  You can be sad here. I will not sweep the graypain in our midst away. Show me.

Open your wounds in front of me and I will not crumble,  I will not break.  I will not disappear.

Even from across the room I can see your light, I promise it is not gone.

Have I ever told you that I think you are stronger than the others for coming undone? Forget what they have told you, to unravel is not easy. It might be madness but it is real, the way we close ourselves tight around secrets we no longer have to keep. Love is barbed wire, love is midnight falling along the trees.

Tell me the mess about yourself that you do not understand. About the dreams which seem to fall away from you as you reach for them across the strange pulsewaves in your mind. I know it is hard sometimes. I know it hurts to be alone and yet all you want in all the world is to be unafraid of being alone.

Tell me how the aching in your heart feels like rainfall sliding down the gutters of your clouded eyes. I want to know how the cold feels the way only you can feel it, how the snow upon your bare skin sometimes rests warm like springtime even though no one seems to understand.

I believe you. Everyone has their troubled bones but no one else has yours.

So tell me about the sorrow that carves away at you; tell me what seems to ruin your touch and dissolve your breathing. Tell me the lies and the truth and how you are ashamed of both, and we will sort through whatever it is that cries at the center of your soul, at the tips of your fingers, at the back of your throat.

Tell me what it is to be so gruesomely, ironically human.

Speak for me the terrible quiet burden of this mad beautiful life.

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// I Hate You I Love You //

I hate the way you write. How you expertly unmask a thing I never felt worthy enough to claim. Baby teeth, bare breasts against a bare back shallow breathing, strip swimming in the lake behind my house on the last golden pages of summer. The red crest of dawn raining along the ocean waves, the space between my fingers as it wraps around your cigarette transporting it from your soft lips to mine.

The way I bite when I kiss you.

All of it makes me want to develop the codes that would bring entire global systems down. Nervous systems, subway systems, government, technology, religion, media, everything with screaming walls you cannot see but feel dividing up the cold chambers of your soul as you sit in bars blinking at screens trying to erase yourself.

I whistle your love songs and imagine pulling the plug on every light across the globe so all that is left to guide the lonely through the blackout streets are white electric clouds sweeping through tree limbs made windy of stars.

I do not know if this is love but the way you rise makes me want to shut everything down.

I want what you have to spread its million mouths wide inside my veins not to taste me but to breed into me, to bleed into me your terrible miraculous insides, to become a thing no one else can touch. An animal which cannot be given a name but all the sorrowslain people, they would give every last breath from their disintegrating lives for just one moment to be this new creature that we are. They would reach for us with beautiful hands as we vanish into the ether.

I wish I could say this in a way that reflects the way it is smoldering on the underside of my trembling tongue, with more elegance, with more grace. So I don’t sound so much like I’m full of grease and some kind of snaked inky greed but there it is. The truth is a gaping black chasm gouged in the table between us. I cannot help but follow my dark thoughts and they have led me here to you, to this crumbling naked room. The air between us growing thin, trying to get out the same way we got in, but the sand falls in too fast.

Two butterflies trapped in an hourglass falling from the sky.

As we observe each other’s bodies but do not speak, the doors of the past all close behind us and disappear.

Here we sit wet and glistening underground, here is the pit of my stomach of fangs and fears. My love, here are my hands and my heart and my sickness.

I beg of you for both of us: start digging.

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