How I’m Surviving Election Day USA 2020

It took four agonizing, traumatic, vile years but today is finally here.

Election Day in the USA and already nearly 100 million of us have cast our votes. Since I already turned in my ballot weeks ago (and verified that it was counted) I almost wanted to ignore today to spare myself the jitters, nausea, and lightheaded sickness that is watching the votes be counted.

Ha.

I’m too invested in the outcome to not look, to ignore, to check out, tune out now. If you are voting today, power to the polls, baby, stay in line, bring a mask, chair, water, snacks, joy and peace and resolve. And get the sticker, too. I wish I had the sticker.

If, like me, you are feeling anxious about whether Biden will win, I offer you these thoughts today in case they help. If not, well: whiskey.

The past four years have changed me in fundamental ways and I will never be the same. I will never be as naive, passive, or – ironically – fearful as I was four years ago.

I have learned too much both about the horror that can come when we don’t pay attention, and also about my own strength when forced to reckon with hard truths. Racism. Sexism. Discrimination. Authoritarianism. Democracy. Republic. Gerrymandering. Electoral College (fuck that, btw, we gotta kill that off). Protest. Truth. Lies. Pandemic. CDC. Environmentalism. Journalism. Messaging. Hope. Despair.

All of these concepts are radically changed, heightened, clarified for me now. I know how to use my voice in a way I never have before. I know what it means to decide once and for all what I stand for, and what I absolutely will not.

I have clarified my relationships. I know where I want to be and with whom with a clarity and conviction I never had before.

And I share all of this with you today because I know there are millions and millions of us who feel this way. And we can have deep hope in that. We can expound upon our collective strength and power rooted in that.

Because we are changed. We are newly formed. And we are not going away. No matter what happens today or tomorrow or this week or these next three months, we are not going back to the way it was ever again.

Resolve. Vigilance. Compassion. Kindness. Trust in science. Activism. Awareness. Awakening. Democratic participation.

These are the new normal.

No matter what happens today. We will never be the same. And my guess is, that is exactly what the wanna-be-dictator is so desperately afraid of.

Stay safe. Stay dangerous. I’ll see you on the other side.

Whatever that is.

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P.S. If you are alone tonight and don’t want to be (nobody should be), join me and thousands of others as we stick together virtually via Janaya Khan’s Instagram Live here: @Janayathefuture They have held my head and heart together all along. 

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Photo by Tuva Mathilde Loland

Culture Wars, Activism, Election Countdown, and Being Creative in a Critical World

It’s Friday (mercifully!) and in this week’s Episode 3 of our new podcast, which I host weekly with my insanely talented screenwriter comedian cousin Mark, we grab our drinks and get right into it.

The countdown to November 3rd is staring us dead in the face and we chat about what extremes are doing to our country. Extreme polarization, extreme voter suppression, voter intimidation, ridiculously long lines, new rules for voting by mail, and so much more.

Is there still hope? Will we get through it? There is and we will and we talk about that, too.

And since we try to dig into two topics in each episode, in the second half we dive into what frightens us as artists about the idea of being ‘canceled’ by people who are quick to judge and shame our work.

Creatives, activists, and artists – all humans, in fact – have to be able to make mistakes in order to grow. But how much free expression can we get away with in hyper-critical times like these?

No matter what happens, remember, we have each other and we have laughter and love and gin and we are gonna be okay. Promise.

Relax and join us on Spacetrash Podcast on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts!

 

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Photo by Nicole Geri

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

Incandescence (audio)

My heart skips a beat a bit too often and it worries me because they tell me the palpitations are probably nothing. But when you are losing trust in all the people and systems which are supposed to keep you safe, yet are crumbling around you like sidewalk falling away from the soles of your feet,  you watch your steps more closely, and their eyes, and the fog which smothers your hands as you hold them up in front of your face. What you see is not what they see. What you see they do not believe. What you believe is not held in their hearts or written in their palms, but rather in the sand as you approach the great gray waves, in the sand as you depart along the lonely beach you must walk alone into the cool ocean mist. Removing my clothes I wade into the rushing water. Removing my inhibitions, white robes cast into the wind. Renewal. Reclamation. Intention. Disrobing my fear, setting it aside like a discarded blanket. My nakedness, my beautiful skin, my fragile baptismal bones, I deliver myself to the womb of the tangerine sea. The lakes that I carry become one with the water which holds my body like liquid silk, warm against cold, fire against ice, frothing, bubbling, flashing, washing and burning away my terror of this life, this one life. Sparks, salt crystals flash hot in the orange sun. Finding my feet, I stand and welcome the evening glow all over my body, shining, shining, shining so bright I caress myself inside my own admiring gaze. When they come for me I will be gone. They will never come. I lay down upon the sand, it is warm and grainy against my back. Waves crashing like thunder slamming again and again, pounding in my ears. My heart is skipping multiple beats, gushing, squeezing, pulsing too wildly. They tell me it’s nothing. Just age. Just a random, fleeting kind of thing. You have nothing to worry about. You are nothing to worry about. My mind warps, inverts, collapses. There is no pain. There are only my fingers working my breastbone, massaging my own tissue, wondering if Death may only be peace. If He may simply take me soft like a lover would, into the petal pink tongue of His open mouthed heat.

where sky becomes wing

i try to get out past that feeling
that you have something
to prove.
as everyone tries to tell you
who you should be,
i seek out that place nobody
can ever own,
no one can ever claim or keep.
not even me.
i know it’s fleeting but i
don’t care.
i want that place where
bone becomes sky,
sky becomes wing.

// Chance of a Lifetime //

There have been chance moments within all of this, moments of madness and grace,
which I fear I will surely forget. But for now I am here with you and the twilight is sliding across your face. For now your eyes holding mine and the way our fingers become whispers become the lengthening of necks become flesh over the fragile bones of dreams come back to life, for now I will feel everything. I will shatter and I will expose and I will untie all the things about myself that I have kept bound in the dark halls of my petrified being for ages. So that when this moment has gone, when it has become part of the next, and these small things become smaller and smaller still as they walk the eternal distance of time, I will have been made into everything I could have become. Because I let it all in and I let it all go and this is the magnificence, and this is the miracle of the blood of the life we are invited to know, when life is allowed to open and to close and to flow.

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// Pieces of the Whole (In Me) //

I am learning to look back and see that every cycle, every phase of the things I have been through, they each needed the space and time and energy they needed. That is simply the truth.

There was nothing I could have rushed through and nothing I could have prevented because I was unfolding in two ways at once: in love and in fear of love. And these two streams were crisscrossing each other all the time exactly as they were set in motion. I made choices, of course, but each was made from that intersection of love and fear of love.

I can see that now, however briefly, however fleeting that clarity may be, I can see my life, my love and fear-of-love story, as whole. As complete in the way it met and did not meet my expectations of myself.

There is a place which is a way, which is a way of thinking about these things without judgment. It’s a center, a balance, we can seek out if we can trust ourselves enough that it exists. This place within is where we cut ourselves free, let ourselves off the hook for whatever we believe the past held for us. What it gave to us and what we gave in return can be what they are.

It is really tough to dwell within that clarity and it moves ever in and out of focus.  But through some kind of madness or miracle, it can be done.

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// A While On Sadness //

Maybe not everyone will like it but I wanted to write a while on sadness. I needed to.

Why? Because this is something we all live with, live within. It’s all around and underneath our fingernails, our tongues. Sadness is upon our shoulders, in the hand of our minds. I want to write from it, I want to become her lips and bones and match my heartbeat to hers.

I want to listen.

The only thing more crushing than sadness is sadness which is lonely.

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// Random Acts of Blindness //

The warm stained scent of wet city sidewalks and all the ways I struggle to say what I mean. I don’t know anymore if that is voluntary or medicinal but I’m often overwhelmed by the possibility that it might be either. Or both (I know it’s always both).

I flip through vacant magazines and pace the floors barefoot but all I can see are storm clouds closing in on me.  The second you walk out the door they move in. What happened to the way you used to make poetry out of flickering skylines? Whatever became of the sun setting behind my tender flesh and how it used to spark the bones we traded. If I had any words left I would give them all to you. I would sit underneath your shadow and pretend to be protected.

Did you ever want to run away with me? Search my eyes for the deep blue rivers of a time you had forgotten but still believe in? You come to me in dreams but so do so many others.

Heavy rain slides down the kitchen window. So many things that happen like lightening seem to last forever. I watch as raindrops make patterns of circular chaos in the cracks on the pavement and I know a journey into me is a journey straight into the center of the earth. I know I am not easy and the pressure gets inside your head. The way you look at me is your gray lungs getting weak.

You are orange slices and sticky fingers, so sweet, so goddamn inconvenient. The way you rip the names off of everything and throw my longing back at me in the words you so carelessly choose. We rehearse the end and then we welcome the mistakes in all over again, lighting cigarettes one after another in the dark for hundreds of thousands of years. Your terrible lips and your beautiful eyes, your pearl teeth in the moonlight glistening. Even through all this blindness I can still hear you smile.

I can still remember how my dimples curled themselves against your swollen need for satisfaction. I cannot find the words to tell you gently that I’m trying so hard not to be gone when I’m with you. So hard that I write about thorns tearing rose petals, that I have often secretly hated myself for being and not being with you.

When I was very small I learned that pink bleeding hearts are flowers, and once they tell you they never tell you again. You kiss the way nothing lasts forever. We make love the way civilization collapses apart without making a dent in the universe.

Do we touch or just open our mouths.  And are we talking past each other now.

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// On the Other Side of the Carnival Smoke //

I remember you, you despite everything else which has faded from my memory. Even when my light is dark and my skin is crumbling graystone, here you are, like the most beautiful shadow falling upon the hills and caverns of my shoulders. I remember we walked, we walked all night to smell the buds of the roses climbing the trees. Observed in quiet stillness the death of a carnival, rusted in the dew of cherry cigarette glow.

Passing by the water, you take hold of my hand and I come alive with ecstatic electricity. Why would you do that (how could you not)?  We have belonged among these shared ruins for quite some time, where even the darkest secrets choke and expire.

Romance is nothing compared to war. The bridges all on fire overhead. Some will not make it to the ones waiting for them on the other side. These are the ones you must look out for, you must learn better to recognize mourning. It will be odorless, it will come to you wrapped in a plastic smile. We write love letters to the universe, we write ransom notes by connecting the stars in the northern sky and grabbing love by the cords on her wrists.

We write because no one ever told us these things would happen.

We became wings as all feathers tend to do when they gather close enough and the sunlight over the ocean kisses them with just enough promise. I offer you my tongue and you remove the metal fences from my throat. Two small animals, soft, wet, unafraid. I undress as you separate my ribs and whisper your words like small mouths into my heart, in response she beats for another century (or more) only for you.

And all the tears that pour forth from my eyes which never dare to seek the sun, they will turn this trembling earth again green. All the colours of the wind are made of pigments I had never seen. Here is the tomb of the little unknowns, here is the way they walk the nighttime ceilings. Here is the way I kneel at the foot of the bed and listen to my own blood slamming in my chest.

It sounds like the dawn may return any day now. Amen amen amen, I carve myself upon these words made flesh. I hear the faintest sounds of stirring, like maybe this time we will all rise to greet you, but I have been wrong so many, many times before. My pain bears a panic you wouldn’t believe.

And sometimes the weight of this desire tugs so deep it splits me clean in two.

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