Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: a strange odyssey

I may as well just start by admitting that I am, like, beyond mortified at the way I've neglected this blog for the last six months.  I've been saying "yeah I gotta post part two of that Little Lungs/grief piece, I'll do that this week" since, like, August.  In my defense though, there's been a lot going on.  Between my officially being back in school and having a mountain of reading to do, doing more zining and zine events, a trying holiday season fraught with family drama, a hurricane, and a predicted apocalypse that I knew wasn't going to happen after seven years in Latin American Studies but that I worried about anyway, it's been kind of hectic.


It's been a weird year in general.  Despite my best efforts to continuously move forward, despite trying to do at least some things consistently, so much about this year has felt transitional.  I spent a lot of it deciding to end certain things, either unequivocally and permanently or on a temporary basis to be defined at some later date.  And then I spent a lot of time not jumping into new projects or relationships, and thinking through what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go next. 

Which fits in with what I learned about 2012 and the end of the Mayan calendar at school.  One of my favorite professors described it in one of our core courses, explaining the three wheels of the calendar and the way they were meant to click together, and the concept of the 'long count'.  He told us that the calendar did indeed 'end' in December of 2012, but that it also started over again.  He told us to think of it not as the end of the physical world, but as the end of a certain way of thinking,  a fundamental or even radical "change in consciousness".  That sounds sort of esoteric, I know; it's not easy to explain.  But I know that my consciousness, and my awareness of both myself and of how intricately and complexly everything and everyone is linked, has certainly deepened, and changed how I think.  And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who feels this way.

Even if it's just me though: what better way to mark one's increased understanding of the universe than by making a mix?  Making playlists as a way of reflecting what's happened over the year is something I like to do anyway, and there's been a lot to consider this time around.  It's been a bizarre, busy, educational, and seemingly endlessly character-building twelve months.  It's been a year of wrestling with anxiety about the future, learning how to deal with that anxiety, and learning how to remove the people and things that exacerbate or manipulate that anxiety from my life.  It has been a year of quiet, controlled destruction, and also very real, literal, uncontrollable destruction, all of which in retrospect, I feel I should have expected.  After all: the Mayans totally saw it coming, and they're usually right.

It hasn't just been about destruction though.  It's also been a year of preparation, of making space, for a lot of rebuilding in 2013.  It's been the end of the world as we, or at least I, know it, and unbelievably enough, I feel fine.  

So, with that: see you all next year.  I swear!

[Image: embedded 8tracks playlist titled "2012: we were SO warned".  In the image a Mayan temple with the numbers '2012' floating over it sits under a dark, starry sky.]

1. January: "Sure Shot" by Yellowcard
2.  February: "I'm Melting!" by Rainer Maria
3.  March: "Why Bother" by Weezer
4.  April: "Estranged" by Little Lungs
5.  May: "100%" by Sonic Youth
6.  June: "180 by Summer" by Taking Back Sunday
7.  July: "Bad Friends Forever" by Carnal Knowledge
8.  August: "Epic Failure" by Teen Wolves
9.  September: "Arm Candy" by Hysterics
10.  October: "Head of the Baptist" by Cursed
11.  November: "War eternal" by Condenada
12.  December: "Turn it Off" by Outlook

Friday, July 20, 2012

"But you and I are buoyant", part I: Loss, Grief, Prince, and Little Lungs

This wasn't easy to write, and I'm pretty sure I was only able to do it because of Kathleen and all of her hard work on The Worst and Rachel and how she understands this "all too well". Kate Wadkins' acknowledgement of all the nerdy things I've said and written about Little Lungs already helped, too.

When I last updated this blog two months ago (?!) I posted a "Spring Cleaning/Spring Breakdown" mix, and said that I was going to be cleaning over Memorial Day Weekend -- which is what I've been focused on for the past 8 weeks. (Though I have been doing some other stuff -- more to come on that at a later date.) And in that post I explained that I haven't just been cleaning, but that I've been "sorting through and discarding the possessions of my deceased loved ones." If I have any 'long-time readers' (which seems rather unlikely at this point), they might remember a post, from two years ago by now, about a death in my family. The cleaning and sorting that I am doing right now are directly related to that death.

This is where the preamble comes to an abrupt end: in July of 2010, my stepfather died. He'd been the most reliably supportive person in my life for many years at that point, and he was also the last of my close, or 'nuclear' family. So his death changed me, and it changed my life as I knew it. He left me our house, where I'd more or less grown up, and I moved back here, permanently, instead of going back upstate to where my graduate program is based. Adjusting to and dealing with all of this has dominated my life since then. All of my projects and pursuits have become sort of secondary, because, well, I've been focused on survival.

Why did it take me two years to write that here? And why would I bother to do so now? At first there didn't seem to be a reason to write about his death here. It didn't seem relevant, as it didn't have anything to do with gender or diy community politics. I also didn't particularly want to write about it -- the loss was (and at times still is) so huge and so painful that I couldn't articulate how horrible it felt, and what he meant to me, and I didn't want to try. So I tried to keep writing here, and also tried to keep going to school, and tried really hard to just feel and be normal.

But as I went through the grieving process, it only got harder to act 'normal'. After a certain point I couldn't really read, and I couldn't write, and I didn't want to listen to music and I didn't want to go to shows, I didn't want to leave my house at all. I didn't want to be around people. I felt frustrated, and isolated, and frankly disappointed in a lot of the people around me, including the self-proclaimed 'progressive' artists, punks, and activists around me, because they just didn't get it. I felt old and exhausted and just really annoyed by punk subculture's seeming aversion to addressing real life, life-changing grown-up shit like death and grief and funeral homes and attorneys and estate taxes.

So I decided to try to write about it, about all of it. It was a struggle at first because I still wasn't quite ready to tell the entirety of the internets that my life had fallen apart, or that I felt like I'd actually lost my mind as a result. I started slowly, by writing about anxiety, depression, and feeling incapable of writing, even though it felt weird and meta and self-referential. I slowly started to go to shows and collect demos and write about my friends' bands again.

That was a little over a year ago. It took me that long to get to this point, to this post, to being able to type here 'my stepfather died' with the intention of actually publishing it. But at this point I'm just glad to be here at all. If there's anything I've learned from the grieving process, it's that it takes as long as it takes.


I spent the summer that my stepdad died in a weird, not quite intentional denial, in a bizarre suspended state. I remember it being unbearably humid that July, and describing the weather to someone as 'apocalyptic'. I did my best to accept things, and went on with what passed for my life -- lazing around the house during the day, going to shows and the occasional party at night -- because there wasn't much else I could do.

I didn't eat or sleep much, and I didn't really tell any of my local friends about it because I didn't really have any at that point (they were all more like acquaintances back then). I expected to wake up from this long, miserable dream at any moment, or to hear my stepdad's car in the driveway, or his key in the front door. I knew that I wouldn't, but I didn't choose to not let it sink in. It was a reflex.

It started to feel real in September. It started to feel real when all of my friends went back to school, and back to their year-round, non-summer schedules, and I didn't, because I couldn't go back upstate. It became really real on my birthday, when there was no parent, or anyone with any vested interest in my survival from one year to the next, to celebrate it. That was probably the first time I felt like my stepfather was really gone. I cried all day that day, and then I got dressed and went to a Little Lungs show near the city bus yards in Brooklyn. Guitarist Angie wished me a happy birthday when I got there, out in the hallway, and it ended up being the first time I really spent time with my friend Cary. I don't completely remember, but I think that was the last time I saw the band before they quietly stopped playing shows.


A couple weeks later, in early October, I came to the conclusion that the only way to move forward -- i.e., go back to and finish school, and start working again -- was to go through. I decided to start sorting through my stepdad's things and finally clean out the house. My stepfather was a hoarder, and seemingly incapable of parting with 'important' papers; there were piles upon piles of old phone and utility bills, receipts, bank and credit card statements, and magazines like Consumer Reports and Popular Science on every spare inch of flat space, including the floors and the staircases.

I started to sort through it all slowly, occasionally finding really important stuff in the mess. When I found the deed to the house in a stack of magazines, I started to lose it. My stepdad's hoarding was a fairly serious problem, and now it was one that he would never face or overcome. For the first time I saw him and understood him not as my caretaker but as a human being, with flaws and shortcomings and emotional baggage. It was sort of a Purple Rain moment, for anyone who's seen that movie.


Spoiler alert: Prince's character discovers a large trunk containing reams of sheet music, for songs written by his abusive father, and starts sobbing. It is brutal, my friends. You've been warned.

Rather than stepping back or taking a break, I flew at the mess, desperate to deal with it and get it out of the house. I spent the next three days crying, hyperventilating, sweating, and not really eating or talking to anyone. I didn't really clean or sort anything, I kind of just frantically moved the mess around and paced anxiously for twelve hours each day. When a family friend came over to check on me and asked me how the cleaning was going, I told her, "I feel like I'm drowning." When she laughed and tried to crack a joke about how I 'should' feel that way, I told her that it wasn't funny and I threw her out.

That was the first time I'd spoken in a few days at least. For whatever random reason, using the word 'drowning' made me think of that part toward the end of the Little Lungs song "The Big Six" where original bassist Jacki sings, "her room was an ocean, she was drowning in it".

I'd admired those lyrics since I'd first heard them, sometime back in 2008, but I'd never really thought about them. "The Big Six" is the last song on the band's first 7", Hoist Me Up!, which I've listened to many times, enough times to hypothesize that the "ocean", which is referred to in another song on that album ("Loft Coffin", "at night her room's an ocean, it's up to my knees"), is a metaphor for an addiction, and that 'her' is the narrator's mother. But I'd never really considered what that kind of ocean is like, or what drowning in that sense would look or feel like.

Her room was an ocean, she was drowning in it, I thought to myself, looking around my cluttered living room. Effectively distracted, I turned on my computer so I could listen to the song, and played it for the first time in ages.

The studio version of "The Big Six" by Little Lungs. (Fun fact: this song is the final track on the Spring Cleaning/Spring Breakdown mix that I posted back in May. Hashtag: #notacoincidence)

The song is only 2 minutes and 42 seconds long, but that night it felt bigger than that. The distorted dry strokes that open the song sounded more ragged and much stranger than ever, as if I'd never heard how dissonant and uncomfortable they are, and both the vocals on the first part of the song, and the lyrics sung -- "When is enough enough? When are you gonna quit it? When will you give it up?" -- sounded more strained than I remembered.

The song's second part, the transition to it and the change in tempo and feel, the lyrics, the deceptively simple guitar part -- all of that was soothingly familiar, even with my huge feelings and messy living room amplifying its intensity, and listened for the lyrics I'd been thinking about. I listened closely, with my eyes shut, and focused on the vocals, and the lyrics that I'd known for what felt like ever at that point. The verse about watching as 'he' was pulling out of the driveway, and then the verse I'd been waiting for, about 'her' nightstand, full of prescriptions, in her room, that one that was like an ocean.

Real talk? The song is almost unbearably sad, no matter what emotional condition you happen to be in when you listen to it. But it doesn't end that way, or with "she was drowning in it." I was really upset that night and on the verge of a real meltdown, but I kept listening until I got to the end, to the last verse, "he let it continue, feeding the big wound, the bile it needed to eat its way through you", and the final lyrics: "But you and I are buoyant, we ride the flood right out of here…."

I listened as the song went quickly and smoothly into its final part, that tight, straightforward march, that strange coda that I'd never understood, but always taken for granted as the right way to end that particular song. And for the first time, I got it. The end of "The Big Six" isn't just its outro; it tells the rest of the story. After the flood, presumably the rushing of that ocean out of the bedroom and the house, the narrator somehow manages to get up and get on with her life. Wherever the flood leaves her, she stands up, puts one foot in front of the other, and manages to walk away from the disaster.

I listened to the song a few times that night. And when I was done, after maybe the fourth listen, my cleaning bender was officially over. I kind of wished that the mess would disappear, wished the entire situation would disappear, but I no longer felt the compulsive need to deal with it right then. I accepted that the mess was my life at the moment, and that I was legally responsible for it. But I also knew that it wasn't really my mess. My stepfather had been a hoarder, and he was gone. But I was neither of those things. And I would eventually be okay.

I'm not gonna say anything trite like 'that song saved my life', because I seriously resent it when people make that sort of claim -- music is powerful, and it's great, but it isn't all powerful, and life is much more complicated than that. "The Big Six" didn't save my life, but listening to it absolutely helped me to feel better. That night, the words "but you and I are buoyant" were exactly what I needed to hear. And it sucks that there wasn't an actual person or friend there to say it to me, but I'm glad Little Lungs were there to do it.


An entire calendar year passed before I was able to even really think about cleaning, and then it took a few months after that before I actually started to do it, in early 2012. Around the time that I started to really prioritize making the house more livable, Little Lungs announced two reunion/farewell shows, in Brooklyn and New Brunswick. I didn't even think twice about it: as soon as I read about it, I knew that I would be there, to hear and see "The Big Six" live.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Late Spring Cleaning/Break(down?) Mix

So I know that I said I was doing all of this blog-related research and development in my last post (like, months ago -- where does time go?).  And I was, until I got sidetracked by some unfortunate but very necessary cleaning.  I know that spring cleaning is supposed to be like, a thing, but I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever really done it.
And this probably won't shock anyone who really knows me, but dudes, I am doing it hardcore.  Not just because I'm slightly compulsive and very much a virgo, but because this is not just a matter of simple 'cleaning'.  No, it is instead a matter of cleaning out an entire house.  That's right: while everyone else (in the US, anyway_) is partying or barbecueing for memorial day weekend, I will be sorting through and discarding the possessions of my deceased loved ones.  Awesome!
As much as this sucks, I am a firm believer that even the most miserable of situations can be alleviated by a good soundtrack.  So for anyone else who might be out there cleaning, either in the figurative or literal sense, enjoy these thirteen tracks about the emotional rollercoaster that is purging your life of things you don't want, don't need, or simply can't keep.  It's painful, yes, but it's necessary to get rid of stuff to make room for new things.  New things, of course, meaning 'new records'.  (Or at least that's what it means for me.)

Slingshot Dakota -- "Ohio"
Shoppers -- I
Babes in Toyland -- "Pain in My Heart"
Lost Weekend -- "Worn Out"
The Distillers -- "I am a Revenant"
Forward Russia -- "Fifteen pt 1"
Lemuria -- "Length Away"
RVIVR -- "Edge of Living"
At the Drive-in -- "Rascuache"
Bad Banana -- "Oregon Trail"
Aye Nako -- "Let It In"
Taking Back Sunday -- "Carpathia"
Little Lungs -- "The Big Six"

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I'll tell your story if it kills me: some thoughts on "Women's History"

Well all I got is this goddamn guitar
and a voice that couldn't carry me far
but I'll tell your story if they kill me
I said I'll tell your story if it kills me

-- The Two Funerals, "Western Apathy"

You wouldn't know it from the obvious lack of posting going on here, but for the past month and a half I've been busier than a beaver at work on a new dam. (…?) Really though, weird storybook-sounding animal figures of speech aside, I've spent the last few weeks re-acclimating myself to 'blog life', or trying, anyway. Most of this time has been spent on:

-- researching and reading about new bands (and other stuff)
-- getting back into the habit of going to shows regularly
-- acquiring and listening to new demos
-- thinking seriously about what I would like to accomplish here
-- working on a visual redesign/update
-- opening up related accounts on twitter, flickr, and formspring as part of said redesign/update and familiarizing myself with said sites
-- grappling with feelings of inadequacy and anxiety, and worrying that I might, in fact, be completely useless

Most of this seems self-explanatory, but per my previous statements regarding talking through and being open about anxiety, the last one could maybe benefit from some discussion. Have, uh, you ever felt like everything you do is kind of, well, dumb? Like every aspiration you have, every effort you make, every project that you care about is ridiculous, and you must be an idiot for expending so much time, energy, and emotion on it? Because sometimes I feel that way. Sometimes I feel that way about this very blog, and like all the encouragement and validation from friends in the world won't make any difference.

So I didn't have plans to post here anytime soon. But then I realized that it was March (?!), and thusly time to celebrate Women's History Month. So I took a break one evening from my research and got out my copy of Why History Matters: Life and Thought by Gerda Lerner.

[Image: an abstract painting with the text, "Why History Matters: Life and Thought"]
This is what my edition of Why History Matters looks like.

I flipped to the back and read the title essay (yes, that is a link to the text, so you can read it if you want!) for the first time in years. And then I read it again (it's not very long). Because I was amazed at how incredibly relevant it felt to my experiences with studying gender within the history of 'punk'.

Gerda Lerner is a historian whose focus on Black Women's History and theories of intersectionality were fueled largely by her escape from Nazi Austria and her experiences with anti-Semitism; her essay is about history, national memory, and erasure at the macro-level. I read her work for a feminist theory course with Janelle Hobson, who might actually be the coolest professor I've ever met. Despite her hipness and dedication to real-life people and their needs, the course was still very academically oriented, and our discussion of 'why history matters' still felt pretty abstract.


[Image: an older, light-skinned woman seated at a table before several microphones.]

Gerda Lerner speaking at the Renner Institue, photo by Eva Steffen.

But Lerner's reasoning as to why history matters is neither abstract nor self-congratulatory. Lerner argues that history matters because it is both a universal, human tool for self-actualization and psychic healing and a weapon used by those in power to justify bigotry and violence. She writes:
"We construct symbolic communities, based on ethnicity, religion, race, or any other kind of distinguishing mark, setting ourselves apart from those different from us, in order to find and enhance our own identity. We look to a past community, our 'folk' of whatever definition, and our stories weave a collective myth into our own narrative. These widespread collective myths can serve a creative, harmonizing function, in stressing shared values, ideas, and experience. They offer us heroes in the past, role models for emulation, and provide us with a coherent narrative which gives shape and order to our experience. The story of Christianity, the life of Jesus, the Protestant Ethic, the American Dream -- these are some of the collective myths which have sustained generations.
"But those kept outside of these myths or those marginalized by them, experience them as destructive. In legitimizing the coherence of the 'in-group' these stories and myths reinforce the deviant status of the 'out-groups.' By making distinctions between 'us and them' appear to be natural, they reinforce a sense of alienation and 'Otherness' in those excluded."

Lerner doesn't mention subculture in her list of 'distinguishing marks', but damn if this doesn't sound like it could have been written about punk and the community that's formed around it in the last forty years. The circular, self-perpetuating process of creating and continually excluding an 'Other' has seeped into punk in that time, and so women-identified individuals, people of color, LGBTQIA folks, non-Westerners, and many others are regularly left out of punk's historical narrative.


[Image: an older, light-skinned woman stands with a sign that reads "Sarah Lawrence College, home of the nation's first graduate degree program in Women's History, founded by Dr. Gerda Lerner in 1972"]

Dr. Lerner at Sarah Lawrence college. I love this picture.

But thinking in terms of a historical narrative, and seeing yourself as a potential part of it, is the first step to historical recovery. Lerner also writes that history "gives us a sense of perspective about our own lives" and that "by perceiving ourselves to be part of history, we can begin to think on a scale larger than the here and now." Lerner believes that every single human being is capable of learning about history and using that knowledge to 'vision' into the future and do some kind of good with it.

A few days after I read the essay my best friend called me. When she asked me how I was I told her that I was feeling discouraged, but eventually found myself animatedly explaining who Gerda Lerner is, and why the essay has resonated with me. "That's why I'm still listening to Pussywhipped and The Woods," I said. "Because it's part of my history, and that makes me feel connected to something."

Talking about that simple (not really) act of 'connecting' to a community and its shared history through vinyl and sound and ideas, and thinking about every friend I've ever discussed such acts with, and how all of them, and also tons of people I don't know and never will, are engaging with and contributing to that history? Well, let's just say that my anxiety, though valid and worthy of attention and 'self-compassion,' no longer seemed overwhelming. It seemed incredibly small, and dare I say it manageable, in comparison to punk subculture, its seen and unseen histories, and everything that has been accomplished therein.

So even though I occasionally get that feeling like everything I do is dumb, or like I don't feel terribly confident in this blog, I know that it's not just about me or my feelings. It's about something much bigger. It's part of a larger effort to recover suppressed histories and make them accessible to the people who need them, and that's worth confronting whatever negative feelings and insecurities I sometimes I have over it. It's worth telling your story, our story, our history, even it if kills me. Or even if it makes me feel self-conscious and sort of stresses me out slightly.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Get Excited, 2012: Get (Re)-Motivated

I guess it's never easy
We all are underpaid
Oh but we love it anyway
I'm looking forward to it, yeah I'm looking forward to it

-- Witches, "Big Rivers"

This year I had a surprisingly great New Year's Eve; I managed to actually relax and have fun, and so I woke up feeling PUMPED on New Year's Day, even though I spent it by myself, because I was excited to not be overwhelmed by anxiety. The next day, I woke up feeling even MORE PUMPED because I had plans to go hang with a friend and work on plans for a zine we're writing together.

And then the day after that I woke up feeling sick. My allergies flared and my sinuses promptly developed an infection. I was in bed for a week and a half, and it really tested my ability to 'keep it posi in the new year' or whatever. Ten days of not being able to really do anything but watch dvds gave me a lot of time to think on what I really want to be doing. After a few days, I wondered if I really have the energy and the will to maintain this blog.


[Image: a young fair-skinned woman curls up on her couch.] I spent pretty much the entire time that I was sick doing exactly this, and watching all of My So-Called Life. Yikes.

Documenting local and underground communities of musicians and artists is important to me, and it needs to be done. The unfortunate reality is that this endeavor, especially when done through blogging, is endless and mostly (though not entirely) thankless work. It's deceptively time-consuming, and it's typically unpaid. It's kind of undervalued, considering how much skill, discipline, and self-motivation it requires.

It's not about the money though. It's just that it takes so much energy and time that after a certain point, you're tired, your focus feels fuzzy because you're distracted by real life shit like grief and illness and mental health issues or whatever, and it feels like you're spending more time writing about 'the scene', and worrying about your writing, than actually participating in it or enjoying it. And at that point, you ask yourself, "Why? Really, why am I doing this?"

If you get to the point where you're actually asking that question though, the universe is bound to give you an answer, some weird deus ex machina-style sign from 'above'. Unlikely though it sounds, I got mine in New Jersey.

On Saturday the 14th I braved the low temperatures, my own post-illness low energy, and my anxiety about walking alone after nightfall in an unfamiliar town and took two trains to New Brunswick. I went to The Alamo to see Lost Weekend and Curmudgeon, two bands that have really helped me to maintain my interest in local diy punk. My gut instinct said that it would be worth it and I listened.


[Image: Flyer for the Lost Weekend/Curmudgeon show, featuring a bleeding and bandaged head flanked by two human bones.]

I'm glad that I did. Getting the hell out of New York and out of my comfort zone was good for me. Going to a diy basement venue, meeting new people, and seeing new bands was really exciting. Söft Döv, Lost Weekend, and Curmudgeon all played fantastic sets. I was having a really great time until Draize's set began and the moshing -- and by moshing, I mean dudes two and three times my size grabbing each other by the back of the neck and literally throwing each other across a very small, low-ceilinged (…it was a basement, after all) room, with zero regard for any of the other people in attendance -- got out of hand.

When some dude threw me into the wall I moved to the back of the room. When I got an elbow in the chest even while hiding out there, I left. I went upstairs feeling shaky. A weird little funnel cloud of resentment and unreasonable embarrassment started to swirl around the spot where that random elbow had connected with my sternum. I almost walked right out and headed to the train station.

But first I ran into Lost Weekend's bass player and lead vocalist, Jess, in the house's living room. When she asked me how I was doing, I blurted out that I'd been having a great time until I was nearly moshed to death. Much to my relief, Jess responded with a sympathetic eye roll. "That shit is so boring," she sighed. I sat down next to her on the couch, and a long conversation about the need for safe(r) spaces at shows, inclusivity, and activism ensued.


[Image: a young woman singing and playing bass as other young people look on.] Jess of Lost Weekend, as captured by photographer Rachel Atcheson.

Being able to talk about the total bro-tastrophe in the basement, and how it made me feel completely unsafe and utterly alone in that feeling, made me feel significantly better. Talking after that about local bands, future projects, feminist organizing, and strategies for combatting show violence helped assuage how powerless and panicked I'd felt.

It was a relatively casual conversation, but it was more than just a couple of girls chatting. Jess validated and defused my negative feelings, carework that I appreciate whether it was intentional or not, and after that we were able to move our discussion away from the dudebros who constantly dominate any and all conversations going on in 'punk' and talk about what we want to work on, that change that we would like to see and help make happen in our communities.

Which, of course, is more or less the point of this blog. At home and recovering the following day, it occurred to me that this is more or less what I do in this space: I try to say something honest and productive about negative or harmful things that are happening in my community, and draw attention to bands and organizations that are trying to do something about these damaging practices.

I was really lucky that there was someone at that show who I could talk to. Not everyone who feels unsafe and literally marginalized at a show has someone they can express those feelings to. Not everyone feels comfortable speaking up in a situation like that, especially if they feel like they don't have any allies.

I can try to be that ally in this space. I can't go to every show that happens and coach every nervous or lonely-seeming individual I come across, but I can try to do something similar-ish through this blog. I can try to talk about these issues and how to confront them, and create a space where conversations the one I had with Jess can start to happen. It's not an easy job and it never has been, but for the first time in what feels like ages, I'm excited to do it, and I'm even kind of looking forward to it.