And with those skies comes video!
Since Sunday I’ve been posting some cryptic messages like, “I’m busy.” And that’s all true: I was busy. But I wasn’t really allowed to talk about why I was busy. Why is that?
Maybe you remember a trip I took to Oklahoma City in late 2017?
June 2 through 4 I was working with Planned Parenthood again, attending their Volunteer Summit, which brought together about 120 volunteers from all over the state of Pennsylvania. Because we don’t like to advertise where we are or what we’ve doing, the most I could do is post a quick selfie and let you know I was rocking the Pink once more.
The summit was in Harrisburg at–let’s just say an undisclosed location. You know we were in the capital city, so I didn’t have to stay overnight in a hotel. So I showed up Saturday, registered, listened to some speakers, at, and attended some evening entertainment.
And that would be the last rest I’d get for the next day and a half.
I don’t have pictures from Sunday, which was all workshops until about 7:30 PM. It was mentally exhausting learning all the ins and out of volunteer work and how to keep your cool and knock down stigma when you’re associated with a group that more than a few people see as a living evil. But we learned a lot of good things and chances are good I’ll get a chance to carry out all of that in the months to come.
But yesterday… you know, there’s a reason why we held the summit in Harrisburg and it has to do with this big building that sits atop a hill in this city. Yeah, we took our day of action to the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex, where the idea was to see some political folk and run the 411 on some bills we support and one in particular we don’t.
I’ve lobbied at the Capitol before, but this was going to be different as I was going to get one sit down with Rep. Patty Kim, who is the house representative for my district here in The Burg. I was going to be the tag along for the visit, but about mid-way through Sunday I was told they couldn’t make it–they had other pressing business they couldn’t avoid–so I was on my own. Also, I was walking around the building wearing a pink Planned Parenthood tee shirt, so there was no mistaking my reason for being there and who I represented.
I got there a little early and ended up on the right floor, but the wrong part of the floor. (The capitol building has two parts to the fourth floor: a public and private. I was in the public part.) But I managed to get a few pictures before finding where I was supposed to be.
My actual destination was the House Minority Caucus Room, which is where all the House Dems meet to go over things. It was ours until about 2:30 PM and we made the best of it, getting our material together and even making a few phone calls.
I was supposed to meet with Rep. Kim at 11:00 AM, but about 10:25 Leslie–who is my local grassroots organizer–slid up next to me and said she was gonna be lobby led on the meet and greet. I told her that was cool, I’d already went over the material and since I was told the day before I’d be on my own to speak with Rep. Kim I was good with it, so with that Leslie was like, “Okay, cool, then you’re lead–and we need to go now, ’cause they moved the meeting to 10:45.” I knew where to go, so with Leslie and Samantha, another PP member, in tow, we headed off to the Rep. Kim’s office.
We when in and met with Rep. Kim for about ten minutes or so. Believe me, I caught myself starting to trip over my tongue a few times, so I’d stop, reset, and move on. I did about ninety-five percent of the talking, with Leslie jumping in and adding a few nuggets that I either forgot or didn’t know. I left our information packet with the representative, thanked her for her time–oh, and we got a photo before we left.
Then it was back to the caucus room to make a few phone calls and right as lunch came I took an information packet over to the Senate side of the building and left it with Sen. DiSanto. Then it was back, get food, rest–
And get ready for our next meeting. I think this photo will give you a clue with whom:
All the people present were having a thirty minutes meet and greet with Governor Wolf, who has always been a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood. We had to wait a few minutes for him to come out of his actual working office–the place we were in was the meeting chambers for press conferences and the such–so I got a few pictures.
The governor came out and spoke for a few minutes, we took a group photo, then we had our chance to meet him one-on-one, chat for a few, and get a picture.
First a group. I’m a couple of people over on his left:
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We have had a *fabulous* weekend of learning, lobbying, and making friends. Every single day our PP family gets stronger—and we are so ready for the fights ahead! Thank you to all of our volunteers and elected officials who helped make this weekend so great! #IStandWithPP #ProtectPANow #RESIST
And then I got to speak a little with Gov. Wolf. He remembered me from when I was working Sec. Clinton’s campaign and we chatted on that a bit. After the photo I invited his wife and him to our derby bout in July, but somehow I don’t think he’ll show. I won’t hold it against him, though. 😉
Anyway, here we are.
So that was it. After meeting with the governor I walked home, rested up, then went to practice where my thighs and groin got one hell of a workout. But yeah: I did my thing and chances are good I’ll do more things this year because–well, it’s an election year and once you get in those waters you wanna keep fighting the good fight.
And I’m doing my best.
I am home.
I finally flew into Harrisburg about midnight last night and made it home about twenty-five minutes later. I finally made it to bed about about 1 AM so I could get up about four-and-a-half hours later.
Needless to say I’m kinda wrecked.
So what was up this weekend? Most of you know I was doing something for Planned Parenthood, yeah? I think this picture sort of gave that away:
Here’s the complete lowdown: I was in Oklahoma City, OK, attending a PP Organizing Summit, where people like me learned about the tools needed to put together a successful campaign needed to affect change, as well as learning how to use those tools to make your actions work. While we could post pictures of ourselves at the summit, we were not allowed to tell anyone where we where or give out our location by tagging a picture.
This was the reason I could identify my position up to Atlanta, where we boarded our connecting flight to OKC, but once on the ground in the Sooner State we had to pretend we didn’t know where we were, even though we did.
Needless to say it was a lot of workshops and role playing and breakout groups working on getting our protesting know-how down pat. Oh, and we had a rally just down the street on early Saturday–while a wind whipped up that made me think of a certain song from a certain musical about a certain state–and we were on the local news. Below is a clip from the broadcast and at top center you might recognize a certain blond from the state of Pennsylvania…
So I was in a room way up at the top of a hotel:
And we had elevators that looked out over the atrium:
And I had a roommate, a lovely woman from a nearby state:
And we flew out of Oklahoma yesterday:
And while in the Atlanta airport all the women with whom I was traveling and I stopped in Chicken + Beer in Terminal D, a place owned by Ludacris, and had a fantastic meal. Also, the woman on my left, Sara, turned 21 that very day and we celebrated by having a drink with her.
There you are: I was out being a good little feminist, enjoying the company of other women and men who helped us learn how to make the world a better place. And I know I’ll have people telling me I’m wrong, probably while mansplaning how I’m oh, so wrong (fun fact: do you know where mansplaniners get their fact? From a Well, Actually…), but I don’t care.
I’m guessing this is just the start of another part of my life.
I don’t believe I’m guessing wrong…
Last night was not a night of writing. I mean, I did write, but it was only another three hundred and fifty words because by the time I arrived home I was tired.
No, I was out with people I know who work for Planned Parenthood and we were doing the political thing.
I’ve maybe mentioned before that I know a few people who work for Planned Parenthood. One of them I meet during our time campaigning in 2016–while they did some help on the Clinton Campaign they were mostly working to election a new state senator–and we became social friends. I’ve let her know that when it comes to PP (which is how I’ll spell it out from here) I’ll help out where I can, and I’ve attended a couple of their functions since then.
I was invited to late night’s event a few days before and I RSVPed right away. I was sent a link to where we would meet and was asked to keep the location private because lunatics out there might decide to crash the party in the worst way. I will say it wasn’t in Harrisburg, but that’s all the information you’re getting. (I will mention now that I did not take any pictures while there, nor will I mention people by name. I’m keeping this all on the low.)
If you follow what’s going on in D.C. you know defunding PP is a priority among certain conservative white guys who’ve never had a period in their lives. Of course I’ve never had a period, either, but some women don’t. Regardless, I stand behind all women who need health care and PP fills the position of providing health care for hundreds of thousands of women, including pap smears, breast exams, pregnancy testing, and STD screening and treatment. Also, last year PP began running pilot programs to provide Hormone Replacement Therapy for trans women and men, which is something I could use should I need that service.
And yes, they do offer abortions. I know it’s a touchy subject with a lot of people, but my feelings are such: if you don’t need one, don’t get one. If you don’t want others getting them, piss off and find a hobby to file your time. Being a person who finds herself in a position where people I don’t know suddenly feel as if they have a voice when it comes to whether or not I should exist, it’s easy to say if you have no intention of getting an abortion, then shush, you. It’s none of your business. (And yes, I’ve always felt that way.)
We discussed what sort of steps we need to take to help PP through these dark times and I’m certain I’ll find myself helping out somewhere to help out the organization. Because I do feel they are an important health provider for untold numbers of women and they are under assault by know-nothing idiots. Does that seem like harsh language? Yep. And I mean every word.
Of late I’ve had to back away from a lot of the political stuff I was doing simply because it was becoming overwhelming. But when it comes to helping Planned Parenthood–I’ll be there to help whenever it’s possible.
Because you know I love to wear pink…
21 January, 2017. By now most people in the world have a pretty good idea what happened that day. Not only was the Woman’s March on Washington the single greatest demonstration event in this country, but it ranks as one of the largest worldwide events ever. Not bad for something that started out as a Facebook post the day after the US presidential elections.
Given that I worked on Hillary Clinton’s campaign beginning in August of 2016, I felt that in the aftermath of the election I could do one of two things: sit back and piss and moan, or get involved. I decided on the former. I registered with the Woman’s March knew the end of November, and a few weeks later I volunteered to be a bus captain, which meant I would be responsible for 50 to 60 people traveling on a caravan of buses leaving Harrisburg the day of the march.
So through most of January I prepared myself for what was to come. I bought a battery charger for my phone as I would need my phone on most of the day. (Though that proved to be unnecessary as you will soon see.) I bought wool socks in case it was cold. I bought new insoles for my mukluks in case I needed to wear them. I bought thermal undergarments in case I was going to have to deal with near zero temperatures. When I discovered the temperatures were expected to be in the mid-50s, I bought a fleece jacket to go over the sweatshirt, jeans, and tennis shoes I was going to wear.
Last of all, I had my pussy hat: the ubiquitous pink hat that was made in such a way that the corners would look like cat ears. Mine was crocheted by a member of the crocheting group I belong to and send to me all the way from Illinois. And with all of that in place I was ready to go–
The night before the March–which happened to be the inauguration of Darth Orange–I expected to be in bed before ten and up at four so that I could be out the door a little after five. As usually happens with me my plans blow up in my face: I really didn’t get to bed until about eleven-thirty and I was up at three, with maybe two hours of good sleep found during that time. I got up, did my business, loaded up on some cashews and beef jerky, and got dressed. I also took some antidiarrhea medication because only a couple of days earlier I’d been sick as a dog and I was completely unsure of whether or not it actually be a will to make the March. By mid-Friday I was certain: sick or not, I was going to go to DC. Nothing was going to stop me–not even lo0se bowels.
Believe it or not even though I arrived at the parking lot at 5:10 in the morning, I was not the first one there. There were already close to a dozen cars in the parking lot and only a few of us were bus captains. It didn’t take long for that to change, and well before the first bus arrived there were hundreds of people waiting to board.
The process was simple: as soon as the buses arrived we began loading people on, first come first serve. I was on the third bus to arrive and left in a group of six, all from the same carrier. My job was to see that everybody was aboard was supposed to be there and keep them informed of what we expected to do once we were on the ground in Washington.
I should point out that we had an app our phones that was supposed to allow us to select a bus and checking passengers. Needless to say, the app didn’t work for shit, and at no time during the day was I ever able to get it to do anything. Not that it really mattered, because we discovered that once we were in DC we basically shut down the phone service: it was nearly impossible to get a signal to call out, and data and Wi-Fi were impossible to come by. I managed a couple of live broadcasts, coming while I was back-boning off of the Wi-Fi from the National Archives. This last part we had been warned about by people who had been in DC during large gatherings and who said it was impossible to use your mobiles.
With everybody aboard we left Harrisburg a little after 6:35 and we were soon on our way to Washington. I was soon on my feet explaining to my group what we expected to do and to beware of anyone who might be trying to get them to fill out questionnaires as they might have been people working to make us look bad, or others who were trying to track us. Once my spiel was done I kicked back and enjoyed the ride.
The buses were parked at RFK Stadium, on the far east side of the downtown area. While I had a Metro card which would allow me to take the subway into the center of the city, I decided to do something else: walked for two miles from RFK to the Capital. And I wasn’t walking alone:
It took about forty minutes for the capital to come and view and this was probably the first moment I started to feel real excitement. Because when you see a structure like this you know you’re right downtown in the middle of the nation’s capital and you’re about to engage in something historic.
Let’s keep in mind that we were coming in from the east and all of the action was going to be happening on the west side of the capital, in the area of The Mall stretching all the way out to the Washington Monument and the White House. So it this point in the above photos, we couldn’t see what waited for us. Not only that but there’s a reason they call the Capital “The Hill”: it sits on top of the hill and from there you’re actually looking down on the city. So as were walking towards the crown we start hearing this now that would begin low and rise in intensity before sweeping over us like a wave. The first time we heard it was somewhat indistinct, the second time we heard it it hit everyone walking in the group like a hammer. I turned to the woman on my right and said, “That is chilling as hell.” She told me that chilling was the appropriate word: she said it gave her goosebumps.
It was only a few minutes later that we saw what was causing the sound, and upon seeing the crowd I actually gasped.
On the right is the US Botanical Gardens, and if you look all the way down the street at what looks like a white barricade–that’s the stage where all the festivities were taking place. The closest we got to the stage was about a block; you couldn’t get any closer because of the crush of people. So slowly I made my way towards The Mall, as I was caught in a mob and my anxiety level was going right off the scale.
The scene at The Mall wasn’t much better: it was just there was more space for more people. There were also port-a-potties, which I had to use. The one good thing was that there was some space in which one can catch their breath.
Here’s a video I made of my time on The Mall and it gives you some idea not only of the crowds, but how uncomfortable I was feeling in them.
After a while it got to be too much and I had to leave the crowds. It wasn’t anything personal, just a matter of anxiety and feeling a bit claustrophobic. So I made my way off The Mall and headed up 4th Street towards Pennsylvania Avenue. Pennsylvania Avenue was closed off and people were marching there, with most of them going around in a two block circle. There were still a lot of people in this area the city: tens of thousands at least stretching down to The Mall and a block further north past the Canadian Embassy and up toward the federal courthouses.
It was while I was here that I cut another video, this time sitting in front of the Canadian Embassy. It’s not long video, but at this point you could see that I was starting to get a little tired–mostly because at this point I had only two hours of sleep in the last thirty-six and I was quickly approaching nine hours awake.
I grabbed a quick bite and a quick rest as well. As I pointed out in the video I was feeling more dehydrated than I was hungry and I was in the process of trying to fill up on as many fluids as possible. My appetite had vanished since Thursday, so it seemed as if I was living off fat reserves, a bit of beef jerky, and cashew nuts. But I drank two large bottles of water on the bus trip down, another bottle of water and a power bar on the walk to the capital from RFK Stadium, and during lunch I had a Gatorade and a ginger ale. I knew the fluids would get absorbed into my body and the less solids I ate, the less I would need to go to a port-a-potty. I also wanted to get back to Pennsylvania Avenue before one PM, as that was the time the march started.
Only thing was, no one really knew where the march was starting.
Given the size of the crowd getting information out was sketchy as hell. At eleven-thirty I’d spoken to a person who would just been in a conversation with a New York Times stringer and she was told that at that time, they were estimating the size of the crowd at between four hundred and fifty and five hundred thousand people. As 1 o’clock approached I was hearing various rumors that the numbers were actually closer to six hundred thousand, and a few people had heard that we might be close to seven hundred thousand. All of this was totally believable: at this point there were way too many people in the downtown Washington area, and people were walking the streets without any fear that we were going to encounter vehicle traffic.
It was just before one that the word came out that the march was starting. What we were hearing was that we would not be allowed to march to the front of the White House, and that Pennsylvania Avenue was closed off a few blocks from where we were marching. So right near the IRS Building on 10th, everyone hung a left and marched a block down to Constitution Avenue. What we didn’t know at the time was that this still wasn’t the actual march: these people were actually the spillover from The Mall, whereas the true march was coming up 14th Street from Independence Avenue. Essentially what was happening was three separate marches going on at the same time, which was similar to the situation they had in Los Angeles.
It didn’t matter: we were marching and doing so with a purpose. Here are some of the shots I took on Constitution Avenue as we headed east.
I also managed to pick up about a minute and a half of video footage as we were marching. One thing I need the stress is that while the crowd doesn’t sound that loud on the recording, there was constant noise at all times, as well as a constant background on. At no time did ever get completely quiet, and after a while you just sort of tuned it out. But it never, ever went away
As we walked I had no sense of time; I was charging my phone during much of the march and since I couldn’t get a data connection there wasn’t any point in checking for updates from people. And given the crowd I was in, it would’ve been ridiculous to try texting or reading a text while walking along. They were far more important things going on which needed my attention.
I walked all the way down to 20th Street and headed north to C Street and headed back east towards the Ellipse, the park just to the south of the White House. While I was still marching on Constitution I’d taken the time to speak with a few of the volunteers near the entrance to the Eclipse, and they had informed me that area was the closest anyone would be allowed to the White House proper. It made sense as it’s a huge park, but what no one knew was it was already twenty minutes after two PM in the march was supposed to have ended at two.
And it was still going on.
So I snapped a few pictures while in the Ellipse before heading across the street to the Washington Monument, where I hope to be able get a better perspective by getting a little elevation on top of everyone.
And when I say “more or less”, we discovered that the new Pussy Grabber in Chief had decided to begin from the White House earlier in the day and didn’t return until late afternoon, were leaks report he was extremely furious about the coverage the march was getting. One of the reports that’s been publicized is that he flew into a rage at one point and screamed, “Don’t these people know I’m the fucking president?” Yeah, Donnie: we know you’re the president. That’s why we were marching.
I finally headed up towards the Washington Monument and got one more picture as well as a final bit of video trying to capture the last of the marchers coming it–or, I should say what I thought were the last of the marchers. Because it was about three-thirty in the afternoon when I shot this last video and there was no sign that the people in the march were sending out.
When you watch this video pay no attention to the fact that my nose piercing and sticking way out, something I didn’t realize at the time. Normally I keep it flush against the outer skin, but at some point I must’ve wiped my nose and pushed it outward, which is why it sticking up when you see the one shot of me.
After a good rest where I spent about twenty minutes speaking with another woman from North Carolina, I headed over by the World War II Monument and did some walking along reflecting, as well as using a port-a-potty for the last time. I walked back up to the Washington Monument about four-thirty and the march was still continuing. I discovered much later that the police had actually closed the parade route at four o’clock and turned away tens of thousands of people who were still waiting to march. I continued to watch people filing into the Ellipse for about another ten minutes, then began making my way back to the Washington Metro system, where I boarded the train at the Smithsonian station.
I didn’t get any pictures on the train because they were packed: people were standing shoulder to shoulder in every car, and there were stories from different people in my car saying that lines and been shut down at least three or four times during the day because of all the problems they had with people overcrowding the cars. The Washington Metro office reported that by 11 AM that day, they had serviced 275,000 transit passes, where’s the day before, during the inauguration, they said during the same time period they had serviced 192,000 passes. Needless to say we were far bigger party, and a lot more jovial.
There were several people in the car with me were actually heading back to Harrisburg: it turned out there was right next to mine, so I helped lead them back to the parking lot. One of the women in the group was in a walker, and she was growing rapidly exhausted as she had walked the entire march using her walker. We took our time getting back and after only a few minutes of looking I found our buses and got everyone where they were supposed to be. I came on board mine and begin making certain that everyone who is returning on the bus was there, as well as finally getting off my feet and having another water.
About twenty minutes after I sat down someone came around and gave us the news: AP and CNN were reporting that unofficial totals for our march showed nearly 1 million participants, and CNN said there were as many as 1.3 million. I got on the loudspeaker and reported the news, which got everyone applauding. And throughout the time before we left, and while we were departing Washington, I kept giving as many updates as I could get on the numbers coming back from the sister marchers in cities around the country and the world. It was while I was reading this information that everyone, myself included, realize just what a huge offense had taken place today. It’s one thing to say half a million marchers showed up in Washington DC, but it’s entirely something else to hear there were maybe a million marchers in Washington, and 275,000 in New York City, and possibly 750,000 in Los Angeles, and that the Chicago march was officially stopped when the number of participants reached 300,000, but everyone going on and by the time they reached Grant Park it was estimated the crowd had reached a half a million.
When we heard that news, it became evident we had started something important.
That was the question I kept asking myself on the ride home: did we do something important? Was our efforts worthwhile? More importantly, did we start something that was going to continue onward and not just be some one-time, flash in the pan event that people would feel good about doing but wouldn’t amount to much in the end?
That was all answered for me last week. Scientists are now planning a march in mid-March, and at last check there were nearly 800,000 people interested in the event in Washington. There is also talk of another march on April 15 which will end in front of the IRS Building, and this will focus on the fact that the Liar in Chief refuses to release his tax forms. Lastly, the Pride parade which is supposed to take place on 11 June is apparently going to become a rather huge event, and given that I’m hearing that there’s going to be an executive order which is basically going to allow legalized discrimination against anyone LGBTQIA, I imagine that is going to grow into something far bigger than just everyone parading and having a good time. I feel is going to turn into something hugely political.
And seeing how people turned out to protest at airports this last weekend concerning the restrictions on travel for Muslim countries, it’s apparent that people are not letting up the pressure. With the exception of those were comfortable with fascism, most people seem upset over what is occurring and they’re prepared to take action.
So what’s in store for me? What actions am I going to take? This Sunday I’ll be marching in Harrisburg in support of immigration and sanctuary cities for refugees, particularly those coming from Syria. I’m already making arrangements to go to the Science March and I fully intend to participate in the Pride March in June, though that one is going to be tricky because I’m going to drive to Indiana on 8 June, attend my daughter’s high school graduation on 9 June, then drive to Washington on 10 June and do the march the next day. Needless to say, exhaustion is probably going to set in somewhere around the night of 10 June and I’m going to sleep like a rock somewhere in a hotel on the outskirts of Washington.
It’s time to get political; it’s time to get active. I’ve always been somewhat active politically, but ever since working on Hillary Clinton’s campaign last year I seem to have found a need to actually put myself on the line and get things done. As a trans-woman it’s easy to say, well sure, we know why you’re doing this. But as I’ve said to others, it’s not just me on marching for. Part of it is I’m marching for my daughter, who is likely to start growing up in a world radically different than she’s known for the last eighteen years. I’m marching for my Muslim friends who suddenly have a reason to fear living in the US. I’m marching for all my women friends who are about to watch all the rights safe for the last fifty years vanish.
I can’t just march for myself. I have maybe 10 to 15 years left after which I really won’t much care if things are further going to shit, or if they’re getting better, or we successfully fought off the darkness. But there will be so many other people I know will still be here, and they will care about these things.
One doesn’t march for the present: they march to make a better future.
And while I can, I will do my damnedest to make that future a better one for those I leave behind.
As a last note to the March, I worked out the route I walk that Saturday so that I could see how many miles I traveled. The numbers are pretty impressive: I was on my feet for 11.67 miles/18.78 kilometers, of which I walked 8.67 miles/13.95 kilometers. This was the reason I spent most of the following Sunday wine about taking aspirin so that my legs wouldn’t hurt. Pretty impressive for someone who two days earlier was thinking about going to the hospital because they were so dehydrated.
I bring you a post!
Saturday, right? That means a video, right? Well, that’s what you’re getting. Have fun!