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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

The Women's March Was an Unreal Experience

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

The Women's March Was an Unreal Experience

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bread and puppet
This was not my first rodeo. I went to my first rally in DC when I was twelve years old. While I've never been intensely active politically, I've marched and rallied across the years for the causes most near and dear to my heart.

When I bought my bus ticket for the Women's March on Washington, I expected it to be more of the same. It would be fun, uplifting, and energizing to spend the day elbow to elbow with people who find meaningful the same things I do. It would certainly be the most adventurous march I've attended but only because, this time, I would be coming from eleven hours away, from Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, rather than less than an hour outside of DC.

It wasn't more of the same. This was an experience like no other I've ever had before. For one, there's the scale of it. I haven't been able to find official figures yet, but this article puts Metro ridership on the day of the march at 597,000. And many of us--despite holding pre-purchased Metro passes--chose to walk. It was only a half-hour walk from RFK Stadium, where 1,800 buses left their passengers, to the Capitol where the pre-march rally was held.

Our journey began at 6:45 Friday evening when we set out from Newport to Burlington, where we would board our RallyBus for DC. It was a night of anticipation and nerves, fitful sleep punctuated by rest stops where I'd look out into the pitch dark and wonder where we were. At one point, dozing became actual sleep, and when I woke up, we were at the Clara Barton rest stop at the bottom of the Jersey Turnpike. The bus pulled in and right out again, going instead a few miles down the road to the Delaware Welcome Center: The rest stop was overflowing with buses heading to the march. There was no place to park.

Getting off the bus in Delaware is when it first occurred to this was going to be unlike any experience I'd ever had before. The parking lot and the rest area overflowed with buses and mostly women, many wearing pussy hats. After a long drive along the dark highways of Vermont and New York, the sudden exodus into light and commotion was slightly surreal. I stood blinking at the rows of buses, the lines of people: I've been to the rest stops along I-95 more times than I can count. Now, it was the middle of the night. I'd never seen them look like this.

Back on the bus and down the familiar highway. I lived here most of my life. I watched exits swish past that were part of my everyday existence for many years. I slept through the tunnel, apparently. I woke to gray, misty morning light and the landmarks that told me we were approaching DC. A Metro Orange Line train sailed along an overpass across the highway. And then we were at RFK Stadium. A murmur of excitement thrilled through our bus. I never thought I'd be actually happy to see that musty old stadium (I never thought I'd be so happy to be going to DC, truth be told), but here I was.

We were one of the first buses to arrive, so we got prime real estate right in the front row with the stadium looming overhead. A few minutes in the parking lot to take stock and retrieve our signs from under the bus, to pose for a few pictures--a lot of care was taken with those signs and a few of them ended up making media roundups of the best signs on the march(here and here and here)--and then we were off.

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Upon leaving stadium grounds, we passed in front of the National Guard Armory. The first person we saw was a young African American guardswoman, who stood at one of the intersections in uniform, smiling and welcoming us.

I am from this area. Part of why I left is because I had found that the growing congestion and cost of living--which of course goes hand-in-hand with ever intensifying and stressful workloads to maintain a middle-class life--was beginning to make the region feel soulless. People don't smile at strangers in central Maryland and DC. They don't welcome. Basic courtesy, empathy, and civility too often lack. Other people are obstacles that keep you from getting home to enjoy the scraps of time you have for yourself before rising unreasonably early again the next morning to begin again. Other people are the ones getting the things you wish you had. They are inconveniences to reaching dreams large and small. So many times, I felt this way myself. It is part of why I left: The anger I felt sometimes verged on hatred, and that was not me, and I feared what I might become if I didn't stop it.

But this guardswoman, she turned on its head everything I believed I knew about people in the area--as someone who had been one of them for most of her life--and about people in the uniforms of authority. I kept her image, her smile, in my mind throughout the day.

We passed through a residential neighborhood, and people stood in their doorways to cheer us on. Many people had yard signs with quotes from MLK, reminding us of the power of love and peace. I will confess that I teared up more than once. There were so many people walking in the streets. In that moment, it seemed like the culmination of a movement of humanity that spanned the nation and convened in this place: a movement to speak up on behalf of love, inclusivity, and peace and to resist with all our might the alternative.

We had an invitation to join Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy and his wife Marcelle for coffee and light fare before the march at Mott House. Finding Mott House required a little wandering around. I reminded people that, according to popular lore, Washington, DC, was designed to be confusing to potential foreign invaders, so it is okay to get lost. Whether that is true or not: DC is fecking confusing. We eventually found our way. The house and lawn were packed. We decided not to go in but mingled on the lawn. The senator came through, and I got a great photo of our group with him.

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[Mott House and pussy hats.]

As we walked toward the Capitol, we saw signs of the preparation the city had undergone in anticipation of our arrival. More than 200 people had been arrested in protests following the prior day's inauguration ceremony. The National Guard sat in armored vehicles alongside the road as we walked. We saw ranks of DC Police in riot gear lined up and ready to board a bus. Presumably for ... us? for counterprotesters? I remember one of our group posting to Facebook that she had to go into the march assuming the police were there for our protection. Faith as a last ditch against fear.

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It was a little unsettling. I know people who are crippled by fear of violence in public places. I once worked with a woman who would rarely attend any event where crowds would be present because she was terrified of mass shootings. I usually scoff at this kind of fear. I don't want to give hateful people that kind of power over my life and happiness. I often say that I am more likely to die in a car crash going to an event than to be killed by violence at the event itself. But more than once this week, I thought about the Boston Marathon bombing. I thought about what a tempting target we presented and how offensive our message was to so many groups of people who would take us back. I thought about the hateful rhetoric and the inciting of violence that have become acceptable because of Donald Trump and what that meant for us, people who are perceived by many of his supporters as taking something from them. I thought about what I would do if events went south and I got caught in something I never intended to be part of. Bobby made me take a bandanna in case teargas was used. I wondered what these rows of officers thought about us and the day ahead of them. I wondered how a mask and a uniform would separate our humanity from their own.

We made it to the Capitol. For many, this was their first time in DC and what a photogenic moment it presented! It was still early and the crowds were relatively small compared to what they'd become.

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By now, our journey had gone on for more than twelve hours. People had to pee. We were told that the bus bathroom was for emergencies only. We were many hours from our rest stop in Delaware. There was a bank of about ten port-a-potties and a line extending for the better part of a block to use them. The front of the Capitol was fenced off, and behind the fence, we could see the stage we'd watched on TV the day before--now empty: the crimson curtains, the trash and festoons discarded on the ground after a tepid Inauguration ... and hundreds of port-a-potties.

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[Waiting to pee.]

In one place, the port-a-potties butted right up against the fence. Women had begun climbing the fence to use them. A DC police officer came over and made them climb back over.

He was just doing his job, of course. That's how the minor indignities and life-shattering travesties committed under the guise of authority work. But the contrast between the lines waiting for the smattering of bathrooms and the trash-strewn inaugural emptiness and ranks of unused potties behind the fence was stark in that moment. I thought of the smiling guardswoman and wondered what the day held in store, which kind of world this would be.

We found a bank of port-a-potties in front of the Capitol with long-but-not-as-long of lines. I didn't have to go; I rarely pee at public events and can hold it quite a long time, like a pee!camel. So I held everyone's signs while they queued.

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[Our group queued for the loo with the Capitol still wearing the aftermath of the Inauguration in the background.]

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[Loo queue. I loved this girl and her sign. One of our group members brought her eleven-year-old daughter to the march. What an inspiration these young women are, what a reminder of why we march. Our world faces such challenges in the decades to come. They are not insurmountable, but we need everyone to be able to fully realize and exercise their potential in order to overcome those challenges.]

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On the Mall, we began to gather where the speakers and performers were to be. The crowds were already overwhelming, even this early in the day.

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[And the crowd gets thicker ...]

We waded into the crowd and gave reaching the stage a try. We could see scraps of a screen through the trees, and every now and then, the crowd would roar with approval at something that had been said or done on the stage. We never even saw the stage! We edged closer and closer and eventually just stopped. We were pressed elbow-to-elbow with other marchers. Eventually, we decided to try to cross the crowd to find a space near the back where we could comfortably stand together. There were fifteen of us, and maneuvering fifteen people across a crowd of this size while keeping everyone together is no small feat.

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It's impossible for me to communicate the intensity of that initial gathering. I've never experienced anything like it before. You'd start walking to reach a place where the crowd was thinner, then realize that the entire area was jam-packed like this.

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[This little boy's sign reads: "We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. -Dumbledore."]

I brought up the rear. My bright orange hat made me easy to see, and I am always least anxious when I can see the whole group is together and that no one has been lost. Several times, I would be separated from the group. One, then two, then five people would come between us. Then I wouldn't be able to see Ruth-Ann's matching orange hat and frustration would set in. It was that old feeling of my life here, when people become obstacles when, in their obliviousness, they kept me from where I wanted or needed to be.

Then I thought about what I was feeling and I tried something. I said to one of the people who stood between me and my group, "Can I squeeze past you? My group is up there, and I'd like to stay with them." And people not only moved but did so graciously, sacrificing their own advancement a half-step so that I could stay with my friends.

I've had this kind of moment on a march before. I remember marching with two friends of mine for marriage equality. At the time, I was so angry. I was so angry at what had been done, by the bigotry of others, to my family and to people I loved. A lot of that anger was directed toward Christianity. As hate breeds hate, my anger very often didn't discriminate. I said things then that shame me now. I was just angry at Christians. But walking through the streets of DC with my friends who had been denied their full civil rights for so long, we passed an Episcopal church, and the clergy came out on the porch in full regalia to wave rainbow flags and cheer us on. That was a powerful moment for me. I realized how wrong I had been. How unjust, in my quest for justice and my assumed righteous anger, I had been.

There were fifteen of us in our group from the Northeast Kingdom. For many, it was their first march; for some, it was their first time in DC. We went through the entire day without losing a single person. Part of that was our care and concern for each other: If we found a person was missing, we'd hold our signs high and yell "Caw-caw!" until the person was found. But part of that too was the kindness of others, who moved when we asked, who gave up their spaces so we could stay together, who moved so we could pass. At one point, I heard a man yell, "Let all the Vermonters get through!" and our entire group was allowed to pass through a crowd.

Once the march itself began, there were so many people that they overflowed from the march route and into the surrounding streets. One of our group suggested that the name Women's Wander would have been more appropriate! Our group held to the route, then wandered into a park where we could see the White House and give it the finger, then wandered back onto the route. Although the event was termed the Women's March on Washington, the chants and signs spanned issues from welcoming immigrants and refugees to LGBTQ+ issues to Black Lives Matter to combating racism, xenophonia, and Islamophobia. The prevailing sense was one of inclusivity. No one walks alone. Threats to your safety and humanity are threats to my safety and humanity.

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[Marching past the First Amendment on the side of the Newseum. Fitting.]

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I feel like so often our modern world creates the illusion of competition and separateness so that everything from getting a raise at work to getting a close parking spot becomes an opportunity to pit yourself against the person nearest to you. I join philosophers across history in asking if this is "human nature" or is it something else at work?

One of the reasons I embrace feminism as a core of my beliefs is that I believe that welcoming women and a feminine approach to solving the world's problems will reduce this mindless, throat-cutting competition that distracts and besieges us and has been the province of history largely made by men. The march showed me what that other approach might look like. A million people crammed into a small space and the civility, the kindness were apparent and even overwhelming. It was the moment when I realized that if I stopped viewing the people around me as obstacles and potential competitors for space and asked for their help, then they would usually give it. (Actually, they always did.)

It seems a very feminine approach to me to believe that we are succeeding as a society when as many people as possible are succeeding, rather than measuring success by what we've personally amassed onto ourselves and how much better and more deserving we think we are than others.

One of the latest right-wing talking points is to accuse Obama of "divisiveness." Given that I'd wager that at least 95% of marchers yesterday were Obama supporters (or would have been if they'd been able to vote), I'm not sure, coming out of the march, how one can see Obama as divisive. If anything, it was the precise opposite of divisive. It welcomed everyone, and the issues represented extended well beyond those affecting only women, despite being ostensibly a "women's march." What seems to be mistaken for "divisiveness" is an unwillingness to accept maligning a group of people as scapegoats for the ever-growing consolidation of wealth and privilege onto the already overprivileged. As a person living in an overwhelmingly white and poor part of the country, I have so much sympathy for people sidelined in the frantic grab for ever-greater profits by the rich and corporations, but it's hard to stand beside people whose first response is to point at immigrants or the poor as the reason for their own misfortune rather than those who actually took from them. If that makes me divisive, then so be it, that I refuse to stand for ideas that are at their core divisive. And I do hope that we reach a point where these people will look at the people they hate so much and realize that we have more in common than we don't, and they will also join our movement for equal opportunity for all.

Around 6 o'clock, we prepared to depart from DC, footsore and exhausted. The day had held the kinds of stresses one associates with large crowds--and by all measures, crowds well exceeded the most generous estimates I'd seen of potential attendance: long lines, pressing crowds, the constant stress of watching out for each other and staying together, not enough access to food, physical exhaustion, and even pain. As an introvert, I was emotionally wiped out as well. But when I looked back, none of those things mattered as much as the sense of inclusivity and kindness that I'd experienced throughout the day.

After miles of walking and poor choice of socks, my wonky foot was really hurting. I decided to take the half-hour walk back to the bus slowly, and Emily walked with me. Back through that residential neighborhood, people played music from speakers in their windows. A pastor stood in the street and offered departing marchers the opportunity to use the bathrooms in his church before getting back on their buses home. A woman and her little boy handed out cups of water. A pair of young women stood on the corner and thanked us for coming.

This was DC? Heartless, cutthroat DC where I once dreaded having to go because of the nastiness and rudeness of its people?

DC police were staged at every crossing, directing traffic so that we could cross safely on our way back to our buses. With the inauguration and march back-to-back it was obvious that they were more exhausted than we were. Yet we spoke to them and they smiled; we all talked and laughed as traffic passed. We wished each other a good night and passed from each other's lives.

Is a kinder, more just world possible? For a day, it was. For a day, people spoke up for their values and seemingly committed themselves to acting on those values as well. For a day, we opened our hearts to everyone; we committed and accepted kindnesses small and large. We spoke up for each other. But we also looked up and acknowledged and spoke to each other. We assumed the best in people rather than seeing others as obstacles, as objects.

We go home now and have to take the momentum from the march into further action. We ask ourselves what is possible. It was a day for me to see an ideal become reality. So now we ask ourselves, "For a day? Or ...?"

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

  • What a marvelous summary and sharing. I'm so proud of you, and everyone who was able to participate.
    • ^_^ Thank you! This took hours to write, and I'm still not sure it says everything I want to say how I want to say it, but it's a start. It was a life-changing day, to be sure.
  • The pictures are great. I saw so many great pics online yesterday that seem to project exactly the kind of energy you are talking about above. I am so glad you enjoyed it and came away with a positive feeling. I am glad I did not go. As much as I would have liked to have been there, I could not have remained on my feet without a break for more than an hour or gone without a bathroom much longer!

    That description of the unused/unreachable port-a-potties was painful! Kind of reminds me of when I first moved to NYC and had to walk with Laura from the subway to our house every night past tons of people eating fabulous meals at sidewalk cafes in the Village and even buying fast food from food trucks when we were broke and going home to rice and canned beans or peanut butter and bargain-bin whole wheat bread. I bet plenty of people who voted for Trump do not believe that employed relatively well-paid workers can be that desperate for food in this society and live one paycheck away from homelessness. That's America folks. The class divide gets deeper and wider.

    Speaking of that kind of thing. There are so many people who cannot live without a car and public transportation sucks. (And I am not talking about people like you who live in rural areas, but those living in villages, towns, and small cities across this country with no transportation outside of their own vehicle. This country is fucked up.) Alex said to me yesterday, "but he cannot take the money away from public schools!" And I said, "just watch him! When I was a kid we had major arts funding, band with school-provided musical instruments, theater productions of good plays, both musical and dramatic works, three or four times a year." And Alex says, "Wow!!"

    I am woefully underinformed about what will happen with the health care situation now--I suppose I will have to do my research. Alex and I are both covered under some form of Obamacare. I know mine sucks--I cannot afford the co-pays, but it's certainly better than nothing.

    So happy the march energized you. I have a feeling that energy will be needed over the next period, unless we get lucky and he gets impeached for his total disregard for the law in any way that it might apply to him--like conflict of interest and total disregard for the truth.

    Sorry! Sorry! Sorry! There is a reason I did not immediately respond to this post. I did not know if I could control myself. I'm angry. I am happy that people moved themselves yesterday. My immediate family doing so including my kids, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, etc., participating in demos in San Francisco, Oakland, Fort Worth, Chicago, D.C., NYC, Charlotte, NC, and Indianapolis. Some very surprising places had significant demos--like Charlotte, Indianapolis, and Fort Worth.

    • I am glad I did not go.

      Physically, it was one of the most arduous things I've done. I ate a ClifBar around 7 AM and had maybe three sips of water throughout the day, then didn't eat again till about 5:30. It was the only part of the day that seemed completely and badly planned out, that the march didn't start till 1 and there was no food at the starting point where the rally was! A group of us went into the National Gallery to try to bring out food for everyone (staying outside to watch our signs, which they would not let us bring in), only to be told that we could remove nothing--not even a cup of coffee--from the food court. By the time we started encountering food trucks, the march was underway and getting to them would have been like swimming against a rip current.

      A friend of mine messaged me on FB, sounding regretful that he did not go too; I think he felt a little bad because I marched for marriage equality with him. But I told him that I would have never expected it. He would not have done well! It was a rough day!

      I bet plenty of people who voted for Trump do not believe that employed relatively well-paid workers can be that desperate for food in this society and live one paycheck away from homelessness.

      I read and loved this today, which makes a similar point.

      I never get the opposition of middle-class people to a government safety net. They act like they're more likely to become millionaires than to need food stamps or Medicaid when the exact opposite is true. I tell people sometimes that I accept that I might need "welfare" someday. They look at me funny, but plenty of people whose lives it saves also never thought they'd need it!

      public transportation sucks

      My dealings with the DC Metro--which we ended up not even using--reminded me of this.

      what will happen with the health care situation now

      OMG, I don't even know. I'm very frightened for people. A lot of people I care about will be directly and significantly impacted by this.

      It is beyond me that the party that bleats about being "pro-life" is about to rip health coverage out from under 18 million pairs of feet. I am open to fixing problems with the ACA. I am the first to say it is far from perfect legislation. (Although I say that because I want single-payer, which I doubt encompasses the Republican opposition. ;) No one seems to remember the days of "pre-existing conditions" or "lifetime caps" or $60,000 out-of-pocket pregnancies or the kinds of shenanigans when a person would get cancer and be kicked off her insurance for failing to disclose that she got zits as a teenager. How short memories are.

      But then we're also just eight years past the presidency of the last Electoral College-appointed clown, and here's another one that's even worse, and the scary kind of clown too, like one in a Stephen King novel.

      Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!

      Don't be sorry! I'm angry too. And frightened. And trying very hard to be hopeful and do something proactive to sustain that hope.

      I cannot imagine how you feel. You've been fighting your whole life for these same things. I saw a lot of women yesterday carrying signs that said, "I can't believe I'm still marching for this shit." I thought of you!
    • Thanks for the link. I had not seen that piece. It is very moving and painfully accurate.

      I haven't been to nearly as many marches on Washington as I have been to ones in San Francisco. I got plenty excited today to read on my Facebook and in news articles how many places there were with big demos that usually are not centers of protest. Indianapolis had 10,000. That seems like a small-time turnout by SF, or NYC, or DC numbers, but, wow! Indiana is Pence territory.

      I keep telling myself that I came to consciousness in the 1950s and vaguely recall the McCarthy hearings rattling in the background on our first TV set and it scaring adults around me. I remember when I was a little kid my father talking about how Eisenhower was the big business president and his cabinet was made up of union-busting CEOs. I remember Ronald Reagan getting elected, the freakish governor of California who attacked demonstrators at UC Berkeley when I was a student there and placed the entire city under martial law with tear gas-spraying helicopters and riot police shooting people in the streets and killing one. It's not like I haven't lived through bad stuff before. The mythology of my childhood passed onto to me from older people was all about what it was like surviving the Great Depression when my grandmother talked about giving leftover from dinner to hobos who approached her backdoor from the railroad tracks and asked for food. People did survive (although not without a lot of lives and potential lost).

      I do not know why this guy scares me so much. I think it is partly his total lack of civility, run-of-mill manners, ewww!--he's just so gross! I would not want to find myself in the same room with him--god only knows what he might do--grab a woman by the crotch? Make fun of a disabled person? I saw a photo of George W. Bush smiling in a photo on Friday at the inauguration and the caption said, "He's grinning because he is no longer the worst president we ever had." I kind of chuckled at that. Nothing about Trump makes me laugh!

      Enough! We'll probably get through this--not all of us, but hopefully, with a lot of effort and more action, most of us.
      • I grew up in the opposite type of family. My parents were completely apolitical. They weren't registered to vote and didn't watch the news ... okay, they did. They watched the weather. I didn't really understand the differences between Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, until I was in high school.

        I was galvanized by concern for the environment and then animal rights when I was a preteen and young teen. My parents, to their credit, always supported me in that. You know I kind of fell accidentally into advocacy for disadvantaged kids, but I'm eternally glad I did (even if it meant that I had to suffer through the school I did--that was also eye-opening and therefore necessary).

        I detest the sudden affection and longing for GWB. (I know that's not what you're doing, but other liberals are!) Like, "I realize now that Bush wasn't so bad, why did I think he was so bad??" Because he was so bad!! The fact that he appears to be a step up from something is a testament to how low we've fallen.
    • I bet plenty of people who voted for Trump do not believe that employed relatively well-paid workers can be that desperate for food in this society and live one paycheck away from homelessness.

      That's me and my husband. We are well aware that disaster is just a step away. If either of us lands in the hospital we will lose our home. An earthquake could render our home uninhabitable. There are lots of things that could happen.

      I cannot fathom the attitude that we don't need safety nets in America, that everyone should be just fine and be able to always pull themselves up by their bootstraps--and if they can't then there is something wrong with them.

      But age, illness and natural disaster do not discriminate. Even the wealthiest or youngest or most powerful can be laid low by them.

      They need to remember that.
      • I partly blame this myth we have of the American Dream. I remember a Republican presidential candidate (Marco Rubio?) once remarking that "Americans" don't drive through wealthy neighborhoods and envy what they don't have; they say, "I'll be joining you soon!"

        No they won't! The barriers against moving upward out of the middle class have been raised so high as to be nearly insurmountable. I have no delusions that Bobby and I--are pair of teachers in rural Vermont--will ever be millionaires. (Not that we want to be!) But a lot of people really and truly believe that they're more likely to acquire wealth than to need welfare. I used to hear it all the time with my students in Baltimore, who didn't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of, yet used to talk with confidence about the cars and jewelry and houses they would have when they were rich. How were they going to become rich? NFL, NBA, rapper, music producer ... the only problem was that there was there was no recognition of there being any steps between where they were and their American Dream. Seniors, for example, who imagined becoming NBA stars and never played more than an occasional game of pickup ball.

        I tell people all the time that they need to come to grips with the fact that they are far more likely to need a social safety net than they are to become rich. They scoff at this. What a negative Nelly to suggest that they might get sick or have a house fire or lose their job and need food stamps or Medicaid! What a negative Nelly that I don't believe they will become instantaneously and magically rich, just because they want to.

        But this magical thinking too means that they fight against the disadvantaged--perceived as being weak, lazy, unresourceful--and defend the rights of the upper class that they imagine lounging among some day. That's the sickest part of all.
        • I loved the link to the article you gave me, the response about why one woman did march for other women.

          I think sometimes that people need to have experienced at least one traumatic loss in their lives to cure them of thinking bad things only happen to other people and good things are going to automatically come to them one day.

          And even many people who have it hard, who do live just barely paycheck to paycheck still voted for Trump because they believed that since he made his billions his wealth and luck would spill over on them. (I have heard this out of their own mouths.)

          Right now, we have Obamacare, although the deductible is too high to use, it's there in case of catastrophe. If we can hold out until our birthdays this year, we will have Medicare. But both of us were really sick last week--it would have been good to be able to afford a simple office visit. Right now, we are living on SS and our little part-time jobs. If the DH should lose his for any reason, we will be in serious financial trouble. We have house insurance, but not earthquake insurance. Even if we could afford it, it wouldn't help--we've looked into the terms, and they won't pay out for anything less than catastrophic damage and the deductible is too high to make using it feasible anyway. My husband no longer has life insurance, so if something should happen to him, I would likely lose our home. We don't have a 401K or an IRA.

          We are not unusual. Ten years ago the DH was making a very good salary and had great benefits. But now that we are older, we have gradually lost our personal safety net and are relying on the ones the gov't has set up for us. Trump and his crowd want to take that away from us and everyone else who needs one.

          Sometimes I see customers behind one of my elderly customers. A little old lady who has to count out pennies dug from the bottom of her purse to pay for her loaf of bread and half-gallon of milk gets impatient eyerolls from the person behind her. And perish forbid if one of the fortunate few should be behind someone using the EBT (formerly known as food stamps), because they always have comments about welfare afterward.

          Until it happens to them, and they find themselves in the same predicament.

          A couple of years ago when the oil prices dropped precipitously, I had previously highly paid oilfield workers coming in to use their newly acquired foodstamp cards. They were always embarrassed. I reminded them they had paid taxes for years, that they were now entitled to put those taxes to their own use. Most of them said they had never thought of it that way before.

          My main hope is that we can rid ourselves of the new administration in four years. I am more disillusioned than ever and we are not even a week into Trump's term.

          Just two days after he was inaugurated, we've had several natural disasters resulting in loss of life--and we haven't even heard a peep about them out of him. He's too busy trying to prove his crowds were bigger and his vote was more than it already was, if we'd only listen to his "alternative facts".

          Even Dubya knew that things like fires, tornadoes or hurricanes called for a presidential condolence message.

  • That sounds amazing. Thanks for being a part of it--I was surprised how much the news and images of the marches and rallies lifted my mood yesterday. I think I actually teared up at some of the "images from around the world" type galleries.
    • I had tears in my eyes so many times during that day. And once we were back on the bus and had cell service again, and reports started coming in of the sister marches all around the world ... yes, it was a pretty moving day.
  • Thanks so much for all of the pictures and that great, inclusive post. I had many friends throughout the nation walking in various marches from Seattle and Portland to Santa Fe to Austin, Saint Paul, Chicago and you, in DC. Everyone I know was inspired by the experience.

    You asked, what comes next? The organizers of the Women's March also asked that question and came up with the next step: 10 actions for the first 100 days (link: https://www.womensmarch.com/100/ ) I do think it is vitally important to keep this momentum going - to keep those communication lines open and to make our voices voices heard and acknowledged as a powerful unit in our world.

    Women tend to stand back, to work in the background to make things work efficiently and to step out of the spotlight. Well, we made ourselves the center of the spotlight on Saturday and showed that we were a force to be considered. Let's not lose this momentum.

    Congratulations to you and all of the other walkers. I wish I had been able to join you, but since I allowed my Assistant Manager to march, I had to work. I will always regret not having been able to participate, but I haven't mastered the art of being in two places at the same time.

    BTW - your sign absolutely ROCKED! I've already shown it to several friends - it was beautiful and I loved the quotation.

    - Erulisse (one L)
    • Thank you for the link! I will be doing those ten things. We weren't even back from Washington for a quarter of a day and our nasty women group was lighting up with ideas for further activism and action. Two of our group attended a legislative breakfast the very next morning; Bobby and I and several other nasty women have reserved spots in an upcoming community organizer training for the Northeast Kingdom.

      We are half of the world! More than half! I don't kid myself that "woman" is in and of itself a unifying identity--there's A LOT of diversity in that more-than-half--and that we all share the same interests and needs, but dammit, we have a lot of power. I hope Saturday is a harbinger of our willingness to recognize and tap into that.
  • One of the reasons I embrace feminism as a core of my beliefs is that I believe that welcoming women and a feminine approach to solving the world's problems will reduce this mindless, throat-cutting competition that distracts and besieges us and has been the province of history largely made by men. The march showed me what that other approach might look like.

    Absolutely. I was watching pictures come in on Facebook and Tumblr with complete awe. What an incredible experience to be part of! Thank you for sharing it with us :)
    • Aww, you're welcome!

      Once we were back on the bus and had cell service again--there were so many of us in DC that cell service was all but nonexistent--the reports of the sister marches started coming in. Wow. Simply amazing. Our sister march here in Montpelier, Vermont's capital, was so big that they had to shut down the highway because there was simply no more room in the city for more cars bringing more marchers, and they were backed up on the highway, trying to get in.
  • There is so much to be said that I usually feel overwhelmed, flounder and end up not saying anything at all - but you said so much about the things that most of us are thinking which is an awesome undertaking. I'm proud of you for doing this - going on the march, taking such evocative pictures, writing about the experience with such eloquence. You and all the others who participated deserve commendations. By now you've probably seen the photos from all around the world where people went on similar marches - I saw one from a very small place with a population of approx. 350 where 50 people marched and were proud to have done it! Kudos to those brave souls.

    All the signs are great - yours is beautiful - but my favourite has to be "Now you've pissed off Grandma".
    • I did quite a bit of floundering in this post. It took hours to write! There was so much I wanted to share and wanted to say, and I realized early on that I could only say a fraction of it. I settled on making my message the idea that a better world is possible, and this extends from the big issues--like recognizing that "the other" are also human beings and feeling obligated to stand up when they're threatened or harmed--to the very small things, like stopping to recognize that the woman directing traffic is a human too and has been on her feet for twelve hours in the chilly damp. And treating her like a person--not an inconvenience, not an obstacle--really isn't very hard to do.

      I don't feel like I was brave, nor do I think I deserve commendations. In other countries? Even other cities in the U.S.? Yes, those women (and their allies!) were brave. I have seen on social media the kinds of cruelty these people will face in their real lives. For me, I was easily able to afford it, my job as a teacher meant I didn't have to take a single day off of work, and the march itself turned out to be completely safe. And I work in a place where people were eager to hear about my experiences and I don't have to fear repercussions for speaking my mind. A lot of women will.

      I loved the "pissed off Grandma" sign too! That belonged to the youngest marcher in our group, just eleven years old. She was an inspiration to us all!
  • Thank you. Just… thank you.

    It's wonderful to see an in-depth write-up not from a journalist. And the photos. Love the photos.

    What seems to be mistaken for "divisiveness" is an unwillingness to accept maligning a group of people as scapegoats for the ever-growing consolidation of wealth and privilege onto the already overprivileged.

    I think "divisiveness" is also being unable and unwilling to accept that people are pointing things out that other people don't want to see or think about, so the mere act of pointing them out is seen as trouble. The old mentality that things that aren't talked about aren't problems, in other words.
    • You're welcome! I'm glad the post resonated. ^_^ It was hard to write!

      the mere act of pointing them out is seen as trouble.

      Yes! This takes me back to the Bush years, when questioning things like the Iraq War were seen as "un-American" acts. There is a disturbing tendency on the right to silence criticism under the auspices that it is somehow a threat when free exchange of ideas is and always has been a cornerstone of democracy. It makes one wonder what these people really want?

      (I am not naive to the fact that the left has its share of censors. I think the the censorship of ideas, though, tends to belong to a much smaller contingent of the left. What is often labeled "censorship" by the right really isn't much more than asking people to exercise basic decency, i.e., not addressing others with slurs.)

      I've also noticed--and I'd be interested on your take since you're much more in the snakepit than I am--that the right is very good at dishing it out but absolutely unable to take it. I keep asking myself if I somehow dreamed the last eight years. Did I dream the obstructionism, the unending criticism of Obama and his family, the ad hominem attacks, the racially charged language and attacks? I am so effing sick of hearing "give him a chance" for many reasons but not least of all because the people saying that weren't willing to give Obama a chance at all. And he was actually, um, elected? And not a Russian puppet, sex offender, etc?
      • There is a disturbing tendency on the right to silence criticism under the auspices that it is somehow a threat when free exchange of ideas is and always has been a cornerstone of democracy. It makes one wonder what these people really want?

        A return to the Old Times that never really existed. Also that people are just making things up (such as being trans) or being too sensitive. That things should be as they always were. Racism, for example: it's not that they disagree that racism is wrong; it's that they don't see racism how the left does-- that's it's not structural but individual. And racists are people in the KKK and the like, not ordinary Americans.

        I've also noticed--and I'd be interested on your take since you're much more in the snakepit than I am--that the right is very good at dishing it out but absolutely unable to take it.


        I think there's a lot that goes into it, but it basically sums up as (and you probably know this): They view the election results as a referendum on liberalism. By having control of both the presidency and Congress (and soon-to-be the Supreme Court), they can reject those things. And they don't understand why people can't see that because the conservatives won, the conservatives are right. It’s why Trump is so focused on framing the popular vote as voter fraud (well, apart from his ego): the popular vote is proof of the opposite.

        So when people complain, the right is reacting from a position of “we technically won, but the majority of voters didn’t vote for us, but really, if they just give us a chance we can prove ourselves right and they’ll love us.” And like most people, they don’t like their negative tactics turned back on them. Hypocrites, in other words. And they likely don’t see themselves as such because they were fighting for their worldview, so those tactics are okay.

        I am so effing sick of hearing "give him a chance"

        I actually did give Trump a chance. He lost it with his cabinet nominees. I didn’t need for him to be actually president to decide that.

        And he was actually, um, elected?

        Trump was elected by the standard in our Constitution. He is the legitimate winner. Do I think there are major problems with him losing the popular vote and the Russian interference? YES. But he did win. Saying otherwise is not going to help anything.
  • What a wonderful story of your amazing day! I was definitely with you in spirit!

    Thank you SO much for sharing with us! ((((hugs))))

    I'm so glad you were safe and returned safely home.
    • Thank you! You were with me in spirit. I stopped several times throughout the day and whispered the names of women who I knew wanted to be there but couldn't go. Quite a few fandom friends were on that list. :)

      *hugs back*
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