Due Process

I un-followed a Canadian author who helped shape my identity as a human and as a creator. I un-followed her because of a letter she signed. To be clear (because no small statement is ever clear) I did not un-follow her forever. My feed is an ebb and flow of the things I enjoy, the things that give me hope and the things I hope to know. My feed serves me. That’s why it’s mine. I may find, in the near future, that reading her small, instant words feeds me. For now, I’m choking on it. I also did not un-follow her simply because she took a political or personal action I disagree with. She has built up enough good faith as a creator that I see no need to view the world through a lens identical to hers. I un-followed her because it hurt.

Two words she threw out like a casual sprinkling of flavour on a massive meal: Due process.

I am a sexual assault survivor. I am a multiple sexual assault survivor. In almost every case, it was a man who held cross-sections of power attempting to or succeeding at misusing my physical and emotional form because they could.

When I started to realize – well into my teens – that what had happened to me was, indeed, against our presumed social contract, I began the process of seeking my due.

Due process simply means fair treatment in the judicial system. Not only fair treatment for the person who stands accused, but for the person who stands destroyed. Too visceral? Too emotional? Probably.

Here is due process to a person who has been raped, sexually abused or sexually assaulted:

1

Tell someone. This person may be yourself. Often that’s the first person you tell. If you are young, you may tell yourself after a book or a flyer in your school or an episode of Degrassi confirms that the tearing and ripping inside you is not an anomaly, but a reaction. There’s an overt message that you are not alone in numbers, but 1000 subtle messages that you are probably alone regardless. If you are an adult, telling yourself can happen during, or just after or years later. It can happen when you do that math inside your head that says if I scream he will kill me or if I just make it to the end it will be over and she will leave. Math is a process. Math figures out how much more they have to weigh than you to hold you down. Turns out, it’s not that much. It is not fair that this is how you must talk to yourself, but neither is it judicial, so we will pass this step.

2

Tell another someone. Maybe a friend. Maybe using code words. In my case, it was a guidance counselor. She was not the first person I told, but she was the first to break the code. There is a good chance that the person you tell will not believe you. They may try to find a way to show that it was your fault. This is about you, but it’s also not about you. It’s about constructing a safe cocoon of control that says I would not have made those choices so it would not happen to me or I did something similar once and I am not a villain. Sometimes they will believe you, but since they have spent a same lifetime watching dashing men on film win women over by hands-over-ears ignoring their nos and stops and I mean stops, they will wonder if it isn’t just the way things are. This is also not fair. Now that you have told someone, we may be drifting into the judicial. After all, everyone you tell, even your diary or your mother, can be called up later to testify. That’s the process. Maybe it’s better to say nothing at all, and to smile in pictures at picnics, but then, those pictures may also be called to testify. Anyone/thing you tell is likely to come back at you. This blog could come back at me. Every time we speak, we give a piece of ourselves to that process that we cannot take back with honest words. Words are not proof.

3

Tell the police. Go to the police. We use ‘the’ with police because everyone knows what you mean. No need to give qualifiers, adjectives. They are the police. The police with candies at parades and dirty looks when you walk in groups with other people from school. The police who, perhaps, look more like your assailant than you. Here the process comes due. If you have made it to this part in the process, you are one of only 6 out of 100. 94 out of 100 people chose to stop at step 1 or step 2. You sit in a room or curl up in a ball in a room or pretend you are not in a room and try to take something that is bigger than any part of you and break it down small enough that it will fit on a piece of paper that can go in a file in a drawer or on a computer and maybe turn into fair treatment in the judicial system. If this outcome were common, there would be more than 6 of you. It is not common. Numbers show that. Stories show that. Rooms full of women secure that no one is listening show that. Our arms and our medications and our nervous ticks show that.

4

There are two ways this step in the process can go. You may find, like I did, like a fall from a high height that lands you square on your back, that the last step takes all the wind out of you. It is okay if your process ends here. The next step involves lawyers. Lawyers are people who went to school for a very long time to study a system created before most folks could vote or own property or avoid being property. An apple tree can grow a thousand ways, but it’s still an apple tree. Until we plant something new, this is our only apple tree. This apple tree sucks. People will tell you to have faith in it. They may point to new branches that have grown since you were considered a person. They may say that the roots are strong enough to maintain us through change. That is bullshit. Only 1 out of 65 of us will see fruit from this tree and that fruit is often small and full of worms. Have I lost you? Anyone who tells you that you should not have feelings until due process is served is choosing not to see that no matter how nobly an idea may grow, it is only by its fruit that we can truly judge it. There is no fucking fruit.

5

Some people may think that the previous step is the last one in the process, but there is another. This is a step we take when we’ve exhausted one of the previous steps and found that, no matter what the promise of fairness is, the social contract we have signed has crap clauses. It has the clause that wealthy people and famous people and popular people and really any people can still succeed, no matter what they do to us. They can be free. They can be loved. They can be president. It has a clause that says we are to stay very, very silent no matter what happens, unless the tree gives us grand, ripe fruit. They do not point out the very small text that says it rarely does – and then usually when very pretty and convincing humans with pristine pasts and no scars point at very mean looking humans and say, “it was them!” So what do we do? We hold our hand to our mouth and with a theater aside, we whisper our stories in quiet spaces. We write maudlin poetry and carve lyrics on our bellies. We cry when we masturbate and flinch at gentle touches. We sometimes throw the contract out and shout and shout and shout, only to be met, finally, by a two words that I can no longer bear:

Due process.

Henry Rollins, Rape and the End of the World

Thanks to my brother-in-law’s wild life touring with the Trews, he wasn’t able to use his fifth row tickets to see Henry Rollins‘ spoken word performance at the Music Hall. My love and I were happy to step up and take one for the team, putting the tickets to good use.

I’ll start with a confession. I am NOT punk rock. Not even a little. I don’t gel with the music and I’m not edgy. I apparently didn’t get the dress code memo that black t-shirts were the required uniform.  I wore a horned Loki sweater to the event. But my love has listened to Rollins’ spoken word albums since we met over 20 years ago and Rollins’ books of poetry and performances in works like He Never Died speak to me on a weirdly personal level.

IMG_2191.JPGStill, I had never seen him live and I’d never listened to his bands. I expected I’d be going on a night that my love really enjoyed and his joy would make the night wonderful. After some waiting, Rollins took the stage. He wrapped the mic cord around his hand, took a deep breath, and spoke like a machine gun on auto-load for two hours and twenty five minutes.

Here’s the thing about me. I’m old. I mean, I’m not Pop’s Soda Shoppe old, but I remember when plaid was king and orange and brown were considered a reasonable colour scheme for a living room. While I talk about my trauma on my blog, for the most part I go through the world like a normal human being. I smile at jokes. I read books on the bus. I watch cheesy movies. I pass for normal. Unless you speak to me and I’m open about it, nothing about me screams ABUSE AND RAPE SURVIVOR. Yes I have PTSD, but generally I’m pretty good at keeping my symptoms to myself. I camouflage. I blend.

Still, as Rollins progressed through his talk, it was like he was dancing on every one of my triggers. He talked about his friend RuPaul. Weirdly, RuPaul’s autobiography was the first book I bought when considering that I might be queer. He talked about global warming and the end of the world. He talked about how music gave him proxy parents, musicians who spoke to him in ways his own parents couldn’t, when he needed to be understood. He talked about being the weird, spazzy kid whose brain worked differently than other people’s. He even talked about misogyny, homophobia and racism, problems that hit close to my heart – an organ I don’t always protect like I should.

So yeah. I cried a few times as he raced through his anecdotes. I was watching a dude at the front of the room be honest and beautiful and real and it tore me up. Here was a guy at almost all the intersections of privilege, choosing to challenge every advantage he had and to be naked in the face of scorn. I dug it.

When he talked about his discovery of punk, I found a place where our paths diverged.He was looking for music that spoke to the anger he felt, his base emotion being rage at the world around him. When I discovered music, I didn’t go that way. Rage wasn’t a colour in my palette. Anger wasn’t an emotion I had permission to feel. So instead, I reached for sorrow. I gravitated to blues and folk, to R&B and soul. In tunes about lost loves and do-wrong partners, I found my companions. Sure, their loss was of a different flavour to mine, but it still spoke of heartache and destruction. I remember the first time I heard Joplin’s Cry Baby. Hell, I knew it was a sin, but I loved the way she wept in tune. I loved the way she bellowed pain. Here was my avatar.

As I aged, I discovered Janis Ian and Ma Rainey and Odetta and Joan Armatrading and Buffy Sainte-Marie. Damn, but those women could wail. Rather than anger, I immersed myself in sorrow and I survived.

img_2192Near the end of Rollins’ set, he told a story about a young woman who waited outside one of his shows, seeking an autograph. As a storyteller, he told her story. He talked about her rape. He talked about her experience with not being believed, about how her rapist was allowed to share space with her – to smile at her – because she was not believed. By this point, I was weeping silently. It would not do to weep loudly or burn the feeling down. He talked about her suicide attempts and her cutting. He talked about her attachment to his music, how it gave her more of a voice for her anger.

That’s when, despite it all, I felt hope. She wasn’t like me, attaching meaning to the blues. She saw her reality in a genre that felt anger and expressed it. She had found a connection to a genre that demanded that anger be seen, acknowledged and felt.

She raged.

I was shaking.

Rollins ended his set and left the stage. All my nerves were activated, all my sense peaked. I knew I couldn’t push my way through a crowd, a press of bodies, to get to an exit. Still, I sing the blues. I do not rage. I sat and waited for the crowd to pass.

Then a security guard, a uniformed man standing a good foot over me, came over and tried to hurry me up. As always, words caught in my throat and ideas stammered through my head like unruly passengers. I needed to wait until the crowd cleared. After all that exploration, I couldn’t leave through a crowd. Not yet. He raised his voice, impatient with what I’m sure he saw as my impertinence, an accusation a woman doesn’t escape until she meets soil and headstone. I managed words, as the crowd waiting for the VIP Q&A started to gawk at the scene developing by them.

“If you give me a moment, I can explain. Just come over here.”

I knew he wouldn’t understand unless I explained. Still, 100 strangers didn’t need to know my life. For me, electing to tell my story only when I wanted had helped me find my voice. Being cornered into it didn’t appeal.

The guard would have none of it. He was brisk. He had a job to do. I was in the way. Still, I waited. I took breaths. I waited and eventually I left.

I thought about what Rollins had told the woman who had come to his show. He had asked her if people had been telling her, of her rape experience, that it would pass. Of course, they had. Rollins had explained to her that this was probably not the case. It would live inside her, like an energy. It wouldn’t pass. It rarely does. But it was an energy she could harness. As I walked home, I thought about this. I thought about the energy that, after all this time, still takes up space in my body. It wearies me. It has changed the lens through which I see the world. I thought about the space it occupies and the shockwaves I still feel, decades later, when a man on stage talks about abuse and rape and falling apart.

I know he’s right. It hasn’t gone away, no matter what people promised. It’s here inside me. So I do what I can. I describe it. I examine it. I am honest with it and about it. I write even if no one reads. I write because it spreads the energy out. I write because I can.

Goodnight

SLNSW_10716_2UW_Audition_StudioIf me and you
You and me
Met face to face
Each in our space
There are chances
All the chances
That we would have felt uncomfortable

We would have left with nothing
Left with nothing
Left to show for it

But I met you through melody
Through songs that melted into me
Through songs I heard but could not see
Through words you wrote instinctively

And so I guess I know you some
And so I cry a little bit
I cry a bit
I cry for it
For ends and counting infinite
I count the rhythm of the step
You take away from all of this
You take away your time, your kiss
Goodnight sweet prince
I tell you this
The music can be solid, sure
In a way you never were
The music can be sure

And the silence can endure

by Heather Emme

To read all the #verseday poems, click here. To read my twitter poems, click here.

Self-Pity, Survival and Stephen Fry

Folks are frustrated, and rightfully so, by comments made by clever humourist and all around very-British-guy Stephen Fry. Since I admire him, I took the time to watch the entire interview with Dave Rubin of The Rubin Report. At about 12 minutes, it is a heavy, though glibly unbound conversation. It delves into imperialism, liberalism, philosophy, pop culture and, the topic that set off so many comments, child abuse.

The quote most often called out was this one, tied to a conversation about the “regressive left” and trigger warning on campus, a topic I’ve written about before:

‘They’re terrible things and they have to be thought about, clearly, but if you say you can’t watch this play, you can’t watch Titus Andronicus, you can’t read it in an English class, or you can’t watch Macbeth because it’s got children being killed in it, it might trigger something when you were young that upset you once, because uncle touched you in a nasty place, well I’m sorry. It’s a great shame and we’re all very sorry that your uncle touched you in that nasty place – you get some of my sympathy – but your self-pity gets none of my sympathy. Self-pity is the ugliest emotion in humanity. Get rid of it, because no one’s going to like you if you feel sorry for yourself. The irony is we’ll feel sorry for you, if you stop feeling sorry for yourself. Grow up.’

I certainly don’t begrudge Mr. Fry his own idea that self-pity is the ugliest emotion, though I would likely have given it to hateful rage or that impulse that causes people to hurt children in the first place. However, as an adult who was once that child, I’d like to examine the emotion he calls self-pity.

Urizen_and_AhaniaTo begin with, I do pity my child self. When I was living the experience, I did not have a name for it. I didn’t even know that it was wrong, though I knew it lit my nerves on fire and made me cry for what I thought was no reason. I was young the first time I injured myself, trying to straighten out the confusion in my skull. I was in the eight grade and I slammed my finger in a door, breaking it, requiring me to wear a brace while it healed. The abuse was ongoing at that point. The pain was good for calming the random firing in my brain, focusing it in on one point. I discovered cutting was more effective and easier to hide. I did that too. Still, I felt no pity for myself. I did not see that I had been a victim. In a way, my experience of my own pain was feral.

This went on until I was out on my own, still a teenager. I had a guidance counselor at  my fourth high school. She was one of the first people who introduced me to the idea that I had been wronged. It was a shift. I could feel it internally. I had gone from crash position, existing in the shock of the moment, to something slightly removed. I saw myself from the outside – and yes, I deserved pity.

But self-pity is an early stage of something very valuable – self care. Pity was the start of the movement away from continuing to hurt myself, as I had been taught, toward allowing myself space to see my own hurt and tend to it. That I monitor what I take in; make informed decisions based on content, that is self-care. I make this decision with a great deal of thought, allowing myself as much exposure to amazing and varied content as I can.

My self-care also involves turning my brain off to enjoy a good superhero film, something else Mr. Fry derides in this same interview as proof of the infantilizing of our culture. I find this a bit odd, as he earlier praises V For Vendetta, a comic sourced hero tale, but then that is his take on the world and this is mine. When I watch V For Vendetta, I don’t see a story of freedom of ideas fought for by a bold man. I see the story of an abused and tortured woman used by that same man for his battle. I suppose that is the value of a differing perspective, including the perspective of we former children of abuse who stand, in retrospect, look back on our experiences and feel pity.

The Gift of Gravitas

I frequent geeky circles. I appreciate comics and films set in space and stories in which young heroes defy the odds. Because of this, I follow geeky news. I am also a human with a mental illness. Or two. Or three. Because of this, I follow news of madness.

These worlds stumbled over each other when a young actor, Jake Lloyd, was diagnosed with the ever shifting condition of schizophrenia. Predictably, some of the commentary around this has been low-brow, ableist and cruel. This is the internet, the wild west of communications. However the overwhelming commentary has been sympathetic – even empathetic. I’ve seen people voice regret for the way he was treated. I’ve seen well wishes. I’ve seen writing that blames his parents, his early work experiences and, yes, the geeky public. Overall, the discourse has tended toward a respectful gravitas, appropriate to finding out a fellow human is suffering.

I’ve found a similar response to recent reports of Ronald Savage‘s abuse at the hands of one of HipHop’s more respected creators, Afrika Bambaataa. Here we see some cruder content, usually homophobic in nature. Still, very few sources reporting on it, or even users commenting on it, call into question the veracity of Savage’s statements. No comments are made on his looks, few on his honesty and still fewer defending his alleged abuser.

While I am grateful that  both of these men are being believed, I wish we could extend the same courtesy to women in the public eye who experience mental illness or abuse.

I think of Britney Spears, whose symptoms are still the punchline of jokes decades after her mental illness emerged. I think of Anne Heche and Mariah Carey, whose stories were told by smirking entertainment reporters complete with hilarious “cuckoo” sound effects. What strikes me most is that neither the women nor their illnesses are granted the same gravitas and respect as Lloyd is receiving in the public discourse.

The same is true of the women who spoke out about their victimization by comedian Bill Cosby. Artists like Damon Wayans took to the air to call them “un-rape-able“. In the recent Ghomeshi case, women who couldn’t recall emails they’d sent ten years prior were called liars, rather than what they are – human beings who, just like me, cannot recall every word penned in the last decade. Heck, I’ve forgotten swaths of what I’ve written on this blog. That said, I remember with clarity the smell of the detergent of the man who assaulted me. Memory is funny that way.

Gendered words make up much of the commentary in both cases, reminding us that lying, being crazy or being a gold-digger are innately tied to being a woman, being seen as a woman or identifying as a woman.

When we say we want equality, what some of us are saying is we want that same weight of gravitas applied to our more serious experiences – illness and assault among them – that we see offered to our male-identified cohorts. We want the language used to describe our experiences to match the experiences themselves, especially while wading through all of the complications that come with surviving them. We, of course, expect this same courtesy to be offered to male survivors, along with a curbing of the gendered narrative that tells men to buck up and be strong through these experiences.

All of this requires a dismantling of the idea that our gender should determine how our victimization is perceived, how our assailants are treated and how and if we are able to move on in our lives afterward. We should all be offered respect, care and gentility when the world rolls over us. We should all be offered the gift of gravitas.

 

The Things That Hold Me Down

I’m not above following a trend. I love superhero movies, quinoa and yoga. Sometimes, what works for almost everyone else will also work for me.

I bought the book. You know the one. That book your friends tell you changed their life. Written by Japanese organizer Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a guide to getting your house in order.

It was on sale. What can I say?

It’s an odd and interesting book. In it, she breaks the home down into categories rather than rooms. She explores the relationship one has with items by asking what, when held, sparks joy. If an item doesn’t spark joy (or serve a need) then you discard it with thanks for what it has done.

I’m not big on the woo. I don’t think my possessions have feelings or that they care if I leave them in a drawer or out to breathe. That said, I wouldn’t have bought the book if I wasn’t feeling weighed down by my stuff.

old-books-stacked-1391968605amg

I may have a lot of these…

I fell in love with stuff the hard way. I moved a whole slew of times. Once I had to leave with just a few bags of belongings. I had little comfort from home, so I built home out of twenty-five cent, second hand novels and piles of hand sewn doll clothes. My mind flies off and the piles weigh me back to earth. I don’t like some things – I like all the things.

Or rather, I don’t know if I like all the things. It struck me earlier this year that I haven’t a solid idea of who I am. I know what I think, but I don’t know what I like. I posit that this comes from living my childhood in survival mode. When presented with options, I generally chose the one that was safest, that was least likely to create problems. I wore what would draw the least attention to me. I read what the pastor approved. I collected the items that little girls should collect, if they want their mothers to look at them fondly. Many of my interests were determined by proximity, availability and expectation. I had no style of my own. I didn’t have a favourite colour, favourite flower or a favourite animal that hadn’t been picked for me by someone else (or that I’d chosen because everyone else had one, so I felt the need to have one too.)

1024px-Pingviner_i_Antarktis_Penguins_in_Antarctica,_1910-1912_(7635391900)

Sorry guys.

It was the realization that I didn’t actually like penguins that shook me the most. I had dozens of them – stuffed, ceramic and plastic. I chose penguins because I’d done a project on them in the third grade and at least I knew something about them. No one should realize, in their late thirties, that they are lying to themselves about liking water fowl. I was determined to figure out which animal I actually liked the best. I spent a long time sorting through them before I realized that I really like pigeons. They can fly. They live in the city. They’re scrappy. They glisten purple in the sun and look like pompoms when they pull their heads in to sleep. I like pigeons.

It was a big deal.

Next I figured out my favourite colour. Grey. (I know. Not actually a colour, but I like it the best.)

I’m still working on my favourite flower. I’ll keep you posted.

13183-a-norwegian-woman-in-peasant-costume-pv

This outfit I kinda like.

The point of all this is that without a solid sense of what I liked, I just got a bit of everything. My closet looked like a rummage sale – the cast-offs of dozens of different folks crammed together in one space. My books were a veritable library of topics and styles, not because my tastes are that diverse, but because I had no idea what my tastes were.

Sorting the first category, clothes, was a frustrating and boring task. I held each item and asked if it brought me joy (a troubling question for a depressive.) In the end, I was surprised to learn that skirts, stripes and scarves bring me joy. I had no idea. I was upset to realize that I had never asked myself what I liked to wear. I had never given myself permission to discern what made me happy.

Next onto books. I used the GoodReads app to track my reactions to the books I’d read. Again, I was surprised. The books I liked best were action/adventure books. Sure I had loved Jules Verne, John Wyndham and HG Wells growing up, along with LM Montgomery and Judy Blume, but I had assumed it was because I like the classics. What I really liked was the rush, the thrill of pirates and devils and monsters and scoundrels and orphans.

Soon I had a dozen garbage bags of clothes and hundreds of books stacked in my living room, ready to go. I was overwhelmed.

I know I am not the only adult to realize that survival made my decisions for me. My personality was determined by necessity. Still, in that necessity, something was lost. My whole life, I’ve been struggling against my own personality, wearing it like an ill-fitting suit. I used to wonder who I would be, if I hadn’t experienced so much frustrating brutality and misunderstanding. Perhaps, by discarding everything but the items that bring me something – even if I cannot call it joy – I will find out.

 

Whatever Happened to Predictability?

Confession: I watched all of Fuller House, Netflix’s reboot of Full House, in one day.

I was an 11-year-old fundamentalist Christian when Full House premiered in 1987, meaning I was in the exact right demographic for the original. It was squeaky clean enough that my mother let us watch it (with occasional side-eye at Uncle Jesse.) It was about a household with three sisters, like my own. It was silly enough to elicit the occasional laughing fit and maudlin enough to appeal to my developing emotional experiences.

When I first watched it, I did so with unabashed, uncritical joy. I memorized the lyrics to Forever by Jesse and the Rippers and quoted the catchlines at a time when most of my friends had moved on to In Living Colour and Arsenio Hall.

By the time the show went off the air, I had been homeless, dropped out of school, entered the system and was well on my way to rejecting the idea of god. A lot had changed for me while Full House had stayed essentially the same.

It was this sameness that I think I was seeking when I watched the new show. I was hoping, despite how much I had changed, that I would find some precious nostalgia in the repeated, almost memetic nature of the show.

I didn’t make it far.

Kimmy Gibbler, the awkward, socially inept girl whose primary job was always to highlight DJ’s pretty and wholesome normality, is now married to a man named Fernando Hernandez-Guerrero-Fernandez-Guerrero. In case the name hasn’t clued you in, he’s the one-note latin lover archetype, taken to its most obvious and painful extreme. Like Fez from That 70s Show or Raj from The Big Bang Theory, Fernando falls victim to the funny foreigner trope.

Fernando’s otherness is his most distinctive characteristic and all of his otherness is attributed to his country of origin. Some of this carries over to his daughter, Ramona, who is painted as the hot-headed Latina. We also have dancers Maks and Valentin Chmerkovskiy behaving like a cast-off SNL sketch, an entire episode dedicated to Mexican wrestlers that manages to throw in a little person just in case they hadn’t hit enough stereotypes, and a Gibbler-planned Indian theme party complete with turban jokes, a “holy” cow and Bollywood style dancing. Even incidental characters, like DJ’s unnamed receptionist at her vet clinic, are offered up as comedic others. I can imagine a director or casting agent asking the actor to do it just one more time, but Blacker, with a Jamaican accent maybe?

I cringed every time a same-sex interaction between hetero characters was played for laughs (with lingering shots if they were women, of course.) I couldn’t laugh along at jokes about the “friendzone”, how unattractive older women are and how funny it is that Aunt Becky has baby fever, can’t cook and is the only one to empty the dishwasher. I was saddened by the mis-use of words like psycho. Heck, I was even frustrated by my conviction that the story’s big love triangle would be easily solved if conventional relationship norms weren’t imposed (polyamory FTW!)

It’s been twenty years since the series finale of the original, an event I missed because I didn’t have a TV. Or a home. I’ve never gone back and re-watched it. It holds a special place in my memory, safely cushioned by the secure padding of my own young naivety. While I had experienced a lot by that age, I hadn’t made the mental shift from seeing the world as it was told to me to perceiving the world on my own terms. I came out a few years after Full House ended. I discovered feminism, atheism, intersectionality and the anti-poverty and mental health movements. I discovered that real life is messy. Not buckets of slime over the door messy, real people with real feelings messy. Things don’t always work out messy. Family is not a guarantee messy.

So while 11-year-old me would have loved Fuller House, grown-woman me needs something more. I need a world view that is not so myopic. I need diversity that is inclusive and representational, not easy or one-note. I need to see families that are like the one I’ve built for myself – complicated, unconventional and open to change.