Container: May 13, 2019

Dear Mr. VP,

It’s been awhile. This letter has been percolating in my head for weeks. Today, I need a distraction from the nagging sense of unease manifesting in a stomach ache, and so I decided to finally write.

Let me start with a declaration, one which I think should be obvious, but apparently is not.

I am not a container.

Let me explain.

I assume at some point in your life you had a cabinet like this:

Empty and assorted containers, just waiting to be filled with leftovers or lunches. Their sole purpose is, if I can find the top, which is basically never in the same place as the actual container, to hold stuff. They have no other reason to exist.

I, on the other hand, have a multitude of reasons to exist: a kid to parent to the best of my ability, family and friends to be in community with, jobs at which I do good work with young people as they navigate their way to adulthood, the world to see as much of as I can, and an attempt to make my loved ones feel, well, as loved as I can make them feel. Oh, and the ongoing mission to love and take care of myself, and maybe find some fulfillment in my time on Earth, too.

So, I hope you can agree that I have many reasons to exist; I’m not just sitting around in a cupboard waiting to be filled. I am not a container. You cannot purchase me at an MLM party.

Recent legislation in Georgia makes me feel like lawmakers, including yourself, might NOT agree with this pretty basic truth. You know what I’m talking about: the “heartbeat” bill that seeks to ban abortion at six weeks, criminalizes doctors who perform the procedure, and could force people who miscarry to prove they miscarried “naturally” and not because of their own behavior or as the result of an illegal abortion.

What this bill is asking us to do is live every moment of our reproductive lives as if we could, at that very second, be pregnant. What if I’m six weeks pregnant, don’t know about it, and use a sauna or a hot tub? Go out drinking? Eat a ham sandwich? Or unpasteurized cheese? Get a massage? Have an Americano with an extra shot of espresso? Work out vigorously with a very elevated heart rate? Go on a roller coaster? There’s a whole list of things you aren’t supposed to do while you’re pregnant – that’s just a sample.

Then I miscarry, and I seek medical attention for the miscarriage. I’m opening myself up to an investigation into why my pregnancy ended. Let’s say I note that, yeah – last Tuesday, I did all of the things on the list above. (I like to keep myself busy, after all.)

Am I at fault for my pregnancy ending? Am I a criminal?

Should I live my whole life as if I *might* be pregnant? Like I’m just a container, waiting in the cupboard, desperate to fulfill my ultimate destiny? Avoiding listeria tainted cold cuts for all eternity, or at least until menopause?

You’ll say something like “well, we would NEVER take it that far. That would NEVER happen. What an EXTREME.”

Pardon me for not wanting to leave this particular issue up to the interpretation of lawmakers who think you can take an egg that improperly implanted in a Fallopian tube and just stick it in a uterus with good result. Nope: don’t trust y’all.

Imagine if we asked cis white men to live their entire lives as if their bodies were not their own. “Put down the vape pen and the craft beer, bro! Don’t lift so much! Something might be using you as a host!” Can you imagine the uproar? Men don’t expect to be told they are empty containers; that particular dehumanization is reserved for people who own a uterus.

To misquote a movie I’ve never seen, which was quoted by a show I HAVE seen, I am not a container. I am a human being.

Damnit.

D

Still fighting, still resisting: February 27, 2019

Dear Mr. VP,

I know. It’s been awhile.

Let’s say I’ve been in the weeds, and when I looked at my days and where my limited mental energy was being expended, writing to an old white dude who likely hates me because of my identity didn’t make the “must do” list.

So I sat back and thought, take a break, collect yourself, and re-envision this project.

I thought about just ghosting you altogether, but my experiences with online dating and ghosting make it clear that’s not the cool thing to do. We’ve hung out for long enough that you would deserve a goodbye and an explanation. (It’s not me, it’s definitely you.)

I thought about ditching the project completely (with an explanation letter to you) but that didn’t seem right either. This was my baby for a long time, and you don’t just abandon your baby (despite what you might think wacky progressive women want to be able to do).

Frankly, I’ve found that not writing doesn’t seem to be helping my anxiety at all. In fact, it’s been at an all-time high in the past month, and I wonder if having this place to let out a primal scream about what’s wrong in the world might be a good coping mechanism. Maybe lecturing you means I can settle more comfortably into my real relationships with all the people around me, something I’ve been finding difficult lately.

So where does that leave us? I think that leaves us with less frequent, but perhaps longer and more well researched, posts. I don’t have the time to put together a well written and well argued letter every day. You’ve heard all the reasons why before, so I won’t reiterate here other than to say when I’m having a dance party with my kid before bed, I want to be focused on that, not on what I’m going to write to you after he goes to sleep. I do, however, feel like without pressure to do it every day, I could do some good work.

It’s always been hard for me not to get things perfect. I like to do things 100% all the time, and so if I feel like I’m failing, I anxiously quit whatever it is. (See: basketball in elementary school, knitting, any number of abandoned writing projects.) But here, I’m going to give myself some grace, and reimagine what this space could be.

Still fighting, still resisting,

D

December 31, 2018

Dear Mr. VP,

I’m over here reading Politico articles in bed. Happy New Year to me.

I did come across this gem, from an article about your talks with Chuck Schumer to avoid government shutdown:

“Asked whether there are any Senate Democrats with whom the vice president shares a close working relationship, a senior White House official deadpanned, “He has a good relationship with Jeff Flake,” the outgoing Republican Trump critic from Arizona.”

Oh, the hilarity.

D

December 29, 2018

Dear Mr. VP,

Tonight, I got the rare chance to wander around a bookstore without a child in tow. It meant I got to actually look at the books, not just fend off requests to purchase a toy.

And I found myself in the young adult section, which I quickly realized is your worst nightmare. I think that basically every other cover was emblazoned with a pentagram, and even if there was no pentagram, it’s likely the book had some sort of strong take-no-shit female character fighting in a post-apocalyptic world, and we know how you feel about that.

I have to think — or at least hope — that if this is the steady reading diet of teenagers, we won’t ever have a Vice President Pence again. If we can get them to vote when they turn eighteen.

D