Tag Archive for: Get Out of My Crotch

I love the drive to Portland.  Maybe it is because it is a trip I made hundreds of times when Bubba and I were dating and he lived in Seattle and then a hundred more when we both lived in Seattle and were planning our wedding in Oregon.  I recognize the crazy names of some of the towns, the roadside diners and the landscape.  I let my car sink into the ruts I probably had some part in creating and smile as Mt. St. Helens comes into view, its top shorn off from the eruption I still recall vividly from my youth.

I don’t often get to make the drive by myself so yesterday I reveled in listening to NPR as long as I could before the static caused me to squint as though it would help me discern Warren Olney’s voice a little better.  After stopping to pee, I switched over to my iPod and set it to shuffle. Chick music.  Brandi Carlile, Marie Digby, Ingrid Michaelson.

I was committed to this trip, regardless of the fact that every nerve ending in my body lit up like a strand of Christmas lights when I thought about it. That said, it wasn’t until I reached Battle Ground that it hit me why the book launch for Get Out of My Crotch had to be in Portland.

Portland is the city where I went to my first-ever pro-choice rally.  My friend S, the woman responsible for introducing me to the concept of “feminism” and “women’s rights,” came up on a gloriously sunny Saturday, picked me up at my dorm, and drove me to the city to mingle with hundreds and hundreds of other women rallying in support of reproductive rights.  I was stunned by the feeling of power and solidarity in that square. I had never experienced anything like it.  And then, the Indigo Girls showed up. Seems they were playing a concert in town that night and decided to stop by and lend their support.  They stood up on stage and sang their newest hit single, “Hammer and a Nail.”  It was the beginning of an era for me.  The notion that I could be considered an activist. That I could stand up publicly, loudly, for something I believed in.

It seemed to make sense. Especially since S had decided to attend the book launch and would be my “face in the crowd.” Her support of me over the years has been bedrock.

As I exited the freeway and headed toward the hotel I had chosen online for its proximity to Powell’s Books, I just barely missed the light.  My bladder was bursting and I hit the steering wheel with the palm of my hand in frustration just as my iPod shuffled to the next song.  (I’m guessing Carrie is a step or two ahead of everyone else and she probably knows that the song that came on was “Hammer and a Nail.”  Yup. No lie. You can’t make this shit up.)

The reading was tremendous.  I wasn’t officially on the program since I committed so late, but everyone was so welcoming and eager to find a way to fit me in. Especially when we noticed that the local Planned Parenthood buttons they were handing out in honor of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade read “I am not in your shoes.”  The title of my essay in the book? “A Mile in Their Shoes.” They found a spot for me.

I read first.

I spent a few frantic moments marking sections to read before heading onstage and I was surprised to note that I wasn’t really nervous.  Well, except for the 80-something lady who came in and refused to purchase a copy of the book because she didn’t want to support Planned Parenthood.

“They kill babies,” she announced to the editor and me as we stood there stunned.  The young woman who brought her refused eye contact and did her best to look bored as she shrugged, “She’s pro-life.”

This odd couple then made their way over to the far side of the room and the elderly woman stated her intention to “just sit and listen.”

Before I began reading, I stole a quick look in their direction to see if she had her arm cocked back to chuck something at my head.  A few times throughout my reading I did whatever the mental equivalent of wincing is as I wondered when she would start to heckle me.  I sincerely hoped she had fallen asleep in the dark back room of the bar.  She didn’t. And she didn’t make a peep the entire evening.  I still wonder why she came.

The other writers were terrific.  The range of topics and stories presented by the five of us who read last night was vast. There was Camille Hayes who talked about policy and the Violence Against Women Act that was NOT reauthorized by the Republican controlled House of Representatives this year. There was Lydia Yuknavitch who stood up and bared her soul and left us all breathless. Kevin Sampsell wrote about the rape of a friend, and Sarah Mirk recounted her undercover efforts in a local Crisis Pregnancy Center.  I signed a few books (! – thrill of a lifetime), felt lifted up above the stars when a few people commented positively about my reading (and, thus, my writing), and fairly floated back to the hotel where I am certain I fell asleep with a smile on my face.

I like to say that I love roller coasters.  There is some truth to that statement, but it isn’t that simple in all reality.  I love the idea of roller coasters. I love that they exist and I love remembering the times I have ridden roller coasters.  But I don’t like to look at them too closely. Especially the wooden roller coasters that go two stories high. I don’t want to see any peeling paint or splintering wood and I don’t particularly want to examine the construction.  Maybe that’s why Space Mountain is my all-time favorite roller coaster, because I can ride it entirely in the dark.  I can’t anticipate whether the next thing coming is a dip or a turn or an enormous drop, I can just sit back in the saturated darkness and ride.  I can’t see if there is a loose bolt or an inexperienced-looking ride operator.

Last  Monday I woke up and found myself standing in line. It was my turn next, to sit down, strap in, and take off and, true to form, I was both excited and a little bit nauseous, wondering what I had been thinking when I got in line for this upcoming week.  Fraught with anxiety and excitement and the entire spectrum of emotions in between, for several days I was unable to do much more than watch the passing scenery and confront each emotion and situation as it hurtled toward me.  In the end, I know I will walk away with shaky knees and a sense of accomplishment and a smile a mile wide.

I am glad that I wasn’t given any opportunity to stop the ride and step off because I am not sure I would have opted to get back on after a brief time-out. The expectation that I will simply see this all through to the end is a rather comforting one. Somehow, it doesn’t require anything of me other than my presence and that is enough.

The highlights have come in a big way. Katy Hutchison came to speak to the students and staff at Eve and Lola’s school on Thursday, delivering a presentation that left us all breathless after an hour. She talked about synergy (positive and negative) and personal responsibility, group dynamics and tragedy, forgiveness and restorative justice and provided a jumping off point for our community to begin having conversations about the way we interact with each other when things get hard.  She is an incredibly generous, dynamic, authentic person for whom I am incredibly grateful.

Lola is embarking on a courageous adventure this weekend with many of her schoolmates that will be a test of her resilience in many ways.  It helps that Eve will be along for the trip, and I am excited to hear about the weekend when I pick them up on Monday. That said, in the quiet moments, I wonder if she is homesick or sad and I fervently hope that she is too busy to be either. The neighborhood has been shrouded in fog for going on three solid days now and the oppressive grey mist has set the trees to dripping. I can’t help but feel that when I pick the girls up on Monday it will magically lift.

I am headed to Portland on Tuesday for the book launch of “Get Out of My Crotch,” the book for which I wrote a chapter about reproductive rights.  I am thrilled to be an actual published writer and so looking forward to meeting some of the other people who share this passion with me.  I also get an entire night in a hotel to myself in one of my favorite cities on the planet, which is pretty cool. But I’m nervous about meeting the other writers, all of whom are more accomplished than I, and I’m sad about leaving the girls less than 24 hours after their return home.

CB, the injured dog, is feeling a lot better on his cocktail of anti-inflammatories, pain killers and antibiotics and is driving me insane with his pleading for walks every couple of hours.  Unfortunately, the specialist who read his x-rays believes that a spot on his bone is either cancer or a deep bone infection – neither of which are an easy fix.  Sorting out the options and trying to understand the ramifications has been difficult even as I am nudged by his wet nose and reminded that, for now, he is here and he wants attention.

Somehow I knew, when I stood facing this week that it would be a wild ride. Even Monday I saw this roller coaster looming as I stood in line to get on it feeling slightly ill and wondering why I chose all of this.  Despite that, I also knew somewhere in the recesses of my brain that it would be worth it to get on and strap in. I will do my best to experience and cherish every moment, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I was looking forward to getting home next Wednesday, stepping off for a bit, and taking a nice quiet seat on a bench in this vast amusement park.

To be a published author.  On paper. And now, a mere five days before the day itself, I have proof that I am!

Several months ago the lovely, wise Michelle alerted me to a call for submissions she thought would be ‘right up my alley.’ It was.  Cherry Bomb Books was putting together an anthology in response to what the media was calling the “War on Women” in the United States.  I submitted an idea, the editor decided to run with it, and the last few months have been a whirlwind of writing, re-writing, editing, more re-writing, and more editing.  Kim Wyatt has my undying gratitude for her masterful ideas and the way she pulled more out of my words than I ever could have alone, and I can’t wait for people to read this book.  Follow the link to Cherry Bomb’s site to learn more and preorder the book.  It will be released on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, January 22, 2013, and I am so proud to be included in this list of magnificent writers.

Eve and Lola saw the cover art and raised their eyebrows, read the title and promptly said, “We can’t talk about this to Grandpa!” and giggled.  I agree it’s provocative, but that’s the point, isn’t it?  More to the point, however, is the myriad of perspectives from a terrific group of women 40 years after Roe v. Wade became the law of the land, despite the battles that have been fought over it.