A note: This post talks frankly about loss, rage, and Governor Newsom’s decision to reprioritize COVID vaccine distribution.
This autumn my dad asked me to start a project with him. I suggested we write letters to each other based on how he used to write me cards as a kid. We’ve sent a few back and forth. It’s been beautifully healing.
We’ve both agreed to share them publicly. We feel it may bring some insight for others.
Below is a letter I wrote. My dad can no longer write me back.
More will come.
If so moved, become a paid subscriber. 🖤🦄🧚♂️
Everywhere I look these days, I am finding myself becoming enraged. It doesn’t matter the subject; I am seeing with such clarity disparity and inequity exponentially growing across all parts of our society. It’s overwhelming to find it everywhere I look, and it’s becoming exhausting. I do have relations and practices in place that help ground, center, and hold me. And it seems almost not enough these days because the suffering is inescapable. As so many religions conclude, suffering is the heart of being human.
I know you felt this too. It is something we talked about often, the sadness that is ever-present just barely underneath the surface. I know it is something Grandma Irene, your mom, also felt, and I wonder about the legacy of our blood and the traumas we’ve generationally endured. Poverty has been a frequent companion of our family, and to be poor in the United States of America is to be traumatized.
When I was a teenager, I saw how much you and mom struggled to make ends meet, always working, always sacrificing, always cutting costs where you could. It made holidays and celebrations tense because the social expectation of gifts and parties and feasts didn’t match our financial situation. I saw how pained both you and mom were when you couldn’t afford gifts one Christmas, and so I took what money I made and bought everyone gifts that Christmas. I either signed your names to them or pretended that they were from Santa (I can’t remember which). I didn’t want my family to not have something on Christmas Day. It was always our big holiday.
Two decades later we talked a bit about that Christmas, and you told me how ashamed you felt that your son was buying presents. It reminded you too much of the poverty of your childhood, and you didn’t want us kids to experience that pain. I didn’t see it as pain back then, and I still don’t see it as pain. I see it as trauma intentionally inflicted on our family by the exploitation of the ruling, monied class on poor, marginalized peoples the world over. And it fills me with rage.
This rage is obsessive for the tendrils of trauma extend everywhere. The ruling, monied class is racing us towards global annihilation, and it seems to be picking up speed. It doesn’t matter political affiliation, geographic location, racial identity, or actual economic status, either. The politicians are doing the bidding of the man behind the curtain, the grifters who steal from the labor of the exploited and who extract every single thing they can from this planet for profit. The Wicked Witch of the East is no different than Glinda; they both uphold the myth that the Emerald City is the seat of power.
In high school, I played the Scarecrow in our production of the Wizard of Oz. All along the way, the character without a brain points out the ways in which all is an illusion. He is constantly questioned and ridiculed, not for his lack of brain, but because of his poverty. He is stuffed of straw, a poor man hung on a pole meant to scare away signs of death, the crows. At the end, his poverty becomes his royalty as he is placed as ruler of Oz because he is deemed a representative of the people. And just like that the grifter continues the grift that the seat of power resides within the Emerald City that he built, and that only one can sit on its throne. It’s just “better” for that one to be the representative of “the people”. Nothing fundamentally changes in Oz.
This same illusion is everywhere; I see through it so plainly.
It is there in Governor Newsom claiming care for Californians while reopening amidst still high infection and death rates and reprioritizing vaccine distribution by age and thus eliminating priorities for disabled and immunocompromised folx.
It is there in Mayor Breed saying, “And can we finally put to rest the fantasy that supply-and-demand doesn’t apply to our housing situation? You may have noticed, rent prices went down, way down, last year … why? Because demand went down.” All while rent prices are still sufferably unaffordable and back rent will still be due.
It is there in the subtle corruptions between non-profits and local elected officials making budget deals through add-back processes that keep budgetary processes from sunshine’s light.
Every one of these things these days fuels my rage. I cannot seem to escape it. I want to tune it out because it is exhausting, but I cannot seem to let it go. Letting it go feels like letting go of a dear friend.
Maybe letting go feels like letting go of you.
image description: photo of me looking straight into the screen. My hair and beard are disheveled. I am wearing a black hoodie. My eyes are slightly teary from having just finished writing. Remnants of make-up can be seen around my eyes and eyebrows.
I remember the mantra that came to me after your death while high on acid, “let it all go.”
I want to honor its revelation, your revelation. I just need some time for it to become fully in my body and not just words that escape my lips or lingering thoughts.
Writing this helps. Knowing that you are reading it somewhere helps even more. I don’t really believe in heaven or hell. I do know you’re still here cause I’m still writing you. And I can’t let this go.
Maybe instead, I’ll just hit pause on my rage for today. Maybe I’ll play some video games in your honor. Remember that one on Sega Genesis where you played as the 7-up red dot? I wish I had that one.
I love you dad. Thanks for listening. And I’m trying to take your advice.
Your loving son,