14 October 2016

Full Circle, Golden Circle

It was the first week of the new year. We waited in line for the Broad Museum for two hours, as the morning chill melted off. I grabbed us coffees and bagels from Grand Central Market while you held our place in the queue. When we were close to the front, we saw two women not unlike us who worked for the museum reminding visitors that food and drink were not permitted and that selfie-sticks were not allowed. We laughed about the last rule, no selfie sticks. Is this what museums have come to? When we were finally inside, we noticed that the line for Kusama's Infinity Mirror Room was tremendously long, so we opted to pass. "Next time," I thought to myself. I was excited by the app designed specifically for the opening, and pleased as punch with how thoughtful and robust their audio tour was.

We found our way into the first new media gallery. A nine-channel video of musicians all on separate screens, filmed in one big decaying mansion. We watched as they set themselves up, waiting for the okay from an off-screen director to begin playing their part in what would become an hour-long dirge of heartbreak and sadness, punctuated by the firing of a canon outside of the building. This was Ragnar Kjartansson's 2012 epic video and song project, The Visitors - it was my first encounter with his work. We took our time in the space, nearly half an hour if I recall correctly. I didn't get to hear the song in full, but I remember that we walked through the space, circling slowly, choosing to sit on the floor near some of our favorite screens. And we weren't the only ones who chose to sit and linger. It was one of those rare museum installations that people really spend time with. Maybe it's that the song is so beautiful, that the interiors of the home with their peeling wallpaper, book-lined walls, and soft late-afternoon light paint a picture worth really looking at, or maybe it's the rare firing of the canon that people stuck around for - to this day, I can't say. After we left the exhibition, it was the one work I kept returning to. I couldn't find a video of it online, nor an MP3 of the song, I was left with my grainy video footage and the memory of a work that I would not soon forget.

It was Valentine's Day weekend. We were in the car on our way to New Buffalo for a weekend of sleeping in, making fires in your family's living room, cooking, and relaxation. It was only our second weekend away from Chicago together. We were newly dating, and I was in a weird mood. We had a disagreement in your car, I was sulking. One thing I confessed to you on our drive was my trouble with spontaneity. That I'm so strictly regimented it's difficult for me to shake myself out of my routine and just run in an unexpected direction. We saw a sign for Detroit, some four hours further than our destination. I said I'd never been, you suggested we go. Try being spontaneous. Try it. As we passed our exit my heart began to race, my eyes widened, I laughed and said, "I've never done anything like this before!!" You handed me your credit card and asked me to start calling hotels all over the city. It was Valentine's Day weekend, everything was booked. We found ourselves on the 53rd floor of the Renaissance Center Marriott, an historically ugly building, a bit dingy and dark, with tubical elevator shafts, and a formely rotating restaurant on the top floor boasting views of the once regal city.

On Valentine's Day, a Sunday, we met your friend for brunch at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. There was a DJ spinning records, I had an eggs benedict and coffee, there was a vintage clothing stall set up at the end of the room. I remember thinking to myself, "How odd. Where is all of the art?" After we finished our meal, we wandered toward the sound of a guitar. A repeated note being strummed, the sound getting louder as we moved closer. This wasn't what the DJ was playing, it was something different. As we moved closer to the noise, a golden circle made of a sparkling tinsel curtain was revealed. Inside, a female figure in a golden floor length strapless dress spun slowly on a pedestal. It was quiet now, she was still. I couldn't tell if she was a mannequin or a person, until she moved to strum an E-Minor chord on the guitar. The note reverberated from the stone-tiled floor. We circled around her, moving with the pedestal. The music from the DJ bled into the space, but it didn't detract from how stunning and surprising a sight this was. A woman, literally on a pedestal, in a gold dress, in a museum, in Detroit. I had so many questions: Who was she? How did they find her? Was she paid? How long was she up there, playing? Why this note? Where was that dress from? Were there other women? How was this work conceived? I left the installation searching for didactic material, but only found a small note card describing the work and naming the artist: Ragnar Kjartansson - the Icelandic artist who made that work I couldn't stop thinking about since seeing it at the Broad last month.

It is my last summer in Chicago before moving to Washington, DC. I made a long list of all of the Chicago things I had wanted to do and all of the places I wanted to eat before I boarded my plane, one way ticket in hand. It was during my last month in the city that I made my farewell visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. A place I had called home for three years, my first job out of college. A place that I grew to love, knowing it's secret underground passages, where the jewels were kept, and how the former director likes his vodka (on ice). I brought you as my companion, insisting we visit the Gordon Parks + Ralph Ellison exhibition knowing you would love it. Those high contrast photographs putting Ellison’s words into magical realistic imagery of Parks. Alienation, solitude, and New York City alive in the 1950s. 

Adjacent to this show was the new media gallery, screening on a loop A Lot of Sorrow. Featuring the band The National playing through their song “Sorrow” for six hours and nine-minutes, this durational performance was yet another Kjartansson piece whose wake I fell into. We walked in, I suggested we sit on the carpeted floor. As a bonafied jazz fanatic, you weren’t totally taken with the indie rock, and as a burgeoning art lover, I’m not sure if you were sold on the idea of the work. But I soaked it in, looking for the differences in how the song unfolded with each time they played it again. Could you imagine? Playing the same song over and over. Just the thought of being on my feet for that long, under the heat of concert lights, my fingers pressing chords, my voice breaking with each chorus – it’s a maddening way to be. But Kjartansson and The National pulled it off, bringing out the melancholy, angst, anger, and hurt with every passing note. I remember putting the song on my summer playlist, following weeks of heartache leading up to my grand bon voyage.

So where does that leave me? Where all roads lead apparently -- to Kjartansson. I came to DC having taken a job at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. I am now a curatorial assistant. When asked what I do, I list off a number of things: art historical research, writing wall texts for exhibitions, prepping and giving gallery tours, working on loan agreements, coordinating exhibition tour logistics, guarding a marimba during a performance in the galleries, escorting performers into the galleries, you know, the odd jobs that come with working in a museum. 

The inaugural exhibition to open during my tenure at the Hirshhorn is Ragnar Kjartansson, the first survey of the artist’s work in the United States. It opened last night, and to say that this all felt serendipitous would be a massive understatement. I now work in the department that is supporting this artist’s projects. I know the ins and outs that are associated with bringing Woman in E, to life – the work that I had so many questions about back in February at MOCAD. Where and how the dresses were manufactured, what kind of research went into finding the perfect golden paint and glitter for the custom-made shoes, and what the schedule looks like for our rotating list of performers. I can revisit The Visitors whenever I want, soaking up the song, waiting for the canon to boom. And better yet, I have access to Kjartansson’s watercolors, his sketchbooks, and other works I’ve just now been introduced to. 

This exhibition couldn’t have opened at a more perfect juncture in my life, a culmination of the last year of viewing his works across three museums in three different states. I’m feeling enormously grateful to have found myself chasing this artist, only to be introduced to him on the eve of his opening. To shake his hand and say congratulations was just the icing on the cake. And just around the corner (or curve I should say, this building doesn't have corners), a whole exhibition of Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Rooms, one of the projects I am now currently working on. To think that nine months ago at the Broad, when I passed on waiting in line for Kusama's work that I didn't know I'd be working on the Kusama project is a bit unbelievable. This entire year, not unlike the building I now work in, has come full circle, and I'm enjoying the endless continuity of it all.

26 August 2016

Sandy Doesn't Live Here Anymore

It is August 26th, and I am officially a DC resident. There, I said it. On Monday of this week, I put most of my worldly possessions onto the back of a truck and said goodbye to my apartment on Medill Street in Chicago. And what ran through my head were the words, "Sandy doesn't live here anymore." A line stolen from one of the final episodes of Sex and the City, when Carrie runs into Big just before relocating to Paris. She yells at him, "I don't live here anymore!" and for some reason I found that so comforting. My heart is still shattered from my breakup this summer, but knowing I lived on a street named after one of his family members only added insult to injury. Every time I turned onto Medill, it was a reminder that he was gone. That he didn't want this as badly as I did. Giving my keys to my roommate and turning to leave, Sandy doesn't live here anymore. Now that is freedom.

My old facade.

Heartbreak aside, I write to you from an air mattress in an empty apartment in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington, DC. I know there have been crickets on this site for the last few years, but I've been busy and hard at work. I now possess an MA in Museum and Exhibition Studies. I have a job lined up at a very cool museum in DC (more on that as soon as the ink dries on my contract). And I did that thing that I said I wanted to do when I entered my second year of school. I picked a city other than Chicago, I set my heart on it, I took a gamble, and I moved here. And to think, that the first time I came to DC I was half the age I am now, utterly concerned with boys (and a little bit of heartbreak), about to enter high school, bespectacled and with braces. And here I am fourteen years later with so much more experience and knowledge about who I am and who I want to be.

Just under a year ago, I came here for the second time with the MUSE Program to present at a conference at the Smithsonian. It was the first time I set foot inside the museum I will soon call home. I remember coming back from that trip thinking, "Could I live there? Could this be a place for me?" I returned on a spontaneous trip in late February with a man who wanted to show me his side of DC. When we weren't ordering room service and prepping for his grad school interview, we ran through the National Gallery of Art before closing time, we took photos of the Lincoln Memorial at midnight, and we ate fish eyes at a seafood restaurant for good luck. I remember sitting nearby the memorial to Roosevelt, on the top of some steps looking out at the Washington Monument. I sat there alone, with my head in my hands, wondering, "Could I live here? Could this really be the place?" Neither of us knew that in six months time, we would both be DC residents, separately.

That little lumpy silhouette on the stairs is me.

I write all of this because it is part of my story. The story of a girl who followed her heart and her gut to a city where she knows only a handful of people. This is the story of a person who wakes up after fitful nights of sleep, in an empty apartment, wondering when her furniture will arrive and when she will find out her start date for her dream job. I look at the calendar knowing the man who brought me here, the man who broke my heart, is arriving on Sunday, but then I counter the lump in my throat with the knowledge that the same calendar is full of goodness and unknowns.

These are the truths, the goods things, the things I know:

  • I'm going to see Chungking Express tonight in Maryland, a spontaneous trip to see my favorite movie on the silver screen. 
  • I'm going to visit museums I've never been to, and I am hoping to go to the opening weekend of the new Smithsonian Museum of African American Culture and History. 
  • I'm going to roll up my sleeves and work incredibly hard in my new museum. 
  • I'm going to meet a lot of new people. 
  • I'm going to be covered in bug bites from the mosquitos who seem to love me. 
  • I'm going to find my rhythm, my grocery stores, my commute, my routine. 
  • I'm going to get lost and find myself on streets I've never tread. 
  • I'm going to feel uncomfortable, nervous, scared, anxious, and lonely. 
  • But this is mine. I asked for this, I worked for this. 
I picked a city on the map, I chose this. I came out here alone to find an apartment for myself. I came back to sign a lease. I organized my move. I threw myself a going away party. I showed up alone, sipping my drink in solitude anxiously looking at the door. Friendly faces greeted me and will continue to greet me, I just need to be patient and brave. It is hot in my apartment, the sound of the summer bugs is pouring through my open windows. There is comfort in knowing I am alone here, but not entirely. There are people dotting the landscape, most of whom I've yet to meet. I will be okay, it will just take some time. I need to be courageous and fearless, honest and open. I need to get out of bed each and every day with a sense of purpose. So today, my raison d'etre is to visit the police station to get "No Parking" signs for my movers, I need to figure out where my trash goes, and I need to get myself to Maryland to see one of my all-time favorite movies with an old friend from Kansas City.

This is where I'm resting my head. Those markings on the wall are where I have decided pieces of furniture will go. Already
"curating" my space, with measurements of each piece written in a notebook of my choosing.
My kitchen, where I'm doing some very minimal cooking.
I ate dinner on the floor last night, with the company of
my new plant Andrea Fraser
My own bathroom, with the Unison shower curtain I coveted
and a beautiful bathrobe that is just for me.
The laundry room in my building has a free book exchange.
My local Walgreens is historic, a little gem.
My fridge is getting homier and cuter by the day.
There is a park hidden in the woods behind my house.

11 July 2016

Shut Up Kiss Me [Angel Olsen]

I have some big life changes coming around the corner. A move to a new place. A new job. A new life in a new city. All official announcements will be made once the ink has dried and my boxes have been packed. In addition to the location and career moves, my heart has also flown the coop. I spent the first half of 2016 in the company of a person that supported me, held me when I needed holding, watched my eyes light up while talking through curatorial projects, took me to museums and exhibitions, debated with me about all sorts of things that interested us, and insisted I wear a Bernie Sanders shirt to sleep in because he loved that I loved Bernie's idealism and energy.

My heart is swollen and broken at my companion's swift and unexpected departure from my life. Particularly during a week that has been wrought with violence, protests, more violence, and outrage. I can't bring myself to watch any of the videos. There are moments when all I want to do is pick up the phone, just to tell him that this past week was a living nightmare both inside and outside of my home. But in times of crisis, all we can do is move forward. All we can do is pick ourselves up. Though I didn't feel up to attending the Black Lives Matter solidarity protests happening around Chicago this week, I'm planning on showing up for the Sandra Bland remembrance gathering in Daley Plaza on Wednesday. 

This is an historic and trying time for us in this country. As I pick up to leave my beloved Chicago, I think about how much she has served me these past 28 years. The public schooling I received through CPS, which is now rapidly closing schools across the city, laying off masses of teachers, due to dire financial strain. I think about the education I received from UIC, a public institution, under financial duress due to our state not having a budget (it's been two years without said budget). I think about the parks I played in, the lake I swam in, the access to arts and culture that I had that others might not have been as fortunate to attain. I think about the false sense of safety I have wandering the streets of my neighborhood knowing that there's been an increase in gun violence not only on the south and west sides, but in my part of town too. I think about what a mess we have gotten ourselves into, and how at times it feels completely inevitable. But then I think about what I can do. I can write and call politicians. I can write about this on my blog. I can engage in dialogue with my friends and family. I can show up to protests and participate. I can be present.

It's been a week of heartache, but my heart will mend. I keep looking forward. I planted a gum drop for myself in the future. A single ticket to Angel Olsen in the city I'm moving to. My first concert in my new town. I fully intend on singing along to every song, basking in her glow, entirely on my own. A sweet independence I was both dealt and chose. This is my time, this is our time. We are never truly alone. We are part of a human community, let's be there for one another, yeah? 

02 June 2016

Forward Momentum, And the Gifts of the Universe

One of my dear friends once owned a bright yellow couch. But before she had the yellow couch, she had an unfurnished apartment, perched on the second story of an old home on Cherry Street in the town where we went to college. I remember when I first came to visit my dear friend in her apartment, the block was shaded and green, tinted by the big old neighborhood trees. The old houses in Galesburg all sort of smelled the same, a touch of must, a Midwestern sensibility that I occasionally whiff in the back stairwell of my current apartment. I distinctly recall how enamored I was with my dear friend's home. A one bedroom, with big windows, and green light filtering in colored by the waving leaves pressed against her windows. I remember loving that she had her own bathroom, that her bedroom was quaint and organized. Her bedspread dotted with tiny red flowers, dainty and warm.

My dear friend moved into her second floor apartment after a breakup. She had to start over, there was no other choice. She took what possessions she had, and slowly, week by week, furnished her space into a home. She was given a bright yellow couch from a friend. It was covered in animal hair and needed some desperate TLC. So my dear friend rented a shop vac from HyVee, lugged it up a flight of stairs, and steamed it herself, "Like a real adult," as she said. The first time I saw the couch, it glowed. I mean it had a lemon yellow, electric, come-to-life glow.

My dear friend brought her electric yellow couch to multiple apartments across state lines. And every home I visited her at, I took great comfort in knowing it was still in her life. I loved reclining on in, falling in and out of sleep on an afternoon in April while visiting her in Nashville. I enjoyed playing with her cat, listening to records, and finishing a Dave Eggers book all while seated on her dear yellow couch.

Today my dear friend told me that the yellow couch has left her hands, put into the hands of a young lady who will love and cherish it. And all is well, because we loved and cherished the couch. The Universe gave my dear friend the couch in a time when she needed it most. She loved it, gave it a new life and a good home, and made it her own. I find this story so empowering. When I moved into my own studio apartment, the first and only time I ever lived alone, I lovingly furnished my apartment piece by piece over many months. When something was tough or out of reach or broken, I figured it out myself because I was all I had. When I was sick, I nursed myself back to health, because if not you, then who?

My dear friend is moving far across the country, which is why the couch has left her hands. And as I prepare for a journey of my own in the coming months, it is becoming more and more clear to me that forward is the only way I can go. Grad school is over. Relationships have ended, new ones begun. I walked across a stage, posed for photos, and defended my thesis with every ounce of energy I could muster. I searched for an opportunity, thinking only of the Universe and her gifts, of the forward momentum I need, and was rewarded. Here's to all of the yellow couches past and present, the gifts to be shared with all we love and cherish. Here's to casting away with old habits, forming new routines, and quests for pastries in new cities. Here's to all the goodbyes and hellos I will no doubt be saying in the coming months, and the chance to furnish a new home with yellow couches and only the best art I can bring. Here's to forward momentum and the gifts of the Universe.

05 April 2016

It Doesn't Matter Anymore

The day after I wrote my previous post, I heard this Buddy Holly song for the first time. Well that's not entirely true. I'm sure I have listened to this album many many times, but never really heard this song. The lyrics, the upbeat intro, the not-giving-any-f's attitude of this tune, it's officially my inner mantra. My aforementioned anxiety and doubt-bouts come and go like waves. I have really stellar days and not-so-stellar days, which wash over me like a gurgling foamy shifting tide. But telling myself that some things don't matter anymore is definitely helpful. I've taken to saying things like, "Not my problem," and "The best revenge is living well," and "Whatever happens, happens" because right now I need that reassurance.

Also, this alone time thing I've been doing had been incredibly eye opening and rejuvenating. Sunday night I went for an epic neighborhood walk, listening to the saddest songs I could find on my phone, breathing in the moody pre-storm air. I walked and walked trying to sort something out, trying to walk away some jitters I couldn't shake. And it worked. I felt good. Yesterday, I took myself for a coffee and a cupcake, cracking open a book-for-pleasure for the first time in what felt like decades because I am inching ever closer to post-graduate freedom. I need this.

After submitting my first draft of my big big paper, I gifted to myself a few hours of closet clean-up. I know, what a goofy gift. But with every passing day, I'm more convinced that I will be moving a little further from Chicago - and I don't want my stuff to be a factor in making this move happen. I've spoken to a few friends who have recently made BIG moves, asking about their relationship to their stuff, trying to anticipate what I will want and what I will need. Funnily enough, the books are the first thing I readily parted with! I thought those would be the hardest for me, but after moving them from apartment to apartment, I sort of realized I don't need them. Only the ones I reread passages from are the ones that get to stay.

Deep into my get-rid-of-it haze I stumbled upon two pairs of socks that belong to someone who is no longer in my life. Without skipping a beat, I tossed them into the trash. Funny how a simple gesture like tossing socks into the garbage can be so liberating. Humming to myself, "It doesn't matter anymore," was just the icing on the cupcake.

03 April 2016

In All Honesty

Mossy soft wet passages to cross

I am a terrified, nervous, bundle of anxiety. Over-caffeinated, under-slept, constantly trying to picture what the next month, the next six months, the next year, the next two years will look like. I graduate from my beloved MUSE Program in 34 short days, I turn in my first draft of my Capstone Project tomorrow. My lease is up in October, I will be moving. I exited a relationship late in the fall. I entered into a new relationship early in the winter. To say that almost everything is different and nothing is certain would be an understatement. And yet... and yet! I am happy. I have my bouts of doubt (doubt-bouts?), I have my slumps into the bluer regions. I slip into my head more often than not, trying to envision what my next chapter looks like. Am I living in Chicago? Am I working in a museum? Am I able to support myself (financially and emotionally)? Will I be cooking more? Will I actually start working out like I keep saying I will? What book will I read first, once the dust has settled? What will happen to all of my furniture? If I get rid of a majority of what I own, really pair down, what will that look like? Who will hire me? And how will I make my money? What will my morning routine be and will there be a Trader Joe's where I live?

My dear friend Rose has been periodically posting her innermost thoughts and fears. I find it both humbling and comforting to know there is someone a mile from my house going through career shifts and relationship changes that I can relate to. That I'm not going through any of this on my own.

And better yet, I have radically broken from my hyper-regimented overly planned schedule in the last few months. Taking spontaneous trips to Detroit, driving rental cars that my name wasn't registered to, breaking into empty hotel dance halls, and abandoned post-offices. Only stopping to ask, "Could we get into trouble for this?" about half of the time. I have literally walked across rickety mossy logs in the woods, my new shoes dirtied by the soft mud of the early spring. I have watched scary movies I said I'd never watch, protested monsters I will never vote for, voted for candidates who uphold my ideals. I have gone to the movies alone, and eaten in restaurants alone, and made giant pots of meatballs and gravy for myself - myself alone.

I am terrified, I am hopeful. I am impatient, though I am ready. I turn 28 in a week. Two-eight. Something tells me that this year is going to be a big one. I heard somewhere that every seven years, our genetic makeup shifts, our insides change. Slightly and not so slightly. 27, the magic age when everyone's favorite musicians pass-too-soon. 28, the year that all of my older friends say was "a doozy." 28, come to me. Let's run away on this unknown journey, you and I. Let's see what tomorrow holds, and free up some time in our schedules, yeah?

12 March 2016

My Reflections On The Trump Rally Protest

Something big happened in Chicago yesterday. Donald Trump came to the city, with the objective of holding a campaign rally in a public space on my school's campus. Within hours of the announcement of this event, an online petition began circling throughout my community - asking that our administrators rethink the decision to rent our space to a presidential candidate who openly spews a message of hate, who has stated that undocumented people living in the United States should return to where they came from, who talks about building walls between us and our neighbors, who doesn't totally deny his endorsements or ties to the KKK.

One of my protest signs

As an ethnically diverse urban university, with a history of collective organizing, and a strong community of activists and organizers, we banded together to demand that Trump not be allowed on our campus. Many of us registered for tickets to the rally, some of us were able to get inside. In addition to the nearly 40,000 signatures our petition received, an open letter from our faculty and staff asked that the administration consider cancelling the event, for fear of bringing violence and hatred to our campus, putting our students, our employees, and our neighbors at risk. Our demands were heard, and though the Trump rally wasn't initially cancelled, the University worked with local law enforcement to let us know that this would remain a peaceful event.

My RSVP to the Donald Trump rally

I arrived around 4:45 pm with my posters in hand, and began marching with the students as they left the Quad - a space that has seen its fair share of organizing and protest over the last 50 years. We chanted "Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Donald Trump Has Got to Go!" holding our signs in the air. I noticed that we stopped using the paths, as protesters began to walk on the grass, through our landscaped foliage, which irked me in a way. The initial marching felt confused, unorganized, and like we didn't actually know where we were going. We were shepherded into a barricaded section of Harrison Street, with police on horse, police on bikes, police on foot - all working to separate us from those waiting in line to get into the rally. I remarked over and over again that I didn't know how to get out, that there weren't any exits that I could find, which made me understandably nervous. There were lulls where we stood quiet, confused, not yelling, not speaking, not knowing where to go or what to do. Then someone would yell, "Dump Trump! Dump Trump!" and another chant would begin. There seemed to be a lack of organization within the crowd, a lack of leadership. There were multiple organizers who had brought speakers and megaphones, but no one told us where we were going, where we were going to plant ourselves, and there was no unified chant that rang through all of the protesters. The thing had grown to be so big, that it was chaotic and aimless.

Protestors moving in a somewhat chaotic fashion from the Quad to the UIC Pavilion

But this isn't what bothered me. What left a bad taste in my mouth about the entire protest wasn't the lack of leadership or the lack of purpose - what bothered me was that we were fighting hate with more hate. One of the chants that kept happening in my section was a call-and-response of "When I say TRUMP, you say BIGOT - TRUMP - BIGOT - TRUMP - BIGOT!" People seemed to really respond to this, laughing, yelling, participating. I felt uncomfortable calling him a bigot. I felt uncomfortable yelling hatefully at his supporters. I'm new to organizing, this was only my second protest - but it felt off. We felt directionless and aimless, without a unified call to action. When we don't have the words, when we are coming from a place of animosity and dislike, aren't we putting ourselves on par with the same hate that Trump is spinning and spewing?

Helicopters circled overhead, people watched
from the trees, a Mexican flag billowed in the wind

At one point, my friend and colleague Lena asked for the microphone. She began to sing "This Land Is Your Land" and we all joined her. For the second verse, the lyrics shifted - she had changed them to reflect the diverse community of UIC, a community that welcomes dialogue, debate, and discussion. A space that allows for difference and encourages us to disagree in a safe and academic way. And for the few minutes that Lena led the song, I felt like we were all in it together. That this land is all of our land, for better or for worse. That when we set our differences aside, when we raise our voices in song, when we stop basing our dialogue and work around hate, we can actually make something happen.

This image went slightly viral last night. "Overcomb girl"
was a trending topic on Twitter, and Alyssa's
photograph of me wound up in the Boston Globe.

Shortly after the sun set, we headed home. My friend Alyssa said something to the effect of, "Nothing good happens in the dark," and I agreed. These things, though well-intentioned, have a way of turning ugly. Inside of the rally, spurts of violence were breaking out between protestors and Trump supporters. I know very few details, but I am glad we weren't inside. As we walked to the train, I stopped to take a goofy photo on Alyssa's partner's motorcycle - laughing and hamming it up. When we got to the train, whole crowds of protesters and Trump supporters pushed their way on board. A young man wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat stopped to hold the door for us - and in that moment, I felt like we were on the same side. A group of Americans, trying to get on the train, on our journey home - together.

The news of the rally being cancelled came to us over our phones, we made it home safely. But the work isn't done yet. It's only just begun. On Tuesday, we take to the polls. In November, we return. Between now and then, we can continue to protest, to petition, to volunteer for political organizations, to volunteer to make our communities better at a local level. The work is never done. America will always be great, she just needs some TLC in order to sparkle and burn at her brightest.

Updated (3/17/16): A few articles have been published in the last week that shed more light around the protests on Friday. This one talks about some of the misconceptions around the media portrayals of the protest. Another wonderful article features words spoken by my fellow activists Alyssa and Simon.