Finding My Voice, #249

Photo by Michele Oh

Last year, I volunteered to work for six months at The Artist Co-op, a new co-working space with rehearsal rooms, geared towards connecting and supporting artists from theatre, film, opera, dance, etc. I met actors, singers, filmmakers, producers, directors, lighting designers, dancers, and most importantly, people who have and will continue to change my life. I’m grateful to be singing in a concert to support The Artist Co-op this Friday night, and I hope you’ll attend, if you’re in the greater New York City area.

On a couple of occasions, I mentioned to members of The Artist Co-op that I wanted to learn to expand my vocal abilities to include belting and musical theatre techniques. Although I’ve had a couple of really wonderful musical theatre gigs, I always knew I had work to do to really learn how to sing that repertoire at the best of my natural ability. Having several friends in an incredibly unconventional, grammy-winning group called Roomful of Teeth, I’ve been inspired for years to learn to expand my voice outside of the purely classical realm.

Growing up, I wanted to be Debbie Gibson. I learned how to sing like her, mostly with a pop mix and an unsophisticated teenage belt when needed. One night, at a karaoke bar in Koreatown, I reached the pinnacle of those childhood dreams when, while singing “Lost in Your Eyes,” a man dropped to his knees at my feet and shouted, “You ARE Debbie Gibson!” As a fully realized adult who had earned a living as a respected classical singer for two decades, I knew I could do far more if I trained my whole voice – not to mimic an 80’s pop icon, but to find the limitless possibilities within my own voice.

When the universe speaks, I listen. Personally, this means paying attention whenever more than one source produces the same message or advice. Several people mentioned the tiny street on which I now live, for example, as I was searching for an affordable apartment in Manhattan, and I cannot imagine living anywhere else. So when two different members of the Artist Co-op praised their teacher Jon Stancato and recommended I work with him on my much of a coincidence. “Are you Jon Stancato, by any chance?” I asked, and my journey began.

Since then, I’ve had several lessons, sometimes a week apart, sometimes spread out by months because of my performing and travel schedules. Now, preparing to sing everything from Troubadour songs to Alanis Morisette with medieval harp on an eclectic concert on Friday, June 14 at the Highland Lodge in Vermont with Christopher Preston Thompson and Heidi Lauren Duke, I have the privilege of meeting with Jon weekly. He’s an incredibly intuitive coach, working with me as we experiment together to find the authentic and meaningful sounds that color each song fully and appropriately.

On days like today, feeling raw with the emotions of loss and mourning and worn down by allergies and the thicker vocal cords that greet young women once a month, working with Jon reminds me so much of my intensely mindful work with Josh Pais, or training to become a life coach. I make sounds I wouldn’t dare to make in front of almost anyone, and Jon tells me that he can learn just as much from my voice on what I would consider a bad day. I relax into the present to play with what we have, which apparently is a lot more than I expected.

Singing, as a career, creates a life of wildly glorious and meaningful highs, coupled with social needs cut short, an unparalleled need for body awareness and physical health, and constant sacrifices to keep that voice, which earns me money and keeps me fed, fresh and strong. Today, I found a new way to play with it healthily and, as I so often do on this journey, I felt at turns vulnerable, scared, empowered, and exhilarated. Finally, we found a really rich resonance with which I can play across my range, and I felt good, as we heard a knock on the door, and the lesson came to an end.

As the door opened, a classical conductor with whom I’ve previously worked and who I respect walked in the absolutely not soundproof door. We briefly hugged, and I mentioned that I was working on some belting techniques, before he said, “I know, I heard. Sounds good,” and rushed off to setup for his rehearsal. Upon exiting, I passed by sixteen of my most talented friends and colleagues from the classical singer world, half happy to see them, half awkwardly mortified that they all heard my rather vulnerable exploration of self and voice.

Although I still wonder a bit how it all sounded and think perhaps I should start audio-recording my lessons, I trust Jon’s assessment, that I sounded great, and it’s a good thing they heard me. Despite a decent deal of stigma in the classical world about non-classical techniques, I’m nothing if not a proponent for change and plan to embrace the role of helping others to both embrace and seek it. If the three deaths I’ve experienced this month have taught me anything, they’ve increased my need for vulnerability, authenticity, and a mindful exploration of life. Finding my whole voice, accompanied by a talented and compassionate guide, fills me with just the right combination of nervousness and joy that tells me I’m on the right path. I’m glad my friends heard me, and I can’t wait to sing for that audience in June. This life is worth living fully, with every color, sound, and expression I can possibly find for the artistic manifestations of my spirit… Not just tomorrow, now.

Death and Love: A Farewell (#248)

I don’t know what to call this post, and I don’t even know how to start. In the span of one day, I do know that after having lost both a beautiful friend, Charity Sunshine Tilleman-Dick, and one of my absolute favorite people in the world all my life, my Pop-Pop William Wright, I can think of nowhere to turn but here. While I live my life in a way to prepare myself for change, losing these lovely sparks of joy hurts.

EPSON MFP imageAs a child, I’m not sure what endeared my Pop-Pop to me more – the fact that he gleefully and lovingly argued with my Grammy (who insisted I was an angel) that I was a “‘lil devil,” or that he used to prop his hand up for me in the pool as a springboard and then would throw me in the air into a frontflip or backflip. He was fun. When he moved to Florida and let me drive his golf cart, that really sealed it.

As I became an adult, he became my friend. A really good one. I’m sad I didn’t call more, but for many years, I’d spend almost every vacation with him at his home in Florida. I sang for him almost every time I saw him, first for him and Edie, then later in concerts for his assisted living facility. As for his wives, Grammy and Edie, my grandfather loved them fiercely, loyally, and fully.

Although only twelve when my Grammy passed, I know (partly because he confided in me often as an adult) that it tore him apart to watch her die from a stroke and feel helpless to stop it. A strange type of folklore for my family, his father died not long before that (I actually somewhat remember my great-grandfather), and he began to take care of Edie, my step-great-grandmother. Although his step-mother, Edie married his father after he’d already left the family home, and his father really had robbed the cradle.

Two years younger than my grandfather, Edie had a sweet and simple heart. When they helped and comforted each other, they fell in love, and my Pop-Pop married his step-mother when I was barely a teenager. Suffice it to say, this led to a lot of funny memories and moments, as my extended family processed this union for years. Although I found her a bit off-putting at first, Edie grew on me during my visits later in her life. With a simple love of the organ, her belief in God, and the birds who would feed at the little houses they’d built for them, Edie won my heart, despite her idiosyncrasies and her eventual outbursts or fixations brought on by Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Before her diseases really progressed, my grandfather almost passed once, while I was attending graduate school for opera performance at the University of Maryland. While weirdly reassured that he had the same “Rolls-Royce of pacemakers” also installed in Dick Cheney (he’s still kicking), this scare only increased my frequency and length of visits to Florida. Eventually, with my Pop-Pop already experiencing much bodily pain himself in addition to Congestive Heart Failure, Edie’s condition worsened exponentially.

Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say that his dear second wife’s terrible decline came extremely close to killing him a second time. He simply could not cope with the idea that he was powerless to give her the care she needed, without help, in her final days. In the hospital himself during the last week of Edie’s life, he was able to visit her and lovingly tell her it was ok to go. She died the next day. On a lighter sidenote, while a bit loopy in the hospital, Pop-Pop insisted on voting and had determined that he wanted to vote for the sake of his children. Although he’d always voted Republican, this time, he knew he wanted to vote against Mitt Romney. And so he did, along with every other presidential candidate on the ballot in 2012, including Roseanne Barr, who managed to make the ballot that year in Florida.

Six and a half years have passed since then. In that time, we’ve shared visits, I’ve sung for him, and we’ve shared deep and meaningful, if not always happy, conversations in a pretty good assisted living facility to which he moved. I’ve watched him call bingo for lots of folks who relied on his sociability, and I witnessed a surprising heartbreak he again suffered, when a woman he considered a great companion moved away with family in Ohio. With some hearing loss from working as a mechanical manager for Northrop Grumman, he didn’t always hear me, but he always listened.

On several occasions, Pop-Pop shared his disinterest in living any longer. Although he often found ways to cheer himself and others, his pain, loneliness, and unhappiness began to usurp this wonderful man’s joy and purpose, and that trend continued for the last few years. Independent at heart, he never wanted to live in a wheelchair or require someone else to shower him for the remainder of his life. He said if he ever got to that point, he’d really want to die.

Sometimes I think I called him and visited him not just because I love him and wanted to see and hear from him, but also because I knew how much he loved me, and I selfishly needed him to have reasons to live. Earlier this week, I sent him a get well card, then a birthday card (thanks to my super mom for the reminder). He never calls me, but I have two missed calls from him this week – one on Easter, and one today, just a few hours before he died, and they turned off his pacemaker. Thankfully, I had a chance to call him and tell him I love him tonight. He couldn’t really hear me when, feeling bad about not having returned his call yet, I also said, “Happy Easter,” but he told me he loved me too. I hope he received my cards, as I’ve received so many from him over the decades, along with his love and care.

Oh, how I will miss that man whose smirk, deep capacity for love, playfulness, seriousness, and sociability I have definitely inherited. I couldn’t possibly have more gratitude for his lesson that a little devilishness can make life more interesting, for his encouragement of my singing, and for his love and friendship over the many years I have been so fortunate to have such a beautiful, if sometimes complicated presence for a grandfather.

This change is sad, but for now my dear Pop-Pop, you have your peace. To wherever your souls may have traveled, I imagine my incredible friend, Charity, would love to sing for you sometime. Who knows? Maybe she’d even join you for a round of golf.

Life is absurd. That any of us exist at all makes no sense, and nobody can truly know why, or what happens next. Although in my self-interest, I’d love to meet Pop-Pop and Charity again in the future, the fact I ever met either of them at all and had the impossibly rare fortune to know them both fills me with deep joy and gratitude. As for change, although I would have loved to see and talk with both of them more, the most important transformation in my life occurred before their passing. I’ve learned to tell people I love that I value them, and that lesson continues. More than anything tonight, I can rest because they are at rest and knew I loved them.

Goodbye, and thank you for your life and love. I love you, William Wright and Charity Sunshine Tilleman-Dick. ❤️

Inviting Mystery (#247)

Last week, I had the incredible fortune of continuing my path towards life coaching certification with the Balance course, offered by The Coaches Training Institute. Each class affirms my unique and powerful skills as a coach and my talent for intuition and working with people. I fully believe in this path for my life to add to the wealth of experiences and creativity and work I already enjoy as a singer, actor, writer, and filmmaker. “Coach” seems to fit really well within that collection of wonderful hats I get to wear.

In training, because we gain so much experience as coaches by actually doing the work, we have so many opportunities to receive coaching from our peers and our instructors, and each of these classes transforms me from moment to moment. It’s just incredible. I’d love to share one of my biggest takeaways from these lessons – the realization that I want to invite more mystery into my life.

For months, I’ve considered the difference between planners and rebels and the extreme reactions people have to choosing events and filling schedules. I see the benefits of both. Planning gives me a sense of control and security, and with so many planners in the world, sometimes only making time in advance permits me to see people who live their lives with full calendars. On the other hand, I now know several people who refuse to make plans, for the most part, until each day arrives. This leaves tons of room for surprise and spontaneity, but planners often find these rebels, of sorts, unreliable and impossible to trust.

Admittedly, I lean toward planning, but I really miss the days when I first moved to NYC, before I eventually slid into an almost hourly reliance on Google Calendar to keep straight all of my appointments and connections. Before I had a network and a routine, when I used to try new things… with this blog, on a daily basis! So, in the spirit of inviting more mystery into my life and making room for unknown surprises, I have created mystery week!

By creating space on my calendar for one week per month (aside from important work commitments or contracts), refusing to make any plans until each day starts, I have decided to invite creativity and mystery back into my life. It just started Sunday. On day one, I had already gone on an impromptu shopping trip with a good friend at the MOMA design store (I had never been) and ran into a lovely friend from the neighborhood, riding the subway home and meeting her super fun daughter, who sang to me a song she had written and regaled me with a story about a girl and her braces. In case you’re still wondering, she was charming and delightfully unexpected.

Yesterday, I had an important meeting with a friend with whom I’ve been working on a big project for some time. He offered to drive me home on the way to a private indoor skydiving lesson, and when, on the way, he offered to take me with him and give me a few minutes of his lesson time, of course I happily agreed and had an absolute blast. By opening myself up to possibility, I had the chance to experience something completely new and both intellectually and physically exciting. Today, I went roller skating at a park in my neighborhood – something I’ve never done – and I haven’t skated, since I suffered an injury a few years ago. It felt triumphant and was a serious workout. So for this week, anyway, I may not know what tomorrow brings, but I really, really like it that way. Mischief – or mystery – unmanaged.

 

Lessons of Leadership, Starting the Intermediate Run (#246)

20181213_164417-02.jpeg
With my dear friend, leadership coach Edwin Vega, who has supported me so far every step of the journey. Our glow after an amazing 3-day intensive.

Where do I even start? Last month, I began my training in life coaching with the Coaches Training Institute. I will go through the entire, intensive certification course – as part of my journey to coaching others, writing a book that’s been burning inside me, doing some public speaking, and learning to inhabit the leader that’s been somewhat dormant inside of me.

What can I say? Whew! What a course. Now, coming out of my first of the intermediate-level three-day intensives, I feel energized like a teenager and more open and present than ever. Hanging out with twenty-five to thirty other engaged, intelligent, compassionate people learning to use their intuition, fully listen, and dance in the moment kind of has that effect.

My big takeaways this time, in addition to my personal growth and to learning and sharpening my already wonderful skills as a coach:
1. Life purpose matters and is a birthright. Identifying and owning it makes life more full. Ask me mine, and I’ll tell you.
2. We all have voices that try to sabotage us.
3.We also have voices that lead us and voices that know how to appreciate the beauty in everything (the full picture). We get to decide how to listen and whose volume to adjust when.

An incredibly heartfelt thanks to all the participants, instructors, and volunteers. You have left me whole today. So much more to come. In the meantime, happy holidays. Love, joy, and peace to you all, these present days and the many to come.

Nie Wieder (Day #245)

46185141_10107599585721148_7150681868470321152_n
Autumn in Berlin, © Abigail Wright 2018

You might notice from the title, this post gets a bit dark. Fair warning. When I first began this blog in 2010, the idea of processing my thoughts through writing might have crossed my mind once or twice. So many years later, I am still a huge believer in embracing meaningful change, but I’m also learning the necessity of having a vehicle through which to interpret and understand these events and evolutions. So, I’m back, after a whirlwind twelve days since I disembarked on three major journeys.

1. Life Coaching Training with CTI
On this topic, I haven’t a clue where to begin except to say I’ve decided to train as a life coach, as part of my journey to help others create habits of small changes to manage anxiety and live a more fulfilling life. Landing in exactly the right place at the right time, I’ve just begun my work in training, alongside some incredible friends and coaches with a really empowering program that has already begun to transform me, as well as my skills as a coach. Although I learned a lot about active listening, asking powerful questions, and countless other skills used in coaching, I also understood myself in radical ways I didn’t expect. I now see that I still shrink and filter myself in profound ways for the sake of acceptance, and that I spend more time than I’d like trying to hide in the past or future, or in distractions, despite my continued work and study in presence for years. This beginning opens up a whole new world of possibility – my favorite thing. Also opening up Pandora’s Box of growth, I see I have a lifetime ahead of vulnerability, change, facing my own demons, and opportunity. It’s going to be a wild ride. Much love to Julie Kashen and Edwin Vega for recommending this incredible path of beautifully unknown outcomes.

2. Berlin, Germany
Despite my German heritage (my mother’s father, from whom came my nose as well as at least some of my musical talent), I never had any interest in going to Germany. Switzerland, France, Italy, yes, but not Germany. This past year, several of my friends have mentioned Berlin as a really great city to visit and in which to live. Invited by Rebecca, who moved there last year, Janine, whom I met last May, and then Lindsay, who decided to travel there in November and said I should go too, I decided to see if I could meet my dear friend Adam from the UK there and created a trip.

Despite some serious travel obstacles in getting there (No need to trudge through that – but the moral of that story is: avoid kiwi.com, EuroAtlantic Airways, and Aigle Azur. Enough said.), I landed in Berlin, grateful to catch up with eleven friends and loved ones over brunch upon my arrival. We caught my incredible friend Glacéia as one of the stars of an out-of-this-world revue show with circus acts called Vivid. Singing and performing like a firecracker, she blew me away, along with the rest of the show.

For the rest of the weekend, I wrestled with my newfound vulnerability, attempted to shrink less and spend more time in presence (as learned from my life coaching class), and enjoyed the moments. Awareness has its downsides too, and I quickly realized why I never wanted to travel to Germany – because of its incredibly complicated and at times evil recent past. We saw some pieces of the wall, walked by Checkpoint Charlie, and got a little lost in the Holocaust Memorial.

Nothing, however, could prepare me for the way I would feel when facing the Brandenburg Gate – the sense of dread at standing in a place where Hitler once held rallies. Focusing much of my life on the positive, I admit, I rarely like to spend time facing the darkness, but I’m glad I went. At this time in a very polarized climate in the United States and in a rather dangerous era for citizens of many other countries in the world, I want to be one of the global citizens who pays attention and contends with both the light and dark. Thankfully, I ended on a light note with wonderful people, and I even took time to enjoy a visit to Vabali Spa with some friends.

3. San Francisco, California
Although I also had a wonderful opportunity to catch up with a few beloved friends and stay with a gracious host from Belarus (ex-DJ turning sommelier, how can you go wrong?), this trip went awry. Let’s be honest, I’m disappointed that the smoke from the forest fires kept me from being able to relax and give a solid audition representative of my talents. That said, who cares?

I am so sorry for everyone dealing with the forest fires in California, from the everyday citizens (hopefully) wearing medical masks or construction masks, to those evacuated, to the tens of thousands now homeless and the dozens who’ve lost their lives. I weep for the planet, and I have not yet recovered emotionally from breathing in the air of the earth that cries for help while we continue to pollute it with our entitled lives of carbon, plastic, and carelessness. Even South Park (I love this show) gets it right now. I came home last night and attended a child’s birthday party today. When the topic arose, one person said we’d have to wait until we had a better president to accomplish anything for climate change. I couldn’t help but argue that we can’t wait for someone else to make a change.

Well, needless to say, I’ve had quite a journey these past twelve days, including the six plane trips and huge array of food, smells, temperatures, personalities, and time zones. Distilling it down to the most important lessons, I have learned two crucial things. First and foremost, we are destroying the planet. We’ve been destroying the planet. We really don’t have the luxury of waiting for someone else to fix it or distracting ourselves from doing something about it. Period. Secondly, good people are my favorite attraction. Not museums, monuments, or even autumn leaves and shows. People. Given that, I have to remember that good people can make a difference.

So – if you’re one of those, find a way to do something more than you’re already doing to change today. Good news, there are resources to find out how, compiled by good people like you. Here are six of them, if you’d like to make a difference.
1. Reduce your carbon footprint
2. Get involved
3. Divest
4. Invest
5. Attempt a zero waste lifestyle (or some of the approaches to it)
6. Listen to people trying to solve the problems of climate change (it really helps me to stay somewhat optimistic and not feel paralyzed or powerless!)

About the Holocaust, Germans have said, “nie wieder,” meaning “never again.” In the time of World War II, countless individuals turned a blind eye to the atrocities facing their fellow citizens of the world. Passing the blame to the people executing orders or giving the orders, most of the people who might have done something to make it stop sat around and did nothing. Perhaps people will question my comparison of genocide to climate change, but what will future generations think if we too sit by and do nothing, while others enjoy their entitled freedoms and grow their wealth at the cost of the  displacement of islands and cities, the destruction of homes, lives lost, and the desolation of Earth? This bothers me. It should bother us all.

 

Why It Matters (#244)

received_500754213726893-01.jpeg

Three more shows. Listen, I love NYC, and I do look forward to working on my current projects at home. I have lots of work to do, a wedding to sing at The Metropolitan Opera, lots of masses to sing at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a couple of solo gigs in December, and I hope to get more work singing or acting at home when I return. I’ll even have some great distractions, including a planned trip to Berlin, an audition in San Francisco, and Thanksgiving with my family in Florida.

So, why do I tear up when I think about ending our run of La Traviata at Washington National Opera in DC? Without a doubt, the people here are great and have welcomed me into their family without hesitation. I plan to write more in the future about my adventures with housing, but I’ve had an incredibly gracious host in a beautiful home who has truly become a friend. I’ve worn costumes perfectly tailored to my body, tasted wine, celebrated and laughed with friends, caught up with great people I haven’t seen in decades, and sung repeatedly in a gorgeous opera house for incredibly grateful audiences.

If I’m completely honest, these fulfilling and enriching experiences follow me, and I will return for a production of Faust in February and March. Although I don’t yet know where I’ll stay, the universe teaches me over and over that good people and my own resourcefulness abound, and I suspect I’ll have some unknown experience that will make me smile and help me grow. Why the tears? Change is hard. I tout it as a lifestyle all the time, and I plan to write a book about the importance of making it a habit, but I cannot lie and pretend that I don’t still fight, every time a big change arrives. So why bother?

Yeah, I have more questions than answers in this post. Still, I know that I felt the same way, getting on a bus to come here and fight through the discomfort of being the new kid at school. The sheer lack of foreknowledge of the neighborhood, my host, the staff at my gig, how I might adjust… I knew nothing. In less than two months, I’ve grown so comfortable with this change that I don’t want to leave. It happens every time. I hate packing. I hate leaving. I hate not knowing what might happen on the other side of Monday. Since the future doesn’t exist yet and now is all we have, I intend to wipe those honest tears, enjoy my friends here and my family coming to see the show, dance and sing in the most lovely costumes I’ve worn in a while, and remind myself of my greatest truth and passion – an openness to change. When I step out of that bus, I welcome another adventure and another fulfilling reality to help me become a better person. Without that shift, I’ll never open the door to whatever unknown journey will make me want to stay next.

DC, thank you. I can’t wait to see you again soon.

My Week as a Woman (#243)

20180927_131815_HDR-01.jpeg

“Wow, your hair is so beautiful! How did you do that?” asks a stranger on the train platform.
“I had it done,” I say, somewhat warily of a perfectly normal stranger, except for his unusually forward body language and the way he immediately acted as if he’d known me all my life.
“Can I have a hug?”
“No.”
“Why not?”
“Because I don’t know you at all.”
“Why are you being mean?”
“I just don’t know you.”
This stranger offers his hand, and we exchange names, after which he says, “I’m not trying to be weird or anything, I just really like your hair.”
“Thanks, I appreciate that.” He gives me a hug – the one I had refused – and I let it happen. I then tell him where I had my hair done and get on the train.

All day, this event bothered me, playing in my mind over and over, like a car accident I could have avoided. I thought of how I wished I had replied to his reaction, stating that I was “being mean,” with some witty retort about how he should respect a woman who says she doesn’t want to be touched, whether she’s a stranger or not. How no woman, no human owes any other human anything just because you offered them a compliment. And how dare he call me mean, just because I, a stranger, said the word “no” and didn’t give him whatever it was he magically felt entitled to receive? That was yesterday.

Today, I called up one of my unions. After discovering that more than one opera company had contributed money to a union retirement account in my “name,” I called to inquire as to why I had never received any statements or information about that account. I could, and might elsewhere, write a much longer story about the problems inherent to this system, but I’ll stick to how our archaic methods of treating women have exacerbated this situation. In 2001, I took my now ex-husband’s name, for a year and a half. By 2004, I had gone from married name, to hyphenate while separated, to returning to my maiden name – the name I had used since birth.

Even then, I hated waiting to officially divorce, to pay money, to revert to my given name. I loathed sending official documents to prove my identity to banks with whom I had been a client since high school. Nobody told me when I got married and took someone else’s name, that mine was no longer my right to use. As you might imagine, I had a very frustrating afternoon trying to wrap my mind around the fact that the same union charged to protect me now needs me to prove my identity a full fourteen years later, in order for me to even find out if the money that should have been set aside all these years in my name (that’s Abigail Wright, if anyone still wonders) has even gone to the right place.

Finally, and most significantly, there is a bold woman on the stand today, Christine Blasey Ford, facing the opponent of bigotry, sexism, bullying, death threats, and the sometimes hatefully misogynistic treatment we face in American culture. Eleven years ago, I was date-raped by a co-worker from a restaurant while working towards my master’s degree. We had consensual sex, and it was too aggressive and painful. Although I should’ve stopped it the first time, I did not. When he propositioned me to have sex again that night, I said no. Clearly. More than once. He still forced himself on me and inside me, and I had to push him off of me, running to the bathroom, hyperventilating, and having flashbacks of a time I was abused by a stranger as a child. When I came out of the bathroom, he asked me what was wrong, as if he had no idea that any breach of trust, any offense, any rape had occured.

At that time, I just wanted to get on with my life. I attended a meeting about our opera the next day, told nobody until I passed out from the stress and had to go to the hospital a month later, and eventually went for therapy and told my parents, who were incredibly loving and supportive. I quit my job at the restaurant immediately, not wanting to see the rapist again. I blocked his calls. I held my breath, and I tried desperately to regain my confidence, my life, and my ability to function as a normal person. Although some part of me will always regret not trying to stop him from doing this to others (knowing the way he talked at work sometimes, I assume there were others), the impossibility of the burden of proving that the second time was not consensual, compounded by the enormous trauma of even having to sit in the same room with him, I did not and do not want to try.

If, however, this man appeared in politics, I might think twice. If he rose to one of the most crucial and termless positions in law and government? Oh, you can bet I would throw myself in the fire to keep him from being the one to determine how even one, no less all citizens, are treated by the basis of American law. I vote independently, and although I do not consider myself conservative, I recognize the likelihood that the Supreme Court will turnover to a more conservative-leaning panel of judges in a relatively short period of time. Our laws and acts will change, and many may mourn the lack of protections we once enjoyed.

If a conservative voter has read this far, if you for a moment thought it unlikely that a woman would honestly wait this long to come forward against her attempted rapist, I can with complete certainty tell you that most women never hold their rapists to account, unless they are incredibly strong and willing to burn their own lives. Even in this #metoo era, women who speak up are harassed at least as much as they are heralded as heroes, and it is not a fun game so much as a complete and utter nightmare.

Christine Blasey Ford, you have come forward, not to imprison this man, but to stop him from ascending to the position of being able to determine our basic human rights. Thank you. We all, conservative, independent, and liberal, ought to thank you for standing up for all of us, for giving us the chance to question this man with clear shadows in his past and instead, hopefully watch a decent person take their rightful place in history. By the standards of any previous society in modern times, women have more freedoms and respect than ever, and yet this was my week as a woman. Please, people, let’s do better.