Jslow and Paula March on Washington

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Jslow and I marched on Washington D.C. last Saturday along with over four million sisters and brothers across the globe.

It was fucking awesome.

Images and stories from the March have been all over social media, further uniting, exciting and propelling this movement to keep fighting. Yesterday, thousands protested Trumps’ arrival at the Republican Congressional retreat in Philadelphia. A Scientist’s March on Washington is scheduled for March, and a “Trump Taxes March” is scheduled for April 15. Moreover, thousands of local groups are forming to mobilize, including “Swing Left”, which helps you find your closest swing district so you can help support Republican opposition to take back the House in the mid-term elections.

As for the Women’s March in DC, here is my story.

The night before, I pack for the cold, basing my attire around my FUCK TRUMP shirt and fake Vetements Ring Belt pictured above, and black Dr. Marten’s boots. I print my boarding pass and score the small “Pre TSA” notice on the right-hand side. This is a good omen about the March to come. Yes, I’m superstitious like that.

I’m traveling from San Francisco solo; I’ll be meeting-up with Jslow, who’s flying to DC from Los Angeles, at the Dulles Airport to head to our hotel.

Only I’m not alone. There is this sisterhood that is palpable. Protest signs poke through backpacks. “Nasty Women” T-shirts peek through parkas. Pussy Hats fill security bins, a pink train chugging through the x-ray machine.

When I arrive at my Gate 55 in Terminal 2 of SFO, the Virgin departure board welcomes and wishes us well. All of us Marchers take photos and feel more and more sure that we are doing the right thing in going.

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Now I’m on the plane. My row 22 seatmates are an adorable Aunt/Niece duo. Across the aisle sit a mom and her 10-year old daughter. Groups of friends, families, people alone like me, all heading to the March. There are zero drunken douchebags, or self-important corporate cocks yammering into their cellphones after we are told to switch to airplane mode. No babies are crying. No overhead bins are hogged. It’s a fucking miracle.

During my bathroom trip, I survey the scene; nearly every seat-back screen is tuned to CNN or MSNBC for the Trump Inauguration coverage; faces wince, eyes roll, finger guns point to temples. More cocktails are ordered (the good stuff). More seatmates banter and laugh. We’re all here for the same reason, all excited to share our reasons for why we’re going, all pleasantly surprised that our plane is 90% full of Marchers. I know, we know, that this is going to be big. Bigger than we could imagine.

I land safely at Dulles, and make my way over to United to meet Jslow. In every terminal, at every gate, women deplane, laughing, trading emails and facebook names, wearing Pussy Hats. It nearly brings me to tears.

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Jslow finally emerges in her giant fluffy vintage fur, and off we go to find our way out of the airport and into a cab.

We settle into our room at the Kimpton Rouge Hotel, and head down to the lobby bar, which is overflowing with excited Marchers from all over the country. Over expensive cocktails and truffled fries, we watch Trump and Melania and that whole gruesome family dance at the Balls. Everyone at the bar laughs and gags and grimaces with every closeup of Trump and his terrified bride. To my left, out of nowhere, a lone Trump supporter hisses, “I thought you liberals were supposed to be tolerant.”

No sir, we will never tolerate this jackass.

We wake the next morning excited and nervous. After showers, coffee and muffins, we head downstairs to meet the Uber that contains Rihanna and Haile; Jslow and I met Rihanna years ago at the Acne Studios boutique in Soho; Rihanna bussed to DC with her friend Haile whom Jslow barely knew and I’d never met.

Haile is 23 and wears nothing under her leopard coat. I try to act natural, like that’s normal. I don’t want to feel as old as I feel right now next to these millennials. I lighten up.

This is Haile below. That is Jslow, using red lipstick to freshen up Haile’s “Nasty Women” torso, holding her “I March for Lux” sign, made by her daughter.

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We wander the packed spaces leading up to the Mall where the rally is happening, taking it all in, marveling at the crowd, the posters, the chants, the everything.

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The creativity and wit took me by surprise. I’m pissed I didn’t make a sign. I’m also pissed I didn’t come armed with a chant.

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These chants have become earworms that form my activist soundtrack: The sing-song delivery, call and response nature and lyrical brilliance as catchy as any Todd Rundgren hook. I became fascinated by everything about the chant: who started them (one Marcher out of nowhere calls VERY LOUDLY a foot from my right ear, “TELL ME WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE” as we respond “THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE.” Some chants last longer than others. Some get no traction at all; at one point the group in back of us started a chant that went nowhere. Died in the air. I don’t think this happens very much. Just a cautionary tale: perhaps you want to focus-group it before you take it live.

My favorites:

“Can’t build a wall – Hands too small” (video below – excuse the wrong use of “Hands”)

“You’re orange, you’re gross, you lost the popular vote”

“We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter”

“We will not go away – welcome to your first day”

This beautiful man below is King, one of the many security guards assigned to the March. Poor guy was responsible for keeping ladies like us from jumping off this ledge onto the Mall below. We make our way up to this vantage point by scaling shoulders and grabbing the hands of fellow Marchers. From here we twist and dart between tree branches, snake through dense shrubs. We are pushed to take drastic measures as we can’t get into the Mall – the crowd is too large, and security turns us away. So we sneak around the side.

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As you can see below, we make it close enough to see and hear the video screens, so we settle in to see/hear Maxine Waters, Kamala Harris, Scarlett Johansson and a host of others involved in the movement. Hillary Clinton, below, looks quite pleased.

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And then we march, which includes Trump’s DC hotel; everybody BOOS. So cathartic.

As we continue on and and night approaches, we grow a bit weary, and very, very hungry. Food vendors we hoped for never materialized. Afraid we’d have to pee with nowhere to go but in our pants, we drink nothing. Marchers with clear plastic backpacks (noted as the only acceptable backpacks for the march, but not enforced) torture us with homemade cookies, Kind Bars and Vitamin Water visible on their backs and in our face. We plot how to bat one open like a pinata, but strangely don’t ask anyone to share. Crazy, as I have no doubt everyone with food would have.

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Towards the end, Marchers lean their posters on a long chain link fence towards the White House. Posters are also left around the perimeter of Trump’s hotel. Here is Jslow leaving hers. Rumor has it these protest posters will be saved and placed in the Smithsonian.

I will never forget this day or our magical foursome. Photographer, Holly Garner captured us perfectly in the photo below:

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The next day, Jslow and I visit the Lincoln Memorial. Pussy Hats are everywhere. An African American man drops to one knee and asks his white girlfriend to marry him. She says yes and the crowd erupts. I’m thinking this is Trump and Pence’s worst nightmare.

As I ponder the huge statue of Lincoln, I shake my head and can’t fucking believe that Trump is really our president, especially when you compare him to Lincoln and Obama and FDR and Kennedy and all of these extraordinary men who have held this office. We make our way into the tiny gift shop on our way out and shudder at the display of “President Trump” memorabilia: Tumblers, patches, pens, all with his menacing mug. Seriously. Fucked. Up.

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I’m home now.

In group therapy the other night, I tearily explain how incredible and transformative the March was for me, and how important it was to know there were millions of other people, women, who have all of the same hopes and fears as I do. And that since the March I feel this connection to these people and this movement; I feel part of a Sisterhood. Sounds cliche. I don’t care.

Beautiful things can happen in the face of awfulness. People unite in the face of division.

Esteemed writer, historian and activist Rebecca Solnit (thanks Finn!) authored the very appropriate “Hope in the Dark” which I just bought and you should too, which addresses this very phenomenon.

In Hope in the Dark,

She makes a radical case for hope as a commitment to act in a world whose future remains uncertain and unknowable. Drawing on her decades of activism and a wide reading of environmental, cultural, and political history, Solnit argued that radicals have a long, neglected history of transformative victories, that the positive consequences of our acts are not always immediately seen, directly knowable, or even measurable, and that pessimism and despair rest on an unwarranted confidence about what is going to happen next.

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This week, and every day of every week until Trump is out of office and/or dies, I’m wearing my big pink FUCK TRUMP button that I bought from the Pussy Hat vendor at the DC March. I forget I have it on until I get a “thumbs up”, head nod or smile. Better yet is when a stranger approach me to talk about the hope we all have, how fired up to fight we are.

What can we do to keep up the momentum?

For starters, sign up for the Daily Action; it will text you one action you can take everyday.

Also, follow Occupy Democrats: Loads of great information here.

Thank you for bearing with this long post. I had to write it all down; I just don’t want to forget anything.

And I do have Hope in the Dark.


2 Responses

  1. Kellypagnac@yahoo.com'

    Holy shit! What a powerful post. Thank you for this: you captured some of the energy of the March in all your words and images. I could feel it as I read it… your writing and that beautiful image of the four of you gave me shivers and brought tears both. Thank you for fighting and inspiring others. You ladies rock!!

    1. Paula

      Hi Kelly! Thank you so much for writing, and we’re so glad you liked the post. I just had to get it all down as I never want to forget this day. The positive vibes are carrying me through this dark time and give me so much hope. xoxo

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