Karen Rivers

I love you.

Karen Rivers

I Googled "I love you" just now.

Do it.  

I'll wait.  

I was marking and marking and marking, that's what I do at this time of year.   Merry Christmas!  Here is some marking!   Oh, holy marking, the grades are brightly shining.  

I'm lucky to get to read these stories but I'm also tired.  That's how it goes.  Lucky and tired are always doing battle.  So I was thinking about marking and the students who poured their hearts into their work (and the ones who didn't) and I was thinking about how writing is a form of love, that putting a story down on paper (or on a screen) is a form of love, how love is involved whether you want it to be or not, how much I love my characters, how Velveteen-Rabbit-real they are to me, real because I love them into being.  

My son is studying love at school, that's a thing now, at least in Montessori.  There are so many forms of love.  There isn't a love-word that describes writing and creating and surviving and keeping going and I think there should be, don't you?   Art is love.  So is living.  Writing definitely is.   

I love you, I typed in the Google search box.  

My screen filled with results.  It felt so immediate, so true and good and right, that typing I love you would of course have a million hits and the first thing was a song, and it was a song I didn't know, so I clicked it and listened to it while I heated up a cup of coffee for the third or tenth time and hoped that I wouldn't get microwave radiation poisoning if I actually managed to drink it this time before it got cold again.   The song wasn't bad.   It wasn't the best song I've ever heard, but I listened to it twice, just in case, and then I read the comments because I wasn't ready to go back to marking yet.  Someone commented that they found the song by saying "I love you" to their Google phone and I loved that, that here we are in this world that is largely falling apart, all clotted up with the gore of humanity's greed and hunger and hate, saying "I love you" to Google, which is marginally better than asking what the weather is doing, because you can literally go look out ANY window unless you have no windows.  All people with windows should look outside to see what the weather is doing and not ask their Alexa.  Instead, they should say to their Alexa, "I love you."  Why not?   

It felt pretty good to me, knowing that other people out there are saying "I love you" to no one, to nothing, to the ether.  

So after that, I scrolled down on the page and the next five or six or seven hits were all for "I love you Daddy" which is the Louis CK film that is now never going to be released or will be later, after "things blow over" or whatever the patriarchy hopes will happen next. And just seeing that, seeing how quickly "I love you" led to Louis CK and misogyny and the whole garbage fire of everything gave me a lump in my throat and bile in my mouth, both at once, like a terrible choking medical condition. The stuff these so-called "powerful" men have done is monstrous.  It's truly monstrous.  There isn't another word.   Think about it.  Their assumptions that we -- our bodies -- are what they are entitled to because they hold the keys to some kingdom that some of us would like to enter maybe or even something much less than that.   Like, say, we want to stay employed.   Or, I don't know, alive.

But they made money.

They got the keys.  

And then they thought, "Hey, I get a prize now, right?"  

The prizes that they claimed were us.  

It's beyond absurd to me that this is the world we live in, that for however many years (forever?), women have been made to feel that it's at least partially our fault, if not entirely our fault, that men -- the key-holders, the prize winners -- have sent us photos of their penises or touched us or grabbed us or kissed us or raped us.  Unbelievably, men (some men) to a certain degree still seem to think this is the case, that women INVITE this.  But -- surprise! -- it's not true!   It is not women's fault!   Or, god forbid, girls'!   

We did not ask for this!

It is the fault of the men who perpetuate the acts in question.   The questionable acts or whatever they are calling them.   They aren't really questionable, they are just wrong.   I have an answer regarding these acts and the answer is "Eff you." 

But!  

BUT.

But now there is a new dawn.   A new dawn!  

There is a line in the song, the I Love You song, that says "We are shining in the rising sun" and look at this, look around right now, because we women are shining and we aren't shining because we want to be something pretty for you to look at, for you to feast your eyes on, for you to send a penis pic to!  Imagine that!   Nope, we are shining because we are really really angry, because the tipping point has been reached and it is now spilling over, all over, everywhere, and burning down all of you "powerful" men and your "proclivities" and your kingdoms, the keys to which you thought we needed.     

We have had ENOUGH.

We will build our own kingdoms.

And we can, because we are fuelled by the fury of generations of girls and women who you have felt entitled to touch.

This isn't PRETTY SHINY SPARKLY us, shining for your pleasure, this is ENOUGH ALREADY us shining with incandescent rage, that's the shine that you see, that's what is so beautiful, how much shine we have.  I mean, it's enough shine to burn your skin straight off if you stare for long enough, so I encourage you to do that if you're one of these men in question, a man who has conflated wealth with "the right to do whatever the hell you want with our bodies". 

And here's a tip:   If you tell us to smile, well, you won't remember what happens next in the heat of the combustion of our cumulative exhaustion with how things have been up until now.   I bet you've said it.  "Smile!" I bet you've thought that was a "nice" thing to say and that we wanted to hear it.  Spoiler:  We never did.  Not once was it a pleasure.   Not one single time.  

But I didn't want to go here.  

This post was about "I love you" and writing and what happens when you search things on Google that really could bring up almost anything as a result.   

I wish Google would take that Louis CK stuff off their front page of I love you, really I do.  

Let's put some loveable things up there.  Something that makes us feel softer inside, something that makes it OK that we are here, right now, in this world where we have to buy a lot of things and keep up and earn more and pay tax and give up all our smooth luxurious empty time in favour of running faster to be fitter and thinner and richer and god if only we can get to the end with enough money to last us until we've finished eating our very last meal, I guess.  

There should be some dogs on that page.  Actual dogs.  Puppies.   Dogs are love.  I'm firmly convinced.   That's what love is.   All animals.    Well, not the ones that see us as meat.   Or the ones we view as meat.  That's a whole 'nother thing.   

When I say "I love you" to my daughter, she always says, "Okaaaay".   I don't know where to put that, but it wanted to be in this post, so there it is. 

My bird died yesterday, so I'm a bit sad and all over the place.  I don't think I gave my bird his best life.  I feel guilty about that.  I always feel like I'm letting my pets down, except my dogs, because all they want is to go for a walk and it turns out that same-same, that's mostly what I want, too!  Cue the joy soundtrack!   

I wish I could take my dogs with me all over the world and what we'd do is that we'd turn our back on the cities and all the stores where we can spend money on things we don't want or need that one day we will feel relieved to throw away.   We'd turn away from that and go to the edge of town.  All towns have edges.   The edges are the best part because beyond the edges is the chewy nothingness, like the edge of a tray of brownies, you know what I mean.  

There are usually trees out there past where the Gap Outlet resides and all those other clothes made by women and, who are we kidding, children, in unsafe factories overseas for the same amount of money per day that we spend on a Creme Brûlée Latte at Starbucks.  That's who we are, just as a reminder:  We are people who have indirectly said, "I'm OK with women and children working in unsafe conditions for not-enough-money so I can buy a tank top for $4.99."  I'll just leave that here.  I'm not trying to make you feel badly, I'm just poking at my own bruises.   I'm wearing slippers right now from Old Navy.    No one is perfect.  I'm definitely not.  

When humans leave blank spots, the plants grow up there and fill it in.  That's the magic.   That's love.  A form of love that also wasn't in my son's Montessori text book:  The way the planet loves itself.   "Look, a blank spot!",  the planet says.   "I will fill it in with green."  Even Chernobyl.  We can't seem to destroy things even when we are actively trying.  The plants grow back.  Go plants!  I found a vine growing in my crawlspace when I went to get the Christmas decorations.  I admire its tenacity.  It's really dark in there.  But then if I'm being honest, my first reaction was not "Go plants!"   Mostly I was depressed about the fact that my house is holey, not to be mistaken for holy.  It is so very holey that plants can grow right through the walls.   But maybe that is holy.   Who knows?   The plant is morning glory, in case you're wondering.   When we all die and the planet burns and freezes in equal measure and that idiot who is running America  starts a nuclear war because someone made fun of his complete and absolute incompetence, the morning glory will live on.  Praise be for the weeds, I guess.  The weeds are love.  They know what we don't know about how to just keep living, in spite of everything ridiculous that's happening everywhere.   They just keep doing it.   So do we, I suppose.   Maybe we are weeds.  I have to hope we are.

Probably the morning glory in my crawlspace will grow up through the chimney and into the living room soon.  One day, I'll look down and it will be twining around my Old Navy slippers, which are on my feet and I'll be pinned here to the couch, which is OK because I have my laptop and I'm writing and my dog is sleeping on my shoulders and I love.  My coffee is cold again but that's how it goes.   

Anyway, I love you.  

My students all type "anyways", with an S.   That's not actually a word, did you know that?  But they keep typing "anyways" and I keep crossing it out and each time, I feel hopeless for a few seconds and then I stop feeling hopeless and I love what my students have written and that they wrote it and that even though everything is terrible, we still write things, we conjure up magic out of nothingness, we make characters, we invent lives, we Velveteen-Rabbit-love all these made up people into being.  It's like we can't stop.  We keep doing it.  

We can't stop because love.   Love keeps propelling everything forward.   Love and dogs.  

That's all.  

I hope you're well.  

I hope you're writing.  

I hope you love. 

I hope you're loved.