Last night was the first of our monthly Last Wednesday Open Mic Series led by Norma Smith, who opened the night with a free-writing session. A room full of people sat and free-wrote together for ten minutes. Norma described the process as “accessing” something that hasn’t been written before, like a magical opportunity that could be glimpsed only in certain circumstances.
The featured readers, Susan Ito, Erica M. Boas and Rona Fernandez read bold, vulnerable and beautifully crafted stories about versions of parenting. The open mic followed. People read poems they brought with them, things that were in progress and others that were polished, and one reader read what she wrote for her freewrite, sharing her own story of familial abuse and marking her first time getting up and reading something she wrote about herself EVER!
This event reminded me why LIMINAL exists. Things have been rough lately, for me personally, in money, mental health, what-the-fuck-am-I-doing-with-my-life sorts of ways and opening a business that is so aligned with my passions and wants for the world has made it very easy for me to mistake the challenges of the business for inherently inept things about myself. And it makes sense, as it is true that my own dysfunctional coping mechanisms are standing in my way of growth: lack of patience, the jump in and then figure it out type of progress that leads to progress as well as panic and chaos— and so I am having to learn to slow the fuck down and plan, to not get into an anxiety-ridden “fix mode” and look at how I can take a long-view and appreciate where things are. As the oldest of six kids in a fucked up household, I was always putting out fires, so the recreation of these conditions is what I know. Unlearning these, or employing them when necessary and advantageous rather than as an always answer is a challenging process and sometimes I ask myself why? Why not just go work for some fucked-up corporation and keep your mouth shut and put some money in the damn bank, and live a normal life with a house and vacations?
However, when we have a night light this, where women share boldly about things that are still not talked about in public, when women can come together and express themselves, cry while reading, cry while listening, a hacking apart of the patriarchy is in progress. We are inhabiting a space that is a living alternative, a model other than the silence, and this is the place I started LIMINAL from. Women are strong. We endure so many experiences in silence and have throughout history. This space is for truth-telling and community. It is for art and narrative. It is for making the statement that these two notions are not mutually exclusive and that what women have to write about is worth writing, reading, and sharing. This is a space where our experiences are not discounted but contrastly respected, revered as the bravery and guidance they are.
In an open mic about parenting, a range of taboo subjects could come up. In a mainstream literary venue with hipsters and overpriced coffee, they may never be discussed and the status quo may never be challenged, but I am proud to say that at LIMINAL, though our coffee may be from a stubborn old Italian drip system donated to us graciously and we only have three mason jar cups in the cabinet, real shit is discussed here. For instance, what does it mean to mother a dead child? How does one live with the decision of terminating a pregnancy to save their own life? What does it look like to have a three year old that drives you nuts when the good mommy is suppose to be ever-patient and serene? What are your thoughts when thinking about procreating, when you experienced sexual abuse from within what was suppose to be the trusted family unit?
I am in awe of the women who write honestly. Today, I am inspired to write, to slow down and plan, to find the funds and the knowledge that is out there to make this place sustainable, profitable even, and it is because of nights like these that remind me that there are so many liminal spaces we all navigate in our everyday existence that require a communal space to inhabit, as this is the space where they have impact, power, influence.