“So have you set a date for the music thing? The jamming?” asked Jason.
I was horrified. “There isn’t…it’s totally not…OMG didn’t you read my e-mail?”
“Wait. Is this fire pit music night?” asked PJ. “I didn’t get that e-mail,” said Julia.
“Did too. ‘Member? It said ‘anyone who wants in on the music-making part of fire pit music night should e-mail me ASAP?’ THOSE people got the NEXT e-mail. The one with instructions.”
“Well. I am ready any time. In fact, I want to play on every song,” said Jason.
He totally didn’t read my e-mail.
“Back -up dancers! We call back-up dancers!” yelled PJ and Julia.
“There are no “back-up” dancers at Country Music Fire Pit Night,” I told them.
“Yes there are,” they said. “And tambourines.”
“Sooo…how exactly are we practicing, if we’re not all getting together beforehand?” asked Jason.
“IT WAS IN THE…. This is duets. Duets and trios. You pick out your own songs and you practice with the people involved on your own schedule.”
“So we’re not just, like, going to sit around and call out songs?”
“There will be a set list. There is already a set list.”
“Oh. Well then can I invite my brother?”
“No. THERE IS A RULE. This audience is limited to the people who were on the 2013 to-do list because that is where this started, and I am being bossy because my somebody put my name on that item, and I started and ended this unread e-mail with an explanation of my PARALYZING STAGE FRIGHT so no. We are not inviting the Greater Triangle Area.”
“So when we do the jam…”
“THERE WILL BE NO JAMMING. I do not have any patience for jamming. Order and precision, please. If we start JAMMING we might as well just be playing jazz. And if someone says jazz to me, I will Lose It, do you hear me, LOSE IT.”
“Music nazi,” came from one corner.
“You know she has control issues,” came from another corner.
“You think?” snickered every other corner everywhere. A couple of people saluted.
Punks. All y’all.
They’re my punks, though, and I love them, and if they all want to throw a hundred jamming around the campfire sessions where they play jazz and back-up dance with tambourines, I will support them. But That Is Not What We Are Doing This Time. Damn It.
See, I was a teacher for a decade, and a student again after that, and I’m sure of one thing: when a whole bunch of people are trying to figure out something in a group, what ends up happening is that the loudest people are the ones who get their way, if there’s no system in place. The ones who sound most confident, even if they’re wrong. It’s how people’s voices get lost.
Let me back up. This is not about fire pit music night. The eight of us around the dinner table last night had just come from the Moral Monday protest. Some people came back inspired. I came back deflated, absolutely disheartened. I got there late, and I was hangry, and I stood at the back to give Dawg some space, and I couldn’t hear or see anything, and I spent the whole time saying, “Yes, he’s a puppy. Yes, he’s very sweet. Yes, he’s a lab hound mix,” and then a storm came and everyone had to scatter. I didn’t feel like I participated, or made a difference. Every now and then a big cheer would go up from the crowd, and I turned to Audrey and said, “What is that? A police bus?” and she said, “No. It’s a car. ” “A car with someone we should know in it?” and she said, “Well, no. People are just showing support.” And that depressed me even more, because applauding passing cars is not really getting anyone anywhere.
And so, I stood there, not making a difference, knowing that nothing much would be different when I woke up today. No additions, really, to justice or equality or democracy. Just a bunch of angry people, here, until the next election, and we could try to do something about it. Except, y’all, there’s already been gerrymandering and attempts to curb voting rights and just general evildoing, all over the legislature, and it’s an abuse of power, and it’s shameful, and it’s working, and then I walked home frustrated and in the rain.
I had a suspicion I would feel like that, but I went anyway, just went and stood there with Dawg and my friends, because sometimes you just have to stand up and be counted, even if you can’t see for sure that it matters.
Because, maybe it matters. Maybe someone will notice that people are outraged, and in disbelief, and embarrassed for this beautiful state we live in, and the politicians who are on a power grab and trying to set us back forty or fifty years. Maybe it will call attention. Maybe it will make someone, somewhere more aware, or more involved, or more empowered. We went through the Wake County School Board debacle because none of us saw it coming. We don’t have that excuse this time. We see the crazy coming. It’s here.
As we talked through it all last night, Veronica said something important. “I’m not powerless,” she said. “I have options and I have resources and I’m mobile and I can figure out how to do what needs to be done. But I’m willing to go stand out there on behalf of the people around us who really are powerless. They don’t have a voice right now. And I’m going to stand up for them.”
She’s right. Every voice matters, then. Every single one.