I should probably start out by clarifying that I’m not “technically” the least dangerous woman in America. It just feels like it sometimes.
Before 1999, I was your typical Gen Xer. I grew up during the Cold War in a magical land of nuclear bomb drills and “The Brady Bunch”. The kids of my generation were the test subjects of the burgeoning “Standard American Diet”, which in my house consisted of TV dinners, Hamburger Helper, Chef Boyardee, and Tang. We had only 4 television channels to choose from before cable hit the scene in the early ’80’s, and if you only had one TV in the house, you were watching “Falcon Crest” and “Dallas” and “Knot’s Landing”. If you wanted to get in touch with someone, you had to wait for your turn on the landline phone, then untangle hundreds of feet of cords if you wanted a private conversation in your own room. Researching anything required a trip to the library, but we mostly just did that for school. We were too busy having our minds blown by MTV to be bothered with depressing stuff like “news”. Our parents weren’t into stuff like our “development” or “supervision”, so we were mostly left to our own devices in deciding what our future would look like. Our mentors were mostly pop culture icons, and the materialistic yuppies and baby boomers made “finding a career” sounded about as fun as a wisdom tooth extraction.
I found my tribe with theater people for a few years, but settled for paid gigs working in the psychiatric field. I worked in children’s psych hospitals, group homes for people with chronic diseases like schizophrenia, a scary state hospital (but only for one day), and even a group home for Jewish schizophrenics. I have always felt called to help people, so when I got involved in activism after the Seattle WTO protest in 1999, the anti-globalization movement held great appeal.
Unfortunately, I never felt like I fit in. The infighting and provocation was triggering and confusing to me. The more I learned about all the various factions that make up “The Left”, the more I saw how they were constantly cannibalizing each other. The elation of “getting involved” lasted less than a year. I was overcommitted and burned out. I felt that we were pouring way too much energy into putting on demonstrations for the same people over and over. Hundreds of hours of planning translated to a 15-second blurb on the evening news, if we were lucky.
There had to be something else for me. I wanted to find a way to utilize my strengths and talents, but what could I do? I know how to talk to people. I love talking to people and figuring out what makes them tick. I adore humanity. I think folks who devote their lives to bettering the world are rock stars, and I always wanted to be one of those people.
I kept my eyes and ears open, and before to long came up with the idea to walk across America, which I did between 2001-2003. After that, I decided to get involved with the labor movement, and have been a union railroad conductor and switchman for the last 12 years.
Both experiences gifted me with a lot of stories, and I love to tell stories. My stories are all I have left now, as an on-the-job injury has left me permanently disabled and falling through the cracks as a single mom on a fixed income. I am deep in poverty and debt, with no easy way out.
I’ll never be able to walk across the country again, but I hope to still be useful. If I can inspire others to use their talents and serve humanity in their own ways, big and small, my life will be full again. I had few mentors when I started out, and I always thought that was a shame. I’m 46 now. Not quite an “elder”, but I’ve learned a few things over the years. I’m happy to help anyone starting out in this crazy, wonderful world of activism.
This writing gig doesn’t pay at all so far, and it is extremely challenging for a first-time author like me to get noticed. I truly need your help in finding representation. If you dig my ramblings, please “like” and “share”!
If you took me in during my walk, please message me, you awesome person! This first book I have planned is about all of you, but 13 years is a long time! You might have to jog my memory a bit.
I will occasionally be updating this with excerpts from my memoir, “Don’t Be Ladylike: Memoirs from the Least Dangerous Woman in America, Part 1 – The Walk for Democracy”. I have no assistant or press team (though my 11-year old editor is amazing!), and I still have many hundreds of pages I’ve written over the years to organize and clean up. I will try my best to answer any questions you might have!
Take a look around, ask me anything, and good luck out there!