Say Your Name:

Magnolias & Mrs. Maisel Mashup

I wrote what you’ll read below earlier this week and since then I’ve been nurturing my seasonal magnolia obsession. The photos don’t make sense with the text but we’re just going to be okay with it because magnolias only bloom for so long and they’re just awesome. Let’s call it a Magnolia / Mrs. Maisel mashup.

Also, I couldn’t resist sharing a photo of our cat, Caesura, stretching and yawning over this book. Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into it!

A few years ago, I was on a long flight to Athens and decided to watch something. Now, the strange real-book-reading-meditating thing about me is that I normally don’t turn on the in-flight screens. This time, however, I found The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel and couldn’t stop watching. The main character is a late 1950s comic who’s also a Jewish Upper West Side divorced mother of two…and a bourgeoning feminist. I actually didn’t want to leave the flight because I wanted to keep watching!

I know this show is old news but the last season just came out and Stacy and I decided to watch the series again from the beginning. A good friend of mine nudged me to watch it as well. We like to talk about the ways she dances with both her desire for and fear of success.

Tonight Stacy and I watched the season one finale titled, “Thank You and Goodnight.” Well, I ran straight to my desk to write to you. I’m actually in my pyjamas right now and ready for bed but I just had to write. Inspiration and all.

There is something about that last scene where Miriam owns herself and her story with absolutely no shame that just gets me.

Up until this point, she didn’t want anyone to know who she was. She used a fake name and a thousand-and-one tactics to not succeed. Throughout the season we see her fighting sexism on all fronts (including in her own mind), betrayal from her husband, and all the ways she was expected to keep up appearances and be a good girl.

So, when she proudly raises both arms in the air at the end of her career-making act and finally tells the room her name, it is powerful.

What would it be like to raise your arms to the sky with immeasurable untouchable strength and say your name?

What would it be like to not hide who you really are? And by that I mean all of you, not just the easily digestible keep-up appearances you.

I promise the Jones, and whoever else decides to comment on your life, will not matter when you raise your arms to the sky and say YES to yourself.

There is so much power in simply being able to own who you are without apology. It feels like a mixture of peace, confidence and alignment. It is magnetic and it is a spark from which change can come.

It makes complete sense to want to hide in order to stay safe and what I’ve found is that it just doesn’t work. The safety, the easily digestible box of a life, is a kind of prison that no one should be in.

[Cue pretty magnolias because we’re about to talk about connections between freedom and oppression and magnolias help!]

I was talking to Stacy this week and said that the thing that matters most to me is sharing that it’s okay to be yourself. I truly wish for all of us to experience that kind of freedom. I know, for me, as a plus-size queer woman, it’s a daily choice. And I have it easy.

There’s a larger perspective to why it matters to raise your arms up and say your name.

When you are a minority of any kind, and you claim your space in the world, you are claiming that space for every other person who may be struggling to break free from the cages of social and political oppression.

  • Thank you to all the Rosa Parks of the world.
  • Thank you to all the drag performers still showing up despite drag bans.
  • Thank you to Marsha P. Johnson, Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou and every person who’s ever decided to be themselves without shame in a world that tells them that who they are is not okay.

When you reach out your hand, strong and free, to another and then another you create a rainbow of freedom instead of a wall of chains.

It begins with YOU lifting up your head, raising your arms, and saying:

“I know who I am, I own where I’ve been, and I’m not running from it anymore.”

P.S. Caesura, our sweet little cat (whose photo appears in this post) passed away suddenly. May she rest in peace.