Boots On the Ground 

Well yall, I made it. 

I made it to Washington DC for our big advocacy day on the hill tomorrow. I made it through the last 6 weeks which were all kinds of difficult for all kinds of reasons. I made out with a guy, like high school style. Life is crazy! But I made it. 

I will get into the last six weeks another time, but it feels more important to document what’s happening now– which is that a sick little Gelpi made her way to D.C. to play with the big boys. I can barely keep my eyes open writing this, but I’m ready. Anything, everything– I am finally where the magic happens and I know I need to make this a high impact and memorable trip–for them, not me. 

Tomorrow is a big day. I can’t believe I’m in D.C. If you would’ve caught a glimpse of what was happening two hours before my flight was set to go, all odds would fall in favor of “Yeah there’s no way she’s making that flight.” Long story–another time. But here I am. And the process of arriving was not made any easier by my body, that reliable piece of shiznit, which fought me pretty hard the whole time I tried to make this happen. There was serious contemplation on backing out, and considering I bought the ticket to come here yesterday, this all happened fast, and felt like it could unravel just as quickly. But I knew, the way you seldom but with pure certainty know you have to do something– even if you don’t know exactly what that thing is, you just know you need to be there. Show up. Something in me knew I needed to show up — even if it resulted in nothing tangible or in “successful Numbers.” I needed to see and talk  to our politicians as the humans they are and not the dopes I see portrayed on tv. It’s easy to lose faith in our system, especially given the media coverage of Washington and the shitshow that it is. But I need to believe in all of this, because I know deep down there are actually good people out there– out here– working really hard to make things happen. These are the people we need on our team. 

Despite Social media bringing public figures “closer” to us, and in some ways more accessible, there’s still a disconnect that just can’t be filled in except for that good ol fashioned thing known as actually talking to someone. I think I’m all tweeted out, as far as tweeting at strangers asking them to care about something they mostly don’t care about is concerned. So it’s already somewhat of a victory: just being in the battlefield, and seeing the whole system at work. Double checking they aren’t robots– that kind of stuff. 

Getting here was a last minute near disaster. I was that last person jerkoff to board the airplane, out of breath from running. Then …I apologetically made the entire airplane smell like bengay because it was the only thing helping with my head and face pain which have been on fire all day. After the second application and an onslaught of coughing from a few rows back, I was nearly certain that this sort of coughing hadn’t occurred prior to Ben Ben time, so I knew I had to slow my roll. That stuff can be intense. Anyway, here I am. So tired and heavy I could collapse. And I did. I did that thing where you open the door and drop all of your things and small items like lipstick and pens go rolling out of your purse and you just lay there in a hard, thudded silence, face down in a bath of white linen. Also, the fact that it was a big king sized bed, which is totally unnecessary for me but awaiting my laying in it, made it feel all so luxurious. 

King Size.
I’m still in that phase where hotels are a novelty and every part of them is fun. I imagine this is how flying on airplanes started out for most of us. But now it’s like this exhaustive, painstaking process. Gotta work on that. Anyway I was almost too tired to put on Jammie’s. But I did of course; I’m not an animal. 

You just have to love hotel room culture, right? I just called the front desk and requested a wake up call. They said it was their pleasure. How nice are they! The cab driver asked me why I was here as we zipped around new territory and I took it all in through the backseat windows– beautiful place from what I could see. I decided to go for it, figured I need the practice anyway and the world needs to know. I said I was here to advocate for disease awareness and funding because it not only costs the country billions of dollars every year, it causes immeasurable suffering to millions around the world and right here in the US of A. After thirty years of inaction, its just time to make it right, ya know? (He didn’t say anything, but I went on. He at least pretended to listen) It’s been ignored and desperately needs adequate funding for research so we can treat and eventually cure it. And that’s basically it. There was a pause, then the rhythmic click of his blinker and a lane change, and another small pause. 

“I pray for you. All of you who sick and all of you fighting!” 

I wanted to hug him right then, but restrained myself and told him I really appreciated that, and I really did. We would take all we could get, I told him. And he said he’d pray hard. When he dropped me at the hotel, he told the bellhop “Hey! You take care of this young lady!!” The dude smiled and said “got it.” It all feels like some Netflix tv drama. Hard to explain. But really, really good to be here. It feels right. 

It’s a long time coming having the chance to converse with people face to face, not through 140 word count snarky tweets with every kind of hashtag. I want to meet people involved in the system, shake their hand and look them in the eye. It will be nice to offer a name and a face with the disease, and tell the stories of people who are in desperate need but have been ignored for decades. For months I’ve craved a tactical human interaction where I could explore this subject, a connection where I could share the multitude of issues and see a reaction within another human being. And maybe, just maybe, we actually start achieving the solutions– which are just lying in wait for us, like some leftover suit at the dry cleaner. We don’t even have to brainstorm the solution, we know it! We just have to convince them we’re worth it. 

I’ve longed to tell our stories out loud, beyond online. I am exhausted of twitter, I get down about Facebook, and clearly, I even abandoned this space a while. That’s another story. But the point is, Boots are on the ground, I’m ready to rumble and do what lobbyists do and talk about the multifaceted issues around mecfs preceded about talk of the weather and how crazy it must be to work in politics right now! (Cause like seriously, it must be crazy) 

ORRRRRRRRRR I just lay down on the steps of the NIH all day because I’m too “malaised” to move.  

The questions is, I think most personally for me, is WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR? We know better now, so we should do better.  Oh shit, it’s 2 am. But I’m not worried, I got that wake up call all worked out. 

I miss land lines.

In my mind I’m here for a simple reason–to help remind policy makers that this disease and those sick with it aren’t going anywhere. This will only get bigger, it will only get worse. The cost will become outrageous. Our options are basically zero in finding and treating this properly, so we’re leaving our fellow Americans in the dirt. Like my Uncle Tom says: “That don’t be right.”  There are so many things that need addressing and fixing, and if I consider them all I become easily defeated. But all of this has been a meditation in simply doing one thing at a time and doing it well. Doing exactly what’s in front of you. 

So that’s how I’ll go about this trip. As clueless as I am, I trust in something deeper that helped bring me here, and I believe fully that we CAN fix this. We CAN do better. It’s just time to.. you know, pick up the pace. We’ve been in line at the DMV for thirty years– I think it’s time our number was called. 

Will keep yall posted. Thank you for…..everything. 

Health, Happiness, Battleground