Marena Mitchell: Getting noticed

Marena Mitchell SQjpgOver the past week or so I have been hearing a lot about my own column. Mostly from people I already know, but also from random strangers reaching out to me either through the Internet or by recognizing and approaching me in person.

Everyone has had positive things to say so far. I’d just like to say that it’s much appreciated, not to mention unexpected.

See, I’m a product of the Internet age. I guess I forgot about how important print media is, especially in a community like ours. I should have expected to be recognized even if my writing went unread — my face is plastered right across one page in this paper every week after all. For some reason I just assumed that no one would care.

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Either way, I’m glad to be proven wrong.

I’ve been approached with a lot of things, but the article that’s (apparently) been buzzing around is the one I wrote about my interaction with a girl in a bar (“Bar Talk and Accountability”). I was approached by a friend of this person and told, “Just so you know, a lot of people are really upset about that article you wrote.”

I’d like to address this.

First, I will always defend everything I write wholeheartedly, unless through an intelligent conversation I am persuaded otherwise. And while we’re talking about intelligent conversations — I’d like to offer my ear to anyone who is “upset” about this piece.

Even if you weren’t upset about it and would simply like to discuss queer/trans politics, or be pointed in the direction of some resources on the subject, please message me. You can contact me by going to my blog, listed at the end of this article. Simply click on the ASK link.

The last thing I want is to stomp out what could be a potential dialogue that educates and informs people, while also making others feel safer in our community. Let’s be real, this wasn’t an isolated incident. It wasn’t the first nor will it be the last time someone will feel oppressed in our town because of their sexuality or identity.

Moving on.

A few others have reached out to me and said things along the lines of, “Don’t worry, you’re going to be fine.” I found this to be really sweet and honestly quite humorous, but then it also validated something I already knew about myself.

I’m an artist and a writer, and for the most part the only time I’m inspired to create in either form is when I’m not in a great place. Happiness doesn’t, and never has, inspired me. I reread some of my articles and I can see that clearly in them. For me, art and writing are forms of catharsis and processing.

I try to be as honest as possible and I try to let that be the driving factor in my creative pursuits. I’ve been sent beautiful messages from readers of my blog. They tell me it’s something they can relate to, and I’ve sat at my computer and cried as I’ve read those messages, because that’s really what it’s all about.

I’ve realized, however, that while I am being honest, I’m not doing so completely. I’m only really showing one half of myself to my audience. So I’d like to write something positive for a change and tell you all a little bit more about myself.

Unless I’m in a bad way (who isn’t every now and then, right?), I’m generally a happy person. Ninety-nine percent of that comes from the people I choose to surround myself with. I am lucky to love a lot of kind, talented, intelligent and hilarious people.

As times goes on, I’m getting better at taking myself less seriously. I have a wide-ranging sense of humor, this whole article fiasco has been proof of that. Friends now walk up to me in public and say, “Hi, are you gay?!” as loud as they can, with huge smiles on their faces. I can’t help but laugh.

I am a parent to an obese feline who has been my best friend for 13 years. I am vegan and I am queer. I love rap music, despite its sometimes blatant misogyny. I often spend hours making myself unnecessarily large meals.

I work at a chocolate shop with some of the most motivated, ethical and supportive people I have ever met. I also work for a local couple who as all but become my surrogate family, to whom I am endlessly thankful.

I’m a child of a broken marriage, but for the most part my family, though fragmented, is supportive and generous with me and I’m lucky to have them. All of my basic needs are met, mostly through my own accord.

In the proverbial grand scheme, things in Marena Land are pretty great. I get down sometimes, and while I’m not apologizing for it, I guess I’ve just realized that it’s not the only thing I want people to know me for. So thanks for tuning in. I’m glad you’re all here with me.

Marena Mitchell is a young artist and leisurely writer living in New Paltz. She graduated from SUNY New Paltz with an MFA in printmaking in 2013. You can find her other writings in her zines, on her blog marenasrants.tumblr.com.

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