Category Archives: Feminism

Let America Be America Again

A young man born in Joplin, Missouri in 1902, inspired by the blues and his own experience, wrote the poem “Let America Be America Again.”

Today, we hear men and women, young and old, yelling at us about what America should be. They tell us to Make America Great Again. Make America Smart Again. Make America Kind Again.

Yet, fifty years after his death, it is Mr. Langston Hughes whose words speak loudest to me.

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!


Langston Hughes, 1902 - 1967


From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes.

Ask. Seek. Desire. Expand. Move. Feel. Be.

There she is. . .
The one who loves too hard, feels too deeply, asks too often, desires too much.
There she is taking up too much space, with her laughter, her curves, her honesty.
Her presence is as tall as a tree, as wide as a mountain. Her energy occupies every crevice of the room.
There she is causing a ruckus with her persistent wanting. She desires too much happiness, too much alone time, too much pleasure. She’ll go through brimstone, murky river, and hellfire to get it. She’ll risk all to quell the longings of her heart and body. This makes her dangerous.
She is dangerous.
And there she goes, making people think too much, feel too much, swoon too much. She with her authentic prose and a self-assuredness in the way she carries herself. She with her belly laughs and her insatiable appetite and her proneness to fiery passion.
Too loud, too vibrant, too honest, too emotional, too smart, too intense, too pretty, too difficult, too sensitive, too wild, too intimidating, too successful, too fat, too strong, too political, too joyous, too needy—too much.
She should simmer down a bit, be taken down a couple notches.
Someone should put her in her place.
Here I am. . . with my too-tender heart and my too-much emotions.
A hedonist, feminist, pleasure seeker, empath.
I want a lot—justice, sincerity, intimacy, actualization, respect, to be seen, to be understood, your undivided attention, and all of your promises to be kept.
I’ve been called high maintenance because I want what I want, and intimidating because of the space I occupy. I’ve been called selfish because I am self-loving. I’ve been called a witch because I know how to heal.
And still, I want and I feel and I ask and I risk and I take the air that fills my lungs.
I must.
We are so afraid, terrified of her big presence, of the way she commands respect and wields the truth. We shame her for her wanting, for her passion.
And still. . . she thrives.
She is me, she is you, and she is loving that she’s finally, finally getting some airtime.
If you’ve ever been called “too much,” or “too emotional,” or “bitchy,” or “stuck up,”. . . I implore you to embrace all that you are—all of your depth, all of your vastness; to not hold yourself in, and to never abandon yourself, your bigness, your radiance.
Forget everything you’ve heard—your too much-ness is a gift; oh yes, one that can heal, incite, liberate, and cut straight to the heart of things.
Do not be afraid of this gift, and let no one shy you away from it. Your too much-ness is magic, is medicine. It can change the world.
Ask. Seek. Desire. Expand. Move. Feel. Be.
Make your waves, fan your flames, give us chills.
Please, rise.
We need you.
**** this is an edited version of author Ev’Yan Whitney’s work. I took the liberty of my own emphases, like she told me too. Thank you, Ms. Whitney, and right back at you.

Times They Are A Changin’

I have been listening to a lot of Bob Dylan lately. It began with the award of his Nobel Prize in Literature. I have always loved Bob Dylan for his words. That he makes them into music only makes it better for me. I have always considered him one of my favorite poets so i was confused by the negative backlash towards the announcement. Yes, i understand why writers want writers and poets want poets. Why women wanted a woman to win. We champion our own kind, it’s natural, we associate with them. We know the challenges, the hours put in, the sleepless nights, the feelings poured into and the feelings put aside, in order to create the labor of love that is writing. But didn’t Dylan do all of that?
Then, Hillary Clinton lost the Presidency to Donald Trump. I needed more Dylan. A lot more Dylan. No time for vinyls. Just Bob Dylan on digital repeat.
“For the loser now will be later to win,” Dylan said.
And he might as well have been talking about Trump. The president-elect’s message was clear. His actions on camera, repeatedly, leave no room for doubt. He does not respect women, immigrants, the disabled, he does not respect himself, in my opinion, and he doesn’t respect seemingly anyone else. He is a loser, and now he has won. Dylan also wrote that, “I was taught and brought up, to the laws to abide. That the land that I live in, has God on its side.” And likewise was I. So, I will accept this President just like Dylan said to, bravely.
Now, today is Veteran’s Day. Which makes me think of my grandfather and so many heroes who fought and still fight through dark, dark hours for human rights and the end of tyranny, to beat the nazis and towards steps that allowed women to get the vote in the middle east. Today’s home front though, it calls for new heroes. Our blacks feel their lives don’t matter. Our women feel like second class citizens. Our immigrants feel the door will soon be slammed behind them. Our muslims feel terrified of religious persecution. Our Native Americans are fucking furious, rightfully, 500 years later.
We must salute the troops and their families and deeply honor their sacrifices. And we must push for a future where we can still make a difference in human rights around the world. We can start by fighting for them here at home. These times they are changing.
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Dear Future Daughter

“If I have a daughter one day,
I hope she is a million other things
Before beautiful.
I hope when her feet
Hit the ground in the morning,
The earth vibrates
Announcing her presence.
I hope she treats others
With dignity and respect.
I hope they treat her the same.
I hope she refuses to back down
When someone challenges her beliefs.
I hope she knows
The impact of hard work
And the importance of rest.
I hope she cares more
About what’s in her head
Than what’s on it.
I hope she knows how it feels
To love extraordinarily
And to be loved right back.
I hope she is passionate.
I hope she is kind.
When she meets these expectations,
Beauty will shine
From every pore in her body
And every word that falls from her lips.”

i don’t know who wrote this, but I couldn’t write it better.

Ten Things I Learned in 2015

 

1. You can give yourself away entirely and still be yourself entirely.

2. Women have infinite strength and patience.

3. Hormones play a brilliant and sadistic role in the function of human females, and test the strength and patience of their partners.

4. No matter how destroyed your body feels or looks, it can restore itself.

5. Consistent lack of sleep turns the human brain into a vast land of perplexity.

6. Sugar is sometimes the problem, and sometimes the solution.

7. Song can be stronger than pain.

8. Wine and a salt bath can make all the screaming and back pain dissolve.

9. It takes less energy to forgive and breathe than to hold on to anger or pain.

10. The harder life gets, the better the rewards feel.

 

best year ever

 

Here’s to 2016. Let it be full of peace and love.

 

.

Oh, Baby: From Boobs to Breast Feeding

I was a late bloomer. Still all eyes and ears and braces well into eighth grade. By the time I got to high school I’d at least lost the metal mouth, but my chest size and height had yet to catch up. It took the rest of those four years for me to grow into the five feet and seven inches that I stand at today. But it took freshman year of college and the late night mac and cheese with real butter and Steak and Shake runs with all kinds of animal fats that my hippie mother just never cooked for me, in order for my full size C-cups to show up. With them came all kinds of positive (read negative) attention from all sorts of boys and girls and men.

It was an interesting introspective developing an ample chest as an eighteen year old. I had spent years in a tight little athletic body, and I knew what it was like for boys to look at me. But now, there were boys and men who didn’t just look, they stared like they had x-ray vision, or hoped they might develop it if they looked hard enough. This ogling has never really stopped, and it hasn’t mattered whether I choose to wear a low-cut tank top or a turtleneck – the boobs are there, so they stare.

Then, I got pregnant. My C’s went to D’s and the stares were ever there, more than ever maybe, because now even my friends were paying attention. My belly grew and grew, and grew some more. Finally, my chest was no longer the focus of attention. I liked that. It felt good to walk through the turnpike rest stop and not just have old men and acne covered teenagers staring south of my face, but to have children and women too staring at my big round belly. There was an almost fully formed person in there! So yeah, go ahead and stare.

Then, I had the baby, and then, I made milk. My breasts reached their personal best. Bigger than before and fully functional as food for my child. It makes him grow. Which makes me so proud. It is the most useful thing my chest has ever done, and that’s only competing with getting a guys rocks off or getting me out of golfing. (I could never relearn my swing once they got in the way.)

Now, my breasts are out there for people to see. And isn’t that what they always wanted? But it isn’t in a “show us your boobs,” Mardi Gras, kind of way. Not even in an “I’m breast feeding loud and proud” kind of way. Just in a regular, “I need to feed my kid, you might see some chest slip out from behind his head or this blanket,” kind of way. And it turns out, it’s not what they always wanted. It turns out, people are offended by that.

I’m talking to you shameless oglers of breasts, the lot of you. Why is it all, show us what you got, baby, until they become breasts feeding a baby, and then you are insulted by the sight of them?

You know what, don’t answer that. My baby already has a readily formed response. So here’s that, and your fair warning. As long as I’ve had them, you’ve stared at my boobs while they have been adequately concealed. For the next year or so (God willing) they will be a lot less concealed. I feel like I’ve earned that much for all the ogling over the years and for the fact that I’m sustainably, naturally, lovingly, and selflessly feeding my child. If you don’t feel that way, again, this photo of Jack says it sufficiently.

boobs to breasts

 

 

Just to be painstakingly clear, I am not comfortable with anyone staring at me, or anyone, especially not in a non-consenting sexual capacity. In case your mother forgot to tell you, staring is rude. This is simply a comment on how staring openly at young girls is more acceptable in our society than at a mother nursing her child.

God Bless Us All

In Toni Morrison’s new book, God Bless the Child, she rips the rawness from humanity like roots from the ground and plants it on the page for you to explore. I recommend it, and the extremes of empathy that come with it. What I took from it primarily, was a practice that was carried out each Saturday morning around the breakfast table. Each member of the family was made to answer two questions. 1. What have you learned that is true (and how do you know)? And 2. What problem do you have?

I like this very much. And since I have been in need of a prompt, and I don’t have enough people around my own dinner table yet to contribute to such a discussion, this one’s for you. 

What have you learned that is true (and how do you know)?

Men and women are fundamentally different. I know because of the havoc that is wreaked when one of the gender’s expectations are not met. And how different those expectations can be. I’m generalizing here, or shall we say genderalizing, where the woman is more sensitive and the man is more practical, while she is thoughtful and multi-tasking, he is steady and diligent. She expects flowers and kisses, he expects dinner and Sports Center. She wants conversation about all of the aspects of both of their days, he wants a few good hours of not solving anyone’s problems. She really needs intimacy, he really needs a good night’s sleep. She’s soft, he’s rough. In the best relationships these are all the beginnings of compromises that we learn to make for each other, to complement each other. In the worst, well, we all know how that goes. Inevitably, it doesn’t matter that he’s stinky and forgetful and crass, or that she’s bitchy and demanding and emotional, what matters is finding the places where the love fits in between all of that diversity, and holding on for dear life, or love, to that. 

What problem do you have?

Pregnancy. Not the baby part of it, that’s magic. The hormone bit, though, is a nightmare. It has changed me in ways I never expected, which makes coping with them all the more difficult. (I’m noting this theme of better managing my expectations.) The problem is a two-parter.   

1. Extreme allergies, including but not limited to: wheat, cheese, sugar, heat, citrus, spices. (I live in Miami – those last three are borderline sick and twisted) These new allergies have tested my patience and general will to be awake and go on living my life – a baby is a miraculous consolation prize, don’t get me wrong, but nine months is an awful long time to go without a bagel and cream cheese or spaghetti and pecorino, or donuts, especially when I want to eat so many donuts and get fat and bake in the sun. This was the time I was supposed to be allowed to be fat in a bathing suit, but I can’t go out in the sun. It’s a first world problem, I get that. But that’s the world I live in, and it is a problem. 

2. I am so sensitive now. Or rather, I have always been sensitive, but I used to be able to put a cork in it, take time and think about what I really felt, and then express it in an appropriate manner, like aging a fine wine. I was civilized, I think. Now, it’s like my emotions are stuck in a P. Diddy video and at the slightest injustice I’m popping bottles and spraying emotional backlash all over everyone within range, shouting, crying, uncontrollably. I can see what I’m doing as if from afar and I wonder who that psychopath is and why she can’t reel it in, but I can’t reach her to help. And I have never been a crier.  I used to read fiction, endlessly, but now it all seems too sad. I write less and think so much more. I worry and brood and that’s never been me. So, trying to get to know this new me and make peace with her ways, after thirty years of trying to get used to the old me and barely getting a handle on her ways, is a problem.  


Feel free to comment with help. 


P.S. I’m sorry for my long lapse of no blogging, please forgive me this rambling return. 



My mother’s endless love. 

The love of my mother has no prejudice.

The love of my mother is not blind. 

The love of my mother has no bounds.

The love of my mother is always kind. 

The love of my mother never pauses. 

The love of my mother simply searches

for ways to make you feel better inside. 

The love of my mother is relentless, 

whether you are a new friend or old. 

The love of my mother rings in her laughter.

The love of my mother is bold. 

The love of my mother is intense,

like the Miami sun that she adores.

The love of my mother is refreshing, 

like the Atlantic that to her heart calls

The love of my mother is inspiring, 

like the divinities that she knows.

The love of my mother sparkles, 

through her eyes and smile, she glows.

The love of my mother will never extinguish.

Though, the love of my mother I have tried.

The love of my mother knows no limits.

The love of my mother is always on my side.



Happy Birthday Mama!!! 

Thank you for teaching me how to live a life full of love. 

Singleminded Aunt Ida

The sister stands to the side, she sighs. Four weeks to the day since her divorce was final. Six months since she walked out the door. Her sister’s engagement doesn’t make her miss her ex-husband, not a thing could induce such emotions, but it does make her feel her aloneness.

There is a thing in this culture, a big stark white elephant in the room or the park or the engagement party, about a woman alone. She doesn’t have a date, so something must be wrong with her. Is she a lesbian? The relatives begin to ask. The complicated affairs which ended her marriage are too convoluted to share with Aunt Ida, so she asks her nephew if his daughter is of another persuasion. Because how could a pretty, smart, seemingly sane girl, be alone? She feels, and the rest of the party would be lying if they disagreed, that there is something wrong with her.

A single man is a bachelor. He’s playing the field, taking his time, finding the right choice. A single woman is waiting, idle while the universe decides when the right man should come along. As if she has nothing to do with the matter when it’s right, however, everything to do with it when it’s wrong. Some wrong choice that she made, or series of choices, that left her flawed, flippant, or scorned.

She sighs again and finishes her champagne. Fuck you Aunt Ida, she thinks, walking away. Nothing is wrong with me. Nothing is wrong with alone.

Native

Across the sand
Bare feet
deep breath
dive in

calm, clear, teal
farther and farther
lungs scream
tiny schools

mermaid hair
soft sand
reflections
waves

tepid Atlantic
wraps around skin
hearts aglow
loyal sunshine

foggy brain
molecules cling
his presence lingers
dive deep

Like A Hero

Have you ever wanted to punch someone? Not in that – the person talking too loudly on their cell phone next to you in an otherwise quiet, slow moving-line deserves a quick back hand to the mouth – kind of way. I mean, for reasons that are clearly written in the code of human decency, someone is asking to get knocked around. A guy, for example, has pushed his way into a group of girls, and you actually feel it would be a disservice to the world and all of the humanity resting upon it if this person is allowed to say even one more syllable.

By now, your hand is twitching and while you’ve been keeping it still with a glass of bourbon, it’s down to just rocks and they’re giving away your frustration. Your girlfriend gives you a sideways glance and you’re pretty certain she’s surprised that you’ve let this Heineken-fueled tool stay on his feet for as long as you have. He has been asked politely to leave by two of the girls in the group, and the poor dear with his unwanted arm draped over her shoulder has become a slouched shadow. The third attempt is about to get loud. So, you put the glass down.

“Do me a favor, guy,” I say, and yeah I probably have my hand in his face by then, just so he knows his last chance had passed. “Listen to the ladies, and walk the fuck away.”

Next thing I know, I’m outside looking in. The room is no longer a space occupied by people, it is the being. Drinks float out of their glasses and into the air at a rate that appears to defy the natural laws of gravitation pull. Everyone jumps up at once but none of that is any concern to me because this puffed up short-guy actually chest pumped me and now all I want, with a raw, aching desire, is to be sure that my fist meets his face with the proper torque and accuracy.

The manager’s voice is somewhere in the background shouting orders at waiters who take light-years to appear and when they do, they act with no more strength than that of children. A table is knocked over and wood cracks and splits. The fluidity of the room moves people around like waves crashing.

I can hear my name coming from someone very, very far away. The only thought I process is that someone is holding my right hand back and if I want to swing on this guy it’s going to be a left cross. But in order to do that, I’d have to release the grip that I have on his neck, which is the only solid thing left in the room at that exact time. I finally shake my hand free and land a punch, right around the time the five waiters seem to restrain the flailing fool.

I walk away. I go through a door and down some stairs and find myself at another bar. My hand isn’t twitching anymore, which I only really notice because of the throbbing emitting from it. I move my jaw from side to side and discern I didn’t take any hits. I clench and unclench my fist and determine that the torque, velocity and force were all accurate. My left hand still has a lingering feeling of holding on to something far too tightly.

I ask for a glass of water. My girlfriend is walking towards me trying to suppress a smile, something that she is lousy at. I am certain that if I had a similar disposition, the talk of the bar upstairs wouldn’t be about the douchebag who was asking for it, but the maniac who was just plain giddy to hit someone. I keep that thought, and all the rest, to myself. And for a while, I’m their hero.

A Hitchhikers Guide to Finding A Greyhound

Do you remember when Jay-Z and Beyonce got married?
I do.
I was standing in a gas station somewhere on the border of Montana and Idaho waiting for a shift change to be carried out. On a Greyhound bus, I’d just learned, each passenger must disembark before the drivers change places at a different location. I had boarded the bus four hours previously in Bozeman, Montana at 3:15am and while I’d rather not have parted with my seat and my pillow, I held my tongue and walked sleepily into the freezing cold morning. Had it been a less ungodly hour, I might have protested, or at least had the wherewithal to grab my purse.
Instead, I walked into the gas station groggy and shivering. It was heated and like a dog curling up in front of the fire, I settled in to the magazine rack. This was 2008, long before Bey ran the world, when Jay was still the power of the couple by my estimation and before they named their child a color. People magazine had printed a story about their very private penthouse nuptials. “From the White Orchids (70,000!) to the Famous Guests and the Crazy-Expensive Cigars, Inside the Power Couple’s Ultra-Private New York City Wedding” read the by-line.
Seventy thousand orchids, I thought, I better see what that looks like. And, obviously, I hoped to see a picture of the dress.
I didn’t get to see pictures of either. I shut the magazine a little disappointed, but also kind of happy that they’d actually pulled off a celebrity wedding that the paparazzi hadn’t infiltrated.
Good for them, I thought, placing it back on the shelf.

“Weren’t you on that bus?” the meth addict cashier said to me. I looked through my red eyes at her brown teeth trying to process the tense she was using.
“What?” I asked, mentally preparing myself for some kind of atrocity.

Continue reading A Hitchhikers Guide to Finding A Greyhound

Let’s Get Something Straight

The term “feminist.”

It does not mean I don’t want a boy or girl to open doors for me.
Please hold my hand.
And walk me home.

It does not mean I won’t do the dishes
and the laundry
and vacuum.
And feed us.
Every week.

Which is why
You should too, occasionally
or always.

It does not mean that I won’t shave my arm pits
or wax my hairy bits.
It does mean that I’d like you to earn the privilege to comment
on such things.

Which brings me to:
Put a ring on it.
or
In feminist terms:
Communicate your intentions.

Tell her:
What you want.
How long you want it for.
and
What your expectations are.

Then,
and this is important,
Listen while she tells you her intentions
And her expectations.

Here is the big one:

If I stand
in a teeny bikini
with every inch
of my god given beauty
on display.
I shall not fear
that any person
will lay a finger on me.

Keep your laws to yourself, too.

This temple
That I reside in
is Mine.

Divinely and unequivocally.

Lastly,
Respect me.

Not as a man
Not as woman
As a person.

And a writer.
A creative thinker, activist, and problem solver.
A mother, a daughter, a lover.

A woman
Above and below
and in between
all of those lines.
Not boxed in by them.
And never,
Ever,
Abused by them.

*These, of course, are only my personal opinions and I don’t claim to speak for all people.

Ordinary Won’t Do

In what world is this
Too pretty to kiss
Too bold to relate
Too pedantic about fate
Too sure to question
Too pure, this breath
Too undying this passion
Too soon this death

Where mediocrity thrives, certainty dies
Petulance cries and devotion tries
For a stronger pull in this way or that
The way strangers stare at a fabulous hat
Like a bird of paradise lures his mate
Ordinary won’t do for an extraordinary fate

In generalities, where some subside
It’s too slippery a slope down which depth will slide
Too much beauty to see
Too much wine to drink
Too fresh is the fruit
The nectar, too sweet
Too tangible to ignore
Too potent the scent
Too intoxicating the joys
Too drenched in wonderment

Too spoiled by lovers who knew all too well
Too sure of the truths that one kiss will tell
Too fickle to stay in one place and wait
Too tempted by the promise in every day break
In what world is this? I ask faithfully
(Wearing a fabulous hat and coat of serenity)

Being naked.

“So,” says the darling person genuinely interested in my life, “what have you been up to?”
“Well,” I start, looking to whatever person or book I happen to be in public with for support, “I just finished editing my novel.”
And in that time, before they process how to answer this statement, I wonder: do they not believe me? does it sound as strange to them as it does to me? do they write best-sellers in their spare time?
I wrote a book, I remind myself. My third, and this one’s good, get it together. But I’m not published yet (and this destroys me).
“Wow,” they say, finally, “that’s great!”
And it is. They say.
But I haven’t sold it.
You haven’t read it.
So what is it, really?
It’s just a leap of faith, on your part.
You believe: 1. that I have actually written said book. 2. that I’ve done it well. and 3. that I’ll become successful enough, that you’ll know someone famous enough, to brag about.
Because that’s what this is, isn’t it?
The proximity to greatness.
I know, because I want it too. That light of genuine feeling that people relate to whole heartedly. The one that is pure. The one that shines so bright that basking in someone else’s is fine. Because it’s honest.
This is why I wince. Why this conversation is so uncomfortable for me, and why I hesitate to answer the question. Because in this scenario I am the one who will have made something great.
Or not.
Which is why I keep writing.
Because here, being naked isn’t just for show, it’s necessary.

A Cunning Cunundrum

The smile she wears craftily masks the mess underneath.

She glances around the room timidly, both needing to see him and desperate not to.

She chats gracefully with her friends.

Under her guise of tranquility he possesses every thought.

She hates herself for it.

There he is.

She tastes yellow, putrid like bile and callousness.

She unclenches her teeth and turns her cheek.

She swallows her emotions.

Her fingertips tingle with anticipation.

If he smiles at her, they are done for.

The fear of the consequences grip her whole being.

They all rise as the wedding march begins.

The Gene Pool Lottery

#LikeAGirl  <– CLICK for Video

 

Genetics are dumb luck as far as I’m concerned. Throughout history, whether you were born into the working class or the aristocracy was your fate. These days, we live in a world where you can change your stars. That is, if you were born in a first world country, and you are provided education. I could’ve been born a girl in Pakistan or I could’ve been born a boy in Western Africa. I got lucky, though. I won the gene pool lottery.

My mother and father are the winged unicorn of married couples. They have been married over forty years, they still love each other, and they still like each other. They sing show tunes and “I Got You, Babe,” there’s a video of that that I will never post – you’re welcome. My father supports my mother in all of her endeavors. He shows me the same respect. He supported me through soccer and water polo and cheerleading, expecting me to do my best in each of them. My brother never cut me any slack. No one ever let me win and when I won, no one was surprised.

My paternal grandmother was a golf pro. Even after she won a fight with breast cancer, after a full mastectomy, she returned to the game, as a pro. If that isn’t tough, I don’t know what is. My maternal grandmother had four kids, an airline pilot husband who was off flying most of the time, and was a league tennis champ. These women were stylish and clever and strong, like a girl, so why isn’t that how the phrase is applied?

Only once in my house did I hear the phrase, “like a girl”. My neighbor and I were putting on our rollerblades. I had wrist guards and he didn’t. “Do you want to use these?” I asked. “No,” he shrugged, “you need them. You skate like a girl.” Later that day when my mom was about to take him home, I shut that boys fingers in the car door. We were about eight years old and I played it off like it was an accident. I’m not sure that he even correlated the two incidents, he was quite literally crushed. I cannot honestly say I didn’t feel a sense of victory in hurting him physically, for the way he had hurt my young and developing physicalness. I’m sure if I did something like that today I would be called a “psycho bitch.” And would you agree?

I bet you would. I was a child, and of course what I did was wrong. Even then I felt bad and apologized profusely. But here’s my problem. You don’t poke a lion and expect to walk away unscathed. You don’t insult a man and expect there won’t be repercussions. So why can you tell a girl that she’s doing something “like a girl” and not expect her to prove to you exactly what that means?

YES, I AM A GIRL. I am able bodied and smart, and I will retaliate against your sexism in one way or another. My brother and my father taught me to. My mother and my grandmothers told me that skating faster than him was enough, and not to rub it in. But I disagree.

I want to change the stars. I want young boys and girls to know that they can do and be anything without gender factoring in as a limitation on that. I want to speak my mind, and I want to do it proudly, like a girl. So tell me, why doesn’t “run like a girl” mean win the goddamn race?

 

 

 

 

A Love Letter to My Generation

A caustic compliment

From the curve of your lip

Matches your cruel beauty

Like satin ripped

 

The accidental truths

Dropped off your tongue

Are fallen angels slain

They are your demons undone

 

There is dissonance in those eyes

A freezing wind blows through your soul

No matter how many matches I strike

There’s no fire, just coal

 

Is there passion in this pain?

Where is the depth to the misery?

Like the stench of decaying flesh

You reek of apathy.

like a girl

“I’m not going paint balling,” said one TSA official to the other across the conveyor belt that had just delivered one of my boots.

“Come onnnnnnn,” the agent on the other side replied.

“Not gonna happen. It’s too cold out there.”

I watched the screen of the X-ray machine in the distance wondering if it was possible that this could turn into a washing machine eating my sock episode. I had just had those boots resoled and shined.

“You’re supposed to go paint balling in the cold,” he kept on, “that way you can run around and you ain’t sweaty.”

“Bag check,” the woman sitting at the X-ray screen called stifly.

“Fine,” he said, “but you sound like a girl.” He smiled and shook his head back and forth, then he picked up the bag to check. It was mine.

“I would go,” I said.

He looked at me. One boot, one tennis sock with leggings tucked in to it, a hoodie and a panda scarf, but I had my hair did and my eyebrow game was on point. I smiled.

“I would go paint balling in the cold,” I said. The X-ray girl smiled at me. “I would out run you, and get sweaty, and aim to fire. So don’t go calling him a girl, he’s nothing like a girl.”

He blinked at me and put the suitcase down.

“Do you think you could be a dear and find my boot now, please, like a girl?”