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Thirteen Ways to Be Brave

September 30, 2013 1 comment

1. When the wolves knock, do not hide. Do not lock the door. Open a window and ask them inside.

2. Spill the words that have been stuck underneath your skin for too long. Say I love you without concern for the repercussions.

3. Pretend there won’t be repercussions.

4. Walk into the darkness without a light. When you get goosebumps, keep moving forward.

5. Imagine that you are in the middle of the ocean. Acknowledge that the ocean is your life. No one is coming to rescue you. Make the decision to stop treading water. You only drown if you don’t adapt.

6. Stand in the middle of the road. Close your eyes.

7. Tell a secret. Tell it without expectation. Tell it softly. Whisper it close to someone’s ear. Then, look him/her in the eyes. Wait.

8. Confess. Let that confession move you to action. Let the syllables free you. Turn the key to the jail in which you’ve locked yourself. Demand restitution, and do not settle for anyone else’s excuses why or why not.

9. Speak one single truth in three different languages. Let one of the language be nonverbal. Use your eyes. Use your hands. Use your lips.

10. Cut the cord. Step off the cliff. Diffuse the bomb. Pretend you know the difference between a calculated risk and a reckless one. Do not be afraid of the fall or the fallout. It’s the only way to start again — out of the wreckage.

11. Leave. Separate out the accusations from the reality. From that, sift through until you find the truth in the lie and the lie in the truth. Leave it behind as a gift. It will greet you when you return.

12. Choose. Do not lean on safety. Do not select out of fear. Do not be conventionally wise. Let doubt fade like stars into dawn.

13. Say yes. Carve time out of an inconvenient day. Allow yourself to lose yourself in love, kissing until everything comes off. Find strength in your own heartbeat.

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Of Logic and Lady Parts

September 20, 2013 19 comments

“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” – Mark Twain

            Yesterday, someone insulted my intelligence, questioning my ability (as a WOMAN) to be logical. And normally, I’d just let that go, because that opinion is loosely based, not in reality, but in bullshit.

            Except, really. No. That’s not okay.

            A friend of mine and I were having a twitter conversation about logic – technically, it was in regard to asshats on the internet and how they tend to FLAIL and sputter at things like REASON. In the midst of that conversation, another Tweeter (Twitterer?) joined in with the quip, “No offense, but…” followed by a graphic that depicted men’s logic as linear – and women’s as, well, a hodgepodge of intersecting, crazypants lines.

            This does not fly. Certainly, almost always, when someone begins a sentence with, “No offense, BUT…” whatever follows is, indeed, a steaming pile of WTF, lightly coated in NO. This was not an exception by any means.

            Logic is not gender-specific, folks. A man can have haphazard logic just as easily as a woman. Unless he is SPOCK, because he’s not so much a MAN as he is a Vulcan. But I digress.

            The beautiful thing about people is that we are all people – inherently different, based on things like personality and interests. As a woman, I am not predisposed to erratic behavior or subpar reasoning skills. This is not some kind of genetic inalienable absolute. Sure, I can be irrational. I’ve shouted. I’ve had FEELINGS, and I’ve done The Wacky. But that isn’t because I have lady parts. It’s because I am a person. And people have moments.

            But I also have to point something out. My ability to be logical is not mutually exclusive to my ability to have conflicting, or confusing, thoughts. Because, hey, life is nuts sometimes. And it doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Occasionally, I wish it did, but I also think that might be a bit boring.

            I’m very good at reasoning things out. I don’t approach a situation hysterically, even when I have The Feels, or passion about something – and I certainly don’t need someone to hold my hand to walk from Point A to Point B. I am not, in fact, an idiot.

            See, accusing someone of being illogical based on her sex isn’t just a sign of bullshit. It is also a sign of an entire mentality wherein we craft false opinion based on stereotypes – thinking, somehow, that it’s okay to pull that kind of crappy move. It’s not. This isn’t a whoops moment. It’s not an accident. It is, in fact, a pervasive bit of misogyny. Perhaps in its most mild form, but it is still there. You cannot wash away the stink or sting with an, “Oops! Sorry. My bad. It was a dumb moment.”

            That’s not a moment. It’s not a joke. It’s an insult. And I don’t care for those.

            Here are some fun facts about me. I have an IQ of 143. I argued my way through graduate school. I don’t routinely use words like pastiche and la parole, but I can. Just because I don’t talk like that in my everyday life doesn’t mean I’m not capable of it. I just don’t want to be the toolbag at a dinner party who people need a dictionary to converse with. To suggest that I cannot, as a woman, be logical is an attempt to underscore my education, my intelligence, and (honestly) who I am. I would never walk up to a man and assume he’s full of logic and reason, simply because he possesses a penis and a pulse. Logic and reason isn’t genetically encoded to the Y chromosome. In fact, I wouldn’t assume anything, because that’s a shitty thing to do to someone you don’t know well – and I’d argue that it’s also a shitty thing to do to someone you DO know well.

            It is a shame that I have to say this, but I do: think before you speak. Is what you’re about to say rude? Insensitive? And possibly made of NONSENSE? Okay. Then, to be frank, shut the fuck up. Don’t be a troll. Don’t be a dick. And don’t insult my intelligence.

            Any questions?

what this is

September 14, 2013 Leave a comment

 

this happiness is wet; it tastes
like wine, like a kiss
pressed into a prayer, two bodies
like a church, home
and hope in every corner,
in every curve, all the moments
in an hour, singing.

this happiness is slick, it is
rain greeting a rooftop, the way
a look begs for understanding,
and how understanding sleeps
within every brave moment,
full with purpose, quietly
asking to be known.

this happiness is quiet, secret,
a leaf just beginning to turn,
humble as a thunderbolt,
it separates what it must, a touch
that stays long after a hand is gone,
fears bursting into flame.

this happiness is a rebellion,
and there, in a stolen beam of sun,
it began; it is always beginning;
it is always what it is,
perfect with its imperfections,
freckled with desire, fingers
on a trigger, heart like a flood.

this happiness is two hands
and an afternoon, forgetting the door
in favor of an open window,
it is untying knots while shaking,
going through, rather than around,
and running into deep waters;
this is love let out of its birdcage,
your ribcage, flying wild –
flying. Yes, that.

this happiness is wet
as a kiss – a surprise, an inspired gasp
beneath a lover’s hand.
this is why we came.
this is why we come.
this is, itself, a reason.

the leaves are almost changing

September 10, 2013 4 comments

            So, my birthday is next month. October is my favorite month and not just because I happened to grace it with the illustrious day of my birth. I love the weather. I love the way the leaves start to change color. I love that way that everything seems possible in October. Once the air starts to turn crisp and cool, I’m always reminded that change is necessary and beautiful, even if it means winter is gaining a foothold. Plus, I love all things pumpkin and Halloween. This is a win.

            But my birthday is a thing on the horizon. As such, my best friend asked me what I wanted, which isn’t unusual. We always ask each other that. And I couldn’t answer her properly. In fact, I didn’t answer her at all. My initial reaction was a desire for something, not an item you can pick up at the store or order online. It was very specific and slightly impossible and not something you could wrap up in a bow.

            I didn’t tell her any of this. (Hi, Kim!)

            Since then, I’ve been giving it some thought – examining the desire, the impossible thing that, in some ways, I’ve always wanted. It’s said that you don’t get what you want if you don’t ask. And yet, it’s also true that there are some things you can’t ask for. They happen or they don’t.

            My initial reaction tells me a lot of things. The heart doesn’t change when you bury it, just like the sea doesn’t change because you’ve thrown away the compass. If you let your mind drift during the day, what does it drift to? It’s not always bills and worries, but it’s dreams and hopes. It’s the people who you love and those you miss. It’s kind of amazing the things you can learn about yourself if you just stop and pay attention.

            What do I want for my birthday? Something I can’t ask for. Something I’d give everything for. Something that may never be mine. But it won’t be my doing – it won’t be because I didn’t dare or held myself back. I may not ask for it, but if I had, it’d be like finding out the secret to a magic trick. After that, every time you see it, it would shine just a little less.

            And, to quote my friend Katelan Foisy, “It doesn’t matter how you do it, just fucking shine.”

            I plan on shining. No excuses and no illusions. Here’s to badasses and bravery. Here’s to dares and daring. Here’s to everything changing and believing the impossible.

Categories: Uncategorized

our hearts, rough as new stars

September 7, 2013 Leave a comment

 

From a distance, everything looks beautiful, even a forest fire with its vibrant orange and yellow secrets. The way things wash up on the shore after a storm, treasures revealed and left, offerings from a god whose name is quiet, irrelevant. You pick up the sea glass all the same, wondering at the worship to be found in its smooth edges.

Smooth edges take time and patience. They’re the product of unrelenting force, current that neither cares nor considers. It is merely a habit of the moon pulling the tide. It is nature exacting its impulses on whatever it finds.

Sometimes, people are like that. Sometimes, people get caught up in currents and riptides, gravity demanding gently or insisting like a choke chain – but demanding all the same. Orbits intersect, and things collide. The result is always stardust, the beginning of a moment or its ending. It is potential without a set purpose. A reminder than even destruction can be pretty.

Is a bird flying into a storm brave? Does it consider the recklessness of the wind and rain, or does it simply move on instinct, guiding itself toward where it wants, or needs, to go? Soaking rain, gone cold with fall’s dark breeze, cannot deter it. It flies as straight as it can, even when logic demands it should not. And yet, do you have it in you to be that bird? It isn’t as simple as choosing a direction, I know. But it is a matter of bravery. We all choose our storms, and the possibilities are endless. It is when you choose nothing that you lose everything. When you allow things to be as they are, because otherwise, the lightning might strike. The wind may try to tear you from yourself. So, you sit, in a way, in someone else’s skin – because no one can see that the smile you’re smiling isn’t really yours. No one can get close enough to assess it, or those who are simply do not care. You’re surrounded by a forest fire, only you don’t know it. You’re surrounded by a hurricane, only you pretend not to feel it. You’re the sea glass, and you spend all your days trying to ignore it.

You can’t see anything if you don’t open your eyes. You can’t see the walls you’ve put up, brick by brick, between yourself and everyone else. Walls keep everyone out, without discrimination, without selection. Walls, evident in terse words or the keening of silence. Walls, evident in the fear that trips your pulse and steals your once easy laugh. Walls, though conjured for a reason, kill without mercy. There have, if you truly look, already been too many casualties already. Yours was the first – your happiness. And everyone has a right to that, no matter the inclination.

Distance isn’t reality. It isn’t passion or purpose. It isn’t possibility or potential. Distance is a monster that keeps you from yourself, that keeps your eyes closed and your heart tied with razor wire. Distance makes you a marionette, only someone else is pulling the strings. Only, you should have no strings. Only, you have in your worst moments, forgotten that.

Do not be afraid the darkness, because it is how we find, again, the stars.

Categories: prose poem

Maybe I just don’t care if you imagine me naked.

September 5, 2013 4 comments

Here’s the thing. Yesterday, there was a blog post circulating around the interwebs. Usually, those things are a dime a dozen (which, given this economy, should tell you a hell of a lot). But this particular post stuck in my craw like bad sushi.

In case you’re interesting in raising your blood pressure, it’s here.

So, the tl; dr version is that a woman, with teenage sons, wrote a letter to teenage girls on the internet. Basically, it was a fire-and-brimstone bit of professed morality, wherein the responsibility for shielding the teenage male persuasion from bare shoulders and selfies rested on the shoulders of the female population. The thesis, generally speaking, is that it is a girl’s duty to protect the boys from themselves, by bundling up and being as unassuming as possible. Because, clearly, there’s something squicky about being proud of your femininity. Because, clearly, the male sex should have absolutely NO responsibility for themselves. Because temptation, thy name is woman. (And, you know, there’s a sexual orientation bias, here. No mention of gay or bisexuality. I suppose there’s also a ban on shellfish, then.)

Today, the internet opens up the world in a way that I only experienced in a limited manner, as a teen. It was before Facebook and Twitter, but after AOL and chat rooms. Yes, I’m old. And in other news, kids: get off my lawn. But, seriously, the internet and social media tends to pull down the communication fourth way, ripping away the limits of geography. Social media opens up new avenues. But it also opens the door to a lot of bullying, too. And that post? It feels like bullying, in a soft tone, so that maybe don’t smell the bullshit.

On that post, I call bullshit.

So, it’s been a while since I was a teenage girl. I always wore a tank top when it was hot out. And, when I was brave enough, I’d even wear a bikini on the beach or by the pool. There are family photos, somewhere, of me at a BBQ wearing a bikini with freakin’ tweetie bird on it, folks. I never considered any of these things offensive, because…they aren’t.

And yet, that post body-shames teenage girls for posting selfies of themselves in tank tops and bathing suits. Even, in one instance, in a bathing suit. LE GASP. Because, clearly, bikinis are the gateway clothing item to Satan. And, clearly, no boy will EVER see a girl on a bikini at, say, the beach or the pool. But, um, wait – the post happens to include family pictures at the beach, where they (boys) are wearing bathing suits. Um, hello pot. This is kettle. What up?

Now, I’m not a parent, but I don’t think you have to be a parent to know a double-standard (or shaming tactics) when you see it. The blogger isn’t telling her boys to put a t-shirt on at the beach, is she? Personally, I think hiding behind the idea of a moral compass and trumped up integrity is somewhat…limiting. For one thing, there’s nothing morally bankrupt about anyone who is proud of her body. And, last time I checked, every person is entitled to his/her sexuality – but unless a girl is wearing lingerie and stilettos, I’m pretty sure her selfie isn’t an outbreak monkey of moral corruption or some sort of sly trick to tempt unsuspecting men folk. To see it that way is to hypersexualize something that isn’t necessarily sexual at all. Sure, if a guy sees me in a towel, he probably won’t forget it. But that isn’t a gateway to moral questionability. (Side-note: morals, as much as folks don’t want to admit it, are relative to each person. Your mileage may vary.) Because, speaking as a woman, if someone has a problem with my selfies, or the cut of my shirt, or the fact that I wear a bikini – that’s not my problem. It belongs to the other person. But kids/teenagers cannot always make that distinct. They take things to heart and perhaps more so if that opinion is coming from an adult.

Why are we telling our daughters that they are responsible for the actions and thoughts of boys? Why are we shaming, instead of celebrating?

Entertaining the idea that it is a burden, for a moment, why is the responsibility not being shared equally? If this is such a horrifying thing (girls wearing two-piece bathing suits etc.) for the aforementioned blogger, it seem most logical that she parent her own children – not police and berate those of others. Especially considering that the overall tone of the post is one of condescension and condemnation, which isn’t really a tone/tactic an adult should employ with teenagers – again, especially other people’s.

I’m well-aware of the fact that a person’s religion shapes his/her worldview. If you’re Christian, you might be appalled by the fact that I often take the lord’s name in vain – or that I didn’t capitalize lord just then. You might find me to be a bit morally reprehensible, because I expect to dress and speak freely. I’m kind and a good person, but if you judge me by my stripper shoes or low-cut top, doesn’t that say more about your narrow view than it does about me?

Lastly, I just want to address a small bit of contradictory information. At one point, the blogger wrote, “If you try to post a sexy selfie, or an inappropriate YouTube video – even once – you’ll be booted off our on-line island.” Overlooking the hilarity of the word try (because if it’s even a thought that you were attempting to look sexy, you’re off the island, darling. The judge and jury are jumping to conclusions, and you’re out. Think about that statement. If you make ONE supposed mistake, you’re done. That’s it. One error, and that’s it. No second chances.

Except a paragraph later, there’s this: Girls, it’s not too late! If you think you’ve made an on-line mistake (we all do – don’t fret – I’ve made some doozies), RUN to your accounts and take down  anything that makes it easy for your male friends to imagine you naked in your bedroom.

So, wait. Which is it: mistakes are unforgivable OR quick, fix it, and all will be alright. Panic or don’t fret? Condemn or forgive?

Like I said, I’m not a parent. But I am a person. And I am a girl. I remember what it was like to be a teenager. I’ve grown since then, and I care less about what people think. I won’t be held back by the hobgoblin of a small mind (thanks for the phrasing, Emerson). I won’t let you dictate me.

And maybe I just don’t care if you imagine me naked.

…but it’s still not an invitation for you to harass me or do anything non-consensual. SO DON’T BE A FUCKING JERK. (line courtesy of C. Finlay)

Meant for Someone

September 3, 2013 2 comments

I never told you the story
four years ago – I took it
like punishment, every bruise,
each fist and foot,
every word a roundhouse
to my heart: slut,
bitch, and whore. Instead,
I wore red lipstick and a smile,
laced up my boots, but didn’t run,
my courage was the snarl
of junkyard dog, and maybe
I cried, and maybe I said
I’m sorry
I’m sorry
I’m sorry – but I didn’t mean it.
Sometimes to survive, you have to lie.
Sometimes to lie, you have to take the hornet sting.

I never told you about the fights,
about the duct tape and tequila,
never told you how I stood up for things
I had no right to stand for – 
I never told you 
about the overturned furniture, 
or the brushfire in those silences,
or how I choked on the smoke
as I swallowed the ashes. I never
told you about the exit wounds,
because those scars – they were mine,
and I promised never to forget them,
and if it came down to wearing them
or losing you, I’d kiss the pain
and call it pretty.

I never told you
about the things loving you cost me,
I never counted them out,
I never made you wear them
like an albatross, because
it was my decision, my body,
my crime scene, and those burdens 
were mine
and I claimed them
as a penalty, blame
not for sale. Knives
in the throat –
that blood was mine
to lose. 

I never told you the story
of refusal, spitting out shame
like broken teeth, turning the other cheek
constantly, the bruises mistaken
for a blush – I accepted it,
because poetry isn’t always pretty,
and neither is love,
and neither am I –
and I don’t want easy,
I don’t want simple,
and I don’t want convenient –
I want broken windows
and bad manners, and kissing
that make us late for our lives.

I never told you the story, never
laid it in a heap at your feet, 
all fractured ribs and chalk outlines,
because I love you in
simple sentences, sentiments
easily understood,
my heart cracked open
without pretense or apology.

I never told you the story, 
but I’m telling you now –
because you don’t really know
how it happened, how the fight 
was never fair, and the game was fixed,
and I still put on boxing gloves,
and closed my eyes,
and took the punches.

I threw the fight,
I let it cut like surgery,
and I took the brokenness 
every single time, 
because to me – for us –
that was winning,
because the only one left bloody
was me.

you are sex
in a parked car, laughing
into a kiss, saying I miss you
with your tongue, hands healing
more than you ever knew –
tell me that you don’t think I’m worth it,
tell me now, after you know
the whole story. Go on, 
I’ll wait. 

“A million miles away, lost at sea — she burned like a fire only drowning men could see.” ~Matt Nathanson, Heart Starts