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Things I’ve been watching/ listening to

1) Broad City. It’s on Hulu. I’m so sad I watched it all so fast. I love these babes.

broad city

2) Chickens. Watched all the Broad City and need another mindless funny TV show to watch? Try this comedy about three Englishmen during WWI who did not go to fight (all for different reasons) and the hilarious, deep disdain they get for it.

3) So Sleater Kinney’s new album is the shiz.

4) Numero uno and tres come together for an epic interview:

5) OK, so not funny things for number five. This documentary, “The Blind Spot,” was on Crackle, which I sometimes peruse on my Roku channels when I’ve watched all seemingly interesting options on Hulu and Netflix. It is a compilation of interviews with Traudl Junge, Hitler’s secretary, who lived in obscurity until the end of her life. It’s very sparse and in German, so don’t watch this if you’re not totally invested in reading all the subtitles. As someone who gets physically ill watching movies or documentaries about the Holocaust, this was welcome viewing. She speaks of how banal her time with Hitler was, and you see a woman near the end of her life wrestling with guilt and trying to understand how she could have not seen what was happening. It’s a troublesome reminder of how warped the human psyche can become under different circumstances. She is also a good reminder of why it is important to stay aware of what your government and other people of power are up to and accountable for. Ask a lot of questions. You can watch it online here, too.

Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse Take 1 – War

Off the shore of of Oahu, Hawaii, about 100 feet under ocean, there’s the wreckage of a Corsair F4U airplane.

The plane spent its flying years as an American fighter aircraft during WWII.

This part of the ocean is a water-soaked desert. And the plane, as the scientists who study it say, is “fully intact” with the exception of being all mangled and everything from its crash, but the shape of it is still there. And, you know, a man probably died in it…

What’s interesting about this plane, and what the scientists study, is that the ocean life around it has made it home. In death, this machine of destruction has become a source of life.

Metaphors!

Every week I sell books to an old man in a wheelchair. He usually buys tomes about religion–mostly Catholicism, but any denomination, really. There’s some obvious searching going on.

The week of Independence Day I asked him if was excited to celebrate. He said no. He was in Korea. He doesn’t like the fireworks because they remind him of that.

No wonder he like the library. In that moment I wanted all the fireworks to be cancelled.

He made me think of this plane. Because the plane reminds me of him. And it reminds me of me.

I risk being all Gwenyth Paltrowy here and comparing first world women’s situation to the that of victims of actual aggressive violent acts of war, but I don’t mean to. Full disclosure here, I know that’s way worse and physical nation-sanctioned agression is another essay entirely.

But sometimes I feel like my spirit — many women’s spirits — have been atrophied, like that plane, by a war on women, a much more subtle one. We’ve found a way to make life, to decay productively, to live in the destruction of aggression.

I interviewed my grandparents a few years ago for a tiny farming newsletter that’s published in my hometown. They’re farmers.

I interviewed my grandpa first. We spoke mostly of his time as a an airplane mechanic in WWII. He didn’t do much combat but he flew parts for planes to troops in battle areas so they could fix their planes. It was interesting and sad and it was the only time I have ever seen him cry.

My grandma was another story. She was angry, but it wrapped in some sheen.

My grandma grew up very wealthy. They lived in a big house in town and had African American servants. The servants were like her family. She recalled being a tomboy but not being allowed to climb the apple tree they had in the backyard because it would dirty her dress. Good girls did not play or make a mess. Especially not rich good girls.

She recalled being devastated as she got older and was not allowed to hang out with the servants anymore, even though that meant being lonely, in a dress, with the apple tree calling her name.

This rule was instituted after someone in her family caught her as a teen using the same restroom as the servants.

During WWII and shortly after, she was an artist who worked with veterans on rebuilding their tactile skills. She taught them weaving and leather embossing. She loved it

When I asked if she regretted leaving the work to become a housewife, she looked at me very blankly. Like I should know the answer.

She replied, “Well, Jackie, during that time it was butt up face down.”

This was shocking to me, partly because sex felt like a four letter word growing up so this seemed incredibly vulgar coming from my sweet grandmother, the type of woman who makes laminated magnets of family pictures for christmas presents.

But it was also shocking to me because this was such a direct, honest answer. I was not expecting it.

And how fucking sad is that… I know that’s not her whole story. She was also in love, and loved being a mother. But wow.

I was thinking of her when a few friends of mine and I made those vulgar cookies you’re eating tonight. Actually we tried home baking them but I got distracted with one line of thinking or another misread the directions and we ended up having to buy them and ice them. I would have been a horrible housewife.

I call those cookies cunt cookies. They have words on them that are not sweet but we made them that way. They’re words used to assert dominance, weapons of war. Cunt, slut, bitch, whore, princess, fat ass, drama queen, crazy.

My grandma is a great cook. It’s her expression of love for her family — her chopped ham spread is divine. But, based on what she told me, I always feel a pang of sadness about that. There’s a sense of feeling like she had no choice but to have a life as a housewife if she wanted to be a good girl, a good woman. Not girls who got their dresses dirty and climbed apple trees.

So that plane off the coast of Hawaii. It’s so far down that not much light hits it. The only colors you can see down there are black, grey, white and blue.

But the scientists bring down a special light that illuminates things down there. It’s technical. Science.

When they shine it on this crashed vessel, vibrant color appears. Mostly this bold beautiful red.

Red, red, red.

Today, in much more underhanded ways than what my grandma experienced,  I feel like women are not allowed to show their red.

We are black or we are white.

One of the words on those cookies was Princess.

Here’s what I find so ridiculous about the princess thing. It’s not so much that we, as a popular culture, encourage little girls to be princesses or like shiny pink things. The majority of little girls really do like those things, and I think that’s OK. What strikes me is how sharply that word turns on them when they get older. Grow some boobs and Princess becomes a dirty word, something shameful because it implies you care only about yourself and stupid girl things.

This doesn’t happen to little boys with interests sports or even comic books and superheroes. Princess stuff becomes shameful because interest in it is dominated by the Other gender.

So black and white. You’re put in a box. Society cocks and pulls those words to dismiss any other part of your self.

You’re a princess… until you’re a fucking selfish princess.

You’re a stuck up prude until you’re a gross used up slut.

You’re too skinny until you’re too fat.

And the dismissive nature of a complicated self is everywhere, in all facets of our culture. A euphemism guys use for having sex with a woman is “Hit it.”

All of this sits in and shapes the psyche of our girls and boys who become women and men.

All is not fair in love or war or anything else.

I had a boyfriend right after college who was pretty bad to me but I wanted love so badly and not be a slut so badly I stayed with him for way too long. One night he held me down and peed on my face because I refused to have sex with him because my feelings were hurt about him calling me a slut.

It was the most degrading thing I have ever experienced. His excuse was that I had had sex with multiple partners before him and said yes to them, so why wasn’t I saying yes to the man I claimed to love. And I forgave him because I felt ashamed.

What’s sad is that that is not a unique experience. When I hang out with girlfriends and we get on the subject of abuse or rape or violence, all of them have some kind of story. It feels like we’re old war buddies trying to top each other in some sick game.

My experience being violated this way feels like a one of several Purple Broken Hearts I’ve earned in the war on women, the war on my body. It’s like a cold war though. One where I love the enemy but walk a fine line of maintaining a space and respect for my multi-faceted self, not just for me but for other women that enter a heterosexual relationship’s life.

So how do we win? Or, better question, how do we end the war?

We become scuba divers with special lights.

We take those words on those cookies and make them nonviolent, make them stupid words like they are. Tonight those words are sweet and we are eating them in a different way than we usually do. And, the best part, is that later tonight, we will make them into what those words really are — steamy, stinky piles of bull SHIT.

Our science light are things like this, talking about our war stories, our bodies, our abortions, our babies, our rapes, our victimhood and our survival.

We are fat. We are PMSing. We are crazy. But when those words are applied as bombs on a heart, they are forgetting that we are also strong, and loyal, and and beautiful, and right, and wrong and full of color.

We are red. And red means war. Red also means love. Spirit renewing, life giving love.

Just hold on, we’re going home

My sister, cousin and I sat around a table.

I was sad. A boy. Full of potential. All shaggy blonde hair and high eyes and a smile made of marble and the kind of orthodontics that come from wealthy parents who will buy you Abercrombie without the bat of an eye.

I didn’t really want him. I knew that early on. But he was fun and made me feel special.

I didn’t tell anyone about losing him. The moments we shared weren’t worth talking about. And he was from home and I was from far away.

So my sisters, we sat. And talked about how college was going. My cousin a year away from all its freedom. My sister, about to graduate from it.

I had never been away from home for more than a week at camp. Camp! How wonderful those memories. I still think of the way the camp’s water sounded, now when I smell wet cedar. And how exciting camp dances felt. They were fun. And made me feel special. Even when they made me feel alone.

It was my first weekend being home from college. Already I had learned so much there.

But home felt strange.

As a whole, it felt familiar. It looked the same and the carpet hugged my feet just like it had months before.

Each night growing up we ate dinner together. Home for dinner. We all had our assigned seats. I was on a side, beside my younger brother, my sister across from me, my daddy to the right, mom at the front, youngest brother to the left of her.

We had those little things you stick into the ends of the ear of corn that look like actual ears of corn. That alway makes a home to me. The corn cob stickers.

That table was still there, and the chairs, and my instinct to sit in the one that was mine. The way the glass door to the back porch sucked in air when it shut. The way the wind cooed at the garage door and creaked  it open. The electronic passcode to get in. I hadn’t had a key for years.

But something unexplainable had shifted. This wasn’t all mine anymore. I belonged somewhere else.

I think we just talked. That night I was home. Laughed about teenage stuff you don’t miss until the day that stuff isn’t funny anymore.

I knew these girls so well, the same way they knew me. The time we snuck into the haymow after dark and how we used to fill with water the whisky bottle we snuck nips from my senior year.

I loved these girls. They were so good to me. They were fun and made me feel special.

I drove back to college that night. Feeling that reserved kind of sad, where you know it was for the best.

Not because of the boy anymore, but because I knew what I was giving up to build a new place to call home.

Something that felt more than fun and special. Something that felt like mine, this new me I was becoming.

Tick Tock

My ex used to call it living in the shit.

Waiting. Wasting time. Not a waste. In the waste.

Knee deep and shoveling it away slowly with a spoon.

How badly I just want to put a nice little rug over the shit and convince myself and others that it’s totally cool and beautiful in here! Come stay! I’ve got cupcakes going in the kitchen! No don’t step there!

But living in the shit is like sitting in traffic. You have to do it. You have to work through it. Sit through it as you inch toward progress. Even if the radio stations all suck. Do not take the nearest exit because shortcuts never work and you’ll end up breaking your own damn heart.

Patience is a virtue designed for the lonely. A self-help reminder that reality bites but you don’t have to inflict teeth’s puncture wounds on yourself. Just accept the reality.

There is a small curve indented in my new love seat from where I sat in it all day yesterday. Funny, isn’t it, that love seats really can only fit one?

I fear wasting time. It’s so finite. Am I doing enough? Being enough? I’ve tried so damn hard to be good. But the things I want are not here. What to do?

Live in the shit. Figure out where it’s coming from and shovel it with anything that will do. Saturdays spent curled up on a love seat asking yourself important questions, letting yourself feel the grief of a loss but knowing it will get better soon and, if you do this right, will never happen again because you’ll pick better things for yourself (because you really know the reality of yourself, finally) are not a waste.

Keep shoveling.

Hey there, lonely girl

Desperation is the most obvious sign that there is a leaky faucet somewhere in your head and it needs immediate attention before the whole damn pipe bursts. Don’t drown, sweet darling!

Desperation, if you can spot it though, is the last step toward stepping toward healing. You’ve spotted the thing that’s broken. You’ve admitted your role in creating it. You’ve decided to shut the doors and take care of the problem and not come out until then, no matter how long it takes.

Congratulations! You’ve just leveled up and can now head toward the recovery portion of this program!

lonely girl

So #GIRLBOSS was awesome. Here are some quotes.

Nasty Girl founder Sophia Amoruso is one badass babe, and her new business/life/disco book “#GIRLBOSS” is totally worth buying. I loved it and felt right on board with so much of what she was saying, especially the transformation from bleeding heart political activist to capitalist supporter, but on your own terms. Here are some of my favorite quotes. BUT DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT. (#GIRLBOSSes probably don’t hijack other people’s catchphrases… I’m still learning…)

#GIRLBOSS

“I believe the best way to honor the past and future of women’s rights is by getting shit done.

“It’s not shallow to put effort into how you look.

“Is 2014 a new era of feminism where we don’t have to talk about it?

“It’s insulting to be praised for being a woman with no college degree.

“You don’t get taken seriously by asking someone to take you seriously.

“I’ve learned that it’s typically the larger companies out there that provide the template for employees to chart a path for themselves and continue to develop in their respective fields as well as in their management skills.

“Being repeatedly, predictably late is a wonderful way to let your boss know that you just don’t care about your job.

“I respect people who are willing to just roll up their sleeves and get the job done, even if it’s a shitty one.

“I believed that capitalism was the source of all greed, inequality and destruction in the world. I thought that big corporations were running the world (which I now know they do) and by supporting them, I was condoning their evil ways (which is true, but a girl’s gotta put gas in her car).

“In my mind at that time, I wasn’t doing anything wrong because I was stealing from corporations and not people. … I call bullshit on myself.

“I was starting to realize that I liked and wanted nice things, and if stealing wasn’t going to enable me to get them, I was going to have to try something almost too conventional for me — getting another job.

“Living a comfortable life can allow you the psychic space needed to focus on other, often bigger  things, and when you treat your possessions as emblems of your hard work, they inherit a meaning that transcends the objects themselves.

“I knew that someday I would be thirty, and imagined that rooting through trash in search of a free bagel would likely not be so cute anymore.

“I once believed that participating in the capitalist economy would be the death of me, but now realize that agonizing over the political implications of every move I make isn’t exactly living.

“I saw it as a materialistic pursuit for materialistic people, but what I have realized over time is that in many ways, money spells freedom.

“You can’t act like you’ve arrived when you’re only just receiving the invitation.

“Separate your money from your emotions as much as you possibly can.

“Every time I got up in the morning instead of saying “screw it” and sleeping in, every time I spent a few extra minutes on a product description to make it perfect, I was choosing my fate and sowing the seeds of my future.

“Keep reminding yourself over and over that this is what you want and you’ll soon find that the more you know what you want the less you’re willing to put up with what you don’t.

“When you think about people you give them power.

“There’s no karmic law that dictates your business will succeed if others fail so why not just wish them well and get on with it.

“Nothing, for me, feels more comforting than the sound of an angry, misunderstood man.

“When you accept yourself it’s surprising how much other people will accept you too.

“Many people mistake the glamour of business for business.

“I figured it out by doing what I think is one of the best strategies for learning anything anywhere: I Googled it.

“I, like every girl boss, I am a wolf in wolf’s clothing.

“You can be an entrepreneurial without being an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurial people are passionate about what they do, comfortable with taking risks, and quick at moving on from failures.

“It seemed most of the venture capitalists I met with had recently and unanimously “discovered” that women like to buy things online.

“One [investor] asked to call my former COO, Frank, to talk about the business. I said sure and gave him Frank’s number. I later found out that he asked if I had a “spending problem.” When I heard this I thought to myself, Dude I built a multimillion dollar business out of $50 and no debt. Does it look like I have a spending problem?

“The concept of “good people” should apply to every part of life. Surround yourself with people who are engaged, honest, and confident enough on their own quest to support you on yours. There’s no time for losers.

“I think that now, depending on my hair, I dress closer to my Tim Burton-character roots than I have been in a long time — and I’m comfortably rock ’n’ roll with a disco soul.

“The real challenge lies in perfecting the art of knowing which rules to accept and which to rewrite.

Untitled

A poem I wrote for Word Church. Peace be with words with friends. Go to the next one.

poetry reading

**********************

I know I am the type of girl who buys crystal stones but won’t spend the $7.99 for a soup ladle even though I eat a lot of soup.

I know you are the type of boy who will buy two soup ladles, in case one breaks, and store them in the drawer at an angle of perfectly perpendicular proportion.

And I know you never eat soup.

But I guess I don’t know.

I’m a know-nothing

about you anymore.

Ahhhh.

C’est la vie.

Naaaah.

C’est la fuck you.

I want you —

to not forgive yourself

before I even have a chance to.

I want —

to forget

that your arms felt like my childhood bedroom’s fan sounded

Comforts

welcomes

worn

I want you —

so bad

to stay gone

I want you —

to recognize what’s worth fucking adoring in my buying of crystal stones

Your teeth, once a handcrafted porcelain white

now look like subway toilet seats.

Speckled with someone else’s shit.

I want —

them to no longer eat me alive.

From your memory I flee

and the further I get,

the more everything becomes clear like crystal

and my heart to yours like stone.