Monthly Archives: April 2013

A Stool at the Golden Phallic Table

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When I was thirteen I would steal words from my male classmates, hoping they would like me. A girl in eighth grade was raped and somehow we all knew about it. The boys said “She’s a hoe, you can’t get raped if you’re a hoe.” And I said, “She’s a hoe, you can’t get raped if you’re a hoe.” The boys said, “She’s fat. Who’d rape that? Don’t flatter yourself, honey.” So I said, “She’s fat. Who’d rape that? Don’t flatter yourself. Don’t flatter yourself. Don’t flatter yourself.”

Even now I meet women like thirteen-year old me: using words stolen from men to barter for their love. I never know how at twenty, at thirty, at forty, she hasn’t yet learned that saying these things, taking their side, does not protect you. Nothing you say will earn you an honorary seat at the golden phallic table. There is no room for you there. At the most you will get a stool at the corner of the room, which can be knocked out from under you at any time. The thing about patriarchy is that anyone can participate. But only men will benefit.

Boys like girls that like boys. If you “like” girls, that’s hot. But if you protect girls, you’re a dyke. Which is the same as a lesbian, but somehow not hot? These are not laws, yet we live by them. We are connected by a chain too heavy to be broken alone. Casting her under a bus, you go with her. Both bodies crushed.

Sometimes I still feel the old spell come over me:  it’s so easy to say the words, to avoid responsibility. To point a finger and get a pat on the head. Resist. The chain is pulling tight. Where she falls, you fall too.

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The First Time I Shaved My Legs

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The first time I shaved my legs, my mother cried.

Not because “her little girl was growing up” but because her little girl was entering a world that is cruel to little girls.

I did it in Florida, on family vacation. I was twelve. I’d been in the pool playing with some girls I didn’t know and they were laughing at me, at my legs. They didn’t say why, but somehow I knew. Girls are programmed with shame. We are only clean for so long and then must start doing the things that keep the dirt off: shaving our legs and underarms, stripping all the hair from our bodies, douching, lasering, scraping, bleaching. A little girl is only a little girl until she is not, and then the shame settles on her like a blanket. She wraps herself in it, sometimes forever.

My mother had tried to keep me safe. She let me do what I wanted. She said, “There is nothing that you have to do.” I believed her. I wanted to be like my brothers and pierce only one ear. I wanted my hair short like my brothers. She let me. I was a wild brown pony, barefoot in the yard and wearing Spiderman shirts. I had a pair of jeans with “Chic” stitched on the pocket. She took the thread out because I asked her to, because I thought it said “chick” and god knew I didn’t want to be one of those.

She was saving me from a world that hated girls, but somehow it leaked in: it was in my one earring, my short hair. Seven years old and already I knew which was the better sex to be. By the time the razor scraped my shin, the damage was done. Now comes the undoing.

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For Writers Who Considered Marketing When the Art Wasn’t [Paying] Enough

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Nothing you are doing is a waste.

This is what I tell myself. Every day I go to my job where I’m a senior marketing specialist, and I know it’s a lie. I am not a specialist of marketing. I am not a specialist of anything except for putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, and writing writing writing. When I graduated college and stepped into the 9-5 world, I felt the emptiness that artists feel when straying from their art in order to pay the bills. Resentment. Anger. Bitterness, even. But eventually I learned: nothing I am doing is a waste. And nothing you are doing is a waste either.

The skills I learn here I will one day apply to my own career. When I am a published author, I will use these years spent marketing to promote my book; publicizing with tight strategic campaigns, incorporating PPC, social media, blogs, and guest posts. Won’t I? I refuse to waste these years.

What are you? Besides a writer? Are you in sales? When you pitch to a client, keep your book in your mind: you’ll pitch it one day. You work in a plant—watch the machines. In the turning gears you might see the next great science fiction novel. You’re in retail. Ha. You have the easiest job of all. Watch those people, the ones that f*ck up your carefully arranged towers of t-shirts, and record every single stupid thing they do. You don’t love retail. I don’t love marketing. But I love what it will create.

All of this matters. Your life is not a waste. Folding t-shirts doesn’t mean you’re not a writer—you’re just a writer folding t-shirts.

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National Poetry Writing Month: 3/30

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It’s National Poetry Writing Month. Like thousands of poets, I will be writing a poem a day, as I have every April for seven years. I won’t share them all–how tiresome would that be!–but I will share some. Here is day 3.

After meeting a feminist man on the city bus

It’s the joy of wandering through space,

Second rock to third to fourth

all manner of Martians hostile

and staring—and then

from under a stone

crawls a creature with eyes

like Earth but the color of Venus

who says

Greetings. We are the same.

and after so many months

of deciphered struggle,

of being thirsty to hear

a word that is true to your ear

that comes from the mouth

like a meteor of Light…

you are satisfied.

This is a planet full of fools

but at least there is one

with a soul.

 

 

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