Like A Dirty French Novel

If you have read my “About Me” on this blog, it’s just a Velvet Underground lyric. It’s taken from Some Kind of Love. It’s one of my favorite songs, not just from The Velvet Underground but one of my favorite songs, period. It makes me happy because it’s so simple and it expresses that playful dirty charm that one experiences when they discover a new kind of love. The Velvet Underground have been with me since I was 15. Since I purchased Andy Warhol Presents The Velvet Underground at Tower Records. I bought it for $15. I’ve seen it now for $6, new. Lou Reed’s voice was always my favorite, obviously. Nico is an acquired taste. Not Lou. Lou was something special.

What can there be said that hasn’t already been said? Countless Rock and Punk documentaries will always showcase the tremendous influence Lou and The Velvet Underground had on music. It’s a given. Like The Beatles, like The Rolling Stones, like The Blues and Elvis, VU is among them. Lou was the James Dean of Rock N Roll. When you look at the black and white photographs of Lou back in the 60′s, there is an idealism within those snapshots. It’s this idealism of true artistry. A raw power that he held behind those dark Ray Ban sunglasses. There was no bullshit in his expression.

Back when I bought that iconic album, I only had one incentive. I bought it because  I read an interview with Albert Hammond from The Strokes and he gave me this image of smoking pot and listening to The VU. But then my mom found out I smoked pot so there went that vision. I listened to the album in a complete normal state of mind and I felt something incredibly new within me. It exposed me to music that I didn’t knew existed back in the 60′s and 70′s. It exposed me to literature and poetry. It exposed me to the avant garde and post modern art and thought. It exposed me to different aspects about sexuality and sensuality. Of course this didn’t all happen when I was 15 but it certainly was a trickle down effect throughout the years. Most of my phases can be traced back to Lou and The VU. I went through a Beat phase, because Lou had been compared to Beatniks so I thought “hey what’s that?” I went through a phase where I only read dirty “high brow” literature. It started with Venus In Furs by Masoch because, well, I don’t have to explain. From Masoch, I went to Miller, Nin and Batailles (who combined the absurd with the vulgar, trust me.) Lou introduced me to Patti Smith, the goddess of Rock N Roll. Lou’s voice was there when I was enthralled with a boy. He was there singing, “Sometimes I feel so happy, sometimes I feel so sad, but mostly you just make me mad. Baby, you just make me mad,” when my heart broke every time with that boy. 

On Sunday, I woke up hungover and checked my phone. I saw probably five people quote or put up a Velvet Underground video with the letters R.I.P next to it. I gasped. It’s a really different type of sadness that is felt when someone you never knew but was there all the time passes away. There was a kind of selfish or vain guilt that I felt for being sad. Since I didn’t know him at all I just felt like I was taking away the sadness or the feelings of those who did know him well. I immediately started listening to Sunday Morning. A fitting song, right?

Later on that afternoon, I went to pick up my sister at Starbucks and when I was getting ready to tell her bummy news, I chocked up.  I dropped her off at home and ran errands on my own. While driving around, I took the long way to the places I need to go and back home. I was driving around listening to Lou and The Velvet Underground.  And I just started to cry. Full swollen tears ran down my face.

When I was hearing Stephanie Says and Candy Says through the speakers, it felt like this will never happen again. Not the moment I was having but the music, the lyrics, the song. Lou Reed will never happen again. I don’t mean, oh he’s physically gone. People die, that’s life. He lived to 71 which is a pretty damn long time. What he took with him was almost the end of an era, a generation. It might sound trite to say that but in his death, a little bit of truth, raw artistry and originality went with him. At least in the public spectrum he lived in. I’m sure there are real artists out there but I can’t shake off the feeling that with him, the idea of just making music for the sake of rock n roll, broke. We live in very vain times.  We live in a society where the pressure to be seen rather than heard is valued more. Maybe I’m just cynical, I don’t know. But in my car, my fat swollen tears just kept squeezing out with every word Lou sang. Lou Reed was just one of those people, artists, that you never think will go away. They just grow old, make weirder music, comment about the state of mainstream music once in a while, collaborate with Metallica and embrace Kanye West. Lou was just being Lou and he was supposed to just be all the time.

But we’re all human and we’re all destined to experience a final flash of white light. We all have blood circulating that makes our heart pump, like Mo Tucker’s drum beats. We all go through an agonizing love affair of some kind that leaves our soul pale, for a moment at least. We experience little or big moments of love from the touch of a shoulder. And some of us drink Sangria in the park. Moments that Lou captured in his words, his music and his eternal soul.

Thank you, Lou.

between thought and expression, lies a lifetime…

Tagged , ,

Nostalgia

Sometimes nostalgia waltzes in aggressive meters up against my spine,

In the dead of day, in the gray chill of an afternoon,

Like a Spartan soldier, like a raven

Perched upon my chest.

 

The shards of my sanity scattered throughout my sleep,

In the blood and chills throughout my day, you flicker in and out

My eyelids and in the form of bad prose structured

In terrible sentences that my ego calls, Poetry.

 

I guess I loved you because I never loved anyone before or after

In the struggle of retrospect, I cannot say

Yes, yes I  always did

No, no I never did.

 

But if I loved you, I loved you like a still life painting

In silence and boredom, your face on a ten foot frame

Hung on the Louvre, I stood in front of you

Pretending to understand everything that made you, You.

 

It’s unfortunate what a piano, some violins

A British voice suffocated in blue

And a repeat button can do to me

When my ovaries start to run down my thighs.

an element of your condition

20131012-092848.jpgI love you, I say, and you say I love you, too. You stare at shadows or reflections or your iPad, and the structure of your words is hollow. You place your tiny, perfect hand on top of mine, all scarred and veiny. Your bones are so small. I examine them in those seconds, the rippling movements beneath the skin. They remind me of the hummingbird skeletons we saw through glass at the nature preserve in Austin this summer. I could snap them. You are so small for your age. The man at the electronics store today thought you were two years younger. He told me a story about a woman on the news who didn’t feed her toddler. As he spoke, he watched my face.

I tickle you and you roar into my ear. It is too loud, almost painful, but your breath is hot against my skin. When you hug me, you turn away, all vertabrae and elbows. An element of your condition is your discomfort with touching, and being touched. Your eyes are cartoonishly large, beautiful, deep gray blue ocean, and they are always fixed elsewhere. But I am your mother and I want to drink you in. There were years lost when you would scream and cover your ears if my fork made even a tiny clink against my plate. You banged your head against hard floors, slapped your own tear-carved cheeks, compulsively opened and closed doors, flipped light switches on and off. You couldn’t stand photographs. You couldn’t say mommy. But none of that mattered as much as when you screeched, like an injured, angry animal, every time I tried to touch you. I knew not to take it personally. I couldn’t help it.

You are doing better. You are only six. I want desperately to see the future. You are obsessed with yellow, so I try to picture you living in a yellow house, driving a yellow car. I can’t imagine very long. I can only see your round face, your full lips, those enormous eyes, the face of a little boy. Soon, the questions invade. Will you be able to live alone? Will you be able to go to college? Will you be able to have a job? Will you have a partner? Will you have children? Will you have friends? Will you continue to rage and scream? I try and put them away. I count the ways in which everything has improved. One thing at a time, everyone tells you. One thing at a time, I say.

It has been three years since your diagnosis. You have been instructed to tell me you love me. You have been taught to allow me to touch you. Sometimes it feels real. Sometimes I believe you. But I am not so different from any other parent. I always want more and more and more and more and more.

Photo credit: http://menagerieofminds.wordpress.com/

Tagged , , , ,

Crashing Through Life

      I still see her head go through my windshield, the slow motion of glass sparkling past me in the street light glow. The first thing that went through my mind was “This must be a dream.” When my car came to a stop and she rolled off of my hood and onto the asphalt and into the gutter, I could have sworn all of the events that followed supported the fact that this, in fact, was a dream.

            Running out of my car I screamed, with tears running down my face, for them to call an ambulance.

“Don’t run!” the lady in the car said. Don’t run? That had never even crossed my mind. Run? Run when I had hit another person with my car?

I didn’t see her. It was my last night teaching at Santa Ana College during the summer session last year. The lady had walked out into the street, jaywalking on Bristol, which is an enormous street with three lanes in each direction. I only had time to brake as hard as I could; the rest happened all in slow motion: her hitting my hood, her head crashing through the glass and onto the dashboard, her unconscious body falling sprawled onto the asphalt in front of my car.

All I could think to do was scream for someone to call an ambulance. All I could do was sit on the curb and cry and wait and hope.

When the police arrived, the first questions were predictable: “Sir, have you been drinking tonight? Are you on any drugs?”

“No, I just got out of teaching” I said softly and stunned.

“That’s my teacher! Don’t take him!” I heard from the sidewalk behind me. My former student made her case loudly to the police.

“Okay, ma’am, we get it” the officer replied.

“Can you give a blood sample?”

“Sure…is she going to be okay?” was all I could think.

“We will need a blood sample.”

“Okay, but is she going to be okay?”

“We will need pictures of the scene, sir.”

“All right, but is she going to be OKAY?”

“I don’t know” the officer said, then silence. For what seemed to be hours, the police questioned, poked, prodded. They never took blood, but the questioning felt more invasive for some reason. All I wanted was to know that I did not kill someone. How could I forgive myself?

“Do we need to take blood?” one officer said.

“No, he is obviously not drunk” replied the first officer on the scene.

“You are going to be okay” a voice said from behind me as she sat down and wrapped her arms around my sobbing, convulsing body.

“Yes, but will she?” I said.

“I don’t know. Only God knows. He has a plan.” At this point, all I could think about was how I did not believe that. So there is some cosmic reason for why this happened? Some grand plan? Bullshit.

My brother came to pick me up and we drove to my apartment. Trying to sleep all I could think about was that if this is all random and chaotic, if there is no plan, then I could be a danger to anyone at any time. That scared me. But it is all chaotic; it is all random; it is all chance; it just is.

That is why we must cherish it while we can.

The woman I hit survived. She had to have facial reconstruction, but she survived, and I am glad for that. I later found out that she had not only been jaywalking and wandering out into the street, but she was also drunk. This did nothing to assuage my feelings of guilt. I still hurt someone. I feel horribly for that.

four times a year

I am sitting in the waiting room at my insurer’s Mental Healthcare Facility. We all sit together, on this stained and awful circular arrangement of olive green couches. Father Knows Best blares from the tv directly above and behind my head. Why did I choose this seat? What channel could this be? We all avoid eye contact, mostly via cell phone screen, except for the man in the wheelchair. He is staring directly at me, I can feel it even when I’m not looking. I can’t tell if he’s staring on purpose or because he lacks the motor control to look elsewhere. I try to avoid this place. I only come maybe 4 times per year, well under the allotted number of annual visits.

My parents have always been suspicious of educated strangers trained to help. “It goes on your record,” my stepmom used to say. She believed neighbors and employers would somehow find out, that your future could be ruined. I was raised not to tell anyone, not even close friends, my problems, my secrets, to push it down, to hold it in, to suck it up.

I heeded that advice for some time. I kept it all inside. I was very, very quiet. Eventually, something broke, and it came pouring out.

My dad asks me how my week went. I’m having one of those weeks I sometimes have when I feel low, like I am moving underwater. It only happens occasionally. When it does, it is intense, and recent external events have made things more hectic than usual. I tell him it has been a long week, and, to my surprise, he presses for more details. I begin to give them. He quickly stops me. He tells me about his girlfriend’s sister-in-law’s ALS. She can’t move her arms, he says. She can’t speak. We are still alive, he says. We can speak. I think he is trying to make me feel better. It isn’t working.

I hate myself a little when I go to therapy. It such a privileged person thing to do, to whine to someone about my problems when I have my health, enough food, good kids, a stable relationship, a warm home. I have pet turtles that swim in a 40 gallon tank, and some people don’t have water. I am not that man in the wheelchair who probably can’t move his head. I feel obnoxious for feeling like I have problems. I hate everyone in here, I hate my brain. I am sorry for the nice redhead who has to listen to me.

I come here anyway. I force myself through an awkward session of talking and, sometimes, crying. I blow my nose and wipe at my eyes with the cheap, scratchy tissue from the little blue cardboard box. I am exhausted when we are finished.

I would like to be able to sort out my head alone, to not need any help, with anything. I would like to be as strong and repressed as my parents tried to teach me to be. But I’m not. Sometimes I need help. At least four times a year.

Tagged , , , , , ,

In the Pursuit of Knowledge and Virtue

This past New Year’s celebration, before reaching that level of intoxication where there is no return, I sat in a stool against the wall fighting off a virus sprayed onto me by the snot of an awkward middle aged man at work. I sat there, sick in body and brooding mentally. I began to feel old. I began to feel inadequate. I began to feel unfulfilled. Love has never been kind to me. I find no comfort in the embrace of lovers because they’ve always been temporary and mostly trivial. Part of it is my fault since I am too selfish to give up my time and pursue or care for someone else. But I am prone to constant silly crushes that make me act like a 17 year old. For most people, if they have nothing else they at least have a companion. The moment I think I may have a companion is the moment the universe spins the other way and scoffs at me “Did you really think it would be that easy?” I sat there wishing I could just turn off my brain, so I got drunk. I got drunk and made out with some guy that was in awe of my “nerdiness” and kept declaring he really liked me and I kept assuring him that he was really drunk. After the excitement of swapping spit wore off and telling everyone about it, I felt pathetic. I felt self conscious, maybe I had been a last resort? I haven’t made out with anyone, I’ll take that dumb drunk chubby girl there. That’s probably what he thought. And soon I started my first bout of private depression of the year. It’s fairly common for me to get depressed after things escalate from light flirtations to full make out sessions or drunken hook up sessions. Don’t get me wrong though, these aren’t things that happen every week. They happen very randomly, sparse and unexpected. One thing is for sure, I always get depressed. It’s hard to find people to make out with or sleep with who have any remote concept of the passions defined by Anais Nin. I daydream of that bohemian kind of love. That abstract passion that brings an undefined kind of longing found in modernist literature. Sure, misery is a by product as well but it’s the type of misery that yields itself to the beauty and power of ones unrestricted passions.

But this is 2013 not Post WWI Paris. Hemingway is dead so I get texts that read “why you gotta be like that yo” or get called a prude if I don’t want to shove my ass against a guy’s crotch in public. Whenever I seek advice about my post makeout or hook up blues, one of my best friends will often ask me, “Did you at least get anything out of it?” and I will respond, “I guess so? Maybe. I don’t know. No. Not really.”

Socratic ethics taught me that the good life lies in virtue. A virtuous person is a happy person. A virtuous person can transcend their passions. A virtuous person lies neither in extremes nor disparity. The good life is compromised of moral virtue and intellectual virtue. By nature, we yield to impulse because most of the times impulses feel good at their conception. The pleasure of impulse dies upon reflection. I don’t really tend to think about Plato, Aristotle or Socrates when I’m about to swap some serious spit. That’s just stupid. It’s upon reflection that I think, I must be the only fucking loser who would think about Socrates and sex. Socrates probably never hooked up with anyone. He died not for his passions but for his pursuit of the good life.

I went back to school today after a weekend of being depressed about the condition of my bruised ego and scarcity of love. Giving in to the passions of the moment brought on by pointless Dionysian like nights left me emotionally bankrupt. Sitting in class today, after a 2 year hiatus from real critical courses, I stepped back into my element. This was my first day of “real college.” I’ve been in community college for what seems like an eternity. I let my apathy and depression take over the first half of my 20′s and in turn hurt my goals and aspirations. I decided to stop that shit. I sat in my European History course and for the first time I was confident in my ability to recognize and dissect the material shown to me. I sat in my political science course and my mind flourished with ideas and concepts that I was once familiar with. I sat in my Museum Methods course and absorbed the zen of my hippie like left wing long haired professor. I sat in my Science and Technology course in a room stuffed with 150 students watching a documentary about technology trap. At the end of my day I was exhausted and overwhelmed with the amount of reading I have for this quarter. I got myself into this. I apologize if this sounds flashy or snobby but bear with me, I’m coming up to the point of it all.

I have nothing. I feel like I have nothing. Ok I have my family but besides that, I don’t have much. I wish I had a better job or at least a job that reflected my abilities. Don’t work at Barnes and Noble if you like books. Work there if you’re good at selling people stupid memberships and if you’re good at not taking no for an answer. I wish I was better looking. I wish I was thinner. I ate a cheeseburger yesterday so I’m not really helping myself there. I wish I had that thing that some girls just have. That thing that just makes guys want to get to know a girl. I was told I lacked mystery about me. I’m not really sure what that meant? Maybe this blog is to blame. I’ve been self conscious about my lack of mystery. I don’t even know exactly how I could be self conscious about something I don’t understand. Nevertheless, I have nothing and now I don’t even have mystery.

Nothing. I guess I should define Nothing in this context. Nothing as a first world problem. Nothing in western society. To have nothing means I don’t have what everybody else has. To desire what the many or privileged have. Money, beauty, status, basically to have things that are fleeting and have no spiritual nor ethical relevance. I’m conflicted. I’m a 26 year old brat, at least I’m aware of my faults? The first step is acceptance, totally. I have a week until my return of Saturn so after I turn 27 I won’t be so selfish and self diluted. Maybe.

The only thing I do have is my passion. Sometimes that passion is misdirected. Not being intellectually stimulated detours that passion because I have no other outlet but pointless shenanigans. Sitting in my classes today made me sentimental. This flood of Rousseau like sentimentality overcame me. That, oh my life is so pained but I must yield to and transcend to something bigger than me, because I was born this was way, sentimentality. I was born free but everywhere I am in chains, oh pitiful life. Ok, I’ll stop now. Anyway, it was that sentimentality and grandiose conjecture that I am destined for something bigger. At the end of the day, I was content. My classes brought a growing fulfillment that I haven’t felt in a very long time. I am probably being naive but who cares for now. I may not always show this commitment but I am married and tied down to the history of ideas. That’s the only thing I have. I have nothing else but my education and my passion for it. I’ll probably die alone in a dusty room filled with cherry wood furniture and spiderwebs hanging from the corners of the ceiling. I suppose people who lack mystery die alone, it would just make sense. I guess?

hiccup girl

I 8993036-smalldon’t watch the Today show very often, or ever, really, but somehow I happened to be watching it one morning in 2007 when 15-year-old Hiccup Girl was featured. For more than 5 weeks, she hiccuped 50 times per minute. I tried to imagine how horrible that might have been, a kind of torture. I was happy she found a cure, and I didn’t think about her again until a few days ago. A Facebook friend posted that Hiccup Girl, aka Jennifer Mee, now 22, was convicted this week of 1st degree murder. She was charged at 19. I can’t explain what made me so sad about this story.

Last night, my teenage niece moved in with us, at least temporarily. Her sister just moved back home and is in the early stages of rehabbing from a speed addiction. I had the pleasure of witnessing my brother, my niece’s father, through various bouts of withdrawal from addiction to the same drug when I was in high school. Once, I took a boyfriend home after a date and was greeted by my brother on the couch in the stinking, sweating, shaking throes of withdrawals. I was 17. My niece is 16. Her family lives in a small space. She is trying to do well in school and go to college and secure a different life for herself. I offered for her to stay with us for a week, just until things settle down, because I know how difficult it can be to focus on school and normal teenage life with a sibling unraveling on your living room couch. Her mother exploded with anger and kicked her out when my niece asked to stay with us. “Family first,” she said. “Your sister needs you.” “You always run away.”

Her mother is not a bad person. In fact, I like her a lot. But she is perpetuating a cycle, and it is difficult to break free from this cycle or even see it for what it is when you are in the middle of it, when that is all you know as normal. You are the crazy one if you see it. You are selfish. You are elitist, especially when you use words like “cycle” and “dysfunction.” You think you are better. You push and you struggle and you work hard to break free and, eventually, you do. But you break yourself a little in the process. The people you leave behind will never love you the same. You say, well, fuck them. You convince yourself you don’t need them. Maybe you do and maybe you don’t. In any case, to survive, you stop waiting for the people you love to change, to accept you for who you are, to stop hurting you. You shut down the soft, vulnerable parts of yourself. They harden and ossify. And they stay that way. The cost of breaking free is high, but the cost of staying is higher.

What does this have to do with Jennifer Mee, Hiccup Girl? Probably not very much. I want her to remain a funny story I caught in passing one time on tv, maybe in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, or in my in-laws’ living room. I look at that broken girl in the mugshot, who is guilty of breaking someone else. She had schizophrenia, Tourette’s, and “low normal” intelligence. She admitted to setting up the murder. I don’t feel sorry for her, not exactly. I look at my own broken self and the people around me who are breaking. Like I said, I guess it all just makes me sad. Sometimes I wish things were different than they are.

Tagged , , , , , ,

hitting kids

Lots of parents I know and respect spank their children. But I never have and never will.

I was spanked as a kid. From the ages of 5 to about 16, I was also subjected to a variety of additional punishments. My stepmother made me kneel on rocks holding heavy items, hit me with her high heel shoes, forced socks or underwear, clean and sometimes dirty, into my mouth if I laughed or talked too loudly. I didn’t realize how much this impacted me until I had my own kids. I could not imagine doing these things to them. When I look at my children and I think back on all of this, I get a flush of anger, but also embarrassment. It was humiliating, all of it.

My kids have not been “easy.” Ben screamed nearly constantly from the moment he was born until he was almost four years old. He was always mad, always defiant. He spit on my face. He punched me. He peed on the floor on purpose. There was only one moment during all of this when I thought I might spank him. When he was three, he went into his bedroom and ripped every item from the wall, tipped his bookshelf over, destroyed several of his toys, and pulled the mattress off of the bed. In that exhausted, desperate moment, I took it very personally. I looked into that angry red toddler face of his and I thought about all of the things he had that I didn’t at his age, from his own room, to all of the toys and books, to a stable household. I picked him up and he thrashed in my arms, and I placed him, roughly, on his mattress, which was now haphazardly placed on the floor. I looked down at him and I took a deep breath and I walked out of the room and shut the door. Later, when he had stopped yelling, and I had stopped breathing so hard, I went into his room and took everything he had destroyed away from him, which worked very well. If I hadn’t walked away, I would definitely have spanked him. But I was committed to not hitting my kids.

And then there is Elliott. This morning, I went to check on whether or not he had put his school clothes on, and he was sitting on the couch with no pants on, casually flicking his penis. I asked him to put his clothes on, and he screamed at me, and when I tried to help him, he screamed at me. And then he screamed at me that he wants to be nice but that he does not want to try harder. I feel the anger rise and I let it go and we get through it.

With many years of patience and time outs (which I know are also controversial) and positive reinforcement and redirection and all of those things you read about in books, Benjamin is one of the most delightful and caring people I know. And given Elliott’s challenges with autism, he is making huge strides. Applied behavior analysis has helped tremendously. His empathy and self-awareness grow every year. He tells me he loves me and crawls into my arms and asks me if I am okay. He gets frustrated when he can’t control his impulses and he tries to do better, which is all I can ask.

When I was 16, my stepmother hit me for the last time. I don’t remember what I had done wrong, but I cowered in a corner of the upstairs hallway and she hit me again and again with her shoes. It didn’t hurt very much anymore because I was older. It didn’t stop being humiliating, though. As I curled into myself, I grew angrier and angrier. I was very tall, about 5′ 9″, and my stepmother was 5′ 0″. I watched her face as she hit me and I hated her in that moment. I stood up, and, surprised, she stopped. I was trembling with rage. I felt the largeness of my body in comparison to hers, and, feeling a new sense of power, I looked down on her. Fear flashed across her face for just a second. “What are you going to do?” she asked. “Hit me? You don’t hit your mother.” My feelings were complicated. I felt a twinge of guilt for making her afraid. I didn’t know what I wanted. It might have felt good to hit her, but I don’t think that was it. I just wanted her to stop. For good. I was done. “Don’t ever hit me again,” I said. I stared into her eyes, hard. I believe I would have hit her if she hit me again, but she didn’t. So I just walked away. I didn’t feel good about this, but I didn’t know what else to do.

I realize that spanking is not the same thing as some of the more abusive things my stepmother did to me. But to me, it is the same to a lesser extent. It still makes children feel afraid, humiliated, and powerless. It makes them feel their smallness acutely, and they already are made to feel so small. We romanticize being “old school,” but old school isn’t always better. Reading parenting books, striving to do better, and being thoughtful about the ways in which our actions impact our children is something to be proud of. I am strict with my children. I am consistent. I set firm boundaries. I do not allow them to misbehave. And both of them have challenged me a great deal. If I have been able to discipline these two crazy boys without ever hurting them physically, I believe anyone can. I never want them to feel about me the way that I feel about my stepmother, not even a little bit. And I know that they never will.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

on (not) eating

I have always had a robust appetite. I can out-eat almost anyone, including my 6′ 4″ husband. My Mexican step-abuela used to call me Gordita, and I once overheard my aunt and uncle’s hushed and anxious conversation about how much of their food I was eating on a weekend visit. I’ve weighed over 160 pounds since the 8th grade. I never had any willowy teenage or even childhood heyday. I’ve always been thick. And I like it all–Indian, Thai, Mexican, Italian, Korean, American, sweet, savory, spicy, salty, mushy, crunchy, moldy (just cut it off. just kidding. sort of.). Even when I was pregnant and had morning sickness, I wanted to eat all of the time. Then vomit. Then eat again.

For this reason, I’ve always struggled with my weight. I have to exercise a fuck ton to compensate for my appetite. After having children and turning 30, my already slow metabolism got even slower. Sure, I could stop drinking beer and have one breakfast instead of two. But I have never been able to. Last year, I trained for 18 weeks for a marathon, and I lost a grand total of one half of one pound. I regularly have vivid dreams about eating.

Until recently. For the last two weeks, I have found myself in the curious position of not feeling hungry, of not spending the forty minute drive home daydreaming about what I should eat next. I look at food I love, like pizza or ice cream or tacos or oatmeal cookies or Mediterranean garlic sauce, and I shrug. I have no urge to snack between meals. A vague sensation of nausea looms through my day. I don’t know where it has come from or when it will go.

This is me now:

nausea-picture

NO, I AM NOT PREGNANT; WASH YOUR MOUTH.

I’ve lost 6 pounds in this short time, and I’m thinking maybe I should make a doctor’s appointment. I keep waiting to wake up one morning dreaming of food. Instead, I think about what I can eat that won’t make me vomit and calculate how many calories I need to keep me running without passing out. I still drink beer because beer. And I can keep my food down. Whatever this is is not extreme. But nothing is as good anymore. I used to be ashamed of my appetite, but now I miss it. When I figure out what is wrong and I start feeling better, I will once again dream of maple bars and paneer saag (typing this is making me nauseous again), but next time, I will dream proudly.

Photo credit: www.home-remedies-for-you.com

Tagged , , , ,

Miley, or the Misfortunes of Sexual Liberation

When my best friend introduced me to Robin Thicke’s song, Blurred Lines, I was immediately into it. It had a good beat. It had the fountain of youth, Pharrel Williams. It had T.I rapping about the kind of sex I like. And then Thicke sang to me about being the hottest bitch in this place. My feminist ovaries shriveled up and were just like “wait wait, nope, back it up. Can’t accept this shit.” I didn’t really think the lyrics were “rapey.” I still don’t, it just doesn’t give me that vibe. What is rapey is Thicke’s comments defending the song, “If I whispered that to a girl in the club [I know you want it] she’d know I was joking.” No, he’d be that creepy guy that just stands behind a girl trying to grind on her without asking. I was conflicted over this song. Eventually I got over it because I just want to dance to it. Being a feminist isn’t about not enjoying anything that’s “wrong” it’s being aware of why it’s wrong.

I won’t lie. I listen to extremely misogynistic hip hop in my car. The other day I was listening to Ying Yang Twins and Bubba Sparxx. I’m not proud of it but I had just left a fitness class called “Bootylicious Bottoms” and I just wanted to hear some ass shaking music. The Velvet Underground and Joy Division don’t give me that same feeling, obviously. At the class, our instructor, Swan, apologized for her music choices. She hoped that we wouldn’t run out of the class when the “B-word, the C-word, the F-word, the P-word and the T-word” came out. She told us she just listens to the beats and the music and she isn’t a fan of the lyrics. There isn’t much rap/hip-hop that’s feminist approved except maybe A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def or Common but they don’t really make ass shaking music. They make the type of hip hop that make me daydream about going on a date with Mos Def where we talk about politics and disagree but still keep an engaging conversation without getting mad or annoyed. Yeah, I know I have high expectations even in my daydreams. So anyway, at this fitness studio where the class is offered, they also offer pole dancing, belly dancing, burlesque and just sexy classes. I took a pole and burlesque class last year. The pole dancing class was too much for me. I’m a fan of subtle sexuality so naturally I ended up loving the burlesque class. What was more important to me and what I appreciated the most was the confidence and the self esteem boosters I got from my instructors. Not once did I feel like I was being judged, looked down on or snickered at. The rest of the women were a myriad of femininity, old, young, skinny, fit, chunky, white, black, Asian and brown. Even at this recent class that I took, I felt silly doing some of the moves we practice. It takes a lot of sober balls to try and dance sexy next to 8-10 women in front of a mirror. But it is a damn good workout and different than the usual treadmill routine.

So, at Bootylicious Bottoms Swan had us “pop” our booty’s, “drop” our booty’s, get on all fours and pretty much simulate “doggy style” sex while jiggling our asses, all in the name of motherfucking sexual liberation (oh and fitness!.) And I was into it. We were all into it. We all had a different reason for being there but the root of our reasons lie in exploring and playing with our own individual and different sexualities.

When I sat down on the couch on Sunday night I didn’t have any interest on watching the MTV Awards because, like, who cares? I feel bad for artists who take that stuff seriously. I only intended on watching Breaking Bad and proceeded to flip the fuck out over “the confession.” But there was so much talk on the internet on Miley Cyrus and I was getting texts about it that my curiosity just took over. I managed to catch a repeat of the show and I felt expired. Apart from Lady Gaga and Rihanna, I didn’t really know or care for anyone else. I don’t care for N’SYNC because I was a Backstreet Boys girl and they did their reunion way better than N’SYNC. I just want that to be known.

Anyway, as I watched Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke and 2 Chainz perform, I cringed. It was awkward. It was disturbing. It was slightly pedophiliac. It was just weird. My shriveled up feminist ovaries eased. I think every feminist fiber in me was just confused. We weren’t angry nor offended, just a plain out “what the fuck was that?”

As a professional thinker, I dub myself thee, naturally I had to analyze what I was watching. What I was witnessing wasn’t a girl transitioning into womanhood and exploring her sexuality. What I saw was a little kid discovering her genitals in the corner and going crazy over it. That happens to everyone, it’s ok. Most of us don’t have the inclination to announce it so publicly. Most of us weren’t sheltered Disney stars from the South. I sympathize with Miley. When I first discovered myself as a sexual being, I felt like a 13 year old boy in a 23 year old woman’s body. All I wanted to do was get the attention of just one person. To convince him that I could do all the things those other girls were doing, that I could dance and look sexy too. All I did was just make a drunken fool of myself and look like Miley. The truth is that just because you’re a woman, because you have breasts and a vagina doesn’t mean that is where your sexuality comes from. One’s sexuality or sensuality isn’t dictated by “twerking” or grinding up on 30 year olds. For Miley and for millions of girls and women who look to pop culture for a definition of womanhood and sexuality, tits and ass is where it’s at.

Sexuality is something that happens gradually. Miley’s performance was a hyper sexual display of what she thought was a grown woman defining and owning her sexuality. When we’re shown the myriad of sexuality in popular culture, women are always defined by their bodies. Even a self aware artist like Lady Gaga still uses sex to sell her music and performances. I guess the difference is the thought that goes into Lady Gaga productions because let’s face it, she’s pretty artsy for the mainstream. What Miley wanted us to know on Sunday is here is her body, here is her sex, she’s going to all these extremes just to let us know that she has grown up, we should want her because we want other sexual beings like Rihanna or Beyonce.

Unfortunately, Miley and millions of other girls have that same idea. Even as “nerd” culture becomes the mainstream, women are still expected to retain the sexuality of their physical bodies. Rarely are there messages that one’s intellect, independence or personality is alluring. Those things take effort. Being half naked is instant gratification and twerking is fun.

We don’t always get it right the first time around. People like Rihanna or Lady Gaga eased and played into their sexual roles with minimal effort. For whatever reason, we bought it from them because it came natural to them. Miley was forcing this hyper sexuality that she still hasn’t figured out herself. Nobody looks alluring with their tongue sticking out that many times. Latex isn’t always flattering. Wasted prancing teddy bears and teddy bear onesies borderline on pedophilia. Adopting certain aspects of a culture and exploiting it may be slightly ignorant. We failed Miley like we have failed at society. Miley simply projected back the definitions and expectations that as a society we have come to accept. And she’s the one getting shit for it.

As a feminist, I wasn’t offended. As a person of color, I wasn’t offended. As a woman, I was disappointed. I get accused of not enjoying things because I think too much, I read too much, I feminist too much but if we aren’t aware or discussing little things like things like this, mentalities will never change. It’s not the same as discussing the shit storm that’s going on with Syria. We could and we should always talk about those issues but most people aren’t willing; it’s boring, sensitive or just complicated. Talking about Miley, rape culture, misogyny at least touches nerves immediately. Not that it’s easier to talk about but collectively we might have more common than talking about Syrian politics.

But let’s calm the fuck down because Miley was just getting liberated, y’all. This was her Like a Virgin moment. Once her booty came into contact with Robin Thicke’s 36 year old crotch, he liberated her from a future of domesticity and unleashed her inner sexual animal, her nature. She asked for this. She wanted this. She’s just being Miley.

Tagged
The Winter Bites My Bones

Collected Poems of Dennis McHale, 1986-2013

A Birth Project

Transracial Adoption from one black girl's perspective

Quartz

Quartz is a digitally native news outlet for the new global economy.

The guilty preacher man

& the Abandoned Illustrations

terribleminds: chuck wendig

Chuck Wendig: Freelance Penmonkey

projectophile

\ˈprä-JECT-oh-fahyl\ (noun) 1. A lover of projects, especially those derived from scavenged materials and made more beautiful through paint, thread and sandpaper.

Return

Just another WordPress.com site

Another angry woman

Thoughts and rants from another angry woman

unkilleddarlings

Faulkner said, kill your darlings. I say, put them on the internet and let strangers read them.

We Will Begin Again

"To hold a pen is to be at war." -Voltaire

MiscEtcetera v2

Random bits about libraries, digital culture, life, and writing

glass half full

This is my blog. I write a lot about autism, raising boys, and my own alcohol consumption. I also tend to cover topics like poop and toothpaste. You've been warned.

Evening, Mister!

Humans, creativity, curiosities and all things awesome: one writerpower magazine.

The War in My Brain

A Personal Struggle with OCD

Platform 9-3/4

A product of my boredom !

The Belle Jar

"Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences." - Sylvia Plath

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 204 other followers

%d bloggers like this: