I close my eyes every time as I inhale the soft skin of your neck. The atmosphere of your pores rushing through me softens the inside of my mouth and shivers the deepest part of my stomach. You smell, my love, quite simply like the deepest, hottest summers of my childhood. Like ice cream melting across my hands and the rising heat of asphalt too scorched to press my naked feet against. You smell, my dearest, like endless afternoons spent lying on the couch, wrapped in each other against the winter cold outside our small apartment. You smell like home.
It’s so easy to sit in judgment of parents and children and zookeepers and strangers. People who you’ve never met.
It’s so easy.
It’s infinitely harder to person up. To pull loose your heart strings. To release the strict hold you keep on your borders and really look at another person.
Because really seeing means letting yourself be seen. Means being vulnerable. Means realizing that the things that we judge other people for are things that we do all the time.
Who hasn’t been guilty of letting our guard down for a moment? The only difference between all of us and certain mothers and zookeepers is that we weren’t the ones taking our eyes off of our child at that crucial second.
We weren’t. But we could have been.
And that fact is the thing that keeps us from true empathy with other human beings.
Because acknowledging that the only thing separating us and them is a cruel blend of circumstance and blind luck is too terrifying to handle.
So we blame. And we stand up and call for the heads of people who have made the same small mistakes that we make every day at a critical moment that ended in tragedy.
Blame is easier. Judgment is easier. Hatred is easier.
Love is hard. Empathy is hard. Compassion is hard.
Within those three things dwells the sharp knowledge that we, in all of our convictions and certainty, are as fragile and as vulnerable to harm as the people we are so quick to villainize.
Empathy is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. The easier it becomes to do the hard work of looking at another person and recognizing yourself.
Try it. You’ll see.
They found themselves within our path
these liars, standing at the gates of Sarnath.
All the truth in them, beliefs, desires,
cloaked and battle scarred and burnt on pyres
their ashes soaked up in the aftermath.
The bloodbath ended, you stood ever higher.
Face somber, body bent, but eyes much brighter
than these fiends could see from their quagmire
buried in the flotsam of your wrath.
They built themselves a road into Sarnath
these toads disguised as friends, these fiendish liars.
But our residents are clever things and set the pyres
burning long before they sought our shores.
And you, my darling, brought them to all fours
their embers glowing in the aftermath.
Header image from here.
what’s broken now. what’s breaking.
is the silence.
what breaks are the edges
of my fingers as i bite
and tear at cuticles.
i worry my body endlessly
when i cannot see beyond
the soft grey haze of this.
first cuticles, then diet,
then the mobility that brings
my limbs to life
that moves my heart
to frantic motion
pushes me out
toward the sun.
after my body
comes my drive.
it takes me four days
to make an edit
that should take moments.
my blog lays silent
as any grave
in the grey.
i spend a Saturday
still and quiet
on my couch
pouring my eyes
a voice in my head
that my therapist
calls me lazy
of my indolence
i know that voice is broken
but it breaks me
Photo credit for header image goes here.
If I haven’t made this clear before, harassment is a thing that I care pretty deeply about. I care about it because myself and other femme folks that I care deeply about face harassment on a daily basis simply for the act of being outside. Or being on the internet. Basically, we are punished on the regular for daring to enter areas where other people might have contact with us.
It’s not going to stop any time soon. I know that. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to talk about it.
So here’s some stuff to think about when harassment comes up in conversation.
1. Don’t belittle our concerns.
I legit do not give a flying horses enchanted hooves if you have had your ass pinched by someone before and you thought it was sexy. Good for you! I’m glad the threat level of someone grabbing your ass is so minimal that you can think something like that is some kind of adorable, sexy joke. Odds are, if someone is complaining about harassment, it’s not a joke to them. It’s certainly not a joke to me. And your insistence that it’s somehow funny will result in the sound of me charging up my eye lasers.
2. Don’t act like it’s a compliment.
I don’t know how many times I have to say this before it finally sinks into the heads of the general population.
HARASSMENT IS NOT A COMPLIMENT.
Not now. Not ever. Having someone harass you when all you want to do is talk to your friends on Twitter or walk to the shops or get on a bus is not fun. It’s not something that people list as a turn on on OkCupid or FetLife. I cannot say that I have ever heard of an instance where a stranger telling a woman she’s got tits he’d like to use as basketballs resulted in a full and frank discussion of their likes and dislikes followed by an hour long hump at the local Motel 6.
3. Don’t tell us we’re being “too sensitive.”
Not for nothing, but I’m a pretty hard ass bitch, all things considered. Yes, I love puppies and bunnies and I cry at touching films, but you would be hard pressed to find a social situation that I would balk from on a given day.
That said, there have been days where I did not leave the house because I couldn’t put up with the harassment I was experiencing. I would sit in the house and wait for Frankie to get home so that I could go out with someone that presented masculine and be left alone because I was already “spoken for.”
Being exhausted and freaked out at the constant litany of harassment that one faces on a daily/weekly/whateverly basis is not a sign of sensitivity. It’s a sign of being human. If you got a sunburn every time you walked out the door, I bet you would spend more time with the shades drawn, wouldn’t you?
4. Shut the fuck up and listen when people talk.
Seriously. Just shut your mouth and listen. When people who experience systemic issues like sexism or racism or whatever the topic of the moment is, you can learn a lot by just keeping your mouth shut and listening to what they have to say. The world isn’t the neat little thing that you think it is. Your point of view is just one of TRILLIONS. Try opening your ears and you will be surprised at how enriching the things you find out will be to your life.
Huh. That’s the nicest thing that I’ve said this entire post. That was fun, wasn’t it? Honestly, though, I’m done being nice about this ever to anyone. I used to do this thing where I would try to explain why it was that this was an issue and how and all the sociological things and let people into my head to see my fear but honestly, it’s too much work. Fuck it. If you can’t take a slight re-direction in the form of me telling you not to be a shitheel when people are expressing fear and concern, you can kindly fuck off directly into the largest body of water you can find. Because fuck you.
And if you doubt for even a second that this stuff happens all the time. You can read other things that I’ve written about it. Here. And here. And also here, here and here. And that’s just the shit that warranted a blog entry.
This month has been a whirlwind with moving and everything. I’m pretty proud of myself that I managed to do the NoMo Challenge and write a blog entry every day. Admittedly, each one wasn’t a golden nugget of amazingness, particularly just before, during, and after the move, but at least I made my goal! Or will have made it once I do tomorrow’s entry.
I’m super happy with my success in the NoMo challenge this year. Next year I will do a few things differently. Here’s my advice for succeeding at writing a blog a day and feeling good about what you put out and also not burning out.
- Write and schedule posts ahead of time. When you have the time and the inspiration, doing this will mean that you can take whole days off for yourself. During November, when the holidays start kicking up, this can be especially helpful.
- Carve out time to write. Whether it’s 30 minutes or 2 hours, cutting out a part of your day and reserving it for writing in an atmosphere that is conducive to your process will up your chances for successfully writing things that you feel good about.
- Record your ideas. Whenever you think of a topic that you think would make a good blog entry or article or what have you, make a note of it. There’s nothing better than sitting down to write and leisurely looking through a list of pre-generated topics.
Those are my notes to myself and all of you for NoMo next year. I hope they’re helpful if you want to do the challenge in 2016. Here’s hoping I remember them when the time comes to buckle down!
Going forward, I would like to take the momentum that I have gained this month and put it into writing every day. Not necessarily here in the blog, but generally. I have so many little projects that I have started and not finished. And with where I am at my job, 1000 words a day would not be hard to do while sitting at my desk.
This coming month will also feature heavily a paid writing gig. And I would like to pitch for some paid articles with larger publications in the coming month. One or two a week would make me feel as though I was doing my best in that area as a new writer.
Onward and upward!
the war room
the bomb was dropped
feta lingering between my teeth and tongue
never learned to love it
expanding in my chest
this hot presence
somehow managing to remove myself from me
leaving her a shell
they tell you one in three will have it
and you barely believe
until your mothers turn inside out
or your sisters
and you know
remember being seven
watching it on the tv
foreign and familiar
something lascivious and lingering
black pleather and podiums
spreading warmth and something
the bomb sat between us on the table
my mother’s bomb
words turned into something palpable
larger than that wooden expanse
star space spread and separating
twisting her away
back to that mushroom cloud
the heat of a nuclear reaction
near my nucleus
i am cowardly of truth
so i washed the feta from my teeth