Rumpelstiltskin Free-Wheelin’

Aha! So I’ve been fairly stuck in the mud, turning my wheels hoping that one of these days I’d find myself writing again. (Of course, I should be used to this routine by now, but what writer, whose utmost soul-expansive joy comes from the “madness, rack and honey” of transforming ether into words, doesn’t sweat a little in the in-between in between the push?) And, of course, I’ve been doing a maddening array of other things, so it rarely seems like I have time to let my braingunk just play — BUT, and this is a big but I can’t deny, BUT I think I’ve had a breakthrough.

And it came in the form of donuts, too much evening-time coffee, toys and Olde English.

For years, I have been wandering through this earthly plane in search of my clan, and in so many serendipitous ways lately I have been Finding. One of these tribes, which perhaps I’ll go into at a later time, is a group of very intentionally conscious, magic-creating people who are giving me the greatest sense of potential into myself. Another has been the group of women I meet with in our feminist circle. A few other realms include simply the brilliant artists and makers and shakers I have been fortunate enough to cross paths with.

And now, another — a poetry workshop. My very first. I know, after all these years, I’ve finally crawled out of my hermit crab shell enough to see where the spark meets the road. I’ve felt that the road has always been out there somewhere, and I’ve even felt myself traveling down it from time to time, my little hunchback inching along with my flickering lantern to light the way. But I think I’ve just come across one of the big forks. And without hesitation, yes I will go forward with gusto!

The object of my newfound amore is The Poetry Lab and it’s held at an innovative co-work space here in Long Beach, CA called WElabs. We had our first meeting on Thursday. Yes, Valentine’s Day. Yes, it has been scientifically proven that Valentine’s Day does make people crazy, but luckily for me this year I have no special lover driving me to the brinks of insanity, so I was able to channel that quota of craziness into a more productive outlet — po-eeeeeems.

The organizer of the group, a refreshingly enthusiastic Danielle Mitchell, gave us a Valentine’s Day writing prompt, which I will readily admit was a trumpet of fun. We were to write a Valentine’s Day poem based on a list of nonsensical-sounding Olde English words, which once had definitions, but now just sound like hodge-podge. (Modeled off of Richard Beban’s “Love Poem to my Wifthing” from Young Girl Eating A Bird, Red Hen Press.) 

Man, what a blast. She has a plethora of other neat-o writing prompts on her blog, should you want to take your poet-brain on a walk through the bark-park. (Seriously, go check them out, you’ll be hooting in no time.)

So, anyway, it’s kind of a big deal that I’ve found some other people who like po-ums, too, and who want to sit around, blow bubbles, drink coffee and spit words around like poetic saliva! I’m not even going to say I don’t want to get too excited, because I’m really excited! There are other weird poet-people out there who might just understand the mush of my brain and I’ve found one real-life little batch of them! GAAAAA

The wheels are turnin’ and I’m not just revving up and running into walls and backing up and running into other walls! I’m like that little motorized toy car that has finally gotten unstuck from the corner! I think! Maybe! Hey why not!

So, anyway, here’s my little ditty. Just for fun. I cleaned it up a little bit from its impromptu version, but it’s basically the same hyper-caffeinated jumble of alien phrases. Like, the thing that convinced me this is where I belonged is that I read it to them and instead of going, UH WHAT, they were like, hey cool. My variety of crazy is finally appreciated!!!! And they’re really awesome, too! GAAAAA AGAIN

To Rumpelstiltskin (an Olde English Valentine’s Day poem)

Enough construpating now,
you hurly-hodge of a whingle wench,
my batterfangled gandermooner of better reason
pinches in my ear.

Not underneath the walming moon
we don’t meet in a twatterlight embranglement,
your garbroiling queaches lusting not unto
my moffled lips to leave me in a puddle of felth,
nearer to me your dreamhole
doesn’t blench,
and when it’s all my darg can do not to clyte upon your wedfellow,
your fardry bouffage leaves me earth-fast.

I find myself eyebiting on any spuddle
slutgate, reduced to unburdening my faburden
with whomever will ablude me
and grubble my drumble into misdelight,
rindling your floit every time.

But, despite all these frike-lusty shab outs,
in the greater cosmotecture —
my evenhood won’t be anyone’s howdy-wife
who doesn’t wear your warp-rascal sweven,
because,
as mally as your melsh-dick makes me,
as much as I want to prangle your crine into geason
and snirp away the Goordy that bedgangs you,
you misdeery Flunge of forgivable character
whose flammic fernitude is enough to girn any good nuddle —

for all this beautrap in my fairhead,
and against my better wofare,
lusty gallant,
the carked truth is,
my loveship was borne in your port.

I will never tell you this, of course,
until you’re ready to winchester-goose your way
back to my light-bed —
and not half-marrow this time,
you lanken hardel —
no, you can’t just wurp your way
back into my sky-parlor ready for some
flaberkin murlimews —
I am not that kind of Flurch!

No matter what gleet I may gowl
in my own burdalane smoor,
or you in yours,
only when you are ready to snoozle away
the ugsome afterclap of the past
and spuddle your kissing-crust into my hearty go-summer
with true amoret,
and stop being such an Assart —
when you are truly plumpers,
my murfle,
when you can care-cloth my bumroll
without a curtain-sermon every time,
when you’re truly fluttersome for my fleshment
and less foot-hot,
when you know —

only then may you please famble your Foad
quietly into the hushed brustle of my eveglom,
commit to me your sleepaway,
purfle me your paranymph,
and if you dwine me to be your bridelope,
if you give yourself to me with wowf
and ask to lay beside me bespawled
with no frims or crisples or smicks,
if — and only if — that time should ever come,
you know what a wifthing I am —

for all my harping devilshine:
my heart-spoon, my belly-friend, my dear leech-finger,
this cumberground hink will have no choice but
to rush-ring you back fulyear,
you and your great brute love.

Now go out and poetry!

Feminism Is. A Quick Manifesto

Feminism is voice.

Feminism waves the human flag passionately in support of the woman’s voice.

Feminism acknowledges that the legitimacy of this voice has not always been recognized or valued in the home and society, and that it is absolutely imperative that every woman’s voice be legitimized, heard and cultivated now and forever on. There is no going back, and until there is nothing more to address, the word feminism encompasses the struggle, the understanding and the conviction of people of all genders to include women in the conversation about themselves and the issues that affect them.

Those who scoff at feminists for complaining about problems already solved and equal rights already given, or who say that the playing field is already even, are essentially trying to silence that voice. Because there is still a lot of work to be done.

Those people who don’t “believe in feminism” have never had to wonder what it’s like to orgasm because their sex organs had been mutilated at birth, they have never had to worry about how a pregnancy could alter the course of their life and they have never been threatened, beaten or abused by a husband or boyfriend. Those who make snide remarks about “Feminazis” have never been sexually assaulted in the workplace or forced to cover their body from head to toe. Men who make jokes about feminists have never walked down the street and felt like prey or been restricted from driving, voting, leaving the house, participating in the governing of your country, or told they are the root of all evil. Or maybe they have, but aren’t seeing clearly. Women who believe feminism is counterproductive are perhaps even the most tragically misguided. This is where education is so important. Because of all the bad rap in the media, many people who are feminists don’t even know they are.

If you believe women shouldn’t be raped, molested or forced into or out of pregnancy, you’re a feminist. If you believe that women should have the same freedom as men to utilize their talents in the marketplace and be paid equally for those talents, you’re a feminist. If you believe that women are not just bitching and whining but actually speaking up for the things that are important, and expect to be taken seriously, you’re a feminist.

Feminism is education about the great women in history who have paved the way for the equal rights we enjoy today, and the road still yet untraveled.

Feminism is declaring authority over your own body and mind and demanding that others recognize that authority.

Feminism is the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness – in whatever form it may take, whether that is working 60 hours a week at a job you love or working 60 hours a week taking care of children you love, or somehow doing both. It is the freedom to explore your own deepest callings, your own minds, and your own bodies, to jump in and flounder in something that is unfamiliar because the shock of the cold is better than the numbness of a safe harbor. It’s also just living life the way you want to live your life.

Feminism is questioning everything, wondering why it is that way, and asking if there is something that can be improved or thought about from another perspective. Feminism is holistic and progressive and consciousness-raising.

Feminism is listening to your inner voice and believing it has just as much to say as anyone else’s, while honoring and never belittling the views and perspectives of those who think or perceive differently. It’s not dismissing the differences between men and women, but legitimizing those features that make women uniquely women and also doing away with the duality that has absolutely separated the sexes heretofore; gender exists on a spectrum.

Those who complain about feminists who are too loud or too masculine or too improper or too talented or too political are just scared without knowing why they’re scared because when women speak, the world must listen. And it has grown into a roar.

Feminism may have a bad taste in the mouths of those who are still unfamiliar with their own mechanics, who may not want to see injustice or who may be more comfortable in their own realm of privilege or denial. But as soon as that jaw starts working and speaking and yelling and singing for the rights of women everywhere, feminism becomes a blanket of hope you can take comfort in.

It’s knowing you’re not alone. Timothy “Speed” Levitch, a modern visionary, put it this way, “People riot the same way they orgasm. This is why the riots of men end as fast as they begin and have never really changed anything. Woman’s riot will be an ever-expanding, multiple, only-accumulating rebellion that will shatter this paradigm forever.”

Feminism is an ever-expanding growth of self-awareness that is spreading throughout the world that has the power to challenge millennia-old beliefs, empower cultivation of new thought, rearrange some flawed aspects of society, call attention to the heinous crimes committed against humanity and improve the lives of truth-seeking women and open-minded men everywhere. Feminism is both political and personal, theoretical and applicable.

Feminism is everything just listed and more, and if these points sound like rights that can apply to men, too, that’s because they are, and they are generally taken for granted as God-given rights.  Feminism doesn’t seek to remove those rights from men, but rather acknowledge that maybe the story has been flawed all along and that it’s time to write a new and paradigm-shifting chapter. Feminists are not afraid to demand that women’s voices be heard on matters of their own lives – on everything from sex to economics. If there is any hesitation to call yourself a feminist, ask yourself whether you stand for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for ALL.

*** OK OK OK you caught me, I’ve had writer’s block and busy life lately, so I’m posting things I wrote a while ago that never saw the light of day. I wrote this for the women’s rights group I co-founded over the summer of 2012 to answer the question of whether using the term “feminism” would still be effective today. This was my defense of feminism to myself, to get me comfortable using the term in the face of much opposition against it, but it’s interesting to note that my perceptions of gender consciousness have grown tremendously since then, and I’ve since come to see the label of feminism, though still a valuable and legitimate tool for equality, more antiquated than what I aim to do with my work. My group and I are still working on languaging out an even more inclusive and forward-thinking way of describing the work we want to do and the vision we have. Just a quick note. Much more on this to come. Whee! ***

Mad Woman In A Surreal World

I feel asleep last night thinking I’ve gone mad. I’ve gone mad. It’s finally happened. Again. I’ve gone mad. 

Future poetry compilation by yours truly entitled: Woman Gone Mad

or Mad Woman In A Weird World

or even Woman Going Mad Gone Gone Bye Bye Brain World See Ya Suckas I’m Off Wooey Hooey Hey!

I don’t mean to romanticize the feeling of delving into insanity. Because even though some of the mad geniuses I know periodically take trips into the deep end, and I’ve made my home there many a time, it is not a place of safe staying. It’s not like going to the movies where you can sit down in a plush seat and munch on salty treats while your mind and emotions are titillated by a story intentionally meant to temporarily mesmerize you.

No. It’s more like you look at your hands and you suddenly don’t recognize them as your hands, and you take these alien hands and you try to make them peel an orange, but they simply won’t listen, and then you start thinking, Impertinent hands! Whose bold joke is this to make hands that do not function? and at that point, some switch in your brain goes Okay, it’s started. Here we go, we’re in for a ride! The disconnect has begun and honey, you’re a captive passenger in a jankity cart headed straight to hell. Everything that you once knew becomes silly putty. Every person, every moment, every special belonging in your life dissipates into a vacuum of ethereal absurdity. How long it lasts varies. Sometimes it’s only a couple of hours, but I’ve survived there for weeks on end. My eyes are no longer my eyes. My toes not my toes. The world gets misty with a saturated detachment and the far away part of my brain that can still process cohesive thoughts nonchalantly looks on and wonders whether anyone notices I’m not all there. How good am I at passing.

I recently identified with the quote, “A writer is many people trying to be one person.”

As much as I revere geniuses like Hemingway and Faulkner (who wrote As I Lay Dying in a mere six months and was drunk every night doing it), it costs a lot to venture where the greats do. How many people walk around with imaginary straight jackets reeling in their octopus limbs. How many wrestle with the resistance of the deep end. How many people are in my head alone. How many want to come out and see the light.

No, I’m not romanticizing the feeling of the brain splitting apart into multiple compartments, each one screamingly disconnected from the others. My grandmother, though I never met her, was apparently schizotypal (very similar to schizophrenic) and, consequently, my father is a psychologist. Consequently, sometimes I think I am insane. I have too intimate a relationship with the schizo framework for it to be any way romantic to me. If it weren’t so real a possibility that someday my brain chemistry may flip a switch (my brain is constantly flipping all kinds of switches) and send me into mental paralysis, I might not resist the deep end so much.

Because.

That’s where the diamonds hide.

It’s only in those moments of departure that I feel the world whispering secrets too heavy for everyday existence. It’s only then that I take my shoveling hands and dig straight down into the dirt of reality, intending to pull up some gnawing roots. It’s not always dark, either. Sometimes, I’m so light I could fly and I tap into the common fabric of consciousness with delight. But they’re both extremes with a high price. The price is living outside the regular rhythm of social life.

I just finished reading a brilliant little novel called Hunger by a late 19th-century German writer Knut Hamsun. He spent his entire life poor, eking out a living as a schoolteacher, store clerk, farmhand, road laborer and various other odd positions before winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1920 — and dying in poverty in 1952. The novel is fast-paced, absurd and at times pathetically hilarious, chronicling an impoverished writer on a journey into irrationality as hunger, cold and misery become his closest friends. His mind, which he prizes as his greatest asset, starts to dissolve along with his body. Why live this way? Because he is a writer.

Toward the end of the story, a landlady who has housed him for three weeks on credit, starts becoming suspicious he will never pay her.

Their conversation goes:

“But you won’t ever finish that article, will you?”

“You think so? I may feel inspired to write tomorrow, or maybe even tonight; it’s not at all impossible that the inspiration will come sometime tonight, and then my article will be finished in a quarter of an hour, at the most. You see, it’s not the same with my work as with other people’s; I can’t just sit down and get so much done every day, I have to wait for the right moment. And nobody can tell the day or the hour when the spirit will come upon him. It must take its course.”

…As soon as I was alone, I sprang up and started tearing my hair in despair. No, there wasn’t the least hope for me, no hope at all! My brain was bankrupt!

Oh, the manic exaggerative hopeless compulsion of the writer captured in its most basic essence! Oscillating from extreme arrogance to the deepest self-pity! Why have we chosen this life? Or has it chosen us?

Last night, I was there. My brain was bankrupt, unable even to tell my body to get out of this messy, vapid depression enough to form coherent thoughts. And my thoughts! My thoughts are all I have! What am I without searingly true thoughts? What kind of writer can’t think? And the unique dilemma of not being able to force oneself to think in a way that is conducive to producing words on the page is downright debilitating. Then what am I?! I couldn’t do it. There was nothing I could possibly to do to force myself to write the things I needed to write.

This makes for a very unstable way of living.

Also, at this point in my life, a very, very poor one. All I ache to do is let the winter erupt in some zig zagging vernacular, but that won’t pay the heating bills! Still, I’ve chosen it. I am sitting in a living room that pulses like a freezer but my hands (those hands that last night were not my hands) just type away with the frenetic energy of a bundled up Virginia Woolf. Right now, I’ve chosen this way, this meager living that allows me the afternoon freedom to let play out all the tap-dancing fantasies of inane thought patterns, and for that I can be proud.

I haven’t always been able to choose this way. I have always been poor. Grew up in a small room with no common windows to light the way. But that’s another story for later. Though I choose this way, there is zero romanticism in poverty.

“Poverty itself is only romanticized by fools.” -J.K. Rowling

Yeah, she may be a quadraple-billionaire now, but Rowling was scraping by with canned soup and welfare supporting a child in abject poverty before she became renowned for Harry Potter. There’s nothing glorious about existing in nothing.

Nonetheless, there is a rich vein of truth that only appears in those decrepit, crawling moments of mad possession. When the senses are on high alert to every passing bird, every roaming leaf carried about on the wind, every shaking thought seems drenched in gold. In these moments, everything is surreal and somehow truer than before. Walking around like there’s a vacancy in my eye sockets but some inner light inflamed somewhere else.

The main character of Hunger relates this bit, a little after being kicked out onto the street again:

In all that I observed in this way there was nothing, not even a tiny incidental circumstance, that escaped me. My attention was most alert, every little thing was sensitively picked up, and I had my own ideas about these matters as they occurred. So there couldn’t possibly be anything wrong with my sanity. As things were, how could there possibly be anything the matter with it?

Now, look here, I said all of a sudden, you have been bothering yourself about your sanity long enough, making yourself anxious on that score; now let’s put a stop to these tomfooleries! Is it a sign of insanity to perceive and understand all things as accurately as you do?

What great things come to life in the madness of absence! Absence of food, absence of sense, absence of sleep and of security. I’ve been swinging on this pendulum for more than a decade now, not always freely, but these are the crevices I now give myself permission to explore.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman — mad genius! I am nothing short of a mad genius! Nothing short of a pitiful fool! All I have are the words, the words, the words. Catch me in a spirit of nonsense and you won’t recognize me from the grounded body I normally inhabit. There will be no editing of this post! I’m amazed I still remember to capitalize! How deeply ingrained some things are. How to shake even those. How to rebuild in the fire. How to emerge with some granular morsel from the depths, hunched over and protecting a shoddy bit of rough dirt that, once scraped away, might reveal something worthwhile. How to do this.

How to write not in your right mind! What genius is there in drafts?

What truth smoldering in the ash of the common! Pooey on psychology. Pooey on deadlines. Pooey on supposed to be.

No, there is no romanticism here. Only a compulsion to sift through toward understanding. Only a coping mechanism that is born out of some of the deepest despair. These may not be the words that shine toward truth, but at least they are words. They may be the precursor to some great awakening, who knows. After a night of delirium, at least I have these words on the page, however trite they may be. How to get productively lost in the process. How to see.

How madness can be transformed — that is all there is. You need only to cultivate return.

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement from Harvard Magazine on Vimeo.

Writing Like A Woman

You tell me to write more like a man. More direct, you say. Just say what you mean.

Right, because James Joyce, one of the greatest writers of all time, was so direct and straightforward. Because Shakespeare never bounced around a clever phrase. Because Beckett’s profound absurdism always made sense. Because e.e. cummings, that batty, brilliant maniac, didn’t revolutionize poetry by talking in some beautiful spirals.

Because the men I’ve dated were always direct and straightforward.

“How are you feeling?” “Unh, fine, I don’t know.”

I think what you’re trying to tell me is not, write more like a man, but just, learn how to write better.

And I agree. Better is always better.

But I’m not trying to be like you.

I don’t really want your hat. I’ve got enough silly ones of my own.

You ask me one time, early on, if I can cook.*

You sigh and your eyes drop in disappointment when I tell you I never learned to cook any better than heating up single mom TV dinners or bicycling to McDonald’s. Because it’s cultural, you know, and if you need me to spell it out for you, we didn’t have a mom who had time or money to cook every night for us. She was always working.

And though I’m learning the sweet formulas of the oven now, I think I need to make an announcement: gourmet cooking ability (or sewing or decorating or folding laundry precisely) is not something every woman is just magically born with, like perfect pitch or green eyes, especially not working class women, who sell their labor for their children’s futures and sacrifice their own dreams – it may be a long time overdue, but thank you, Mom. (Side note: my intuition is something I was born with, and that is rarely as recognized.)

I’m pretty sure at that moment you downgraded me from “potential life partner” to just “girlfriend who can’t cook,” but hey, I know for a fact you wouldn’t know a wrench from a radiator under the hood of a car if we were to be stuck out somewhere treacherous like… San Bernadino, and fixing that motor meant the difference between eating dinner that night or becoming dinner for the hill people (Beverly Hills boys – different hill people – don’t learn how to be mechanics).

Is every man supposed to be born with engine lights going off in their brains?

Can we please let go of the advertisements?

When dreadlocks aspire to be a blonde curl, my kinky hair weeps at the pressure of a straightening iron.

Though I’ve tried, I can’t aspire to be more like a man.

It’s as ridiculous as aspiring to be more like a manatee, and I have a special fondness for those cuddly paddlers. Sure, I can incorporate some external qualities and blend the colors into my own skin, in fact it’s healthy to choose your pallette – I could be more assertive, more focused, more self-important, or more likely to be mistaken for a mermaid by sea-drunk ocean crossers. But more like a man or a manatee – I don’t think so. I’ll be more like whatever I feel like, how about that, sailor?

(P.S. Disclaimer: Please don’t mistake me, I support transsexuals in their quest for identity – honeymuscles, you can go ahead and fully aspire to be more like a man… not trying to put my foot in any mouths here.)

But you know, there’s a reason why movies like The Last Samurai star Tom Cruise, why Pocahontas is beautiful in the Disney cartoon, why Jesus is a white dude. We all want to see ourselves reflected everywhere we can, and project ourselves out onto others – won’t that mean I’m important and alive and real? It’s a lot easier than attempting to step into another person’s bones to see what connects us, what funky cool mosaics can be cut from the cloth of our differences, or what lies truly underneath.

It made me laugh – ha ha! – when my 6 foot 2, light-skinned, muscle-builder of a man buddy became offended (hashtag #perfectexample) by me saying in a Tweet (please excuse the punctuation-less Tweet-speak):**

@fancifulnance: “Men have never been my role models. Lovers, teachers, friends, but it is woman who liberates woman. She who I aspire to.”

@manfriend: “kind of think you are retarded now”

@fancifulnance: “what makes that retarded?”

@manfriend: “likewise, cause your comments stem from feminist ignorance. You know there is a level playing field of capability.”

@fancifulnance: “I can’t relate to being a man so I can’t aspire to be like one. Appreciate but not aspire, so not a role model. So defensive”

@manfriend: “whatevah you got to do woo woman”

It may seem like a somewhat disjointed conversation, but we are dealing in 140 characters or less here, and I’m not posting this to attack my said man friend, but just to point out how common it is for a man to respond negatively when a woman proposes any sort of self-empowerment. (Would a white woman be offended by a black woman saying, I love all my white friends but it is my black sisters who teach me how to be in my own skin? Would a businessman be offended by an artist saying, I know I need agents in my life, but it’s other artists who inspire my work?)

Notice that my original comment lacked any outright attack on the legitimacy of “manhood,” or any sort of disempowerment of men, yet he attacks me for being an ignorant feminist. It was a clearly positive revelation I had just had – it does me more good to look to the leaders of my station in life (in this case, strong women) than to look to leaders whom I don’t necessarily see myself in (close-minded men), and in fact historically have tried to keep my voice silent through backwards berating, doubting my abilities, callous comments, irrational accusations, sexual harassment, blatant objectification and not-funny sexist jokes.

Not to say there aren’t a great deal of men I respect, in fact there are – some of my most enlightening professors have been men (though why did I feel so timid trying to talk ideas with them?), some of the greatest thinkers and philosophers and peace leaders in history have been men (though where were the women’s names?), and some of my very best friends are men. Just like the artist needs the businessman and vice versa, I love and appreciate and admire many men in my life, but I, personally, have got to love my womanness first. I feel this disclaimer shouldn’t be necessary but I know it is:

Lifting myself up as a woman, embracing my femininity, accepting all my assets and flaws, and living simply the way my internal compass tells me to be as a woman DOES NOT emasculate anyone.

The real emasculation occurs when a man isn’t comfortable enough with himself, or how he interacts with women, and he responds negatively and defensively to try and throw the attack back on the object of his discomfort. A woman asserting herself makes a lot of men seriously, seriously uncomfortable. Like, sitting in the dentist chair looking at the drill and blaming the dentist for all the times he never flossed kind of uncomfortable.

I’ve found it especially true when that assertiveness appears unexpectedly, like in the form of me, a generally good-spirited, warm, agreeable and understanding, totally non-threatening, non-violent sort of person. But hey buddy, step on my toes and I will not just stand there.

The thing is, I understand why my Twitter friend was offended – he perceived that I was attempting to strip him of his power because he feeds off of the weaknesses of others. A vocal woman who happens also to be clever may seem like a big, fat threat to a small mind.

Yet, no one seems to be offended by Shakespeare.

“To thine own self be true.”

We are in a very exciting time when women are to themselves being truer than ever before. When the culmination of the last century of feminism is starting to take root in the brainstems of even the most dull, when women are joining together and starting to realize that something’s been missing for a really long time, and even if we can’t language it out exactly to the tee right now, we know we’re continuing along a path that history has been carving for us all along, and it feels right where we are going.

Racial integration didn’t just happen overnight, rather it took a mass movement to shift the consciousness of the population politically and ideologically, and many, many years for it to be normal for all races to sit at the same table in a restaurant. The same thing is happening right now for women, fueled by the writings and actions of female leaders before us, as we take these rising, resonating voices to the White House and beyond.

I, personally, want to be recognized as the owner of my own body, as a valued part of society in both the public and private spheres, and as a keeper of my own wisdom. It’s a labyrinthine time we’re living in, and there are dots connecting many circles.

This year was a very tumultuous year for women in politics in the U.S. (and of course, various parts of the world experienced major uprisings from and for women), but the issues that are being raised – rape, abortion, birth control, pay discrepancies, and in other parts of the world, basic rights like voting and driving – are actually doing something amazing right now. They’re forcing the woman’s voice to the forefront of the world stage, and the shift is pulling. It’s pulling and pulling, and there’s no going against this tide. Whether you believe in energy work or the pattern of the universe or the Mayan calendar or not, we are entering a feminine age. I will be happy to expound on that later, maybe when the ideas form, but for now it’s enough to say, embrace the change.

Women, straight women, bisexual women and lesbians alike, it’s time to realize what power we have. I know you feel it. Whether you admit it or not, some great internal mechanism is clanging in our ears, in our bones, in our thighs and it’s all we can do not to just rip our heads back and cackle. Our great-grandmothers are laughing with us. Simone DeBeauvoir, Mary Wollstonecraft, Kate Chopin, Sylvia Plath, Rosa Parks, Virgina Woolf and all the other tide-driven women before us are letting out a relieved guffaw. Their work will not die.

It’s understandable that there’s still some good breeding in some of us – still some desire to be a lady, to sit quietly and smile and be chosen like a budding rose. The change won’t be sudden, but I aspire to make close frenemies with those desires, and I aspire to let them expire.

I aspire to be a lot of things: a great writer, a productive activist, a strong community leader, an enlightened spirit and a positive role model. But to ask me to aspire to be more like a man, to ask me to write more like a man, well, honey, I’m just simply not going to.

Write better? Write more honestly, more vibrantly, more wholeheartedly? Yes, that I can try to do. I’ve been gathering up around me all my feminist poetry, all my female philosophers’ essays, all my sea-tasting foremothers’ words to cradle me to sleep at night so that in the morning some brilliant new piece of the puzzle may emerge.

I’m making love to the lightning bolts of feminine wisdom, I’m playing hopscotch with my mother’s tears, I’m throwing rocks ahead at the path that seems to be leading to our collective awakening.

And the more I wake up, the more it seems I have to say.

Men—I’m not asking to stamp out your voice. I’m just asking you to make way for mine. ‘Cause it is a-headed your way and it is whistling like a jailbird stepping out, finally, freely into the light.

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*I’m great friends with this man now, and he is one of the most inspiring figures in my life, so there is no mean sentiment here.

**No offense intended here either; these are words lifted from the public domain of Twitter, and Twitter man friend, if you read this, though that was nearly the last I heard from you, I would be happy if you were to correct me in your line of thinking :-}

Hail to Hegel’s Dialectical Explosive Synthesis

Let me name for you some of my contradictions. It’ll be fun. And then it will be your turn.

I’m a lazy… activist.

I smoke cigarettes after yoga. (Only sometimes!)

I teach reasoning skills to high school students. My psychic supports this.

I am the straight girl co-founder of a queer rights/ feminist/ group for equality, but I have a pretty singular attraction to rich white men whose debonair style and nice hair conceal an undercurrent of (blech) misogyny.

You felt the need to bring me down because sometimes too much joy is just too much and I still love your stupid face.

Enough about that, I’m reading Nietzche and a self-help book called The Happiness Makeover at the same time – it’s a race!

I’m the wisest person I know and also the most naive, the brightest and the dullest, so beautiful sweet and such a cold-ass bitch. Depends on which superlative you seek.

All we need is balance, balance, balance, I battle cry on my turbo dive directly into the deeeeeep end. Oh, the deep end, my bitter friend.

If I had a resume of ailments I’ve diagnosed myself with it would include, but not limited to: urgently exploding appendicitis, recurring anorexia and simultaneously a propensity for obesity, bipolar disorder, high-functioning autism, gluten allergies, a thyroid imbalance, schizophrenia, paranoia, clinical depression, neuroticism and hypochondriacism. Those last two are probably correct.

I lament that in all that, I’m not a little more OCD. My room would probably be cleaner.

I’m a messy perfectionist. An embracing critic.

I will cry with my whole body, quietly but deep breathingly, sometimes at things happening on television. And I will laugh until I shake, until tears squirt out of my eyes and I grab onto someone just to remember where I am, sometimes because of things happening on the television. Oh wait, laughing and crying ain’t a contradiction – but ask my ex-manfriends and they’ll tell you it is.

They just get angry. Human evolutionary psychology is some kind of crackpot joke in itself, but that’s altogether another story.

Paradoxes can get tiring, but what other kinds of truths have we got? I’m no painter but I’d like to paint a pair of docks shackled to each other. Somewhere deeply inland. With a tagline that reads, “Enough metanarratives already!”

Anyway. I’m a writer who usually prefers a meaty conversation to flashy devices.

All I want to do is leave my ego at the door and help people genuinely, authentically, the way my soul begs of me to do in the ways that I know how. I want to reach people who think they don’t deserve to be reached. I want to pull them out of the muck and laugh about how funny it is that once you thought that’s where you belonged. But then I doubt myself and become one of those people who needs some rope myself. Stuck in the muck. And maybe that’s why I do the pulling. Plus, that’s where most of the funny weird things are born. What would I do without those swampy friends?

I think there are too many people on the planet and too many dumb words already been said, but I want to nurse my own children eventually, and see my name in print again and again and again.

I love to backpack – up and down streams, boots soaking wet and tired and sore. The best meal of my life occurred out in the foothills – tuna fish on crackers. But I will binge on five star hotels that serve you oysters with lemon wrapped in meshy plastic whenever I can, oh honey, take me down to never never land.

I will compost my veggies like a mountain hermit and wipe worm poop all over my pants, then don an evening sparkle dress and throw cocktails down my throat like I’m a hotshot on some Real World trash.

I strive to live richly, richly, richly poor!  But I’d also kind of like regular sushi lunches and new things someday, maybe, finally.

My city friends think I’m a well-adjusted hippie. My hippie friends wonder how the city doesn’t kill me.

I have social anxiety so bad sometimes I don’t leave my house for days. But when you meet me at a party, I will radiate. It won’t be fake. It’s in me.

I want to express in wordy colors all my blah blah, sing out on the walls all my yeah yeah, spin and dance around all my hee hee, and also guard it up, not for the world to see. How much energy for you and how much love for me?

I’m an overgiver who doesn’t quite know yet how to fully receive.

“For such a colorful personality, you sure wear a lot of black.” Has been said about me.

I’d like to not care what you think of me. I’d like to stop saying me, me, me. I’d also like to stop this rhyming spree. But what other vehicle do I have to express what funny weird backward beauties I and you and everyone are, all the time, concurrently?

I want more than anything to feel life coursing through my body full and rich and light and true. But I am attached to the darkness like a shadow I can’t shake. I’m afraid if I shook it, I’d be floating, and floating and floating, but somewhere out there all alone. No safety rope. Misery loves company and maybe there’s another way to be, but I need dark company; it’s dangerous to be so light.

You can absolutely be too free. But rebirth is your right. As many times as you want it. And integration is the key. You can have your own language and speak another tongue, too. You just have to want to.

I’m telling myself, you can fall for the stars and still live a little large.

You can drown science in formulas, then close your eyes and rocket off to Jupiter.

You can wear your contradictions like a robe entitling you to be whatever you feel today. Right now.

And hey, news flash, you there swimming in TV ads and fake boob pornos and consciousness raising questions and comparisons with your peers, and all your wonderful, titillating confusion: you don’t have to be perfect. That’d be nonsense. And actually really boring. But you do have to try. To figure it out. You will have to work to let the old goo morph into newness or else what is it worth?

You can be as genuine as you are pretending and I know you’re good at pretending. Just take the real stuff, take the other stuff, take the inner and the outer stuff, take the messy stuff, and the gorgeous stuff, mix them all together and shake.

Look at me. Identity crisis ice cream sundae.

At least I’ve made hesitant friends with my shadow side – I’ve named her Rikoklyn; she’s snide and has mean teeth. Sometimes I like her. Just for something different. Capiche?

So it’s pretty much guaranteed – your multiple heads with all their silly hats will fight and fight and fight. But don’t fight the fight. There is no should, no supposed to be. Just you, some different outfits, and how every different day you choose to be.

So that’s it. How I let Hegel dialecticize me toward every new resounding, explosive synthesis. How every idea gives rise to its opposite, and something new is born. How you can learn to train yourself to let things die when they need to die. It’s simple but hard. And sometimes it takes a while before the birth. Survival is a spiral, adaptation on a level you can see. Slowly winding forward.

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The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. -F. Scott Fitzgerald