Dread Has Lifted by Dulcie Witman

Thank you to the Stars.

 

And the Saints.

 

Thank you to the Brothers and the Sisters.

 

Thank you to Friends and Healers and Potions and Herbs and thank you to Spring and it’s promise of Summer.

 

To Flowers and Vegetables and Peepers and Baby Deer and The River.

 

Thank you to Unexpected Money and Plays about Old Women and New Visions and thank you even to Cigarettes for joining me when I asked you to but leaving when I ask you to also.

 

Thank you to my Partner in Life.

 

I didn’t know that Dread was ruling me.  I thought it was Pain.  And Loss.  And Grief and Anger.  I thought I was broken and I would not find Joy or Light until I was well again.  I thought I would not be able to write another thing, not be able to want to write another thing until I was mended.  And I did not know for sure if I would ever be mended.

 

But somewhere on the road from Middlebury to Topsham, Dread lifted.  

 

I still felt poorly.  My hip hurt and my neck hurt and my belly down where the scar is, that hurt too.  Same shit different day, I was prepared to think.  

 

But I didn’t think that.  

 

I thought about this art project I want to do where I map out a New Vision I have of what it’s like to be human, this human, at this time in my life.  And then I thought of my cabin and how I’d like to set up as an art space so I could go out there and paint and play with paper and glue.  I was glad that we’re putting an outdoor shower on the back side of it, the side that faces just trees and that we’ll have a place to plug in things if we want to.

 

I drove the speed limit, I stopped and saw a family friend on the way. I got home late and didn’t unpack but, instead, took a bath and went to bed.  

 

I slept well even though I still didn’t feel good.

 

And now it’s three days later and I feel a little bit better in my body but not well.  I’m writing this down and sending it out so as to make note to myself that I felt this way and thought these thoughts.  I feel better even though I am not all better.

 

And just in case you have ever had this kind of time in your life, just in case this is one of them, I want you to know that at least this one person who it turns out was taken up with Dread can now feel past it.

 

And it feels good.


 

 

Writing for Writers

It feels like I’ve got a megaphone up to my mouth when really, all I want to do is whisper in your ear.  I want to tell this story in a way that makes sense, in a way you might relate to, even if you’ve never lived it.  I want to be next to you, ever so close on a crowded train, within inches of your face. I want you to hear me with your heart.  

Mostly, I’d like to think that I am not worried about what you’ll think of me.  But the truth is, the narrator in me is a tiny bit terrified from time to time.  I am afraid that you will think I am a bad person, that everyone will think I am a bad person, that it’s going to be me baring myself to a whole lot of people who get to keep their secrets secret.  But really, I’ve never been interested in keeping secrets.  Not my own and not anyone else’s.  I think it’s far too fun to say our secrets to each other.  Not to say I’m a gossip or I go around telling other people’s secrets.  I only tell my own because those are the only ones that are mine to tell.  Your secrets are yours.  And if you’ve held onto them tightly, for fear of what people might believe about you, well then good.  That makes us even.  The same, even.  And it means that my secrets have something to say to yours that might open something inside your chest that has felt too constricting for too long.  

Am I afraid?  Yes I am afraid.  I am afraid that what I’m writing is shit.  I am afraid that how I’m telling this story isn’t enough.  I am afraid that the future I want so dearly will be unavailable to me because of this story, because of the secrets I will tell.  Here’s a secret: I’m afraid that I left my life to go off and write whatever I wanted and live however I saw fit and then I wrote about it and now that I’m writing about it, I’m afraid who might read it and think lowly of me.  Kind of.  And kind of not.  I’ma little concerned, yes, but also I know that there is nothing more liberating than telling one’s truth.  It puts you in a place of power because no one can really have power over you after that.  Not when you have nothing to hide.  

But having nothing to hide is a scary place to be in.  

I have been misunderstood sometimes.  For telling people the lesser things I’ve done.  They’ve taken my confession as a strange form of braggery.  But that’s not at all what it is.  To declare, claim and own “I did this,” is not to be confused with boasting.  To be able to say ‘this was the choice I made’ doesn’t mean I’m proud.  It just means I’m willing to be honest about it.    

Mary Karr says, “Love the reader, love the reader, love the reader.”  Here I am writing for you but I haven’t actually written to you and addressed you like the real person you are in a long time.  I do better when I think of you, when I place you in my mind’s eye and think about what you are made of or how your heart is shaped.  I feel more connected when I think about the color of your eyes or the lumps on your beautiful body.  Where are you right now?  Why, we haven’t even met!  Probably never will.  And isn’t that beautiful?  That we can be together like this without being together at all.  That I can show you my scars and secrets and you can be there — maybe in a cabin in Oregon, maybe in a hammock at your mother-in-law’s, maybe tucked in bed after a bad break up.  And here I am in London, at this apartment I’ll soon be moving out of — the one where I do everything right here at my desk which is pushed up next to my bed.  This has been this way for as long as I can remember.  My desk next to my bed.  Not much psychic space.  No wonder I can’t sleep.  After last night’s bout of sleeplessness I vowed to start making use of my time.  If I wake up, from now on I’ll get up and write.  I’ll do my work.  I’ll tend to your heart while tending to mine, however wee the hour.   

The other day I walking down near the National Theatre along Southbank and it was seventy degrees outside.  That’s hotter than many a summer day here in London, so the atmosphere was festival-like.  Everyone was out in hordes, drinking, talking, laughing.  I was not doing any of that and sometimes (you might already know this) that’s how it feels when you’re writing a book.  Like everyone’s on an eternal vacation just going about their daily life while you’re sludging through words.  I was overcome with a that dreaded mix of hopelessness and frustration that every writer I know tends to have from time to time.  I decided right then I should give up writing for once and for all, before the world knows my every last secret.  Then I remembered I was very hungry and very tired.  And that’s no place to make decisions from.  Then, this morning, I remembered you.  You’ve unstuck me, dear reader whoever you are.  Maybe you’re nothing more than this very white, very blank page.  And if that is all you are, that is quite something.  Because the page has saved me, over and over and over again.  Is it not true that that which we fear might destroy us has the power to deliver us?  If it is, what else is there to be, besides afraid? 

Grateful, I’d say.  

And thank you, I'd say.     

Magic Connections

A few days ago a friend left me a voice message recounting a near mystical experience she had while journeying through Myanmar.  She and a friend had decided to rent bicycles for $1 and cycle through the countryside to visit sacred caves containing shrines to Buddha.  After making their way barefoot through a series of dark caverns which altered in temperature, going from unbearable humidity to freezing cold air pockets and involved bugs, they came upon a path that led them to an edge.  As they rounded the corner, the cave opened up to an incredible look out of a field of sunflowers where a monk sat nearby meditating.  The giant red sun was just touching the horizon and illuminating everything unlike anything they'd ever seen.  Light cast itself in bright beams and there was absolute quiet, not a sound to be heard.  As the two of them stood, bathed in golden light, they were brought to tears by the magical beauty.  My friend said she had to look away it was so beautiful.      

Hearing my friend's story, something inside me opened, much like the effect the sun has on sunflowers.  Inside, I felt a leaning in, a turning towards; an, "I know this place and this feeling" even though I have never been to Myanmar and have never had quite an experience like that.  Nevertheless, I could hold it in my mind's eye as if I were there, could keep some sliver of my friend's healing vision in my heart.   

A few hours later, my sister FaceTimed me.  She pointed the camera on my beaming nephew who was strapped cutely into his high chair, ever the little man, smiling wide, awaiting his next meal.  I wanted to reach through the screen and nuzzle his plump chubby cheeks, feel and smell his smooth, sweet skin.  We beamed at each other like that; me, one of his many doting aunties and him; my one and only love of my life nephew.  "Hi!" I said, my heart so full of joy, while also longing to be closer than London is to LA.  "Hi, beebs!  I miss you!" I cooed.  Then, my ten-month old nephew did something I've never seen him do before.  He waved at me.  It happened so fast I wondered if I was perhaps seeing things but my sister, who was holding the camera, confirmed it.  "Oh my gosh!  Did you see?  He just waved at you!"   And just like that, hot tears gushed down my cheeks.  I didn't know where they came from, where to put them or how to get them to stop.  My nephew.  A ten month old little boy.  Hello, he says without saying, from wherever he is.    

Maybe it has had a specific effect on me because lately I am looking for magic.  I am looking for it anywhere I can find it.  And I am finding it.  In the budding flowers on the trees, in the tender green sprouts of newness, on my yoga mat, inside a perfectly ripe avocado, in the way that passing dog caught my glance on the street.  The way it felt he might have just seen my soul.  A secret connection.  A blip of communication from somewhere not here.  

Somewhere not here.  That is where creativity comes from.  It's the source of all magic, where it all hails from; those sunsets worthy of tears, the little babes sending a nod of a wave from the innocent beyond, an understanding yet languageless space.  It is a place easily not found, terribly overlooked and often forever forgotten.  I have learned that this place can be present in just about every moment if we allow for it.  But allowing for it requires a fierceness that isn't for the faint hearted.  It requires an abandoning.  Of ego, for one.  It requires drawing boundaries, around things / people / activities that whisk you further and further away from the place you so long to connect to.  It requires discipline.  Meditation.  Walking.  Yoga.  Dancing.  Maybe a trip to Myanmar.  It requires dedication; a full-hearted wanting that's so big and broad that you'll do just about anything to get your next fix.  

Does this sound like a drug?  Does this sound reckless?  I suppose that's because it is.  The deepest form of listening requires listening with our whole selves.  My ear is forever to the ground below the ground below the ground.  So when I get a little wave, or hear the sound of a crow calling at night loud enough to wake me up I fill with yes.  My heart seeps with gratitude in knowing with all certainty that perhaps we are not all alone here, afterall.               

Finding inspiration

“You have treasures hidden within you … and bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think small.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

One of the first questions people often ask writers is “Where do you get your ideas?” They’re rarely satisfied with the answer, because truthfully, I don’t know.

Psychoanalyst Carl Jung believed in a collective unconscious, a source of archetypal characters that we as humanity carry with us. Writer Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book on creativity and inspiration, Big Magic, believes creativity exists on a level of enchantment, something mystical and magical. She says ideas exist independently and may visit you, and if you’re not ready or open to a particular idea, it will visit someone else.

Gilbert tells the story of a very specific plot line she developed for a manuscript but did not carry through. Soon after, she met author Ann Patchett, who later told Gilbert about a book she was writing that essentially had the same, very specific plot line as Gilbert’s original idea. Nobody had shared (or stolen) an idea. Coincidence? Gilbert believes the idea wanted to come into existence and had moved on to another author to make it happen.

Sound a little “woo-woo”? Well, creativity is mysterious. You can chalk it up to coincidence or shared experience. But I’ve seen happen frequently firsthand, either in ideas or elements. For example, a writer friend and I swapped manuscripts and discovered we had both created a character with exactly the same name. A lot of it naturally has to do with being a part of a culture that’s exposed to similar kinds of stories, news and events. But a lot of it’s downright spooky.

The mind wants to be ready and available to capture ideas. But most writers and artists go through dry spells. This winter I’ve felt stuck – lacking inspiration, meh. I opened my works in progress and don’t feel much like working. I think creativity can go through cycles, too, just like the seasons. I feel like winter has descended on my ability to create, too, slowing things down just a bit.

When that happens, how do you “unthaw”? How do you draw creativity out of the ether and onto the page?

1.     Acknowledge that you’re feeling creatively blocked. It sets in motion the intention to be unblocked, and it tells the universe that you’re ready to work and you would like an idea, please.

2.     Hang out with other creative types. Their mojo can rub off, and more likely than not, they know what it’s like to get stuck. Solidarity helps you feel less solitary.

3.     Cross-pollinate. Find another creative outlet. See a concert, go to a wine-and-painting night, take a dance class, make a construction-paper alligator with your child. It all comes from the same place.

4.     Recognize a response from the universe when you see it. Example: Without my bringing up the idea of feeling blocked, a new acquaintance mentioned that sometimes creativity suffers when the mind is in a state of confusion. Determining the source or learning to accept the state of confusion can help shake things loose. The idea that a distraction was blocking me was worth exploring, and helped move my mind around the obstruction.

5.     Recognize potential sources of inspiration or seek them out. I’ve had a lot of success with writing prompts, which can come from a number of sources, including single words that evoke memory or feeling. Try flipping through a book of poetry and reading a single line – write about how it makes you or your character feel. Choose a word from a newspaper article. Ask a friend what’s been on his or her mind and see if you can relate it to what a character is feeling and thinking. At a recent dinner gathering of other creative types, I asked each of the guests for “an interesting word” with the intention of using some or all of them in a writing exercise. (It’s also a fun way to start discussions and learn what might be top of mind for your friends.) They offered up the words “riveting,” “empowerment,” “lyrical,” “Mississippi,” and the invented “bulbalicous,” referring to a proliferation of tulips in the spring. (Yes, you can make up words.) How do you use the words? Any number of ways. Can you use all five words in one paragraph? Can you write a poem that is both lyrical and bulbalicious? What does empowerment mean to you? Do you remember learning to spell the word Mississippi in school? What would your character feel riveted by? Which word evokes the strongest emotion in your character?

6.     Get out of your element. Take a writing retreat. Put yourself in a change of scenery: It can do wonders for your creative mindset. We have two retreats coming up this year, Writing in the Wild at Borestone Mountain in Maine, and a Tuscany writing retreat, Tuscany: A Retreat for the Senses. Getting out of your element on your creative mindset: You don’t have to believe in magic to make it work (though it helps).

Remember, the mind wants to be creative. Why not see what it can do?

An earlier version of this blog post appeared first at http://millwriters.org/finding-inspiration-in-winter-by-nikki-kallio/

 

An Year's End Meditation on Beginnings by Regina Tingle

Blank white blur buzz void emptiness — what is there?  I don’t know but I suppose it has to start with something; an idea, an urge, a desire, a mistake or love.  But before that, certainly there must be a destruction, a levelling to the ground, a flattening vacuum-like force eliminating all that once was so that there can be something else.  So there can be nothing else but newness; a notion both simple and profound.  The quaking earth, the rock-sway of trembling terra firma—not so firm.  Creation and destruction: wonderful terrible kinds of magic.

To speak to a beginning is also to speak to an end.  It is to take the next breath, the one that comes after the last.  Such a swirl, a cycle, a season; which has ever come first — do we even know?  Did God begin in winter just before spring or during the fertile summer or was it as the earth was going dormant, falling towards itself? 

Beginnings are like that — so elusive, so mysterious, so fleeting but also sometimes painful.  They seem to go nearly unnoticed, packed tightly inside years, months, days, hours or minutes: what is a birthday but once a year, what is a year but once a few hundred days?   

To speak to a beginning we must go back before beginnings.  And yet here I am, again beginning.  Every new word, every new sentence loops right back around to the start and I have a hard time moving forward.  It is never ending.  Why don’t’ we say “never-beginning?”  I think we all know why, even if we pretend to keep it a secret.  

It is all there — the signs, the symbols, the hawks that swoop and glide in rings.  Certainly they must know something like the wind knows something — it too travels round and round in circles, cones, the cylindrical vortices of yes and no, black and white and maybe and gray and everything all at once.  What isn’t a sphere?  Even the earth, even the distant planets, the sun, stars and moon.    

Fire flicks — it begins with a spark, with heat.  With all the right conditions something can ignite from nothing and begin.  I do not always know where and how or when they appear, these beginnings.  But I believe in them.  I believe they grace us when we least expect them, even if we only come to find out that’s what was happening later.     

Invisible beginnings.  What else are they but the essence of life itself?

Things to know about Toscana

by Alanna Reiser

 

1. The sun hurts sometimes if you sit for long,

if your legs grow weary from the day and you find a grassy spot, but

if you breathe it in, it will be kinder.

2. Open your mouth, let your teeth feel the weight of its rays,

feel the light sink through your enamel, your teeth grow heavy.

Once you inhale the sun, let it wander through you.

3. This sun breeds grapes, they’re filled with water and you watch them nursing on the closest hill.

Crush them with your fingers, pour them out the faucets and fill a cup,

it will taste like sitting on the porch at dusk on a Sunday when there’s no work on Monday.

4. The greens you’re sitting on fill your cracks,

watch them weave through your toes, your fingers,

grab the earth’s hair, don’t dare trim it.

5. The people here stuff their fingernails with gold,

you see the remnants on their fingertips as they graze the windowpanes.

Everything they touch hides these gifts of golden flecks,

the dining chairs,

the pens.

Try to steal some, tuck them away in your pocket holes

to find come laundry day.

A Glimpse of the All Souls Retreat 2016 - Thank you, Pam!

A few weeks ago we gathered in the desert at one of the original dude ranches to write our burning, beating hearts out.  Together we experienced stunning sunrises and glowing sunsets, cold, starry nights, a meal of unimaginably delicious sweet potato quesadillas, deep and meaningful meditations along with heart-opening morning yoga.  There were steaming cups of hot coffee in crips morning air, the not-so distant howls of wild coyotes in the night and evenings of soul-felt singing.  Mid-retreat was marked by the mystical All Souls Procession in Tucson, where we dressed up and walked alongside the face-painted community of Tucson honoring the cycle of death and life.  Below is a excerpt from a second-time retreat participant and dear Tuscan Goddess writer, Pam Dumlao.  These are the words she shared as she left the desert.  Thank you for letting us post this, Pam.  Those dancing shadows remain with us, just like everyone's bold writing that week.  

I leave Arizona with a heavy heart.  I arrived a week ago with no expectations of feeling anything for Arizona or the desert.  I'm much more of a green forest with babbling brooks kind of gal.  I love the smell of moss after a spring rain, none of which exists in the desert.  Moss or rain, that is, or anything green or babbling for that matter.  

I honestly never took any interest in Arizona or the people and unique culture that exists there.  I quickly came to realize that not only does the desert have its own beauty but through a deep rooted Indian culture quite a deep and ethereal connection with the earth.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, this would have a dramatic impact on me as the week progressed.  

The sunsets were a profound and memorable experience.  Each one a masterpiece never to exist on a canvas.  It wasn't simply a view that took place in only a moment, rather an event, a time lapse that required an attention to experience the multitude of color changes as the sun moved up and over the mountain...the hues of pinks, purples, and blues as they faded up into the deep, darkening blue sky.  The shadows danced, appearing and disappearing in the folds of the landscape in the valley and up the mountain side.  I sat mesmerized not wanting to even blink!  (Until the dinner bell rang, that is).  As the days passed, I came to appreciate how the air felt bigger, how the sun could warm my body while my skin stayed cool, how the wind had a voice.   

On this, our last day, Jolly and I were blessed with a sunrise that I know was painted by God herself.  The turquoise blue sky was translucent and directly above us were two narrow and long strokes of hot pink clouds.  It looked as if someone had taken a paint brush and swiped it across the sky.  It was beautiful and fluorescent and magnificent...and gone within minutes.  

So while I leave Arizona with this heavy heart, I am also excited for what lies ahead.  Inspiration, a new pen pal, a sacred shack.  My higher creative self is standing tall, firmly rooted at the front of the line.

Thank you all again for your hearts, your sharing, your wisdom, and your writing...it will sustain me!  See you in Maine, July 2017!!!  

Occupy Pussy Writing Rally

Wouldn’t it be kind of fun to have an

Occupy Pussy Rally?

 

I mean, what if those of us with pussies gathered our stories together, gathered our pussies together, side by side, poems and songs and odes, and said this is my story but I’m done carrying it by myself. It, as in the story is no longer my secret. The pussy is mine but the story is now, officially, part of a shared history.

So here’s the invitation – tell the story of how your pussy has been occupied by others, send it to us and we’ll post it on our website.  You can send them with your name boldly engraved next to the title or you can send them to be published anonymously.

 

Here’s mine:    

As a young teenager, my playmate was my grandfather, my mother’s stepfather, who came to live with us when my grandmother died.  He lived in the basement of our chalet on the pond, a house that my dad and his friend Reme built so that we could all finally live together.  The “we” had not included my grandfather at the time of the building but one of those times when Grammy called drunk and said she was dying, it was true.  She did.  And so my parents made a bedroom and a living room and a bathroom downstairs that belonged to Grampa   

He worked at my high school as a janitor and drank the rest of the time.  

At first, when we found out he was coming to live with us, I was happy.  I loved him as long as I remembered.  He’d treated me kindly, bought me candy, took me to the beach and let me ride with him in his tractor trailer truck.  I felt special with him and, with the exception of accepting money from Tommy Lombard for the baseball of mine he whacked out of the yard and lost (we don’t need other people’s money, his face red and disapproving) I’d never made him angry.  He and my grandmother were kind to me.  And they were fun as in we did not have a bedtime with them and we could basically eat whatever we wanted and we could swim even if we had just eaten.  They fought a lot with each other but it did not seem to make a difference in how they were with me.

After my grandmother died, he stopped driving a truck.  I think something may have happened involving him and drinking and his rig but I can’t be sure.  I just know that he showed up at our house in Vermont without it and started the cleaning job shortly after.  And we started going to the drive in.

All of this is a lead up to tell you that he became a pussy grabber and I became a drunk.  I also became ashamed of myself and my pussy.  And my grandfather.  

He eventually found another woman and moved away to live with her.  Some years later he developed a palsy that lived primarily in the left side of his face.  I drove to New Hampshire to visit him but while I tried to carry on a conversation it was nearly impossible for me to feel him actually being there.  Dirty drool leaked from the left corner of his mouth, leaving a shiny path along the crack down his chin.  He asked me to sit by him and as much as I didn’t want to, I did it.  He reached his mottled hand to my knee and, while I do not doubt he simply meant to rest it there, I seized up on the inside and do not remember the rest of the visit.  I did not go back to see him again before he died and when I heard he was gone, I felt nothing.

And that’s the thing about pussy grabbers.  They’re only powerful in that they make us feel bad about ourselves and nothing for them.  I had loved him for his kindness and generosity and his happy red face and his big truck.  In the end he meant nothing to me and I had a lot of work to do to find what I meant to myself.          

For Women to Matter

At first, it was just another one of his -isms.  Then I really started thinking about it.  How many times in my life have I literally and figuratively been ‘grabbed by the pussy’?  Off the top of my head I can count at least four times.  By men both known and unknown to me.  Men I trusted and knew and men I didn’t.  What I cannot count is how many times I have not felt safe in my body.  And yet, nothing has actually “happened” to me.  

Let me pause here.  

The above was written about a week ago.  What followed was a piece in which I listed all the different ways I’ve been figuratively and literally “grabbed by the pussy.”  I wrote it, read it, edited it and rewrote it.  Over and over.  I didn’t know I need to write it but once it was written, I was surprised by my own near-desperate need to rant.  In the piece, I wrote about how it’s 2016 and women are still tolerating this.  I wrote about how, like my mother says, when it comes to mens’ behavior, we get what we tolerate.  When I was finished writing, or maybe I should say, when I exhausted myself of the subject matter, I set it aside for a week.  I let it sit.  I almost let it go.  

But somewhere in that week of sitting, two things came flying back to hit me in the face.  The first: my own victim mentality.  To assume that ‘pussy grabbing’ happens to us because we, as females, tolerate it?  Wherever did I get that idea?  That is certainly not what my mother meant.  What she meant is that we do not have to tolerate a damn thing we don’t please.  And it’s certainly not my fault or your fault or anyone’s fault other than the person who commits the offense.  See, this is the problem with this problem: it is self-perpetuating only because boys will be boys and girls will be girls.  Women have assumed too much responsibility for too long.  We tend to do that.  We’re used to it.   

The second thing that came flying back at me?  It was the thing that convinced me not to let this one go.  

It happened on my flight back back to London last Sunday.  I sat across the aisle from a group of drunk English men returning from Eastern Europe.  “We’ve been drinking whiskey all day!”  They boasted to no one in particular when boarding.  Mid-flight when a mother and her toddler walked down the aisle and one of the drunks accidentally whacked the toddler on the head, he was horrified and slurred apologies profusely.  Ten minutes later the pretty flight attendant walked by collecting trash said, “Are you finished already?” One of them hollered in response, “Nah, he lasts a long time, don’t worry…”  

My blood pressure spiked.  I’m sick and tired of men behaving like this and getting away with it.  Yeah yeah, I get it, they were stupid and drunk.  But even drunk people know right from wrong.  Smacking a baby in the head is not okay.  So why is it okay to yell rude, lewd sexual comments at a woman bringing you a continual supply of beer?  To answer this question, here again I am fighting the temptation to blame the flight attendant for not speaking up herself.  While I'm also berating myself for not speaking up, I'm forgetting about all the perfectly respectable sober men sitting right there who also, like me, did nothing.  This is not about what we’re doing wrong as females because we aren’t doing anything wrong.  It’s almost not really even about boys behaving badly anymore.  It's about collective responsibility; who is and who isn't assuming their part.  

No wonder women are tired.  Tired of hearing about this and tired of living it.  And yet, again, for me personally, nothing has actually “happened.”  Nothing except, now that I think about it, my whole adult life has revolved around the fact that I am deeply frustrated by not just a patriarchal culture but the deep-seated idea (make whatever pun you will of it) that because I have a vagina my life is somehow subtly marginalized.  That’s a nice way of saying that because I don’t have a cock, I’m the one who must give up her career, her dreams, her job, her opinion; I’m the one who — when she gets knocked up has the man tell her, “I’ll support you but you’ll be doing this 90% on your own.”  How long have we been like this?  On our own?  I can’t think of one man in my life, gay, straight or otherwise who stands up or speaks out for womens’ rights.  

It takes every ounce of strength for me not to erase that last sentence.  Why?  It makes me feel guilty—no, ashamed.  As though perhaps that’s MY fault for not knowing enough brave men or men brave enough or simply one single man who can be bothered enough to speak up for women.  That is, for me.  For my sisters.  For my beautiful, brave, inspiring female friends who are mothers, teachers, therapists, artists, caretakers.      

When I started becoming more involved with the LGBT community, an entire universe unveiled itself to me.  I had no idea what the LGBT community had been going through.  How I did not know they were and still are being treated poorly and unfairly is simple: I’m not LGBT.  

It’s in this way that I can sympathize with the straight male.  How could the average man have any idea of what it’s like to go through their lives as though their genitalia were potentially up for grabs.  What it’s like to stand on the bus and wonder if any of those people — bigger, stronger, faster than them — might want to do something with their body that they do not want done to them.  What if men wondered more often: does this person respect me?  Here and now and behind my back?  Is my coworker of the opposite sex who is less experienced, less skilled and less senior being paid more than me?  

It’s not their fault men are clueless as to what it feels like to be cornered in a dark room by someone three times their size and weight.  I am not blaming, I’m sympathizing.  Why?  Because that’s what women do.  We’re wired that way.  Sympathy however, can only go so far.  We have to start taking care of ourselves.  No one’s going to do it for us.  My mother taught me that, too.  And so maybe now is the time we will, for once, stop taking care of everyone but ourselves.   

((SIDE NOTE: In Japan male public officials are walking around wearing pregnant suits, learning what it feels like to be pregnant: on a bus, at the supermarket, hanging laundry.  This is a good start.  And there should be more exercises in female-oriented compassion.  Imagine Donald Trump in a pregnant suit.  Now there’s a pig flying if I ever saw one.))  

I am not an angry person but I wake up fiery these days.  Something inside me smolders when I read the news, I fume when I read Facebook.  All before I even have coffee.  I read this morning that the American Psychological Association has tips for coping with this campaign.  I didn’t read the tips but catch myself wondering if they involve punching.  

A few months ago when I was feeling really zen, I was thinking about why it is that Trump came to be where he is, running for president.  Not why in the logical or practical sense but more in the, ‘what does this have to do with the emotional evolution of the human race?’ sense.  I asked myself: for as much as I don’t like the guy, in what ways am I exactly like him, intolerant, ignorant and hateful?  Perhaps his uninvited arrival into our waking world is a nightmarish calling of sorts: to take a good inner glimpse of our own personal Trump(s).  But that was a few months ago.  And well, the zen ship has sailed. 

Nevertheless, I am grateful to The Donald.  If it weren’t for his foul mouth and ill-will towards women, politics would have never been this personal.  I am not looking to make peace.  Not right now.  That can come later.  Right now, what I want is for women to matter.  I want black, yellow, orange, brown and refugee lives to matter; LGBT equality; gun control.  And if that means I have to rage, well, watch me.  Read me.  Hear me.  Better yet, join me.  

 

 

 

 

 

Collective Poem #3 - Tuscany 2016

Here's one of three poems we wrote this year, randomly, blindly, straight from our collective senses.  It makes "sense" to us, wink wink.

***

heady, reaching for heat

goddammit make me a gin & tonic please thank you

you shall never be taller than me

Applied on hair it would feel Cleopatra-like

A tightness confined it to its small circle, surrounded by white nothingness, but the slight shudder of its breathings longed for escape, for growth

The gift of being given that which I did not have to earn, did not have to endure in order to experience the reward

Dreaming of cold mangoes --

how smooth their skin, how alive

before they're blazing their quiet

And while I watch the sky it streaks, shrieks; illuminated from below, a jet's tail, a gold vapor journey

I can hear the bubbling water down a path away from the house, I hesitate for a moment then run, my Mom's call increasingly loud, trails off, unheeded.

Fish will find food and each other if we don't fill them with plastic.

I bit the shell, it gasped and my tongue melted.

**