Wingless Wren

  

She is a wingless wren
a bitty beak a half lid
slow-eyed sunk in
dreaming of flight
and plans of cities wide
and deep for her pain
losing miles of time sweet
she is dove of sighs
coos left for the unloved
she is an electric beam
of magnetic woe laid
before her feet and song
one shared in no one
my little song bird mute
limps to nesty retreat
dark hollow of a tree
gleamy eyes trickle
light fogged from within
a birdless fright of whim
a skittering feather foot
scamper shot running
a wrong winged one
she is a grounded wren.

It was just a dream…

  

Credit:  http://s3.amazonaws.com



Softly now a wind swept plain threads the dusty sky
in tapestry’d landscapes open wide in an endless eye,
for who comes a’spin trailing cyclonic tear stained anger?
A dream, it was, a dream and only a dream.
The bone rumblings nauseate my awakening.
Fist pummeled popping despair explodes in fracture;
my joy is hiding, darkened in a webby cervical corner.


I awoke to the morning’s whistling words; 
my feet were cold, fallen free of blanketed body heat. 
Spring came early, opened prematurely, and so left; now
the returning cold deceives, rankles a ramshackle house, 
its half way adults of changing complexion, doors open wide.
They pass and return like the shoreline soaked sand,
intermittent, persistent and constant synchronous rhyme.


The words of my awakening were mere warnings.
Almost over, I squeeze between staying and going
come and gone, keeping me presently here, now by the by
jammed in by the leaves that fill my window’s blind view.
The green bleeds through me and approves noddingly,
quivering its reply in jittered tenuously ticklish goading:
Come out to the world, connect and extract its comfort.


I am a lonely laughing over it runner.
My feet, bare, exposed, never but lightly touch the pavement,
their steps imperceptibly driven past the crowds’ avoidance,
padding by in silent wide eyed stare, solemn mouthed,
a hasty reproof in the reading for the uninitiated.
I told him I never once felt enough a part of this world,
not enough out of it either and I meant it then as now.


Running steamed skin trails scents of the night’s visions.
Those words–never…enough…–circulate behind my shades,
blinking the sweat from the lids into the skin crease burn,
not remembering if I said them, actually uttered the words.
We were just talking or texting, smoke in the sage room,
grainy air or fog or hail, obscuring our voices in gassy ice.
There I told him, I never once…never…felt…, it was a dream.


Define Love

Curious about the love-relationship labels beginning with the prefix “poly”? Here is an amusing and informative Youtube video to answer some of the basic definitional distinctions between polyamory, polygamy, polyangyny, and other polys.  Enjoy.

Pass the Fudge, Alice

  


This is the food of paradise — of Baudelaire’s Artificial Paradises: it might 

provide an entertaining refreshment for Ladies’ Bridge Club or chapter 

meeting of the DAR. In Morocco it is thought to be good for warding off the 

common cold in damp winter weather and is, indeed, more effective if taken 

with large quantities of hot mint tea. Euphoria and brilliant storms of laughter; 

ecstatic reveries and extensions of one’s personality on several simultaneous 

planes are to be complacently expected. Almost anything Saint Theresa did, 

you can do better if you can bear to be ravished by ‘un évanouissement reveillé‘.

Alice B. Toklas’ introduction to the recipe for “hashish fudge” in her 1946 Alice B. Toklas Cookbook.

Read the rest of the recipe and trip once again on the heart-of-the-art love story of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas here.

Being Joni

 

Credit:  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cd/Joni_Mitchell_(1975).png

 


Gathered from a search on Facebook, apparently I first logged on sometime in 2008. Not more than a year or two after I joined my first group, which was a Joni Mitchell page. When I discovered that I could belong to a group centered around a communal interest, that was my immediate thought: Joni fans! 

Joni was my first real musical love, the one with passion that never waned even through her phases I could not relate to; I loved so much of her music so deeply that it did not matter what she produced. I was attracted to her spirit: creative, independent and strong. I envied her life of freedom evidenced by her pursuing creative whims regardless of critical acclaim and the artistry of her words that wooed me from teens til today some forty years later.

Adoring fans of the Joni group have always been really cool, posting memorabilia, personal and published, of Joni music, pictures, album covers, news bites, interviews and just anything Joni. The fans truly keep her present from her distant highly pronounced and productive past to her quiet selective present. I have enjoyed seeing the occasional post on my wall to remind me to return, which frequently results in hearing a song, evoking a memory, a smile and a tune to hum or ruminate in for the rest of the day.

So, when I finally decided to post something of my own on the fan site, as I had never done before in my silent witness of the love, a stalker, I was rather taken aback at the reception of my contribution. Maybe I had not paid attention to any of the comments under the pictures and songs to prepare me for the backlash or to prevent me from posting anything in the first place.

I had written my short reaction to The Guardian article about Joni’s illness through the lens of what it means to her, Ms. Grant, to be a Joni fan, as long, it seems, as I have been, and thought it would be great to share with adoring fans. While my writing is not as polished as it is honest, I thought the few paragraphs about my own vision of Joni’s illness, mortality, and immortality, ending in a declaration of my undying devotion and a toast to her good health and long life, was a positive tribute from a lone fan.

So I posted my blog post on the Facebook site and the first comment was a lambasting exasperation with doomsayers like me about Joni’s illness and imminent death. Yes, my title is misleading, “The Last Time I Will See Joni”, which is riffing on her song, The Last Time I Saw Richard, one of my favorites. But the commenter admitted he had not even read my piece, and would not read such “sensationalism.” Soon another commenter chimed in about the doomsayers who should be wishing her good health and not predicting her death, even insinuating my “piece” (she objected to my ascribing that term to what I wrote) was self-indulgent (actually used) crap (insinuated).

I was stunned. Sure, whenever I put myself out in writing to a public space, I expect criticism of my content, point of view or writing. But I was rather surprised when the first commenter would criticize without even reading what I wrote. The second chimer was even more vociferous in her utter repulsion that I would write what she and others deemed a dirge, a hex, a bad vibe, when I should be wishing her good health, as it was too premature to talk of her death.

Admittedly, I mentioned in my post that she was 72, a dedicated smoker and ill, inevitably mortal, which did not bode well for longevity.

There were others who were supportive of my fan post on a fan site, but the experience had me perturbed and then ponderous. There seemed to be a protocol to fandom I was missing, and some fans appear so much more invested in the person of the adored than the persona, the latter of which was my confessed interest. Aside from the few on that site who actually did meet and have a relationship with Joni Mitchell, the rest, I assumed, merely love her music, her image, her history, and actions. 

Celebrity worship is not a new phenomenon, but I never paid attention to it, despite my own daughters’ obsession with boy bands and boy idols. For them, I regarded excessive preoccupation a healthy distraction from real boys and drugs and other far more detrimental obsessions. But my “negativity” as it was deemed by the same commenter who did not read the post before condemning it, was eschewed from a protective standpoint, fans wanting to keep positive so that Joni could heal, a great notion but one that is sorely mis-calibrated if exercised as censorship. 

Had I been insensitive? Had I intruded upon someone’s family and callously cited the mortality of the matriarch? If a stranger visited my home, took one look at my mother and told me she was not going to last long (she is in fact dying), I would feel injured, even though it is the truth. 

But I had not, as far as I know, disregarded the sensibilities of a relative or friend. If the ruffled fans who commented so strenuously are her friends, like real life friends who shared laughs and sorrows, and so reacted in fear and hurt, I can reconcile the reaction with logic. But if not, then these are fans who would defend Joni’s sensibilities over those of real life people in their presence, disrespecting those present living beings in their space.  After all, I was merely offering my version of appreciation for she who produced the music they all love. 

I am as guilty of fantasizing as anyone else. We think we “know” her through her music, right? Even if we read everything about her, we do not actually know her if we have not even met her let alone spent time with her.

I read about celebrity worship syndrome in an article on webmd. Sure, some people go overboard and fantasize a relationship with their adored celebrity. Most, though, are just overzealous fans who displace some of their own boredom or inadequacy, projecting themselves into someone else’s life, a “fascination with celebrities” as “a substitution for real life–with the focus on a celebrity replacing the focus that should be on our own lives.”

Apparently, we are biologically inclined to idolize celebrities, in our DNA.


“What’s in our DNA, as a social animal, is the interest in looking at alpha males and females; the ones who are important in the pack,” says Fischoff. We are sociologically preprogrammed to “follow the leader,” he says, and notes we are biochemical sitting ducks for the Hollywood star system; even the stars themselves get caught up in the mystique.”

However, not everyone succumbs to their encoded instincts to the same degree.


“In research published in the British Journal of Psychology, psychologists established a “sliding scale” of celebrity worship — one in which the devoted fan becomes increasingly hooked into the object of their attention, until their feelings begin to resemble addiction.”

The fans who characterized my writing as a premature eulogy were annoyed, fearful of losing Joni. They cared for the health and longevity of the person of Joni Mitchell while I was writing about her as symbol as an idea I inscribed in my flesh, as a musician who filled the gaps in my confused youthful yearning and disappointments–just an imaginary presence living inside the music. 


“In this respect, a celebrity can act almost like a support group — helping us to see that life is OK, that I can do this, you can do this…”

Yes, I fantasized countless times about being her, being desired for my talents and beauty. Her voice was my siren song long before I knew of sirens. But since growing in and out of relationships–boyfriends, breakups, marriage, children and friends–my feel-good dream of being loved for my talents and beauty borrowed from someone else evolved. I later craved to be loved and adored for being me. 

“Indeed, if there is a key to being a ‘healthy’ fan, experts say it is in our ability to enjoy what a celebrity brings to our life, without them becoming our life.”

Joni helped me become me, like an old trusty friend in the lyrics circling my mind and moods, a phrase or passage to accompany most any grief or joy life threw me. She enhanced my life, providing comfort and pathos. I am grateful for her, and the world is so much more enriched in her having been born. But she was never my friend, not sure I would have even liked her as one, and so, while I wish her good health and long life, as I would anyone as a compassionate being, I would not cut anyone else down who did not do so or spoke out against her. The human being that is before me, the one that criticizes and interacts with me, is real, immediate and present. Joni Mitchell is a stranger to me, while her persona fills me throughout, always will.

“If you can just have fun with it, if it’s not replacing emotional connections in your real life, then it’s really all OK…” 

There is a Leaving

  

credit:  https://timrwalls.files.wordpress.com


There is a leaving that must be done
everyone knows when that it is too
when the pastels of the sky deepen
at dusk and pink becomes orange-red
a time when the ending paints true
the beginning and hope is contained
in darkness.

There is a leaving that must be done
when fall leaves and winter begins
a dying that prefigures anew the new
the hatchlings of sea turtles and fins
of mermaids spied prancing the deep
in imagination veered round the din
of darkness.

There is a leaving that must be done
when the face utters no more sighs
and a voice thinly reaches a mind’s ear
for none but the countryside cottages 
of someday adorned remain in dreams
plans of then dissolving soon too to
the darkness.

The Last Time I Will See Joni

 

 

Last night I dined with a Joni fan, someone with whom I found common ground initially on that fact alone, tossing her words at the appropriate emotion or situation, as if to say, “You know what I mean?” Oddly enough, we did not talk about Joni, though she was there, framing our discussion, our gestures and postures on love, men and the world. We are both children weaned on her music and so look through her lenses, her lyrics and voice, in daily life.

Joni has been on my mind lately for the same reason as Linda Grant has written about her in It’s not always easy to be a Joni Mitchell fan, but her illness devastates me in the Guardian. Joni is ill, has been for a while, and it looks as if life’s accumulations have conspired to bury her soon, if not from this latest episode of falling unconscious, then perhaps not long after. She is 72, a dedicated smoker, and embittered by all accounts. 
 
But it is not the person but the persona of Joni Mitchell that I have adored all my life. She captured the spirit of my youth and has been my creative mother, in some ways, a decade older and wiser, tethering me along on her words and experiences that resonate with and color my own. She is always first, and my footsteps follow in the safety and security of her words and melodies to accompany my heart breaks, my pride and creative yearning.
 
I agree with Grant. When she goes, her music will survive, but something, the undergirding of a culture, a huge part of its iconography, will be lost and will be suffered by some of her daughters, ones like me whose history of love has always been bathed in her coursing stream of heart songs, like the loss of a limb.
 
She has called herself “a scientist of love”; how to love is what she’s trying to get to the bottom of. Like Jean Rhys, she has drawn the anatomy of a woman’s heart, the men we fall for, the loneliness, the fatal choices. The accretion of age, the disappointments of living, are part of the journey we’ve all been on with her, so this life-long fandom can’t have a happy ending. Or even a happy middle. Pity the poor children with an indelible online record of the day they wept when they heard Zayn Malik was leaving One Direction. Perhaps the lifelong experience of being a fan, an admirer, an acolyte or a student of an artist will turn out to have been a fluke, a small window of privilege, and from now on careers will burn up in a year or two, the experience fleeting for the adorer and the adored alike. I don’t think she knows how much she’s venerated. Or maybe she knows and it doesn’t matter. It fulfils nothing. It makes no difference. She’s as alone with her music as we are.
 
 Critical acclaim and personality contest winners have never been criteria for my musical tastes, so I will die a Joni fan no matter the latest news of her quirks and habit–or her death. Here’s to you, Joni, and wishing you good health in as long a life as you permit.
 
Last Time I Saw Richard

by Joni Mitchell

The last time I saw Richard was Detroit in ’68
And he told me all romantics meet the same fate someday
Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark café
You laugh he said you think you’re immune
Go look at your eyes they’re full of moon
You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you
All those pretty lies pretty lies
When you gonna realize they’re only pretty lies
Only pretty lies just pretty lies

He put a quarter in the Wurlitzer and he pushed
Three buttons and the thing began to whirr
And a bar maid came by in fishnet stockings and a bow tie
And she said “Drink up now it’s getting’ on time to close”
“Richard, you haven’t really changed” I said
It’s just that now you’re romanticizing some pain that’s in your head
You got tombs in your eyes but the songs you punched are dreaming
Listen, they sing of love so sweet, love so sweet
When you gonna get yourself back on your feet?
Oh and love can be so sweet Love so sweet

Richard got married to a figure skater
And he bought her a dishwasher and a coffee percolator
And he drinks at home now most nights with the TV on
And all the house lights left up bright
I’m gonna blow this damn candle out
I don’t want nobody comin’ over to my table
I got nothing to talk to anybody about
All good dreamers pass this way some day
Hidin’ behind bottles in dark cafes dark cafes
Only a dark cocoon before I get my gorgeous wings and fly away
Only a phase these dark café days

© 1970; Joni Mitchell

 

Bar Flight

  

credit: http://images.fineartamerica.com/saulnier


Sitting at the corner bar, satisfying the urge for a beer and relieving the boredom jitters, I’m tormented by indiscriminate shouting of barflies and distant diners lining the walls of the dark, decor of seafaring ships, anchors and fish. Sea legs. Clearly this place lacks intelligent acoustic design, much to the chagrin of the owners who honestly tried to reduce the clamor crawling the high ceilings, especially with a yoga studio above it. I once heard the story, sitting at this bar with M many months before.

My girlfriend’s already signed off for the night, so I am unconcerned about my phone’s rings, dings and buzzes. I am wherever for whatever. Thinking about the last time we met at the hotel for a quick grope and a tickle, sneaking a hurried sigh and a fierce kiss, my mind smiles, my face impassive.

The pretend-lover is off somewhere in the night, leaving town for the week tomorrow, as the story goes still smoldering in the musk stains left in my hair, emitted in the toss of my head as I spy the inhabitants of this sultry Thursday crowd. At least we got to do the fuck-and-lie before the morning’s 8 a.m. departure. What’s the weather like in the Southeast?

Often it’s the simplest moment that lingers on the tongue of my thoughts, savored in sensorial bites: a shy side glance of the twenty-something deeply brown-eyed half of the pair sitting on the stools next to me sends static up my spine, an imperceptible eye-twitch, my senses on electricity. What does it mean?

I crave quiet corners most of the time, am in love with intimate spaces with or without another. In an unsuspecting moment, memory flashes the scent of heat rushing from a wall heater mixed with bleach and sweat in a dark room in mid-afternoon while we nap, your arm dead over my hips and belly. 

Though the time is so little, so simple, it stays. Maybe that’s the draw, the beauty of it, it’s simplicity and freedom to be whatever we need it to be, something of our own creation without the stress of trying to make it be too much, like living and planning and being together, which is complicated and full of friction. Our island is tiny and sporadic, though well-timed. Maybe it’s the island that is the draw more so than I. 

His wife hates him as much as she loves him, that’s what the bar fly kitty corner to me yells over the blaring music to his companions. I wonder why. Perhaps she cannot stand the way he mispronounces the names of her favorite artist, or his snoring, explosive anger, criticism, taken-for-granted use of her body for his release coupled with the inability to fulfill her because she never figured out how that could be, relied on him to figure it out, but could not relax enough to let him, guide him or even try.

Nat King Cole croons “Unforgettable.”

Filling out a daily diary of calories in my phone app is tedious, a task I assigned myself as consciousness raising more than dieting but it has, like so many other healthy exercises enthusiastically commenced, deteriorated to an obsession. 

The same guy three stools down shouting over the next song, a 70s favorite I recognize but will have to focus on more if I want to remember the artist and title, whinnying really in a high tinny voice, about his divorce and how his wife regrets the divorce being the way it was. Also, his daughter and plans for spring break to be with her and her friends, Abbey her name, is really shaping up. Oh, so a divorce has permanently taken up residence in his conversation. The ex hates and loves him.

The divorce story’s addressees are a big bald dude and his Asian-looking companion, petite and smartly dressed with discreet cleavage, smooth-skinned soft peaks demurely and tastefully displayed below a string of pearl-like gems. She speaks with an unidentifiable accent. Like her, I am only half listening. The divorce story seems to be aimed at her, a polite, captive audience, while her boyfriend baldy winks at her looking away from the divorce tale-teller. Divorce guy wants to be heard. Baldy stays quiet, polite agreement here and there. He wants to be home fucking pearl girl. “That’s the way God meant it to be in some ways,” Divorce says. I missed the context of that statement.

Brings me back to a lover and his week of agony, strife with the wife, severe enough for him to act deflated, distracted passion, wildly unusual, so that I had to ask, as he collapsed away from me and sunk into the mattress, fists fretted together, face pinched in deep furrows, what was the matter. Did he expect me to sense his grief and ask? He is not as mysterious as I once thought. 

In our fifth year he took up confession; home life was bad, stressful, not good for the kids, he told me, the emailed story unfolding in exclamatory bursts, philosophical resignation, religious retreat and cautionary reminders. I did nothing to provoke the last so have to conjecture: it crossed his mind, the thought of leaving, running to me, but he got scared or sober or logical. He tasted the bitterness and stinging hate of hurt and revenge, the loss of power, prestige and pleasure, time spent with his children, too soon gone. 

Imagined scenarios of our making are the engine of creation, the mechanics of our story trotted out for each other to admire and merge into on cue.

Hate, vengeance and righteousness of god, fashioned to her fundamental beliefs in a church that spreads the selective word of a deity who manifested love, she believes he must be the man she wants him to be. The wont of their ilk is to toss sacred words to trump one over the other.

An ancient story repeated, their love grown in children and the grace of goods bought and sold, possession of a union, a house, a garden, two cars and a dog, they loved and rubbed each other right until it was wrong. Humans are pattern makers. God chuckles.

But he was clearly jarred, sorrowed, repentant, and seeking comfort in a resolve to improve, surrender, endure and abide, a solution time tested. Biding time is what we do. Some call it the journey. With attention, it is often referred to as presence, the fullness of time and the conjoint spirit of one. I am content. 

I prefer small pockets of pleasure disturbed by the occasional deep, destructive pothole in the roads I travel. So many lovely beings reach me, their intentions like silk tendrils of touch-full caressing care and wonder like Debussy’s Bergamasque piano silently accompanying the undulating drift of bar meanderings.  

“I will be unavailable to you that week of your return.” I told him that, and he let me go.
 
Divorce boy just informed baldy’s girl that he is going to finish his bottle of wine, though he apparently has had enough, and try his luck picking up on some girls situated elsewhere in the bar. The incongruence of girls in a bar strikes me. 

I have seen divorce boy passively sitting at the bar before–beak-nosed and paunchy with a deceptively young face, not unpleasing. He tries. I am not here often–eight or nine times a year–and the last time I was here he was too. Look at us, the lonely people. 

The two women to my left are pouring the remainder of their wine from their glasses back into the bottle. All neighboring eyes are turned to the task, like a netted tightrope walk to safety, the risk not too terrible but for the stains. The two young women have been sharing a small space, huddled in the corner of the bar, phones in hand illuminating the luster of their eyes and lipstick, checking social media, I presume, and speaking in tones reserved only for them.

Big baldy says, “I’d have to kill the guy.” Clearly man talk. I cannot imagine the stool mates to my left saying that kind of shit, defending their territory. Like R. He would do that, kick someone’s ass who looked at me had we been daylight lovers, out of the bedroom partners in a real life relationship. But I speculate.

How far can a fantasy stretch? What does anyone need beyond a little relief, some tenderness to ease the strain of survival? Maybe nothing. A will to bend, a neck crook for a weary head, an arm flung over a curled-up thigh and those who know your name may be the sum substantial of existence.  

The Naked Truth: Women’s Bodies

  

credit: http://www.newstimes.co.uk/

You get what you ask for sometimes (though be careful of what you ask for; you may get it), like answers to unsettling questions or promptings for stalled action, for instance. If you stew long enough and put the fretting out there, wherever there is–occasionally you get what you seek despite your ignorance of the search. For the last two days, I inadvertently found my comfort and resolve in random readings around the net, specifically in elephantjournal.com and theguardian.com, two favorites.


The circle of my recent dilemma was typical for my pattern. A few months ago, I leapt into a project to challenge my fears, something I do occasionally for self-induced growth, only thinking about the consequences afterwards. Time draws the demons to me in hindsight: anxieties fill my head with body-shrinking scenarios, like outsiders’ criticism and mis-construction, and kill the fun I set upon in these let’s-jump-and-see-what-happens adventures when they arise. Often I deal with the discomfort and eventual exasperation of over-thinking, over-worrying by lurching from overly cautious to free-fall diving back to head-in-hands, anguished ruminating over decisions big and small.

In the morning’s perusal of the spiritual injection reflections–journals I frequent such as elephant journal–this passage drew me in with its seductive title:  A Man Can Change a Woman’s Body Image for the Better:

We all want to be seen exactly as we are. Fully exposed, naked—physically, emotionally, energetically and everything in between. And in that place of exposure, to be met with pure approval, gentleness and love can move mountains of shame, fear and insecurity. It’s an act of love.

While the title induced a frown of raised feminist hackles, the simple statement bleeds truth, though cliché–we all want to be accepted. But before we can be accepted, we have to be seen. And to be seen, we have to encounter people who are open, interested, observant and insightful. We can only be seen by those willing to look at who’s there. The rest just want to make something of us that aids them in some fashion–stroke their egos or deny we exist at all in their willed blindness of safe, unencumbered worlds.

That basic truth about acceptance, coupled with yesterday’s McCartney project write-up, began the synthesis. Britain’s Jamie McCartney, artist, created a huge plaster mural of 400 vulvas of various ages, sizes and shapes, inspired to backlash the labiaplasty trend, according to the Guardian’s Mary Katherine Tramontana. McCartney’s response to the trend: “Don’t change your parts, change your partner.” He considers industry practices that pressure women through perpetually idealized imagery of their bodies, as a form of “fascism” that operates by “making women feel shit about themselves,” according to Tramontana. She further states that the “Great Wall of Vagina” (the title of the mural) acts “as catharsis or empowerment for the women who helped create it” by exposing and exploding the belief that there is a singular ideal image of anatomy.

Finally, the big to-do (or little to-do depending on your interest in Rupi Kaur, Tumblr or Instagram) surrounding Instagram’s censorship of menstrual blood, and other avoided male-catered-to cringes, reported in the Guardian rounds out the list of happenstance reading that helped me resolve my doubts about going forward with my project, one that ironically places me in the double bind: putting my own image out in a public space–exposed and untouched–risks wresting from me the very control over my image I seek in publicizing photographs of my body in the first place. 

After this last reading, the story of Rupi Kaur’s censored selfie showing leaked menstrual blood in Is Social Media Protecting Men from Periods, Breast Milk and Body Hair?, I was convicted.  In it, Jessica Valenti surmises that social media reinforces misogyny, shunning women’s normal, functioning bodies while concurrently promoting “sexualized images of female bodies” for men: “thin, hairless and ready for sex.” This imagery, she concludes, must change and women can make that happen.

The upside, of course, is that the very nature of social media has made it easier for women to present a more diverse set of images on what the female form can look like and mean. Selfies, for example – thought by some to be the epitome of frivolity and self-conceit – are now being touted by feminist academics and artists as a way for women to “seize the gaze” and offer a new sense of control to women as subjects rather than objects.

The message appeared aimed at me.

When we have the power to create our own images en masse, we have the power to create a new narrative – one that flies in the face of what the mainstream would like us to look and act like.


That was my intent in agreeing to be photographed and interviewed for a female body consciousness-raising website: to disseminate imagery that does not conform to advertisers’ aka men’s ideals of women’s bodies but defies that coded model. I wanted to put myself out on the internet–in all that I am, unfiltered–to help disrupt that narrative sold to men and women alike, that their bodies should be anything other than what they are, worthy, accepted and loved. 

My body represents 54 years on earth and the genetic combinatory potential of random chromosomal breakage and interchange of two specific individuals as well as the exchanges in a line of people that led to them. The story in its unfolding is all there in every line, mark, tone and texture of my skin and its outgrowths: evidence of a living being, one specimen of billions, all different from me.

My dilemma only grew from preconceived labels and anticipated perceptions that I recognized as the “voices” of others eager to judge, criticize and injure. Even though I recognized those anticipated opinions for what they were, fabricated, inherited and illusory, I still felt the fear of judgment, drowning out my own desires to be the message unfazed about the interpretation in order to “seize the gaze,” be the subject and not the object. The act is for itself–and for my daughters to one day consider their mother’s statement: your body is your own and it is acceptable, even beautiful if you adjust your eyes to the light–just as it is.