In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"


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You Can’t Always Get

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It’s a familiar trap, a pattern many recognize–getting caught between wanting to do the “right” thing for someone else or for the self.

The conflict pits ahimsa, or non-harm in thought or deed, against satya, truthfulness in the Yamas.

Trying today to unwind my thinking, past my feelings, habits and impulses, to identify my needs. I am caught up in the should’s. And I dislike it.

Yes, I grew up with a mother who attended co-dependents anonymous and that may explain why, in the past, I instantly responded to calls for volunteers for the school, sports organizations, non-profits, family and friends whenever I could. I built habits for some need I had to fulfill to help. But what about now?

The balance of helping others and helping myself is the challenge. Getting it right is not always easy, but I am more interested today in examining these knee-jerk reactions and judgments that come with “I should help this guy out” compulsion.

I give a lot of time and attention to a long-time friend who cannot reciprocate, and I am becoming resentful and disinclined to see this friend any more. This would seem like a no-brainer, dump the freeloader, but it is not that simple. I don’t want to (thinking) be beholden to a give to get something or quid pro quo value system. The impulse to give irrespective of gain is in line with my values.

Resentment (feelings) arises for sure in this equation, but the more important question, if I give myself time to respond the next time my friend, who I will call Ash for convenience, calls and asks to go out to lunch to talk (read: monopolize the conversation), is why I feel compelled to be the sympathetic ear, ignoring my own therapeutic need to be heard and share thoughts and feelings.

Mind you, this friend does not always take but often enough where the obligatory “should’s” hit me whenever I see that text or telephone number on my screen. The first reaction is a tiny wince and inaudible sigh. I have known Ash a long time and spent countless hours being a friend. Is it habit?

I wrestle with passive-aggressive responses too–unavailability, calling back much later, too late, and just plain ignoring. That is not a good friend, I chide myself. Feeling guilty is not helpful, either. The spiral of internal chain reactions is exhausting…I shouldn’t ignore…just say what I feel…don’t want to hurt someone for what I perpetuated…time I cannot afford and don’t want to give…others who need it more…giving unconditionally…compassion…

…and on and on.

How to get past the stuff, the gunk (too much thinking or not enough), to the discerned need, my real need in this relationship, occupies my day today. Being truthful.

I know the answer–for me, anyhow. Time. Give myself time to decipher my need–for that moment, any given moment–before saying yes to engaging with Ash. Examining the relationship a bite at a time may lead to the larger answer that I sought today, too overwhelming, as to what I need in this relationship, not want, project, hope or atone for in it.

The Stones got it right: You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need.

Given enough precious time.

credit:  goodreads.com/MickJagger


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White Afros

  
Succinct and powerful while not too patronizing, today’s Huffpost article by Zeba Blay entitled “4 ‘Reverse Racism Myths’ that Need to Stop,” dispels four myths, really erroneous convictions that discomfited white people have about an historically discriminated population’s unique struggle. 

She targets this specific population of social media shouters, most probably, who apparently need education I’m guessing from her approach. Her point: To deny that blacks have been systematically shut out of ‘privileges’ white people have enjoyed unfettered by racial discrimination such as education, jobs and safety is to deny history. To believe that all is well is to choose ignorance. 

She begins with distinguishing racism from prejudice or bigotry, which is an important distinction, the former including that systematic exclusion while the latter two may refer to specific instances of hate or preference. But the upshot undergirding all four myths is like it or not, being born white is still hitting the lottery in this country because of its history that to date has not been erased, rectified or reconstituted. 

White people have no standing to complain. And trying to catch up to white society is not privilege. 

But while I respect the author’s opinion about cultural appropriation, white girls wearing Afros, for instance, I disagree that doing so is always unmindful theft or disregard of a people’s cultural strife. Systemitized thinking–labeling and generalizing as a means to exclude–is the core of oppression. While I would not say it is reverse discrimination to object to white afros, I maintain that there is a difference between respectful emulation and mindless appropriation.

Besides, some of us have hair that does nothing else but ‘fro. The seventies were good to me.

  


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Pratyahara and Pencils: teaching writing is about seeding awareness in students

  
This was exactly what Professor Yip meant by being detached — not being without emotion or feeling, but being one in whom feeling was not sticky or blocked. Therefore in order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature.

Bruce Lee 

Pratyahara and pencils populate my thoughts today. Back to school, I can smell the freshly sharpened pencils—not that anyone sharpens pencils in my college classes so much. The sensory memory recalls the time of year: fall, school, endings, beginnings and lifelong learning. Cycles that inspire.

Inspiration arises in peculiar places. During a particularly dry creativity spell, I sat through the annual English department meeting last week at school, my employer, and felt a sudden spark. It was midway through a workshop on workshopping (silly sounding but fruitful) when I began to write about…

Continued here


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So Many Ways to Lose a Daughter

 

 
When they were little, headless operations I called them, 

toddling about with no motion detection sensors, 

oblivious to the science of mass in flight against

the immovable object, cause and effect, win and lose, 

I feared losing their pristine purity, their soft roundness

drenched in new flesh, irradiant, to rocks and bumps

in the playground grass or sandbox, opening into

split lips or knobby eggs on their foreheads. I feared

losing them to cars in free fall, driven by madness 

up on my lawn, taking my children with them, like 

the newspaper clipping in the local Starbucks report.

I feared flus and asthma, pneumonia, broken bones

and stitches they could contract or suffer with 

complication and then die in my arms or in their sleep.

I dreamed of kidnappings and wanderings off in 

supermarkets or department store aisles, lost, lost, lost.

I walked them to school the block and a half every day.

And when they were in middle school, I dreaded

the treacherous row of absent-minded, harried

dropping-off moms vs. the brainless, twit t’weeners on

bikes, laughing and careening their wheels into traffic,

caring little for mortality the daily drive threatened

like that boy and his friend on a bike, on the same road,

on the way to school two days before the school year

start, picking up his schedule, leisurely, laughing, 

peddling, looking back at his lagging friend just before

the swerve, the truck, the texting driver, the hit–gone.

I never let them ride their bikes to school, not with that.

I did not want to lose them to twenty somethings’ texts.

Just like I did not want to lose them to drugs, drunk

drivers and AIDS, cancer, concussions or accidents.

I did not want to lose them. And I lost them any way.

To friends, trends, music and driver’s licenses, to

social media and idealism, fierce loyalty and pride of

a generation angry in the wake of destruction their

parents have left them to navigate, chlorinate the gunk

of polluted finance and corrupt opinions and falsity, 

falsity everywhere. I lost them to independence and

opportunity elsewhere, greener, colder, blue-skyed

distant and lonely, free and home away from home.
 

credit: arthistoryarchive.com


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Wild, Weird and Wonderful: Trip inside my vagina

Okay, so it’s not my vagina, much to the disappointment or relief of my readers.

So much to be said here but the video says it all. What every growing girl should know, beginning with honest names about body parts, celebrated not shamed. Had I been taught about orgasm as a child, or at least exposed to the concept  pre-understanding, I would not have had to go through unnecessary anxiety and sexual misgivings affecting my relationships.

Why is this such a difficult matter, educating ourselves and our children about their bodies so that they may be more responsible and responsive adults? Why must the idea of a “love your body” explicit video be so revolutionary?

Huffpost’s Poussy Draama’s Mobile Doctor’s Office is Challenging Sex Ed Norms in America merits a reading even if only for the video and colorful pictures injected into an investigative journalism piece on wacky personalities with the right message.

Author Priscilla Frank introduces Poussy Draama, a performance artist, gyno specialist and educator who roams the country introducing those ready to learn to love the beloved female body (enough loving of men’s has been the story of HIStory, she claims), not the one that merely makes babies but the one that has so much more power and pleasure.

She enlightens youngsters through her bizarre videos and also appears live to help groups of women take pictures of their cervixes when she is not celebrating all of the names for vagina. Hey, why wasn’t my personal favorite, twat, on that list? Must be a French thing.

 The bizarro TV show, aimed to teach kids about sexuality and consent, features tripped out vagina suits, lots of rainbows and even more body positivity. Poussy Draama — the babe on the right, in the video above — is a performance artist, a sexologist, an alter-gynecologist and a witch. Not witch, like, black hat and broomstick, though. Witch like witch doctor or healer. “What I do hasn’t much to do with magic,” Draama explained to The Huffington Post. “It’s witchcraft, in the way of empiric, experimental and politically engaged healing.” 


Although in medium and technique Draama’s work is all over the map, her subject matter consistently revolves around educating others on sexuality in an un-authoritative, open-minded and, duh, feminist manner. “Womxn are overrepresented and underrepresenting,” Draama said. “You know what I mean? And as an artist, I don’t wanna play the ‘male-gaze game’ so I have to be careful, cause everything tends to drive you to do so.” (Note: The spelling of “womxn” is intentional, per Draama’s choice.)

The risk takers who challenge the “norm” by exposing sedimented attitudes expose themselves to ridicule even as they gather fame. You know those insecure ones (you know who you are) who do not like to be discomfited will doff off old Poussy as a whack rather than appreciate her creativity and spirit for a good cause.

Fingers crossed for her (riffing on the article opener there).


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Fær

 

 
The hordes arrive, in families of twos and threes, all nationalities,

as I sip tepid tap water coffee, thirsty for succor in this jailhouse sweet shop.

Regulars, strangers, all alike, from the gym, retail store and pet trainer next door, 

all drop by at an appointed day of the week coinciding with their weekly habits and chores. 

And they ask the same questions, and look around with the same concentrated effort of choice.

The anesthetics of the daily hum through a storefront window surpass surreality–mere abstraction.

 
“They have too many choices,” one Yelp reviewer complained. 

A desperate failure for sure, this absence of the given, circumscribed, delimited and allotted. 

Failure abounds, thrives in the cracks and on roof tops, announced, derided, ridiculed and feared.

Professional success is a teflon mask of muscular smile, amused at fun house mirrors while

a stranger looks inside herself and winces at the truth: faking bemused stares.

Not a single one, no one is good enough, not since Caesarian born fær thundered alive.

 
A curious beacon, this failure, negative space, vertical inversion, binary split, 

a vacancy, trip, stumble, snafu and inferno too–blazing bailiwick’s forest funeral.

Fiery mourning howl weeps losses unfathomable but not forlorn forever.

No one stumbles on a pavement crack unscathed, eternal-glimpsed of false stability:

reinstating an upright illusion, death defying gravity-riven, absolved, re-calibrated,

restored but bludgeoned awake by the faltering blow, newly armed in science or religion.    


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Back to School

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I cannot recall the last time I sharpened pencils, yet I smell them.

Crayons disappeared from the house five years ago when the kids stopped using them, schools dumping color-in-the-lines after fifth grade. But I can almost feel their waxy paraffin between my thumb and forefinger, leaving that oily residue that stays way long.

Like a return to the new, the school year starts in the season of dying.

The dissonance, I sense it like spasmodic leg quaking that tremulates chairs while calming nerves.

“It’s show time!” I mimic the movie star’s manic Joker’s smile as I fly out the door. No chorus line.

Yet not the performance but the insistence that erodes: “Wake up!!” I want to jolt them in stentorian holler as my head spins and spits pea soup—in a virtual world they recognize.

In real time, I merely cajole, advise, admonish and filibuster, all for their awakening to themselves, their process and their world, adrift in someone else’s expectation.

 

credit: http://i.ytimg.com/vi/0OwImLxeoFI/maxresdefault.jpg