From Razorcake #66, originally published January 2012.
Now that I am solidly in my early adulthood, having spent an entire year into my 30s, I’m starting to learn quite a few things about the going-ons and such that is life. I humbly present to you 18 Things I Know About Life.
1. The people who raised you don’t know everything.
There are plenty of kids who know this about the people who are raising them, and I was aware of it to an extent. Like I knew that my parents would never understand why it was so insanely important that I collect every toy in a Happy Meal series, nor could they fully conceive of why it was imperative that they spend $50 on a B.U.M. Equipment sweatshirt so that I wouldn’t feel like a complete leper in junior high school. I had an inkling then that there were things my folks could not comprehend, but I still had faith that they knew the fundamental truths of life and would be able to impart them upon me when the time was right.
But it never happened. As I grew into my own person, filling into my own shoes and earning the almost indiscernanble lines in my face, I came to realize that my parents don’t have all the big answers and have made large, looming mistakes. I was in my mid-twenties when this sunk in. When I had an epiphany that my folks live a lot of their life in fear- which wasn’t an answer to me.
2. Raising children is a very simple way to find purpose.
Firstly, I must clarify to all parent-folk that I don’t mean that parenting is simple, but that the act of parenting is a definitive way to instill purpose in one’s life. Those who are feeling lost need only to procreate, to have a life to whom they are beholden, to stop themselves in the middle of whatever muddled life they are leading and to suddenly have a devotion. It is instant-purpose-for-life type shit. It is simple, terrifying, self-centered and courageous.
3. Entitlement is like [insert your guilty pleasure], it’s good in moderation and somewhat necessary.
I find that I constantly have to remind myself to have expectations and standards in which to live by. It speaks volumes for those of us who have not had much—be it health care, fair pay or whatever it is that you need—that when we receive an iota of it, we cling to it without thinking about whether we deserve more.
It may be baffling, but to have someone tell you that you need more of a sense of entitlement is a reminder that we need not settle for crumbs when we deserve a few slices. But be careful after you’ve got your slices, think about whether you need the whole loaf. (Damn, is that my lack of entitlement speaking again? Maybe I do deserve the whole fucking loaf! [Ugh.])
4. Don’t drink orange juice after you’ve brushed your teeth.
5. Learning the origin of words always makes you feel exponentially more intelligent than you did in the minutes before you learned the origin of the word.
Like for example, I finally figured out why the cover for your comforter is called a duvet cover. Because duvet is French for down, like a goose down comforter! (And yes, you should always have a duvet cover for your down comforter. And no, it’s not bougie to have a down comforter, it’s essential in the wintertime. [And yes, I know, you're reading a punk rock fanzine and you're thinking, "Why is this woman writing about com-fucking-forters?" Because punks sleep too and we like to be comfortable, duh!])
6. Sometimes we need to be proactive about the things we care about, just mere tolerance isn’t enough.
This is about speaking up, rather than passively letting things happen or not happen.
7. It’s a bit of a mindfuck to think that there are so many different types of jobs out there that have not yet been invented.
Like when I was a kid, I could not ever have conceived that I would grow up to work on the internet (you know, the inner netting of men’s swim trunks). It’s odd to think that some of the jobs that kids think of when they say, “When I grow up, I wanna be…”, could be obsolete by the time they’re adults. I guess this is evolution and this is how we know we are growing as a society- by making dream jobs extinct.
8. Dream jobs are overrated.
9. Clutter can be an external environmental manifestation of your life.
Organizing your stuff will help you to organize the rest of your life. I learned this when I watched an episode of Oprah in the late 90s and it’s one of the most useful things I’ve learned from television. I learned this, and how to make small pizzas using English muffins, spaghetti sauce and strips of American cheese.
10. Credit cards and good credit.
There’s this false idea being perpetuated (probably by the credit card companies) that one of the ways in which someone can create good credit is to always carry a balance on their card. It’s total bullshit. Always pay off your balance every month. Cut your credit card in half if you can’t do what the previous sentence said. Use a credit card for convenience, not as a way to borrow money for an insane interest rate. You’ll thank me later when you’ve used your excellent credit score to score a loan, to fund your independent film about slow-moving zombies who ruin people’s lives by stealing their identities rather than eating their brains. When you receive the Macarthur genius award for your insightful film exploring the undead human condition you funded with your immaculate credit—that’s when you’ll thank me.
11. Sometimes you just wanna fuck, and then you end up falling in love.
Fucking is totally normal and healthy and everyone should fuck as much or as little as they want to so long as all parties involved are consenting, safe and respectful. Sometimes its just a physical thing and then you’re over it. But if you go into it not expecting much, it’s a beautiful thing to feel the evolution of fucking to an expression of love. Yeah, I said it. Evolution of love. Deal with it.
12. It’s dangerous to keep your lip balm right next to your glue stick.
13. Wheel of Fortune is the best game show on American television.
This is a game anyone can play. I’ve seen immigrants on this show, folks who are sometimes asked to repeat the letter they’re calling out because Pat can’t understand their pronunciation, and I’ve seen these folks win. The game itself is equal parts luck and skill, rife with bankruptcy and lost turns and also big surprises like a trip to Fiji or a $5,000 gift certificate to your neighborhood big-box hardware store.
In the end, even if you don’t solve a single puzzle, they still send you home with $1,000, just for showing up and trying. Hot damn if that ain’t the American dream.
14. We’re supposed to get our vision checked annually and our eyes dialated every other year.
I got my eyes dialated for the first time just this week and it made me feel like an anime character with big black pupils for the whole night. Although I felt like a douche in the grocery store, strutting down the cereal aisle with my shades on, looking like I was some kind of produce-section hipster.
Oh, and the dialation thingy is supposed to help the eye doctor check to see if there are any tears or holes in your eyeball, so I guess it’s helpful in that way too.
15. Dog shit is karma for your shoes.
Folks who don’t pick up their dog’s shit will step in someone else’s dog’s shit. This is the most salient thing I know about karma.
16. Coffee makes everything better.
Even if you don’t drink coffee, you interact with folks who do and who are more likely to be pleasant to you because they do not feel like they’re about to keel over just from being alive and without caffeine.
17. I will always be confounded by people who are registered Republicans who are not working to protect their massive wealth (because they do not have massive wealth).
I guess I’ll just never understand working-class folks and/or people of color who vote Republican in this day and age. Like seriously?
18. Have you heard that uber-condescending quote, “Youth is wasted on the young”?
A Short Bridge for a Long Walk
From Razorcake #65, originally published November 2011.
The 12 bus was heading east from downtown Portland, across the Burnside bridge, to release everyone back into their natural habitats after their 8-hour workaturies. I stood toward the back exit, trying to breath without inhaling the smells of a packed bus. Traffic was much slower than usual, with the blare of police sirens from black and white sedans speeding pass us. I thought about where they were racing to, who will they rescue, who will be the next unarmed person who they will shoot. I thought about how the wail of the siren—weeooooooow weeeoooooooow—forced all vehicles to one side, making us stop at green lights and drowning out our thoughts.
The bus slowly rolled up onto the bridge, surrounded by other slow-moving cars. As the bus crept up to the top, blue and red lights blinked through the big tinted windows, and I squinted to find the car accident, but all I saw was a steady single lane of traffic.
That’s when I saw him, in a dark hoodie sitting cross-legged on the bridge banister. A handful of folks, mostly uniformed, lined up along the sidewalk, all focused on the cross-legged man with his head hung low into his chest. The man looked up as if to answer a question, but I couldn’t see if he spoke as the bus jerked forward pass the waiting ambulance and cop cars, pass the traffic and on our merry way. All of us on the same ride, but going different places.
I wondered where that man went. If he decided to set his feet back onto the concrete, or if he let go and left.
* * *
It’s astonishing how easy it is for someone to feel so lonely even when they’re surrounded by hundreds, thousands or millions of people. The room moves in on the lonely—flooding oneself with anxiety and self-doubt in their inability to connect. Loneliness is not remedied by quantity, but rather the quality of connections with one another. The foundation of the connection bonds us, reminds us that we are not alone.
I have been alone and not lonely—standing on rolling grasslands and all I could see were the azure skies and lazy clouds. I stood there and inhaled and felt life and connected.
I have been in the middle of the masses, lived in cities with millions of people and felt like there was no one around. This emotional isolation can wear someone down, the exhaustion and dejection can drive someone to reconsider whether this is all worth it, Whether it’s worth it to hit to snooze button or the turn off the alarm altogether.
What if what woke you up was a clock record player? What if every morning your mickey-mouse-rube-goldbergy-contraption alarm dropped a needle on your favorite piece of vinyl and every word that was sung meant something to you. You don’t turn the alarm off—you let it play, to wake you and remind you why you have decided to wake up. You know that with this song, with this band, with this music, that there are entire communities built for it. You know you’re waking up and there is a place for you.
This very magazine has created a space, however small, nuanced, flawed and niche it is—it is still an important space. It’s valuable because there exist no other specific space just like this one, where there is a roster of personalities and bands who have found a home based on the community that, in part, this magazine has built. There are connections in these pages because we see ourselves in each other, us in you and you in I.
But maybe this is all very disingenuous on my part, considering that I have stopped listening to music. This is a music magazine after all. It happened a few years ago when I began to exhibit all the symptoms that are mentioned in anti-depressant commercials.
“Do you no longer enjoy the things you once did?”
When it comes to music: yes.
Although I’ve been able to find joy again in many of the things I’m passionate about, I just cannot seem to muster the same exuberance and celebration that music once inspired in me. It may be because music had meant so much to me, that I had used it to comfort me when I was going through my personal hell and now I associate the entirety of my music catalogue to those stormy days.
Everything is unlistenable: Reining Sound depresses me; not because of the heartbreak songs, but because I cannot feel that heartbreak any longer. Good Luck bums me out because “Come Home” is so beautiful, but reminds me that I don’t have that “home” anymore. M.I.A. doesn’t make me dance like I use to because I understand her songs about third world vs. developed world dichotomies all too well. Against Me no longer moves me, listening to them makes me feel like I’ve felt all I could feel and now I’m depleted.
The list goes on and on. Track by track, this music haunts me, reminding me of who I once was, seemingly in a past life. I was once someone who breathed this, who could not fathom not listening to music at every spare moment my ears had. I had lived to soak in sonic reverberations through speakers, to feel the electricity in the airwaves. The bands I loved, the way I used to sweat through hot shows, and the words I used to loudly recite—it was all a part that made up my identity.
And just like that.
So what the fuck am I doing here? Espousing the virtues of punk rock when I don’t take solace in it at the moment? Don’t I have fears that the muscle I used to devote to music has atrophied beyond recognition, that there is no way to resuscitate it?
I’m not so naïve as to think that although everything is cyclical, that I will round my way back to how I used to feel ten years ago. There is no winding the clock back, to when I was an eager 21-year-old, ravenous for heartbeats and unbothered by heartbreak. I am here, two feet planted solidly on the ground, wizened for the wear.
I’m here because even though this community is built on our shared connection through music, we also understand it is bigger than that. This a community built on ideas and critiques and growth. I’m still here because I believe that this space will still be around when I’m ready to appreciate music again.
I just hope that I’ll still have folks around to make me mix tapes.
* * *
Portland, Oregon is a city of bridges. Eleven bridges span across the Willamette river, bringing together the west and east sides. For a few minutes of each trip, these towering structures of concrete and steel lift us above water and carry us safely to where we want to go. Everyday, the bridges build connections, crossing back and forth like the nerves in our bodies that help us to feel.
Bored People Problems
From Razorcake #64, originally published September 2011.
Don’t forget my deodorant, I texted DanE.
Remember to bring the deodorant, please! I texted again.
Minutes are passing slowly—still nothing.
You’re making me upset and I’m going to be totally embarrassed and have sweat stains and now I’m stressed about worrying about being sweaty. I think I began experiencing text-rage.
Finally, DanE texted back, Stop talking about pits!
It was the second day of this social justice training conference that my organizations puts together and it was the night of the dinner banquet. We had all been at work all day, in the middle of summer, and I had forgotten to rub some magical de-odorizing gunk on my armpit and the thought of not wearing deodorant stressed me out so much that I started to sweat.
Most sane folks would feel that I overacted, but what most sane folks don’t understand was that I would have to get onstage during the banquet dinner to help out with some fundraising and I didn’t want an auditorium full of people to see my sweaty pit stains. It’s one of my pet peeves, it makes me shiver just thinking about it.
I ended up borrowing deodorant from a co-worker.
I hadn’t realized that it was something that bothered me so much until that night, when I frantically texted DanE to tell him that I was sweating and that I desperately needed help to control it. I realized that I was so insane about my sweaty pits because I secretly judged other people when they have dark sweat stains in the armpits of their shirts. I think, Does this person not know that their armpits are leaking sweat so profusely that it has begun to cause a ring of collected moisture on their clothing?
I also realized that I’m crazy (see above sentence)— that in my years I’ve accumulated a long list of pet peeves, deal breakers and all-out-head-shaking-WTF-behavior. It makes me wonder when there will be a reality TV show about quasi-irrational peeves so you can watch someone like me lose their shit because their boyfriend will not support their sweat-free wishes.
I cannot stand the television being on in the morning. I prefer the sound of birds or the garbage truck rolling by while I’m enjoying a bowl of cold cereal and getting ready for my day. There is something very discombobulating the morning news or cartoons, the unnatural sounds coming from speakers when you’ve just rolled out of bed and trying to orient yourself to not being asleep—a place you desperately want to return to. But instead you’re watching the two cartoon chipmunks Indiana-Jones that shit in Rescue Rangers or a pair of awfully unfunny morning newscasters talking about how it’s “hump day.”
Platform flip-flops are an instant deal breaker in terms of friendship potential because how I can trust someone who feels that suitable footwear can consist of a three-inch brick of rubber attached to two thin rubber straps? On the subject of flip-flops, I also have a great disdain for white or light-colored flip-flops where after a few wearings everyone can see the imprint of your dirty ass foot because it’s blackened into the sandal.
But I’m not about dictating what anyone should or shouldn’t wear on their feet because I’m rather non-confrontational—to a fault. Not long ago, I was chatting with a friend when out of nowhere a crusty piece of booger just sorta appeared out of her right nostril. We were with her other friends, but I was the only one she was talking to at that moment. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that she had a piece of pea greenness hanging from her face, so I just walked away. I felt so awkward that I can’t deal. This same reaction happens when friends have food in their teeth or a boobie nipple hanging out. I just sorta avert my gaze and hope someone else will tell them.
Even if something is bothering me terribly, I have to bite my tongue because I do the exact same thing.
“Can you chew with your mouth close?” DanE will ask me. And, of course, I am physically capable of chewing my food with my mouth closed, I just don’t like it. It feels too restrictive and hinders my enjoyment of whatever it is I’m eating. There’s something about loudly chomping into a potato chip or smacking around fried chicken that makes it taste better. That’s why even when I physically cringe when I’m in an enclosed space with someone and they start crunching through an entire bag of Cornuts, I just have to sit through sounds of rock eating and hope that my friend is enjoying her snack.
What may be worth noting is that even though I have these very specific things that irk and irritate me, there’s a wide gamut of behavior and habits that I find perfectly acceptable.
I am okay with sharing deodorant. I don’t care if you’re sitting next to me on the bus and your headphones are so loud that I feel like I’m wearing your headphones too. It’s perfectly fine to me when escalators stop working and just become stairs. I am not militant about the incorrect spellings of your and you’re. I am sometimes too forgiving to incompetence because I think about whether the FedEx delivery driver was having a bad day personally and didn’t deliver my important package because she said she couldn’t find my address.
I just wished that everyone else was as understanding and sympathetic to my plight of off-behaviors. Is it too much to ask to ensure that I won’t have pit stains?
It occurred to me while writing this that this whole thing that I’m grateful for these ridiculous annoyances—first world people problems. Because if I had a choice of living where I live and doing the things I do now and I had to wake up every morning to a loud television and everyone I knew wore white platform flip-flops and chewed their food loudly, I’d still be better off that a billions of other people if those were the things that kept me from enjoying my day. Sure, I’m also troubled by our politics and economy, social justice, et all, but at least I’ve got the electricity, time, technology to whine about it.
Unthinking What We Know
From Razorcake #62, originally published May 2011.
This essay contains explicit discussion of sexual assault and may be a trigger to survivors.
Ignorance is bliss—it’s true.
That unthinking, uncomplicated space where we know the bare minimum and there is no need to know more. It is a wide expanse with free admission, overpopulated with mindlessness, vapidity, and overconsumption and it takes no work to reside here. It’s easy and comfortable and it reinforces all the things we believe are true.
Ignorance is easy. It doesn’t challenge us and it allows us to be unaware of all the fuckedupness in our world. Sometimes I wish for ignorance—that deep well surrounding me in comforting darkness. Because even though the depths of ignorance are black, understanding and knowing real things—reality—is even blacker.
For a time, I stopped reading the news. I was already engulfed in my own depression that I had no energy to process all the multitude of wars, calamities, and fuckeduppery that devastates so many lives. I equated “being informed” with the burden of knowing and I gave it up because at that moment ignorance was bliss, and bliss was living one uncomplicated and unthinking day to the next.
Then, slowly, I found myself caring again, and choosing to know about what was happening outside of my small existence. Amidst all of the ridiculousness that I read about, a handful of stories continue to weigh heavily on me. Heartbreaking stories that sometimes make me feel as though I wished I had never read them.
Although ignorance is bliss, is it a bliss worth living for?
* * *
Ignorance is bliss, but willful ignorance is irresponsible. Lauren Denitzio, who used to sing and play guitar in The Measure [SA] and is a designer for this very publication, wrote an essay about sexism in punk rock. It’s a shame that anyone even has to write about sexism in punk rock in 2011, especially in a community that purports to be a refuge from mainstream culture and all of its faults. She cites specific issues that concern her:
I think part of the problem is that a lot of guys don’t understand the things that women find threatening because it’s not obviously dressed as a sexist act. What I think of when I imagine a scene without sexism is a scene where we consciously make an effort to create a safer space for everyone, no matter who they are…So, for those who might not know what I’m talking about: you know what makes me feel unsafe? When you’re the only guy in the pit who doesn’t get the message to not fly full force into someone half your size or strength. When you take your shirt off at a show. When you ask me if I’m “in the band or with the band” after a male bandmate says the four of us are all in the band. When you tell me I play guitar well for a girl. When you say that all the guys want to fuck the girl in that band. When you make a rape joke. When you use the word bitch or call someone a slut. The list doesn’t end there. Now do you think the scene isn’t sexist?
I read a lot of comments about the essay, and there were folks who were hung up on a single detail—the notion that people could feel unsafe when men flip their “shirts off, dudes on” switch.
What it comes down to is that when you’re a dude and you take off your shirt in a hot, muggy basement show, you’re not just trying to cool yourself off. You’re saying something with your body and who you are. You’re saying, “I’m a dude, and as a dude, I can take my shirt off in a room full of other people because it’s hot as fuck down here and I take my shirt off when it’s hot as fuck because I’m a dude. I don’t have to worry about people thinking I’m an exhibitionist whore or grabbing my tits or having my sanity in question because I took my shirt off.” You’re unknowingly asserting your dude-ness for all to see, you’re saying, “Check me out, I’m a fucking dude.”
And you know what? That makes some people feel unsafe. Just because you think it’s innocuous doesn’t mean it is, just because you don’t agree that it makes people feel unsafe doesn’t mean it doesn’t. Put your fucking shirt on.
* * *
In our daily lives, we rely on a plentitude of assumptions in order to get us through our days as easily as possible. Our culture uses stereotypical ideas to tell stories and reinforce messages like all couples are heterosexual, there are only two genders, boys like blue and girls like pink, and ad nauseum. This creates a space where we don’t ask questions and just fall into our prescribed roles.
Here’s a story from a filmmaker and anti-sexist activist, Byron Hurt, who described an experience where he became aware of his own unawareness and had to step out of a space of what he thought he knew. He attended a gender-violence prevention workshop where the facilitator asked:
“Men, what things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?”
Not one man, including myself, could quickly answer the question. Finally, one man raised his hand and said, “Nothing.” Then Katz asked the women, “What things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?” Nearly all of the women in the room raised their hand. One by one, each woman testified:
“I don’t make eye contact with men when I walk down the street,” said one.
“I don’t put my drink down at parties,” said another.
“I use the buddy system when I go to parties.”
“I cross the street when I see a group of guys walking in my direction.”
“I use my keys as a potential weapon.”
“I carry mace or pepper spray.”
“I watch what I wear.”
The women went on for several minutes, until their side of the blackboard was completely filled with responses. The men’s side of the blackboard was blank. I was stunned. I had never heard a group of women say these things before. I thought about all of the women in my life—including my mother, sister and girlfriend—and realized that I had a lot to learn about gender.
Byron is not alone in being unaware of all the multitude of things that women, or female-identified folks, go through on a daily basis. Sometimes we are all so consumed with our own experiences that we forget to take into account how other folks live. How do we ensure civility toward one another if we aren’t considerate, respectful, and understanding?
* * *
“That makes me sick to my stomach,” DanE said.
I had just told him two stories I had read about. One story was from a village in Shariatpur, Bangladesh, the other took place in Cleveland, Texas.
In Shariatpur, Bangladesh, a fourteen-year-old girl was raped by her forty-year-old cousin. The cousin had been harassing the girl, and one night as she was walking between her home and the outhouse, he attacked and raped her. His wife found them during the assault and reported both of them for the crime of adultery. The village imam found the girl and her cousin both guilty of the crime and sentenced them to publish lashings. She was sentenced to 101 lashes, but could only endure seventy lashes before passing out. A week later, Hena Akhter passed away from internal bleeding.
In Cleveland, Texas, an eleven-year-old girl was gang-raped by a total of nineteen boys and men over the span of three months. These acts are horrific in their own right—but the New York Times coverage consisted of a reporter who wrote a story that seemed sympathetic to the perpetrators. There were quotes from town folk like, “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives,” and, “They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s.” An updated Times article offers more objective reporting, but it’s still a story about the repetitive sexual assault of a child and, ultimately, how we write and think about these types of attacks on children and women.
Both of these stories are difficult to digest, and all I could say throughout my retelling was, “It’s so fucked up.” It’s even worse to think that perhaps these stories are not rare.
DanE nodded, “That’s what makes me worry about having a daughter.” He paused. “Actually, it makes me worry about having a boy too. What if the boy isn’t raised right and he grows up to do these things?”
We teach our daughters and sisters to protect themselves, but are we as intentional in raising our sons and brothers? What does it say about people and culture when we these things occur? Should we simply dismiss them as the gruesome acts of a few, and not examine how our cultures, how we treat each other on a daily basis, how we think about the world around us affects some people to the point where they are capable of such brutality?
* * *
There is a mindfulness we need to embody, where we condition ourselves to default to treat everyone with dignity.
That’s all I’ve got. I have no other answers and only write about this because I’m searching for others to tell me that it can be better. I’m looking for everyone else to let me know that we are all working on being more aware.
It’s a long and difficult stretch to weave an essay that begins with shirtless guys at a punk show to the death of a rape victim in Bangladesh. And, yes, there are no logical connections between the two events except that these things occur because—within layers of multiple and varied cultural fuckedupness—there lies cultures that allow male dominance to go unchecked to varying degrees. Patriarchy affects everyone, and it’s all of our responsibilities to de-normalize it.
How do we begin? By taking small steps against our own personal ignorance and letting everyone else in.
When I was a kid, I hated history class because I felt like all the people (mostly men, mostly white) we learned about were nothing like me. I’m a quasi-radical now, but I can’t imagine who I would be if I would had known about Grace Lee Boggs when I was a kid. I’ve just donated a few days worth of lunch money to help fund this awesome documentary about an American revolutionary who is someone I can aspire to be.
From Razorcake #58, originally published late 2010.
It’s really about time.
I find myself realizing more and more often that I just don’t give a fuck. It isn’t the nihilistic I believe in nuh-sing don’t-give-a-fuck, it’s more the I care not what ye thinketh don’t-give-a-fuck. This feels more genuine than all my previous fleeting don’t-give-a-fuck phases because as I near the dawn of my thirtieth birthday at the end of this summer it’s as if I’m too tired to care. Or perhaps I’ve just come to an understanding with the universe that I’m no longer going to be burdened with the seemingly ineffectual insecurities that plague me and the universe is going to let me vent to you in 1,244 words for you here.
This revelation didn’t just spring upon me; it crept up slowly like the frayed hem of my cut-off jeans. At the beginning of this summer, they began a couple inches above my knee. As the temperature rose, I began chopping off more denim until I almost neared Daisy Duke territory. The length of my cut-offs may seem irrelevant, especially since I’ve worn my fair yardage of mini-skirts, but there’s something very utilitarian and empowering about pulling on a pair of jeans shorts that’s a part of my summer uniform when I’ve been reluctant to bare my thighs for all these years. It’s what happens when your genetics decided that your thighs will touch and there isn’t much that you can do about it—except maybe grow a complex because when you’re in second grade you think that yours are the only chubby legs that are sticking to the desk chairs on hot afternoons in Mrs. Cisneros’ class. But you only thought your legs were too big because your dad teased you saying that one day you’ll inherit your mom’s Rubenesque legs. Then you begin to distort your body, your brain has been wired to turn all reflective surfaces into funhouse mirrors, and your completely normal, body-weight proportionate legs have been morphed into tree trunks attached to your hips.
It only took twenty-three years after having left Mrs. Cisneros’ class. It really is about time for me to realize that all the self-imposed body criticism needs to go. But sometimes it’s difficult even to acknowledge that we’re tough on ourselves because we—as women involved in punk rock, and as women in general—have to navigate in a world that has become so increasingly self-aware to the point where we think we’re post-gender, post-race, post-all-the-fucked-upness-that-we’re-not-really-post-anything. It creates a space where we don’t discuss these things because we’re supposed to be so over it. But I’m not over it. I’m just getting to it and I don’t give a fuck if you don’t want to hear it because you can turn the page anytime.
There needs to be an openness for me to be completely frank and honest because it’s tiresome and discouraging to hear about empowering oneself from women who seem to have an infinite supply of self-assurance. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to all the small moments of self-doubt and insecurity that I contend with often. How can we support each other if we’re all so busy pretending like we’re so strong that we don’t get shaken? It’s not cool to admit that after some twenty-odd years of being completely fine with my body, I let one snide remark from a boyfriend chip away at who I was. I can finally come to terms with it now because I’ve gotten over it, but it was shameful to have to admit that part of me was crushed when I playfully stuck out my small beer gut and my boyfriend’s only comment was, “Gross.” He’s an ex now, and I’m sure he doesn’t remember this moment at all—but I can still recall what I was wearing, the lighting from a small lamp in his cramped studio apartment, the way I let that comment sink into me.
It began with my legs, then my belly. And just recently, independent of remarks from a third-party, I’ve been really bothered with the dark fuzzy stuff on my upper lip, which is glaringly obvious to me in between waxings. (Surprisingly I’ve never grown a complex about my tits because they never grew.)
Our own individual obsessions about all the little quirks that dot or bulge from our bodies may seem trivial, but they can snowball and manifest themselves in negative ways. And sometimes just knowing that you’re not alone can alleviate some of the pressure. That’s why I’m writing about my insecurities because if my mini-mustache can help just one other woman feel a little less worse about her own mustache then my column has done its job.
Maybe once we can start talking about superficialities, then perhaps we can begin discussing other things that bug me—and maybe a few of these things may also annoy some of you, too. Like how there are some dudes who are inordinately preoccupied with sticking it in a girl’s butt. Listen, if she said no the first three times to the idea of you sticking your penis in her poop-hole, you ought to just move on. I’m also fed up with how the onus is on women in terms of birth control (much respect to my vasectomized friends). If ya’ll can dutifully take a pill every day, endure implants and IUDs, deal with patches and sponges—the very, very least your partner can do for you is to be mindful and acknowledge this. And consider this a PSA for the romantically impaired: this should really go without saying—poking your boner into a girl’s back is not foreplay; something is amiss if you have to be drunk to fuck; and the best sex is with someone who makes you feel completely beautiful and comfortable in your own skin.
What’s sex got to do with our own perceived body images? I’m no sociologist, but the connection between a woman’s self-worth seems deeply intertwined with her confidence and strength in taking ownership of her sex life. I’m rather stubborn and have never been talked into doing anything I didn’t feel comfortable with in bed—but I do struggle with setting boundaries—and just wanted to let other women know that it isn’t a weakness but just something that we need to continually work on to stand our ground.
It should be punk to dwell on all the minutiae of being a woman because women are a part of punk rock and you should care.Why don’t us girls just get over it and bro-the-fuck-down? Shirts off, dudes on or whatever, right? We all own the first Bikini Kill record and there are so many bands with girls in them—and they aren’t just relegated to the bass either. Is this feeling very early 1990’s? Like, didn’t we go through all this with riot grrrls and the third wave of feminism? You think you’re tired of hearing about it? Imagine how tiresome it is to live it.
We’ve come a long way, but maybe we have much further to go still? I’m not asking for much, just more words and discussion. If we think there is no need because the work has been done, we’re sorely mistaken and it leaves so many people feeling alone. I think I’m so frank because I need to speak these sentences out loud, for anyone to hear, hoping that it will resonate with just one other person.
I’m feeling better about lots of stuff. So much so that I had started up my 365days photo project on new year’s eve 2010. And for everyone’s voyeuristic perusal, I’ve been slowly uploading the images toFlickr. (Wrapping up March photos, gonna upload April images soon!)
Here are my monthly faves thus far:
(1/1/2010. Images like this one is the reason why I’m stoked my parents are technologically-illiterate.)
(2/17/2010. Gus and I briefly re-united as China Loca to play a 5-song set at Anna’s house party. Our friend Mullet played the beats through Gus’s iPod. This is us during “band practice” a few nights before the show.)
(3/4/2010. I started working for a chocolatier in February to earn some extra cash. I learned to make truffles, custom screening on chocolate, and chocolate mustaches (in the photo). I quit the job a few weeks after this photo because I decided I would rather date the chocolatier than work for him.)
Papercutter #11 was originally published summer 2009, this is a project that I’m very proud of.
Look what I did! I wrote the story and Jon S illustrated it beautifully!
From Tugboat Press.
“Papercutter #11 is the latest installment in Tugboat Press’s award-winning anthology series dedicated to showcasing the best young, underexposed and emerging comic book artists. This issue features a dramatic story written by Amy Adoyzie (The Post-It Diaries) and illustrated by Jon Sukarangsan (Hurricane Season) about a restless young woman who takes a job as a dishwasher and starts an ill advised romance with a man she meets at a bar. Dustin Harbin (Dharbin) tells the short tale of Duperman and his secret day job. And Lisa Eisenberg (I Cut My Hair) completes the issue with a comic about a frustrated teacher and a troublemaking student who won’t stop drawing during class. Additional art by Nate Beaty.”
Perhaps summer reading for me friends?