#whyImarch

I march because the hatred of women and girls, and their continued oppression baffles and terrifies me.

I march because the GOP despises women like me.

I march because the easiest way to dominate and enslave women is to use our own biology against us. Because I will always believe that women have right and autonomy over our own bodies. Because there are women in this country who are being forced to co-parent with their rapists. Because if I were ever forced to carry a pregnancy to term, I would literally do anything to terminate that pregnancy, whether such actions were legal or not, even if it meant terminating my own life.

I march because I didn’t “lose” my virginity. It was ripped from me and I would rather have died than have that asshole’s baby when I was still a child myself, and I felt lucky when all the blood came and I knew I wouldn’t have to find a way to get an abortion behind my parents’ back.

I march because even if YOU are against abortion, there is no such thing as a world without it. Abortion will NEVER EVER EVER NOT EXIST. Such a notion is naïve and stupid. People may end safe abortion, they may end legal abortion. But they will never eliminate abortion. Because there will always be women like me who would rather die than have a baby.

I march because not wanting a baby doesn’t mean that I or any other woman should not have sex at any point in our lives. Such a concept is archaic, puritanical misogyny. Not to mention profoundly unrealistic. If you believe a woman should not have sex if she doesn’t want a baby, all I can say is: Grow the fuck up.

I march because we are still operating under the absurd notion that birth control, and easy, affordable access to it, is a women’s issue. It is a HUMAN issue. Women do not get pregnant all alone in a slut vacuum. Men get women pregnant.

I march because I wish my tax dollars could go to comprehensive sex education and birth control for all genders instead of more pointless wars.

I march because embryos are more important than women and children in this world.

I march because there is no such thing as a “slut” – that is a term people are still using to dominate women and police their sexuality.

I march because there are lawmakers whose number one goal is punishing women. Women are punished for their sexuality, their biology, for abortions, for miscarriages and for their own rapes. I march because men who rape and kill women can serve less time than men who sell a bag of weed.

I march because even though I will soon be a woman past childbearing age, there are many young women and girls who are still vulnerable to the threat of unwanted pregnancy.

I march because I’m not sure if I’ve endured all the sexual assaults I will have to, or if there are still more to come.

I march because there are so many women who can’t.

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Three Miles

Putting pursuit before happiness tells us all we need to know.

Happiness is not a destination.

Happiness is finding a two-for-one cantina, a fruit stand, a field of flowers

On the side of Desolation Road.

I fell in love for about three minutes today with a bearded man, in Echo Park. He was wearing a huge white wedding dress and getting his picture taken. I smiled at him. He smiled back. But I knew he’d never love me the way I loved him. This made him ordinary, like so many other men, and I fell out of love.

I ran through the heat and sweat and blisters and burning muscles because none of that hurts as much as missing you.

And as I ended my third mile and “Wish You Were Here” seeped through my earbuds, I tried to imagine blue skies could be happiness.

But blue skies aren’t enough.

Because I wish, I wish you here. And I need you to stay gone.

Because you were not my destination.

You were a fruit stand on the side of Lonesome Highway.

And I break because the taste of you is fading.

And the sign ahead says “Next Rest Stop: Unknown Miles”

But I’m closer now

I’m three miles closer today

  Flowers that bloom in the dark

The first kiss, still so unbelievable to me

Couldn’t imagine ever

You, anyone like you that is, kissing

Me, anyone like me that is, being kissed

The slight tinge of the bravery of beer

On our fumbling lips

Salted and peppered with the taste of our whispered fantasies

No, not whispered, out loud,

But buried in ambient noise

No one would ever suspect

You, anyone like you that is, wanting

Me, anyone like me that is, being wanted

Secrets so dark and delicious

The taste the smell the intoxication

A word like desire fails me

It’s more, it’s what I never even knew

But oh, how badly I wanted it

It’s all the things I never gave, but I wanted to

The firm push, the gentle pull

The quivering, whimpering

Better than frosting on warm cake

Filling us up as we starve for more

Why is it less now?

I miss

You, not anyone like you, that is, but YOU

I miss

Me, just me, that is, wanting to be missed by you

But the light doesn’t touch us

We flowers that bloom in the dark

Petals under sweet caress of moonlight

Never beneath the sun

We were beautiful, I thought, but behind closed doors

Because

You, anyone like you that is, blooms in sunlight

With her, anyone like her that is

And me, anyone like me that is, blooms in darkness

The only place where you, anyone like you,

Could ever see me

And keep me hidden

While still enjoying me,

The taste and smell still lovely,

Even on flowers unseen

Flowers like me, that is, that crave sunlight

But learn to bloom in the dark.

Saussurea Obvallata is also known as Brahma Kamal. It is a beautiful night blooming flower named after the Hindu god Brahma.

Saussurea Obvallata is also known as Brahma Kamal. It is a beautiful night blooming flower named after the Hindu god Brahma.

Rules for “Dating” in LA

A Handy Guide for Ladies Suffering the Unfortunate Circumstance of Attraction to Men

“Dating” is in quotes so that no one I’ve ever “dated” (translate: hooked up with, hung out with, seen, bedded, had sex with, etc., et al, in perpetuity) will think that I meant dated. As in, actually dated. I understand, it wasn’t even really “dating.” Because the first rule of dating in Los Angeles is: DO NOT refer to anything that resembles “dating” as DATING.

  1. Never, ever, ever, under any circumstances think that you are dating a man. Not even if he called you to schedule a “date,” not if he came to your door, opened car doors for you, drove you to a public location for something strongly resembling a date, held out your chair, bought you dinner and drinks, asked to kiss you before doing so, held your hand in public, not even if you’ve had sex while looking into each other’s eyes, slept in each other’s arms/beds, or if he even said anything resembling “I’d like to take you out some time.” It’s not dating.
  2. If a man who is putting his penis anywhere in/on/near your person introduces you to someone as a “friend,” you are not dating. (For example, he can’t just say “This is Marnie.” He says, “This is my friend, Marnie.”) If he feels he must qualify you as a friend, then he wants to make sure no one thinks you are dating and that you are nowhere near “girlfriend” or even “date-able” status.
  3. If he drops an “L” bomb on you less than a month in, he might think you are dating. But you know that is not dating. That is someone who is dying to put a woman in his “girlfriend box.” If you are unwilling to go in to the “girlfriend box,” he will just move you into the “whore box.” You will know if this happens because instead of “L” bombs, he will ignore you for weeks or even months, and then send you raunchy booty texts out of nowhere.
  4. Men have two boxes for women they fuck. Girlfriend and whore. Girlfriend is a high-status box which can in some cases, lead to the wife box. It fits inside, like Russian dolls! Girlfriends are adorable and can be introduced to friends and shown in couple-y pictures on Facebook. Whore is all-inclusive of whore, slut, tramp, skank, chick-I’m-hooking-up-with, friends with benefits, fuck buddy and so on. Whores get booty texts, dick pics, links to porn, and are generally kept in the shadows of a man’s life.
  5. If a man uses any phrase that includes “best sex ever” or anything remotely resembling that in reference to you, you are in the whore box. Not the girlfriend box. The whore box. Remember this.
  6. Even if you, as an intelligent female, firmly grasp the concept that there is a world of opportunity for two consenting adults to define a relationship however they please and in whatever way serves them and feels healthy and safe, know that a man who fucks you is eventually going to have to put you in one of his boxes. Girlfriend box. Whore box. Good luck with that. Both boxes suck. (Some men will also try to put you back into the “friend” box once they decide they don’t want to fuck you anymore but don’t want to sever ties, either because they are unwilling to completely let go or they are thinking later when they get a boner for you again you will touch it for him, even though you are “just friends.” Be wary of the “friend box” – being friend-zoned is bad enough before you’ve been intimate with a guy you like, but it is far worse AFTER you’ve been intimate with him and he discards you for greener pastures.)
  7. If you engage in anything kinky early on, chances are good you are going straight to the whore box. You are dirty and fun, but not girlfriend potential.
  8. Do not be fooled by a man saying anything like “I care about you,” “I’m not seeing anyone else,” or “I’m not bullshitting you.” What he means when he says these things is: “I care about putting my dick in you,” “I’m not seeing anyone else YET or right at this very moment because I haven’t found a better option than you,” and, “I am totally bullshitting myself so I think I’m telling you the truth.” Also, YOU ARE NOT DATING.
  9. If you catch a man in any lie, he will spin it back on you and make it all about how you misunderstood everything.
  10. Even if a man accidentally refers to anything you’ve done together as a date, you are not dating. If he slips up and refers to the two of you as a “couple,” you are not dating. Even if he says you are dating, it’s possible he is drunk or high or has a particularly persistent boner muddling his brain and later he will say “for the record, we weren’t dating, we were fucking.” Or something of that nature.
  11. Even though a relationship can be defined as a “connection, association, or involvement,” men have an entirely different definition of it and if you have sex with him, he will immediately try to subject you to his definition. It’s a man’s world.
  12. If he is putting his dick in/on/near your person and publicly claims he is not seeing anyone, or constantly talks about his single status on social media or directly to you, or compares himself to George Clooney, you are most certainly not dating.
  13. If you are “hooking up” or “hanging out” with a man who lives in Los Angeles, chances are pretty good that you are not dating. The chances that you are not dating increase exponentially with the number of years the man has lived in Los Angeles. If he was born and raised in Los Angeles, DO NOT DATE HIM, even if he asks you on a date. You will later find out it was not a date.

Precious Hungry Girls

Dear precious hungry girls,

I know that you think you know what’s best, and that you are doing just that – what is best for you. I know you think you are on the road to happiness.

I know the feelings of control, and what a rush that is. I will tell you, in all honesty, that the greatest drug I ever took was weight loss. THE GREATEST DRUG I EVER TOOK. The biggest rush, the biggest high. Better than booze, better than sex, better than cocaine. Better than the food I avoided, better than the food I scarfed down. I know how good it feels, I really do.

I also know that something that started for me when I was 12 stayed with me for over two decades before I even started to get help. Imagine that. Two decades. Twenty years. Imagine doing what you are doing for twenty more years, and still not being thin enough.

I know right now you think you are on a road to happiness. The control, being thin, then thinner, then the thinnest, you know, you just know you will be happy then. But the road is a lie. I promise you, it is a lie. You will get rushes of what you think is happy. When people compliment your weight loss, when you see the number on the scale go down, when you buy a smaller size and watch it go from tight to baggy, yes, you will feel a rush. And you will think that’s what happy is. But it will leave you. It took so much control, so much self-sacrifice, so much HUNGER to get you here, and in moments it is gone. You need more. It will never be enough. I promise you, you will never be thin enough. NEVER. You will never get that magic moment when you can live happily ever after in your new thin body, because thin ever after is a lie. The hunger will overwhelm you. The physical hunger, the emotional hunger, the spiritual hunger. The empty that once filled you up now leaves you more hollow than ever. There is nothing that will ever fill you up until you decide that YOU WILL NOT LIVE LIKE THIS ANYMORE. If you are smarter than I am, you will come to this point soon. Not when you are in your 30s, struggling with your weight even on the most minimal calorie diet you can manage without passing out, unable to maintain long-term relationships, forced to lie, keep secrets, and hide. You will have to hide, all the time, and hide, and hide. And one day there will be nowhere left to hide. You will see a shell of a human in the mirror, and you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are dying. And the only way that you will be able to live again, is if you give this shit up. Give it up.

I promise you, it will kill you if you don’t. And even if you keep on living, it will be no life at all.

I never wanted to give it up. I was convinced if I gave it up, lost control, I would face a fate worse than death. I would get fat. Fat. The most horrible thing I could imagine. And you know what? I got fat anyway. I got fat starving myself. I got fat running until my feet bled, a throat scabbed over from my fingernails scraping it to throw up the meals I caved in and ate. I got fat anyway. Not because I “lost control” but because I ruined my metabolism. If you think it can’t happen to you, I promise you, it can. And I promise you that if you ever do get fat, you will think you have failed, lost control, and that you will never be happy until you are thin again. But maybe one day you will realize being fat isn’t the worst thing ever. Being afraid of being fat is worse. It is a prison. Because what you really fear is that you have no control. And I can tell you, that you don’t. You don’t have control. You think you do, with every calorie you count, every pound you lose, that you have control. But you don’t. You are in prison. You do not have control over your eating disorder. It has control over you. 

If you are living in fear of being fat. If you are starving yourself. If you are compulsively exercising to the point of sheer exhaustion and injury. If you are eating until your stomach feels like it might explode. If you are making yourself throw up. If you are weighing and measuring yourself constantly. If you can’t stand the thought of losing control. Then you are in a prison. And you will never escape until you stop doing all those things.

And it breaks my heart, because I know you don’t believe me. I know you think my experience is nothing like yours, that it doesn’t mean anything, that I don’t know you or what you’re going through. But I am you.

And it breaks my heart, because I love you. I know you don’t believe that. How could I love you? I do, though. I love you because I can look into your eyes and I see my young self there. The young self that wouldn’t have believed someone like me either. The young me that would have still ruined my body and my life for years on end because I was too much of a fucking coward to just surrender my precious control and my need to be right for a single goddamn second.

I know you believe, deeply, that you are right. And it breaks my heart, because I was right once too. And god, how wrong I was. And maybe now I am wrong to think my words will make any difference to anyone.

I promise you, one day, if you let yourself live, all of this will make sense to you. I hope that it is soon, for you, my precious hungry girls. I hope you live. I hope you let yourself.

Here to Stay.

Of course the apparent suicide of Robin Williams punched me in the gut, like it did so many of us. Honestly, if it had happened 25 years ago, I probably wouldn’t have been all that surprised. Saddened, but not surprised. I figured if he’d gotten this far, he’d get through the whole thing. His whole life, that is. I wanted to believe that in the face of my own depression, that someday it would get better, or easier. That once I’m in my 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, perhaps that voice would stop. If you’ve battled depression, you know the voice I mean. The voice that repeats over and over and says, “End it.” As a total body advocate, I believe strongly in your body, your choice. You want to off yourself, it’s your right. But there’s a moral conundrum there too, because it’s not just you that is affected. Everyone around you is hurt. Some may be irreparably damaged.

Today I listened to this podcast http://trbq.org/stay/. In it, Dean Olsher interviews Jennifer Michael Hecht about her book, Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It. She also reads her poem, No Hemlock Rock (don’t kill yourself). When she gets to the part where she thanks you (yes, YOU) for staying, I pretty much lost my shit. I was weeping this choked, soundless weeping. My face was completely soaked, as if my every pore were leaking tears. The cat I’m currently sitting, Buster, curled up next to me in a strange act of comfort. After I listened to the whole 12 minute podcast (listen to it!) I got up and started down the stairs and my legs buckled under me. I could barely walk, I was so shaken up.  Once again, I found myself examining my own personal moral conundrum.

Do I have the right to kill myself?

As a teenager, I was already so jaded, so bitter and so cynical about the world and how much it hurt to live in it, that there were two things I was certain of: I would never have a loving relationship with a man, and I would die by my own hand. I just sort of knew that I wouldn’t be able to cut the mustard and that sooner or later I would have to end it all, because it would simply be too much to go on. I had very neutral feelings about it, really. I just knew that’s how I would go.

Then, when I was 19, a man I knew named Edward Reffel who was my roommate, my friend (when we weren’t in some hideous manic-depressive drug-induced argument), and the owner of the black-box theatre where I was popping my non-linear, experimental theatre cherry in Busch and Durang productions, suddenly died. Sure, he’d made numerous threats about taking his own life (after every bad break-up with every girl who dumped him for being abusive), but he’d already earned a reputation as a boy who cried wolf.  This time, however there was a wolf. He was found backstage, hanging over the bathroom door, dead from asphyxiation. The noose around his neck was a prop from the current production, Phantom of the Melodrama, in which he played the phantom.

Everything was a whirlwind after that, news cameras showing up to get the scoop on the dramatic death-by-suicide of a local theatre owner. The production of Phantom of the Melodrama (now starring Eddie’s understudy) performed to packed, standing-room-only houses and mourners lined up to say their maudlin piece at our Monday open mic night, called Ed’s Poet Society (and later referred to as Dead Ed’s Poet Society). It makes me cringe now when I remember it.

When I attended his funeral, it was surreal. It was like a celebrity had died. There were so many goddamn people. And when I saw his mother, and heard the horrible wails she made as her only son was lowered into the ground, I knew one thing for certain: I would never kill myself just because life sucks. Terminal illness, hell yeah, I’m outta here. And fuck off if you don’t approve. But life sucks? It’s hard? It hurts? Filled with despair? Can’t go on? Too bad. Go on. Take another step. And another. Until you get to the end. Because that sound, that wail of grief, that wall of hurt and confused people wondering why a handsome, talented, hilarious man of only 28 would off himself, that just wasn’t the kind of thing I was willing to be responsible for anymore. I was faced with a harsh reality in the face of Eddie’s suicide: I would have to live. I would have to stick it out. I would have to stay. I thank Eddie all the time for showing me how to stay. It is horribly sad that he showed me by leaving so suddenly and violently.

I have made a point of avoiding reading articles with headlines about Robin Williams’ suicide that I knew would likely have trolls and people lacking understanding and compassion calling him selfish or cowardly in the comments. I simply cannot abide that outlook. The thing that should be understood about depression is that when you are in it, you cannot always see a way out of it. Your logical brain may tell you, “this will pass,” but it may be impossible to believe. On top of that, the survivor guilt is lumped onto those of who are depressed long before we take our own lives. We are told that those who commit suicide are cowardly and selfish, so we know that is how we will be seen if we end our suffering.  We are told to think of “those we leave behind” and we learn to put them first. I have spent many of my darkest years living for other people, because in those moments I sure as hell couldn’t live for myself. I lived for my family, and I lived for my friends.

But there is something else about depression. Maybe it seems that it is braver to stay, but I think it can sometimes feel like an act of compassion to go. You see, my cruel inner voice, and I know I am not alone in this, not only says, “End it. Just finish this already. DIE,” it also says “everyone will be better off. The world will be a brighter place without you in it.” I feel like I’m at a party and everyone is laughing and having fun, and I’m just not in the mood. I’m a downer. I’m miserable. I’m morose. I’m bringing everyone down. If I just leave the party, everyone else will be free to have a good time. They won’t have to worry about fixing me, or cheering me up. They can just start the conga line and get on with the real fun.

I recently re-read Virginia Woolf’s suicide note.  You can read it here if you’re feeling morbid: http://www.smith.edu/woolf/suicidewithtranscript.php. It struck a chord with me because she talks of the great happiness that she shared with her husband, Leonard. I think non-depressed people think those of us who are depressed should be able to get by on this happiness, should be able to remember it when we are down to get through the sadness. But of course, it’s not that easy. And a big part of you knows, even though it might get better, that it’s only temporary. It will get bad, worse, horrible, and it will do that over and over and over again, for the rest of your life. And the people you love will be forced to go through it with you, or feel the guilt of abandoning you. Virginia Woolf says to her husband, “If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer.” She feels that she is doing him a favor by putting both of them out of her misery. And I completely understand what she’s saying. She doesn’t see it as selfish, but rather self-less.

And yet, I choose to stay. Not because I’m braver or stronger than those that don’t. My heart will always seize up and weep for those that just can’t get through this hard, hard life. I feel their pain profoundly, but I choose to stay. There are times when I choose to stay just for the day, because that’s the best I can do. Today, after crying through that podcast, my legs so weak I could barely walk, I checked the clock to see that it was 2 p.m., which meant only 10 hours left of this day.

“You can do that, right?” I asked myself. “You can stay for ten more hours. You can stay. Today. Choose it. Tomorrow you can choose again.”

I promise. I will stay today.

 

Rest in peace, Eddie Reffel. Rest in peace, Robin Williams. I’m so sorry you couldn’t stay.

Pictured: Eddie Reffel, Tonie Roque Knight, Steve Hayden (sleeping) and me (Ed's arm around my neck)

Pictured: Members of Ed’s Poet Society; Eddie Reffel, Tonie Roque Knight, Steve Hayden (sleeping) and me (Ed’s arm around my neck)

The alien, the Fisher King, member of Dead Poet’s Society

Death and the Raven

This is very off-topic for my blog as most of my rants are about body image and women’s issues, but as my sensitivity to this event has caused me lots of tears, I wanted to put it down on paper. And by “paper,” I of course mean, the internet.

Last night I encountered a crow who was having trouble flying. (I refer to the crow as male, though I have no idea if it was a male or female crow, just seemed like a boy crow to me, which I realize is silly). On closer inspection – just the fact he let me so near clued me in that something was wrong – I realized his legs were bound together with twine. Somehow he had gotten himself tangled up and it was throwing him off. He would try to fly, run into walls, fall, and then walk with difficulty. In a somewhat comedic endeavor, I managed to follow him around, step on the trailing twine, clip it with scissors, and set his legs free. He seemed traumatized, but I had high hopes for him, even though I left him hiding behind a planter, which he didn’t want to leave. I know because he cawed loudly at me when I got too close.

 

IMG_1584

This morning I walked out into the street and found the crow dead. Completely flattened, run over, face crushed, guts spilling out of his mangled, broken body. By the white markings on his wings, I knew it was the same crow. Maybe he’d been disoriented from all the repeated head butts to the wall when he was trying to fly and couldn’t. Maybe it was just his time to go. But I cried nonetheless. Big, blubbery sobs. The futility of the 45 minutes or so I had spent trying to free him clawed at my heart, and had even perhaps propelled him to his death. Or maybe, like so many of my friends following his story on Facebook said, I had given him freedom in his last moments on earth and that kindness was worth something. When doing a Buddhist chant with a friend this morning, I chanted that the crow’s soul find peace and that his next incarnation is a noble one. I didn’t even feel ridiculous doing it, even though I’m sure plenty of people will think that is precisely what I am.

Haunted by the symbolism of saving a crow just to find it dead the next day, I combed my brain (and my external hard drive) for a dream I once had, and wrote down, about a raven. I wrote this many years ago, probably in the early to mid 90s, and I wrote it directly from the dream upon waking, so it’s not the best poetry ever written, but it’s eerie. More eerie now that the image of the dead crow I tried to save still burns the back of my eyes.

 

DEATH AND THE RAVEN

 

Death is the Raven flying right at me

Fear is the little sparrow

in Her grip.

Talons tear at sweet little bird flesh

Rip him from the known

And carry him to terror.

All he ever wanted was his sweet soft nest;

Little bird flying into Death.

Talons tearing open little bird breast.

Death, She is jealous

Of the Still Wind.

Somehow She knows

Peace is not for Her.

So She calls the Wind to fill Her wings

“Carry me to Fear,” She says.

“I want to take it Home.”

The Raven takes the sparrow

Higher than he’s ever flown.

“Is this Fear?” he wonders, “or merely the Unknown?”

Says the Raven to the sparrow,

“The Unknown can be Fear and

Fear can be Death.

There’s a price to pay for flying too high

And a price to pay for Rest.”

Little sparrow flies so high

to compensate for all the days

he was afraid to leave his nest.

Death is the Raven.

She tears open sparrow’s heart,

holds it high, bloody and torn.

The Raven flies right at me.

Why does She come over and over?

The sparrow’s body, bloody,

His blood is on my hands.

The sparrow’s flesh is torn,

My hands tear at my face.

I look into the sparrow’s Eyes and

I feel what Fear has done to me.

I see into the Raven’s Heart,

Where cold black blood runs hard

I can feel, I can see,

Death has chosen me.