Trust

I thought that I had escaped unscathed

There were no arguments, no fighting, no raising of voices.  It ended how it began…quietly and in the dark.  As the rain came down in thick soft dollops that penetrated through our hooded sweat shirts the sharp cold woke me up, refreshed me, cleansed me.

It was easy,

the physicality of it.

 

 

I was moving on and I kept moving. I could deal with all those emotional chunks in passing…

with detachment, when I had time.

Besides these emotions would not matter until I got in deep, became submerged in an other being in a partnered, live in, combined finances kinda way.

 

I was wrong.

I did not escape without a scar… it is the same one I went in with.

I feel like I am screaming “You are worthy” to other people because sometimes I desperately need to remember it for myself.

The work is constant

it is never done        While in a vacuum I am aware of my value.  Out in the world I am often trying to prove this worth to other people

 

because I don’t trust them to love me.

 

So today

I’m going to trust that you
my friend/lover/Dominate/submissive/peer/kindred
will find me pleasing
even if I am not actively trying to please you

I am going to trust that you
see my worth
even when I am in stillness

I am going to trust that you
can move around me
without leaving me behind

I am going to trust this trust
you have in me
even though this terrifies me.

I am going to trust that
you will care for me
Not because of what I can do for you
but because of who I am

and I am going to trust that you love me
The same way I love you

Love means…

that you are loved.

 

My romantic relationship has ended

but I am still deeply loved.

 

I am no longer going to sleep  in someones arms

but I am still being held close.

 

I am no longer coming home to someone

but when I arrive I am greeted with incredible warmth

 

I no longer have that one person the illusion of that one person who will do anything without question if I am in danger or in need

I’ve forgotten that I have a whole community.

Who loves me

and today I am reminded

that I 

am 

loved.

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My Body’s not a Cage

“My Body is not a Cage” was written for “Burlesque and Why”   a stage play produced by Dottie Lux, the founder of Red Hots Burlesque.  Her goal was to give the audience an insight into what is beneath the glitter and glam.  A chance to see that our performances are deeper  than the foundation that goes on our faces.  I was incredibly honored to be a part of this production which included: Burlesque Legend Ellion Ness, POC powerhouse The Lady Ms. Vagina Jenkins, Queer creatrix Lay si Luna, hilariously talented Alexa Von Kickinface and the amazing Dottie Lux herself.

We were supported by an amazing team of people including Kitty Von Quim, Ava Lanche and many others.  I am so happy to have had my voice heard and lovingly received.

I think I was nine. We were parked outside of an old brick building. I was dressed in a black leotards with pink opaque stocking underneath.  (Alexa enters… doing a bit of ballet) Crushing cotton candy colored ballet shoes in my hands as I strained against my seat belt ready to run in. My mother put a calming hand on my arm. She looked worried and she said.

“You don’t have to do this.”

“But I want to”

“There are a lot of girls in there and with your… you just don’t have to do this”

I insisted.

I walked into that building with my head held high and full of wonder.  (Alexa moves puppets) All day I watched women and girls older than me move across polished wood floors with perfect form and flow. They were my dream. Twirling delicate clouds flying through the air and plucked from the sky. Caught in the arms of their partners. Precious. I wanted to be that.

When I walked out of that building five hours later I had been cast. I had a part in Ballet Hysells annual production of the Nutcracker. This was no after school special either. This was the real deal. This show had a fancy opening party at the Museum of Art. People would come dressed in their Sunday best and opera gloves. And I was going to be there on the Sangaer Theater Stage in Downtown New Orleans for one show a week, two on weekends for a full holiday season as one of the rat kings lackey’s.

The costumers were thrilled that they didn’t have to pad my costume with a belly because I already had one, I was thrilled that I made it in and my mom was thrilled that she didn’t have to have the you’re just as good as everyone else conversation.

I didn’t understand then. It was before I learned that I was too fat to dance. It was before my body had become a cage. Founded in fear. Forged in anger.Sealed in shame.

I was nine years old and it was my mother’s fear that encouraged her to tell me I was fat when I wasn’t.

She was so afraid that I would end up depressed, requited, undervalued, irrelevant and invisible. Her angst surrounding her own body image was poured into my veins like some dominant hereditary gene. I’d rather have her perfect teeth than this disease.

I was eleven and angry at my elementary school peers who raised white cotton blouses and heavily starched pleated skirts to compare bellies and thighs to pictures of airbrushed models in Cosmopolitan and 17 Magazine. It was a test none of us could pass teaching us to stick fingers down throats to achieve mass media regurgitation of what was pretty

and we were supposed to be oh so pretty.

I was twelve and ashamed because anorexia and bulimia were considered a vicious malady and its bearer’s victims to be loved and looked after while my obsessive compulsive over eating disorder was considered MY CHOICE a self-inflicted, disgustingly gross weakness of character.

I was pissed at every doctor who refused to believe that my period went away before the weight gain. They saw my fat first and not my affliction. It would be six years before they found the cysts lining my ovaries and tubes. Cysts…a string of bright wet pearls across my ovaries. It would be another four years before they would find the tumor in my brain.

I was  17 and so scared of rejection that I would not let her make love to me; I would not let him see me with the lights on. I went seven years without photographic evidence that I indeed exist. Pictures or it didn’t happen. I wanted to pretend I never happened.

I was 22 and  shamed by every colleague and coworkers for their pettish pats on the back

when they saw me at the gym, when they congratulated me for “finally doing something good for myself”. I’m incensed by the audacity of complete strangers spewing their condescending concern for my health and well-being. They were never worried about me. They were afraid of being like me, of being trapped in this body, afraid of touch me as if I were contagious and in some cases…

in the worst cases afraid to love what society as deemed as unlovable. Fuck me all night but won’t hold my hand in the sunlight, abuse me, assault me.

I was 25 and I  stayed because I believed I wasn’t precious. I measured my worth in weight and was found wanting.

I wasn’t skinny, or blonde, I didn’t have blue eyes or white skin. I am completely the opposite.

No one will love me. No one will catch me if I fall. I’m too heavy. My issues are too heavy.

So Burlesque? Why?

Because they were wrong.

I was wrong.

This body is made to dance,

to be seen,

to be beautiful

to be feminine.

I’m 32 and every time I take the stage it is a free fall comprised of blind trust. It is a leap that tests my faith of the sacred within the sensual and 100 hands (and lets be real… on some nights only 10) reach out and catch me every time.

I dance to exist, to break through glass ceilings, shatter concrete beliefs, reshape worlds and retake space.

I burlesque because there was a part of me that hated me and sadly still believes even to this day that I could never be what I am now.

Every time I shimmy I shake this loose… and I welcome those around me to do the same.

From head to toe this is my body. Within it lies boundless joy. Monumental motion. Voluminous love

Fathomless fierceness. I will not let anyone shame me away from it. I will not listen when anyone tells me to hate it. This is my body. It is not a cage. This is me. I am precious. And I am free

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Writer’s Block: It must be love

My first boyfriend doesn’t count because he never “crushed” me…
My first was in first grade and he used to stand on the lunch room table and scream “I’m in love with Irene McCalphin”
It was utterly embarrassing.

Not to mention that he got detention for it every time.  I would wait for him after school standing next to his mother who was this impossibly tall and willowy fair thing.  I’d clutch my backpack and rock on my heels as I would explain to her how he had done it again.

We had a fairly dramatic breakup.  I caught him walking home with another girl.  I was infuriated.  I mean we had been kissing behind the telephone poll on the playground for the better part of six months, at the school’s spring fair he had given me fake pearl clips for my shoes that I had mistaken for earrings.  He would also give me flowers.  Not ones ripped up from some neighbor’s garden mind you. No, store bought ones wrapped in noisy clear and yellow cellophane. My mother was already shaking her had and telling me that we were going to have a zebra childen (which was something I would have nightmares about for years until I knew better. Like actually dreaming about fully grown zebras poping out of my vagina).

Anyway the next day after I saw him walking home with her while holding hands we had a shouting match with each other in the lunch line.  I had an elegant vocabulary for a 6 year old on account of all the National Public Radio my mother forced fed me and an imagination fed by 5 years of scandalous ever present soap operas which was a constant on Auntie Bessie’s TV screen.  And he… well 11 years later he came out of the closet so you can just imagine what he hurled in my direction.
I was upset

But I was never crushed.  I was too self possed at that age to imagine that the other girl was “the better woman”; that someone could compete, that someone could honestly tell me no.  No, that came much later.
I didn’t crush until I was 10.

He was tall and dark like oak tree branches after the noon rain
He was quick like lightening dancing across the sky.

We had grown up together since1st grade We lived on the same street but not the same block. His side of the street smelled constantly of Tabasco and the potholes seemed to be bigger and better for splashing around in.  I would go to his house with my brother sometimes.  He would go in and I would linger on the outside and peek in through the screen door until my brother would shout at me to go away.

He was the first guy I shared a lollipop with. I will also admit that for some reason after that incident I was convinced that I was pregnant or stricken with some horrible std because I had done such a thing with a boy.
I actually pined.

I created little scenarios in my mind.

Standing in front of my mirror I would tie my school shirt up above my waist and stick out my non existence chest and say things like “Oh no I couldn’t, oh no I shouldn’t, what would mother say?”

It took months (the equivalent of years) for me to work up the nerve to tell him that I liked him.  It was after school.  We were walking home as usual.  We took the longer way around that meant that we would pass the corner store on our way.  He got one of those pickles soaked in jalapeño juice. My brother had his usual laffy taffies and I decided to stick to the flavorless sugar rush of a candy cigarette.   I had it all planned out.  I was going to stumble into him and when he reached out to stop my fall and take me into his arms I would look up at him for a prolonged second before telling him how I felt.

It didn’t happen that way
not
at
all

I stumbled beautifully
He side stepped quickly .
I face planted painfully

My school skirt flipped above my waist broadcasting that today was Wednesday despite the calendar’s insistence that it was Friday.  This meant I had to wait at least another month to try again… enough time for them to stop laughing at me  every time we passed the corner store.  The next time I tried I was abrupt and straight to the point.  I took him to the side as we walked home and told him how I felt.

He ran away from me

Like fucking literally
that bastard took off at a gait I could not hope to follow.  All the while screaming something that I couldn’t quite catch.  I took it for a no.  I was heartbroken, crushed, demoralized for about a week.

Then we got a new transfer student in.  He was an older boy who had to make up some classes.  Everyone thought he looked a little funny because of this mole he had but I thought it look distinguished.  It took me two months to tell him and I did so with little reservation.  I had felt the sting of rejection, the dull thud of slamming my palm into my forehead and repeating the mantra “idiot, idiot, idiot”  I had become fearless

… and I was prepared.

When this guy ran I chased him
for three years I chased him.

I never caught him but his dad made him give me the last dance after 8th grade graduation.

I considered that a win.

Haunted

I have been for the past three years a woman haunted.
Haunted, followed, shadowed by this shade that refuse to let me go. This thing that screams look at me
see me
avenge me

I did not know this until yesterday
3 years ago I misdiagnosed myself as crazy, unhinged and simply bitter… needing for education in the fine art of processing
guidance in the rituals of letting go.

I prayed, sang feverish songs, made smoke offerings to my gods to make the anger fade
Sometimes a few months would go by peaceful and then it would come back
You would come back
I was frustrated with myself
Angry that I was letting you get to me
get in me
I wanted you out of me
Yesterday I realized that it was not you
it was me

Tyler Perry recently butchered a brilliant play by Ntozake Shange… seriously if the woman were dead she would be rolling in her grave over what Perry did to her amazing choreopoem. I winced my way through the horrible things that struck too close to home. I put up shields and focused on his flaws at directing. The way he made black women into broken empty shells.
I bitched and nagged instead of listening to the prolific prose but towards the end a phrase reached right through me and into me and shattered me thoroughly “Somebody almost walked off with all my stuff… Somebody almost walked off with all my stuff and didn’t even know they had it”

The freshest of the scabs ripped back
and I poured out
That’s me
That’s me running behind you screaming: Hey give me my stuff back! You tread all through me and that thing you have dragging at the bottom of your shoe
that’s mine
that’s me
give it back

I became a new person to fill the space of the person that I no longer was
I made new stuff.
Instead of going back to salvage the tattered bits of me I left the person I no longer wanted to be behind

I demonized her. I told myself that she was weak for staying so long, that she was stupid for taking all that shit for so long that she deserved everything that she was dealt that she asked for it though an ill conceived notion of love and it was her punishment for not listening to her mother and the wise women who had gone before her, suffered and survived.
Stupid, silly, bitch.
Now had this woman not been me I would have been softer. I would have been kinder. I would have rallied to her, swept her into my arms, been harbor in the hurricane, nurtured and loved but it was not another woman. It was me. And I did not at that time in my life have the grace to forgive myself so I killed myself.
Buried myself in an unmarked grave.
“You’ve changed” a friend would say “You are not who you used to be” and I would always respond. Of course not. This is the new me I killed the waste of space that was here before.

I was proud
And haunted.
Unable to sleep, to dream, to slow down to be still because she was at my heels demanding that I see her, respect her, save her, reclaim her.
She was still being drug across hot summer cement on the back of his fucking shoe.
I was still being drug across hot summer cement on the back of his fucking shoe.

I was not weak… I was strong enough to withstand with myself intact
I was not stupid… I was smart enough to leave.
I did not deserve what happened.
I did not deserve what happened.
What I do deserve is to give to myself to same compassion that I would give to someone else.
What I do deserve is to understand deep in my soul that I am not the solely to blame.
What I do deserve is to claim this broken piece of me and remake myself whole.

Personal Truth # 8: Love is

Sometimes I look at you and I wonder how it happened

I wonder if you see it as mystical and as magical as I do. I wonder if you notice how everything had to come into synergy for us to be the way we are with each other now.

For the better part of a decade I thought I knew what love was. It was tolerance, sacrifice, not kicking the other person when they were down. It was caring for, cleaning up after, pushing and pulling and changing drastically for the “us”, the unit, the team. I thought that love was achieving the impossible. That love didn’t happen every day so it had to be held onto, maintained, protected and kept guilelessly pure even if the vessel rotted around it.

I thought it was convoluted.

complicated.

I was wrong

Love can be simple.

You do not protect and maintain it. IT protects and maintains you. It purifies you and give you a hope with which you can achieve the impossible. It gives you the ability to endure and change. To yield instead of pull… to push so gently that dust remains unsettled while breaking through an immovable mountain.

It is the honesty to tell each other the truth even if you are down, to give everything you have while sacrificing nothing.

It is perpetual motion while standing perfectly still

It is not limited to romance

It is real

It is blissfully mundane and in that lies it magic

Love happens everyday… that’s fucking important to remember so I’ll type it again. Love happens everyday.

It’s the warm hand adjusting the seam of your black fishnet stockings, or the careful yet ample application of glitter spray to a nervous, giggly body. It’s the battle cry of “Vajazzle” and “I live”

It’s a tolerated snore in your ear or drool on your shoulder

It’s in reconnection and forgiveness.

It’s a shared night that we may never talk about again but think about every-time we see each other and smile.

It’s a bag of snap peas you didn’t have to get

the extra tip you gave

or refused to take.

It’s the in following text:

“Where you at bitch? Dead in a ditch? I haven’t hear from you since god was a child”

It’s telling me I have something stuck between my two front teeth.

It’s taking my car and forcing me to call in sick when I am. It’s reminding me of me when I have lost myself. You remember the little things and you are present for the big ones.

It’s your breath against my neck at 2am

the sound of your voice over the phone at midnight

It’s the open invite to dinner or lunch or breakfast even though I never quite seem to have the time.

It’s letting me feel safe enough to painfully vulnerable and trusting me to be powerfully strong for you.

It’s refusing to let go

And at the same time the best and healthiest of love based decisions means that yes, I must let you go

Yes, you must let me go.

It’s in seeing my faults and filling those empty spaces with your own unique perfection and allowing me the privilege of doing the same for you.

Thank you

To all who have allowed me to love them

Thank you

To all who have loved me well

I am, I understand, I am doing the work with and because of you.

Good Timing

“They’re everywhere” You state
“Who” I ask
“Those kids… ”

I pause and look up at you.  You are grimacing slightly.  It is painfully cute and I want to laugh.
“You do know what we are doing right… I mean… seriously”
“This is different”  you snort  almost indignantly
“This is childish”

A tiny ring rises up from the bin.
“Hmmm that’s too early are you setting them right?”
“I think so… probably not”
“The trick is to turn to the ten and then back down to the five”
“Alright”

I do as you say but I know I mess up on some… I’m too busy stealing glances at you. We work in tandem.  We work in silence.  I stop occasionally to place my ear to the bin. It’s ticking like a bomb and buzzing like hive and sizzling like a choir full of kids sucking on poprocks during a quiet prayer.  I notice some women looking at us funny but it doesn’t matter.

I’m riding on the wings of your high.

One of mine go off early again and I apologize.  You smile.  You grab my hand and weave your fingers through mine while muttering something about spatulas.   We are browsing two aisles away when the first of the multicolored egg timers go off.  I think it is another mistake until it is quickly followed by another and another.  I nearly bite my own tongue. I think I am going to explode from holding in the laughter and the embarrassment.  I turn into you, wanting to hide my face in your chest.

“Keep it together.” you whisper.
“I can’t” I manage to wrestle the worlds out.

My face hurts and I know I am smiling from ear to ear.  When I look up at you you seem to be having just as hard a time.  So we make our retreat to textiles.  I would have run but you kept us at a very non obvious brisk walk while I giggled and stared at the floor.

“They are going to haaaaaaaaate us”
“Yep” I agree

I’m sure our little adventure aggravated some and amused others but I don’t care.  I’m in the moment.  I’m mindful in an almost Buddhist way  feeling my  heart tick like a bomb, buzz like a hive and sizzle like a choir full of kids sucking on poprocks during a quiet prayer.

While all those timers were going off
time stopped
it stopped
it slipped
it tripped back
and suddenly I’m a child again
just a giddy girl
holding the hand of a boy
with lips turned up in a riotous grin
that’s half mischievous
and all pure pleasure