Saturday, October 30, 2010

Say what you mean, goddammit!
Say what you mean!
Spit it out.
Quit dancing
Quit meditating
Quit hiding
and biding
and biting your tongue, my tongue.
If you've gotta scream, then scream goddammit!
No one here will be bothered.
Quit whispering
Quit whimpering
Quit whining
and lying
and trying to sound like something you're not.
Cry if you need to, goddammit!
Cry if you need to!
It's better than a clenched jaw
It's better than a clenched mind
It's better than a sad desire
for no one to find you
or that real moxy I know you have
that fire
that I know,
I know is there,
has always been there.
So, say what you mean goddammit!
Say what you mean!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

October was the month that everything broke.

the toaster
the washer
the car
the hairdryer
the bathtub
everyone's bodies
my head
my heart
my will

Too many things to fix.
Not enough money to buy anything, really.

I spent my days staring at my popcorn ceiling
Picking at callouses
Drinking nothing but water
Eating nothing but time
Clenching my stomach
Trying to ignore the shit all over the floor,
the spiders,
the dust,
the headache
trying to dream my way, wish my way to toleration.

We bought a new toaster, a new hairdryer.
We fixed the car and the washer.
We managed to afford some groceries.
But the gray water still won't drain out of the goddamned tub. 

And there's three more days left of October

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fashion, Fantasy, Lipstick, and Boobs: A Dissertation

On numerous occasions, when I’ve told someone that I’m interested in both fashion and modern feminism they not-so-subtlety hint at the possibility that I’m unaware of my own ambivalence.

“Okay, I know you’re really smart and stuff, so why are you so interested in clothes? Plus, how can you condone an industry that promotes fantasy over reality and propagates the objectification of women, as a self-proclaimed feminist?”

Their questions are always valid to me, via my belief that “no question is ever stupid, well…I mean, MOST questions aren’t stupid, etc.” However, what these curiously confused souls often fail to realize is the goal of feminism: freedom of choice. If a woman (or man) chooses to stay at home with their children, chauffeuring them to their carefully planned extracurricular actives, then they have the right to enjoy this decision, regardless of socio-cultural connotations. To claim that a feminist woman can’t wear lipstick or eyeliner because it turns her into a cartoonized male fantasy violates the very freedom of choice that feminism seeks to achieve. What if the woman likes the way she looks, with her lips tinted three shades darker and it has nothing to do with being accepted or being a desirable sexual object? Why should she feel as if she is an enemy to the movement, and thus carry with her the burden of guilt, just because she’s been into coral lipstick lately? If a woman chooses to invest herself in the fashion industry because she is in love with design and beauty, that does not make her a lemming, straddling the tide of low self-esteem and impossible aesthetic expectations; it makes her a conscientious observer, a sartorially devoted anthropologist who recognizes all at once the importance of clothing and its fleeting, material nature.

The argument that fashion is art has been beaten to death already, so I’ll avoid spending too much time rehashing what has been said many times before. I am a subscriber to the belief that fashion can be art, though it’s not necessarily always the case. In the same way that a rectangle is only sometimes a square, fashion is only sometimes used as an honest expression of emotion, truth, and beauty (the best designers make the viewer question what each of these really mean, i.e. Rei Kawakubo, Charles Anastase, the late Alexander McQueen). Runway shows that seem more like an art installation (see: are the most obvious arguments proving the “Fashion IS Art” dogma. However, individual expression of personal style cannot be overlooked when examining the potential creative outlet that clothing provides. Within the last two years, the personal style blog has become a ubiquitous demonstration that both girls and guys can be smart and style savvy. Conventional beauty is not really a mainstay amongst this online community. Instead uniqueness is promoted as the highest virtue attainable. Of course this has resulted in a lot of “weird for the sake of being weird” ensembles, not unlike the art world being overrun by people seeking an alternative brand of conformity. But most importantly, this community fosters and celebrates expression on the most basic human level. We all have to wear clothes (Well, we don’t have to, but that’s enough material for an entirely separate thesis). So, to take a universal necessity and turn it into something that turns the mundane into the fantastical is something that isn’t required, but is just fun.

This leads to the next question, or contradiction that people point out to me when it comes to my interest in fashion:

“As a realist and a part time cynic, how can you find it fulfilling dressing up for fantasy’s sake?”

I find this one a bit more difficult to answer because it requires me to admit that my realist tendencies and my ever-expanding wardrobe (Each new item I buy seems to be exponentially more strange than the last I bought) suggest an underlying hypocrisy. However, I do have an answer. As far as life goes- decisions, goals, relationships- I tend to be incredibly grounded in reality. I’m not a pessimist, however, but I do value the sanctity of logic and reason. Sometimes, though, I find myself wanting something different, something more, something ridiculous, frivolous, and fun. Herein lies the root of my obsession: a desire to be playful, especially when my life is ruled by limitations and seriousness. I do not believe in full throttle escapism because that leads to possibly being featured on Intervention. I do believe in making life as interesting as possible and, for me, clothes are incredibly interesting. Not everyone has to agree with me when I say that clothes are innately fun, because that’s a subjective truth. I cannot stand Sudoku or Dancing With the Stars, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t value the value that they have for certain people. We’re all entitled to our vices and our little means of making life a bit more tolerable. For some, this means watching the live feed of the Alexander Wang show. For others, it means being resolutely devoted to a sports team. And, neither vice implies something about the person enjoying them. The fashion fiend is not necessarily a vapid clotheswhore just as the sports enthusiast is not necessarily a chicken-wing-eating, sexist drone.

Finally, the notion of comfortability is called into question.

“How can you tell me that high heels are not a sexist accessory designed to make a woman feel uncomfortable? How can you say that fashion isn’t anti-feminist when it stuffs women into sausage casings and tells them that that is the only way they can be beautiful? How can you find lingerie sexy when it disrupts the natural shape of woman’s body?”

Before these questions can even be addressed, “comfort” has to be clearly defined. If we’re talking strictly in terms of physical comfort, then yes, some items of women’s clothing aren’t exactly a dream to wear. The repeated wearing of high heels can lead to the deformation of bones, bras that don’t fit lead to chaffing, and girdles are the garment equivalent to medieval torture. However, if we’re talking about comfortability of the spirit and the general ease of living that comes along  when one’s self-esteem isn’t a cesspit of self-doubt, then comfort in relation to fashion takes on an entirely different meaning. For example, I have never felt comfortable wearing “just jeans.” I could sit here and try to analyze the reason why I’ve never felt like myself when I dress down, but really, it’s irrelevant. I just know that I feel most like me when I’m wearing another daily experiment of mine and enjoying my freedom from repetition. Sometimes, this experiment involves shoes of gargantuan proportions, other times it involves dressing to feel like a co-ed in a New England university, just ‘cause. I’ve developed blisters over the years and I’ve been sent home for “inappropriateness” (The first time was in fifth grade when I wore a pinstripe skirt that allegedly showed more pre-pubescent leg than the administration was willing to tolerate). So, in a sense I understand why people don’t get it, why they don’t see the “suffering for fashion” mentality as a fair compromise, especially for women. But if a woman feels comfortable, to her core, wearing a pair of spiky patent leather stilettos, then the bunions she develops as a result won’t seem like much of a nuisance. So long as she isn’t a slave to the image she sees when her legs are elongated, she isn’t giving anything up; not comfort, not her dignity.

Society expects women to be fashion oriented and expects them to buy into the false commercialization that advertises beauty as a woman’s ultimate goal. This is why I think I find so many people, particularly those whose ideals are the opposite of society’s (Neo-Nihilists, Pseudo-Anarchists, New Wave Feminists), who oppose fashion and its adherents. But the thing is, if men and women genuinely enjoy the perpetual motion of the fashion world and the ever-revolving door of inspiration that’s to be found within it, then they shouldn’t be forced to feel guilt, shame, or inferiority. Anthropologists frequently study the clothing habits of past civilizations, recognizing the key role that fashion has on a society’s culture. But today, if you show an interest in modern day clothing, intellectuals may turn their nose up at you and tell you that you are only interested in vanity and being sexually attractive. Their snobbishness is simply a different breed of narcissism, the same narcissism that they vehemently oppose the fashion world for.

So: fashion, fantasy, lipstick, and boobs; not one of these things should elicit shame or guilt. Fashion can be expression and it can be art. Fantasy can be fun. Lipstick can be warpaint or face paint, and boobs can be hoisted and bolstered or they can hang loose and free. The key word here is can and it provides the direct connection between fashion and feminism. Feminism strives for the expression of equality and freedom of choice while fashion strives to provide freedom of expression. They are both about possibilities, and the expansion of choice.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chapter Six

Rap, rap, rap.

Forming a fist to knock on Caleb’s door took every ounce of energy I had.  My hand was noticeably shaking as it levitated in the air in between taps. My heart; a metronome with the thud of a sonic boom. Sickness was finding its way up my gastrointestinal tract as I attempted to make a pact with myself, promising not to cry upon seeing Caleb’s face, surrounded by gray blond hair and contorted into a half-smile. 

I heard foot steps and something fall to the ground.

“Wait!” the breathless voice I knew so well called out.

“Okay,” I said, trying to inject some kind of congeniality, some familiarity into my reassurance. Instead, it came out sounding strained, like a parrot trying to imitate a three year old.

“Shit, he knows it’s me now,” I realized.

Three seconds later, the door creaked open. Caleb’s long, bone white fingers curled around the door’s edge and he rested his head on the door frame. That head, so full of wicked dreams, spiteful thoughts, obsessive decencies. Love for me.

“Violet,” he said, as if to remind me who I was. He drew out the “v” sound, as he typically did, like he was hanging on the ridiculousness of my existence. I didn’t know what to say, or how to begin explaining how sorry I was, or how much I hated him for making me feel like I was a subhuman species, intent only on raping and pillaging hope from the nubile brains of impressionable young men.

I went with the safe, superficial option: “How are you?”

“Oh, you know, just feeling like shit. Nothing new. You know, just being depressed and hating everyone and everything. It’s great. Really great. How about you Violet? How are you?”

He wasn’t really asking how I was, but rather suggesting that I was responsible for his current condition and that he didn’t care how I was. It’s likely he presumed I was only there for selfish reasons. I didn’t know why I was there, to be honest.

“I, um, I don’t know. Can I come in?”

“Yeah, I don’t care. Whatever.”

It had been a while since I had been in Caleb’s apartment but it looked remarkably unchanged. Even the pile of laundry in the corner of the living room seemed to be in the exact same soiled order. There were half eaten bowls of cereal on every table I could see. Empty water bottles covering the floor made the place look like a recycling center had exploded somewhere nearby and the fallout had landed in Caleb’s apartment, which also happened to smell like cheap red wine and mold. I noticed a story I had written for him when we first started talking regularly sitting on his coffee table, with certain lines crossed out.

“Hey, I remember giving that to you. Why did you write on it?”

“I crossed out the lines I didn’t like.”

“What? …Why? You told me you loved that story.”

“Because I realized that you’re full of bullshit Violet. That story you gave me was just another example of you trying to be sly. It was full of sexual innuendos. I thought you gave it to me because you liked me and trusted me enough to read your writing. But now I know that you just wanted to fuck me. Don’t get me wrong, your writing is impeccable. It’s too perfect though. Like you.”

Never before had Caleb ever used the phrase “sexual innuendos” or  the word “impeccable”, at least not in conversation. I suddenly felt jealous, imagining him laying in bed with some generic literature major while she kissed his neck, whispering things in his ear like “Oh, Caleb. You are heaven sent, you cherubic incarnation of all that I have ever desired. Be mine”

“Well, you figured me out Caleb! You’re right, I have no soul, no feelings, no emotions. I just fuck anything I can and then run away before I start to feel attached. You were no different. I told you the night we slept together that it didn’t mean anything. It still doesn’t mean anything now. So you can just stop whatever you’re doing because it’s not making me want you anymore,” I said, surprised at how much conviction there was in my voice. It wasn’t because what I said was true, but because I had rehearsed these lines on boys before Caleb and in my head when I started to feel like I had been taken advantage of.

“You’re crazy. I don’t know why I care so much about you, cause you are obviously out of your mind. You’re a nymphomaniac. You’re a sociopath.”

Again, he was speaking words I thought he didn’t use, making them sting even more. The Caleb I knew made fun of psychoanalysis babble and preferred to keep speech comfortably colloquial.

“I’m so sorry, Caleb,” I said as the tears I had been suppressing surfaced as if the water main in my face suddenly ruptured. It didn’t take long before I was crying so hard I was dry heaving, wiping my snot on the hem of my summer dress. Caleb just stood there, looking down at me with a smug look plastered on his face, like he was afraid to pity me.

“I…I…Caleb, I don’t know what I’m saying. I just know that I probably didn’t mean what I just said. Because obviously, obviously, I care about you or I wouldn’t be here right now. I made a mistake, Caleb. I made a huge mistake. Problem is, I don’t know what it is I did wrong yet. But I can feel it, I did something terribly wrong. I don’t know if I lied to you or if I lied to myself. But last night, when they couldn’t find you, I felt so guilty. Responsible for you drinking, especially. You didn’t even touch wine before we started hanging out. It’s like I made you into a monster. A really, really sad monster who likes to do things out of character. I’m sorry…..I’m….(sob)….so…(sniff)…sorry. Please, please don’t do this. I think I love you or something,” I half spoke, half slobbered. I wanted to say more, but I couldn’t focus on anything besides Caleb’s eyes which were starting to turn red.

“You say one thing, then do another. You tell me something, then contradict yourself five minutes later. You tell me you just wanted to fuck me and then you tell me you love me, Violet.”

“I know, I know, I know.”

“No, you don’t know. This is one of those times where you really don’t know.”

“I just know I don’t want to feel like this anymore.”

“You just don’t like the way it feels because you don’t have the control anymore, because I’m not rushing back to you the minute you say you love me.”

“I made mistakes, so many fucking mistakes. You’re the only person who I can actually talk to. You know? When I say I love you though, I really mean it.”

“Do you understand how confusing that is to me? You tell me you mean everything you say; that honesty is your policy. So when you tell me I’m just some sad, depressed little boy who likes you too much- you mean that. When you tell me you love me and that you need me and that I’m an amazing person-you mean that too? You can’t feel both of those things.”

“But I do! And I never mean to hurt you with anything I say. I just, god, I don’t know Caleb! I know that I dream about you every night and then I wake up and try to convince myself that you don’t mean anything to me. But then something like last night happens and I can’t keep lying to myself. You mean a lot to me.”

“Then prove it, Violet. Stop acting like you feel nothing because you somehow think that makes you better than everyone.”

I was stunned into silence. Both Caleb and I didn’t believe in the concept of souls or extra sensory perception. But, in that moment, it was like Caleb looked into my soul, spotted my weakness, reached in and poured hydrochloric acid all over it, making every single one of my fears bubble up and intensify. To say I felt alone is more than an understatement. I felt like I was the single most evil human being to ever exist and that I didn't deserve to even entertain the thought of Caleb forgiving me. That I didn’t deserve to be sitting in Caleb’s apartment which suddenly looked like heaven. That I didn’t deserve the memory of Caleb breathing on my neck while he slept, the dark circles around his eyes somehow lightening in the orangeish light of dusk.

“You deserve so much more than a neurotic,” I said, getting up to leave.

I desperately wanted him to try to stop me from leaving, to grab the back of my neck and start kissing me. Instead he just stood exactly where he had been standing the entire time, with the same look still plasticizing his emotions. The redness in his eyes had faded.

He said nothing as I turned the knob of the front door.
He said nothing as I closed the door behind me.
He said nothing for three months.


I try to not think about death.
Because despite what some heavy souled
artists, poets, masters of perception and deception say,
it's not a glamorous thing.
It's not an aspiration.
But sometimes, it creeps in- not quiet, not loud.
I think about my last words.
I think about the color and fabric of the blanket
that'll tie me down to my deathbed.
I don't want to die, but that isn't to say I fear it.
I fear becoming a recluse, I fear people hating me.
But death, death I do not fear.
Ants die. Plants die. God incarnate died.
But sometimes I get this sick feeling that I may not die:
that I'll be the exception.
That I'll be forever suspended in limbo; paralyzed and decomposing.
That I'll be conscious of the silence.
I reassure myself, though.
I say, self, you won't be the exception.
You weren't the exception when it came to love.
You weren't the exception when it came to love.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Speakeasy Logic

I was a hijacker tonight: a thoughtless, meandering, slobbering hijacker.

With a little scream and a little sniffle I won the keys to the car and drove in ovals and U’s.

Followed paths worn down by lovers’ past.

Made loops while I beat the night into submission with my WHYs my FUCKs my OH MY GODs.

Because I was in Honors English I know that this is called “situational irony”.

Because I was the one parked alone in a parking lot at midnight, watching a man in a suit too nice for my neighborhood get out of his chauffeured car, I know that it’s called “fucking misery”, a “dog from hell”.

Then, with an especially loud “AHHHHHHHHHH” and a pounding on the poor, poor steering wheel I had that awful sensation of being punched in the nose. That bitter, inexplicable taste of being dumbfounded.

The thing is, I wasn’t supposed to be doing this. I wasn’t supposed to be wearing three day old clothes, unwashed hair sticking to my forehead, while choking on the humid air coming out of my broken air conditioner.

Transcend humanness.

Fuck that.

I switched out the CD that was filtering melodic sex through the speakers and put on something a bit more angelic.

All that did was remind me of the time we were driving on the side of a cliff and it was just black.

Remembrance. And not the scrapbook/yearbook/memory book variety.

And then like a choreographed stage production, just as my tears stopped, a hungry vigilante took their place.

I wouldn’t have it though because that son of a bitch was the reason for the tears anyways.

I pressed on, thinking of anything and everything that makes me well up. Salty, make-up streaking evidence that I’m not an emotionless humanoid.

Quite the opposite, really.

The beastly tyrant insistent upon vindication shut his mouth and I felt like I had fallen into a pile of clean hotel linens.

I different kind of “ahhh”.

But, BUT guess who arrived just in time to the grooves of my mammalian brain?

The Harlequin girl in her pointed heels and fishnets.

This time she told me that I didn’t have to listen to her sermon on single-mindedness so long as I promise to regain my ability to lust without implications. HAH.

“Pathetic” ones at least.

“Your words, they’ll come back. Kiss a stranger and they’ll come back. Stake love in the heart and you’ll come back.” Puff, puff, blow. 

I shook my head. No, no, no. Another obligatory “FUCK” escaped my mouth along with a gusty breath so violent it burned my throat. 

 “I’m not her anymore. He took that away, he made me….he made me.. this. I’ve never been jealous before. I never understood why people would kill in the name of love till right now. Right this very moment.”

“Oh, stupid girl. He’s just trying to be you. You’re the promoter of poly-amorous living. And you, you’re trying to be him.”

“Yeah, poly-amorousity that I feigned because I was trying to not be my mother. When I drove by the strip club a few minutes ago I even thought to myself, maybe I should just walk in an ask for an application. God knows I need the fucking money. But guess what? The thought repulsed me because it’s bullshit. All of it’s bullshit. I’m floundering here.”

Puff, puff, blow.

“Well you let me know how this self-pitying thing goes for you. Love is a myth remember? Love is a trite, one syllable word that you cast off because you preferred the raw showcase of sexuality. Remember that one? It’s my personal favorite.”

“Yeah, well the fucking bonding hormones have obliterated that naive ideology.”

She laughed at me then, and left. Leaving her trail of smoke billowing behind her.

I drove home.