Monday, June 2, 2014


I’ve recently started writing poetry again. Like, within the last year. Which is odd, because all through middle and high school I primarily wrote poetry, always thought I’d be a poet, and then I got into longer prose. But it’s good to get back to where I started from.

For anyone who hasn’t read a good deal of my poetry or short stories, a word of warning: my stuff tends to be dark. Like, ranging from gloomy at its best to down right macabre at its worst. This isn’t a cry for help, it’s just artistic expression. Some people listen to head banging music at obscene decibels when they get in a mood, I write.

That said, here are a few I wrote over the past year. They were written in a variety of moods, pulling from a variety of emotions and experiences through my life. And they’re all works in progress (although, isn’t all writing?).


Blankets and Sheets

I only miss you at night.
In the dark, the distance between your side of the bed and mine
stretches to fathoms.
I reach out
to cross the distance
fingers seeking flesh
finding only cheap polyester blend and low thread count.
And as the sheet of sleep pulls back
I remember.

I remember the hours caught
between dusk and dawn,
waking and reaching for each other
blankets replaced with skin,
the soft breaths of sleep replaced with those of love
and extra cups of coffee
promised in the morning.

I remember the citadel of pillows and blankets you erected
so slowly
added to piece by piece
so that I didn’t even realize it was being built
until one day I set out to cross the distance
and I couldn’t breech your walls.

I remember when a half empty bed became the norm
when I’d have to get into the car and drive
to your brother’s
your friend’s
the party de jour
to reach for you in my sleep.
And so I’d pull your pillow into my arms
press my face into the fabric
and say it’s enough.

I remember when your side and mine merged into all mine
and I wondered why one person would need
so much space.
And I dreaded the night
and the emptiness
and the darkness.
Because in the space between wakefulness and sleep
I would forget
and have to remember all over again.


Sticks and Stones

His words cut into your skin
like the razors you trace over your wrists
telling yourself to stop being a pussy
and press.
But that’s the shitty thing:
even though your soul has given up,
your spirit has died,
your body is a selfish bastard
and calls the shots
and won’t let you go.
Says you’ll thank me tomorrow
next month
when you’re forty.
So you do the only thing you can,
pressing just enough
to achieve some release,
and hope that one day
it won’t be paying attention
and you’ll escape.



I used to be skinny.
My tummy was flat,
my thighs didn’t touch,
and when guys drove by, they’d whistle at me.

And it was great.

But I was so tired.

I was tired of always being hungry.
Of my throat feeling like I’d swallowed lye
of my teeth pounding out their incessant rhythm of pain.

I was tired of looking at a plate of food
and knowing which order to eat it in so I’d digest the fewest calories.
Of entering a building and scoping out the bathroom I’d use in case of “emergency.”

I was tired of my mother telling me I was getting too thin
but every time I looked in the mirror, I saw the same fat girl looking back.

I was tired of trying.
Of fighting so hard, and getting nowhere.

I was tired of hating myself.

I’m done.

I’m done comparing myself to everyone else.
Done holding myself up to false idols on glossy, air-brushed pages.
Done letting drive-by assholes objectifying me define my self-worth.

I’m done fighting my mother’s hips and my grandmother’s thighs.
Done trying to fit my ass into a size zero, cause that just ain’t gonna happen.

I’m done looking in the mirror and wanting to change everything I see there.

I am a glorious fucked up mess

and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Writing is like playing with Legos

At first, you're given the big chunky ones, but eventually you work your way up to the smaller guys, maybe even to the funky little round pegs and such. As time goes on, you gather more Legos, and you can build bigger, grander projects. You may even learn how to build ridiculously detailed things, like a to scale X-wing. But as you're looking at your Lego collection, you may decide that today you're going to build a castle. As you build, you usually end up tearing sections apart because they just aren't working as is. Sometimes you decide that you just don't want a turret on that side, other times you decide that you'd rather a round turret to a square one, or you might just decide that you want it to look a bit more like Gryffindor Tower. Some people obsess over getting everything perfect as they go along, and end up with a completed castle that's exactly what they want when they finish. Others build all at once, then go back and correct what they don't like afterwards. Sometimes they just tear apart this part here and that one there, other times they take everything down and start from scratch so they can recreate the foundation to better meet their vision. Or they may tear it down because they realize that they didn't want to make a castle after all, they wanted to build a futuristic metropolis. And that's okay. Because the fun part about playing with Legos isn't just building the new things you've imagined, it's also tearing them apart so you can build it up again.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The slut: fact or fiction?

I’ve been hearing a lot about slut-shaming the past couple weeks; watched a bunch of videos on Youtube about it today. But I’ve got to admit, this is a fairly new term in my vocabulary. I mean, I’ve heard (and used) slut since I was a teen. When I found out a girl had slept with someone else’s boyfriend, I said she was sort of a slut. When one of my friends felt they had slept with a guy too soon, they said they felt like a slut. When I wore something out that exposed what I felt was too much skin, I said I looked like a slut. But here’s the thing—the thing that I never really thought about until the other day—I don’t know that I believe that sluts are real.

Now, I can hear the snorts of derision through the computer, so hear me out. I’ve come to the conclusion that the term “slut” is nothing more than society’s (and our own) way of shaming us for behavior that they deem unacceptable. Because, really, the term slut is only applied to women, and it’s applied fairly widely (and liberally). What if a man did these things that gets a woman branded as a slut? If a guy brings a girl home from the bar, he’s at best a stud, at worst just “boys being boys,” but that girl’s a slut. Tramp. Whore. If a guy walks into a bar wearing next to nothing, he might get called cocky, maybe an idiot. But a girl is a slut. Jake from the football team nails two chicks at once? He’s a legend, a god. Those girls? Sluts. If a guy racks up multiple partners, he’s a stud, sowing his wild oats, making another notch in his bedpost. The girl with multiple partners? Well, that depends on how many, but in most cases if that number spills over onto a second hand (or if she wasn’t in relationships with all the guys), she’s—you guessed it—a  slut. So if behavior that is not only accepted, but in many cases expected and even encouraged, in men is fine, but discouraged in women, can sluts actually exist, or is it just our generation’s scarlet A emblazoned on the Facebook page of any woman who dare explore her sexuality?

Looking back, I’m fairly certain that I’ve long doubted the existence of the fabled slut. When a friend would cry that she shouldn’t have slept with this new guy, the one she’d only known for a week, that she was a slut, my response was always the same: No, you’re not. It’s okay for men to do it, so why can’t you? Well, I think I know the answer now. Society has long damned women for being as sexual as their male counterparts, hell, less even. For ages women were expected to enter the bridal chamber “intact” (read: with their hymens undisturbed), while men could pretty much have as much experience as they could get (and in some cultures, this was expected of them).

But why? Some people say that women are more delicate, that they can’t handle the emotions that go along with having multiple, often casual, partners. Well, I’m going to call bullshit on that one. Personally, I believe that it has more to do with Darwinism than anything. A man could theoretically have as many children as he has sexual partners, so from an evolutionary standpoint, it makes the most since for him to spread his seed around. The more mini-me’s he has running about, the more likely his line is to be passed on successfully. A woman, however, can only have a finite number of offspring, so she has to be more judicious about who she breeds with, lest all her children be fathered by idiots who think that just because a girl wears a short skirt or low-cut top that it means she’s open season. But you see, that was before the time of things like the pill and the condom. Women can be just as choosy as they want when it comes to who fathers their children. And really, men, how many of you go around getting laid with the intentions of having a little one arrive nine months later? That’s what I thought. So this whole idea of it’s okay for men to screw whomever they want, whenever, and however is just crap.

Here’s the truth of it. The term “slut”? It’s just a way for society to make us feel shame for being sexual creatures. It is a continuation of a centuries old oppression, and quite frankly, I’m done with it. If a woman has 2 partners, or 20, or 200 (or go on adding zeros to that number), she is not a slut. If she doesn’t use protection on these sexual excursions, she is engaging in risky behavior, but she still isn’t a slut. And here’s the one that I’ve only just recently come to terms with: I used to say that as long as a girl was having sex for herself, because it made her feel good, and not because she thought it would make the guy like her or to make her feel better about herself, that she wasn’t a slut. But this implies that if this isn’t the case, that she is one. And this is not true. She may have a low self esteem, she might have self image issues that need to be worked on, but she is not a slut. Because sluts, they’ve gone the way of the unicorn.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Random silliness

Like everyone else in this world, I've noticed a lot of people (girls mostly, but some guys too) making that duck face in all their photos. So I decided to take it to the next level. So ladies, I see your duck face

and I raise you a fishy face

Anyone care to call?

Friday, August 10, 2012

50 Books to read before graduation

This past January I decided that I wanted to read fifty books this year. I sat down and made a list of books that met certain requirements I thought would work for me. They all had to be books I'd never read before; they couldn't be part of a series, have a prequel or sequel, or run any chance of me saying "I have to read book X so I can find out what happens next;" I really didn't want to repeat authors (although there were a couple cases where I did anyway); and they had to be of a wide variety, no sticking to one or two genres for me. It took me a few days, but I got one made up that met (most of) my criteria. I have an extensive to be read list running in my head that I plucked titles from, there were a few books mentioned on NPR that sounded too good to pass up, and there were some that were mentioned again and again in various writing books I'd been reading that I stuck in there as well.

Sadly, days after making the list (and before I could type it up), I misplaced it. I went from memory as much as I could, but I have never been known for my memory. Then the other day when I was cleaning out my desk, low and behold, I found the list! I'd managed to read eleven of the books on there (and a bunch others, though I'm no where near fifty), but that still leaves 39 books that I still haven't read.

While I'd like to say that I'll get most of them read before December 31, since I'm starting school in a few days, I highly doubt it. So I'm instead renaming my list. The previously named 50 Books of 2012 (or Epic List of Doom, depending on my mood), is now just 50 Books to Read Before Graduation (which should be the spring of 2015). The list is as follows, in no particular order:

So there's the original list, with the books I read crossed off. But here's the thing: because of those eleven books being crossed off, it's no longer a list of fifty books to be read by graduation, it's 39 books. Well, there's one way to fix that.

The eleven books I'll read in addition to the ones above to make fifty books by graduation:

Venus in Furs

Edit 5/28/14:
I've gone in and crossed off a few more books. Not looking like I'm going to make it by graduation, though.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fifty Shades know...

I have been stewing over this for quite a while. Ever since I first saw that the big studios were in talks about making the "hot new bestseller" into a movie and I realized exactly what they were talking about. I've ranted, I've raved, I've warned people not to go any where near this book; predictably, none of it has worked. It's still out there, selling a disgusting number of copies, and invariably raising my blood pressure every time I hear about it.

Most people around me don't understand. Sometimes I don't understand why I'm getting so upset myself. Scores of badly written books have topped the bestseller lists, and I couldn't have cared less. Hell, there are books I don't even like that do amazingly well, and while I might not understand why, I just shrug it off. Crappy books are made into crappy movies almost every day, and my world goes on turning. I have no problem with fan fiction being published, even when it does well. (Hello, Wicked and Scarlett are both, essentially, fic, and I loved both dearly.) Hell, when I first heard about Fifty, I thought it was a different piece of fic, and I was all but dancing in the streets I was so pleased. So what is my issue?

I'm sure much of it is my frustration with people not being able to see how terrible this book really is. Everything else aside, it's poorly written. That could be overlooked when it was being posted as fan fiction (hell, it's pretty much expected from fic), but once you send something out to a publisher, and that publisher sends it out into the world, a higher quality is expected. And the fact that it was picked up by Vintage, a publisher known for putting out literature (a word which makes me think of a higher quality of work than, say Fifty) just boggles my mind.

Honestly, I can't remember exactly what was wrong with it, as the last I read it it was still being written and posted on Twilighted. I just remember being distracted by all the editing I was having to do in my head. Which is probably part of why I kept reading as long as I did; I wasn't really doing much more than proof reading. I also remember spending a lot of my time reading with an arched eyebrow, trying to figure out why it was so popular. After the engagement, I just gave up, realizing that obviously there was something going on that everyone else saw but I didn't.

This would probably be a good time to mention that I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey, or any of the following installments. I only read it while it was still "Master of the Universe," but that was enough for me. I am basing my opinions of Fifty on MotU. Normally I would think of this as unfair, but I have heard from enough people who have read both that she changed little but the character's names. I've also seen some evidence supporting these claims, so I'm satisfied on that front.

But I'm upset over more than just some poorly written book selling millions of copies. I'm more than slightly miffed that it's outselling Potter, but whatever. I think what is getting me really upset is what this phenomenon is saying not only about the women of the world today, but what world our daughters are going to face.

This is what the women who love Fifty don't seem to understand: it's not some spicy, naughty tale about two people involved in a BDSM relationship. It's a story about a man who needs serious help (of the three sessions a week for several years with a licensed therapist variety) and the naive young woman he preys upon. It's not a romance; it's a tragedy. And the fact that women everywhere are emulating this book makes it even more so.

It seems like every week I read something new. Hardware stores are selling out of clothesline. Women's magazines are publishing tricks based on Fifty. People are sharing stories of their often funny, sometimes scary forays into the taboo. And I have to wonder if this is it, if this is the draw of the book that pushes people past the weak characters and poorly written sex scenes. People tend to look at BDSM as wrong and taboo, mostly because they don't understand it. All I can guess is that experiencing it, whether through experimentation or vicariously through a book, gives one the sense of being naughty. A little thrill to spice up an otherwise ordinary life.

But if you enter into something like BDSM without doing the research first, things can go very wrong very quickly. Sure, handcuffs and a gag might sound like fun, but how are you supposed to tell your partner if something's wrong? Might not sound like something you'd need to worry about, but I read a blog entry where something similar happened to a guy, and whether he was playing it up for comedic value or not, there was, at least for a moment, some fear he might asphyxiate.

Let me say here that I have no problem with BDSM. I'll admit, I don't know much about it, but it seems to me that when done safely, it's a form of sexual expression that many people rely upon. However, from what I've gathered during my nosing around the subject, there's plenty of discussion about likes and limits, and both parties are okay with what goes down. More "Let's talk about why you might be uncomfortable with x and how I can help to change that," and less "You'll learn to like it." (Can you guess which one is Fifty?)

What people decide to experiment with aside, if women are trying out things from the book in their bedrooms, what other areas of their lives is Fifty going to slip into? How many women who are already staying with a bad/abusive boyfriend for all the wrong reasons (he's attractive, he can support her, he's sometimes nice, the excuses are endless, and almost all of them are covered in Fifty), will now see another reason to stay: maybe he's just a hurt soul who can be healed if she just tries harder. Women who are already talking themselves into staying in this kind of situation are going to read this book and just see more validation for not only their partner's actions, but for their lack of it. And women who are finding (or will one day find) themselves in a similar situation will look back on Fifty and wonder.

We don't need any more books out there where the man overpowers the woman because he knows better. There were too many written during the era of bodice rippers (where men frequently raped women because they couldn't control their passion...and the women ended up enjoying it before the end). Being feminine doesn't mean letting a man walk all over you. You can give a man control in the bedroom without giving him control over your life; just remember, you're giving control, it can be yanked right back whenever needed. And a woman can have more than book smarts, she can have common sense too. Any man who doesn't realize, accept, and appreciate all this, is better off kicked to the curb. No matter what else he has going for him.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Coffee and cigarettes

My second semester of college I took a creative writing course. This was back before I had decided that going to school for creative writing was an option. The course was just fun, filler until I could get into the school I wanted and get on to the course work I would need for whatever major I had decided on at that moment. In three months I'll be back in school, and this time it will be for creative writing. Scary stuff, folks.

Between this and getting Remembrance ready to go out to the test readers, I've been thinking a lot about the things I've written in the past. Those stepping stones on my path to becoming an honest to goodness writer. Well, here's one of them.

One of our assignments in that creative writing course was to take a few elements, and use them in five different shorts. I think they had to be 250 words or less. In the fic world, we call them drabbles. I chose a girl (or woman), sitting alone in a coffee shop, smoking a cigarette. Here's what I ended up with.

I'm not really going to edit these, so I apologize ahead of time if there are spelling or grammatical errors. Part of this is so I can show (and see for myself) just how far I've come.

Just to forewarn ya'll, while most of these won't offend anyone, there is one that deals with a girl considering a very controversial subject matter. I'll mark it, but just so you can't bitch at me for springing it on you, you've been warned.

Drabble 1:

Emily pulled four things from her purse: a notepad, a personalized ball point pen that her mother gave her for Christmas the year after she graduated from college, a pack of Virginia Slims Menthol Lights 120s, and a book of matches.  She set her notepad and pen on the table, pulled out a cigarette, and lit it, exhaling the sweet nicotine with a flourish of neck and wrist.  She had started smoking to look styled, sophisticated, and now, wouldn’t you know it, smoking was out and she was addicted.  Didn’t matter to her much; she felt it made her look every bit the high end journalist that she would one day be.  This interviewing of animal rights activists and local business owners would one day be behind her and she would be on to bigger and better things: award winning actors, civil rights leaders, the President.  One day she would move up from the dinky “In Your Area” column and into the vast department of “In the World Today.”  Until then she would continue interviewing the Lindsay Ann, high school science fair winners of the world, arching her eyebrows conspiratorially as she asked the questions she wanted to know.  At least if she had to write these stories, she’d do so with a flourish. 

Drabble 2:

Ashley puffed on her Misty Ultra Light as she fingered the worn copy of Sense and Sensibility that was sitting in front of her.  Lord only knew what made her sign on to that stupid dating site in the first place, not to mention actually accepting a date with one of the fools who use said sites.  Well, she thought to herself, I guess I’m one of those fools now, as well. She casually flipped through the Austen novel sitting in front of her, the only relic she kept from her horrific three year relationship with John.  In a way, John was the whole reason why Ashley was sitting in this run down coffee shop, fingering a run down book in the first place.  If he had been able to keep his zipper closed and his hands off any female being that wiggled, Ashley would still be engaged, and well on the way to living out the rest of her life exactly the way she had planned it out with her Barbies when she was younger.  Instead, she turned to the world wide web to look for what she could not find in real life, beginning with Ebay, but quickly moving to E-Harmony.  It was there that she met Ralf, the down to Earth father of two who recently lost his wife to cancer and also enjoyed a good Jane Austen novel.

Ashley looked at her watch and, noting that Ralf (what kind of name is that anyway?) was ten minutes late, picked up her book and was about to leave when a tall, well groomed man walked into the coffee shop, carrying a well worn copy of Sense and Sensibility.  

Drabble 3:

Victoria sat in the high class coffee shop, smoking her high class cigarette, musing over her life’s accomplishments.  She had managed to lure a total of now two dozen men from their wives, a talent she discovered in high school.  Mr. Gibbons was a terrible teacher–actually, he was terrible at many things–but he was all too willing to give out extra credit to girls willing to do certain after school activities.  Vicki applied this same concept in college, earning herself a diploma without doing an ounce of homework for her male professors, of whom there were many.  She now owned a girly bar, where married men flocked to cheat on their wives without actually ever touching another woman. 

Her newest conquest was Willard, a broker with a beautiful wife, a beautiful house, and three beautiful children; Vicki had seen pictures of them all.  She sipped champagne, still nude under her Egyptian sheets, as Willard dressed, about to return to the office.  Before leaving, he turned to her and asked, “Do you ever tire of being the mistress?  Wouldn’t you ever want to be the missus?”  Vicki thought about this as she took another drag off her cigarette and stirred the nonfat latte the waitress just brought her.  No, she decided. I never would want to worry about my husband meeting a woman like me.

Drabble 4:

Candice looked over her list one last time and took out the pack of cigarettes she had hiding in her pocketbook.  She had tried quitting hundreds of times, but this wedding was just putting too much stress on her, and she needed the relief, so she bought the pack for “just in case.”  Well, if this didn’t qualify as “just in case,” she wasn’t sure what would.  She inhaled and was calmed, but only marginally.  There was still so much to do.  She still had to pick up the bride’s maids dresses, confirm the cake style, tell the live band that she had decided to go with the DJ, and send in the newest version of the RSVP list in to the caterer.  That wasn’t even mentioning going over flower arrangements, picking up her own dress, and the whole of the rehearsal dinner.  All in just over a week.

Candice looked at the diamond sitting on her left ring finger, and remembered how Michael had proposed, right at the very table she was now sitting at.  He had done it in a very Michael fashion, tossing her the ring box when she returned from the bathroom and waggling his eyebrows at her.  She tossed the box right back to him, and told him that she would not marry him until he asked properly.  So, of course, he called the attention of the entire coffee shop, got down on one knee with a grand flourish, and gave a very corny proposal speech.  Candice smiled as she thought that if any man was worth the hassle of a wedding, it was Michael.  She decided, somewhat sarcastically, that if she ever were to marry again, however, she would elope.          

Drabble 5 (the one that you might want to skip if you're sensitive):

Liza’s hands shook as she tried to light her Gold Coast Red with her purple Bic lighter.  She finally got it lit and inhaled sharply, thanking the waitress who brought her coffee with a puff of smoke.  She loaded the inky liquid down with sugar and creamer, changing its color from rich black to creamy brown.  She took a sip and closed her eyes.  Pregnant.  Ten weeks, according to the doctor.  That gave her three weeks to decide what she was going to do.  Or rather, three weeks to convince Ron that it was the right choice and to give her the four hundred dollars for the abortion.  Four hundred dollars, that sure as hell was a lot of money, especially when she was out of work.  She looked at the cigarette in her hand and almost laughed.  Theoretically, she shouldn’t be smoking in her condition, but since she wasn’t about to keep the being growing inside of her, she didn’t see the sense in quitting now.  

She thought back on the diagram the nurse had shown her in the clinic.  Her baby looked about like a baby chicken right now.  Actually, it looked like every other baby animal at that approximate stage.  It helped her conscious to know that if put in a lineup, she wouldn’t be able to tell her baby from one of another species.  Liza shook her head.  She didn’t like the idea of “her baby,” she wanted to find a more removed term.  What was it the nurse called it?  The embryo, that’s right.  Liza took another drag off her cigarette and another sip of coffee as she contemplated the future of her embryo and herself.

Well, there you have it; five shorts written by yours truly over seven years ago.