To say that within my family I was of the least importance is a gross understatement. I was treated as the proverbial red-headed step child. I was, of course, a mistake. After four children on a pitiful income, the last thing my parents needed was another cry-hole to feed.
Dad hankered for an abortion when he learned I was conceived. He had a boy, had what he wanted. But Mother was damned if she’d let some man take away her baby. And so, I was born, unceremoniously, to a family that didn’t really want me. I was a burden, not a blessing. I was the baby, an afterthought without much analysis.
Until I was five, I wasn’t aware I even had a father. He simply wasn’t around. While my father had shades of affections for his other children, affection towards me was out of the question. My mother was loving – to this day my biggest supporter – but wholly oppressed by an abusive husband. With five kids, no money and nowhere to turn, her hands were tied. Between Mom chasing after all these kids in a two room shack and Dad squandering all his money on booze and drugs and running off with various mistresses, there was little time to guide a smart-mouthed little girl through life. In retrospect, I’m not sure they even knew how to guide themselves. This pattern continued my whole life, wondering when the bottom would drop out again.
Black Eyed Peas and Mattress Dancin’: How the Dixie Chicks Shaped My Feminism
My feminism arrived draped in feather boas and riding on a baggage claim conveyor belt. The year was 1997 and as a 10-year-old Midwestern girl innocently enjoying CMT music videos, I fell completely and unconditionally in love with the Dixie Chicks.
The video for the Chicks’ first single “I Can Love You Better,” which featured three platinum blondes by the names of Natalie, Emily, and Martie performing in an airport lobby, singing about rescuing a potential lover from the intoxicating grasp of another woman wasn’t exactly riot grrrl, or even Lilith Fair fare. But the brash, in-your-face attitude of the vocals and the shredded fiddle and dobro solos were a hint of things to come.
When “Wide Open Spaces” hit the airwaves in the summer of ‘98, a legion of girls and women instantly connected with this insanely talented trio singing about independence and taking chances in an elusive place out west where we’d find “room to make [our] big mistakes,” often while wearing regrettable velvet cowgirl hats and, yeah, pink feather boas. “Wide Open Spaces” was our anthem.
One part Lubbock and two parts Dallas, the Dixie Chicks personified the Texas-bred independence they sang about. Growing up in a tiny rural farm community in southeast Missouri, the idea of this illustrious land of open spaces and high stakes, combined with my inherent love for cowboy movies, cultivated my lifelong obsession with Texas. At 24, I finally moved here. I probably wasn’t supposed to take the Dixie Chicks literally. But I’m glad I did.
You’re a big girl. You’re completely capable of walking home by yourself. It’s really cold outside and you don’t need him to leave his warm room just to walk there and back for you. Your dorm isn’t even that far from his. It’s not even that late. You don’t need him. You’re a big girl.
You kiss him good night. You’re both tired, but you can’t stay at his place. His roommate’s on his way home. You’re not high maintenance. You’re a good girlfriend. You get out of the way without being asked. You let him hold you for a moment after you kiss. You hear him whisper something in your ear. Probably I love you. Probably something you don’t deserve to hear.
You don’t want to make a scene of it. You kiss him on his cheek and walk out of his room into the suite and down the stairwell to the door. You take a step outside the building. The earth is collapsing beneath you. You quicken your pace. It takes a maximum of six minutes to get to your place from his. It’s a small campus.
The campus is a minefield. You want to stay on the sidewalk because it’s better lit. But you don’t want to be seen. A group of frat boys yells drunkenly from their house. The noise makes your pulse jump. It’s open season.
Almost three minutes away, you think about calling him. Letting his voice walk you home. You don’t want to make him feel guilty. You can handle yourself alone for five minutes. But the thing is you’re not alone.
You’re reminded of the worst-case scenario survival guide you got your dad for Fathers’ Day. He’s a paranoid guy so he loved it. He read the scenarios out loud and you have never forgotten that when you wrestle an alligator, aim for the eyes and when you see a mountain lion, make yourself seem as big as possible.
You’re not paranoid. That’s what you tell yourself as you try to control your breath. It’s shaky and shallow like you’re hyperventilating. You should call him. But you won’t. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Isn’t hurting him.
You push the incident from your mind. You’re not afraid. You’re a big girl. No one’s going to grab you in the night. No one’s going to drag you behind a forest green Toyota and—
You slip in puddle of melted snow and skin your knee through your leggings. The sting is a distant familiar feeling, like the strawberries you earn when learning to ride a bike. Your hands are wet and scraped from trying to stop your fall. You pick yourself up quickly. You stand still for just a moment, surveying the damage to your knee and hands. You hear voices behind you. You run.
Your lungs labor to keep up with your feet. You have to stop. You’ve come to the street. You remember Ichabod Crane trying to cross the bridge. If you can just make it across this last stretch, you’re home free. You think about the headless horseman and you involuntarily release a sob of terror. It was just a story you read as a kid in class on Halloween. It was just a ghost story. Ghosts aren’t real. You’re a big girl. You know it’s not real.
You remember what they said to you after it happened. You remember when they told you it wasn’t real.
You can’t calm down. You don’t look both ways before you cross. You’re sprinting. Your clothes are ripped and you’re sprinting. Blood runs down your legs and you’re sprinting. You can hear the horseman catching up to you.
You reach the door to your building. You fumble for your keys. You’re trembling too much to turn the key in the lock. The tears freeze on your cheeks. The earth is collapsing beneath you.
You grip the door handle to keep yourself upright. You turn the key. You pull open the door and race to your room. You lock the door behind you and slide to the floor, sobbing, thankful your roommates aren’t home yet to see you like this.
You hold your knees to your chest. It wasn’t real, they said. It wasn’t real, you tell yourself. You work to catch your breath as you imagine who would come out on top in a fight: you or the mountain lion.
My father used to say that every time he mowed the lawn he’d find another car. That came out to roughly one car per year. They were all junkers, but the RV was junk royalty. He spotted her the night we sat in the bright red vinyl booths of Seven Seas Szechuan. She was alone and askew in the Shanty Tavern’s lot, her brown paneling echoing the bar’s sign that showcased an outhouse for an emblem. She deserved better. He had to save her.
To my mother, his motives were clear. Her narrowing eyes were fixed on my father, and their intensity steeped the air. I could feel the mounting stress that accumulated behind her brow. Her lips pursed in silent protest.
She saw his engorged pupils drooling, pouring, out the window. The slow steam that rose from the massive, glistening bowl of egg drop soup, created a delicate, dewy veil that cocooned him with his newfound vision. She melted. How could she disrupt that childlike ecstasy so often far removed from the man she had married? He was making the same face her children endlessly deployed to turn her heart to humbow.
Fema Fresh - Dietary Supplement Capsules for Feminine Hygiene
$8.55 for a 60-count box
Finally, another pill to pop! In case regular washing and proper hygiene just don’t cut it for you, there’s now a supplement for your vaginal health. Throw two of these down your food chute a day and expect a removal of that feminine funk. Because this product is not a spray or cream, it evidently doesn’t mess with your delicate pH balance. It’s a dietary supplement that, through all-natural means (which aren’t specified), manages to eliminate feminine odor by seeking out odor-causing bacteria. Sounds shady, but reviews are pretty positive. Ladies tout “feeling fresh” as well as confident — just what the slogan provides.
Verdict: Interesting alternative to sprays and douches if you are worried about vaginal odor and don’t want to get yeast infections.
P-Mate Female Disposable Urine Director
$4.95 for a pack of 5 On the whole, being a woman is something I’m proud of. However, I find myself wishing to trade in my vagina for a penis each and every time I go camping. No matter how well you think you’ve mastered the pop-and-squat, you will still pee on your feet. Or your pants. Having my whole bottom half exposed in the woods doesn’t exactly make me feel at ease either. Thorns, bugs … there’s just too much that could attack my sensitive bum. However, this odd little funnel gives you the ease of urinating upright. My penis envy has come to a close. Hallelujah!
Verdict: Say what you will, but this is going to save my ass (literally) next time I head into the great outdoors for a bit.
Go because you need some time to yourself. Go because you have to ignore your cell phone. Go because you don’t have to share your Reese’s Pieces with anyone. Go because you get to choose your favourite seat. Go because no one will see your spit-take or running mascara. Go because you need a break from reality. Go to the movies alone just because.
Aged pieces require more scouting, more inspecting, and more patience to find than any others. Thrift stores are great for finding vintage pieces, but if you want to find retro pieces in good condition, a legit vintage store is your haven. Here are some tips to get the best pieces for your buck.
1. Don’t go by the label size (if there even is one)
It’s been rumored that Marilyn Monroe was a size 12 – a 1950s size 12, not a 2013s. Remember: vintage clothes run small compared to today’s standards. Hold the item up to your body to get a gauge of whether it’s feasible for your body, to weed out the obviously too large and too small items, and then start trying on. The biggest takeaway: TRY IT ON. Vintage silhouettes can be vastly different from the styles of today, and it takes putting it on your body to decide if the cut works for you. Clothes look different on the hanger.
2. Look for tears and stains
Missing a button? Seam unraveling? Pants too short? Easy fix: it’s called a sewing kit and they sell them at the 99cent store so no excuses! A Dexter Morgan-esque crimson stain on that white chiffon shirt? Not so much. Spot a little dirt on the sleeve? Get some stain remover, girl. If the damage is structural (not enough fabric available to let out the hem, large tears, burn holes or excessively warm and thin fabric) you’ll have to pass. “Disintegrating” is not the same as “vintage”.
Granddaughter of Senior, daughter of Junior, and sister of the Third, Holly Williams is the latest talent to come out of the Williams family royalty. She won’t be defined by her relation to the Hanks, however, and her success has come all on her own. All the same, she’s certainly not rebelling against her country music roots. Her new album, The Highway, is a gorgeous collection of Americana songs dealing with themes of love, family, and loss that she recorded and released on her own. The music itself is beautiful — simple yet lush acoustic arrangements, raw and distinctly southern — but what really stands out is Holly’s storytelling talent. The stories she tells, many of which come from personal experience or her family’s experiences, really hit home. Some will absolutely break your heart. “Waiting On June”, for example, tells the multi-decade story of her maternal grandparents’ relationship to the very end from her grandfather’s perspective (I well up nearly every time I hear it). Others are about missing the open road (“The Highway”), settling down with the love of her life (“Without You”), and unfaithful relationships (the absolutely brilliant “Drinkin’”). This beautiful album is already one of my top 5 favorites of the year and I highly recommend it.
Blueberries, Raspberries, & Small Grapefruits (The First Trimester)
I am pregnant.
As I write this, only about six people in the world know. But by the time this is published I will be out of my first trimester and feeling more at liberty to spread the news. Plus my uterus will have expanded out of my pelvic bones making it more and more obvious that the reason I’m not drinking Scotch is not because “I just don’t feel like a drink,” but because even though I definitely feel like a drink, it isn’t the most responsible option for the little human growing in my tummy.
I was always on the fence about becoming a mom. I worry about overpopulation and global warming and the general decline of civilization. But as I approached “advanced maternal age” I decided now was the time to give it a go. After almost a year of coming to terms with the reality that I had probably waited too long to try to conceive, a sonographer searching for uterine polyps and cysts blurted out, “I found a gestational sac!” And then I was pregnant.
"I clicked on your web page titled ‘Girls’ hoping I might find some women surfers and what they were up to, but it entered into pages and pages of semi-naked, non-surfing girls. These images create a culture in which boys, men and even girls reading your magazine will think that all girls are valued for is their appearance. My posse of female surfers and I are going to spread the word and refuse to purchase or promote Tracks magazine.”
The world needs more posses of female surfers and fewer editors who respond with statements like, “obviously they are not our primary audience”.
The fourth of eight children stood alone on an empty beach hugging San Francisco’s Great Highway, clothed in black and a leather jacket, looking out through globe-like eyes rimmed in black liner and heavy mascara clumped on her dark lashes like crows resting on a telephone wire. Later, Lucy would be floating face down in the shallow water ebbing back and forth gently onto Bay Area sand as if she were kissing the hallowed ground softly out of silent thanks, but for now she was living, breathing, and mulling over what shit had come to in the last moments of her 19-year-old life.
Yes, Lucy was the fourth of eight babies, born to Gabriel and Lola, in a small province of the Philippines with an ocean view like a 5-star hotel and a literal dirt poor way of life just like any other 3rd world country. The family home was a small house, if you could even call it a house with a dirt floor and windows and doors open to mother nature. It was from this little shanty paradise, that the eight kids, mother, father, and grandmother made it across the Pacific ocean to find their dysfunctional selves in the middle of South San Francisco, mid-70’s. What a fucking beautiful time for 8 rebellious rock-and-roll babies to grow up and splinter out of their father’s alcoholic thunder with a fire under their asses like you’d never seen. Lucy was the unlucky one. She was only the fourth one. She never made it out of the house in time to clear his nuclear explosions like the three before her did. But Lucy did something different. She sobered the motherfucker up. If before her dad had been a raging wildfire, she reduced him to a smolder.
Phew! The past week sure has been a whirlwind. But responses to submissions are starting to be sent out so keep an eye on your inbox! If your work was accepted for publication in the Spring ‘14 issue, I’ll need a little more info from you right away.
Governor Perry made me cry June 25, 2013, the night after Wendy Davis stood and the people filibustered. It wasn’t the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last. There comes a point when enough is enough.
You see, living in Texas as a woman, a progressive and an atheist requires a lot of patience — something I don’t always have. I’m a native Texan and hate the thought of leaving my home state, but the possibility has definitely crossed my mind before. I used to daydream about leaving for more liberal pastures after college. The events of the Texas legislature that week proved to me that I needed to stay here. I think progressive Texans finally reached a tipping point when it comes to our state government, and I want to be here to help bring about the change.
No longer will we stand idly by as Republicans in the state House and Senate attempt to regulate abortion clinics out of existence. No longer will we allow the religious beliefs of Evangelical Christians to dictate the healthcare and marriage laws of our state. No longer will we let gerrymandering disenfranchise minority, lower-income, and student voters (no thanks to the Supreme Court).
The Kickstarter campaign is already 16% funded! So I’m throwing myself a Sweet 16 party! Thus far it involves me on the couch with my dog, answering emails and eating pizza because MTV set impossibly high standards for my life.
Don’t call it a breakup album. Austin songstress Joanna Barbera’s latest release, Forget, is more about change than a singular end to a relationship.
“Each song is from a different chapter of my life,” she tells me in my living room. “There’s definitely songs on there of resurrection, coming out of something that wasn’t working and awakening to a better way of being and respecting yourself. What inspired it was, I came out of this era from the first record when my dad died and it took me a while to pick up the pieces and rediscover who I am in the world without my father being here. So this record is about letting go of the past and finally coming into a person again.”