We sat in the garden after he showed me the motorcycle he recently bought. He told me that he rode his motorcycle during the summer months but now it was autumn. He said the word “autumn” like it was a problem or a reason to stop doing things. I guess the rain makes it more difficult to ride but then I wondered if he was just more of a seasonal rider. Maybe it was like how I stopped drawing after I graduated from art school but every other weekend or so I take out my supplies and try to make something that looks really good. The people at school had a word for that: “Sunday-painters”. It meant that you treated art like a hobby rather than a way of life.
I wish art felt the same way as it did when I was a little kid. When I would try to draw perfect green trees with my stubby, dirty, little crayons and the leaves ended up with streaks of orangey-red and brown in it. I used to try and scratch out the wrong colors with my fingernails. The picture would be smudged and ruined as far as I was concerned. My mom would see my drawings and say, “Oh, look its fall-time!” as if all my mistakes made everything so much better.
His leather jacket squeaks when he moves, even just to brush some hair out of his eyes. I wonder how he gets around the city if he’s not riding his motorcycle anymore.
“Do you wear your motorcycle jacket on the bus?” I ask, because I wonder if that deteriorates your street-cred. He doesn’t answer me so I ask him if he’s a “Sunday-rider”. He looks irritated as he finally reveals: “When I get enough money together for some winter tires, I’ll keep on riding”.
We sit quietly for a moment. Everything in the garden looks soggy and rotten; it reminds me that I should clean out the vegetable crisper in my fridge. I know that deep down there are a lot of squash and root vegetables growing healthily beneath the ground, but you wouldn’t know it by just looking at it. Then I notice that he has begun talking again. He is telling me a story from the I-need-to-find-myself trip to Europe he took several years ago. He begins the story with a shrug but I can’t help but remember that was the first time we broke up.
your sadness is palpable, it’s heavy and tired and i can feel it as you shuffle around the house, searching for a job in a field you didn’t choose but that your husband deems good enough while he drinks bottles of scotch and complains that your daughter is settling for jobs that aren’t good enough and would you stop putting so much damn salt on the fish and fuck it i’ll just eat more bread this dinner isn’t good enough, a phrase you’ve now internalized.
mother, your sadness is aromatic, and i wish it wasn’t because it smells like blood and i make excuses to go into your bathroom to brush my teeth so i can search for red stains on your bath towels and find you crying in bed like that time i rushed into your room cause clay was waiting outside to take me to a movie and aren’t 15-yr-old girls supposed to be the ones sobbing in their bed, dragging razors to their forearms, watching red stains grow on thin white sheets because no one will listen to them and
mother, your sadness is infuriating, blaming your husband for not letting you invest in dreams you have of owning a farm and selling those strange worms that you whisper to while they digest my apple peels, blaming the government for the lack of jobs and how they outsourced a job you hated anyways, blaming everyone else because you’re too scared of change to live your dreams and you’re too scared of failure to take a change and you’re too scared of everything and
mother, i finally get you out of the house and we get coffee and i try to tell you about things i’m excited about and maybe 24 will be my best year yet and i’m starting a magazine and don’t tell dad he would just deem it not good enough but your eyes kind of stare off into a steam rising from the parking lot because thank God texas is finally getting some rain and you ask me if I know what tiny houses are, because dad made you throw away the strange worms and no one else will listen and yes
mother, buying some land and living in a tiny house with your worms does sound like a dream.
*Trigger warning for sexual assault and victim-blaming.
What an absurdity it is, to lose one’s voice. To lose faith in the belief that you might have anything at all worth saying, worth hearing. To feel that it would be better to remain silent than to risk being told to shut up.
Yet in honesty, your voice is not something you lost, as though it were something you misplaced absent-mindedly, a set of keys that you realized you’d held in your hand the whole time after all.
It is something another person robbed from you and took by force. A man who used the weight of his body to tell you that what you say means nothing and can be disregarded as easily as a mother’s advice. The congregation with their cold shoulders and a message legitimized by a pulpit and priestly stoles, that woman is borne of silence and delivered by servitude. Acquaintances and strangers whose words mean well but say nothing, and maybe if you’d been a little more careful, you wouldn’t be in this situation, would you? Bystanders, as silent then as you are now.
You do not have to listen to them anymore. You can use your voice to tell others that they don’t have to listen and to tell a better story about who we can be as humans.
The old woman was sitting on the beach, her caramelized dark skin baking under the hot noonday sun. The sound of the waves soothed her, their repetitive hum acting as a sedative to her worried and frantic mind. There was something odd, she thought, about a woman in her eighties who still got stress headaches—weren’t her last years supposed to be full of idle relaxation, a last contented sigh into the mouth of the void? But perhaps no one’s last years are that quiet, she reasoned. What with children and grandchildren and finances and estate planning and frugal spending (her pension was measly, and she fretted over the knowledge that her children would have worse), the woman could scarcely get a moment to her thoughts. Not to mention that whenever she did, it was almost impossible not to feel the heavy edge of Death persistently and slowly settling into place. That darkness was always there, looking for the right moment to creep in, like a heavy-handed artist patiently waiting for inspiration to strike. It would come when she was relaxed, usually. Those soft sleepy moments before bed were the perfect time slot for what she thought of as existential depression to rear its ugly head. But it really hit her when she didn’t expect it, and being caught off guard made the feeling a thousand times more hollowing. She would be looking at something seemingly insignificant, like her bank account balance, and realize, with a crushing finality, that she had lived a life devoid of meaning, a life devoid of passion. That she had wasted her life.
When a dear friend introduced me to Samantha Irby’s blog Bitchesgottaeat a year and a half ago, I became obsessed with the author in an “I’d carry a suitcase of drugs into another country for you” sort of way. The blog’s cult following led Irby to get her comeuppance - her first book deal. In her debut novel - cheekily and fittingly titled Meaty - Samantha Irby faces the challenges of adulthood in this collection of essays.
Irby tackles the gross truths of life with dignity spawned from the healthy perspective on life afforded her by her raucous sense of humor. The author doesn’t take life, or herself, too seriously — while still a serious student of her craft. Nothing is off limits from her orphan upbringing to her fecal catastrophes to the overeating meat sweats. While the book can be off-putting, it’s only because it is shockingly relatable, wholly visceral even if it doesn’t hit home. A burning honesty like full-strength comedic Listerine exists in her prose. Meaty doesn’t simply aim for laughs; it tells a story through vignettes, one that is often heart-wrenching with an innately wicked wit that doesn’t come along often.
A: The dental dam can be used by dentists to isolate a tooth being worked on, or to protect your mouth from someone else’s anus or vagina. It’s a sheet of latex (or silicone) that you lay over the anus or vagina while engaging in oral sex. It helps reduce the chances of contracting an STD. It is also beneficial if your partner wants anal play, and you aren’t about to lick an asshole. So dental dam = mouth condom/saver.
If you’re in the Austin area and like what Vagina does, consider nominating the maga*zine for a Best of Austin - Non-Chronicle Publication award!
I started Vagina over three years ago with the goal of promoting women’s creative work and I’m so thrilled to see how the issues have grown from brown paper bags and yarn to barcode-boasting, full-color issues. Keep an eye out for the premier of the Summer ‘14 issue in the coming days!
Ma Jian (马建) is quite the dissident. The Dark Roadopens with a riot. Family planning officials are arresting women and dragging them to be sterilised. Pregnant mothers who do not have a state-issued birth permit are criminals and hunted down for a double punishment – a violent coercion into abortion and sterilisation. In a bid to enforce the One Child policy, even women who are beyond their second trimester are forced to terminate their pregnancies, illegal by international standards.
Neighbours are rewarded for tip-offs, properties are confiscated, rape is prevalent and often goes unreported, and families who cannot pay up fines have their houses demolished. An atmosphere of fear and death has hung over the village.
The central character in the novel is Meili and her husband, Kongzi. The couple already have a daughter but Kong wants a son to carry on the family line. With Meili’s baby bump almost visible now, they leave their village and become family planning fugitives, etching out a floating existence -literally- down the Yangtze River. After Meili loses her 8-month old unborn child in a crackdown, Kongzi is desperate to get her pregnant again (and again and again with each unsuccessful birth) so he can fulfil his filial duty of producing a male heir for the family.
But children born outside the One Child policy also face another set of problems. The child joins the ranks of ‘black children‘ and has no access to medical benefits, free education, a residence permit or subsidised housing. In short, he is stripped of his right to live, condemned to a life as an outcast.
Seasons of Your Day is Mazzy Star’s long-awaited, first full-length release in seventeen years. Comeback records can often be bitterly disappointing, but it’s immediately clear from the album’s opening organ notes, that the duo has lost none of their power. Hope Sandoval’s languid drawl is just as smoky and sweet as ever, and David Roback’s sprawling guitar work is alternately sparse and lush, with a characteristic heartstring-tugging twang. In fact, judging from Roback’s psych-tinged, meandering accompaniment and Sandoval’s rich, hazy murmur, it seems that time has only ripened and enriched their sound. Seasons of Your Day doesn’t deviate much from Mazzy Star’s previous work, instead building upon their distinctively atmospheric, spooky tone. It’s like they picked up right where they left off in 1996, and the result is a dreamy, nuanced record that figures perfectly into their catalog.
This isn’t only about Hobby Lobby. It’s about Hobby Lobby and the 71 other companies that this ruling directly affects — ranging from law firms to manufacturers. And while birth control is plenty welcomed among those of us hoping to avoid pregnancy at any given time, it also treats a number of conditions, some of which require surgery to otherwise handle. And while I’m happy not to work at Hobby Lobby and thankful that I don’t work at the other 71 businesses, this does in fact set a dangerous precedent in which any company can claim religion to avoid paying for employees’ health care — whether that be birth control, blood transfusions, antidepressants, products that involve gelatin, etc. Again, I’m glad that I don’t work at any of those companies but I also know that were I in the position that many of their employees are now in, I couldn’t just afford to quit and assume I’d find another full-time job that pays benefits and respects my healthcare needs.
“Five-foot-two, eyes of blue, name of Sue,” she rapid-fire spits through the nubs of her teeth, mostly gums really, sticking her wiry hand out to shake mine. Firmly.
She smokes Seneca Menthol 100s, the kind she picks up on Indian reservations as she makes her way through the country, hauling loads of God-knows-what in her shiny white truck.
She lives in that truck, all her worldly possessions on the top bunk, and shares the tiny bottom one with her two cats. One of ‘em blind, both of ‘em fat.
Not Sue though. Skinny as a string bean, short grey hair cropped close to her head. When I meet her she’s got on an oversized tie-dye hoodie, offers me a cigarette. We sit at a bar studded with keno machines, sipping Budweisers in the Gold Strike Hotel in Tunica, Mississippi.
Tunica — a flashback to Vegas before what happened there stayed there, back when the casinos all had low ceilings and windowless walls that boxed in and recycled the endless smoke from cigarettes balanced between gnarled fingers, un-ashed.
We were down there for a truck driver convention, but we snuck out, bored as hell, and found the bar by the lobby. We drank beers and smoked the Senecas while she speedily barked out her past: She had been a crack addict and a prostitute. She had two children, whom she saw sometimes. One of them had been what she called a “trick baby.” She said this with some measure of sadness, but matter-of-factly all the same.
Sue was shriveled up, a tiny woman, and she was self-conscious about her teeth-nubs. She looked right at you when she talked, hard blue eyes. She was smart; she could read a situation, and although she came off as having a few screws loose, she gave me the impression that she knew herself well.
June 25, 2014 marks the one-year anniversary of Wendy Davis’s 11-hour filibuster of HB2/SB5 and I’m just as filled with excitement and fear and joy and sadness as I was a year ago.
A quick run-down of what this bill means for Texans: all but a few abortion clinics in Texas will be shuttered, abortions after 20 weeks are illegal (the bill has no exceptions for victims of rape or incest), doctors must obtain the difficult-to-obtain admitting privileges to a nearby hospital, and outdated dosing procedures for the abortion pill.
This time last year, I’d already been through the testimonies for the House State Affairs committee, sitting in the front row on my laptop tweeting out bits of personal stories, Rep. Byron Cook’s calling those stories “repetitive”, and the reactions when he announced that he would be cutting the meeting short without allowing all registered speakers to testify. I’d already been through the bill’s passage in the House, crying in the Capitol’s hallways at 3:45am with hundreds of others as the likes of Rep. Jessica Farrar and Rep. Senfronia Thompson thanked us for our fight.
On the morning of June 25, I took off work, put on my orange Stand With Texas Women shirt, and packed my phone, laptop, and chargers. I felt certain that if the bill could pass through the House then it would pass through the Senate, but I was going to be there when it did. I was going to sit in the Gallery with hundreds of other Texans (along with the hundreds outside) and watch the senators vote against our physical, emotional, and financial well-being.
For 13 hours, I tweeted updates from my seat in the Gallery above Lt. Governor David Dewhurst’s desk. I silently joked and silently cried and silently mouthed my reactions with my neighbors. For 11 hours, Davis read personal testimonies (none of which felt “repetitive”, Byron). Again and again, opposing senators asked her to pause and submit to questioning. Her response: I Will Not Yield.
I am a twenty-two-year-old American female with a lackluster love life. No man has ever left me feeling as satisfied as I have after a plate of tacos. My first sexual experience occurred when my veins were full of alcohol and my brain lacked any inhibition. I woke up the next morning to go to work and haphazardly pulled my clothes off the floor. He walked me out of his house and then he walked out of my life.
I’m not bitter about this or my other sexual encounters. There’s a little bit of spit-swapping, he gets frisky, and I signal when I’m done. Here’s another thing I’m done with: being unsatisfied. I’ve given in to guys and on occasion I’ve had them take a half hour commute to give in to me.
Sex really doesn’t mean anything to me. I haven’t met a man who could match my sarcasm, video game knowledge, or love for soccer. I’ve made a promise to myself to wait to have sex again. I want it to be something special and mainly I just want to see what the fuss is about. There has to be a reason why people have been doing this for years and there has to be inspiration behind all those dirty songs (“Ignition” by R. Kelly anyone?). I’m waiting for someone to make this girl a believer.
I’ve recently taken a new job and everyday on lunch the same coworker complains about her love life. She mentions all the characters she has currently been talking to and her exes are frequently brought up as well. I find myself gritting my teeth in between the chewing of my turkey wrap. I feel like I’m suffering in silence as she harshly accounts what happened on her last date. But then I realize that I would be no happier if I were in her position. Multitudes of meaningless dates could never be as significant as a few seconds with someone that you truly connect with.
I’m not solely pointing the finger at all the men I’ve been with. I know I am to blame for my heaps of disappointment. I still slept with the man that left me to walk home by myself. I shrugged off the instance when another called me the dreaded c-word. I couldn’t get another to commit to a relationship so I told myself I was fine with a couple romps in the sheets. These men have not been good enough for me. What is more important is that I have made myself believe that I did not deserve better.
As I said I’m going to wait and I’m happy doing this even if it means I find myself in a committed relationship with my Xbox. I’ll keep strapping on my sweatpants and firing up my Netflix account when most people are on date night. I think more women need to tell themselves that they would rather be lonely than miserable in a relationship.