now browsing by author
Of course I read Cunt.
Painting with my menstrual blood
Girl, I would love to
help you move that modular
couch from IKEA.
Cold? Here take my
micro-fleece vest. I only wear
Have you reconciled
your identity with race
and class privilege?
Don’t label me –
I’m a non-het-identified
poly pagan witch.
I know it’s 2012
but I’m not done griping
about The L Word.
- Haiku for Adulthood: Quickies
- Haiku for Adulthood: Gaying Up Cee Lo
- Haiku for Adulthood: How Lesbian Sex Works
- Lesbian sex is shallow!
Here’s my soap box, for what I hope is the last time: Japanese haiku isn’t based on syllables. It’s based on onji, which are units of sound that don’t correlate with Western languages.
The Haiku Society of America (which is a thing that exists!) gives a pretty loose definition here:
The definition of haiku has been made more difficult by the fact that many uninformed persons have considered it to be a “form” like a sonnet or triolet (17 syllables divided 5, 7, and 5). That it is not simply a “form” is amply demonstrated by the fact that the Japanese differentiate haiku from senryu──a type of verse (or poem) that has exactly the same “form” as haiku but differs in content from it. Actually, there is no rigid “form” for Japanese haiku. Seventeen Japanese onji (sound-symbols) is the norm, but some 5% of “classical” haiku depart from it, and so do a still greater percentage of “modern” Japanese haiku. To the Japanese and to American haiku poets, it is the content and not the form alone that makes a haiku.
Okay? Now can we all just fucking enjoy these silly haiku already?!
Thank you, MGMT
- STDs: The Musical!
- Haiku for Adulthood: Bitter, Sweet
- Haiku for Adulthood: I’m Not Bitter
- Warm Fuzzies
I think about quitting Ashtanga four or five times a year. “That’s all?” said my teacher. The presumption being that most of us think about quitting all the time. And when your practice is lifelong, many of us do succeed at it eventually.
Quitting is as much a part of life as trying, as succeeding. Still. There’s something so unsettling about the term. To throw your hands up and say, “That’s it. I’m done. No more.” It feels like failing.
I’ve been doing this for four years now, which is not very long, in the grand scheme of things, but longer than any relationship I’ve ever had, which feels significant. When I started, I was half-assed on a good day, maybe quarter-assed the rest of the time. I went to an “Ashtanga” class at Cheetah Gym in Chicago once a week with a woman who mentioned every class that she’d been doing yoga since she was nine. Every. Damn. Time. I learned a lot about her children (11 and 14, both did yoga), their hobbies, and sometimes, the “healing circles” she was involved in, but I didn’t learn shit about Ashtanga.
Until I met the yoga teacher who became my girlfriend, who very lovingly and patiently nudged me out of bed every morning for the next 2.5 years. I fell for Ashtanga slowly, not at all the way I fall for women. But fall I did. I loved the way the steam rose from my drenched, exhausted body, the resistant yet persistent changes in my sinews and skin. The small, private miracles I witnessed in myself that no one else did, but which made me euphoric nonetheless.
I also hated it in equal measure. Taking two buses in the pre-dawn darkness. The pain, the fear, the crying. My god, the crying. The torn hamstring that has followed me from shala to shala, city to city, acupuncturist to doctor to ayurvedic healer, with very little change.
What has stuck with me though, long after my relationship with the yoga teacher ended and I was forced to make my own damn coffee in the morning, was the subtle, yet insurmountable joy I felt from the practice. When people would call me crazy or ask what on earth compelled me to get up at stupid o’clock and sweat and grunt and cry in public for two hours a day, six days a week, I would tell them, in all earnestness: “Because it makes me happy.”
And it did, until recently. I started a new job. I started a new relationship. I started losing my mind. My physical pain was unceasing. My emotions all over the place. What once felt buoyant and freeing now felt like something I was destined to suffer through for all eternity. Or until I quit. Whichever came first.
When I talked to my teacher about it, I said, I think I need a break. I said, It hurts too bad. I said, There’s no joy in my practice anymore.
She was, as usual, maddeningly astute: ”We have to cultivate our own joy.”
Joy doesn’t just happen to us. Although it feels like it does. You have a good day, the bus comes right on time, your hair stays straight despite the humidity, and you think, Thanks, Universe. You’re a pal! But what actually matters aren’t the trials or triumphs we experience on a day-to-day basis, it’s how we respond to them. Whether you get friend dumped or you get a promotion, your life still has a motion. It still needs tending. We choose who we let eviscerate us. We choose who we let in. Like Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” By this I don’t mean to downplay the truly terrible things that happen all the time in the world. I don’t mean you are weak for not instantly picking yourself back up off the pavement whenever you’re knocked down. But I do believe our ultimate happiness lies in how capable we are of letting go.
It’s not easy for me most days. But I show up. I do the work. I do it even though somedays it feels like the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I do it because it’s the only way I know to live.
In case you missed it, my old Chicago friend Sarah Terez Rosenblum (who profiled me in the Sun-Times not too long ago) and I did a reading at The Booksmith in June. The theme was OBSESSION, which has to be written in all-caps or it doesn’t count. Sarah read from her debut novel, Herself When She’s Missing, and I read a short personal story called People You Loved Who Weren’t Me. Thanks to Evan Karp for filming, and for keeping the lit scene, well, seen.
And S.F. people — on July 27, I’ll be reading at Lone Glen with some amazing friends. I’m trying to convince one of them to tell a really embarrassing blow job story. We’ll see if that happens.
- People You Loved Who Weren’t Me
- VIDEO: It’s Not Ok, OkCupid
- VIDEO: My first strap-on sex
- Once in reverence and once in despair
At my dad’s house in Tucson, almost everything I picked up was expired. The contact solution. The Aspirin. The Frosted Mini Wheats. I consumed all of it anyway. So far, none of it has killed me. 2008. 2007. A chocolate rose from my senior prom in 2001 might be the oldest thing I’ve yet to throw away. Or a rose pin from godknowswhere, dusty, made from a stiff kind of velvet. I pinned it to my jacket so that I could show you later, like I should be rewarded or something.
The cancer came back. I thought that too had expired, but there it was. I didn’t throw away the contact solution or the Aspirin, but I did throw away the milk, but not before using it in three cups of coffee first. I said, There’s something about drinking coffee all day. I said, It’s because of the Frank O’Hara poem:
oh god it’s wonderful
to get out of bed
and drink too much coffee
and smoke too many cigarettes
and love you so much
And then I remembered the cigarettes.
When I left Tucson this time, he cried. It was the third time I’d ever seen him cry. And when a doughy man in khakis and a white button-down passed me in the airport, I could smell the tobacco on him and it repulsed me but still I walked too close behind him until I saw my gate and was forced to veer. Sometimes I think I’ll die of lung cancer anyway because I grew up around so many smokers. Sometimes I think this is inevitable even though I’ve smoked five cigarettes in my life. Sometimes the smell turns me on. The chemical burn. It smells like bad decisions.
Sometimes I sneeze when I get turned on too quickly and you said that happened to your ex too, and I thought, She’s one step ahead of me everywhere. I thought, I’ll never sneeze again. I thought about this author I know who’s into S&M, who wrote me. I thought about how he cuddled with a friend of mine recently, and how I’d rather beat him up than cuddle him, not that he asked me to do either. Instead he asked, What are you up to? And, When are you coming back? I don’t know him very well, but I feel like I do because of his words, even though people say that about me sometimes and I always roll my eyes. When you write about what cores you, people think they know what cores you. Maybe they do know. Maybe I should stop rolling my eyes so much.
I found my mom’s leather trench coat in the closet, which was covered with mold. I found my grandmother’s bowling shirt with the three crosses and “Anna” stitched to the pocket. I found the IHOP mugs I’d stolen in high school, which was perhaps my greatest teenage “rebellion.” Aside from sneaking out to the Texaco to buy Snapple and Juicy Fruit at 2am.
I texted you at the airport. I texted my ex and my mom and my married woman too. I didn’t want you to be the one to hold my hand through this, but still I texted you. I put my hand out. Because my dad cried and then Adele came on the radio and I thought, I know what you’re doing, Universe, and I’m not falling for it.
I told you there’s a wig loan program at Arizona Oncology. And free qi gong on Fridays. You said, Write that down. So I did. I wrote down “Cisplatin” and “Gemcitabine” even though I didn’t know how to spell them, even though I didn’t want to admit how little I knew about chemo drugs. I know a little more now. I know that Cisplatin is an alkylating agent that disrupts the normal structure of cellular genetic material, DNA. I know that Gemcitabine is an antimetabolite that interferes with cell replication. I know that all of this is a verbose way of saying, We’re going to kill everything.
The doctor showed us an x-ray of the tumor, which was on the left side, near his heart. I couldn’t help but feel the placement was symbolic. I couldn’t help but feel it on my own heart. I found a flyer for an acupuncturist in the waiting room, next to the too-much coffee and the non-dairy creamer I’m allergic to but used anyway. The acupuncturist was a lady with a white-sounding name, and I know he probably won’t call her, but he took the flyer anyway because he loves me. So we just kept drinking coffee and he talked about Tucson politics and how we both wear our hearts on our sleeves and how we’re (still) (always) fucked.
On my last day in Tucson, I took pictures of the Santa Cruz river and recited Jewel lyrics that I still remember, “…of a nation that’s starving for salvation / where clothing is the closest approximation to God / and he only knows that drugs are / all we know of love heyeyeyey.” I took pictures of the sky and thought, In the desert, everything can hurt you if you get too close. I thought, Soon this will be someone else’s home, someone else’s memory because when my dad retires, he’ll have to move out of the not-ours house on University of Arizona property. I thought maybe some other girl will move in and bury coins in the dirt and make out with boys on haystacks and think it’s a good idea to climb a 100-ft grain silo on a dare. And maybe she’ll never find the things she buried and that’ll be okay because they weren’t hers to begin with anyway. Like you.
I wanted to run my fingers along the teddy bear cholla, but didn’t because I’m 29 and not 9. I wanted to show you everything. I wanted you to know me, but you were in San Francisco, and maybe we can’t know anything about anyone. But oh, I wanted you to know then. I wanted to tell you that the Santa Cruz is 225-miles long and that it’s one of the few rivers that flows northward. Except that it doesn’t flow anymore because, in Arizona, rivers are not actually rivers at all, most of the time. I wanted to tell you about the time I ate 3 Eggo waffles before track practice and threw up in the Santa Cruz. I wanted to show you the place where our trailer used to be, except, like the water in the Santa Cruz, it is also gone. They sold it to a guy in Wilcox, my dad said.
But the tree is still there, the one with the trunk painted white that we used to climb. And if you were here, I would point to the air and say, That’s where our cat, Lucky, got stuck in the insulation under the single-wide. He kept meowing and we didn’t know where it was coming from, but eventually we did, and my dad pulled him out. Later he was crawling on the barb wire fence near the rusted tractor parts and was gutted and my dad had to cut the fence off and I had to hold him upright with the barb wire sticking out of his belly while we drove to the vet, and I thought, I’m never calling anything Lucky ever again.
I would point to the ground and say, This is where the Diamondback rattlesnake was coiled up and sleeping one night when we came home from Peter Piper Pizza, and how terrified I was all night, but also sad the next day when my dad told me he chopped it to pieces with a hoe and sold the skin. I thought, But it wasn’t doing anything. It was just there.
I would point to the middle distance and say, This is where I put my first boombox, which broke every tape I ever loved, but not for a while, and I was too dumb to stop using it. I broke Stevie Wonder. I broke Huey Lewis and the News. I broke Mariah Carey and The Beach Boys. Eventually I had nothing left, and started watching TV instead.
If you were here, I would tell you how angry I am and maybe it’s powerlessness and maybe it’s uncertainty and maybe I should stop searching for other words when angry will do just fine. But I can’t because the tumor came back and I can’t because you don’t want to be with me. I would tell you these things, and it wouldn’t change anything, but maybe we would know each other a little better, for a little while.
- Suppose I kept on singing love songs just to break my own fall
- Hitting the High A
- Haiku for Adulthood: Melancholia
- Haiku for Adulthood: Year in Review
In case you missed it, here’s a video of me reading terrible OkCupid messages at the Hazel 3 reading series and playing with my hair too much.
Want more? Follow It’s Not Ok, OkCupid on Tumblr.
Big ups to Evan Karp of Quiet Lightning fame for being a kickass videographer at basically every lit event imaginable. He’s like Spiderman. He always shows up at the right time. Also to Erica Eller, the series host, Rose Tully for selecting me to read without ever having met me, and my fellow fab females, Leanne Milway Chabalko, Sara Marinelli, Arisa White, Alexandra Kostoulas, and Mary Samson, whose videos/readings you can watch here.
- Video: My first strap-on sex
- Why I’ll Never Be An A-List OkCupid User
- Haiku for Adulthood: Sexytime
- More embarrassing videos…
My love is half bird
and half law. It’s up and up
and up, then over.
This crush, relentless.
I am like a cat and she’s
a laser pointer.
Your heart is a street
that has no sign, but still I
found you. I found you.
In therapy, I
talk to pillows about my
qualms with pillow talk.
Give me your deserts.
Here, a girl can wade without
ruining her good shoes.
arm extends. An offering,
or to defend?
- Haiku for Adulthood: My Moon, My Blank
- Haiku for Adulthood: Sentimental Hearts Club Band
- Haiku for the Moon #92-#100
- Haiku for Adulthood: Witchy Woman