swallow it whole
I’m not eating much
want to be thin
I want to be
–Charla M. DelaCuadra
swallow it whole
I’m not eating much
want to be thin
I want to be
It feels like this week has lasted half a lifetime, no? Our lives are becoming very different, day by day. After several weeks of will-they-won’t-they, I am now working from home for at least the next five weeks. The state of California has issued a directive to stay home except for essential errands. All non-essential businesses are closed in Los Angeles County. And around the globe, many, many people are sick.
It is easy to feel helpless or despairing at times like these. A global COVID-19 pandemic is certainly cause for concern, alarm, caution, and consideration. That being said, with an abundance of care, we can make it through this together. Some tips and musings below:
It looks like a lot of us will be cozying in and social distancing for a few days or weeks thanks to the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Please everyone take good care and limit potential exposure, wash your hands, and remember we are all in this together. Find a balance that works for you in terms of staying informed vs. bad-news overload, maybe buy a gift card to a local restaurant to help them through the slump (plus you get an outing later!), take precautions, and get some rest.
In the meantime, I realized I haven’t yet shared the new mix of throw pillows I have in my living room. I was feeling drawn to warm neutrals, so I swapped out a few for a fresh, casual new vibe. It seems like this is a view I might have for a bit — I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
I was having a conversation with a friend recently about movies and nostalgia, and childhood. Somehow we got to Mary Poppins, which I haven’t watched in years but remember very fondly. I feel sheepish even typing this, but all of a sudden a realization hit me like a thunderbolt — Jane and Michael’s mother was a suffragette. I remembered (barely) her “votes for women!” line in the song Step in Time, but I never connected the dots. Mrs. Banks was depicted as a bad mom, neglectful and flighty, because she spent her time blithely campaigning for a woman’s right to vote rather than staying at home with her children. She had a nanny. A nanny who had to show Jane and Michael love and care with a sprinkle of magic, because their parents were blind to their emotional needs.
I’m not sure if it is sadder that this movie depicts a suffragette as a terrible mother, or that it took me decades to realize it. Sexism, female subjugation, and the expectations of motherhood are so deeply ingrained in our patriarchal society that even a self-professed feminist can be blind to things that are painfully obvious. That Mrs. Banks trades in her sash and signs for kite-flying with her family at the end of the film seems obvious, the perfect ending. Another woman perfectly tucked away, motherly and nonthreatening. And I didn’t even notice.
Women, the vote, and societal expectations are big topics on my mind these days as we head through the primaries and towards Super Tuesday. We have two remaining female candidates for the Democratic nomination, both of which have bucked the societal expectation that women shut up, stay home, and mother their children. And there is a nation full of women who have the right to vote, when less than 100 years ago we did not. I don’t want this moment in time to go unnoticed. And I don’t want the sacrifices of so many women a century ago to go unnoticed. Send in your ballots, get out and vote next week, and make sure people take notice. Let’s make this our time.
You have my heart.
I’m not sure you wanted it,
but it sits on your desk
(in the corner)
where sometimes it catches your eye
and you remember (me) for a while.
It beats (for you)
you don’t notice.
So easy to take
sitting there on the shelf,
over the years.
I can’t seem to ask for it back,
as much as its absence pains me,
because one day
you’ll realize what a
how rare and precious
it is that you have,
on your shelf,
that you mostly
can’t help but
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I am in life and where I am headed, and whether I am ready to make a leap into something new. I’ve been agonizing over finding the right decision, over and over as is my wont. All of sudden on my commute home the other day, though, I had a real moment of clarity: what if there isn’t actually a right answer? Or, more importantly, what if there isn’t actually a wrong answer? I immediately felt a weight lift off my shoulders at the thought. Perhaps, after all is said and done, each path I might choose has potential. Each path has its own validity. And no matter what I choose, I will be okay. I will be okay.
I think perhaps I have tried to “do what’s right” for so long that doing something I want ceased to be a consideration. Or what I “want” became conflated with “wanting to make the right decision.” Either way, what will actually make me feel happy and fulfilled has gotten lost in the shuffle. I cannot explain how revolutionary it is to consider that perhaps there is no one right answer. And now, armed with that insight, I finally feel like I have permission from myself to move forward in a way that will make me happy. I don’t have to feel obligated to check the “right” boxes. Of course, in the abstract I am aware that there isn’t a right or wrong answer for many things. We exist in perpetual shades of grey, where things are often subjective. For some reason, though, it has never really occurred to me that was the case for my life.
It occurs to me that the patriarchy has insidious finger-holds in so much of our societal consciousness. As a woman, we have rarely had the luxury of asking ourselves what we want. And even though, in theory, we have progressed to a point where that is an option, can we really make those choices freely? So much of our self-worth and happiness is tied up in making others feel happy and cared-for. A spouse, children, our aging parents… they have needs we are conditioned to want to meet, and our own needs be damned — or at least, swept under the rug into unobtrusive invisibility. I’ve decided I don’t want my desires to be forced into invisibility any longer.
I am incredibly lucky to have good people around me — people I love and trust and can rely on. Maybe it is time to release the vise-grip I feel like I have to maintain on my image, the way I want people to see me, and the way I feel like my narrative should unfold? Part of my fear in choosing wrong is that I will be judged, or seen as wanting somehow. That not choosing correctly equals failure. But then, so what? No matter how much I try to convince myself otherwise, I truly have no control over how people see me, feel about me, or whether they will judge me. Nor can I possibly please everyone.
So, as we embark on a new year, I am thinking a lot. I am beginning to plan ways I might like to move forward with me in mind. Not what I feel I should do, not what I think I have to keep doing, but what will fulfill me. It is a strange feeling, I have to admit. I feel selfish (I’m not) and perhaps a little bit adrift. I’m going to try to move through that discomfort to a place of discovery, though, and I’m looking forward to the ride. See you on the other side.
I could really fuck myself up over a boy like you
(and by “I could” I mean “I am”)
with that slow crooked smile,
that kindness, that quick-witted humor that makes me smile
until you shatter me with silence.
Those stupid beautiful eyes twist me up, make me ache,
make we crave/need/want
as only a book-loving writer of a boy could (and can, and does).
A constant state of yearning is de rigueur as long as you’re here
yet not here, as present/absent as a quantum reckoning.
Oh, honey — you’ve fucked me up bad and I’m off to the races,
off-kilter, off in dreamland as I wait wait wait for you to wake up,
to love me, to make me feel like I matter, am matter, am solidly a part
of that life you keep close to the vest that I so desperately want to inhabit.
Thumb is out for this hitchhiker, this will o’ the wisp black-hole-dense dreamer
who loves you and might even gift you her smile
if you would only open your eyes.