The Persistence of Memory

Dalí’s clocks came to mind,
As I studied you from the side.
The way your head tilted back,
Pouring down your spine.

On my knees, shivering
Staring at my phone,
Pulling up blades of grass,
One by one by one.

The silence, deafening,
Now drenched in blood,
No one was going to call,
No one was going to come.

Could you taste it, the smell:
Charred rubber and gas?
Could you feel it, the injustice…

I was holding my breath, while you were taking your last.

The Persistance of Memory – Salvador Dalí 

I know, nothing new, but such is how the memory works, it seems.

Time, however, offers a different approach, changing our perspective as it advances, and softening our hearts…if we let it.

And yes, the ghosts still linger, but they are more timely in their departure, melting into the shadows that slowly lose their somber…somewhere between the sun and the sea.

Playa Las Tunas, Todos Santos

For the love of women, you need to watch this…

For those of you who would like a distraction from the mass hysteria over our ‘modern-day plague’, I thought I would offer you something that I think deserves celebrating: today is International Women’s Day.

I love that our day fell on Daylight Saving’s. Because let’s be honest, we do have something inexplicably luminaire that makes you want to linger a little longer…

Of course, being a lover of words, I have countless quotes I wanted to share. But I just happened to watch this video buried in my inbox, and it effing rocked my world.

Plus, it felt appropriate to incorporate something that speaks to the overall objective of the day: “to forge a gender-equal world.”

I admittedly couldn’t finish it the first time through, and it’s less than 3 minutes long. But then I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It’s extremely raw, powerful, and in your face, but I encourage you to watch it until the end.

Because the thing is, whether we want to look at it or not, this really does represent a day in the life of what it feels like to be a woman.

 

 

But let’s end on a celebratory note, shall we? Here are a few words from a previous post that I hope will encourage all of you gorgeous souls to embrace the brilliant, courageous, phenomenal women that you are.

“We are all works of art- rich with texture, radiant colors, and an irresistible shape, all perfectly orchestrated to reveal the complexity of our minds and the depth of our spirits.”

* Featured image by Betty Tompkins. Read more about her work here.

Love, Vaginas & Cockroaches

And so we have arrived: the day of love, V-day, torture, whatever you want to call it.

I know, there are some of you who are happy in love, and that’s a beautiful thing. And then there are those of you who are just indifferent about the whole thing. I guess I’m somewhere on the spectrum between tortured and indifferent, leaning more toward the latter.

Valentine’s Day used to be my favorite. I was always fortunate enough to get a teddy bear or box of chocolates out of the whole thing. And who doesn’t love teddy bears and chocolate? Now, I admittedly find more pleasure in stripping the day down to its historical, not so romantic origins, which are a bit different than our present-day version.

Historians trace V-day back to the pagan festival Lupercalia: “A lovers’ holiday tracing its roots to raucous annual Roman festivals where men stripped naked, grabbed goat- or dog-skin whips, and spanked young maidens in hopes of increasing their fertility.”

Um, yeah.

feature-d-8-lupercalia-thong-whipping

Christianity, of course, replaced the pagan interpretation with its own version. As the story goes, Roman Emperor Claudius II banned all men from marrying in an attempt to strengthen his army. But Valentine refused to comply and continued marrying couples in secret.

It was a lovely gesture and a heroic effort in the name of love. However, the ending isn’t quite as sweet. Claudius eventually hunted Valentine down, arrested him, beat him to death, and cut his head off.

So there’s that.

Now there seems to be a resurgence of death and destruction attached to our jour d’amour. A zoo in Texas (appropriately enough) is celebrating Valentine’s Day by soliciting jilted lovers to assign their ex’s name to a cockroach, and then feed it to a meerkat. No joke.

Not gonna lie, I was tempted. Okay, no I wasn’t, but I might have thought of a name or two.

The abbreviation of the name, V-Day, has also been adapted over the years to pay tribute to other deserving honorees- one of them being our vaginas. Eve Ensler, author of the Vagina Monologues, declared February 14 “Vagina Day” as a campaign to end domestic violence and sexual abuse of women.

I’m sure this made St. Valentine do a somersault in his grave, but I’m all about it. I’m getting way more pleasure from the star of Eve’s show than from Valentine’s. 

And then there’s V-day/Victory Day, of course- a day to celebrate a final military victory, which I’m also all about. 

So here’s my proposition: for those of us on the tortured/indifferent spectrum, let’s designate today as 3V Day – a day to celebrate our love of love, our vaginas (and the protection thereof) and victory over anyone who comes within 10 centuries of our derrieres with a whip.

Don’t worry, guys, we will forbid death by execution (or meerkats) for any wrong-doings. But it might behoove you to utilize the whole “love, honor, cherish” approach just in case…

——

And for all of you, regardless of gender, who have also lost love, or just forgotten what it feels like, you are not alone or forgotten. And although it’s not as cute as a teddy bear or as good as chocolate, here is a Valentine from me to you:

Love doesn’t always look the way we want it to, come from whom we want it to, or unfold when we want it to. But it’s still here, like water, always changing forms, sometimes flowing freely and sometimes evaporating into something we can no longer see or feel.

But it’s still here, filling in the cracks of our broken heart and infusing every breath with life. We just have to keep trying to let it flow freely and trust that, in time, it will return, revealing itself in ways we never expected and replenishing what we thought we had lost, to overflowing.

heart.sidewalk

 

 

 

 

Exposed, Inside & Out

I wouldn’t normally re-post my border-line obsessive edits, especially given the whole “completely exposing myself” thing. But this is more of a revision than minor edits.

It seems I needed to push my comfort zones even further and strip off an additional layer (clearly not in the literal sense, as that wouldn’t be possible 😳).

So for those of you who didn’t immediately skip to the end of Warning, the Following Contains Nudity, you’ll probably catch the added reveal- one that I believe needs to be heard to expose the insidious, relentless impact shame can have on every aspect of our lives.

 

Warning: The Following Contains Nudity

Now that I have your attention, that’s actually not true. Nudity is anything but contained here.

Here’s a sneak peek of a little project I’m working on- an exposé if you will.

 * Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13


If you would have told me a year ago that a Boudoir photoshoot would be in my future, I would have launched into all the reasons why that would never happen. Actually, no, I would have asked you what a Boudoir photoshoot was. I honestly had no idea. 

I think the only way I would have considered it is if I was dating someone who wanted me to. Because really, why else would anyone want to share nude photos of themselves unless out of a desperate need for attention or vanity?

So clearly there’s been a dramatic shift in my perspective. There’s no boyfriend in the picture (literally and figuratively). And yes, I did it for attention, but more to be heard than seen. Because whether we like it or want to admit it, sometimes we have to be seen to be heard.

As far as vanity goes, that’s precisely why we’re here- to dismantle the assumption that our desire to exhibit our bodies comes from excessive pride or need or validation, versus a celebratory expression of our sexuality. More importantly, we need to sever the inextricable ties that still exist between our sexuality and shame.

* Note: I define sexuality as the array of characteristics our gender embodies, including, but not limited to, our sensuality, intellect, courage, empathy, resilience, creativity, intuition, and yes, our power.

This all started as a revelation I had while working on a women’s empowerment project. I would have previously thought this to be a contradiction- how can women be empowered when they are presenting themselves as sexual objects?

But I thought about what the word empowered means. To empower someone is to help them gain strength and confidence by reclaiming their rights and taking control of their lives.

So how are we objectifying ourselves if we decide, on our own volition, to honor the physical form we were born in? No, we are not our bodies. But our bodies are essential for becoming who we are. We can’t exactly work to expand our minds, cultivate our talents, find ways to challenge ourselves and overcome physical and mental hurdles if our heart stops beating.

But I don’t think anyone is arguing against honoring our bodies. It’s just when we choose to do so by showing our bodies that the celebration becomes problematic.

I realize this isn’t a new phenomenon. We have been enduring, resisting, and rejecting rules and restrictions imposed on our bodies for centuries. But even when the “collective we” acknowledge how antiquated this obsession with covering our bodies is, women are still being judged and shamed when they reveal “too much.” And let’s be honest, the majority of those doing the shaming is women.

So I ask you to ask yourself: if looking at these photos makes you uncomfortable, ashamed, or embarrassed, whether for me or just in general, why is that? Where does that come from?

I had to ask myself this question to realize that it was my shame about my sexuality that made me scrutinize the motivation of women posing or dressing in a “provocative” manner. It was my shit, not theirs.

Until relatively recently, my body was always a source of shame. I was either too provocative or too prudish. If I was too thin, I was competition. If I wasn’t “thin enough,” I was undesirable, and not just physically, but in every capacity. 

These beliefs were so entrenched at such an early age, the battle against my body started before I even hit puberty. When my body did start to change, it became an all-out war, and there was no escaping. I was attacked at home, at school, and by all the same messages every girl receives from the media and society as a whole.

This belief that my body defined me and how I used and expressed it was shameful– no matter what I did or didn’t do– destroyed my confidence, thwarted my potential, and obliterated my power.

It has taken me over three decades to realize that my sexuality was not my enemy, is not my enemy. It is, in fact, an untapped source of power.

So this is my declaration, for all of us to reclaim our power. Anyone who has been shamed, judged, humiliated, exploited or abused, we deserve to express ourselves fully, unabashedly, knowing we are invaluable, inside and out, and perfectly flawed.

We are all works of art- rich with texture, radiant colors, and an irresistible shape, all perfectly orchestrated to reveal the complexity of our minds and the depth of our spirits.

It’s time to own it.

No more hiding. No more self-loathing, playing small or resigning ourselves to saran wrap and spanks. It’s simply time to embrace our bodies- every curve, fold, and imperfection- be bold with our desire, demand pleasure as our inherent right, and stand our ground until it’s understood: SHE COME FIRST!!! (Men, for the love of women, PLEASE read this book!!!)

And we must eradicate the deeply entrenched belief that we can’t be smart and sexy, that we have to repress one to be the other. F*ck that.


Denny’s Magic

Initially, I was set on hiring a female photographer. But when I saw Denny Fenbers’ work, I was all in. His photos are works of art, which is exactly how he made me feel- like a muse inspiring creative expression, not an object being exploited by someone’s gaze.

There is something transformative that happens when we are completely exposed and liberated from the power we give our reflection. I was no longer reduced to my imperfections. I was the essence of the bold, playful, uninhibited girl I lost when I let my scars define me. And she felt stunning, almost ethereal, teasing the light and dancing with the shadows that shaped my silhouette.

It was a magical experience that can’t be stripped down to nudity or vanity. It was a chance to celebrate the qualities that make me beautiful that have nothing to do with my body- which I personally think is the least intriguing thing about me.

I’ll leave it at that for now and linger in the memory of my experience, mainly to distract myself from the sheer terror of releasing these photos into the ethers…

 Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
 – Maya Angelou

2019-12-06-163045-6564 med

 

2019-12-06-173232-6641 med

Boudoir.Woman.Up.

Boudour.back.Revised

Burying the Dead

Just not this year

I didn’t think it would happen this year. Not that I thought I wouldn’t think about it, I just hoped it would come and go before I realized it.

But then the Christmas lights went up, and the ghosts came down.

And there I was- standing in the middle of the store, trapped between boxes of stuffing and cans of cranberry sauce that towered over displays of pumpkin pie- sinking to my knees, watching them die…one by one by one.

But we weren’t going to do this again, remember? That was the deal. I just had to make it through one more Thanksgiving and one more Christmas, and then next year would be happy. This year would be happy.

But it was too late. The countdown had begun, your ghosts unleashed, and we were all going straight to hell…

Back to the accident.

But this year, it’s more than just the memory of it. It’s now morphed into this fucked up source of shame. I mean, honestly, it’s been three years, and they’re dead, and I’m not. It’s time to move on.

And then shame turns to guilt. Because what kind of person could just dismiss it and move on? And then comes rage, because I keep ending up in this horrible place. And I don’t want to write about it anymore.

But every night, they find their way in, under the covers and into my head, seizing my thoughts, ravaging my sleep, demanding words in exchange for peace.

And the hope that maybe next year, they’ll let me bury the dead.

It’s always the same scene that haunts me. But, it’s not of the accident. It’s a memory I’ve never had, in a place I’ve never seen.

I have no idea what his house looked like or how big his family was, or if he even celebrated Thanksgiving. But that’s where I go, to his living room- his family seated around a long table, lined with white porcelain plates, matching bowls and platters, all strategically placed around an elegant flower arrangement, candles on either side.

A younger version of him, maybe his little brother, strains to grab the bowl of stuffing his mom is passing to him, both reaching across the empty space between them, the one she always sets, where he no longer sits.

 

 

 

Echoes of Paris

I pushed through the splintered door- weathered from centuries of rain and neglect, that never seem to relent. The smell of Frankincense and Myrrh lingered, cutting through the damp chill and deafening silence echoing across the room…

The day, beginning its end,
Poured through the stained glass.
Drowning out images of sin,
And my redemption.

Flooding the room with gold,
Holding the shadows at bay.
Forcing my eyes to close.
And your resurrection.

paris.girl.                                             
                                                   * Painting by Emanuel M. Ologeanu
                                                         

 

* Painting by Emanuel M. Ologeanu

 

 

 

 

 

Resurrection

Take me there, where nothing is familiar,
And everything, an adventure.

Where foreign languages swirl around us,
Exotic music spilling into the streets.

A world away from fear,
So deeply entrenched, we dare not risk,

Leaping, falling…breaking.

Take me there, faith restored,
And dare me to do something we shouldn’t.

 

Peanut Butter

They all won’t be sad, promise.

And for those of you who have already read this one, apologies for the repeat. It’s just, I took the first bite of my apple…

Mushy apples, wet peanut butter, cigarette smoke.
Plastic straws, caged animals, tree stumps.
Distended bellies, oppressed souls, false hope.

Hiccups, parking tickets, splintered wood.
Sirens, screeching brakes, raised fists.
Apathy, the sound of pain, someday I should.

You deserve the best, cold feet, flights home.
Bad timing, broken promises, empty words.
Twilight, sleeping alone…waking up alone.

Heather.Horton.Girl.Bed

Illustration by Heather Horton

* Cover illustration by Ashley Bowersox

Cream or Sugar

Maybe in another lifetime,
Our fates liberated from the confines of continents,
The injustice of timing,
The pre-existence of her and him.

Maybe then… you’d know.
coffee.window