Two Sisters On The Night Parade

Olivia was by the window, her face turned away. I was about to call out to her, but I stopped myself. She was leaning against the bookcase and she was crying.

I couldn’t hear anything, but I could see her shoulders trembling. Her hair fell carelessly over her face. Despite some spots of ink, her dress was neat and pressed. Her slight frame seemed that of the little girl I had grown up with.

The room was arranged as neatly as the photos we’d cut out from our mother’s copies of Better Homes magazine. Cream curtains, white couch, a vase of hydrangeas on the windowsill, books lined up neatly on the shelves, the floor spotless. And in the middle of it stood my sister, her sadness perfectly at home in the tidy room. I could hear nothing, not a word, not a sound. Her hair swayed slightly with her sobs. She was looking down at the floor, her body curved in defense. Her right hand clutched an envelope. I couldn’t see the expression on her face, but her misery was clear from the clench of her jaw, the pallor of her neck, and the tense grip of her fingers on the paper.

The reason she was crying didn’t matter to me. I knew her well enough. There could be no reason at all. Her tears had that sort of purity and arbitrariness.

When we were little girls, (read more.)

NB: Follow The Night Parade for more fiction and poetry.

Blender

The Male Gaze Has Pretty Strong Arms And An Erect Penis

I slipped into a pair of jeans, a loose fitting t-shirt, and old Keds I found getting cozy with some dust bunnies at the back of my coat closet. I made a face at myself in the mirror, slinging my bag–a relic from my college days–over my shoulder. Dressed in decade old clothes, sans pearl earrings, watch, and lipstick, I felt vulnerable.

I was dressing, or rather under dressing, for a dentist’s appointment. The location of their office wasn’t sketchy per se, but as a woman who was about to be alone in unfamiliar territory I figured being nondescript was best. I even left Atticus, my iPod classic and constant companion, atop my dresser. Just to be safe.

The fact that I felt all these precautions were even necessary was incredibly upsetting. Why did I have to dress down? Why did I have to leave Atticus behind? Why are men not responsible or held accountable for their urges?  With those thoughts in my head I went on my way.

The bus ride was uneventful and as I stepped onto the curb I was feeling much happier. Summer was in full swing and for once, I was ahead of schedule. I only had a few streets left to navigate from the bus stop to the dentist’s office and having gone over the directions the night before I was confident I would get there without a hitch.

Somewhere between the first right and the third left turn, I got lost. My phone, which was mildly dependable at best, had died. No Google maps; no way to call. Still, I had about half an hour and some memory of where I was supposed to be heading so I walked on.

I’d been wandering around empty streets in a mild panic that was starting to transform into anxiety when I finally thought I recognized the name of the street I was on.

As I was trying to recall whether it was supposed to be a right or left from this street, I looked up and saw a man heading towards me. He seemed harmless enough so I kept walking, planning to cross to the other side before he got close enough for his features to be discernible. He must have taken wide strides because he had planted himself in front of me quicker than I had anticipated.

“Why you alone, pretty mami?”

I averted my eyes and attempted to walk around him, but he was one move ahead of me blocking my way when a voice crept up from behind me.

“Where you goin? We’ll take you there.” His last sentence seemed to wrap itself around me. I felt my skin crawl.

Before I had sense enough to get away, they were on either side of me,  forcing me to walk in step with them. They bantered about my hair, my body, and the tight grip I had on the strap of my bag, entwining me in tobacco breath and the stench of man sweat.

They foresaw my every attempt at quickening my pace or falling back by circling around me. It was an empty street, though fairly open, so I knew they were leading me someplace else.

“Don’t worry. We’re gonna show you a good time,” they jested.

I cursed myself for leaving my can of pepper spray–the one my boyfriend had gotten for me in spite of my protests that it was unnecessary–and for not printing out the directions.

I concentrated my gaze on the road searching for other pedestrians, a passing car, an open window. My two “bodyguards”, as they referred to themselves, had slackened their pace and were veering right, gesturing to each other. I took the curve in the road and their distraction as a chance to run and slipped out from in between them.

I ran, directionless, hammering my feet onto the pavement, unsure if they were running after me.  Sweat and angry tears stung my eyes, blurring my vision. My ankles threatened to snap and my legs were beginning to cramp, but I kept on running, turning down more empty streets. It was the honk of an oncoming car that stopped me. I had run right in to an intersection. The volume seemed to be turned up around me–the heat, roaring engines, laughter, birds chirping–exploding in my eardrums, pecking at my skin.

When I finally walked through my boyfriend’s apartment door, I was exhausted, defeated, and trembling. I knew I had been lucky, but I was livid. I was angry for days after–angry at being told it was my fault, angry that I was afraid of leaving the house alone, angry at the two men that harassed me who would continue to assault other women, and angry at the the culture that made them believe they had some kind of right to me, my body.

Women in ads are part of the problem. They’re there to be leered at, desired, and consumed either wholly or in part.

9321_web-ad_7 5958_american-apparel-ad-amsterdam-nowopen-061 suit-supply dolce-gabbana-gang-rape-adThe two men who harassed me seemed unable to differentiate me from the women in those ads. If it’s socially acceptable for them to leer at and lust over those women, then it’s acceptable for them to direct those same feelings towards me. Like the women in the ads, they saw me as an object of their pleasure and felt justified in doing so. They didn’t care about the revulsion I felt towards them, my thoughts on religion or politics, or that I prefer Sour Patch Kids to M&Ms. I was there, they were there, and therefore they had a right to me. After all, I am a woman–a sexual object, a thing to be consumed and possessed.

With so few women occupying decision-making positions in media–roughly 5% (Status of Women in the Media, 2014)–it’s no wonder female representation is the way it is.

It’s not going to change as soon as I finish typing this and my anger from that day still burns. I felt then, as I feel now–helpless. I don’t remember their faces. I can’t walk the streets in search of them so I can blind them with my pepper spray and kick them in the groin before turning them over to authorities. I wish I could. It would make me feel better, certainly, but it wouldn’t change anything. More men like them would crop up before the bars even closed behind those two.

I began writing this without a clear direction in mind. I knew I wanted to set it down after months of not dealing with it. I was lucky, and it made me feel guilty. Guilty for running away, for not remembering their faces, for letting them go knowing that I was not their first, nor would I be their last.

My boyfriend taught me how to box after that so I take some measure of consolation from the knowledge that I can land a pretty damaging right hook. My dad always told me to close my fist and aim for the throat, but I think it’s better to just run.

oscar

Step Aside, Wonder Woman.

A gigantic THANKS to Tarah (Adorned in Armor) for nominating me for…

versatile-blogger-award“The Versatile Blogger Award is an award given to you by your blogger peers, for writing quality posts that have somehow touched them, having good quality photographs, and the uniqueness of the subjects covered. The award is to honor the bloggers who bring something special to your life.”

You, Tarah, have made me feel all fuzzy inside and very Wonder Woman-like.

ww

The rules of the Versatile Blogger Award are:

Display the award certificate.  
Announce your win and thank the blogger who nominated you.  
Present deserving bloggers with the award.  
Link your nominees in this post and let them know of their nomination with a comment.
Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

It’s my turn to award the following awesome bloggers with their very own Versatile Oscar:

oscar.jpgStories From the Belly

Other Sashas

The Good Greatsby

Bunny and Pork Belly

The Grown Up Kids

Brad Young Art

My Dog Ate A Lightbulb

Chronicles of an English Grad

Be warned! This award has been known to cause severe changes in appearance, an obsession with shiny gold objects, hissing, and split personalities.

gollum1

7 “Interesting” Things About Myself:

1. That’s me pictured above after having this award for a couple of days. I did warn you.

2.  I am pretty obsessive over things I like. I once ate spaghetti everyday for two months–lunch AND dinner. My favorite song is on loop until I absolutely abhor it. If I like you, beware, because you will never be rid of me, my precious.

3.  My very first shipment from Amazon contained 20 books. This was obviously before I thought Amazon was evil.

4. There was a very sad time in my life where I was more of a Quinn than a Daria.

quinn

5. I accidentally set a wicker table on fire at my favorite coffee shop. I couldn’t go back for weeks. It was a very sad time in my life, but not sadder than when I was a Quinn.

6. I really, really like mermaids.

7. Just. The Hiddles. I can’t.

hiddles

Thank you again, Tarah for thinking I’m versatile!

If you guys have suggestions for other deserving blogs, let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for interesting people to follow!

Tittynope!

Now that I’ve got your attention, I just wanted to apologize for my fleeting presence here as of late.  I’ve been busy working on something exciting, which will hopefully come to light very soon.

In the meantime, I’ve been swimming in a pool of unwritten words and here’s one to float on:

Tittynope–is not a denial of a woman’s buxom bosom, but rather a noun meaning a small amount of anything that is leftover. Come to think of it, a tittynope is what remains after I’ve removed my Victoria’s Secret push-up bra (hah).

To my followers who have stuck around–thank you for being such amazing tittynopes! Okay, stopping.

‘Til the next post!

zombie_trade_stock_for_brains

Reasons I am Becoming a Wall Street Zombie

I’ve been called snobby and anti-social, and while I am guilty of avoiding the company of certain people, I’m not a snob; just shy. I’m a pretty quiet person in real life.

Too quiet.

I have a lot of reasons for this. I’ve always been a bookish nerd and a homebody, which probably has something to do with it. Another reason is self-preservation. Years of observation have taught me that sometimes people say really stupid things (Exhibit A: Todd Akin’s infamous “If it’s a ‘legitimate rape’, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” quote) I still say pretty ridiculous things, so it’s not like being quiet makes me immune, but it definitely cuts down on the sheer volume of dumb things I could be saying.

There are some serious drawbacks to being quiet, though. I regularly get knocked over by people who don’t hear me behind them or see me (5’3 is really not that short, guys. Come on.), and I’m 90% sure that if I choked to death in my apartment, no one would notice until the smell of my stinking corpse started drifting into the hallway. I could probably solve those problems by donning a cow bell and buying one of those Life Call thingies, respectively, so they aren’t high on my list of grievances, but there’s one side effect of silence that really bugs me. Because I don’t talk much (unless I’ve had two or more drinks and then good luck), I think a lot of people assume I’m a snob or don’t have much of a personality. This is not cool. There are a bunch of negative adjectives I’d rather have applied to me than snobby or boring.

Things I’d Rather Be Than “Boring” or “Snobby”

- Hairy

- Smelly

- A Wall Street zombie

zombie_trade_stock_for_brains

- The boogeyman

- A zealot

- Crabby

- Misanthropic

Unfortunately, I can’t really blame people for characterizing me that way. I don’t initiate conversations. I don’t leave my house unless forced to. I’ve never given up the internet for an entire year. I’ve never gone swimming with sharks, skydiving, or bungee jumping. One time I accidentally walked out of a McDonald’s without paying for my order, but that’s about as wild and crazy as I get. Frankly, I am kind of boring. I read and crochet for fun. I spent my weekend color coding my closet and alphabetizing my bookshelf. Sometimes I catch myself sitting on the couch, zoning out and staring at my wall. I wish that was a joke.

This should be a non-issue, because I kind of like being boring. I just feel really, really guilty about it. This is partly Theodore Roosevelt’s fault and mostly due to my poor small talk abilities. It’s one thing to think, This alphabetizing project is inexplicably fulfilling! I now crown myself the alphabetizing queen! It’s another thing to go to a party and say, “Uh. I alphabetized my bookshelf this weekend and it was… it was kind of fun.” It’s even worse when a new person asks about my hobbies and I have to say, “Um. I read books and creepily stare at strangers from my window?”, which doesn’t even begin to cover the weird things I get up to to keep myself occupied when I’m alone.

I also don’t think that I’m that dull. Just because I’m not talking doesn’t mean I’m not having a thrilling internal debate about the merits of weed versus alcohol, or thinking about How to Prevent Alien Abductions or  How to Avoid Bursting into Flames. Also, sometimes weird, exciting things do happen to me like the time people thought I was the girl in a vaginal cleanser commercial, or the time I thought I locked myself in a public restroom, panicked, and crawled underneath the stall.

The problem is that very few of the exciting things that happen to me are 100% workplace- or conversation-appropriate. Sometimes when I’m at home, I sit around and watch Happy Days reruns, but sometimes I imagine what it would be like to have T-rex length arms and subsequently attempt to pick up random objects with my elbows, which is the opposite of boring. Unfortunately, I can’t really tell anyone about that because there’s a fine line between being exciting and being crazy, and I’ve never been great at those subtle distinctions.

Perhaps I need to incorporate some more exciting things to my conversations to liven it up.

Exciting Things I Could Do

- Use more exclamation points!

- Dress up as clown

- Start some conversations by jumping out at the person I need to talk to!

- In a large crowd, suddenly start screaming profanities at the person I’m talking to for no reason

- Walk out mid-conversation

- Carry sparklers and confetti around with me!

- Recount the more exciting scenes from Game of Thrones in detail as if they happened to me

I’m not saying talkative people are more interesting than quiet people. I also don’t believe quiet people have the market cornered when it comes to secret depths. The people I find most interesting don’t necessarily have a cool base jumping, or deer hunting, or travel story, but they always have bizarre quirks. I used to know a girl who sucked the nectar out of flowers because she thought it made her breath smell better and she was infinitely more interesting than a guy I met who had spent his gap year traveling, but whose stories only consisted of the different girls he had or had not slept with in each country.

Maybe being intriguing is more about your internal experiences than your external ones. The external ones help shape you, sure, but if you’re relying on them to keep you interesting, I suggest investing heavily in sparklers and confetti just in case.

Theodore-Roosevelt-Success-Photo

Sleep Is For Losers

I am never shutting my eyes again. I blame Tupac.

tupac13

He famously said that “the only thing that comes to a sleeping man is dreams,” and the man may have been onto something.

By the age of 25, Tupac had…

  1. …recorded six albums
  2. …been in five movies
  3. …been in prison for 11 months
  4. …5–no, 8–bullets enter his body
  5. …become a rap legend

I rather like my body sans bullet holes, and while prison seems like it would be a delightful reliving of all-girl high school pleasantries, I think I’ll pass. In spite of having a total of 8 bullets pierce through his flesh, and sitting in a jail cell for ~7920 hours (yes, I did the math), Tupac still managed to accomplish more in his 25 years than I have.

He is not the only one putting my sleepy sloth self to shame. Hemingway and Fitzgerald both published their first novels before they turned 25 and Teddy Roosevelt trumps everybody by being the first man to put the energizer bunny to shame.

Theodore-Roosevelt-Success-Photo

No need to laugh so hard at my lack of accomplishment, Teddy.

By the age of 25, good ol’ Teddy had…

  1. …mastered German, Greek, French, and Latin
  2. …become a published ornithologist
  3. …graduated magna cum laude from Harvard
  4. …beat illness and asthma so handily that he was an amateur boxer, a rower, and when a doctor suggested he get a desk job or die, said, “Doctor, I am going to do all the things you told me not to do.”
  5. …met, courted, and married his first wife
  6. …published a book on the naval war of 1812, which is still used as a textbook
  7. …hunted for buffalo in the Dakotas, where incidentally, someone would later carve his giant head into a mountainside
  8. …began construction on a mansion
  9. …entered Columbia Law School, excelled, and dropped out because he…
  10. …successfully ran for the New York Assembly and had become a prominent member almost immediately.

The man was either a raging insomniac or the most functional sleepwalker to have ever existed.

I’ve been 25 for almost 8 months now and so far, I have…

  1. …mastered the art of sleeping through a fire alarm and the shouts of angry firemen banging outside my door
  2. …forgotten most of what I learned in Spanish class. I can have a conversation in Spanish if no one speaks or listens.
  3. …confused “ornithologist” with “oncologist”
  4. …tasted over 20 different types of alcoholic beverages
  5. …fallen asleep in unspeakable places as a result of imbibing said alcoholic beverages
  6. …never published a book though my friends and I have talked about careers as romance novelists and have the euphemisms to prove it
  7. …have never been athletic at all. Doctors will never have to tell me to sit down because I already do that.
  8. …not become a rap legend because, come on, y’all niggaz can’t handle this
  9. …rejected the idea of law school because…
  10. …it’s obviously so much easier to make millions as a writer.

Clearly, I should be sleeping less, hunting buffalo more, and picking out wallpaper for my jail cell. If I want to be a successful writer before the remaining 3 months I have as a 25 year old are up, I need to forsake sleep and become a multilingual, gun-toting, rapping ornithologist. Challenge accepted.