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Things I (Almost) Never Regret Doing

Published March 25, 2013 by pipsqueak
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now that’s what i call texting (via wikinut)

1. Writing a letter to people I love

2. Going for a bike ride where I get lost and find unique little places I’ve never visited before

3. Not waiting til midnight to start my math homework. It’s at less of an advantage when I’m in a mental state of steely levelheadedness, anyway.

4. Asking someone cute out. You never know! A little asking never hurt anyone! And even if you fail, you get Bravery Points. Or something. Just try.

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worst case scenario, this is you! (via cbc)

5. Having a conversation with a friendly-but-not-in-a-creepy-way stranger

6. Doing exercise. Or anything at all to prevent my muscles from atrophying.

7. Cooking something that is delicious and nutritious. Or just delicious.

8. Speaking up about something I care about.

9. Publishing a freaking blog post

 

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Sea Song

Published March 24, 2013 by pipsqueak

Are you surprised to find yourself still alone?

just as you were moments before?

and as you were yesterday?

and last week

as well?

Once he hunched up under his workdesk

and carved into the most fragile membranes of his wrist

Not trying to empty his heart out, no

Just to change the dull direction a bit

Give new bearing to his bloodflow

 

Stranger, do not attack your skin

Instead, walk from room to room,

Opening closets, greeting the hunched and gnarled creatures within

 

Pain is the Siamese twin of joy

And you must accept its thorny bear hug

Throw yourself into the stinging waves of uncertainty

You are tossed in the frigid surf of it

It is nothing more than  motion

It will burnish you soft as misty sea glass

And throw you, naked, back on the shore

Drunk St. Patrick’s Day Revelers On The Train Back From Chicago: Some Notes

Published March 17, 2013 by pipsqueak
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weirdly nationalistic drinking day (via bloggingthelaw)

Everything is so fucking green on this fucking train.

We walked through a river of drunken, green-colored humanity to get here. I thought we were done with them when we got on the train (which is pleasingly beige and burnt-umber colored).

But then they flooded in, talking loudly about iced tea and farting and about who was going to sleep on who. Green glittery eyeshadow, green manicures, green mardi gras beads, green t-shirts and sweaters and pants. The accessorizing is remarkable, but it is in the headgear category that the revelers have truly outdone themselves. Sequined green fedoras with shamrocks on them, plush hat type things that surround the wearer’s face with giant shamrock leaves, foam leprechaun hats, headbands with springs that erupt into feathery nylon explosions. Some people have their hair painted green, sprayed until both scraggily goatee and skin below are garishly verdant.

A trifecta of terrible themed t-shirts:

  • Irish you were beer
  • I {mustache} you for beer
  • A green shirt that said Keep Calm and (Probably Something About Beer, but it was obscured by a North Face)

I am feeling kind of smugly superior but mostly really annoyed that the calm of our train ride has been shattered by loud, slurred speech and the smell of cheap beer. If someone tries to pinch me because I’m not wearing green, I will end them.

Someone just mooned the second half of the train and is now chanting “THIS IS AMERUCA. USA USA USA USA.”

Two women disappeared into the bathroom together. A drunken man tries to tell the suspicious conductor,  not very convincingly, that they are sisters.

Over the course of the train ride, I have become irritable and hateful of the color green. The color  now produces a knee-jerk reaction wherever I see it. I saw the green shutters on a charming cottage of a house and I became angry at the house.

Breakups

Published March 14, 2013 by pipsqueak
my heart hurts cuz i fell out of love and now i have to die

a sentiment we can all appreciate

Like snowflakes, children, and locally-sourced fair trade coffee cups, every breakup is unique.

The first girl I ever dated broke up with me a few weeks after we started. She summoned me to her locker after school and told me that she no longer had feelings for me. I went home, made myself a cup of tea, sat in my bed, and sobbed. I’m a thrash-y crier, apparently, because I managed to spill the scalding liquid on my chest. It left a little fingerprint-shaped shadow of a scar on my left boob, vaguely above my heart. Poetic and pathetic.

Despite my self-inflicted third-degree burn, I had to go to work 30 minutes later. As I numbly scanned groceries, my eyes prickled with tears and my insides twisted with nausea. In the more Spock-like, less wretched part of my brain, I coolly observed my sadness. I marveled at how effectively and completely this had eviscerated me. It was a lethal kick to the emotional testicles.

Since then, there have been more breakups. There are myriad reasons – you’re creepy, I’m too emotionally detached for this, you are cute but someone else is cuter. And each one has a different feel. During one slow, painful, circuitous breakup, I felt like I was pulling out rotten molars with no anesthesia. I just wanted it to be over, but the roots of our relationship were deep and it took a lot to finally pull free. This sort of breakup leaves you feeling completely drained, just a shitty shell of a person deserving of no pity.

Another time, after putting up with a lot of bullshit for an extended period of time, I more or less snapped. I felt coldly triumphant during that breakup, like some sort of Feelings Terminator. This, I am pretty sure, is not healthy. Learn from me, children. If you stew until you hate your friend/partner so much that you lose all ability for pity and tact, you should have said something sooner.

Parting ways always feels a little weird to me. After all, it’s the human instinct to connect and stay together, and being thrust from someone’s life or removing someone from yours requires willful contradiction of this rule. There’s almost always a bouquet of unpleasant emotions that accompany the breakup: guilt, pining, jealousy, the total loss of dignity that accompanies begging someone to take you back.

But if your connection with someone has totally curdled, it’s better to break it off than let the negativity and weirdness creep into the rest of your life. There are literally billions of other people out there, so don’t romanticize someone or something that’s just not doing it for you. Cut that relationship off like its a finger with gangrene.

gentle heart

Published February 28, 2013 by pipsqueak

I am not of a wounding spirit

rather I have a gentle heart – Sappho

 

It’s a thought that crosses me sometimes. It surfaces after I have been walking around, dressed to impress, making small talk, doing my homework, looking out for number one. It hits me when I’m trying to live my life as best I can.

It’s all superfluous to this fact: I can’t stand the negative impact my life has on the planet. I can’t stand the factory farms behind my food, the pollution caused by the lights in my room, the war for the fuel for the bus I take. I want my net worth to this planet to be one that leaves it a better place. It’s a useless desire, but it drives me to make little symbolic efforts that I hope will somehow resonate in a meaningful way: I eat vegan, I recycle plastic, I ride my bike. I know it’s not making a difference, and that pains me too.

And it’s not just the earth. I’m guarded, jaded, a girl encased in a shell. So is everyone else. There comes a moment after too many long minutes of meaningless small talk that I just want to say, “TALK TO ME. TELL ME YOUR DEEPEST SECRETS. I WILL NOT JUDGE YOU, AND I WILL GIVE YOU MIND.” I don’t care who it is, I want to talk to people. I want to kiss people on the cheek. I want to give people hugs. I don’t like these carefully pruned images we make of ourselves. I want to be messy, close, familiar with each other.

I’ve learned to be tough, but I just want to be vulnerable with other people. It’s the ones with the thickest shells who most need to reach out, to hold another warm hand.

Book Review: The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer

Published February 1, 2013 by pipsqueak

The Dark Wife is a book with very specific appeal. This book is for the girls who wished all the Disney Princesses kicked as much ass as Mulan. This book is for the girls who made their Barbies into action heroes. This book is also for the girls who wished that Ariel would get rid of her boring prince and go on some more adventures.

ariel and pocahontas

now kiss. (source)

That isn’t to say that The Dark Wife isn’t enjoyable to more general audiences- it’s an enjoyable story in and of itself. But it’s a true boon to those of us who love mythology and mysticism but are frustrated with the lack of truly inspiring and multifaceted female heroines in these genres.

The Dark Wife takes the best bits of the mythology of Ancient Greece, queers it and serves it up as a lyrically-crafted fairytale. Diemer’s writing style is a pleasure onto itself to read. She weaves poetic metaphors and elegant turns of phrase into a readable and fast-moving story. Hemingway she’s not, but her  lush descriptions of the heroines and their fantastic surroundings are  pure pleasure to read.

The female Hades is an austerely beautiful, black-eyed woman whose name has been slandered by the selfish Zeus.

Her eyes were black, every part of them, her
skin pale, like milk. Her hair dropped to the small of
her back, night-colored curls that shone, smooth and
liquid, as she cocked her head, as she gazed down at
me without a change of expression. She wasn’t
beautiful—the lines of her jaw, her nose, were too
proud, too sharp and straight. But she was
mesmerizing, like a whirlpool of dark water, where
secrets lurked.

I hope I'm not the only one who immediately thought of Noomi Rapace. mmmm.

I’m not saying Hades is Noomi Rapace… but yeah she is

SWOOOOOOON. Hades is a god(dess) of riches and well as the dead, an oft-overlooked detail that Diemer uses for lovely aesthetic effect: Hades’ kiss leaves a dusting of gold on Persephone’s hand.

aww yis goddess kisses

aww yis goddess kisses

Zeus, King of Gods is cast as the villain in The Dark Wife, and he’s more or less the same domineering, bullying rapist in the legends. For those of you unfamiliar with the King of Gods, he was known to go out in disguise (white bull, swan, shower of gold coins) and having his way with whatever attractive mortal/nymph/goddess who took his fancy. His victims often suffered transfigurations into wild beasts post-assault. No further villainization required.

Besides Zeus, the God of Thunder and Being The Worst, this story included Demeter, the well-meaning mother, Athena (including a human lover named Pallas) and a significantly more spirited Persephone. 

by enayla

source: enayla

Let’s talk about the lesbians. The Dark Wife is full of homoeroticism from the beginning. And there’s no coming-out angst, no trauma of familial rejection. It’s quite refreshing. Instead of agonizing over why she doesn’t desire some Adonis action, Persephone unabashedly admires and desires other women. Diemer captures the storminess and uncertainty that even hot immortals feel when falling in love.

source: wrenling27

source: wrenling27

There’s also a pretty interesting underworld citizen-discontent theme. Without revealing too much, they also subvert the violent hero-worship of the original legends and question the justice of the Greek afterlife. The Dark Wife has a style of conflict resolution similar to that found in Miyazaki films, with an emphasis on compassion and nonviolent problem solving (although there is a small amount of very satisfying Poison-Ivy style asskicking).

Especially recommended for fans of mythology and queer/feminist lit, The Dark Wife is a delicious little lesbian fairytale. I recommend making yourself a cup of Pomegranate Green Tea and devouring it over a cozy afternoon.

athenaandpersephone

(I’d like to apologize for the gratuitous queer fairytale art in this review. Actually, wait, no I don’t, because queer fairytale art is the best.)

 

The Dark Wife is available on Sarah Diemer’s website in several formats, including a free ebook and audiobook for those who can’t afford to pay for the book.

Book Review: The Complete Poems of Sappho

Published January 31, 2013 by pipsqueak
complete-poems-sappho-willis-barnstone-paperback-cover-art

sappho no no no don’t hide we love you

My first exposure to Sappho was when I picked her as the subject of my Famous Ancient Greeks presentation in sixth grade. My most salient memory of this presentation was asking my teacher in a whisper before the presentation:

“Should I tell the class that she was a lesbian?

Her answer, accompanied by smirk: “It depends. Do you think they can handle it?”

(I didn’t.)

I do remember that her poems seemed pretty dry and nonsensical. Part of this I blame on the fact that only fragments remain of most of her work. But the other problem was that the language was boooorrrrriiiiiingg. It was like fake Shakespeare. This, to me, is tragic. Nothing detracts more from intimate loveliness and honesty than unnecessarily grand language. The truth of the poem gets weighed down and drowned by large words. It’s sad.

Seven years later, my dear friend gave me a copy of The Complete Poems of Sappho, translated by Willis Barnstone. She was very, very excited about this edition. So were the people who wrote testimonials in the front of the book.

“If there is any final justice, which there probably isn’t, the world of letters would erect a monument of Willis Barnstone and strew it with fresh wildflowers ever day.” – Jim Harrison

“…this is the book of Sappho you want on your bedside table.” – David St. John

And although these conjured hilarious images of venerable writers capering around in togas and throwing petals onto “The Complete Poems of Sappho” and/or snuggling with “The Complete Poems of Sappho” before bed every night, they were right. It’s a damn good collection of poetry.

I won’t try to wax lyrical overmuch about Sappho, because there are a zillion academics and published authors who have done it better. Instead, I’ll share a few poems that really hit me in the feels. And oh man, there are so many to choose from.

from the greek word for feels, φιλία (philia)

greek root: pheeeeelia

What is it about Sappho? On the surface, there are many things that make her remarkable. The first real prolific women writer, almost certainly queer, and the probably victim of book burnings and the erosion of time. What remains of her work is exquisite fragments.

And then there’s the fact that no one really knows what she looks like. Barnstone’s book illuminated her life as fully as he can, providing details and popular opinion about her appearance, sexuality, and family life. Although it’s fun to try to put her poems into the context of her life, a lot of her charm is in her mystery.

Also, that means everyone comes up with a different idea of what she looked like. Most artists decided that she was probably super hot. The Victorians made my favorite Sappho: Exasperated Fauxhawk Sappho.

apparently the gay-girl faux-hawk goes way back

swoon

Here are a few of my favorite poems from Barnstone’s translations. I picked these because they were especially potent to me. Sappho’s forte is transmitting distilled emotion in just a few words.

Abuse

Often

those

I treat well are just the ones

who most harm me

vainly

You I want

to suffer

In me

I know it

Ugh, who doesn’t know this? There are those people who hurt you and you cut them out of your life, there are those people that don’t really challenge you, and then there are those that cause you pain but have some astounding other qualities so you take them in anyway. On the other hand, you could read this poem as an example of someone in an unhealthy relationship, à la “Love The Way You Lie.” There are four missing lines between the first and second stanzas, so the reader can fill in the gaps for whatever fits them.

Paralysis

Sweet mother, now I cannot work the loom

Sweet Afroditi broke me with longing for a boy

Ah, longing for a boy/girl/person! All-consuming crushes happen to everyone, even enigmatic greek poetesses.  Weaving? Ha! You have a crush, which requires 85% of your useable headspace to be devoted to reliving small conversations and mentally murmuring their name and being shocked by how cute their nose is. You’re in no condition to do… loom stuff. Sappho gets it.

A Ring

Crazy woman

Why are you bragging to me about a ring?

I love this one because it’s saucy. Saucy Sappho is the coolest. She also delivers poetic burns to her brothers, when they are acting like idiots, and to some of her immature ladyfriends. This is a fragment, and I can only imagine the incredible rant that must have followed those opening lines.

"Gorgo I love you but mmmmgurl you need to stop"

“Girl I love you but you are a total troglos”

No Oblivion

Someone, I tell you, in another time

will remember us

I love this Sappho. This poem feels like a conversation, like she has put her hand on my shoulder. She’s so sweet, reassuring the reader that nothing is lost. In her case, it’s true. We’ll be enjoying Sappho forever, even though she’s been in the Elysian Fields for the last few milleniums.