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Apr. 14th, 2012

Travel Trouble

The inside of an airport.

Individuals sitting at the gate waiting for their time to board or walking in either direction upstage, going to their gate, baggage claim, or even the restroom.

A group of individuals disembarks from their flight, and a woman makes her way to join the individuals sitting at the gate. She is waiting for her connecting flight.

A voice comes over the intercom: "I'd like to welcome you to St. Louis, and I hope you enjoy your stay here with us. Come back and see us again, soon."

The woman stands, illuminated now by a spotlight.

Woman: Sitting in the airport, I wonder what it means to have been someplace. Truly been there. Have I been to St. Louis if I've only sat in this airport terminal for an hour before going to my final destination? I want to say no. But that seems clearer for airports, which are eerily similar no matter where you go, likely for my own comfort as a traveler, making it easier to make a connecting flight such as this in the first place. But being in this airport tells me nothing about St. Louis or Missouri. Even the Boston airport, with its murals of fishes in the floor tile doesn't tell me much about Massachusetts -- I already knew they had fish. Have I been to Boston because I took the subway from the airport, even though I've only really seen my hotel and the adjacent mall? Malls and hotels aren't that different, either, no matter where you go -- though it still strikes me as odd that malls in Texas are only one floor high. Is this why people buy souvenirs on trips? To have some kind of proof of where they've been? I've been to Boston, but I haven't experienced it, and I certainly haven't experienced St. Louis. There's a part of me that only wants to claim I've been to places where I've spent enough time to get to know them and understand how they are different and unique from where I've been before. Only when I've gotten a sense of their history and culture -- and not just what I could learn from a brochure in the Welcome Center driving through on a long car ride. Maybe that's why I like the window seat on airplanes. Taking off and landing, I can get a sense of the geography of a place, even if I won't get to meet the people or see the sights. Leaving West Virginia I get one long last look at the mountains I called home for so long. In Texas I marvel how square and even and geometrical everything is, whereas in Boston the cities hugged the curves made by rivers and water. This tells me something about the people living their lives thousands of miles below me, but not enough. I can't imagine being a flight attendant or pilot -- going everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I'd like to actually visit St. Louis sometime, and not just eat a pizza in the airport before my connecting flight.

Apr. 10th, 2012

Face-to-Face

A spotlight stage right on two women sitting across the table from one another at a restaurant. They are having a conversation, catching up, During a lull in the conversation, one of the women gets a look in her eye like she wants to say something but doesn't know how. The scene freezes with the women looking into each others' eyes.

A woman enters stage left, walking downstage. She represents the woman at the table trying to figure out what to say. She stops and stands, speaking simultaneously to the audience and her lover. Somewhere in the middle of the monologue the lights can fade slowly on the table.

Woman:

I don't know why it is so hard for me to talk to you, face-to-face. That's not true. I know why, but I wish I knew what to do about it, or how to make communication easier between us. I grew up with a father whose authority would not be denied, even when he was wrong. I grew up in a household where I learned two speeds of communication: screaming and denial. No, make that three and add in passive-aggression. I learned that arguments were the end of the world and that disagreements ended with screaming and smashing and tearing and doors slamming and cars pulling out of the driveway. Every fight between my parents seemed like the end of the world and my sister and I had our plan to run away from home all figured out by the time I was eight years old, just in case.


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Mar. 3rd, 2012

Why?

Why?

It seems like such an innocent question.

Children ask it, after all.

"Why is the sky blue?"

That's the one people always reference, right?

And most of us don't outgrow that need to question, that need to know, even when applied to larger questions, like:

Why isn't life fair?

Why do people suffer?

Why me?

Why?

Such a seemingly simple question. Three small letters. One of the first questions we ever ask and possibly the only question countless individuals have dedicated their lives to attempting to answer. For can't entire religions and political platforms be traced back to that small but powerful syllable - why?

And why is it that this question holds such power over us? Why will we gather blindly around anyone who seems to have an inkling of an answer, even following without question just to have a reprieve from asking ourselves? You see - I can't even attempt to get to the bottom of the problem without invoking the word myself. Why?

Why?

Why?

Children ask it in an endless stream, to be placated by their parents with "Because I said so," or even just "Because." But eventually that stops being enough for us - if in fact it ever was.

So why do we need to know why?

Do we think that another iota of knowledge will somehow ease our fears or stop our pain? Knowing why doesn't change the present, so what do we hope to gain by its answer? Reasoning to craft into a narrative and tie up into a little package, perhaps. Confirmation of our worst fears or maybe just the opposite if we're lucky. We think that life must be ruled by cause/effect and we live it as such, making up excuses for why bad things might have happened to us that we think we don't deserve. Karma. Original sin. The bourgeoisie. We take such comfort in stories - why else are you here? - and I think that deep down, we're all just a little bit terrified to think that life might just be unfair, chaotic, unreasonable.

Why?

Why?

Why?

We pound the word into the heavens, demanding an answer that may never come. We'll make up lessons learned from it, or reasons we deserved it whether we have to go to a past life our our future to find them.

But maybe, all along, the answer really was 

"Because."

Time

A room with a million clocks. Okay, not a million. But a lot. Old clocks, new clocks, digital clocks, analog clocks, cuckoo clocks, grandfather clocks, alarm clocks, pocketwatches - you name it, there is one, or more than one. They don't need to be synchronized or even set to the same time zone. If the sound of ticking isn't already made loud by the sheer amount of clocks present on stage, the sound can be amplified by microphones or by a ticking sound cue played throughout. The ticking should be loud enough to be distracting, annoying, and impossible to block out. Maybe a man even comes on stage periodically to say "Three o'clock and all's well......Quarter past three and all's well.....Three twenty-four and all's well......"

Two people sit at a table onstage, trying to have a conversation. Each has to speak up to be heard, and no matter where one's eyes go, a clock is there. If possible, one or both people should also be wearing watches, so that even looking down at the table one is confronted by time. They try to enjoy themselves and to connect, but it is apparent that the incessant ticking wears and grates on them.

Finally, they stop trying to speak and just stare into each other's eyes.

Then one gets up and leaves.

The other sits, the ticking boring into the brain, until s/he goes mad or bursts into tears.

Feb. 19th, 2012

Tangled Webs

I feel the truth catch in my throat and a now-familiar lie escape instead. Who am I going out with tonight? "Just a friend." Both true and untrue, as I dance with her in a space between "friend" and "girlfriend" where antiquated terms like "lover" don't slip off the tongue nicely, either. We don't know what words to use to describe ourselves, and I'm starting to learn to place value on the look in her eyes and the feel of her hand on my back instead of some term that will justify my feelings to strangers, or even friends.

So used to saying, "No" when asked if I have a boyfriend or if I'm seeing anyone, whether or not I happen to be having some kind of relationship or not at the time. So used to laughing about how busy I am studying, and biting my tongue when people say that a pretty girl like me could have a guy by now if she wanted. I've learned to perfect those lies, it's true.

But I've never lied to you before, even when I lied to everyone else. And as I felt the lie so naturally escape my lips over the phone, I realized that I don't want to be free of one prison just to wind up in another. This new secret, this new fear, a coming out all over again as I wonder how to explain polyamory to people who are just fine with monogamous queerness. Could you accept that this woman I am growing to love has a boyfriend, too?

Will you silently pity me as you decide I am being used or abused, shaking your head at my naivety and desperation. Will this only reify the worst rumors of bisexuality, providing proof that some people do refuse to "choose"? With all the fuss about gay marriage, how do you feel about those who don't want or need that for themselves? Won't I make you look bad and stall the progress of your movement by claiming the right to explore bodies and feelings at will, or my right to get to know someone wonderful so long as everyone knows monogamy is off the table from the start?

I don't know how to explain these things to you, or if I should. The movement which fights to legitimize gayness has shoved queerness to the back of the closet, hidden from sight. I want to tell the world about this wonderful woman I know who makes me laugh and kisses me so passionately, but once again I feel the fear and shame of my own queer heart.

I remember lovers jealous of  the friends I would kiss and cuddle at drunken parties, women I count as my sisters now. I never had a name for it before, this feeling that I didn't want to have to stop loving my best friend so much just because I had a girlfriend now. I've loved many women in many ways, not all of them sexual, but now I wonder what might have been if I'd been able to give myself permission, and what might happen now as I learn to.

I want to tell you of this love growing inside me, but so many of even the gay people I know are so concerned with being normal, with proving they're just like everyone else. I don't want a white dress or a white picket fence. I don't want children, though I do want a dog or a cat someday.

Finding more acceptance of queerness among those who wield whips and chains, who don't judge relationships of any brand or stripe, nor question my need for pain and domination. How is it that these people, so often taking part in relationships of women and men, are so much queerer than you? Feeling caught between my love for women and the desire to not be held to any box, and to explore what kind of love and relationships might suit me best, rather than those I'm told to want and expect.

I want to tell you who I'm going out with tonight, but we haven't created the words for me to describe her to you. I want to say that I'm falling in love but I don't know if it will last. I want to say that I'm happy now and I love the way I feel around her. I want to tell you that I feel accepted and respected for who I am in a way I never did with supposedly monogamous partners who lied and cheated, and wanted me to lie, too. I want to tell you how surprised I was that it didn't bother me at all to see her kiss someone else, just so long as she still kisses me. How in that moment I realized that past relationships might not have fallen apart so soon or so violently if we'd just been able to be honest about our needs and desires.

I hear so many of even the most open-minded people I know talk badly about "free love" and I know they'll think my relationship is doomed from the start, even if they don't find it morally reprehensible, as I am sure many others will. Maybe this relationship will last, and maybe it will be enough for me. Maybe I will meet someone amazing and we will explore what that means, too. I don't know and I don't want to have to know or to feel that I must justify my existence once again even among those who are supposed to accept me.

The opportunity for love has come so rarely to me, and I won't throw it away when she's willing to share her time and affection with me. But I wish I knew how to tell you, and I wish we had better words for this than "friend."

Feb. 7th, 2012

The Harsh Light of Day

I've been thinking a lot about queer relationships, and more importantly, their potential to survive. I'd hate to be the one to reify a hierarchy of identity categories, but then again, I don't self-identify as lesbian so I wouldn't be placing myself on the top. I don't know if the labels even matter; but I am increasingly sure that the level of suffering does. Those queer individuals who have struggled the most with our sexualities, who have internalized the most self-hatred; I think we are the ones who need love the most and expect the most from romantic relationships as a result. Someone loves me; ergo, I am lovable. Someone wants me; ergo, I am desirable. Always placing too much emphasis on the outside and not enough within. Staying in poisonous or broken or just not right relationships because somewhere deep down we believe that this is our last chance, our only chance, and that there won't be someone else with whom we can try again. Loving ourselves best when we see the way you look at us, and not when we look in the mirror.

I feel so vulnerable, so unsure of this, of you, of myself. I think I watch the other shoe dropping in slow motion, hoping I can catch it in my hands the moment before it hits the ground. I don't need marriage. I don't need to be the only one you love. But I do need to be loved. Our society is hard on single people, especially women, especially queer people. Queer women are made to believe twice as much as straight women that a relationship will validate our lives because we are told that we are too ugly and undesirable to have one. Does it make a difference that you've been with men first and more often than women? Do you have to justify your existence less or more than me? How much pain or shame are tied up in your sexuality? I'm on this road to loving myself but somehow, somewhere, it seems better or more real if someone else loves me, too. It's easier to say "Fuck you" to those who would judge me when I am holding your hand. I need this to work because otherwise it is just more proof that I am unlovable and undesirable. But that's too much pressure to put on you.

I wish I didn't have to justify my own existence to those voices in my head every day. I wish the dating pool wasn't so small. I wish I knew how to need less or want less from you, or how to do something that isn't jumping off a cliff into the raging waters below. Every failure makes it harder to try again, and I look in vain for role models who've done it better or survived or made it work. I punish myself in relationships because once I am in them I don't know how to stop, how to get out, or even if I should. I wish I could just enjoy our time together instead of waiting for the day you'll want to leave. I wish I understood why you wanted to start this in the first place. Communication could solve so much, but true honesty won't let me play make-believe. In the midst of the harsh light of day I see why I prefer the darkness. Groping for your hand in the dark I can't see that maybe it was never there to begin with. I liked you too much to be able to really hear what you said to me, and I don't know how to interpret a failed relationship as anything other than a failed me. You don't need love from me or anyone to know that you are lovable. I wish I knew how to learn that from you.

Feb. 1st, 2012

update on the process

Not sure if anyone's reading.

Went to see a guest artist tonight - a queer femme activist and artist. Hearing poems always makes me want to be a poet.

But I've been thinking about stories and my life stories and which stories I could put into this one woman show that it's in my head I could write.

So why not write it? Instead of wondering if that'd be a good story or not, I will just write it and see.

So from now on my posts might look more like journal entries. But I will be trying to make sense of my life from different angles, and trying to see what bits I could shape into something meaningful.

That's kind of where my head is right now instead of trying to write "plays" I am going to start working on the first performance piece about myself and my life and what story/stories I want to tell about that, or whatever memories come up.

It seems like a good time, as I am heading toward another big life transition and all the icky feelings that come up with that and the memories and the wondering what to do next. Trying to channel my angst into art.

teeter-totter

I feel like I run hot and cold sometimes, so unsure and insecure, and then so full to bursting with joy and love. Two sides of the same coin, and it isn't fair to you, never knowing which side will be shown when you flick me in the air and pull back your hand to peek at what's underneath. I love too much and too soon and I know it, and I shrink back sometimes because I know where that's gotten me before. But I don't know how else to be, other than to give you all of me and throw caution to the wind. But I don't want to be left in the storm without an umbrella or galoshes. If I try to turn off my love like a faucet, it drips and drips and drives me crazy. I'll give you everything I am, and I can't promise it won't be easy or that tears won't get the best of me sometimes, whether from fear, or heartache, or stress, or from feeling so much joy my heart is bursting and it has to run out my eyes because my cup is overflowing. So many mixed metaphors, but that's what you get when you're loved by an artist who also has a degree in English. I want to paint you pretty pictures and find all the best love poems ever written and recite them to you, because sometimes what's in my heart seems beyond my own capacity to articulate. I want you and I am afraid of the size of my own desire, and how it fills every cell of my being. We both came late to our queerness, and I know you are closer on the scale towards straight and I know your heart is big enough to love more than me. But forgive me if I want to mark out a comfy armchair in your heart as mine so I know I have somewhere to sit on a rainy day. I love sharing crafting and cooking with you, and long conversations about things that we both care about. I love laughing in the same places, loud and unashamedly. I love that you love my hairy legs and my ample stomach and my soft skin, and I try to make myself as beautiful as I know how to be for you. I love exploring our bodies and laughing in bed and being able to make mistakes and be awkward or goofy or whatever we want to be and no one cares because no one's there to see. I could say I've been out for years in the community, but you bring me out of my shell, into the light. I love that I can be myself with you, even when that self is insecure or scared. I stand in the doorway of my own soul looking out, searching for you, and feeling the warmth on my face. It's been to long, hiding in shadow, afraid of being unlovable. I was me and you saw me and we found each other, and I didn't know whether it was possible or not so sometimes it scares me. I'm afraid of losing this freedom or being banished to the cave or the closet of my heart again. I think I won't be, this time, but I'd still rather you were holding my hand for as long as you'd like to. Making up our rules as we go, feeling around in the dark together, touching lips and nipples and fingers and exploring warm, wet places. Eating tres leches cake or watching Ru Paul's Drag Race, fighting with the cats who want to join in these few sacred moments we have together, and knowing that the waitress thinks we're friends, or pretends to. And we are, plus something more. Something I hope will last as much as I fear it will end. Something I am trying to make with you as I learn from you and about you, and about myself. So alike and yet so different. I'm glad you took the first step. I'll take the plunge. Come on in; the water's fine.

Jan. 31st, 2012

Femme Love

Yes, I like dresses.

I only buy the comfortable ones.

I like not wearing pants sometimes

even if my thighs do rub together when I walk

and sweat drips down from exotic places

and sticking my legs together.

Did you ever think

that it makes me think

of your hand pulling them back apart

when I see you again

and there's such convenient access?

It doesn't make me straight

or less queer than you

to apply mascara and eyeliner

on the days

when getting out of bed is a chore

and I want to do something nice for myself.

I still enjoy playing dress up

with the clothes in my closet

as much now as when I was five years old.

My gender expression is a performance

and I don't see

why I can't be as fabulous as the drag queens I love so well.

I love being a woman

and I love other women

and I don't want to have to choose which I love more.

Sitting on the couch with you

cookies we made together baking in the oven

admiring the color of the polish on your toes

and leaning in for a kiss

on your sweet, soft lips.

And I don't care

if others laugh at us

for enjoying "girly" things.

Fuck them; we do enjoy ourselves

and fucking each other, too.

So you don't like skirts?

That's just fine with me.

Being femme or butch isn't about the clothes you wear to me.

Why let these roles define us?

Can't it just be you and me

exploring the curves of our bodies

and failing to be suave in unclasping those pesky hooks on the back of a bra?

That sweater which shows your cleavage

tells me you know how to flaunt it

even if you do wear sensible shoes

and why shouldn't we dress to impress each other

even if it draws the eyes of men

who won't be going home with me

because you will.

I don't want my queerness

to mean I have to feel ashamed

for wearing lipstick

or a dress cut low with breasts pushed high by lace and wire.

Tomorrow I may wear sweatpants and no bra

and that's okay, too.

Femininity is a game I like to play

and the rules are always changing.

And I shouldn't have to choose between

the sparkle of those earrings

and the wetness between your thighs.

If you can't see me in a dress

you aren't looking hard enough.

I'm here

legs unshaven

flowered skirt

accessorized to the max

loving that we share dessert

and passionate kisses

and painted toenails.

Give me a chance

and I'll show you

the strength of my femininity.

It takes determination

to walk a mile in these heels

and you don't have to do it

to appreciate it

or to value me.

Femininity is a game

I like to play

putting on

taking off

mixing up

seeing what sticks and what fits

and what hugs my curves

and empowers me.

If you dare

come play with me

and we'll see what we can make

together.

Jan. 22nd, 2012

Love

A woman walks to center stage. A spotlight illuminates her as she speaks.

Woman: Does true love even exist, or is it just all in fairy tales? I think I've seen it before, once or twice, when I looked at other people. But how did they find it? Pure luck? I'm one of the few people I know who's never had a long-term relationship, and maybe one of the oldest. It's hard to think sometimes that there isn't something wrong with me. Being able to find someone compatible, and someone who is as interested as you are. I always seem to fall first and hardest. I don't think it's wrong to want to be loved, but I am starting to think it's impractical. And when you start to find those areas of a relationship that aren't working as well as they could, people are so quick to talk about how you "deserve" to be loved, or how you shouldn't compromise and should wait for the person who will give you what you need. But when you're single for so long, it gets harder and harder to believe such a person exists. When you see so many people fall in love and get married -- and you don't even know if you want to get married, really. But you want someone who wants to be with you enough to bring you into their decision-making and who wants to share the boring, mundane parts of life with you as well as the big stuff. And you're so tired of hearing about people who choose to be single and have to turn down dates. It's easy to focus on other areas of life and pretend you've chosen to be single to distract yourself from the fact that no one's interested. And you know it isn't like that for everyone. And maybe television and movies aren't the best barometers for what people's love lives are actually like, but you know that other people seem to find relationships more easily, and more frequently, than you ever have. Sometimes you think you expect too much, and then you meet someone who tells you you might be asking for or settling for too little. So which is it? Why is it so easy for some people to find the love of their life, and it seems to happen so early, and other people are left to question whether it will ever happen to them? Why does the person who falls in love first in a relationship have to be punished for feeling things that maybe no one will ever feel back? It isn't fair to find someone who in so many ways is everything you ever wanted, but they don't love you back yet, and you wonder how long you can wait to figure out if they ever will?

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