On Omniscience and Decay

It is excruciatingly painful to be self-aware –
to know your own flaws
to the see the morbid direction in which you are willingly walking
to be a slave to old, destructive habits.
It’s almost like I am a corpse,
you would have to be a moldy, mourning cadaver
to be able to digest the uncanny way
in which you slowly, subtly unfold your life
truly, formidably dying.
To be hyper-aware of all the things you say –
the selfish nostalgia of knowing that you cannot,
you could never,
go back to when your slate was not shadowed
by mistakes you consciously made.
It is a consuming guilt to know that you are wasting away
in your fertile garden,
no fountains, no roses blooming on this grave.
Our habits watering the soil we swim in,
always on the edge of something great.
Every breath you take swirls into your lungs
it is poison, our oxygen is poison
and it is fed to us straight from our mother’s womb.
You were bred to feel this way.
How hopeless it is to blame genetics
to leave the sloppy, unraveling bits of your anorexic anatomy
to the unguarded sciences of human hereditary.
But there is nothing wrong with our parents
and our siblings seem to be doing just fine.
It is our own peeling skin,
folding in on itself –
our unique identity, setting us apart, keeping us akin.
I am merely dancing in my starvation.

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I am a Mother

Nursing Venus

FEMININITY

I am a Mother

sick of this shit, white men and their bible blather, pathetic tough talk, grinning chins lifted as if they float above the scum they swim in.

I am a mother listening to mournful sobs of a thousand children and more with bellies empty, these babies, their cries of pain and fever, of abandonment, terror, who just want to remember where home is.

I am a mother, dammit, and I demand to know where the diapers are kept? and the blankets, the teddy bears? how about a book to read at bedtime? or a rocking chair to calm the terror that runs through her tiny body, turns into diarrhea and vomit? and that 6-yr-old over there, fingers in his mouth, has a lose tooth. can someone pull it, save it in a jar as a keepsake for him? or will there only be room for tears? and who is tending to the wounded lifetime tattooed on her heart? maybe a band aid will help. toothbrushes, where are they kept? how about a swing? how about a ball to bounce, and could someone help him tie his shoe before he trips and hurts himself?

Maria, Santiago, Elena, Jaun—so many mothers have seen your beautiful faces. We know you’re there, we will fight for you.

Can someone please tell me which child I can save?

I am a mother.

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On Omniscience and Decay

Don’t Box Me In

Nursing Venus

More than a Mouthful: How the Breastaurant Industry Feeds America’s Appetite for Exploitation

I hereby acknowledge and affirm that (1) my job duties require I wear the designated Hooters Girl uniform; (2) my job duties require that I interact with and entertain the customers; and (3) the Hooters concept is based on female sex appeal and the work environment is one in which joking and innuendo based on female sex appeal is commonplace. I also expressly acknowledge and confirm I do not find my job duties, uniform requirements, or work environment to be offensive, intimidating, hostile, or unwelcome. p.45 Hooters Employee Handbook

The press-release version of the Hooters’ story goes something like this: Back in 1983 in Clearwater, Florida, six businessmen with no professional bar or restaurant experience got together to create an establishment they couldn’t get kicked out of. Their idea was to combine music from the 50s and 60s, their favorite manly finger foods, cold beer, lots of wood décor, and an abundance of pretty, well-built girls. They hired contestants from bikini contests as waitresses, crafted a menu loaded with irreverent double entendres aimed at their own employees, and erected a centerfold-style billboard directly above the building. A year later, when the place was so busy there was a two-hour wait just to get in the door, the founding six declared their little experiment to be “the happiest accident in restaurant history.”

Hooters Inc. now operates over 430 franchises in 33 countries, as well as a casino hotel in Las Vegas, a magazine and calendar featuring Hooters Girls in pin-up poses, and 425 collective Hooters brand stores worldwide. The company sponsors numerous sporting events, pro golf tours, a swimsuit pageant, and NASCAR races. They market a Play Station racing game called “Hooters Road Trip,” a mobile phone wallpaper app featuring Hooters Calendar Girls, and several other officially licensed games for mobile consumption.

The secret of Hooters’ success is not, as the website claims, “a casual alternative to fern bars and fine dining that offers lots of really good food.” The secret ingredient that catapulted a mediocre Florida sports bar into a branded international institution is the formulaic precision with which they serve up female sex appeal. In the 80s, at the height of conservative America’s identity as the sole purveyor of family values, Hooters swooped in and effectively called its bluff. The founders gambled on hypocrisy, society’s enduring tolerance for sexist behavior, and the predictable spending habits of heterosexual men, whom they exclusively targeted. In the long run, it more than paid off.

Hooters’ business model has proven so successful, dozens of imitators with comparably raunchy tongue-in-cheek names like Twin Peaks, The Tilted Kilt, Show-Me’s, Mugs ‘N Jugs, and Bone Daddy’s have emerged, forging an entire niche industry dubbed “breastaurants.”

Since the recession, both casual and fine dining establishments have experienced a steady decline in sales, while “breastaurants” continue to report blockbuster growth. It seems by combining food and drink with soft-core entertainment, they attract the budget-minded consumer who wants a little more action for his hard-earned pay. While the wording is slightly different on their respective websites, the breastaurant branding philosophy is simple: Feed the male ego.

Hooters was the first to break the barriers of food service respectability by brazenly featuring cleavage as part of the family dining experience. Hooters blurred America’s boundaries of decency, conflating corporeal and culinary lust, and franchise by franchise turned the archetypal male fantasy of being served by scantily-clad nymphs into a reality. But unlike other cultural catalysts of the 1980s, e.g. Madonna, MTV, Jerry Springer, or even the sitcom “Married…with Children,” which faced scrutiny from the gentry for their corrupting influence, Hooters encountered little, if any, public disapproval.

Hooters’ initial concept was to offer customers one of three ideal female types: surfer girl, all-American cheerleader, or the girl next door—each with requisite large breasts, of course. When the chain expanded, and they became famous for their signature attraction, they refined their application criteria to include specific physical attributes, such as long hair, no body piercings or visible tattoos, weight limits, and gender. Upon official hiring as a requirement of employ, waitresses—or Hooters Girls, as they are called—are contractually mandated to comply with image and grooming standards referred to in the Hooters’ handbook as “The Look.” In addition to signing an agreement that prescribes—down to the color of their nail polish and number of rings on each hand—what they are permitted to wear when performing the duties of “Hooters Girl at the Bar” or “Hooters Girl on the Floor,” employees also must sign an arbitration agreement, limiting their options for legal action, if the need ever arose.

Hooters not only made it socially acceptable to use overt sex appeal as a marketing tool, but they also found a loophole in the 14th Amendment (which addresses antidiscrimination in hiring, termination, compensation, and retaliation), enshrining its legality as well. This loophole, called the Bona Fide Occupational Qualification Exception, lies in the Title XII provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It states that businesses are allowed to discriminate based on qualifications if those qualifications are necessary for the normal operation of the business. Hooters has been sued many times for equal employment consideration, but aside from a class action case in 1997 that opened provisional positions (i.e., busboy, bar-back, and floor host) to men, Hooters has settled every lawsuit with their hiring practices intact. Hooters so successfully (and repeatedly) argued that it wouldn’t be Hooters without hooters, there is a provision in the employee handbook referring to the statute.

In addition to the strictly enforced hygiene and dress code, a Hooters Girl must consent to act in a certain way, a servile way, willing to take care of her customers’ needs, from pouring pitchers of beer into glasses, to peeling their shrimp and deboning their chicken wings. A Hooters Girl is expected to tolerate behavior from patrons that would be considered harassment in any other environment. She is supposed to laugh at all the men’s jokes and not be offended by suggestions or propositions—no matter how lewd. The only thing she can legitimately refuse is graphic physicality, but shy of that, she is told, the more she puts up with, the more tips she will make.

The average Hooters Girl is 21-years-old, many are students, some are mothers, and each believes it is her right to use natural female sex appeal to earn a living—just like Victoria’s Secret models, NFL cheerleaders, Vegas showgirls, and Hollywood actresses do. If men are willing to pay her to cozy up to their table, wearing booty shorts and a smile, and she is willing to do it, then what is the harm? It seems like an expedient way to offset college tuition or buy a new car or pay rent—but, is it?

The average Hooters Girl earns $24,000 annually, or $12/hour, which is 4% higher than the national average for all waitresses but 87% lower than the national salary average for all working Americans. $12 per hour to fend off handsy drunks, errant butt grabs, brushes against thighs, knee pats, and oogles galore. $12 an hour to be at her customers’ beck and call, deflecting their remarks, avoiding cameras that photograph her body parts, and navigating around potential stalkers—all exacerbated by alcohol.

The average Hooters Girl shows up for work 45 minutes early to participate in group primping and cleavage tying; she spends her own money on makeup, hair, tanning, cosmetic breast implants, and the infamous pantyhose; she buys her own uniform.

The average Hooters Girl uses a pseudonym to deter customers from contacting her outside of work, reports advances from men with such regularity that there is a standardized form with which to do so, never walks from the bar to her car alone, and checks her rearview mirror to make sure no one is following her home.

Twelve dollars an hour is hardly adequate compensation considering the breastaurant industry is profiting so fiercely, but, really, what is the fair market value for suppressing one’s humanity and individuality? What is the cost to our society when we allow an institution to systematically reduce women to vessels?

It’s no accident that Hooters et al has been silent during the #MeToo revelation: it’s their collective strategy. That they continue to fly just under the radar with their para-Playboy clubhouses while we’re distracted by the debauched antics of the current administration is a calculated waiting game. But make no mistake, we see them and their time will come.

Being paid to elicit the male gaze in a sexually objectifying environment isn’t female empowerment. It’s exploitation.
Do your daughters and sons a favor, eat wings somewhere else.

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Dear Harvey

Ripper

survivor

Don’t Box Me In

I understand you.
The unlucky, the unwanted, the misfits, the downtrodden. The middles, the lower class, the majority.
I have been the underdog, the stigma, and the less desirable. I have been locked up, and it the lowest, most terrifying depths of despair. I have been locked up for my own safety and yet, screamed and cried for my mother. I am an adult, the grown-up not the terrorized infant, unfamiliar with the land or the language, unable to speak up for myself.
Babies ripped from their mother’s arms.
Who the fuck have we become?
I implore you to question your motives, your indifference, and your lack of empathy.
Do you feel that good about yourself, on the inside?
We have to do better than kids locked in cages.
Devastation runs amok; earth burns hot like angry temperaments and heated arguments.
We are off-kilter, disaster abounds, the homeless discarded, the mentally ill invisible and abandoned like a pair of dirty socks, while babies scream mama in foreign tongues.
How unbearable, how utterly cruel, and how very ugly are we.
I won’t shut my ears or close my eyes.
I won’t be a part of the assholes hoarding dollars, or the bastardized, selfish, fascists.
I’m awake with a heavy heart.
This is not my America; this is not the America I once loved and respected.
These times, these days are the ugliest, angriest and inhumane for a modern society.
The atrocities we are witnessing will be recorded as the lowest depths of humanity.
Should I take a numbing pill or drink the cool aid, blurring ugly party lines?
I will not. I refuse to sugar coat the words so that you might feel less responsible. You can live with your hate, ignorance; continue to call each other names, strutting your feathers of false pride.
Or, you might try something different, something like tolerance.
Me?
I’m going to walk tall, bear the heavy burdens, work the physical, clear the mind, speak the hard truths and take stock.
I’m going to stand honest and erect, with goodness and purpose on my mind, floating under water from time to time.
To recharge, and then continue to fight for what’s morally right.
No one gets a pity pass or escapes tragedy.
Let me bleed, let me scream, let me call out the bullies and injustice.
Let me cry loud love whenever and as often as needed.
When I’ve collected my thoughts at the end of the day and reclaimed my quiet strength, let me carry myself with pride, let me seek out the do-gooders and let me fight for the ones less fortunate than I.
I do not give one fuck about your empty promises, politics, golden egg, or privileged spoon stuck up your ass.
It is a fool’s gold that buries you whole and burns hot.
Let me always choose the kind way to navigate this life.
Let me die with a clear conscience, a citizen of the world and let my travels open my mind to the plights of people just like you and me.
Families and children, human beings clinging to hope, traverse dangerous terrains in the night sacrificing everything, even their lives.
People like you and me who believe a better future is waiting.
America, the greatest nation of all.
How embarrassing.
I am not proud, and you’re not so great after all.
Here we are, the assholes, the one percent playing God and building up walls.
Get out your jackhammers, friends and help your neighbors.
Break down cemented barriers, racism, bigoted, and outdated beliefs that just don’t work anymore.
Walls around the head and heart only bury you deeper underground.

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I am a Mother

Someone Like Me

How I Became a Citizen of the United States of America

Nursing Venus

Perhaps I should
at the breast
but she bites
behaves badly
she preys

a pretty pot
I bought her
a shrine
a sanctum
filled it with
with god’s golden
earth
I prayed

a reluctant mother
I adopted her
loved her
feared her
saved her
my cats wanted to eat her

I picked
planted and pruned
her
she rebelled
revolted
screamed resistance
retreated
she sprouted weeds

I bought her
an Amazon friend
a soulmate
a forever sister
another Venus
I picked
planted and pruned
her

together
in one pot
organically restored
rehabbed
fixed
exquisite carnivores
trapping
side by side
devouring life
savoring death

they fed hard
ravenously
on flirting flies
becoming stronger
fearless
ferocious

on my porch
content
stoned
conversing philosophy
poetry
politics
fucking injustice
enlightened misery

we survived
thrived
we beautifully
bloomed
flourished
we came alive
fierce alpha females

dominant
sensual
opened
erotic tendrils
and unforgiving teeth

I smile
commune with them
untroubled
smug

satisfied
strangely fulfilled
night night
nightly
recurrent shrills

the nurturing
the nursing
saintly motherhood
sets
the wrath
the hunger and the ache
something only a woman gets

 

 
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On Omniscience and Decay

I am a Mother

FEMININITY

FEMININITY

Tick tock
The hands on a clock
Move slower for the worker
For the female
Who gets paid lower

Wages upon checkbook pages
I spend all my time
Just to earn a 9 pennies and
Two dimes
Less than the average man

Women
Shouldn’t have to carry brass knuckles
And not for chuckles
A switchblade
My ace of spades
My little pocket stun gun
Bright pink like the setting sun

When we walk home at night
We get animalistic sight
Don’t go past any alleys
Before the body count chart
Goes up one tally

I Know this girl
Who was pushed to her limit
He “kind of pushed it in”
But that’s still rape, it’s a sin
Girl, you didn’t want it
So you shouldn’t have to take his shit
You said no
He should get up and go
I repeat, you said no

Why must we made feel like we are
Entitled to sex
Then when we say no
We get no respect
Even through cybersex
Guys curse at us and then say “next!”
They make us feel like complete rejects
This concept of respect is not complex
Perplex

I don’t dress up for you
Or you
Nor you
My revealing clothes are meant for myself
Not your grimy hands to touch yourself
With thoughts of me
Using porno magazines to help you
Up on your bookshelf

Women of all sizes, race, and colour
Show your body
Bless us all with your presence
So godly
Empower each other, sisters
For we must stand together
And help one another grow, forever

He, she, they, and them
Queers and non binary
Be you, rock that androgyny

As a whole
We must stand together
And fight, but not one another
We will not be oppressed
Will we get what we want
And never rest
Equality for all
As one, we stand tall

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On Omniscience and Decay

I am a Mother

Nursing Venus

Darkbloom

Night blossom, hawkish, witchy wiles, lovechild
in lightning with a pedophile. My Cue,
best book, biography. By art beguiled,
betrothed to Clare Quilty — dress black, ink blue.

Lolita vacation kaleidoscope
of butterflies. Whim winged gleams, collector’s
eyes. 12 year old on index cards. Captured
clippings, American bard, true predator.

LaSalle, pretend FBI, a pre-teen thief,
a nickel shy becomes a kidnap road
trip date, true criminal Humbert motif
1948; guilt’s a glittered ode.

Nabokov still hides inside thorned dark blooms—
one anagram, two authors’ tangled tomb.

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On Omniscience and Decay

I am a Mother

Nursing Venus

I Weep With Discovery

Is there one moment, one singular, clarifying flash out of the millions I’ve lived in this intricate, perplexing life when I realized I owned my desire? There is, and it was transcendent.

We are minds in a suit of skin, renting homes, not of our own choosing. From a muffled peace thrust into a terrifying light, we are slammed with an onslaught of emotions that make no sense, senses creating vexing emotions we cannot possibly understand.

The wrappings vastly different, yet where do body and mind merge?

How can we own that which we rent? ‘Own your shit,’ we order people, and many of us do, we think. But do we, really? We own it to the extent that we can comprehend it. How can an eleven-year-old girl understand the next-door neighbor who craves fondling her lithe young body at the same time he threatens her? Helping himself to her shell, to satisfy his own sick desires. To this day, I cannot comprehend that.

That’s not my shit to own, though those memories have claimed their territory, rude houseguests who never leave.

Wandering through decades of callous objectification, my mind continued to push the cerebral path, ignoring the anxious cries of my body. I didn’t know how to recognize that which had no name, thinking panic and depression were simply part of everyone’s daily life. Missing the clues of this merging of body and mind, once again.

Marriage, children, jobs, home…living the rote, ‘happy’ life on paper, when in truth I dealt with an emotionally checked out partner, my faith crumbling in him, and in us, daily. I eventually began my search. A woman is more than a shell, and this woman longed to feel desire, to hunger and crave and yes, to be craved and hungered for, with a trusting, loving partner.

I sought a man who wouldn’t objectify and use me. Not love, not lust, desire requires submission, something I’d fought, and run from, since age eleven.

The moment came with his warm eyes on mine, body protectively wrapped around me, his strong hand gently around my throat, claiming and owning me and I gave myself to him. No games here, a total melding of vulnerability and passion, I submitted fully to desire, letting go completely for what was truly the first time.

I can’t tell you where I went, but I can tell you it was instinctive, intuitive, primal. Owning this motherfucking body, my mind riding fire; so in it, I drowned.

A psychologist would likely explain that I lived most of my life in a fairly dissociative state, and I wouldn’t disagree; a common coping technique for sexual assault survivors. It doesn’t happen as much anymore now that I’m in recovery and recognize when I drift (though I often recognized it as it happened, I didn’t have a name for it). To me, everybody could look at themselves from the outside and observe. That was my normal.

Owning my body, finally, meant possessing and understanding desire while evaluating how to be present. Did I realize that I had, in a way, been abusing myself by denying how fully capable I could feel? Perhaps, in the same way, one puts off spring cleaning or writing that term paper, dismissing the dangers of minimization.

Struggling with the puzzling contradiction of surrendering to empowerment makes my bewildered bones ache. How can I allow myself to enjoy sublime pleasure when that tiny nugget lingers…when I didn’t get to decide?

Fear spreads covert tendrils throughout our souls, dropping seeds of shame along the way. The hardest battle I fought in unearthing my desire: the constant sway of overt sexuality. Even as I moved with confidence into warm skin and tousled sheets, that voice would command a surreptitious retreat: are you sure? Maybe you need a reason not to do this.

Swirling questions fill my mind, quaking my confidence: does owning our beauty, our sexuality, and the way it affects others, makes us hollow? If I admit to myself that sex can astonish, does that make me ‘a bad girl?’ Wearing the neon sign of ‘tainted by sexual abuse’ already, how can – or must I — travel the path people stupidly refer to as ‘slut,’ when I’d spent years meticulously formulating the inadvertent good girl?

I caress permission like a lover in that instant. I am an adult woman who will no longer stifle the strength of my vulnerability. I make my own life choices, including when, how, and with whom I orgasm, desire, and ultimately, love. I welcome the wild, messy child of the unknown, inviting her in to saturate my being.

I weep with the beauty of discovery.

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On Omniscience and Decay

Nursing Venus

The Reformation

The Reformation

I became a poet
the night I didn’t die
that long fuckin night
smothered guilt
suffocated shame

unaccountable years
pills and dead prayers
Hollywood
broken neon bulbs
a lost darling
sinning
a beggar
faux reality

loved everyone
hated everything
a fallen angel
ripped jeans
a tarnished borrowed halo
diseased dreams
virtuous nightmares

rumours
numerous nightclubs
retching in Ubers
alone
not alone
wasted
worn
amused
passing life
passing death

ten cities on the left
two worlds
recurrent retching
reality
pills and dead psalms
prophetic
reassigned
rehab
depression

lost in the real world
barefoot

I found words
poetry
misfits
I found poets
pity
redemption
peace
I found my tribe

I became a poet
the night I didn’t die

 
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On Omniscience and Decay

I am a Mother

Nursing Venus

Someone Like Me

If you think having a role model and seeing people who are like you when you are growing up is not essential, you are wrong. The power of the media is strong and whatever the message is you receive when you grow up is the one that can either help you or damage you.

Growing up as an Afro-Jewish lesbian asexual I had no role models.

Seeing mixed raced people were rare. I heard about lesbians once in a while, but I never saw them on TV shows. I never heard about asexuals, and I never saw them on TV shows (I still don’t.)

The fact that I was mixed held no secret to me, I was raised in a black-Jewish tradition. But I was only aware of what it meant when people at school started asking about it: “What are you? You don’t look white.” And bullying me about “looking different.” The older I got, the more my visible difference mattered.

Being in a school with mainly white children I stood out: my body looked different. “Not real” one of the girls said. And playtime changed, I was suddenly asked to play a “slave girl” and once, “Jewish girl in a gas-chamber.” That quickly ended when I told my mum, and she called the headmaster.

Being mixed race became more difficult through the years. Sometimes you feel that people are expecting you to “pick a side” or that they can’t trust you as you can switch your loyalties in times of trouble. It also means having to work twice as hard, you belong to two communities that are often targeted with racial hatred.

It’s something that isn’t discussed much. But I have learned that it isn’t easier and that there is no such thing as passing. In fact, you are judged more. You are expected to be ‘better,’ more tolerant, a bridge between races, to know, to explain. Being mixed raced can even mean being double lonely as you are excluded from both groups, as they feel you don’t belong.

But, as said before, that wasn’t my only difference.

I discovered my lesbian feelings long before I knew that I was an asexual. It happened when watching “The New Statesman” (a British comedy series with Rik Mayall as Alan B’stard a very evil politician and Marsha Fitzalan as his wife, Sarah.) In this series, Sarah was bisexual and shared some loving lesbian scenes in the show. No sex scenes, but true loving scenes, that were a contrast to the other things that happened in this series. These scenes made me realize that I felt the same about women.

But after that, there was nothing. I never really saw a lesbian again for ages, except for stereotypical butches in prison dramas and as the but of jokes in comedy shows. This made me doubt myself again. When I realized my asexuality things got worse, it was the start of decades full of pain.

According to the media: All the things I am: a woman, Afro-Jewish, and part of the LGBTA are the worse you could be. There wasn’t a part of me that wasn’t worthy of either mocking or ignoring.

Because there was no-one like me, I lived through an awkward puberty and then locked myself away for the best part of a decade. I tried changing who I was. I never felt good enough as a mixed raced woman, as a lesbian and as an asexual.

There was a time where I wanted to be a comedian. But one of the reasons I gave it up was because of bullying by other comics – male comics, true. Saying I didn’t fit in, they kept telling me“women couldn’t be comedians,” belittling me every day. And sadly there were some racist, sexist remarks as well.

I started dying my hair blonde or red and used pancake to look white, trying to deny my entire heritage. I went through years of self-loathing, to the point I started to mentally deny my existence. I wasted so many years, chances and even a career, only because, the media brainwashed me into thinking I was worthless, nothing.

Subtle messages can harm you if you are exposed to them long enough. They can weaken you, break down your self-respect and worth. The saddest thing is that often you are not even aware of it happening to you. You only realize what happened when you look back.

Growing up without role models has left me confused and insecure. To this day I often think; Am I doing this right? What should I feel about this? Is there anyone like me?

The internet has taught me that there are millions of people like me around the world. Well, not exactly like me, but we all have similar problems.

It’s a funny thing, but it was a TV show about four men that helped me. The British TV show Red Dwarf touched me and made a compelling case in psychology – all the guys on the ship were misfits and they were all different: one was mixed raced (which meant a lot), one was a Cat, one was an android, and there was Arnold Rimmer, a hologram, played by Chris Barrie, who always felt alone and different, not good enough, unsure of who he was and he was bullied, like I was. The show used a lot of psychology, stirring my interest in the subject and understanding someone’s mind and psyche. If only to understand me. The usage of actual psychological research is very cleverly weaved into the storylines of both shows to explain the characters and their behavior. TV shows so very well researched, written and performed are hard to come by these days.

Realizing I wasn’t alone was the most significant break-through I ever had. I read and read and found women like me: confused and hurt because the media told them that they were not good enough, that they had to change their core being to fit in.

I went on a journey of self-discovery and also started to do a study in psychology, at first to help find peace and self- acceptance and later to help others.

Healing my inner self before starting to help others was vital, as I needed strength for me to have strength for everyone else. Slowly I remembered who I was and who I always wanted to be. One day I woke up and found I was fed up with it all, I didn’t want to live like this anymore. I am who I am, and no one can change me: not even me. I wanted to be part of the world, learn, rebuild myself and catch up on so much lost time. This is what happens when your inner you is ignored. When you have to live without visibility and role models. This is why I decided to help others by reaching out.

There is still a long road ahead of us where acceptance is concerned. Reading about rising violence against women and minorities it sometimes looks as if we’re going backward. This is so disheartening sometimes, but it should also be fuel for us to fight back harder.

And when I say fight, I don’t mean we should be violent, as we all know by now, that doesn’t work. Educate, get our story, our movies, ourselves seen and heard. Already, on the internet, there is a treasure trove of work made by people to raise visibility for those who are ‘different,’ exposed through music, stories, videos, and art. Finding this is a wonderful comfort for those feeling as if they are not part of society.

I want to help where I can to raise awareness of the LGBT AND A (!) community, fight racism and bullying, to put myself out there so others can see they are not alone. I want to show that no matter what, one day you will find yourself and things will get better. True, the pain never wholly leaves, but there is hope!

 

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On Omniscience and Decay

I am a Mother

Don’t Box Me In

How I Became a Citizen of the United States of America

My parents had sex; nine months later I was born. My citizenship is a result of dumb luck. I did not work for it or yearn for it. I did not have to struggle to get to this country. Citizenship was a gift.

I have not felt the burn of bigotry or prejudice because of where I come from. I have not been made to feel unwanted because of the way I look, dress, speak, worship, or otherwise live my life. So many have suffered discrimination because they were not born here. My grandparents came here to escape poverty in hopes of building better lives for themselves, their families, and I imagine it was not easy. I cannot claim their struggle as my own; I slid into this citizenship the day I was born.

This seems to be, at least in my case, a pretty good nation in which to live. However, my experience is limited as I have only ever lived here. I love our nation’s professed belief in human rights; the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; freedom of speech and religion; equality and justice for all. Wonderful ideals to strive for; perhaps one day we will come close to achieving those proclamations. As for patriotism, I quote George Bernard Shaw: “Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.”

When I read about how so many immigrants and refugees come here to escape war, terror, injustice, persecution, famine, poverty, and so many other hardships, it becomes clear to me that my life has been easy in comparison — all because of where and when and to whom I was born. Luck. For me to believe I deserve or am owed my citizenship is presumptuous. To claim I earned it is a lie.

Those who wish, hope, and dream to come to this country because it is the “land of opportunity,” they are no different from my grandparents.

We have so much need in our country. Poverty, hunger, unemployment, and much work to be done in the areas of justice and equality. At the same time, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by sadness thinking about those who want to come here out of desperation and are denied refuge. Children being taken from their mother’s arms. Families divided, separated. Why do you think people risk their lives, the lives of their children, leaving everything familiar that they have ever known, to come here? Do you ever try to put yourself in their place, to understand their fear/need/hunger/pain, and realize how lucky you are?

This nation of plenty, has it not the resources to help our own as well as those who desire to become one of our own? The top one percent. The deficit. Taxes. The military budget. Entitlements. Inequities. Luxuries. Consumerism. Charity. Excess. Waste. Mismanagement of funds and resources. A complicated, multitudinous, intricate mess.

The lines drawn on our maps are phantoms. Once there were none. Then over time, they were scribbled in, erased, redrawn, changed, forced upon peoples and their cultures. The imperialist drive to divide and conquer.

I was born within the borders of the United States of America. What if I had been born elsewhere? What if within those other borders I was unable to live my life without fear, or hunger, or bombs raining down on my home, or abuse and torture at the hands of terrorists? What if the country into which I had been born was led by corrupt, violent, oppressive leaders who daily threatened me? Because I was born there, does that mean I am condemned to die there? If somehow I were able to leave; if I were able to find the funds or means or strength or assistance to escape, where could I go? If I had been born in Syria, or Honduras, or Somalia, and I came to your border, would you let me in?

And, what if you were me?

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I am a Mother

Don’t Box Me In

Someone Like Me

This Started off as a Love Poem

Youth is you,
O brother mine.
Golden clock hands choose
Angles,
acute/obtuse

Considering the dial,
as does
your smile.

Sometimes it’s ten:fifty,
or conversely, four:forty six
in your face-plain
the granite, too
awaits a turn
to be chiseled.

I swore before I’d never
leave this shanty

Never would consider
the land o plenty

Of city –
woe it’s demons, ghouls; their
wills ferocious, all
rightly await me –

Yet perchance a gift, a kiss,
an iron sentry –
your tempered steel hands

Which hesitate over me
I’ve learned that wolves, clever
pack hunters, will outrun,
and outsmart me

Eat me; jump me
might mate, me – tho my
willingness will arrive
in lackadaisy.

So I’m running, wet as liquid river,
in my flow down to your foot levee;
hands bent and craggled,
broke-back;
shoved in chin, snugly

My orange jumpsuit:
InComplete’s the theory –

O baby, o brother, o excellent father!
Don’t scold me for want
of some molten alloy to stop
the random ticking,
the warmth from your fire –

To melt my grooved
ice lines, my iridescent shiver-chin

The time is smiling and saying
now, now! while almanac
gripes of hardening winter,

Hands often freeze
when forgotten, lie
unwound and become rigid,

Lone wolf under snow, is
Never to be sated.

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On Omniscience and Decay

I am a Mother

Nursing Venus

Small miracles

Take your fistful of misery
hypnotize the crowd
with your fake smoke
half-truths
lava tears
poetic disputes

pose on your marble staircase
retell your old story
bore us with news talks and deaths
of all the things
we don’t care about.

People like you
make being alone
a blessing.

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On Omniscience and Decay

I am a Mother

Nursing Venus

Walking Warriors

One cane in each hand, she’s doing the best she can
One foot forward, then a tap, she’s going to do a lap
At ninety-three, she keeps on going, while knowing
Her tomorrows are few, but she is determined to do
What it takes to feel alive, so she continues to strive
One foot forward, then a tap, she completes the lap

Clutching her belt, he guides, as they walk side by side
Cinched around her waist, it keeps her firmly in place
Unable to stand and walk alone, it’s how she carries on
Enjoying the sights and sounds, together, they get around
A couple, in their eighties, holding hands, walk steadily
For a severely maimed foot, she wears a specialized boot
Black and five inches high, designed to elevate her left side
Now when she walks, she has a certain pride in her stride

Her feet are bruised and swollen, but she keeps moving
One small step at a time, and questions why she bothers
A soft breeze brushes her face, in the wide open space
A reminder she is here, because she is facing her fears
Few people stare, as she struggles, but she doesn’t care
It used to hurt her deeply, but now, she only feels pride
For, she has never given up, and vows she will not stop

Her white cane tapping, here and there, he stands ever near
Holding his hand, shoulder to shoulder, they make a plan
To walk and have fun, gliding through the crowds, as one
They appear happy, enjoying the moment, smiling and free
Oh! These walking warriors graciously inspire, and move me

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On Omniscience and Decay

I am a Mother

Nursing Venus

Mothers Intuition

It’s the feeling of afternoon storms rolling in
pale skies dimpled with stretch marks, lights dim
as the rooms of stone castles in fantasies, smoke lingering
from candles dragged gingerly through narrow halls.
You can taste the moisture as it moves, tentative
cool, dewy probes enveloping your skin and swallowing daylight—
curtains that gather together like dancers on stage
for the finale, arms interlocked as each leg kicks a little
higher and you can sense closure—that grip on unstoppable
moments of the time you have left to spend or seek shelter before
it sweeps through the sky, limbs bent and leaves ajar, birds evacuating
with a quiet that screams ruinous. The animals feel it,
stronger than we do—an ache beneath the flesh of intuition
that’s impossible to sense when you‘re human. I can feel it
in my hands and in my feet—each sticky breeze of impending
annihilation that even the will of immortals can’t elude.
It always leaves me unable to inhale despite the most air
I’ve ever breathed in my life. Scattered drops begin to fall
with the voices of cicadas singing in the storms of spring—
a sonnet of perception with each gust of unease.

 

 
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I am a Mother

Nursing Venus

To The Girl in The Mirror

It is like being skinned,
like being slowly unguarded
and left in a formidable puddle of my own dearth.
I sit on a couch, a sofa, a loveseat,
anything to cushion the bone I am about to be.
“Let’s undress this sweetheart,
we are only here to celebrate nudity.”
But, mother, I have never been comfortable in my own skin.
Sometimes, after I have smoked enough juvenile
I’ll look into the mirror and see a pair of old lungs
and they are always filled with water
and people try to tell me that it is an ocean-
that the dirt surging inside my arms,
rushing through my thighs,
resting around my stomach-
is a sea.
But what if I only want to see the sea-bed.
And I know that you tell me that I have so much promise,
I can grow a garden inside of me,
I have watered flowers, I have seen life
but I don’t expect you to understand that
sometimes beauty is not enough.
I cannot bare my skin to you,
I have scars on my back,
I carry ugly weight under my cheeks,
and I stare into this mirror you put in front of me.
Why can’t I see myself yet?

A shadow stares back at me,
it is like being deciphered
like being pulled apart – vein by vein
I stretch, and I peel,
anything to be a skeleton
anything to be a shell.
My nails run across my calf,
this left knee always hurts
and the mountain above that is pinnacle of my insecurities.
I see the litter as my eyes make its way further up
scaled, scattered, succumbing to another foul
bend more
pinch more
“You have a lot of promise left in you.”
put that pout in a swath
hang it around your hip
knead more
wail more
I think I can finally see it-
staring at me is a girl I have never met.

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I am a Mother

Nursing Venus

Going to the Chapel

The last time I had been there was not for death,but for
marriage, vows spoken and witnessed by all
That was the last time I saw those faces smiling
the last time we laughed
the last time we danced, owning the room
That was the last time I was serenaded by surf combing boys
the last time that I thought I was happy
the last time I felt I knew a burning passion
the last time I thought I would love
the last time I felt adored
It was the first time of many last times,
the beginning of my future
It was the last time I saw her face

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On Omniscience and Decay

I am a Mother

Nursing Venus

Shoeboxes in the Heart

There are alcoves in our hearts
Hollowed and laying vacant, ours to fill
Like boxes which new shoes once came in,
Now housing old photographs and mementos
Stowed far under the bed, wrapped in shadows.
Those shoeboxes, dusty-lidded and hushed, just sit
Waiting.
So are the heart-spaces, unobtrusively holding our past
Day after year, cradling tattered memories, creased and faded,
Tarnished by the grimy residue of hurt, and stained with shame.
Snapshots not yet processed, fucked emotions we cling to tightly;
No one knows we harbor this composite silt of what came before,
So, it remains undisturbed, shielded from judgment, under our ribcages.

I thought I was the only one carrying strife-filled shoeboxes inside,
Nestled in silence next to my soul, brimming with moments gone by
But others say they too have shoebox-shaped places in their hearts,
Concealing all their complicatedness, the kaleidoscopic refractions of their lives,
Tear-spilling stories, times too shameful to speak of indelibly etched on their bones.
So are the tales we cannot shift, which leave a ceaseless aching.
January after January,
Relationship after relationship.
Why do the contents never disappear? Disintegrate, dissipate, recede away?
They should leave us alone; we are over it now, you know – this garbage inside,
Or at least that’s the bedtime story we tell ourselves
And our lovers.

For now, we want to run from the memories shelved quietly in our hearts,
Where secrets live the longest lives, held captive by those shoebox lids.
Sometimes we can forget, and yet still they will remain, ceaselessly thriving,
Breathing the fear-of-nights like oxygen, awake in blackness giving them life.
Until the day we know the harsh reality – the only way to cleanse those spaces;
Bravely we start wiping away dust, ripping off the lids our truths are trapped beneath.
Reaching deep, we begin scraping out this damned toxicity ever-haunting our thoughts,
So that someday the cavities will be empty, and we can once again
Reclaim the shoebox-shaped spaces in our hearts
For ourselves.

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On Omniscience and Decay

I am a Mother

Nursing Venus

Dear Harvey

Dear Harvey,
you weren’t the one
who wronged me.
The real life boss who stole
my self-worth,
my dignity,
and put strain on
my marriage
with your 2 am
oh-this-is-about-work
phone calls.

My stomach turns
that anyone would
ever think
I wanted your
attention,
or god forbid, that
it was consensual.

The worst
was the night you
called me a bitch
in front of your colleagues
at an out-of-town dinner.
My grimaced face
masked my horror
and embarrassment.
Calling at 2 am
(yet again, is this your magic hour?)
with a drunken apology
only disgusted me.
Later, I tried to get
the room’s phone records.
Just. In. Case.

Everyone saw how you were.
The board, your bosses,
did nothing but
stay complicit in
your harassment crime.
Yes, it was a crime.
Against the law.
Against all moral and ethics codes.
But given no intervention
you grew omnipotent
and feared no one.

Because yes, your behavior
was criminal
and you should have
done the time.
Let the world see
what a pathetic fool you are.

I wish I was the one
who took you down,
lord knows enough people
begged me.
But small towns
meant few jobs
and it was before
the enlightenment
when men like you
were tried and went to prison.
My silence
protected me.
Not you.
I had to survive.
I had to heal.

Somehow I believe
that you did pay.
I don’t know how or when
but the karma train
ran you down
kicking and screaming,
claiming your innocence.
As you
claimed my reputation.

So, Dear Harvey,
you weren’t the one
yet you are the one
who has become the
de facto poster boy
for the revolution
which gave strength
to all of us to speak out.
Finally.
Time’s up.
Tell the world.
Me, too.

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I am a Mother

More than a Mouthful: How the Breastaurant Industry Feeds America’s Appetite for Exploitation

I Quit, Bitches!

It is fucking impossible to work with Bethany. Instead of being a team player, she’s an ego-driven, self-serving, arrogant, superficial little floozy. She regularly empowers herself to bulldoze over me by hijacking my responsibilities and compromising my professional reputation. In fact, she purposely intimidates everyone on the team by bullying her conceited self-superiority into their work, too. Before I embarrass everyone with a psychotic blow-up, I plan to do the adult thing and raise my middle finger high to everyone:

I quit, bitches!

At first, working with Bethany was an absolute pleasure. Her enthusiasm was infectious – hence my Stepped-Up Award nomination. However, after a few weeks, her passion transformed into manipulation, control, and an aggressive play for power. Instead of competing with Bethany for control, credit or recognition during team meetings or in front of clients, I remained silent in the background. After all, it was best to allow the narcissist to take center stage. Meanwhile, rumors were rampant that Bethany didn’t like me and refused to work with me.

In a gallant attempt to remedy the situation, I followed the conflict the resolution procedures outlined in the Employee Handbook. However, based on the circumstances, I deemed it was best not to confront Bethany directly. Instead, I approached the person both of us reported to – Jake.

Jake, I have concerns about working with Bethany. She intrudes on my responsibilities and discredits me in front of the team and in front of clients. Is my job in jeopardy? It appears she’s taking over my role.

No, Dave. Your job is not in jeopardy. Excuse me, but I have a meeting to get to.

And that was it.

I expected more from my direct supervisor. I expected more from the Director of Client Services. Instead, my concerns were casually brushed off as meaningless. Meanwhile, I proactively took contemporaneous notes to document specific examples of Bethany’s steam-rolling bullying for future reference.

From a client and management perspective, I agree: Bethany is knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and engaging. However, from a coworker perspective, these traits damage team morale. In fact, the entire Client Services Team met with Jake intervention-style during a hastily scheduled meeting to discuss Bethany’s intrusive traits and their detrimental effects. Finally, I felt empowered – I had a team of five co-workers standing with me in agreement.

Jake, we are concerned about Bethany’s bullying attitude. She intrudes on our work. Her ego is damaging to the team, our clients, and ultimately, the company.

What do you expect me to do?

Although spoken in a politically correct manner, this was the team’s reaction:

WTF? We expect you to fix this shit, Jake! What the fuck do you expect to do? Let it ride? This is more than one isolated incident. This is more than one person crying wolf. This is the entire team you supervise – crying out together – in one united voice. It is a desperate attempt to bring a detrimental situation to your attention. Fix it, Jake. It’s your fucking job.

Duh.

Finally, Jake reluctantly said;

I guess I’ll talk to her.

A few hours afterward the team’s intervention, Jake met with me individually. In a hasty discussion, he assured me he would speak to Bethany once again to clarify our roles. His actions, however, immediately discredited his promises: He shunned me, sidestepped me, and continued to empower Bethany with questions, concerns, and tasks about my assigned projects – further enabling Bethany’s ambitions. Because the obvious favoritism wasn’t going to be addressed, I was forced to search for a new job. After all, it is impossible to regain credibility once it’s been rejected by the boss.

It wasn’t long before I began to see the underlying signs that sparked my initial job-insecurity. After all, I sat in the cubicle directly across from Bethany. First, I noticed Jake’s superficial compliments and exaggerated melodies of gooey expressions every time he approached her. Along with silly blushing and sparkling eyes, Jake would often deep-dive into her personal zone in an obvious effort to feed her ego. In fact, his middle-school style flirtations became embarrassing. In the end, it was downright disturbing to watch a middle-aged man eagerly throw himself at a young, pretty co-worker and reward her with prestige, recognition, and merit. Because Bethany eagerly returned Jake’s teenage flirtations, she was awarded the Golden Ticket of Power – at my expense.

In the short run, Bethany’s extraordinary passion for control and her malicious manipulation to empower herself paid off. While Jake and Bethany continue their flirtatious games with giddy delight, rumor has it that many team members continue to be pissed off. After all, who likes the teacher’s pet?

I wish you luck, Bethany. Daily, I pray to the Karma Gods that your day will come. You won the battle, but you will eventually lose the crusade.

Meanwhile, I’m moving on to a new career – far away from the teenage-style drama and dysfunction. I’m an adult. I will do the adult thing and raise my middle finger high to everyone:

I quit, bitches!

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I Weep With Discovery

The Reformation

The Teeterboard

Walking by the playground
Where my son used to play
On endless afternoons. Sliding.
Bucket on his head. Pretending
He was the Artful Dodger
Running a hand across the dragon
I noticed

Two children on a seesaw
Or teeter totter; a long
Narrow board with a pivot point or
Sweet spot. In the middle.
A boy and a girl were laughing
As one went up
And the other went down

They bounced and balanced
Perfectly. Power dynamic
Shattered. Equanimity.
Sun dipping behind the clouds
I took another trip around the sun
Sat on a bench and wondered
What happens

On the way to adulthood
And the bedroom
And the board room
And the war room
Where everyone wants their own
And the sweet spot is lost

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On Omniscience and Decay

I am a Mother

Nursing Venus

Attraction

A distance between
belief and science? Are we
enlightened? Are we
sublime? What is
extraordinary? This mermaid
of scales and papier
mâché or a sand and
stone Goliath?  Are you
a wonder? Or artful
deception? Have you ever
gazed upon a basilisk, a wicked Jenny
Haniver? Have you been
Humbugged? And isn’t it thrill
ing? The chill
of an unknown finger
up the bones
of your spine?
Would you linger over curiosities
and chimeras
stitched by hand?
Lost in the land of spectacle
and at what price?
When did you last
imagine?

 

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On Omniscience and Decay

I am a Mother

Nursing Venus

Leaving

I pull up to the stop sign
Will I change my mind?
I have done this before
And returned once more

I sit for a while and stare
Remembering the care
You so seldom gave
You were always so angry

Time and time again
I made excuses back then
Hateful words I can recall
The bruises and the falls

Will I now turn around
Go homeward bound?
No, this time it is for good
I am leaving this neighborhood

Leaving behind the abuse
Like a horse on the loose
Memories in the rearview
I will never, ever forget you

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On Omniscience and Decay

I am a Mother

Nursing Venus

Self-Care and the Art of Blending In

The word recovery has always frightened me when it came to my own mental health. How do I recover from something that is with me for the rest of my life?

When I was first made aware that I had a mental illness at 17 years old, I spent the entire next 365 days in complete denial, continually telling myself that one day I will wake up and the anxiety will vanish, and I will forget that I ever had it. Well, little to my surprise after waking up hundreds of mornings to find that my irrational fears were still with me, the anxiety actually never went away.

This wishful thinking only made my situation worse, especially when it came to my unorthodox methods of self-care as a teenager. In the span of a year, I left scars on my arms from both cigars and razors, I started to drink in the morning before school and I took any prescription pills that I could find in my parents medicine cabinet, only to find myself now becoming physically ill on top of my then current mental illness.

I was trying to heal myself but continued to fail greatly. The expectations that I was setting for myself were utterly unrealistic. I only wish that I could have known then what I know today, and maybe I could have had a better start into adulthood.

Staying hopeful throughout my early twenties, I remained optimistic that there was a cure for this disease called anxiety, but reality wouldn’t set in for me until years later when I received some of greatest advice ever given to me, and it would save my life. At 29 years old, my life I was spiraling out of control. I was drunk every morning before work, my marriage was failing, and I was in my darkest depression to date. So in a final attempt to get help and not lose my life, I sought out and found a cognitive behaviorist in Rochester NY who saved me with one sentence regarding my anxiety. The doctor sat forward in his chair and said, “Ricky, your anxiety is real, and it’s with you for life, you will never wake up one morning, and it had magically disappeared. Now, when you feel yourself having an attack, just repeat this to yourself, ‘This sucks! But I am not losing my mind; this attack is not real and will only last ten minutes’.”

I was taken back by the doctor’s words at first because my illness of twelve years suddenly made so much sense to me in a matter of five seconds. And to my surprise and with much practice, the mantra the doctor gave me actually worked, but like he also told me, it didn’t matter how many positive daily affirmations I repeated to myself and it didn’t matter what medicine I was taking; if I wasn’t willing to put the work in and help myself, then I would never truly get better.

Having a mental health disorder, to me, is the equivalent of having a full-time job, and after being diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, depression, PTSD and depersonalization disorder, I sometimes feel like I’m only living to find new ways to keep my current state of mind healthy. Searching for answers doesn’t always come easy with the hundreds of different types of medications that are offered to us; it can be an agonizing chore to find what works for you. For me, it was an antidepressant/anti-anxiety called Lexapro, and before I was comfortable settling on that drug, I trialed a few others first; Prozac, Effexor, Zoloft, Xanax, and Clozapine; none of which suited me.

So today, after many years of therapy and attempts with different medications, these are the self-care steps that I take every day to maintain my current state of mental health.

1. ACKNOWLEDGMENT: Every morning as soon as I wake up, I am instantly reminded that I have a mental illness, but I do not run from it. I welcome it with open arms, because for today and for the rest of my life, I will live with this, but it is okay. I’ll be just fine as long as I follow the next four steps below.

2. DEPRESSION: For the empty feeling of depression, I make sure I find something that I love and take advantage of it. It could be anything from, my wife and I walking the dog or even binge watching The Office on Netflix. Whatever it may be, I embrace the vice that allows me to escape from my mind. (A little bit of Vitamin D and laughter goes a long way)

3. ANXIETY: Whenever I feel anxious, which for the most part is all day and every day, I use the mantra that I learned from the cognitive behaviorist in Rochester NY. If that’s not working and I need a quicker approach, I can take in three deep breaths and focus my attention on the negative energy that’s plaguing my thoughts and rid them from my mind. (Sometimes I just have to remain calm and do my best to remember that I am stronger than my anxiety)

4. SLEEPING: Trying to fall asleep, let alone staying asleep might the hardest and most concerning of all my problems. Each night immediately after I lay my head on my pillow, my mind starts to race with horrible, irrational thoughts that no one without anxiety would ever think of while trying to fall asleep. Years before I got sober I would easily take four Clozapine anti-anxieties and wash it down with a tall glass of Merlot just to aide me in falling asleep, but now that I’m sober, I sought out alternative methods to assist me. I found that essential oils, such as lemon, mint and eucalyptus oil work wonders and if I’m really struggling, I can play soothing music to get me where I need to be; thunderstorms or seagulls usually do the trick.

5. DIET: I used to binge eat to make myself feel better when I was feeling low. I would often grab whatever was the quickest and easiest meal to consume, and nine out of ten times it was greasy fast food and stops at my local 7-11 splurging on KitKat bars. At the end of all my binge episodes, I felt sorry for myself as I was growing unhappy with my self-image and self-worth, which ultimately led to my already present depression taking a turn for the worse. About a year ago I switched to a complete plant-based vegan diet, and I can’t even begin to explain the benefits that resulted from the switch. I feel healthier than I ever have before, I’m less tired, and my mind is clearer, just to name a few perks. Overall and most importantly, my self-esteem and confidence are at an all-time high.

There are many different forms of self-care and what works for one person might not work for someone else, but having something that works for you is all that matters. I’ve tried the stubborn way to ease my anxiety, and I tried the logical way and there is no comparison between the two, and honestly when it comes to your mental health, even your physical health, no shortcuts should be taken, and no expense should be spared. I can’t encourage people enough to take care of themselves and make your health the number one priority in your life, because without our health, we will truly lose ourselves.

Be kind to yourself, love yourself and never give up. Life might seem impossible some days, but as long as you’re willing to put in the work, it will get better, I promise.

Photo Credit: Henry Hemming Flickr via Compfight cc

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On Omniscience and Decay

I Weep With Discovery

The Reformation

Encounter

If you encounter my body, it will
pretend. Shy smile to stutter, eyes flutter,
descend. Online I am open. I spill
until arid is slush. My body encountered
is hidden and hushed. I can’t speak the truth,
but I will write it down. Words wing me to
friends while I’m caged to the ground. Bluetooth
all bravado, WiFi gone wild. You
encounter my body and find I am
a child. You won’t recognize me. Offline,
it’s buried deep. Sweet tea and monogramed
secrets all steeped, in Florida sunshine,
you’ll encounter a body, courtesan’s heart.
Maybe a minute then poetry starts.

Photo Credit: Hugedé Loïc Flickr via Compfight cc

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On Omniscience and Decay

I am a Mother

Nursing Venus

The Quickening

My favorite part of pregnancy was the idea of aliens inside me—
limbs prodding beneath layers of muscles parted, tissues stacked
tucking essential human elements of me and them together
so we could feed off of each other symbiotically.
I loved how they teased the outside world with impressions
from within, but never while waiting.
The bumps would come but stop when I surveyed, an archeologist
on a dig for skeletons I couldn’t know, a seek and find of half-grown humans
I hadn’t a chance to see. I was always supine beyond recommended weeks while gestating,
willing mind-fed oxygen to my unborn, questioning how women managed to birth
sound babies before the guidance of professionals—it’s a fine miracle
every baby of mine wasn’t born with a tail or nine toes and two heads from the time
I spent straddled beneath weighty genetic carbon copies,
each one dining on fine spreads of cellular soups and oxytocin.
Me, on my back, eating, breathing, seeing, speaking unrecommended activities
while biding my time. I miss every day we grew together—
he or she longer, fatter, as I swelled, stretched to widths I could never have imagined
when I tucked pillows beneath my shirt as a girl. My babies danced
behind bruised ribs, uterus amplified, each kick and push mounting
head dipping downward before departing—enveloped in membranes
from the most guarded place I’ve come to know on earth.

Photo Credit: EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operation Flickr via Compfight cc

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On Omniscience and Decay

I am a Mother

Nursing Venus