Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer Mix Tape! Poetic License Horoscopes for July 1-7

Cancer (June 22-July 23): Say Please (Monsters of Folk): (Happy happy birthday to one of my very very favorite poetry friends in the entire universe, Daniel McGinn!) 1. You are the very best person ever and 2. The universe is big, waiting and overflowing with shiny things, bright frosted cookies, and dazzling handmade arts and crafts. All you ever have to do is ask.
Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): Home (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes): “Well, hot & heavy, pumpkin pie, chocolate candy, Jesus Christ, there ain’t nothin’ please me more than you.” Run around, snuggle, snooze, sing and hold hands on the beach with your best best friend in the whole wide world.
 
Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): Your Love is My Drug (Ke$ha): “So, I’ve got a question. Do you want to have a slumber party in my basement? Do I make your heart beat like an 808 drum?” Should you start to slouch towards timidity this summer, I want you to stop and think, “What would Ke$ha do?”

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): Doll Parts (Hole): You ARE the grrrl with the most cake, the gentleman with the most pudding, the kid with the most candy, the Agent Cooper with the most cherry pie. Things are just getting stickier and stickier.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): All the Old Showstoppers (The New Pornographers): “And somebody beside you /Slipped your head inside the crown/ The princess of the paupers/ And all the old showstoppers/ Until this moment's still unknown.” Whatever luck sneaks up on you, it’ll come from delightful mixups, mistaken identities and your same old beloved songs.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Helplessness Blues (Fleet Foxes): “And I don’t, I don’t know who to believe. I’ll get back to you someday soon, you’ll see.” Whatever you’re letting slip out of your hands, it isn’t forever, it isn’t lost, isn’t even a balloon with a tag tied to it with your address attached—much closer, much safer, much easier.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): Whatever You Like (T.I.): The stars can’t stop putting this songs on mixes. We like to imagine T.I, as a drag king,  the shorty being promised something else entirely. There go the stars, telling on themselves again. You should be free to imagine wealth beyond private jets and Patron, all the way beyond to love and happiness.
Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19) Girls and Boys (Blur) “On sunny beaches/ Take your chances looking for /girls who are boys who like boys to be girls /who do boys like they're girls / who do girls like they're boys / always should be someone you really love.” I always thought that last part was kind of puritanical, but in your case, it’s probably true.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): No Matter What (Badfinger): Please Google this song whenever you feel overwhelmed, whenever things are too gray, whenever you need to remember that your goofball friends are rooting for you every, every minute.

Aries (March 21-April 18): Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) (Arcade Fire): This is more of a winter song, I guess, but I wanted to send it to you for the way you can alchemize a playlist, turn heartbreak headphones into gold. You would never need to build any tunnels—you’re warm enough to melt the snow.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): Up in the Dark (The New Pornographers): “We had secrets, but they’re spent. Always kept the lights on when the power went.” You and your electric friends know what love is better than most. Take time out of doubt to wonder and celebrate it.


Gemini (May 19-June 21): The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side (The Magnetic Fields): “Andy would bicycle across town in the rain to bring you/ candy and John would buy the gown for you to wear to the/ prom with Tom the astronomer who'd name a star for you/  But I'm the luckiest guy on the Lower East Side / cause I've got wheels and you want to go for a ride.” The stars will never run out of things to say about how generous our friends are, and neither, dear Gemini, will you.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Song of the Week: Your Love Is My Drug

I love it when a dumb pop song just absolutely hits the spot. My friend Connor gave me the *best*  mix, with lots of really great dignified songs, but when Amy and I were driving to the beach the other day, this was the one I just couldn't get enough of. Still can't. Maybe it's because I've been embracing my own dizzy-on-testosterone tendencies lately. Hooray!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Motivation Mondays: Nice Slutty Affirmations!

Don’t forget, I’m looking for love poems and summer help. Don’t make me lit-nag you, dears. Unless you like that sort of thing.

So here’s my dirtiest little self-help secret: I like to write affirmations. After the three pages of yammering and dream remembering that I write first thing every morning, I generally write a page of affirmations. I don’t know why I’m so embarrassed about it; our culture find a million ways a day to tell us we’re not awesome, so why not counteract that?

I usually like the creativity-and-faith themed ones that Julia Cameron endlessly comes up with, but lately I’ve been enjoying a nice list of them from the authors of, you guessed it, The Ethical Slut. (It’s funny how much The Ethical Slut is like The Artists Way, all that talk of self-care and abundance.)

How could you not feel cheerful after writing a page of:

I deserve love.

My body is sexy just the way it is.

I ask for whatever I want, and say no to whatever I don’t.

I turn difficulties into opportunities for growth.

Each new connection expands me.

I contain all I need for a life full of delight.

Sex is a beautiful expression of my loving spirit.

I am on my personal path to ecstasy.

So, yeah. Say nice things to yourself. It's fun.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Love Poem: J. Bradley!

Oh my dears, I am running out of Friday Love Poems! Do a lovey-dovey blogger's heart some good and send some, wouldya?










East Delaware Place

I’m sorry I broke quarantine.
I intended to leave behind
a sore throat, raw cellular
structure differently.

When you cough, imagine
my mouth is an orderly
soothing your neck.

When you sweat, collect it
in washcloths. Use them
to remind me the proper
flavor of a fever.

When you can’t get out of bed,
pretend I’m next to you, smack
the Snooze button like my cheek;
I’ll ask for more in nine minutes.



J. Bradley is the author of Dodging Traffic (Ampersand Books, 2009), The Serial Rapist Sitting Behind You is a Robot (Safety Third Enterprises, 2010), My Hands Are As Thick As Dreams (Patasola Press, 2011), and the upcoming e-chapbooks A Patchwork of Rooms Furnished By Mistakes (Deckfight Press, 2011) and Our Hearts Are Power Ballads (Artistically Declined Press, 2011). He is the Interviews Editor of PANK Magazine and lives at iheartfailure.net.

Poetic License Horoscope for June 24-30

Cancer (June 22-July 23): The Universe would like to recognize your outstanding achievement in the field of Surrealism, gift-giving, and mix making, and thank you for your ridiculously abundant music.

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): Oh Leo, the stars can’t thank you enough, for your open ears, your meticulous care of household pets, your refusal to let anyone give up the ghost, your stubborn dedication, and your tears, misspent and otherwise.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): Your fortune cookie says “A golden investment opportunity is approaching. The stars humbly suggest that you invest in pajamas. Shop for pajamas the way that ladies in novels shop for lingerie; full of purpose and possibility. Soon you’ll be a soft, cuddly thing, trimmed in ribbons and lace.

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): “After all, my erstwhile dear, / my no longer cherished, / Need we say it wasn’t love/ Just because it perished?” (Edna St. Vincent Millay) The stars are writing mental thank-yous to all of our exes, post-crushes and even our miracle/mistakes for all they’ve taught us. We suggest you do the same.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): Make a list of everything you’re afraid of, in every last excruciating detail. Don’t’ leave anything out. Then shred the pages and throw yourself a ticker tape parade, like the ones they used to have for returning astronauts. Welcome back.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Thank you for all of the threads you’ve woven us, for the days you made us brave, for all of your assistance and important letters, for every confidence and shrug and insight- you are a miracle.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): The stars would like to serve each of your recent exes a cup of It’s Not That Deep. We promise you a summer full of breezy comings and goings, more bubbles than kite strings, and a higher ratio of magic to negotiations.

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): “In a culture that’s built in twos, any relationship that has any life in it is generally regarded as an express train to couplehood.” (The Ethical Slut) But of course it doesn’t have to be that way. Make up names for all the many spaces between friendship and love. Use a Venn diagram if necessary.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): (Meta-scope for a favorite friend.) I invented these horoscopes as a way to make it socially acceptable to write 12 love notes a week, but when I say, “I love you, you’re magic, and you know exactly what to do,” they absolutely could not be more real.

Aries (March 21-April 18): “Night has always pushed up day/ You must know life to see decay/ But I won't rot, I won't rot/ Not this mind and not this heart, / I won't rot.” (Mumford and Sons) Of course not, Aries, because summer’s the time for bloom and flourish, for having everything, which is what you (and the stars) insist on.


Taurus (April 19-May 18): “To everyone out there, who's a little different/ I say damn a magazine, these are gods fingerprints/ You can call me ugly but can't take nothing from me/ I am what I am doctor you ain't gotta love me.” (Brother Ali) Collect up all of the different kinds of beautiful and carry them in your pockets like lucky coins.


Gemini (May 19-June 21): Write this week on your skin and make it permanent. Remember every firefly, hydrangea petal and much-needed mango water ice. Everything’s so perfectly placed and timed and so, dear Gemini, are you.

Poetic License Horoscopes is a free syndicated series which appears weekly on such lit blogs as The Serotonin Factory, Critical Mass http://www.citypaper.net/blogs/criticalmass/POETIC-LICENSE-Horoscopes-April-29-May-5.html and The Legendary http://www.downdirtyword.com/horoscopespage and Apiary http://theapiarycorp.com/ If you are interested in adding the Poetic License Horoscopes to your lit journal / lit blog, please email me at serotoninfactory@gmail.com.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Song of the Week: With Arms Outstretched

This week has been kind of difficult. After my first day of settling into online teacher certification classes, I felt like a zombie and kind of panicked. I was catastrophizing all over the place,thinking I'd get writer's block forever, thinking my soul might die, feeling about a million miles away from an actual classroom or anything besides the grey grey grey of online discussion boards. While I was sniveling all this out to Amy, we were watching the first episode of Weeds, and this song came on. It made me cry even more, but in a nice way.

Today I'm not as worried. Yesterday when I turned in my homework for the week, I felt a glimmer of progress. A helpful friend who's been through this process said yes, it's awful and mind-numbing, but suggested that I not fight the current, and that makes a lot of sense.

Also! This song has excellent xylophone!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Dear!

(These photos scanned funny but I think you can still see the cute.)

Our wedding day started the way I’d always dreamed of: our apartment was full of ladies, curling their hair and fixing their faces. One-and-a-half year old Shae was being adorable in her flower girl dress. My mom and aunts came over to bring the flowers, white roses and delphiniums.

The wedding being in Syracuse, it’d been threatening rain all morning, but when my dad came to pick us up to go to Thornden Park, the sun came out emphatically. Someone later attributed this to Great Grandmom’s heavenly intervention.

We lined up to go through the rose arbor, Shae sporadically leading the way. The bridesmaids were carrying bouquets, and the bridesmen were carrying my tiny nephews, who’d only been born a couple of months before. Amy and I both walked with both of our parents, and each of us started misting up as we neared the center of the rose garden, because that’s where our friend Steve was Dobblering a boombox playing In Your Eyes. (That’s one of our songs. Our actual song is The Space Between by Dave Matthews Band, and there’s nothing we can do about it.)

Of course the ceremony was performed by a poet—my friend and mentor Georgia Popoff. When I pointed out that Amy’s vows were better written than mine, Georgia said helpfully “It’s not a competition,” but I was just saying that I felt lucky. Somebody said once that in good relationship, both people think they’re getting the better deal, and I’ve always known I’m the lucky one.



I’ll let you decide whose vows are better:

My Vows to Amy:

-I promise we will learn the names of all the birds and flowers.

-I promise to take you to all the good celestial events.

-I promise continued astonishment with the universe, especially that someone as beautiful as you would want to hang out with me.

-I promise to make your life as warm, cozy, and inspired as possible.

-I promise you gratitude, faith, and the everlasting love and adoration you deserve.

Amy’s Vows to Me:

-I promise you will always be my First Thought, my First Cause, my Prime Mover.

-I promise there will always be Bronze Spheres, Infinities, the Obvious Unspoken, Truth to be pursued and Beauty to be worshipped.

-I promise we will have Summers of Flowers and Birds, that we will strain our necks up at the trees and watch out for caterpillars in the road.

-I promise we will always revel under Blue in all its many shades—from highlighted morning to Sunday Paper walks to sunsets on a hill to the Deep Midnight Blue surrounding split by falling stars.

-Finally, I promise to sincerely and sillily love you. I promise you laughter magic; to read to you, to hold you, to care for you. I promise to build you castles in the air and foundations to keep them there.
*******************************************

Almost everyone we invited came, from Texas, Colorado, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and all over the place. Even our most conservative family members stood by us and pledged to help support our relationship.



We (mostly I) chose almost every single song played at the reception. We were presented as wife and wife to the theme from The Simpsons. Our first dance was to Philosophy by Ben Folds Five, because I’d always wanted to fall in love with a philosopher.

So, eight years later, here we are, in spite of the fact that I read Fear of Flying on our honeymoon, in spite of the fact that I’m terrible at talking about superheroes and unable to stop talking almost ever, in spite of her bad commute to Delaware, in spite of everything that keeps me from being the perfect wife I wanted to be, we’re still here. We’re still amazing.


 And if they ever legalize gay marriage in Pennsylvania, I’d love to invite you to another party and march her down the aisle of my beloved Unitarian church, to make it official. Let’s get on that, shall we?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Motivation Mondays: Calls for Submissions: Summer Help

Hi dears. I hope your week is starting off cheerfully. Since I’ll be ridiculously busy this summer with teacher certification courses and arts camp, I thought I’d ask my brilliant friends for a little help. Here are the regular features you can contribute to:

I’m always taking submissions for Friday Love Poems, and there are a few slots open to get in before the end of July and make it into the print anthology! http://theserotoninfactory.blogspot.com/2011/05/save-date-friday-love-poems-anthology.html

And you can send prose, poetry, playlists, regular lists, videos, photos, etc for these two things:

Motivation Mondays: What keeps you writing? What are some lessons you’ve learned that might help other creative types move themselves forward? What songs are on your workout mix? Anything that gets the week started on a positive note is welcome.

Triads and Quadrangles: Is a silly-but-also-hopefully-helpful research project seeking positive images and stories of polyamory. Feel free to use a cute pseudonym if you’d like to tell your multiperson story anonymously.

Email your submissions, along with a short bio and a picture, to serotoninfactory@gmail.com.

Can’t wait to hear from you! Happy summer.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Love Poems: Victor Infante!

When I say “I Love You” I Mean …

You echo static // girl on the steps, in the crowd.
            the undiscovered frequency // smile an incantation.
Call this love. Call it chain lightning, juggled hand-to-hand //
            and Nothing up my sleeve // and Don’t touch that dial.
And Believe.

What reduces me to end-of-the-radio-band gibberish;
What pulses still, when all my magic tricks, revealed.

An American Love Song

Somewhere, a man who voted for last year’s Pilate
is choking down sobs between sips of good American beer.
Johnny Cash is playing on the jukebox.
I shot a man in Reno/Just to watch him die
streams between the electric crackle of static.

We find love stories in soot-stained hands,
gaze straggled out from the stars to the mire.
Shiny gems of souls locked in prison vaults,
the twittering madness lashed against steel bars.

Unwanted men falling, falling, this is ballet.
One punch releases demons, one moment’s peace
in the thunderclap of imploding bone.

Some cannot survive love’s passing:
their bodies stitched with it like sutures, hands
always open, voices raised in praise to God
for rough-hewn men whose coarsened labors
keep machine gears grinding.

The cement beneath our feet is always unraveling.

We find grace in the strangest places,
Eyes. Black coffee. Love stories.
Soft hands draw us in from undertow.
Embraces, the promise of storms subsiding.

This is always a love story:
One hand clasped tight in desperation,
the other extended outward, like a gift.
This world is rain that pounds like jackhammers,
heads bowed down against the torrent.

The beer is warming. Soon it will be little more
than carbonation and bitter aftertaste.

Play One More For My Radio Sweetheart


10) I knew about snapped bass strings and the boy in Long Beach, knew you’d stripped yourself of even your name, but I wasn’t alarmed until I’d heard she’d rescued your cats.
9) It’s always been split lips and sheathed knives between us, but you were there when the bitch threw rocks at her windows, when the boogeyman slammed fists against her door at 3 a.m., and for that, I’m grateful.
8) Your wedding photos chill me – I search the crowd shots to find my own face lost amid the smiling friends in ill-fitting tuxedoes, like some specter of me was there to dance with you.
7) You laid the guitar in the closet and it disappeared entirely, but sometimes you can hear familiar chords echoing through the house’s rafters, each song a funeral dirge.
6) The radio bears no songs of you and me and what we’ve lost to the needle; when the world condenses to the back seat of a station wagon, no food for days, the body propelled by small snakes slithering in your veins. No more.
5) No exorcism for ghosts that walk like the living, that telephone desperate and starving from gas station parking lots, begging change for reheated burritos, building a mausoleum of Styrofoam wrappers.
4) The boy’s no good for you, will chip away at you until you are something less, a bauble to be placed on a shelf.

3) She is gone, and her absence rattles like the wind through an empty garage, the whistle of air kissing emptied glass bottles. It haunts you at night when your eyes snap open, disturbed from sleep by a song your fingers still recall how to play.

2) I miss hearing you sing.

1) I should have been there.

BIO: Victor D. Infante is the editor of the online literary journal, Radius, and the author of City of Insomnia, a poetry collection from Write Bloody Publishing. His poems and stories have appeared in numerous periodicals, including PearlChiron ReviewThe Nervous BreakdownSpillwayWord Riot and Dark Horizons. He's American, but used to live in England. Now he lives in NewEngland, which is less similar than you'd think.



Poetic License Horoscope for June 17-23


Gemini (May 19-June 21): You are a matchbox marked “Wishes.” Strike them one at a time and light up everything. Husband the flames into spells that start everything over.

Cancer (June 22-July 23): You’re like the video of my nephew doing the robot—all the joy ever, compressed into about 11 seconds. Also, there seems to be some kind of “shorty fire” that is, in fact, burning on the dance floor.

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): Not everything you plan has to go perfectly, but the car is air-conditioned, and you have so many songs about ambivalence and so many miles to share with the imperfect person who just wants to know all your secrets.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): “Nothing is more important, to people, than realizing they should get on with their lives, go mad, take their clothes off, jump in the canal, jump into one of those supermarket trolleys, race around the supermarket and steal Mars bars and kiss kittens.” --Morrissey

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): This week at my after school program, (Yes, stars can totally work in an after-school program.) we wrote “I Am” poems. One little girl said she was a “true ladybug” and another said she was “a blue sky” and also “a project.” (I hear ya, sister!) More than one kid asserted that they were not, in fact, haters. I hung the poems side by side with their self-portraits, and I have to say, they were totally right.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): Watching back episodes of The L Word is very stressful sometimes. The entire plot is driven by the idea that jealousy is a life-or-death situation. It isn’t.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Now that you have all the information you need, put it all into a neat pile. Stow it in a drawer next to your bed, and take a well-deserved nap. Dream it all into outline form, and wake up perfectly organized.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson) I know you want to take things seriously, but don’t. Meditate on kitten videos, or Cake Wrecks, or the time you used to always go out wearing a tiara and lots of glitter. (For the stars, that was our early twenties.)

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): To the Aquarius friend who brought me a Hello Kitty, dressed in a rainbow outfit and holding a cupcake as a “Pride Present” (!) I didn’t even know there was such a thing! I will find you a T-shirt that says “Queer Adjacent” and wrap it up in lots of femme-y ribbons. You are just that sweet.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): You are better than a semifinalist, you are perfectly chosen. You’re every phrase’s dream come true, a fireworks for nouns and verbs, the big pack of sparklers. Look at all of your glittering!

Aries (March 21-April 18): “I’m through accepting limits/ ‘cause someone says they’re so/ some things cannot change/ but til’ I change, I’ll never know.” (Defying Gravity from Wicked) The stars are rooting for your every leap. We’re fairly sure you won’t end up a puddle, or steam.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): “Let’s pretend we own the world today.” (Bikini Kill) Because of course you do! You are a charisma-fountain and a dream-catalyst and also just someone who’s pretty in love with the world you own. The stars can’t help but be delighted.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The (Pre-Ethical) Slut Years



Reading The Ethical Slut is such a good, helpful experience. I’d recommend it to anyone, in any kind of relationship. (We’ve been rewatching The L Word and I keep wishing the ladies would read the “Roadmaps Through Jealousy” chapter.) But the word slut itself is pretty triggery, and combined with the fact that guys are back in my life, it’s brought up some stuff to go over. This is going to be one of those not-very-serotoniny posts, I’m afraid.

I find that no matter how empowered, choosy, and safe I feel with guy friends/pals/crushes, I still have a fear of humiliation that crops up. It makes it hard to keep things in perspective and even makes me a little panicky sometimes. I know that therapy is the best way to deal with this, probably, but for now, dear readers, you’re all I’ve got.

I can’t say for sure what made me decide to be a slut in high school. One of the last times I went to confession, I attributed my poor choices to boredom, and that might certainly be one of the reasons. I thought that I was ugly and that no man would ever want me for any reason other than an easy lay. I have no idea where I got these ideas, or why they don’t carry over to women, but I still think those things sometimes, even in the face of some pretty compelling evidence to the contrary.

I lost my virginity at fourteen to a guy named Rob Kilgore—doesn’t he sound like an old-timey villain? He was sitting on the back porch of the youth center where we all hung out, looking out over the river. He said “I think I’ll just drown myself if someone doesn’t sleep with me.” I swear to god that’s what he said. Who in the world would fall for that? Me! I had my first kiss and my first sex within minutes of each other, and it did feel like some kind of progress. I remember afterward, sitting in my friend Sherri’s kitchen, bleeding and reading the horoscope in the Syracuse Post Standard: “Your life will change for the better.”

What surprised my fourteen-year-old self the most after having sex with this near-stranger was that we didn’t automatically form some kind of bond. I guess his girlfriend (Lisa. Big hair and acid washed jeans. It was 1990.) was kind of mad at me or whatever, but mostly they just ignored me. I was still in middle school, and I remember walking past the high school hoping that I’d see Rob and he’d notice me, and remember. I even wore the shirt that I wore that night, hoping it would jog his memory. It was a shirt I designed myself, with puff paint designs of all different symbols like yin and yangs and such. No one wearing puff paint should be having sex, probably. I’d really just like to hug my young self and tell her to forget him. I never got more than a casual hello out of him again, unsurprisingly.

After that, I didn’t have sex for a while, but a couple of springs later I found myself with lots of lovey-dovey energy (though I wouldn’t’ve called it that or attached emotions to it at all.) and nothing to do so I went to hang out at the basketball court in the little park three doors down from our house. The first guy I took home was (I kid you not) named Ulysses Grant. We said maybe four sentences to each other before we were in bed. I still admire the brazenness involved, even as I acknowledge how much danger I was putting myself in.

That went on a few times until I noticed the baby seat in the back of his car. I found other guys at the basketball court and Sherri, who by now had moved to a trailer park, started hooking me up with her neighbors. Most of these were very quick, careless encounters, to the point where I don’t remember all of their names. The first time a guy introduced me to ANY kind of for-my-pleasure foreplay (albeit to the sounds of Great Adventures of Slick Rick. I just typed it into Rhapsody, and boy, is it still a jam) I got OBSESSED, but he never wanted to pay attention to me again. The next time I saw him, the night ended in a bizarre combination of beer, humiliation, and Mario 2, that weird one where the princesses play.

The last time Sherri hooked me up with someone, it was her boyfriend Rob’s friend Rob. (Am I just remembering funny, that everyone’s name is Rob?)  I told my parents I was staying over at my friend Kristie’s house, and we met the guys, for some reason at the grocery store. We were wearing our cutest nineties hip-hop clothes, and Sherri kept joking about how her nickname for me was Ho-Ho. (Like the girl-rapper Yo-Yo.) The guys took us to this big hill that was a makeout spot outside of town. Sherri and her Rob stayed at the bottom of the hill, while the other Rob and I climbed up. He was amazed that I could climb so fast without losing my breath. I bragged that it was because I wasn’t a smoker. (A year later, I’d be one, after I smoked a whole pack of Camel unfiltereds in a love-snit about my friend Megan.)

Up there on the hill, I wanted to leave my glasses on so I could see the lights of the town below, but he said he couldn’t get turned on if I had my glasses on. I was afraid I’d lose them in the dark. It was from behind. The dude must really not have liked my face. I yelped and yelped on the top of that mountain, because in spite of my dawning philosophical problems with the situation, it still, of course, felt good.

By the time the guys were done with us, it was only 12:30 A.M, and we’d told my parents we were at Kristie’s, so we couldn’t go home. We were just gonna sleep on a park bench, but then a raucous pickup truck full of dudes pulled up and invited us to a party. I put what happened next into a poem a few years ago:

Why I Don’t Think Rufees Jokes Are Funny

It didn’t occur to me until
fifteen years later when I saw someone explaining
them to a  soap opera teen, how they “take away your ability to resist”
that I didn’t drink enough beers that night
to be quite that drunk. Sitting in a circle of
golden beer mugs
playing quarters
snaggle-tooth Jim asks
Which one of us are you gonna fuck
I told him I’d had enough for one night
Some of them were drinking Cisco
and I was proud to know what that means.
They asked me again who I’d fuck
there were so many of them that it seemed inevitable so I chose
the best looking, the one who had a girlfriend
Hoped for his protection.

He sent her home.
He took all my clothes off, very thorough.
I was a fucking machine.
I tried to do my robot screams
but he held his hand over my mouth
whether for cruelty or quiet.
He did it businesslike, a transaction.
He left the door open while I dressed, boobs dangling
I could see the party down the hall.

Then came the vomiting
beige as that housing development,
and as copious. Threw up one the bed and the floor
in the bedroom of snaggle-tooth Jim.

When I came to it was all blackness
though it must’ve been nearing morning.
they were all hitting me, the whole party
scolding voices, hitting me with something hard.
It was because I puked in Jim’s room, they said. I screamed that I was sorry and to please stop.
They were calling me the same names my father called me
the ones he calls all women in his stand-up jokes.

When the police came one of them took me into the bathroom to
wipe the blood from my forehead,
though it had permanently splattered my shirt.
Gentle version of the voice she’d used for screaming,
this member of the unseeable mob
she cleaned off my forehead,
come on sweetie, it’s okay.


I had a few nice relationships with guys in my teen years and early twenties, but as I rejoin the world of men, these images are hard to shake. I’m close to forgiving myself for how much danger I put myself in, but it’s hard to realize that most of that danger is over, that I’m a grown-ass woman with (for the most part) FANTASTIC taste in partners, and that the specter of treating myself like I’m ugly and unloved and not worth protecting is so far behind me. Maybe if I leave these images here, they won’t get in my way so much.




Song of the Week: Ask!

My favorite affirmation in The Ethical Slut: 

I ask for what I want and say no to what I don't want.


Probably seems kind of common sense, but to a shy ditherer like me, it's a revelation.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Motivation Mondays: Optimism Runs in the Family!

Okay, first of all, my nephew Holden is working on a series of pictures of happy faces doing things. Here they are reading a book about happiness. 


And here's an essay my brother, Ed Wiedmann wrote as a guest-motivator. He didn't give it a title, so I'll call it


Your Brain Doesn't Want You to Think it Gets Better


You are a mean, unforgiving person. It's okay, though, because so am I.

Years back, my sister Jane painted me a picture, and across the top of that picture were the words “Happiness can only be a transitory experience”, individually cut out and glued to the canvas. In a display of poetic foreshadowing, arranging and transporting the painting had left it saying “Happiness can be transitory”, soon followed by it becoming a wordless painting.

Somewhat unfortunately, this is truly the case, at least for the happiness brought on by individual events. A few weeks ago, one of my stunningly beautiful friends paid me a very flattering compliment. I was beaming, on top of the world. Thinking of it now brings back some of that feeling, but for the most part I am back to my normal level of happiness. We obviously can't ride that high forever because then we'd have no new feelings of joy, progress, and success. I, for one, am okay with going out to get more happiness.

Last week I had the pleasure of being surrounded by many of my favorite people in the world; my family. We had 4 generations of thinkers and you can bet there were some great conversations. Jane and I were discussing happiness along with some other members of the family. We discussed how sometimes you have to work for happiness (The Happiness Project) and I, of course, started blabbing about serotonin and dopamine, my two favorite neurotransmitters (What are yours?).

Now comes the part where we're all mean people. You see, as wonderful and enjoyable the bursts of dopamine and serotonin are, a deficit of either of them is less than pleasant. The feeling of dread we get from failure or social rejection can go so far as being physically painful and emotionally crippling. During our temporary bouts of happiness, we rarely tell ourselves that the feeling will last forever, since we know better. However, if the mistake is big enough or the rejection is deep enough, our brains will make us feel like nothing is ever going to get better. Now this may be our mind's way of making sure we don't make the same mistake again, but some people unfortunately never make it past that point. 

As Jane and I discussed this, I let her in on a little secret passed on to me by Dr. Eric Cooper (Iowa State University), my favorite psychology professor ever. On our closing day of Evolutionary Psychology class, Dr. Cooper shared with us his secrets to happiness. Stay tuned for the list, but for right now I will just share the gem that I told to Jane that day, a secret that has been out in the open all along: Things will always get better. Always. Do not let your brain tell you that they won't. Do not be unforgiving to yourself, and do not be mean.

When I mentioned this to Jane and she happily agreed, our grandmother joined in on the conversation with a succinct summary of everything we had said: “This too shall pass.”




Friday, June 10, 2011

Triads and Quadrangles: A Nice Letter from Aiden Fyre

So I sent the wonderful Aiden Fyre this blog post and he sent this soverylovely letter back.  I got permission to post it, because I think it's helpful to anyone, in any kind of relationship. I especially like the "In Solidarity" part.

"Jane,

I'm so glad you got some useful information from the class. I was thrown by the sheer number of attendees, but I'm encouraged some folks found it useful. :)

Poly-Mono dyad relationships CAN work - you and your partner just have to want to MAKE it work. It can be challenging... but, I don't think any more so than a poly-poly dyad relationship. Honestly, the same skills apply! ;) 

Good luck creating the relationships of your dreams - both of you! After all, we ALL juggle multiple relationships - whether they be friendships, work partnerships, lovers, or our passions and hobbies that take up a large chunk of our time!

In Solidarity,
Aiden"

Friday Love Poem: Kevin Hageman!

Impact

There are shockwaves in the strings of my jawbone
from where you captured all my electrons. Tightly-bound
like a dynamo spinning smoke rings into coronal loops.
I lit your last cigarette with my wishbone, a star cluster
of smiles; I’m solar sailing: outer space kissing your lips back,
words to the birth of the moon; I love you past Mars.
I love your past.

In the vacuum of outer space, everything moves towards nothingness;
but what happens when a wandering star collides with a celestial body?
The angular momentum of a supernova evolution is the subsequent history
of binary stars eclipsing the sun; a magnetic reconnection with beauty
invisible to the human eye. A rogue planet balancing Libra’s scales,
meteoric heartstrings, to handshake the moon. My skeleton lifting
into a winged messenger built solar flares out of your earthquakes.

Your body was a gravitational slingshot as we left the dark side of the planet
on Pegasus’ wings, forgetting about ocean tides and the lengthening of days.
My tongue spiraling nimbus, climbing wind-chime past differentiated bodies,
melted your ice giant into flowing lunar oceans, filled your impact craters
with moon rocks, straight past the Tower of Babel, passing comets to your central fire.
You called me astronaut, and I told you how your inner space was a masterpiece.

Our bodies reaching in more directions than a cat’s cradle skipped right past the altar;
we hopped into a chariot, played follow the leader with an archer landing face-up
on Jupiter – its rings were our hula-hoops. We were a pair of compasses southern-crossing
the sky, Gemini’s telescope illuminated by red light, green light between war and love.
Lost in space, we skipped moon rocks across star fields from asteroid to exoplanet.
We took time to hide from an anticyclone dust storm as a pendulum clock synchronized
into the sculptor’s chisel, pausing on Mercury to play flashlight tag, “You’re it.”
“You’re it.” Whether eclipse or equinox,
every planet has seasons, eternal peaks of light, depending upon how its axis tilts.
With proper motion, bone is shoulder blade becoming wingspan becoming planet-
hopping Icarus loosening Orion’s belt after we midnight swallowed all that moonshine.
On a bed of plasma sheets, we fucked Pluto back into a planet, named the sun Helios again.
We were neon phoenixes burning across the sky; Aquarius offered water to cool us down
but I was bearing stars as gifts, the way gravity holds more than just planets in space:
you lifted my bones electric sunbeam, colored me thunder-struck, lightning bolt, earth-bound;

Now I’m still blue static busy moon-gazing at our footprints on the sun. Can you love me past this?

Kevin Hageman is a wanderlust poet and agnostic Buddhist. He believes in the verity of the human spirit, empathy, collaboration, and redemption. He loves performance poetry and can write a nasty villanelle or a sexy sestina. If you wanna know more follow him on twitter @Kevslams.