WOMAN/WOMEN

Traffic signs should change. The go should be red, not green. Green makes me think of a forest or an open plain. It is there that I want to linger. Red makes me think of blood, of flowing, of moving, of…going.

It makes me think of being woman. Maybe this is why all of my best thoughts start in the car. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Right now red means stop. So let’s stop for a moment. Let’s be, red.

To be red, to be woman. What does it mean?

Is it found over $5 martinis with a best friendship created behind a register, cultivated on an island?

Is it found galloping down the highway, well over the speed limit, with the reckless notion that the masculinity that is the police force couldn’t. possibly. touch. you. Not in this sphere. Not in this place.

Is it found in heartbreak? In stillness? In meekness? No. It is found in Going. The grand Going. The capital g, Going.

The essence of womanhood is change. Change means birth, yes. But it also means death. Because to live is to die is to live is to die again and again. (And I wonder why I love fall.) The essence of womanhood is the entire body from the head down. It is the feet that compel you to wander, the legs that hold you steady when the world shakes, the pelvis that ushers cycles of birth and not birth, the hips that bear the weight of the world, the heart that keeps a thousand secrets, the throat that exclaims gratitude and anger and love and hope in one breath, the neck—oh the neck—that supports it “all.” All: the head.

Spoiler alert: it’s not really all there is. To live in the head is to live at the expense of the entire body. A body filled with everything that it is to be human. The varying levels of emotions that we all experience. The differences, the desires.

This is why, I’m convinced this is why, society has feared women for as long as it has been allowed to get away with fearing women. We are wild creatures, wild things, that are at our most beautiful when we are unkempt, unbroken. We go when the world says stop, we stop when the world says go.

There is a depth of emotion within all of us, flowing through all of our blood, our Womanhood, that is beyond what most of us care to experience. We have birthed nations and we have started wars but we have also ended nations and ended wars. We are at the beginning and the end of everything. Because we are women.

Fear us, love us, revere us, demean us but you cannot take away the power that is Woman. Because to be Woman is to be in the dark woods, under a naked sky, staring up at Creation, counting the stars and beckoning them closer to you. To be Woman is to barrel down the highway, until the light pollution ceases, to be in community with God. To be Woman, is to seek, to hunt, to connect, to birth, to destroy, to allow Life to flow through you and with you without trying to control it or yield it. To be Woman, is to Be.

It was at this revelation that I laughed at the sky and said, “Of course. Of course to me, You would be a Woman.” I am a woman and I am Womanhood and I am here. For you. Amen.

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IT’S ALL GOOD

I let you open the door for me. You think you have me more than you do. I play it violently sweet; I play nothing at all.

But you think things.

I got a hangover from your cheap whine. But okay baby, tell me how it is. Tell me all about the day you spent building a castle in the clouds. All about the games you do not play. All about the she’s that came before me. All about the he’s you can’t wait to be. All about the worlds that divide your brain in two so you can sleep at night.

You memorized a pattern of freckles on my arm and you know what it means when I bite my lip. But you will not know me.  You saw my body in that dress and you know what I like to do on a Saturday. But you do not have me. You order me a drink I like and you can tell a stranger my story. But you can not love me.

Because I am not yours. I never was. Capital m-Mine; capital f-Fine.

 

 

F*CK YOU AND YOUR IVORY TOWER

I refuse to apologize for this post to anyone except my mother, for whom the title may be too offensive. But as I’ve enlightened even her as to her cushy seat up in the Ivory Tower of White Privilege, I give zero f*cks. Except for maybe my language but that’s what happens when you’ve absolutely had it with society.

I work in customer service and that generally means two things: 1) It’s my job to be helpful and 2) It’s my job to be polite. Unfortunately both requirements apply to everyone, even the openly bigoted ones. And boy have they been having a field day lately, all out in the open frolicking hand-in-hand as they make literally all. of. us. uncomfortable. #CheckYourselfBeforeYouWreckYourself

A “field day” event happened today and it blew the cap off of the lid I’ve been trying to keep on my emotions post-November 8, 2016. A customer, flanked by her bougie daughters and aloof husband, had been steadily getting on my last nerve ordering me around and talking to me as if I were beneath her. But then this happened as she was attempting to describe the sales associate that was helping her before I was:

Customer: She had dark hair. It was kind of long.

Me: Was she young?

Customer: Yes…and she looked not-American.

Me: …you mean Latina?

As I mentioned earlier, it’s my job to be polite and my job was not worth losing due to this woman’s disgusting display of bigotry. So I held my tongue and refrained from giving her a piece of my mind. And I swallowed hard when she later scrunched up her nose at a fellow human and walked away from them because they were—God forbid—scratching their head and presumably of a lower socio-economic status than her (she who was obsessed with sales and discounts, riddle me that). And I tried to not lash out when another associate, who happens to be an immigrant from a European country, said this woman had refused her assistance before she found me at my register. But I had it when she inferred that not-American is synonymous with Latina. And now we’re here.

Last time I checked, Americans come in all shapes, sizes, and skin colors. But the problem lies when well-meaning white people open their mouths in an attempt to be our allies after situations like the above happen. Confused? Let’s back track.

If you, in your odd curiosity, have ever asked me, “Are you adopted?” as if my lily white mother would never willingly have a baby with my deep bronze father; or “Are your parents still together?” as if a black man is incapable of willingly showing up as a husband and father; or “Are you and your sisters all the same skin color?” as if you’re hoping I break out some on-trend ombre family photo that’ll make you feel cultured; or even “What race do you identify with?” as if I choose who I am in the same reductive way you choose your socks in the morning, I’ve got news for you: you’re part of the us vs. them problem. If you seek reassurance that age-old tropes and stereotypes about my race don’t apply to me and my family because we’re on your List of Good and Okay Minorities to Associate With, you’re perpetuating said stereotypes. Sorry (not sorry).

If you, after saying something uncouth, have ever had the words, “I’m not racist, my (insert personal relation here) is (insert minority here),” come out of your mouth, I’ve got news for you: you’re racist. If you have to associate a race with a person in your life that you’re fond of in order to justify your feelings for other members of that race instead of just seeing said race as part of the larger collective of humans in general and treating them kindly, then you’re racist. Sorry (not sorry).

You can’t fix a system that you (unconsciously?) perpetuate. So, allies, if you’re still with me, I have a charge for you. But…before you get too fussy about what I’ve written so far, you must know and accept what we’ve come to know and accept: you can’t fix the behavior or mindset of Mrs. Cold Spring Harbor up there (yes that’s the town she lives in #OnBlast #NoShame). She and the many people like her are too far gone. But you can fix the small ways in which people like you go about their business in the world. If you boldly change your line of thinking and acting—and you’re a white man or woman—then other white men and women have a higher likelihood of following suit. Because sadly, that’s how it seems to work.

But before you ask for help in changing your ways, here’s me (all of us?) saying, “Nah, b. We’re tired. Figure it out yourself.”

Sound harsh? Tough.

Sincerely,
That Fly on the Wall You Didn’t Realize Was Biracial

THE WANDERING, WAYWARD DAUGHTER: A MEMOIR, OF SORTS

I keep talking about and focusing on how long it had been since I sat proper and did a bible study in my trusty Life Application Study Bible (New Living Translation). Perhaps I am trying to level myself lest my head get too big (which is ridiculous). Or perhaps I am attempting to differentiate myself from others that I deem more godly than I (which is also ridiculous). Either way and for whatever reason, it is something that I do.

I focus on the time I spent separated from the bible version of God’s word and the pursuit of Him in a Christian sense. Which means I ignore all the other ways I’ve found God these past two and a half years in the pursuit of a meditation practice, yoga, healing herbs and teas, the energy in a beautiful crystal, good food and wine, hiking in nature, and the study of the religiously-neutral, spiritual, indescribable yet palpable energy that connects every and any thing.

In those two and a half years, I became a member of the People’s Church of Necessity, a phrase I use to represent God’s uncanny way of placing you in situations that seem so. wrong. amongst people that are too. different. (read: hedonists and nihilists and heathens) in order to heal you. Through the healing, God is dismantling your ego* brick by brick until all you see around you is rubble. Then slowly but surely, God shines Its light upon one brick at a time and you find yourself elbows deep in the dirt building and building. And one day, the rubble is gone and around you is a beautiful Home to dance, sing, play, and rejoice in.

* It is the ego that keeps us separate from God and others. Because it is the ego that drives our desire to be a Special Snowflake and the ego that drives our fear that we are Too Much/Alone/Different/Weird/Needy/etc.

I also came to understand how insignificant our human concept of time is to God. In Psalm 90:4 we read, “For a thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” A thousand years is a day. Can you imagine? I sure can’t. And that’s exactly why I take upon my heart the largely inaccurate persona of the Wandering, Wayward Daughter.

When I read or hear the Word—in any text or conversation which was inspired by Divinity— and it rings as Truth, I see my thoughts for what they are: a (needless, unnecessary, ungodly) shame cycle meant to feed my ego and keep me separate from God.

But when I read Psalm 107:2, “Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!,” I am reminded of all my conversations with the heathens and nihilists and hedonists in which I would start clapping like a giddy child while pouring out Truth after Truth after Truth of our Grand and Loving Creator of the Universe.

And when I read Jeremiah 31:12, “They will be radiant because of the Lord’s good gifts,” I am reminded of all the times I left yoga, glowing in said radiance, with a desire to only eat foods that would nourish me, and have conversations that uplifted others, and be kind and gracious to my neighbors.

And even when I read, “Happiness is the lost paradise. Humans have worked so hard to reach this point, and this is part of the evolution of the mind. […] Moses called it the Promised Land, Buddha called it Nirvana, Jesus called it Heaven, and the Toltecs call it a New Dream,” in Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, I smile knowingly because I know that the God of Everything is, and has always been, in everything that truthfully brings us closer to Joy. No matter what you call it.

And just like that, the shame cycle is finished.

[QUOTE] I HAD A DAY [END QUOTE]

When you’re trying to MacGyver your broken glasses so you can somehow see after accidentally tearing your last pair of contacts and then later contemplate rinsing off the breakfast bar you dropped on the floor so you can eat it anyway (#fivesecondrule), you know your day is going to be an interesting one.

Or in my language, you know you’re about to have a day. And because you’re a trooper, you put on your bravest face and try to make it work anyway. But because you’re a human being with limits, you end up crying in a Starbucks a few hours later over a likely fictitious scenario. Demurely, of course. Because God forbid anything else.

Whenever I have such a day I count myself lucky that, even though a good number of my friends are scattered about the continental United States, I still have a handful of people that can support me in person through said Starbucks sobbing. But human relationships have their limits. So this is where I too count myself lucky that, even though I am at times more wandering than unwavering, I still have a steady relationship with my intuition, the Universe magic, and God.

So much so that when I’m struck by spontaneous whims that are rather ambitious (read: driving 1.5 hours eastbound for a grand perspective shift after said day) I don’t even blink twice. I just…go. And when I just…go, I can feel the story that I. must. share. writing itself inside me as I live and breathe something different — something holy — for however long I feel compelled to.

And because most storytellers are inspired by other storytellers, I’m going to use the 4 Lindsay McCaul songs I listened to tonight to punctuate the story from here out.

Say My Name: You say my name and tell me there’s a better place; lead me to Your sweet embrace. I can hear You calling…

There were moments when my car was barreling down the Long Island Expressway, and then slightly less maniacally down Montauk Highway when I, fully cognizant yet nearly dreamland bound, recognized that my soul was out in front of my body galloping like a wild horse to meet God out in East Hampton.

And by God was it beautiful there. The midnight sky, speckled with stars, pressed deep down on the wild ocean at Main Beach, but didn’t contain its spirit. The waves of said ocean, far out in the pitch black, played tag with one another down the shore. And I was sat upon the hood of my car oblivious, for once, to the strange, dark night that I was alone in.

It was magic and exactly the kind of awestruck I needed to shake myself out of my day and into the lesson that God had for my heart that night: how to stay graceful under persecution (real or imagined). I set out for dinner, satisfied and satiated in the soul.

I got ready to head home a few enjoyable moments after chowing down on pommes frites and Malbec. And I switched songs (and moods alongside it).

Every lamb-in-the-lion’s-den moment I’d experienced in the last year flooded my brain and came out through my eyes with the longing, needy crying of a child with skinned knees, who is sitting in the lap of its parent who let go of the bike too soon, asking “But why?”

Take My Hand: For a moment I was brave and strong but now everything is going wrong. Didn’t You know that I’d be scared? Couldn’t You see I was unprepared? I’m not asking for reasons You hold or the safety of land; I just need You to take my hand…

All I could see were the moments in the dark where I felt alone and lost making decisions I wouldn’t normally make and spending time with people I’d otherwise dismiss (for very legitimate reasons). And furthermore, how those moments in the dark, though distant, are still affecting me today. I just couldn’t understand why God let go when I still clearly needed training wheels.

Hold on To Me: All I’m standing on is all my good intent as I get swept away time and time again. I know I need You now to do what I can’t somehow. So hold on to me ’cause I’m not good at holding on, I’m weak. I guess that’s how this is supposed to be; when I am barely holding on You hold on to me…

I gripped the steering wheel tightly, nostalgic for the last hour, because I knew I wasn’t just heading away from the Eden that was the quiet starry night. I was heading back toward real life too. The one with a thousand tiny hells — those moments, people, and opportunities that separate you from God — waiting around each corner.

And I didn’t want to go.

I didn’t want to leave the God of East Hampton, who showed me an amazing night sky that took my breath away and left me gazing at it longingly like a lovesick puppy, for the God of Huntington, who tests me and my grace, patience, sincerity, and devotion on the regular.

But then — isn’t there always a but then? — about halfway through my trip, I caught a gleam of a bright star in the corner of my eye and remembered the shooting star I saw earlier when I pulled over before fully, fully leaving East Hampton. And with a wave of relief and release, my signature smirk — the one that’s both fully content and slightly mischievous — crept across my face.

Where Do You Go: So where do you go when there’s no voice from heaven? Where do you go when all you have are questions? Maybe the silence is His mercy and there’s beauty in His mystery; You should know you’re not alone wherever you go…

I realized I took the stars with me. Better yet, I realized I have always taken the stars with me. Because it is all real life: the Eden’s and the tiny hells. And with that being true, it was no longer a day, but a Good Day.

YOU’RE A SEEKER, HARRY

Maybe it was when I sat in my mother’s lap after losing both my great aunts within a month of each other, at the age of 10, and consoled her from a Place deep inside me on the permanence of Life and the illusion of death…

Or maybe it was when I truly understood the gravity of knowing exactly what your God voice does and does not sound like, at the age of 26, during those numerous vulnerable and mindless moments in the car, and in the shower, and in the kitchen washing dishes when I felt so overloaded at times that I could barely breathe…

Or maybe it was when I threw myself onto the floor in a puddle of tears, at the age of 21, in a desperate search of something and Everything and hysterically asked for a surefootedness I then believed could only be rooted in the Way, the Truth, and the Life…

Or maybe it was when I walked bravely into school, at the age of 12, with a face riddled in tiny red bumps—a telltale mark of the Fifth’s Disease my body was fighting—unfazed by the questions and sneers sure to come within the mean hallways of middle school…

Or maybe it was when I was cozied up with my not yet deceased great aunt at our kitchen table, at the age of 7, asking her question upon question about the mind and heart hidden under her habit while dipping a seemingly endless tray of strawberries into melted dark chocolate the night before my First Holy Communion…

Or maybe it was when my friend and I stumbled upon the silliest of marvels in the middle of a somewhat backwoods North Carolina town, at the age(s) of 19, in a massive Jesus statue and sought solace for our confused souls in that parking lot overwhelming night after overwhelming night…

Or maybe it was when I watched with wide-eyes and listened with an open heart, at the age of 13, to the rites and rituals my friends were diligently completing for their bat mitzvahs…

Or maybe it was when I began collecting crystals again as I used to as a child, at the age of 25, and marveled at the incomprehensible calm one could have when meditating with a cool stone in hand a thankful and proverbial 2 minutes before the worst heartbreak of my life would barge in, knock me clear to the ground, and leave me grasping at dust in search of a solid rock…

Or maybe it was when I finally sat down to write this post right here, a good 3 days after it began brewing in my mind, at the age of 27, with at once lightening fast and molasses slow fingers across a keyboard in a sweet reverie on my inner Wild Child, and all of her passionate undertakings—misguided or otherwise—and her unwavering ability to always stand back up—worse for wear or otherwise—ready to sing praises to a Great Grandness…

That I first realized I was a Seeker.

Wander and waiver though I do, as I believe most humans do and should, my heart was devoted to the pursuit, the passionate seeking, of the Love, Truth, and Understanding wrapped up in the Great Unknown long before I took my first breath in this body, for this life.

And because I find myself in this body, and in this life, I am endlessly thankful that there is an endless well of Patience for my many stops and starts. And that there is an endless well of Answers for my hundreds and thousands of Questions. And that there too is an endless well of Paths to the Divine for my Wild and Curious Heart to Explore.

Tomorrow said path may be a spark of inspiration found in the bottom of a cup of dandelion tea. Or in a breathtaking moment of beauty found in the way a curtain gets lost in the breeze. Or in an understanding of the innate Trust within all of us upon watching a child play some 50 feet away from its parent.

But tonight it is the simple deliciousness of a bowl of pasta made lovingly by my father, and the decidedly jumbled words of J.K. Rowling echoing in my head, and the soulful crooning of Josh Garrels flowing into my ears that makes me exclaim, ever so softly, “It is time to begin again.” 

And begin again I shall.

CAPITAL L

We are connected more than ever, but what exactly is it that we are connected to?

If you say that it is to each other, I dare say you’re mistaken.

Yes, we might know more people in a numerical sense, but do we really know them?

To know someone is to feel the heft of their soul in your hands as they articulate feelings and thoughts without words.

To know someone is to reciprocally share humanity and divinity in such a palpable way that you walk away from your interaction with your heart having grown in size.

To know someone is to feel the trueness of Love in your soul and to feel compelled to give that Love away to someone else because you are so full that you are spilling out.

So you pause your music, take out your ear buds, and walk across the kitchen to give the most present hug you’ve ever given to your mother.

And because you are so connected to Love, you gently tell her to ease out of the urge to pull away from the sudden confrontation of Love and Oneness with another person, and when you feel her melt into the hug, knowing you’ve delivered the right dose of Love, you give her a squeeze and head into the den to where your father is.

And you do the same for him.

And because your heart is a writer and you heal with your words, you open your laptop back up and pour some more Love out through your fingers to the rest of the world.

And then, because you’ve been so pried open, you cry the sweetest of tears where the bitterness of salt has no place.

WHAT KILLS THE CAT

True curiosity comes from a place of humility and wonder—at near childlike levels—and the throwing of oneself into a search for something or other with passion and excitement.

Because to be truly curious is to admit you do not know everything. And that is a behavior that is equally a release and a relent that sadly, a great number of adults would rather die than do.

And because I am not one to go on for longer than is necessary to tell the story, I’ll stop here and simply implore you to let go of what you know and embrace what you don’t.

A COMPASSIONARY TALE

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. – John 15:12-13 (NLT)

A heavily studied belief in and understanding of Christianity, or the brazen lack thereof, is intrinsically woven through the fabric that is my belief in the Great Unknown. The bible is familiar to me, in the way a ring is still on your finger even after you’ve taken it off. So when Big Things happen in my life, oftentimes I remember a verse or two and smile at the return of my oddest and oldest spiritual friend.

One day, a few years ago whilst in the throes of religious fervor, I read an article with a new phrase—Golden Nuggets of Wisdom (GNW)—to describe the moment in which someone speaks something to you and the impact and power of what they have said resonates deeply in your soul, but barely means much of anything to them.

I had a GNW moment today (but contrary to my norm, I was on the receiving end). A friend who recently experienced the sharp pain that is heartbreak said this, “Because of you guys, I feel like my hurting divided into 4. Like I only had to deal with a quarter of the pain.” Immediately that verse from the Book of John flew into my mind and took on a gloriously rich new meaning.

Another day, a few years ago whilst still in the throes of religious fervor, I read yet another article that expanded my understanding of compassion. I had used the word often enough to that point knowing, but not knowing, what the word meant. I appreciate it more now and use it a lot less. Compassion isn’t about feeling bad for someone being in pain, compassion is suffering with them.

So when that friend said, to the 3 of us in our group chat, that we divided her pain in quarters, leaving her only a fraction of it to bear as her own, I further understood what it meant to be compassionate. I experienced, with an acute consciousness, what it meant to love one another in the same way that God loves us. Because she made me realize that, even without realizing it, I actively chose to lay down my life for someone—to lay down my disposition, my desires, my moods—and experience their life as my own.

For as long as we could and as long as she needed, the 3 of us suffered with her and transformed her pain into an experience of Grand Love. I dare say, we alchemized it into gold.

OVERSIZED

Has your heart ever been so heavy,
that you feel as though you can’t breathe,
that with every beat it grows in size,
until there’s no more room left in your body,
for anything but its ache,
ache,
aching?