Reclining Nudes

The collector is obsessed

with bathing women.

The painters and their students

observe their canvas backs

study their open mouths

arms up, fur exposed,

soft animals juxtaposed

against dark paintings of men

heaving in their clothes

bulky masses of coats

closed around a table.

The viewer is a man.

In dignified portraits, ladies

fix him with a start

always stern faced

under his microscope.

I wish to inspect the men.

We stare at women’s faces

like fruit we might buy

if it’s soft enough

and sweet.

Let us look openly at men.

How many girls did you paint?

Naked in their evidence —

There is no proof except

the buildings full of it

the walls bursting with it

the crowds paying for it

the man collecting it.

Where are the men undressing?

In what lush garden do they hide?

Where do they bathe and lounge

on soft grasses

skin damp with summer

caressed by blue skies

caught unaware

by the artistic eye

of whom?

Where do their coats hang

empty costumes on hooks

shed from soft bodies?

Where do they lay pink

in bed before the painter

young and fresh

and for sale?

Always we are peering in

to the private lives of women.

Interrupted at their studies

leaning to pour tea

affectionately

holding small hands

meeting on a shaded hill

gazing away at what does not gaze back —

The indifferent ocean,

A docile garden.

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It’s Friday, and I’m having some feelings.

Hello, friends and strangers. I, your friendly correspondent, have some words today.

It occurred to me recently that the art of the blog may soon die. With the loss of net neutrality, the dominance of corporate media, and our increasing reliance on social media platforms for information, I find myself feeling that the average human is robbed of real voice. At one time, Twitter was the place for uprising, and lately it feels like a roiling cauldron of toxic rage with no productive outlet. And while I don’t think I’m going to change all that with my little blog, I do want to take a moment to remind you to resist. The regime is consolidating its control of our main mode of communication, but we must refuse to be silenced. Find a way. Write, my loves. Create art. Live your life as the ultimate creation of your truest self. Let your life be your statement. Don’t look to fashion magazines to find out who you ought to be. Don’t drink the poison of mass media and call it truth. Know your own heart and mind and act in accordance with your truth.

I don’t really think very many people read what I write these days. I’ve always had a modest readership of friends who kinda relate to what I’m saying, and I used to think that wasn’t good enough. I wanted to have mass appeal because I thought that’s what it meant to be a good writer. I tried really hard to mimic people who were successful in the way I thought I should be. That didn’t work because it wasn’t who I am. Now, when I write here, I am just writing for you and me because something has brought us together and that has value in itself. And I think what brought us together was that we have some shared values, some hope for the world, some desire to believe that we are basically good and everything is going to be ok. And what’s been really hard about the past couple years is that things don’t feel ok. In fact, things are not ok. So I’m writing for you and me because when things are not ok, we need each other.

There are uncertain times ahead of us. I have every hope that the Democrats will flip Congress and impeach Trump, but I can’t honestly predict if it will happen or not. And scary things could happen either way. If 45 completes a full term, what further damage might he do? Will our next presidential election be as much of a farce as Russia’s? And if he doesn’t complete a term, will we end up with a president who wants to impose Biblical law? Vote, my friends. You. Must. Vote. If you do nothing else, fucking vote. But also, keep exercising your voice, and practice regular maintenance of your mind and heart. Step away from the internet. Re-evaluate relationships and pass times that aren’t supporting your wellness. And meditate. You don’t have to be good at it, but find a way to empty your mind. If you have trouble sitting still, go for a meditative walk. Shut off the constant stream of information and give your mind a few quiet minutes at least. Remember that you are human. Reconnect with your body. Sweat. Cry. Scream if you have to. We’ve been living in an intense emotional stew for the past 18 months, and I often feel numbed out. I can’t keep taking it in. I can’t keep feeling it. And yet, if we stay numb, we lose our humanity. So remember to be human and feel it, but also let yourself scream. Let it not be ok. Cry about it. Yell about it. Protest about it. Write about it. Create art about it.

We must do what is within our power, and we must strive to uphold our own values because that’s what it means to be the Resistance. Today, what is within my power is to get up, get dressed and go do my damn job, and to write to you with love and encouragement for the day ahead of you.

So, let’s go do our best today.

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Truth in a Time of Lies

 

I keep thinking I want to bring back this blog then chickening out because I kinda hate the internet. Sorry. Let me just dip my toe in and see if I can ease back into this…

Here is something I’ve been thinking about lately.

Truth. Duh. We are all thinking about truth, I hope.

When powerful people attempt to make you doubt all previously known sources of truth (i.e. discrediting the media and scientists), it becomes increasingly essential for each of us to be in touch with our own sense of Truth.

Sometimes Truth is very subtle or nuanced. Sometimes Truth is a kind of knowing that’s hard to verbally communicate. Each of us lives a different story and has a different perspective on Truth.

Yet, real Truth runs far deeper and extends far beyond the perceived differences between us. Truth is true no matter what. Truth is not subjective. Truth remains true whether you believe it or not. And truth remains true even when it is hidden.

How can we hold up Truth in a time when powerful people fear nothing more than Truth and wish to tear it down at every turn?

Meditate on Truth. Seek Truth in every moment, every experience, every emotion, every fact, every disagreement. Seek Truth in your own cognitive dissonance.

We are all fighting different battles, and that is how it should be. There are many battles to fight, and all of them are worthy.

Keep your eyes on Truth, and aim to align yourself with it — in action and in word, and even in your soul. Align your heart with Truth. Live Truth so you forget how to lie, how to be anything other than your true self.

Do not adopt someone else’s morals just because he sounds convincing. Use your own power of reasoning, and test what you must to distinguish the Truth. Discard all that is false, even in emotion. Look for truth in your happiness. And if you are brave, look also in your sadness. Look always to Truth, and urge your neighbor to look to her Truth. If her path doesn’t look like yours, still praise her on her way up the mountain.

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Why I Don’t Want Your Compliment

female_body_ref_by_cloudoven-d5mm9ms

I look different than I used to. People comment on it. It’s weird.

People I barely know say I’ve been “slimming down” and ask if I’ve been working out. Um. I teach yoga for a living and skate 3-6 hours a week (way less than many of my league mates). I’ve had a general increase in activity in the past few months because business is good and derby is great, but I don’t feel inclined to explain this to people. The subtext of their intended compliment is, “Although we’re practically strangers, I’ve noticed some changes in your body because I consider it my job and/or right to critique the bodies of others, and I want you to know that I approve/disapprove/have concerns.” In other words, it’s presumptuous as fuck.

I try not to give weight-based compliments because human beings are beautiful by definition and attaching a person’s worth to their weight is shitty. But I will say stuff like, “Wow, you look amazing!” Or I might even say, “You look like you’ve been taking good care of yourself,” which I hear some people take to mean “you look fat,” but I actually mean it literally. I try to praise any positive changes in a person, and maybe it’s equally presumptuous of me. But everyone likes getting compliments, so if someone seems like they’re happy, less stressed out, or really following their passion in life — or if they’re just really well dressed and rocking it, I like to tell them.

But when it comes to weight/body-related commentary, I prefer to keep my mouth shut and think other people should, too. For one thing, asking about a person’s weight is both rude and pointless. 1: It’s none of your business. 2: The number means mind-blowingly little for most people. 3: If the person’s weight is a threat to their health and you’re not their doctor, they probably don’t need or want your advice.

I get it, though. Humans like to give and receive compliments. It’s an evolved social bonding system, and our egos love it. But I could really do without comments on my body from pretty much anyone ever. Because really, I’m not doing this for you.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

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my definition of confidence

Young Woman from the Boni Yaou Family, Djougou, Benin photograph by Alfred Weidinger

One of the most powerful things you can have as an individual is the understanding that absolutely no one can invalidate you or make you less of a human being. No matter what name anyone calls you, you are good. No matter how anyone mistreats you or fails you, you deserve goodness. No matter what challenges you face or shortcomings you may have, you are worthy of love. When you know that, you will not let anyone mistreat you. You will not believe the bullshit they heap on you. Their words and actions may sting, but you will have dignity. And instead of internalizing their evil, you will look the cowards in the eye and see their pain, and you will respond with love. For them and for yourself.

 That’s confidence.

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