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For me, 2013 was a year of things coming together. I tried more than a few times to come up with a list of “Best Moments,” “Biggest Breakthroughs,” or whatever, but none of that really showed up fully formed. Besides, I imagine some people get as sick of that year-end stuff as I do.
What happened for me last year, honestly, was a subtler experience. I found myself growing in ways I hadn’t in some time – mostly to do with how I was allowing my mind to re-embrace happiness and creativity. I was determined not to chase after gigs to the detriment of balance and good business sense, and positive opportunities came my way. I found refocusing on health to be an easy, joyful thing. Community that I’d felt missing started to be in my life again.
I have sought connection with other polyamorous people since the mid-1990’s in one way or another. It has always been a positive, balancing thing to have a touchstone of sorts- a way to meet others who find that love emerges in similar ways as it does for me. I’ve been hosting or co-creating events with Philadelphia Mindful Polyamory Meetup for a while. I can say that last year I started to notice that what once seemed like only separate events and happenings started to feel more like forums for real connection. I have been meeting friends with whom I really want to create and I look forward to seeing often. I imagine this has much more to do with my readiness to reach out and to be out in the world than it does with others in the group. Apparently I’m back up for noticing good people, many of whom have been there all along.
At one of the coffeehouse poly meetups I co-facilitate in South Jersey, I met a student named Jessica who was studying polyamory and came to chat and ask questions. She also mentioned wanting to get back into playing music and I took down her info. I probably dragged my feet a bit about getting in touch, but I am so glad I finally did. Turns out she is a great singer and viola player, not to mention a smart and fun/funny person. We have the most ridiculous conversations sometimes! I was really pleased with the show we played last fall at World Café Live at the Queen in Wilmington, DE. This week we’ve been getting ready to perform next Friday at the Poly Living conference in Philadelphia. (A word about Skype rehearsal: It doesn’t really work. But Google+ Hangout is great for planning the set list.)
If you want to come check out Poly Living 2014, I’ll be singing on Friday, February 7th before keynote speaker Anita Wagner Illig, and again later that evening at the conference reception. I am really happy to have been invited to be part of it.
For more info & Poly Living registration: http://www.lovemore.com/conferences/polyliving
I’ve known this for a very long time. I’ve even told a few people, but it didn’t really prompt me to take much action on it. To my credit, it’s hard to know where to start on a grieving project, which is what I feel like I have in front of me. So I suppose I put it on my Virgo to-do list, as if it is something I can tackle like organizing the basement (I’ve been notoriously slow on that, too).
Anyway, here’s the thing: I never really fully grieved when Warren Zevon died. Yes, I cried. Yes, I talked about it, and still do in comfortable contexts. I’ve written about it a little. But I also compartmentalized it – put it away in some corner of my brain where I could access it nominally and even feel sadness, without having to really walk through the fire. This has done a lot to block my movement through the other huge losses over the past decade. I believe it’s done damage to my ability and desire to write. I don’t know how deeply it’s worked to obscure my ability to be effective in life overall. I wonder what it’s done to my accessibility as an authentic, flesh and blood friend and lover and seeker of Spirit. I’ve got to write through tremendous grief build-up to get to the other side of Emotional Rehab Mountain.
It has been exactly 10 years today that I received the call from my dear friend Nancey:
Those were the only words she needed to say for me to understand immediately. I’m glad I heard it from her, one who really, really got the essence of this man & his music. Last night, she was the one to remind me of the anniversary. Earlier this year, I’d thought a lot about the looming date, but filed that away too, leaving it to wait in line with the process of grieving itself.
I had the amazing luck or karma or whatever to grow up to actually get to know this intense and brilliant man whom I idolized since I was 12. There is just as much rich life-stuff in knowing and understanding and learning from the letting go. It’s just not the easy part.
Back when I was allowing myself to remember the date, I gave some thought to what to do about this 10th anniversary. I tried to push myself to write some major article or even a book with stories of WZ as a major factor. One of the things he encouraged me to do is to journal daily. I’ve hardly lived up to that. The best way I can pay respects today is to start to remedy the reasons why. Ready or not, it’s finally happening.
I’m joking in the title. I doubt there is any real art to knowing how or when to show up to things unprepared. I generally am a fan of a good plan. Often when unpreparedness happens it pretty much sucks, but I try my best to pull things together. Once in a while, though, being unprepared leads to something profound.
For someone who was about ready to throw in the proverbial towel when it comes to music, I’ve wound up with quite a few good gigs this year. There is something to be said for not worrying too much. Ohio continues to have some kind of cosmic pull – I have connected with great, loving yoga and kirtan community there, which balances well with getting to perform with The Mutant Mountain Boys there for SubGenius and Devo happenings. I’ve been to Ohio twice this summer and wouldn’t be sad at all if I managed to schedule my way back once more this year.
I didn’t feel terribly prepared for any of my gigs this last time out. At Kundalini Yoga & Wellness in New Cumberland, PA, I played music for yoga, followed by a short kirtan with my old friend JD Stillwater. That is supposed to be freeform and intuitive, so a lack of set list is fine, if not ideal. JD and I worked well together. I appreciated the practice with spontaneity and listening.
I’ve been working with a lot of changes this summer – focusing on health, having internal consciousness and intention exploration stuff – and it has been leaving me in a state of busy-brain. So much was going on in my mind that the long drive to Cleveland didn’t seem to help me solidify the house concert set for that next night. I mean, I knew essentially which tunes I would do, but I didn’t feel particularly balanced and rehearsed when I arrived and had to quickly set up the sound system (while making friends with the host’s four awesome dogs). The show turned out just fine. The people and the energy were better than fine. I was even surer about this Cleveland-area vortex that has seemed to open up in my life. Still, I’d like to find a more easeful pattern when it comes to travel and gigging. It continues to be a work in progress.
The main reason for this last trip was to make my way out to A Not … TOTALLY Dev-o Tribute Night at The Summit in Columbus. I absolutely love playing with The Mutant Mountain Boys, and when we were asked to do this show, I started working on booking gigs right away to make the unexpected travel reasonable. Well, we made it there, and we played the gig. We weren’t terribly prepared. Samantha was jet-lagged after flying in from Tucson and was running on almost no sleep. I was pretty exhausted, too, so how could Jim exactly get on a wavelength with that? We all could have played better, so… we were just ok. We had an amazing, energetic show at 16X-Day. Perfectionist that I am, I am (almost) ok with not having been 100% for this one. We talked about it later and hope to plan future shows so we have at least 24 hours in the same place together to rest, regroup, and rehearse before we hit the stage. We all had a good time anyway, Lieutenant Dance was fabulous, there are some great pics posted, and the impetus for a late August Devo fan event with friends was started again.
At one point relatively early in the evening, Thomme Chiki, the organizer of the event, asked people if they had any stories or pivotal life moments to share about Devo. There were two disco ball piñatas in the house and I stepped up to tell the story of how I’d been in the audience during the New York portion of filming for the “Disco Dancer” video and how that was an exciting time for me. I’m not sure why I didn’t think at that time to tell more of the story:
It was at a club called The World. The band played a few tunes, then prepared to record for the video. They did several takes of “Disco Dancer” and the audience gave their enthusiasm. I didn’t quite “get” this particular song or why it was the single, but I was of course ecstatic to be present for anything Devo. Afterward, the crowd started to disperse and the club turned into a regular dance space. After a while, I was dancing and turned to see Mark Mothersbaugh who had come out of the dressing room/green room area and was crossing the dance floor. I went into instant groupie mode, beelined toward him and asked, “Mark, can I have your autograph?” He said yes. I looked blankly for a split second, then said “I don’t have any paper.” Duh. I asked him to please wait, and I told him I’d find some. So there is one of my major heroes standing on the side of the dance floor kind of aimlessly while I scurry around looking for paper. Bizarrely (though maybe not so strange for 1988), the first piece of paper I found was a tri-fold AIDS info pamphlet that had fallen to the floor. It said “AIDS, Sex, and You.” I handed it to Mark and he gave me the most bemused look. I apologized and told him it was just the first thing I could find. He wrote “No sex is safe and also good.” I didn’t think that was very sound information, but hey, I had just prompted Mark Mothersbaugh to write something about sex, which I found to be pretty awesome. He wrote an “xo” and signed his name. I thanked him. Then I got even more bold and asked him if he would like to dance. He said, “No, I have to get back to Jerry.” Then he paused, looked at me, and said “You’re very beautiful,” before he disappeared back through the door. I was pretty much in heaven.
At The Summit last Friday night, the MMB were getting ready to leave and something gave me the idea to seek another autograph. I picked up a black and white flyer for the event from one of the tables and thought it would be cool to have Thomme Chiki sign it, since he’d done so much to put the night together. I didn’t know him so well, but always thought of him as a cool and dedicated spud with encyclopedic knowledge of Devo and probably lots of other things. I asked him half seriously if he’d sign the flyer, and when he said yes, I thought that would be a really great souvenir. The next question was, “Do you have a pen?” I wasn’t sure, but I didn’t think I did. I started to dig through my bag. The first thing I came up with was a tube of red lipstick. I said, “You could sign it in lipstick.” He made a funny kissy face, but then took the lipstick for real and went to the other side of the club where there was either a mirror or a mirrored section of the wall. I could see he was putting on the lipstick. When it started to take kind of a long time, I realized he was doing this quite seriously. I had assumed that if he did it at all, it would be taken as a big, goofy joke (interesting bit of gender stereotyping I did there).
I was stunned by the image I saw walking back toward me. It was a simple, sweet and graceful androgynous beauty. I was basically rendered momentarily speechless. He returned the lipstick and said quietly, “Thanks for sharing.” He kissed the flyer. I rather awkwardly vied for a lip print on the cheek. I had not at all been prepared for this aspect, this physical manifestation of the beautiful in-between to show up in that moment. I was engrossed – It was moving and exciting to be so taken off-guard. Reflecting on it now, I see a gorgeous, encouraging reminder that this place/non-place where I live and love and write is absolutely real – and here is another soul, perhaps gliding through a similar journey.
I suppose I would do well to try my best to be prepared for most things. Virgos prefer order, they say. But at least when it comes to autograph-seeking in Devo-related contexts, being a bit out of sync has so far worked quite well.
So many of us talk about love as an infinite force. I believe it. More than that – I feel it –when I am passionate, when I am quiet, when I am a channel for creativity in motion.
I feel the force of love in so many ways – one is in a sense of loyalty and constancy of friendship. Essentially, if I loved you decades ago, I love you now. A friend with whom I feel this exact kind of bond called me earlier this week, distressed. In no way do I mean to diminish the impact he was feeling when I say he related a common trajectory along the polyamory emotional highway: He and his girlfriend, some time ago, confirmed with each other that their relationship was open. She has been fine with his connection with me. She met a guy she fancied, and he was fine with that. Now, the feelings between she and the new guy are deepening and my friend called me, feeling he was completely. losing. his. mind.
We talked for some time, and I hope I gave some comforting words to a friend who was freaking out. I hope the real, honest, and continuous communication I suggested will manifest for them. I hope he believes me when I said that his feelings are valid and can help him understand his needs, which may well not be a need to close the relationship, but to get to the essence of how he can be loved and know he’s loved in a way that feels so clear and present that the unmanageable fear will dissipate. I can’t say which logistics work best for anyone else but me. I can say more about my observations on the nature of love.
Love is. It does what it does. If left to its own devices, infinite ways of manifesting between and among people are possible. Why don’t we all spend more time letting love be rather than engineering it?
Case in point: He and I have a forever bond of true friendship, a significant aspect of which is a deeply erotic connection. We could embrace it, ignore it, avoid it, or act badly on it. Over the years, we’ve done all of those. Yet it remains. This is what our love is.
The arbitrary rules we place on love can hurt so badly. Why should I leave behind a friend I love so much when I fall “in love” with someone new? There was a time I did ignore one love for another, and that experience is one of my biggest regrets. I care little about breaking the social norm or someone else’s rules, but I deflected a sincere being and broke a cardinal rule of my own heart. These days, I am very intentional about opening to the committed, poly loves that feel right for my life. I want any rules to come from within, not without, to be about allowing love, nurturing its growth, fine-tuning its expression.
During the phone call with my friend, I recalled times of being quite angry with him. Years ago I thought: Why was I never considered a possible “girlfriend?” Always, there was someone taking up the majority of the time and energy, and that someone wasn’t me. Was I so much less than? Over the incarnations of our connection, it finally resolved itself in my mind: That is simply not who we are to each other. Leave love alone. It didn’t need to be made into what I thought it ought to be, either.
Does he place significantly more importance on romantic love than forever-friend love? He probably does, I surmise. That is not equivalent to how I feel. This morning, I noticed I felt some pain around that as I listened to his story. At the same time I felt glad to be the one to field his honest outpouring of fear and doubt, and yes, love. I am still not sure how much love relationships should be about equivalent sensibilities, rather than sensibilities that through it all, emerge compatible.
I don’t know how my friend and his girlfriend will fare as they venture into the gut-wrenching, insight-sparking, fiery refinement of the ‘working through it’ they have ahead. Intuitively, I have high hopes. They may create safety zones and discover boundaries which help them feel stable as they explore. My friendship with him might move back to denial or avoidance. I hope not, but I’ll remain prepared for change. She may discover she has a boyfriend and a friend, a partner and an occasional someone, “the new guy” could be gone next week, or what seems to terrify my friend the most at the moment – she may have found two profound loves. Love left alone, I know, is capable of such wonders.
I’m rooting for them, and for the best in all of us to come forth. Messy growing pains are ok. They happen. No matter what else happens, I believe listening to love first, then doing the emotional work set in motion are the keys to bringing all through strong and whole.
I was a bit startled to realize on my birthday this past Monday, August 27th, that it was indeed the 10th anniversary of the release of my second solo CD, All Six Senses. I had what still feels like an idyllic, dreamlike time recording those songs out in Marin County, CA with producer Scott Mathews at his Tiki Town Studios. Over the past few days, I’ve spent some time listening to those tracks with my friend Amy, who played them, intermingled with other tunes, from her iPod in her car. It is sometimes annoying to listen to old recordings, but this time I really dug hearing some songs that have mostly fallen away from the set list (“Cling To You,” “I Skate Alone”) and others that have become standard fare (“Holy River,” “First Sight”). It is a very rewarding feeling to listen and feel that All Six Senses, for the most part, really does sound like the songs that I had in my head. It does a decent job of expressing snapshots of the spiritual growth spurt I was in when I wrote these songs (there is the one cover – a slow, jazzy take on “Cruel to be Kind”). I hope it might still manage to inspire anyone listening to examine their own lives and take their own journeys.
I remembered how much I enjoy these tunes and the recordings of them, and then I remembered another anniversary. It would take more than a short blog entry to tell the many stories and make even an attempt at the impact, but the super-short version is that I was (and still am) blessed in life to have met and gotten to know one of my greatest musical/lyrical/cultural heroes, Warren Zevon. Since meeting him at The Stone Pony (his show [opening for The Band!] was August 26, 1994 – his after-midnight autograph says August 27th – now this story is even stranger), we kept in touch. The day after my official, yet totally indie release of All Six Senses, it occurred to me that I hadn’t heard from WZ in a while. I happily tapped out a long e-mail asking him what was going on, telling him about my life, the new recording, everything. The response I got back was very brief:
He was ill.
“My lungs and liver are shot” he wrote.
I didn’t know, and couldn’t have comprehended on that day the seriousness of what he was saying. If it wasn’t that very day that he’d gotten the diagnosis of inoperable mesothelioma, it was within a day or so at the very most. I don’t have words for what I felt, or really know what I did the rest of that shocking day.
He asked me to send a copy along to him, so even in the midst of coping with finality he took the time to listen to All Six Senses. He said he enjoyed it, was glad I was continuing to work on the music, and advised me to “keep chanting.” I’ve definitely managed to do that.
I could say more – try to create some storyline about the impact of cosmic crossroads or the mystical fusion of wonderful-horrible anniversaries. I won’t. I will just try to sit with it all as it happened, and with my own uncomfortable twinge at having been moved to share this ball of entwined emotions with you tonight.
I have a very distinct memory of being next to the kitchen in my New Brunswick, NJ apartment somewhere in the 90s. I had a startling realization: I am biracial. Suddenly, I had a new, very useful, consciousness-shifting lens through which to view and understand myself. It is the nature of my family, and it’s very much who I am.
I was equally startled that I hadn’t fully understood myself as having biracial identity before that moment. I had been too busy listening to others’ ideas of me. Those people in school who told me I was “acting white” or “not black enough” – They were just plain wrong. It was scary to say all that out loud to myself then, and it still is. Regardless, I have to continue to speak up.
This past Sunday I performed at Wilmington Delaware’s first Loving Day Celebration. Loving Day is celebrated on June 12th to commemorate the Supreme Court Case Loving v. Virginia, which in 1967 finally struck down remaining state laws against interracial marriage. Mildred and Richard Loving were married in 1958 in Washington, D.C., but when they came back to their home in Virginia, were arrested. My parents were married in 1963. Lucky for them, there were no laws against their marriage in New Jersey. Still, I have come to appreciate over the years how difficult it must have been and how much they must have loved each other to go against the grain in that era.
My good friend Jenn Phillips organized the indoor/outdoor Loving Day Celebration of music, food, information, and positive, good times. I had never seen her quite as focused and intense while creating or overseeing anything. Just how much it meant to her was apparent, and I am so pleased that her efforts turned out so wonderfully. Karen Rege and Brandi Chavis performed some well-crafted jazz and R&B standards and originals. I loved hearing Scratchy Catfish’s fun and funny blues tunes (“Rockin’, rollin’, getting’ bizarre/Doin’ the Catfish Stomp!”) I played my set and encouraged audience participation and sing-a-long wherever I could. Jenn asked me to write a song for the occasion, and I came up with a tune called “(Color My Love) Indigo.” This first performance of it went well enough. I was so emotional at the end of the event, that it was hard to leave and hard not to cry. It felt so good to have that deep a sense of acceptance and belonging.
Two or so years ago when I discovered the Mixed Chicks Chat podcast, I felt immediately at home. I got in touch with the co-hosts Fanshen Cox and Heidi Durrow and eventually was a guest on the show. I spoke about overall blended identity encompassing bisexuality, polyamory, and mixed music and spiritual practices as well as issues of race. When they asked their tongue-in-cheek yet serious question “What are you?” I told them: On my mother’s side as far as I know I am African, Haitian, Irish, and Hopi. I was adopted by my maternal grandmother and her second husband – my mom and dad. I felt so blessed to be among fellow “mixed chicks” where a description of nationalities and family circumstance is informational and conversational, never accusatory or confrontational. It truly felt like a homecoming. I am sorry that I missed their Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival in Los Angeles this past weekend, but I am sure that the Wilmington celebration was exactly where I needed to be this time around.
Trying to cope with people’s expectations of me based on assumptions about race has been one of the most painful challenges of my life. I wish I could have dialed down people’s anger and misunderstanding at times, but I would never trade my biracial and multicultural family experience. Among many things, it has helped me know that I may love whomever I love. It has helped me know that yes, a dark-skinned girl can indeed sing rock songs and play a guitar. And if she wants to add Indian chants or electronica or bluegrass or funk to that somewhere down the line, more power to her. That little awakening moment in my old apartment was the beginning of my understanding the importance of being all of oneself, even in the face of culture’s most strident artificial divisions. Every new celebration like Loving Day wears down those walls.
The wild, scary, beautiful storm kicked up by taking on 30 poems in 30 days is still very much alive in me. Expeditions for love, for cord-cutting and letting go, and for spiritual center run through it all. So much is going on in ideas and emotions that it can begin to bring on a kind of paralysis. I am not allowing that to take hold for long. There is too much to do. All of my projects – Robin Renée singer/songwriter, Robin Renée kirtan, The Mutant Mountain Boys, and various other creative drives are all clamoring for time. Plus, some character named Devo Dan keeps bugging me to work with him. ;- ) The many hours’ drive to and from Ohio this weekend for Mountain Boys rehearsal and kirtan at The Yoga Place was a welcome time for contemplation and decompression.
Writing daily forces me to get through my own crap- the lies it is convenient to tell myself- and I eventually have to get to something real. This is where I want to live. It is the middle of the well from which these creative impulses seem to spring. I can’t say that I wouldn’t welcome a stable ledge on which to rest in this period that feels like a long project in unconditional truth-seeking. Right now I am tumbling in the midst, and I choose to be ok with tumbling for now, capturing bits of the experience along the way.
April 21, 2011
The New Trees Take Their Places
Evergreens stand over the yard’s back edge
And there is happy naked dancing for all seasons.
Summer will contend for the witchiest season of them all
With festival love and people who really like drumming.
I wonder what happened to the pissed off trees
And shame-riddled women clutching towels to hide themselves,
persecuted Pagans and the winter that never goes home.
No such luck for the erstwhile King and Queen of Angst.
Some of those folks never lived here, and the rest have flown back
to their lovely realms.
There must be words spoken
like tsunami, earthquake, and revolution.
I wonder what happened to those words.
They must have moved beyond the property line,
but they are remembered daily.
Evergreens stand over the yard’s back edge
Holding gallant space for solid ground,
Keeping watch over quiet growth and loud passion,
And there is happy naked dancing for all seasons.
April 22, 2011
Face the sticker-splattered wall,
part mural part disdain.
I would have endured.
Finding empty letter,
noting missing friendship ring
would have been too hard.
You’ve done me the favor.
April 23, 2011
The bit part
One toe in the drink
A pen still mightier
The listening corner
The open ears
A reverent envy
In the side of
Whatever it takes
To dive in
April 24, 2011
Toes recall wild grass,
Bare skin, sun, and air make love-
Nature’s Easter prayer.
April 25, 2011
A Different Ring
Regarding the ring:
You must wear it well
as you wear shifting speech.
Once your head is turned, flowery protest? Useless.
White gold or semi-precious, I don’t know. I’ve not seen
your finger or your face
in almost long enough.
Who would I be to stand
in the laced path
of the marriage of crisis to victim?
On the New Hope bridge,
you asked for my blessing on a ceremony.
It was another love, declared before meat-eating
Straight-acting, and the face of tradition
Took you on, a code of opposites.
Teacher, point your own way home.
Who would I be to stand
in the overgrown path
of separation, mind from knowing?
Bodies- yours and mine
are not to touch again.
I take up scissors to cut the barky vine
can’t help but drop them still
thinking “Have it your way.
See you next life, then.”
I remember, to those who leave
I wave goodbye.
Somewhere in the dredged earth
is the reason to thank you
with a smile.
April 26, 2011
Which pointed buds give way to splayed white flowers,
Which dots will soon be leaves-
On the outside, there are teachings.
Inside, the chair before the desk-
Which wall needs waterproof steel blue paint,
Which bent-page piles most urgent.
Love released, received among proud dandelions,
First order of business.
April 27, 2011
If Found, Do Not Return
left for traveler
willing to give up
for hollow-handed love
or for king’s horse
of sight gag.
April 28, 2011
Chocolate, Wine, & Porn
First thing I see are bed covers unraveled, like they’ve just enjoyed the ride, then there’s you, crimped brown hair, as avant garde undressed as in leopard print and vintage clogs,
I wonder if you’d let me really see you this way were I not imagining your story and you were not hiding in the arms of academia. I may be deep in the house of mistrust still
at least I imagine you, alone with dark chocolate, red wine, grainy porn, still-no-silicone video, hairy, hot and real. My brain stops here, I want to know what you do by yourself
and what with, times I’ve known you there is love and doors that close
on making love, sudden, no warning, no formula to break barriers.
Still, I believe you, once mistress of three classic pleasures, exciting
and dulling nerve endings, in your endorphin cocktail haze, lover,
may you have remembered me.
I remember your backpack at the bus stop, what your intent eyes knew,
your sleeping beauty on post-collegiate futon, how the three of us, that one time,
barely fit in the shower.
Want to fast-forward this stuck cassette, see what is now, what unstuck passion together might come beyond memory, beyond numbing, beyond the endorphin rush of running.
Pour me a pinot, I’ll bring the raw cacao.
April 29, 2011
Chant and dance move this night
Circular motion time intended
A love not actionable
Comes back around
A slow burn
Toward flame or fizzle
At any point
There is a straight line
April 30, 2011/May 1, 2011
Garden earth green and floral
or warm city rhythm
If we do not drop our armor
on the eve of Beltane,
we lie by omission.
I plan to wed the summer
hand-held or solitaire,
make love in the field
of clover and thorn
I’d been searching for a while for a succinct way to describe the essence of this blog, when I mentioned it to my friend Bill Lutz (author of The Shark Tank). Personal impressions, contemplations, general stuff of life, and of course, the music is its vehicle, but it needs to speak to all those who travel the in-betweens – those not necessarily gay or straight, black or white, of one particular gender – those who skate easily through spiritual paths and feel integrated through the journey. I talked for a while about life other than the culture of either/or. Bill cut to the center of my concepts with “Welcome to Tweenerworld.” I like it. I think this recasting of “tweener” could be to blended and both/and culture what queer is to the growing alphabet soup of alternative sexualities. The Dream Between may have a moving target of a tagline for a while and might not really use “Tweenerworld,” but I have to thank Bill for getting to the point. Not a bad summation.
Sara Parks of Great Balancing Act (“It’s no secret I love that band”) recently posted a Facebook status regarding feminine hygiene and caught some flak from guys who thought it was not only TMI, but actually inappropriate. In response I was duly inspired to show my support for frank conversation and the demystification of women’s (and everybody’s) bodies by reporting this “tweener” moment:
So there I am at the routine gynecologist appointment last month. The nurse practitioner goes through the basic questions. No new medications, no surgeries, nothing particularly new happening. Breast exam. No problems indicated. I mention that as a matter of routine I like to have all the STI tests. She makes a mental note to send me down the hall for blood work. Then she asks me to lie back for the rest of the exam. Just when the speculum hits, I look up and see a picture taped to the ceiling. It is someone who looks very much like this guy:
What the heck? I was stuck in a processing loop. I can at least now begin to sort out what was wrong with that picture.
Here are a few of the assumptions in operation: It assumed that the woman having the exam is straight. It assumed that this particular masculine expression is a universal turn-on to women. It assumed that the woman having the exam is uncomfortable with the exam and in need of a distraction. It assumed that nudity and genital touch in a clinical context is conflated with erotic or sexual feelings.
All I could think, after the disconcertion brain delay, was – Wait, why did you think I wanted to see that guy? Was I supposed to be having a sexual moment? Personally, I had been feeling neither nervous nor sexual about having a PAP smear.
I get the humor. At least I think whoever decorated that office figured a hunk on the ceiling would be funny. The surrealist in me finds it more and more amusing.
It also tells me that they weren’t expecting me in that office. No one imagined a queer-identified bi woman who prefers feminine to androgynous or interestingly gender blendy people. No one imagined a person who prefers not to be asked psychologically to feel aroused in the middle of a simple exam. It was invisibility in living color.
Being one who naturally falls on the in betweens means it’s rarely ever you who people expect to show up. They’ve mostly prepared a place for someone else. But surfing through and between the spaces where others see hard lines drawn is a sweet, layered source of creativity and the place where I find the deepest expressions of love. I would never trade it.