enigma icon get over yourself i’m just living

slutdom

 

Last year, my friend directed a body positivity art project that was published in a small feminist magazine. When she asked me to participate in the project, I had just left an emotionally and sexually abusive relationship, came out as bisexual, and began to view monogamy as something inherently oppressive in my life. My weight was fluctuating. My ex’s friends harassed me, late night texted me, and threatened me.

When my friend told me she was looking for people to strip down and talk about their relationship with their body, I knew that the project would expose a lot more than my naked self. I knew it would challenge my comfort and force me to process emotions that I hadn’t yet uncovered. I knew it was what I needed.

Today, my roommate burst into our apartment with news. The frat boys who live next door had found out about the project and declared their mission to find “my nudes.”

I never hid my nudes, darlings.

In fact, I’ve gone home with one of the aforementioned frat boys multiple times, and each time – for one strange reason/misunderstanding/whiskey dick or another – we haven’t had sex. He’s had (and has) the opportunity to see my naked body, live in the flesh.

But he can’t pass that around as a spectacle to his friends.

Today, the philosopher informed me that he received an email from his building about noise complaints. The warm weather this weekend required open windows and a little-rowdier-than-usual afternoon sex. The philosopher says he likes my moans.  I admitted that I never even recall making them – they just happen. I blushed, but I will continue to walk the halls of his building with my shoulders square and my eyes raised.

Last weekend, several of my ex’s fraternity brothers cornered me at a bar to attempt to humiliate me on the basis of my political views and sexuality. Later that night, one of their girlfriends tapped me on the shoulder and tried to hug me when I turned around as if she was a friend. They hovered around me the entire night, watching and jeering. I was not entirely unbothered, but I laughed and I danced anyways.

– Y’all wanna talk about me sooooo bad! – 

When I walk into leftist circles younger than me, I feel the gaze of the room land on me. I hear about my name in the barista’s mouths at the local hipster coffee shop. I see people that I’ve slept with lower their eyes but smirk as I pass. I smile.

Growing up, my mother taught me, do not speak unless you are spoken to. Respect your elders. Keep your head down. 

I did for years. I silently endured. It never stopped anyone from talking. Never stopped men from taking. Never stopped elders from dismissing.

After my break-up, I became muse to my sex goddess, vampy feminist savior. She rolled her eyes as I writhed around with embarrassment after sloppy one-nighters or tinder matches.

“Did you want the sex?” She asked. I sighed, Yes.

“Did you hurt anyone?” No.

“Get over yourself. At least steal his headphones for the walk home next time.”

I was her work in progress. By summer, the art monster was born.

I am unbothered. I am shameless. Y’all keep talking, calling me whore / leader / icon / mysterious / intimidating. Positive or negative, y’all keep talking, and I’ll keep living. Living ethically, but unapologetically. Living art monster.

thoughts on my comfort

manifesta

 

My apartment is cold. Six of the open tabs on my laptop contain half-completed cover letters with dates hovering in the top left margin ranging from December 14th to January 16th. I am drinking orange juice because I blame a perceived fogginess on lack of citrus and Vitamin C. I have five unopened text messages from four friends. I previewed the texts as they flashed on my lock screen. I will not reply today.

I am a nester. My bed contains no less than five pillows, five blankets, and a stuffed panda at any given moment. While I embrace minimalism and anti-consumerism in all other aspects of my life, where I choose to roost for the day accumulates an embarrassing array of comforts.

Today, I have nested. Blankets. Space heater. Coffee. OJ. Phone. Notebook. Pens. Candles. Trail mix. Soundcloud. The Weeds podcast.

I did not go to my classes. I did not go to work. I canceled my plans for tonight and instead plan to remain on the couch perhaps until tomorrow morning.

Comfort sometimes appears debilitating. As a white, cis woman, I actively resist using Audre Lorde and bell hooks quotes to validate my inaction as revolutionary self-care. Self-care is important, but by purely existing I am complicit in violence against women of color, trans women, and gender non-conforming folks – to only list a few marginalized identities that I do not possess. The fact I can even afford to simply lock myself inside my apartment is incredibly privileged. My silent existence is not revolutionary, it is oppressive.

Nesting is different from comfort. When I nest, I buckle down. My nourish myself bodily and mentally. Today, I created an introductory reading list to help radicalize liberal feminists into leftist feminists. Today, I reflected on my trauma, on the ways I’ve been abused and how it informs my social positionality and my activism. Today, I listened to incredible black artists share their stories. Today, I geared up for a tomorrow full of fight and resistance.

Today, I am nesting in my comfort, but tomorrow I will do my best to give that up.

The philosopher and our ritual

the philosopher

Sunday mornings seem to include a new ritual. Half-awake first sunlight kisses melt into 2pm round twos. A rejection of bourgeois morality, he says as he pulls me close, pulls me bubbling with laughter back into bed at noon, pulls me away from my draining work and into an invigorating conversation.

My philosopher is absolutely enamored with me. He is older – a fact that means little to me. But he is stunned by my sharpness, and the novelty of our age disparity and rival intellects increases his intrigue in me. He discloses his affections in short, self-conscious bursts of authenticity. His smiles brim until they erupt into playful jabs and shameless compliments.

He amuses me, and he comforts me. I find myself gushing Hallmark flattery between disagreements on prefigurative politics. I giggle girlishly and snort out guttural howls. I dominate him intellectually and sexually, and he returns the favor. I allow him to teach me. I am honest about my social adeptness, and I forgo manipulation or power games. I am unintentionally emotional.

He confesses he never expected a connection like this. He asks permission to make me pancakes next Sunday.

I warned him.

Early on, I told him, I don’t do relationships.

Later in a political conversation, I expressed my belief in anarchist self-ownership and free love.

Sometimes he made comments about not wanting to like me as much as he did.

Last time we were cuddling in bed, I stared him in the eye. I bit the edge of my lip, then pulled the trigger, “Hey, real talk for a second.”

His eyes widened nervously.

“I cannot have autonomy over my body and my emotions without being non-monogamous.

There it was.

He said he’s never tried a non-monogamous relationship and he gets very attached. We’re both moving away in May. He’s applying to PhD programs, and I’m searching for a job in DC. He doesn’t want our friendship to end catastrophically like his other relationships. I explain that I have friends and lovers in cities across the country. I still care very deeply about those whom I have developed meaningful connections.

He says he doesn’t want to stop seeing me.

I tell him to think about what he wants, what he needs, what he can give, and what he expects from me. I tell him I cannot give him a monogamous relationship. I’m not sure I can give him any formal relationship at all.

I break the tension with a quick peck and a confession, “I think you’re pretty dope, and I don’t want to stop seeing you either.”

Somehow moments later, we’re laughing and wrestling and roaring again, but it’s 3pm on a Sunday and eventually work calls.

“You hate pancakes, don’t you?” He asks me with a mischievous grin as I dress.

“Yes, but I like the idea of pancakes.”

He laughs, “Of course you would.”

“I’ll bring apples. I like pancakes when there’s a 4:1 apple to pancake ratio.”

So, now our Sunday morning ritual of Marxist sex and playful politics that drag into the late afternoon includes coffee and apple pancakes. It seems a little too quaint, too domestic, and – most worrisome of all – very enjoyable.

I feel the unspoken, intangible mysteries that keep us separate dissolving, and I struggle to know when to stop the erosion and when to slide unabashedly into the sea.

I warned him, and he disarmed.

I warned him.

a shocking remembrance and a new day

the philosopher

I always sleep on my side. A solo spoon uninhibited yet nestled in the freedom and warmth of my own body.

Early Monday morning, I woke with a gasp and threw the clammy, almost suffocating arms of a strange body off of mine as I jolted up.

Stark eggshell walls towered from the dark. The blank confines loomed inward with the judgement of a stacked jury or the immobilizing silence of sanitized hospital waiting rooms.

Nauseous and delirious, I felt I had been here before. Deja vu like a dream sequence when the familiarity of a place strikes at your core but the picture is warped. I felt I had been here before but, not quite here. Somewhere I recognized that fact, but my heart punched at my every nerve. It punched at my reality and insisted that history was repeating itself. It’s sinister whisper echoed, you let yourself fall back into the trap. He’s back. You’re back there.

My frenzied gaze narrowed and scanned the dark. I searched through night, desperately waiting for my eyes to adjust to the blackness. I scrutinized the details of the room. I focused in on the features that emphasized its differences from that room where I spent so many hours under his control, estranged from my own home and my own life. I grasped at the navy blue comforter on the bed and sought out the white stripes. White stripes were absent on the navy blue comforter on that bed where I had lied helplessly, exhausted on my back after telling him I wanted to be done and it hurt, and asking him to stop yet the thrusts continued.

“What’s wrong? Are you okay?” The new man frantically asked me with furrowed brows. I flinched away from his comforting hand reaching for my shoulder.

Then I turned towards him and wrapped my hands around his face. I stared at his features. Narrower nose. Wider eyes. Curly hair. I rubbed the scruff on his jaw line and took a deep breath. Not him. Not there. Not back then. You’re here.

“I’m okay now.” I told him.

I hesitated but he searched my eyes for understanding, “I’m sorry. That was so unexpected. I haven’t slept in someone else’s bed in this town in a while. I thought I was somewhere else. With someone else…”

I paused, “Who treated me badly. But I’m not and everything is okay.”

The concern remained on his face, but his eyes widened sympathetically.

I managed a smile and nodded. “I just need some space. I needed to place myself here. I’m okay now.”

“Okay,” he kissed my cheek, and I lay back down. He gave me space. He rubbed my back before closing his eyes and effortlessly drifting back to sleep.

I spent some time searching the room, breathing, and repeating, Not him. Not there. Not back then. You’re here.

Not him. Not there. Not back then. You’re here.

That was more than a year ago.

He’s long gone.

You’re safe. You’re here.

I fell asleep and the next time I woke up, I was curled into my own body, uninhibited, and nestled freely in a space shared by two people. I rolled over and smiled at the sleeping man beside me. His dreamy eyes fluttered and the corner of his mouth inched up on the left side. I beamed and planted a kiss on his prickly cheek.

It’s a new day, and you’re living in the present. Here.