Wednesday, June 25, 2008

4 random points of nothingness

1. I hate public transportation. Regrettably, rising gas prices have neutered my bourgeois inclinations. Every morning I herd onto the 8:17am train—sunglasses to hide my disdain, book in hand to dissuade anyone from looking my way. I am not a morning person.

Today, I came to my stop and shuffled my belongings to signal preparation for departure. When I stood up, an oily white woman standing in the aisle refused to let me pass. My aggressive tendencies, lack of sleep and general distaste for anyone who attempts to get in my way took over. I shoved my large stocky purse into her side two times and pushed past her to make my way out of the train. It was pleasant. I was satisfied. Screw Buddhist reflection—it was 9 am in the morning.

2. I met with my ex yesterday for a “serious” talk. When you are married, an intimacy comes that is unmatched in any other relationship. After all of this time, I still know that when he says this, he means that. And so I knew before he even spoke a word what he was preparing to say. He is ready to file for divorce.

And Although I have prepared myself for this moment, it still ripped through me. We were the best and the worst with each other. Love’s life or life’s love as he often called it. I know that he is still in love with me, and although I have given my heart to another woman, I will always be able to return to him. Some things defy logic.

3. I am getting a kitten. Hopefully, a kitten will curb my appetite to procreate. Can you imagine that? Now, of all times, as I am preparing to divorce, my biological clock finally wakes up and starts to tick. The irony of it all.

I had a dog a few months ago but that was a disaster. I searched over a month to find him and commissioned my ex to drive with me to Amish country to pick him up. He was perfection in the car—hardly made a sound. But when I let him out of the cage to introduce him to his new surroundings he promptly relieved himself on the carpet—and so this would continue for the next few days. I plastered the floor with doggy diapers, tried to get him to go outside, but everyday I would come home to find the doggy diapers tattered and torn and huge piles of dog poop on my kitchen floor. To make matters worse, he yelped and yelled all night long. After 4 days, I packed up his bags and doggy diapers and dropped him off at a friend’s house. It was an open adoption. I never looked back.

A kitten would be much easier. Cats are self cleaning agents. They only poop on the floor, out of spite, when their litter boxes are messy. I don’t blame them though. I don’t sit on dirty toilets either.

4. I am alone tonight. I’ve forgotten how to be alone. There once was a time when I craved space. Now, I fear that I have regressed. Silence has come to visit me. Dreadful thoughts are knocking at my door.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

TO BE WOMAN

More than any other time, I am spilling into my womynness. Walking down the street today, catching the sun in the locks of my hair—gentle breezes caressing my center to travel down my back and the inside of my thighs. I am so alive and wide, growing into my womynness.

The man at the corner winked at me; I smiled back. I am no longer afraid. Time has taught me to appreciate my gifts—subtle curves, tender waist, full lips and warm skin. This is not conceit. This womyness is hard fought—hard won.

To be woman is to be whole and layered. I am remarkably woman—carefully made.

I see, all the time, little girls who mistakenly believe that because their bodies talk, womyness is bestowed. Womyness is not given, it is earned. I’ve waited so long for this-- fought through harsh realizations and sat with unpleasant considerations—walked through the loss of a marriage and a parent, upset of family and friends—two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the road less traveled by.

Zora Neale Hurston wrote that for women, the dream is truth. Truth is inconsiderate and often uncomfortable. Zora died alone and unknown. Everyday I walk forward with blisters on the bottom of my feet. But if I should die today, I wish to die like Zora, fully actualized—fully woman.

So my womynness, I will handle with care. Singing songs of pain and of joy, for I am not alone.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Stench of Poverty

Most lawyers go into public interest law to save babies and old people. I help represent the “undeserving poor”—mothers whose children have been taken away by the state—mothers labeled unfit and unable to care for babies formed in the womb for nine months—mothers who still carry faint lines, like watermarks, across tummies—proof of life.

These women live on the edge, marginalized and forgotten, many of them too tired or afraid to fight anymore. The state’s intervention is merely another assault in their daily lives.

Ninety-eight percent of the cases I see involve issues of neglect—neglect varying from sub-standard housing, lack of adequate child care, to accidental injuries. Most of these issues are indicators of poverty—none of which have any nexus to a mother’s desire or ability to care for her child. That the state chooses to snatch children away from poor mothers instead of providing adequate resources is almost cruel. Poverty is not a crime.

I am struck most by the assumption of incompetence—caseworkers and lawyers on all sides assume that poor parents, mostly of color, are incapable of providing for their children. The fundamental right to direct to care and upbringing of your child, the right to privacy, the right to be protected from arbitrary state intrusion is often ignored.

I cannot help but think of my childhood at such a time. My mother often worked two jobs and when one job failed, she would rely on public assistance. I didn’t know that we were poor. All that mattered is that I was fiercely loved.

Yesterday, I met a 19-year-old mother. She was six months pregnant when her boyfriend died. A week after his death, she learned that he had died from AIDS related complications, not cancer as she was led to believe. She quickly realized that her cold sweats and vomiting were not morning sickness, but confirmation that she too was infected. Her baby was born three months later—HIV positive. After several hospitalizations, the state took her baby away. She walked into my office to prepare for her upcoming court hearing and held her head down the entire time. Her sadness burned right through me.

There are events that offer no understanding—there are no answers to offer satisfaction. I don’t believe in moral absolutes—the magical binary of good and evil. I resent those who wrap themselves in “truth” in an attempt to avoid the complexity of life.

She is not a baby, she is not old, but she is surely deserving. Her life has value although the system has thrown her away. I mark my doorways with compassion and say a prayer for understanding.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Last week I was forced to participate in a tedious orientation for my summer internship program. I am a bit of a recluse—the thought of socializing in a large plastic group had me reaching for a bottle of Xanex. The first day of training was as expected—students anxiously fielding generic questions like, “what law school are you from?” --completely uninterested in the answer. I chose not to participate in the social banter. I’ve been labeled as reserved and aloof. I am what I am and I feel no obligation to prove otherwise. I sat there pretending to find interest in the disheveled papers in front of me.

Just before the first training began, a beautiful girl with a flawless complexion and sexy sway came to sit next to me. She turned to ask me a question, thus beginning our conversation. After only a few minutes, I came to learn that she was not as beautiful as she once appeared. I listened to her go on and on about her accomplishments, her possessions, and the people she knew—by the end of the conversation I was completely uninterested in her. The more she spoke, the uglier she became. How could a girl blessed with such physical beauty not seek to find the beauty or interest in others?

I am sure that this girl with a beautiful complexion and sexy sway had many admirers—many of which I noticed at orientation. And I imagine that she divulged all of this useless information to me in an attempt to make see how beautiful she was too.

To be completely honest with you, I’ve rarely considered physical appearance when choosing to love someone. I’ve been with all types of people—short and stout, tall and lanky, awkward and outdated. I have endured the questions from friends, the trite remarks of strangers, and the painful jokes from family members—all of which were of no consequence when I compared my dizzying happiness to the lives and relationships of others.

Physical appearance is ill-suited to capture the profundity of this thing we name beauty. I find beauty in the unconventional—the belly bulges, the scarred knees, the stubborn hairs, the bucked teeth and burned elbows. I find beauty in vulnerability. Prying open your hiding space to let someone in to see, touch, experience the fullness of you. There is beauty in purity. Loving for the sake of loving without asking for anything in return. I find beauty in revelation. Stepping into the light to allow someone to bear witness to your pain. I find beauty in insecurity—those things that we silently curse in the darkness—those things that produce sadness and anxiety. Insecurity makes way for humility.

The girl with the flawless complexion and sexy sway is an object. She will never know the splendor of a beauty that far surpasses the physical. This kind of beauty cannot be manipulated or manufactured. It compels truth. It compels surrender. When I love, it is my only hope that you will blind yourself to the physical to unearth it in me. And I will give thanks.