The Price [The villainess series]

* * *

“But, then again, what if they were role models?”
–Sarah Gailey, In Defense of Villainesses

* * *

seakelp

The Price

Older than the ocean floor she slithers across,
the sea-witch rummages between her cartilaginous breasts
for the shell that stores the latest tongue
and voice in her collection.

Not the first fish I taught to waddle onto land,
she snorts to the anemones.
Not likely to be the last, neither—
and every damn one of ’em convinced
evolution’s just a party trick.
A ploy to meet cute boys.

She’d outdone herself on this one, too:
No talking. No singing. No dancing
without the girl feeling like there are razors
in her shoes.
Absolutely NO take-backs.

Settling her head into the wattles of her throat,
the sea-witch peers, sightless, into the cold ocean night.
Can’t nobody say as I didn’t warn her,
she harrumphs quietly, before pulling the tongue
from its shell and taking
a first bite.

~a.i.


END-NOTE: I have long thought of The Little Mermaid as one of the more cruel and telling fairy tales Patriarchy has gifted us with yet: a young girl gives up her ability to speak, and agrees to excruciating physical pain, simply as the price of seeking love? It ain’t no mere ensorcelling that nabs her voice, either. The sea-witch literally cuts her tongue out. And then our mermaid princess can’t even score the love she sought! Not only does she not get the “happily ever after” Disney grants its Ariel and her thrilling-as-wet-toast prince; in Hans Christian Andersen’s original, her “happy ending” consists of turning into a vacuous “Spirit of the Air” and finding herself tasked with blowing cooling breezes at humans for the next 300 years, in order to earn herself a soul.

(Maybe it’s just me, but by year 75, I figure I’ve turned my back on the whole “gonna get me a soul” dream and am just praying to be turned back into sea foam. Even the most self-abnegating emotional laborer’s gotta find three centuries a bit long, no?)

Anyhoo, that’s been my read on this little ditty about a fish and her prince since forever…until I recently came across a compellingly different take.

Continue reading “The Price [The villainess series]”

Feminist Bedtime Stories, #3

III.

I’m not sure what clearer “KEEP OUT
GIRLS ONLY! CLUBHOUSE” sign we could have hung
better than bricking in our front door. Sole entrance
a dumb waiter conveyed up 4 stories on a pulley
of my hair, should’ve clued in
even the most oafish how we feel
about uninvited third parties.

I long ago tired of explaining: she’s not my mother
or my gram. (Or my captor,
tho I am clearly caught.) The word you want is girlfriend
partner paramour main squeeze
better half ball-and-chain reason for living
cohabitater. Capice?
And when did it become your business anyway.

Continue reading “Feminist Bedtime Stories, #3”

Once Upon A Time

fairy-hand

SELF-PORTRAIT IN POTENTIA


After the death of memoir, I will write fairy tales.

I desire a purity of language outside the stink of events and memories. Stories I cannot be accused of having invented because of course I have invented them.

Neither full fiction, nor freighted fact.

I would show other bones behind my telling.

*

Fable gifts us fanciful creatures, fanciful bodies, fanciful selves. In the tales, I shall become winged, ogrish, bulky as a mountain, a face all crooked nose and sharpened teeth—by turns witch, killer, a dragon in shadows. I rend flesh. I eat princesses whole. I am wolf and hunter both, my head too full to contain in just one mind, in just one set of teeth.

I am Little Red Riding Hood’s lover.

I pull my feet off the ground and still know where I am standing.

*

I grew up in a gingerbread house, led by a gingerbread man, all of us happy and perfect and filled with gumdrops to our eyelids until at last we bled gumdrops out our mouths, and still we filled with them. I was a princess who gave away her voice for love, who danced in magical shoes until her feet were stumps and slept atop 85 feathered mattresses yet still could find no rest.

All the while being told (small child in a small child’s nightgown) that monsters were never real. The very monsters I could see, could smell.

Monsters whose fur caught on railings, leaving behind tufts that I collected each morning in a pillowcase.

One grows weary of not knowing when to believe the words pouring off one’s own tongue. Over time, one starts to prick one’s finger on every spinning wheel spindle out of spite and desperation.
Continue reading “Once Upon A Time”

The Autobiography of E. Alice Isak

dedicated, with love

alicegertrude4_detail

“A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” ~ Gertrude Stein
“I rise is I rise is I rise is I rise.” ~ Alice Isak

🌹 🌹 🌹

My name is Alice Isak, and I feel like a woman reborn.

Risen like a—no, wait.

First you’re gonna need some backstory.

Like many others, I started blog-writing under an assumed name. For all the usual reasons: privacy, discretion, a desire to say whatever I felt without provoking uncomfortable impasses with family or angry outbursts from a recently-ex’ed ex-spouse. And one other thing:

I hated the person I’d become so much, it hurt to see her name in writing.

Call it my midlife crisis, if that helps.

The stereotype of the “midlife crisis” centers on the experiences of our culture’s classic Everyman: a white man climbing the corporate ladder, solidly middle-class, able-bodied and able-minded, definitely straight. Midlife-Everyman is wealthy enough to trade in his car for something fancier, more prestigious—a red convertible, perhaps, straight from the production line. He may trade in his wife for a newer model as well, equally shiny and topless.

According to the cliché, when our Everyman realizes his life is half-over, he says to himself: “I am not the person I thought I would be.” And he despairs.

For many women I know, midlife is the time when we say to ourselves: “I am still the person I thought I had to deny.” And though we may break for a time—suddenly feeling the weight of burdens long denied and longer carried—in the end, we do not despair.

We get angry.

We get loud.

We start to holler—often for the first time—our own damn truths, in our own damn voices. Continue reading “The Autobiography of E. Alice Isak”

Monday, June 13, 2016

 

“Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.”

— Mary Harris Jones (“Mother Jones”)

orlando-shooting-reuters-1-resized

First, some inspiration:

This turnout.

This turnout, too. (Occurring again tonight.)

This speech.

This performance.

♥ ♥ ♥

Next, work for us all to do:

Donate blood. Host or sponsor a blood drive in your area. Even if you are not in Florida, local blood banks save lives every day — and one out of every three of us will need blood at some point in our lifetime.

Tell the FDA to lift the discriminatory — and non-scientific — ban on blood donations from all men who have sex with other men, as well as from transgender women.

Donate to the Red Cross, a local LGBTQ organization, or Moms Demand Action Against GunsContinue reading “Monday, June 13, 2016”

Pride and Tragedy

I’ve lived in the same building for over 5 years, so you’d think I’d have figured out by now when to expect pride parades and other events organizing on my doorstep. But nope — catches me unawares every time.

Given the news out of Orlando this morning, though, I am finding my usual “cranky local folk” reaction transcended by a flood of love for this vibrant, defiant, resilient community I dance on the edges of.

We are #stillhere.

We are #stillqueer.

And in the face of slaughter, still we march beneath rainbows.

IMG_20160612_114106122
Photo taken from my stoop as I stepped outside today.

URGENT: In the wake of the largest mass murder attack in the US since 9/11, the city is in dire need of blood donations to treat the casualties (and, gods willing, to prevent the death count from rising above the 50 perished souls where it now stands). If you are in the Orlando area, here is a list of local blood donor centers and bloodmobile locations where you can give blood.

The crisis is so urgent, OneBlood has announced they will accept blood from any and all donors — including gay and bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men — despite current Food and Drug Administration regulations that continue to discriminate against this population.

If you live in this area and are able to help, please please consider doing so.