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

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“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”)

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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.

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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.

Fcuk Pretty

 

Coming out to my 91yo grandmother, that spring I first broke the news to her about dating a woman, did not proceed according to plan.

My mother’s mother took a long moment, squinting at me intently, before she spoke.

FP_madeup-eyes

“So…when are you going to lose the weight?”

I sputtered back incoherently, shifting quickly into defensive mode while still trying to confirm if she had heard and understood what I had said. But once begun, Gram was not to be dissuaded. From critiquing my body, she moved on to my brother’s, and then my brother’s wife. When her litany of complaints reached the circumference of my preschool niece’s thighs, I stood up to leave the room.

“I don’t understand what happened,” my grandmother’s querulous lament followed me. “You used to be so young and thin.

“You used to be pretty.” 

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This is not a story about living in a fat body, though I do and I could tell it. Nothing has felt so loud as flesh pressing out against my clothes, belly spreading across my seated thighs.

This is not a story about living in a thin body, either, though I have and I could tell it. Nothing has felt so fragile as bones emerging from flesh, the butterfly wing of my collarbone arching delicately below my throat.

This is a story about sight.

About the reclamation of seeing.

Continue reading “Fcuk Pretty”