So Happens to Be Made, So Happens to Be Offered

While Travis and his family and friends enjoy homemade lasagna, I nuke Jenny Craig lasagna in the rehab center’s kitchen and eat it out if its little black plastic microwaveable tray.  Finally visitors leave and Trav and I meander off to his rehab room.  Like a dorm room, kind of.  His roommate, just on the other side of the curtain, is Curtis.  Curtis broke his neck in a car accident.  Wasn’t wearing his seatbelt.  Rumor has it the seatbelt would have “saved” him.  Who knows for sure.  The seatbelt, the wallet, the seatbelt, the wallet.  Could be anytime, anywhere.

Curtis has a poster taped to the ceiling right above his bed.  It’s a blond bikini-wearing babe licking a lollipop.  Curtis had a halo strapped to his body and screwed into his skull for months.  It’s off, and he’s now in the fashionable neck brace like Trav.

Trav has a roommate named Curtis and they’re both quads in rehab together.  When Trav and I mosey into their room, Curtis is gone.  Probably off cracking the code to the nurses break room, or hijacking the hospital intercom system to report some sarcastic, nonsensical need for the whole unit to hear.

I’m starving because the non-homemade lasagna was maybe actually two bites of lasagna.  Portion control?  More like socially acceptable anorexia.  I’m starving and my stomach’s growling even though I just ate “dinner,” and I try to ignore it but by trying to ignore it I actually obsess over it as I set up the DVD for movie night.  I try to make our movie date special by popping popcorn for Trav.  I can’t eat any of it because my “diet” (read: socially acceptable self-starvation).  And I even made the butter lovers kind because it’s not for me, right?

I turn down the lights and snuggle next to Travis as we look up at the TV glowing above his bed.  I scoop my hand into the popcorn bag and flex my fingers like a claw crane prize grabber clutching all the wondrous colorful stuffed animal toys.  I pull my arm out slowly so I don’t drop my prize: a handful of butter lovers’ popcorn.  I hold my hand out to Travis’ mouth and he licks up the salty, tasty morsels with his lips and tongue.

You see the thing is, is that I don’t really care for popcorn.  I like the crunchiness, sure, and I do find pleasure in the greasy buttery goodness.  However, I really hate it when popcorn kernel pieces get stuck in my teeth, especially my back molars.  So I typically never eat popcorn by choice.  Only if it so happens to be made, and if it so happens to be offered to me.  And if it’s not non-buttered non-salted dry cardboard tasting popcorn.

In-between prize-winning scoops of popcorn, I feel my tummy aching.  I poke at my toned yet not-toned-enough abdomen, and squeeze my toned yet too voluptuous thighs.  I think about Jenny Craig (the corporation, not the person), and I think about my disciplining mom.

I reach deep into the microwaveable popcorn bag with my claw of glory to scoop up the biggest-ever popcorn prize to claim the high-winning score.  In the darkness amidst the flashes from the TV I shovel the hand full of golden glistening nibbles into my gaping mouth, pushing my flat palm against the popcorn and into my cheeks.  I chew and chew and chew and the crane reaches back in and the claw pushes into my mouth and against my cheeks and I chew and chew and chew.  I feel enormous guilt as I grumble and gulp yet I can’t stop shoveling one handful after the other into my mouth in the darkness with flashes of TV light in Trav’s hospital dorm room during our movie time.  The ambivalence is wrenching as my stomach twists in utter guilt and utter pleasure from my uncontrollable gorge.

Having some popcorn? Travis teases, well-aware of my suffocating calorie-counting fascist regime.  His rhetorical question breaks my zone.

I wipe my oily fingers on my voluptuous pant thighs and laugh through my mastication.  I respond, Fuck it!  And together we enjoy the butter lovers’ popcorn that so happens to be made by me, that I so happen to offer to myself.

my very own new media artwork

Ode to Professor Geary and Feminist Theory

“I came to theory because I was hurting—the pain within me was so intense that I could not go on living.  I came to theory desperate, wanting to comprehend—to grasp what was happening around and within me.  Most importantly, I wanted to make the hurt go away.  I saw in theory then a location for healing.” –bell hooks

I hear all the time

about this so-called divide

that we find

between theory and “real life.”

But some of us need theory to live.

There is no divide.

Professor Geary, there you are in feminist theories.  How awesome and lyrically convenient for me that your name rhymes with theory.  (Oh Dr. Geary, neoliberal capitalist theory is so dreary it makes me weary and a little teary!)  One day you said to the class with such sincerity when we were all frustrated with this “concept” of “neoliberalism,” frustrated with corporatization, with the insurmountable odds stacked high against us in hundred dollar bills for cheap thrills causing dire ills—we just couldn’t grasp it, we felt trapped with no way out—all this theory bullshit, all this greed and exploitation; the class was against you ready to throw our hands up and say, Fuck you academe! Fuck you theory! you reassured us: Some people…some people need theory, to live.  And there you are: dry-erase marker in hand, the white board behind you, and all our ten sets of eyes concentrated intently on you.  Some people…some people need theory, to live.  We all breathe in heavily, chests heaving together, exhaling, some of us breaking for a cigarette.

Some people need theory to live.  To resist.  To feel, to understand, to be, to learn, to interact, to thrive, survive, to love, to listen.  Some people need theory to live.

coffee against my lips

it’s cold by now but I still drink it

and the mug tips,

a little bit

slips

out the side of my mouth as I sip,

eyes looking past the mug onto my feminist lit—

coffee tear drops drip

and stain the polemic.

How do I understand this world I live in     we are all connected now     somehow     there’s the internet     there’s airplanes     there’s tourism     there’s the t.v.     there’s movies and there’s dvds and blank cds ripping copies for free     information as a commodity     there’s Google translate     there’s Google     there’s Facebook     we are all connected now     How do I understand it all     this New World Order     where does my milk come from     where do my bananas come from     let’s all preach equality and fair trade     we got Chiquita banana all dressed in a blue oval sticker all the way from an exotic, tropical, faraway republic     How Do I Understand This World I Live In     of contradiction     some people     need   theory     to     live     we are all connected now     somehow     in this era of globalization     turn of the millennium     post-nine-eleven     connected twenty-four/seven     with our bourgeois blackberries and iPhones     feeling all alone but surrounded     how do I understand this world I live in     where can I find the words I need     help me theory     help me explain explicate iterate and reiterate contemplate commiserate     identity     performativity     materiality     this life     that I am living co-existing imagining and producing, my privilege depending on that of another human’s suffering     amidst all this stigmatization of differentiation     perpetuating extremes of love and hate and the rich and the poor and the traumatic and the joyous     help me remake meaning     help me understand this world I live in     help me theory     help me transform and be transformative, imagine an alternative     we are all connected now

Coming Out of the Closet

I’m eight years old, and Brittany is six.  Every Saturday since we can remember we spend the night over at Grandma and Poppy’s house—just down the street on Grover’s, on the west side of Tatum Boulevard.  Every Saturday we spend the night over at Grandma and Poppy’s.  There’s a spare bedroom just for us at the end of the long, narrow, dark hallway of the small, one-story house down Grover’s, on the west side of Tatum.  Our room is next to the garage door.  Across the hall from Poppy’s den.  Wonderful things happen in Poppy’s den.  He works in there for hours and hours, building model trains and cars.  He takes us to the Hobby Bench to pick out his next project with him.  He limps, a bad hip.  He talks unusually loud, his voice booming and almost startling.  Grandma back-hand slaps him on the shoulder, and screeches, Arnie, turn up your hearing aid!  Poppy’s eyes open wide and he shrugs his shoulders, implying, what can I do?  He’s mostly deaf.  Since World War Two.  World War Two—Poppy a lone veteran.  Ear drums blown out from the all-too-nearby blast of hand grenades.  Ka-plow-ee!  Off in the jungles of the Pacific.  Island hopping.  Hand grenades blasted and my poppy’s ear drums go ka-plow-ee.

He brings back a small sack of precious stones, gems, pearl-like beauties from his island hopping during World War Two.  I wonder my whole life where they are today, and how he got them.  A historical mystery of sorts.   We check out from the Hobby Bench with a new project.

Our room is down the hall, next to the garage door, across from Poppy’s den.  We have a pull-out couch for a bed.  We have a small walk-in closet full of random and incomplete toy sets, misplaced children’s books, and clashed items of clothing like an off-white and maroon ski jacket on a hanger next to a pair of bathing suit bottoms, draped over the corner of a coat hanger—tilted sideways from the imbalance.  Where’s the matching bathing suit top?  It must be somewhere in here, perhaps over near the shoebox with no lid, holding a pair of my dad’s old business loafers, wrestled in closet dust and placed rather queerly in the rectangle cardboard—one shoe lay sideways while the other shoe lay similarly pointed in the same direction yet completely upside down.  This is what I love about this small walk-in closet that is really no one’s walk-in closet in particular, just a walk-in closet that so happens to be in the spare bedroom that is kind of my sister and mine’s room that we sleep in every Saturday, across the hallway from my poppy’s den and next to the garage door.  I sit squarely on the floor in this small walk-in closet full of random and incomplete toy sets, misplaced children’s books, and clashed items of clothing—but actually I do not really sit squarely but queerly like the pair of dusty loafers in a rectangle cardboard box with no lid.  I sit queerly since my pigeon-toed legs demand I do so.  I close the closet door and sit on the floor alone tinkering through the trinkets and missing board game pieces and missing bathing suit tops.  Immersed in an absent presence, combing through what’s not there, curious and careful as I peruse and ponder.  Might I install a sense of order to these knick knacks?  I pick through one by one, flipping through an old hardback children’s book with pages torn and corners bitten off.  This is what I love about this small walk-in closet.  Full of random and incomplete toy sets, misplaced children’s books, and clashed items of clothing—these missing pieces, absent presents: refuse categorization.  Resist organization.  I’m enthralled by the unruliness and I embrace the unknown of the bathing suit top, the cropped book pages, the dusty loafers facing all directions wrong.

There is a light wrap at the door and it’s my sister’s six-year-old voice asking me to come out of the closet and observe as my poppy puts the finishing touches on his latest model car.