Richmond, Illinois

I have failed often, repeatedly.
Spared so much time from usefulness.
Wasted deep thinking, foregoing effort.
Dwindled years into ashes, without fire.
Hidden from view, from adventure,
from love.

Lost in a hazy mind, like the dense fog
that hangs above a bog in spring, ominously.
Wandering within lucid dreams, escaping.
Desiring only to feel something, fully.
Needing nothing more than to be seen,
to be heard.

Trapped in a chasm between times, survival.
Waiting in an invisible queue, no service.
Wondering why, and how, and who.
Pleading for freedom from all, binding.
Uncertain if hope will reign above the hate,
that bitter pill,
avoidance.

Deadline.

Blood’s False Witness

As if she needed a reason,

to bear witness to an existence

that threatened to dismantle her.

From weary bones and tired eyes,

the night had taught her not

to fright.

But, alas, light doth flit, like

time, and worse. For it takes

great strength to hide behind

eyes,

to see.

 

Solitude and the 21st Century Need for Constant Togetherness

Google defines “Solitude” as:

sol·i·tude
ˈsäləˌt(y)o͞od/
noun
  1. the state or situation of being alone.
    “she savored her few hours of freedom and solitude”
    synonyms: loneliness, solitariness, isolation, seclusion, sequestration, withdrawal,privacy, peace

    “she savored her solitude”

     

What I find particularly interesting about this definition is the examples. “She savored her solitude”, “she savored her few hours of freedom and solitude”. What does that say for the act of experiencing solitude? It says, to me, that it is pleasurable. That solitude, in and of itself, is something one wishes for, dreams of, and strives to obtain. Yet, when one actually enjoys solitude, many can be conflicted by their enjoyment of such a state. It serves to reason, doesn’t it, that everyone who is healthy, of strong mind and character, would not choose to be alone, does it not? Perhaps the reverse is far more truth than many would choose to accept.

What am I going on about? Allow me to expound with a story, of sorts. The true variety, specifically, auto-biographical in nature. It all began five years ago with a single choice. A choice that changed everything I ever knew, twisted it upon its often ugly head, and splatted it back into a new place, that was full of mystery, and seriously lacking in solitude.

In mid 2009, I fell in love. (Cue the “awws”.) Within 4 months of said courtship, I packed my life and moved across the pond to lovely Bedfordshire,  just north of London, to be with my love. By the New Year, my heart was broken, and I left my love. – If you paid attention to that timeline, my life changed forever within about 6 months time. Love does imbue madness in people, and I fell hard, fast, and mad-ly.

I didn’t leave England straight away, but rather, moved northward and relied on good friends to mooch a bed from until my visa ended. I had hopes of pursuing work permissions still with a few methods of attaining such results; alas, I was unqualified for even my most certain of methods. It appeared I was meant to stay state-side, much to my chagrin.

This prompted the longest ever string of unemployment I’ve experienced and it was near a year for me to find a full-time gig. In 2010, the US was in full recession, and jobs were very hard to come by. Until then, I worked odd jobs, painted houses, wallpapered interiors, even returned to doing nails in a salon – anything I could do to make some coin. All the while, I stayed with my brother and his family. A kindness much appreciated, and this arrangement allowed me to spend loads of time with nieces, which I will cherish forever, despite their familiar sarkiness with their beloved Auntie!

Once proper work was attained, I set a goal to move out and be back on my own, and to seek some solitude, which I so very much desired, and needed. Repairing not only a broken heart, but a broken life, needed time – specifically, peaceful time. Time away from the every day to let emotions find their ugly path outward from my twisted insides, that were threatening to revolt on the outsides that held them in. But, as it was, five years later, it is here I remained. At first, it was a request, but now, it’s patiently awaiting the next phase of my life to begin. A new job or a new business? (Currently under determination).

My yearning for solitude is strong and deep. I long to spend time on my own, and have even taken overnights in hotels to get some time away. Alas, nothing is as deliciously peaceful as one’s own bed, and a quiet home, comfortable, safe, and wonderfully peaceful. I’ve enjoyed my solitude since I was a young child. I would often go off into a corner nook somewhere and find a space to be on my own, with my thoughts, dreams, and everything in between.

Before my excursion to a new land, I spent most of my time alone. I enjoy being with myself, left to think, write, paint, etc. Friends often found this challenging to understand. They thought I removed myself from socializing and was hiding. Certainly, there have been many a time where I have not been interested in being social at all. In fact, I don’t often like being social with people I do not know. I do love to spend time with a friend, but typically prefer one friend at a time, or a small group. Yet, I have had many friends throughout my life that enjoy being social in abundance and must have plans at a constant. I am not like that, nor have I ever been. In fact, if I’m too busy for too long, I feel at a loss – mostly a loss of the solitude I desperately need to live and be happy.

To truly understand the confusion people feel when I choose solitude over dining out or a get together of sorts, they tend to believe I’m an extroverted personality, which could not be farther from the truth! I’m deeply introverted and don’t like social events where I don’t know people. I’m very good at enjoying myself when I feel comfortable, and not so much when I’m thrust into social situations otherwise, hence the extrovert/introvert confusion.

With that, it is very important to note, that being an introvert does not in any way imply that I am anti-social. Choosing to not be social because you have no need to be social is far from being anti-social. In fact, it is this very distinction that came up in “How to Be Alone: An Antidote to One of the Central Anxieties and Greatest Paradoxes of Our Time” by Maria Popova, the mind behind Brain Pickings.

Popova’s article captured me with her leading quote, by author Sara Maitland from “How to be Alone“, “We live in a society which sees high self-esteem as a proof of well-being, but we do not want to be intimate with this admirable and desirable person.” Indeed, this is a sign of our times, isn’t it? The constant need for social media connectivity, chatting with friends on IM or Facetime, getting together for meals and constant events being planned. – None of these things are bad things, and I do many of them myself; however, the distinction is frequency. Because I choose to do them less, the insinuation is that I am anti-social; alas, what it really means, is I don’t need to be connected 24/7, but, I do enjoy using technology and tools this modern century has provided.

My quest for solitude, at this current juncture of my life, requires again finding corner nooks to dwell within a house full of people and children. Alas, it took nearly 5 years to figure out how to find solitude amidst chaos, and it still often evades me, but I do know how to get what I need more than previously. I still long for my quiet space, not needing to close doors, wandering around my space, thinking, pondering, creating and tinkering. Soon, I shall have it, but until then, let it be known, that now and always, I simply relish in solitude, which does not make me anti-social, it makes me comfortable in my own skin and being with myself, whom I rather like.

 

To Be Feminista

“In societies where men are truly confident of their own worth, women are not merely tolerated, but valued.”
– Aung San Suu Kyi

I’m not quite sure why we need an International Women’s History Day. Frankly, isn’t every day Women’s History Day? Is it because for centuries, women haven’t been recognized for their contributions to the development and advancement of society? So, to have our day of recognition makes up for history’s magnificent, egotistical, chauvinistic blunders? I have a better idea – shouldn’t we appreciate accomplishments of humans, always?

fem·i·nism, ˈfeməˌnizəm/

The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

To explore this topic, I must first define some context. Specifically, what it is, and is not, to be a feminist. The definition of feminism, according to Merriam-Webster is, “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes“. Pretty straightforward. However, it is oft confused with “man-bashing”, “lesbianism”, and basically aggressive, pushy, “broads”.

Admittedly, I too confused the word to mean something that it does not. Specifically, I refused for years to call myself a feminist as it carried with it a misunderstood connotation as “man-hater”. I did not wish to be categorized for my beliefs in a manner that did not represent them. But, it has been proven once more to me that with age, comes wisdom – if you’re open to its arrival, that is. This wisdom has taught me that Feminist is merely a word. The power of the stereotype lives only when it is allowed to live. Therefore, today, as with everyday henceforth, I am proclaimed a Feminist. Or, as I prefer, Feminista.

I dare say, that no one person encapsulated the issue as perfectly as extraordinary Bette Davis, who famously said, When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch. To this day, it rings true, with harsh, sad realization. For many years I was proud to be called “bitch”. I did not care what people thought of me, I would not stand around and tolerate behavior that was not humane, that lacked compassion, that was irreverent, that was domineering or sexist. I still feel the same; however, to label me as “bitch” is incorrect if my delivery is not “bitchy”, but thoughtful, articulate, and conversant.

Again, to refer to Merriam-Webster, in this context “bitch” is defined as, “a:  a lewd or immoral woman, b:  a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman —sometimes used as a generalized term of abuse.” I am but one of these things – “woman”. Though, some may think otherwise for I have a tendency to speak my mind. This can come across to the less educated as “lewd” or “overbearing”, but I am not. After all, Nawal El Saadawi summed things up perfectly with, “They said, ‘You are a savage and dangerous woman.’ I am speaking the truth. And the truth is savage and dangerous.” The truth is indeed savage and dangerous – to those it exposes; but this truth, as with all truths, will set you free.

Another truth – women throughout history have invented, discovered, created, wrote, and founded many amazing contributions to the world we now live in, but most were credited to men. You may have heard one of the most famous of such mis-credits regarding Eli Whitney potentially not being the true inventor of the Cotton Gin, but rather Catharine Greene, who funded the invention. At the time, women could not apply for patents and some historians suspect that Eli Whitney was merely a means to an end for Greene.

“Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can’t figure out what from.” – Mae West

The most recent discovery by a women scientist happened in my lifetime, which shocked me to the core. Jocelyn Bell Bernell is an accomplished Astrophysicist and was the first to discover pulsars in 1974. Her male supervisor and colleagues were awarded the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics for her discovery. This was not the first time the Nobel Prize committee allowed such misrepresentations to happen.

Although men didn’t always get – or take – the credit for discoveries by women, many major discoveries history has not been forthcoming in sharing. For example, did you know that Heddy Lamarr wasn’t only a beautiful Hollywood actress, but also an accomplished mathematician? In fact, Lamarr invented Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum, which is still used today in your Bluetooth technology.

femme fa·tale, fem fəˈtal,fəˈtäl/
noun: femme fatale; plural noun: femmes fatale
An attractive and seductive woman, especially one who will ultimately bring disaster to a man who becomes involved with her.

If I’ve reached this pinnacle of truth within my own beliefs in my life, why do I need to change the terminology? Feminsta, (which has nothing to do with the fiction novel of the same name that I haven’t read), is a reclaiming of the term as inherently feminine, while simultaneously adding strength. I am a Feminista – a warrior, a champion, a woman. I wear dresses and adore lipstick and sparkly lip gloss, and never am without a pedicure and rarely without a manicure. I love being a woman and everything it entails. I enjoy the company of men,(and please don’t take that down some perverted hole that you cannot climb out from nor am I dogging on lesbians); from conversation, flirting, work, and friendship. I do not need to wear pants to feel strong, nor do I need high heels to feel feminine. It takes the “fatale” out of femme fatale, leaving only the woman – brilliant, multi-faceted, intelligent, confident, loving, strong, warm, successful, independent, amazing.

I am Feminista – a warrior, a champion, a woman. I love being a woman and everything it entails. I do not need to wear pants to feel strong, nor do I need high heels to feel feminine. It takes the “fatale” out of femme fatale, leaving only the woman – brilliant, multi-faceted, intelligent, confident, loving, strong, warm, successful, independent, amazing.