This Is It

I have this constant dilemma of growing up. Career woman? Professional archivist? Perpetual student? 30 year old lady living in a Denver attic apartment? Researcher, protester, human rights activist? I should probably grow up but I'm fighting it.
Baja-ing along the rio grande

Baja-ing along the rio grande

Too many young women I think are harder on themselves than circumstances warrant. They are too often selling themselves short. They too often take criticism personally instead of seriously. You should take criticism seriously because you might learn something, but you can’t let it crush you. You have to be resilient enough to keep moving forward, whatever the personal setbacks and even insults that come your way might be. That takes a sense of humor about yourself and others. Believe me, this is hard-won advice I’m putting forth. It’s not like you wake up and understand this. It’s a process.

First you’re taught to fear a phantom, a man in black, a man with a knife, a man who’ll pounce in dark alleys. Well-intentioned women—mothers, aunts, teachers—will train you to protect yourself: Don’t wear your hair in a ponytail; it’s easier to grab. Hold your keys in one hand; hold your pepper spray in the other. Avoid dark alleys. When you reach young adulthood, the lessons change. They acquire an undertone of disgust: Don’t drink so much. Don’t wear such short skirts. You’re sending mixed signals; you’re putting yourself at risk. If you follow the advice and it never happens—if you end up one of the three out of four—you can convince yourself that safety is a product of your own making, a reflection of inherent goodness. But if you’re paying attention, you realize something doesn’t add up. Because it keeps happening: to your sisters; to your friends; to little girls and grown women you’ll never meet, in places like Cleveland, Texas; Steubenville, Ohio; New Delhi. Good people, bad people, neutral. It keeps happening in TV shows and novels and movies—they open on the missing girl, the dead girl, the raped girl. If you’re paying attention, you begin to realize that it isn’t happening. It is being done. And you are not safe. You have never been safe. You were born with a bulls-eye on your back. All you have ever been is lucky.

Cara Hoffman’s 2011 novel So Much Pretty opens on the dead girl. Her name is Wendy White; she’s been missing for five months, and within the first fifty pages we learn that her body “was put to use for months before being found.” In another book, my heart would sink, reading those words. Among many other things, I’m tired of the way this story is told in fiction: from the point of view of the male detective, grizzled and weary, shaking his head over some beautiful broken body. The man represents cynicism; the body, innocence. By the end, his jaded worldview will be confirmed, or he will be saved—either way, he’ll need to see the body. I’ve read enough of this genre to know I’m tired of it. I’m tired of the way it puts women’s bodies to use, as footnotes. The dead girl is the beginning of the man’s story. Being dead, hers has ended before page one.

I don’t want this book to end.

I don’t want this book to end.

Me ‘n a corgi ‘n Cheerios.

Me ‘n a corgi ‘n Cheerios.

Teenage Winter Angst

Teenage Winter Angst