Saturday, June 28, 2014

PRIDE: GLBT Books in YA that I loved...

It's Pride weekend and I wanted to post a bunch of my favorite GLBT YA titles for those interested in reading the excellent books that are now out in this world that include this issue. For a more comprehensive list, I highly recommend you go to Dahlia Adler's compendium here. I also want to express tremendous gratitude to all the writers who are including this issue because it's important. And if you go hunting at the bottom of this post, you can even get a teaser of my girl-girl love story which I'm currently drafting.

Excerpt from my WIP:

I move toward the bathroom and start to take off my bikini. I slide my jeans on and tug my cami over my head. The door clicks and Emily’s there, inside this too small space with me. All the air in the room shifts. The energy has changed and my breath hitches. I lick my lips and she follows the movement and everything is warm and all I can think is how much I want to feel this. Her. Us. But I’m so terrified. She takes a step and drops her hands on to my hips. And it is nothing, nothing like how Luke’s hands felt. She spins me around so I’m facing away from her and toward the mirror. I can feel her breath on my back.

Her fingers move over the scars there. Trace the patterns up my neck to the base of my skull where my bald patch is. Her other hand is still holding on to my hip and I want to lean back into her. I want to wrap her around me, feel her strength.

And without much thought, I know I want her mouth on my mouth. I want to taste her kisses and the wetness of her tongue and see if the orange Tic Tac smell is her all-over flavor. But she stays behind me with her hands continuing to trace my scars.

“They’re beautiful because they’re part of you,” she whispers as her finger circles smooth raw skin. “And you are beautiful.”
“Emily, I want…”
But she drops her hands and steps back. “You don’t know what you want. And I shouldn’t be getting involved with this.”

Then she’s gone. My hands tremble as I pull my shirt over my head. I leave the bathroom, ready to confront her, ready to ask what she wants, but she’s not in the classroom either. And I’m left even more confused than ever.

Friday, June 20, 2014

My body...

I ran 8 miles this morning. For the first time in my life. 8 miles. I'm still sort of stunned. It hurt like hell and I ate 2 burritos afterwards, but I ran 8 miles.
Post 8-mile run
As I was on the last mile, I started to think about my body and how much it's sort of amazing. How I never appreciated it when I was seventeen. How frankly, I was very hard on it. Looking back, I would say I was at war with my body.
Me at 17
The war was a very long one. Played out on several fronts for many years: food, drugs, sex, pain. There is never a day when I don't wonder how my body has survived it. I have been an aggressive opponent against my body, and still my body survived it. Not completely unscathed, unfortunately. I have mysterious "health" things that no doctor can quite explain. Scars from the war, I think.

I ran 8 miles today. When I peeled off my clothes afterwards to take a shower, at first I felt the familiar disgust towards my body. Because no matter how laminated my feminist card is, that hasn't gone away. That knee-jerk reaction to be a pretty girl. I didn't know how beautiful I was at seventeen until my body made it to 40. I am covered in bruises and scars and stretch marks and cellulite and sagging skin. I don't have abs anymore. I had three babies who were nine pounds. No abs, just skin that sometimes hangs over my jeans.
With my midwife the day I delivered my first child
And yet, today, I shook off the resentment at the way my body looks now. Because I ran 8 miles. And somehow it feels like finally the war with my body is over. I want to do good things for it now. I want to feed it and take it for walks and make it part of me, not something that I have to fight with. That is why I'm grateful for 40. Because my 40 year old brain is clever enough to say: Enough. It's enough now, Christa.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Be Quiet and Listen...

Yesterday, I was on a panel at Printer's Row about sexual violence and testimony. One of the questions that came up in the conversation was speaking on behalf of survivors, those who have honored us with their stories and allowed us to use those stories in an effort to make cultural change.

This is not a responsibility to take lightly. I think whenever anyone is a witness to testimony and later uses that testimony for macro purposes, we always need to be careful. We need to honor the spirit of the testimony, not overlay our own agendas on it. Consequently, a large part of promoting cultural change is not only providing testimony, but the ability to listen.

We forget that sometimes. We say we need to listen more, but we forget because we live in a world where knee-jerk reactions and an immediate POV on something is important. But immediate reactions are often to the detriment of the work being done. And I'm quite certain I'm as guilty of this as anyone. I want to be an AUTHORITY. I want to have an OPINION. I want to take all these things that I know and put them into a place. But, sometimes it is not the right place. Sometimes they aren't our stories to tell. Sometimes we just need to listen and DO NOTHING but add it to our own foundation of empathy, our own efforts to understand something better.

Nowhere is this more obvious in my life than with regards to race. I'm a white woman married to a black man with biracial children. I spend a lot of time listening to Julio about his experience, but sometimes I forget about my kids. I want to tell them what it's like as if I'm an authority, when the reality is that I have no idea what it's like living in their skin. Which means I need to talk to them less about what I think and listen to them more.

I quite liked this reminder of listening this morning from Daniel José Older because YES. I need to do this. We ALL need to do this.

It is Pentecost today, which has always been a baffling church holiday for me. Because what does it even mean? My rational brain has never understood this event. Until today. When our pastor spent the whole sermon talking about the barriers between those living in poverty and those making laws for those living in poverty. And he spoke of these barriers as if they were a language barrier, a barrier to understanding, a barrier to compassion. And then all these things clicked with me.

The best way in to compassion is the act of listening. I believe in breaking silence, in telling truths, in bearing witness, in providing testimony, but I also think that the first step to all of that is listening.