Thursday, March 31, 2011
On the back of my quiz, I wrote this poem. My TA and I met regarding my grade, and at the end she asked me if everything was going ok. I said, "I mean, with my life? Yes." She handed me my quiz back, back side up, and said, "Well, I read this, and I just wanted to let you know if you need to talk, you can."
I paused, turned red, and asked if I could take back my poem I thought lost to the recycling bin. She made me a copy, and I thanked her for her concern and outreach. I shared a brief amount, although, always too much in this type of relationship, with what was going on in my life. She said, "We're all in this together, right?"
I think so. I think we can all, to some degree, relate to feeling as if a part of our body is being singled out. Whether that's your crooked teeth, your uneven breasts, your shortness, your tallness, you jaw line, your perfect ass... This is for our brief encounters with our own bodies where we realize a particular part of our bodies is means more.
For me, it's my
My LEGS code sex -- long and slender stems leading to the cherry on top.
My LEGS code gender -- ambiguous at times. Smooth and attractive, defined and shaped by movement dynamics in a dynamic where they don't fit.
My LEGS code race -- white and pale and full of rose colored privilege that keeps me in a comfortable space where I am isolated, at times.
I never knew how well versed my LEGS were until I walked down the street and all I heard was, “Baby, so sweet!”
Or when I walked into a gas station and eyes became helper-T’s recognizing a molecular invasion of the normalized body.
I could have guessed, but when a man shows his legs and wears the short shorts that I wear, the reactions unleash a script of social rule,
And maybe they are just LEGS -- muscle, flesh sparsely covered in a coat given to me by my master code, by my biomasters whose lives and deaths wrote my legs.
My LEGS are code for the nights in that seedy dark club on White and Llamar pulsing to the music against your legs covered in piss and cheap liquor.
My LEGS are code for the bruises he left on my thighs and the cries I wanted to cry but stayed quiet in the black and blue light.,
And before that, the sweet touches of my mother caressing me to sleep,
And soon to be translated, my legs will code for a love in his eyes when he sees me walking towards him.
** VOTE LIKE YOU MEAN IT.
** DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU'RE GONNA' DO EVEN IF YOU DON'T GET THE WORD.
** HOLD THE DOOR OPEN FOR OLDER WOMEN AND TELL THEM YOU RELATE.
** USE GIANT TRASH BAGS TO CARRY ALL YOUR CLOTHES ACROSS CAMPUS.
** LOOK AT COLLEGEACB AND EXPECT YOU'RE NOT ON IT.
** DOUBLE BOOK SEX ED WITH YOUR GRANDMA.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
"I like to get dirty. Do you like to get dirty? I like to cause trouble. I like to cause trouble, but only in the most sweet way."
I make the trek to Piedmont Park most weekends to run my hands through the grass and press my toes into the dirt. In this urban jungle that is Atlanta, my rural East Tennessee spirit finds solace in the slow moving beetles climbing and shifting through the leaves of grass.
When I first came to Atlanta, I searched endlessly, like the beetle, for a place to call home. What I realize now is that no matter how hard you look, you'll inevitably simply sink into comfort. It's the ease at which it happens that surprised me most. It's the folks working at the Mediterranean bodega recognizing me; it's the in depth conversations with strangers at Flying Biscuit; it's the ritualistic spot where I always sit and feel at the roots of trees in Piedmont Park.
It's this sense of belonging that, for me, spurs ownership and engagement. I'm no longer a tourist, but an Atlantian. We hop on rickshaws and careen through Virgina knowing exactly where our free ride is taking us and where it's not. And where it's not taking me, I put in the energy to walk.
I'm taking a graduate course on feminist engagements with synthetic biology and bioethics. Every week we have a speaker, and this week, we welcomed Cara Page, an Atlanta community organizer and feminist-anti-racists-achiever healer. After class, we spoke with enthusiasm about my efforts to settle into this place and my eagerness to do so. At Emory, you get the theory; you get a kind of knowledge that's very useful for writing papers and talking to people and coming up with ideas. With Cara Page, you fuse that knowledge with the knowledge of real people by working with them and experiencing community. With Cara Page, you get a hug.
That's not unlike my work with a fabulous KSU student, Edric Figueroa. Edric found me in Piedmont Park and invited me to join the anti-war protest marching down the sidewalk. He said, "Hand these out!" and immediately I threw myself into the midst of asking strangers if they knew what the federal budget looked like. It's as if I'd forgotten how to interact with people. Do people in Atlanta act like people in Knoxville? To some degree, but the same thing could be said about me.
** BUY A FLAMING KATY AND NAME HER GWEN.
** SPEAK HONESTLY AND DEVELOP BLUE FLAMES.
** WRITE POEMS ON THE BACK OF QUIZZES.
** TOUCH PIECES OF LUNCH MEAT CAUGHT IN THE DRAIN.
** WALK ON WET HILLS.
** RIDE ON BUSES WITH DRUNK EMORY STUDENTS.