From the Archives
(April 2006) Scientists discovered a new blue ring around Uranus and I spent the morning editing an analysis of 2003–4 domestic violence statistics for North Carolina.
The state’s domestic violence programs provided services to 45,211 individuals and its courts issued 11,954 domestic violence protective orders (DVPOs) in this one-year period. Also, during this year, fifty-eight women were killed by current or former husbands or boyfriends and ten men were killed by current or former wives or girlfriends.
Love makes the world go round . . . and makes us collide into each other with all our emotions blaring when it goes wrong too.
Today, I am aching from overdoing it at the gym and am feeling jaded about life in general (especially after reading all these domestic violence statistics) and I just want to curl up in a ball and eat some good bad-for-me comfort food right now.
My body is the earth. My body is the water.
That’s what my chorus sang when we performed Diane Benjamin’s amazing “Where I Live: A Breast Cancer Oratorio” recently and this pretty much encapsulates how I think about my body.
My body allows me to experience back-scratching, gasping-into-her-hair pleasure and deep intimacy.
It longs for the feel of wind blowing through my hair.
It gets goosebumps when it encounters empathy.
It allows me to experience awe and see beauty and feel such great sorrow that all I can do is rock in place sometimes, immobilized.
My body is a miraculous, sensation-driven outer shell, a vehicle that transports my creative spirit, my soul-force, the big-picture me from one place to another— the thing that gives me legs so that I can find beauty and meaning.
Benjamin reminds us that, besides being spirit, we are also complex energy machines that are radically altered by the chemicals that we absorb though.
Between the sung phrases above, a narrator intones Talc. Used in baby and other powders.... Methylene chloride. Used in decaffeinated coffee.... CONFIRMED CARCINOGENS.
On and on the narrator announces her short list of the many confirmed carcinogens that can break down our machines.
I try to remember this song when I (still) crave a cigarette, try to remind myself—especially on Mondays when the elliptical cross-trainer leaves my legs feeling particularly heavy—that I am a machine that requires regular care and routine maintenance.
Now you’d think that five people with breast cancer, two people with ovarian cancer, one person with prostate cancer, a father who died young from lung cancer, and a butt-load of (mostly average weight) relatives with diabetes and amputated limbs would be enough to bang me over the head with the fact that my machine needs my immediate, concentrated attention but, sadly, I still cave and have a big dish of fettuccini alfredo or a bag of potato chips sometimes.
Since I am a poet, I use personification when I’m zoning out on the elliptical cross-trainer, dub my body the Complex Energy Machine (CEM) that I must provide with specific fuel and, you know, walk like a dog.
And I work to understand the metabolic processes that my body executes each time I give it food and exercise.
And, because I am a poet who has a hard time stepping out of my head, I also remind myself that artists before me have also measured out their lives in such tedious coffee spoons.
Storms swept through here this past weekend, so I only went outside long enough to take a (wet) walk through the gardens, pick up some groceries, and rent ENRON: The Smartest Guys in the Room and Grizzly Man.
I love the fact that, when we’re seriously flawed and floundering for a way to thrive without alcohol or drugs or other destructive behaviors, some of us are lucky and realize that nature can save us.
(At least until the grizzlies kill you.)
I really like the perspective of the filmmaker who made Grizzly Man, like this film that is, ultimately, about someone who was almost crippled by his human foibles but who found grace in Alaska.
LISTENING TO: Ani DeFranco’s “Dilate” (which will probably not help me fall asleep)
READING: San Francisco trannie Emil Heiple’s Body of Loss (a zine). I started reading the Urban Hermitt’s Flow Chronicles too, but just couldn’t get into it—I guess because I’ve never felt that I’m in the wrong body. Instead, I just get frustrated when people tell me that the fact that my body looks a certain way is supposed to mean that I should limit how I use it or live my life.
SANG IN SHOWER: Möxy Fruvous’s “Drinking Song”