A few weeks ago, my wedding dress was delivered to me stuffed in a paper grocery bag.

A few weeks ago, my wedding dress was delivered to me stuffed in a paper grocery bag.

I made that dress myself. It’s lined with my son’s felted baby blankets and has my grandmother’s pearls sewn into it. It was really something, but I only wore it as long as the wedding itself.

It hung for 12 years in the back of what used to be the bedroom my husband and I slept in together.

It’s funny, I never thought I attached a lot of importance to weddings and wedding dresses. Big deal – the marriage is what’s important, everybody knows that. But I’m a flurry of crocodile tears now – because I worked too hard on that dress, too hard on that marriage, for it to end up like discarded like this.

So for the moment, I’m stuck in grief, wiping my tears on my son’s felt baby blankets and a bit unsure of why I’m crying.

We’re all much happier now, but receiving that dress was a finality that I wasn’t prepared for. I feel like, as long as it hung in a closet that the both of us used during our marriage, there was still a bond between us somehow, an acknowledgment that although it didn’t work out, it was still sacred, you know?

But I guess I don’t get to hold onto that sacredness either, it’s no longer part of who I am – is it?

Today, I hung my wrinkled wedding dress in the back of my new closet right next to the dress I wore the day I met my former husband.  I imagine those two dresses back there in the dark whispering to one another about possibilities totally unaware of the years that have passed on the other side of the closet door, and that makes me so so happy.

Hello from here, Melissa.

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“Me Too”

Everyone is saying “me too” and men are aghast and outraged.

Guess what bucko’

I’ve been raped by men nicer than you.

I have been assaulted by men who write feminist manifestos on their facebook walls.

I have been harassed and coerced by men you admire, perhaps you’ve read their books, or listen to their podcasts.

You probably think they are decent human beings.

Most perps are not monsters, they are your bros, they are you.

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To Fight Fascism, We Must Risk Delight

I stopped dreaming wide open things after this election. I woke up in worry, and I didn’t like that, so – along with my subscriptions to various newspapers, I also subscribed to poetry and literary magazines. I know the worry is warranted, this is not normal. But I can’t live in worry, and I refuse to wake up there. So, for the last several months, I have been waking up and instead of looking at my phone or the news, I’ve been reading poetry with my morning coffee.

Today, I read this line in a Poetry Magazine from April of 2014 that I bought at a used book store:

“We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of the world” – Jack Gilbert

And I’ve been thinking about that stubbornness, about risking delight. I’ve been thinking about how in times of great peril allowing ourselves to feel delight and gladness feels like we are betraying the worry and pain in the world. Often, when we feel good during times of great stress and fear, we worry that by not diligently tending to our fear, our feal will become invalid in some way, that we will somehow laugh ourselves into denying anything is wrong at all.

So, when we feel good, we guilt ourselves into feeling terrible again. We don’t let the light in. We don’t risk delight. But I think, hobbling our emotional guidance system in order to match the chaos and destruction around us is akin to working for the enemy. Especially if the enemy is counting on us to be afraid and play small.

I’ve been working on approaching this world as a love object, a beautiful place to nurture and be nurtured in (as opposed to a frightening and isolating place to exist).  I’ve been wondering about how to unite with people against the fascism we see unfolding within our government. I’m trying to understand how to come to this fight with a mindset that risks delight.

When thinking about our government’s move toward fascism I think about anti-intellectualism. How our current government is at war with science and the press. And I think this specific brand of anti-intellectualism has roots in hyper-masculinity. Intellectuals that embrace the complicated and interdependent nature of our modern world are considered sissies and not “real men.”

I am beginning to understand that this regime and its supporters are operating from a fear of becoming feminine. No matter how they dress up what they are doing, that is the base fear… because the “feminine” is a complicated system of relationships. It is not simple or single point transactional. It is not easily predicted or controlled.

Thinking about the rise of systems after WWII, about how quickly we complicated the world of men with machines and global relationships. How frightening this was to so many people that were not part of building those complicated systems.

When our regime’s rallying cry of “make America great again” is invoked, the great they cling to is a simpler less complicated ideology that no longer works for our time. So what they are doing, is trying to brute force reset our country to before these complicated systems were put in place. Why? Because they are afraid of being forgotten, of being left behind, of losing their identity. The are afraid, so they build walls.

I don’t want to be afraid.

So this morning I am trying to find my balance between resisting our current administration and knowing that what is needed is a revolution of the heart. Punching nazis and making room to pull the silent majority over their walls and out of their fear.

And I feel like, maybe by pinpointing where our culture evolved from the simpleness of climbing decision trees to the complex way we fly through possibility clouds it will help me understand how to do this.

I am working on keeping my mind, my eyes, my hands, and the throttle to my heart wide open… on understanding fear without succumbing to it.
If we succumb to fear, we become like the current regime. Stuck, unable to evolve, resorting to brute force resetting the world to a walled-in identity that no longer serves us but we’re too afraid to abandon.

So what I’m proposing is we put it all on the line. We risk delight. We fight, but we “care bear stare” the shit out of those motherfuckers – with open hearts that are unafraid.

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Aftermath of a Murder

I looked out over the front lawn waiting for my neighbor Maria to come back from school. There were hours between my window looking and Maria bringing me my homework, but waiting for things to change was part of the routine and boredom of barely breathing. Looking out over the lawn is about the most exciting thing a 14 year old girl with pneumonia can do.

Maria’s sister was a gangly woman, like a tall and awkward bird with sunken eyes and dark stringy hair. She’d just had a baby, and her body hadn’t quite recovered its shape, which in my young naive mind added to her strangeness. She opened the door of Maria’s house that day and I watched her body move as if throwing itself away from the place, fast and desperate into the grass. Her limbs were bent impossibly and wild slow motion as she fell to her knees, her long strange bird body heaving up and down making noise like a bagpipe marionette.

She was screaming for help, the strange heat of her pointy face shaking snot into long strings that reached down into the grass.

“Please somebody help me! please!” she was saying, ” I just stabbed my stepfather!”

I wanted to run to her; I wanted to hold her weird body there in the grass and reassure her that whatever she’d just done, she was still an excellent mother. I had seen her kiss her baby just the day before. But I was petrified too, wheezing there on the couch, safe behind the glass. I had seen the bad kind of crazy before and was torn between what I knew about her and the blood on her shirt.

Did you ever have to call the police as a child?

“There is a woman screaming in her front yard,” I said. “She looks really scared, she says she stabbed someone… I’m 14, I’m home from school today because I have pneumonia… my mom is at the Shopette getting 7-Up.”

I felt like a tattle tale, I felt like a grown-up, I felt stupid, and hurtful, and scared, and like I had betrayed someone.

The police cars pulled up and escorted Maria’s sister back into the house, she was all collapsed and sideways. It was quiet for a time then an ambulance showed up and paramedics wheeled a body covered in a sheet out the front door. Dead. They didn’t run sirens when they left.

The police asked me questions. My mother, home from her errand, paced behind them. I wheezed out answers, “No, I didn’t see her do it.” Yes, I heard her say she stabbed him.” One officer offered up that Maria’s sister said she did it in self defense and I heard my mom whispering incredulously “she stabbed him in the back seven times.”

“Who has the baby?” I asked. “Maria will be home from softball practice soon to babysit, where is her sister? Who will tell her her father is dead? Who will bring me my homework when Maria moves away?”

Later, my father and his army unit were asked to come clean up the house, this happens in the military, they take care of their own. I watched them go inside and I watched them leave. I still imagine them scrubbing the blood of their friend from the carpeted stairs.