November 2010 - February 2011
Issue No. 4
Tête-à-tête Mindy Nettifee and Amber Tamblyn on Hollywood, Octomom, and the Ultimate Salvation That Is Poetry
Editors on Editors
HWJ asks Frontier Psychiatrist the Hard Questions about Online Publishing... and If FP Wants to Go Steady
On the Holidays
ADVICE from von Hottie FOOD from The Domestic Diva MOVIE REVIEW Christopher Nolan & Gratuitous Tragedy by Rachel Ana Brown
The Lady Behind Spain’s Pragda Film Festival
There’s No Glass Ceiling in Your Kitchen
“The Feminist Housewife” Reclaims Homemaking
Our Room Is the World November 2010 - February 2011
Issue No. 4
Tête-à-tête with poetry's new dynamic duo
above photo and cover photo by Tommy Shih www.tommyshihphoto.com
poetry & prose
features 11 25 34 39
Not Without My Truth Stick: The Amber Tamblyn & Mindy Nettifee Story BY AMBER TAMBLYN & MINDY NETTIFEE
Five Minutes with RZONE BY KATHRYN XIAN
Music, Bikes, Drinks, Words, Love
Kindness over Genius
BY ANNE MARIE KELLEY
BY KELLY ZEN-YI TSAI
BY ANNE MARIE KELLEY
My Lover Is a Former Fat Kid BY DUY NGUYEN
BY ELIZABETH KUELBS
BY JENNIFER MELEANA HEE & MAYUMI SHIMOSE POE
Woman on Film
Love, For Me
An Interview with Marta Sanchez BY KATHRYN XIAN
BY KRISSA CORBETT CAVOURAS
BY KATE McCAHILL
BY ANNE MARIE KELLEY
Hawaii Women’s Journal | 2
Endless Necklace BY KEITH MEATTO
contents columns 8
The Domestic Diva
The Feminine Critique
The Feminist Housewife
View from the Moon
Holiday B.S. to Help You Fight the Holiday B.S. BY von HOTTIE
Holiday Drama Soup BY JENNIFER BRODY
REEL REVIEW Gratuitous Tragedy: Christopher Nolan's Lady Problem BY RACHEL ANA BROWN
Toxins and Chemicals: That's What Pretty Girls Are Made Of? Part Two BY IVY CASTELLANOS
At Home with Homemaking BY ANDREA DEVON BERTOLI
Connectivity BY JAMES POUNDS
The Feminine Critique
The Balancing Act
Intuitive Eating: Three Days to a Healthier Lifestyle BY LORELLE SAXENA
From the Managing Editor
UNLIKELY READS "The Price of Remaining Human" BY SUZANNE FARRELL SMITH
BY THERESA FALK
Hawaii Womenâ€™s Journal | 3
photo by Tommy Shih
photo by Justina Taft Mattos
HOW TO REACH HAWAII WOMEN'S JOURNAL HAWAII WOMEN'S JOURNAL a project of the Safe Zone Foundation 501(c)3 a Hawaii-based nonprofit organization EDITORIAL email@example.com SUBMISSIONS firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING email@example.com GENERAL INQUIRY firstname.lastname@example.org WEB www.hawaiiwomensjournal.com www.facebook.com/hiwomensjournal www.twitter.com/hiwomensjournal www.change.org/safezone MAILING ADDRESS Hawaii Women's Journal c/o Safe Zone Foundation 4348 Waialae Avenue #248 Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96816 DISCLAIMER The Safe Zone Foundation (SZF) dba Hawaii Women’s Journal (HWJ), its Publisher, and Editors cannot be held responsible for errors or consequences arising from the use of information contained herein; the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the SZF, HWJ, Publisher, and Editors, neither does the publication of advertisements constitute any endorsement by HWJ, Publisher, and Editors of the products advertised.
Our Room Is the World PUBLISHER
Jennifer Meleana Hee
Mayumi Shimose Poe
CONTRIBUTING EDITOR ART DIRECTOR & LAYOUT
Anna Harmon Kathryn Xian
Andrea Devon Bertoli
Suzanne Farrell Smith
Gintare Janulaityte, Marisol Lopez, Justina Taft Mattos, Bianca Mills, Katie Piper, Tommy Shih, Lucas Stoffel, Christy Werner, Kathryn Xian Andrea Devon Bertoli
Rachel Ana Brown
Krissa Corbett Cavouras
Mayumi Shimose Poe
Suzanne Farrell Smith
Jennifer Meleana Hee
Kelly Zen-Yi Tsai
Anne Marie Kelley
Hawaii Women’s Journal | 4
[from the managing editor]
rying to fit how I feel about Hawaii Women’s Journal into 1,000 words or less is like trying to Rubik’s a cube back to solid color faces. It’s like trying to love people as fully as we should without worrying about how much time we’ll have with them; to imagine how to live on just sweet potatoes, quinoa, and vegetables after a lifetime of bacon; to save all those drowning when we’ve been outfitted with a roll of lifesavers candies instead of the real thing. Yet we do all these seemingly impossible things because to us there seems no alternative, such is the pulsatile nature of our hearts. So, without obsessing over the algorithms, place the cube in your hand and pivot the first row. Here is how it began: I miscarried. I was depressed. I got a short story accepted for publication at the thenfledgling Hawaii Women’s Journal. And then I latched onto HWJ like it was a life raft. I volunteered my proofreading skills, my passion, my OCD. I began to live life in terms of deadlines and issues, forums and new features. I devoted myself. I bounced hundreds of e-mails between the editor-in-chief, publisher, and myself with clever metaphors of gestation and birthing without ever allowing myself to acknowledge the irony. And then, this is how it continued: I acknowledged the irony. But it now seemed less ironic than fitting, because this is exactly what Hawaii Women’s Journal is to me: an ‘ohana. Being involved with this journal is a constant reminder of the improbable ways that we are connected and are ever reaching out to connect—the pieces slowly rotating into place. I became managing editor via Jenn Hee, who since high school had
been an acquaintance—but only that. It was later, after reading her grown-up words (via her blog), that I learned we were of such the same mind: Lucy Grealy and Ann Patchett, minus the cancer; two heteronyms of the same person, à la Fernando Pessoa. Strangers in adolescence, long-distance writer-friends in our twenties, colleagues into our thirties. But what first brought us here—to these pages, this support group, this “it-takes-a-village” family—was the flapping wing of Hee’s “yes” to publisher Kathy Xian’s request for an editor-in-chief: our very own butterfly effect. That’s all it takes. Saying yes to each other’s dreams instead of no. While joining HWJ in the last semester of my MFA program may not have been, in hindsight, the best for my mental health, I knew I was in the right place doing the right thing because of the way it was feeding me. I would put in an entire day’s editing and not look at the clock once. I would lie in bed at three am trying to fall asleep, but my mind would still be percolating so all I could do was turn the light back on, grab a notebook, and list inspiring people I hoped would write for HWJ. And even exhausted, all I could feel was grateful to be a part of this fine family. We’re nearing our one-year anniversary, and what we are trying to do with HWJ becomes clearer to me, issue by issue. We are not a glossy full of “sexy” women so skinny you want to strap ̒em down and force-feed ̒em hamburgers (or vegan tofu burgers, to placate Hee). We aren’t necessarily pushing the hot button issues, you probably aren’t going to hear it here first, we don’t care whether tartan or faux fur is “in” this season, and we Hawaii Women’s Journal | 5
photo courtesy of Mayumi Shimose Poe
won’t try to convince you of any “right way”—to solve a Rubik’s cube, to think, to eat, to live. What we’ve got to offer is smarts and hearts, wit and grit, and the community we are building out of diverse voices. These voices may seem disjointed, but the more you read, the more you see that they are facets of the same gem, heteronyms of the same writer, faces of the same cube and community. HWJ can be and is all mixed up, but also everything and every voice has its place. HWJ works because Xian seems to know every single person in the world and how to get them to volunteer. Because Hee’s brain radiates like an x-ray to find the heart of every piece. Because our associate editors volunteer their time, and in exchange we help them hone their editing skills. Because contributing editor Anna Harmon, editorial assistant Andrea Devon Bertoli, and proofreader Suzanne Farrell Smith
“can find a hair on an ant’s ass” (to parrot Xian) and spend equal time editing and cheering on authors’ words. Strict roles do not function well here: the publisher weighs in on submissions; the editor-in-chief bullies and keeps company with the publisher when she’s in layout hell; our many “planning meetings” often get waylaid by juicy details about love lives and vegan cookies; and all of us are responsible for drumming up the talent you see displayed on these pages. As for our writers, the difference is this: we kick it old school. We take it back to the days when editors read a piece of writing, noticed a shine amongst what was a little rough, and worked with writers to polish their work rather than throwing out the gem with the igneous. HWJ works because writers offer up their raw and beautiful words;
we put them through the editorial gauntlet, which is less a gauntlet and more a mine in which we, oops, cause a collapse and leave them trapped until they’ve uncovered a deeper understanding of their work and can dig themselves out; and then with gorgeous graphics and fancy fonts and mad layout skills, Xian polishes the entire project such that those writers submit again, or volunteer to edit, or encourage others to read and submit to us. HWJ: The rough is the diamond. HWJ: We mine your mind. HWJ: Will this slogan joke ever die? The best compliment we’ve received was this: “HWJ has been inspiring to read so far … I opened up an empty Word document today, something I haven’t dared to do for months, even though I tell people that I want to be a writer.” I read that and thought: ah-ha,
our work is done. This is exactly what we want for our readers: the daring to do whatever it is that, beneath the surfaces you present to the world, keeps your aorta pumping. One person’s blank Word document is another’s garden complete with organic compost pile is another’s joy at meeting his or her first child is another’s channeling a lifelong obsession with organization into a geek-sexy career as a librarian. HWJ: We say fuckyeah to your wildest dreams. So, maybe it’s okay that I can’t quite fit my feelings into 1,000 words, that things don’t quite line up. There are 519 quintillion possible arrangements of Rubik’s colored pieces, but there’s only one way to solve any overwhelming problem: begin. v
Mayumi Shimose Poe, Managing Editor Hawaii Women's Journal
Water Cooler Martini me one time, vodka me twice— I need to drink more before I make nice.
~ Anne Marie Kelley
The old “office party,” a vicious device, business in black tie is boredom plus vice. v Hawaii Women’s Journal | 6
contributors Andrea Devon Bertoli
Andrea has a master's in political science and women's studies but is more interested in her kitchen and garden. She has worked at a French bakery, an organic farm, and a café and is currently makes raw and vegan goodies at a vegetarian market on Maui, where she lives with her boyfriend. She writes about food news, vegan baking, and feminist housewife life at www.bakerymanis.wordpress.com.
A graduate of Harvard University and a former film development executive, Jennifer cooks and writes in Los Angeles. In 2009, she launched her blog Domestic Divas, which focuses on local, organic cooking and wine reviews. She is currently writing her first novel. email: email@example.com blog: www.domesticdivasblog.com photo: Jeri Rogers
Jennifer Meleana Hee
Jennifer Meleana Hee is a vegetarian cook and baker at Kale's Natural Foods, a blogger for Peace Corps Worldwide dot com, and the editorin-chief of the Hawaii Women’s Journal. She has been published in The Smart Set, Worldview Magazine, and innov8. She is the proud owner of the only Bulgarian street dog in Hawai‘i. blog: www.jennmeleana.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org photo: Ryan Matsumoto
Anne Marie Kelley
Although Anne Marie currently lives in Colorado, she grew up in Honolulu and comes back to visit her family often. She has a B.A. in poetry. She spends her free time traveling the world and penning silly pieces of verse that make people smile.
Rachel Ana Brown
Rachel Ana Brown is a native of the Big Island of Hawai‘i but moved to New York to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming Catwoman. She currently resides in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the Allegheny Review, the Susquehanna Review, Honolulu Weekly, Plenty Magazine, and Bamboo Ridge. blog: www.bigislandrachel.blogspot.com
Elizabeth Kuelbs lives at the edge of a Los Angeles canyon where she dreams of Maui rain. She is an MFA student at Vermont College of Fine Arts, a soccer mom, and Co-CEO of a small real estate investment company. She has work published or forthcoming in Vestal Review, Six Sentences, Beyond Centauri, Cover of Darkness, and Highlights. email: email@example.com
Ivy is a freelance writer, currently shopping her first screenplay and finishing two unruly, very insubordinate novels. She has worked in the health and wellness field for over ten years and holds a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Health Education, Behavioral Health, and Health Communications. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Krissa Corbett Cavouras
Krissa was born a writer and is becoming a librarian. She has worked in publishing and the nonprofit world and is currently working toward her master’s degree in Library and Information Science at Pratt Institute. She has written book reviews for www.gothamist.com and worked on copyright resources for the Columbia University Library. She lives in Brooklyn and can also be found at www.petithiboux.com.
Theresa is a writer, performer, director, and educator. Her work has been seen on stage in Creating Face, in Unbinding the Foot: An Asian American Women's Journal, and Strong Currents. She teaches English, speech, and women’s literature at ‘Iolani School.
Suzanne Farrell Smith
Suzanne Farrell Smith has essays published or forthcoming in The Writer’s Chronicle, Muse & Stone, Hawaii Women's Journal, Tiny Lights, and In the Fray. She is finishing her first book, a hybrid of psychology, philosophy, and memoir that excavates lost memory. Suzanne worked for over a decade with elementary school children as a teacher and language arts specialist. She lives with her husband in NYC, where she now freelances as a writer, editor, and proofreader, and hosts a writing salon. blog: www.suzannefarrellsmith.wordpress.com
Kate McCahill is a writer, editor, and visual artist living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her current project is a collection of essays based on a year in Southeast Asia and India. She holds a bachelor's degree from Wellesley College and an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Keith Meatto is a writer and college English teacher based in Brooklyn. Recent fiction publications include Artifice, Harpur Palate, and Lit N'Image, and his short story “Oh, Baby” appeared in HWJ issue 2. He is also co-editor of the music and culture journal Frontier Psychiatrist, about which he was interviewed for this issue. He’s a graduate of Yale College and has an MFA from the New School.
Mindy is a Pushcart Prize–nominated writer and performance poet. She has competed in five National Poetry Slams, toured across America and Europe, opened for the Cold War Kids and Meiko, and is the author of Sleepyhead Assassins. Mindy is also the co-producer of The Drums Inside Your Chest and is executive director of the Write Now Poetry Society, working to build audiences for poetry.
Duy Nguyen is a Bostonian living in Los Angeles where she works as a Producer and Production Coordinator. When she is not making TV magic, she has dreams of being the next Amy Hempel. Her life goals include traveling the world, eating everything, and become a Red Sox season ticket holder. blog: http://wineandcheesebookclub.blogspot.com
Hawaii Women’s Journal | 7
James Pounds has had more than a few iterations: writer, green builder, designer, yoga teacher, karate sensei, and corporate sales exec. He holds an MFA in Writing and is currently seeking a home for Grand Finale, his second novel. He writes under the name Jim Pat Pounds when he wants to feel like a cowboy. email: email@example.com. www.japounds.blogspot.com
Lorelle Saxena, M.S., L.Ac, is a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. Originally from Honolulu, Lorelle now lives in Santa Rosa, California, where she maintains a private practice. She welcomes any questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org www.thesaxenaclinic.com
Mayumi Shimose Poe
Mayumi is managing editor of HWJ and American Anthropologist. She has fiction, essays, and poetry published in American Anthropologist, Dark Phrases, Eternal Portraits, Frontier Psychiatrist, Hawaii Women’s Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, Hybolics, the Phoenix, and Stepping Stones. She currently lives in San Francisco with her husband. email: email@example.com blog: www.mayumishimosepoe.com
Amber is a Venice, California, native. She has been a writer and actress since the age of nine. She has been nominated for an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and an Independent Spirit Award for her work in television and film. In 2005 Simon & Schuster published her debut collection of poetry, Free Stallion. She is the producer of The Drums Inside Your Chest, an annual poetry concert (www.thedrumsinsideyourchest.com) and the nonprofit Write Now Poetry Society (www.writenowpoets.org). Her second book of poetry and prose, Bang Ditto (Manic D. Press), was released last fall.
Kelly Zen-Yi Tsai
Kelly is a Chicago-born Chinese Taiwanese American spoken word artist who has performed in over 450 venues worldwide, including three seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry. She has been profiled on Idealist in NYC’s “New York 40” (top forty New Yorkers who’ve made positive social change; www.bit.ly/agWbuQ) and AngryAsianMan.Com's 30 Most Influential Asian Americans under 30 (www.bit.ly/c0wtSr). www.yellowgurl.com, www.youtube.com/kztsai twitter: @yellowgurlpoet photo: Kevin Kane
von Hottie is performer, pinup, and guru living in New York. You can follow her many adventures at vonhottie.com as well as on Twitter @askvonhottie and Facebook. blogs: www.vonoracle.blogspot.com, www.vonhottie.tumblr.com
Organizer and filmmaker Kathryn Xian is the non-executive director of Girl Fest Hawaii and the publisher of the Hawaii Women's Journal. Xian was awarded the 2005 Ellison Onizuka Human and Civil Rights Award by the National Education Association and is the recipient of the 2006 Soroptimists International of the America's Women Making a Difference for Women Award.
Ms. deMeaners von Hottie’s guide to navigating a modern life
Holiday B.S. to Help You Fight the Holiday B.S. by von Hottie
photo by Lucas Stoffel
he holidays are a great time for reconnecting with your family. After all, they love you so much and they want to know every detail of your wildly thrilling life. However, all that attention can be so overwhelming that it might take you the rest of the year to recover. Here are some tips to help you when family time turns into awkward time—and some of my favorite things about the season that don’t involve small talk over the cheese dip.
Ten Awkward Questions Your Family May Ask During the Holidays with Sassy Responses and Answers You Can Actually Use Q: So you’re living together? A: Yes, but we only do it up the butt. Q: When are you moving back here? A: When they open up the Ritz for permanent residence. Q: When are you getting married? A: As soon as Justin Bieber turns 18, or when Scott Baio’s life coach says he’s ready for me. Q: When are you having babies? A: Stare blankly until they repeat the question, then answer: Well, how long does it take to go through the world’s wine supply? OR A: We’re still practicing.
Q: Do you still talk to that old/young ugly/drunk/addict/fat loser? A: I talk to Cousin Joe all the time!
Five Awesome Things about the Holiday Season That Don’t Involve Your Family
Q: Are you dating anyone? A: There are some guest stars, but no leading (wo)men. OR A: Yes, but (s)he’s really famous and on tour with his/her band. That’s why you never see him/her. OR A: I prefer to call it “community service”—and yes, I’m very committed to my civic duty.
1) AUTUMN LEAVES. Leaves, gluestick, paper, child. Babysitting duties: done. It’s tempting, but try to glue the leaves to the paper, not the child.
Q: What are you doing with your life? A: Getting my Master’s in Awesomeness.
2) WINTER LIPGLOSS. Better than mistletoe, “testing out” a threesome of gingerbread, caramel, and pumpkin-flavored lip glosses is the best excuse for making out. 3) TWINKLE LIGHTS. Lie in the dark and watch the world sparkle. Make as many wishes as you want.
Q: Did you put on weight? A: Only the sexy kind.
4) HOT CHOCOLATE. Oh, it’s so cold. Oh, I better drink this rich, decadent cup of hot chocolate. It’s a matter of survival!
Q: How did you lose weight? A: Prosecco has fewer calories than french fries, so now I just drink my feelings.
5) SHOUTOUT TO HAWAI‘I NEI. Morning: Open presents by the fireplace. Afternoon: Party at the beach! v
Q: Are you still . . . (They trail off because they can’t remember anything about your life.) A: Ruling the world? Kicking ass and taking names? Yes. It’s okay, my life often gives other people an existential crisis.
Hawaii Women’s Journal | 8
If you have pressing etiquette concerns or questions on how to best navigate this modern life, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
for Sarah Gambito who said somethin’ like: in my twenties, i was most captivated by genius, but now, in my thirties, i realize how rare authentic kindness is.
i've got to agree with sarah.
sacrificed so many nights not sleeping,
in my twenties, i thought genius was the hot shit.
exploded an atomic mushroom cloud of emotional distance around me,
muthafucka’s who taught themselves how to play twenty different instruments—
found my own energy and ingenuity outpacing me, running over me foot by foot.
a combination lawyer/ER doctor/ and clinical social worker—
genius doesn’t have time for feelings or social skills or farmville on facebook,
a novelist who writes for ten hours a day, goes to sleep for two, gets up and writes for another ten— now, genius bores me. the tedium of the workaholic, the blistering erections of human achievement, all while the genius’s life crumbles around him or her. the phone goes silent. birthdays and holidays go missed. vacations never get taken. genius doesn’t believe in these sorts of frivolous things. i know, because i have been a sufferer of genius. not to say that i am one, but i’ve nearly died in its pursuit,
for bubble tea dates on rainy afternoons, guitar hero marathons, or knowing what one’s loved one is crying about when the crying eventually does come. genius is so often absent— swinging around in its own genius world, gorilla-knuckled with broad teeth and a thick skull, blowing through the jungle, not caring who he or she crushes. to live like this is not extraordinary— not when compared to the open hand that on monday, tuesday, wednesday, thursday, friday, saturday, sunday stays here no flinching, no quaking, no fists. not extraordinary when compared
Hawaii Women’s Journal | 9
floral photo by Marisol Lopez
to the open hand that stays here through powdery blizzards, balmy springs, and scorching summers. not extraordinary when compared to the open hand that stays here— and isn’t worried about whatever “hand” things it could be doing right now?
or if it really is appreciated and recognized by the entire world in its true value as a hand? not extraordinary when compared to the open hand that stays here and extends, fingers and wrist rooted in the whole person, one who is right here, right in front of me, not racing ahead to seek out the next solution, the next innovation, the next trend. not extraordinary when compared to the open hand that stays here and remains, unafraid to be kind, in the midst of so much genius. v
photo by Katie Piper
Hawaii Women’s Journal | 10
Kelly Zen-Yi Tsai
or what are all the other hands are up to?
Not Without My Truthstick: The Amber Tamblyn & Mindy Nettifee Story photos by Tommy Shih
my and Emily. Thelma and Louise. Georgia O’Keefe and Frida Kahlo. Sybil and Sybil. Some women are impressive solo, but their combined quadruple x chromosomes cause wonder woman powers to activate off the creative charts, together possessing: a whole lot of artistic genius and a fervent estrogenfueled dismantling of the status quo with just a touch of multiple personality disorder. Enter Mindy Nettifee and Amber Tamblyn. Mindy Nettifee is a poet by day and a poet by night—her day job is her art, her words, the open book of her life performed unprim and very loosely proper on the stage. We love her for her fulltime poetessness, because that means that she is fulltime dedicated to making the world a safer place for poetry, one funnysharp verbal sticking-it-to-society at a time. In addition to being a Pushcart Prize nominee, she has headlined for Girl Fest
Hawaii and has a publication list as long as the queue to Macy’s before opening on Black Friday. Her latest collection of poetry, Rise of the Trust Fall, was released this year. We recommend it if you like your intelligent commentary, personal revelation, and wake-up-bitch slaps in the same space. Amber Tamblyn manages to balance the life of a Hollywood actress and antiHollywood poet with as much grace and wit as a nonviolence practitioner balances Glenn Beck’s tirades. Her first episode in the television series House and her latest film, 127 Hours, both premiere this November. Her latest book is Bang Ditto, named after the sound that was made when she met Mindy Nettifee. [Kidding.] Mindy and Amber are a poetic power couple, not just for their words on the page, on the stage, and Sharpied in dark corners across America’s bathroom stalls (men’s rooms, too), but because they founded the nonprofit WRITE NOW Poetry Society in 2007 to support poetry organizations and spread the enduring—but not always Hawaii Women’s Journal | 11
pop culture friendly—glory that is poetry. WRITE NOW “is dedicated to finding ways to connect audiences and readers with great poets, and championing the kind of heart-breaking soul-easing mind-blowingly good poetry that knows a jugular when it sees one.” They also perform as part of the annual The Drums Inside Your Chest poetry series to expose unlikely audiences to the nation’s best performance poets. Basically they do a lot more for poetry across the nation than the American debt does for China. We let them interview each other because we didn’t want to be the literary equivalent of a third wheel. And because we’ve been dying for some tête-à-tête action ever since we launched HWJ. And because when Mindy and Amber start talking, believe us—you would rather step aside so you can grab a front-row seat and revel in their subversive and sassy banter. – Jennifer Meleana Hee, Editor-in-Chief, and Kathryn Xian, Publisher
Mindy Nettifee: Let’s get started. What are you wearing? Amber Tamblyn: My sorrow. M: Interesting. It looks more like jaded optimism. (Amber laughs.) Is sorrow “in” this fall? A: It’s Duane Reade couture. Let’s talk about this South African Chardonnay we’re drinking. M: It tastes like a $9 bottle, but it only cost us $7.64. Which in this economy could buy me preemie twins, or at least a nice oil painting of preemie twins. A: Save your money. Just rent ’em from Octomom.
M: “It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.” Come to think of it, that’s also how I party. [The interview rapidly devolves into something sponsored by a $7 bottle of chardonnay. It picks up again two days later at 9am via IM.] M: Are you happy, Amber? A: This is a huge question and maybe not one that I should be answering in the morning, in between my first cup of coffee and my groggy remembrance of last night’s pathetic red-wineand-Pringles-in-bed attempt to finish a poem that refuses to be finished. Sometimes booze is the answer, Mindy. Sometimes there is no answer.
M: Is Octomom the new face of feminism?
M: I think Pringles make you angry. And I think it’s time for us to go on one of those power cleanses where we only drink wheatgrass and say “please” and “thank you” to all the furniture we meet.
A: Elaborate on that, Mindy. M: Do you think Octomom represents some kind of sixth wave? The elevation of the uterus to a pyramid scheme? The logical conclusion of IVF and collagen and casual sex and casual surgery when combined with the fetishization of Angelina Joliestyle motherhood?
A: I think you’re right. M: Let’s get serious. How has writing poetry shaped or changed you as a human?
A: She is a little bit of everything. Starlet. Welfare mom. Angelina Jolie stalker. If you were an artist and your medium was Botox, she would be your St. Peter’s Basilica.
M: Which side of you is “the business” and which side of you is “the party”?
A: Poetry has helped me to not hate the woman I am. In the entertainment business, women face an inevitable bitterness about everything from our bodies and how they age to the lack of strong female roles, to Heidi Montag’s general existence, etc. Writing poems about that stuff has given me the ability to have an out-of-body perception of sorts, to be able to examine my life—the universal life of the actress—and find humor in the superficial silliness of it all. Who knew auditioning for The Smurfs live action movie and getting asked if I would “lose a little weight” to play Smurfette would be so fucking funny? I did, Mindy. I did.
A: Is that a trick question? Anne Frank in the front, Anne Sexton in the back.
M: In fairness to the casting director, Smurfette is really small.
M: So you party like Anne Sexton?
A: Smaller than my birth weight.
M: Wow. That’s kind of a metaphor for being a young actress: it’s an all-male-cast film aimed at young people, there’s only
M: What I really want to ask about you is this: Is being a poet and a famous actress compatible? A: I’m like a well-groomed mullet.
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one role available for a woman, and she’s blue but blond. A white girl is being cast for the part, and she has to return to the size she was as a fetus to get the part. All right. No more actress questions. The subject matter is too dark. Let’s talk with fake British accents about literature. Who are the female authors that have inspired you in the last few years? A: You. Next question. M: FINE. Your first writing mentor was a man—Jack Hirschman, an unashamedly political force of castle-storming wisdom. What did he try and impress upon you about what poetry is all about? How has your view of poetry changed since those first lessons? A: I don’t think Jack ever tried to impress upon me anything, I think I was just in love with his style of writing—I still am—but I eventually had to find my own voice. I am still not sure what that voice is. I’m still finding it, even though I’ve been a poet all my life. Jack helped to build the fireplace inside me. I’ll spend a lifetime looking for all the right kindling. (Spit, poet!!!) M: Can you exercise power as a woman without being seen as a joyless bitch? A: As long as that power runs on a 28-day cycle, otherwise no and the following: TEARS, TRASH THE HOUSE, READ OLD DIARIES, TEARS, CHUG CHARDONNAY, TAKE WHAT MY MOM SAID OUT OF CONTEXT, TEARS, CHUG THE LAST OF THE CHARDONNAY, REPEAT. [Mindy laughs and gets coffee on her keyboard. Interview resumes twenty minutes later.] A: It’s my turn to ask the probing questions. When was the first time you described yourself to someone as a poet? The first time you allowed that to be your “job” description?
M: I had a professor in college who was a big influence on me—Patricia See. She taught dream workshops in a women’s prison and was this epic, incredible teacher. She would make me say I am a poet over and over— until I could say it without cracking a selfdeprecating smile, or making fun of myself, or being embarrassed in general. And it helps—practicing just being exactly who you are and owning it out loud. But I still feel like a real ass saying it when someone asks me what I do. It’s equivalent in America to saying you’re a mime, or that you burn money for a living; it’s like admitting you’re a completely useless member of society. Which is interesting, because given the chance to defend poetry and the poets that inspire me, I go nuts. I actually morph into a high horse. Whatever! I think being conflicted at times about your self-worth is healthy. Keeps you honest. A: What is it about the word “poetry” that turns people off and away from ever coming to a poetry show? M: The word “poetry” connotes emoting and heartfeltedness. Or achingly boring intellectualism (sestinas about Voltaire). Or (the worst!) empty, showy, hyperpolitical discourse. That rhymes. Or all the pop culture tableau—snooty finger-snapping hipsters at open mics, wearing berets with and without irony. These notions aren’t entirely wrong. I’ve been to many, many poetry shows and felt incredibly uncomfortable, like a trapped animal. I think that’s what turns people off of going to a poetry show. At best, it’s the Lisa Simpson of art forms. It’s the dorky younger sister of hip hop and comedy. A: Do you think that will ever change? M: We’re trying! My goal is just to never put on a bad show. To stake my reputation on it, so that more and more people see how funny and rad and inspiring it can all be when it’s good.
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She would make me say I am a poet over and over— until I could say it without cracking a self-deprecating smile, or making fun of myself, or being embarrassed in general.
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A: Why are your feelings for Amber Tamblyn so incredibly strong and often inappropriate? M: You pull off this crazy combo of Bambi eyes and dick jokes and essential oils. It just sort of haunts me. A: Describe the best poetry show you’ve ever had and what made it so great. M: My favorite show in the last year was at this old repurposed Baptist church in Long Beach. It had been taken over by the Agape folks, and they had added gongs and mandalas to the space, and everything else was old school church—giant ceilings, stained glass, wooden pews. One hundred or so people showed up, and we drank wine out of Dixie cups and ate M&M’s in the fellowship hall, and then put on a Poetry Revival show with music and poetry and funny bits. At one point, we got everyone to dance for a thirty-second dance party. And it just felt like we were lifting the spirits of the dead and the tired right out of the beams. There was so much joy. I saw a friend that night who was in a really bad place—but he had this huge smile on his face and was just like, “I needed this.” A: What female writers have influenced you the most? M: Marge Piercy. Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Olena Kalytiak Davis. Brenda Shaughnessy. Victoria Redel. Wislawa Szymborska. My performance poetry contemporaries that make me keep writing just to try and impress them—Patricia Smith, Rachel McKibbens, you, Cristin O’Keefe Apotwicz, Jeanann Verlee, Karen Finneyfrock, Sonya Renee, gah!!!! I could go on and on. A: If you were an essential oil, what would your name be? M: Thymeisonmyside. And I would rub it on my side. A: A question that people often ask me as an actress is, “What advice do you have for struggling women?” How would you answer this, Mindy? Subquestion: How would you answer it with two glasses of Maker’s Mark under your belt? M: Advice for struggling women? Women who are struggling in general? Start taking your circadian rhythm seriously. Eat real food. Don’t let men or anyone tell you who you are and what you want. Protect yourself. Be trustworthy so you can attract people you can trust. Read like crazy. Be curious and learn everything you can about everything you come across. Figure out what makes you happy and do it as much as
possible. Find out what makes you angry and do something about it. Acknowledge yourself whenever you make good choices. Enjoy your own company. Subanswer: Dolly Parton’s Jolene. A: And lastly, what the hell is wrong with Christine O’Donnell? M: Besides that she’s a total reactionary and a mouthpiece for the Tea Party and Reagan-era Republican platform of social and economic policy that has been ruinous for this country and driven the ever-widening and increasingly dangerous divide between the uber-rich and working-class poor? That she’s a graduate of the Claremont Institute’s Homophobia 101 for emerging conservative leaders? That she’s Sarah Palin II: The Revenge? She just said at her big debate, “What I believe is irrelevant” in the context of advocating the teaching of creationism in science class. And I think that’s true. What she believes is irrelevant. She is just a vessel for the delivery of another Republican seat in the Senate. It’s white privilege at its worst. It doesn’t matter if you have the experience or qualifications to be a senator; it only matters that you cling to the right wedge issues and spew jargon passionately. She makes me sad. Except that “I’m not a witch” commercial. That made me happy. M: Ok. I get the last question. If your resources were unlimited, Amber, what would your dream creative project be? A: I sometimes feel like I am living the dream project, and part of the dream is the struggle. Being able to afford a nice house in Venice Beach and New York City where my Blacksmith Collective folks can come and rest on their tours (BC is a poetry collective of friends I am fortunate to be a part of, for those that don’t know). To be able to wake up in Honolulu next to Mindy Nettifee and know that my morning will consist of the best of conversations and the best of papayas with lime. To be able to live as a poet and an actress and do them both successfully. To the dream aspect of this creative project, though, I would add all-day back massages from Hillary Clinton and a knife collection designed by Annie Duke. M: Here here! v
For more Mindy and Amber action:
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www.thecultofmindy.com www.amtam.com www.writenowpoets.org www.drumsinsideyourchest.com
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[the domestic diva]
Holiday Drama oup
by Jennifer Brody
t’s said that the sign of a good chef is what he or she can do with soup. When I’m in my own humble kitchen whipping up a bowl of broth, I keep this thought in the back of my mind. It’s there when I’m sampling a new chef’s wares at a fabulous restaurant. It was there when I was traveling in Japan this summer and discovered that every meal either (1) was soup (I ate my weight in porky ramen, hearty soba, and pillowy udon) or (2) ended with a bowl of soup (miso mostly, studded with miniature clams and swirling tendrils of seaweed). No doubt you’ve heard the expression “Let them eat cake.” For me, it’s “Let them eat soup.” Soup is my mantra, my prayer, my security blanket, my remedy for every affliction, my ultimate comfort food. It’s there to ease my symptoms when I’m suffering from the flu. It’s there to warm me up when the weather turns cold and soggy. It’s there for me when I’ve had one of those days when nothing goes right no matter what I do (don’t we all have those?). The meditative power of soup is so strong that it transcends any drama in my life, bringing me back to my center. Simple, unassuming soup has also made cameo appearances at the best meals of my life. When I dined at Alinea in Chicago, one of the world’s top restaurants, Chef Grant Achatz’s “Hot Potato Cold Potato” was the most memorable dish—a sphere of hot potato, black truffles, and butter stuck on a skewer, suspended over a tiny bowl of cold potato soup pooled in a hand-carved wax bowl. To eat it, you pull the skewer out so that the hot potato, truffles, and butter fall into the soup, and then you drink the whole thing in one gulp like a shot. In a word, this dish is revelatory—the hot and cold mixing in your mouth, the butter and truffle melting on your tongue. If the sign of a good chef is his soup, Chef Achatz is a freakin’ culinary genius. Soup can also be the calm in the storm that is the holiday season. So, when the holidays roll around with their endless array of family gatherings—tables loaded
with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casseroles, and pies; the aunt who wears too much red lipstick yet always kisses your cheek; the cousin who recently discovered the joy of Axe Body Spray; the divorced parents who are forced to dine together; the soon-to-be ex-boyfriend you catch kissing your sister under the mistletoe; and the grandmother who still treats you like you’re twelve—I find that the best escape from holiday drama is seeking refuge in the kitchen with a stock pot, some homemade vegetable stock, and one of the season’s best offerings: winter squash. I love to roast acorn squash gently in the oven and then puree it with vegetable stock, garlic, and toasted curry powder. I finish it with light coconut milk and just a smidgeon of maple syrup. Then, I serve it up with tender, ginger-braised leeks. To me, this soup is the perfect encapsulation of the holidays: savory and sweet, with curry powder adding just the right amount of spice. Soup defies the shackling expectations of other holiday offerings: you can spice soup up and experiment with inspired seasonal ingredients, and nobody’s gonna hate you for tampering with a time-honored tradition like great-great-grandma’s sacred mashed potatoes recipe. Also, unlike most holiday favorites, soup can actually help your waistline. Studies have shown that people who consume soup at the beginning of meals tend to consume fewer calories overall and lose weight. Not only does this simple soup taste fabulous, but squash boasts an array of health benefits. It’s rich in vitamin A (a potent antioxidant), potassium (good for blood pressure), and vitamin C (immune function), and it has a special type of fiber that prevents cancer cells from attacking the colon. In addition, it has a long shelf life: it keeps up to six months as long as it’s stored in a cool, dry place. So, spice up your holidays … and keep the drama out of your party and in your soup bowl! v
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Curried Acorn Squash Soup with Coconut Milk and GingerBraised Leeks (Vegan) Cooking time: 60 minutes Serves 4 people
Ingredients Soup 1 large acorn squash or two small acorn squash, halved and seeded (any winter squash may be substituted) 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling 1 teaspoon fresh thyme 1 tablespoon curry powder, lightly toasted 1 garlic clove, peeled 2 cups of low-sodium vegetable stock (preferably homemade) 1 cup of light coconut milk 1 tablespoon maple syrup salt and pepper Ginger-braised leeks 2 leeks, tender white parts chopped 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced 1 cup of low-sodium vegetable stock 1 tablespoon olive oil salt and pepper
photos courtesy of Jennifer Brody
Directions Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the acorn squash in a roasting pan. Rub the inside of the squash with the olive oil and thyme, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn the squash face down and poke holes in the skin with a knife. Place the squash in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes or until the flesh is tender.
Once the squash is cooked, remove it from the oven. Once it’s cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh from the skin and place it in a blender. Add the toasted curry powder, garlic clove, and vegetable stock and puree until smooth, adding more stock as needed for desired consistency.
Meanwhile, prepare the ginger-braised leeks. In a medium-sized pan, sauté the ginger in the olive oil over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the leeks and sauté for one more minute. Next, add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn the heat to low, and continue to cook the leeks for about 20 minutes or until all of the stock has been absorbed. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour the newly pureed soup into a pot on the stovetop. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and maple syrup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Top with gingerbraised leeks. Drizzle with good olive oil, top with a little fresh-cracked black pepper, and enjoy!
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Haleakalä A ranger waits twisted miles above mynah song and fluke splash, in that keening blue place where sharp black slopes thrust from molten womb pierce cloud veil, in that high place where wind denies lungs and threatens wingless with flight. When you go you don’t believe. You won’t believe later. But when you are there obsidian reflects sunfire and breathless you walk inside the station to lean on the cinder block wall. You see her—gravid with heat which has not yet burned the brochures or wooden counter. You want to take your children down now before she cracks and sparks. They run to her, of course, because she is warm and they are cold and afraid to fly. She buttons her jacket to shade her radiant veins, leans over to speak of nene birds, silversword, the sky-shattering birth of islands. They inhale embers she spits with her words, hot flecks of making that glow inside them with small connecting brightness. v
by Elizabeth Kuelbs photo by Christy Werner Hawaii Women’s Journal | 19
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[the feminine critique]
Gratuitous Tragedy: Christopher Nolan’s Lady Problem
f I was a superhero or a morally ambiguous antihero who commits crimes but has a good reason for doing so—yes, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, don’t judge me—my nemesis would be Christopher Nolan. As the writer-director of genre-revitalizing movies like Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, as well as cerebral auteur films like Memento and this summer’s hit Inception, Nolan shows himself to be a nuanced and talented storyteller who trusts his audience and his own abilities in equal measure. He is well on the way to becoming the moviemaker of our generation and is already a god among the geek community, which is why it’s so vexing to see him consistently fail when it comes to creating female characters. Women in Nolan’s movies are little more than ciphers and catalysts whose extreme suffering motivates the male leads; they are bit players in their own lives, perpetuating the tired notion that a woman is only as important as the man she affects. This is how a Nolan movie typically goes: a handsome guy is mentally unstable and
by Rachel Ana Brown can’t have normal human relationships because the love of his life was tragically taken away from him and he now lives to rectify that tragedy. Memento, The Prestige, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Inception—it’s as though Nolan came up with a protagonist he liked so much that he’s going to run with it until the studios stop giving him money. It’s no wonder Nolan took to the Batman mythos like a vigilante to a dark, mugger-filled alley: his formula for tortured heroes with tragic pasts found the perfect vehicle in Bruce Wayne, a man who has to dress up as a bat and fight crime to cope with the murder of his parents.
him in battle, he’s not just fighting some guy in a scarecrow mask—he’s fighting his beloved’s attacker and it’s personal! The Dark Knight takes it one step further and uses Rachel’s excessively violent death as motivation for not one but two men’s quests for vengeance. After the Joker blows her up, her fiancé Harvey Dent is so traumatized by the Rachel Explosion that he loses his mind and goes on a murderous rampage against the people who failed to save her. Batman, for his part, broods about the Rachel Explosion for a scene or two, and then defeats the villain with extra facepunchy zest because the Joker killed his beloved and it’s personal!
** PLEASE NOTE: SPOILERS AHEAD**
And now, with Inception, Nolan once again gives us a tortured hero, Cobb, who blames himself for his beloved’s madness and subsequent suicide. This is bad enough, but Nolan also pulled a bait-and-switch on his lady fans by casting indie darling Ellen Page (Juno, Whip It) in a starring role, but then giving her character Ariadne nothing to do onscreen except get Cobb to talk about his dead wife. It makes little
In fact, Nolan created a new female character, Rachel Dawes, for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, perhaps because he’s not content with his stories if there’s not an imperiled woman in there somewhere—comic book continuity be damned. In Batman Begins, Rachel gets attacked by the Scarecrow so that when Batman faces
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narrative difference whether Page’s character exists or not, and her role is such a waste of a good actress that I almost wish Nolan hadn’t bothered. The only reason she’s there, as far as I can figure, is because she’s a woman, and women can get men talking about their feelings and all that other so-called girly nonsense. It doesn’t matter that Cobb literally just met her; he’s more than willing to show her incredibly personal and heartbreaking moments from his past, things he wouldn’t show his male teammates even though they’ve been working with him for years and already know all about his wife’s death and the damage it caused his psyche. Cuz they’re men, that’s why, and men don’t talk about their feelings with each other. It’s irritating to see a great moviemaker like Nolan reduce his women characters to vehicles for male catharsis and redemption. This kind of gratuitous tragedy perpetuates harmful societal attitudes about women by portraying us as helpless damsels in distress and, worse, by treating our stories as important only if they include a man. Our narrative relevance is directly contingent on our impact on male characters, which is why the trail of dead women in Nolan’s wake is so distressing. In his movies, the death of a woman is tragic because of
how sad it makes her male partner—not because she was a human being with a story of her own. To be clear: I don’t think that Nolan is a misogynist. If you asked him how he feels about female characters in movies, he’d probably say they’re just as important as male characters and that he tries to write them to be strong, independent, and believable. But Nolan is a product of institutional sexism. His treatment of women is “normal” by Hollywood standards, and because Nolan is male, he has the privilege of maintaining a blind spot toward sexism. He doesn’t see how he shortchanges his female characters because, hey, at least he’s not putting them in gratuitous sex scenes like all those other sleazy directors. His women are smart, sexy, and kind, and they possess emotional depth, which is an improvement over the usual wilting flowers and femme fatales that populate mainstream Hollywood fare, but these women still don’t have a reason to exist outside of their relationships to the male protagonists. They don’t have lives of their own, and what lives they do have are tragically cut short to give the heroes a reason to do whatever it is the movie is really about.
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If all of this sounds like a conspiracy theory dreamt up by a Mad Feminist scheming away in her studio apartment with her comic books and sparking Tesla coils, first of all, stop spying on me, and second, try and remember the last time you saw a movie that passed the Bechdel Test. Created by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, the test provides three simple criteria a movie must fulfill to be considered even remotely female friendly: the movie must (1) contain at least two named female characters, who (2) talk to each other about (3) something other than a man. None of Nolan’s movies make the cut. Very few movies do, but Nolan has already reimagined so many genres of film—superhero flicks, sci-fi, psychological thriller, espionage—that it’s reasonable to expect him, at this point, to break a few gender boundaries. Christopher Nolan’s next project is his third and final Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. Therefore, I issue my nemesis a challenge: include at least one kick-ass woman who doesn’t die by the end of the film. At least it’d be a good start. I recommend Catwoman, a morally ambiguous antihero who commits crimes but has a good reason for doing so. v
illustrations by Kathryn Xian
[the wellness manifesto]
Toxins and Chemicals: That’s What Pretty Girls Are Made Of ? Part Two
’ve been faithfully semi-crunch (aspiring but not quite ready for the rigors of full-fledged granolahood) for nearly five years. I try to use certified organic products and support companies committed to natural body care, but occasionally I lapse into my old mainstream ways (I’m a recovering Shiseido habitué). Last issue, The Wellness Manifesto dished on the ugly truth behind Big Cosmetics —exposing the insolent yet customary use of toxins and harmful chemicals in the personal care products we use every day. Postrelease of that column in HWJ issue 3, I asked a random sample of Wellness Manifesto readers (mainly, my family and friends): knowing about the mélange of poisons in commercial products, do you plan to switch to safer, more natural alternatives? The responses varied from an acquiescent and unenthused “probably” to an incredulous “me? Give up my supafly black nail lacquer?” Could it be that we live in a society where the pursuit of looking good negates all other variables, including the safeguarding of life and limb? Are we so fervently committed to being well-coiffed and smelling like fruit parfait—standing by the products we love like Tammy Wynette stood by her cheating man—that we consciously accept the risk, no matter how significant? The ugly truth is, there’s nothing beautiful about the vast majority of commercial cosmetics. An even uglier truth? It is completely plausible for companies to create products without these injurious ingredients, yet we continue to support businesses that knowingly place our health in jeopardy. Are we completely and irreversibly product whipped? Fortunately, going full-crunch isn’t the only option. There are a number of safe, organic product alternatives on the market. Granted, they’re harder to find,
by Ivy Castellanos
and you’ll have to sift through a bevy of products masquerading as “pure,” “natural,” “gentle,” and “organic”—which are merely marketing terms without legal underpinnings. It would be fundamentally impossible to eliminate all suspect ingredients from your cabinet, but every savvy girl needs to be versed on the following Nine You Should Definitely Nix.
PRETTY POSER AWARDS According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition effort to protect consumer and worker health through corporate, regulatory, and legislative reform, the following ingredients are among the most toxic and deleterious, yet they lurk in the everyday products we use. Because these insidious ingredients are linked to a growing body of evidence suggesting long-term health ramifications such as cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities, and other illnesses, they have earned their place on The Wellness Manifesto’s Pretty Poser Award list. 1. Parabens Parabens are a group of synthetic preservatives used to prevent the growth of microbes in cosmetic products. Commonly found in shampoos, conditioners, lotions, cleansers, and scrubs, parabens are linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, and skin irritation. According to the Breast Cancer Fund, measurable concentrations of parabens have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors and have been detected in urine samples of adults from diverseethnic,socioeconomic,andgeographic backgrounds. The most frequently used parabens include ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben.
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2. Formaldehyde Used to prevent bacteria from growing in water-based products, formaldehyde is commonly found in shampoos, liquid body soaps, hair gel, and nail polish. A known carcinogen, formaldehyde has been linked to skin sensitivity and cancer. Products such as baby shampoos, soaps, and body washes often contain formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs), which, because of regulatory loopholes, are not required by the FDA to be listed as ingredients. 3. Synthetic Musks and Artificial Fragrance These are chemicals added as scents to cosmetics such as perfumes, body sprays, and lotions. Studies suggest they disrupt hormone systems and trigger skin sensitization when exposed to UV light. Synthetic musk compounds have been found in blood, breast milk, body fat, and in the cord blood of newborn babies. Since fragrances are considered an industry trade secret, companies are not required to disclose any information on specific fragrance ingredients. The blanket term “fragrance” therefore potentially includes hundreds of chemicals in a single product’s secret fragrance mixture. Fragrances, found in virtually every personal care product, can contain neurotoxins, are among the top five allergens in the world, and are linked to immunotoxicity and neurotoxicity. 4. 1,4-dioxane 1,4-dioxane is a frequent contaminant of cosmetic ingredients, but because it’s a by-product of the manufacturing process, it typically does not appear on ingredient labels. A known carcinogen, as well as a suspected kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant, and respiratory toxicant, 1,4-dioxane is commonly found in products that create suds, like shampoo, liquid soap, and bubble bath. Beware of products containing sodium laureth sulfate, PEG compounds, and
chemicals denoting “xynol,” “ceteareth,” and “oleth.” 5. Phthalates Otherwise known as industrial plasticizers, phthalates are ubiquitous in personal care products. They preserve scent and color, function as conditioners, and are often added to fragrance ingredients, where they often go undetected because of loopholes in labeling requirements. They are found in products such as nail polish, hair spray, deodorant, body lotions, and perfumes/ colognes. Research suggests they disrupt the endocrine system and have been associated with the feminization of male babies (indicated by decreased anogenital distance). Phthalates are also linked to birth defects, infertility, and poor sperm quality, and they pose a particular threat to male sex organs. 6. Lead and Other Heavy Metals Metals such as lead, arsenic, mercury, aluminum, zinc, chromium, and iron can still be found in products such as sunscreen, lipstick, whitening toothpaste, eyeliner, and nail color. Often contaminants of constituent ingredients, these metals have been linked to cancer, birth defects, and reproductive toxicity, nonreproductive organ toxicity, neurotoxicity, allergies/ immunotoxicity, and bioaccumulation (when compounds accumulate in the body and are taken up and stored at a rate faster than they are metabolized or excreted). 7. Triclosan An antimicrobial agent that accumulates in the body, triclosan has been linked to hormone disruption and the emergence of resistant bacteria. Found in antibacterial soaps, deodorants, toothpaste, and myriad other products, the heightened use of triclosan raises additional concerns about bioaccumulation and its impact on wildlife systems. The Centers for Disease Control identified triclosan in the urine of 75 percent of the U.S. population. In 2005, the FDA found no evidence that antibacterial washes containing triclosan were superior to plain soap and water. 8. Hydroquinone One of the most toxic ingredients in cosmetics, hydroquinone is a carcinogenic
chemical typically associated with skin lighteners, disproportionately affecting women of color (who are more likely to use such products). A chemical contaminant linked to increased skin cancer risk, hydroquinone is also found in cleansers, moisturizers, conditioners, and other ingredients with the root “toco,” such as tocopheral, tocopheral acetate, and tocopheral linoleate. 9. Nitrosamines A group of carcinogenic compounds formed when constituent ingredients—specifically, nitrites and amines—combine. Because nitrosamines are impurities as opposed to added ingredients, they are typically not listed on ingredient labels, yet they are in everything from mascara, concealer, and conditioner to baby shampoo and self-tanning lotion. The UK Department of Business, Enterprise, and Regulatory Reform characterizes nitrosamines as more toxic in more animal species than any other category of chemical carcinogen.
BEING INFORMED IS THE NEW BLACK Until the cosmetics industry cleans up its act, it’s in our best interest to assume the Devil Wears Product. Here’s what you can do: Be a Critical Consumer Adopt the habit of investigating personal care product labels as scrupulously as you would a bag of Doritos. Did you know that many of the chemicals used in U.S. cosmetics products are banned in other countries? Products sold in European countries, for example, must adhere to more stringent EU standards. Aiming for products that are EU certified will minimize your exposure to suspected carcinogens, mutagens, and reproductive toxicants. Do Your Research The Environmental Working Group has developed a comprehensive cosmetic safety guide called Skin Deep. This searchable database details product safety ratings and ingredient lists for nearly a quarter of all products on the market. Check up on your favorite products and find safer alternatives at www.cosmeticsdatabase.com. Another Hawaii Women’s Journal | 24
useful site is The Story of Stuff Project, which features a series of short online films and curricula created to inform and inspire sustainability and social justice. Check out The Story of Cosmetics link for an introduction to the hazards of personal care products and their implications on consumer and environmental health (www. storyofstuff.org/cosmetics). Grab the Industry by Its Carcinogenic Cojones and Demand Safer Products! • Bookmark the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website. Access information, receive action alerts, and get involved. • Contact companies that have not signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, a pledge to remove chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, and other health problems from cosmetics and personal care products. (Do a little investigating: Are your favorite brands friends or foes?) • Urge your U.S. representative to support the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, legislation that will prohibit the use of harmful ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products (see www. safecosmetics.org). In an age when Esteé Lauder owns Aveda, Clorox buys out Burt’s Bees, and ColgatePalmolive is daddy to Tom’s of Maine, safe and natural can be vague misnomers. Many companies remain committed to safeguarding health and upholding product integrity, and a second wave of once-shady enterprises have pledged to align themselves with the pro-consumer and ecoconscious movement. But until the waves of grassroots change wash over the shores of Big Cosmetics, why not give Plan B a try: practice product minimalism. Fewer products used = decreased exposure to nasty shit = healthier, happier bodies (and a nod of approval from Mother Earth). Let’s disassociate health and beauty from prepackaged bottles and treatments and send a message (boldfaced, hyperpunctuated, in ultramegacolossal font) to Big Cosmetics: Stop polluting our bodies. Our health is not for sale. v REFERENCE CITED The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics N.d. Chemicals of Concern. www.safecosmetics.org/ section.php?id=46, accessed August 2, 2010.
Five Minutes with RZONE: A Chat with Kathryn Xian
here are few times when you age brings maturity. I realized that encounter an artist with a painting is also really therapeutic for signature style who is virtually me. When I am painting, it is one of unknown to the larger public but those few moments when my mind possesses world-class talent. There is one hundred percent focused on are even fewer times that this artist is what I’m doing. And that feels good. I under the age of thirty. Many artists guess I can say that I create because I can spend a lifetime trying to find have this unstoppable desire to paint. their artistic style, but some are born I don’t know where that comes from, artists, their rare gift developing as but when I am doing it the process naturally and early as their first words. brings me peace of mind. Royr Urbano, also known as RZone, is one of those artists. Girl Fest Hawaii HWJ: How did you find yourself in chose Royr to be the featured artist Hawai‘i? for their seventh annual festival. Girl Fest is a weeklong event that seeks RU: I wanted to paint and travel, to prevent violence against women you know? Painting is not my only and girls through art and education. passion. I always end up grabbing Art is one of the most powerful ways my bags and traveling. There are two to impact communities, and Girl reasons: one, I am looking for better Fest chose RZone to opportunities. My create the festival country [Venezuela]— You can spend a what a beautiful cover representing its lot of money and mess—has this mix of seventh annual event because of the unique time without the a high cost of living, way in which she so certainty that your corruption, [juvenile] positively depicts the delinquency, and of art will earn you course bad politics female image. As Nonanything back. But, that make it a difficult Executive Director of Girl Fest, I wanted to that is the definition and dangerous place find out about the to live. And reason of love, isn’t it? woman behind the two: there are so many color-laden walls of things to see, to eat, her well-crafted paintings—to hear to learn. Why stay in one place? So Royr’s words disembodied from their far, I’ve been in Italy, Spain, Monaco, strokes and canvas. Nice, New York, Miami, Vegas, and now Hawai‘i. But I love Hawai‘i. I think HWJ: First of all, where are you from I’ll be here for a while. and how did you get into art? Why do you create? HWJ: Describe the art scene that surrounds you. How does it differ RU: I am from Venezuela. Since I was from other contemporary art scenes a little girl, [painting and drawing in Hawai‘i? have been] my favorite games. I used to draw characters [of] women on RU: I think I am part of the underground sheets of paper, and each character type of scene. Definitely a lot of the had a name and personality. They artists that I know are not the type to were part of my own soap opera. I paint tortoises and dolphins, or waves hid these drawings from my mom, and surfboards. I won’t critique that putting them under my bed. I was kind of art at all, I’m just saying that ashamed of them. But when she there is a big difference between the discovered them, [she] ended up art scene in which I am surrounded sending me to an art school. Today and the mainstream Hawai‘i art painting continues to be one of the scene. things that I enjoy the most. With
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HWJ: Who or what is your greatest inspiration? Is there anything that prevents you from creating art? RU: I have many artists that inspired me. I found a bunch of Brazilian graffiti artists [who I think are] geniuses of the new era. I also know another bunch from Europe. I get really inspired with some of my artist friends. When I talk about art with them, about their processes, their fears, and insecurities, it helps me a lot with my own process … that is pretty inspirational. What can prevent me from painting? Certainly money and time. Art must be really good. You can spend a lot of money and time without the certainty that your art will earn you anything back. But, that is the definition of love, isn’t it? HWJ: Do you think it’s harder for women to become recognized and established as artists, and if so, why? RU: Art has no gender requirements. If the piece is good, that should be enough. A good piece can stand by itself without
name or explanation. [However, the] art scene is another story. Marketing is another story, too. I think it’s easier for men because they can travel [without worry]; sleep wherever, and market themselves in ways women can’t. For example, I need two suitcases to travel, I need to know the person I am staying with wherever I go, if it’s a hostel, it has to be a [safe] one, etc. [But] if you want to get recognized, you must to be able to put yourself out there. HWJ: If you didn’t have art in your life, where would you be in the end? RU: In the end, I would only have myself. Love would follow. v RZone (Royr Urbano) will be a featured artist in the Girl Fest Gallery entitled “Transformation” displayed through the months of November and December 2010 at Bambu Two in downtown Honolulu. For more information about the gallery, her art, or about Girl Fest, visit: www.girlfesthawaii.org.
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images courtesy of RZONE
[the feminist housewife]
At Home with Homemaking
t was pretty easy to write the required reflective essay when I finished graduate school: I told the Political Science department that I just wanted to bake muffins. Despite good grades and fellowships, the wonderful, engaged professors, and enlightening courses, it was clear that I no plans for a future in academia nor the nonprofit sector—actually, I really just wanted to stay home. In a sense, I spent eight years in college to become a housewife. Of course, it was about more than staying home and making muffins, but that is how this journey started. My last semester of grad school was primarily thesis writing, which meant I had a lot of “free” time at home. Quite a bit of that time was spent in the kitchen, but I also began to do some crafts and to garden in my yard. I baked for housemates and friends, cooked wine-infused “lady dinners,” and tested new ingredients and recipes. I learned how to sprout, transplant, and harvest vegetables; I even made my own Christmas cards and baked as gifts. I initially took these projects on as hobbies but quickly became more committed to the ideals behind these actions. Like women’s studies teaches, the personal is political, and I began to understand that the choices we make for our home life have political resonance. Growing vegetables was a means of refusing corporate control of food, and sharing homemade foods made with local fruits and vegetables was an implicit protest of purchasing and consuming dangerous foods such as GMO crops. I have always been a passionate vegetarian and environmentalist, but I came to
realize that all my home-based choices had a larger resonance—and I knew that I wanted to learn more about home cooking, backyard gardening, DIY (DoIt-Yourself) projects, and other projects that traditionally fall under the banner of "homemaking." Homemaking generally, and the term housewife specifically, are often used condescendingly, but I am consciously reclaiming these terms to embrace the ecological, healthy, and soulful principles
behind homemaking and the feminist ideals that inform this project. There are a million tasks that could be considered as homemaking, but I am comfortable at a happy homemaking medium. I don’t yet make my own soap or underwear, but I do provide sustenance for my partner, share food with loved ones, and grow and source clean, organic foods—and I am desperate for my own little flock of chickens. Am I a throwback to the June Cleaver ideals of housewife life? Certainly not—as a vegetarian, I would never wear pearls. By embracing these principles Hawaii Women’s Journal | 27
photos by Kathryn Xian
by Andrea Devon Bertoli
do I become a “foodie”? Perhaps, but I dislike the elitism implied by that label. Maybe this homemade lifestyle is better defined as femivorism—a movement of feminist homemaking defined by Peggy Orenstein as being “grounded in [principles] of self-sufficiency, autonomy and personal fulfillment” (Orenstein 2010). Radical homemaker is another term that seems appropriate for this direction my life has taken. Shannon Hayes explains in her book Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture (2010) that, generations ago, the household was considered a unit of production rather than consumption: families worked together first to grow food and then to preserve, cook, or barter with their bounty. Things have changed drastically in those few generations: most of us work long hours to earn money so that, between the TV watching, Internet surfing, and bill paying, we can drive for miles to buy overprocessed, premade foods devoid of adequate nutrition. Hayes suggests that perhaps we could quit this cycle of overwork and overconsumption entirely—and I (mostly) agree with her. I know this is entirely radical to the American work ethic and to those of us engaged living in a consumer culture— that is to say, all of us. Even though I really wanted to do some homemaking, I still despaired for months about my inability to find a good paying job postgraduation—after years of acquiring student loan debt, I found myself making just over minimum wage at a bakery job. Though I had some money saved from a
fellowship, I learned to live well on very little income, sometimes sharing the rent but most of the time doing it on my own. There are lots of ways to save money or learn how to do without—to simply consume less and perhaps even make or grow our own. Radical homemaking encourages us to think that we can be productive on a different scale, moving at an easier pace. This column will focus on this desire and my homemaking project to simply do more, with less goods, and be happier and healthier in the process. But what does this homemaking life really look like? For me, homemaking is based around the concept of production: growing foods, cooking those foods, and sharing with others; making instead of purchasing. It can also mean undertaking DIY projects such as making your own curtains from found materials, refitting vintage dresses, and using recycled objects for household repairs—all of which can be accomplished without purchasing a thing. Of course, these tasks take time to complete, and because of long work hours few of us have the time to undertake canning produce or sewing clothes. But if we were able to step off the overwork and overconsumption cycle, perhaps we would realize the disconnect between working and income, and perhaps society as a whole would benefit if we each considered that they may not be necessarily intertwined. It requires a shift in attitude to see growing and cooking as productive work: current societal attitudes have convinced us that productivity is defined by working outside the home to earn money. But what if we could learn to see time in the garden as productive and actually looked at it as a way to save money? What if we considered cooking a wholesome meal as equally important to a few extra hours at work? What if we rethought all of our purchases and figured out how to get something similar for less money? Is it possible to work less and still have
as much? How much is “enough”? Of course it’s possible, but it takes work— and this is why I refer to homemaking as a project. Indeed, this homemaking project takes quite a bit of time—the cooking, baking, working in the garden, doing all those dishes—and it helps to have a partner in the process. Perhaps these tasks just seem like household drudgery, but for me they are a physical manifestation of the ideals that I hold dear, including less consumption, more ecoconsciousness, and healthy and mindful eating. But how is this possible in Hawai‘i—a place known for its high cost of living? I currently work part-time at a small health food store and I previously worked on a farm; neither have paid well but both have kept me supplied with good food. But I also live on very little income—as most other homemakers do—which is a direct result of a conscious desire to live very modestly. I drive a ten-year-old truck— only because I smashed my fifteen-yearold car; I have never owned a television; I don’t own expensive handbags, and my cell phone does not have games or applications. But, like many other humans, I still want to travel to beautiful places, buy unnecessary but pretty candles (ditto for cute undies), and try out expensive new flours. Though some homemakers are able to completely opt out from consumer culture, most of us are not there yet—because there are still those student loan bills to pay, the car insurance, and the requisite family holidays. But I think that even the smallest steps one makes at home have a huge impact. Maybe you don’t care to can tomatoes, but what if you grew some of your own herbs for your next pasta sauce? You will definitely save money not buying herbs at the store, and you can experience the infinite joy of a dinnertime harvest—never mind the fantastically delicious sauce. I am sure that any type of homemaking Hawaii Women’s Journal | 28
sounds hopelessly awful to some people, and I am sure there are lots of feminists that would disparage this decision to not climb the academic or corporate ladder. But over the past few years, I have learned to let go of societal pressure to find a better job or earn more income, and I gave up the feminist directive to break that ever-present glass ceiling. And what it did was open up a space to find fulfillment and productivity in the kitchen, garden, and home. Making the proactive choice to grow and cook foods at home and to simply consume less outside the house has political resonance that I am determined to continue nurturing—and to share what I learn along the way. I am still figuring out many things, but I am definitely at home with homemaking. v
Making the proactive choice to grow and cook foods at home and to simply consume less outside the house has political resonance that I am determined to continue nurturing...
Hayes, Shannon 2010 Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture. Richmondville, NY: Left to Write Press.
Orenstein, Peggy 2010 The Femivore’s Dilemma. New York Times Magazine, March 11: 11–12.
[view from the moon]
photo courtesy of NASA
Hawai‘i: I lived on O‘ahu for three years as a boy. No tunnel through the Pali then. It was up and over, slow and beautiful. Kailua streets were unpaved, and we lived where Kailua Beach Park is today. Waves broke into our lanai during storms. Coconuts bounced off the tin roof at night. Terri and I were married on the beach in Kaua‘i by a kahuna priestess. The plaintive conch shell call echoed between green mountains and waves, between here and there, then and now. Whales responded to that call, breaching out beyond the breakers like honored guests. Mist from crashing surf hung in the fragrant air. Prior to departing for the islands, my older sister assured me, “You’ll remember the smells.” I did. As a child, I cried the first time I left Hawai‘i. Terri and I both cried this time. Women: I attended a writing seminar in which an older man was obviously struggling to complete an exercise requiring he write in the voice of a young woman of color. He asked the panel if it was even possible to capture that voice since he was not young, female, or a person of color. One astute panelist replied, “Well, Tolkien wasn’t a hobbit either.” I’ll take that as implied consent to press onward despite the fact that I am heterozygous. I am a pickle jar of chromosomes. I am yang to
your yin, dill to your sweet gherkins, but together we fill the jar. Perhaps something I write will flesh out the other half of the big circle and create synergy. Journal: (1) a record of experiences, ideas, or reflections kept regularly for private use; (2) a periodical dealing especially with matters of current interest; (3) a publication that appears at regular intervals. So, what do I have to add to a journal? What experiences, observations, and reflections can I impart? Hopefully, something universal. Something with humor? Perhaps even a transcendent moment. To do that, I must first strike a chord within my own soul, make myself laugh, and fill myself with wonder. As the first XY-authored column for HWJ, “View from the Moon” will expose the ludicrous side of life, by exposing its bloated, pale, often gaudily tattooed and navel-pierced underbelly. The side we’d like to keep hidden, because so often what we often think will turn out cool is laughable. You want to show me your belly? I didn’t think so. What we’ll try to do is share a smile as we attempt to deal with this unbearable lightness of being…while looking at other people’s bellies. Where to begin? As the Munchkins instructed Dorothy, simply at the beginning.
by James Pounds
’ve forgotten my cell phone and cannot shake this feeling of impending doom. It’s called being out of contact. Zero connectivity. Being on the verge of sailing off the edge of a flat world. I’m ashamed how panic-stricken this makes me feel.
known euphemistically as “roaming areas.” Roaming calls were captured in the net of those pirates who charged whatever usurious rates they desired. I had bills where three minutes of not paying attention cost me two or three gold doubloons.
Why is this? I’m a guy who religiously avoided connectivity for years. When I was assigned my first cell phone for work, I didn’t give the number to anyone. It was a tool for me to call out, not to be bothered by incoming calls. And I was in sales! Things were different then. Calls were expensive. This was before nationwide networks, when there were uncharted oceans between cities where privateers set up networks
I coveted my privacy in those days, relished in the precious time between towns in my vast western territory. I had time to think. By the next town, I had a plethora of words built up over a couple of hours of windshield time. I had no tolerance for my thinking being interrupted by a ringing phone and recall telling one of my fellow road warriors, “When they pay me like a heart surgeon, then they can put me on call 24/7.”
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And older phones were BIG! I had one of those “brick” phones. [editor's essay]
Cousins of WWII walkie-talkies that could develop your dominant arm bicep until the other arm looked atrophied by comparison. It was like doing curls with a five-pound dumbbell and was about as ergonomically satisfying as holding a kayak to your ear. Next, I was assigned a “mobile” phone that came in what resembled a small overnight case. The reason? The remote battery took up three-quarters of the case. You had to jack the phone into the battery to talk. Needless to say, that one never left the front hump of my company car. Thank goodness for miniaturization, but phones then became so small, my sausage fingers couldn’t cope with the tiny keyboard and the screen displayed numbers and letters my eyes couldn’t make out without reading glasses. The newer on-screen touchpads are an improvement, but I’m waiting for my home refinance to be approved so I can pay for one.
How to Sell Your Body Parts
Things are different now. I don’t leave home without performing the pocket pat-down to make sure I’m loaded for connectivity. At my last job, I carried two phones—mine and the company’s. I worried about frying my testicles by carrying phones in both pockets. I was already concerned by the news that cell phones might also cause brain cancer. Now it was my testicles. But that’s a small price to pay to stay in touch. Stay in touch with whom? When was the last time I received a call that couldn’t wait? Heaven forbid I not be available when my wife has a last-minute grocery item for me to pick up. Or
when a telemarketer is bent on torture. Most of the time I check caller ID, and if I don’t recognize the number I don’t answer. It’s an exercise in disconnectivity. Did I mention that it only rings when I’m in church, in a lecture hall, or asleep because that’s when I forget to turn it off? I try not to remind myself that I’m paying a pretty penny to be interrupted, embarrassed, or awakened by unimportant conversations or misdialed numbers. Of course, that’s simply the iceberg tip of the 24/7 need to connect to the nothing that’s happening. If I don’t check my e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or Linked In every few hours, there’s a predictable Pavlovian response. I twitch like an e-junkie waiting for my satellite fix. My testicles seem to lack that extra spark. I could wax philosophical about how alone together we’ve become in the midst of such total connectivity. The other day I saw a young couple, obviously on a date, texting each other from across the table. They never talked or made eye contact. Ah, the new intimacy. But I don’t want to talk about that right now. Just leave me a message at the tone. I won’t pick up. v Enjoy the View! Jim Pat
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Three Days to a Healthier Lifestyle
any of my patients ask me to prescribe them a “cleanse” or “detox” plan, citing a friend who has felt rejuvenated or a celebrity who’s dropped significant pounds after doing the Master Cleanse or a juice detox. But I don’t prescribe cleanses or detoxes; regardless of the diet industry’s best marketing efforts, I don’t see people as intrinsically “dirty” or “toxic.” Our bodies are not carrying pounds of toxins around; in fact, our bodies do a mighty good job of cleansing themselves. Unless we’re coping with illnesses that severely compromise the function of the liver, lungs, heart, or kidneys, those organs are doing amazing daily work keeping us detoxified without purification interventions. Generally speaking, traditional Chinese medicine eschews extremes: a cleanse involving serious caloric restriction and/ or a severely limited diet (such as one containing only juices) should cause the responsible TCM practitioner to raise an eyebrow. And with good reason: many detox or cleanse protocols offer little to no critical nutritional components such as protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Besides messing with your gastrointestinal flora and function, these sorts of extreme cleanses have the potential to inhibit your body’s ability to rebuild muscle tissue, maintain an appropriate fluid balance, and manage blood sugar levels. I suggest patients ask themselves why they’re interested in a cleanse program. Are they hoping to lose weight? Do they suffer from indigestion, bloating, or acid reflux? Do they suspect they have some food-based allergies? Do they want eat more healthfully but don’t know where to start? Do they feel generally unwell? Are they hoping the cleanse will work as a “reset” button for their body? The bad news, of course, is that achieving
by Lorelle Saxena a healthy body weight, optimal digestion, and general well-being all require the same, long-term, dedicated commitment to taking care of one’s self: there is no such thing as a reset button for the body. The good news? Having made such a commitment, good health is within your reach. And it starts with what you eat. Sometimes patients feel better if their first steps toward eating healthfully are planned for them. There is a lot of conflicting information circulating about what “healthy eating” actually means, which is often what draws them to the idea of a cleanse in the first place. Instead of doing a cleanse, what I suggest is that they take a few days to enjoy the simplified, healthy, easy-to-prepare food plan detailed below. This plan is not a cleanse. Rather, it is a way to learn how to be intuitive about the effects on your body of the food you choose to intake. It is well-balanced from Western and Eastern nutritional perspectives. It is straightforward, because you can cook everything in any pot with a steamer basket and because it sticks to a brief list of foods that are easy to get at mainstream grocery stores. It’s safe, because it includes enough protein and fats to maintain healthy body function; because it's devoid of bad fats (if not generally “low fat”); because its high fiber content makes it difficult to consume enough of the things that would make it high calorie yet it contains enough calories so as to avoid starvation/storage mode; and because it comprises low-glycemicload foods so that your blood sugar should stay stable and you won’t feel the urge to gnaw off your own arm. And it’s short—I recommend following this plan for only three days and then taking two more days to gradually transition off of it. As with all dietary changes, consult with your doctor first if you have diabetes or any metabolic, renal, hepatic, or cardiac Hawaii Women’s Journal | 31
disorder and stop following this plan and consult a healthcare provider if you feel nauseated, faint, or otherwise unwell. The “rules” can be followed as rigidly or as loosely as you like. If you’re someone who takes comfort in structure, by all means follow these to the letter. If you’re less structure oriented, think of these as guidelines. For example, if you absolutely can’t give up caffeine for three days or if you can’t stand sweet potatoes, that doesn’t mean it won’t still be helpful to follow the rest of the plan. Finally, be forewarned: lots of water combined with the fairly high fiber levels in this plan mean you'll visit the bathroom more than you usually do.
GATHER YOUR INGREDIENTS Choose organics or products from farms you know don’t use pesticides or chemical aids. This list should provide plenty of food for the three-day plan.
Shopping List • Eight to ten pounds of raw dark leafy greens. Buy a wide variety, such as kale, chard, collards, dandelion greens, and spinach. Ten pounds is a lot—but greens will make up the bulk of your food intake for the next few days, and raw greens cook down into much smaller-looking quantities. • Lots of fresh raw fruit. Aim for lots of different colors: bright green apples, dark magenta raspberries, the improbable neon orange of a papaya. • Quinoa, about a pound • Dried lentils, any type, about a pound • Cashews and almonds, raw or roasted, no salt added, one cup each • Three sweet potatoes • Coconut milk, preferably in a carton (found in the dairy aisle) or one can • One or two avocados
COOK YOUR FOOD • Wash 1 cup of quinoa by putting it in a pot or bowl, filling the bowl with water, and rubbing the quinoa grains together under the water between your fingers. Strain out the water and repeat a couple of times. Then put the quinoa in a pot with 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and the grains are tender. This makes about 3 cups of cooked quinoa. You can also prepare quinoa in a rice cooker, but if you do, you should “weigh down” the grains so that they don’t end up all over the cooker’s lid (see instructions below on cooking the lentils and quinoa together). Store uneaten quinoa in the refrigerator for up to three days. • Sort through the lentils to make sure there are no pebbles or debris among them. Wash in three changes of cold water and then simmer 1 cup of lentils to 1.5 cups of water for about 15 minutes or until tender. • You can also cook the quinoa and lentils together, simmering 1 cup of lentils, 1 cup of quinoa, and 3.5 cups of water in either a pot or a rice cooker. • Scrub a sweet potato and cut it into chunks, then put it in a steamer basket in a pot above a few inches of water. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat. Check the potatoes by poking with a fork after about 10 minutes—continue cooking until fork tender. • Prep your greens by cutting off tough stalk ends and chopping larger, tougher greens (like kale and collards) into 1-inch pieces. Put them in a steamer basket over a few inches of water in a pot, cover the pot, and steam them until they’re lightly cooked. Times will vary for different kinds of greens: for example, hearty kale and collards can probably be steamed for 5 or more minutes, while more delicate chard and baby spinach should be cooked for only 3 to 4 minutes. A good rule
of thumb is that, no matter the green, it should still have a definitive shape and a bright green color. You can save some energy and dishwashing by putting a steamer basket full of greens in the same pot you're cooking your quinoa in—just make sure to do it towards the end of the cooking time for the quinoa so you don’t overcook the more tender, delicate greens.
EAT AND DRINK • Drink at least a gallon a day of roomtemperature water. I like to drink a quart upon waking and then a quart with each meal. • Drinking raw, organic, freshly juiced fruit juice is okay (as long as the fruit has been juiced right before drinking and doesn’t have any additives), but try to cut out the rest: no coffee, tea (herbal or otherwise), juices, milks (soy, rice, almond, or cow), wine, beer, or spirits. • Eat MOST OF ALL huge amounts of steamed dark leafy greens (no limit). Consume at least half a small plateful three times a day. The greens should make up about half of your total food intake daily. • Eat SECOND a lot of fresh, raw fruit; Hawaii Women’s Journal | 32
no limit here either but try for a variety of colors consumed and make sure you’re still eating more greens than fruits. Eat THIRD for protein: small amounts of steamed quinoa and/or boiled or steamed lentils, no more than a half cup of each per meal. (If you’re still hungry, eat more greens.) Aim for three servings of quinoa and lentils per day, for a total of 1.5 to 3 cups combined quinoa and lentils per day: 1.5 if you have a small frame and 3 cups if you have a larger frame. Eat one small sweet potato (or half of a larger one) daily (to be consumed during any of your three meals). Eat JUST A LITTLE of “good” fats: avocados, raw almonds, raw cashews, and coconut milk—at least a handful of nuts and a couple of ounces of coconut milk, if not more, every day. Snack all day. These are all small, light meals, and you should supplement them by feeling free to consume more fruit, greens, sweet potato, and small amounts of nuts and coconut milk. You shouldn’t feel hungry at any point—if you do, eat. No salt, no pepper, no spices, no herbs, no cooking oils—nothing that wasn’t detailed above.
Sample Meal Plans Breakfast: steamed greens and some sliced sweet potato, followed by an apple and a shotglass of coconut milk, OR quinoa (without lentils) mixed with a sliced apple and chopped almonds and drizzled with coconut milk. Lunch: greens, half a cup to a cup of a quinoa and lentil blend with sliced avocado on top, followed by a plum, OR greens tossed with lentils and cashews, with some lemon juice squeezed over it all, followed by an apricot. Dinner: greens, half a cup to a cup of quinoa and lentil blend with chopped cashews on top, followed by a bunch of grapes, OR greens, half a cup to a cup of quinoa/lentil blend, and chopped almonds tossed together with a squeeze of lime juice, followed by a pear and a shot glass of coconut milk
BE IN YOUR BODY I don’t advise strenuous exercise on the few days that you’re following this plan. Because it’s relatively low calorie, it’s easy to become fatigued if you’re working out. It is also very low sodium, so profuse sweating could cause problems with body fluid regulation. Additionally, the protein levels in this plan aren’t high enough to allow for the kind of significant muscle repair that strenuous exercise can necessitate. Instead, make a point of doing some gentle exercise every day, particularly movement that links the mind and body: a meditative walk or mellow jog, a restorative and nonheated yoga session, a qi gong class. It’ll be fine to resume your more athletic endeavors in just a few days.
ON PSYCHOLOGICAL HUNGER Intuitive eating is not necessarily going to be easy. You probably will miss your bacon or Greek yogurt with honey and granola drizzled on top. When I did the plan myself, I missed dairy. But you know how when you have a complicated life question to figure out, it can be a good thing to stay away from TV and Internet for a few days? How, once distractions are taken away, things just seem to line
up more clearly? That’s what intuitive eating is supposed to achieve, but in terms of food. It’s the same basic idea behind fasting, except that fasting is much more extreme and not really suited to most people’s lifestyles (in which we are busy and can’t afford to be spacey from hypoglycemia).
TRANSITION OUT WHILE PAYING ATTENTION On days four and five, come out of the plan gradually, easily, and intuitively. Using the plan as your foundation, start adding in different foods, beginning with foods that are easy on the digestion and simpler in flavor: choose lean proteins before heavier ones, steamed whole grains instead of processed flours, cultured dairy (like yogurt and kefir) before straight milk. Notice how your body feels today and compare it to how it felt three days ago. Listen to what your body wants right now, and pay close
Lorelle Saxena attention to how it feels after eating each new food. Having a very limited diet for a few days puts us back in touch with what things actually taste like and how they make us feel, which enables us to sharpen our intuition about what to eat, what’s good for us on the individual level, and what we really like versus what we eat out of habit or for comfort. These two days are your time to explore what “intuitive eating” means for you. You’ve spent three days in close contact with your food—choosing it, cleaning it, cooking it, creating appealing combinations from limited options. Because you haven’t disguised the true flavor of your food with condiments, spices, or refined sugar, your perception of taste is heightened. Notice, today, what “sweet” really tastes like. Perceive the mild sweetness in brown rice and compare it to the intense sweetness of a carrot. Enjoy the slightly bitter grassiness Hawaii Women’s Journal | 33
of the quinoa and the mysterious spiciness of dried figs and apricots. Try to avoid assigning judgment to your cravings. Whether you’re jonesing for an apple or a Krispy Kreme, ignore thoughts of “good food” or “bad food” and instead examine the reasons for your desire. Are you thirsty? Are you seeking familiarity? Is there a comforting memory attached to the food? How do you expect to feel, both emotionally and physically, while you’re eating? How do you expect to feel afterwards? And after you eat the food, does the way you feel match that expectation? Resist feelings of failure. If you have any negative feelings, whether physical or emotional, after eating a food, they have occurred for you to learn from, and they are part of the process of uncovering your ability to eat intuitively. Maintain this self-examining, selfforgiving practice as you transition back into a full spectrum of food choices. Take the transition as slowly as you feel you need to, but spend at least two days with it. If you’re doing this to isolate an allergen or sensitivity, add potential trigger foods back in one at a time, leaving a few days before adding each new one. These include dairy, wheat gluten (including oatmeal, which has a similar protein in it), nightshade vegetables (including potatoes [not sweet potatoes], tomatoes, eggplant, tomatillos, peppers, pimentos, and tobacco), spicy foods, corn, soy, and seafood.
LET THIS BE A STEPPING STONE TO BETTER HEALTH Again, there is no reset button on the body. There is only long-term, proactive lifestyle change. “Health” is not a singular goal to achieve. It is an everyday gentle effort, a constant series of choices: pure instead of processed, fresh instead of fried, real instead of refined. By concentrating on a few days of simple eating and eliminating the overwhelming array of heath choices we face every hour, you might find your body already knows exactly how to choose. v
[editors on editors]
Frontier Psychiatrist: Music
, Bikes, Drinks, Words,
wherein HWJ queries FP on a few of their favorite things, the future of online publishing … and whether they want to go steady.
by Jennifer Meleana Hee and Mayumi Shimose Poe In the art-for-the-sake-of-salvation world, it seems natural to crush on like-minded magazines that have a big plushy heart where their dollar sign would be. Online 'zine Frontier Psychiatrist is that boy who was gangly and quiet in class but then, once you got him started, wouldn’t shut up about the physics of time travel and his parents’ old jazz cassettes and his speculations on why J. D. Salinger was such a hermit … and then, years later, you ran into him at the bar and damn if he didn’t look sexy in plaid, drinking his bourbon, talking about the most amazing new song he heard at this concert he biked to in Prospect Park—seriously, check it, vocals like the lovechild of Fiona Apple and Tom Waits born to a live reading of e. e. cummings—mmymmmymhslurrrp. Whoops. It appears you smashed him against the wall to make out.
FP is what we read to take the edge off our half cup full o’ cynicism, to face another blank page each day with gusto and the proper cocktail. FP teaches us to enjoy the good stuff along the death-defying bike commute that is existence. We interviewed FP’s co-editors Leo Lopez and Keith Meatto because they have ultimately set out to do the same thing we’re trying to do: build a community of readers and writers who know that the best way to live is to treat life like a blind date—to see every day as another chance to fall in love with the world. If you enjoy music, urban cycling, quality beverages, excellent short fiction and creative nonfiction, food, and writing that helps you take ten steps back from the ledge, then Frontier Psychiatrist will have you swooning, laughing, and telling your ex-favorite publication, “It’s not you, it’s FP.” HWJ: So. Frontier Psychiatrist: How the heck did you come up with that name? Did it involve illicit substances and a DSM-IV upcycled into a Ouija board? Leo: Keith and I share two views on art: (1) start from the title and (2) good artists borrow; great artists steal. So, we stole the title from a song by The Avalanches, a group that knows plenty about stealing. If the DSM-IV was involved, it was only in the diagnosis of “Kleptomania, aesthetic type.” HWJ: How did FP come into being? Leo: This question affords me the opportunity to answer the previous question seriously. The idea for the site came to us when I was the process of switching careers from a rather mechanical medical specialty for which I had lost all passion to my current, more humanistic one. At the time, I saw a lot of opportunities ahead in both my professional and nonprofessional life, including a chance to reimmerse myself in all the things I had been forced to abjure for the sake of my prior career. Hence the name and the site. Keith: For me, FP also filled a void in a time of transition. Two years ago, I left my job as a high school English teacher to
photo courtesy of Keith and Leo
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concentrate on writing. (Leo had already left his job at the same school, where he taught math, to pursue a career in medicine.) This spring I finished a fiction manuscript and was looking for a new project. At first, FP was a way for Leo and I to amuse ourselves. Quickly, it became an obsession. We starting writing daily posts and then solicited people to help us expand our vision to include cycling, food, cocktails, fiction, i.e., our favorite things in life. So far, it seems to be working.
in them an infectious curiosity about contemporary culture, a dialogue that includes, but also transcends, the band of the moment or a recipe for ravioli. Ultimately, we want to build a community. Some of our happiest moments have been enlisting readers to become writers and when readers have asked to write for the site. We love that.
HWJ: Do you ever receive medical advice queries?
Keith: If you love music, we want your reviews of albums and concerts and profiles of bands. We like national acts, but we also love smaller, regional artists and scenes. If you ride a bike, we want your dispatches about urban cycling. Ditto if you know something about food and/or beverages. Right now we have photography and theater columns in the works and are planning forays into environmental writing, social justice, travel, and other areas of cultural and intellectual life. Really, though, we’re open to anything that makes us think and laugh and not necessarily in that order. [Also, we like submissions that do not end sentences with prepositions.]
Leo: Most commonly, I’m asked questions of the form “recently, I’ve been experiencing (blah blah blah some kind of symptom). Is it ok if I keep drinking?” I usually say yes. Of course, I only answer such questions when I’ve been drinking. Keith: Thankfully, no. But I have learned a lot about mental illness from Leo. HWJ: Dear FP: I have a rash on my soul that itches when I’m alive, what should I do? Keith: If you want to indulge the itch, try listening to Bright Eyes, Elliot Smith, or any musician whose basic message is “my pain is painful.” If you want to conquer the itch, try some vintage Jay-Z or the new Chromeo album, Business Casual.
HWJ: What kind of submissions are you looking for?
HWJ: You have been known to solicit our writing (the HWJ editors’). Did you know solicitation perpetuates patriarchy and factory farming and is the main cause of autism in children?
HWJ: Give us your mission statement in haiku form.
Keith: We are against patriarchy and factory farming, despite the fact that we still live in a de facto patriarchy and that 99 percent of meat in America is produced in factory farms.
Leo: Syllables Allowed:/ Seventeen. Far too few to/ Relate our mission.
Leo: Keith forgot to mention that we are also against autism in children.
Keith: I prefer dactylic hexameter.
HWJ: Just kidding.
HWJ: Dactylic hexameter! Oh no you didn’t! [Everyone knows the way to our editor-in-chief’s brain would be through a mashup of The Aeneid read in Latin by Louis Armstrong and anything Indigo Girls. Title? “The Classics, Book Fuck Yeah.”]
Keith: We are not. Autism is not funny.
HWJ: Describe your typical reader. (Haiku form optional.)
HWJ: Will you send us your writing? Keith: Absolutely. In fact, my short story “Oh Baby” appeared in HWJ #2 and my short story “Endless Necklace” appears in this issue. But we would be happy to send more.
Keith: Our reader is between the ages of 18 and 40 and likely between 25 and 35. He or she lives in Brooklyn, once lived in Brooklyn, aspires to live in Brooklyn, or lives in a place that aspires to be Brooklyn.
HWJ: What are a few must-read FP pieces?
HWJ: You just made the managing editor, who just moved to northern California, really homesick for Brooklyn. Thanks a lot, guys.
Bikes: Dana Perry’s “The General Rutherford” and Micaela Blei’s “Bike Anthropology.”
Music: Leo’s “Ask a (Frontier) Psychiatrist #5” and Keith’s “The Church of Sufjan Stevens.”
HWJ: What do you hope readers take away from your 'zine?
Drinks: Damien Casten’s “Wine, Plastic Cups, and Chicken Dancing” and Roddy Rickhouse’s “En Garde! The Lucien Guadin Cocktail.”
Keith: We want to amuse and enlighten our readers and instill
Words: Suzanne Farrell Smith’s “Shower Talk” and Daniel F.
Hawaii Women’s Journal | 35
Levin’s “Fiddler in the Rough” serial. HWJ: If you could have any writer in the whole wide literary world write a piece for FP, who would it be, and what would you want him or her to write about? Leo: I would have Philip Roth and Junot Díaz write a pointcounterpoint on how to get Jersey girls. I recognize that this joke is probably only funny to me. Keith: No, it’s funny to me, too. Roth and Díaz are two of my favorite contemporary fiction writers. I decided to write short stories after I read Drown. And Roth has cranked out more great novels than any living writer, perhaps even any dead one. In fact, he may have written one between now and the time this issue goes to print. Like Leo, I have New Jersey roots. Also, I like Jersey Girls: especially one in particular.
has an MD and I only have an MFA, so I’d say the scales are now about even. If we had a love child, it would be William Carlos Williams or Anton Chekhov, or if not a literary-medical lion, then at least tall, dark-haired, and myopic. Now we have a question for you [editor-in-chief]. When you meet a new person, which H-Bomb do you drop first: the fact that you went to Harvard or that you are from Hawai‘i? HWJ: Um, we’re doing the interviewing here. And the first H-Bomb our editor-in-chief drops is that she’s Hella Vegan. Whereas the managing editor is Hella into Bacon. HWJ: Do you think print journalism is antiquated and irrelevant in modern society, kind of like a degree from Yale?
Leo: Keith is, of course, referring to Meryl Streep. I should add that we are both big fans of Nicole Krauss’s new novel, and we’d love to have her contribute as well. Not her husband, though. I’m pretty sure either of us could pull the robbery there. Adding new meaning to the term “art heist.”
Keith: Though FP is a digital operation, there will always be a place in society for printed material. Then again, times have changed. I told my college students that the concept of Facebook came from physical books that contained pictures of college students along with their vital information. They were shocked at this ancient, barbaric custom.
HWJ: Anything else you want to tell our readers? Keith: We are neither from Hawai‘i, nor women, but we love HWJ.
HWJ: We think you should make some swag, particularly racerback tanks that say: WWFPD? (This is not a question.) Leo: Did you know “swag” is a backronym for “stuff we all get?” Or that “backronym” is a portmanteau? What I’m trying to say is, we’re going to make Frontier Psychiatrist portmanteaus. You know, like the luggage. To put your swag in. HWJ: Our editor-in-chief went to Harvard, you went to Yale, care to comment?
HWJ: Proof #19496839030205968 that FP has excellent taste. v
To make the most out of your Frontier Psychiatrist experience, HWJ encourages you to Read, Bike, Love, Listen, Eat, and Submit to www.frontpsych.com.
Keith: To clarify, I went to Yale. Leo went to Columbia. But he
Hawaii Women’s Journal | 36
[the feminine critique]
“The Price of Remaining Human” Wandering Souls: Journeys with the Dead and the Living in Viet Nam. Wayne Karlin. New York: Nation Books, 2009.
wo strangers meet on a mountain path. One dies, one lives. Decades later, they both return to finish the story. More on that in a minute. In a recent Atlantic blog entry, Chris Jackson addresses the widely covered debate between women writers and a book industry they accuse of primarily celebrating men. Rather than enter the fray, Jackson experiments: for every book he reads by a man, he will read one by a woman. “How exciting is it to consider that there are worlds of literature out there that you may not have tapped into, undiscovered countries of books to explore that might yet tell you something new in a new way?” (Jackson 2010). Though literary exploration is hardly a new idea, I respect Jackson’s decision to get educated. It doesn’t matter how you enter untapped worlds—bookstores, eReaders, Mom’s den—so long as you enter them. Jackson inspired my own experiment: for every book that Amazon recommends to me, I will read ten it does not. The first book on my list of unlikely
by Suzanne Farrell Smith reads came to me via a friend and professor of war literature. It is here, in Wayne Karlin’s Wandering Souls: Journeys with the Dead and the Living in Viet Nam, that two strangers meet on a mountain path. One is American soldier Homer Steedly, the other, a North Vietnamese soldier named Hoang Ngoc Dam. Both men draw weapons, but Homer wins the duel. Rather than destroy the notebooks he finds on Dam’s body (per military custom), Homer sends them to his mother for safekeeping. “I’m a farmer’s son that got sent halfway around the world and wound up killing people that I didn’t mean to” (p. 256), says Homer of the incident that, like so many wartime encounters, wraps itself around his memory and squeezes out the details until just the bare bones, the worst of it, remains. Once home, Homer recalls all too clearly Dam’s face in death, but he forgets about the documents. Thirty-five years later, Homer is urged by his wife to face his ghosts, and so asks his mother to dig out the letters he had sent home during the war. She sends them, along with Dam’s notebooks. “Homer’s memories had remained Hawaii Women’s Journal | 37
locked in the darkness of the box his mother had kept for him, in the greater darkness of the attic,” Karlin writes of the remarkable rediscovery. “He drew them out now, into the light” (p. 175). In reading Dam’s notebooks, Homer finds healing and resolves to return them to Dam’s family—though as a retiree with health problems and a limited income, he’s not sure how he’ll track them down. However, through the veteran network, Homer meets fellow Vietnam vet Wayne Karlin, a writer and a frequent visitor to Vietnam. Karlin believes this is a story that needs to be told. Yet admirably, he lets Homer do much of the telling: over half the lines on the first page alone are an uninterrupted quote from the quiet, unassuming man. Furthermore, Karlin understands his duty to contextualize, not dramatize, the story, a distinction that benefits the book’s first section. Despite the geographic distance that separated them, Homer and Dam lived surprisingly parallel childhoods. Both grew up steeped in poverty, patriotism, and “political purity” (p. 36), willing to fight for their countries. What’s
fascinating is Karlin’s ability to keep us on tenterhooks: we know they will meet and that Dam will die. Yet I held my breath as I read about that “long, hot, green week in November” (p. 71). When the story moves to the present, with Homer reading the notebooks, Karlin the narrator becomes a character. He shares his own war experiences and lets loose the full force of his prose, at times astonishing in its tender portrait of human suffering and spiritual healing, at other times twisted with guilt. When Dam’s documents arrive at Karlin’s house: I hesitated a long time before I opened the padded envelope. I knew that for the Hoang family what I had now was literally a piece of Dam’s soul. For a moment I felt a kind of resentment, fueled by an atavistic fear. What was I releasing into my home? I had not killed this man. As soon as the thought came to me, I tried to struggle against it. One of my Vietnamese friends had written me, when I told her that Homer might come
over, that she would not want to meet the man, was not sure she could look into his face. Homer could have been me, I replied to her. He could have been any of us. [p. 203] Karlin grippingly illustrates “the price of remaining human” (p. 10). He then takes us all—Homer included—back to
Suzanne Farrell Smith Vietnam. Through his notebooks, Dam, one of the 300,000 “wandering souls” of Vietnam, returns home at last. At heart this is a story of two men. When Karlin strays from that story, into the upbringing of Homer’s wife, for example, his otherwise tight narrative frays, obscuring its heart. Though metaphorically potent in a book of wandering souls, the narrative works best when it doesn’t wander. Hawaii Women’s Journal | 38
Homer says of war veterans: “We may see the same world you do, but perceive it differently. We may even see parts of it through our perception that do not exist in yours” (p. 130). Wandering Souls implores us not to enter other worlds but to enter our own with the willingness to perceive parts of it we’ve never seen before. v
REFERENCES CITED Karlin, Wayne 2009 Wandering Souls: Journeys with the Living and the Dead in Viet Nam. New York: Nation Books. Jackson, Chris 2010 All the Sad Young Literary Women. The Atlantic, August 20. http://www.theatlantic.com/ culture/archive/2010/08/all-the-sad-young-literarywomen/61821/, accessed August 23, 2010.
photos by Gintare Janulaityte
Woman on Film an Interview with Marta Sanchez by Kathryn Xian Marta Sanchez is a multifaceted filmmaker, film festival director, and feminist activist. She’s the kind of woman other women admire—not only for her Spanish beauty, European accent, and elegant demeanor but also because of her ability to imagine creative and political projects and then make them happen. Perhaps that’s a necessary talent of filmmakers, but Marta goes a step further than the rest because she makes it a point to use her experience and knowledge to help other filmmakers voice their visions to the world—visions that evoke, inspire,
challenge, or make viewers think outside of their cultural comfort zone. I first met Marta nearly a decade ago and we immediately hit it off. Just like me, she was a filmmaker, a Capricorn, and a woman unafraid of self-labeling as a feminist. Over the years, we did as most determined women bent on changing society for the better do: we lost touch. I remember our last telephone conversation, when she was Director of Distribution at Women Make Movies in New York City. It was during the George W. Bush Administration. She said, “We’re going to take a stance
against Bush. We’re nonprofit, I know, but he’s got to stop. We don’t care if we lose our nonprofit status.” That’s pretty hot. Thankfully, we have reconnected. In the last decade, Marta Sanchez has created a short film festival in Spain called Short Metraje and another travelling film festival called Pragda, which exposes the work of Spanish filmmakers to the world. Amazed— but not surprised—by what she has accomplished in the last ten years, I decided to share her vision with our readers.
HWJ: Where are you from, where do you live now, and what did you want to be when you were a child?
from my goal [to be a film director], so I quit and moved to New York City. I wanted to learn how independent filmmakers do it. In New York City, I felt at home. I started meeting activist filmmakers—independent filmmakers with the same vision. I also worked for Women Make Movies for many years, among other institutions, but I still had in my heart the idea of working with Spanish films. I created Short Metraje, a showcase of Spanish short filmmakers that premieres at the Film Society of Lincoln Center every December. I am very interested in new visions and I love daring young filmmakers. [ShortMetraje] was my way to help young Spanish filmmakers come to the U.S. Now, after nine years, it is a reference for many. But showcasing short films wasn’t enough after a while, [so] I created Pragda. Pragda is an initiative to promote feature-length Spanish films to the world through public exhibits in theaters, in schools, and through the Internet. Now we are developing a project called the Spanish Film Club— probably the most ambitious [project]
to date. Our goal is to show new visions of Spanish filmmakers. We do not care so much about format, but we do care about risk. We program all kinds of genres. We also do classic films because we believe that this is a genre Spain lacks: bringing to the world our phenomenal older filmmakers. We also organize master classes with the filmmakers in local universities and high schools.
MS: I am from Madrid. After ten years in New York and some time in Brighton, I moved to Barcelona, where I have my permanent residence. When I was a child, I was very sensitive to the unfairness of the world and I wanted to change that [injustice]. When I became a teenager, I decided I wanted to change the world in an active manner, but it took time to decide how. I didn’t want to be a politician or a lawyer. I finally got an idea—film. Film affects people’s views. You reach millions of people, and it is fun. So I decided to be a film director at the age of about thirteen. I have to say that I come from a family of film lovers. HWJ: What inspired you to start Short Metraje and Pragda? MS: After school, I started working for 20th Century Fox in Madrid as a distributor. But that was taking me away
Hawaii Women’s Journal | 39
HWJ: What kinds of films have you created? What stories did you choose to tell? What kinds of challenges, if any, did you face? MS: My last [film] was a political documentary about the reasons why Americans and Spaniards react so differently regarding terrorism. It is really an essay on national identity and the power of history and how that affects our daily lives as civilians. I have made other short films—all of them about people escaping [something]. Jaja! The major challenge is always to combine family life and responsibilities with a full-time job and filmmaking. I
combine family life and responsibilities with a full-time job and filmmaking. I never made enough as a filmmaker to sustain myself without an extra job. I do not know many women filmmakers who do. HWJ: What is the most pertinent challenge facing women filmmakers today? MS: Film is a men’s issue. It is run by men in all capacities. Female and male approaches are different, so when a male producer is deciding to give money to a filmmaker, he probably will connect more with work made by another man. That’s why it’s important to have women as directors, producers, directors of photography, art directors, festival programmers, and film curators. How many women do you know are directors of the top ten film festivals in the world? None. But what’s the percentage of women actually working in festivals? Huge! It is ridiculous how women still need to fight every minute to be respected and how much we have to work to get to a regular position. It’s much less than for men. Also, men don’t like to have women over them, and they are very protective of their space. Maybe this sounds very bad for the interview! HWJ: What motivates you most about filmmaking? MS: The power of images—the power [of film] to take you by the hand to different worlds you have never seen, the power [film] has to open your mind, the power of bringing people together in a theater—emotionally and intellectually. It’s a miracle. HWJ: Where do you see Spanish filmmaking as being in twenty years? MS: Bigger productions, more commercial [productions].
Hawaii Women’s Journal | 40
HWJ: Do you feel that Hollywood has a responsibility in contributing to American culture? How does Hollywood affect the perception of America to the rest of the world? Does Spain have an analogous conglomerate that controls media?
Spanish Film Club, and also to use the Internet not only for sales but [also] to educate about films and Spanish filmmaking.
MS: Hollywood is America. [The world] thinks America is what Hollywood conveys. Even in love! We all wait for the typical American love story with a happy-ever-after [ending]. Hollywood is about dreams, not reality. Yes, I think [those in Hollywood] should have a commitment to contribute to American culture in a smarter way. Some try, but not enough. [Regarding the media,] we do have Mediapro [in Spain], for example, but nothing else. In any case, media is not free media, is it? I do not know of any news in Spain that isn’t controlled. [Comparatively, the situation with media is not as bad] in America.
MS: The future is exciting. [People] will have access to films regardless of where they live. They will be able to make films freely without waiting for a fat check from Hollywood. We are ready. We have the freedom. But do we know how to use this freedom? I am afraid of self-censorship. Last week in Berlin, we opened a retrospective of Spanish clandestine filmmakers during Franco’s time. I invited the filmmakers, who were on average around seventy years old, and they presented the dangerous films they made during sixties and seventies. I want to see that spark in young filmmakers today, as well as that commitment with subjects, not concern over money. Those old filmmakers didn’t have the tools, yet they made films. Now filmmakers have everything. It’s exciting as long as we do not think that one gig will make us millionaires. Film is about communication, not fat
HWJ: What are your future goals and plans? MS: We had last year fifteen festivals. And this year it will be twenty. I want Pragda to try new projects, like the
HWJ: Where do you think the future of filmmaking is headed?
checks. But both at the same time would be perfect! HWJ: What kinds of advice would you give a young filmmaker? MS: Persistence, persistence, persistence. Risk, risk, risk. v
Read more about Marta’s current and past projects: Short Metraje www.shortmetraje.com Pragda www.pragda.com Women Make Movies www.wmm.com
photos courtesy of Marta Sanchez
Art by Alice Mizrachi www.am-files.com
Hawaii Women’s Journal | 41www.facebook.com/blondepeacock
THE PINKY SHOW Gently poking your brain since 2005 a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization
Hawaii Womenâ€™s Journal | 42
pen your eyes to the world. Squawk. Your mother thinks you’re ugly, but everyone else thinks you’re beautiful. She explains her judgment thus: you have a squished head. You are too small. No hair. Anyway, your father was waiting in the lobby for you to be born, so the only direct source of information here is your mother. Authoritative sources are important. Nonetheless, your current state, infancy, is what defines you in the hierarchy of the world, a natural order compounded by the human desire to categorize everything. In this massive spinning library of natural and man-made order, you are currently located in 205.232, “Infant.” There is little else exciting about you at the moment. You do all the infant things: you sleep, you scream, you shit. No further subclassification needed. Start looking around. You’ll notice a few things. One important thing is that the scenery keeps changing. You are first here, where there are long wooden hallways for you to tumble along on hands and knees. And then you are there, where there is a house with a deck looking out over a drinkably clear blue ocean. This is explained by the factors surrounding 658.383, “Economic Services,” which specifies the inclusion of all material relating to employee relocation and assignments. This is your parent class, if you will, this life of moving from one home to another because of a career path. You are still young and have not developed your own faceted classification, although you will start soon.
by Krissa Corbett Cavouras
That’s 372.21, “Preschool and Kindergartens,” when you stop speaking Portuguese to your mother and start learning English, thereafter refusing to speak anything else. This breaks her heart, but that’s 306.8743—specifically, the mother-child relationship. This classification is important, as you will test the limits of its capacity for information in many ways as you progress through this space. As you grow and start to explore new corridors, new shelves, you develop a few traits that make it easy for your fellow humans to understand you. First, you are a loquacious and friendly child. Then, as you learn to read, you become a bookworm. Actually, real bookworms, or booklice, are called Psocoptera (595.732), which means that people are speaking in metaphor when they call you a bookworm. You are also very easily attached to animals. In one of your many homes, there is a very old tree with hundreds of birds living there—small ones, like finches or sparrows. You can class this under 598, “Birds,” because you were too young to take note of their particular species. More specifically, it was baby birds, 598.139, because these little creatures would fall out of their nests and you would invariably take them into the house and keep them in the bathtub. You don’t remember what you fed them, but they never lived longer than three to five days. You would bury them in a shoebox under the mango tree each time, singing them the song from the end of Charlotte’s Web and crying. Class here: 297.385, “Mourning and Burial Rites.”
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Unfortunately for your parents, you also develop a facet of adolescence. Suddenly, after a breezy and delightful twelve years where you were quite happily the sun in their universe, you can't stand to be anywhere near them and adopt a worrying tendency to roll your eyes every time they say your name (which they do in increasing tones of frustration). This unfortunate period can be defined by 155.51244, “Embarrassment—Adolescence,” but that’s not even the worst of it. You are a pretty young thing and all the books, all the serious studious elements of your nature, get thrown out the window when you discover 306.77, “Sexual Relations and Related Practices.” We will delve no further into the subclassifications here, but the street parlance is “boy crazy.” You experience rushes of dizzying euphoria, chaste and not-so-chaste kisses, pint-sized broken hearts, long letters written on lined notebook paper, crying in bathrooms at dances. Your misspent youth is spent in pursuit of love and other. You also unfortunately develop a brief fondness for country music, 781.642. Both manias will embarrass you when you’re older. You finally begin to thicken and cool, to settle into the mold intended for you by loving parents, when you reach college. Here you are slavishly devoted to your image of yourself as highly intellectual, although most of your time is spent at coffee shops, staring at people and imagining their lives rather than actually doing the assigned reading (see 153.1532,
Attention and Learning, and also 3.44, your GPA that still shames you). Some of it sticks, enough to make you realize that your teens were a deviation from self, a misdirection in your classification. You are not just a flighty slip of a thing but in fact someone quite intelligent who should take herself a little more seriously so that other people will, too. Your parents sigh their relief when you graduate relatively unscathed into 155.65, Young Adulthood. There are many more things to discover, of course, many more experiences to pick up and classify, some neatly, some not so. It is human nature to categorize, and it’s never copy cataloging when it’s your own life. It doesn’t matter if your best friend knows your that guy for whom you pined away 2003 is going to break your heart in new and inventive ways, you’ve got to shelve that one yourself. Try Love 128.46, and then Loneliness, 155.927. And then the real thing, the real 128.46 comes along, and boy does it knock you right off those stylish shoes (oops, 332.024, Personal Finances gone awry). And on the day that marks the legal process of joining two souls that falls under 306.8, Marriage and Family, your father will take you aside and tell you that this incredible man is your nuclear family now, and he will be right. So you will start a whole new branch of your personal catalog, one that is marked with an “Us.”
Krissa Corbett Cavouras
Hawaii Women’s Journal | 44
Other than marriage, your twenties are spent trying new careers, new disciplines, and understanding the trick of this particular library: there are limitless hallways but not all of them are yours. You will understand, as you move through this floor, that the task assigned to you here is to pick the notations that best fit you and to know which ones to let fall into disuse. This is the categorization: What information is important enough to merit being found? What do you need to know to continue? And as you finish another decade here, as you graduate without pomp and circumstance into true adulthood, you will see that there’s so much more you can learn, once you’ve figured out everything you are. Welcome to the main floor. Here is the good news: there is nothing you cannot find here, or learn about, or accomplish. You have some of the tools; you will gain more. It is all here, from 000 to 900, the breadth of possibility. The bad news: there is no longer a story hour. v NOTE 1. The Mundaneum was the brainchild of Paul Otlet, a Belgian lawyer who created the Universal Decimal Classification and conceived of the Mundaneum as a place to gather together the world’s knowledge. One hundred years later, we can look at Otlet’s drawings of a series of portals that connect users to information stored remotely and be amazed at his perspicacity.
photos courtesy of Krissa Corbett Cavouras
[the balancing act]
Making Womb by Theresa Falk I am going to be a mother. Yet, there is no baby in my womb. My husband and I recently started the process of adopting a child. As an adoptee myself, I had always wanted to complete the circle: to give a child the gift that I had so lovingly received. Fortyone years after my parents opened their hearts and home to me, Chris and I are making room in ours. It was the easiest and most difficult
decision we have ever had to make as a couple. My reasons for wanting to adopt were obvious, and Chris, although not an adopted child, had also considered it for reasons of his own. We both wanted this: there was no question. There is also no question that we would love to get pregnant: Chris and I are physically healthy and able to conceive, and we’re trying. We are hopeful we will someday be blessed with a biological child. However, I turned forty-one last March, and common sense told us Hawaii Women’s Journal | 45
both that now was the right time to adopt: not as a failsafe but because he and I were ready and willing to be parents—definitely through adoption, and perhaps biologically as well. We want one as much as the other. At our first meeting at the adoption agency, our social worker told me that although I may not give physical birth to my child, I would go through my own kind of labor. I didn’t have to wonder long about what she meant: one of our first baby photos courtesy of Theresa Falk
bumps proved to be the awkwardness of the reveal. I have no outward signs of impending parenthood, no morning sickness or swollen belly. Both of us are, however, expectant parents and want others to share in our joy. The problem lies in the fact that pretty much every form of lead-in may elicit a moment of awkward misunderstanding: “We have news!” “We have something to tell you!” Even “Guess what?” has resulted in appropriate yet misdirected excitement from friends and family who are all rooting for a physical pregnancy. Once we tell them that we’re adopting, they’re still overjoyed, especially knowing that I am an adopted child myself. There are more than a few eager aunties and uncles waiting to spoil our child. The reactions have been, for the most part, all wonderful. There have been hugs, kisses and congratulations—and I am grateful—but there was one particular reaction that stopped me cold. A female acquaintance nearly jumped out of her chair when I told her I had some news. “You’re pregnant! You’re pregnant!” she exclaimed, and her hand went directly to my decidedly unpregnant belly. After removing her hand from my uterus, I patiently explained the situation. No, I am not pregnant, but we are adopting and are thrilled to be doing so. She smiled, her happiness indeed genuine, but it was subdued. “That’s wonderful,” she said. “But did you try IVF?” That moment cut at my heart. I read it as an assumption on her part: that a biological child would be my first and only choice, that in adopting I am somehow settling, and that because of this my mothering would only be a shadow of the real thing. As I drove home that night, my emotions ranged from anger to sadness to, finally, a disorienting confusion. I suddenly burst into convulsive tears at a ridiculous question: Do adoptive mothers get to have baby showers? That was one of my first labor pains. The next would come from an even more unexpected source. My husband and I were duly warned by our agency that the process and
paperwork would be both extensive and invasive. Indeed, we have been required to hand over our entire financial history; complete a comprehensive battery of psychological testing; offer up fingerprints, blood, urine; and provide no less than ten letters of reference from our friends, employers, and pastor. We have had someone come to our house and literally look through our closets. And then we took fifteen hours of online parenting classes. We not only understand the necessity of these requests but also appreciate them—the Hague Adoption Convention was established in 1995 to safeguard against child laundering and trafficking. However, our emotional response has been frustration and more than a little
indignation: I highly doubt the Pharaoh’s daughter was asked if she ever had a venereal disease before she scooped up Moses from the Nile. And if we were having a biological child, the only questions we would encounter would be about names and nursery wall colors. Birth mothers are not asked to prove they have no history of child abuse before they leave the hospital, nor do they have to submit to HIV testing. My husband and I agree that the crux of our frustration with this particular element of adoption has to do with yet another assumption—that of our parental readiness and/or worth. A couple expecting a biological child surely goes through self-reflection and even self doubt: Will I be a good parent? Am Hawaii Women’s Journal | 46
I worthy to nurture and raise another human being? The difference lies in the fact that biological parents get to answer those questions for themselves. Adoptive parents have to submit a dossier and have other people decide that for them. Yet another painful contraction. Between the labor pains, however, are moments of ecstatic joy. I am not physically pregnant, but I am an expectant mother. You can’t tell by looking at my waistline, but you should be able to see the glow in my smile. I don’t have morning sickness, but I have been sick to my stomach worrying about paperwork and passports. I walk through the baby section at Macy’s and hold up tiny onesies. I fantasize about family Christmas cards and first days of school. I tear up knowing that soon I will be able to instill in my child the lessons and morals my amazing parents taught me: justice, perseverance, and independence. I have placed my dog-eared copy of To Kill A Mockingbird on the shelf in my future child’s room, where it will wait for the day when we read it together, and I can tell him how much Atticus Finch reminds me of his Grandpa Brand. A biological mother knows her due date. She has an idea of when her child will come. My due date could be tomorrow or next year—I just have to wait, and keep breathing. When my child comes, I will do some things right and more than a few things wrong. I will panic over her first scraped knee. I will laminate her drawing of a Halloween pumpkin and hang it, permanently, on our fridge. I will take a hundred embarrassing pictures of her before I let her leave for prom. I will shake my head at her taste in clothes. I will give her advice she doesn’t want and wait patiently for her to come to me when she does want some. I will furiously snap at her, regret it, and hold her tight afterward. I will gaze lovingly at her when she isn’t looking. I will be her mother. I may not feel this child in my body, but it does not mean that I don’t feel her in my womb. I may not push her out, but I have already breathed her in. v
Love, For Me L
ove for me is the drive to Ipswich, the way the road grows sandier the closer we get to the beach, the stop for beer—Ipswich Ale!—at the family mart and the worn gray boards of the bathroom walls. It’s the walk from the parking lot over the dunes onto the crowded beach, which turns empty the farther we amble toward where the land curves and disappears. It’s the water that flows up at high tide and makes sandbars, cutting fast shallow rivers into the ground. It’s your salty lips on mine, it’s my arms around you in the water, it’s looking up from where I lie in the sand, seeing only your outline as you hold yourself over me against the cloudless sky. It’s the silky, tight skin over your ribcage, the first time I bring my hand up to touch you. Love for me is the night I get sick, too much calamari and Stella and cigarette smoke in the room. It’s the rain that falls through the bars of the fire escape, the night misty and mottled with streetlights, the slick road thirty feet down. It’s my hair in your hands as I retch. It’s the taxi ride home, leaving the party that had only just begun, and it’s the way when I tell you in the morning I’m starving you smile, take eggs from the fridge, say I bet. It’s the cabin you rent in the mountains, one room split in half by a wall you built yourself and painted dark brown. It’s the wicker couch, your only furniture besides the bed, and it’s the cement bathroom with its gray peeling paint. It’s the way you say, I hate my shower, because it is barely big enough for both of us to fit. It’s your VHS collection, and the night we watch Thelma and Louise and start kissing, and when Jimmy screams at Louise, you turn
by Kate McCahill
the video off, the sounds too violent as your lips touch mine. It’s the window by your bed, the woods visible through it. Those trees mark every season: lush in summer; crimson in fall; white and silent in winter, the neighbor’s blue tarp over his firewood brilliant. In spring, the trees will bud slowly, the wind’s warm breath bringing them life. You light candles on our first night together; they’ve never been used. And it’s when I drive from Boston to Lake Placid after work one night in January, the thought of climbing into bed with you keeping me alert the whole way, my foot hard on the gas. The “empty tank” light comes on forty miles from home, and I call you, panicked. You tell me I’ll make it. There’s no reception through Keene, I remind you. If you aren’t here in thirty minutes, I’ll come, you say, but I make it down the dark, curving road, past the Route 9 junction, the empty Stewarts, the marsh and the mountains beyond. When I get to your house, step out of my car, and feel the cold dryness, I look up and see stars filling the sky. The space between them seems darker, they look so bright; you come out in your sandals and hurry me inside, where the windows are steamy. You’ve got ten years on me, but you always look so young, younger each time I see you, it always seems like that first year. Your skin, it’s so soft, your muscles so tight, so tense, your hair and eyes always so light. But love is not the way you told me, I love you, that first time. Your voice sounded so thick and drunk on the line. I was at a girlfriend’s place, in her kitchen with the garish yellow walls, and just as Hawaii Women’s Journal | 47
you choked out those words I’d waited so long to hear, she walked in and caught my eyes, which were filling with tears. I wished I knew you meant what you said; when I accused you of being drunk, you denied it. I stayed up late that night—long after you’d hung up and passed out, long after the girls and even the cats had crept to bed. When I saw the sky lightening, pink hints appearing on the floor through the window, I finally slept. Love isn’t doubting you, and though it’s the last thing you say before we fall asleep each night, there can only be one first time. Love should be the notes you have written to me, the pictures scrawled in the margins, the scribbled x’s for kisses.
But the first time I read a note you’d left for me, I realized with a sinking heart that you had never learned grammar, or that maybe you had but didn’t think it mattered. You can’t spell. I knew this before you even went back for your degree, the degree you started more for us, for me, than for yourself. But I didn’t question that either, not at first, not even as your years toward a bachelor's stretched before us. Love is not the awful day I proofread your English paper and made so many corrections to your words that you grew sullen, defensive, even after I tried to explain. You just can’t leave it like this, I had said. Later, while you slept beside me, your temper long
cooled, I lay awake, tossing, because I hadn’t known until then that you are uneducated in the way I am, I think, most gifted. Knowing this made me feel guilty, guilty and sick because I couldn’t speak it aloud, so I kept quiet, turned my eyes from yours in the morning. Love isn’t feeling like the wrong kind of critic. And love is not the memories, good and bad, tinged with alcohol. It’s not the nights you called me, crying, to admit you’d been arrested. It isn’t you saying to me that in the last decade you took LSD thirty or forty times, or me cringing inside, frightened for us both, for what an intake like that can do to a person. Love isn’t screaming at you after dinner Hawaii Women’s Journal | 48
in a South End restaurant because your debit card couldn’t cover your portion of the bill. It isn’t worrying about how you’ll pay off your student loans, though I know it’s not just about the money. In the end, love shouldn’t be a teacher on how best to bite my tongue. It isn’t waiting for the door to open so that one of us can finally leave. It’s not wishing you are different than you are, or letting this be about desire. It’s not hoping in dark moments that this ends. I think about a future with you, and I am afraid, because lately, each time I look at you I feel something tear a little more, some divide splitting my soul, this loving and hating you both. v
Morning Riddle I am an alabaster womb, a house with no door, carved from brittle ivory without a chisel. You hold me and wonder if you can feel a beating heart within. Or is it too cold inside this small igloo for life?
Late-Summer Riddle I am iron lace, rusted with rain. Wind breathes through me like a fisherman’s net, and I grow noisy as a hammer.
Queen Anne’s Riddle We are albino tongues licking your steps. Heads and tails pointed like small, synthetic beaks, we wag and wave at the dirt. With each panting breath, we hold you together bound in shackles of our own skin.
I am overgrown, too large for my surname, my beard tangled brown seaweed.
You watch the leaves gather at my feet, and stand in fractured sunlight, hoping that I will keep out the small things.
Bedtime Riddle We are small sofas, cocoons of comfort that protect and serve. House-trained dirt wary, we are afraid of what lies beyond your front door. We caress the day from you and breathe sleep into your limbs from the bottom up.
Inside me, there is an ocean, wan and washed by wind and wave. Hardened, weathered, I am ready for soft hands to hatch me. You meet me and wonder what horizons I have seen more sun-drenched than yours.
Treasure Chest Rock-shod and silent, I am marooned.
I breathe visibly. Every few minutes, a fractured puff excites the tiny minds that dance within my belly. I am transparent to your pleasure, and fear the thunder of your attention.
Shell out of Water I am a peach labyrinth, my walls’ ridges that bend to your will. Soft, inverted, I am a muted echo of the conch shell’s interior. You peer into me looking not for the ocean, but for some hint of knowledge equal to its depths. v
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(An Answer Key to Little Riddles: There is an answer per stanza )
In the mornings, I am a deviled egg, smooth and white, my top riotous and sprinkled with paprika. My eyes are like screen doors filtering the sunlight, slamming shut when the day grows too fierce.
Still sleepy, my fingers are shoelaces, tangled knuckles white-washed by the cold, bound in the shackles of my sheets. My dogs sleep beside my bed as faithful as small, brown slippers, bodies curled in cocoons of comfort. My head is a coconut, the night hours still swirling within its hardened shell, a headache threatening to hatch. In the silence before the alarm my ear channels the muted voice of morning through its labyrinth of cartilage. I stumble from the bedclothes. Hair tousled, belly rumbling hands frozen, head splitting, I stare into the mirror and wonder
What am I? v Hawaii Womenâ€™s Journal | 50
Anne Marie Kelley
Sometimes, my belly bubbles like an aquarium and I imagine bright fish inside demanding to be fed.
My Lover Is a Former Fat Kid
With his clothes on, my lover looks like your average man—soft in some places, strong in others. He’s not what you would consider a beautiful man, not stately or distinct. No chiseled features, high cheek bones, or the slightest hint of pecs and abs. With his clothes on, he looks like your average Joe, my completely unaverage TJ. My lover is a former fat kid, and I tell no one.
can’t pin down when I officially met TJ, only when I first saw him—on the set of a short film on which we were both working. He was the Best Boy and I, the Art Assistant. My task that day was to age a foam-based “ceramic” table—a job that kept me spreading and wiping mortar long into the uncharacteristically humid Los Angeles night. As the rest of the crew cleared out, he came walking toward me—a tall figure in a floppy hat led by the faint orange cigarette glow between his lips. “You staying much longer?” he asked. “Just a little bit,” I said, though I wasn’t sure how long I’d be. “Cool,” he said and walked away. A few minutes later, he emerged with two clamp lights. He ran an extension cord and hung the lights from the edge of the shed where I was working. He turned the lights on and left, saying, “When you’re done, just unplug it.” He didn’t look back. When I arrived the next morning, I noticed the lights had already been put away. All night after this first meeting, I’d thought about him more and more—finding out his name from the following day’s call sheet and knowing that he would be one of the first people on set. His single friendly, unfriendly act had made him a person of interest, and though I wanted nothing more than for him to look at me, talk to me, acknowledge me in some way, TJ went about his work with no notice of me and no mention of the lights, either. The film shoot lasted only six days, and for the next five, I stole glances at TJ and held full conversations with him in my head. In those days and imaginary conversations, we talked about cursory things that meant much more underneath. “Hi, how are you?” would have been code for “I want to kiss you, touch you, and find out everything there is to know about you.” When I think back to the first time I saw TJ, I remember two things: first, that people as tall as he was shouldn’t wear floppy hats because, from a distance, it eliminated all possibility of seeing their eyes (you just can’t trust people whose eyes you can’t see). Second, that his lips were the fullest, softest-looking lips I’d ever seen on a man. Perhaps this was only because I couldn’t see his eyes, and so in contrast, his lips might have been overemphasized. But they
by Duy Nguyen
weren’t. They were real, large, and thick—so well-crafted they were almost womanly. So there he was, my future lover, this unreadable giant, his enticingly soft lips. I don’t believe in love at first sight, but I have this theory that the first kiss can tell you everything you need to know about a man. That, with just one kiss, you can find out if it’s going to be worth it. I believe that one kiss can determine if something is friendship, admiration, infatuation, or whether it resembles the possibility of love. I wanted to find myself in TJ’s lips. Though TJ paid no attention to me, I kept telling myself to be one of those girls I see in the movies, the ones who wear lingerie to match their heels. I pictured myself going up to him—sauntering, sexy, confident, pulling him toward me by his shirt collar, and telling him that I wanted to test my theory out on him. Then I’d kiss him, all lips and tongue… Of course I didn’t do it. I’m not that type of girl. In the end, it was TJ who approached me. On the sixth and last day, he gave me the address to a karaoke bar in Koreatown. “We’re all going out for drinks after since this production is too cheap to throw a real wrap party.” My lover is a former fat kid and I tell no one because not so deep down, the folds of his skin embarrass me. It’s been three weeks to the day since that night in Koreatown, and I want to see TJ every day. I don’t tell him that; I try to play it cool and casual because I want to appear cool and casual. We have no set schedule for when we see each other, but I call him every other day. On these calls I try to not seem too excited when he does want to see me, or too disappointed when he doesn’t. TJ doesn’t call; instead, he just shows up at my door. He’s somehow charmed my landlady into letting him into our gated community. She’s even started to wink at me every time I go downstairs to get my mail. I tell my roommate it’s annoying, but I’m a little proud. It makes me happy to think she knows it’s me TJ’s visiting. Because I never know when I will see him next, I’ve started getting dressed up to go to bed. No more old t-shirts and shorts. It’s all cute glasses, perfect ponies, and
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tiny purposefully mismatched PJs. My roommate has also learned to start knocking. We’ve only made love with the lights off. I wonder if this is a coincidence. He never brings up the skin that hangs off his body. There’s enough to know that there had once been something underneath that second skin, someone different. At first, I thought it was because he was self-conscious about the skin, but that’s just another one of my theories. When I look at TJ, I’m constantly searching for some sign of self-consciousness, a look of uneasiness or unreadiness to take off his clothes, but it’s not there. TJ never hesitates. He never insists on me being on top. The skin is just there, like a mole or a hairy chest, just a part of his body that doesn’t need to be acknowledged. I’m both in love with and bothered by his confidence. Every time we make love, TJ says the same thing: “You’re so fucking hot.” I know it’s supposed to make me feel good, sexy, wanted. But I’ve never been able to take a compliment. My shrink says it goes back to my history of dating the wrong sort of man, the kind that believes a hard-on is the biggest compliment he could give. “You’re so fucking hot” makes me uncomfortable. What am I doing to be hot? How do I stay that way? Every time he says it, I groan and dig my fingers into his loose sides and pull him toward me, but it’s always too late. My mind is already wandering. What type of girls was TJ with before me? What type of girls do former fat guys date? I picture fat high-school girls having sex with the fat version of my lover, and I’m insanely jealous. Did that TJ ever tell those girls they were hot? Or was that TJ deeper, less superficial? Did that TJ have conversations in bed with those girls? Then I think about this TJ, the one who so easily covers up his past with a single layer of clothing. I wonder if this TJ would even date fat girls. Then he kisses me, and I’m filled with shame because I can’t imagine making love to the fat version of my lover. When we’re in bed, TJ is always in control. He does all the pushing and pulling. My only job is to hold onto him. Naked, I like how my body is acquiescent under his. Clothed, I wish I were someone else. Someone more like the person I see in the mirror, someone slender and delicate. After we make love, we hold each other. We never talk much, but it always feels as though we stayed up all night doing just that. One night, I go so far as to tell him about my day. We lie in bed, and TJ listens as I talk. I’m instantly addicted to his listening, and I tell him about the younger version of myself, about the awkward years, about my relationships with my mother, my father, past boyfriends. I tell him about my body issues, about all the men who told me I needed to gain weight, to lose weight, to wear clothes that were more revealing, less revealing . . . I tell him about
the ex-boyfriend who insisted that I wear more makeup and stop eating bread. I start to tell him about how I’ve worked so hard to become who I am, and about how I feel lost because I don’t know if I even like that person. I talk so much that I think my tongue will fall right out of my mouth, and then I get quiet, because if it did, I would never be able to taste those soft lips again. The entire time, TJ doesn’t say a word; his breath is slow and steady. I think he has fallen asleep. I’m a little sad, a little relieved. But suddenly those lips are on me, and my TJ guides my body under his. For a moment, I’m suffocating, but I hold back his hanging breasts, arch my head toward his chest, and kiss the person I know is underneath all that skin. I’m waiting for the day that TJ lets me in on his not-so secret. It’s as simple as five words: “I used to be fat.” I wonder if he thinks that if he says nothing, I won’t notice the folds of his body. I wonder if he thinks that I would look at him differently, touch him differently, or let him touch me differently. But I’m afraid because there’s a chance we never even make it that far . . . that he will never let me into that part of his life that hangs onto him so apparently. I have a thousand and one questions ready for him should he ever decide that day has come. Were you made fun of as the fat kid? Were you that kid in gym class? Did you date fat, ugly chicks and masturbate to girls that look like me? Did you ever think about girls like me? What do you really think of girls like me? Could you ever love a girl like me? Because the truth is, I’m vain. The truth is, I’m only beautiful on the outside. The truth is, I don’t really know what beauty is. The truth is, I’m in love with TJ and I’m afraid that he doesn’t love me back. The truth is, I’m in love with TJ and I’m terrified he might love me back. My lover is a former fat kid, and I tell no one because I’m afraid that when he leaves there will be nothing left to hold onto. The first time we made love was the night we went to Koreatown. The party moved to his house, and though I knew that very few people would be there, I followed him home like a puppy. He was not yet my TJ, not yet my lover, but I followed him anyway. When everyone started to leave, TJ whispered into my ear to stay. I fell asleep on the couch waiting for him to get out of the shower and awoke to the feel of his cool hand on mine. Gently, he pulled me up and led me to his bedroom, and even more gently, he leaned against me until we both were lying on his bed, his body pushing down on mine. “I normally don’t do this,” I confessed, hoping that my words sounded like a lie. In the dark, I couldn’t make out the details of his face, but I could feel the softness of his lips and body. As he lay on top of me, I could feel his skin—loose, hanging, brushing my naked self. I remember being surprised at how much of him there was, how much more there once had been, and how it felt like being engulfed in a million soft, fluttering kisses. v
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Endless Necklace But my words become stained with your love. You occupy everything, you occupy everything. I am making them into an endless necklace for your white hands, smooth as grapes.
by Keith Meatto
photo by Bianca Mills
ila smelled fire in her dream and woke to see Gabriel on the balcony, cigarette in one hand, newspaper in the other. The desert sunrise bloomed behind him in red stripes. Gabriel still wore his clothes from their concert last night: a rumpled button down and charcoal pants. Lila checked the clock on the nightstand; they had barely slept. This had been a road ritual. Their band had played 45 cities in two months and Gabriel always woke at dawn. He always tried to kiss Lila awake and burrow against her side, and when his efforts to arouse her failed—she hated mornings— he’d go outside and pace the parking lot. No doubt he’d been awake for hours. And they had to drive 250 miles today for the last show of the tour. You’ll be too tired to sing, Lila called. Gabriel did not respond. Lila waited in bed for a few minutes, but he stayed on the balcony. Her stomach growled, and she opened the fake leather menu. She wanted breakfast, an omelet, maybe, or Eggs Florentine. Spinach would be good. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d eaten an actual vegetable—her tour diet had been mostly fast food and power bars. She slid from bed, tightened the sash of her robe, and stepped over their guitar cases and onto the balcony, where Gabriel stood serene and beautiful below the bluffs. Lila suddenly wished she owned a camera. She had no photographs of Gabriel. And there would be good ones: him riding an invisible horse through Monument Valley; contorting his limbs under a Joshua tree; doing pushups on the Four Corners. He had pulled off the highway so he could be standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. He had chuckled and wondered if he’d meet a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford. Then they pulled into town and found stores filled with tee shirts, bumper stickers, and souvenir mugs, a tourist shrine to a thirty-five-year-old song lyric. An hour later, he sprawled crucifixion-style across the middle yellow line of the empty desert highway while she panicked that some crazed driver would mow him down like an armadillo. The morning light stung her eyes so Lila shaded her
forehead with the menu. Then she asked Gabriel if he was hungry. We can’t afford room service, he said. Let’s splurge, she said and opened the menu. He looked away. She asked if he was still upset about last night. No, he said, I’m thrilled we played another empty room, unless you count the eighty-year-old drunk doing the crossword puzzle. You take it too personally, she said. Let’s split the continental breakfast. Do you know how much money I’ve lost on this goddamned tour? Gabriel stood from the green plastic chair and ground out his cigarette in the standing ashtray. Lila had never asked Gabriel about his finances. That seemed too intimate, even now. She knew his father had been a cop, his mother a public librarian. And Gabriel had alluded to odd jobs, some musical, most not. He had engineered recording sessions, sung in church choirs and kids’ birthday party bands. He had also been a caterer, busboy, bike messenger, and cashier in a gay bookstore where the owner thought he was cute. He probably earned so little that at tax time the government gave him money. I’m down ten grand on this trip, he said. And it’s all gone, Lila, on meals, on motels, on gas, not to mention all those CDs and tee shirts. You never cared about money before, she said. You sound like my parents. I never said I wanted to be impoverished and anonymous. I maxed out three credit cards, deferred my student loans, and I owe six friends money. You’re just overtired, she said. The summer had been long, some 5,000 miles on the road. They had just driven the PCH from LA to San Francisco, through the strawberries and artichokes and the harrowing hairpins. Between shows, they had hiked the Grand Canyon and camped at the bottom. But Gabriel got claustrophobic in their two-man tent so he slept alone under the stars. He redeemed himself the next day and
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took her to Taliesin West. Lila loved the odd buildings and the gardens. Gabriel seemed more inspired by the history. Frank Lloyd Wright had picked the best young architects to build his winter palace, and they met annually to change the future of architecture. Lila put a hand on Gabriel’s neck and rubbed the stiff knot of muscle above his shoulder blade. You can sleep in your own bed soon, she said. But have some perspective. Pablo Neruda didn’t just decide to be a poet, roll out of bed, and walk into a stadium of 100,000 adoring fans. He just wrote every day until something worked. She squeezed his shoulder and went inside. The room was low budget, but motels were still a luxury. You began a new life every day and your mess became somebody else’s problem. For all the inconveniences of the road—as her mother and girlfriends had predicted—Lila had not made a bed, emptied the trash, or cooked a meal all summer, attended by an army of invisible servants. Still, she wondered if the Pakistani graduate student who was subletting her studio in Brooklyn had let her avocado tree die. Lila showered, slipped into jeans and a tank top, and brushed her teeth in the mirror. She had lost weight on tour, maybe five or six pounds. Her arms were slim and firm from lugging her amp and guitars. The sun had tanned her skin and cut blond streaks through her dark hair. Her pale office friends would be jealous. She opened a bottle of eyeliner and traced her lids. Yea, she looked good. The tight coils of her body had all loosened, her face muscles had relaxed, and she had shed her anxious look. Leaving the city had helped and so had performing every night. But the real change was Gabriel. They had shared beds across the country but never their real ones back home. That had almost happened after rehearsal when Gabriel took her to a dumpling house on East Broadway. He was different away from the instruments: quiet, thoughtful, inquisitive. He also had good timing. Lila had been to six weddings that year, heard the biological alarms ring, and saw the singles tables shrink. Her friends saw her as That Girl, drifting at thirty with no man and no plan. And she had gone on too many dates and heard too many monologues. Gabriel actually complimented her, said she played guitar like a ninety-year-old black man. She laughed and said her father had a good record collection but skipped how her parents fought most nights and she played Mississippi John Hurt in her room until she went into a trance.
He had been fascinated that night by Lila’s stories about her private girls’ school in Cherry Hill. He had taken three buses from Hoboken to Catholic school in Manhattan. The threehour commute was ludicrous, but he had a full scholarship. But they had similar families. Lila was the accidental fourth child whose birth delayed her parents’ divorce. Gabriel was an only child whose father died from a heart attack when he was eleven. They waited on the corner after dinner for a taxi. She usually rode the subway, but they were too far east. No cabs came for a while. Lila tried to think of a conversation starter, but after trading life stories for two hours she had nothing to say. They fidgeted and leaned into the road. Lila rocked on her heels and then let her knuckles bump against his hand. Gabriel clutched at her fingers and she let him. They stood like that and held hands until a cab pulled beside them. The driver rolled down his window and asked where they were going. Gabriel looked at her. It would be so easy. Gabriel would hold the cab door for her, and she would slide into the middle seat so their legs would touch. He’d give the driver his address and then take her hand. She’d close her eyes and ignore the radio jazz and the driver chattering on his phone to Bangladesh. He wouldn’t rush. They’d sit together on his couch under wooly blankets, sip chai, and listen to Abbey Road on that record player he bought at a flea market. He’d show her his travel photos: monsoons in Vietnam, temples in Cambodia, beaches in Laos. He’d read her Keats or E. E. Cummings, and she’d dissolve in the rasp of his voice. And then when the air got still, when she couldn’t wait another second, he’d kiss her once, softly, just to be sure, and then again, for real. But then what? She knew nothing about him, really. What if he had a girlfriend or, god forbid, a wife or a new crush every week? And they were about to tour together, ten weeks in a car—her first chance at serious music and a reprieve from photocopying for guys in pleated pants. What if he changed his mind in the morning, or three days later, or three weeks later? And how many musical couples actually worked? Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks? James Taylor and Carly Simon? Jack and Meg White? So Lila released his hand and slid into the taxi alone. The whole ride home, she touched the spot where he had wiped the hot sauce from her cheek. Gabriel didn’t call Lila in the morning or say anything after the next rehearsal. The tour opened to a packed house in New York, followed by tiny crowds in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Each night they dissected every
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note of their performance in the hotel bar. Each night, they retired to separate rooms. Each night, Lila lay in bed and wondered if he would knock. When he finally did, in a Super 8 outside Columbus, she almost dragged him across the rug. She mailed a note to her best friend the next morning and enclosed a five-dollar bill. Lila returned to the balcony and the desert vastness. She tapped Gabriel’s arm and asked what he was reading. My worst review yet. Gabriel unfolded the paper, cleared his throat, and read aloud: This music is pretentious, tedious, indulgent, and ponderous. One wonders if someone dared Gabriel Montefiore to write a whole album of unmemorable tunes, devoid of lyrical, melodic, or harmonic hooks. If so, he has succeeded. Cheap shot, Lila said. Your songs all have hooks. It gets better, he said. The concept sounds original: a musical adaptation of Pablo Neruda’s Twenty Love Songs and a Song of Despair. Only someone forgot to tell Montefiore that Luciana Souza set Neruda to music a few years ago. Or that Schubert made a similar move 175 years ago with Die Schöne Müllerin. But unlike Souza and Schubert, however, Montefiore has robbed the poems of their poetry. Everyone gets bad reviews, she said. Wait, he said. The live show only highlights the album’s flaws. Montefiore’s voice is raw, thin, and untutored, a half-whine, half-whimper. Put that down, she said. Gabriel lit another cigarette, turned his back, and continued to read: The real tragedy is Lila Cole’s presence amid such mediocrity. Many women play fine guitar, but few dominate with such virtuosity. Her quick fingers and succulent vocal harmonies— Stop, Lila said. —redeem the duo from damnation. It doesn’t hurt that she’s a knockout. Gabriel let the newspaper drop to the floor. Smoke floated in the dry air. Lila wrapped her arm around his waist. Sweetheart, she said and kissed the tender spot beneath his jaw. It’s one review. That’s number fifteen, he said. And they’re all miserable. Why do you care? That’s easy for you to say, Ms. Quick Fingers, Ms. Vocal Succulence. What should I do, play worse so you feel better? Please. You wake me up with your cigarette, I try to comfort you, and then you attack me? Talk to me when you’re not acting like a three year old. You could tone it down on stage, he said. Do you really need to play behind your back or walk into the audience to take solos? How about the time you went into the street and played outside the club? You gave me that idea talking about Buddy Guy. I thought you wanted me to do that. I just want to make our show better.
I never told you to set the night on fire. Lila recalled the night in Sebastopol, at a bar packed with migrant farm workers and a handful of hipsters. As the last note of her solo rang out, she emptied her shot glass, spewed a burst of clear alcohol, and struck a match. The fire cloud spread and someone captured the stunt on a cell phone and posted the clip online. By the end of the next day, more than 10,000 people had worshipped the Holy Dragon Goddess. You always say we need more promotion, she said. That was free publicity. For you, he said. If you wanted somebody just to wiggle, play tambourine, and look cute, you picked the wrong girl. I’m a musician, Gabriel, not band candy. You don’t always have to play at a million watts, he said. Fine, she said. How about I buy a really long cord and sit backstage? I auditioned you, he said. And I accepted. They’re my songs. Your first draft was some chords and a few images. We made them together. Not to mention that you stole the lyrics from Neruda. Fine, take half the royalties: Fifty percent of zero is still zero. Do you want half of my bills, too? Do you want to pay for gas now? It’s up to four dollars a gallon. Listen to yourself. I do everything for you and this is how you repay me. I don’t want any glory or credit, just a little respect. You can’t just use me when you need me and then tell me to be quiet in the corner. Everybody said I shouldn’t hire a girl. It sure had some side benefits. When Gabriel did not reply, Lila went on: Please. I knew as soon as you asked me out for dumplings. You’ve never had to fight for attention or share anything in your entire life, Mr. Only Child, Mr. Lead Singer. Try having four older brothers and sisters. Try being stuck in the car listening to sports radio where two idiots argue for an hour about the existential meaning of some pitcher’s rotator cuff injury. You smoke every twentyfive minutes, and you haven’t showered since we crossed the Rockies. Everybody makes sacrifices, Gabriel. So don’t lecture me about being a team player. You make it sound like I tortured you, he said. Lila stared at Gabriel. He patted his shirt pockets, and then his jeans pockets, for his cigarettes: nothing. He dropped to the floor, unzipped his suitcase, and flung shirts and pants, underwear and socks, as he rummaged for a pack. When he found one, he went to the windowsill and struck a match. So, she said. What happens when we get back to New York? Gabriel turned his back, a pale Irish ghost against the red desert. Lila bent down and gathered his clothes. She folded his tee shirts into perfect rectangles: Snap, right, left, over, under. Thanks, retail jobs. She stacked the shirts into bricks inside
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his suitcase, then his pants, before she paired and stuffed his socks into his shoes. You know, she said. We’d have more money if you didn’t insist on separate hotel rooms. That’s what, seventy-five to a hundred dollars wasted every night times sixty days equals— I know how much it costs, he said. Maybe that made sense the first or second time but not anymore. You can’t just drift and expect me to follow. What about all those guys who hit on you after every show? Lila tucked her hair back into a ponytail. Are you really jealous of random strangers? Sure, I flirt. Then they buy a CD or a tee shirt and then I go home with you. Do you think I want some loser who wanders alone into a bar at eleven o’clock on a Wednesday? Besides, you’re the one who sings love songs to strangers. You mean empty rooms. Lila swept the loose change from the nightstand into her hand, cleared her throat, and lowered her voice. Go shower, she said. Then we’ll order some breakfast. I told you, we can’t afford room service. I’ll drive, she said. You can sleep on the way. Lila spread her arms and pulled Gabriel in for a hug. His body felt frail, and his heart twittered against her chest. They held the embrace and then he pulled away. She heard the faucets run and the toilet flush. She saw her cell phone blinking red. Probably parental. She had not told them about Gabriel. They would hate him. He’d rub in their faces the life she had chosen. They had a hard enough time when Lila failed freshman bio and decided to major in classical guitar. Her surgeon father insisted that music was a hobby. She had proved him right for eight years, giving lessons, singing Ladies’ Night Karaoke, and working time-bider jobs at a travel agency, clothing stores, and, lately, as a paralegal. Then she had seen Gabriel’s poster on a café bulletin board—Female Guitarist Wanted—and summoned the courage to audition. She returned to the balcony. No cell towers or power lines or telephone poles, no traces of humanity except the paved roads that cut through the striped hills. Pioneers had crossed this land, she thought, on foot, in the saddle, and in wagons. They wanted gold and adventures, God and freedom, glory and anonymity. They fought the desert to survive and sometimes they won. The weather would be perfect in New York now, almost fall. Lila imagined the days to come. They’d play tonight and then make their way home. Her jealous girlfriends would swoon and wish they’d never given her the Pity Face. She and Gabriel would nap in Prospect Park. They’d barbecue on her roof and watch the sun set over Manhattan. And while her parents might object to the idea of Gabriel, he’d charm them in person. Her mother would cluck and cook him a ninecourse banquet. Her father, who could not boil water, would take them to Café Lux and tell stories about his campus radical
days, how he’d seen Hendrix and loaned him a quarter for a newspaper. And she’d meet Gabriel’s mother, the little Irish widow who had loaned them her station wagon, a low-slung white whale with a loose muffler and Hudson County PBA bumper stickers. Then Lila would write her own songs. Gabriel would help and support and encourage her the way she had done with the Twenty Love Songs. And then they’d tour again next summer, but this time with one hotel room. Lila never bought bridal magazines or fantasized about china patterns or fabric swatches or stainless steel appliances. She didn’t need marriage—her parents had destroyed any illusions about the sacredness of that institution. She just wanted to be one of those couples that bloomed every spring, the ones who sprawled out together on the grass or leaned across restaurant tables, intertwined like vines. The bathroom door opened. Lila glanced up from her paperback and saw Gabriel step through the steam, cleanshaven in a crisp shirt and jeans. Hey, he said. Lila held up two fingers and went back to her Chekhov. She had read one story per day all summer, always in a single sitting. She never stopped in the middle. Once she started, she had to finish. She tried to re-engage the Russian noblewoman and her woes, but after Gabriel crossed her line of sight three times, she stuck a pencil between the pages. He looked at her for a long time, words stuck on the edge of his lips. I’m sorry, he said. It’s OK, she said. We’re both tired. She took his hands and clasped his fingers. He stared at her a moment, then looked down at the floor, and released her fingers. I went for a walk after the show last night, he said. I heard you, she said. I needed real air. I can’t breathe in all this air conditioning. Lila sat up and traced her fingers around the buttons of the remote control. So I go out, he said. And I just lie down on this rock. There are all these stars, ones you can’t see back home. And the only constellations I know are Orion and the Big Dipper. And I’m thinking Neruda would know their names. He’d know what they meant. They’re named after the Zodiac, she said. You can look them up online. The television flashed on and Lila twitched at the sound before she realized she had accidentally pressed the power on the remote control. She pressed the red button again, apologized, and told Gabriel to continue. Don’t make fun of me, but for a minute out there, I thought I heard my dad. Gabriel laughed in embarrassment. Not like I saw a ghost. I just imagined what he’d say. Lila frowned. Her parents were crazy, but they were alive.
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And then this girl came out. Lila felt her stomach flip. What time was this? About two, he said. Maybe it was three. So, what, did you kiss her? Gabriel blinked twice but said nothing. Lila slammed the remote control on the bed and the quilt muffled the sound. Are we talking a peck on the cheek, a smack on the lips? Was it a French kiss? I just went out for some air, he said. If you wanted a romantic evening, you could have just asked. I just went out for some air. And then what, this mystery woman bewitched you? Really? We’re in the middle of the desert in the middle of August in the middle of nowhere. There are like two and a half cars in the parking lot. And there just happens to be a girl who just happens to love stargazing? If you’re going to make up a cheating story, make it a little more original. You think I’m lying? Fine, her name is Martha. She laughed. Martha? What’s her last name? Washington? Stewart? Did you meet the Vandellas? Did you serenade her with that Tom Waits song? Lila grabbed her guitar, fingered a chord, and bounced her thumb on the strings. Some people did yoga; some people did therapy; she just fingerpicked. Li, he said. She steadied her thumb and picked the melody with her fingers. Li, listen. Take this hammer and carry it to my captain, she sang. Tell him I’m gone. Gabriel grabbed the guitar by the neck and held it over his head like a trophy. Watch out, she said. You think you have money problems now, try replacing that. Gabriel relaxed his grip and laid the instrument down. What she taste like? Was she wearing lipstick? Chapstick? Is she a good kisser? Did you sing for her? Of course you did. I thought you didn’t like small crowds. Did she give you any new ideas? It’s important to be inspired. Just ask Picasso. As soon as he ran out of ideas, he got another mistress. He hooked a thumb on his jeans pocket. It was only a kiss, he said. Her eyes stung and she put her face in her hands. He kneeled beside her on the carpet and stroked her hair. But as soon as he touched her cheek, she howled. Why would he hurt her like this? Why was she such an idiot? Her girlfriends had literally bet that she’d fall for Gabriel and then warned her to be careful. Why did every relationship explode, from her gay prom date to her last boyfriend who left her for his hairdresser? Lila suddenly wanted to call her mom. Those social work skills would help now. And her mother knew about men. Lila’s father had left his wife for an aerobics instructor and
stalled for years on child support and alimony. But Mrs. Cole didn’t stay home and weep. She worked overtime counseling at Our Lady of Lourdes, took night classes at Camden County, and got her real estate license and sold houses on weekends to pay her daughter’s tuition. Lila had always hated those sacrifice speeches. But if her mother were on the phone now, she’d say, Be strong. Keep your dignity. Lila stood, sniffled, and wiped her face. I had to tell you, Gabriel said. What, did you want me to lie? No, I want you to stop lying to yourself. You’re that kid who cuts class rather than take a test. You leave Conservatory three months before graduation because it’s easier to drop out than to call yourself a real musician. You steal someone else’s love songs because you’re too afraid to sing your own. Tomorrow’s our last show, he said. Too bad, she said. Find someone else to blame when the world fails to recognize your genius. Go write twenty songs of despair and hope you have enough left for a love song. It just happened, he said. That line is played out, Gabriel. You and I just happened. You and Miss Martha just happened. Life doesn’t just happen; you make choices and you deal. I care about you, he said. I need you. I care about my avocado tree, and it’s probably dead. You didn’t need me last night. What was all this to you, summer camp? Li, he said. I love you. Her throat twitched, and she swallowed a rush of salt. He had never said that before. And she had almost said it a hundred times but didn’t want to be the first one. Her brother told her once never to put a guy in that position. Then he’d be obliged to say it back. It was horrible and sexist and illogical—wouldn’t the same be true in reverse? No, she said. You can’t say that now. He got down on his knees and pressed his face to her legs, shoulders convulsing. When Gabriel had needed her help finishing the Song of Despair, she had told him to improvise. It’s easy, she said. Everyone has despair. Gabriel called the idea avant garde crap, but she just turned off the lights and picked and strummed in the dark, snapped the strings, smacked the wood body. Gabriel had waited for a while and then keened—no words, just howls and moans. He sounded like that now. Lila patted his head. He had cheated on her, and she was comforting him. But he couldn’t talk his way out of this one. She wasn’t the security guard at the private beach in Carmel or the federal marshal at the Hoover Dam whom Gabriel convinced not to search their car. She pried his arms from her legs, stared into his eyes, and told him to call room service and order the Continental Breakfast. And the Eggs Florentine, she added. She’d need the energy. v
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THE PROMPT IT'S ALL ABOUT YOU
The Prompt: What is your must-have morning-after cure for a late night?
Your words: Alka seltzer. Plop plop fizz fizz . . . –Julia Kibble Fortenberry Is coffee too obvious? –Rachel Wiley Ideally, I drink a Gatorade before going to sleep. And keep water and Advil right next to the bed. –Levi Ho‘okano Orange energy drink (e.g. Gatorade, Vitamin Water) and a chicken cutlet sandwich with lettuce, tomato, hots and sweets (peppers), and honey mustard. –Keith Meatto I’ve recently found Gatorade to be helpful. I think it’s the whole electrolyte-replacement thing. I also find myself craving sugar, so it addresses that as well. –Eric Cannon Water-rich fruits with breakfast to rehydrate and bananas with toast are good to soothe an upset stomach. For someone who wants to detoxify, milk thistle may be helpful. –Jeanette LeBlanc I haven’t needed a morning-after cure in a long while, but I hear that coconut water is what the kids (i.e., my 45year-old boss) are drinking nowadays. –Beth Brezenoff
Gatorade and a Bloody Mary. –Cheryl Wilder Does vomiting count? –Shaun Wiley Fresh lemon squeezed in cold water, two glasses on waking. –Lené Gary Bacon and eggs with a glass of OJ! –Daniel Day Umeboshi plums! –Megan Rogers Drink a tall glass of water and eat a banana before going to bed. –Julie Ali‘ipule
My favorite cure is a swim in the oceans of Hawai‘i, but since I am landlocked for the next year or so, I have to suffice for eggs with runny yolks, toast, bacon (yes, I know, it’s meat, but the grease helps), and green tea. –Jessica Kessler Assuming the previous evening wasn’t so outrageous that the next morning isn’t spent next to the toilet ... a few big glasses of water, a long shower, and a nap in the sunshine will bring me back to life! –Courtney Pierce v
I like lots of Starbucks coffee . . . and being left ALONE. –Beth Pellino-Dudzic Another all-nighter with six Jolt Colas and a box o’ Dunkin’ Donuts. Durn English major! –Davin Kubota (1) Two glasses of Emergen-C, followed by one hour of yoga; (2) pelo de perro! (hair of the dog), i.e., more of what got you there; (3) a bowl of Pho and a Hue beer; (4) a Bloody Mary with a margarita rim and a big stalk of celery. If these don’t work, you simply must quit! –Jim Pat Pounds My cure is 1.5 hours of hot and sweaty Bikram yoga. It’s a bit rough but you feel as if not a drop of alcohol touched your lips the night before. Sweat it out baby! –Amanda Onken I’m with the Gatorade folks . . . and add a good egg and cheese sandwich (eggs replace the amino acid needs and are nice and greasy, which somehow is helpful). Did I say painkillers for the head too? –Kat Reaney Hawaii Women’s Journal | 58
The Prompt for Issue 5: Born during a writing salon conversation, as shared by managing editor Mayumi Shimose Poe, “And then we admitted it: We all have something about which we feel crazyblindjealous.” HWJ wants to know: What is that thing for you? Your response may be edited to fit space restrictions. Aim for 75 words or less. We will use your name as shown by Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail unless you specify otherwise. Should we choose to feature your response, you may be contacted for more information.
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Issue #4 November 2010 through February 2011