Published by Sea Witch Productions. February 11, 2017. In conjunction with Sea Witch presents: Let It Bleed featuring Dead Sara, Wax Idols, Kera and the Lesbians, and The Tambo Rays at The Chapel. 777 Valencia Street, San Francisco, California. Read more at seawitchsf.com @seawitchsf
The Sea Witch Zine Vol III Nicole Espina | _this blood_ Photo by Nicole Espina Tessa Paoli | #38 Illustration by Emma Olswing Paintings by Brea Meinreb Brea Meinreb | the modernists are mysogynists Collage by Katie Chavez Emily Ballaine | To Get at the Heart One Must First Make a Cut Illustration by Stephanie Escoto Photo by Karen MD Paula Espina | Strangers Peter Danzig | Animal Control Photos by Andrea Sonnenburg; Art direction by Laura Sallack Lauren Espina | Drapes Bodies Photos by Casey Price; Art direction by Haley Scofield Lauren Talysa Santos | To: Men; Women; All in between / Subject: Patriarchy pt. I To: That one dude / Subject: Nostalgia v. presence Photo by Keren MD Elizabeth Rofoli | Temples Photos by Kyle DeMartini Noemi Soto | Wednesday, June 8, 2016 â€“ Bushwick Bizarre Anonymous | On Chronic Illness, Birth Control, and Feeling Like I have 1 Million Annoying Dads Period Haikus | Denise Espina, Sivan Lioncub, and Brittany Coy Collage by Lauren Espina
_this blood_ Nicole Espina _this blood_ is not taboo it will not be concealed for your comfort it cannot be shamed _this blood_ is the moon embrace it like the tides embrace the shore as they have for millennia _this blood_ binds past to present every body that birthed every person shed _this blood_ _this blood_ is not a period it is not the end of anything
Slow Decay No. 6. 2016. Nicole Espina.
#38 Tessa Paoli 2016 was bewildering and shocking. A 22 year-old white supremacist is on death row for killing nine black parishioners. The fire at Ghostship left my friends mourning. D onald Trump is president. Overwhelmed, I am making a plan for 2017. Fierce activists at Scripps College and in the Bay have inspired me to think radically and organize thoughtfully, but in the fog of hopelessness that hovers over so many people that I love, I am forced to think of change on a more personal level. Talking about the big, sweeping ideological roadblocks in our society while sipping cheap whiskey and smoking cigarettes was important in 2014. In 2017 it is not enough. The personal is political sentiment that our second wave sisters passed down to us has never seemed so mandatory. In February of last year I started volunteering for San Francisco Women Against Rape’s crisis hotline. I attended an 8-week crisis counselor training at the beautiful Woman’s Building on 18th and Valencia. During these eight weeks I met 11 radically strong and powerful women that I am so lucky to now call my friends. These women came from different corners of the Bay, but we were all committed to fighting violence against women. After the initial orientation we delved into the first anti-oppression exercise--an identity-naming game. Our training leader read declarative statements that ranged from, “I grew up with a single mom” to “I am a survivor of sexual assault.” The statements probed us to own the lived experiences that define the way that we navigate the world. If we related to the statement being read we walked across the room and turned around to face our still unfamiliar peers for a few seconds before rejoining the group. This exercise 3
cemented trust within the group and also encouraged the radical honesty that is necessary to support survivors living in San Francisco. Our eyes were opened wide. The room was tense, honest and angry. My throat tightened when a woman walked across the room alone and faced the group with no one beside her and I felt warmth when multiple women walked across together, knowing that they were no longer alone in some of their most shame-inducing experiences. The moments of silence when we stood on the opposite side of the room in front of the rest of the group were excruciatingly vulnerable and powerful. We owned these oftentimes painful experiences, or at least tried to. I lied on statement #38. I lied when the reader stated, â€œwalk across the room if you have ever struggled with your body image.â€? It was a statement that most, if not all, of the women in the room could relate to--fitting in with the constructed image of beauty that the male gaze dominates and the patriarchy perpetuates. I sunk further and further inside myself and stood still. This was something that I could not admit to, even though bulimia dominated my teens and has haunted my adulthood. I dissociated from my eating disorder, an experience that I could not let define me, that I was constantly fragmenting and quietly storing away. My silent shame kept me from supporting the women who bravely walked together to the opposite side of the room. I think about this lie often because it broke the solidarity in that room. This lie was cowardly. This lie was anti-feminist. My plan for 2017: to own my whole identity. The moments of shame that I am able to hide are just as intrinsic as my overt privileges. In order to show up for my loved ones inside and outside of my communities, I must be honest about my identity--as a white, upper class, cis, mostly heterosexual-leaning woman--and every single drop of the lived experiences that comes along with it. This honesty informs my privilege, which is my weapon during the next 4
four years. Being honest about my identity and struggles is the first step in my plan, and the second is to leverage my privilege and my experiences to support other women who feel alone or like their voices are stifled. This is my coming out and my written commitment to be a better ally in 2017. This is my acknowledgment of my formerly fragmented identity that I am continuously patching up. In 2017 it is radical and urgent to be personal and I will hold my patches tenderly and pridefully in solidarity with other women.
Not Yours. 2016. Emma Olswing.
everything was indigo. 2016. Brea Weinreb.
ethan study. 2016. Brea Weinreb.
everything was indigo. 2015. Brea Weinreb. 9
the modernists are misogynists Brea Weinreb
I. Ever since I read Petrarch I romanticized the notion of falling into water, A sea so deep it would swallow you whole, And so dark blue you would lose sight of all air. II. Then I read Ezra Pound, and he told me The ocean is a female, Brimming with sexual energy and a mind of her own. Sheâ€™ll flow through you like butterscotch, Drown you in desire and leave your bed empty in its wake. Her immeasurable depths will taunt you Your masculinity tangled in her weeds. Ezra Pound told me, The ocean is a female, and She is not to be trusted. III. Eliot agreed, Lawrence agreed, I read and read and they all agreed. I believed them, I did, I felt blue and I felt weak, Until I realized; The Modernists are misogynists, and all of them are dead.
Moon River. 2017. Katie Chavez. 11
To Get at the Heart One Must First Make a Cut Emily Ballaine I think maybe if I scream. Maybe then he will stop saying Yes ma’am, Slow down ma’am. Maybe then he will stop writing in that little pad, and nodding his head, that constant up and down, up and down like one of those toys. You know the ones. Those little birds that you push with the tip of your finger, just the lightest touch of your finger, and they bounce up, down, up, down and on and on. I take in a lungful of air. You’re supposed to use your diaphragm if you want to project your voice. Someone told me this once. Someone told me this like it was supposed to make sense, this connection between your stomach, your lungs, your voice. I think about my stomach when I let out my scream. I clench my muscles and concentrate. Is it all working together yet? Am I in control yet? I ask myself these questions as though I am expecting an answer, but all I hear is my own muffled voice echoing across the valley. *** We both just need some sun, she had said. But what she really meant was we needed a change. What she really meant was we had reached that point in those messy threads and connections of a relationship when a decision must be made. The light that spilled in from the sole window in her apartment was dull and grey and seemed to drain all the energy out of the room. She was sitting across the room from me and I thought that this—this picture of her in the grey light, sitting cross-legged on her bare floor—was almost more than I could take. I thought that maybe if instead of watching her—instead of my inability to say the things one is expected to say in moments such as these—I could just pull myself off the floor and fall on top of her and 12
smother these thoughts that could only inevitably lead to the end of us, I thought if I could just do that, that one simple act of moving from this place to that place, moving my body on top of her body, then maybe it would all be ok. But I did nothing, said nothing, and the moment ran away as moments always do. I feel like I’m molding in this fog, she said and laughed because it was supposed to be a joke, but there was something in the way she said molding. There was something in this idea of rotting from the inside out that caused the laughter to stick in our throats. It’s the way this place gets under your skin. The way certain people get under your skin. The way you give yourself over. The way they swallow you up. An escape, she said finally. And how could I argue with that? *** I didn’t understand it. There were hours of driving, hours of nothing but long, straight roads that ran on and on into the horizon, an endless succession of faded yellow lines and asphalt that dulled the senses. But she said, Patience. She said, Just wait. And then we arrived. And still there was nothing, an empty valley of dirt and heat and sand that terrified me with its vastness. But she said, Just think what the stars will look like. She said, All this space just for us. And she took my hands into her hands. And she looked into my eyes the way a person under your skin might look into your eyes. And maybe she really did mean it. Maybe I just didn’t want to hear it. Or I mean maybe I just chose not to hear it. Because I was beginning to feel her cutting into my chest, 13
a rough and ragged incision meant to contort the skin into a mountain line of crags and peaks. Because it was easier to try and stitch myself up before she got too deep. Because it was easier to pretend not to care, easier to think she was just trying to find the beauty in the starkness of the landscape, the how-could-anything-survive-here landscape. So I made a joke about serial killers. I made a joke about no one to hear you scream. So I pushed her away the way I often push people away. And how she did not laugh, but just turned away the way people under your skin will often turn away. How she did not say anything more about the stars or the open space. ***
Please don’t do that, Ma’am, he says. We’ll find your friend, he says. Please calm down, he says. Please stop crying, he says. Stop crying. Stop crying. ***
Because before the months ran away I didn’t know how to stop crying. I cried because I was alone. I cried because I wasn’t alone. I cried because of a chemical imbalance. I cried because of a lack of vitamin D. I cried at bus stops. I cried at the grocery store. I cried in front of strangers and this made them uncomfortable. The disapproving throat clears, the nervous shifting of eyes. Because before the months ran away there was a bar. It was a smoke filled bar. It was the last smoke filled bar in the city. It would not be smoke filled for much longer. It would not be much longer before the city cracked down, and the bar was cleaned up, and the city was cleaned up, and there was no longer a single place you could smoke and drink. I liked this bar because I liked to 14
smoke. I liked this bar because I liked to hide behind this smoke. ***
Where did you last see your friend, he asks. Where were you hiking? What was she wearing? Where were you going? What are you doing here? ***
She was pitching a tent. She was making a fire. She was the type of girl who knew how to do these things. I did not pretend to be the type of girl who could do these things. I watched her from a camp chair and complained about the heat. I watched her sweating, her face flushed a deep red, and then stared at a book. We ate hot dogs. We ate marshmallows. And when the sun sank behind the mountain and the cold began to pool in my hands and feet, she stood up and pulled out a blanket. And as she tucked in the fraying edges around me, her hair fell into my face, the smell a mix of wood smoke and juniper. The smell reminded me of another night, one of those first nights, reminded me of being pulled out of bed, her hands pushing my reluctant body into a car and driving out of the city, out of the ever constant yellow glow of streetlights and headlights, far into the country. How she finally pulled off into an empty campground and made us a fire. Patience, she said. Just wait. And the way she knew to douse the fire at just the right moment. The way the moon emerged from behind the trees, then began to dim and burn like it was slowly catching fire. It only happens when everything aligns, she said. A perfect, straight line, she said and took my face into her 15
hands. And in remembering the beauty of this perfect straight line, the idea of it stretching out into space and on and on and on, I wanted to reach out and grab her, to pull her over me like a blanket and hide beneath this memory. But she had already finished tucking me in, my arms pinned down to my sides, as I watched her retreat into the tent. *** In the bar I waited for someone to pick me up. Waited for this someone to slide down the bar, that slow intake of breath, a sip, for courage, for thirst, and then—Hello. This was the way it had to be. These barroom connections that stretched out like thin pieces of thread. A pick up line would be too much. Hello was all it took. *** We’re going for a hike, she said, when I finally emerged from the tent. And she said it the same way she had said, An escape. You’re not even going to buy a girl breakfast first? I asked. And I put on a pout, and I grabbed at her shirt. It was a man’s shirt that was too large on her and hung down well below her waist. I was trying to get her to say, I don’t think they serve breakfast round these parts little girl, in her best John Wayne voice. And how she would laugh. And I would laugh. How I would keep twisting the front of her shirt around and around in my hand, her stomach just visible as I pulled her into me. But maybe I was just acting a part. Maybe I was trying to pretend. It is almost always easier to pretend. It is almost always easier to pretend you are the one in control of these threads and connections. Because a part of me wondered if I really wanted to know her. 16
How it was so much easier to fall for the idea of someone. How it was so much easier to fall for this possibility of what could be. She handed me a half eaten breakfast bar. I’ll make sandwiches for later, she said, pulling her shirt out of my fingers. * * * Stop badgering her. Another man has joined the scene. He is wearing a badge and a wide brimmed hat identical to the first man’s. Can’t you see she’s practically catatonic? But the way he stretches out his words and letters it sounds like cat-and-tonic. And here I laugh. And here the men stare. * * * I was standing at the jukebox. Careful, she said, sliding up next to me for the first time. And how that one word seemed so much better than just a hello. What do you mean, I said. Though I could already feel the thin tug of a thread pulling me toward her. This might just decide everything. And the way she looked at me I could tell she meant it. I smiled, the numbers and letters sinking under the weight of my finger. A woman’s fuzzy voice began to sing. I followed you foolishly. You were at a smoky bar, you were out till three. We both stared ahead at the jukebox. She tapped her foot. I bobbed my head. The fuzzy voice sang. 17
*** I watched the movement of her feet—one in front of the other—the methodical steps of someone who seems to know where she is going. Her legs were a deep brown and I wondered how this was possible, how she managed to stay tan in the cold and fog. I looked down at my own translucent skin. Was it the city that had turned me into a ghost? Or had it always been this way. Isn’t this beautiful, she asked. I saw boulders. I saw dirt and rocks. But I was trying. I swear I was trying. I wanted to cut out the mold that had seeped below the surface of my skin. I was trying to give myself over, trying to give myself up, before I closed myself off. You’re beautiful, I said. She turned and smiled at me. And maybe I meant it. And maybe she believed me.
* * *
Has anyone ever read your palm before? I asked. We were sitting in a booth at the far end of the bar. I got up and slid in next to her before she could reply. I took her hand into both of mine, and turned it so her palm faced upwards. Oh no, you’re not one of those, are you? She asked while making a face. It’s true, I do have a gift, I said in mock solemnity. I traced her open palm slowly with my index finger, feeling the grooves and callouses time and wear had etched into her tiny hand. You have a deep heart line, I said following the top line on her hand. It was true. The crease zigged and zagged from one end of her palm to the other; the type of cut you would get from a hard fall. 18
Not much for life though. I’d say you’re lucky you’ve even made it this far. Fuck you, she said pulling her hand out of mine. She stared down at her palm like I had actually said something serious. *** What do we know so far? Girl went missing a couple hours ago. Got into a fight and ran off or something. I think they were probably up on the ridge trail, but it’s hard to say without more information. He said this with a sidelong glance in my direction. *** Come on, she said, You’re slowing us down. The trail was dusty and I felt myself being slowly eaten up by the dirt she kept kicking up on to me. I tried to ignore the smoker’s rasp that escaped my lungs with each exhale of breath. I began to think of a story she told me once, a story about what must have been a similar trail in a similar place. The way she described her ten year-old self, dirt covered knees and tangled hair, and how this unveiling felt like the beginning of that deep incision into my chest. It was her and father. It had always only been her and her father. I recognized that this was the place I was supposed to ask about her mother. This was the place I was supposed to offer soft words and soft touches. But how the fear that I would not be able to offer the right soft words or the right soft touches kept me from asking about her mother until the moment ran away as moments always do. He was outdoorsy, her father, and this, I supposed, was how she learned about pitching tents and perfect straight lines. They hiked together. They camped together. This was the love he could offer her. It was imperfect, this love, like all loves are imperfect, but 19
how she did not fully realize just how imperfect this love was until the day they were hiking and she tripped. She fell to the ground and began to cry in the way that children will often cry when such things happen to them, more as a form of release, more as a form of shock. This reminder that we are human. This reminder that we are delicate creatures filled with blood that is easily spilt and bones that are easily broken. And how she expected her father to pick her up. How she expected her father to say the soft words she needed to hear in that moment. How she expected her father to calm these fears of blood that is easily spilt and bones that are easily broken. And what it meant to her when she realized he was unable to do these things. What it meant to her when she realized he had not even stopped walking, would possibly never stop walking until hills and mountains and miles of dirt completely separated them. And it was these thoughts of a wild haired girl, these fears of being hurt, of being left behind, that filled my head and kept me from noticing that she had stopped walking. I slammed into her back. What the hellâ€” I said and tried to walk past her but she stopped me and pulled me back, putting both arms around me. And it was here I thought we would kiss. But her eyes were still on the trail in front of us, and as I followed her gaze I saw the swift flick of a rattle as the snake uncurled from its tight coil. It was the color of scorched earth, and had she not pulled me back I would have thought it was nothing more than a rock or a stick, an obstacle to be crushed. We stood still and nothing was said as the snake slid off the trail into the brush. *** Sorry, I said in the low, husky voice I used on girls I wanted to fuck. The type of voice that forced you to lean in close to hear the words. 20
The room was starting to sway, and I reached out to touch her, to steady myself. I was always looking for that someone to hang on to, a fixed center in an ever shifting world. Have you ever disappeared, she asked suddenly. Everyone wants to disappear, I said, my hand messing with the top button of her shirt. But have you ever disappeared? Everywhere’s the same anyway. *** We’ll keep looking for your friend. Just go rest, ok? We’ll find her. Did you hear me? We’ll find her. We’ll find her. And how his words continue to tumble out even after I stop listening. On and on and out into space. *** You’re not even going to say thank you? What are you talking about, I said. I just kept you from barreling into a fucking rattlesnake. And it wasn’t in anger that she looked at me, but that unbearable weariness of someone who might have been able to love you—who might even love you already. Someone who is seeing who you are for the first time. Her face was slick with sweat and dust. My hair hung down in knots. What did we see in each other? Two dirt covered strangers—what we could never stop being to one another. And maybe I even knew she was right. But maybe I was also just tired. Maybe I just wanted to say, What the fuck. Maybe I just wanted to say, Fuck this place. Maybe I just wanted to say, Fuck 21
you for bringing me to this place. Maybe I wanted to hurt her for no good reason other than that is what we do to one another. * * * I knew a girl who disappeared once, she said. Oh yeah? I asked. The button came undone and as I slid my hand into her shirt I felt her heart beating against my palm. I used to work as a call box operator. You know those yellow boxes out on the highway? she asked. I slid my hand farther into her shirt, and nuzzled my face into her neck. This girl called in one day, we talked for a little bit, that bullshit small talk you make with strangers. She hung up and I sent out the CHP. Those same things you do everyday. I sucked hard on her neck. I hoped it would leave a bruise. The cops show up and sheâ€™s gone. Car is still there but the girl is just gone. Fucking middle of nowhere, nowhere to go, just disappeared. I pulled back. She traced the line of my jaw with her finger. So you didnâ€™t actually know her, I said. *** The impact of my hands against her chest went through me like a shock, and the only thought that filled my brain as I watched her collapse backwards into the dirt was a memory of smashing out a window when I was young and drunk. How I felt nothing as I watched the bottle arc through the air. How I felt everything as the bottle shattered through the glass. And how maybe that was the feeling I was always looking for. Or maybe that was the feeling I was always trying to escape. Maybe I was always just a bottle suspended in mid-air 22
waiting to smash into something. What the fuck? she said. And this time she was angry. As she got to her feet I could see that her knee was bleeding, a thin trail of red descending down her leg. I stared at her. Sometimes there really isn’t anything that can be said in moments such as these. Find your own fucking way back, she said. She started off down an overgrown section of the trail I hadn’t noticed before, and as I watched her go I wondered if she would stop, if this was all a mistake, or if she would just keep walking until we were completely separated by hills and mountains and miles of dirt. *** I sit in the dark. I’m not the sort of girl who knows how to make a fire. They are still looking for her, as I should have been looking for her. They are still looking for her as perhaps I never would have looked for her. The light from the helicopter sweeps over me, momentarily illuminating the campsite—beer bottles littering the ground, a tent, an empty chair across from me. I am trying to measure time in these brief moments of illumination. I am trying to only exist in these brief moments of illumination. The sound of the helicopter fades into the distance and I am left once again sitting in a state of suspension, waiting for the lights to reappear. But for now it’s black.
Self Portrait V.1. 2016. Stephanie Escoto. 24
I Taste Just Like Candy (Candy) (Love Bites). 2015. Keren MD.
Strangers Paula Espina Creeping sleeping quietly leaving Loving fucking suddenly forgetting Faces places and tiny spaces Freaky secrets between blankets Coming going lock the door Text me sex me then Iâ€™m bored
Animal Control Peter Danzig We’re walking. From there, to the next place to go. There’s a cat in a window, And he calls down to the street. ‘Who’s this pretty bitch, tied up on a leash?’ Our hands sewn together, I feel the thread count grow. Time to shine, shining armor, Call the pound, phone animal control. Aren’t I the vet? For the sick and the mangy. Does she not expect me, To put these beasts down? Now she’s naked and exposed, I’m clothed, with a jacket that won’t fit her, And we’re three blocks later, My ear to the phone, still on hold. Still on hold, Still on hold.
Photos by Andrea Sonnenburg. Art direction by Laura Sallack.
Drapes They gave us sheets of cellophane in shades of crystalline blush, to wrap our clumsy shoulders and hip bones, and veil our faces, the audacity of our own eyes and lips, And their heavy breathing. Translucent drapes, cheap distractions, false enemies and falser victories are not enough to deflect the wilderness of the night sky, who seeks not to guide but to stir -From sunken cocoons we asked her how to be free. Blood is your sigil, she told me, Tired eyes and bored fingers are your weapons. They will get you farther than you know.
Bodies Listen, your body is whispering; What do your knees have to say about the men you’ve carried? What do your feet say about the miles you walked to drink from an empty pool? What stories does your spine tell about bending over backwards? What do your shoulders say of the ways you hide your frame? Does your tongue lament the words you left behind? Do your fingers sense when familiar skin is close by? Will your southern heart ache for three days or four? Will this be the time it finally falls out? My body speaks to me like an old friend. Through her, I hear my mother’s body and her mother’s too. Here, we speak the same language, The one that mothers and daughters build in phrases unsaid and love unanswered.
Sisters. Photos by Casey Price. Art Direction by Haley Scofield. 33
To: Men; Women; All in between Subject: Patriarchy pt. I Weâ€™ve been taught to respect you to worship you. To carve out a space for you in our wombs, to transform our homes into your temple. They dipped you in gold and set you on a pedestal there. But over time the elements of life have eroded the metalâ€™s surface, unearthing a core just as powerful as our own. Now is the time for the spectrum of Humanity to be the totem of our society. The time to draw on the strength and sheer power in our femininity. A botanical tenderness, a milky, nurturing spirit met with brawny intelligence, fearless resilience and hard love.
To: That one guy Subject: Nostalgia v. presence The time with you passed like easing into a warm bath. The balmy film of iridescent water slowly trailing up my form. I wish I had let my senses revel in what was happening around me. Wish I relished the microscopic bubbles on your fingertips dissolving as they brushed my raised goosebumps. Absorbed the sweet scented salt of your tongue grazing my skin. But looking back, you were always a peripheral flickering flame that burned out with a sharp exhale. And the hot wax burned like hell.
Lauren Talysa Santos
Stef â€™s Nightmare (Turkish Delight) (Turks in Berlin Hate Americans). 2015. Keren MD. 39
Temples Elizabeth Rofoli When you live in house with God you accept certain truths. Chanting in unison every Sunday I accept the Lord as my Savior. I accept Eve is a creation for Adam, made in His image for man, by man. I accept my body as nothing more than a vessel, to carry the wishes of men. When you live in a house with God you hear the cries to protect life. Protect the innocent from the women who want to flush away a collection of unnamed cells to save their own lives. And when I learned there was something growing inside me I thought of all the men who called women like me the Devil. The sinners, the damned. Made in Lilith’s image who turned from God refusing to kneel before Him. And even though I was raised in a house with God I never hesitated Never looked back Never fed into the lie about life, that this collection of cells was more important than mine. 40
Because my life is the one being Saved and my body is the one carrying itself through this world where a woman is a demon for daring to say My body is mine. I don’t need to be saved.
Rituals. 2016. Kyle DeMartini.
Godâ€™s Candles. 2016. Kyle DeMartini.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016 – Bushwick Bizarre Noemi Soto After the bruises fade, and I can finally sit down comfortably, or at least without being in excruciating pain, After I’ve taken too many boiling hot baths, to cleanse my body and my soul, to wash the blood off and heal the wounds, After I’ve washed every article of clothing I own, and all of my sheets and pillow covers, and the duvet and the mattress cover, After I have saged my room a dozen times, and cleaned the carpets, and mopped the floors, After I’ve taken the trash out, and have done all the necessary tests, and waited for my menses to dispel my greatest fear, Then the real healing work can perhaps begin. Work to convince you and myself that I did not in fact deserve it, that I was not in fact asking for it – wanting it… subconsciously Work to convince you and myself that this does not make me dirty and used-up and ruined – ruined, ruined, ruined.
Work to convince you and myself that “something positive can come from this experience” – that I’ll be better now… less “reckless,” more “aware of myself,” “on a path towards healing” Work to convince you and myself that people can be trust-worthy again - that I can be physically intimate with someone and feel safe and valued, and not like a cheap object Work to convince you and myself que no soy la Chingada, la Violada – that I’m not anyone’s PASSIVE PUTA … Work to convince you and myself that this did in fact happen but - that it does not define me, it never has and it never will. Work to convince you and myself that I’m still worth something, worth everything - that I always have been, and I always will.
On Chronic Illness, Birth Control, and Feeling Like I have 1 Million Annoying Dads Anonymous “You have sand in between your toes and you’re going to be so uncomfortable! What are you thinking?” He grabbed the sock from my hand and started using it to dust off my feet. We were on vacation with my parents. It was the first time my real adult relationship was happening in front of real adults and I was suddenly embarrassed that he was treating me like a child. “I have a dad, he’s right there.” He looked at me, startled, and put down the sock. His furrowed brow softened as my father turned around and the three of us laughed. That was a year ago. Only months before I got sick, before decisions about how to take care of my body had serious consequences, and before those decisions would drive us apart. Being a woman with an undiagnosed chronic illness has meant that I have to listen to a lot of opinions from a lot of men about what to do with my body. Exercise more, sleep more, eat less, eat more, move out of the city, try yoga, avoid gluten, stop taking birth control, try weight loss pills, get vitamin injections, take antibiotics after every time I have sex, use a different kind of lube. Over the course of 10 months I gave 26 blood samples, had 2 ultrasounds, one x-ray, and cameras inserted into almost every conceivable orifice. Doctors made me feel stupid, told me I was hormonal, prescribed me unnecessary medications and talked over me when I tried to explain my symptoms. It was frustrating, it was invalidating, it was traumatizing. “I feel like you don’t believe me.” I felt like a broken record. “Why would you lie about this? Of course I believe you, but you 45
have the wrong perspective. You just need to be more positive. Your mind is more powerful than you think.” He responded the same way every time. He was tired of hearing about it, he was tired of my attitude, he was just getting tired. He wanted to fix things the way that men do, but he didn’t know how. That made him feel angry. I felt guilty. I blamed myself for turning my body against me, and I was tired too. I believed him. I listened to all of the doctors and everything he said to me and I internalized it. Who was I to know any different? I was sick and it was my fault. He only came with me to two appointments, and each time when the results came back with the same conclusion he said “I knew they wouldn’t find anything.” Eventually I stopped talking about it. I felt like a kid with a million dads who thought they knew what was best for me. It made me think about the American culture of fatherhood and how it is perpetuated and learned across generations. I didn’t need another father in my life- I have a close relationship with my father and find him to be an exceptional parent. I needed a partner in uncovering the root of this disease. I needed someone invested in healing me instead of making money from pharmaceutical companies. I wondered if things would be different if I wasn’t a woman. I wondered if other women felt like they had a million dads too. I thought about the patriarchy and I felt powerless. “I want to go off birth control.” I had been on the pill since I was 16 and I wondered if it was contributing to my health problems. “Then we won’t have sex… you know I hate condoms. But that’s ok, I like masturbating just as much.” I stayed on the pill and made an appointment to get an IUD. I was glad we could compromise. I was hurt by his masturbation comment, but I brushed it off. I went to the IUD appointment alone. It was the most painful 46
thing I have ever experienced. It was triggering and traumatizing, and I came home in tears. I couldn’t move from my bed. I called him. “I did it. It went ok.” “I’m coming over, we need to talk.” His voice was cold. My heart sank. I knew what was coming next. He came over within fifteen minutes. He sat on my bed and said “I want to end our relationship. I was going to do this earlier, but I decided to wait because I thought otherwise you might not get the IUD. It will be good for your future.” I stared at him. I cried. I hugged him. I was in too much pain to be angry so I let him talk and I let him leave. I wish I’d had the strength to reach over and slap him across the face. I realized in that instant that I hadn’t made a single decision about my own body for the past year. Men thinking they knew what was best for me had been playing with my insides like a game of operation, and I had believed they knew what was best for me. He was choosing not to be a part of my future, yet he was still trying to control it. He hadn’t been there when I needed him, and now as a final act of “Father Knows Best” he was leaving me in pain with this stupid plastic thing lodged in my uterus. I thought about the sand stuck between my toes a year ago. I thought about the ways he had learned to show love. I thought about the ways I had learned to accept it. I don’t blame him for being the type of man society told him to be. I don’t blame him for reenacting the way his father treated his mother. I don’t blame him for breaking up with me. In the end it was mutual, and I understood his reasons. But I also can’t blame myself. This experience widened my perspective of the patriarchy and showed me the links between the health care system, the family, and romantic relationships. It showed me that the body is 47
political, and that where there is agency there is power. Agency is complicated, and allies are important. We need to teach our daughters and sons alike how to advocate for themselves. We need to teach them how to listen and how to hold.
Vacancy. 2016. Kyle DeMartini.
Period Haikus Woke up and it’s here. My sheets, stained. My legs, a mess. Laundry day, I guess. Waiting for it like waiting around for a call. It’s here. Relief. Ouch. Hated you each month. But the time you didn’t come, Peed on a stick. Fuck.
Denise Espina two women dancing lions lurk in moonless night let go of my thighs synchronicity we are on the rainbow snake we have each other
Sivan Lioncub I’m happy to bleed Because what separates me are the bloody sheets
Meet me on Venus (Midcentury Moonage VII). 2016. Lauren Espina.
The third issue of The Sea Witch Zine. Featuring words and images by Nicole Espina, Tessa Paoli, Emma Olswing, Brea Meinreb, Katie Chavez, E...
Published on Feb 11, 2017
The third issue of The Sea Witch Zine. Featuring words and images by Nicole Espina, Tessa Paoli, Emma Olswing, Brea Meinreb, Katie Chavez, E...