it is time past time
the last straw happened
Letting go let it go
push past this year
heartache mold of misery year of tears
pushing on into a new year
where city lights sparkle and shine
a heartbeat waits in my hands
home is the cozy safe place
I am done
being pushed down down
I cannot breathe
glass glitter inhaled the rhythm of not enough
I open my arms
jump into terror to flight
because I know
there will be hands.
© 2014 by Robin A. Sams
Trigger warning: talk about coercion and sexual assault.
I’m going to talk about what’s probably my least favourite Christmas song. No, I’m not talking about the ones that stop mid-song to preach at you to love Jesus and the Holy Spirit (although I really think I shouldn’t have to be subjected to those songs while I’m at work). I’m talking about “It’s Cold Outside.” I never really paid attention to this song until last year, when I actually listened to the lyrics. It’s a popular song for covers, including this recent one by one of the stars of Frozen Idina Menzel with Michael Bublé (wow, I had a difficult time watching that video all the way through due to the sexualization of the children). There’s also this interesting one by She & Him, where the parts are reversed.
Here are the lyrics (from MetroLyrics):
I really can’t stay (Baby, it’s cold outside)
I’ve got to go way (Baby, it’s cold outside)
The evening has been (I’ve been hopin’ that you’d drop in)
So very nice (I’ll hold your hand, they’re just like ice)
My mother will start to worry (Hey, beautiful, what’s your hurry)
And Father will be pacing the floor (Listen to that fireplace roar)
So really, I’d better scurry (Beautiful, please don’t hurry)
Well, maybe just a half a drink more (Put some music on while I pour)
The neighbors might think (Baby, it’s bad out there)
Say, what’s in this drink (No cabs to be had out there)
I wish I knew how (Your eyes are like starlight now)
To break this spell (I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell)
I oughtta say no, no, no sir (You mind if I move in closer)
At least I’m gonna say that I tried (And what’s the sense in hurting my pride)
I really can’t stay (Oh baby, don’t hold out)
Oh, but it’s cold outside
I simply must go (It’s cold outside)
The answer is no (Baby, it’s cold outside)
The welcome has been (So lucky that you dropped in)
So nice and warm (Look out the window at that storm)
My sister will be suspicious (Your lips look delicious)
My brother will be there at the door (I ain’t worried about you brother)
My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious (That ol’ biddy, she ain’t gonna bother me)
Well, maybe just a cigarette more (You don’t need no cigarette, its smokin’ plenty up in here)
I’ve got to get home (Baby, you’ll freeze out there)
Say, lend me a coat (It’s up to your knees out there)
You’ve really been grand (I thrill when you touch my hand)
Oh, but don’t you see (How can you do this thing to me)
There’s bound to be talk tomorrow (Well, think of my lifelong sorrow)
At least there will be plenty implied (If you caught pneumonia and died)
I really can’t stay (Get over that hold out)
Oh, but baby its cold outside
The line that threw me off and made me actually listen to this song: “Say, what’s in this drink?” Wait…what? Did he just drug her? While actually listening to this song, red flags flew up in my mind. I wanted to shout to the woman: “Get out! Get out of there! He’s going to sexually assault you! He may have put something in your drink! Call a friend! Get out of there!”
The (traditionally) male part is all about coercing the (traditionally) female part into staying the night. If she is actually interested in staying the night, then she is taking part in the stereotypical dating advice of playing “hard to get.” (Psst…here’s better advice: Never play hard to get. No means no, and an enthusiastic yes means yes.) There’s also the underlying idea that if she stays the night, there will be Talk. In other words, her family and the neighbours will think she’s a slut (shock! gasp! a terrible thing!).
Why couldn’t the guy just lend her a coat? If she had a great time, and she indicates that she did, she’ll come hang out with him again (maybe when it’s not so cold outside). If she likes the guy, she’ll stay the night with him when she’s ready, not when he’s guilt-tripping her about how sad he would be if she got sick and died from the cold outside.
“How can you do this thing to me?” What thing? Tell you “no?” Give you a hard-on but not follow through? “Get over that hold out.” What? Yeah, you know what? I’d rather be out in the cold. Bye-bye!
In poverty, you often bleed one wound in order to staunch another wound.
The neutrality of my last post came completely apart by Halloween. That afternoon, the wave of betrayal swept over me. How could he? How could he do these things to those women? How could he do this to us Früheads? How could he do this to his fans? How could he…?
And I am past it. I am reading less but still listening. I am hopeful at the re-connecting with fellow Früheads but sad that this was the reason for our re-connection. I sincerely hope Jian gets the help he needs. I also sincerely hope the women involved are able to heal.
While some people are questioning whether to throw out their old Früvous CDs, I am not. (The blog to which I just linked raises some valid questions; I think everyone is inconsistent when it comes to these questions. Humans make decisions based on emotions and rationalized thinking a lot.) Jian Ghomeshi was one-fourth of Moxy Früvous. He wasn’t the frontman, as some news articles have called him. He was one out of four members. I haven’t actually listened to their music much in many years. I know some fellow Früheads are listening to their music now to aid in the processing of this whole business. The show In the Red on the local campus and community radio station here played “King of Spain” last night. That’s a Dave song, and one of the band’s best songs (in my opinion). I turned it up and remembered the joy.
I’m going to take a break from my busy book-peddling ( >_> <_<) and talk about Jian Ghomeshi. I was quite amused when my spouse first told me: “The internet is full of Jian today.”
Initially, when I heard about him being fired, I thought it was odd. When I read Jian’s post on Facebook, well, I didn’t really know what to think. It’s plausible. There was the thought: why is the victim going to the media rather than the police? (Apparently, I forgot in which culture we live.) Fear is a big reason. Who is going to believe little female you against big male public broadcaster? Also, when maybe you agreed to certain things in texts or online, maybe no one will believe you didn’t want other things when you were in the heat of the moment.
I feel an obligation, as a woman, to stand in solidarity with the victims. Our society is one in which victim-blaming is the norm. She knew he was into that stuff, and she still went out with him. She was wearing a short, revealing dress. She was asking for it. And when the man you’d be accusing is a public figure? The wide public reigns down its verdict on you (and him).
On the other hand, it is difficult when you like the accused.
(Story time!) In high school, my best friend introduced me to the Canadian band Moxy Früvous. I fell in love (reference intended). One summer, we traveled to Virginia and Pennsylvania with her mom to see the band perform. The Pennsylvania performance was in the city of King of Prussia and was held in a gazebo (their gazebo-to-gazebo world tour :)). I met and befriended many people through love of that band, the mIRC chat groups, and Fruhead.com. I met my spouse through the love of that band (and one of their mIRC chat groups). That band was a big part of the end of my high school years and the start of my university years. After the band went on hiatus (or “hiatus,” as reference to the indefinite nature of it), I kept up with the band members for a while. Even now, I know a little of what they’re doing. Murray (Stage Murray!) is still touring/working with Great Big Sea. Dave composes for film and television and does other things (I actually had to look up what he’s doing). Mike and Murray have The Cocksure Lads. Jian was doing Q.
Of course, whatever happens with this case has little bearing on that golden egg of personal history. It is sad to see someone who was a big part of a key part of your life fall. However, if the allegations are true, it is also sad for the victims.
I am refraining from judgment. I do not know what happened and likely won’t know exactly what happened. I also think a lot of what we are told about public figures is none of our business. Public figures have a right to a private life, too. However, if that private life results in a crime, public safety demands it be made known.
Here are a couple of interesting reads: poor persecuted pervert? (about BDSM and Jian’s account; I giggled at the comment about what a “mild version of Fifty Shades of Grey” would be) and The Ghomeshi question: The law and consent (I’m bothered by the lack of protection for consensual BDSM but not surprised). For those wanting to know what’s up with this consent business anyway, check out Laci Green’s Consent 101.
My book Sore: fantasies and inhibitions officially launched yesterday. Yay! Huzzah! *virtual confetti everywhere*
If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book, you can order it here.
Much thanks to Island Rose Dance for their performance at the launch party and to those who came out to support me and my book. Also, a big thank you to my friend Coralee for directing me to Harbour City Theatre, where the party was held. :D
Here is the poster for my book launch party. The poster was designed by my friend Kim Teasdale of The Painted Poppy Studio on Facebook.
For those of you on Facebook, click here for the Event page. For those of you on Facebook who are unable to attend the event in Nanaimo, B.C., I am also having a virtual book party. On launch day October 11, I will be posting links to where you can purchase my book, as well as some poetry sneak peeks. Please join me for this titillating event!
It seems I have been quiet on this blog for nearly two months. That is because I have been prepping my first full-length book of poetry for publication! The book is titled Sore: fantasies and inhibitions. It is a collection of poetry about love, relationships, fantasies, sex, and the emotional roller coaster all these things entail.
Now that the bulk of the book work is done, I am concentrating on the marketing. I am planning a fabulous book launch party for October. Stay tuned to this blog for more info and for links to where you can purchase my book!
I wrote this post on April 24, 2013 but did not publish it on my blog until now. This issue is increasingly on my mind, and I have edited and added to this post to reflect that fact.
At least you have a job.
People throw that phrase around as if it should be enough. If you are deeply unhappy in your job, or if it leaves you too exhausted for the things (not to mention the people) you love, or if it is meaningless or boring work? Hey, at least you have a job! At least you are making money.
And if you have a job or three and still are barely scraping by? And if you work six days a week only to face bankruptcy? And if your employer intentionally keeps your hours just shy of full-time so s/he doesn’t have to give you benefits? Hey, at least you have a job.
This thinking is wrong.
It is not enough just to have a job! Why should it be enough just to have a job?
I can think of several reasons for this thinking/attitude. One reason is Welfare. Welfare looms up like a great face of shame in our culture. It’s all well and good for people to say welfare is there for those who need it, but even a short glimpse on social media shows a different attitude. Take for example the meme going around that declares all welfare recipients (or would-be recipients) should have to pass a urine drug test in order to receive welfare. The rationale for this is given that (some) jobs require urine drug tests. To me, this meme shows a belief that many welfare recipients are drug addicts.
Besides that single meme, the overall image is of the welfare recipient as lazy, not wanting to work, addicted to one substance or another, and having children s/he can’t afford to keep. To be on welfare is to be a failure. To be on welfare, to ask for help, to need support is seen as a sign of weakness, which is deemed a bad thing.
Another reason for this attitude is the American dream. The American dream is that if anyone works hard enough, s/he can be wealthy/have a home/have kids/have any of the multitude of consumer goods available. It is a lie. Even Helen Keller, the woman we Americans learn as children to be this shining example of overcoming adversity, knew this dream to be a lie: (quoted from the book Midstream: My Later Life by Helen Keller in the book Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen © 1995)
“I had once believed that we were all masters of our fate—that we could mould our lives into any form we pleased….I had overcome deafness and blindness sufficiently to be happy, and I supposed that anyone could come out victorious if he threw himself valiantly into life’s struggle. But as I went more and more about the country I learned that I had spoken with assurance on a subject I knew little about. I forgot that I owed my success partly to the advantages of my birth and environment…Now, however, I learned that the power rise in the world is not within the reach of everyone.”
For this idea that is the American dream and this fear/shame of welfare and other reasons, we have told ourselves that having a job that kills the light inside us is enough.
Why can’t having a job that pays a living wage and is ethical/meaningful/fun be enough?
At least you have a job you love. At least you are paid enough for a job you love (or, at least, like). At least you have a job that fills you with joy.
Why have we deemed happiness to be so unimportant in an area of our lives that takes up so much of our time and energy?
If life is so short, as the clichés spout, why should we spend so much of it so desperately unhappy?
We created these systems of work and jobs and capitalism and consumerism. It’s time we created something better.
Ten years ago today, I lost my first pregnancy. Several times over the past year, I considered posting about this experience. In particular, I considered posting about it when my home state of Ohio passed more restrictions on abortion.
Early in the week of June 11, 2004, I discovered I was pregnant while on the Pill. We were training for a new job on Vancouver Island at the time and had no family physician. We went to a walk-in clinic, and the pregnancy was confirmed. My spouse asked me what I wanted to do. I considered my options only briefly. I wanted this baby. I have known for many years that I want to be a mother. Despite the poor timing, I wanted this baby.
A few days later, I woke up to what felt like the worst gas pain ever, particularly in the left side of my body. I could not get out of bed to do our training for the day and, of course, it was the day our employer was showing up to introduce himself and to see how our training was going. After several hours, I managed to pull myself out of the bed, take ibuprofen, get ready, and go meet the boss; I told my spouse that if the pain didn’t go away by the end of the day, we needed to go to the ER. At the end of the day, to the ER we went.
The ER doctor did an exam and took some blood tests. However, the lab was really busy that evening, and I was not able to get my test results then. I was told that sometimes there can be pain in early pregnancy but that I was still pregnant. An ultrasound was arranged for the Friday; I was offered an ultrasound on Friday or Monday and, as we were moving north island to our job that weekend, I chose Friday.
After the ultrasound that Friday, as we waited for results, the technician told me the radiologist wanted to look at the ultrasound live. A sinking feeling set in. My spouse tried to be optimistic, suggesting that perhaps I was having twins.
No such luck.
What I was having was an ectopic pregnancy. My six-week old embryo had implanted in my left fallopian tube. An emergency laparoscopy was set up that evening. Our surgeon was very good, in that he allowed my spouse and I considerable time alone while he prepared for surgery. I wept. In the end, I wanted it over with. I didn’t want to be pregnant if there was no chance for it.
After the surgery, I was put in a surgery overflow room…down the hall from the maternity ward. I shared the room with three elder women. The next morning, I heard them talking to the nurses about “all the babies” who had been born the previous night. I remember one nurse declaring, “It’s Baby Season!” That hurt so much. I don’t think they knew. They didn’t think. I was grateful for the curtains separating me from the rest of the room, because I wept.
It was decided I could be discharged from the hospital that day or wait until our surgeon was back on the Sunday. I chose the early discharge. Before I was discharged the Head Nurse mentioned something about me having my tube removed during the surgery. Of course, I had known that was a possibility; it was on the surgical waiver I had signed. However, no one had told me they had had to remove it. I was shocked. When the doctor came to discharge me, I heard him talking to the Head Nurse outside the room. She told him, “She doesn’t know they removed the tube.”
This knowledge added an extra bit of trauma to an already traumatic experience. My left tube was gone. It had partially ruptured. My embryo-baby and one of my tubes were gone.
I left the hospital to a new job (talk about poor timing) and pain from the staples under my stomach. It turned out that the surgeon had planned on removing the staples on Sunday. Instead, I ended up having them in for two or three weeks until I found a physician in our new city who removed them. (I found out about the plan to remove the staples when I phoned the surgeon sometime later to get more information about the whole pregnancy/surgery for my peace of mind.)
In the months of grief that followed, I did a number of creative things to grieve. One thing I did was name the baby: Dorian Crescent. Another thing I did was type up a death announcement, print it out, and send it to family and friends. I needed others to know, needed to share this moment, needed support (especially as we were in a new city where we knew no one). I wrote poetry about the loss. I also looked up images online of embryos at the same stage as my lost embryo and experimented with watercolours. Here are a couple of the paintings I did:
(This first picture was used in the death announcement.)
(This picture was an experiment in the form of the embryo and the expression of emotions via colour.)
During this time, I did a lot of soul-searching. I had considered myself pro-choice up until this point. This loss made me question that position. I viewed this embryo as my baby from very early on. With that being the case, could I be okay with abortion? In the end, I remained pro-choice. I had many reasons for remaining thus.
I didn’t have much choice in the termination of this pregnancy, though. End the pregnancy or let the tube fully rupture and let me bleed to death internally? There is no fairness in that kind of choice.
I still believe women have the right to choose whether to allow a pregnancy to develop, regardless whether they made stupid mistakes in getting pregnant or whether they were raped or whether their birth control failed or whatever reason they have. Seeing restrictions pass on abortion throughout the States this past year has filled me with dread, especially as the goal for politicians seems to be to abolish abortion in all cases. This issue is complicated, no doubt about it. Women can have another living being develop and grow within them. It is an amazing, terrifying, and powerful thing. Who gets to choose how it goes?
The thing about choice is that it’s not just one choice. Some women choose abortion. Some women choose to go through with the pregnancy and give the baby up for adoption. Some women choose to go through with the pregnancy, give birth, and raise the baby. Some women choose to live because the baby is not viable and/or is not going to develop and grow.
As painful as it was, as sad as it still makes me feel as I type these words about my lost Dorian, abortion saved my life.