With Legs Like Toothpicks

My favorite jeans are frayed at the hem, and threadbare at seat and seams. So I headed to the local thrift store to find a new (to me) pair.

At first glance, the thrift store promised selection. Then I looked closer and saw the flair. I’m not particularly interested in obeying denim trends. Still, I hesitate at the thrift store’s collection of wide, swinging hems. Bell-bottomed boho is a bit more of a fashion statement than I’m after.

And the thrift store has bling. Otherwise passable jeans surprised me with their rhinestone-studded back pockets. Flashes of light drawing the eye to one’s ass are lost on me.

So I stopped by J. Crew for jeans. Because that seemed easy enough. Until the salesperson welcomed me into the store’s denim collection by asking “Toothpick, right?”

Me: Are there any other choices?

Her: Well, um, there’s matchstick.

So I still need jeans. Because I just can’t bring myself to wear a style that aims for toothpick-esque. Continue reading

Y’all Means All, Even The Lesbians

Ya'll Means AllIn the late 90’s I saw the Indigo Girls play at Riverbend. I’ve never been one for crowds in general, much less the kind of 600,000 strong crowds Chattanooga’s nine-day music festival can draw. But if the feminist-iconic duo could brave the prince of darkness, then I could brave thousands of beer drinking, country music-loving Tennesseans.

Stacy and I even arrived early to get seats near the stage. As we waited for the show to start, the older man behind us asked his wife, “which band’s aplayin’?” And she answered, “it’s them lesbians.”

As worldly early-twenty-somethings, Stacy and I rolled our eyes at their accents and ignorance. The Indigo Girls were more than the sum of their sexual desires, after all.

But here’s the thing I’m thinking about today: the couple stayed to enjoy the show. Continue reading

Three Of Cups Is The Magic Number

Three III Of CupsWhen I asked the Mayan fertility goddess Ixchel for daughters, I dreamed of having twin girls named Eve and Edie. But the next day I imagined having three daughters. So for years I’ve wondered how to reconcile a dream and a vision.

We named our first daughter Maia, to thank the immortals, and our second Eve, named for a dream because she is our dream.

Then we paused for the practicals. Could we afford another addition to our home, another ticket, another tuition? More importantly, I was surrounded by my bright-eyed dreams. I had little incentive to look for more than my armsful of perfect daughters. Still, I puzzled over my Isla Mujeres-inspired dream and vision. Is two or three my magic number? Continue reading

I’d Rather Wear My Heart On My Sleeve

vintage advertisement age beauty
When I recently told her my age, an acquaintance said to me, “you look much younger!” And I, “why thank you.” Because that’s how a lady accepts a compliment.

Days later, the exchange keeps coming back to me because there’s something there I don’t want to accept gracefully. The compliment’s laced with an expectation that youth is what we’re all after. In just a few well-intended lines, she and I reinforced a cultural aesthetic that I’d rather not play into. Continue reading

I Thought It Was Knights In White Satin

Sir LancelotFor the longest time, I thought The Moody Blues were singing about knights in white satin. As a girl, but also well into adulthood too I understood the 1967 hit single as a tribute to Arthurian legend. Why, after all, such impressive crescendo if not for the likes of Lancelot riding into battle?

Maybe Lancelot didn’t wear white satin, per say, but I imagine he could have. Or maybe Sir Galahad did. Either way, the lyrics lend themselves to my misunderstanding: Continue reading

Written Over Like A Dogma

A few days ago one of my students announced in class,

I hate Catholics.

Me: Do you perhaps mean you’re opposed to Catholicism?

Student: To what?

Me: Catholicism. Stating that you’re opposed to all people who identify as Catholic might not be what you mean. Catholicism is the religious practice. Some aspect of Catholicism might be easier to critique than all of the individuals who practice it.

Student: Catha . . . catha what?

Me, slowly: Catholicism.

Student: Catha . . . yeah, I can’t say that word. I’m against it.

Of course not all exchanges on a university campus go like this. Admittedly, this student is underprepared for college. It happens often enough in a state that doesn’t champion quality education: Tennessee ranks in the bottom 10 states in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and second to last in ACT scores.

If these dismal assessments aren’t convincing, it’s easy enough to characterize the state’s disregard for education and equality via some of our representatives, like Sen. Todd Gardenhire who voted against health care coverage for Tennesseans but when asked if he’d give up his own state-sponsored insurance, called his questioner an asshole. Or Rep. Rick Womick who justifies his proposal to limit women’s access to legal abortions: “Is it my responsibility to keep your britches up?”

Characters like Gardenhire and Womick are not unlike my student in that they go for simplistic one-liners rather than logical argument, and tend to shut down rather than encourage dialogue. While I doubt many students carefully monitor state politics and politicians, the sound bites trickle down Continue reading

I’ll Stop The World And Melt With You?

When Modern English’s “I Melt With You” pops up on my Pandora station, I really should thumbs down it. But once, didn’t I like it enough to sing along?

In a recent moment of nostalgia, I typed R.E.M. into Pandora’s search box. For a little bit of Life’s Rich Pageant, now that I better understand what that means. So I relaxed again into Michael Stipe’s introspections, Dolores O’Riordan’s “Dreams,” and Edder Vedder’s “I Wish”es.

But what to do when “I Melt With You” plays? I should thumbs down this odd interruption to my alt rock playlist. Thumbs down because I no longer care for the new wave anthem.

But how could the adult me thumbs down something that once mattered, even if for only one night of driving around town listening to music? Because music mattered at that age – you know, that age when songs really speak to you and your seemingly very individual moment and emotion – I almost feel like I should spare the old song a spot on a playlist.

Maybe I’m treating myself here like I do my daughters. Continue reading