Saturday, May 21, 2011


"Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote about the roving packs of young dudes in B-more who dumped on other young dudes, with no real pretext. So it was where I grew up, where those cats felt less like my contemporaries and more like a capricious force of nature. (I’ve said before that the reason folks at my high school tried hard not to get detention wasn’t because they were well-behaved kids, but because detention meant walking the five North Philly blocks to the subway on your lonesome.) You learned to look over your shoulder, to take the long way to wherever you were going. And if you got caught out there — and most of us did, at some point — that was your fault. You were slipping, actin’ like it can’t happen.

I remember my mom cautioned both my twin sister and me as teenagers to be on point, but there was a different shading to the warnings she gave my sister. They were: Don’t leave your drink unattended. Make sure your girls know where you are. My sister, it was assumed, was going to have someone say some slick shit to her, to hop in her personal space, to put their hands on her as she passed. The company of a friend wasn’t going to stop it. Nothing was. She was going to bear the responsibility for these transgressions when they inevitably happened. Others would have said my sister wasn’t cautious enough, or asked her what she was wearing, or why she was where she was. The response would always be to ascertain what she did wrong, how she should have known better, how she got caught slipping.

Our experiences were subtly, profoundly different, but they were mundane, and their ordinariness belied their injustice. To grow up like this meant developing a certain resignation about the specter of violence, and often — perversely — feeling personally responsible when something ugly happened. But I didn’t have a way to think about these things until I learned about feminism. The first time I heard the term “sexual terrorism,” then, I finally had a name to something I’d always fundamentally known. The great irony was that I was having these realizations and entertaining these conversations for the first time on a suburban college campus where I actually felt completely safe."

-Black. Male. Feminist?

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Gentle reader: I eat like a pig. Not always, but often enough. So that you will believe me, for breakfast this morning I ate nine slices of bacon, two eggs fried in bacon grease, and half a dozen extra-dark chocolate truffles. It was delicious.

Culturally this is a confession because that sort of lipid bacchanalia has largely been outlawed and, being a woman (let alone a fat one), I am supposed to be on a diet. I refuse to accept the shame of it, first because is it really anyone's damned business? And second, because improvement of dietary habits will come after improving suicidal depression, or it will not come at all. Bacon overload may make me feel a bit sick, but today it's unquestionably better than crying at work with a surveillance camera three feet from my face.

This is not to say I don't have goals. One is that someday, I'll be able to deal with my emotions sustainably, mostly using music, art, exercise, travel, friends, and bad-ass political action. If I eat half a package of bacon for breakfast, I want it to be because I just like bacon so much that eating it is worth both the damage it does to my body and the tortured life of an intelligent creature. That would be some extraordinarily bacon, no?

In the meantime, I work at smaller things--like being present while I eat. Like trying to make conscious choices, even if they are different from the choices I hope to be making in the long run. Like being able to feel hunger and fullness, even if I sometimes choose to ignore them so I can be numb. Eating can be fraught. Like dinner the other night:

I love the way the green of the cilantro looks against the sour cream. Oh no, I have so much more sour cream on my tortilla than he has on his! How did this happen? He's going to think that I'm a pig! It's practically all fat! And even though it's low fat it's still all dairy. I don't even like sour cream that much. I have been experimenting with eating it, to see how I do like it. God, it's right on top, just staring at me. . . no way to hide that. That's right Day, staring at it isn't going to make it magically disappear. I guess I was thinking about not leaving salsa in the sour cream container when I dished up. I feel so huge. Ok, stop it, just eat your dinner. Enjoy the view. Try to taste your food. He's probably looking at me eating and thinking about how incredibly fat I am. STOP THIS! DAY, YOU ARE BEING CRAZY.

I know that this is crazy. A quarter cup of low-fat sour cream on my dinner plate isn't going to make me fat. Drowning my sorrows in cheese is a solitary activity, and obsessing over how terrible it is will more likely make the problem worse than solve it. My dining companion was my boyfriend. He's thin, but to my recollection he's only ever said two things about my body--that he thinks I'm beautiful, and that I looked sexy in that outfit with the miniskirt. If he thought I was horrifically ugly, he would not be dating me. This does not make the crazy go away.

So it's an uphill fight.