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Notes to survive

I wanted there to be something more to say than nothing. A clenching feeling in my chest kept me silent and holding my mouth behind a knit blanket. Was the trembling lip involuntary and childlike? The quivering disappointment visible on the lips.

Harlequin leaned near me and opened the camera album on her phone. One by one, images of me came up and flew by. Naked in green checkered boxes, sulking in sunlight, under a pecan tree, nipples confident and no inhibition. Her boyfriend sat two feet from her and I wondered why she was showing me what she had collected. I had deleted everything from her. The messages, “Drinking honeyed chai and missing your eyes tonight,” or, “Woke to cappuccino and Rich at dusk, thinking of how your collarbones smell like cinnamon.” And what was I supposed to do with those but forget them?

Now, Madeline poured on about the perfect man for her. Some times she wouldn’t reference the fantasy with genitalia. For awhile, she was leaving out pronouns. I wasn’t sure if it upset me because I craved her at times, or if because I just worried she would abandon potential for eight inches. Not potential between her and I, but maybe any woman at any time. I never speak of things like the fantasy, the perfect man or woman. Perhaps it is a poet’s acceptance to solitude, prone to bouts of loneliness and depression, living in worlds people can only try to see into. Oh, that sounds cocky, let it be. I remember she said, “I love how you create these little scenarios about us that never happened.” You don’t realize the painful process of having to write down the things that have never existed, won’t dare to exist in the flesh. They exist in between worlds of empire and surrender, and there are far too many ideas to simply uproot at once.

It is back to this. It was good last time you told me it was prying when I asked how many times you thought of kissing me. I realized they were secrets of the mind, not the heart. Secrets, nonetheless. Some little caged thought that can never be spoken - too dirty, too far off the beaten road. Good enough to…how hot those words would have just been.

I am about to lose my job. If I don’t, I will be disappointed. If I do, I will be crushed. To be someplace for four years and to be easily taken out of it. This is about control. I am downward spiraling because the reigns are not in my own hands and I don’t like it. My grandmother died last week. I thought of Starling today. I just wanted to be held. There is no one here. I haven’t known this for ten years. What happens when you’ve been filling the voids with relationships and the reservoir runs dry? Don’t tell me I have to confront myself now.

It’s not that I don’t like men. I’m just tired of them. And, if the only difference they have to offer is a penis, it takes more than that to stir any concept of connection in me. Big deal, a penis. They’re everywhere. The last time I saw one up close it was at a bus stop and this guy just yanked it out and started working on it. My ex-girlfriend woke up on the subway that summer to a guy in a sombrero jerking off and hovering over her. A penis, big deal. Oh, it gets hard quick - that’s impressive. Try working a clit the size of an almost budding rose beyond its own landscape and see how that grows on the tongue. This is no easy practice. It takes skilled tenderness, that even I may not possess. It takes the desire to give pleasure beyond an expected moment of release. Why would I want to release anything? I’d rather drink in palms-full, than chug a glass back for a quick taste.

There’s no sense in comparing. This isn’t about comparison. That is the point. I don’t want that anyway. And, it would never work. She would always have in the back of her head that the boy with the tree house would swoop in. I would feel inadequate.

I missed Harlequin and wanted her just for an hour. We could just lye naked, intertwined. No harm, right? Don’t even tell him. I’m sick of caring about his feelings when he interrupts each of our conversations. The truth is that he will talk to himself as though he were having himself for company. He could probably go the whole evening without noticing the glazed over eyes and tight-jawed yawning. I didn’t care. Just come over and let me remind you of what it feels like to be touched instead of plummeted. No orgasms. Anyone can do that. I just want to touch you.

This is the peak: loneliness versus solitude. I need to practice yoga more. I won’t make it through whatever I’m going through without release. I can survive anything, as long as I’m writing.

When you said, “I miss you. I mean, I really miss you.” I forgot you were with anyone. How many lovers have you cheated on with me? How many will never know the truth about how we have pleased each other so ravenously. You should let them know, denying this exists is denying a part of yourself. Perhaps that’s a theme. I feel like so many curious woman have showed up in my bed for the safety of giving in to something they want to truly experience. But, it doesn’t matter. Unless I’m in love with you, the touches will be different. Many women have had threesomes for the pleasure, predominantly, of their husbands, but that doesn’t mean they’ve made love to other women. I would never do it, not for the entertainment of a man. That’s all we’ve been seen as to them to begin with. Either erase us from you history, or rape us into heterosexuality - or so have been the common reactions.

No, I don’t think I will ever make love to a man. I’m small and bound to women. Only womens' hands have ever touched me intimately, been inside of me, known my contours, traced my lips before filling me.

It takes one memory to fracture me entirely - her walking in and out of Chinese scrolls at the museum, kissing her anywhere quiet enough. She followed me across the corridor to Edwin James’ collection. I was in awe, she walked by me and her hand accidentally, over and over, came across my hip or down my spine. It wasn’t until her lips against my neck that I exhaled in a way that started everything. The afternoon beyond James comes to me in flashes. How did we get in the door? How long did we wait? Could we? The way she breathed against me, crying out and sliding her hand down my torso simultaneously. The exhale when she felt what she had done to me five hours in a museum. We must have kissed everywhere. We were always like that. Nobody had to see, but we needed to get away with it. Yes, we are an interesting pair. Ravenous until it is electrifying, and intense when most forbidden. We’ve been playing a game of dangerous liaisons for three years come spring, it seems to be we are the only two that remain out of a series of relationships that spanned the same time. What is it that we keep running away from and why is there such deep surrender when we embrace it instead?

Morning came and I felt different. I contemplated, long, not smoking at all, but that passed. I put work-appropriate clothes on and pinned my hair back. I decided I wouldn’t climb through her window or drink coffee this morning. I realized for the first time I had feelings of disgust toward heterosexuality. When the sun rose, I thought all men were ultimately assholes who would never appreciate a woman. Complimentary then, all women must be idiots who were too indoctrinated to see beyond the steeple. I felt ugly inside when I thought it, but why? What was the difference between that and generations of oppression and complete extinction of lesbian literature, thought, love? The unfamiliar seldom settles well with us, isn’t it so?

I realized I wasn’t disgusted, but felt hurt. I wanted to open books about lesbian lovers loving intimately throughout the ages - just because. Instead, our history is fragmented. I sat outside last week explaining the fragmentation of lesbian literature to my friend. She brought something up that I hadn’t thought of - the subdivisions of lesbians, the splitting off from feminists and what that really said about heterosexual and homosexual women working together for a change. I thought of Gloria Stein and how she was worshipped during the feminist movement, only to find out she was bought off by the CIA, because really all it meant for women to be working in a two-income household was that the government would have a whole new set of taxes to get their grubby hands on. It meant countless children would be carted off to daycare centers and facilities to watch them while both parents worked. What was the sacrifice? Couldn’t we have just been teaching women to be empowered and men empathetic and gentle? Couldn’t we have re-stressed the importance of both parents embracing maternal traits when it came to nurturing their children?

In Mongolia, my friend Lydia said, she took a photo once of two men holding hands as they walked down the street. She was amazed by this, but she explained that she also saw men maternally parenting their children.

In America, we have lots of problems we’re trying to just medicate. Advertisements and pharmaceutical companies are in business to make sure we know we have problems and numb us up until we also realize we don’t have to solve them, we can just blanket them.
The concept of arrested development in male children: the seeking of a woman by an American male can often be placed into arrested development: the average American male was not embraced maternally by his father and so, the only nurturing he is familiar with on a deep nurturing level, is that of the mother. When this boy grows, he will seek a woman to provide that sense of nurturing since he has no experience that yields otherwise. At the same time, this child is being overdosed with images of male superiority, a sense of violence equated to his capabilities as a man, and the idea that his purpose is solely tied to money and power. I’m not saying all American men are arrested developmentally. I’m just saying : this is an issue. And, we have to look at it because it is tied to everything else.

The divination of women during the feminist movement posed many problems. Instead of coming together: each minority and every woman: we used differences to further segregate ourselves from each other. Since civil rights were freshly in everyone’s minds and still being fought for, this negated the movement away from alternative rights: homosexual rights. The reason why, I think, is because at the time it was easier for women to say, “We need to fight for equality between women and men,” instead of, “We need to fight for total equal civil rights for all women.”

We are still not equal, though I understand in America as a woman I have far more “advantages” than many women and people in other countries. I value the education system here, even if ultimately the concept of student loans is yet just another government, banking scheme instead of an act of government to understand the value of an educated populous.

But I still see lesbians void in most of history. This is not an American issue, this is a global issue, and not just lesbians but the entire LGBTQ community EVERYWHERE. We have to understand who profits from the oppression…we have to follow the money trail, there is no other trail in the state of our world that will reveal the truth about what is happening, everywhere, to everyone. Advertisements, governments, corporations all share the same intention to make people think they are divided from something ‘other’ than who they are. This leads to patriotism which is used to propagandize war. It leads to unhealthy images of self that lead people into worlds of consumerism that they may remain in the duration of their lives without ever understanding how their lifestyle effects people across the glove.

I’m sure there is more to say…I know these things are a part of a circular conversation that many of us are having…more later…


jap21's picture


It hurts my soul to understand that the skies you fly I had never had a glimpse on. To avoid this ignorance will take a lot more than one read.

Keep posting, I´ll keep reading.

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America

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