You Woke up in a Hospital Bed

You Woke Up in a Hospital Bed

I live someplace else now, I don’t know where that is.

                                                          Eve Ensler- The Vagina Monologues

 

You are propped against overstuffed pillows

chin up, knees up-

a needle invades the natural fold in your left elbow

and the nurse is at your side, scooping grey applesauce

into the corner of a partitioned plate.

 

The rotten peach walls whirl across your pinched vision

and what you wouldn’t give to have your mother

masking her whimper in the corner…

must have stocked up on self-pity.

The nurse insists “You’re lucky.”

 

“Lucky” you mutter

and the word smears itself across your lips

like the blackberries Sam would steal for you on Sunday mornings,

juice trickling down to a sun-baked porch.

Wipe it up with a rag— good as new.

 

He knows what his mother went through.

 

Your eyes scrape up sleep

and in the background

you detect the nurse’s amateur tune

barely audible above the ventilation system…

“Someday, my prince will come.”

Advertisements

WW Wednesday: Eve Ensler

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  In honor of those who are dealing with the effects of domestic/sexual assault, and to call attention to the multi-faced issue of gender-based violence, today’s WW is poet, playwright, and activist, Eve Ensler.

EVE ENSLER

Screenshot 2017-10-18 at 11.13.35 AMEve Ensler was born in Scarsdale, New York in 1953.  As is more common that one would expect, her childhood and young womanhood were filled with domestic abuse. She struggled to overcome the resulting trauma, which manifested through drug addiction and a number of unhealthy relationships.  In the midst of getting clean, she also worked to achieve self-love as a woman.  She talked to other women about their experiences. Before she knew it, she had compiled multiple interviews, profiles, and poems to create the Tony award-winning play: The Vagina Monologues.

Screenshot 2017-10-18 at 12.06.41 PM

“Probably the most important piece of political theater of the last decade.”

– The New York Times

Ensler began performing the piece in 1994 and in doing so she began a longlasting and controversial call to action.  Today, The Vagina Monologues is performed in over 140 countries and has been translated into over 48 languages.  In 2011, she wrote a similar piece, I am an Emotional Creature, which was targeted to and captured the experiences of young women.  She has written several other plays, books, and articles over the years which call attention gender-based violence.

 

Ensler became completely devoted to ending global violence against women and girls.  Shortly after The Vagina Monologues performances began, she started a global activist movement through V-Day.  The organization has raised over $100 million and works to educate people worldwide on how to end gender-based violence.  Thus far, V-Day has led PSA campaigns to fund over 13,000 community programs, safe houses and shelters in Africa and the Middle East. (Check out One Billion Rising and City of Joy.)

This coming January, the Manhattan Theatre Club is presenting the New York premiere In the Body of the World, which is based on Ensler’s critically acclaimed memoir of the same name.  In this short piece, Ensler shares her experience working in the Congo and the connections she felt to her own illnesses through life.

For more information on Eve Ensler, check out her website.

 

 

REVIEW: Women in Sports, Rachel Ignotofsky

 

Do you know many women in sports?  How many professional women’s sports teams can you mention off the top of your head?  Unless you are a sports fanatic, I am guessing you would be struggling to name more than one or two.  In fact, I’ll admit I knew very little about the relationship between women and sports until opening my copy of Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win, by Rachel Ignotofsky.  

 

This book is fabulous.  I gladly award Ignotofsky a 5-star review!  Not only does she succinctly compose the biographies of 50 athletes, she also includes effortless and colorfully animated illustrations of each woman demonstrating her craft.  These women have proved sheer dedication to the world of athletics.  For example,  Ignotofsky highlights women who fought for the advancement of women in athletics by winning Olympic medals and fighting for equal opportunities and wages.  She provides a timeline of women’s involvement in professional sports (8-9) which notes outstanding athletes like Althea Gibson (the first black tennis player to compete at U.S. Nationals), important legislation such as Title IX (a 1972 amendment against gender discrimination) and the development of women’s sports organizations such as the WNBA).

 

Ignotofsky also illustrates a breakdown of muscle anatomy and influential women’s sports teams (Did you know, 20 years before Title IX was passed, the TSU Tigerbelles trained 40 track runners who went on to become Olympians?)  Perhaps most importantly, Ignotofsky includes a concise section regarding the gap in pay and disparate television coverage between women and men’s professional sports.  In basketball alone, the minimum salary in 2015 for man was still $415,593 more than the maximum salary a woman in the same field.

 

The inequality wasn’t necessarily a discovery or revelation for me.  People are more apt to watch the NBA than the WNBA due to advertising and out of habit.  However, we need to change things up.  In 2017 there are countless outlets through which to view and discuss sports.  I see no reason as to why we cannot redirect the conversation toward women’s professional sports and female athletes as a whole.  The future of sports could be a more equal playing field as a result.  This is why I think every young person (woman or not, sports-oriented or not) should add Women in Sports to their bookshelves.  

 

Rachel Ignotofsky

Author Rachel Ignotofsky is primarily an illustrator and designer from Los Angeles, California, but she is also a New York Times best-selling author (Check out her other books: Women in Science, published in 2016).  She graduated from the Tyler School of Arts in 2011 with a degree in Graphic Design.  Her work has been featured in media outlets such as Babble and The Huffington Post.  She is an inspiration, much like the women about whom she researches and writes; she is her own boss and follows her passion spreading scientific literacy and feminism through illustration. Click here for her website.

 

 

FTC disclaimer: I received this book for Blogging for Books for the purposes of this review.

Ignotofsky, Rachel. Women in Sports. Ten Speed Press: New York. 2017. Print.

 

 

WW Wednesday: Bobbie Rosenfeld

BOBBIE ROSENFELD

  • Bobbie Rosenfeld
    Bobbie Rosenfeld posing with her trophies.

    Fanny ‘Bobbie’ Rosenfeld was born in 1904 in Russia but grew up in Canada playing softball, tennis and ice hockey.

  • She set national records for running long jump, discus, and standing broad jump during the Olympic Trials.
  • In 1924, she won the Toronto Ladies Grass Court Tennis Championship.
  • Despite her experience with painful arthritis, she returned to playing softball and ice hockey.
  • By 1933, she had to retire from playing sports completely, so she became a sports writer with Toronto newspaper Globe & Mail.  In her “Sports Reel” column, she advocated for women’s athletics.
  • The Bobbie Rosenfeld Award is given to the best Canadian female athlete of the year.
  • Click here to learn more about Bobbie Rosenfeld

 

 

Untitled

SOURCE:

Ignotofsky, Rachel. Women in Sports. Ten Speed Press: New York. 2017. Print.

 

 

On Finding Comfort in Mid-Afternoon Autumn

ON FINDING COMFORT IN MID-AFTERNOON AUTUMN  

after Rachel McKibbins

 

“Alas, daughter, you have struck me down

& brought calamity upon me. (Judges 11:34-5)

 

The maple leaf I almost jam

between the impetuous stomps

of combats and this thirsty soil trail

is a cathedral window.

Her patchy glass is stained blood orange

harvest yellow & fresh cut green

from the center veins

to the ends of her crispy arms.

 

Her back is pressed against

a clear plastic pocket

to avoid breaking into crumbs

when I store her between careful pages-

 

Her elephant skin could sand the edges

of my birch bedside table.

Licked by the sun’s noon fire.

wrinkled and rough-

she has too felt the sting of oppressive winds.

 

I had blood in my hands.

so did he.

I had blood in my hands

dripping from my own face

my face.

blood in my hands-

 

so did he.

 

I couldn’t understand

how a man with hot cocoa eyes

& the origin of my own jawline

could find my blood there.

 

He wanted to know where I’d been.

so I told him, in hushed but

confident defiance…

“with boy [x] age [y].”

 

Review: Gone Girl

I was never one to read a psychological thriller.  Then… I read Gone Girl.

Nick and Amy Dunne are auspicious young writers who met, as many writers do, in New York City.  Nick came from a small town known as North Carthage, Missouri to make a name for himself in journalism.  Though born a city girl, Amy held similar aspirations.  Her parents had made a living writing children’s books featuring Amazing Amy, a character the “real” Amy has struggled to emulate.  The two writers are a perfect couple with the perfect life: until the recession starts to eliminate their job market.  What’s more, they learn Nick’s mother has been diagnosed with cancer.  It only makes sense to move back to Missouri.  In order to make ends meet, Nick decides to open a bar.  Amy contributes the remains of her savings to make this happen but is unable to find work herself.  They are about to celebrate their 5 year anniversary when Amy disappears.  Though Nick is the police’s prime suspect, his guilt cannot be confirmed.  In fact, it seems very few details regarding Amy’s disappearance can be confirmed. As various clues and alibis start to contradict each other.  The police struggle to build a coherent case.  The question remains: Where is Amy?  

 

Gone Girl is not necessarily a “new” release, as the original publishing date was in 2012 and the film adaptation was released in 2014, but I still feel obligated to review (and praise) Gillian Flynn for her work.  As I stated above, I was not typically drawn to her genre but then I was required to read Gone Girl for a critical reading course in college. I was totally sucked in and wrote as much about the book as possible.

 

I promptly bought Flynn’s other novels: Sharp Objects (2006) and Dark Places (2009) and was happy to find that Gillian Flynn is inventive in all her books.  She writes to achieve rumination rather than resolution and forces readers to challenge their comfortability with principal characters.  There are neither “heroes” nor light-hearted adventures.  To be crystal clear, Flynn writes for a mature audience.  

 

My favorite aspects of Gone Girl is Flynn’s use of dual and unreliable narration.  These two literary techniques aren’t always used together, but I do think they work together nicely to prove that multiple perspectives are integral to the plot of a successful thriller novel.  The point of view alternates between Nick and Amy Dunne, who recount events in a manner which protect their self-interests.  As a result, both narrators are unreliable and increasingly unlikeable.  When Amy disappears, Nick is barely fazed. He withholds details regarding his alibi for the morning of Amy’s disappearance from secondary characters as well as from the reader. 

Amy is just as murky in her diary entries.  seems like a caricature of a woman when she writes in her diary.  Her stories from when she and Nick met in NYC  read like a film script. I didn’t know who to believe or when to take either character seriously (which was great, because I don’t want predictable characters in a thriller or mystery novel).  This unreliability caused me to start thinking about how secondary characters would tell their version of the “Nick and Amy” story.  For example, how did Amy’s parents interact with her on a daily basis?  Did they actually expect Amy to use the Amazing Amy series as a literal roadmap to success, or were they simply inspired to write after her mother was finally able to deliver their only daughter?

 

I also enjoyed how Flynn confronts gender stereotypes in this book while keeping the characters realistically problematic.  For example, Amy brings forth an interesting debate on gender expectations by expressing the pressures of being “Cool Girl.”  She explains, “I waited patiently— years— for the pendulum to swing the other way, for men to start reading Jane Austen, learn how to knit, pretend to love cosmos, organize scrapbook parties, and make out with each other while we leer. And then we’d say, Yeah, he’s a Cool Guy” (301).  The idea that women should be constantly agreeable while interacting with men is still prominent.  This is why we are still referred to as “bossy” instead of “authoritative” when we establish ourselves in positions of power.  We are expected to adapt to men’s tastes and to “calm down.” To exploit our sexuality. To tolerate inappropriate jokes when we know they’re offensive and unfunny.  

 

However, women are also taught to look for an unrealistic profile in men, and Amy exhibits this phenomenon.  Though she admits to struggling with gender expectations, she shames Nick for struggling with his identity:  “You are a man,” I say. “You are an average, lazy, boring, cowardly, woman-fearing man…The only time in your life you’ve ever liked yourself was pretending to be someone I might like” (529).  This moment is interesting, as she is chastising Nick for being passive, but also for performing according to her expectations.  Again, I must stress how this novel will make you think about character likeability and complexity.  

 

The only complaint I have about this novel is the very end because the story is uncharacteristically resolved in comparison to Flynn’s other books.  I can’t elaborate too much without including spoilers, but I do feel there would be more complications to the resolution when all character perspectives are considered.  This aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I give Flynn a 5-star rating and am eager to see her on the best-seller list again soon!

*CLICK HERE* for a free sample or to purchase Gone Girl on Amazon.com

Flynn, Gillian. Gone Girl: A Novel. Crown, 2012. Kindle file.

DEAR READER

DEAR READER:

You’ve been asking me what is this “XYZ”

when you should have learned the alphabet when you were 2

when all you needed to know was that her name was Shannon

and you thought her sparkly purple sandals were pretty.

 

You liked her

and it didn’t matter she was different the other girls you used to like.  

It didn’t matter

because you were not her and she was not you.

 

The year is 2017-

and it’s still possible to be “too much” of yourself.

I’m not talking about arrogance.

It’s time for some honesty,

 

and honestly?

I love women and I love men, too-

especially the gentle ones.

 

I’m sorry you’ve fallen victim.

 

You’ve heard too much about your friend Shannon,

whose legal name was still Shawn

until 22 years of persistent protest

transformed to progress.

 

I’m sorry

you heard she had the shit kicked out of her in 6th period shop class.

I’m sorry

you saw her fuchsia nails resting so out of place on callused fingertips.

 

I’m sorry

that you had to forget that she used to be called he

and that you have been best friends

all this time with you none the wiser.

 

I’m sorry you had to endure all of that.