20 May 2010

The Ghost

Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, 
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before...

Has Lenore returned to me? Am I being haunted?

Am I going crazy?

How pompous are you that you could think that you have dreams that none before you have had? Are you that much higher than everyone else?

Everyone has experienced loss. You are not the first, and you are not the last. Every mortal being must have these feelings at some point or another. Life is not easy; it is littered with pain and loss.

But it is not all bad. There  are still moments of joy. A touch from a loved one, a laugh with a friend, the beauty of the endless sky. Pain fades. We meet new people. A passionate life is not one without joy. Find your passion. Live for it. Do not dwell on the past. Do not be afraid to love.

To love...again.

12 May 2010

Nice Day for a White Wedding

I am not a person that dreams of a perfect wedding day. In fact, with every wedding I attend, I become more and more sure that I do not want any part of a traditional wedding. First of all, I'm not religious--at all. Neither is my boyfriend. Why should we have to have a priest tell us we can be together? I don't want a sermon, even though we both have religious families. Religion is simply not a part of our lives, so why should it be a part of our marriage?

Now, I'm all about family get-togethers. But, when you have tons of people that you hardly recognize coming to your wedding, you have a problem. Most of those people are probably just there for the food/alcohol anyway, and will you ever see them again? There is no point in having hundreds of people come to see you get married when most of them probably don't even care about you.

The thing that bothers me the most about weddings is the tradition of the father giving away the bride. This tradition comes from the time when only men would discuss who got to marry who; a man would ask the father for permission to marry the daughter, and the father would deny or grant permission. This was essentially a trade (anyone remember the dowery?) between men--women were not involved in the business of marriage. Though women today usually have the power to choose their own mates (in the US anyway), we still have this tradition of the father giving away the bride. I do not want to be a part of this trade; I am a woman who can make her own decisions about who to marry and how to have a wedding. I will not be "walked" down the aisle while I am perfectly capable of walking myself--of my own free will.

Right now, I'm not even sure I want to have a wedding. Maybe I just want to go to the court house and get the necessary documents. The point is that it's my choice; I don't have to be controlled by my father.

05 May 2010

The Gender Binary

The gender binary: the idea that there is a strict line that separates man and woman, which defines masculinity and femininity. However, there are not two genders. Gender is not a category--it is a spectrum.

Sex isn't even a category. If you've ever heard of hermaphrodites, then you understand that there are more than two sexes. In addition to men and women, there are all kinds of in-betweens for which we have no name besides the general term hermaphrodite.

In the same way, there are more than two genders. There is not only male and female; there are all kinds of gender expressions for both genders. Some females feel more masculine, and some males feel more feminine. These people are often quickly labeled "gay," even though their gender or gender expression has nothing to do with their sexuality.

Take me, for example. I am biologically a female, but my gender expression is not strictly feminine. I do not believe in girly dresses, makeup, jewelry, heels, or low-cut shirts. I may be shy, but I'm not passive and I'm not soft-spoken. I do not let the man pay for all the dates. Sometimes I look like a boy, and for this reason people label me a lesbian. Some people are just too uncomfortable around a girl that looks and acts like a boy. You wouldn't believe some of the nasty looks I get.

But why do people have this reaction? Why can't people accept that gender expression may be different from a person's biological sex? Why is there such an obsession with knowing everyone's sex? (I'm looking at Lady Gaga on this one--who cares if she's a man or a woman?)

The gender binary is largely to blame for this issue. Many people, especially from our older generations, believe that there are only two genders and that you should act like the masculine man or feminine woman that you are.

I am here to challenge this binary. I may be a woman, but I do not have to act feminine. I do not have to dress like a woman. If that makes you uncomfortable, good. We need to get over this notion of the gender binary so we can have some real progress in this country for women's rights and LGBT rights.

03 May 2010

Thoughts, April 2, 2009

The world works in funny ways. I was beginning to regret moving back to York, leaving Bryn Mawr behind. But now, it seems like it was meant to be...

"He's passing," says the nurse quietly, as if not to disturb the moment. "I know," I say. Maybe I didn't say it, maybe I only thought it. I probably nodded. Of course I knew. I've known for weeks, I just haven't been able to come to terms with it. A hot tear slides down my cheek. "I'll leave you alone," he says. I nod my silent thanks. He pulls the curtain around us and goes off to find the RN on duty.

I turn back to him. His breathing has almost completely stopped.

His pale blue eyes pierce the ceiling, looking through me, looking at nothing. Even in death his eyes are the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen. My grandma said the other night that he had wanted to donate his eyes when he died. The thought struck me as odd in that moment, and I cringed but let it pass. If only she could be here beside him now. Over the past few days, she had never left his side. But last night, they sent her home. Of course it had to be the night before.

I clasp his hand, rubbing my fingers over the dark bruises on his paper-like skin. I know that such a simple movement should have given him a harsh pain, but he shows no recognition of the touch. His face remains blank. He doesn't even know that he's not alone. I rub my hand over his tender forehead, through the little remaining hair. I want to say something, but I can find no words.

I had already said that I loved him. I had already said goodbye. At least that night, only a few days before, I knew that he heard me. He couldn't say anything in response, he didn't know my name or even where he was, but he knew my face, and he knew that I was there for him. He had smiled when he saw me.
Not so today. He's almost gone. His eyes may still be open, but nothing registers when I enter his line of sight. Everything is shutting down, and his lungs are the last to give up the fight. One minute he's there, the next he's gone.

Finally, a woman comes in. She checks for a pulse, checks his lips, tries to close his eyes. She asks if there's anything she can do for me. There isn't. She nods and goes out. Another nurse enters. "Oh Sammy," she says, and kisses his forehead ever so gently. Then she reclines his bed and removes the oxygen from his nose. He won't be needing it anymore. She shuts the machine off, making the TV next door sound even louder. She hugs me and gives me a few tissues.

The first nurse joins us quietly. "He was such a great person. Always made us laugh." I nod, remembering years of inside jokes. He looks back at me. "At least he wasn't alone." I continue crying, the tears running silently down my face. They again try to shut his eyes, to no avail. His pale irises continue to stare, unseeing, at the ceiling.

I am still holding his hand when the nurses leave and my grandmother and parents come in. I move to make room for my grandmother's wheelchair. She is crying. I can only imagine what she is going through. All those years together. She is still here, but he is gone.

I hug my mother. She too is crying. Even my dad has to wipe away tears.

"I'll see you again, Sam," my grandmother says. I see in her why people turn to religion. I almost wish I could feel the same way.

My mother eventually decides that it does us no good to stand there with him. Not him, but the body. He is gone. And we are only beginning to understand what that means.

The next few days are rough. So much to arrange, so much pressure. So many people. Even though I have an escape, even though I'm at school, it makes my head spin.

I go with my mother to the funeral director. He smiles as he takes her roll of cash and my credit card. He asks how we're doing. Neither of us answer him.

Everything is over in less than a week. Everyone tries to comfort my grandmother, uncle, and mother, but what good can it do? They all drive away. I don't even know most of them. Maybe I'm better off that way. Thankfully, it was a closed casket. I wouldn't have been able to hold my composure if it had not been.
I follow my mother and teenage brother to the outside of the small building. Where there should be a plaque, a hole gapes like an open mouth. In a way, I feel like this is worse than a hole in the ground. At least grass can grow back overtop. I am sorry I've seen it, but there's no unseeing now. Maybe I will be able to go back later, when the hole is covered. I don't know if I want to see his name on the plaque. I don't know if I would be able to handle seeing those dates carved in stone. Maybe one day, but not today. I ride home with my family.

Like I said, maybe things happen for a reason. I was unhappy at Bryn Mawr, so I came back to York and continued to be unhappy here. I missed Bryn Mawr. But now I don't regret coming home for sophomore year. If I had been so many miles away, he would have died alone. I would have missed a week of school and I would have fallen behind. I would've been even more miserable at school all alone. Having my family close has helped, both me and them. Maybe we're closer because of it. All I know is that I'm glad I was here. I'm glad I got up early on a Saturday morning to see him, to hold his hand in that last hour. I'm glad he wasn't alone, even if he couldn't see me. Maybe he felt me, and knew that it was ok to let go.

Takin' Care of Business

Though the end of the semester is a very stressful time, especially for professional writing majors (who decided that we had to do so many papers at once?), it is also a time of getting things done and feeling accomplished. I love the feeling of getting something done and handing it in, especially when I get it done early. Of course, people hate me the night before when I tell them I'm going to bed early and they have to stay up all night working on that paper, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Getting everything done definitely gives me a feeling of satisfaction, like I can do anything I put my mind to. Even if I'm stressed up until the very last day of the semester, I should come to expect that feeling of accomplishment, knowing that everything will fall into place.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I graduate. I'm sure I'll have something else to stress about at my job or in my relationships. Maybe then I'll find some satisfaction too. One can only hope.

02 May 2010

The Moon

A few days ago, we had a beautiful full moon in the clearest of skies. Though the moon is always beautiful, always mysterious, there is something special, something powerful about the full moon--especially when it appears red. The metaphor of the moon is used over and over again, especially in mythlore and scary stories. Vampires and werewolves are controlled by the moon. Where does this sentiment come from? Why do people fear the moon?

As for myself, I love the moon; I relish its beauty and feel its power over the entire night. This power is probably the cause for our respect of the moon.

As a night owl, I have always felt this affinity with the night and the moon. I remember, back in high school when I would stay up all night, writing by candlelight and cursing anyone foolish enough to bother me. One night, we had a power outage due to a thunderstorm. Though I grasped any reason to light more candles, I quickly regretted the disturbance; my entire family woke up and joined me. I felt as if my peace had been ruined, my isolation broken. It was a violation of myself, my being, my power.

Maybe the moon is just a metaphor. Maybe it is synonymous with night, meaning isolation, peace, or fear. However, we don't have to understand it to feel its power.