rachel k.

"My alone feels so good,
I'll only have you if you're
sweeter than my solitude."
- Warsan Shire



2 days until The Big Shave! When I went bald in 2012, I didn’t fully realize what it meant or the symbolism behind such an act. I acted on a whim, fueled by the knowledge that it was for a good cause, adrenaline, and the energy in the room. 20 minutes after I said yes, I was in the chair, razor in hand.

I thought having done it once would make it easier, but I was wrong - especially with 3.5 months to sit on it. I know that I have two awkward phases: The Chia Pet and The Lego Head. A couple of times when I played soccer, I was mistaken for a guy. Oh god. Should I make a shirt that says “I’m A Chick”? I have to be more conscious of my makeup choices. Big earrings are essential. I have a big personal space bubble, and people - STRANGERS - thought they could just touch my bald head whenever they wanted. The mohawk? No more mornings of waking up and throwing my hair in a ponytail. I CAN’T “WHIP YO’ HAIR BACK AND FORTH.” I’m shaving even shorter this time; WHAT IF I HAVE A LUMPY HEAD? I’m going to look like a potato. My scalp is like, white. It’s going to look so friggin’ weird. I’m going to have to put sunblock on my head. People get weird and judgmental when they see an alternatively-styled woman. Gotta get ready for the stares and awkward questions.

And just when I’m on the verge of hiding in a far-off cave with wine and my intact long locks, I force myself to remember the bigger and better things I experienced being bald. By far, the biggest change was in being forced to redefine my femininity. Hair is a big part of being a woman. Not only does it soften a woman’s features, but it is emphasized and sexualized in our society. Without hair, I had to find new ways to assert my womanhood. I wanted to be strong *and* feminine, fearless *and* sexy. What I ultimately learned was that my senses of sensuality, sexuality, and womanhood, weren’t, in fact, dependent on my hair or even the sizes of my breasts or hips. I may have a small figure (and soon no hair), but my womanhood comes from my soul. It comes from the way I carry myself, the way I smile and walk and feel about myself. It comes from the conviction in my choices and the love in my heart for others. I remember feeling empowered and brave and beautiful - bald head and all - and that is something I am excited to re-experience.

This is my time and place.
This is me saving my saved face.
So if my heart starts to radiate bold broken glass,
y’all,
relax…
it always pumps this fast.
- Buddy Wakefield, “Gospelstitch”

This is my time and place.
This is me saving my saved face.
So if my heart starts to radiate bold broken glass,
y’all,
relax…
it always pumps this fast.
- Buddy Wakefield, “Gospelstitch”

OHMYLANTA. My childhood friend posted this article and the caption “Its no wonder the number of gays increases every year. Raise your sons to be Men.”

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I was infuriated. So me, being a girl, let the emotions get the best of me, and typed out this long response. I didn’t include the usual facts and hard evidence I normally would, but I doubt that would matter. I’m eager to see the responses I’ll get and the sexist slurs I’m sure that will ensue. Apologies for the repetition. (Emotions, eh? ;)) I also apologize that I can’t post the link to the article right now. Tumblr keeps freezing up on me. If you can’t see it on the screenshot, let me know and I’ll post the link in the comments. I’ll keep trying to re-add it here, too.

MY RESPONSE:
I think this article and your standpoint leave a lot to be desired.

Let’s talk about Main Belief #1: Feminists are the destruction of “The True Man.” The “True Man,” as put forth by the author who calls himself “Daddy, “is not goofy, or emotional. Rather, he is stoic, aggressive, and outspoken. And let’s not forget — masters in the bedroom (unlike those “goofy, effeminate guys”). More importantly, He is in danger of extinction at the hands of feminists. In the simplest and most cave-man-like of terms, feminism is about the equalizing of genders. Not the hatred of men and the call to arms for women (that’s called misandry). Incorrect assumption and usage of the term all over the place. I’d also like to point out that the author appears to mean “empathetic,” rather than his poorly-used “emphatic.”

Main Belief #2: Certain traits are inherently feminine, and others masculine. It’s unbelievable to me that in 2014, we still have this issue. Things like emotional cognizance and expression, communication, and empathy are considered “feminine.” Let’s sugarcoat things here; there’s no reverence for women when these things are discussed. Though it may be worse if you view women as the upholders of morality and goodness. You may as well be back in the fifties when women belonged at home, while the men earned the paychecks. Then again, the author supports this structure in his article, so it wouldn’t surprise me if all you supporters feel the same way. Men, if they’re “real men,” should be strong, emotionally-contained, and aggressive. That is the mark of a good, true man, and progress for society. You see/hear it every day in all areas: “You hit like a girl,” “God, don’t be such a pussy,” “C’mon! Grow a pair!” All of these things - and more, promote the beliefs that to be anything other than an immovable object, you are feminine, and therefore weak. Tell me why there’s still an attachment of gender to things that are inherently gender-less?

Main Belief #3: To have emotions - and to be aware of them, to express them, and to feel them, is to be weak and open to destruction by your enemies. Whoa. Your “enemies”? And those “moral temptations” you poor men face on a daily basis? (Not the “tetas!” What the hell are “tetas,” anyway? I assume he means “ta-tas.) Are you also believers that when women wear provocative clothing, drink too much, or openly flirt, they open themselves up to assault and rape? If your reaction is instantly “Of course not!” - don’t look so scandalized. It’s of the same cloth; if men are so open to being morally corrupted in the workplace, there’s the belief that they aren’t fully at fault for any of their actions. Blame the feelings! All the feelings made you do it! There are definitely times when emotion needs to be set aside. I’m not debating that. The problem forms when you agree that life is a battlefield, that work is a battlefield, and therefore, you are constantly at war. We aren’t running from dinosaurs or protecting our homestead from invaders or predators. You’re working at Best Buy or the local gym and going home to drink beer. C’mon, now.

Main Belief #4: It’s not Emotional Suppression, it’s Emotional Mastery. When this article talks about controlling your emotions, its confusing emotions with action. There’s a difference between feeling your feelings and acting on them. Mastering yourself is just that: it’s recognizing and acknowledging your emotions, but not necessarily jumping to action. By brushing them aside or “sucking it up,” you’re not mastering anything. You’re indeed suppressing. Real mastery would mean being able to feel them but maintain your ability to communicate effectively.

Also, there isn’t a shred of evidence - scientific or psychological - to support this article or any of the misogynistic, close-minded statements on here. Here’s one fact: Studies have proven that having your child (BOYS, TOO) play with dolls helps form and increase empathy. If you scoff at the necessity of empathy, you may want to check and see if you’re a sociopath/psychopath/narcissist, and you’re definitely a selfish asshole at the very least.

And before you all jump down my throat and use those stereotypical woman-hating slurs thrown around the internet, know that I come from the type of life that this article supports. I come from a home where emotional openness is shunned, self-control and containment necessary, and was taught to be aggressive, competitive, and tough — none of which left room for emotions or other “feminine” things. (Ironic, considering I’m a woman, and generally people who draw such hard-lines with gender roles would throw me far on the other side.) And know that I’ve experienced firsthand the fault of those ways. I’m not some stupid, feminazi, man-hater who’s here to word-vomit her views. I’m an educated, peace-loving, wanter-of-equality who’s here to word-vomit my views.

My questions to you and the author, as well as all the men shouting “Hear, hear!,” are these:
1. What exactly does “over-emotional” look like to you?
2. What is passive about emotional self-awareness?
3. What does any of this have to do with homosexuality?
4. Are you aware that by attributing “good” traits to men and “bad” traits to women, you place men on a pedestal and therefore tend more toward the homosexual than those who revere women?
5. Don’t think that any of your “macho, manly ways” means you’re more of a man and a strong lover of women. In fact, you despise the female gender.

People should not judge failed love affairs as failed experiences but as part of the growth process. Something does not have to end well for it to have been one of the most valuable experiences of a lifetime.

—Ethel Person (via simply-quotes)

(via alexandraelle)



“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”

I’ve been a foster mom to this Bubba baby for a month now, and it’s safe to say that I’m a little obsessed. He’s American Bull Dog to the core; beyond cuddly and snuggly, a little dumb, high energy, and all-around happy-go-lucky.

Becoming a foster mom wasn’t something I really considered or took time thinking over. My best friend works closely with a rescue, and one day called me and asked if I would take in a foster dog named Lucky for a couple days. So began my foster journey.

I had Lucky for 8 days. A mastiff mix, he was a big, brown, lazy lover who I immediately grew attached to. After my time was up, Bubba was placed with me. After Lucky’s lazy and laid-back nature, Bubba’s high-energy and frat-boy-like demeanor instantly rubbed me the wrong way. Luckily, after a few days (a few runs, and some play time with other dogs), he finally relaxed and I fell in love.

Fostering has brought a whole new range of emotions to my life. There’s a high amount of foot-stamping and “maybe I could keep him” thoughts, as well as the selfish “he’s MY dog” stubbornness. Then, when it’s time to actually part, waves of sadness and grief wash over you as you realize that your part in this dog’s journey has ended. Maybe you’ll see him/her again, but maybe not. You, dear Foster Parent, were simply a stop along the way for this dog who will forever remain in your heart.

As difficult as saying goodbye to my first foster was, I know it’ll be unbelievably harder with Bubba, considering the amount of time and work/training I’ve put in with him. Regardless of the pain fostering brings, I consider myself extremely blessed. Mornings with my Bubba, like in this picture, are the best. When the sun streams into my room, and he lays his head atop my shoulder and exhales a deep breath, I feel the presence of God and all his glory.
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”

I’ve been a foster mom to this Bubba baby for a month now, and it’s safe to say that I’m a little obsessed. He’s American Bull Dog to the core; beyond cuddly and snuggly, a little dumb, high energy, and all-around happy-go-lucky.

Becoming a foster mom wasn’t something I really considered or took time thinking over. My best friend works closely with a rescue, and one day called me and asked if I would take in a foster dog named Lucky for a couple days. So began my foster journey.

I had Lucky for 8 days. A mastiff mix, he was a big, brown, lazy lover who I immediately grew attached to. After my time was up, Bubba was placed with me. After Lucky’s lazy and laid-back nature, Bubba’s high-energy and frat-boy-like demeanor instantly rubbed me the wrong way. Luckily, after a few days (a few runs, and some play time with other dogs), he finally relaxed and I fell in love.

Fostering has brought a whole new range of emotions to my life. There’s a high amount of foot-stamping and “maybe I could keep him” thoughts, as well as the selfish “he’s MY dog” stubbornness. Then, when it’s time to actually part, waves of sadness and grief wash over you as you realize that your part in this dog’s journey has ended. Maybe you’ll see him/her again, but maybe not. You, dear Foster Parent, were simply a stop along the way for this dog who will forever remain in your heart.

As difficult as saying goodbye to my first foster was, I know it’ll be unbelievably harder with Bubba, considering the amount of time and work/training I’ve put in with him. Regardless of the pain fostering brings, I consider myself extremely blessed. Mornings with my Bubba, like in this picture, are the best. When the sun streams into my room, and he lays his head atop my shoulder and exhales a deep breath, I feel the presence of God and all his glory.
Toni Morrison - Sula

Toni Morrison - Sula

Victor Hugo - Les Misérables.

Victor Hugo - Les Misérables.

A Million Little Pieces.


I just spent the past 4 hours of my Friday night re-reading James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces. I first read the book a few years ago, and recently decided to pick it up again.

My strong love for the story has not changed, if not grown stronger. The past few years of my life have changed me, and while I’m not a hard person, I’ve seen and experienced enough to better appreciate his tale.

At the age of 23, James Frey was as he puts it, “an Alcoholic, a drug Addict and a Criminal.” Addicted to alcohol and a littany of drugs, he found himself in a Minnesota rehab facility, physically and emotionally wrecked and near to death. The story he tells of his time in rehab is gruesome and vivid. There is no hiding from the details and, often, they are more than cringe-worthy.

Now normally, I’m a stickler for punctuation and capitalization, especially in published works. Frey’s frenetic style of writing, however, fits perfectly with the story he has to tell. Chaotic without the commas and semi-colons to distinguish thoughts, I was sometimes lost and anxious. Which is exactly how I imagine his thoughts. Chaotic. Lost. Anxious. Jumbled. And yet, somehow, still they retained a sense of poignancy.

Despite the immense controversy that has surrounded the book, I have not felt duped or betrayed by Frey. Although I’d prefer if he hadn’t lied, and although I sometimes raise an eyebrow at his “tough man” bravado, I don’t believe his story suffers for it. His story is one of a hopeless person finding hope and the possibility of redemption in all of us. And that, to me, means more than any title of “fiction” or “memoir.”