I was in Koh Samet a grand total of… 23 hours (???ish) before I literally ran on to a boat to leave! In that seemingly small amount of time I managed to explore the whole island, but not before running out of petrol and getting stuck with my motorbike, oh and most importantly getting stuck on a cliff-face because on the way back up I came across a snake-nest/ gathering of snakes/ snake council and now I’m pretty scarred for life and scared of things like hoses/twigs/anything snake-like. Good. Good.
I’m always so scared to swim in the ocean when I’m on my period because sharks.
Reasons why tonight sucks:-
1. My laptop is broken
2. which means I can’t do my writing which was my sole point in hiding away on an island this month
3. and it’s also infested with these little insect mite things
4. so is my rucksack
5. SO IS MY BODY IM COVERED IN BITES AND SO ITCHY I SWEAR TO GOD
6. and so are all of my clothes
7. which are also now damp and gross from getting water dumped all over me from Songkran
8. I don’t like this island
9. AND ITS EXPENSIVE TOO
10. NO SERIOUSLY ITS LIKE DOUBLE THE PRICE OF EVERYWHERE ELSE
11. which isn’t helpful because I’m really poor
12. and also on my period
13. and I have a million spots
14. I’M SO DAMN ITCHY YOU DONT UNDERSTAND
Ten Women I Have Been Warned Against Becoming:
1. The Girl Who Takes Up Too Much Space, always, her shoulders too wide in stairwells, her hips too big in doorways, her voice too loud in classes. This woman does not understand the art of crumbling, of curling herself tight like the spiral of a fern, soft, delicate, unwilling to reach out the ivy of her fingers to grasp onto what should rightfully be hers. This is a beast, an elephant, a moving mountain and she is capable of flattening you, she is capable of ruining you, she is capable of making you feel as small and insignificant in her life as she is supposed to be. You are this woman’s footnote to history, you are her side note in song lyrics, you are constantly interrupted by her with a witty joke you wish you thought of. I asked what the problem was with being a steamroller instead of a sunflower and I was laughed down.
2. The Beautiful One, the long hair or the slim waist or the pretty eyes or the lips like bowstrings. This woman looks good in everything because she’s confident in whatever you put her in. She’ll cut her hair short on you no matter how you like it, she’ll wear high heels and step on your opinions, she’ll look hot as hell no matter what size she is. See, the reason you can’t trust her is because women like this don’t need your permission, they’ll do as they please and get away with it. They’ll say no to you, over and over. Teach your daughters that beautiful means dangerous, teach them to distrust women who love themselves. Equate beautiful with vapid, equate pretty with stupid, take their power from them. Say they’re vain for their makeup, refuse to see them without it. These women are snakes, they are serpents. I said maybe the problem lies with you being unable to control yourself and was told to get off my pedestal.
3. A Bitch. Women are supposed to be ladies in the street but will tear skin under sheets. I’m told: Never raise your voice. Speak gently. Submit. Hold your opinion against your lips and when you admit to it, make sure it comes out as a butterfly wing suggestion. Don’t disagree. Don’t undermine someone else’s authority, regardless of whether or not they deserve your respect. Someone touches you, just move away from them. Don’t hit. Don’t talk back. Be like the ruins of Rome, only beautiful if you can’t hear your quiet death.
4. The Needy One. I have heard how others spit when they talk about how she gave you everything and you shoved it back down her throat until she choked on it, until she came back crawling and asked you what she did, until her palms and knees were scraped for want of just a little affection - never be this woman, I’m told, because she’s a joke and the joke is that she dared to have more emotion than you did. The truth is, I’m told, the one who cares less in a partnership is the one who wins. I didn’t know this was a competition.
5. The Cock Tease, certified stripper, how dare that girl look like that and not want me to sleep with her. Lust is always personified as a lady in red with a dress slit up her thigh. Lust is sinful because it’s power, it’s not asking for attention - it’s demanding it. I’m told she is the worst kind of woman, that looking good is supposed to be some kind of shame on her kin. I’m told not to leave the house in such a short skirt, not with a shirt so low, not with a lace back, not with high heels, not dressed like that. My lipstick can’t be too red, my hair can’t be too mussed, I can’t just “turn someone on like that and then leave them wanting.” I mentioned that instant gratification actually ruins our psyche and was told that being led on was “exhausting.” I said that there was a difference between purposefully tricking someone into liking you and just being attractive or friendly. I was told there’s also a difference between coffee and tea but both result in caffeine. I said, “I’ve been turned on in class by the girls I talk to but I didn’t expect anything from them,” and they said, “It’s different, you’re not a man,” but couldn’t explain where that difference was.
6. A Slut, obviously ruined by another person’s touch. It doesn’t matter how many people she’s actually been with, it’s all about the rumors she carries with her. Easy. Harlot. You’ll still try to get with her, you’ll still take her into your bed and kiss her and say things you don’t mean - but you’ll defame her name when you talk to your buddies. My father used to say “A slut is fine for the night, but the virgin is who you take home and marry.” Maybe he didn’t know he was teaching his daughter to hate her sexuality. Maybe he didn’t know that every time she’d be kissed, her whole system would shake until she felt ready to combust, shame and self-hatred shivering against her spine. Maybe he didn’t know she’d disconnect emotions and sex because he always told her, “Boys are different, they won’t care about you.” Nobody said to her that it was okay to experiment. See, the funny thing is, I’m a dancer so I know exactly where my center of gravity is. I know how hard I’ll fall in each direction. Yet out of fear of getting hurt, I won’t let a single person inside of my bed.
7. The Soulmate. Never love romance more than you love being cynical. Never show weakness, never like pink, never think maybe you might find someone nice and settle down with them. Someone will find you, I was told, And if you’re lucky, he’ll put up with you when you start getting old. Never be the woman who believes in happily ever after, never be dumb enough to think maybe someone could love you after all of your mistakes. It has nothing to do with whether or not a family is important to you and you’re in a good place where a relationship would make your life better - you’re not a princess. You don’t get married, you settle.
8. The Girl With Strength, who can outrun everyone and who is stronger than her boyfriend. “See the thing about boys,” says my daddy, “Is that you have to let them win.” I sat at home and read stories about Artemis and wanted to become the huntress, too. I wanted to howl at the moon, I wanted to slay the beasts that bested me, I wanted to rule my kingdom with bloody fists. But girls are never athletes, never supposed to be “built,” regardless of the fact civilizations were constructed on our spines and we made homes in war by the steel of our ribs. Never be strong. We are supposed to wilt.
9. The Lady CEO: because if you choose work over family, are you really a girl? How dare you fight your way to the top through every pair of eyes that bore through your blouse, through every meeting where you were hushed by the sound of someone else talking, through every time someone called you “sweetie,” how dare you yearn for something. Is your husband the stay-at-home one? I can’t imagine how that is going. He’s not a real man, after all. I don’t give it long before the divorce. How dare you decide you’re happy being single. Don’t you know you’re supposed to bear children. Where is your honor? Where is your wisdom? Who cares if you are the leader, the best suited for your position, the quickest-thinking, the one who makes the hardest clients come back again. Don’t you see? Across history, women have been terrible at success. They always lose their man in the end. (When I said, “I would rather be a famous author than a mediocre mother,” I was told, “No, don’t worry, you’ll be a fine mommy.”)
10. THE GIRL I AM: FIRECRACKER AND DON’T YOU FUCKING FORGET IT I’LL RIP YOU TO SHREDS AND I WON’T FUCKING REGRET IT I’M NOT YOUR PRETTY GIRL I’M NOT YOUR ANYTHING I’M PERFECT, MOTHERFUCKER, AND I’M NOT GOING TO GIVE UP WHAT I’M DOING. I DON’T WANT TO BE “LADYLIKE” THAT LITERALLY MEANS NOTHING I’M NOT GOING TO STOP STANDING UP AND DEMANDING WHAT’S COMING TO ME. I’M GONNA BE SOMEBODY. I’M GONNA MAKE THEM REMEMBER ME. I REFUSE TO BE OVERSHADOWED IN HISTORY. I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WERE TRYING TO CREATE BUT YOU MADE ME A DRAGON YOU PUT ME IN THE FIRE AND WHEN I STOPPED BURNING I LEARNED HOW TO GLOW DON’T THINK YOU CAN STOP ME YOU CAN’T TAME A TORNADO.
Today, today is a karma kind of day.
It’s the first time I’ve truly felt on my own since landing back in Thailand. After my week of meditation, I descended down the mountain into the chaos that was Chiang Mai on Songkran.
I figured I would hide out in my favourite veggie cafe all day before getting my bus to Bangkok to see Tim, I had resigned myself to being alone and, yes, I was feeling a little lonely and self conscious about my friendships, relationships, everything. However, fate had something so different planned for me. There popped up a message from New Zealand/ Fergus/ the sweetest guy who pops up everywhere in South-East Asia!
So, armed with water guns we ran around the city, having waterfights, getting iced water thrown over us, and getting foam in our eyes,
And then Bangkok, well I missed my bus so I stayed in a guy’s dorm with Fergus, and I realised that my down moments are only that, moments. They pass. And I know how lucky I am, and that people do care. And I excitedly waited for my journey into the even crazier chaos of Khao San Road and seeing Tim again before he jetted back off to Canada.
Bangkok ~ more iced water, finding a new vegan restaurant, being covered in clay and spending the last night in a cute rooftop bar drinking sickly sweet cocktails.
And now, I think it’s time to find an island to live on for the next month. Evaluate everything, get my writing career launched in any way I can, secure a new teaching job, appreciate everything I have.
“This is the sadness of the sea - waves like words, all broken - a sameness of lifting and falling mood.”
— William Carlos Williams, The Descent of Winter, from Collected Poems 1921-1931
Let’s be honest here -
I am not the girl men fall in love with.
I am the girl that men want to fuck.
I am a conquest. A prize. A show.
I could count on five hundred fingers
the number of people that have professed,
“I like you. You’re different. You’re an interesting girl.”
Apparently I’m not fascinating enough for you
to want to hold for more than a one night stand.
as I finished swimming a sea of blankets
and got left stranded on the shore,
I asked myself:
What’s wrong with me?
What am I doing?
Am I not good enough for anybody?
And right before I could drown again,
the sun woke up and said,
You are enough.
Forget the men whose hands have groped your hips
in search for answers to questions
you’ve never even heard of.
Do not settle for people who do not appreciate you,
who do not know how lucky they are.
Remember it is a privilege to be loved by you,
or even just
to be touched by you, and
the warmth of another body does not define your worth.
These men -
they think that they can own you
with their drunken stares and roughened arms, but
I have circled the earth
a thousand times
to feed the light flowing inside your skin.
Do not waste it by illuminating those who
can not even be bothered
to learn your last name.”
So that night when
the moon tried once more to pin me down,
I told him:
I am made of sunlight, crashing waves, and fireworks.
You think you can tame me
and cool my flesh?
I am the girl who plays with matches,
and trust me I play it well.
Lord knows I’ve walked through villages leaving
a pile of destruction in my wake.
My heart is a bushfire
and the next time you try to control me,
darling, make no mistake -
I will burst out and ravage you in flames.
(This isn’t a test.)
my uncle died of lung cancer this morning
and I wasn’t sure if I should light one up in remembrance
or if this was my sign to quit.
all day I drank coffee and flicked my lighter,
drove past the gas station three times,
came home and slept.
I leave magenta lipstick on my beer bottle.
he says the only way to keep the fire going
is to blow on it as he winks at me.
when he bends down I want to put my knee in his face
but I walk away instead.
the guys at the bar think they are smooth
but I don’t even make eye contact.
it’s the guys who nervously
bite their lip when I look at them
across the coffee shop that steal my attention.
but boys like them only know how to love on paper.
the man I once loved bought me a card
and signed it with just his name.
I wrote about the day we met on pink paper
and nervously handed it to him.
“I don’t understand writers,” he said
as he tossed my paper on his desk.
he kissed my neck
and said I was too pretty to be typing to people on the internet.
It’s easier to love a writer when you are a writer.
It’s easier to understand the quiet moments,
the long nights illuminated by a laptop,
the ink stains on fragile wrists.
It’s easier to love
when you don’t have to explain yourself.
but boys like them only know how to love on paper
and girls like me only know how to cry on tumblr.
What I say to new vegans who are unaware of the carnist backlash they’re going to have to deal with: