On Being Mary & Being Beautiful, part 2 (December Doomfest #8)

A few weeks ago, at church, a thirteen year old girl who I consider one of “my girls” within the Jr. High ministry came up to me and said, “You should grow out your hair.”

We were a group of five, two female Jr. High ministry leaders, beside my self, one of our female students, and the thirteen year old girl, who had red hair down to her lower back.

This was the third person who’d said this to me today, but I smiled, and just scrunched up my nose like someone had asked me to eat a brussel sprout.

“Nah,” I said, with a laugh. The red-headed girl didn’t laugh, just looked at me. The body language of the group shifted into something a bit tense.

“Yes,” said the girl seriously, “you should.”

I blinked at her. I knew this girl, and I liked her – I still do. She’s one of my girls. We give hugs every Sunday. We text each other on holidays.

“Um. I don’t want to,” I said. I maintained eye contact with her. I didn’t want to catch the weird, ‘yikes’ looks the other ladies in the circle were trying to exchange with me.

“Why not?” said the girl, raising an eyebrow before blatantly looking me up and down, “You really should.”

I laughed again, this time out of mild shock, and a bit of that weird feeling where you know you’re angry but you also know that it’s not worth being angry, and you think that if you laugh then maybe you won’t get angry, so you laugh a little and clench your eyebrows instead.

“Why?” I asked as if I were actually curious, “I like having my hair short.”

Without missing a beat, and still very serious, she replied, “You’d look better with long hair.”

I gaped at her. The rest of the group were silent around us. I was definitely angry now, and hurt, but wasn’t hard to reign in my reaction. I’ve had a lot of practice.

“I don’t like having long hair,” I calmly explained, still half smiling, “I like my hair like this.” And then I struck a silly pose, and tried to play the whole thing off, so that we could move on, “I think I rock it.”

Part of my whole persona at Jr. High ministry is that I pretend to be cooler than I am. I strike poses, wink and then pretend to strut, I dance a lot. The kids laugh, and I laugh. It breaks a lot of ice.

The red-headed girl did not laugh at this. “No,” she said, and then firmly told me, “A woman’s beauty is in her hair. You should grow it out.”

“So if I don’t have long hair, I’m not beautiful?”

She knew enough not to say anything after that, but she shook her head at me, and that was enough.

“Well, ” I said as kindly as possible, “I wholeheartedly disagree with you, but you’re entitled to your opinion.”

“I-I think it suits her,” came an attempt at diffusing the awkward situation from one of the group.

“Yeah,” said another girl, “it, uh, matches her personality.”

The girl with the long red hair looked me in the eye, shook her head ‘no,’ pursed her lips, and walked away, sing-songing, “you should grow it out…” as she left.

I excused myself then to go say hi to a few of my other girls. And I hugged the one with the long red hair before she left, all the same.

She’s young, is the immediate defense. Oh, young people are rude sometimes, Alanah. You can’t take childish insults seriously.

You know what? Bull. This was not the first time I’d heard this. In fact, it wasn’t the first time I’d heard it that very day. It was just the first time in a long time I’d heard it from a jr higher, or a friend.

When I was seven, I started getting migraines. They run in my family, on my moms side. I used to hide my migraine pills under my bed so I wouldn’t have to take them. Stupidly, I thought they were causing the headaches – I didn’t understand that they were meant to help.

I used to have long, thick, curly hair down to my butt. At some point, the doctor told my mom I needed to cut it. “It’s too heavy,” he said, “it’s making them worse, maybe even causing some.” So, in the fourth grade, I cut it to my shoulders. I cannot describe what it was like, losing the weight, except to say that it felt like floating in cool water. My mom asked if I liked it, and I said I did. I didn’t say that I wanted to cut it even more, because I knew, somehow, that she wouldn’t like that.

It is written on no one’s heart that a “woman’s beauty is in her hair.” It is not an innately known thing like “murder is bad” or the word “mine.” Whether you are a child, a jr higher, or an adult, you have to be taught the phrase “a woman’s beauty is in her hair,” you must be taught that a woman with short hair is not beautiful, and most likely, it is a parent doing that teaching.

In the case of the red-headed girl, it was likely her parents, raising a daughter in this specific belief: a woman is defined by her beauty, and that beauty is defined by a cosmetic attribute. This is not a Christian belief in that it is not Biblical. Yet I have known a great many Christian women, mothers and daughters and sisters and wives, who act as if it is.
Particularly in Latin-American families, it is a big deal for a girl to cut, or to even want to cut her hair. It took me a long time to understand my own family and community’s perspectives on female hair, and even longer to forgive them for it.

I specify ‘female hair’ because this sham of a rule only applies to women. Within such circles, it comes with a heap of generalizations:

Men with long hair are adventurous or sexy, or rebellious, mysterious.

Men with short hair are clean, classy, smart, or rich.

Women with long hair are mature and beautiful.

Women with short hair are lesbians.

I find this particularly painful, because I’ve had to defend myself from this specific belief for a very long time, most often from people that I care about, or who care for me. I can’t tell you the amount of fights I’ve have had with loved ones over my hair.

But if you have short hair, I don’t have to tell you how nice it is not to have something strand-y on the back of your neck all the time. I don’t have to tell you how easy it it to wake up in the morning or walk out of the shower, palm a little gel, rub my head, and be done. I don’t have to tell you how much money I save on shampoo, conditioner, gel, and even electricity (blow drying my hair used to take a literal two full hours, plus an hour to straighten, or an hour and a half to curl). I don’t have to tell you how many headaches my almost weightless 3-inch hair gives me – but I will. It’s zero headaches.

The heartache is a bit tough, though.

Perhaps the most insulting assumption I’ve encountered is the idea that my hair is offensive to men as a whole. There seems to be this idea that my having short hair will 1) prevent me from getting a husband, 2) prevent me from pleasing a husband, and 3) prevent me from loving a husband the way I should. “Most men like long hair, Alanah,” is something I hear a great deal of. That’s nice. It may even be true. It’s a good thing I don’t want to marry most men.

I just want to marry one.

My response to number one is that I need a man who likes short hair. They’re actually not hard to find – my unfortunately long list of exes can attest to that. I’ve only ever grown my hair out for one guy before – it was absolutely a mistake, and I will never do it again.

As for number 2, I often get “a man doesn’t want to feel like he’s kissing a boy.” My response is really just laughter. How ridiculous. Any man standing close enough to me to kiss me has my chest all up against his. Trust me, he knows I’m not a boy.

For number three, the accusation is always, “what if you love a man who likes long hair, and he’s just too kind to tell you? You’re going to make him sacrifice what he likes just so you can have short hair? That’s not very loving, and not a good quality in a wife.”

Right. Heaven forbid anyone should sacrifice something in marriage. And of course I should know my lover’s preferences even if he’s too kind to tell me them. How unloving of me, that I should desire a man who is attracted to the way I already look.

People are stupid. It’s easy to logic my way through these things, but it’s also exhausting, because I know that I shouldn’t have to. And it is consistently painful, in the mean time.

The heartache is tough, but I manage. Not because a few friends agree that my short hair “matches my personality,” but because short hair makes so much sense to me. I feel like I like my reflection when my hair is short. I feel like I’m sexier, taller, leaner, and cleaner.

But I also have a hard time feeling beautiful, I’ll admit.

My encounter with the red-headed girl came on the heels of a haircut, and my accepting the role of Mary in the Christmas program at church. We’ve already discussed my sheer disbelief with the situation:

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 9.37.23 PMMy attempts at humor were a lame cover for the most sincerely overwhelming bout of insecurity I’ve had since my first boyfriend told me that he wished I had smaller boobs back in 2008.

But the reality is that our preoccupation with a flat-chested virgin Mary with long curls draped in baby blue is stupid.

I’ve nothing against long hair. A lot of girls rock it. I just don’t want it for myself. I don’t care if you like pastel colors – rock em. But I don’t wear them much. I don’t mind if you’re flat chested – you can shop at a LOT of places I can’t and, oh god, you can wear those cute little sheath dresses, guh, GUH, I only WISH I could rock those.

But to assume that Mary was our traditional, commercial sort of “pretty” is pretty dumb.

TBC

Tune in for part 3, where we’ll talk about what what Mary was actually like, and what it was like to play her on stage in front of some 2000 people snapping photos of my wig and makeup. Then come back for part 4, where I’ll talk about scary babies, and why pushing a commercial Mary onto little girls as a standard of beauty is dangerous.

Check out the other contributors to December Doomfest! Nick, Brian, Sean, David (his link coming soon) and Matt. Comments, questions, and retweeted posts are our writery salvation, so don’t be shy – we’d all love to hear from you.

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On Being Mary & Being Beautiful – part 1 (December Doomfest # 7)

If you follow me on twitter, you know that I was cast as Mary in my church’s Christmas program a few weeks ago, much to my shock and incredulity. I chronicled my reactions by bits.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

On the face of it, this was easily one of the funnier sitcom-y situations I’ve ever been placed in, playing “chosen virgin wife” to my brother’s “famed step-patriarch.” My mom leaned over, mid-sermon on a Sunday morning, and whispered in my ear, “Alanah.”

Me”Yeah.”

Mom:”Will you be Mary in the Christmas program?”

Pause.

Me:”What?”

Mom:”Bonnie wanted me to ask you. Will you be Mary in the Christmas program?”

Me:”Are you serious?”

Mom:”Yeah.”

Pause.

Me:”Does Bonnie know I don’t have hair?”

Mom:”Not sure.”

Harvest is a mega-church with upwards of 15,000 regular members attending any given Sunday morning. There are easily 8,000 different women to choose from. I may have a theatre degree and brown skin, but I could not fathom at all why anyone would approach me, specifically, to play Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. Everything about it screamed farce to me. It’s a bit difficult to explain why, but we’ll get to that.

Me:”I…I guess. Sure. I don’t think I’m….well, okay.”

Mom:”What?”

Me:”I don’t look like Mary.”

Mom:”She told me to ask you.”

Me:”Okay.”

We returned to the sermon for all of ten seconds. Then-

Mom:”Alanah.”

Me:”What?”

Mom:”Can you ask Josh if he’ll be Joseph?”

Me:”Oh my gosh. [Pause.] Josh.”

Josh:”Yeah?”

Me:”Will you be Joseph in the Christmas program?”

Pause.

Josh:”Are you serious?”

Josh and I both agreed to accept the roles, despite it being REALLY WEIRD that we were siblings playing the star couple of the Bible. Josh kind of took it in stride. Despite my theatre degree, I immediately freaked out.

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

Matt was the only person, out of the hundreds of people who heard about it that first day, who questioned why I was making such a big deal about the situation. To be honest, I gave him a totally BS answer, because I wasn’t willing to be honest with him about what the real issue was. I’m sorry, Matt, but keep reading, and it’ll make sense.

First we found out that the performance was in a week’s time. Then we found out we had already missed all but one of the rehearsals. Then we found out that it didn’t matter, because our roles were actually pretty simple, silent, and easy. It became more and more clear that I would do no acting. My trained singing voice was not a factor. Everything about being Mary was going to be focused solely on what I looked like.

This was a huge issue for me, because I could not reconcile it with everything I have ever known about how I look versus how I have been told I should look.

Here’s the thing – I am not traditionally feminine. Sure, I’m terrified of bugs, and I can’t play any sport to save my life, but I’m also tall, broad shouldered, low-voiced, and can drink your dad under the table. The majority of my teenage and adult life has been a battle between people – mostly Christian women – telling me how I should be in order to be pretty, and me just not doing it. Other girls wore pink dresses and make-up in high school. I wore my dad’s old work jackets and tshirts with custom art prints of things like an octopus eating a bear or a giant robot cutting people in half (true facts). Other girls wanted to curl and straighten their long hair. I’ve wanted to chop it all off and dye it colors since I was 11. In fact, I made a deal with my mom to graduate high school with long, natural hair, because she insisted that it was too beautiful to waste. Four days after graduation, I cut it all off and dyed it purple, and have never looked back.

Throughout high school I was sat down multiple times and told to stop acting like a lesbian (though I have only ever been into dudes), to stop being goth (though I have never been goth, only owned a lot of black t-shirts), to stop being masculine (having short hair, loving hard rock, being into computers), and to try being more feminine (“all girls like pink, Alanah, you pretend that you don’t, but why are you acting like this, what point are you trying to prove?”), because I am a girl, and I should look and act like a girl.

I was never trying to prove anything. I just knew what I liked. I’ve always known what I liked: hard rock, tattoos, cropped and colored hair, sci fi, monster movies. And the lips of the older women in my life have always pursed at me.

What does a girl look like? It took me until this past month to realize that, for a lot of women within the Christian community, a girl is supposed to look like Mary.

mary-mother-jesus-christian-bale-vhs-cover-artModestly proportioned. Wearing pastel colors. Long, natural hair. A quiet disposition. Holding a baby. And a love for God.

I spent the last 8 years of my life with a 34 waist and DDD breasts, short and bright blue hair, piercings, tattoos, a preference for scotch over martinis, a chosen career directing experimental theatre, a distinct aversion to children, and a love of God.

The boobs are something I didn’t get to choose, but the rest are, to a certain degree. Barring the final quality, I am the antithesis of the popular “picture” of Mary. In fact, it seems – has always seemed, in the majority of my interactions with women older than I – that the final quality doesn’t matter at all when measured against the others.

This is not a blanket statement. There are exceptions. In middle school, a female counselor from the Jr High Ministry at Harvest named Moe was my ultimate role model with her baggy jeans, black jacket, and beat up boots. In high school, my eccentric choir director and tiny British drama director both gave me alternative perspectives on “what makes a woman.” So did several of my female professors in college, women whose natural features and dispositions made them androgynous, but without the attached shame I’d always experienced. As women who didn’t fit the traditional norms of commercially feminine proportions, attitudes, likes and dislikes, they gave me such drastic hope.

The reality is that I do not look or act a certain way in order to distance myself from being a woman. I am just as much a woman as any other woman, however either of us may look. My femininity is not measured by the length of my hair or my favorite colors. Disliking something other women have liked before does not give anyone the right to try to socially rob me of my claim to my gender, or to publicly doubt my desire and ability to adequately love a man.

Over the next few days, I’ll be posting on some recent experiences I’ve had dealing with being publicly called out in church settings by adults and younger women alike for (direct quote) being “not beautiful,” and how being Mary on stage for a whole 30 seconds taught me a lot about what beauty seems to be, and what it actually is.

I know that the majority of my readers are men. This is simply because I get along with guys better than girls – I have a lot of male friends. I want you guys to know that these posts are for you, too, because some of you are brothers to sisters, some of you are fathers to daughters, some of you are husbands to wives, and all of you are sons to mothers. Don’t be afraid.

We’ll get through this together, and I think it’ll surprise you how relevant it is to your interests.

TBC

Check out the other contributors to December Doomfest! Nick, Brian, Sean, David (his link coming soon) and Matt. Comments, questions, and retweeted posts are our writery salvation, so don’t be shy – we’d all love to hear from you.

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The Poet Brothers (December Doomfest #6)

I wanna try to write a good 160-180 more Poet People poems and stick em with the existing bunch to make a book and self publish it…but it’s slow going. So, in the mean time, I may just keep sharing a select few of em here. Here’s a sneak peak at a new 17 piece chapter in The Poet People: The Poet Family.

The Poet Brothers
I have a proper name
but you can call me Gravity.
If you should fall,
I’ll be the one who says how hard
or how far down,
or if I’ll let you fall at all,
or catch you up into the clouds
to safety on my shoulder blades:
the place where promises are made
with blood and years and teddy tears.
And you can call me names sometimes,
and fight me over girls and toys.
Use my mistakes as body armor,
my height against much taller boys.
But god forbid someone should hit you
or make you doubt your weight and worth.
Gravity will beat them down
and give you every chance fly
around the earth and through the sky.
That’s the truth of being brothers:
I’m the force to reckon with.
I’m sure it was my destiny – being someone’s Gravity
- and if invisibility weighs heavy on me once in a while…
Well.
It’s worth it.

Check out the other contributors to December Doomfest! Nick, Brian, Sean, David (his link coming soon) and Matt. Comments, questions, and retweeted posts are our writery salvation, so don’t be shy – we’d all love to hear from you.

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“All I Want For Christmas Is You” Is Stupid (December Doomfest #5)

Welcome to “Christmas Songs with Alanah,” the part of the show where Alanah ruins your favorite Christmas songs.

All I Want For Christmas Is You  is a perfect example of the type of Christmas song I detest. It’s poppy. It’s consistently over-sung, no matter who’s performing it (Mariah Carey and Jessica Simpson’s versions are the most popular in my workplace, which is another way of saying help, someone help, shoot me, shoot me fast, shoot me hard). It gets stuck in your head whether or not you like it. It has a trillion covers.

And it makes little or no sense.

Let’s take a look at these lyrics.

I don’t want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need

False. In this song, the speaker lists the following as things she wants for Christmas:

1) you
2) you for my own
3) you here tonight
4) you holding on to me so tight
5) to see my baby standing right outside my door
6) to be met under the mistletoe, since that’s where I’ve decided I’ll be waiting
7) to be woken up before you get here, since “I won’t even stay awake”
8) for Santa to exist
9) for Santa to be the one to deliver you
10) for Santa to know what I want even though “I won’t make a list and send it”

Definitely more than just one thing.

In reality, her demands are pretty specific, and extensive. She wants a human being “for her own,” which is concerning enough, since people are decidedly not property. She also wants this regardless of his personal desires. This song never once takes into consideration this guy’s feelings, or whether he’s single, at all interested, or even aware of the speaker, since she mentions her affections being “more than you could ever know.” Not only this, but she wants him immediately – tonight. She wants his arms around her, with urgency and force, but she also somehow wants to be able to see him standing up outside of her doorway.

The speaker is absolutely asking for a lot here. To make matters worse, she’s contradicting herself.

And she’s got to be one of the most passive aggressive people ever.

Lyric: I don’t care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree
Implication: I expect presents to be there, but regardless of who they’re from, what they cost, or who may be watching, I don’t and won’t care about them.

Lyric: Santa Claus won’t make me happy with a toy on Christmas Day
Implication: Santa, you and your little toy thing won’t cut it this year. I won’t be happy with your usual crap, old man. It may have worked for the last thousand years, but it’s beneath me.

Lyric: Oh, I won’t ask for much this Christmas, I won’t even wish for snow
Implication: I won’t even wish for a cosmic event requiring the weather to deliver a specific behavior at a specific time, regardless of the region I live in, so you should be grateful. You have it easy this year. You should be effing grateful.

Lyrics: I won’t make a list and send it to the North Pole for Saint Nick. I won’t even stay awake to hear those magic reindeer click
Implication: I’m not going to tell Santa what I want. He should just know. Wake me when it’s time for presents.

Lyric: What more can I do?
Implication: My life is so hard. Even though I haven’t done one ounce of work in this song – even though I’ve literally detailed nothing I’ve done to earn or deserve a person hand delivered to me by force for cuddling – don’t you dare expect me to work for this.

Lyric: Oh, all the lights are shining so brightly everywhere and the sound of children’s laughter fills the air and everyone is singing, I hear those sleigh bells ringing
Implication: And it’s not enough. I want MORE.

The speaker is a jerk. She’s also clearly unstable – she repeats herself excessively. Let’s count:

I just want you for my own more than you could ever know
I just want you for my own more than you could ever know
I just want you for my own more than you could ever know
All I want for Christmas is you, baby
All I want for Christmas is you, baby
All I want for Christmas is you, baby
All I want for Christmas is you, baby
All I want for Christmas is you, baby
All I want for Christmas is you, baby
All I want for Christmas is you, baby
All I want for Christmas is you, baby

Psycho. She’s a psycho.

Also, she believes in Santa.

No wonder she’s single.

Check out the other contributors to December Doomfest! Nick, Brian, Sean, David (his link coming soon) and Matt. Comments, questions, and retweeted posts are our writery salvation, so don’t be shy – we’d all love to hear from you.

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“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” Is About Date Rape (December Doomfest #4)

Slandering Christmas pop songs is sort of my hobby. I have an issue with Christmas music being played from Halloween through to New Year’s Eve, and that issue is stop it. Stop. Stop it, no. No. Stop.

I am not a Grinch. I like Christmas (I like Christ, so it’s sort of a given) and I like singing. I like hymns, and some of the older, more simplistic carols, when played in moderation. If you play Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg, I will absolutely start weeping. But sweet creation, I HATE that little drummer boy song so. Hard. I hate it. It drives me up the wall. So does White Christmas. And It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas. Oh my gosh, I could probably become a serial killer to a soundtrack of the trillion Sleigh Ride covers in existence. Christmas pop is something that I just. Can’t. Do.

No part of me wants Mariah Carey or Paul McCartney or Wham or, good god, even the Beach Boys, ANYONE singing those 20 same songs over and over for two months.

That said, even the songs that I can tolerate are often super, super weird. And even though people are always really defensive about it, I secretly enjoy pointing out how unreasonable, nonsensical, or downright scary some of the most popular Chistmas songs are.

Like, if you listen to the lyrics of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” it’s definitely a cautionary tale about date rape, guys. I’m serious. It’s pretty obvious. It reads like an after school special.

BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE
or “How Bad Things Happen To Teenagers Who Lie To Their Parents And Drink Beer”

Donna, sixteen, insecure, impressionable, has had her eyes on the bad boy from school. Rick, 18, smooth talker, one-track mind, reputation, isn’t one to say no, or to take it for an answer. He offers to give her a ride home when school let’s our early because of the impending blizzard. She knows she shouldn’t but, she thinks, who will know? 

Except that Rick takes her to his place, not hers, and his parents aren’t home. “Just come in for a minute,” he says, “I wanna show you that one band…” and she can’t resist. He’s soooo cool, she thinks. He offers her a beer, and she’s curious, feels rebellious. She takes the second one, too.

And then the snow starts to really come down. Donna bites her lip. “I really can’t stay…” she says. Rick puts his arm around her waist, leads her to the couch, smirks down at her, “Nah, baby,” he croons, shaking his head, “It’s too cold outside.”

Donna tries to excuse herself, “My mother will start to worry…” But Rick isn’t having it, just pulls her closer to say, “Beautiful, what’s your hurry?” and she leans away when he tries to kiss her. “My father,” she says pointedly, “will be pacing the floor.”

But Rick convinces her to have just a half a drink more

Next thing you know, Donna’s trying to blink the fog in her eyes and swallow the weird cotton taste in her mouth when the ugly truth begins to dawn on her soggy mind, and she manages to slur out, “hey…what’s in this drink?!” just as Rick assures her that there are “No cabs to be had out there.” His meaning is suddenly clear – there is no escape.

Later, Donna will say that she tried. Rick will say it was a matter of pride. Donna explicitly said, “The answer is no.”

But Rick just told her to, “Get over that hold out.”

And that’s how I ruined your favorite Christmas song.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look atAll I Want For Christmas Is You,” and dissect how the speaker’s desires are 1) contradictory, 2) not feasible, and 3) laden with passive aggressive subtext.

I’m not even sorry.

Check out the other contributors to December Doomfest! Nick, Brian, Sean, David (joining Dec. 22, link will post then) and Matt. Comments, questions, and retweeted posts are our writery salvation, so don’t be shy – we’d all love to hear from you.

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Protected: Worlds Ending Are Kind Of My Thing (December Doomfest #3)

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Doberman – Ch. 2 part 1 (December Doomfest #2)

A long while back, I posted the first chapter of a story about a turtle with a heart for song. This story is called Doberman. Here is the first half of the second chapter. The second half should be up for post #3 or #4, I haven’t decided yet. Enjoy.

CH. 2
 
I was four and a half when my singing stopped being cute, and for nine and a half long years, I was not allowed to sing. I was not the turtle I was supposed to be (and I was not the turtle I wanted to be, either, imagining melodies during meditation and sneaking so very carefully away at night to listen to the crickets and weep), when simply turning my head at a sparrow whistle was all it took to disrupt any peace I maintained with my family (with the neighbors too, because Emilie didn’t realize that family shame is something to keep a secret, and little girl turtles so love to tell their parents everything they’ve learned about the boy turtles around the pond).
 
On days when I could get away (“I’m going to have meditation on the boulder, so don’t wait for me. No, I won’t bother anyone. Yes, I’ll be back before dinner.”) I had a place I went, usually after an argument (“You shouldn’t have to ask, George, meditation is part of us, it is what we do, and you should just know why!” “Well, I don’t! I don’t understand what the point of this is, and no one else seems to either-“ “Oh, and I suppose you’d rather be off leaping lilies-” “That’s not what I said-“), a place a bit away from the pond to just sit and breathe and be alone.
 
A rock halfway up the hill, behind the Western trees. It was hidden from the pond, and the pond was hidden from that spot. There, it seemed like I was somewhere else entirely. The trees hid me from hawks. The sunlight shone in a perfect little square around my spot on the rock. It was safe, and warm, and quiet. A place for eavesdropping on birdsong or, if I was lucky, the odd, carried echo of a frogsong.
 
One and a half seasons before I turned fifteen, I went to visit my spot (“I’ll be on the boulder.” “Don’t be late for dinner. And don’t-” “I won’t, bye.”), and a lizard was sitting on my rock, sunbathing.
 
A lizard. In my spot.
 
Lizards are dangerous. Everyone knows this. They’re not ugly, like frogs – lizards are smooth lines and pretty scales and long, delicate curls for claws. Sharp teeth, glimmering eyes and tongue silky enough to spin any lie.
 
Lizards form gangs. They collect in a space and lounge there like they own it, always together (but together together, lying on top of each other and leaning and nuzzling and touching so casually, languidly relaxed and exposed like that on the shore for the whole community to see). They are smart and tricky, and it’s difficult to tell a friendly grin from a feral one when the glint of sharp teeth defines both.
 
Lizards are patient, and good at keeping still. Good at sudden, wicked quickness. Good at waiting for the right moment. The worst part is that they’re likable. You can never tell if they’re trustworthy. The small ones are friendly enough, but the big ones will easily kill you, if they happen to be in the mood.

I had always avoided lizards. I’d certainly never spoken to one before.

But he was in my spot.

TBC in Ch.2 part 2

Check out the other contributors to December Doomfest!

Nick
Brian
Sean
David (joining Dec. 22, link will post then)
and Matt

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