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We suck the marrow from the bones of this dinner we earned, the meat is stringy and warm on our tongues. We are dead-eyed and exhausted, too hungry for manners, too tired. My back aches from 4 million years of standing on these two feet and I feel every minute, every second of my genus.
Sometimes, in the dead hours of the morning, I shed my evolutionary layers like thick sheets, and find myself gasping with relief. I snarl into my pillow, pressing it tight against my face, and I fight the urge to tear it to shreds with my teeth.
Other times, on hot afternoons, we make love on piles of clean laundry and it is at once mammalian and cultural. There is an instinct that is animal, but the act is somehow so refined, so rehearsed, so learned, as to be distinctly human.
I am in love with my calves, the way they tense as I mount crowded stairwells at rush hour, my heavy feet falling in unison with those of the other tired bipeds. In these moments, when I am lost in the herd of my species or when I am tooth deep in the flesh of another, I cling desperately to my singularity. I go cross-eyed trying to stare at my own nose, to see myself, to remember my personhood.
But mostly I just live my reality. I work for my meat and I devour it as the television hums in the corner. I eat it down to the marrow because somewhere in my DNA, I remember what hunger feels like. I remember that I am only human, only animal.
CHECK OUT THIS CELEBRITY IN TINY CROP TOP/ SHEER DRESS/ SHORT SHORTS/ SUPER LOW CUT TOP/ TEENY BIKINI/ ALMOST NAKED
*boobs* *boobs* *boobs* *boobs*
Sleazy CEO of exclusionary fashion line made racist/slut-shaming/body-shaming/poverty-shaming remarks
*insert scathing critique of company making sure to thoughtfully examine the ways in which said CEO’s comments reflect deeply embedded pathologies and privileges in the fashion industry, and society at large. Be sure to use the words “institutionalized” and “systematic”
EXCLUSIVE: HOW TO EAT LIKE A SKINNY PERSON
The Top 7 Foods Skinny People Eat
WATCH THIS SPOKEN WORD ARTIST POWERFULLY EXPRESS THE DARK TRUTH ABOUT BODY IMAGE/ RAPE CULTURE/ THE MALE GAZE/ THE MEDIA’S COMPLETE LACK OF SELF-AWARENESS
*insert praying hands Emoji*
*insert hands with diamonds Emoji*
OMG: KYLIE JENNER SHOWS OFF ROCK HARD ABS IN THE TINIEST BIKINI EVER
How does she get that rockin’ bod? Through a steady regimen of being a seventeen year old girl with a naturally slim physique and a media-savvy family which undoubtedly burdens her with enormous pressure, perhaps even unconsciously, to maintain the aesthetic they have meticulously crafted. Also, KALE.
On the first Monday of August, Kadooment Day, I am usually drunk before noon. Yesterday, in any other year, I would have woken up sometime around 6 a.m., donned my costume which would have been little more than a bikini with feathers, and made my way down to the national stadium where a few thousand other bejewelled revellers would be gathered. Then, from sunup ‘til sundown I would have danced, flag in the air, the sun sweltering and unimpeded against bare flesh.
On August 1st 1834 slavery was abolished in the British colonies. In my home, Barbados, this day is called Emancipation Day and is celebrated during the Crop Over season. Crop Over has its origins in colonial times when slaves would celebrate the end of harvest but was revived in the 70s as a cultural festival and tourist attraction. Because Emancipation Day falls during Crop Over season, the two are often conflated and the commemoration of the abolition of slavery, at least for me personally, is often lost in the spectacle of carnival. And perhaps there is nothing wrong with this. Perhaps the fact that each year the entire island comes alive with celebration is a tribute to our ancestors, whose freedom came after more than two centuries of back-breaking toil. Perhaps if they were here now they too would dance.
This year, however, I am four thousand miles from home and I spend the day fastidiously avoiding social media so as to spare myself the pangs of nostalgia and regret that inevitably plague any Caribbean person who is away from home during carnival season. I am rereading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Case for Reparations” and thinking about emancipation.
Ta-Nehisi Coates argues that the compounded effects of slavery, Jim Crow and discriminatory housing and lending practices in the United States have prevented African-Americans from accumulating inter-generational wealth. Laying out his case for reparations in unequivocal prose, Coates compels us to question the narrative which has relegated the reparations argument to the political exile of leftist liberal inanity, so much so that Congress has continually rejected HR-40, a bill calling only for the creation of a commission to study the effects of slavery on African – Americans.
I do not know what reparations might look like, nor do I know for certain if reparations are in fact appropriate. I do believe however that talking about reparations is critical, if only for the sake of raising to the level of national consciousness the reality of the injustices inflicted upon the black population in the US, from slavery to present day, and, perhaps more importantly, of reminding Americans of the extent to which the wealth of their nation is attributable to generations of free labour stolen from black people. I believe the conversation is much overdue and the resistance to the call for just this, a conversation, is telling of the degree of selectively to which the American historical memory is subject.
In the case of Barbados, the issue of reparations is further complicated by our independence from the UK. Whereas in the United States, where slavery evolved into institutionalized racism and has been perpetuated by the US government through systemic discrimination to this present day, in Barbados, our independent government has fought a long and hard battle to raise our majority black population out of poverty and to overcome the legacy of colonialism.
I don’t know how much slavery cost my country. I do not believe calculations have been made, though in his book Capitalism and Slavery, the brilliant Trinidadian historian Eric Williams elucidates in economic terms the extent to which the Industrial Revolution was financed by slavery. But beyond the benefits to England I cannot begin to sum our losses. I don’t know what our soil, long depleted from years of mono-cropping sugar cane, would be worth today. I do not know how much our economy could have grown had we been allowed to refine sugar ourselves rather than be relegated to that of producer of raw materials. I do not know what the contribution of those men and women who died, lost beneath rows of cane arrows, could have been. How many greats minds did we lose? When I think about the intellectual strength and creative capacity it must have taken to build Barbados into what it is today given this deficit, I am left in awe of my ancestors.
So on Kadooment Day, though I am far from home, I think of my friends who make their way down Spring Garden highway in dancing bands, the Caribbean Sea a glittering blue in the background and I can almost hear the soca music, almost feel the hot pavement beneath my feet. I picture them smiling in the sunshine, so beautiful in their regalia, so free. And I think of my ancestors who made it so, I think of all we owe them.
I think of my ancestors and of what they are owed.
les nuits au mile end ✌️
Venal [adjective] : characterized by a susceptibility to bribery
"Las Vegas is the most extreme and allegorical of American settlements, bizarre and beautiful in its venality and in its devotion to immediate gratification…"- Joan Didion
🐻 (at Musée Des Beaux-Arts De Montreal)
"All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath." - F. Scott Fitzgerald
I have not been writing truthfully. There are things I have not allowed myself to admit. I must tell the truth because that is where the juice is. The good writing is in the truth. The real truth. And the truth about the real truth is that it is mostly about lies. Truth is deception. All of the ways we are deceiving and being deceived. Deceiving ourselves. If we write about things we can easily admit to those we love or to ourselves then we are not writing truthfully. Good writing is about writing truthfully about deception. And fear.
Good writing is always the scariest to write. You are scared of hurting people, of isolating them, losing them. Scared of the places your mind goes to. Scared of your own proclivities. Scared of admitting what you really want. Scared of being weak. Scared of needing someone. Scared of realizing you do not really need anyone at all. The truth is scary and that is why we do not and why we should write about it. Write about the real truth, the deceitful truth.
Once you have done that you can lie again. Bury the truth in a web of deceit. Exaggerate flaws, consolidate personalities, change universes, centuries, genders. If, at the heart of it all, you have told the real truth, the scary truth, the secret, squirm in the gut at the thought of anyone knowing it truth, then people will know it as the truth, and those embellishments will only make it better. Sometimes lying about the details of the truth just makes the truth more honest. And more interesting. The opposite of truth is not deception, it’s silence. It’s fear.
Be true. Be scared.
I sliced open my thumb on the serrated edge of a bread knife two days ago. The skin gaped red and flapping like the mouth of a reptile, bleeding profusely. Now little more than a thin red line remains and, if I’m patient, I can almost see my flesh close in on itself, mending.
You told me once, while you were sweating in our living room, surrounded by opened boxes and bubble wrap, while I sat drinking coffee and occasionally questioning your methods, that you enjoy putting together Ikea furniture. You said it reminds you of playing Legos as a kid. I have no patience for instructions and sometimes I feel like my life is a box of odd ends with all the important bits missing. Sometimes I feel like I will never make anything useful out of all of this mess.
Last week I hit rock bottom and the landing was softer than I imagined it would be. I lay on the ocean floor for thousands of years, until my flesh was consumed and my bones were left to witness a billion birthdays and a billion deaths. I saw hunger and murder and survival at the depths of the sea and when I awoke and swam towards the sun, my skeletal fingers breaking the surface, I knew more about life than I had ever learned from the living.
I wipe a blue rag over the same clean counter top again, and again and again for fear of being caught “not looking busy”. I think about how we vilify a body at rest. Especially women’s bodies. Especially our own bodies. A woman’s body at rest is seen as a wasted thing. Our bodies are to be used and worn out. A woman’s body at rest is a body that thinks, a body that heals. A woman’s body at rest is a book read, a journey embarked upon, a skill acquired, a decision made in the service of no one but herself. A woman’s body at rest is a dangerous thing.
Another reification of the same movie, based on the book, based on the fable, based on the myth ad infinitum. Always the same story, the mutant, the alien, the god. The immortal creature with the power to heal itself, to live forever. I sliced open my thumb on the serrated edge of a bread knife two days ago. Now little more than a red line remains. My body at rest is a powerful thing.
There is a tempest under the balls of my feet. I want to run. Two steps to the door. Three flights of stairs. Eight blocks. Home. I could make it in ten minutes. Instead I pad silently across the carpet to the bed where he sleeps, face-up and open, like a well-fed cat. I stand for a moment and marvel at how normal he looks. His nose is large and pointed slightly to the left. A hockey injury. His chin is angular. His eyes, which are hidden behind veiny, fluttering lids, are brown and unremarkable. I search for any sign, anything that I may have missed. I stared at this face for almost a year. I picked at ingrown hairs and popped zits. I kissed eyelids and cheeks and earlobes. I know its creases, its crevices. I held it between my sweating palms as he hovered above me, felt his jaw roll like a ping pong ball beneath my fingers. I was so aware of every twitching lip and furrowed brow. I bobbed restlessly around him like a doting kite. And yet I never saw this coming. I feel like the understudy for an unwritten role. I glance once more at the door. Eight blocks to home. Eight blocks to a life untethered. I imagine myself floating then, no longer a kite, but a balloon. I am stretched thin, cheap plastic and overwrought well wishes. I escape a lazy fist and for a moment I am all air and light, then I disappear quickly and unceremoniously behind a tall building. Free but forgotten. Instead I pull back the sheets and ease in next to him, my knees finding the curve of his knees. Better the storm I know, I say, than directionless winds. Tomorrow, I say, I will run.
When I say come don’t stop to ask where
Just put on comfortable shoes
I want to drain oceans, lasso horizons
Swallow the moon, bring the distant near
When I say jump don’t say how high
Just forget that there ever was a ceiling
I am imaginary time, I am impossible
I am every raging storm in every distant sky
When I say let go don’t hold on tightly
Just remember the fall is all there is
Life is weightless, we are raging bulls
I am here and I do not tread lightly
Summer seethes outside, a bloated temptation
A needle drops on an anachronistic record
She always did love her antiquated affectations
Sepia filters, old cigarette tins, we’re bored
"It’s like watching water boil", she whines
Which I never really minded, I can depend
On the slow inevitability of heat plus time
Water always boils, summer always ends
But this is waiting without expectation, we
Paint red our ripened lips
A couple of concupiscent peonies
Just aching to be picked
Modern devices remain hopelessly mum
In cloudless skies rises unimpeded the sun
Our tedium drones undisputedly on
"Fuck it," she cries. "We’ll make our own fun."
We sip spiked juice out of Mason jars (of course)
Sweat drips down my inner thigh
My eyes dance eagerly across the sea of short
Shorts and bare skin. Montreal, my
City is bottled sex, eager, barefoot and heady
I am baiting, turned on like an electric coil
Tightly wound, hot to touch, scared but ready
Just waiting for the water to boil
He is a bad boy
A generation raised by old
Jamaican and Bajan women
Hunched over stovetops
Their backs to the door
The radio on loud enough
To drown out the sounds of
Things they do not want to hear
Too tired from raising angry sons
To raise angry grandsons
A peck on the cheek
A dismissive hug
You worry too much, gran
I won’t be home late
What’s for dinner?
He picks me up
In her pink Suzuki
Dented on all sides
Cigarette smoke stains
The grey fabric interior
Dancehall threatens to
Blow the tinny speakers
Rosary beads hang
From the rearview
In the glove compartment
We have to be home by seven
To get her to church on time
It is six thirty-two
The windows are fogged
My hands are braced
On the dash
We will be late
She will have to walk
It is eight blocks
Twelve Our Fathers
Six Hail Marys
She prays for his soul
Sweating through her
Her friends will say
That boy needs a piece of
Bamboo across his backside
No, no he’s a good boy
She says, Lord knows
He’s a good boy
Today I saw a woman eating a hot dog and she put all the ketchup and other toppings on the bun first, under the sausage, so she could eat it with no mess. My life hasn’t been the same since.