thoughts on goddesses and monsters

a rant/essay inspired by books about wild women

am i a creation goddess or a destruction goddess? am i both? is there a difference?

i put “wild women” into the search on my library’s website and got a variety of results. 

one book of wild women were nature writers. why did they feel so tame to me? maybe because they were just reporting. influencing but not doing? was i jealous that i never pursued a career in the natural world? or is it the fact that even though i identify as wild (feral at the very least) i do not identify as a women? (or is it that i don’t identify as feminine?) and often find myself annoyed by the more frivolous characteristics of women? 

another book of “wild” women was a random collection of quotes. as soon as i read a quote indicating that women who don’t wear makeup are lazy, i closed the book and returned it to the library, my opinions on the frivolous characteristics of women confirmed.

reading another book i found while looking for wild women stories, women and other monsters by jess zimmerman, i realize i never fantasized about being the princess, the damsel in distress. i devoured faery tales like a fiend, but i never thought about being the princess. so what drew me to faery tales? the dark side of them? the suffering through life for some kind of reward? definitely the magic of them. i have never outgrown the magic found in faery tales…or the darkness.
while reading zimmerman’s book, and something i’ve come to realize while working on my own projects, i am drawn to the antagonists of mythology like a bear to honey. i love the idea of being a siren or a medusa. i identify with being a punishment to mankind. the idea of it intoxicates me. i don’t want to be the princess…i want to be the witch. 

what the fuck, right? 

but to take the male gaze and use it to destroy those lookers. turn them to stone? that is magic. 

once during my life i did succumb to the male gaze. i consider it the low point of my life…it only lasted, what? like fifteen or sixteen years? it started when my soul mate broke up with me because i was a fuck-up at relationships. i hopped a greyhound from hip & cool austin, texas to get off in not so hip & cool lexington, kentucky. i was heartbroken and my self esteem was in the toilet. 

i started dating a redneck and was too easily influenced to start shaving off my body hair and wearing underwear and being generally more “presentable”…for him.

i embraced…or, rather, attempted femininity. waiting tables in short skirts (but still wearing doc martins)…losing weight…wearing tight tops to show off my far from ample bosoms—but also my naval ring!

this went on for years even after i left kentucky for wisconsin. then i became a mom and was told by my preschool age son that i better shave my legs (after a just a couple of days of growth.)

i promptly threw away my razors.

fuck the male gaze.

you know, sometimes i get to a public place and realize i have no idea what i look like that day? mostly i just hope i don’t have any boogs hanging out. i don’t worry someone might not be attracted to me. i assume no one will be. i’m unencumbered by the male gaze. it’s a warm and safe pocket for me. low stress. low maintenance. perfect.

my best guess for my being often oblivious to the male gaze is, again, that i do not consider myself a woman. i mean, i know on a logical level that i am a woman. i used to menstruate, i have breasts, i have the plumbing assigned to women and used it to gestate and give birth four times. yet…i feel a disconnect. i feel like womanhood is a club i was not invited to join. i have felt this way for as long as i can remember. when i was around five, i remember thinking i knew i was a girl…but i did not know i was not a boy. 

little girls were a mystery to me. watching them…and then watching women as i got older, they continued to be a mystery to me. i still obsessively watch female friend tv shows and movies, as if i will glimpse the secret that keeps me locked out. 

friendships with girls…and then women as i got older, left me feeling like i was pretending to be someone else. the minute a woman speaks to me, i take on a role. like i’m actually a non-woman in drag and afraid that i am not passing.

i say a non-woman, because i do not consider myself a man either. like the cliche that women like to put on people like me, i am more comfortable being friends with men. i am one of those “not like other girls.” at first, men are easy. at first, men are mostly just fun. it only gets tricky when they start thinking of me as a woman. i have had boyfriends of sisters and friends hit on me way too many times under the assumption that i would be a good idea seeing as i like to drink beer and make inappropriate jokes. i know my being a good idea would get old fast. that it’s a bad idea. they are with a woman and want to cheat on her with me…because i am like them? but with boobs and a vagina? 

plus, i wasn’t hanging out with them to get laid. i just wanted an easy friendship that didn’t mean i was always on guard, afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. but friendships with men usually ended when i didn’t suck their cocks after all.

in zimmerman’s book, the only book about wild women that i found i could actually get into (so far), she talks about how easy it is for a woman to be considered monstrous, that the ideals for femininity are a thin line. 

women are supposed to be fragile. dainty.

i am not. i was once called a “stout young lad” by a man with alzheimer’s that i was caring for when i was twenty. it really didn’t bother me that much. after all, i don’t think of myself as a woman. i am me. big hands, big feet, built like a linebacker. these are the genes i inherited from my father. not my mother’s bird bones and small features. i was happy to get my dad’s build. he was unstoppable. my mother on the other hand, was breakable. i did not want to be breakable. i saw what it did to her.

i don’t mind being a monster. i like it. it’s fun to upset people and cause them discomfort by doing something as simple as not shaving my pits. however, i find i want to be a beautiful monster. mostly because beauty means power. there is a power to beauty that i regret i did not take more advantage of when i was younger and convinced i was hideous (but really was not.) when i was in my twenties, i shaved my head and dressed in boy’s clothes because it would be ridiculous for someone like me to pretend to be pretty.

“So when I said, ‘I don’t like romance,'” writes zimmerman, “it was the equivalent of a dieter insisting she just doesn’t want dessert. I did want it–I just thought it wasn’t allowed.”

this is something i struggled with all my years. embracing my cynical self because i thought my romantic self would come off as ridiculous…laughable…. if i admitted that i wanted to be loved, i would be a joke. i looked at myself and saw a hideous misfit. who would love me? better to make fun of romance and be cruel to any man who pretended to love me.

i call myself a siren…or now a retired siren…because of what i do to the men who are crazy enough to be drawn in by my song. i crash them on the rocks. i destroy them. all of them. 

i seduce them with my sexuality (that i have no problem admitting to…sexuality is not the same as beauty) and then i ruin them. i’m even proud of this. proud that i have made so many men cry. that i have made so many men miserable.

the only man i can think of that i respect is the one who, after one night together, told me he didn’t want to pursue a relationship with me.

i said, because i had heard it many times, “you just want to be friends?”

and he replied, “no. i don’t want to be friends.”

i never saw him again. he survived the rocks of me. good for him. the others were not so lucky.

i don’t plan on crashing any more men on rocks because i don’t plan on being in relationships with any more men who deserve to be smashed on rocks. hence the “retired siren.”

but then reading the chapter on harpies in zimmerman’s book had me grinning at the harpies’ terror inflicted on men. i would love to be a harpy. i want to sprout wings and terrorize the male driven world with my pretty face and grotesque womb (surely it is pretty fucking grotesque after four kids.)

my new life goal: to have not the men i date fear me; but to have all the other men fear me. especially the ones who think i have not earned a place as a writer and an artist just because i am a woman, thereby “inferior” to them. and if i am put on the same plane as them, or–god forbid!–if i am more successful & influential then they are…then surely i am a scene stealing harpy. 

i wouldn’t mind at all being that kind of monster.

i think i am a goddess of creation and one of destruction…but i am also a monster because i want to create what most people think should be destroyed, and i want to destroy what many have spent their lives creating. i am wild whether i write about nature or not. i am wild because i refuse to draw attention to my face and want you to look at my brain instead. i am a monster because i won’t stay put in my role as mother and long ago fled my role as wife. i am a monster because i refuse to stop trying to change the world. 

the illustration above was inspired by/borrowed from one of the illustrations in women & other monsters, illustrated by samira ingold

it’s always inktober in my heart

in 2016 i did inktober for the first time…
after thirty-one days of inking
daily
i could not stop
i did not want to stop
and six years later
i am still inking
almost every day
it has saved my life
it has made me a better person
it has helped me grow & heal
so
thank you inktober
you’re my hero.

i do not really participate anymore mostly because i only realize it is inktober several days into october. however, generally i have inked every day without realizing. mostly because i ink every day of the other eleven months of the year as well. when i don’t do art, i can tell, i start to go a little (more) crazy.

last night i had a total meltdown. like sinking lower than i have sank in awhile. terrible monster mom meltdown.
so what did i do? i inked it out…and i felt better…i started the healing process.
i will probably share that inking with y’all considering one of the reasons i share at all is because i want the ugly to not fester in a dark place but to come into the light…however i need a little time to process.

in the meantime, i wish you all a happy inktober.

the above doodle might look like watercolor–but it is totally ink 🙂

the invisible exhibitionist

the invisible exhibitionist was, in part, my response to social media. being a highly sensitive introvert, social media was especially difficult for me. why was everyone happy but me?
so instead of posting selfies with perfect hair, i inked how i saw myself, warts & all. instead of photos of my delicious meal or fantastic vacation, i posted free verse that glorified all of my short comings as a mother. as a daughter. as a friend & lover. 

i didn’t want to show everyone how well i was doing, i wanted to reassure others that they were not alone in their struggles.

the invisible exhibitionist is available through lulu.com or contact me for an autographed copy. 

image is “feral” one of the self-portraits from my book

comic art therapy

i have been brainstorming this comic for a week or more. which mostly means i doodle faces while i binge-watch shows (my kids are at their dad’s.)

it is still very much a work in progress…but i do like to share my process with y’all.
i have decided on five main characters…five reluctant mothers.
fun fact, the working title for this comic was: motherfucking twats & cunts. so i think i did manage at least to make it a little more accessible by changing the name to reluctant mothers.
the characters are based on mythological creatures…but they are everyday mums as well.

as always, if you want to support my art & creations, you are welcome to donate funds towards my struggles. you can find paypal information on my love for sale page as well as my artist for hire page, and a ko-fi donation link is on my me (nutshelled) page.
along with notta not-a-boy, i will be exorcising my motherhood demons along side my gender demons via comic art therapy.

and i have also been playing with the idea of revivifying my old comic weener’s coop to continue exorcising my intentional community demons….

and i am still working on my novel.
oh, and i’m a mom…living in a fixer-upper who needs fixing up…sigh.
stay tuned

farts

life moves forward
art helps keep me sane
as well as writing random things down
for me
to remember
like
in my household
“it is only funny when i fart”
says everyone.

trying new things

are we just bundles
of cells
hurtling through space
on some rock
whose movements
are all do to an attraction
to a ball of gas?
or is there
more….

crisis of faith. right? who’s with me? but if i don’t believe in something greater than myself…what then? it doesn’t help that i have at least two nihilistic little anarchists running around my house declaring there is no point to it all.

fuck a duck.

i am playing around with ink on canvas as i feel my scorpio’s need to keep on growing & transforming. i have a huge (like 3′ X 4′?) sized canvas i want to do a mural on. but first i am practicing on some canvases i have been hauling around with for almost 20 years.

also, i am going to write one (or two) more pages of moses jones before putting her away. i don’t know if she is done or not, but i want to focus on other projects so i am bringing her to a stopping point so i can move on.

there are a number of projects always whirling around in my brain. i think i need to just throw a dart, pin one down, and get busy.

happy ostara

yesterday was the spring equinox
i inked this for an equinox party i went to
while day & night are balanced
i am still feeling off-kilter
it’s getting old, y’all
this feeling of angst…
i wonder if it is due to the upcoming book
i wonder if it is due to trying to open up to love
i wonder if it is due to being overwhelmed as a mom
i wonder if it is this feeling that i need to evolve my art & am not sure how to do that
i wonder if it is due to being overwhelmed by everything i need to do at madness manor
i wonder if it is due to the anti-versary of nasty nastiness with dusty from 2015….
i wonder if it is all
all all all
of the above

poop.

in other news i have been binge-watching veronica mars with my kids and am concerned about my weird attachment to the character “logan.”
in other news i am working on a short story about a possible cougar….

work in progress

i have started writing down deep thoughts about my lifelong flirtation with androgyny…which then became an examination of my masculine & my feminine.
then i was hiking the other day, letting my mind run free, and decided it might make a good comic.
of course i have imposter’s syndrome about my history of gender non-conformation…especially since becoming a mother & growing boobs.
but!
i still think my story might be one worth telling.
so here is the beginnings of (working title) notta not-a-boy

making new comics brings to light my neglecting of my baby moses jones…so i did dig her out and am looking at where that story left off.

meanwhile, i have a list as long as my arm of other comics i want to create. i better get my ass in gear. stop moping in my daily journals & start some storytelling!

xo

up & down

in order to not lose myself
in the needs of others
i have to prioritize…
being the captain of my ship
i have to prioritize
my ship
& crew
& me
the captain
if i want to weather the storms
that blow through
if someone who is not
me
or mine
needs attention…
well
there are times
stormy times
when i just can’t give it
&
i refuse to apologize
for that.

something i am working through. that up & down of trying to have a social life without compromising my home life & inner life.
it’s a balancing act
and sometimes i just have to shut my door & put up the sign reading, “go away; mental health break in progress”
on the bright side, i get a lot more art done when i’m in my hidey hole!

up top: “heart song”
bottom left: “less than amazing”
bottom center: “lost”
bottom right: “my funny valentine”

9X12 inkings on watercolor paper…$45 each

i am wolf

some days i could conquer the world
howl at the moon
take no prisoners
other days i feel caught in a trap
unable to move forward
angry at myself for moving
backwards.

the other night i listened to the coyotes scream from my side porch. last night it snowed and blanketed my valley community.
looking out my window at the natural world that surrounds me is enough to keep me going even when i feel like i cannot possibly make it through another day.
and if i can actually get out of my house to be amidst the natural world…then i can ground myself & clear away all the poison that builds up in my soul.

“i am wolf. hear me howl.” ink on watercolor paper 9X12. $45

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