my heart is a leviathan

so i have entered a part of my path where i do not feel i have to share as much.
but i do still do (mostly art & writing) updates over on instagram
and if you want to check out what i have for sale, see new pages of emje the enby, or see any upcoming events…do visit my website!

graphic memoir

notta is turning into a graphic memoir. it’s really rough though. maybe too much train of thought?
i’m kinda just writing pages as i figure out who i am.
maybe i will get a bunch of pages done and then realize what i want to say & how to say it.
so read with an open mind & open heart & not too much of an editorial gaze.

i’m also working the art out. these pages are different from the original four i did (check them out over on my notta not-a-boy page) as my art process has changed since i did them.

also! i have totally re-thought out my novel, chasing ghosts, that i have been working on these past bajillion years. it’s morphing into a serial killer cannibalistic roadtrip romp…so that’s going to maybe motivate me to finish it.

and how are you doing?

i keep picking the bat card in my medicine card deck. it’s a card of re-birth. before one can be reborn, however, one must die. so i have been trying to meditate one what part of my life i need to let go of.
what part of me/my life just needs to go ahead and die already.
i meditated/napped on it yesterday and kept thinking that i needed to let die all the things that i never got from people. all the things that i wanted, but never got. in relationships.
i just kept thinking about burning away the things “you” never gave me.
“you” started as one past relationship…then became two of my past relationships…then ended up including my parents as well.
all the love i never got.
i’m letting go of that. i’m burning it away on a funeral pyre.
and while i’m at it, i’m letting go of all the things i will never be.

i was going to do this piece the way i usually do, on white paper…but! as i was looking for any paper i could find to do it on, i stumbled across this pad of black paper.
i love the way it turned out. i want to do more on black paper. or other colors of paper.
but first, i need y’all to buy some of my art or books or something because i currently have no money to buy art supplies. so….

i’m not sure if i’m going to sell this piece. for one thing, the paper is drawing paper so it is not very thick & i’m not sure how i would safely mail it. also, i have it hanging up to remind me.
but if someone really wants it, it is 12×18, pencil & pastels on drawing paper.

don’t go

as soon as i graduated high school, i started leaving people. the week i graduated, i packed a bag and left behind all the people who i figured didn’t care anyway. who would be sad to see me go? it was not something that ever occurred to me would happen much less was it something i would worry about. 

four years later i did it again. i left behind everyone i knew without a second thought. i mean, i wrote down their addresses (it was the nineties) and later checked on them in social media when that became a thing, but i once again left assuming no one would miss me.

i don’t even know how many times i did it throughout the nineties and into the next century. i would pack up a car with all my stuff and maybe a dog or two and just take off. to kentucky. to georgia. to texas. to colorado. to illinois. and finally to wisconsin. i would write down addresses and phone numbers and have some drinks and. just. go. 

no second thoughts. these boots are made for walking. born to run. i didn’t believe i had made an impact or that there would be any tears shed. i just went forward, no looking back.

i landed in viroqua by accident even though she lived there. i met her while i was in madison and she was visiting. i must’ve given her my phone number because she kept in touch after she went back to chicago. she kept in touch as i went from madison to manitowoc to illinois. she would call me up and i would listen to her rants while wondering why she was calling me.

i never really trusted her.

i never really trusted anyone who seemed to like me.

to paraphrase groucho marx, it was difficult for me to trust any club that would have me as a member. 

then i got kicked out of illinois and needed a new place to land. 

i tried to go anywhere but viroqua.

i’m not sure why i had such a block against living near her, but i did. maybe i was afraid of commitment. maybe i still wondered what she wanted from me. maybe i just did not understand what friendship was and dreaded swimming in those treacherous waters.

but fate intervened, and i landed in viroqua.

where i became a reluctant friend.

i kept pushing her away. even though we spent so much time together that we joked we were a blended family, i was often phoning in my friendship. i kept a laundry list of why i didn’t want to be friends with her. i kept score of all the mistakes she made while i reluctantly admitted ways she was there for me. i seemed to delight in any new evidence to prove to myself that she was a lousy friend. i couldn’t wait for the day that she tired of viroqua and moved away. like me, she didn’t seem to stay put. unlike me, she didn’t want to make small town wisconsin her home. it was only a matter of time before she left me in peace.

then the scales tipped and i finally had definitive proof that she was a terrible friend. i could justify not only pushing her away, but shoving her—hard—and closing the door behind her.

by the time i decided to give her another chance, she had moved on. she had left me for someone else. not just a new friend, but a boyfriend—one whom i had not lost any love for. the chasm between us grew deeper and longer.

she and the detestable boyfriend started planning to move away from viroqua, and i was all, “good riddance.”

for many years i have been working on healing my damage. this involves, surprise, letting people matter to me. letting people into my heart. 

it’s not easy. it’s not like i can just set my heart out to thaw in the warm sunshine. 

it’s more like i take my heart out of the freezer, then i start to worry about bacteria and spoiled meat, and what happens if no one is in the mood for heart? so i put it back in the freezer. 

it’s been a long process. 

despite my fears, my heart has begun to thaw. so now all of a sudden i realize i do want a friend. so now all of a sudden i realize i do love her and value her.

i didn’t think she’d really go.

then she dropped on me, casually, that the house closing is not even two weeks away.

the house closing.

on the house she and the despicable boyfriend bought.

like my dog who got hit by a car right after i learned to love him…she bought a house three states away just when i realized i was able to let a friend into my heart.

just when i admitted to myself that i don’t want her to go.

my newly thawed heart broke. 

i guess i should have seen that coming. after so many times of half-assedly thawing it before throwing it back in the freezer, how strong could it be? turns out it’s pretty easy to break a damaged heart.

it’s not like in the movies where i can just admit that i need her and that i don’t her to go…and she stays.

it’s not like she will change her mind and come back to me just because i have realized that i don’t want to lose her. just because i have realized how much she means to me. 

she’s not going to leave the deplorable boyfriend at a rest area and run into my arms.

i’m alone again. broken-hearted despite years of trying not to get my heart broken.

isn’t it ironic.

up top: “follow your song” 9X12 mixed media on watercolor paper…$75

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

happy new year!

surviving 2022
a broken knee
a broken heart
and a pile of rejections
from potential employers, past lovers, & literary agents
the year finally ending
in a car crash on an icy road
so much of my year spent
trapped (literally & figuratively)
alone (mostly emotionally)
fuck me
i hope 2023
is kinder.

“two if by sea” mixed media on 9X12 watercolor paper…$75

over the river & through the woods

to candice, thanksgiving had become a torturous holiday of infighting, smoke filled rooms, droning televisions, & overcast skies inside & out.
food the color of the carpeting in her maternal grandmother’s sad apartment.
uncomfortable silences and meals that sat heavy long after thankfulness was forgotten.
all her boyfriends took it personally that she would not follow them on their annual treks to the houses of relatives who would make jokes at someone else’s expense causing candice to flinch from her invisible corner as some of the barbs (i’m just joking! can’t you take a joke?) hit a little too close to home.
candice dreamed of a day that the third week of november would blend seamlessly into the rest of late fall, no longer poking at the scars of her so-far survival.

so i have some thanksgiving baggage. i stopped going to my family thanksgivings as soon as i was able. i stopped eating turkey. i sought out thanksgivings full of music & non-traditional dishes with people who were also orphans of society.
one year, boycotting my first (& estranged) husband’s beige & dry family thanksgiving, i went out to a bar & asked everyone what they were doing for the holiday until i found a cutie who was going to a get-together of friends (hosted by a local chef.) i tagged in on his thanksgiving. the rest of that thanksgiving is a story for another day….
i like cooking (this year i tried to make potstickers for the first time) and i like drinking and i like hanging out with friends…but i still dread the holiday each year with flashbacks to a colorless palate of foods & people who were only spending time together out of obligation.
one day i hope i have banished all feelings of suffocation this holiday brings to me.

14 journals in 7 years

i just finished journal number 14 and am cracking open journal 15.

when i lived in a housing co-op, years ago, i found an 8X11 art journal in the free store. i took it and started using it in an art class i was taking at uw.
then in 2016, i did inktober for the first time and got in the habit of inking daily.
now i have a crate full of words & images that have spilled out of me. explorations of all the shadows inside me.
art journaling is now a total way of life.

here are some pages of finger painting as i finished up journal #14…

it’s always inktober in my heart

in 2016 i did inktober for the first time…
after thirty-one days of inking
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
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 🙂


last but
not least
my fire
i love to watch you dance
& so often
i burn myself
on your flames
but i come back again
& again
even it it does not make sense
for water
to love fire
i crave
your bright & enduring heat.

(this one dedicated to the many many many fire signs i have adored–both friends & lovers)

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