i thought of you, while in the shower
and i thought of how nice it’d be
to have your things among my things
along the bathtub’s edge
and i imagined myself running out of soap
and using yours
and wearing you to work, and the grocery store
and i imagined that night, laying down beside you
and smelling your neck
and finding out where all my soap had gone
i don’t know what to tell you
other than the fact that a giraffe’s
heart weighs 22 pounds and that
somebody once told me when
flies fall in love, their entire brain
is rewired to only know loving each
other. when one of them dies, their
memory becomes blank. i hope you
never think about anything as much
as i think about waking up next to
you during a windstorm at 5 am.
when the boys pull your hair and push you to the ground
I promise not to tell you that it’s because they like you.
when the teachers call home to tell me that
you pushed them to the ground after you
I’ll take you out of school early and buy
you your favorite ice cream.
when you get older and the boys
try to touch you when you don’t want to be touched
I’ll look at you like the sun when you come home
with anger in your fists.
they all tell you not to fight fire with fire
but that is only because they are afraid of your flames.
when the boys yell after you like hyenas
you yell back, baby.
I will not teach you to be afraid of your anger
so that you look for it in others.
I will not make you be the better person
because you already are.
you wanna fight ‘em? fight ‘em.
don’t you dare apologize for the fierce love
you have for yourself
and the lengths you go to preserve it.
when the boys try to tell you to soften up
I hope you make them bleed with your edges.
I hope you remember that you are not theirs
that their disappointment in you is not yours.
when the boys come to your door with pretty words and
I hope you show them the anger in yours.
I hope you show them just how strong your mommy
thinks you are.
I hope you show them the animal they can’t always
see in their own reflection.
when the boys come with the intention of hurting you
my advice will always stay the same, my darling:
give ‘em hell.
things that say a lot about people:
- the way which they treat the waiter/waitress
- how they feel about the weather
- whether they dog ear pages or highlight in books
- and hands in general
- how much they dread/enjoy talking on the phone
- whether or not they drink coffee
- if they ever forget to eat
- how honest they are with themselves (and others)
- if they correct your grammar
- and how they treat their pets
1. There will be some days when you close your eyes while crossing the street, maybe because you want to see what fate has in store for you, or maybe because your depression is running rampant again and you don’t know how to calm her. It’s okay. I will still love you.
2. There will be a year, or a series of years when your birthday doesn’t feel special. Celebrate anyway. Because people spent time baking you a cake and buying you cards and even if they’re your family and they’re obligated to, they still love you. Cherish that love. Revel in it. It is the best gift you will ever receive.
3. You will learn that the saddest word in the English language is stay. Whether it’s your mother’s voice whispering it before you leave for college, or your ex-lover’s desperate screams as you walk out of the house, it will always be a hard word to hear. Sometimes you should listen to it, other times you shouldn’t. Trust yourself. Go with your gut.
4. Along with hearing the word stay, you will also hear the word why from every person who is remotely related to you. Why did you get that tattoo? Why did you try to kill yourself? Why aren’t you married yet? You don’t have to answer them. Be selfish. Keep somethings to yourself.
5. Some nights you won’t be able to sleep. You will lie awake at 2 am and contemplate existentialism and wonder if the French had a point. Get up. Get out of your bed. Do something. Because even if there is no God, what you do matters, who you are matters. You matter to me.
6. Some days you will want to run away and never return. So go. Drive to a small town in the Northwest, maybe Oregon, and settle down there for a while. Tell people your name is Elizabeth, because you loved Jane Austen as a child and because this a town full of strangers and who’s to know the difference? Don’t be selfish. Call your mother each night and remind her that you love her. Come back home when you find yourself seeing your sadness painted in the shadows, and when you feel more at home in the arms of a stranger than on your own.
7. There will be several nights when you lose yourself in the medicine cabinet, because liquor and morphine seem like a faster cure than time. It’s okay. I will still love you in the morning.
8. One day, in the midst of work, you will learn to forgive. It will start out with a simple reminder of the past, maybe a facebook notification from an old schoolmate or a wedding announcement from an ex-lover. In that moment you will learn that yearning for the past isn’t romantic, it’s stupid, and that if Gatsby had just let go of the green light he would’ve lived. So forgive your past, it didn’t know any better, and move on.
9. Leaving home will hurt, but soon you will learn that home isn’t a place but a feeling, and that there is a compass on your heart that points directly to that feeling. Follow that compass. Don’t get sidetracked by boys who don’t care or alcohol that doesn’t forgive. If you follow that compass, no matter how lost you get, you will always have a home.
10. The hardest lesson you will ever learn will be to love yourself. But you can do it. There will always be days when you hate yourself, days when you wish you had never been born. But darling you are beautiful, and if Shakespeare had met you you would’ve inspired his 18th sonnet, and if Monet had known you he would’ve given up painting water lilies and chosen to paint you instead. I know it’s hard to love yourself, but sometimes it’s okay to be a little selfish with your love.
11. When you begin to feel worthless, remember that the stars died for you. You are made of elements that are thousands of years old, elements that make up every atom of your being. When you want to cut your wrists, remember that the souls of stars live in your veins. Don’t kill them. Don’t be selfish.
12. Some days will be beautiful. Live for those days. Live for the days when the sun shines on your soul and the smile on your face isn’t forced. Live for the days when you don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks because your scars are a part of your story and you don’t need someone else’s approval to wear them with pride.
Live for the life you always wanted but were too scared to pursue.
Live for you. Live for me. Live for every person who has ever loved you, for the people who have come before you so that you may be here today.
Live for the fire that burns in your soul, that tells you: keep going, you’re almost there, just a little farther. Because when Rome burned down the emperor didn’t run away, he stayed and he sang for his people. Stay. Sing for your people. Sing for us.Are you listening? Because this is your life, singing a siren song to capture your attention and steer away from the rocks, to guide you back home.
Here is what I know:
You drink your coffee black and we are afraid of each other.
Once you kissed my neck in front of your friends
and it made me very shy.
Once you kissed my stomach and I started crying.
I see the tender way you touch things and want to kiss your nose
but I keep my mouth to myself.
Your collarbones are craters big enough to fit my fist into.
You are the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in months.
I was not good to the last person I loved so I punished my heart
(I let it break and bleed out then roughly sewed it back together)
It is hard to write poems when I only know how to fuck you.
I am always trying. I am thinking of Somedays. I am saying goodbye.
You asked why I never write anything honest so I am writing you this.
I will wake up at three AM
And I will roll over
Into your arms.
You will rub my back
Until I fall back to sleep.
I will wait for that.
have you ever watched someone make your loved ones feel small in english? do your parents ever ask you to look over their emails or letters because they want to speak like the amreekis? yes our parents leave the -ing off of the end of certain words, yes some words make them stutter, make their mouths twist uncomfortably, they repeat words over and over again until they can form them right. i want to kill the english in me, i want to rip my tongue out of my mouth. english makes me feel cold, it is a language that is dead to me. it is the language the colonizers spoke, it is the language they taught our children in when they set up their schools.
don’t you dare correct my english, do not correct the english of those i love. do not pretend our dark skin gets in the way of your ability to construct meaning.
listen- i can name all the parts of a flower outside of your cold scientific terminology. i can tell you a hundred different ways to love someone using a hundred different words. i can tell you about the land and the sun and the soil. your english is a bitter thing, it gets stuck in my throat, it gets in the way of everything i want to say. how do you say love besides love? how have you boiled love down to a single four letter, one syllable word?
english is economical, perhaps. it is sufficient, it is just good enough. the language of the world, the language of trade and capital. but what language do we speak in? those of us who carry the world economy on our backs? those of us who are dark and migrant and foreign and poor? who pave roads and build stadiums and watch your children?
what language do we bleed in, what language do we slave in, do we work in, do we die in? we do not speak english, we do not think english. we do not dream in your english, we do not dream in your dollars.
there is a word for the moon at midnight, there is a word for a woman in her second term of pregnancy, there is a word for a woman 40 days after birth. there is a word for the dead, for the living, for the sick. there is a word for fresh milk, for old milk, for a cow with heavy teats, for a cow without a calf. your english barely scratches the surface, but our words, our words can break the world open.
In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.
When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. In the restaurant
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.
Late at night, I call my long distance lover,When she doesn’t respond,
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.
I know she’s used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.
1. If you like someone, wait.
2. Give lots of compliments, even if you’re shy. Everyone else is too.
3. Change. Get a haircut, try new perfume, get new sheets. Become better than you were before.
4. Eat healthier. Learn to cook something fancy.
5. Get up earlier and watch the sun come up.
6. Wear soft clothes, take a bath, drink something warm.
7. Meet someone new, even just a friend.
8. Become closer with your friends and your family. Call your mother. Cry with your best friend. Tell everyone how much you appreciate them.
9. Keep your room clean. Buy some candles. Let the natural light in.
10. Make a list of reasons why you’ll be better off without them. Believe they are true, because they are.
11. Listen to new music.
12. Write everything you’re thinking and feeling. Write letters. Write happy letters, sad letters, and angry letters, even if you’re never going to send them.
13. It’s okay to be sad, but not forever. Sadness is not as beautiful as music makes it seem. Lack of sleep makes your eyes droopy, not deep. Wake up every morning and tell yourself you’re going to have a good day.
14. Go to the library. Don’t forget to look in the music section.
15. Remove them from your life. Get rid of the things they gave you if they make you sad. They’re not worth it. You will never be happy if you continue to hold on to the things that make you sad.
16. Make new memories.
17. Try to find something to appreciate in everything you do or experience.
18. Being alone is okay, you don’t have to surround yourself with people.
19. Become your own best friend. Buy yourself coffee and drink it alone in a cafe. Take your time.
20. Learn to love every bit of yourself.
Why I Fucking Love Teenage Girls (A Personal Essay from an Almost Adult)
A few months ago, I went to a big family gathering at my grandparents’s house and ran into a cousin of mine. She seemed much older than the last time I had seen her (oh, the passage of time), so I asked her what age she was. She replied, “Oh, I’m fifteen.” And my immediate reaction?
“Oh my god, I am so sorry.”
She laughed, which gives me a little bit of hope that maybe, for her, being fifteen isn’t a complete fucking nightmare. But I think she recognized what I was saying on some level. Fifteen is, without a shadow of a doubt, the worst age. Wait, maybe fourteen. Thirteen? Twelve was pretty bad, too. Fuck it, they all suck. Nothing summarizes being a young girl better than this simple quote from The Virgin Suicides: “You’re not even old enough to know how bad life gets.” “Obviously, Doctor, you’ve never been a thirteen-year-old girl.”
It’s amazing, really. I spent my entire childhood counting down the days until I could be a teenager. I planned everything out perfectly: I would go shopping with friends by myself downtown by fourteen, kissing cute boys by fifteen, losing my virginity by sixteen, driving a cute car by seventeen, and off to university to have even more amazing experiences at eighteen. My life would be a fucking commercial, starring me, my best friends, and Jordan Catalano. It was going to happen.
Until it didn’t.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I actually had a few of those things on my list. I drove a pretty bitchin’ baby blue VW Beetle and I did end up going to university. I’m luckier than most. But where were the boys? Where were the cute clothes? Who took my fantasy and dumped a steaming bag of hot garbage juice on it?
We sell this idea of what you’re life is going to be to young girls from the fucking get-go. To be fair, that’s advertising, right? Selling you the life you want, no matter the age? Well, unfortunately, little girls can’t see through the bullshit. We internalize all of it. And that’s what makes the hardships of being a teenage girl sting even more.
I was thrown into the pot of steaming dogshit pretty early. I was wearing a bra at nine, dealing with self loathing by ten, and by twelve, I was officially balls-deep in it. And it didn’t go away. Between twelve and (I’ll be generous and say) seventeen, all the garbage just kept circulating in my system. It would just evolve, or die down, only to flare up at the slightest irritation. That’s what being a teenage girl is: you’re full of poison. Mostly, you just poison yourself over and over again, but sometimes some of it leaks out of you and onto someone else.
At twelve, most girls understand real sadness. Twelve, though it seems so young to us now, felt really old at the time. By this point, you’ve already been told how to be, and realized that you’re not measuring up. By twelve, your skin is already shit, and your body is too flabby or your breasts haven’t come in yet. Worst of all, when you’re a girl, by twelve you’ve probably already been in a situation that made you feel threatened sexually. Let that sink in. From the top of my head, I can think of four moments in my life, before the age of twelve, when someone crossed a line with me. Four. This is not abnormal.
By thirteen, you’re already prepared to destroy yourself. When you’re a sad teenage girl, you try a lot of things out, see which ways work best for you. It’s like you can feel the poison bubbling under your skin, all the time. I recognized this in other girls. I could see them clawing at their skin, lashing out at others, trying everything they could possibly dream up. So they cut themselves, make themselves sick, scream at their mothers, smoke, drink, send pictures to the wrong person, do things they might not want to do. Because literally anything, anything that might make things go away for five minutes, is worth it.
By fourteen, I felt like a veteran. In my mind, I had seen some shit, man. I had felt some fucking feelings. And honestly, I thought things were getting better. I was still a bit broken from things that had happen in middle school, but hey, this is high school! I had been dreaming about this forever! It has to be better, right?
At fifteen, the optimism in me had died. I woke up every day with an anchor on my chest. I went from a solid B student to barely passing. I wouldn’t go out with friends, because suddenly they were branching out, meeting new people, and I didn’t know how to handle that. My lifelong fear of men really didn’t do me any favors with boys. When you flinch every time they move a hand too quickly, and find it nearly impossible to look them in the eye without wanting to throw up, you don’t get asked out much. My mother didn’t know what to do with me, so I would spend all day, every day, locked in my room. University? Fuck no, man. I could barely get my ass out of bed as a basic daily requirement, how could I possibly want to continue my education?
Sixteen was… different. Good and bad. I had woken up from the dead, but it’s not like things just go away. I was doing well in school, I started thinking about university again, and I even hung out with friends sometimes. But things were not great internally. I gave myself over to some extremely unhealthy behavior, which went completely unnoticed. Whatever. It’s still kind of a blur to me. What can I say? I’m an almost adult, I’m allowed to not have everything figured out.
And then, like the rising sun, seventeen happened. I got better. I worked harder. I had a goal, and I was rising to the challenge. I actually enjoyed school, and sometimes, I even went to parties (and had a little bit of fun!). I gained enough control over my unhealthier behavior to start healing, even if the process has been painfully slow. I finally understood what it was like to wake up and be okay. I graduated high school and went off to the university of my choice. Not happily ever after, but I’ll save that for another time.
Now, if you’re still reading, you might be confused. Why am I listing off all the crappy shit I felt between the ages of twelve and seventeen? If you hated being a teenage girl so much, why do you love them?
Because even with every single fucking thing a teenage girl has to deal with, they still manage to do something so mind blowing, yet completely simple: love, unabashedly.
You know those girls everyone loves to shit all over? The ones who really fucking love something? Those girls, man. They take all that energy, all that circulating fire in their veins, and instead of letting it destroy them, they choose to love, ferociously. Be it a band, or a book, or a series of films. They do it to keep themselves sane, and yet we mock them for it. Teenage girls find a buoy for themselves in the sea of emotional ruin, and they hold on tighter than anyone else.
One of the most popular ways people like to hate teenage girls is to complain about their “insane” crushes on boy band members. Now, let me fucking tell you something: those big dumb crushes are what helps a teenage girl develop her sexuality in a safe environment that she can control. In her world, she can listen to One Direction and hear all these songs about how great she is, and how much these cute non-threatening boys want to make her feel special. Why is this so important? Because no one is pushing them. There’s no fourteen year old boy shoving his clammy hands down your shirt without your consent. These fantasy boys are not convincing a girl to send naked pictures, only to show all their friends and call her a slut. In the fantasy land of boy bands, the girl has all the power. And we need to stop judging them for wanting to escape into that.
I love teenage girls because even if they hate themselves, they love other people. I remember how I felt, seeing other girls go through what I was going through. It ruined me. I wanted so desperately to help them out of the muck, but when you’re submerged yourself, there’s not a lot you can do. Teenage girls understand, and they want to make sure no one else feels the way they do. I see it on websites like Tumblr all the time. It’s fucking beautiful.
I love teenage girls because society loves to blame them for everything. The self-obsessed teenage girl is always the face of the “problem” with youth today. Apparently, these superficial teenage girls who love their iPhones too much are the issue. Not, you know, the people conditioning them to believe that their worth is tied to how many Likes they got on their last selfie. No, you’re right, let’s focus on the girls who post on Facebook too much. Great.
I’m in film school now, so often I get asked, “What kind of work do you want to make?” Usually, I don’t have an answer. Good work, I guess? But thinking about it, I know what I want to do: I want to make movies for teenage girls. Stories about teenage girls with agency, who rebel, who take all that energy and channel it into something, even if it’s not necessarily positive. I want to represent the girls I love so much. Because I have been one of those girls, and I will always carry a part of that with me.
So just try and talk shit about teenage girls around me. Just fucking try it.
My mother tells me
that when I meet someone I like,
I have to ask them three questions:
1. what are you afraid of?
2. do you like dogs?
3. what do you do when it rains?
of those three, she says the first one is the most important.
“They gotta be scared of something, baby. Everybody is. If they aren’t afraid of anything, then they don’t believe in anything, either.”
I met you on a Sunday, right
one look and my heart fell into
my stomach like a trap door.
on our second date,
I asked you what you were afraid of.
“spiders, mostly. being alone. little children, like, the ones who just learned how to push a kid over on the playground. oh and space. holy shit, space.”
I asked you if you liked dogs.
“I have three.”
I asked you what you do when it rains.
“sleep, mostly. sometimes I sit at the window and watch the rain droplets race. I make a shelter out of plastic in my backyard for all the stray animals; leave them food and a place to sleep.”
he smiled like he knew.me?
like his mom told him the same
“how about you?”
I’m scared of everything.
of the hole in the o-zone layer,
of the lady next door who never
smiles at her dog,
and especially of all the secrets
the government must be breaking
it’s back trying to keep from us.
I love dogs so much, you have no idea.
I sleep when it rains.
I want to tell everyone I love them.
I want to find every stray animal and bring them home.
I want to wake up in your hair
and make you shitty coffee
and kiss your neck
and draw silly stick figures of us.
I never want to ask anyone else