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Essays

The Mantle of Ferocity

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A wesome is a highly overused word. Very few things in our lives qualify as Awe-Inspiring, full of Awe, grandiose on a scale rightfully called Awesome. Should you be lucky enough to know Utah, you will have experienced Awesome.   Hurtling west on 95, away from the small outpost of Blanding, grandeur rears into the field of vision at every turn: Comb Ridge, Butler Wash, Muley Point, Valley of the Gods, Cedar Mesa. This is the land of Bears Ears National Monument, Glen Canyon Recreation Area, the Navajo Nation, Monument Valley, Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument, and a little further south in Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park. Cultural and natural treasures abound. Endless skies hover over plains of sage and coyote brush. Clouds boil up into ferocious banks of menace, sunlight breaking holes and casting spotlights on a deceptively empty stage. Colors swirl and shift; one moment a sea of wavering golds and mottled greens climb over the bloody red rocks toward a sapphire sky. Eyes blink and the scene has turned alien; moody, smudgy greys and browns flow over the road snaking into the unknowable distance of a dark and purpling fog.   Silence. Solitude. Wind. Escape.   The forces of nature are nakedly visible here, making human objects frankly laughable in their aspirations- myself included. Like the spine of some hulking volcanic beast, Comb Ridge juts up from its surroundings to a height of 700 feet, running north/ south for 80 miles, mellow canyons and washes hidden in its shadows, only the cottonwoods betraying their locations.   My friend Carson and I are joining Mother Nature here. McCarson Leigh Tafoya is an artist, photographer, Tango dancer, musician, and spirit of joy for all who know her. Carson is a rare and unique individual; her generosity and empathy create beautiful work, and her heart wraps around all who come into her life. She is also fearlessly adventurous, fortunately for me. Together, we are going to capture the idea of women’s strength amidst this landscape that is an overpowering visual of brute force at work. It strikes me, as we talk and drive, why I chose this place, this land....

When will my uterus not be public domain?

I feel it as soon as I step off the plane- softness.  The air like dew kissed velvet, seeping in around the edges of the gangway, carrying me into the evening on a wave of gentle warmth and spicy scent.  It’s April and I’m in Virginia of course, the South, Williamsburg to be exact, where the atmosphere is as major a character as the people who inhabit it, as anyone coming back should know. Spring in the South is a phenomenon; the lush rebirth of flora is almost embarrassing.  From the bedraggled grey of winter, the symphony of fresh greens pops out seemingly all at once, on every surface and in every corner.  Tulips run riot en masse, dogwoods and cherry blossoms crown the canopies, Azaleas and Rhododendrons blow up in huge swathes crowding through the woods, and the ground erupts in a rainbow under your feet of Pinks, Violets, Gold in a Basket, and Bluebells.  Heat seeps into your cold bones, and birdsong makes your heart light.  Rebirth indeed, rebirth at its most fecund and celebratory. I am reminded at every point that flowers are not just a season in the south; they are a life motif.  In every home and shop, framed floral drawings marking each month with a lavish bouquet straight from a 17th century lady’s reception room.  Floral sofas, floral lampshades upon floral lamps, floral picture frames, floral napkins, floral tablecloths, floral china hanging on floral wallpaper, floral aubussons in delicate pastels covering warm walnut floors, dried florals gracing the floral curtains of the floral formal living rooms.  Floral scarves, floral hats, floral umbrellas, floral aprons, floral dresses in every style from every decade.  "I am reminded at every point that flowers are not just a season in the south; they are a life motif" I have the sensation that were I to stand still long enough, tendrilly vines and bunches of blooms would encase me in a tower of floral.  This insistent motif has always piqued my curiosity, as it is not an erasure of the barriers between indoor and outdoor, as we seek in the West,...

Owning Your Voice

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text] On November 8th, 2016, 42% of American women voters put Donald Trump in office.  Of that percentage, 53% of white women voted for Trump. My heart dropped into my shoes.  I shed many tears, and gave voice to many profanities.  Never have I wanted less to be an American.  This was not because I was a die-hard Hillary fan, not because I felt our country had to have a woman president at all costs, not because it was Democrat vs. Republican. It was because of the baldly obvious fact that Donald Trump is a bad man, a racist, a coward.  A narcissist of the first order.  A power- hungry incompetent with a deeply disturbing lack of respect for most of humanity, and women in particular.  Putting a man like that into the presidency has opened the door to bullies, tyrants and evil men of all kind to violently shape society to their own preferences. Donald Trump is a bad man, a racist, a coward Why did 42% of women vote for him?  Why did anybody vote for him? It was a crushing lesson in the politics of power, the rancid values of half of America, and the failure of reason and logic in the face of fear, greed, and hypocrisy.  “Make America Great Again” is the cruelest of jokes and I am not laughing.  A return to smiling servitude in which I may be grabbed in the *%#!! at any time is not my idea of greatness.  Neither is a bristling fortress of violence and expensive complacency.  In America the Great, women have the most freedom of anywhere in the world, and half of you gave it away to a man whose only use for us is as a shiny toy with a brief shelf life. This story continues to unfold with both fresh horrors and banalities every day.   As women, as Americans, we can keep throwing rocks at each other, or heap ashes on our heads while wearing sackcloth.  I’m tempted to still do both, but no answers lie there.  I have real faith that we must dig deeper and use our best...