The Dark Side of the Womb

A Little Crash Course in Psychoanalysis

Many of those who’ve read “The Impatient Clock” have come back to me saying it’s almost Lynch-ish in that it doesn’t make much sense (a HIGH compliment in my book!). It’s not a story that I expect anyone to latch on to right away. But because it is one of the deeper stories in the book, I do want people to have the psychoanalytic point of view I came to it with before I wrote it … then you can do what you like with the definition for your own satisfaction. So let’s talk Jung.

The woman that Yona encounters in the so-perfect-it’s-creepy kitchen looks just like Yona once she contorts. Why?

She is, in part, the “shadow“, the psychological theory of the unconscious mind’s harboring of weak, dark, weird or violent instincts. The other, the uncanny, the shadowself, all that exists to counter the normal person and aspects we have in our every day lives. It is a Jungian theory:

“According to Jung, the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to project: turning a personal inferiority into a perceived moral deficiency in someone else. “

Another aspect to the shadow self is the repression of the ego, “it is what we sweep under the rug.”

In the house, the ShadowYona says that she ate the children Yona fed to her, and Yona will never, ever have them. Yona’s maniacal repression of her own natural instinct for wonder, and her profession’s “distortion” of reality that she grew to resent once reality distorted her own world (via the miscarriage), was so huge and so full that it produced the ShadowYona — an embodiment of shadow and resentment deep enough to turn her own uterus against her. The ShadowYona is what killed the baby Yona lost.

Yes, I am a psychanalysis fan, by the way. Ask me about the crazy paper I wrote analyzing Dead Ringers, Vertigo and Mulholland Drive in college. God I loved that thing. 

The Dark Side of the Womb

We hear about this shit all the time — women stealing babies from unsuspecting moms, women going into maternity wards and stealing them, or outright stealing the baby RIGHT OUT OF THE UTERUS. Why the hell would someone do this?

Some say it’s the same primitive, instinctual urge that feeds the biological clock. Others say that it’s plain psychological illness, and many have attributed baby stealing to Asperger’s (of all things…). There’s also simply what I call the “psychology of lack”; the feeling of suddenly not having from previously having. It’s the thing that caves you in after a bad breakup, or, I can only imagine, after something like a miscarriage. The woman who murdered the pregnany woman in Pennsylvania had suffered a miscarriage only months before and hadn’t told her mother. She planned on stealing a baby and keeping the miscarriage a secret so that her mother wouldn’t “get upset.”

Damn. 

What do you think?

Tomorrow: Is the biological clock real or just magazine industry and crack-science bullshit?

Magic and the Megafamily

Welcome back, friends and neighbors.

In “The Impatient Clock“, Yona is a magician who quit magic after a miscarriage and decides children shouldn’t have imaginations. They should be taught reality and the sciences right off the bat and not be taught to believe in Santa Claus or imaginary places, people, or anthropomorphized caricatures of love.

Why set children up to take them down, is the rationale. What joy or benefit is there for all those involved when kids learn from their parents that ol’ Claus is going to get them something or whatever, until the inevitable day comes when the parents are caught by the upset child(ren) in the middle of the night; or telling them about underground families of trolls; or telling them about the Easter Bunny; or faeries or anything magical?

I’ve always thought it’s quite related to the same reason for which grown people will pay top-dollar to watch David Copperfield or David Blaine or Criss Angel or Penn and Teller: amazement does crazy things to people. It opens a little door in your head. Big or small, I think people like to know and feel and maybe witness some kind of an unexpected otherness. Because then, who knows — WHAT ELSE can be possible?

There’s a bit of a magic trick tucked into the story arc of “The Impatient Clock”. Figure it out. The world needs more womagicians.

For those of you interested in learning something new to fuck with your friends, impress a date, blow some time or make your parents mad about missing change or table utensils, here’s some magic tricks for shits and giggles.

But first, nothing about magic would start off right without a quote from one of the best damn magic movies ever made: The Prestige.

“Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called ‘The Pledge’. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t. The second act is called ‘The Turn’. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call ‘The Prestige’.”

Let’s go.

Magic Tricks

First, a little cheap flash and shockwave magic with Merlin’s Clock.

One of Leo’s favorite coin tricks: The Peripatetic Coins

Good old card tricks and mentalism notes. Woo!

Video tutorials on card and coin tricks and other random stuff on PubTricks.

The classic, sawing a woman in half. Frankly, I think there’s more adventure in sawing a man in half … Pity the guys who volunteer for (or perform) these tricks aren’t hot, heheh.

Babies, Babies, Babies, BABIES, BABIES!!!!!!!!!!!

Children all over the world are orphans, lose their families, get sold, get bought, fall ill, get lost — whatever sad fate that robs them of familial connection — there are children all over the world who wish they had a family or even one caring adult (doesn’t have to be a traditional “parent” setup) in their lives. You never know how some love and encouragement can help someone… There’s food shortages. Disease outbreaks. Myriad other things that make me think Momma Earth is saying, “STOP REPLICATING!”, and yet some people want LOTS of children. LOADS of children.

WHY?

Inevitably we will find ourselves talking about Nadya Suleman so I’ll just start with her to get her Guy Smiley likeness out of my face for this week. The writer at Childfree Clique said it best: “[Nadya] is batshit fucking crazy.”

CC makes a good point later on though — some people are obsessed with the fact that they CAN make more people. But they don’t seem to understand that the babies are indeed, PEOPLE. That need. That depend. That will eventually grow. As the world learned of Nadya’s madness, she kept citing that she had an awful childhood and that she wanted to give her children the best of what she could provide, etc. Fine. However, if you’re going to try and “make up” for what your childhood lacked, realize that you can’t do that without getting YOURSELF STRAIGHTENED OUT first, or your children, which you bore with the intent to bless, will suffer. And resent the fuck out of you.

Now I know this doesn’t always happen. Plenty of people who come from fucked up pasts have gone on to be good parents. The majority, however, don’t. As Leo tells Yona in my story, “kids aren’t bandaids.” They’re people with their own lives and even if you’re the parent, guess what — they don’t exist to serve or fix anything FOR you.

The seemingly “perfect” megafamilies like The Duggars (or as I call them, the Mormon Mob) are a different story. I found an interesting opinion on an old blog entry from “Thoughts of a Regular Guy“, where he pretty much states that the Duggar’s business is their own. Apparently they’re not relying on the government to foot their clan’s bill, the eldest children helped the dad build their house, the kids grow their own food, etc. Some people have worried that the kids won’t get enough love from the parents but the Regular Guy stresses that they’ll have unique relationships with each other as siblings — love needn’t just come from the almighty mom-and-dad routine. And I agree with that. But there’s something about the Duggar’s that just has NOT seemed right to me from the get-go.

An entry called “America’s Creepiest Family” addresses several of my concerns with this set up. Read through the comments for the real meat. Most people commend them for being good Christians and the like. A user called tiger1981 blows up some research they did from some place or another, and cites financial and religious shenanigans on the part of the Duggars. An inevitably anonymous user calls them a cult. Frankly, for me, it’s the mental inbreeding that looks like it’s going on … is a bit weird. 

Be fruitful and multiply, to paraphrase the bible, is what a lot of religious folks follow. I always say it’s better to help one’s fellow man and take in lost and lacking souls.

I’m also a firm believer in potential parents being required to take psychoemotional evaluations before having or adopting their first kid. Cuz what the fuck — WHY do we need stories like these in our world? Kids in cages… fuck. And let’s not forget gems like fathers who have kids with their daughters and variations on that kind of story. If you missed it, there was a guy in Colombia with a similar story to the Fritzl case, only he didn’t lock the woman in a fucking hole for 20+ years.

And people hide behind God, then blame God for standing there, why? The Devil has less to complain about in the scapegoat department than God, that’s for sure. 

“Fucker’s settin’ up franchises” — Tyler Durden

Then we get folks like this, who have a bijillion kids with a bijillion women. Why?

With the exception of dudes like the franchise man, and evolutionary theories a lot more people seem to hide under and behind lately (like evolution-focused reasons for why high heels make sense), it comes down to the fact that an alarming amount of people swear that the family dream situation will make them happy. This April 2009 article calls bullshit on that, and so do I. Here’s a fun snippet:

Why do we have such a rosy view about parenthood? One possible explanation for this, according to Daniel Gilbert (2006), is that the belief that ‘children bring happiness’ transmits itself much more successfully from generation to generation than the belief that ‘children bring misery’. The phenomenon, which Gilbert says is a ‘super-replicator’, can be explained further by the fact that people who believe that there is no joy in parenthood – and who thus stop having them – are unlikely to be able to pass on their belief much further beyond their own generation. It is a little bit like Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest. Only the belief that has the best chance of transmission – even if it is a faulty one – will be passed on.

 

As Ali G. would say, full real. 

Be happy with yourself, your life, your circumstance first. Add on to your wisdom and your talents, your experiences and your life — so you have much more to pass on to your offspring when you have your kid(s) or adopt. Because in the end, having kids should also be about bringing about changes and progression. The real magic in our existence is in wonder, discovery, imagination and enrichment, and all the wonderful places we can go, and people we can become.

Til then, remember this poor fuck should you get tempted to take the easy way out and pop out a few to help fix things at home: 

Tomorrow: The “dark side” of magic and the “dark side” of the womb. No not the moon — the womb.

Nine Weeks of Strange, Week 6: “The Impatient Clock”

Ah, the weirdest story I’ve ever written, “The Impatient Clock”, as found in Women in Strange Places: Stories. Contrary to popular belief it’s not a reflection of what I wish on the Octomom. But it does raise some questions about parenthood, and the concept of woman being a channel and a medium. 

Video intro and excerpt below. Get ready for a controversial roller coaster ride of topics, and some magic tricks thrown in … for the kids.

Tomorrow: Magic and the Megafamily.

 

The Impatient Clock, (c) Celeste Ramos, 2009

from Women in Strange Places: Stories.

At break time Yona ran to the bathroom before the line formed. As she felt her body drain into the toilet, she thought about what she and Leo, her half-brother, could make for dinner.

            Nora was her usual ride to and from the factory. Yona had forgotten that come quitting time she would be stranded, and she didn’t want the manager, Mr. Pitin, to find out. She hated the way he looked at her from the window in his office. She didn’t want him to offer.

            She called Leo, waking him out of his early-evening nap, and begged to him for five minutes to come pick her up.

            The windshield wipers fended off the fat drops of rain. Yona sat with her purse on her lap and her ankles crossed. She smiled. Leo caught this from the corner of his eye.

            He cleared his throat and said, “No, Yona. The car will be wet for days. You know how this piece of shit is.”

            “I can’t help it – ”

            “Yeah, yeah. You love the way rain feels on your face.”

            “Right.”

            “Well do it when we get home. I’m not going to spend time and money drying out this car because you wanted to stick your head out the window in a downpour.”

            The grey-on-grey industrial neighborhood smeared off the car windows and mirrors. As they got to their neighborhood the streets were lined by red-brick apartment buildings with rusty black fire escapes.

            Yona gave a sigh as she walked in the door.

            “How was work?” Leo asked, locking the door behind them.

            “Eh.”

            Leo gave a faint smile. “I don’t know what to cook.”

He moved his wide, tall body into the kitchen, snapping at his suspenders in thought. A few of his oversized “magic quarters”, the ones he planned to pull from behind a child’s ear later, fell out from the folds of the elastic.

The second kitchen light was out again. The yellow light of an old bulb strained to cover the entire room.

Yona went down the hall. She passed dusty bookshelves and Leo’s collector’s items in boxes that were worthless beyond sentimental value. There was still a heap of old, empty metal cages in the living room, where unlucky animals had once lived.

            She came back into the kitchen, saying, “Leo, why are the cages still there?”

            “Because I haven’t moved them.” Leo set the quarters on the counter and dropped his suspenders off his shoulders. He began to chop tomatoes. “I’m going to make pasta and meat sauce. Good?”

            “Sure.”

            “Easy enough. I have a show tonight, got a new trick I wanna practice one more time before I go on.”

            Yona rolled her eyes.

            “I’m gonna lie down in a box, then come out through a door that’ll be on stage. Just a door with a frame, in three seconds. I hope that psycho assistant of mine shows up, it’ll be a tough one to do on my own.”

            Yona sat up on the kitchen counter. There was a hole in her black tights. “Leo, that’s a tired trick.”

            “Not the way I’m going to do it. What do you care, you’re out of the family business now.”

            Yona shrugged.

            “What’s wrong? You look angry or something.”

            Yona began to play around with one of the silver knives.

            Leo wiped his right hand on a towel and reached into his back pocket. He brought his hand up to Yona in a fist, moved his fingers a little bit, and seven beautiful paper flowers popped out. He laughed hard at Yona’s scowl and set the flowers beside her. He continued chopping.

“God you’re a bitch Yona.”

            “Pulling rabbits out of hats and flowers from the thin air of your back pocket doesn’t do anything for anyone.”

            “Oh stop. It’s not all we do. You had one hell of a disappearing act for a long time. And the melting lady was a hit. That one gave me nightmares. And all the rabbit tricks…”

            “Yes, the rabbit tricks. The one I accidentally killed in front of that poor little boy was just perfect.” Yona shook her head. “Never again. It’s a sham. It’s a lie.”

            “See, you say that as if what we do is supposed to be taken seriously! People know it’s not actually happening. But the fact that it looks like it does makes it fun. Pretending. Imagining. Imagining if we could bend the world to do as we wished … Contrary to Yona-ian belief, people do enjoy being lied to. They pay for it. I mean bankers and therapists for god’s sake! They make a living out of it! You had a great show. You just got spacey.”

            “So embarrassing.” Yona grazed the tip of her finger along the knife edge, remembering the days in her teenage years and early twenties when she was The Amazing Yona.

            Leo looked at her. “It’s either do magic, work at the factory, or buck up and leave town. I know you can’t imagine what else you could be doing with yourself.”

            “OW!” Lost in thought, Yona had sliced the tip of her forefinger with the knife. She dropped it into the sink and hopped off the counter.

            “See? Spacey,” Leo said. “You were bred to be a magician. Remember our crazy family tree?”

            Yona ran her finger under the cold tap. “Magicians on both sides of the family. Please, Leo. That’s not what I want. I know what I want.”

Leo sighed.

            “I want a baby.”

            “Well find a man who wants one too and you’ll be nine feet wide in no time.”

            “Don’t make fun!”

            “You’re too much of a realist to have kids. You can’t do magic tricks in front of them. Isn’t that a hint? You need your imagination back.”

            “Ugh!”

            “What the hell do you want a kid for?”

            Yona shrugged. She knew Leo wouldn’t understand. She decided to keep the secret about her miscarriage. That pregnancy was the one that had made her want to leave magic in the first place. “I dunno. I think my clock is ticking.”

            “You’re only twenty-eight.”

            “Doesn’t mean I don’t have a clock.”

            “You’re twenty-eight. Get your damn life in order.”

            “You’re forty-four. Get your life in order! I want one so bad I faint when I’m near a kid. I don’t think my body cares what’s going on around it. It’s got its own plans. It always does.”

            “Yona. For once in your life, take my advice. Don’t be another one of those baby machine bitches having kids like it’s their duty in this world. If you have one, you have it because you want it. You definitely don’t have one because your body says so! Do you know the things I’d be doing if I listened to what my body wanted all the time? The world would be on fire!” 

            “Oh what do you know about it. You don’t have a womb!”

            “I’m trying to stop you from making a mistake. I’m not helping you raise that kid.”

            “Come on. Every kid needs an uncle.”

            “I’m not your brother,” Leo said.

            “You’re my father’s son. Close enough!” Yona jumped off the counter and dug through her pockets for her cigarettes. “Be nice.”

            “No. I’m tired of being nice to you and your womb. Kids aren’t band-aids. Once you have one you’re gonna just want another because the first one’ll grow.”

            “You just don’t like children.”

            “I like them when they’re not mine. And when they’re appropriate to the mother’s sanity. You having a kid and still living with me will make that kid basically mine. And you’re insane. And I have a social life.”

            Yona rubbed the top of her head. “I should grow my hair long again.”

            “Then do it. Maybe it’ll help find you a husband instead of wanderin’ around with that short chop cut you have.”

            “I’m gonna smoke.”

            “Open the window. I don’t want my sauce smelling like cancer. And don’t take any from that purple pack.”

            “I can’t believe you’re still using trick cigarettes.”

            Yona passed the basket of laundry she had forgotten to put away again. She opened the living room window high. Leo called it the “scary window” because it was the only one that didn’t have a safety rail or part of a fire escape outside of it. Yona loved it. It gave a clean, unobstructed view of their boring part of town. It didn’t offer reality cut up through metal rails.

            She sat at the windowsill, with one leg tucked under her and the other swinging against the inside wall, her bare heel next to the light socket.

            The rain outside fell steady and yellow in the streetlight. She stuck her head out and looked upward, loving the feel of the cold drops landing on her cheeks and on her lips.

            A great, heavy mother pigeon, coming back from her last round of food hunting for the evening, nearly collided with another bird when both were surprised by Yona’s sudden appearance out the window.

The mother pigeon’s feet grazed Yona’s forehead. She was startled by the feeling of a claw and a glimpse of a dark wing in her eyes. She felt it brush over her nose. In that moment she leaned back hard to get her face away from the bird, forgetting about her position at the window, and fell out, back first, into the eight floors of night below.

            Yona woke in a massive grass field, wearing a long navy tunic. She was surrounded by dandelions in the breeze, birds, butterflies, grasshoppers, apple trees and squirrels. She got to her feet in a start and scanned around the idyllic scene.

            “Where the hell am I?” she mumbled to herself. “Leo?!” she called. “This isn’t funny, what is this?!”

            She turned in a circle, looking at the gorgeous expanse of nature around her. The air was hot and smelled of soil and flowers.

            “Hello!”

            Her confusion bled quickly into fear. The complete memory of where she had just been came back to her. She had fallen out of her window at night, yet around her it was bright and beautiful – it looked like the first day that had ever occurred on earth.

            Assuming she was dead, Yona lied down and wailed. She mourned everything she didn’t get the chance to do, and how much she would miss Leo and the rest of the family. She wondered what kind of children she would have had. She wondered why God had chosen to take her so early, and in such a way!

She imagined poor Leo in tails, top hat and boxers, talking to the police in the living room about how many damn times he told her not to sit at the window like that.

            But Yona was most certainly not dead. She failed to see a bit of thread poking out of her nail from the mini-accident that morning at work, and the maroon cut on her finger, from when she was playing around with the knife while she talked to Leo.

            At the top of the hill she looked around to see more ongoing expanse of green nature. A few miles away she saw a dense wood, and beyond it, a perfect series of snowy mountains.

            At the bottom of the hill on the other side was a wooden house that stretched far back into the tall grass surrounding it. It looked like a hallway with a roof and a beautiful front porch and front door. Every window was framed by stained glass and marble. Wind chimes and weather vanes glistened and sang.

            She wondered if this was really heaven.

            She approached the house slowly as she came down the steep hill, fearing she would trip her bare feet on rocks hidden in the grass. But her path was smooth and soft, all the way to the house. When her feet got to the eight steps of the front porch, she smelled the wood, hot and sweet in the sun. The handrails were adorned with woodcuts of smiling children.

            Once at the front door she didn’t know to knock or to just come in. She imagined her guardian angel and relatives and all the dead rabbits she accidentally killed, waiting inside to greet her.

            There was no doorbell. Her mouth fell open when she saw herself in the oval glass set in the door. Her skin glowed with health.

            Yona knocked on the door. She didn’t hear anything from inside. She knocked again. Silence. She walked over to the end of the porch, passing a wicker-backed rocking chair and a small table. She tried to look in through the window but could barely make out the insides of the house.

            She turned the corner of the porch and saw that the house went back a lot farther than she’d observed from the hill. It was almost as if the house had grown in the time it took her to come toward it. Along the sides of the house were large, circular glass windows. None of them offered a view into the home.

            Back at the front door she found that it was now open.

            Out of a sudden sense of apprehension, Yona turned around and looked behind her. Nothing else had changed. The hill was still the hill out front, the mountains and woods were still in the distance. Nature was still perfection around her.

            “Hello?” she called in to the house.

            She heard plates and utensils clanging.

            For being heaven, she thought, whoever was there wasn’t a very gracious host.

            Yona walked in slowly. Four red-velvet loveseats were angled around a wooden table with a pair of Tiffany lamps on top. Rich, burgundy rugs covered sections of the glossy floor.

            “Um … my name is Yona, I – I’m lost.”

            She looked around at the walls. They were empty save for a few miniscule paintings of the nature outside. A grandfather clock in the far corner announced the arrival of three o’clock.

            In the doorway to the kitchen she saw a beautiful, soft-yellow curtain that was parted and tied to dull hooks on either side of the frame. It was a yellow that reminded Yona of a nursery; the neutral color for a baby that didn’t speak to its gender, only the pleasure of its existence.

            She touched the silk-and-mesh fabric and smiled at the hints of glitter in it. She walked into the combination dining room and kitchen.

            She found a heavy woman there, seated at the far end of an oval table. The table was gigantic and old. It looked like a relic from a castle. In front of the woman was an oversized wooden bowl that overflowed with maroon and tan colored hunks. A wooden spoon poked out of it.

            Yona would have greeted her but she was utterly shocked, because this woman’s face was completely covered by her hair. It was blacker than black, thicker than thick; each strand was the width of at least fifteen strands of Yona’s hair. The woman had it combed down the front of her face and then formed into a braid near where the start of her chin would be. The massive braid snaked along the table, and fell off the side of it to the stone and tile floor.

            “M – Ma’am?” Yona said lowly. She was still staring at the length of the braid.

            The woman was silent. She grabbed the spoon. Her other hand went out in front of her, slowly, palm up, inviting her to sit at the other end of the table.

            Yona looked around and saw no one else near by, no pots or pans hot on the stove. She looked at the table again, and saw that a chipped porcelain bowl and a place setting had appeared at the seat across from the woman.

            “What’s going on here?” Yona said. “This is – this is insane, where am I?”

            The woman moved her hairy arm and fat hand toward her face, and lifted the start of the braid slightly, as she lowered her face to the bowl. The braid now completely obscured any clue of this woman even having a face, and her hand went down to her lap.

            “Lady? Are you listening? Hello? Are you deaf under there?”

            Yona took a few paces toward her but then took them back and fell into the seat the woman had offered her. She stared in horror at what the woman was eating.

             The maroon and tan hunks in the bowl were fetuses. One of them had flipped out of the bowl as the woman shoveled spoonful upon spoonful into her unseen mouth. The fetuses looked baked or mildly toasted; their skin was tight around their would-be bodies, their vestigial arms and oddly-shaped heads were crisp. Yona could hear a slight crunch after each spoonful went into the woman’s mouth.

            “Lady! What are you doing!!!” Yona screamed.

When she took the breath to scream she caught the scent of the contents of the bowl in front of her. It was a white soup that smelled distinctly of wet soil.

            Yona stuck her spoon in and lifted it, watching the goop drip and slide back down toward the bowl. She became repulsed, realizing that the stuff moved and looked like semen.

            The woman stopped eating. She sat up slowly and Yona could feel the woman watching her. The bowl was empty.

            The woman began to deflate and shrink, inch by inch. Her hair retreated into her scalp as if it was being reeled in. Yona sprang from the table and slammed herself against the wall, screaming. The woman bled a little as the hair on her arms pulled into her flesh. Her nails grew long, her grey rag of a dress became a glittering black sheath. Her hair shrank and pulled back until it was the same length and cut as Yona’s.

            The woman had Yona’s face. Her eyes had no iris or pupil.

            Yona ran out of the kitchen and down the endless hallway ahead of her.

            She looked behind her and saw her blank-eyed self chasing her with an axe in hand.

            Yona stupidly came to a stop in disbelief. The woman swung at her with the axe. Yona ducked and watched the axe get stuck in the wall. She turned and took off running again while the woman tried to yank it out.

            “You fed me!” the woman screamed behind her. “They are mine!”

            The woman fiercely chased after Yona, swinging the axe closer and closer to the back of her neck, each time getting it stuck into the wall with the ferocity of her swing, yet she’d be right back within steps of Yona as if she had never paused.

            To Yona’s terror, she saw that in a few yards the hall would come to an end. There was nowhere to go except out the window.

            The woman grabbed her by the back of her tunic and shoved her forward, so that Yona hit the end wall with a tremendous force. Yona sat up against the wall, dizzy and crying.

            “Who are you!” Yona shrieked. She pulled her knees up against her chest.

            The woman knelt in front of her and held the axe edge to her throat. Yona couldn’t look at her for more than a few seconds at a time. She couldn’t believe that her own face was looking back at her, with no eyes to speak of, with a voice that was like a collection of sighs and groans.

She ripped the side of Yona’s tunic and shoved her knees apart.

            “What do you want!”

            The woman brought her face to her left ear. “You fed me!”

            “Fed you? Fed you what?!”

            “The children. The promises, your thoughts. You will never bear those children. They are conceived in my home. I will never deliver them to you!”

            Yona looked at the woman’s arm and neck and the raised veins that moved beneath them. It was like her blood was swelling inside her. Through the windows she noticed a change in the light. The sky had become like charcoal, yet the grass and the flowers maintained the same bright colors as if the sun were still shining on them.

            In one forced, painful move, the woman pushed her hand deep inside Yona’s vagina and pulled out her uterus. She twisted and yanked to rip the remaining tissue, and then sat back onto the floor to eat it in front of Yona. The taste seemed to bring incredible relief to the woman, as she lifted her face and smiled a peaceful, genuine smile like a child eating so much candy.

Strangebreak!: Alice and her hole

What they never tell you about Alice

And her hole

Is that she ran hard into every mirror possible

On purpose. To be alone.

 

And she said

 

I always want life before surprises …

I want to be ignorant before the moment of truth again

I want to have no hope

only to be restoked

resatisfied and reoverjoyed again

 

I don’t like the other side of the hill

the full-view from the top that has no shadows

no bends tricks or turns

 

I want to not know and then suddenly know

for the sky to beam and make my heart glow and then

all is revealed, just briefly

before I start the march again.

 

Back through shadow, running under sun.

Happily, marvelously

alone

(c) Celeste Ramos, 2009

from Women in Strange Places: Stories

Dig it? Buy it. You’ll love it even more.

Shitty City Living

There’s a question in “We Die at Night” that may be obvious to some, but so far hasn’t been talked about by anyone that’s given me their thoughts on the story: is Therese a victim of the city or of her own making?

Adjusting to life in a big city from a town isn’t easy, and it can be doubly hard when you’ve moved to the not-so-nice part of a city. There’s an inherent sense of loneliness that can come into play that’s part of the folds of survival — if you’re just out there, surviving from day to day, chances are you’re not too concerned about the emotional or social state of your fellow neighbor. Although Matilda is pretty self-involved in “We Die at Night” she’s also a good example of how the one-track mindedness of city living can really make other people feel singled out and alone.

In the New York Magazine article “Alone Together”, writer Jennifer Senior declares urban loneliness as a myth. Fascinating article, I think. It’s based on my hometown, but for those of you from other cities (or from NYC too), what do you think?

Prostitution – Who? Why? and How?

Why do women go into the sex industry?

In “We Die at Night“, Therese alludes to loneliness from being “passed around” as a foster kid as a contributing factor for why she became a prostitute. She stayed in it as a habit, and as a known way of living. These reasons are certainly not uncommon. 

Some information on the sex industry from Feminist.com talks about poverty, unfairness in the common workplace, racism, class bias, and drug use as being motivators for turning to sex work as a means for survival. There are other women who felt more like they were prostituting themselves at regular jobs than they were as formal prostitutes. 

This old Arts & Opinion interview features a sex worker positing that intelligent women owe it to themselves to become prostitutes, because it points to a “very interesting story of the relationship that exists between a woman’s strength and a man’s weakness.” Some weird points but definitely some interesting lines to start some conversation. 

This interview from Boloji.com features a woman talking about why women do it, as well as the social demands that come with it. “[T]he reason prostituted people are sold is because there is someone to buy them. Prostitution is demand-driven.”

Why do men go into the sex industry?

An interesting thing, as found in this study, states that the driving forces behind male prostitution are less about “survival” or some kind of economic or surrounding pressure, and more about sexual identity, drugs and early abuse as catalysts. 

This article, with what I think is a PERFECT title: “Male Prostitutes: The Invisible Sexworkers, and Are They All Gay?” puts a deeply interesting spin on the same standard reasons: it raises the question of expoitation on both sides of the fence. Society may rally behind the female prostitute as being helpless and needing to be protected, yet the male prostitute, even if he’s “pushed” into this situation by the circumstances of his life, retains all his control over himself and his body, primarily when he is hired by a woman. The woman has allowed him into her home or hotel room or whatever, and the guy’s just there to be a guy.

Oh, gender. When will it die?

What do you think?

Moving

I’m a wanderer.

I have recently embraced this fact about myself and love the experiences I’ve had because of it. But with moving and going from place to place for indefinite spans of time, many things need to be surrendered, particularly one’s own definition of “comfort”. You have to adapt, and adapt hard and fast, and deal with other people, speeds of living, and personal environments.

Couch surfing requires balance.

Probably the “cleanest” move I’ve ever had was when I moved to San Francisco. My friend Bernadette housed me in her tiny studio for 3 months until I finally got a job and a place to live, in a very loud place in the Haight. No fighting. No drama… it was fine.

The messiest move was when I moved to Denver a few years ago with my then-boyfriend. Why we moved to Denver is a loooooooooooooooooong story. But the madness, in short, is as follows: I was in graduate school in South Carolina at the time (another long fucking story) and we rented a van, which I drove, and my ex drove his car, and we drove all our shit for 30 hours or so to Colorado. We hadn’t slept in 18 hours and were running on solid adrenaline. We also had about $100 between the two of us, no jobs, and knew no one in Denver with the exception of the people we were going to live with.

As it turns out, within a day of our being there we’d walked into a shitstorm situation that, to this day, I still don’t really understand, but in short we were not as welcome in the house as we were led to believe. We spent 2 weeks living in the basement, with everything around us in boxes and wrapped in plastics and shoved into bags. We were looking for work probably 14 hours a day, while also looking for an apartment, and we got both very quickly, thank God.

Moving from the basement to the apartment we got in downtown Denver is still a bit of a blur to me but it was another challenge in and of itself, for not long after our moving into the place I fell ill with a death flu that made me puke blood and lose 20lbs and I was bedridden for nearly a month. I spent another month immensely weak and all cracked out. It. SUCKED. My ex spent pretty much all day out, working 2 jobs since I was unable to help support us, and I was in this room for days on end, with no tv or internet or anything, falling in and out of sleep, in a cramped-up box-filled apartment. I felt like one of the smushed cardboard boxes, needless to say. 

Clearly, everything turned out fine. When I got a job I really liked we were quite happy in that apartment, which, when organized, was bright, sunny, smelled nice, was quiet … we had a nice neighbor … all was candycanes during those days.

Of the many things I learned during the WEIRD 2 years we spent in Denver, one was that sometimes you really do have to faceplant — emotionally, financially, mentally, physically — to hit the reset button. 

What’s your crazy moving story?

Nine Weeks of Strange, Week 5: We Die at Night

 

From “We Die at Night”, in Women in Strange Places: Stories

(c) 2009 Celeste Ramos

The night I killed Mary passing sirens woke me at eight. The gurgle of traffic continued right after the sirens faded. They reminded me that in the event of an emergency, the world continued to turn.

            Melatonin again. The bottle that kept them fresh looked like the bottle of aspirin I kept by my bed.

I was always prone to accidents. It wasn’t uncommon for me to pop three melatonin instead of three aspirin. This mistake would crush me into a void of half-awake nightmares. By the time I woke up, like when I woke up that evening, I had to walk around my apartment and stumble over dirty clothing and stacks of books on the floor for several minutes at a time. To remind myself I was awake.

I held on to my walls like a blind person as I walked to the bathroom. I ground the chips of paint into my palm.

I was brushing my teeth when someone knocked at the door. I rinsed and spit as fast as I could, because I didn’t want the person to keep knocking and think I wasn’t home. I had just moved to the city not a month before and I didn’t have any friends.

            The floorboards moaned under my feet as I went to the door. Looking through the foggy peephole into the hallway, I saw my next-door neighbor, Matilda. Her already fat face had widened in the peephole. She looked like the Cheshire Cat with uneven hair and a cigarette. All she did was stop by about every other week to deliver mail to me that was crossed to her box. She also gave me gossip for two minutes about people in the building I’d never met.

I actually didn’t want to open the door. But it was either my voice or hers in my ears.

            “Hi Therese, mail for ya again,” she said.

            The ghosts of over-cooked dinners and trash lingered in the hall. A baby cried behind one of the steel maroon doors.

            Matilda cocked her head to the side. “You look sick.”

            “No,” I rubbed my eyes. “I overslept again. Sometimes I take these pills – ”

            “Do you know Gary Sullivan, that gorgeous waste of a man?” She lowered her voice suddenly. “He’s gay you know.” She raised her thick voice again. “Anyway, he’s apparently got that new BMW that’s outside, can you believe it? In a neighborhood like this. I wonder just how he got it.” She raised an eyebrow at me and ashed onto my welcome mat.

Before I could complain she said, “Oh where’s my head. Here.”

            She shoved two bill-pregnant envelopes into my hands. I strained to remember what time it was. Matilda kept talking, shooting names at me with that slingshot of a mouth of hers. The names had rumors and four letter words attached to all of them.

            “Matilda – ”

            “And then there’s that adorable new couple that just moved in, the ones who fuck way too loud – ”

            “Matilda, please. Do me a favor. Remind me what time it is.”

            Her eyes didn’t leave mine as her wrist drew up to her chest. She glanced down and said, “Eight-twenty. You got plans?”

            “No I just got up, you see, and sometimes I forget – ”

            “Oh jesus. It’s eight-fuckin’-twenty already. I need to get movin’. Crystal’s supposed to tell me about what happened at Selma’s birthday party last weekend. Her shady mafia boyfriend took her to Vegas. I’ll see you. I’ll see you later! And get some help for your drug addiction, you’re too young!” Matilda turned around and scuffed off down the hall in her slippers. She left a trail of sound behind her, long after she had turned the corner, until I heard her door echo shut.

            I stared at the raised detail on the walls. The wood trim that came up to knee height and then stretched up and over into the ceiling, and the positions for the chandeliers to hang. Most of them were broken. Or stained by neglect. Such an old building. So pretty.

            I left the door open after I drifted back into the apartment. The bills went on the kitchen counter.

            I had to do something. Anything. I couldn’t sit at home anymore like that. Waiting. Listening. Looking out the window, past the fire-escape rail.

I didn’t know what to do; I didn’t know what normal people did on a Friday night alone.

            The building’s super was usually an invisible man that left notices about pipes and year-old work requests under the doors. He walked by and then stood in the doorway and looked in. His jowls shook when he spoke.

            “Hey! Lady you can’t leave this door open like that! Anyone could come in here. You wanna get robbed or somethin’?”

            I got up and rushed to the door. I hoped he would ask me how I was.  He didn’t.

            “Oh. I’m sorry,” I said. “Force of habit.”

            He pulled the doorknob and shut the door himself.

            That made me feel awful, like he’d locked me out of the world.

I had to do something. I had to experiment and go out.

            I hadn’t gone out on my own yet. I was too afraid. I moved to the city from a small town for a job I was offered but didn’t get. I had to scramble for whatever job I could find, and I managed to get one as a temp secretary. As a temp I wasn’t supposed to work long hours but I asked for them anyway. What else was I going to do? I’d worked at more offices than I could count and I got good at accepting people’s pleasantries in the workplace as half-hearted attempts toward friendship. But I learned quickly that people only like small talk because it reassures them that they’re “nice” people.

            My commutes were strange to say the least. The subways were a maze of signs, blurred faces and metal grinding against metal. I’d learned not to look people in the eye unless I had to. The world in the city became a world full of necks, shoulders and varying bodies.

            In dreams, people I associated with were decapitated.

Going out at night wasn’t a big priority. My street looked like an incision in the neighborhood map. The street was two blocks long and connected two major avenues. I knew what went down on streets like mine. I didn’t want to deal with it. But I had to get out – I couldn’t stand hearing echoes of doors and voices in the hall all night. Watching movies that didn’t make sense because I’d pass out then wake again. I needed to live my life in some kind of color.

            When I got out of the shower I stood naked and dumb in front of my miniscule closet. I didn’t know what to wear. All I owned were nightgowns and office clothes, slippers and pumps. I’d outgrown a pair of jeans that were out of fashion anyway, and a tight red sheath of a dress that made me look like a spoiled tube of lipstick. I didn’t know what normal people wore to go out.

Figuring that it was the city and no one really examined you the way they did back home, I decided to mix and match. I’d wear my puffy clouds pajama tank top, with a short black skirt that belonged to one of my favorite office suits, and a pair of black pumps.

            My reflection laughed at me. I didn’t think I’d make it past the corner of my block. But in truth I looked alright enough. I just wanted to go to a loud bar and get drunk enough to start up a conversation with someone.

            I didn’t know what kind of makeup to wear or how to do my eyeliner. I organized my face as best I could; I’m sure I looked like a clown or an accidental goth girl. It had been so long since I’d done my face up for a night out. And even then, I didn’t know how to do it the normal way.

            When I was on the street I knew guys wanted me to look a certain way. The guys I had the potential to meet at the bar would be different than the guys I met on the streets back home. The guys back home wouldn’t talk except to call me honey. And of course, they’d ask me where I wanted them to tuck the bills before we got started.

            I leaned against the mirror on my wall. I gave myself an assignment: I would talk to people for at least ten minutes. I imagined myself at a crowded bar talking to people, shot glasses on the bar, phone numbers on my forearm. It was going to be nice to ask people what they did with interest. Where they were from, too. God, I was worried I’d sound like a broken record after a while, I didn’t know what to do after certain bits of conversation. Seemed that after the “what’s your name?”, “what do you do?”, “where you from?” formula the only result was to ask was if they wanted to go “have a party” with me.

            I planned to take the train downtown and walk around like a stranger lost in her own backyard. I had enough money in my purse to have a few drinks and take a cab home.

Before I left I smiled at myself in the mirror. An adventure. That’s what I kept calling it. I’d do what I wanted to do without having to worry about something happening to me. I had learned how to take care of myself by virtue of moving so far away, and now, this night would be the first test.

            The voice in my head that never believed in me was right. I wouldn’t make it past the corner of my block.

            My street was extra popular for prostitutes during the hour before I walked out of the building. Tucked away between the legs of those two avenues, it was dim enough for business, quick drop offs and picks ups. That kind of thing. I saw two get into a car through the window at the front of the building. Just a flash of them. Glitter from one’s dress, lip-gloss from the other’s red lips. The dark car rolled away a few seconds after. Everyone else, for now, was done with my street.

Mary had just crossed in front of the door as I opened it, like a black cat crossing my path, or a ghost ducking from view. She passed by me so fast that all I caught was the smell of her perfume and the sound of her heavy breathing. She smelled like those dandelions that grow through the cement around junkyards.

            She was in a hurry. Her purple heels snapped like the gum in her mouth against the pavement. A brown car was at the corner and it slipped into my peripheral vision on my right. A man shouted, “Don’t you walk away from me!”

            Mary walked faster, and as she did she dropped some make-up out of her open purse.

I picked up the gloss and eye shadow and ran up to her. I grabbed her arm. I still don’t know why I did it – I felt consumed to make sure she had these things. Maybe I was that desperate to look someone in the face and do them a favor.

********

If you like what you’ve seen and read, buy Women in Strange Places: Stories by Celeste Ramos!

Strangebreak! A reminder…

… to appreciate the sheer temporariness of this all, and with that knowledge, do what you feel is right for yourself. Consequently, it will set the stage for positive impact in the lives of those around you. While your definition of positive may not be the same as the people around you, open the road to your heart and your mind, and inspire others to do the same.  Share yourself, your life, your experience —  as singular an experience as it may be — really, all our lives also belong to each other. 

Tomorrow: Nine Weeks of Strange – Week 5 “We Die At Night”, the story of Therese, a woman who set out to live her life differently in a new city.

And to close, here’s … more sex.

Thanks to some jackass changing the password on the wispdistance account (my fault for throwing around the password I guess) I have no idea if people sent things to that account. Sorry if you did. 

In short, none of the people who did send things in could own up to their perversions and sent in story-versions of their smut 😉 Here’s the last one. Enjoy.

Tomorrow: Nine Weeks of Strange, Week 5: We Die at Night

 We went through a lot of our standard parts.  I was lying on my bed in just my panties.  He was lying next to me, slowly rubbing my pussy over them.  His shirt was off, his pants unzipped, and I was softly stroking him inside them.  He stood up to take his pants off, and I made my move as quickly as I had just made the decision.  I sat up on the bed in front of him and started to rub his dick while he stood there.  And before he probably knew what I was doing, I took him into my mouth.

      It felt different in my mouth than it had in my hand.  Harder, but smaller.  When it was in my hand I’d have said he was average size, but now he actually seemed a little small.  I could almost fit the whole thing in my mouth and never once had a gagging problem.  I’d given blowjobs before, but it’d been over a year, and I sort of forgot what the sensation is like.  The slight discomfort as the head rubs back and forth on the roof of my mouth.  The concentration it takes to keep my teeth out of the way.  I actually like giving head, and sometimes I forget about my teeth.  Luckily there’s no gagging with Geoff.

      I played with his balls a bit, but mostly I liked squeezing his ass as he moved back and forth in my mouth.  I almost started to gag when his come hit my throat, but I was able to hold back, and my man fell to the bed with a huge grin on his face.  I snuggled up to him a for a bit while he recovered and after time I started stroking him again.  Then I told him the night’s not over.  He raised an eyebrow, but I told him quickly that I wasn’t quite ready to go all the way.

      I crawled over him, stood beside the bed, and I removed my underwear.  For the first time I was completely naked before him, and it felt right.  I didn’t feel guilty.  He sat up and just looked at me for a moment, then ran his hands up the outside of my thighs.  He quickly stood up and I took his place on the bed as he knelt between my legs.  All the time spent using his hands had been well spent, and now he knew just where to go with his mouth to get me off.  His tongue was softer, warmer, more insistent than his fingers.  He sucked on my clit, and pushed two fingers in and out of me and he knew me well enough by now that I came in no time.

      He didn’t stop though.  Orgasms pulsed through me in waves.  Some small tingles that pulsed right on top of each other, and some when I thought I was done for the night but suddenly my body stiffened out of my control and I thought I might crush his head between my thighs.

      I don’t know how long he went down on me, but eventually I could take no more.  I pushed him back, we cuddled up on the bed together and started to doze off.  I playfully rested my hand on his cock while his arm was around me and cupping a breast.  Before I fell asleep, I think I told him I loved him.