Fiona George – Nailed Magazine https://nailedmagazine.com Thu, 09 Jul 2020 19:15:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.15 In This Body: How to Hate Yourself Less https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/in-this-body-how-hate-yourself-less/ Wed, 13 Sep 2017 09:00:07 +0000 https://nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=16732   Our monthly column “In This Body” is comprised of true stories about sex, gender, the body, and love, written by Fiona George, for NAILED. + + + I can feel it setting in. Slowly. The end of summer, when it should be fall. I promised myself I could just make it to September, I’d get some […]

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Our monthly column “In This Body” is comprised of true stories about sex, gender, the body, and love, written by Fiona George, for NAILED.

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I can feel it setting in. Slowly. The end of summer, when it should be fall. I promised myself I could just make it to September, I’d get some rain, some cozy sweaters, all the warmth in the fall leaves—the sunny days crisp cold and bright. I’d be able to retreat back into my shell—the literal one made up of wool and heavy layers, the figurative one where social gatherings are small and quiet. But it’s the beginning of September, and the forecast is still saying ninety degrees, one hundred degrees.

I drink hot tea, I wear a sweater to bed and sweat. I can feel it setting in. I seek for the comfort of fall but only make myself more uncomfortable in the summer heat. I wish I was sick, had the chills, could stay in bed under blankets and binge watch Disney Channel Movies that premiered when I was in grade school.

Even with the sense of loneliness at the edges of me, I want to be alone. Being around the people I care about makes me feel lonelier. They must all have some secret resentment of me just under the surface, maybe they don’t even know about it.

When I go isolate myself, which of course I will do, it only proves my point.

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What exactly I can feel setting in: a self hatred that lives in my bones, makes my feet heavy, makes it difficult to make eye contact. A lethargy that tells me I’m worthless, then proves it. An anxiety that prefers loneliness because companionship feels like constant rejection.

How I know it’s coming: I drink more, blackout—in the mornings I hate myself too much to move. I go quiet, when I’m sober—sometimes my thoughts are going a mile a minute in fear-talk, sometimes my head just feels empty. I’m always careless with money but I get more careless with money, the rush of immediate gratification staves off whatever’s lurking in the back of my ribcage.

What it feels like: a lump at the top of my throat, swollen lymph nodes. In my belly, the raw fire that leads to cigarette after cigarette as I try to match it. Irritability like a tingling on my scalp.

At first, I’ll try to blame it on the planets. Mercury must be in retrograde. Maybe Pluto is in Capricorn, dominating my chart, causing destruction.

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I clean. I spend a week doing almost nothing but cleaning, when I’m home. I try to be home a lot. In the next several weeks, I see myself getting deeper. Feeling darker and more alone.

It’s in the top of my throat, a pressure, an ache. A warning. I clean because I know I won’t have it in me to clean, I clean to get ahead of myself.

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I’ve chosen not to drink in September. When I’m hurt and lonely, I will not drink my way out of it (I know this will only make it worse). It will be my free pass out of social situations that will only make me feel like a third wheel, a tag-along, a burden.

This is good, I continue to tell myself. It is, after all, why all my friends hate me. The drinking. Of course, my friends don’t hate me. I know that. But the drinking makes me hateable, makes me hate myself more.

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My partner has been picking up graveyard shifts, leaving our bed hot and empty at night. He loves me even when I can’t see him, on a practical level I know this. In the ending days of August, I stay up late watching Mermaids, drinking beers and pretending he’ll come home before the sun comes up.

The companionship of my cat is a godsend. As much as we like to say it isn’t, I know the love of an animal isn’t unconditional. Only, it doesn’t hinge on our human social rules. She won’t care if I get drunk and make an ass of myself, and I won’t even have to worry that she would care. She won’t talk shit and won’t listen to anyone else who might; how she feels about me is totally separate from the opinions of anyone else.

I win her love when I fill her food bowl, when I play with her, when we snuggle up together in a bed that is otherwise empty.

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In the first mornings of September, I wake up with a hangover feeling in my gut. Not a headache or an upset stomach, but the emotional toll that can come with or without drinking. I hate myself, I don’t want to get out of bed and face who I am: a person who I’m sure is awful, but I can’t place my finger on why.

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Header image courtesy of Jean-François Lepage. To view his Artist Feature, go here.

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In This Body: Dreams I Remember https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/body-dreams-remember/ Tue, 11 Jul 2017 09:00:20 +0000 https://nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=16526   Our monthly column “In This Body” is comprised of true stories about sex, gender, the body, and love, written by Fiona George, for NAILED. + + + The first dream I remember, I must have been younger than five. We were at the zoo. We were at the beach. We were in a castle. The castle-zoo […]

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Our monthly column “In This Body” is comprised of true stories about sex, gender, the body, and love, written by Fiona George, for NAILED.

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The first dream I remember, I must have been younger than five. We were at the zoo. We were at the beach. We were in a castle. The castle-zoo on the edge of the beach was old and stone, pools of saltwater and small drifts of sand between the cobblestone floor. My child-hand tight around the neck of Duck, my favorite stuffed duck. My thumbs running anxiety-circled around his plastic black eyes, stripping the fabric.

At the top of the castle, the open air and the monkey enclosure. I could see out onto the beach, and out of the waves came these strange monsters. Walruses, but not. Walruses, but huge, but they filled me with fear. Their faces were wrong. I’d lost my mom, and my sister, and my friends, and their parents.

I was alone and clutching Duck until I wasn’t. Down on the beach I could see his limp stuffed body in the tusk of one of the monsters. How doesn’t really matter, it woke me up crying.

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As an adult, my nightmares are few and far between. When I was little, they’d wake me up like that nightly.

As an adult, I have one where I wake up on a couch after a party at my friend’s apartment. My partner had been there when I’d dozed off but he was gone when I woke up. No one was around. I got up to look down the hall, to the bathroom door, to the bedrooms. The hall stretched forever, all the doors closed. Choruses of sex sounds and slivers of light.

On the balcony, I can see across the apartment courtyard to a towering carnival funhouse. I knew exactly where he was, my love who had a thing for the macabre. He snuck into the fun house at night.

The next morning he was still gone, and still gone, and still gone but his car was outside. The funhouse was locked. No one else was worried. No one was scared that he’d gone missing.

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My most vivid nightmares center this way: someone or something I love is separated from me and in danger. I’m always alone. No one listens to me. I am always afraid of losing those most important to me, even in my sleep. I feel like I need to know when my boyfriend will be getting home and where he is so that I know when to worry that he might be dead, or leaving me for someone more interesting, more mature, more attractive.

About a month ago I brought home a new kitten, my baby Potato, and she’s going to grow up an indoor cat because of the damage that outdoor cats do to the ecosystem—the extinction of birds. But also because the day before I started high school, my first cat Jiji was mauled to death by a dog. I see Potato stare at the outside, try to sneak through the cracks in doors. Meow through the window when I sit on the front porch smoking a cigarette.

I am already afraid of her leaving, of her dying.

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My last nightmare that I remember, I was downtown at a hotel in Portland for some big convention. I forgot Potato’s leash and her carrier so I carried her around or left her in my hotel room.

When I was not with her, the ground started to shake, snow and rain started falling. It seemed like the earth and sky were ripping open. It was chaos and the only word I heard over the drone of panic was ‘apocolypse.’Large groups were shuffled towards vans that would take us to an evacuation spot.

We were halfway there, halfway to safety and I remember Potato out of nowhere. I think I can feel my heart racing and sweat beading on my real body—my sleeping body. The man driving the van slammed the breaks and turned around fast. No one in the van complained that we were risking our lives because I forgot my cat, I’m being listened to. Taken care of. The van screeched and swerved towards the hotel, through parking-lot traffic of everyone else trying to escape danger while we sped towards it.

At the hotel entrance, I ran out of the car calling her name—Potato, Potato. She ran right up to me and jumped into my arms. Curling herself around and around and purring.

There was this feeling of full in my chest, maybe the happiest I’d been.

Outside, it was another world. The sky was normal, the earth was still. Some slush of snow was on the ground. The van was not a hurried evacuation, it had a mini-bar and vibrated with bass.

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In my waking anxieties and in my nightmares, I had never been reunited. Things didn’t end well. My world has fallen apart. Maybe I’m evolving. Maybe animals can heal us when other humans can’t. Maybe I just really love my cat. It was another random series of images and stories that my brain put together while I was sleeping, but it felt like a turning point. A break in a cycle.

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Header image courtesy of St. Francis Elevator Ride. To view his artist feature, go here.

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In This Body: Inner/Outer Self https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/body-innerouter-self/ Mon, 08 May 2017 09:00:12 +0000 https://nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=16292   Our monthly column “In This Body” is comprised of true stories about sex, gender, the body, and love, written by Fiona George, for NAILED. + + + It’s a strange thing to consent to an act on your body, then wish through the whole thing that you didn’t have to be present. I alternated between curled […]

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Our monthly column “In This Body” is comprised of true stories about sex, gender, the body, and love, written by Fiona George, for NAILED.

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It’s a strange thing to consent to an act on your body, then wish through the whole thing that you didn’t have to be present. I alternated between curled toes—clenched jaw—firmed tight against the pain, and a loose play-dead lack of existence that was probably the closest I’d ever come to meditation.

I’m not the kind of person who considers how painful the spot is when I pick the placement of a new tattoo. If I was that kind of person, I wouldn’t have picked my ribcage and the soft belly beneath my breasts for one of my largest tattoos, and with the most intricate line work. I’m glad I picked the place that I did, but if I had thought about it, I might have put it between my shoulder blades, or wrapped over my hip.

I’d let my mouth hang open, felt my eyes glaze over—focused hard on the plaster swirl ceiling, finding shapes. I controlled my breath, deep in and deep out, slow push out on skin under the needle.

Most of the tattoo’s I’ve gotten have been easy, three of them are two inch by two inch flash style little nothings—the Rocky Horror lips, a Black Star for Bowie, a spider from a Friday the Thirteenth sale—all on my shoulders. My other big ones are a pair of roses on the backs of my thighs—unfinished for years.

Each time I was surprised how little it hurt. I’d amp myself up for pain—and the sharp vibration would sometimes sting like a sunburn and sometimes even tickle a bit. Last time though, the tattoo gun rattling my ribs, over skin that never saw the sun, I didn’t know if I could finish until it was finished.

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Images and adornment. My inner world has seemed vacant while my outer self has been crowded, the new tattoo was just one piece. There’ve been layers of new clothing, every-three-week fills of acrylic nails, learning how to apply eyeshadow and that two different mascaras work better than one, the constant feed of images seen/saved/shared.

I could call it a hobby. I call it a hobby. I will say that I’m feeling very visually oriented, and in quiet wonder if I should take up photography. I’ll take twenty selfies, and not even know how to make myself look like I want in a picture.

My inner world has been quiet. A silence inside me that is of me, but out of control. It’s like I’ve lost my story, so I’ve decided to become a character.

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There’s nothing like a tattoo. It’s pain that you ask for, pay for, even if you don’t want to endure it. Not like pain play, it’s not something made to bring you pleasure. It’s not like a piercing, over in a moment. It’s not like plastic surgery, where they put you under. It’s not an accident or act of self-destruction. It’s not something done to you, it’s something done for you.

It’s because an image is important. There is something worth gritting your teeth or going meditation dead for. Maybe it’s even just a pretty picture.

Someone I work with said, “Why does every tattoo have to mean something? Maybe I just like flowers.”

Truth is, I love letting the image of me talk for me. The inner quiet is a little piece. The placement of a tattoo is inventing a piece to fit in my own puzzle. Choosing clothing is colors and textures to be lost in. I see the way I look as a piece of art. Maybe not a masterpiece, but daily notebook scribbles.

And inner me, she’s tired. She’s been doing the driving and the choosing and the expressing longer than she can, and she’s still working on our story. I’ve got to trust when she pipes up again, she’ll have something important to say.

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Header image courtesy of Mirage. To view their Photographer Feature, go here.

To read the previous installment of In This Body, “Cuts I Make,” go here.

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In This Body: Cuts I Make https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/in-this-body-cuts-i-make/ Tue, 07 Mar 2017 10:00:02 +0000 http://www.nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=15987   Our monthly column “In This Body” is comprised of true stories about sex, gender, the body, and love, written by Fiona George, for NAILED. + + + “Things Not to Say to Goth Girls.” It’s a video I watched, linked to me from a goth makeup tutorial. I was moving from dressing goth for goth dance […]

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Our monthly column “In This Body” is comprised of true stories about sex, gender, the body, and love, written by Fiona George, for NAILED.

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“Things Not to Say to Goth Girls.” It’s a video I watched, linked to me from a goth makeup tutorial. I was moving from dressing goth for goth dance nights, into dressing goth for regular life.

One thing not to say to goth girls: “So…do you cut yourself?”

I have scars on my upper arms, on my wrists, on my inner thighs, one on my stomach. The scars on my upper arms are especially visible. The first day I wore black lipstick to my barista job, a customer pointed to my scars, said, “Did you used to be a cutter?”

He said it smiling, he said it in a tone of voice that people use to ask me about my tattoos. The Rocky Horror tattoo on my shoulder, he asked it in the exact way people ask me, “Have you been to Rocky Horror in the theater?”or “Have you been in a Rocky cast?”

Conversational, happy. Like it’s a fashion statement like it’s a choice.

Is it the black lipstick? Does that make the question okay?

I put on my long sleeved sweater and wore it the rest of the day.

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I use cutting myself as a short cut, in my writing. When I want to tell you how much I am hurting, a couple lines on that and it’s done. What I don’t tell you is that it’s not a habit for me. It threatens to become one, I can feel the pull of a new addiction. The truth is, I self-destruct in alcohol, and in reckless spending. I wake up in the mornings with a self-hate hangover, or sweat and shake thinking how I will manage to pay rent.

The truth is, when I cut myself I am at my worst. It is my last resort. It is my Hail Mary of self-destruction, when people think I’m fun when I’m wasted but don’t see why I drink that way, when people complement my new outfit—hair, nails, makeup, like the picture I post on Instagram of expensive food I can’t afford. When I binge on my self-destruction, and people love it.

When I imagine killing myself, I imagine a release of tension. An opening vein, my body hit by a bus, a puke of pills and liquor. I feel a tense in my chest, my head, my blood vessels and it helps to picture these things. It is a comfort, to see the fluids flow, to watch my body go out of frame as a bus hits it, pushes it to pieces, and the tension of my tendons and my bones and skin and veins all split apart in one split second.

Sometimes, it is dull. Everything is dulled and the image of blood or the rush of the bus or the pulse that an overdose would bring look nice. They look like feeling, they look like a defiant end to the dull scratch of life.

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I make one or two deep cuts at a time, or a thick overlay of shallow scratches. Remember: it’s the release of tension that I’m after. The image of watching blood flow, the way it slows my blood, the way it makes my hurt viscous.

The deep cuts, you can see the fat under the layer of skin, and you can watch that well fill with blood and drip onto your sheets and you will tell anyone who asks that it comes from your period but you know that period blood leaves a specific pattern the blood stain is formed around your labia, your legs, and you know someone has to know this blood is different.

I cut enough that I can watch the blood flow, can watch the release of whatever skin holds. And then I care for myself, I heal. I wash the cuts with a warm wet rag and I tape gauze down or lay band aids, I apply pressure. And this, this is just as important. This, is maybe the most important part of the ritual. This is healing myself in a way I can see.

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I go to Planned Parenthood to get a birth control implant, inserted through a needle in my upper arm. Under some of my scars. The doctor says, “Are these self inflicted?”

I say, “Yesitwasalongtimeago,”I say it fast and I don’t look at her face. Those scars were about three years old, on the other arm they were less than six months old, and I had thought just earlier that day of doing it again.

She says, “And you feel okay now?”

I say, “Yes.”

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Header image courtesy of Erik Jones. To view his Artist Feature, go here.

To read the previous installment of In This Body, “Exclusion,” go here.

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This Is Not Another Jessica Jones Think Piece Written by an Abuse Survivor by Mo Daviau https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/not-another-jessica-jones-think-piece-written-abuse-survivor-mo-daviau/ Tue, 21 Feb 2017 10:00:29 +0000 http://www.nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=15955   1. In the deli case at Whole Foods are an array of empanadas: chicken, beef, spinach, cheese, each of them lined up like School Picture Day. The man in the hair net behind the counter asks me which one I want and I tell him spinach. As he’s plunging his hand into a loose […]

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1. In the deli case at Whole Foods are an array of empanadas: chicken, beef, spinach, cheese, each of them lined up like School Picture Day. The man in the hair net behind the counter asks me which one I want and I tell him spinach.

As he’s plunging his hand into a loose plastic glove, he smirks at me.

“So, beef?”

“Spinach,” I say.

I know he heard me say spinach. “Spinach” doesn’t sound like “beef.” He smirked at me, too. A smirk is a sign of contempt. Why was he trying to get me to take a beef empanada that I didn’t want? Was he trying to change my reality? I know I asked for a spinach empanada. Why am I being challenged on this? I know what I want and I said spinach and if he tries to tell me I said beef, I’ll fucking lose it.

As I walk away with the box containing the spinach empanada, I wonder to myself: was that fucker gaslighting me?

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2. “You probably shouldn’t watch Jessica Jones,” a friend told me. I tend to ignore television shows; this was shortly after Thanksgiving, 2015. I didn’t know yet who or what Jessica Jones was.

Another note came in over Facebook: “It might be scary for you, but you should watch Jessica Jones. It’s about a woman with PTSD from an abusive relationship.”

“I watched Jessica Jones and it reminded me of you,” somebody said to me in a public message on Facebook, someone I used to work with at the bookstore in Austin. His desk was close to the employee bathroom. He probably heard me crying in there. I am one of the Internet’s top ten poster bitches for PTSD from an abusive relationship. Maybe I’m also Jessica Jones.

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3. Before we began the treatment, I have to say out loud what I hope Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy will do for me.

“I want to stop being afraid of him.”

When The Abuser and I were together, I was terrified of him, but I couldn’t put a finger on why. I never felt physically threatened, but the panic center of my brain had been set off, and two-and-a-half years later, the alarm won’t shut up. I remember walking up Hawthorne to meet him for dinner one evening and having to stop in front of the mattress store to take deep breaths because I was afraid of what would happen when we were together. But I wasn’t afraid he’d hit me. Hitting me would be too easy. He had gotten me close enough to destroy me from the inside.

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4. I am alone in my bed with the first episode of Jessica Jones on my laptop. I feel fine until we meet the character Hope lying in a puddle of her own piss in a hotel bed, refusing to get up and leave under orders of the villain who has mind-controlled her to stay put. Jessica Jones, whose superpower is superhuman strength, lifts the kicking and screaming Hope from the wet hotel bed and carries her out as she struggles and demands to be put back where Kilgrave left her.

I am a brunette and a bad-ass and the woman who is the equivalent of Hope in my abuse scenario is also much younger than me, with longer hair and an air of fragility that I don’t have. The Abuser told me that she was suicidal and that if I didn’t let him fuck her, she’d kill herself and that he would blame me. I think about her a lot—that she really believes I’m crazy and terrible, that maybe the whole “she’s suicidal” thing was yet another lie. If I ever hear she’s dead by her own hand, I’ll fucking lose it, so it’s information I avoid.

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5. You know how Dan Savage has the Campsite Rule, for older/more experienced people who date younger/less experienced people to leave them in better shape than you found them? I tell people my abuser follows the Jonestown Rule: he leaves you believing the best thing you can do for God and man is kill yourself.

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6. I saw his lack of empathy. I saw it in his eyes, glazed over when I told him about the night I called the suicide hotline on my ex-husband. It was like I was telling him about wanting to paint my car beige.

I saw it again when I came out of the bathroom pissing blood. I told him I needed to walk to the ZoomCare. Usually when someone tells you they need to go to the doctor, you ask them what’s wrong.

The Abuser didn’t.

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7. “You Better Be Good to Me” by Tina Turner comes on my car stereo as I drive across the Fremont Bridge. It occurs to me to do the morbid thing of looking up how many wives Ike Turner had after Tina.

Answer: three.

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8. After a protracted hiatus, I start watching Jessica Jones again. Kilgrave gives Jessica her childhood notebook, which she thought she had lost. I equate this, and the whole deal with Jessica’s childhood house, with the daddy shit that I wrote about in my essay “The Cardigan” in The Toast. Soul rape. Is this standard abuser operating procedure, to mine the depths of your childhood trauma and reenact the highlights for maximum psychic damage? Why am I learning this now, at age forty, lying in bed in the middle of the day, terrified again to leave my apartment?

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9. A friend tells me there is a job recruiter in Portland named Jessica Jones. That Jessica Jones? No, that’s just her name.

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10. If a body catch a body coming through the rye gets stuck in my head as I do my daily writing. High school English: Holden Caulfield wants to preserve childhood innocence. The title is a misheard song lyric.

I spit into the little plastic vial that I send to the lab that measures my cortisol levels. I look at this stupid green box. The abuse blew out my adrenal glands. Emotional abuse is physical abuse. He changed the structure of my brain, he caused my adrenal glands to malfunction. I don’t make enough cortisol anymore, so I have to mail my spit to California. If someone had caught my body coming through the rye, I wouldn’t have to mail my spit to California.

This is funny, this mailing of spit. I try to make it funny. It’s funny to mail your spit to California.

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11. Who the fuck marries IKE TURNER? After Tina?

Answer: three women.

Corollary: who the fuck votes for Trump?

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12. I am on the phone with my new therapist, mindlessly scrolling through the internet as we discuss insurance. “Well, according to the assessment, you still have PTSD.” As we spoke, the tabs on my computer were open to news reports that Prince was maybe dead.

“But for the purposes of insurance, we need to pinpoint one exact event that triggered it all.”

Pinpointing the event becomes the most horrible therapy session of my life. I choose “non-penetrative sexual assault” from the list of my options, because “prolonged gaslighting, threats, and retraumatizing around the death of a parent” isn’t an option. I tell my therapist about the time he threw a Hitachi Magic Wand in my face—their weight and heft would be good enough for the insurance people.

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13. The manager of my apartment building insists, for days, that I do not have a package. The FedEx website indicates it had been delivered and signed for three days earlier. I know I have a package waiting for me in the office but the building manager keeps telling me I don’t, he hasn’t seen it so I don’t. I go back in the office where the building packages are held and ask for my damn package and he starts with “I haven’t seen your package” and it’s sitting on top of a pile of boxes and I grab it and leave.

I am done being gaslighted.

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14. I am sitting on a barstool next to a man with a face like bread dough. He tells me he is recently divorced. He is pensive and shy, stammering. He asks me if I would like to go on a date sometime. I tell him no. I’m not interested in him for the usual reasons: I’m not attracted to him, he sounded like he needed more time to heal from his divorce.

After I let the guy down and we continue to talk until his French fries go cold and he decides to leave, I realize that I could have done a hit job on him, comparable to the hit job done on me. He was vulnerable. He wanted to let me in quickly. He would have given me the keys to his magic castle. I could have told him everything he wanted to hear. I could have told him I loved him far too early. I could have fucked him until the oxytocin and dopamine in his brain were so loud that he wouldn’t be able to hear me when I started saying the things he didn’t want to hear. I, very easily, could have taken over his life, gotten access to his most private secrets, bludgeoned him, brainwashed him, blackmailed him, compromised his other relationships, suggested that he was a freak, threatened his custody arrangement with his ex-wife so that I would have more time to take over his life. In that exchange, I saw the opening that my abuser saw with me.

I’m not Bluebeard. I may be strung up in some metaphorical bloody chamber, but I’m sure as hell not putting people where I’ve been.

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15. Three nights in a row, The Abuser is in my dreams. Instead of sitting quietly, we talk. He seems to be sorry for what he’s done and tries to be my friend. In my dream, I am assessing the situation. We are at a pinball arcade, talking. In one episode of the dream, he sees another woman he dated and when he goes to talk to her, I steal a car and beat it the hell out of there, away from him. Which is the right thing to do, but that action in my dream comes with the same sadness, the same “am I doing the right thing?” feeling that I had when I ran away the first time.

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16. When I get a writing job in Vermont, I am anxious to go. I will be far away from the reminders that Portland holds. The job is only for a year—a year without negotiating my way through Southeast to avoid the spots with the bad memories. But I also realize that, in so many ways, I won Portland. My life here is rich with friends and love. I promise all the people I love here that I will come back.

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17. I write the names of Picasso’s mistresses on the wall of my new writing studio in Vermont. Francoise Gilot, one of the many mistresses of Pablo Picasso, observed in her autobiography that Picasso told her he loved it when his women would fight over him. She said he liked to leave his women just a little bit alive, unable to function without him in their lives, even if he were nothing more than an antagonist and a dark cloud. Françoise Gilot was the only one who left him, the only one who thrived, the only one to see him for what he was and name it as such, despite the fact that he was the most powerful artist in the world at the time. At age 95, she is still alive, still painting, still yelling at interviewers to ask her about something other than him.

Be like Françoise, I remind myself.

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18. I never finish watching Jessica Jones.

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Header image courtesy of Ángela Burón. To view her Photographer Feature, go here.

Mo Daviau Essay Nailed MagazineMo Daviau is the author of the novel, Every Anxious Wave, which is nominated for a 2017 Oregon Book Award. A Portlander since 2014, she is temporarily exiled to a remote village in New England with an unstable group of writers and artists, where she is becoming well-acquainted with gas station coffee and different models of wood stoves.

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In This Body: Exclusion https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/in-this-body-exclusion/ Tue, 07 Feb 2017 10:00:36 +0000 http://www.nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=15886   Our monthly column “In This Body” is comprised of true stories about sex, gender, the body, and love, written by Fiona George, for NAILED. + + + I was standing outside in a long, slow line. The downtown venue was new and apparently hadn’t figured out how to deal with a crowd yet. I was alone. […]

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Our monthly column “In This Body” is comprised of true stories about sex, gender, the body, and love, written by Fiona George, for NAILED.

+ + +

I was standing outside in a long, slow line. The downtown venue was new and apparently hadn’t figured out how to deal with a crowd yet. I was alone. I didn’t bother to put on makeup or wash my hair, but I was wearing heels and a cashmere sweater. I hadn’t had anything to eat that day and it was almost nine at night.

I’d spent the largest part of my adolescence in a Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow cast, and the show I was going to was a burlesque tribute to the movie. People in front and behind me in line were all dressed up, in drag or costumes from the movie. Their excitement was annoying. This movie was still special to them. It didn’t have five years of memories and an unhappy ending attached to it.

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A day or two beforehand, a friend who I used to perform with went to one of the showings and posted a long and rose-tinted love letter to the time in his life spent in the local shadow cast. He even mentioned my ex, the unhappy ending to my Rocky days. He talked about the warm feeling of returning, about how the community took him in and how the past would always be there if he needed.

As much as I understood the feeling, it annoyed the living fuck out of me. No, I couldn’t hate him for having a less-shitty experience than I did, or for being able to have that kind of homecoming to the theater we’d performed in. And I couldn’t hate the audience I was waiting in line with for the kind of excitement Rocky Horror gave them.

But I fucking hated all of them.

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My boyfriend was going to be performing as Brad. It’s why I dragged myself through a quadrant and a half of Portland to go to the show by myself instead of finding something to eat and taking a warm shower.

There was nostalgia in it, too. A kind I couldn’t find in what used to be my home theater. There have been a few times that I’ve gone to see my old cast perform since I left, since I cut my ex out from my life and Rocky Horror with him. Those times have pretty much been my personal hell. What I wanted was to come back and remember where I used to belong, to do the Time Warp and yell at the screen and inhabit who I used to be.

What I did was clutch to comfort objects—books or rocks or the people I came with. I got too drunk and made a big spectacle of existing just to prove that I could. That he couldn’t stop me from being there, if I wanted to.

But I didn’t want to. It picked my heart rate up, made my hands shake. It took days after going to start to feel unarmored, safe, comfortable.

The burlesque show was a way for me to feel that Rocky nostalgia without all the baggage, and I got to see my boyfriend running around onstage in tighty-whities and yell asshole at him every time he had a line of dialogue.

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Some things in our life, we repeat over and over and over. When I was a kid, me and my sister and our cousin were close every summer until it was just my sister and our cousin who were close.

I became the verbal punching bag. Too overly excitable to be fun and cool. Too overeager to be liked, to stand up for myself. I think the last time I even wanted to be a part of that trio, our cousin came to visit us during the winter, or fall. I don’t remember the season exactly, but they came to see me play a soccer game in the rain. After the game, I got hit with a hell of a sore throat and got sicker and sicker.

I remember moving slowly when we went to the mall, and them making a point to leave me behind. Getting stuck in the back of the rental van because they called the front seats and they played that game where they acted like I didn’t exist and they couldn’t hear me when I talked.

It was one of the worst weekends of my life. The heavy sick in my throat, mounting fever, the isolation of trying trying so hard to be a part of their group.

They were the first friends to pull that shit on me, but that game followed me all through grade school and middle school, and I dropped out of high school before it followed me there. After dropping out, I found Rocky Horror.

+

“Dammit Janet.” “The Time Warp.” “Sweet Transvestite.” “Hot Patootie.” “Toucha-Toucha-Touch Me.” These songs, the performance of them, the glitter and fishnets of it all, had a big toothy smile stretched across my face.

My body had this muscle-memory instinct to start Time-Warping soon as the song started. I could feel a good kind of adrenaline like it was me about to get on stage. I felt all warm and fuzzy when my boyfriend came to say hi to me in his underwear during the intermission.

+

There’s a way that the silent treatment game followed me into Rocky. My ex was—still is—a beloved person in that community. After our breakup, things got really ugly, I began to call shit out when I started to see him for what he was. The mistreatment, manipulation, even words I have a hard time using like emotional abuse and rape. It was like I was saying nothing at all.

Like the words I was saying didn’t even exist.

When I decided I needed to cut off all contact with my ex—not try to be friends, not act civil in social situations—I cut myself totally out of that crowd, I quit the cast. Like when I stopped trying to squeeze into the friendship between my sister and my cousin. I got tired again, of my voice being ignored.

+

The wounds from the way my sister and my cousin treated me have followed me this far. They’ve led me into friendships with girls and women who’ve treated me just the same, they led me into a relationship with a man I always had to win approval from, they have caused me to walk away from friendships and social groups before they have the chance to abandon me.

My sister had been working hard to set boundaries with me about going out drinking together, since we had a lot of the same friends. There were some nights when she just didn’t want me there. It’s understandable, but it hurt.

It came to a head one night when me, and her, and a mutual friend of ours worked the same night. After I’d gotten off two hours earlier and had a few drinks, we all piled into my sister’s car to head home.

It hit me like drunk after a few fast shots, when I realized they were dropping me off before the two of them headed to the bar. Already on the light side of drunk, I couldn’t help crying. This is just like when we were kids.

I couldn’t handle being left behind again.

+

After the burlesque show, in the damp of a Portland parking lot. My boyfriend is dropping his costume off in his car. Some of the other performers invited him, and sort of me by extention, out for drinks after. But, he has to invite me too. It’s something I assumed, that he’d want me there.

And just like my sister sometimes needed space, our lives too intertwined in work and friend groups, his reasons also make sense. That it gives him anxiety to bring someone who doesn’t know a group, a group he barely even knows, to hang out with that group.

But it didn’t stop me from crying, again. From yelling. Not yelling-angry, but yelling-sad, yelling because I didn’t feel heard.

When you expect to be excluded, reasonable boundaries feel like exclusion. When you’ve come to learn that relationships are just waiting to be excluded, or alienating yourself before you are, any moment can become that moment.

What happened was he drove me home, dropped me off. I couldn’t keep myself from crying: the complete inability to control or express what I was feeling then. The way it felt like all the hurt feelings I’d harbored towards my sister, towards old friends, were built up beneath my rib cage.

The car was quiet enough my breath was the loudest thing, I tried to make it slow and steady.

+ + +

Header image courtesy of Monty Kaplan.

To view the previous installment of In This Body, “Sexless Identity,” go here.

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In This Body: Sexless Identity https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/in-this-body-sexless-identity/ Tue, 10 Jan 2017 10:00:42 +0000 http://www.nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=15683   Our monthly column “In This Body” is comprised of true stories about sex, gender, the body, and love, written by Fiona George, for NAILED.  + + + My adult identity was forged in sexuality. Coming out as a lesbian in high school was what set me apart, it was my thing. I put an image on […]

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Our monthly column “In This Body” is comprised of true stories about sex, gender, the body, and love, written by Fiona George, for NAILED

+ + +

My adult identity was forged in sexuality. Coming out as a lesbian in high school was what set me apart, it was my thing. I put an image on myself of someone who you would assume is a lesbian. Shaved head, denim jacket cut into a vest—frayed arm holes, an eight gauge bull ring in my nose, heavy black boots. I used the sexuality as a shield—the way I made myself look tougher than I was, how it dispelled attention from the boys around me.

Before I was a lesbian, I came out as bi. After I came out as a lesbian, I came out as bi again. After that I settled on the word queer. Queer as in not straight, as in every gender is beautiful to me. I chose queer instead of pansexual because I like words that are simpler phonetically, less syllables, because the qu sound made it sound, I don’t know, but there’s something special in the sounds you don’t hear so often. I chose queer for it’s ambiguity.

Mostly, I chose queer because I like words that I can take back.

Somewhere in the middle of it all I found out I was sexy; the way my sexuality interacted with those around me. What I wanted to do was take back the word slut, even after I’d had barely one or two sexual partners.

There was a fire in my panties and I was ready to claim it as sluthood.

+

Years later, in a non-monogamous relationship, I didn’t have sex with anyone besides my boyfriend without taking MDMA. It wasn’t a conscious choice, the times when I took molly were the times I felt comfortable in casual sex situations.

Even then, it was sex with people I had known for a long time, it was good friends, or one new person and one familiar partner. It’s not the casual hook-ups I expected of sluthood.

+

It took years to begin to see my sexuality for what it was, and will take years to see it in a way that is complete—that doesn’t bend it’s definition to the story others tell about it, the story I’ve told myself.

It was years of masturbating more than once a day, complaining about not getting laid, and not getting laid even when I had the option.

It was years of settling in to with one sexual partner at a time and saying that I wanted more, believing that I did, but feeling uncomfortable at every chance for a casual hookup.

Years of dancing sexy and stripping when I was drunk, reveling in the performance of sexuality, and feeling like it was a lie because all I really wanted was to go home with someone I loved—or my own two fingers and a butt plug.

Years of believing that something was broken with me because the way I felt sex in my body when I was alone didn’t translate to how I felt sex with other bodies. Blaming fear or social programming. Trying to feel that heat in my pants for someone new I found beautiful, but only finding that fire when I was by myself, or in bed with someone I loved.

It was a year of trying to be the definition of slut I’d had in my head.

To connect myself to the picture of free, reclaimed, empowered sexuality I had in my head.

That is, it was a year of sleeping around. Usually when I was fucked up enough to ignore the feelings in my gut, almost all with guys because I felt better walking away from them. And each and every time, an attempt to get over what felt like a sexual block.

It was entering into non-monogamy but staying almost completely sexually monogamous.

+

It used to make me feel like a failure as a slut—that I didn’t sleep around that much and when I did it sent me into an anxiety spiral. I sometimes felt like a failure at non-monogamy.

Over the first two years of the relationship, I still hadn’t slept with anyone but my partner without being on molly.

Almost a year in I met a woman who I got close with in a second. The first time we met we both got wasted and were already talking about sleeping together. Over a year, we grew to love each other—almost platonically—but still hadn’t even kissed.

It became a romantic friendship. The opposite of what I am supposed to want—romance without sex instead of sex without romance.

Maybe, non-monogamy just meant something different to me.

+

When the relationship first started, it was all about sex. I had that new-partner sort of libido. Wet the second we were in the same room. I’d known him for almost five years but the attraction was almost new, came out of nowhere.

It was important to me to be an object of sexual desire for him, it was important to me that my sexuality was at the forefront. I made a story of how our relationship grew and became a success out of sex.

When we stopped having sex so often, I wasn’t horny for it, but I needed it out of fear. Oh-god-why-am-I-not-ragingly-horny, oh-fuck-what-if-he-doesn’t-want-me-anymore, shit-the-relationship-is-dying-already.

I was afraid that he would have another partner with a better body or a higher libido and the fact that we were in love wouldn’t matter.

It wasn’t till recently that I made an effort to stop initiating unless I wanted sex. To just fall asleep on his shoulder towards the end of a movie instead of staying up just to see if he wanted to have sex that night. To wait until I was horny, I wasn’t too tired, I didn’t need it out of fear.

+

One night, in the dark before bed, we were moving towards sex. Arms and legs weaved together, heavy breaths into each others’ mouths between kisses. His hands in my panties, and mine moving into his boxers.

He stopped, pulled his mouth from mine—his lips an inch away in the dark. His hand that wasn’t in my panties pulled my hand out of his boxers.

I don’t really want to get off tonight, I just want to touch you.

I wanted to enjoy that, touch from someone I love, that I’d waited for till I truly wanted. But all of my horny moved up to a slow sick turn in my stomach, I tried to focus my mind on the sensations. On love, on sex. But I wanted to cry.

My hand reached down to his, my hand on his wrist. Love is all I could say. Both his arms wrapped around my back and my head leaned into his chest. Silence.

What’s wrong, love?

I had been ready to have sex, for the right reasons. But there was—is—still a ticking clock in my head that counts the days since we’ve last slept together, makes arbitrary calculations about what that means for the relationship—whether or not it is in trouble.

If you had a more fulfilling sex life outside of our relationship, would you still want to be with me?

The real question: if we didn’t have sex, would you still love me?

+

There’s a woman who comes into the cafe where I work sometimes. She’s got short curly hair and tiny facial features like an elf, she likes a lot of whipped cream on her drink and always smiles and looks people in the eyes when she orders.

Every time I see her come in I get a little stomach fluttery, a little blush-facey. It’s a feeling I’ve felt a million times: the want to make a connection, get a number, make a date.

But when the thought pops into my head, all that flutter blush turns to gut twisting no. Because I’ve been through it enough times: I’ll end up in bed, or almost in bed with a person and feel un-turned-on and uncomfortable about it, never call them again. Or I’ll make it platonic by not wanting to have sex, they’ll question whether we were ever dating or just hanging out as friends.

The difference between being physically attracted to a person isn’t the same thing as being sexually attracted to them. The expectations of what it means to date.

+

Sexuality has always defined who I am as an adult. I’m queer. I’ve got a fire in my panties. I love to make a performance of sexuality; stripping into sexy lingerie or getting spanked in front of a room full of people. And I love to have sex sometimes with the people who I love.

Can sexuality still be a central part of my identity, when sex isn’t a central part of my sexuality?

+

My head to his chest, where I could hear his heart beat slow and even. The freshly shaved chest hair not-quite-smooth, not-quite-prickly. His breath in my hair.

Of course I’ll still be with you. I’m hopelessly in love with you.

I felt the warm of tears in the corners of my eyes, down my cheeks, stretched round into a smile. Relief.

The separation of love and sex; one did not have to be dependent on the other.

In my head, the clock that ticked between the times we’d had sex stopped.

I rolled over to curl my body into his, our feet and ankles wrapping around each other, his arms around my chest, held together over my heart.

+ + +

To read the previous installment of In This Body: “Keys in my Fist,” go here.

Header image courtesy of Theo Gosselin. To view his photo essay, “Vagabonds,” go here.

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In This Body: Keys in My Fist https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/in-this-body-keys-in-my-fist/ Tue, 13 Dec 2016 10:00:00 +0000 http://www.nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=15388   Our monthly column “In This Body” is comprised of true stories about sex, gender, the body, and love, written by Fiona George, for NAILED.  + + + A girl cuts across the street diagonal from the crosswalk, just after midnight. She cuts it diagonal to get to the 7-11 without passing the two men waiting at […]

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Our monthly column “In This Body” is comprised of true stories about sex, gender, the body, and love, written by Fiona George, for NAILED

+ + +

A girl cuts across the street diagonal from the crosswalk, just after midnight. She cuts it diagonal to get to the 7-11 without passing the two men waiting at the bus stop on the corner. Between her knuckles are keys, and she knows they’re no good but comfort. You can see the skin around them white from grip. In the 24-hour light of the double doors, she releases the keys from her fingers—the jingle. She clips them to her hip with a carabiner, weapon sheathed. She wants people to hear the sound, unmistakable, of keys let loose from a fist. She wants people to see it—not just her but every girl—dropping their makeshift weapons at their destinations.

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Self-defense and caution never came easy to me. I’d walk home alone drunk at night with headphones full blast. I’d do it without reverence for the dark corners behind bushes that I passed, without fear of each car that rushed by me. I was more afraid to be home alone at night than I was to walk home alone in the dark.

I’d decided to walk to the 7-11 around 11:30pm, so that I could get an energy drink to have first thing in the morning before a job interview. At 11:40pm, I started to panic. I hadn’t left the house yet. I was alone there, and it wasn’t my home. It was the home of a friend whose dog I was sitting, but the dog was at doggy camp for the weekend and I was there, alone at night.

After I’d run up the stairs to get my cigarettes that I forgot, then gone downstairs to leave, then went upstairs to get my wallet that I forgot, then gone downstairs to leave, then gone upstairs to get my keys that I forgot, and went downstairs to leave, I realized that I still needed to put on shoes that I’d left upstairs. That’s when I turned on the light at the top of the stairs for the fourth time, and the fourth time the coat rack at the top of the stairs looked looming, lanky, ghosted.

And that’s when I had to leave because the house was out to get me, and there were sounds through the walls.

+

My big black headphones around my ears, keys jingled at my hip, the dark night in the corners of the streetlights glow. For two blocks I was unafraid. I let T. Rex blast 70s glam rock into my ears with no regard for the sounds around me, in the bushes.

Until that lull between songs. And the sounds in the hedges on either side of me were just the wind, but they were real. And the metallic scream of my keys filled the empty street, showed everyone where I was and that I didn’t even bother with the basic precaution, my keys in my fist.

The road was empty, even though it was a busy street any other time of the day. I stepped into the street, walking the dotted line between lanes. In the full glow from streetlight, to streetlight, far enough away from hedges and shadows to feel safe.

The keys clipped to the belt loop on my romper—my spaghetti strapped, short shorted romper—my skimpy romper—in the summer night heat—I pulled the keys clipped there from the belt-loop and put them through my fingers one by one.

With my other hand, free of keys, I pulled my headphones down around my neck and let the music play in the empty space around me, underneath all the noises of the night.

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When I’d get back, I’d sit on the front stoop for ten minutes waiting for a text back. The text I’d sent: I’m having a panic attack, can I call you and stay on the phone with you until I get in bed.

I’d left my lighter inside so I couldn’t smoke, sitting there on the concrete front step.

The outside was open, with plenty of space to run, and the noises always came from somewhere distinct. Inside, I would be trapped. The noises were nothing, were the house settling. Could be ghosts. People are people, and they are real, and solid, and though they do worse to each other than any horror-story ghost might do, I knew what to expect, and how to protect myself.

I couldn’t do that against my own fears of what did not exist.

+

When I get to the intersection where the 7-11 is across from me, there are two men waiting for the bus in front of the store’s parking lot. Any crosswalk I could walk through legally, would put me on the same corner as that bus stop. I crossed illegally, in a diagonal line from the corner across from the bus stop, so that I ended up on the other side of the street half a block from the bus stop, in the entrance to the parking lot.

Right up till I get to the doors, my keys gripped so tight between my fingers that the skin around them turns white.

Once I get to the double doors, lit bright from the inside, I let my keys loose. They made music; angry, frightened, music. And I hooked them to my hip, where someone might hold a sword.

+ + +

To read the previous installment of In This Body: “In the Wake,” go here.

Header image courtesy of Suzanne Brown. To view her photo essay, “Folds,” go here.

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In This Body: In The Wake https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/in-this-body-in-the-wake-fiona-george/ Tue, 15 Nov 2016 21:58:57 +0000 http://www.nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=15458   Our monthly column “In This Body” is comprised of true stories about sex, gender, the body, and love, written by Fiona George, for NAILED.  + + + Three days after the election, I was dropped off in my city’s airport five hours before my flight took off. It was the only time I could get a […]

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Our monthly column “In This Body” is comprised of true stories about sex, gender, the body, and love, written by Fiona George, for NAILED

+ + +

Three days after the election, I was dropped off in my city’s airport five hours before my flight took off. It was the only time I could get a ride, and public transit was unreliable through downtown—through the protests, who knows how late they would go. I would have rather been protesting than flying to Hawaii for my cousins wedding, rather than rip myself over the ocean, away from where my heart was.

Three hours before I was at the airport, I was at a bar with some friends after our writers group. Three shots of whiskey, and half a beer in, shoving a vegan hotdog in my face. My throat was sore and I couldn’t stop laugh-coughing. Despite. Saying shits terrible, I dont like being forced to have a good time, laugh-cough. A moment of joy over the 2008 hit song that played. A moment of community.

The night before that I was recovering from a cold, throat raw with cough, exhausted from trying to pack and shop for the trip in time to head downtown to take to the streets and scream my raw throat rawer with two thousand other protesters.

The night before that was Tuesday the 8th. I sent a text to my boyfriend at 7:30, when it was still early but the map was too red. This election is literally making me want to die. He said, dont worry, he said Republicans always get the early states. He said she still had it. I stopped worrying and suggested we break out the good scotch when I got off work and the results were in, when Hillary had won.

+

I was terrified to fly, even though I was flying from one blue state to another blue state with a layover in a blue state. I was about to be exposed to more of America than I wanted to see, than I knew what to expect from.

I had a plan: an energy drink followed by cup after cup of coffee. My boyfriend drove me to the airport, I told him if Im seated next to a man, Im not going to sleep. The president-elect’s voice in my head, “grab them by the pussy.”

He said, then try to sleep at the airport, while I gulped down the last of my energy drink.

+

On both my flights, I was seated next to women. I leaned my seat back into shallow sleep. And when I landed in Maui, I drank another energy drink and willed myself against jet lag to stay awake until night.

Me and my mom and my sister checked our phones and our Facebooks obsessively. We could not stop talking about the election. When I went to go to bed, I looked at my news feed one more time.

A friend of mine had posted a live video an hour before, from the protest in Portland, the camera shook and the video ended abruptly. After texting him to see if he was safe, I went out to smoke. After my cigarette, I hadn’t heard back. I posted ARE YOU SAFE? to his wall. Maybe someone else would see it and know, but the only person to comment was his boyfriend, who said he couldn’t get ahold of him—that his phone was dead.

What I couldn’t do, no matter how much jet lag dragged at my eyelids, was sleep. The way my heart beat fast the moment my eyes closed, how tears pushed past my lashes when I tried to sleep. What I did do, was stay awake until he checked in safe. I smoked a chain and cracked open a beer and I began to write.

By the time I heard back from him, it was midnight Hawaii time, two in the morning Portland time. Aside from the few fitful hours on the plane, I hadn’t slept for forty-two hours. I hadn’t really slept since before I marched seven miles in protest, since I had sobbed my soul out in despair at the airport.

+

I had five hours at the airport before my flight. I spent it mostly still in anxiety, with bursts of movement when the velocity inside me got too much. An hour in—too shaken to write, too ill-focused to read, too caffeinated and frightened to sleep—I turned to music.

Turned to the latest loss: Leonard Cohen. Songs that were all too relevant, lyrics that I had seen posted in the days following the election—the same days leading up to his death.

Tears rolled from my cheeks, off my chin to my sweater. My nose began to plug with snot. I wasn’t even one verse into “Anthem”—dont dwell on what has passed away, or what is yet to beand I could already taste the thick salt of snot on my upper lip.

I put on my sunglasses, trying to cover my eyes. I hunched over my knees, I put my head in my hands and let my shoulders shake. Hoped that I wouldn’t attract any comfort, any well-meaning bystanders—the airport employees, the couple sleeping on their duffle bags a few yards away.

In the silence and emptiness of it, I wanted to be alone in my grief. For just one night, I wanted to bear it alone, to retreat inside of myself and hurt.

After twenty minutes, when my snot had run a river into my hair and onto my sweater—I snapped out. Wiped my face and hair with a panty liner, I got a cup of coffee and wrote a poem on my phone while I smoked cigarette after cigarette.

My nose was raw red and my heart was sore with the wake of the election, and around me the airport was quiet and empty.

+

The second night in Hawaii, the night before the wedding, I was bags under eyes and ready to sleep at ten at night Hawaii time, midnight Portland time. I turned on the AC, got under the comfort of covers, pulled up Netflix and queued up Futurama to fall asleep to, I plugged my phone in and turned out the light.

Soon as I settled in, before I could even press play on Netflix, my phone buzzed two rapid-fire texts. I thought, it was about time my boyfriend texted me back.

It wasn’t my boyfriend, but it was. Our friend, he texted me to say that he and my boyfriend got separated at the protest. My boyfriend had been arrested, and did I know his mom’s number?

+

I feel insanely lucky and grateful for the way I pass for straight. I feel insanely angry and guilty for the way I pass for straight. All of my female partners or potential partners identify as pansexual or bi, all of them have at least one serious partner who is male. Even if hate crimes sky rocket even more, even if it becomes criminal to not be straight, we can keep seeing each other and have the plausible deniability of boyfriends.

Except those of us who write it, or put it into our art.

+

When I heard my boyfriend was in jail, I turned again to Leonard. “Take This Longing,” I was longing to be with him, to hear from him. Longing to be home in Portland, where I wouldn’t feel so useless when all my friends were out putting themselves in danger. Whatever useless things these hands have done.

I have been useless. I have been lazy. I have been naive. Only now has it begun to hurt. I’ve stayed too silent as Black men and women are shot dead by police, I’ve stayed silent as folks in Flint and at Standing Rock have fought for clean and safe water, I’ve stayed silent as women in other states struggle to keep abortion and birth control available.

I have held a belief that everything will be okay, soon, and without my help. I have been cocooned by liberals my entire life, unable to believe that the ugly of this country was quite as ugly as it seemed. Willed myself to believe that the racism in my liberal town was better—or even didn’t exist—because it was quiet and passive rather than loud and violent. Believing that the ugly underbelly of America, was only the underbelly and not the face, and that it would die with Baby Boomers.

I have been useless, and it has taken America electing a racist, sexist, xenophobic man-baby to actually feel useless. For my uselessness to hurt. For it to drive me to action.

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When I woke up on the morning of the wedding, I had a message waiting from my boyfriend. He had been released around seven in the morning Portland time, five in the morning Hawaii time. He wasn’t there to protest—he was there with his camera, supportive of the march but documenting. Maybe documenting things the cops didn’t want seen, maybe just a little too close to the riot squad.

For the first time on the trip, I stopped looking at my phone for news of protests and news in the wake of the election. Everyone I knew and loved was accounted for and safe.

The fear of what was to come, the tension and anger was not in the air on Maui. Maybe it was all concentrated in big cities. Maybe Hawaii was a blue state like Oregon was: the population of one big blue city tipped what would have been a red state. Maybe we were mostly surrounded by tourists, too well-to-do to care or just trying to escape it. Or, maybe in a state that was made a part of America by force, it doesn’t matter so much who’s running the country, maybe they’re all just as bad.

In any case, on the edge of the ocean, I felt the calm before the storm.

The kind of calm that leaves you uneasy, too quiet.

Even that fell away during the wedding. I got drunk off good scotch and whiskey from the open bar. I ate so much delicious food I bloated till I fell asleep. And the ceremony, was beautiful.

I hadn’t seen my cousin or any of my family from Hawaii since I was about twelve years old. I knew very little of her life or relationship. But, I could feel the love they had. Weddings seemed like something that might be easy to let fall by the wayside in the next four years.

But this kind of break, to get drunk and to get happy, and celebrate the small joy of love we have for each other.

I thought of the wedding of one of my best friends, scheduled for next September, wondered what kind of circumstances will surround it.

And I thought how days like this—weddings or birthdays or graduation parties or book launches or births—will matter so much. Will let us come up for air, will remind us of the normality of life we are fighting to get back to, remind us of love.

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To read the previous installment of In This Body: “Fabric of Femme,” go here.

Header image courtesy of Mirage. To view their photography feature, go here.

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Male Birth Control and Why I’m Pissed https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/male-birth-control-and-why-im-pissed/ Fri, 04 Nov 2016 16:19:13 +0000 http://www.nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=15443   We’re talking about it all wrong. + The facts: a study on injectable male birth control was cut short due to side effects. The study was cut short by a third-party review team based on the results of the study, not on complaints of the participants. They collected the necessary information to move forward […]

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We’re talking about it all wrong.

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The facts: a study on injectable male birth control was cut short due to side effects. The study was cut short by a third-party review team based on the results of the study, not on complaints of the participants. They collected the necessary information to move forward with the birth control before the study was cancelled. Women are pissed. Almost every woman I know is pissed. I am pissed.

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When birth control for women was developed, the possibility of male birth control was brushed to the side to preserve the better quality of life men were afforded.

When birth control for women was developed, there were not enough women willing to participate in trials, so they took it to Puerto Rico where laws were lenient, and they forced it on female inmates in America who couldn’t say no. There were not enough women willing to participate until they told the women what the medication was for. Then, it was worth it for them.

It has never been worth it for men.

When birth control for women was developed, there was a lower standard for ethics in medical studies and there was a lower standard of ethical treatment of women; especially not-white women.

When the study on male birth control was halted, it was because the minor side effects that are also present in female birth control were affecting huge percentages of participants. This was a sign that the product was not ready for market. The study was halted when a man killed himself.

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Where the fuck were you, with your medical ethics, when women were dying for reproductive freedom? Where the fuck were you when it was us with alarmingly high percentages of side effects? Where the fuck were you when we needed you?

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The men in this study were not wimps. It is as harmful to gender equality to call a man a wimp as it would be to call me an angry feminist for the outburst above. And believe me, I am crying as I type it, I am internally yelling myself hoarse on the page.

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Where were you?

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Only now, are we seeing the first in-depth study of correlation between hormonal birth control and depression in women. Eighty percent of teens prescribed birth control. Eighty percent.

There are still side effects we don’t even see until they are extreme, until a woman wants to kill herself. There are still ghosts of those initial trials haunting the birth control women take every day, side effects so common place we think they’re a part of us.

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Where are you?

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The fact is that control over reproductive freedom will never be as worth it for men as it has been for women. Because, in the beginning, men decided that it was not worth it for men when women could bear the burden.

If I was in the small percentage of women who suffered suicidal ideation from my birth control, I’d say bring it on. I’ve dealt with that and I will take more, I will wrestle with the suicide monster indefinitely if it means I get to choose when I have a baby, if I have a baby. Rather than wrestle with the financial reality of having a child on a barista’s wage. Rather than wrestle with all of the emotional and social demons that come with an abortion.

Men, do you feel that way?

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No, the men in that study were not wimps. Most, wanted to deal with the acne and mood swings and aches and pains. They were not wimps. They were just treated fairly by the medical community when women had not been.

And that’s enough reason to be fucking pissed.

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Header image courtesy of Alison Antario. Visit her online, here.

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