Kirsten Larson – Nailed Magazine https://nailedmagazine.com Sat, 20 Oct 2018 17:47:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Yahtzee and Suicide by Zach Ellis https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/yahtzee-suicide-zach-ellis/ Tue, 04 Oct 2016 09:00:03 +0000 http://www.nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=15251   The first time my mother tried to leave us was the Summer I learned how to play Yahtzee and spell suicide. My father took us to visit her at the Psychiatric Institute, a building as bland as it’s name. My mother was napping. That’s what my father said. She was tired and had taken […]

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The first time my mother tried to leave us was the Summer I learned how to play Yahtzee and spell suicide. My father took us to visit her at the Psychiatric Institute, a building as bland as it’s name. My mother was napping. That’s what my father said. She was tired and had taken too much medicine to help her try and nap. I hated napping and couldn’t understand why anyone would actually want to. She’d be home when she was a little more awake. My sister told me this was all bullshit because she’d heard the nurse talking to our dad and using the words “suicide” and “kill” in the same breath. “She never said anything about naps.” My sister did her best to protect me from any hint of fiction. I already knew Santa and the Easter Bunny were figments of other people’s imaginations. I’d never heard the word suicide before. To me it sounded like the name of a bad queen in a Disney cartoon or a sharp object that should be locked away from children.

We were told to wait in the Rec Room.

My mother entered the room looking very un-napped. Her long brown hair was a ratted mess. She wore a beige gown with the letters “P.I.” stencilled in black on the sleeve and yellow slippers that sported smiley faces on the toes. When I went to hug her, she didn’t hug back. Her arms hung loosely at her sides. My sister pulled me to her and held my hand tightly. We all sat around a card table that had an abandoned jigsaw puzzle atop it. It looked like a beach scene. As my mother fingered the loose puzzle pieces, my father scolded her for making him a temporary single parent. Because he didn’t know our routines. Because he didn’t know how to talk to kids. He promised that his mother would be coming to help out. My mother looked through us while she continued to finger the puzzle pieces.

A tall woman with an enormous Afro sat down at the table next to us and plunked a Yahtzee game down, much to the annoyance of my father. He stood up and grabbed my mother’s arm to pull her aside. My mother didn’t put up a fight, but went with him. A limp sleepwalker.

While my sister had focused her attention on the jigsaw puzzle, I focused on the woman next to us. I noticed she had on the same beige gown and yellow socks as my mother. The stenciled letters on her gown were faded. I stared at her slippers to see if hers also had the smiley faces on the toes. She caught me looking and introduced herself as Debbie and asked if I’d ever played Yahtzee before. I hadn’t. She tapped the chair next to her and I changed seats. The dice shaking in the small plastic cup jarred me. She taught me the difference between a Yahtzee and Full House. Small straight and large straight. I said I thought Full House was my favorite roll because I liked the way it sounded and it seemed harder than any of the other rolls. She told me to keep practicing and I’d get a Yahtzee one of these days. When I asked her why everyone was wearing the same slippers, she said, “Because the doctors want us to see that there’s always something to smile about. Even in a place like this.” My sister chimed in and said, “What’s there to smile about?”

The next week, my grandmother came to stay with us. She spoke very little English and could not answer my persistent questions about when my mother would be done napping and what exactly suicide was, but instead filled the house with her Lebanese cooking and swallowed my little body into her full arms every night. Rocking me back and forth while stroking my hair, calling me her little olive tree in Lebanese.

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The Summer I was nine, my mother tried to leave us again. We were moving across the country, my mom, my sister and I. She told us she had to get as far away from my father as possible. He didn’t understand her, she said. My sister told me this was all bullshit and that the real reason we were driving across the country to Oregon was because my father was sick of my mother’s drinking.

“That’s why she got locked up, you know.”

“She wasn’t locked up. She was napping. And besides, she’s doing AA now. She doesn’t drink anymore.”

My sister rolled her eleven-year-old eyes at me and reminded me of what a baby I was. “You’ll understand when you’re older.”

When we finally arrived in Oregon, ten days later, the moving truck was not there to meet us. The house my mother had her heart set on fell through. She muttered words under her breath as we drove to her sister’s house. She warned us to stay away from her brother-in-law Ted because he smoked and had a tendency to put his cigarettes out on people when he was in a mood. We didn’t have to call him Uncle if we didn’t want to, she said.

We stayed in the basement of our Aunt’s house, a dark place with one finished room. The two twin beds separated by a small cedar chest full of Barbie clothes my Aunt had carefully made for her daughters. My mother ventured out during the day to find a job, while we stayed in the basement playing with Barbies and being fascinated with the radio stations that stayed on all night.

My cousin’s bedrooms had no doorknobs. “Ted told us that girls don’t need locks on the doors,” the youngest said, “He’s fixing these.”

We stayed for two weeks before our mother told us it was time to go. That she’d found us a better place to stay. Our aunt slipped my sister a bag of Barbie clothes.

We journeyed thirty minutes to Lake Oswego, a town my mother said we’d always be too poor to live in. An AA family had temporarily adopted us. We never asked why we had to leave our Aunt’s house or how long we’d be staying with this new family. We’d learned not to ask too many questions.

The Rey family lived in a huge home. Each of the five children had their own bedroom. My sister and I shared a space in the basement. It wasn’t as dark as our Aunt’s house, but just as foreign. My mother continued to look for a job and house and go to AA meetings. We were an afterthought most days. The Rey sons learned to terrorize my sister with their bodies, voices and mental prowess. They called it wrestling. She started to have the same sleepwalker gaze my mother had.

My mother left us again.

The youngest of the Rey sons woke my sister up with a poke to the side of the head. “Your mom’s gone. My dad says she took our best kitchen knife too. He’s pretty pissed about that. You’re going to have to buy us a new one, you know.”

There was no note. No goodbye. She left us again and we didn’t see her for two weeks. Mr. and Mrs. Rey assured us that everything would be alright and quoted various pages of the Alcoholics Anonymous book about letting go and trusting God.

My mother had driven out to a logging road near the Oregon Coast. Took that knife and butchered her arms, front and back. While she bled, she got out of the car and put her lips to the exhaust pipe. Insurance, in case the first attempt failed.

She survived.

My aunt and Ted came to get us and soon we were back in the house with no doorknobs.

She was locked up again. Another hospital, but this time I knew better. I knew it wasn’t a lack of naps to blame. My father didn’t come to take care of us or send his mother. We never asked where he was and no one asked what we needed. I learned that there was no place like home. My sister and I would sit silently and sort the Barbie doll clothes: day dresses, school outfits, and fancy dresses. She never told me that she was as sad as I was. We learned the language of silence together. I learned how to live not in the moment, but in the next moment. Always preparing for evacuation and escape.

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My mother was taken to numerous AA meetings, spoke mostly of God and declared her life valuable. She told us there must have been a reason she didn’t die on that logging road. She told us life was good, that if we just trusted God we would be okay. I couldn’t tell her how much I hated God for keeping her alive. I couldn’t tell her that every time she walked out the door, I wasn’t sure if she would come back. I couldn’t tell her that I wished she’d succeeded. I couldn’t tell her how much I envied children whose parents had successfully suicided. How lucky they seemed to be to have a sense of finality.

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You’ve never left me.

I know you’re coming home, but I just can’t be sure. What if you drive off a cliff? What if you choke on your Diet Dr. Pepper at the traffic light? Suppose you get carjacked in downtown Sellwood, although I have my doubts about anyone ever being carjacked in Sellwood. You might be only five minutes late, but five minutes is enough time for me to imagine your untimely death, how I will deliver the awful news to your family, how I will plan your funeral and what I will say in the eloquent obituary I will write.

You think I worry too much. I don’t want you to be dead. Not at all. How can I explain that I don’t really believe that my heart, my head, and this pain will ever agree? How can I tell you that no matter how many times I chant mantras that my therapists and I have come up with, that sometimes the words don’t reach far enough? How can I show you scars that are invisible?

Sometimes the gap between past and present is not as wide as I’d like. I know that I matter to you. I know that if you say you are sad or depressed that it’s not 40 years ago and you are not her. I know that I might leave forehead marks on the window sometimes, wondering where you are. But I know you will always text or call me if I can’t find you, because you’ve heard me silently chanting those mantras, because somehow you can see those scars that no one else could. I know that you will always come home to me. Right?

 

 

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Header image courtesy of Matthieu Bourel. To see his artist feature, go here.

zach ellis writer nailed magazineZach Ellis writes creative nonfiction and is the author of the memoir Being, published by Instant Future. He has been published in The Nervous Breakdown, Rad Dad, NAILED, and The Gravity of the Thing. He lives in Portland.

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I Don’t Want to Be Beautiful by Melanie Alldritt https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/dont-want-beautiful-melanie-alldritt/ Thu, 07 Jul 2016 09:00:08 +0000 http://www.nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=14901   I’m scary at work when I tell a coworker, “My name is Melanie. Not Mel. Call me Melanie.” I’m scary because I forgot to look at the floor when I said this and instead looked her in the eye. I also forgot to say, “Please,” and, “Thank you.” I didn’t remember to ask in […]

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I’m scary at work when I tell a coworker, “My name is Melanie. Not Mel. Call me Melanie.”

I’m scary because I forgot to look at the floor when I said this and instead looked her in the eye. I also forgot to say, “Please,” and, “Thank you.” I didn’t remember to ask in a voice just above a whisper and in a higher octave. But most importantly, I assumed I could tell a person to call me by my name instead of politely asking.

And I wasn’t just wrong, I was terrifying.

I’m suspicious when I go shopping. So suspicious that I need to be followed throughout the store by a person who thinks he’s invisible. He’s as obvious to me as the tampons on top of my produce. I can feel my face getting hot. I think about how I cry when I’m furious or scared. In my head I picture my anger to be a piece of paper that I fold in half over and over again until it is so tiny I can barely see it. It only takes a moment. I am an expert at this.

I’m not looking at the paper in my head when my phone rings in my purse. I’m not thinking about the person following me when I dig through my purse to answer it. But I am thinking about that phone call when I’m at the exit and plainclothes security are going through my purse and checking every item on my receipt.

I’m a gang member when I go running at night.

I’m in a gang because at first I jog slowly, but that isn’t enough for my brain to shut off. So then I jog faster, and then I run, and then I see a hill and I sprint up it and my legs are burning but I’m so happy. I keep running and see lights flashing on houses. I focus on the music blaring in my ears and keep running but then I see flashing lights come in front of me and then jump the curb. I stop. I give the cop my ID. I’m prepared for this. I always carry ID when I run. But then I’m in handcuffs and I’m sitting in the back seat of a cop car that smells like disinfectant and piss and I hear my name and “possible gang member.” I wonder why and I look down at my red shirt red pants red shoes. I’m not at all prepared for this.

When nothing comes up I am let go and told, “You’re lucky.”

I think it’s because I’m running in red so I run in black. I don’t want to be seen. I just want to run. It isn’t enough to run in black because the same cop stops me a week later and I ask if I’m going to be arrested. I am in handcuffs again, but this time sitting on the sidewalk. I must be running from a house I broke into. This is what I’m told.

So I run on the trail at night instead of the sidewalk because I want my legs to hurt, not my head and my heart.

When I talk about these things, I’m aggressive. I’m angry. This is what I’m told so I try to be quieter. Angry Black Women are never heard; they are lost in spectacle and stereotype, never to be taken seriously. In my head I make emotion into kindling and burn it away. Over and over again.

When I speak quietly about these things with burnt to dust feelings, I’m making myself a target. I’m missing the big picture. I haven’t been shot, so I am making a big deal out of nothing. I think about what I’m saying and how I can say it differently.

I try it with smaller words in a different order. But now I don’t know that all lives matter. I’m holding back progress by focusing too much on what’s wrong. I’m pulling the race card, playing the victim, not trying hard enough to not be a stereotype. I’m saying too much. I am depressing people. I hate white people. Racism doesn’t exist, but stupid black people do. These are the things I hear.

What I don’t say is that I’m afraid. But it’s difficult to say the exact thing I’m scared of. I know that I’m afraid when I see a cop car and I’m afraid when I hear the word nigger. I’m afraid I’m scary. Because I don’t want to be scary, but I’m not sure how to not be at all times. I don’t want to be aggressive. I know it’s because my feelings come out in my voice and my feelings make my voice intimidating.

I don’t want to be scary so then I’m afraid to speak. I’m quiet for so long, I wonder if I’m crazy. I ask myself if my perception is wrong. I become curious about whether there is a way to act, a voice to use, a way to shop that will make me invisible. I fantasize about becoming invisible at will. In my mind the idea grows that if I did the right things, I wouldn’t be a target at all.

When I’m thinking, I’m silent. When I’m silent, I’m smiling. I’m careful to look friendly when I’m thinking.

When I’m standing, still and silent and wondering, I hear, “You are so beautiful. I wish I had your skin.”

I hear this again and again and it starts to become truth. But I don’t want to be beautiful. I want to speak.

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Header image courtesy of Nathaniel Evans. To view a gallery of his art on NAILED, go here.

Melanie Alldritt writer NAILED Magazine essay Melanie Alldritt is a tree-climbing Portland native who enjoys playing with fire and long walks on the beach. Her work has appeared in Perceptions, Gravity of the Thing, several bar bathroom walls and is forthcoming from Gobshite Quarterly and the Unchaste Anthology.

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Now We Are Ten by Beth Eyler https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/now-we-are-ten-by-beth-eyler/ Wed, 17 Feb 2016 10:00:09 +0000 http://www.nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=14089   Dina leans over and whispers in my ear, “You’re a tardo.” I want to punch her stupid buck tooth face in. I don’t. I already have to spend an hour and a half after school today. Instead I turn and look out the window. It is a grey, wet day. The trees have lost […]

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Dina leans over and whispers in my ear, “You’re a tardo.”

I want to punch her stupid buck tooth face in. I don’t. I already have to spend an hour and a half after school today. Instead I turn and look out the window. It is a grey, wet day. The trees have lost all their leaves and look somehow broken and vulnerable. Beyond the trees is the muddy baseball diamond. I wish I was playing baseball. I will be the first girl on a major league team, I just know it. Dina is such a wimp she wouldn’t last an inning and she wouldn’t dare call me names out there. I’d shove her face in the dirt and make her eat it. Dina starts shooting spitballs at the back of my head while Mrs. Wacker drones on, her back to the room as she writes on the chalkboard. My hands clench into fists my body tenses ready for a fight.

I turn back around and hiss, “Your ass is grass.”

Mrs. Wacker turns to face the class, she wears one of those old lady shirts you know the ones they sell at JC Penny’s that are made of some cheap synthetic material in garish clashing colors with a big tied bow that droops beneath her crape paper neck. Mrs. Wacker looks over her glasses at me, “Beth, why don’t you share with the whole class?” I shake my head no. There is something lodged in my throat I cannot get my voice around it. It is lodged deep, it is painful, it makes me wish I could disappear. I know what is coming and I am powerless to stop it. I try to hide behind my shaggy bangs, my body tries to shrink into the wood of my desk. Mrs. Wacker smiles; she knows what’s coming too. I think this must be the best part of her day.

Without taking her eyes off me she says, “Please get out your Oregon History books and turn to page 104.” I silently pray for her death. I want to rip her ugly mean evil eyeballs out of her face and stomp them into the mud under the tree outside. I want to smash her mother of pearl glasses to tiny bits and shove them down her empty eye sockets.

When we all have our books out and open to the right page she asks who would like to begin reading. Several other kids raise their hands but she continues to stare at me. A girl in front of me is frantically waving her hand in the air she so badly wants to read to the class about Lewis and Clark.

“Beth, please start at the top of the page.” Mrs. Wacker says. The girl in front of me deflates.

I look at the page, I stare at the page, I pray to the page to magically make sense. The black ink on the white page laughs at me, or is that Dina? The blood pumping through my body is so loud it roars in my ears, my vision goes all red and blurry. The words dance and jump on the page nothing makes sense. There is something in my throat and my lips won’t move, my face is hot with embarrassment and shame. As the silence stretches I think, “I hate you. I hate you, I hate you. Die. Die. Die.” And I am not sure who this mantra is for, Mrs. Wacker, or myself. Both.

I fight past the thing that is lodged in my throat and I stutter, I squeak but I don’t think I make any sense. The class begins to laugh and Mrs. Wacker’s smile widens.

There is a hurricane of rage yowling in my head.

“Now class, don’t laugh, it’s sad really, this is what comes of having pothead hippy parents. Beth will never amount to much; she’s too lazy, stupid.” She gives me a look of false pity. “What am I going to do with you? If you don’t straighten up and do your work you might end up repeating fourth grade with me. I don’t think either of us wants that. Discipline, that’s what you need. We’ll go over this chapter together after school.”

Mrs. Wacker walks over to my desk and her sensible inch high heels click clack across the floor. She pulls out her red pen and puts a dot next to the six other dots under the square marked Wednesday on a piece of masking tape on my desk. All the other days of the week are also filled with red dots. Another 15 minutes after school. My mom is going to kill me.

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Years later I am fourteen years old and my best friend and partner in crime, Leaf and I are in the local Newberry’s store stealing candy, Maybelline lip gloss, and sunglasses when Mrs. Wacker turns down the aisle. Leaf and I freeze with knockoff discount store Ray Ban’s on our face with the price tag dangling over our noses.

Mrs. Wacker gives me a satisfied look and says, “I sure did straighten you out didn’t I.” It’s not really a question, just a statement of fact. That old familiar thing lodged at the back of my throat returns. I am ten again, I feel a rumble of rage churn my stomach and I realize I have balled up my fists. I shrug; move my head in a vague nod. I look at her through my long purple bangs and notice for the first time how short she is. She is looking up at me now, peering over the top of her too big glasses, bright fuchsia lips in a tight thin smile. I hold her gaze and her eyes dart away from mine, she pushes her shopping cart past us and I mutter to her back, “Stupid bitch.” She stops short for a heartbeat but doesn’t turn around. She harrumphs and continues down the aisle. Leaf and I laugh and stuff the sunglasses in our backpacks along with the pilfered Snickers, lip gloss, and Baby Ruths.

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Header image courtesy of Millo. To view a gallery of his street art on NAILED, go here.

Beth Eyler writer nailed magazine essay "Now We Are Ten"Beth Eyler is a teller of tales and a listener of stories. Beth has a B.A. in Film and recently received her Masters of Social Work and is currently dreaming of her next useless degree. When Beth isn’t doing social workie things or writerly things she likes to read and sing silly made up songs with her daughter.

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Shoulder Blades by Daniel Elder https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/shoulder-blades-by-daniel-elder/ Wed, 30 Dec 2015 10:00:56 +0000 http://www.nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=13740   The trace of my father’s hand on my back. He only ever struck me once, when I fiddled with the radio knob in the car while he talked business on his cell phone. I told him never to hit me again. If only I’d understood the other ways that he was flaying me, and […]

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The trace of my father’s hand on my back.

He only ever struck me once, when I fiddled with the radio knob in the car while he talked business on his cell phone. I told him never to hit me again. If only I’d understood the other ways that he was flaying me, and had put a stop to those.

The ghost of my father’s hand.

Now my posture betrays my body, my alignment slipping out of whack. I have never felt comfortable in this being, have never felt that I was in my body. More I’ve felt like a homunculus, sitting in the control room behind my forehead and moving these limbs in stutters and starts along streets, through asanas, around and against other creatures and their bodies.

When I think of Father we are walking. I am six, I am eight, I am fourteen, I am twenty, it’s always the same. His proud nose a mountain slope from which he surveys the world, the people in the gutter, the servers in the restaurants, all those below his station. We walk, and here it comes. Father’s hand on my back. Thumb against one shoulder blade, four fingers against the other. And then the squeeze. The pinch.

“Walk straighter, young man.”

And now a man of thirty-two and hunched. I threw my torso in the garbage just to spite him.

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He asked me to read a new book he had written and tell him what I thought. His first time writing about something other than stocks and commodities. A foray into his favorite genre: travel writing.

I read the book. It felt disgusting to lie so I told him everything true. About the petty cruelties littered throughout his words, about the judgments he cast. About how often he would dwell on people’s bodies, as if this told us anything about New Zealand. As if this was anything other than meanness in its purest form. Meanness, misogyny.

I don’t remember how it got so bad. I was medicating our relationship with copious amounts of marijuana. I just know one night I carried a typewritten letter to his Avenue A loft. I drove my tangled body of bones and muscles up the two flights of stairs and with smoky tears I told him I was tired of having to sit in his apartment when we spoke, on his territory, where he made the rules of the game from the comfort of his throne. I had written my thoughts — about us — and would he just read them?

He took the envelope, announced that he did not read letters, and tore it into pieces that he threw into the waste bin beside the coat rack.

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I called him one day, after six years of silence.

I confess: I knew he was out of the country. My sisters were still in touch. I felt safer on his answering machine. We had said terrible things to one another, the last time. I called without rehearsing. I wished him well, and asked if he would like to get lunch. Let’s see what we can be to one another.

My phone never rang. I told myself that that was fine.

I drank ayahuasca a few months later. My fifth time sitting with the plants. As the brew of vine and leaf bloomed within my prostrate body the thought came: I can’t believe he didn’t call me back.

And then another voice: Yes, you can.

I hugged my bucket close and vomited him free of me. My whole body convulsing to expunge this penetrating shadow that had woven itself not just into memory but into my sinews and all my cells.

Out, out, out.

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I love to clean my bucket in the peaceful morning after ceremony. We bury our purge in the dirt all together. All of our pains, our griefs, mixing into one, feeding the earth. Then we clean our buckets. I use my bare hands, my fingertips, gathering every last bit and slipping it into the cold clean river out behind the house in the Hudson Valley where we hold our sacred circles. Watching my catharsis float away downstream. Watching the light kiss the river. Reciting cummings to the water. I thank You God for most this amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky.

And then walking away, across the grass, feeling each light step from the arch of my foot through the bridge of my spine to the twist of my hair. Embodied being, walking back into life, breathing deep across my shoulders, free of the hand on my back.

But its echo keeps returning. There is always more to clean out of my bucket.

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I decided to leave home. A calling to go west. Wondering if we would meet again one day in a hospital room. So I gave it one last try: Let’s meet before I’m far away, Father. His answer: short and vicious.

Before I left I spent a weekend sitting with the plants.

The first night, I lived in the prison of my father’s mind, inhabiting the awful loneliness of his architecture. Walking the stone walls. Feeling the barbed wire. Ballistic missiles and snipers on the parapets. The gates where I would need to kneel if I hoped to be admitted. The whole world kept at bay.

The second night the shaman brushed a feather across my face, then reached into my back and pulled something free. I felt two wings spread wide and lift me into nebulae I never dreamed that I would see with all this weight in my bones pinning my bent body to the earth. The pulse of my heart barely contained in my chest.

She reached between my shoulder blades, and placed her hands inside my wounds.

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Traveling to Peru was an old dream.

In the airport, they told me that I could take my huge backpack in the cabin of the plane. I had two connecting flights, and I was worried about arriving in Cusco without any clothes, so this was good news. But I knew there were some things I needed to toss that wouldn’t pass security. The huge can of sunblock. Liquids.

And the knife.

He gave me the knife when I was fifteen and I had carried it for seventeen years. The knife was the only object left that linked my body to his body, that had passed from his hand to mine. I had already cut him out of my life. Removed his cancer from my thriving organism.

I threw the knife in the garbage can beside the TSA agent. Then I flew.

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In my tent at night, in the Andes, I find myself thinking of him.

How we would sit on my bed beneath the world map while he quizzed me on the geography of the earth. Filling me with wonder for its vastness. How he took me all over that world, as he traveled on business. Hiking, hotels, farm stays. Long drives with jazz and books on tape. Flickers of warmth.

It took me nine years apart to build a life that brought me to Peru. I climbed out of a swamp, then found my footing on the ground, and then I built myself a bridge to the West out of scrap. I followed the bridge into the mountains.

And I am here. But he is here, too. In the melting glaciers, in the sound of the tent zipper, in the oxygen-thin air.

Out, out, out.

The hike strains my back. My shoulder. The imprint of his fingers.

I find a healer in Cusco named Dhruva. He lays me on a table surrounded by jagged crystals and Shipibo tapestries. The moment he touches his hand to that spot on my back, he gasps.

Tell me what happened here.

So I tell him. I tell him everything. About money as the currency of love. About judgment, disappearance, expectations, pain. About not being enough. How I swallowed my pride and offered up an olive branch, apologizing for the hurts I’d caused. How Father read that letter.

How Father wrote back that he has no son.

Dhruva pours himself into my shoulder. His fingers lava hot, making me a believer in energy, for this soft hour at least. Stillness in the room with us. He pauses, and leans down. A voice so gentle.

Tell me about your relationship to the spiritual father.

I wish, I say to him.

I wish I could believe that we are all held.

There is no bucket here for me. No container for my story. Nothing I can purge into and make clean again. Yet all the same I feel some great release, some drainage, not through my mouth but through Dhruva’s fingers. My shadows condense in the space between his skin and mine. They evaporate, out into the Peruvian sky, under which I lie with my shoulders raw, revealed, exposed to the touch of two strong and caring hands.

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Header image courtesy of Pierre Schmidt. To view a gallery of his artwork on NAILED, go here.

daniel elder essay nailed magazineDaniel Elder is a New York City native who now calls Portland home. He is the author of a self-published collection of essays and is currently revising a novella. He lives in an attic with his cat, Terence.

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Response: Cheating https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/response-cheating/ Mon, 30 Nov 2015 10:00:55 +0000 http://www.nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=13521 In our monthly Response Column, NAILED asks readers to respond to a particular word or topic. We seek to publish raw, honest personal responses that aim less to answer questions and more to raise them. Responses come in the form of art, photography, essay, story, poem, and rant. Read all of the previous Response columns: here. + […]

The post Response: Cheating appeared first on Nailed Magazine.

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In our monthly Response Column, NAILED asks readers to respond to a particular word or topic. We seek to publish raw, honest personal responses that aim less to answer questions and more to raise them. Responses come in the form of art, photography, essay, story, poem, and rant. Read all of the previous Response columns: here.

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Response: Cheating

 

The Great Expectations Artists, by Jason Arias

 

A halfie, a midget, and an Italian walk into a music store. It sounds like a bad joke. Maybe it’s a riddle. They each have at least two other names. The halfie goes by Jason and Oreo. The midget goes by Sean and Stubs. The Italian goes by Tony and WOP. I’m the halfie. Half Dominican, half whatever.

There’s no political correctness among us. It’s pre-PC here. None of us has a desktop at home. The Internet doesn’t exist. We’re just three kids using the ugliest parts of our histories to destroy any future expectations anybody may have for us. We have infinite identities and infinite disregard and an insatiable hunger for Bay Area music. Digital Underground. Too $hort. Hieroglyphics. Tupac. Oakland-based music keeps our Portland heads bobbing.

We enter the music store that’s in the Fred Meyer’s that’s in the heart of Rockwood. We each enter at different times. We’re not friends here. We’re just three separate music consumers that, together, make a joke with no resolve; a riddle with no purpose. We’re more like an illusion. More like a magic trick.

I go in first and head to the Jazz section in the far left corner, nod to the thirty-something clerk as I walk by, hold my pants up at the crotch so they don’t slide right off my ass.

Sean’s next, minutes later. He goes straight to the Rap section towards the middle of the store and starts flipping through tapes behind the plastic ‘T’ tab with his small, chubby fingers. Those fingers are the reason we call him Stubs. I think they’re the reason he’s always trying to prove himself to us. But those fingers and his stature are also the reason that the thirty-something clerk immediately looks away when Sean catches him staring. He looks away and doesn’t look back. I’m not really needed as a distraction, but I’m here to give the clerk a justifiable alternative.

I’m still in the Jazz section justifying: looking back constantly, turning the tapes over and over in my hands, readjusting my pants. It’s a backwards flirtation dance between me and the clerk: eye contact with quick-cuts to the right and left, ambiguous lip contortions, incessant crotch grabs. Him in pleated khakis. Me in ironed jeans. Both of us at work, in different ways.

Just before the thirty-something clerk goes for the phone Tony enters in a pair of Levi pants that actually fit, a Gap tag self-sewed to the back pocket.

He says, “I just need a player with the right balance of bass boost, sir.” He points to a Walkman on the half-wall behind thirty-something. “What about that one?” he says.

I don’t even need to look to know that this is the moment that Too $hort and Tupac start disappearing up Sean’s sleeves and into the sides of his coat lining. He’s not just a thief, he’s a magician, he’s an artist. His clothes are riddled with invisible pockets and hidden slits. Anything about the size of a cigarette pack or tape case are Bermuda Triangle-d with his smoothness.

By the time thirty-something turns around to hand the Walkman to Tony, Sean’s disappeared what was in his vicinity, onto his person and starts walking. Just like that. Smooth.

But behind thirty-something’s head I see security walking toward the music entrance, just one overweight guy in one of those puffy, black, cop jackets. Maybe they got cameras in here between the last time and now. Maybe thirty-something just pushed a button somewhere. Maybe this is why magicians don’t perform the same trick too many times in the same city.

Sean and the security guy meet at the entrance/exit—just one gaping opening with grocery checkout stands on the other side. Security’s looking down at Sean. I don’t recognize him. He’s definitely not the same security that picked Sean completely up off the ground by his collar last week at the Tower Records at Gateway, when Sean yelled, “You’re not my daddy!” and the guy dropped him looking all stunned, and Sean got away because Sean knows how to think quick. But maybe this security knows that security somehow.

I think I see Sean panic for just a second. It’s just a little shiver, just a tiny tic. Then he bares the most innocent, freckle-faced smile; his sandy hair poking out the sides of his ball cap.

Security opens his mouth and says something and nods friendly at him. Security turns, nods at thirty-something. Thirty-something turns, nods towards me.

When I can’t see the back of Sean’s jean jacket anymore I start nodding to myself.

I hear Tony say, “That’s not going to be enough bass, man,” at the counter.

Security walks to the Jazz section, looks down at me, and says, “You got a problem with your pants, son?”

A halfie, a midget, and a WOP enter a music store and come out a mulatto, a little person, and an Italian. They come out a blasphemy, a half-pint, and a Guido. They come out a probably, a maybe, and an unknown. They come out with so many cuffed doves and flying card tricks that people start believing what they’re showing them. They take turns putting themselves in boxes, then cutting the boxes in half, then cutting the halves again. They keep cutting ‘til there’s nothing left but sawdust and hand tools. And the audience is invited onto the stage to sift through the remains saying, “Here’s proof of this and this and this.” But there’s never proof. There’s only deception and flair. There’s only the dust of expectation and deception flying around them.

And then the wind picks up.

And, poof!

Just like that, Tupac’s playing on the tape deck.

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Jason Arias lives in Portland, OR with his wife and two sons. Many of his cassette tapes were lost long ago. Some of his previous writing can be found at Blue Skirt Productions, Nailed, the Nashville Review, Perceptions Magazine, and the new anthology (AFTER)life: Poems and Stories of the Dead.

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Bartenders Steal Your Money, by Colin Farstad

 

It goes like this: you order a drink—hopefully not obnoxiously by asking what’s good or saying something like just make me something good and if you do ask for advice, at least know what liquor you like to drink because here’s the thing that somehow you sometimes manage to forget: you won’t like every drink a bartender can make—but no matter how you get there, once that drink is ordered, you’re given a price, hopefully it’s cheap because I live in New York now, not Portland, and sometimes you end up at one of these places in New York where the drink is most definitely not cheap, I’m talking ten-dollar-shitty-pour-well drinks, but I work in publishing so I always avoid places like that, but when you pay for that drink, and you pay in cash, sometimes, every now and again—the delicate balance of the ecosystem is they can’t do it all the time unless they’re the kind of truly horrible person that does do it all the time—that cash does not all end up in the register. Sure, you’ll see them put it in and make change and make sure you’re going to tip them too, but I’ve seen it all: no sale so that the drawer opens but nothing got rung up, charging for a two dollar bottle of High Life instead of your thirteen dollar artisanal, shaved ice, stirred for thirty seconds, at least, two special kind of bitters that the bar makes themselves, because whether it’s Portland or Brooklyn, you can always find places like that these days, and only one of the cities has a show where they make fun of it. However it gets done, that extra cash goes into their tips. The truth of it all is though, it’s easier if you order the drink and then walk away because they don’t have to go through all the pantomime show of putting it in the register.

But it’s not just outright theft all the time either. The bartenders that cheat and steal the most are your friends. You start a tab, without a card because they know you, they went to your college as an English major too, and your bill at the end of the night is four, maybe five drinks less than you and your friends ordered, and the bartenders know, and you know (or you should), that by not charging you for those drinks, you have entered into an agreement where you must tip them proportionally to the amount they gave you for free. It is still stealing, it is still theft, but you know, they know, the bar knows, the manager knows, this whole three hundred percent mark up on booze, charging six dollars a shot for something that costs the bar six dollars for the whole bottle is a racket and your college degree, that fancy piece of paper you don’t remember where you stored away during your last move, costs way more than that and that theft is paying off the student loan debt the bartenders carry up the hill every month.

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Colin Farstad’s work has most recently appeared in Split Inifnitive, Analekta Anthology and Coal City Review. Colin has been a teacher, editor, writer and event coordinator. He currently lives and works in New York City.

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shawn huckins response cheating nailed magazine

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Shawn Huckins (1984) was first introduced to painting after inheriting his grandmother’s oil painting set at a young age. As an adult, it’s taken a route through studies in architecture and film, plus a stint living on the other side of the world, for him to gravitate back towards art. Since graduating from Keene State with a major in Studio Arts, Huckins has taken inspiration from 18th Century American portraiture to 20th Century Pop Artists and preoccupied his work with a contemporary discourse on American culture. He currently lives and works in Denver, CO.

To view his Artist Feature for NAILED, go here.

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Cheating, by Kristen Mackenzie

 

Am I cheating?

When I spin out on the corners in the wintertime just to make my heart go faster, when I go hiking alone, or indulge my love of bacon? If I kissed a woman while I was married to see if I was gay? (I am.)

To those, I can confess (and one other I won’t mention for fear of audit).

But watch me and I’ll hide the things that matter. Maybe you won’t see because you do the same.

Another hour on the computer instead of a trip to the gym.

The story I almost wrote but didn’t.

A woman on the ferry so right for me it made my heart stop but who I watched drive away without saying hello.

I cheat myself.

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Kristen MacKenzie lives on Vashon Island in a quiet cabin where the shelves are filled with herbs for medicine-making, the floor is open for dancing, and the table faces the ocean, waiting for a writer to pick up the pen. Her work has appeared in Brevity, Rawboned, GALA, Extract(s) Daily Dose of Lit, Maudlin House, Blank Fiction, Cease, Cows; Crack the Spine, Eckleburg, Referential, Bluestockings, NAILED, Knee-Jerk, and Wilderness House and is included monthly in Diversity Rules. Pieces are forthcoming in Minerva Rising, MadHat Annual, Mondegreen, Prick of the Spindle, and Crab Fat. Her short story, “Cold Comfort,” placed in Honorable Mention in The Women’s National Book Association‘s annual writing contest.

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matteo nazzari cheating photo nailed magazine

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Matteo Nazzari, born in Venice in 1977, holds a degree in Cultural Heritage to Archeology from the University Ca ‘Foscari of Venice and also attended the Roman School of Photography. He has had several solo and group exhibitions in Rome, Bologna, Paris, Barcelona, among others. He currently lives and works as a freelance photographer in Milan.

To view “When No One’s Looking,” his photo essay for NAILED, go here.

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(Good) Grief, by Paul Crenshaw

 

Lucy holds the football after assuring Charlie Brown she won’t move it. She smiles up at him and Charlie chocks himself, prepares to hurl his momentum forward. And though we all know she will yank the ball away, have seen it happen more times than we care to count, it is in this moment we feel the hope of possibility, like a lover’s sweet scent or an infant’s fine hair. We hold our breath as we strain toward the screen. We are always swimming with want: our lives to grow long, our children to grow tall, our parents to never die. We create shapes in the clouds as if we would bend the weather to our will. We hold onto the hard spin of the earth, center ourselves by staring at the stars. We want the assurance of sunrise, the hope of the hurricane’s eye. We wish for what we have and want what we’ve thrown away. We are struck by memories so hard they hurt: the dog that dragged itself off to die or the day our daughters were born. Our mother’s warm hand on our foreheads, her voice soothing away the sobs. Our father’s unshaven face scraping our thin skin one winter morning as he leaves for work. Our grandmother cooks in the kitchen while our children play in the yard, her slow stirring forcing us to face how finite we are.

With each choice we make to love, there is the chance of loss. The lover leaves, the child moves out, the parents pass away. We will be betrayed by time and tide. Cheated again or cheat. We hurt, and we hurt in turn. But we keep coming back to this cause, keep flinging ourselves forward against the chains that bind us because they also hold us together. We bear the past into the present with all the longing of love and sound of song we can carry, and though we fear the things in the future that have already happened, we hold onto this moment and hope with the speed of Charlie Brown running toward the ball. Lucy’s finger pins it to the Earth like the gravity that holds us all here.

Just this once, we say.

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Paul Crenshaw’s stories and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Best American Essays, Best American Nonrequired Reading, anthologies by W.W. Norton and Houghton Mifflin, Glimmer Train, Ecotone, North American Review, and Brevity, among others. He teaches writing and literature at Elon University.

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Almost 20 Acres: Excerpt from a novel in progress, by Davis Slater

 

Smoky Gray was a backwoods entrepreneur always looking for his niche market. By his fortieth birthday, he’d bankrupted businesses selling hot tubs, satellite dishes, exotic pets, some kind of high-tech tin foil that went over your insulation, and patented pick-me-up-slash-diet pills that ended up being pretty much just speed. He’d hustled sunglasses, moonshine, fishing lures, and knock-off perfumes. In bright sunlight, you could see the stick-on letter ghosts of five company names on his van doors. His third wife Barb said of his latest bankruptcy-to-be that at least it had some bought-and-paid-for land to it, so they wouldn’t have to live in the van when the bank took everything else. Smoky’s enthusiasm was undimmed.

He’d tripped into the land, seeing a public notice of a sealed-bid auction for a schoolhouse and grounds the county had replaced a couple decades earlier. After he’d paid his fine for posting makeup ads beside the highway without a license, he got to chatting with courthouse secretary Jonelle Shaleen, a woman who was so fucking done with this day she didn’t care who knew it.

Jonelle said the deadline for the sealed-bid auction was close-of-business that day, and, as expected, they hadn’t had any bids yet. “The big real estate companies always wait until the last minute. They’ll have ten bids here at four-twenty-nine, and I’ll have to stamp every one received, log it in my book, and fill out a form for each one before I get to go home. Assholes.”

Smoky had liked the look of Jonelle: fancy work clothes, plenty of makeup, and shiny, dangly earrings that looked like one of the popular fishing spoons he had sold years before, so he kept her talking for a while. She said the property was pretty run-down, since they hadn’t allocated any money to mowing in years. “It’s almost twenty acres. I don’t know how blessed many football fields they thought they were going to put out there.”

Smoky said, “It’s a shame they make you stay late for those real estate companies. You should tell ‘em to shove it up their ass.”

She said, “You ain’t lyin’. The way my day’s goin’, I’m damned tempted.”

Smoky knew he had ten dollars and four quarters in his pocket and no prospects of getting any more.

He produced a ten-dollar bill from his pocket and handed it to Jonelle. Told her, “Why don’t you close up shop and take me out for a beer with that?”

She smiled crooked, talking herself into it. She looked at the clock. Four fifteen. Nobody else around. She nodded. Snatched her vinyl typewriter cover off the floor and started to fit it over her Selectric. Smoky said, “Hang on a sec.”

He swiped a piece of typing paper and an envelope from Jonelle’s desk, wrote his name and address and the notice number, wrote “one American dollar,” and sealed the paper in the envelope. Said, “Could you just stamp that for me first and log it in your book?”

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Davis Slater’s fiction has appeared in The Masters Review, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, The Gravity of the Thing, and elsewhere. His story “Know My Name” appeared in NAILED.

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theo gosselin cheating photo nailed magazine

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Theo Gosselin was born near Le Havre in Normandy in 1990. He grew up with the sea, the wind, the forest, and the sound of electric guitars, echoing in the deserted streets of this grey city from the north of France. He started photography around 2007, and it became his reason to live. His photography reveals friends in the act of escaping from their regular lives into newly enticing and perilous modes of existence, ever in search of the persistent though elusive idea of freedom.

To view “Vagabonds,” his photo essay for NAILED, go here.

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Aftermath, by Sarah Michelle Sherman

 

It was a Sunday afternoon in April and I was working my normal bar shift at a small pub in Albany when my brother walked through the door looking defeated, broken—a look he didn’t wear often, or well. I didn’t know he was coming, and it wasn’t like him to visit unexpectedly. He made his way toward a bar stool and took a seat. He placed his red, poorly circulated hands on the bar and began picking at his cuticles—something we both do when we’re stressed. He looked at me, shook his head.

That’s when I knew.

Tears formed in his eyes and my stomach went hollow. They looked as if they were filling with wax. Tears so thick, they looked as if they could seal his blue eyes completely shut. Tears so thick, I wondered how he could even blink.

“I’ll take a Guinness and a shot of Jameson,” he said.

I nodded, and then turned around to grab the whiskey and two shot glasses.

We clinked glasses. No toast. No cheers. We threw the liquor back, then I just waited. Waited until I knew what to say, waited until he did. He cracked his knuckles as he slowly pushed out the words that must have burned like acid in his throat.

“My marriage is over.”

All I managed to say was, “I’m so sorry.”

He choked back his beer as he told me about her affair. He told me how His wife and her lover would leave school in the middle of the day, when they didn’t have students, and fuck in the parking lot. And how once she had asked him to take out the car seats so she could have the car cleaned, but really it was just so she’d have room to mess around. And how she was late to their son’s birthday party because she was with the guy she’d later call her “soul mate.” And how she’d text that scumbag while sitting on the couch directly across from my brother.

I couldn’t hide the disgust on my face.

“I hate her,” he said.

“I hate her, too.”

I tried to stay strong, knowing it was what he needed from me, but it was a role I never played. I told him clichéd things, like, “you deserve so much better,” and “you’re better off without her.” He told me his main worry was the kids. Then he asked me to swear on our grandmother’s life that I wouldn’t tell our Mom or Dad.

“Mom has too much going on,” he said, and I promised not to tell.

That Sunday, I ignored the other customers at the bar. They could wait; my brother couldn’t. Most of them were regulars and when they waited a few extra minutes for their cocktails, I apologized as I nodded toward the broken man and said, “Sorry. That’s my big brother,” and I told myself they understood.

After a while, he asked, again, for another Guinness, a shot of Jameson, and reassurance that I’d keep our first secret. I told him I would. And I meant it.

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About a month later, the two of them had already separated and were splitting time with the kids. I went over to my brother’s house on a Saturday and four-year-old Natalie rushed toward me as I walked through the door.

“Auntie Sarah! Want to play?”

I offered her my hand, let her lead the way. She guided me upstairs to her pink bedroom, her walls covered with dragonflies, owls, a porcupine. I followed her over to her easel and watched as she pulled out markers, crayons. I did as I was told—drew a kite and an elephant. And another. And another. She copied what I did. I thanked her when she told me I did a good job. I envied this innocence, fooled myself into thinking she didn’t know what was going on, but quickly found I was wrong.

After maybe ten minutes of drawing, she set down her blizzard blue crayon, paused, tilted her small head to the left, and stared at our work. Her old soul seemed to flood the room as she sighed with apple juice breath. She looked at me with sad eyes and quietly asked, “Will you draw me one more thing?”

“What’s that?”

“A house where my mommy and daddy both live.”

I paused and hoped her mind would go somewhere else. As she waited for my answer, she grabbed my braid, asked me to make her hair look like mine. Instantly relieved, I smiled, told her I loved her.

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 Sarah Michelle Sherman recently graduated from The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, with her MFA in creative writing. While studying at Saint Rose, Sarah worked as managing editor of Pine Hills Review, the college’s literary magazine. Now, she is an adjunct professor at her alma mater. For three years, Sarah has worked as a freelance writer and columnist for Albany’s alternative newspaper, Metroland. Her writing has also previously appeared in NAILED, as well as Thought Catalog, and Ploughshares Online. Find her online: here.

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 kaethe butcher cheating art nailed magazine+

Kaethe Butcher is an emerging 24-year-old artist and illustrator from Germany. She is heavily influenced by Egon Schiele and Art Nouveau.

To view her Artist Feature for NAILED, go here.

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How (Not) to Cheat, by Lavinia Ludlow

I’ve cheated on exactly 40% of my partners. Depending on how well you know or think/assume you know me, that could be a shitload or a few minor transgressions.

Although I’ve never thought about cheating as wrong or something that would send me to eternal damnation in my own agonistic hell, I fully recognized that my decisive actions were hurting someone and forever changing our course of intimacy, whether or not he ever found out. They say sobriety starts (and restarts) on day 1, meaning there are a shitload of times you can hit the reset button before you really start pissing people off and testing their faith, but faith in monogamy is shattered on day 1.

There was never any common reason why I strayed either, sometimes it was boredom, revenge, or I wanted to be with someone else before I pulled up my big girl panties and broke up with my current partner. In conversations with friends, family, and fleeting acquaintances, I’ve found that their dissatisfaction with their partners was directly correlated with their entitlement or drive to cheat.

He/she neglected and drove me into the bed of another person.

He/she always chose his/her friends/mother/ex-husband/ex-wife/kid(s) over me.

He/she did it first.

He/she was an asshole.

He/she was just too different from me.

I can identify with all of these since the degree at which a partner was incompatible with (or an asshole to) me was directly correlated to how guilty I didn’t feel when I cheated on him. I am also human, and it’s human nature to take any internal dissonance and spread it thin over a massive rationalization until it vanishes. However, I’m honest enough to know that fucking around has never been accidental or unplanned. Every time I did it, even in the rock bottom throes of esteem, sobriety, and life, yes, even on the brink of suicide, I knew exactly what I was doing.

I’ve also never cheated to accomplish something, and I adamantly refuse to believe the act is a debatable moral dilemma. Ashley Madison’s CEO said, “The majority of people who have an affair use it as a marriage preservation device.” To me, this is comparing infidelity to stealing bread to feed a starving child. Steal or starve. Cheat or break up. Fucking around behind a monogamous partner’s back is a fucked up shitty thing to do and it makes people feel like shit.

Naturally, I haven’t been without a fair share of unfaithful partners (I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more that I never knew about), and discovering it was never an earth-shattering, life-destroying revelation that plagued me with intimacy issues (life’s done that on its own). As I got older, being cheated on is something I understood that came with the territory—dine out at gas station coffee shops enough, and you’re going to eventually find a bug, Band-Aid, or fingernail in your food.

But I have recently been hurt. Bad.

And this wasn’t a, “I accidentally pumped my dick in and out of a rando last night, and I only came once and it was weak because I was drunk and she was fugly” scenario. This endearingly short, imperfect but authentic, whip-smart-ass who could serve me a helping of tough criticism with a dollop of tenderness, and is still the only person I’d ever wanted to serve and be served by, to colonize and be colonized by, whose arms I could lie in forever, helpless, smitten, and stripped of my sharp edges and bitterness, revealed that he had been cheating on me. With his wife. With whom he had a three-year-old son.

Oh yeah, that was a three hundred and sixty degree sucker punch. I felt the foundation and structural skeleton of my new life annihilated as if a demolition team had spent the last year laying dynamite that would cut me to my knees and leave me a pathetic pile of “other woman” rubble in a foreign country. In that moment, everything about us ceased to exist. The conversations we had, the promises we made, the sheets we soiled, were utterly fraudulent.

When I was ready to talk about it, a friend tried comforting me with, “We’re not meant to be monogamous, especially guys. Maybe we should all be polyamorous.” She, however, believed polyamory was just another way of saying open relationship. As I understand polyamory, multiple people enter a commitment to each other, which doubles (or triples) the chances of hurting someone or getting hurt, not to mention dealing with the exponential rise in modern relationship complexity and drama. “How many times do I have to repeat that I have a headache tonight? Which one of you fuckers left the toilet seat up? You’re all sleeping on the couch!” Or worse, I’m on the couch while the rest of them are canoodling in the bedroom without me.

I’d like to be able to pass on my lessons learned like, “what goes around, comes around” ; “don’t be a (man)whore” ; “don’t get too comfortable” ; “forgive and forget” ; “nothing lasts forever” ; “no relationship is perfect,” or “life’s going to fuck you one way other another, whether cancer, lawsuit, or infidelity,” but I have nothing. The only understanding I carry forward is that I once wholly and unapologetically devoted myself to someone, and I had negative desire to stray. During that finite amount of time, I became the best version of myself, and therefore, the best partner I would ever be for someone. That’s the best any of us can do for ourselves, and the most we can hope to find in another.

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Lavinia Ludow is a musician and writer. Her debut novel, alt.punk, is available through Casperian Books, and on March 1st, 2016, the indie publisher will release her sophomore novel, Single Stroke Seven. Her short short fiction has been published in Pear Noir!, Curbside Splendor Semi-Annual Journal, and The Molotov Cocktail. Her critical reviews of indie lit have appeared in Small Press Reviews, The Collagist, The Nervous Breakdown, Entropy Magazine, and American Book Review. When not traveling for work, Lavinia divides her time between San Francisco and London. Find her here.

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Header image courtesy of Karim Hamid. To view a gallery of his art on NAILED, go here.

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The post Response: Cheating appeared first on Nailed Magazine.

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Response: Broke https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/response-broke/ Mon, 26 Oct 2015 09:00:20 +0000 http://www.nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=13309 In our monthly Response Column, NAILED asks readers to respond to a particular word or topic. We are seeking raw, honest personal responses that aim less to answer questions and more to raise them. Responses in the form of art, photography, essay, story, poem, and rant will all be considered for publication. November’s topic is CHEATING, please […]

The post Response: Broke appeared first on Nailed Magazine.

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Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

In our monthly Response Column, NAILED asks readers to respond to a particular word or topic. We are seeking raw, honest personal responses that aim less to answer questions and more to raise them. Responses in the form of art, photography, essay, story, poem, and rant will all be considered for publication. November’s topic is CHEATING, please email your responses to Kirsten@NailedMagazine.com by November 22nd, for publication at the end of the month. (Word count limit: 1,000 words.)

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Response: Broke

 

Letter from the Band Skinny Puppy to the Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, by Benjamin Barker

 

Dear soft and trembling boys, dear eastern darlings, dear guiltless and guilty, dear dearest flowers wasting your sweetness on the prison air:     We never wanted your blood.     Our country, like music, was not meant for this.   Both were built to heal, not to break.     The lions here only kill.     They do not eat the meat.   Murder is simply arithmetic.     Violence an art critique. You are threatening because you are art.     Your bodies galleries full of things they do not understand.     Like Nina Simone’s voice.     Like a sweet and bladeless poem.     Like a prairie.     Like a horizon with no city.       Your language the most gorgeous Basquiat.        Do not weep for your broken bleeding canvas.     Cry for the critic.     For the angry teen who beats a poem with a hose to torture a confession out of it.     Weep for the killer.     For the teeth that do not know. For the high school bully reenacting the violence of his father.   Because isn’t it tragic to not comprehend?     To burn a Sadequain without realizing what it is.       To roar at doves.           To curse an artist’s name                 because you cannot pronounce it.

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Benjamin Barker was born at a fairly young age and had a dreadfully Norman Rockwell upbringing resulting in him believing in Santa until he was 17. He currently sits on the board of directors for Salt Lake Based nonprofit The Wasatch Wordsmiths. His work has appeared in Drunk In A Midnight Choir and Button Poetry, and his full-length chapbook Redefining Divinity is forthcoming from Tired Hearts Press.

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What Was Breaking, by Theresa Hamman

 

She sees herself in the living room with her husband; they hold each other on the couch. The bookshelves only half full, the television glowing in the midnight dark, the baby pressed to her breast. A moment stuck in its own happiness, false, fragile, a moment belonging to a hope long lost. She can’t stand it. She blinks, the image blurs, rain on glass. It clears. And the beer can explodes against a kitchen wall, directly above the baby, who chews on cheerios in her high chair. Beer rains down and the baby laughs.

“Look, she likes it,” her husband says. “She’s sucking it off her thumb.”

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Theresa Hamman is a poet/writer and second year MFA student at Eastern Oregon University.  She has had her poetry published in Oregon East, EOU’s literary and art journal, of which she is currently the editor.  She lives in La Grande, OR and enjoys spending time with her family, especially her two grandchildren, when she is not writing.

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sophie harris taylor photo nailed magazine

Sophie Harris-Taylor is a London based fine art photographer. She graduated with an MA and BA (Hons) in Photography at Kingston University. Her work explores concepts such as vulnerability, familiarity and natural decay focusing in particular on the female form and the nature of femininity. To view a Photography Feature of her work from the series Slight Wounds, for NAILED, go here.

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Blonde, by Caroline Walton

 

Before I knew what it was to be scared, I braided black yarn into my blonde hair. A dash of darkness to match my chain belt and plaid pants. To match the color of my parent’s rotting marriage, my trendy angst. I pretended the blackness belonged there–that I had grown such a thing.

When I became pretty as a punchline to jokes boys made about dumb girls, I twirled it between my fingers. I collected moments of men running their hands through it, tangled and dirty the morning after, sighing about how long it was.

You’re that blonde girl.
You’re the prettiest I’ve ever
slept with. You’re the most
beautiful woman I’ve ever seen

at the bars.

The magazines say that men prefer it hanging down to the middle of my back. They don’t say that this makes me more of a target. That it can be fashioned into an extra limb to grab, one that can’t hit back. My hair followed me to bars, extending invitations to men without consulting me.

And he’d been no different – When I saw you, I asked, who is that?  He slipped drink after drink to my hair. Wrapped it around his knuckles and asked it to dance, to let out a schoolgirl giggle.  To sit on his lap, its strands draping across the sticky bar floor.  I never thought of cutting it before that day. Fourteen inches, two yellow thick tails that had to be bound with rubber bands. The day I left him, the day I left all of them, the twin snakes of my hair writhed on the floor. They grew fangs and I told them your names.

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Caroline Walton teaches high school English in Central Arkansas where she tries to convince teenagers that poetry is actually cool. She represented Arkansas at the 2013 Individual World Poetry Slam, placed second at the 2013 Arkansas Arts Center Ekphrastic Poetry Slam, and has had her work published in Germ Magazine. When she’s not gushing about poetry, she’s gushing about The Office or her dog Holden.

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Daniil Maksyukov photo response broke

Daniil Maksyukov (1995) is an emerging street photographer living and working in Russia. He has achieved recognition and several awards for his work and is most passionate about candid shots, capturing the truth and pulse of life in the streets around him.To view his photo essay for NAILED, “Junk and Gems,” go here.

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Still, by Andrea Tate

 

A doctor’s waiting-room, heads hang low as red eyes focus on gray linoleum, an eleven-year-old and his stepdad sit. A few feet away a receptionist quietly answers the phone, fielding other emergencies.

Down a hall in a small dreary examining room, she sprawls out on cold orange Formica. Her heart makes a crackling sound through the stethoscope. As he pulls the stethoscope from his ears, a doctor inhales and exhales deeply then grimly shakes his head “no”… twice.

Thirteen years ago, she jumps onto a mother’s lap on Independence Day, while rockets explode in the near distance. Today, no lap jumping. Today, her mother quietly rests her cheek on a soft and black fur-head with speckles of gray. She whispers: “It’s okay, it’s okay.”

Now, the eleven-year-old enters the examination room and says his goodbyes through little boy sobs. His adolescent chest heaves up and down between each word. In unison, his life-long companion’s lungs battle for every breath. To this “only child,” she is more sibling than pet.

“I’ll… miss… you… Macy,” “You… are… a great …dog…. Macy,” “Bye… Macy.” He reluctantly moves toward the door, but then turns back to give a final hug. She receives four final hugs.

Slowly the vet opens the door. “Are you ready?” he asks. The mother shakes her head “yes”…twice.

As the needle enters, a grainy film begins in the mother’s memory. New baby sniffed by wet black nose. Pink tongue hangs as refrigerator cheese draw opens. Tail wags and hits glass cabinet door and makes a happy “I love you chime.” Arthritic final walk from a home that loves, and keeps, and cares, and is blessed.

Mother continues to stroke her until she sees the eyes settled to a calm, like a flag coming to a stop after a rush of wind. Her lids never completely close after the injection, but remain at half-mast. There, that odd distant look, as if no one is home. You can tell they are gone by the look in their eyes—there is none.

The vet returns and places his stethoscope on her chest one last time. Nothing. He removes the scope and bows his head. “I’ll give you some time alone with her,” he says in a half-whisper. Time? How much time? It hurts to be in the room, to look at distant brown eyes, to see two front paws cross in an “x” like a kiss. A kiss goodbye. A final touch to a cool black velvet ear that lies on the table, flat, and still.

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Andrea Tate is a freelance writer and editor. Her essays can be found in Role/Reboot, A Daily Dose of Lit, Bleed, and Extract(s) 2013 Anthology. She is an adjunct writing professor for Antioch University, Santa Barbara, and an online writing instructor for “Inspiration 2 Publication” at Antioch University, Los Angeles. Andrea holds an MFA in Creative Writing, and a Post MFA Certificate in Teaching Creative Writing. She lives in Agoura Hills with her husband and son where she is an advocate for youth musical theatre. Her mission is simple—exchange algebra for the arts.

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Visit Home, by Cody Deitz

 

When my orbit had finally swung back,
I sat in the living room sipping coffee

with mom, the afternoon sun printing bars of light
on the wall, the game turned low,
and her voice sunk. Bad brother

like I was some lesser Cain
sowing temptation in these fields,

like I drew the map of roads
leading out of you,

like I was responsible for your cut brake lines,
the slight slope the whole town is built on.

I was just almost a man, driving these desert roads,
eyes peeled for a shortcut.

What I found—what clung to you like smoke—
was not just one of the things we found in the empty fields:

a usable couch, bedsprings, a steel refrigerator
with its cord buried in dirt like someone had plugged it into the world.

What we found, a weightlessness,
was already in me, and in you: a weakness for journeying into nothing.

Like all brothers, you followed the trail I’d broken.
You just couldn’t find your way back—the moon had risen
and it was beginning to get cold.

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Cody Deitz resides in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where he is pursuing his PhD in English at the University of North Dakota. His chapbook Desert Sacrament was a finalist for the Uppercut Chapbook Prize and he is the winner of the Academy of American Poets University Prize. His poetry has been published in various literary journals including Ellipsis, Chaparral, Split Lip Magazine, and others. He is currently at work on a full-length poetry collection.

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broke, by Miles Solstice

no money—compound fracture—never seen a real bone outside a bucket of KFC until now—glass shards—lightning + tree—tooth v. rock—fist v. nose—who looked at who in what way—post­breakup heart—no money—computer don’t work—car don’t run—no longer functional—shin bone protruding—call the goddamn ambulance—funerial hearts—good mourning—mug v. linoleum + coffee burns—status of toenail after stubbing incident—no money—empty house—blank walls—bananas are 39 cents/lb—raw organic dumpster­diving vegan—15 hours at Wendy’s, 15 at McDonald’s, 15 at Walmart and the kids are fed (hopefully)—taking the bus for 20 years—digging through the free​box at the shelter hearts

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Miles Solstice is from Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Check out his Kickstarter: raising money for a rocket-powered iguanas-only roller coaster. @Allomycterus

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Header image courtesy of Mike Boening.

Mike Boening commonly finds his inspiration on the streets of his hometown, Detroit, Michigan, specializing in street and urban photography. Mike has shared his love of street photography by teaching and leading groups on urban photography in the Detroit area as well as out of state. To view his most recent photo essay for NAILED, “Empty Cells,” go here.
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The Silencer by Marina Seaward https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/the-silencer-by-marina-seaward/ Wed, 21 Oct 2015 09:00:11 +0000 http://www.nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=13301   I wasn’t sure what my mother meant when she said, “You came out of the womb hot to trot.” We were driving to South Salem High, like normal, her Phil Collins tape playing, like normal, not talking, like normal. I clutched my baby-pink Esprit book bag and tested the comment for fighting potential. I […]

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I wasn’t sure what my mother meant when she said, “You came out of the womb hot to trot.” We were driving to South Salem High, like normal, her Phil Collins tape playing, like normal, not talking, like normal. I clutched my baby-pink Esprit book bag and tested the comment for fighting potential. I was fourteen, and although I had lost my virginity the previous summer, I was still innocent enough to think perhaps she meant I could run really, really fast.

I had no idea she had found my vibrator the night before while I was in the shower. She had been searching for a progress report I had more cleverly hidden in my set of Encyclopedia Britannica that was so old, it was missing two World Wars, the Great Depression, and eleven constitutional amendments. Hindsight tells me I should have cut out the paper until the vibrator could have nestled between pages of a hinky history.

The vibrator had come about three months previous when my boyfriend, a college junior, had picked me up after school in his flaming orange Volkswagen Rabbit. I was more than familiar with the pebbly black vinyl seats. I could maneuver my body around the stick shift with unbridled grace. I had memorized the water stain on the headliner that looked like an outline of Portugal. When he was on top, he had to be careful to edge his way around the jagged hole in the floor he had created by thrusting too hard against a rust spot.

That day, though, rather than reach across me and shift my seat back, he handed me a brown paper bag.

“I got you a present,” he said.

I opened the bag and pulled out the box. It had a clear plastic cover and boasted a cream-colored vibrator, with six different attachments. There were spike attachments, nub attachments, length attachments, and one that had eight-inch vinyl tassels that appeared designed to whip vaginas into a frothy, heady mixture. The neon-purple star-shaped sticker proclaimed: “Make your girl Jizz…with the Lady Whiz!”

We put in the cheap C-batteries, and beneath the Center Street Bridge, I attached the vinyl tassels and pushed them into myself while my boyfriend watched, beating off in time to the traffic rumbling overhead.

After the disappointing results of that day, the vibrator sat undisturbed under my bed for a few weeks until I finally pulled it out and examined it. I had heard there was more to sex. I’d read me some Judy Blume. But that wanton feeling from way down deep that was such a hit with her characters never bloomed in me, no matter how hard my boyfriend thrust. I was determined to comprehend the mystery of what my body could do.

I pushed aside the attachments and pulled out the vibrator. I flipped the small plastic switch to the on setting, and a buzz-saw blast sounded in my bedroom. It scuttled from my hand and I pushed it under my pillow, terrified. I turned it off, held my breath, and waited to be discovered. When no sounds emitted from the living room, I slid the batteries out of the body, using careful caution. I wrapped two layers of Kleenex around them, then slid them back into the cheap plastic body. I switched in on, and the hum was hardly discernable. I had created my first silencer. With a fresh alacrity, I began a new life of going to bed early and stealing a steady supply of C-batteries from the Safeway I worked at as a courtesy clerk.

My mother stopped talking to me and made me take the bus to school. I wasn’t sure why until she threw a bachelorette party for a friend of hers at our house on a Saturday night. There were ten ancient women in our living room, all of them pushing forty. They were drinking cocktails made of vodka and whiskey out of fancy bottles, but I knew my mother filled them up with the cheap stuff. They invited me in and I watched as the bride-to-be opened up her gifts: edible body creams, crotchless Vegas-ready underwear, peacock feathers. I giggled along with them, thrilled to be included. My mother crumpled giftwrap into smaller and smaller wads, twining ribbon as tight as she could. Her eyes were glazed with what I thought was happiness.

“I should have gotten you a vibrator like my daughter’s,” she said to the bride-to-be. She turned and smiled at me, then patted me on the knee too hard. “Tell them, Marina. Tell them how you don’t even clean it after you use it.” She turned back to her friends, who had gone quiet and awkward. “That would have been a good gift.”

The silence throbbed in me and I launched myself out of the room, out of the house.

I know now she was drunk. I know now she’s only had sex with two men in her life. But then, then, I lit up with shame. A well of filth I was unaware existed inside me sprung open and spilled and spilled and spilled.

Years later, after I had moved out, my mother loaned me a book. Inside were pictures she had taken from a recent trip to Lisbon. At first there were pictures of monasteries, narrow, cobbled streets, and rose-colored rooftops baking in the afternoon sun. As I perused further, I realized they had been left there on accident. I recognized her friend Mira’s daughter, Anica, who was a few years older than me. Anica was asleep and in repose, she was quiet and beautiful, her straight blonde hair rumpled, several strands easing into her mouth. She wore small blue boxer shorts that bunched in the crotch and a pink tank top that exposed the delicate loll of her breasts. Her arm tucked behind her head and one foot pushed down her covers. My mother had worked the f-stops in her camera to such an extent, she caught the faint glow of fuzz the coated Anica’s body. The light looked like dawn, the time I knew my mother awoke. Anica was clearly unaware she was being photographed, but I noticed that in some of the photos, Anica’s hair wasn’t in her mouth anymore, and I thought of my mother, across the globe, reaching a terrified hand out to push the strands aside to better capture a desire she would never allow herself to own. The photos revealed an anxious desperation. I wondered how many mornings she had watched, how many it had taken before she couldn’t deny herself this one moment, alone in a bedroom with a woman she desired so entirely she couldn’t bear to touch.

I should have been a better person, but I’m not. I scheduled a lunch with her at a café we both liked, and over coffee, I returned the book. Her eyes lit up, so innocent she almost charmed me into forgetting my purpose.

“Did you like it?” she asked.

“I didn’t read it,” I said. I slid the pictures of Anica across the table, one by one, each movement a jabbed hyphen. Her shock was instantaneous, and the meanest part of me, the part she nursed to health, chortled. The waiter came to take our order.

“What would you like?” I asked my mother, mean and sneering. “A salad? Something girl-ish?”

“I need more time,” my mother said. She pitched forward, then back. The waiter scampered away. Any sense of vindication left with him as my mother turned pale, then puce, her silence sick with apprehension.

“It’s going to be okay,” I said. I slid a brown paper bag across the table to her. “I have a present for you.”

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Header image courtesy of Steven Hartman. To view a gallery of his collage, go here.

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marina seaward vibrator essay nailed magazineMarina Seaward recently graduated with a Masters in Creative Fiction, and since then has immersed herself in the glory of non. Her work has appeared in The Gravity of the Thing, Winged: New Writing on Bees, and in countless Pulitzer-prize winning novels, all of which still reside in her brain. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her amazing boyfriend and their two ungrateful bastard cats.

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Sluts Walk, Haters Scream by Mo Daviau https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/sluts-walk-haters-scream-by-mo-daviau/ Fri, 16 Oct 2015 09:00:38 +0000 http://www.nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=13252   [Portland’s SlutWalk took place September 20, 2015] Portland’s SlutWalk was to be a joyous gathering of the healthily slutty, taking to the streets, demanding an end to sexual violence and objectification. If you think that being a slut can’t be healthy, well…you’re wrong. We’re so used to strength of female sexuality being a taboo, a […]

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[Portland’s SlutWalk took place September 20, 2015]

Portland’s SlutWalk was to be a joyous gathering of the healthily slutty, taking to the streets, demanding an end to sexual violence and objectification. If you think that being a slut can’t be healthy, well…you’re wrong. We’re so used to strength of female sexuality being a taboo, a disgrace, something women have spent centuries being maimed and killed over, that it’s natural for our minds to stumble over those two words together. Healthy. Slut. That a woman can have a lot of sex, consensually, proudly, and happily, remains a morally dodgy thing in a lot of minds, something that needs to be hidden or shamed out of view. The happily slutty marching down the street tits-out (tits belonging to people of all genders), with signs proclaiming that being proud of one’s sexuality doesn’t mean one deserves sexual assault or coercion is something that bothered a tiny group of counterprotesters, whose oversized fury frightened me, not into submission, but into my own anger.

The counterprotest consisted of three white men, each of them outfitted with a sandwich board bearing some sort of quasi-Christian REPENT BURN IN HELL brimstone-type message. Only three men, which is a pathetic showing for any counterprotest.

The level of rage and malevolence these three men displayed was chilling by any measure. SlutWalk’s organizers discouraged the crowd from engaging with these men. I was standing far enough away from them that I couldn’t hear exactly what they were yelling. Yet, I did notice that every time a woman took the microphone to speak, these three men went absolutely batshit crazy with rage. They did not have the sound system they would have needed to drown out these women, but even from across the park, I heard their angry voices rise with maniacal fervor. A woman! Speaking! How they tried to shut that down!

In case anyone doesn’t believe that there are men in this country, in liberal Portland, Oregon, even, who hate women, their bodies, their right to physical safety and freedom of expression, with a passion so malevolent that their faces turn red, then I direct you to this triad of angry men. The sound of women’s voices saying no to them made them fly into an astonishing rage.

I had to wonder about the women in their lives. Certainly, men who latch onto the most toxic forms of Christianity, those that cling to parts of the Bible with the stoning of non-virgin brides and the subservience of wives, have women at home that they feel entitled to control, likely using the nuclear level of anger they were manifesting from behind their sandwich boards.

But in these men I saw the rage and fear that their wives or girlfriends must feel in the seconds before they punch their fists into their face, or remind them again that they are worthless and nothing. Their fear lives within their sense of powerlessness. Like a child having a meltdown in the aisle of a grocery store, these men have nothing to offer the world but the loudness of their voice, their ability to control through fear, absolute in their belief that they deserve power and control. They need their sick misinterpretation of the Bible to get through life. And they hate. They hate so good. They hate women. They hate the black, the brown. They hate anyone who comes along and tells them no, you have no power, you are small, you cannot control others.

And is there an easier, more accepted place to show power than on a women’s body? I wanted to ask them: are you here to protest because you are in favor of rape? Have you raped a woman yourself? How many women have you raped? Do you abuse your wife or girlfriend in other ways besides physical violence? Is there a woman on this planet that you love? Like, really love, with all your heart, and not because you think of her as “yours,” as something that legitimizes your claim to family, to heterosexuality, to a house in which you are head? Do you really love a woman, a woman who is flawed, who is free? When you have sex with your wife or girlfriend, do you make her come? Do you put your fingers and mouth to her clitoris and bring her to ecstasy? Do you think of that as a privilege? Or do you lie on top of a woman and take and take? Every thrust in her cunt an entitlement? Do you feel her warmth? Do you hear her cries? Is she holy to you, your companion on your journey to the divine? Does this woman hold you to her breast after you fuck, warming and nourishing you? Do you nourish her with your love and support? Is she your equal? Is she your friend?

Three men protesting SlutWalk: Do you rape? Have you raped? Did you rape anyone after SlutWalk? When you rape, do you think of what you’re doing as wrong? Do you really believe a woman “asks for it?” Do you really not hear the word no? Do you have daughters that you went home and raged at, shaming them for their bodies? Are the women in your lives afraid of you? Does that fear make you feel powerful or ashamed?

If you are scaring a woman, you should feel ashamed.

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When I was married, I felt safe as a woman. I was safe because there was a man who claimed me, who’s job it was to protect me. Our monogamy meant that any man who looked at me sexually, who tried to touch me, who made a dirty remark to me, was wrong, in violation of the dominant ideal of morality. I was not a woman alone. A woman alone is not safe, and for the first time in my life, I felt safe. Safe from harm and judgment, from violation or the sting of rejection.

I came to being a slut late in life, after I left my marriage, which was a loving, sexless friendship with a good man. I was unreasonable for wanting more. I was a bad person for wanting an erotic life. I let go of my protector, my safe, warm blanket, so that I could have that erotic life on my own terms.

There have been times that I have scolded myself for leaving the safety of my marriage. My ex-husband and I are still friends, but he no longer presents me to the world as respectable, as adored, as his. I’m on my own.

In 2015, I still feel it, how close to garbage I must be to some, being unclaimed by a man.

How dare I?

How dare I choose my own pleasure, my own body, my own self?

How dare I say no, then. Right?

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You have to think about the amount of energy it takes to hate. It takes a toll on the body, on the soul. These men’s faces were scrunched tight like crying babies, red with fury. How they reacted to a perceived threat—the threat of having their worldview challenged—was astonishing in how primordial it was. Small children, rife with fear, yelling and screaming because that was the only weapon they had.

How can you take a body like that to a woman and say, “make love to me”? How do you take a body like that to a woman and ask for that without fear, and coercion, without the idea of “you owe me”?

SlutWalk’s simple mission of bringing an end to sexual assault and to the assumption that women “ask for it” by wearing a certain dress or behaving a certain way, also invites men to consider that having sex with a woman that’s not fully onboard with having sex with them is disgusting, immoral, and unconscionable.

You shouldn’t take that which isn’t freely offered.

I’m astonished that a mind can file other human beings into a mental category of barely-human—women, and especially women of color and their excruciatingly fraught history of having their bodies colonized for the pleasure or profit of white men—and claim to do this out of a sense of morality.

“Sluts burn in hell?” Who are you even talking to? Who is a “slut?”

More questions, three men who protested SlutWalk: When you rape a woman, do you enjoy it? Does it make you feel powerful? Do you come?

If you answer yes, then who is your God?

If you answer no, do you feel shame? Loss of control? Will your God judge you? Do you think you’ll burn in hell?

Where is your conscience? Where is your soul?

A moral life includes the joyous union of hot skin, a beckoning hand, and a mouth that sings “yes.” The bodies of the people who gathered downtown to walk in favor of sluttiness and its attendant freedoms and joys know that better than anyone who would endeavor to destroy this essential aspect of humanity.

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Mo Daviau writer nailed magazineMo Daviau is the author of the novel Every Anxious Wave, forthcoming in February 2016 from St. Martin’s Press. Her essay, “You Are Not Special,” which was published in The Offing last June, is often quoted on other people’s Tumblrs. Mo lives in Portland, Oregon, where she belongs to the august, drama-free writing group, The Guttery.

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Response: Facebook https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/response-facebook/ Mon, 28 Sep 2015 09:00:26 +0000 http://www.nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=13119 In our monthly Response Column, NAILED asks readers to respond to a particular word or topic. We are seeking raw, honest personal responses that aim less to answer questions and more to raise them. Responses in the form of art, photography, essay, story, poem, and rant will all be considered for publication. October’s topic is BROKE, please […]

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In our monthly Response Column, NAILED asks readers to respond to a particular word or topic. We are seeking raw, honest personal responses that aim less to answer questions and more to raise them. Responses in the form of art, photography, essay, story, poem, and rant will all be considered for publication. October’s topic is BROKE, please email your responses to Kirsten@NailedMagazine.com by October 19th, for publication at the end of the month. (Word count limit: 1,000 words.)

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Response: Facebook

 

This Kind of News, by Adam Strong

 

I wasn’t supposed to find out this way. This kind of news in my newsfeed. On Facebook I check my newsfeed. The endless scroll of other people’s lives. I check this so often sometimes, it’s like breathing. My news feed is mostly trivial things, things friends post: dog and cat video loops, outrage at a bill being passed or not passed, not supposed to have big life changing events on Facebook.

The questions I ask every time I swipe or scroll my newsfeed down: Shouldn’t I be living my life, shouldn’t I be calling these people on the phone?

You there, and the photo of you I saw on my newsfeed. Your skin and how yellow it was, how the more I scrolled on your profile, the more I saw.

You and me, we used to work together. You went on shift when I got off shift. Every afternoon. You told me:

  • About the recessed tooth in your mouth because you didn’t have any dental health benefits for 12 years.
  • About the girl you met who might be the one.
  • How you hoped she’d be the one because you didn’t want to die alone.

When you were healthy you never posted to Facebook. You didn’t have an account until your wife posted it.

You didn’t have a wife.

Until you got sick.

Until I scrolled down.

In Facebook we live from top to bottom. How backwards in time was scrolling down, the edge of a cliff feeling in my stomach. Your photo, your skin. Two words. Cancer and a pancreas.

Your pancreas. Your face. Your wife.

You didn’t have a wife.

Until you got sick.

A week later, a new photo. In the photo you were in a cave. You had a helmet on with a lantern. You were smiling. Your name, your birthday, your day of death. You died that day. The photo, you never posted it to Facebook.

You wanted to live your life, offline.

I never had a chance to say goodbye.

The only inkling I ever got that you saw my message, before you died, when I posted that message wishing you good vibes, and that I missed you and that I loved you. And I knew you heard me because you “liked” it. A like and what the “like” was.

Our friendship, stretched across two jobs.

That one job we had, we were across from each other, your long rave t-shirts, bright tide colors, baggy flared jeans. A long cord from phone to your face, the long goatee you had.

On the phone, with a customer. We were always on the phone. You used your hands when you explained things. You drew out long circles, processes of internet not working of page cannot be displayed.

All that you knew in your mind sent out over copper wires, over phones. We were technical support.

Your helmet, your light, your smile, the light in the dark of that horrible job. Technical support.

The two of us, our jobs, our friendship, those years, my goodbye to you and all it used to mean, reduced to a cartoon thumbs up image, a “like.”

Which meant you heard me, before you went.

Before you died, before it all got too much.

You reached out with your phone or your mouse.

You hit “like.”

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Adam Strong has worn glasses since he was four. Adam Strong is a High School Digital Arts teacher. Adam Strong’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in City of Weird, Our Portland Story, and Intellectual Refuge. Adam Strong lives and writes in Portland OR.

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Conservative Meme (with characteristically poor punctuation)

conservative meme facebook nailed magazine

Open Letter to Those Who Post Conservative Memes on Facebook, by Michael Henry
I’m getting tired of being told that I’m a piece of shit.

Some days, Facebook is nearly all I have during the day. I keep in touch with friends and family. I post news and science.

Some days, it nearly kills me, because you get to post “news” and “science” that interest you, too. And you post these horrible memes about people who collect unemployment and bilk the system and take your money.

You don’t know my story. You don’t know anyone’s story.

If I’m having a good moment and you can’t see my cane, you might, depending on where I am and how I’m dressed, and based on your inclinations and biases, see a middle aged biker with some tattoos and a Harley tee buying a six pack, or a greying dad buying a book at Barnes and Noble. You might see a guy in a coffee shop banging away at what he hopes is the next Great American Science Fiction Novel, geeky Tolkien runes tattooed on his arm. You also might also someday see me standing in line at Walmart using Government Assistance to get me through the week.

I didn’t plan on being forty-five, crippled, unemployed, and divorced from a twenty-five year marriage. A car accident damaged my back badly enough to keep me from working for good. It created permanent chronic extreme pain from the waist down. I daily have long periods during which I can’t get up off my back or sit up for more than an hour at a time. I often can’t get it up; my dick feels like cardboard. Unless you live my life, you can’t see most of this if I’m feeling well enough to be out for a short period to get my essentials.

You want a sob story? My marriage began to end when my ex-wife was a child, probably less than three, and her father began molesting her. Of course, I didn’t know this when I married her eighteen years later. She didn’t know it to tell me, either; several mental health professionals dragged it out of her in diagnosing the resulting emotional and intimacy issues that troubled her throughout our married life. It was too much for her to handle my injury and the change in life on top of her rancid memories, so she fled the scene, leaving me unemployed and pissing myself while I recovered from surgery. You can’t see this shit history when I’m buying milk.

I used to be a serious weekend warrior biker. I put tens of thousands of miles on my last motorcycle, which I had to sell after my injury. So, I still sometimes pull on my boots and I have tattoos and I wear Harley Davidson tee shirts. You’ll see me rough looking from being unable to put effort into shaving for a couple of days due to pain and very necessary prescribed narcotics. I’ll be haggard and drawn and strung-out-looking because the pain has kept me awake for three nights in a row. Fuck you for judging me if I use government help to buy groceries and yet also find that I’m able to scrounge enough to buy a six-pack of beer. That’s about what I drink a week, and it’s all I can drink in a week on top of the medication, and it helps a tiny bit with the pain.

When you stand there looking in my cart and at my Daytona rally tee shirt, judging me, you won’t know that I worked in and managed bookstores for two decades, or that I used to read several books a week or that I can still write well during the few hours a day when my head isn’t foggy from pain medicines and sleeplessness. You won’t see the scenes in my head as I relive the accident that sharply divides the before and after of my life. You can’t tell that I didn’t just let life slip by and choose to rely on handouts.

You won’t see the fear in my brain as I watch the little bit of money I collect from Worker’s Comp insurance drizzle away, hardly enough because I live in a Red state that protects the insurance company rather than the insured, and I have to pay for some of my drugs and all of the simple commodities that make living in Hell a bit easier, like a massager, out of my own pocket. If you hear me talking to my daughter about a show on Netflix, you won’t know that I rely on that ten dollar service for most of my monthly entertainment and that the TV and devices I watch it on are leftovers from before the accident.

But you’ll be fuming. You’ll be jealous that I’m “getting stuff” and you aren’t. Your rhetoric only demands that you deserve to have everything I do. You can’t see your wealth of potential that I don’t have anymore. You don’t hear or read the jealousy in your voice or your social media posts. Your every post on Facebook is “look at people getting what they shouldn’t!” and never “look at the unfortunate, help them out!” When you post I see constant jealousy, selfishness, and a severe persecution complex. I guarantee that at some point in a conversation in which I pointed that shit out, you’d puff up and say, “You can’t say that, you don’t know me.” Yet you can know everyone else so well, and judge. Go back through your Facebook posts right now and compare the number of complaints that you are being oppressed or that someone else is getting something to the number of posts that plead for others to help those in need or to stop oppression of groups you aren’t actually a part of. Go ahead and do it now. You go out of your way to show people who you are.

Me? I’m just fucking buying beer.

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Michael Henry tries to think of himself as lucky to have had a car accident that freed up a lot of time to write, so when he can create, he does. He doesn’t always find that argument convincing, but apparently many social programs haters would gladly trade health, ability and potential for the disability and pain associated with some “free stuff.” Forced to live in a haze as he is, Mike can’t imagine using narcotics recreationally. He is a motorcycle, Tolkien, and Weird Fiction enthusiast whose first novel is progressing at a snail’s pace.

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 teens on bus on cellphones Anton Krasnikov photo

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Anton Krasnikov began shooting in 2014 when he got his first DSLR. To achieve the gritty warm character he was after, he quickly decided to explore capturing his work on film and now works exclusively with the analog medium. He currently lives and works in Kiev, Ukraine. To view his Photo Essay, “Speak it Easy” for NAILED, go here.

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Birthday at Spiral Jetty, by Adam Todesco

 

I’m the grit pearl tongue wipe

of sand before that glassed patch

of self its opposite space face

dark tree stars climb across

parish walls combustible

 

You’re the poem I really wanted

to write what’s that that

asks for nothing lying

on a stoned beach of guilt

and human smells everything

I collide myself for inside

a bluff a cooking brain

wrapped in riprap

lute strung loose

like noose

before new

sun sets

a bomb

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Adam Tedesco has worked as a shipbuilder, a meditation instructor, and as cultural critic for the now disbanded Maoist Internationalist Movement. He conducts interviews and analyzes dreams for the online literary journal Drunk In A Midnight Choir. His recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Funhouse, Cosmonauts Avenue, SouvenirHobart, The Nervous Breakdown, and elsewhere.

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Recent Selections from Facebook Updates, by Matty Byloos

 

These days, for me, Facebook draws me in primarily for work. It’s become an indispensable tool for digital marketers, working to humanize and extend a brand’s reach in one of the (sadly, seemingly, unfortunately) most important and influential social spheres we have at our disposal today. And too often, I get sucked in to my feed, ruthlessly checking on the updates of others, paying attention in a way that the algorithm deems most appropriate, as a very strange selection of updates gets paraded through my “Home” channel on Facebook.

Typically, I don’t like what I see. I find it self-congratulatory, or I think it’s too private and the information seems drained of its meaning when it’s digitized and liked and shared and trumpeted through the forum the way that it is. Or it seems needy and desperate, the way we all are insecure and in need of constant attention, from the time we’re babies to the day we die. But mostly, I don’t like what it does to me.

Facebook makes me feel anxious, petty, and competitive in the worst way. Guilty that I’ve not done enough for friends or that I’ve made the wrong choices in life, and that I put my attention in all the wrong places at times. Sad that people have let themselves be taken over by this social experience. Hopeful for one second when someone does something awful and people on Facebook share it and point it out and we can all have a moment to digest and think about something that might once have been an awful secret — and then ashamed and heartbroken when the equally hateful mob justice wields its mighty hand, and some stranger who made a mistake is singled out and swiftly ruined.

But every now and again, like that phantom golf shot on the driving range that sings into the air rocket-like, straight and long and in some glorious trajectory that I can only hope has something specific to do with me, well, someone will post something on Facebook that makes me feel like we’ve all still got a chance.

Here are a few of those posts that went up in the month of September.

“I’m 87 years old…I only eat so I can smoke and stay alive.. The only fear I have is how long consciousness is gonna hang on after my body goes. I just hope there’s nothing. Like there was before I was born. I’m not really into religion, they’re all macrocosms of the ego. When man began to think he was a separate person with a separate soul, it created a violent situation.

“The void, the concept of nothingness, is terrifying to most people on the planet. And I get anxiety attacks myself. I know the fear of that void. You have to learn to die before you die. You give up, surrender to the void, to nothingness.

“Anybody else you’ve interviewed bring these things up? Hang on, I gotta take this call….. Hey, brother. That’s great, man. Yeah, I’m being interviewed… We’re talking about nothing. I’ve got him well-steeped in nothing right now. He’s stopped asking questions.”

—Harry Dean Stanton

Shared by D. Foy on FB, 9/1/15

 

“My problem is not with the lack of books about people who look like me. Publishing has come that far. I can find a few. My problem is with the lack of books about people who look like me but aren’t like me. For a bookish white kid, there are stories about daredevils or magicians or even animals who look and act like him, in any style, in any genre… I am begging for more diverse diversity. I choke up because of how similar marginalized desires are, how they don’t go far enough, how they want so badly to get minimal representation. Imagine, though, how different a kid’s sense of the world, and of herself in it, would be if she had diverse diverse choices? If she could imagine herself as a Native American pop princess or a black transgender dragonslayer, or so on? Surely that power of imagination, to see oneself and others in a variety of different stories, gives an Asian kid in a white family the power to see himself as worth imagining. When I go to the bookstore hungry for possibilities, and I face the choice between two Nigerian-American authors or three Korean-American authors or one Venezuelan-American author or shelves upon shelves of white American authors in which I can find a book for almost any fancy (as long as I take sexual orientation—and sometimes gender—out of it), is that choice? Is that diversity? I want so much more.” —Matthew Salesses

Shared by Matt Bell on FB, 9/1/15

 

“So I read this … Survey? What’s passing for ‘articles’ these days? Saying jazz is now the least popular music form in America. But I’m listening to A Love Supreme right now, and yup, just like always, it makes me thrilled to be an artist and not anyone else. If that’s America now, my suspicion that I should just stay in the imaginal has been, again, confirmed. Good bye reality, you never made me feel real anyway. Meet you in our better world, misfits.” —Lidia Yuknavitch

Shared by Lidia Yuknavitch on FB, 9/20/15

 

“Bailed Dr. King out of jail almost every time he was in it. Put in more money to the civil rights movement than any entertainer without demanding a lick of credit. Fostered an idiomatic style that oozed black vaudeville and night club. Call Sammy Davis Jr. a sellout, and you don’t get to sit at the adults table when grown folks is talking about black history.” —Robert Lashley

Shared by Robert Lashley on FB, 9/11/15

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Matty Byloos is Co-Publisher and a Contributing Editor for NAILED. He was born seven days after his older twin brother, Kevin Byloos. He is the author of two books, including the novel in stories, ROPE (’14, Small Doggies Press), and the collection of short stories, Don’t Smell the Floss (’09, Write Bloody Books).

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#thebaldfacedlieofsitonmyfacebookvalue

or

How Dark Schmuckerberg Jacked Us Into Digitized Memes of Electrified Thorazine, by Jason Elliott Budd

 

But it’s all a FUCKING LIE!!!

Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, born 05/12/1984 in Plain White, New York, born of imperialistic and genealogical filth, born of technified funkity spunk; frothing furiously forth of dastardly, digital dalliance in demonseed.

It’s all a part of the rub-a-dub-dub! Feel how softly the matrix club! It shatters brow, and bruises brainpan.

All in trillifragments of time! While Muthahfuckahberg winds up owning our identities, and all we provide; so he can algorithm us up, and sell our data off; to make even Billions and Billions of $$$s more, besides. FedGov’s got yer buddy on the payroll. Yer page AIN’T yerz, and you don’t own SHIT!!! Open up and suck the crumbs off that sandwich of the Ruler’s Platinum Plate, dawg!!! See you at the shopping mall! See you at the ballgame! See you at the Bar! Oh… That’s right! I’m wet-wired into this plastic fucking box, sitting on my plastic Ikea desk, that I bought with my plastic fucking plastic, online!!! I’ll be jacking my dick to Oculus Rift in no time! Look! There’s a sperm bank deposit slot where my USB used to be! I’m NEVER leaving home for anything, anymore!!! Like Bradbury used to say, “There Will Come Soft Rains…”

The following communiqué, was recently delivered by Mark Zuckerberg, with United States Congressional Approval, on www.darkfacebook.com:

www.facebook.com has recently applied for reclassification as an extension of the Fourth Estate, of the United States of America – (and will operate in conjunction with black operations performed by: the NSA, TSA, FBI, and CIA); and has been reclassified as such, under the current Law of the United States Constitution:

Facebook is now, from this day forward, of September 21st, 2015, a Federally-funded Agency, under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government of the United States of America; in compliance with, and obedient to: the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches of said government – that are, and will remain, under absolute control, by the Supreme Oligarchic Class (SOC) – comprised of the United States Corporatocracy, Bankster Cartels, and War Profiteers, who truly own and run this Motherfucker!!! This Official Decree will remain the writ of Law, until SOC declares to alter such classification otherwise. Bow down, and worship, slaves!!!

Without Facebook, you would not be reading this right now…

#sitonmyfacebook

#smothermeintoobsolescence

#delusionofchoice

#imamerkin

#soareweall

#soshallweperish

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Jason Elliott Bud, is an actor, artist, and writer; freelancing and starving in, Los Angeles, California. His formal training and background rises from the visual and performing arts; having clocked in excess of $130,000 in Federal Student Loan debt — through our Privatized Education System of Indentured Servitude. Jason is originally from the Midworst; having been born and raised in, the State of Misery. He claims it’s a great place to leave. Jason remains darkly vigilant towards authority and imperialism. You can view some of his artwork: here.

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painting of girls posing for facebook photo

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Karim Hamid (1966) was born in Los Angeles, CA to a British mother and Palestinian father. Moving quite a bit between England and the USA, he received his BFA in 1990 from Sussex University and his MFA in 1994 from the San Francisco Art Institute. To view his Artist Feature for NAILED, go here.

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Things I Wish I Had the Guts to Post on Facebook, by Shenyah Webb

 

  1. Did anyone ever tell you that you look like a blow up doll? Seriously, its super crazy!
  1. #Doyoureallythinkpeoplearegoingtosearchthathashtag
  1. Expand on this DMV experience of yours. It’s just been too long since I paid my own visit and need a refresher on just how shitty it is.
  1. Knocked up AGAIN!?
  1. I bet you that headache you keep complaining about would go away if you weren’t on FB all day.
  1. You are so much better than everyone else.
  1. Wait, didn’t you just get married to someone else!?
  1. Weird, I just saw you last week and you looked nothing like this. You chameleon, you!
  1. So, I saw the picture from week 7 and week 9 of your pregnancy but somehow missed week 8. ☹ Re-post please!!!
  1. That quote is so deep. You must be a really deep person.
  1. No filter, really? You are so much more talented than I thought before the filter!
  1. It is pictures like these that lead to the unrealistic expectations of a woman’s appearance. Simply put, you look plastic and it’s creepy.
  2. I know, I know. You are so much smarter because you are older than me. My opinions mean nothing, I know nothing, all because I am younger than you. Fucking Ageist!!
  3. Do your research.
  4. Thanks for airing your relationships dirty laundry. You both are assholes in this one.
  5. You just checked in at the dentist! Cool!
  6. I saw that you read my message.
  7. Are you fucking serious? 42 kittens are going to get pummeled by a truck in 2 hours if I don’t re-post this? Dammit!
  8. nar·cis·sismˈnärsəˌsizəm   noun: excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance. Psychology: extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.

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Shenyah Webb is the Arts Editor and a Contributing Editor for NAILED. She is originally from Detroit; she studied Psychology at Michigan State University, and later finished in Industrial Design with an Art Therapy minor at The College of Creative Studies. She lives and works in Portland with her husband and son. She is a visual artist, and musician under the name Lithopedion. Her self-titled EP was released in 2013.

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For the Record: I’m in love With Facebook, by Hobie Bender

 

Twenty-five years ago a dear friend of mine and a beloved friend of my community at that time, was murdered. Jimmy was shot in the head on the job as a cab driver.

I lost my shit.

Months and months went by and I couldn’t get on with my life. I noticed that my friends, who loved him as much as I did, were going on with their lives.

What I didn’t know at the time, is that the violence of how Jimmy died put me back, deep into my childhood shit. I didn’t even know I have post traumatic stress from the violence that happened around me when I was three and four and five and seven years old.

I was frustrated with myself for my inability to let go of my initial grief over Jimmy and get on with the process, get on with living.

I was a crazy person.

I had Demetra George do my astrological chart and give me a reading. I called a meeting of my Jimmy Community and offered up the proof of it: See? I’m not crazy, it says so in the stars. My friends were loving and tolerant, but they thought I was fucking nuts.

After Jimmy’s murder, I walked down streets angry at strangers and thought, How the fucking hell can you look at me and not see the huge pain inside of me? Probably how I looked at my father when my Aunt Jamie gave me the deep wound that came from her cruelty and violence. The wound she gave me when I was four years old. The wound I was so disconnected from with the passing of years of my life where I got up in the morning, and played, and laughed and loved.

What I did was, after Jimmy was shot in the head, I walked away from my life. I disconnected my phone, I moved, I didn’t say goodbye to the man I love.

I didn’t respond to people who tried to contact me.

I ran off the stubborn friends that tried to stick around. The few friends I kept were not friends in my Jimmy Community.

I gave away most of my stuff, or dumped my belongings at the Salvation Army down on Burnside Street here in Portland.

I got rid of my cowgirl shirts and my riding pants. I quit saying the things I used to say like, Honey, I called everybody Honey. I quit saying, Rope and Ride, and I’d fuck a rock pile if I thought a snake was in it.

I didn’t know who I was anymore.

I said, “I’m having kids now.”

I did, I had two daughters and took child development and parenting seriously. I mommed like my life depended on it.

It did. My life depended on it.

When Jimmy was murdered, my insides hurt so bad I wanted to kill myself.

Walking away from my life was an attempt at never having to feel that terrible, physical pain pushing me from the inside out, again.

I wouldn’t understand what happened inside me when Jimmy was killed for another twenty years, when another event in my life caused me to lose my shit and to go back to my therapist.

I told my therapist Nadine, “I feel as bad as I did when Jimmy was murdered. I want to kill myself.”

“Really?” Nadine said-asked. She reflected back to me in her tone that my reaction to the current event, the one twenty years after Jimmy died, that I’m not going to go into here, was incongruous with how I was feeling.

I had had enough therapy with Nadine and understood she knows me well enough that I could hear what she was saying to me. I trust her. How she said that to me, grounded me. It was the thing that pulled me out of my emotions a little and made me think.

The hugeness of my reaction to something that was egregious, but not something a person might want to kill themselves over, that was a mystery Nadine and I unraveled together over the next couple of years.

Twenty five years ago, when I got rid of my shit, I had the wherewithal to hang onto some things that mattered: a few paintings friends had painted, some photographs, a really ugly skirt that a friend made lovingly for me, a box of old letters.

In therapy, I started to understand that it was weird how I’d abandoned my old life before I had children.

I went back to the box of old letters and read a twenty year old letter. In the postscript it said, “I hear Jimmy Carlton is working in a restaurant in LA.”

Jimmy Carlton. My ex gay boyfriend. I had been so in love with him.

Yes, there were two Jimmies. No, In fact, there were three of them. The man I loved, whom I didn’t say goodbye to is a Jimmy too. Three Jimmies.

When the universe delivers three Jimmies who I love as much as I love the three Jimmies, well, I think the universe is trying to teach me something I don’t even know I’m trying to learn.

When I read that post script, I jumped up off of my bed, slammed my bedroom door open, my feet hard on the wood floor, “Fiona!” I yelled for one of my daughters, “Fiona, get on Facebook and look for Jimmy Carlton in LA.”

She did. Fiona got on Facebook. She found the gay Jimmy.

“I can send him a message and friend request him if you want,” Fiona said.

“Yes,” I said. “Tell him, I’m sorry. And tell him I still love him.”

A couple days later, there was a message from Jimmy on Fiona’s Facebook, “Tell your mother I forgive her. And tell her that I love her too. And tell her to get on Facebook so we can talk.”

I did. I got on Facebook.

Me and Jimmy Carlton had a big ole love fest reunion on the Facebooks.

I found the Jimmy I didn’t say goodbye to. He’s happily married with three grown children.

I got on Facebook and I rode hard to catch up.

I got on Facebook and I went back into my past, and I grabbed all the love I could get my hands on.

I got on Facebook and I brought all that love up here into my everyday life.

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Hobie Bender is a Portland, Oregon writer. She studies Dangerous Writing with Tom Spanbauer and the Dangerous Writers. And, she’s made a few pies.

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EDITOR’S NOTE:

I’m old enough to remember my grandmother complaining about the intrusion of the telephone. This was before answering machines, before caller ID, before you could walk away from the phone farther than the cord would stretch. She had a party-line, which meant if you were sneaky enough, you could listen to other people’s conversations. I was sneaky enough, (hold down the plunger, put the receiver up to your ear, and then slowly lift the plunger. Make the least possible click). I spent a lot of time listening to other people’s conversations. Maybe I’m nosy, maybe I’m curious, or maybe I just love people. I imagined worlds for those voices: what they looked like, where they lived, and who they were to each other. I was already deep into my love of stories.

A lot of people complain about the intrusion of Facebook, but I think social media is here to stay, just like the telephone.

Scrolling Facebook is like strolling past people’s front porches. Some people sit with their animals, some with babies, flowers, some people are waiving their political signs. Some are having fights with friends or family. Some are more private; they don’t reveal much they just watch others. Some sit with their shotguns, fearing something they have will be taken away or they will not get something they think they deserve.

People reveal a lot of fear and call it something else.

There are lots of opinions. I don’t know what makes people think complex, long-standing social problems can be solved in 4” of electronic space. The meme after the first story above, was shared by a friend of mine and Michael Henry, the author of the second piece. This friend is a self-proclaimed conservative. Michael wrote comments that were articulate, intelligent, raw, and honest, so I asked him to write for this column. I was pleased he sent a rant.

To me, the plea at the end of the rant says it all, “Go back through your Facebook posts right now and compare the number of complaints that you are being oppressed or that someone else is getting something to the number of posts that plead for others to help those in need or to stop oppression of groups you aren’t actually a part of. Go ahead and do it now. You go out of your way to show people who you are.”

People show you who they are on Facebook: they judge, educate, delight, explore, brag, love, get revenge, connect, support, worship, create. They hurt others with thoughtless words. We are funny, sad, angry, lonely. Holier than thou, ignorant, shy. Human. My friend Matty recently said of social media, “We all need to be nicer to each other.”

I’ve been on Facebook since 2008. I get tired of it when people are mean, or stuck in their narrow views. I don’t mind pictures of pets, food, coffee, the routine. I like seeing my friends live their lives. I like the balance of deep and funny and mundane. I like knowing when someone needs help. Mostly, I love it when a bunch of people get together and help another person. When I cry, I cry most often from displays of human kindness.

I hope you enjoy this response column. The variety of stories, humor, sarcasm, poem, and art are as varied and fascinating as we are.

– Kirsten Larson

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Header Image courtesy of Isaac Cordal (1975) is an installation and street artist who lives and works in London. His work has been installed in urban areas of Berlin, London, Brussels, Liege, Barcelona, and Columbia, among others. To view his Artist Feature for NAILED, go here.

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That Bitch, Katrina by Edee Lemonier https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/that-bitch-katrina-by-edee-lemonier/ Fri, 04 Sep 2015 09:00:38 +0000 http://www.nailedmagazine.com/?post_type=ec&p=12965   Ten years ago this week all eyes were on New Orleans. I am from Biloxi, Mississippi. Most of my family is still there. + August 29, 2005 Uncle John and Aunt Dot climbed up on the kitchen counters and wedged themselves under the cabinets because everything that was water outside had overflowed. The sewage […]

The post That Bitch, Katrina by Edee Lemonier appeared first on Nailed Magazine.

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Ten years ago this week all eyes were on New Orleans. I am from Biloxi, Mississippi. Most of my family is still there.

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August 29, 2005

Uncle John and Aunt Dot climbed up on the kitchen counters and wedged themselves under the cabinets because everything that was water outside had overflowed. The sewage pumps at the nearby treatment plant failed and lines broke and sent raw sewage bubbling up through every drain. There was four feet of shit water inside their house. Aunt Dot is only five feet tall.

Uncle David, Aunt Susan, their two adult kids, and their five-year-old grandchild were forced to swim for their lives to their neighbors’ house on slightly higher ground in the middle of 174mph winds. They then had to break into the house to get to safety. Uncle Laurence stayed behind because as a childhood polio survivor he was a weak swimmer and didn’t think he would make it. He went into the back room of the house, which is slightly higher than the front. Uncle Laurence watched the water rise outside, higher than the water inside the house. It covered the windows, then receded just as fast. When the storm was finally over, Uncle David went back for Uncle Laurence. David had to break in through a window. Laurence was asleep in a chair that was still floating.

man floating hurricane katrina essay

Laurence, floating in his chair

Uncle Laurence escaped death twice. His decision to stay with his brother was a last-minute one, and the entire front of his house was shoved to the back, as far as the refrigerator and debris would allow.

My grandparents, who were in their early nineties, saw a young Vietnamese family swimming up their street. They had two babies with them. My grandparents opened the door and yelled for them to come inside. The family spoke no English, my grandparents spoke no Vietnamese. In one of the highest areas, they still had four inches of water inside their home. When it was over, the young Vietnamese mother started cleaning the house for Grandma to show her gratitude.

Donna DeSilvey, an old high school friend, went with her dad, Doug, and her mom, Nadine, to Nadine’s parents’ house. They figured two-story brick was better than a single story. At some point they had to go upstairs because of the water level. They sat on the bed together. They held hands and prayed. There was a noise, Doug got up to look out the window. The entire house collapsed, killing Donna, Nadine, and Nadine’s parents. Doug rode out the rest of the storm clinging to a tree, keeping track of his family’s bodies in the water below him so he could give them a proper burial.

During a break at the back-to-school training for teachers I dialed my dad’s phone number. I got a fast busy. A teacher from my building said, “Oh come one, Lemonier, it can’t be that bad. I know they’re all down there knocking back beers, partying it up, watching it rain.” Dialed again. Fast busy. Again. Again. Again. Dial, fast busy. Dial, fast busy.

My cousin Jonathan, who lived near Birmingham, Alabama, called to tell me he couldn’t reach any of our family, except his sister, who also couldn’t reach anyone. She had evacuated to her boyfriend’s house less than an hour away. It was her thirty-fifth birthday.

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August 30, 2005

My cousin Regina called from Texas and said she’d heard through a very long grapevine that the house Uncle David was staying in was gone. Also Uncle Laurence’s house. We didn’t know they had gotten out. We thought they were all dead.

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August 31, 2005

My cousin Jonathan called on my way to school. He was crying so hard it made me cry. “I got the best birthday present ever,” he said. His dad (Uncle John) had borrowed a neighbor’s car and had driven all over to find his brothers and their families. “They’re alive,” said Jonathan. “All of them. Most of their houses are gone, but they’re alive. Your dad, too. And his house only took a little bit of damage.” I called Aunt Marguerite and Regina in Texas. Jonathan called another cousin and Aunt Nancy in Georgia. I was nearly an hour late for the meeting. I walked in and all heads turned. “Well?” my principal asked. “They’re alive.” I could barely say it. Everyone clapped. The teacher who was positive there’d been a kegger whispered across the room to me. “I’m super relieved to hear it,” she rasped. Fuck you, I wanted to scream. It took everything in me not to. At every break I tried my dad’s number. Fast busy. Fast busy. Fast busy. Keg bitch breathing down my neck, asking if I’d gotten hold of him yet. Fuck you.

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September 1, 2005

My phone rang. The caller ID showed my dad’s number. I answered with, “Daddy?” “Hey sweetheart. Just wanted to let you know we’re okay. We made it.” The line went dead. It was another week before I could get through to him again.

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Header image courtesy of Harry Byrne. To view his photo essay, “Hued Scars,” go here.

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edee lemonier katrina essay nailed magazineEdee Lemonier writes in Vancouver, Washington. Her work has appeared in Flash Fiction MagazinePartnersMagazine, NAILED, and a few other places online and in print. She is currently working on her first novel, Magnolia.

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The post That Bitch, Katrina by Edee Lemonier appeared first on Nailed Magazine.

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