Browsing Tag

memory

Guest Posts, memories, Sexual Assault/Rape

Freshman Orientation

July 26, 2017
memory

CW: This essay discusses sexual assault. If you or someone you know has been assaulted, find help and the resources you need by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673, or visit www.RAINN.org.

By Shannon Brazil

All those parenting cliches you hear, it goes by in the blink of an eye and its over before you know it. I hate to tell you, but they’re all true. Five minutes ago our firstborn stood between my husband and me holding our hands and we swung her into the air. One, two, three, wee. Now, the oldest of four, fourteen years old, she walked in front of us wearing my old Doc Martins. From the actual 90s. Her hair, long bleached blonde. Day-glo blue at the tips. The three of us pushed through the double doors of her high school and the sign that read, Freshman Orientation Night.

Inside the building there were glossy linoleum floors. Florescent lights overhead. And the bright, boundless energy of teen volunteers. We handed maps. Maps that were highlighted in pink to mark popular sites like the caf and the gym. My stomach pulled into tight twisted knots. Knots that made sense. The grief of babyhood to childhood to adulthood. All wrapped up in my daughter. Except not.

Except a hard something clogged the back of my throat somewhere near the cafeteria. I fished a cough drop out of the bottom of my bag. Told myself to get a grip. On the down-low I joked with my husband about how much I hated high school. My husband was an A student. Me, I barely made it through. Head in the clouds, my grade school teachers said. Doesnt apply herself, they said in high school. Late-bloomer, the guidance counselor had hoped. But she wasn’t making any promises. Lucky for my kids, I was a mom who defended the dreamy late bloomers of the world. I would help teach each one of them how to apply themselves in their own good time. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Inspiration, Travels

Degree of Latitude

February 5, 2017
map

By Josephine Ensign

This is a test of your mental state.1

  1. Where are you right now? (But first: Who are you? What’s the story of your true name?)
  2. What’s the date—day, month, year? (Where did you come from and where are you headed?)
  3. Repeat these three words after me: whale, map, stone. (Don’t question them; they’re important words.)
  4. Spell world backwards. (Now spell world spinning.)
  5. Repeat the phrase: ‘A rolling stone gathers no moss.’ What do you suppose it means? (Be careful of your answer. It can indicate instability.)
  6. Take these stones in your right hand. Roll them slowly in your hand like dice. Drop them on the floor. (Repeat. Gently, rhythmically. Imagine ocean waves lapping the shores of a pebbled beach.)
  7. Write a sentence. (Now write another sentence connected with the first. Repeat.)
  8. Tell me the names of the three items I gave you earlier. (Remember them? Whale, map, stone….)

 _________________________________________

Whale.

August 11, 1980. Time: 1720/ Position: 49.39 degrees N, 60.29 degrees W. Sea level. Banc Beauge, Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Canada.

Call me Josephine, although at the time I went by my childhood nickname: BJ. I’ve just turned nineteen and I’m at the helm of the Westward, a 125-foot topsail schooner oceanographic research vessel out of Woods Hole, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. We’re under full sail. I’m steering a course SE toward Lark Harbour, Bay of Islands, Newfoundland. I glance down at the glass globe crystal ball of the compass binnacle in front of me. We’ve been blown off-course by a Force Nine gale lasting two days and nights. Today it’s passed by to the north, leaving us in sight of the desolate flat-lined coast of Labrador. The heavy grey clouds undulate above us, breaking in places to lapis sky. The breeze is stiff and steady, whipping small white-frothed waves against our hull. Continue Reading…

Abuse, Guest Posts

Of Mice and Memory

June 6, 2016
abuse

By Avery M. Guess

Dealing with the consequences of abuse looks a lot like this:

You go into your kitchen one morning and pull the small frying pan out of the bottom cupboard—the one to the right of the stove, one of the two or three in this rented house’s kitchen you have to close just right if you want the latch to catch—because you are determined to eat better and save money and because you love egg sandwiches with cheese for breakfast.

You see what looks like a mouse turd. You wonder how it got there—how there could be a mouse in your kitchen that had previously only harbored black ants and four (maybe more, but definitely four) termites prior to your landlady spraying for them while you were out of town at a writing conference in Tennessee.

You step on the garbage lid opener and dump the offending turd, clean the pan, cook your egg. Sooner than later that day you are pretty sure it wasn’t the poop of a rogue rodent you saw, but your imagination playing tricks on you. You see something in everything. Patterns that aren’t there. This was nothing. Never mind the now half-remembered odd sounds coming from the same cupboard over the last couple of weeks. Sounds you also dismissed because they came like memories—only every so often and gone before you could recognize them as something real, something tangible. Continue Reading…

Binders, Guest Posts

Indelible

September 3, 2015

By Claire Handscombe

On the road we sang Jean-Jacques Goldman. We sang about love. We sang about dark grey and light grey. We sang about the lure of communism and anarchy and the dream of flying away from responsibilities. We sang about Jewish children in the war. We sang about a woman who leaves breadcrumbs on her balcony for the pigeons, who lives her life vicariously, though we had no idea what vicariously meant. We sang, improbably, about women having babies without men. We sang about the indelible footprints that people leave on our lives when they go.

We sang though we should have been sleeping. At four a.m. we had been up, the countdown over at last, school out for two glorious months, all the maths and the Latin and the Dutch lessons done until September, which was an eternity away, so far away that there was no point thinking about it, because it did not exist. At four thirty we had picked up our heavy duffle bags, tried again to squeeze our sleeping bags into their covers, failed, and told ourselves it didn’t matter, that we would just fold them up and sit on them all the way down to the South of France. And at five there we had been, in a pre-ordained car park on the outskirts of an ugly Belgian industrial city which we loved because it had come to symbolise tea towel fights and midnight snacks, whispered secrets and campfires.

On the road it was dark and cold. On the road it was warmer and lighter and then almost unbearably hot as we drove south through France into the heat of the day. On the road it was mostly monotonous motorways until it was windy and nauseating, but we didn’t care about any of that because we had landed a space in the Mahieu family van, and that was the only place in the world we wanted to be. Singing to the same 80s pop cassette. Sharing out sweets and biscuits. Unwrapping sandwiches that had been lovingly wrapped in tin foil by our mothers. Poking small cartons of orange juice with straws and spilling the sticky drink onto our laps. Laughing with Marianne, who sat in the front rubbing her belly, pregnant for the fifth time, dispensing instructions on driving and life to her long-suffering husband.

The first night we slept in beds in the stone house. It was late and we had earned it with all that sitting, and no one had the energy to pitch tents. We wriggled into our sleeping bags and whispered about who would be in which team for the week’s competitions. We thought about the boys we had crushes on. We wondered who would be new this year and hoped they would fit in and not mess with the well-established order of long-held friendships. And in the morning, we waited.

We waited for the others to arrive, cars and vans full of Belgian adolescents. We waited, feeling as though we were the owners of this paradise, preparing to welcome guests to our home. We waited, slightly smug that we knew already who was going to be on washing up duty tomorrow.

We put on suncream. We put on shorts. We put on t-shirts, and the boys took theirs off again by lunchtime. We put on the blue and red scarves that said we belonged together. We put up the big blue tent and chose our sleeping spots, rolling out our sleeping bags over our airbeds and saving a space for Hélène next to us. And we waited.

The vans arrived and tired families tumbled out, families whose parents were leading the camp and had all of their children in tow, from the eldest who was one of us to the baby in a carseat. The cars arrived and holdalls and rucksacks were lugged to the tent. The cars arrived and we kissed  everybody’s cheeks three times, Belgian-style, introduced new people, and the sounds of anticipation and welcome echoed throughout the grounds, from the stone house to the back of the field where the next day we would play handball and chase each other with water pistols.

In the girls’ tent, all was order. In the girls’ tent, we put our bags at the foot of our airbeds and took out our torches and maybe our Bibles for the morning. In the girls’ tent, we lay facing each other in two rows of eight. In the girls’ tent we inwardly cheered that we had made it this time, that at last we were in the inner sanctum, right by the people we most wanted to be close to, the people everyone wanted to be close to, not like the last year’s camp when we had been put in a room with all the other misfits and new girls. This time we were next to Hélène and across from Anne-Laure and this was the way life should be. In the girls’ tent, we giggled until we saw the flashlight against the canvas in the darkness, and knew that it was time to be quiet because we did not want to be told off on the very first morning. We did not want to be told off ever, because we were good girls who wanted everyone to like us.

In the mornings, we listened to the crickets from our airbeds, our airbeds which made us all smell faintly of rubber. In the mornings, we ate bread and chocolate spread for breakfast. In the mornings, we lined up, waiting for our turn to have our hair French plaited. In the mornings, we sat in the chapel and sang again, not Jean-Jacques Goldman this time but our favourite church songs about days of joy and days of victory and about God being love and listening to us when we called. In the mornings, we sat under the shade of the tree across form the tent and talked. We played volleyball. We were called in for potato peeling duty. We were told to chop vegetables and were too scared to say that we never did it at home and didn’t know which way to cut an onion.

We sang in the mornings. We sang in the afternoons. We sang in the evenings, in the chapel again, but different songs this time. We sang about the story of a sock with holes weeping on the edge of a bin. We sang about spending the night walking around the Champs-Elysées. We sang campfire songs that made no sense but whose sole purpose was to get louder and louder until we almost lost our voices.

We didn’t have mobile phones. There was no phone at all, or maybe one, but long-distance calls were expensive and unnecessary unless someone was dying, which of course no one was, because we were young and invincible. There was no post, even, because our parents would have had to write to us two weeks before we left so that we got the letters on time. There was no Facebook. There was no Twitter. Some of us had cameras but not a lot of pocket money for films or to have our films developed, and so we took twenty, maybe thirty, photos in total over ten days and we hoped for the best and later we were excited when the photo of our favourite family came put well enough to be blown up and framed and hung on a bedroom wall in memory of the perfect summer. We lived in the moment and years later we marvelled that our memory had taken its own photographs. This, too, Jean-Jacques Goldman had sung about, so we should have known. Continue Reading…

Abuse, Guest Posts

Forever Me and You, In My Memory, Not Yours

June 16, 2015
Book Girl Power: You Are Enough now! Space is limited. Sep 19 Princeton! Sep 20th NYC. The book is also forthcoming from Jen Pastiloff.

Book Girl Power: You Are Enough now! Space is limited. Sep 19 Princeton! Sep 20th NYC. The book is also forthcoming from Jen Pastiloff.

Sensitive material in this essay: Mention of rape/sexual assault.

By Stephanie Santore

I can’t be in public places because of you. I can’t tolerate large crowds. I can’t tolerate loud noises. This is after almost ten years. You still linger with me. I carry you with me wherever I go. I can’t tolerate strange people asking for a beer and the simple transaction between two humans that requires getting you, that stranger, the beer you need. I’m afraid of the dark. I’m afraid of strange noises, I’m afraid that the headlights behind me having a person behind the wheel that wants to follow me home, knowing I am alone. They all know I am vulnerable. You know I am vulnerable. I carry weapons of various degrees. I never use them. They make me feel safer, just in case. But it doesn’t stop the mistrust. It doesn’t stop the fear. It’s in case you come back for me, in another form, another shape. Or even if you ever decide to come back for me just as you are. Knowing I did nothing. Knowing I am afraid. The girl you knew I was, hence why you chose me in the first place. FUCK YOU. Because you were right.

I never used to be this way until I met you. Yet it’s funny to say that, because I barely know you. I know that I am only a passing moment of supposed pleasure that happened in your life. But to me, you’ve been the bane of my existence. Everything I am. Everything I feel. Everything I do or everything I feel, or everything I have not been able to do or feel, has been because of you.

I like to feel that I am in control my life. But I’m not.  I act like I am. People think I am. Sometimes, I think I am. Sometimes, I really am. But they don’t know you. They don’t know the stranger that took over my life. They don’t know what you’ve done. In the darkness. Hidden within my secrets. In the years of anything other than the truth. I don’t want to admit that you’ve won, because you haven’t. I have faced many battles and still, I have won. You were there for every single one, in the back of my mind. The many silent “fuck you’s” my conscience has voiced, to no one other than me, no one other than you, hoping you get them, somehow, some way, wherever you are.

In a fucked up way, I have you to thank for some of my accomplishments. I have done them out of overcoming you, I have done them to spite you, I have done them to prove to you that I can. I have battled you and won. I have succeeded for many things beyond you. But still, you are always here. You are always with me. Deep down, you are there. You never go away. I suppose you have long forgotten me. But I will never forget you. I think that’s how it’s supposed to go. How you always imagined it to be. You move on. But I get to live with your ghost until I breathe my last breath of this life that is supposedly mine.

Continue Reading…

Binders, Family, Guest Posts

Forget Memory

March 30, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Marcelle Soviero.

The door buzzer goes off on my way in, I’ve forgotten again to key in the passcode, but the patients are not rattled, only the nurses notice the piercing sound as loud and long as a siren.

The unit is locked so patients don’t get out, don’t get lost. My mother has a bracelet around her ankle now, prisoner style, just in case. She wanders, my mother. Wandering is what got us here. The time just nine months ago when she left her condo unit to check the mail and instead walked to the post office, lost. That was the day we knew. We just knew.

Dirty carpets line the hallway, chipped radiators hiss with heat, but it is always cold here. And every one is old, so much older than Mom who is turning 74 next month. She’d been diagnosed with early onset dementia on her birthday two years ago.

The woman I know as Gladys, wears her usual knit hat and scarf with her striped pajamas; she startles me as I walk down the hallway. “My baby!” she says, “My baby!” speaking to the doll cradled in her arms.

“Looking for Mary Blue Eyes?” Nurse Kelly says, “She’s in her room.” This is what all the aides and nurses call my mother. When I peek in Mom is in her bed, sleeping. She is always in bed now, her long days distilled to a haiku.

Her usually chestnut hair is flat and dyed too black, I reach out for her hand that is thin as crepe paper, and her eyes open.

“Marci,” she says, and I tear up, because she remembers me on this particular morning.

“I brought you raspberry yogurt,” I say in a sing-song voice, ever upbeat when I am with her. I sit on her twin bed, I always sit on the bed, never on the upholstered chair next to her. I want to look into her eyes and see what memories are there today, maybe a short sentence, or a lyric from her life, or nothing. Continue Reading…

Abuse, Anonymous, courage, Guest Posts, healing

There Are The Things I Remember.

February 26, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88

TRIGGER WARNING This article or section, or pages it links to, contain information about sexual assault and/or rape which may be triggering to survivors.

 

By Anonymous.

“I felt as if I were already redefining it, already dropping (ahead? behind?) into a state of retrospection.  I was worried that my memory wouldn’t do me any favours; that it would only make things worse… A constant tug of war: wanting to remember, wanting to forget… How was this journey, this movement to be mapped?”

– Emily Rapp, The Still Point of the Turning World                                    

 

Memory can be a tricky thing.  Our genetic makeup is clever; if something happens to us and we aren’t strong enough to remember, our mind and body has mechanisms to make that memory go away or to minimize the damage of the memory’s daily impact.

I never forgot being raped.  I had memories of it, but I pushed them away until they didn’t bother coming around anymore.  But my secrets were impacting my insides deeply, and then the memories came back daily on their own, knocking, seeking acknowledgement.

Continue Reading…

Daily Manifestation Challenge, Delight

Your Favorite Memory. The DMC.

February 19, 2012

Dear Manifesters, today’s DMC is a sweet one that came to me after I updated my Facebook last night and asked people “What is your favorite memory?”

My last retreat to Mexico is popping into my mind as the greatest one for me. It is tied with Good Morning America filming my birthday karaoke class and my nephew Blaise being in my arms as my friend Annabel gave a speech at my wedding. Also tied with New Year’s Day at my friends’ house in London as we sang and donned hats for a hat party and didn’t move from the kitchen all day.

My wedding at Yogaco ( cancelled class, Red cross sponsored and we gave all money to Haiti earthquake relief.)

Can you tell how happy I was? Holding onto my friend Cameron Mathison (GMA correspondent) as GMA filmed my karaoke class on my birthday!

Today’s DMC is really just meant to be a collage. A collage of your favorite memories. Below, write down what your favorite memories are. The top 3 even. I cannot wait to see them all. Together. Floating on the same page.

Having lost my dad at such a young age, I have been fairly obsessed with the idea of memory for a long time. In fact, here are a few lines from a poem I wrote 8 years ago:

We never know where we will find our history,

where we will discover what has formed us,

What we will find while farming tomatoes.

Exhuming beauty from the soil, excavating remains.

The unearthing of things long forgotten.

The source of the blue-green jade used by the Olmec remains a mystery,

As most things of beauty often will. 

You carve from clay-

The pounding of it, the pulverizing,

This creation and inevitable destruction of matter.

 

You are a sculptor.

This process as inevitable as any ritual-

Like watching women pound acorns with oblong rocks.

Holes the size of nickels created by the repetition,

The repeated impact of stone against stone.

I think of you sculpting red clay into things of mythic beauty-

Then letting it dry and crushing it into the earth, to be reshaped.

The repetition of this, the rebuilding.

This natural desire towards achievement.

What turns into memory? 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I find it interesting which memories stick in our minds. Which memories morph so they no longer represent what actually happened but what we need to remember it as so. Which things do not even make it to memory status. Why should some memory be so lucky and others fall into a dark corner of the mind, into an abyss of thought and sound and things that happened to us when we were babies?

The way some memories stay strong is by sharing them. By retelling them. The fact is, you can never ever go back into the past, but you can tap into that magic again by sharing and letting yourself feel what it felt like the first time. Maybe the memory makes you feel even better, in fact?

I can’t wait to read your favorite memories below.

I am fascinated by how one moment we are living in it and the next it is living in our minds. Forever.

I think one of the great ways of keeping memories alive is by sharing them. Also, by pictures (hence my obsession also with photographs.)

(Click here to watch me on Good Morning America. Truly one of the my favorite moments of all time. My face hurt from laughing after this day. A lot.)

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/year-fitness-trends-15233963

Lastly, I will leave you with an excerpt from Brandi Mayo, an amazing girl who attended my beloved Mexico retreat. She wrote a letter to the attendees in an effort to not have our magic fade. To keep the memory alive, as they say.

You will see why, in fact, it is my favorite memory:

1) I am incredibly blessed. Specifically, I am incredibly blessed that I get to take Jen’s classes and am reminded that the magic of what conspired in Xinalani was real. Over the past two weeks I have found myself on this incredible emotional roller coaster of highs and lows replaying the week over and over again wondering if the “magic” was real – wondering how I integrate that “magic” into “real life” where most people walk around with a solid metal jacket of fear and judgment. Every time I take Jen’s class, I am taken back to that safe place, where I allowed myself to be silly – to not take myself so seriously – something for which I am very adept. Having that safe place in my own backyard, every time I take Jen’s class I leave with that same feeling of lightness I felt in Xinalani, and a huge smile on my face. As I walk back to my apartment or grab a starbuck I find myself smiling at everyone, and I have come to notice that smile is so incredibly powerful. I see it transform stranger’s faces as I look them in the eye and give them a huge smile for no apparent reason. I see that solid metal jacket of fear and judgment start to melt away. That is how the magic is integrated.

2) The magic was and is real! When I have told my friends and family, I have started the story by explaining that a group of 13 “nearly-complete strangers” came together and left fear and judgment at the door. I’m coming to believe this is the “magic” ingredient of what conspired at Xinalani. We all met each other at the Corner of Fearlessness and Love, and just as Jen explained in a recent blog post, the only way we could have “fallen in love” with each other, could only have happened by falling in love with ourselves first. I truly believe that happened because we each faced our own personal fears in the face.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please feel free to go into detail and be poetic and grand and silly and personal. It’s what makes us human. This sharing of our stories. This showing the world the things that makes us come alive.

The things and people that make us smile.

GO! Share your favorite memory/memories below. 

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