oh, girl….

It's a food baby!

It’s a food baby!

Last week, I was hanging out with my friend Missy. We’d just gone to Relay for Life so she could walk the survivors’ lap, then we had dinner and we decided to go downtown to have some frozen yogurt from Sweet Kreations, because although I am generally opposed to places that have intentionally-misspelled names (does the K make it cute kute?), their frozen yogurt is basically the best thing in life, so they get a pass. So, we were sitting on a bench, eating our yogurt, when we were approached by a man who needed $10. Missy handed him some cash, then he looked at me and this happened:

Him: Oh girl, is you pregnant?

Me: No.

Him: Well, you are gonna have a future boy.

Me: [Hands him a dollar.]

[And scene.]

Now, over the course of my life, I have been fat and I have been thin. Currently, I’m kind of… middling. Like, nobody’s going to tell me I’m too thin and talk behind my back about how they should force feed me a cheeseburger, but I’m not obese, either. Just kind of… eh, middling.

Speaking of middles, I have one. It is where I carry weight, because the universe is an inherently unjust place and I couldn’t just get fat in my boobs. Fine. And since I have terrible posture, my middle tends to be more pronounced than it would be if I would ever just sit or stand up straight. But one thing I know for sure is that even on my slouchiest, most bloated day, I don’t look pregnant. Because pregnant women look like they are carrying a baby, whereas I look like I’m carrying some excess weight. So, this guy, having never seen a pregnant woman before, jumped to the conclusion that all that frozen yogurt I’ve eaten this summer had impregnated me. Fair enough. Also, he was high.

The morning after this happened, I took this photo in the mirror at Missy’s house:

This is me and Missy's dog Odin. He thinks he is my boyfriend.

This is me and Missy’s dog Odin. He thinks he is my boyfriend.

Granted, Odin photobombed me and got his head right in front of the area of my body in question, but still.

So, I have something to say:

When is it okay to ask a woman if she’s pregnant? The answer is never. It is never okay. It doesn’t matter if she really looks pregnant. It doesn’t matter if she really looks pregnant and is wearing a t-shirt that says “ASK ME ABOUT MY PREGNANCY THAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW!” because you know, she could be two weeks post-partum and that’s the only shirt she has that doesn’t have baby spit-up on it. Or maybe she can’t read and she got it at a yard sale. Either way, don’t ask. Because the truth is that it is always open season for commentary on women’s bodies. She’s too fat, she’s too skinny, she looks great (so she must’ve lost weight), why did she leave the house in that dress doesn’t she know it makes her look like a sack of potatoes, she looks pregnant, she’s six months along and she’s not even showing, that ASS, that RACK. Good or bad, compliment or not a compliment, walking out of the house in the morning is like BRING IT ON, WORLD, PLEASE TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT HOW I LOOK. And you know what? Shut up.

And the next guy who asks me if I’m pregnant is not getting a dollar.

back when art garfunkel was the mayor of new york

I think this was after I almost accidentally set her on fire with a sparkler.

I think this was after I almost accidentally set her on fire with a sparkler. Photo by Levi.

This past weekend, I drove to a place in Indiana that you’ve probably never heard of to surprise my friend Caryn on her birthday. I drove a lot of miles, was all “Yo, surprise!” and then I ate some cobbler. With three layers of crust. Who invented cobbler with three layers of crust? Because whoever you are, I love you so much.

It was a good time, and it was great to see Caryn and Levi again — up until this past Friday, I hadn’t seen them since their wedding in 2008, so it had been awhile. There was a time when the three of us ran Literary Kicks together and did some live events and some online events and it was pretty cool, you know? It was also insane, but we had fun. They’re a pair of great people.

So, in honor of old times, here is a poem I actually wrote back in those wacky Action Poetry days when I didn’t know how to use the Shift key. It may or may not be any good, and may or may not have been influenced by bourbon, but it does read like a fever dream. (It was a response to a piece by Caryn also called “back when art garfunkel was the mayor of new york” because that’s how Action Poetry worked.) I read this aloud at a reading at the now-defunct Eclectic Gallery back in 2003, when I looked like this:

Wherein I am cooler than Gertrude Stein, because she didn't have a LitKicks t-shirt.

Wherein I am cooler than Gertrude Stein, because she didn’t have a LitKicks t-shirt.

Here goes:

back when art garfunkel
was the mayor of new york
i wore my hair long
to the parade
that day when it was so windy
and the sunlight streamed
like lemonade
for fifteen cents
from the kid on the corner
who wanted to buy a pet turtle
and name him buddy
i kept postcards from
west virginia
in the pocket of my overcoat
as a memory of a place
i had passed through once or twice
and it was me in too-large shoes
struggling to keep up
with the ringing phone
in the booth on the corner
calling while operators
were standing by
waiting to connect me
to the confetti and streamers
billowing down to the streets
back when art garfunkel
was the mayor of new york

only in the summer

It is summer when the air is so heavy, it is no longer truly air. It is air-and-then-some; you could almost grab a handful from in front of you and shove it into your mouth, roll it around on your tongue and mix it with your breath. It is not sweet like cotton candy or a sin like cigarette smoke. It is heat.

It is summer when you are conscious of movement, of walking through air, because it is something you must pass through, and you feel it on your skin. Like spiderwebs at night, you don’t see it, but you know when it touches you. It is wet, sticky. Your hands feel dirty after a moment or two, like you’ve been picking up garbage out of the gutter, but you’ve only just walked across the parking lot from your car to the office.

Oppressive, perhaps, you hate the way it feels when your hair sticks to the back of your neck, suddenly damp after no bath, no effort. Not long enough for a ponytail, you try pushing it away, holding it up for a moment until you give up and it falls, limp and not-exactly-sweaty, gluing itself to your nape.

You have to peel your t-shirt from your back as you cross the street. You’ve only been outside for three minutes.

That is how you know it’s summer.

You can’t quite bear it, the way you might breathe enough to drown, but it is not winter, you remind yourself as you wipe sweat from your face again. It is summer, which is your favorite because it’s the season of so much sunshine. You love it. It is never what you want.

But then there’s a storm, violent, loud. You keep tripping over your dog who won’t move away from any place that isn’t right under your feet (she is terrified the thunder will murder her). The electricity in the air fizzes against the wet heat. There is enough rain to leave mosquito-factory puddles for days. But there’s wind. So much wind.

And in the morning when you go outside, grateful that the tree limb that fell out front didn’t land on your house, you take a breath and it doesn’t feel soggy. The air is no longer dirty. It is both smart and soft, being alive in it feels lovely, like sliding into freshly-washed sheets.

The air smells crisp, it smells clean, yet also smells just slightly like dirt. The world smells fresh, brand new. It will age and wilt as the day goes on, but right then, that smell of the morning after a storm, that is the scent of summer.


welcome to jamelah.net 3.0

A few months ago, I wrote a post about how I wanted to start blogging again, and then promptly did not start blogging again. I’d come here and look at the posts and think about writing, and then I’d think, “Eh,” and go do something else. But I kept thinking about it, about writing, and I finally decided to go for it. Except I wanted one thing: to start over. Really start over. So, you may notice that the six years of posts that were here before this post (if you’ve been here before) are gone now. I don’t need them anymore, and neither does anybody else, for that matter (except, according to my site stats, people from England who want to put together a TV stand — I don’t know why completely unhelpful TV stand instructions from my blog are so important to the English, but I’m truly sorry, and I hope you have a drill and some extra screws in case the damn thing turns out wobbly, and also, best of luck).

This isn’t the first time I’ve employed the nuclear option with my blog. The last time I did it was six years ago, after that version of my site had existed for six years. Maybe every six years, I get an uncontrollable urge to blow it up and start again, I don’t know. But here we are. What’s over is over, and I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates blog, and I’m ready to go.

So. Let’s start again, shall we?

I’m Jamelah. I’m 34, I’m not married, and no, I don’t want to date you. I have a degree in English and I have a job that has nothing to do with having a degree in English (go figure), but I do get annoyed at bad grammar in other people’s emails, so there’s that. I have read Ulysses, and I have made a vow never to read Moby-Dick (nothing against you, Melville; good work with Bartleby); my favorite novel is The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, and my favorite poet is Adrienne Rich. I like beer, and having a pint or two (usually two) sometimes after work. I used to take photos a lot — my all-time favorite is still this one:

the fighter returns

the fighter returns

Because, you know, badass.

These days, my photos are not so dramatic. The other day, I was running in the cemetery and I paused to take a photo of a hill:

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Yeah. There are deer on it? Still. Yeah.

Anyway, I like thunderstorms and fireflies and Urban Decay cosmetics (especially the blue sparkly eyeliner because I’m Klass with a capital K, baby) and red shoes and spending hours in bookstores and black coffee and iced tea and the stupid face my dog makes when she is deliriously happy and David Tennant and guys with tattoos and live theater and listening to music way too loud (for which I apologize to anyone who will know me when I’m older because I won’t be able to hear a word you say) and going to the beach and going for walks and daisies and run-on sentences.

I like fresh starts. So here’s this one.