I am a goddess, a glorious female warrior

This past week I attended a branded event for a food company releasing its new condiment that you can put on an assorted variety of vegetables (vagueness intended). The event advertised a free yoga class and meditation. The theme:

You are a goddess.

140203_2716952_Puppy_Party_

“I am goddess, a glorious female warrior.” Yes. Yes, I am. via nbc.com

I was there for the yoga and the free food (Free food is my jam. Or is it my bread?).

During the yoga class, as I struggled and sweated my way through triangle pose, warrior II and downward facing dog (sometimes while staring directly at wall art that read “You are a goddess”), I didn’t feel particularly divine.

I’ve been trying to do this thing where I’m honest with myself about what I want—not what I should want, not what I pretend to want, but what I really, genuinely want. This is a lot harder than it might seem.

whatdoyouwant

Me. via giphy.com

If you start wanting things, you might also start not getting them. It’s tricksy.

Usually, I only find out I want something because I’m lying on the grass using my hat to cover my face as my tears run into my sunscreen and sting my eyes, trying to cry in public in peace and tranquility like a normal person.

[Yes, when I don’t get what I want, I cry like a four year old who wanted to meet Mickey Mouse but got Donald Duck instead.]

So let’s talk about things that I’m not supposed to want, let’s see, money, beauty, fame, success, power, love—did I miss anything.

Why though? I know that being grateful for what you have is good, and I was constantly told I was ungrateful by a parent who never seemed to be able to go into detail about how I might be more grateful, at least in a way that would make him feel like I was grateful enough—

But still, isn’t this the culture where wanting it all is precisely the point?

So there I was, grunting and sweating my way through a goddess flow, not exactly feeling myself but definitely feeling a bit shaky and lightheaded from all the physical exertion.

After the yoga class, we hit the bar for some vegan fare showcasing the new condiment. It tasted very healthy.

I met another woman who was honestly hashtag friend goals (Help! I’m an introvert and I don’t know how to make friends without being creepy). I mentioned that I really wanted one of the cropped hoodies that they had on display and wondered out loud how to get one.

She went over and asked some of the organizers how to get a hoodie and reported back in whispered tones that they were on sale for $25 but she thinks another girl just walked away with one because she didn’t know (like I said, friend goals).

At home later, I checked out the brand’s Instagram account and they had reposted an Instagram influencer’s story of attending the event that ended with a photo of her wearing the sweatshirt that read, “Thanks for the cute sweatshirt @brandnameredacted!”

Instantly, I felt a hot rush of—what’s a word for if shame, anger, jealousy and disgust had a super ugly baby?

I felt grossed out by the corporate hypocrisy, sure, but there was this even deeper sense of my own unworthiness:

I am a goddess—but not divine enough to merit free swag.

I am a goddess—but a lesser one, not as worthy of worship as the 22 year-old with better abs and 14.5K followers on Instagram.

I am a goddess—but let’s be real, there’s still a hierarchy of value in which I miiiiiiight squeak in at 46th place, if I’m lucky. I’m not hot enough, not pretty enough, not fit enough or attractive enough or young enough.

But I think the question goes deeper than whether I’m influencer enough or whether I have abs (I don’t)—it’s a question of how our culture chooses to value women by unattainable standards of beauty and youth, all while touting equally unattainable standards of boundless, infinite self-love, that, not coincidentally, will help us to achieve our wildest dreams!

It’s all so easy if you just believe. We’re allowed to want everything and nothing at the same time. And let’s not even talk about the taboo of wanting what another woman has.

God forbid I want anything at all. The best that I can do is be happy with the little joy I’ve managed to eke out in the present. And I’m really, really good at living with less.

One of my friends once said, “When I stop having a dream, it’s really hard to feel hope.” And without hope it’s really, really hard to do anything at all.

What do you want? No what do you really want? What’s the stupidest, dumbest, most shameful or shallow thing that you can bring yourself to admit that want?

Fuck being a goddess. Be a messy, emotional wreck of a person who wants things.

Pain

I listened to a podcast episode about writing with Dan Harmon and Jessica Gao because the title of the episode was “I hate writing, I love having written” (throwback to earlier post).

I don’t agree with this sentiment, per se.

One of the underreported side effects of joining a writer’s co-op is that you end up talking about writing—like, a lot. Soooooooo much talking (so much writing too though, so it’s all good). Anyway, it came up in one of our discussions that the people in my little discussion group didn’t exactly love the process of writing.

I had heard this statement before (attributed to Dorothy Parker), but now, here it was looking me in the face.

Sometimes, I can get a little intense (okay, maybe a lot of the time), and I just wanted to grab someone (consensually) by the shirt lapels and shake them while looking deeply into their eyes and asking, “But, why???”

What in the Flannery O’Connor is the point of writing if you don’t like it, if it doesn’t bring you some kind of joy?

[Just to clarify—I didn’t do this. No one was grabbed or otherwise harassed in the course of writing this post, future actions not guaranteed.]

You know when you just go down that question rabbit hole, trying to figure out why people do the things that they do, particularly when those things (writing) are apparently no more appealing than sitting at the DMV or going to the dentist for a root canal. Granted, the sample size was tiny, just three people, all male.

Don’t get me wrong.

I understand pain (so do my editors, har har, but that’s probably a post for a different day). I’ve tortured myself into writing many a piece, staying up until the crack of dawn to crack open what the story is about, what it’s REALLY about.

Not what I think it’s about.

There’s that inevitable part of writing where you bang your head against the wall or desk or plaster head cast of Plato, where everything hurts and you pray for death because death would be better than actually having to write this thing I’m trying to write.

The stakes feel like life or death. Maybe they are.

Writing is pain. Life is pain. But sometimes it can be pure joy.

In the podcast, Harmon talked about how crucial his blogging had been to his writing and how he wanted to get back into writing everyday—because it was addictive (addictions are enjoyable, right?)

Can writing be so painful you would rather be eaten alive by a horde of angry fire ants you just spoiled GOT for? Hell yeah.

But also, writing is fun—fight me.

Filthy Thoughts

Hello, this is the intro to a series against purity. Die, purity, die!!

When I was trying to come up with a title for this series, I googled the word “thoughts” to see if there were any useful synonyms and the Twitter account Thoughts of Dog (@dog_feelings) came up.

I’ve never heard of it but it does have 2.47M followers and includes hot takes like:

“if someone could hold me for a bit. that’d be nice”

“i’ve been thinking about it a lot. and i love you”

It’s adorable. But we are not here to feel all warm and fuzzy, no, this is a series against purity—the concept, the word, the idea, I hate it all. Not really. But kind of really.

Confession: I think the sentimentalization of dogs in American culture is part of our unhealthy obsession with purity. Kill the sacred doggo.

I would hypothesize that when a culture relies heavily on sacred objects of holiness, goodness, and innocence, that culture also struggles to negotiate the moral complexities of flawed human beings.

I think the problem with “purity” is how slippery it is as a concept—it always contains within it its opposite, “impurity”—so to think of something as “pure” is to already imply its violation.

When we consciously or unconsciously use purity as a metric for morality or ethics, we slide into ever more punitive and unrealistic measures of shame and control.

Can purity be saved? Find out by reading this series that I haven’t written yet!

Possible topics:

Purity of thought
Purity of heart
Purity of feeling
Purity of identity
Purity of language
Purity of spirit
Purity of word
Purity of action
Purity of body

Resources I will draw from:

Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality by Richard Beck
Growing up in evangelical Christianity
Purity culture
I was an English major, so…

Shift

I’m trying to make a shift in my life. How is it going? Not so great. Half the time it’s like—what am I even doing? Why am I here? How did this baby capybara end up in my house and where did I put my will to do anything resembling “meeting adult responsibilities”?

Change is hard, baby, but paying rent is even harder. Nevertheless, she bought a scooter (this is true, unfortunately).

I’ve been writing a bit about writing and how fucking terrifying it can be to write, or more accurately, to put yourself out there in writing.

I think almost every single job I’ve had over the past 8 years, I’ve had this fear of “I hope they don’t find my blog.” I’ve worked very, very, very hard to hide. And that makes a ton of sense, given what I tend to write about.

But I guess the truth is that when you hide from the people who turn out to be unsafe, you give up something in the process.

Because the truth is, all the things that I’ve done to stay safe haven’t actually kept me safe at all. That shit DOESN’T WORK—not the hyper-vigilance, not the avoidance, not the crawling under a rock, not the being perfect so I can be loved, not the loading the dishwasher perfectly so I won’t be criticized, rejected or abandoned—

It would be easy to say that I’m tired of hiding, but I’m not. I don’t know if I ever will be. There is a part of me that will always feel safer in the darkness, in the dim light of the closet, pulling blankets over me and around me, trying to drown out the sound of something terrible happening outside.

The people who are unsafe—those people would’ve hurt me with or without my writing—I didn’t bring it on myself by being vulnerable and honest about who I am. I didn’t make them abusive or shitty. That was all on them.

I think one of the greatest lies of trauma is that you caused it or you could’ve controlled it—that you were able to change the outcome. So maybe next time, if I just do things differently—

But none of that is true. There is no safety. There never was and there never will be.

Hyper-vigilance is a fucking lie.

And so I’m trying to make a shift.

Process

Welcome back to my unofficial series on writing! It’s a brand new day to write, woohoo! Yeah. I’m tired as hell today and über-sensitive to match (You don’t hate me; I hate me). But onward and upward.

So, let’s talk about process and how writing is always a process, life is always a process, we’re all in process, blah blah blah, spare me.

I had a professor in college who…maybe didn’t quite subscribe to the idea that education is a process. Traditionally, we’ve seen education as a process of enlightenment. You don’t know shit. Then you know shit. It’s like magic!

I was taking a class on literary theory and, as in most classes on literary theory, each week or so we would learn a new type of theory: reader-response, feminist, marxist, post-colonialist, etc.

When I started college, I had this weird, classical education, quasi-Christian view of literature: great art is about transcendence, truth, meaning and probably Jesus.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Maybe it was going to college. Maybe it was going to Cambridge. Maybe it was my ever-expanding frontal lobe.

But—I started to take a slightly different approach to the Great Books™. Call me groundbreaking, but I saw each of the different theories we were studying as just another set of tools for exploring and understanding the text.

There was a sense of play—and a sense of being in process instead of arriving at one static meaning. I didn’t see each of the theories as True with a capital “T.”
I didn’t think I needed to choose only one possible truth from a set of available options.

My professor was not having it: She saw me as inconsistent and inconstant instead of in process. To her, I was just bouncing back in forth between Marxism and reader-response theory like a kid at trampoline camp.

This was 10 years ago, but I think it was a precursor to a shift that we’ve seen in education (or is it on Twitter?), from operating from a place of process to operating from a place of purity—

Be right. Be right all the time. If you’re not right, then shut the fuck up and don’t say anything at all.

When the truth is, we’re all in process. Hopefully. What other option is available to us, other than death and decay? I probably don’t agree with half the shit I believed 10 years ago.

This is where I awkwardly transition into arguing that when we cancel people, we shouldn’t cancel their work. We shouldn’t pretend as if Louis C.K. never wrote a TV show or that R Kelly never penned a pop song. For the love of theory, please don’t cancel the text. Because the text, believe it or not, is always in flux, always open to a new reading or interpretation.

Free the text.

There is no creativity without process.

Precious: Why Writers Are the Worst About Writing

I hear this a lot: Don’t be precious about your writing. Hold it loosely. So loosely, perhaps, that it slips from your grasp and into the fires of Mordor.

I think when people say “Don’t be precious about your writing” they mean “Don’t be precious about what you have written.” But what about the capacity of most writers to be precious about the act of writing itself?

As a writer, I can be so fucking dramatic sometimes about writing. So much of writing is literally just psyching myself up to write.

I was listening to a podcast episode the other day, and Dan Harmon was talking about how the only time he loved writing was when he was blogging every single day on Myspace (a drunken (?) rant worth listening to in full, starts at 46:55).

I too had a Myspace blog (RIP). And he’s right. It’s addictive. There’s something about writing everyday or writing just to write that gets under your skin, or more accurately, into your bloodstream, bypassing some of your preciousness about the act of writing.

It’s like writing can be this deep, profound thing and it can also just be complete trash. It’s like writing doesn’t have to be something that you suffer and bleed for—it can just be words on a page or screen.

I have a martyr’s complex when it comes to writing, and yes, sometimes you do sacrifice part of yourself, but—

Sometimes you just have to write for the sake of writing. Process be damned. Outcome be damned.

I think when you start to get away from the basic point of writing—which is to communicate an idea or a feeling—you start to go off the rails a bit (is writing like a train? If writing were a form of transportation, what form of transportation would it be? If you were a train, what kind of train would you be?).

I tend towards vulnerability in my writing and I also write about personal things, but I don’t think any other writer’s writing is somehow less risky or vulnerable. To create is to take a risk, to make yourself insanely, desperately exposed to the rest of the world.

I don’t think I like the word “precious” in this context. I prefer “fragile.”

I’m so, so fragile.

But sometime it’s just words.

This is the lie I need to tell myself: None of this matters. No one will read this. No one cares. Nothing will come from this.

You have to hold on and let go at the same time in order to write. It’s a balancing act.

Was I precious about writing about being precious? Maybe.

But sometimes you have to lie to yourself to get to the truth.

Don’t Touch Me

I got something on my mind. Or is it on my butt? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s on my left thigh or on my waist or my hair or my head or is it my ribcage, just below my breasts?

Your hands gripping both sides of my head. Your hand around the small of my waist. Your fingers in my hair. Your crotch pressed against my butt.

Yesterday I went to a free workout in the park with a TV personality you might recognize from a long-running franchise on ABC that uses roses as a metaphor for love— as you do in LA, or should I say, as I do in LA.

We took a picture together at the end, all hot and sweaty. And as we pressed in for the picture, I could feel the guy behind me press his frontside into my backside.

Is this really happening? Is this what I think it is?

I grew very, very still for a few seconds. Finally, I moved imperceptibly away from the pressure of his body.

I was wearing tight spandex leggings (because working out). But still (get it?). I know it’s irrelevant, but the thought still flitted through my mind.

Earlier this week, I messaged a guy on a dating app to tell him I didn’t like the way he kept touching me during our date—it wasn’t sexual, just overly familiar, seemingly more a result of his own impulses than my comfort level.

It was only after he left that I shuddered and thought, “I didn’t like that.”

I wrote earlier this year about being physically grabbed during a different photo opp, although I didn’t go into detail in that post because the details felt somehow traumatic: A man I didn’t know very well grabbed both sides of my head from behind in order to move it out of his way.

Why do I say all this? Why am I playing show and tell with my body, especially those parts that I never talk about, that are simultaneously invisible and hypervisible, this body of mine that at times doesn’t even feel like mine, doesn’t even feel like a body, and yet nevertheless continues to exist in the world, to take up space?

Something about even bringing all this up feels gross, like I want to claw off all of my skin just thinking about this guy pressing himself into me or all the other times men have grabbed me, groped me, treated my body like the person inside wasn’t even there.

I’m not sure.

All I can say is that I tend to freeze when someone touches me in an unwanted or objectifying way—I don’t say anything in the moment. I barely think anything in the moment. But I can feel a scream building up within me.

Don’t touch me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was I Groomed?

Trauma is a weird thing—it often feels cyclical and repetitive. When I see someone keep repeating the same story and going back to the same moment in their lives, I think, “Oh yeah, trauma.”

Time feels different with trauma, as if it both never ended and never began.

And the same thing goes for questions, questions that circle around and around, trying to make sense of something that ultimately doesn’t make any sense, that refuses the sense that I try to make out of it. All the questions seem to be some version of “How did this happen?”

Last month I went to a panel at the Hammer Museum on Black Women and the #MeToo Movement.

Supermodel Beverly Johnson spoke first, about being drugged by Bill Cosby in an attempted assault. She talked about how Cosby groomed her prior to the assault by inviting her to the set of “The Cosby Show” and introducing her to his family, his wife and kids.

When you introduce someone to your family, you’re saying: You are safe here. We’re all family. You belong with us.

The word “grooming” is commonly used to refer to child grooming, which Wikipedia defines as “befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child, and sometimes the family, to lower the child’s inhibitions with the objective of sexual abuse.”

But in the context of abuse or assault between adults, what does it mean to be groomed?

Dee Barnes spoke next of being brutally assaulted by Dr. Dre in 1991. But some of the first words out of her mouth were, “Was I groomed?”, as if the question had never crossed her mind before this moment.

She described Dre as an intimate friend, someone who treated her like a little sister, someone who brutalized other women but would never hurt her. She was family. You don’t hurt family.

Barnes ended up repeating the question “Was I groomed?” over and over again during the panel discussion, as if to ask 28 years after the fact:

Was I set up to be abused? Was I deliberately made to feel safe and protected by someone who intended to hurt me or at least had no intention of actually keeping me safe?

Maybe it was an arm around the shoulder or a whispered inside joke. Maybe he teased her constantly or called her “lil’ sis.” Whatever he did, he made her feel safe enough to go into that fateful night without any kind of protection, physical or otherwise.

She wasn’t attacked by a stranger. She was set up.

I don’t know how you deal with that kind of hurt, that kind of betrayal.

I think one of the hardest things to articulate in the aftermath of any kind of abusive relationship is all the nice things the other person did for you, the thousand small moments of care, empathy, compassion and love, the tucked in blanket and the Hallmark movie moments. These things feel so impossible to explain—at least not in any kind of way that makes sense—given what I know now.

Trying to explain why something was traumatic feels like trying to explain why every time you sneeze, someone in another state mispronounces the word “ingenuous.”

Me: You don’t understand. He found out I liked chocolate croissants and then he bought me sooooo many chocolate croissants.
Other person: [blank look] Uh huh…

It’s been years for me too, but a question came up for me like a slap in the face, writing this:

Why would you agree to go into a room alone with him?

Because I didn’t know. Because I felt safe.

Was I groomed too?

 

 

 

 

I’m Giving Up Male Tears for Lent and I Feel Fantastic

Maybe it was that rehab scene in “A Star is Born” where Bradley Cooper sobs as Lady Gaga tells him it’s not his fault he ruined her big moment at the Grammys (um, I was there, it was definitely his fault).

Maybe it was R. Kelly. Or Brett Kavanaugh. Hell, maybe it was this latest season of “The Bachelor” and Colton’s buckets upon buckets of tears.

colton_crying

So. Much. Crying. via tvinsider.com

But fuck it, I’m giving up male tears for Lent.

I think it’s safe to say that they are no longer sparking joy for me and it’s time to KonMari that shit.

I hope it’s not too late. I know we’re already at least a week into Lent. Maybe God will make an exception.

Anyway, here are my reasons:

Male Tears are Reductive

First of all, it’s so hard to know what all these tears even mean. Is Tom crying because the Patriots won? Because he feels guilty about leaving his dishes in the sink? Did the local gas station run out of Miller Lite? Did he just watch “Field of Dreams” and “Braveheart back-to-back? Was he recently accused of sexual assault and a pattern of abusive behavior in a six-part documentary?

It’s so hard to say.

Yes, I can see that water is leaking from Bob’s eyes right now, but that tells me literally nothing about what’s actually going on. If men would just stop crying for two seconds and use their words instead of their tear ducts, maybe we could see clearly now the rain is gone (yes, I hate myself for this).

As Freud famously asked, “Why you crying, bro?”

Male Tears Take up Valuable Space

Simply put, male tears are taking up valuable real estate that could be invested in more profitable ventures.

I’m sure I’m not the first person to make this observation, but male tears take up so much fucking space—space that could be used to plant a sustainable five acre urban garden or build a new community center for kids whose mothers didn’t star in “Desperate Housewives” or “Full House.”

A single man starts to tear up and suddenly we’re all drowning. All the life instantly gets sucked out of the room. And then there’s the sobbing and the heaving and the guttural animal noises—for the love of James Van Der Beek, pull it together, dude!

You’re scaring the baby goats.

Male Tears are False and Manipulative

Unfortunately, as a woman, I am especially susceptible to the siren sob of male tears—when I see Bradley Cooper crying, all my literal and metaphorical womb wants to do is reach out to comfort him.

Bradley Cooper crying

We are all Lady Gaga in this scene [from “A Star is Born” via youtube]

There, there, now. Shhhhhhh. Your pain will always matter more to me than anything else, especially my career.

I’ve been raised since birth to caretake male emotions. Case in point, when I was 21, I begged my emotionally distant father, in tears, for even a tiny effort at empathy. He started to weep and said that I needed to try to understand him. I stopped crying.

This shit works, y’all.

White, straight, male tears may be the most powerful substance in the entire world, capable of rewriting history, transforming the most vicious of criminals into the most vulnerable of victims, and completely and utterly erasing any type of pain that isn’t also a type of power.

Male Tears Make Unwarranted Claims to Victimhood

Sure, Blake called you a “bitch” and hurt your feelings, but he feels SO SO SORRY and—oh shit, is he crying??

Todd just punched you in the face—but that was your fault for not listening and he’s really going through a tough time right now at work and his mom never loved him, never said “I love you,” not even once, and now you’re comforting him because he’s in a lot of pain right now.

brett_tears

via bitchmedia (Photo credit: Michael Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

And let’s not forget Jack, who may have sexually assaulted you in college when you were too drunk to consent, but that pales in comparison to the parking ticket he got last week for parking in a loading zone and it was so UNFAIR and UNJUST and what were we talking about again?

Male Tears Avoid Personal Responsibility & Culpability

As we all know, it’s not abuse if he cries about it later—or if he cries about anything at all, so powerful are male tears to change and chart the course of reality.

And how many times has a woman comforted a man for abusing her? How could anyone possibly hold something so weak, helpless, and pathetic responsible for its actions? It would be like putting an itty-bitty widdle kitten on trial for murder. Male tears implicate us as cold and heartless, incapable of empathy, compassion, or concern.

We are the monsters, tormenting and persecuting helpless men.

Male tears are actually innocence in its purest liquid form.

Male Tears Carry the Threat of Violence

I know—I’m taking a huge risk here. As much as I want to give up male tears, I have the sneaking suspicion that this might make some men not just very, very, very sad, but also very, VERY angry.

If I meet male tears with indifference, I suspect that my apathy will be interpreted as active hostility:

I am breaking the contract (I didn’t sign) as a woman to always put male needs first, to prioritize male feelings, male pain, male reality, male hopes, male dreams—if I don’t center men in my own story and treat this narrative as THEIR narrative, then they will fucking destroy me.

Too bad then, that giving up male tears brings me what I can only describe as pure joy.

 

More:

The Tears of Brett Kavanaugh

The Manipulative Power of White Men’s Tears

Brett Kavanaugh and the problem of “himpathy”

‘A Star Is Born’ Has Always Been About Emotional Abuse

 

Not a book review: “Shameless”

I recently read [listened to the audiobook version of] Nadia Bolz-Weber’s book, Shameless: A Sexual Reformation. And it made me wonder if I’m still a Christian, though not for the reason that you might think. The deal breaker wasn’t her ideas about sex—Bolz-Weber offers up the most inclusive, affirming vision of godly sexuality I’ve ever seen—it was more about the tone of the book.

Maybe it’s worth mentioning here that Bolz-Weber is a Lutheran pastor known for her give-no-fucks attitude and persona. It’s not just the motorcycle (?) and the leather jacket (?) and the tattoos, it’s her biting sarcasm and scathing invectives against conservative Christianity.

As much as I love both sarcasm and invective, I got the sense at the very beginning that I am not her target audience.

In the introduction, she tells those who have followed the narrow edicts of gender and sexuality in evangelical Christianity (those who have achieved a gold medal in good Christian sex) to help themselves to the plethora of resources available at any Christian bookstore—because this book is not for them.

It was sarcastic. It was scathing. It was also pretty damn smug. And this wasn’t directed at the people who made up the rules, but the people who had succeeded at following them.

God knows I don’t fit into this group of people—but still, telling them to GTFO felt…off-putting.

Maybe it’s this underlying self-satisfaction that didn’t sit well with me (what a strange analogy) during the subsequent sermons in the book (yeah, I would describe them as sermons with a beginning, middle and end).

It’s hard to describe, but when she would launch into this particular cadence of speech, fervency of feeling, breathlessness of voice—I was turned off.

I felt the same way when I went to church for the first time in forever a few weeks ago. There were all the markers of a socially progressive church: the one pastor who wasn’t white, the Hallmark story (his words) of man reconciling with his conservative Christian family after coming out as gay, the mini discussion groups during the teaching. But when the pastor got on stage, that same earnestness, sincerity, and purity of heart was still there from church days gone by.

I don’t know why it bothered me so much. I’m sure I’ve used that tone before, even in my writing. I don’t know why it doesn’t ring true for me anymore, why it grates on my very last religious nerve. Maybe the rhythm of speech itself comes off as manipulative or coercive, trying to hijack the brainwaves of the person listening, to inculcate them into the language and rhythm of belief in God or in sex.

I admit that I want to be drawn in first. I want there to be trust, connection. I want to see the struggle and the process, how we got from “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” to “Shameless,” but I feel like this messiness and doubt is exactly what a writer/preacher is least likely to give me.

It’s like sex without the foreplay. I want more questions and less certainty, more exploration and less declaration.