Category Archives: Womens Voices

Thank You Dames!

Thank you to all the fabulous women who joined us June 29th for our event on Women’s Expression of Sex and Sexuality.  The night included scintillating conversation and rousing performances by the devine Khani Jo Zulu Belly Dancer, word wizard and performance artist Flint, sizzling songstress Brie Feingold-Africa  and the beautiful burlesque dancer Penny Starr Jr.  The room was certainly steamy by the end of the evening!

Join us August 10th for our next show at The Vanguard.  Keep checking in as we plan our next topic for captivating conversation and provocative performances.

More Dames!

Dames, dames, everywhere dames!  Here’s another peak at the fabulosity that happened at our first event.

UTAH SAVAGE AUTHENTIC EXPRESSION

sexy women writers

Utah Savage = courage. A mind that races 50 miles per hour, a refusal to conform, and a womb like hunger for more, more, more, whatever that more means in any given moment. Peggy isn’t quintessential anything.  Forego compartmentalizing this dame to fit into a category that works best for you, as far as definitions go. You’ll miss the subtext of her identity – the opportunity to dwell inside her head, a sacred, frenetic space, by way of each post on Utah Savage.

 

What endears me to Peggy and her work the most is that she bleeds gallons of subtext. A gifted, soulful writer infused with the kind of honesty most of us dance around, or skip over. Ready or not, she’s going to spill it. I regard this is a tremendous gift. Read her once, and you’ll be hooked for life.

 

It is with great pleasure, I present a dame I adore, Utah Savage!

 

What’s my name? I have so many names I hardly know where to begin. For instance, my mother was married twice and her first husband was my biological father, so I had one last name as a small child, but when my mother remarried I was adopted and had another last name. I go with the second name because it’s the name on my birth certificate. That name’s Pendleton. My mother gave me her first name–Margaret. But neither of us was actually called Margaret. She went by Maggy, and since that name was taken I was called Peggy. My middle name is Evan. I always planned to change my name to Evan Kinghorn Savage, using my middle name, and two other family names. But somehow I never got around to doing it legally. I was also going to get a tattoo on my ass and learn to ride a Harley Fat Boy by the time I was fifty. This reinvention of myself as Evan Kinghorn Savage, wild old woman, has yet to take place but every moment comes with amazing possibility.

Then there are all the married names I’ve had. For a brief while my last name was Franks, then McCormick, and my last married name was Blackmon.

I was a bit of a professional student. I attended three universities (the first as an early admissions student, skipping my senior year of high school) but I never had the goal of credentials. I had the goal of learning. I liked the process, the great grades and praise, but didn’t particularly care about the degrees. There were too many academics in the family to think this was a good profession for me. I even married an academic.

I was through marrying by the time I was thirty. I used the “three strikes and you’re out” method for making this decision. I left the third husband (an alcoholic writer condemned to correct and encourage other writers, but not to write) and tossed this off as I was heading out the door, “Whoever wants a divorce first has to pay for it.,” That meant when he got ready to remarry (as I knew he would) he’d be happy to pay for the divorce since his remarriage would come with a wife to cook for him. I took nothing with me when I left, and asked for only one thing. I wanted my maiden name back. So I started using my maiden name without carefully reading the divorce decree. My driver’s license has one name, but my social security card still has me as… well, someone else. Are you confused yet? I know I am.

My blog pseudonym was a snap decision made at the insistence of young friends visiting from New York who decided I must blog. I didn’t know what blogging meant, but they set up the account for me and only asked a couple of questions. The first question was “What should we call your blog?” And out of my mouth flew the words, “Utah Savage.” I think of it as a description more than a name, though there is that maternal family last name. But actually it’s alienation from the place I live, as much as it is a family name. Do we see a pattern emerging here? Alienation from the place I find myself has twice determined the name I use.  And I do believe that everything is political, so politics is in even the most personal choices we make.

Why did my young friends decide I must blog? I think it was that I have been writing for thirty years with nothing to show for it but mountains of paper: several versions of a novel, several essays or rants, whichever you prefer, and the odd poem here and there. I used my computer as a word processor. I was ignorant of the internet and hampered by my own disinclination to use the new technology. The only time my computer had been used as anything other than a typewriter was when my ex lover was paying me a visit. He used my computer to surf porn sites. This particular use of my computer turned me off to the internet even more. It also infected my last computer with a number of worms and viruses as if all that porn had given it a fatal STD. Who’d have ever guessed I’d end up with seven blogs?

What does being a woman mean to me? This is not a simple question to answer. It is politics that have determined my early experience of being a woman. It is the generation I was born into and the place I came from that sent me on my particular trajectory as a female to grow up in a 1950’s and early ’60’s man’s world. Patriarchy was the norm when I was born, at the end of WWII, no matter where you lived. And my mother’s family came out of the “Indian reservation” in Oklahoma to settle in West Texas. They were fleeing the “shame” of their Native American ancestry.  My mother married a man who wanted to travel when he got home from the war.  He was older, handsome, and would get her out of Texas. The fact that he came into the marriage with three sons was something I don’t believe she’d thought out. As it turned out she hated being a mother. This hatred was cemented when she had me, her one and only baby.   So when I grew up, motherhood was a thing to be avoided.

I have a lifetime of stories of conflict and flight that are fairly universal stories of women. I had that one pregnancy and that one abortion, the three marriages.  I’m always in therapy so the obsessive examination of the path that led me here is part of makes me who I am, and not least of the things that led me here is my bipolar disorder. Old and crazy–that’s how I see myself now. But I’m very successful for a bipolar woman with a family life that would have driven anyone mad. Suicide is a leading cause of death for most of us.  We do not, for the most part, live into our forties. I’ve beat the odds, so it’s all bonus time from here on out. I’m making the most of it.  And telling all my secrets.

I reinvent myself (at least in my mind and for a moment) almost every day.

If you think I’m wrong about everything being political, let’s talk Barbie dolls.

LEAH JONES AUTHENTIC EXPRESSION

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Miss Leah Jones has gone through so many inspiring reinventions, with her religion, career and personal life, but I’ll let her tell you about that.  

 

What I am most drawn to, and admire about Leah, is her spirit, she’s so open — to new ideas, new ways of thinking and constant reinvention. There’s fearlessness in her approach to life, an awesome quality. She’s an open book, genuine, goodhearted and warm. To know her is to instantly adore her.

 

Please welcome Dame Leah Jones!

 

Tell me about you: Your name, pseudonym, where you’re from and what your read is about?

Name: Leah Jones

Pseudonym: Eh, I’m pretty much Leah Jones anywhere you go looking for me these days. Once upon a time I was simply known as LeahJ, but started going by Leah Jones a couple years ago. My blog is called Accidentally Jewish, which is as close to a pseudonym as I get. Hmmm…. I should work on this.

My read: I don’t actually have anything published aside from a short-story in an anthology about Resident Assistants published in the 90s. Most of my writing is on my blog, Accidentally Jewish, and is about my life. I’ve got a lot essays about converting to Judaism and the intersection of Judaism and the internet. Now I teach artists, writers and musicians how to use social media to do their own marketing at my new company Natiiv Arts & Media. Once that blog is up, my writing will center around creative arts and marketing.

What does being a woman mean to you?

A story. About four years ago, I got a short energy healing from an Argentine healer visiting Chicago. She was doing major work on other people and was just giving me a little chakra tune-up for hanging out all night. Crown chakra, fine. Third-eye, a-ok. Feminine energy, blocked. Completely blocked. The energy work stopped and we shifted gears into a little more akashic record and information from my guides. I was coming up on 28 or 29, an important year, and she suggested I march myself into therapy. This whole “blocked feminine energy” thing wasn’t working and wasn’t healthy.

For me, it manifested in weight to hide my figure, baggy clothes and unrequited love. The only feminine thing about me in my late 20s was my very regular, period and the occasional dress. So I took her advice and went to therapy and took tango lessons. I started to shed the walls around my heart that kept that energy locked up.

To me being a woman now means so many things. Some tactile like kneading bread, lighting Shabbat candles, and occasionally hosting a dinner. Sometimes it is making eye-contact with men on the street, flirting when it can’t go anywhere and trying my best to flirt when it can go somewhere. A constant state of flux and learning for me… first I had to get out of my shapeless overalls to learn to be feminine, now I’m learning that I’m still a woman if I’m in overalls.

Have you, are you, or will you reinvent yourself and, of course, what does reinventing yourself mean to you?

Yes, yes and I assume I will again. A few years ago I converted to Judaism, which is probably the biggest reinvention. Although, honestly, getting bangs was harder than becoming a Jew. When I converted, I was coming home. Joining a religion, tradition and people that “is who I was.” I was born Leah Marie and the Hebrew name I chose in my late 20’s is Leah Meira. Very little change and that was on purpose. It was more coming into my own than ripping myself from my old life.

Recently I left my job in corporate America and started my own company. Yes. In the middle of the worst economy since the Great Depression, I started my own company… with a mortgage. Crazy, but it was time to shift gears and reinvent. I went from working with large corporations doing digital PR, to working with artists, writers and musicians as a social media coach. I haven’t been happier in years.

I also in year two of a couple major undertakings. The first is doing Pilcrow Lit Fest with Amy Guth. Coming up in Chicago the week of May 17 to 23, we’ll be highlighting small press and indie literature events all around the city. The second is doing the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day walk for the second time. While breast cancer doesn’t run in my family, it seems to be working its way through every friend’s family. So I’m walking for so many women and men and for a cure. This time my team is the Titterati, all women from Twitter.com, and we’ll be walking in early August.

LYNN BREWER AUTHENTIC EXPRESSION

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Lynn Brewer is the Founder and Editor of Cliterature Magazine, a gorgeous writer and exquisitely dark poet, and one of the loveliest women I have ever met. Lynn is very much her own woman, living life her way. Like Virgotex, your perception of her is irrelevant, what matters most is her perception of her, as it should be, and I admire the hell out of her for that, what a gift.

 

We sat on a panel together at the Pilcrow Lit Fest last year. During the rebuilt books auction, I was the proud winner of Lynn’s rebuilt book. To this day, it remains on my top shelf, I re-read all top shelfers, they’re my faves.

 

Please welcome Dame Lynn Brewer!

 

Your name, pseudonym, where you’re from and what your read is about?

Lynn Brewer (rarely known as A. Lynn Brewer), spent my first 22 years hopscotching the Midwest until I moved to Boulder. Cliterature is an online journal that examines women’s sexuality in writing. I founded Cliterature in 2006, and since then have edited and published all 11 issues. 

 

What does being a woman mean to you?

Being a woman means you have to stand up for yourself in a patriarchal world. Women have had to fight harder and longer for more rights than any other minority — the right not to belong to her husband, the right to vote, the right to own property, and the last major right won — abortion — is still a hotbed of contention and controversy. Even today, I can’t get my health insurance to cover my birth control, but if I had a middle-aged penis they would pay for Viagra. Being a woman means you have to sift through the injustices and dispute the status quo as much as possible. But, being a woman, you also have to pick your battles wisely. 

 

Have you, are you, or will you reinvent yourself and, of course, what does reinventing yourself mean to you?

I am always reinventing myself, but not always by choice. Reinvention of the self could mean gaining a new perspective, or it could mean showcasing a new facet of yourself to the world.  

VIRGOTEX AUTHENTIC EXPRESSION

southern-belle

The beauty of a Virgo…tex.

There are those of us who say, “I don’t give a fuck what you or anyone else thinks of me”. And those of us who try as hard as we can not to give a fuck, and then there’s Virgotex. Ya’ll thought I was gonna say “Maude”, didn’t ya? If there’s one thing I have learned from this magnificent dame, it’s don’t give a fuck, you are who you are—love thyself, especially the foibles and quirks. 

After reading her blog Virgotex, and her former blog, Virgotex, as well as her guest posts at FirstDraft, I realized that her informal prose have a way of hijacking a dame’s mind and spinning old thoughts into new ideas. She’s political, politically active, an animal lover and involved in numerous charitable endeavors near and dear to her heart. A straight talkin’, sensitive (don’t kill me, Virg, for saying as much), Texas lovin’ good kid. I am crazy about her. After reading her interview, no doubt you will be, too.

Please welcome Dame Virgotex!  

Tell me about you: Your name, pseudonym, where you’re from and what your read is about?

Name/Nym

FROM

Got a BS and a BA from  UT-Austin, lived in Austin, of and on, for longer than I’ve lived anywhere else – definitely my spiritual home town, the place where I came of age. It’s changed a lot, but it’s still an amazing place. Graduated, moved, came back, got a “real” job as an editor, did that for a while, dropped out of “real job,” became a slacker, wrote poetry, hung out, worked in a book store. Lived there till 89/90, then moved with my now-ex (the Ex Mrs. Tex) to NYC. Was there nine years. Loved it but wasn’t sorry to leave and come back to Texas.

My READ? 
On what, life? Or like, what do I blog/write about?  It’s kind of the same thing I guess.  Like I said above, I think things, life in general, is incredibly complex, incredibly rich, full of potentialities and all sorts of shifting bits of information. I think individuals are mostly like that as well. And none of that is static, fixed, concrete.  Nothing is black and white, nothing is all good or all bad.  I think we humans are on a spectrum between thinking things are JUST SO, it’s THIS EXACT WAY, I KNOW, IT’S JUST LIKE I SEE IT and the other end is WE HAVE NO FREAKING IDEA what things are about and that’s sometimes bad and sometimes good, or it just is. I think we are always swinging between those extremes, and I like that state, the place in the middle.  I’m happy to say, the older I get, the less certain I am of things.  And the more comfortable I am with that uncertainty.  I believe the nature of our existence is uncertainty, and our relationship with that.  At least our emotional/spiritual/imaginative existence, anyway.  Obviously, some things are known and fixed, there is scientific knowledge, factual knowing of the physical world, but I’m talking about our perception of our existence.

Anyhoo, I think that is the basis of a lot of my thinking, and what I’m interested in, the things I tend to blog about or discuss online with people.  One of the reasons I find politics such a fertile place is the clash of everyone’s identities and their perceptions and interpretations  and how that divides and unites people.  We all live in the same country, or do we?  It’s a very interesting time right now with Obama just arrived in office.  I don’t think he’s the end all and be all, I’m pissed at him for a lot of stuff already but I really appreciate that he gives credence to nuance, to the reality of complexity, of various kinds of potential.  He doesn’t seem to be about absolutism at all. And some people are just losing their shit over that.   It’s fascinating to see this play out.

What does being a woman mean to you?

mmmmmm, not having a dick?  I don’t know how to answer this one!  It’s funny, I used to be much more militant about my feminism, also my lesbianism.  Now I guess if I’m militant about anything, it’s my humanism.  I mean, yeah, I’m constantly aware of the differences between male and female. If/when I think of my identity as “Female,” it’s usually when I’m thinking of that in relation to something else.  Like males. I work with mostly men and god love them, sometimes it’s frustrating dealing with the testosterone, like, “Dude, we’re writing a policy here, not invading a country. Dial it back a notch.”  But honestly, in terms of my consciousness of myself, of my identity, being A Female isn’t as much in the forefront as it has been  in the past.  I’m more conscious, for example, of being a queer, of being the age I am, of being overweight, of the way I look, and of trying to be “a good person.” (whatever that is!) 

I tend to relate being female with that fluidity above, that idea of relativity, of not being fixed.  But I think that might just be the limits of my personal construct, but in my experience, women, myself included, are better shape shifters in that way. 

Have you, are you, or will you reinvent yourself and, of course, what does reinventing yourself mean to you?

Oh fuck yeah.  Constantly.  I think that’s what we do, we are always shedding our skins.  Sometimes it happens when we aren’t even noticing it, sometimes it’s forced on us or we choose it and we’re hyper aware of it. But I think it’s always happening to us.  I guess my most vivid experiences of it lately was in relation to my break up with the ex a couple of years back. Talk about not choosing something.  It was not my idea, I had no idea it was coming.  It was like getting thrown out of a moving car.  You know, like, “Fuck! Now what?  Who am now, after being that person, in that relationship for 14 years?  What do I do now, and oh yeah, who said I even wanted this? I don’t!  I don’t want to have to do this!”   Very much the epitome of “life happens when we’re making other plans.”

But ironically, the events that led up to that break up were also bad, lots of drama/trauma, one after the other , and you know how people just normalize that kind of stuff.  How we just get all stoic and life is hard and we roll with the punches and don’t realize we’re getting worn down.  My point is that during that kind of cycle we are also changing, we are also reinventing ourselves, in a way. And it’s just as transforming as those big sudden conscious reinventions, but in a negative way.  I guess it’s an example of “not choosing is also a choice.”  I guess that’s negative reinvention, letting go of our say in things, allowing the situation to have its way with us, but we are stuck with what we become and that has repercussions.  Like, for example, the person you’ve made a life with saying, “I don’t love you anymore, what you are is different from what I want.”  And then there you are, suddenly you have to start making some new choices.  Of course, you could be the one making that decision about what you’ve become too, deciding to  take a different path.  I’m just using my own recent experience because it’s just so easy for me to see it clearly.  Though, thankfully, that topic has started to get old.  I guess that means I’ve sufficiently reinvented myself, huh?

So yeah, I’m mostly from Texas, grew up on the Gulf Coast, daughter of a shrimp boat captain. My dad and my mother were both working class people, my mom had a jr college degree, but they both were also crazy intelligent. There were piles of books in our house. I remember my mother reading aloud to me a lot, and not from picture books, but things like Great Expectations and Tom Sawyer.  I remember getting a library card when I was really young, before first grade-that was  my first sense of having a form of ID, then I had to get a wallet to put it in, of course. I was hyper aware of being able to prove: I am a READER. It says so on this card!

Virgotex, on the surface, pretty simple.  Combination of my astrological sign and my state.  I have used that handle for quite a while now, before I ever “blogged” and was just a plain ol’ commenter, even.  Way way back I used to use Big Hot Virgo or sometimes BHV.   I used to hang out in the Buffy forums /Whedonverse a lot (my ex used to refer to that period as “the Buffy years,” and not in a good way) then.  At some point I got banned – I think from TelevisionWithoutPity- I no longer have any idea for what offense- and so I immediately just invented a new ‘nym and logged back in- then I was Lavalamp!  So for a while I was Big Hot Virgo in some places and Lavalamp in others, and I felt the need for integration, so I came up with Virgotex.   By then I was hanging out more in progressive/liberal political forums (oddly though, with a lot of the same people) and people were always ragging on Texas and I loved to rebut their simplistic views of the place, so I liked have that “tex” out there like a “I’m from Texas, piss me off!” badge.   And yeah, I do realize there are a lot of rightwing rednecks in Texas but it’s insulting to me to get lumped in with folks like that just because someone who doesn’t even know the place reduces a complex place down to it’s lowest denominator.  Anne Richards, Molly Ivins, Jim Hightower, Bill Moyers, and all the great progressive bloggers from Texas- those folks are/were who they are, at least in part,  because of being from Texas, not in spite of it. It’s as complex as America is (so is any state really), full of wonderful things jammed up together with awful things. So I like calling people’s attention to that.  Don’t throw me out with that same bathwater as Dubya!

MAUI GIRL AUTHENTIC EXPRESSION

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Maui Girl and I met during a rough patch, which I’m not sure she remembers, but I do. An email was sent to me. An ear to bend, a warm heart to cry with and unbelievable compassion was provided. What a dame.

 

As I got to know her via her blog, Maui Girl’s Meanderings, I fell for this dame pretty hard. She’s smart, analytical and insanely objective. MauiG can see both sides of a story, even if she’s inclined to agree with a leftier side.  I love this quality and wish she could infuse just a spill of into me. She’s witty, clever and a gem of a person.

 

Please welcome Dame MauiGirl!

 

Tell me about you: Your name, pseudonym, where you’re from and what your read is about?

My real name is Miriam, but everyone calls me Mimi, and that’s the name that seems to fit me better. My pseudonym is Mauigirl, because, starting in those heady days back in the early 1980s, when frequent flier miles were all the rage, my husband and I used to go there every year. Since then we’ve cut back to about every three years and have branched out into other islands of Hawaii, but Maui is still the island I know best. Plus there is a clothing store in the little town of Paia on the North Shore of Maui called Maui Girl and it just sounded like a good name to purloin.

I’m a Jersey girl born and bred – lived in the town of Nutley, about 10 miles west of New York City, until I was almost nine. Then we had an all-too-brief stint in Penfield, New York, in the still semi-rural (at that time) outskirts of Rochester until I was 14. Although we only lived there five years, they were those formative years from age 9 to 14, and I made a lot of great friends and had a lot of fun there. It was in Penfield that I learned to love bird watching and camping with the Girl Scouts and doing other outdoor activities that were easier to do up there than in the more suburban environment in New Jersey.

At 14 we moved back to New Jersey and I’ve lived here ever since. I wouldn’t change a thing, since it was in New Jersey I met my husband and have had my whole career, but I do miss doing more outdoors-y things, which is probably why we just bought a little cabin in the Adirondacks, not far from Lake George.

MauiGirl’s Meanderings came to be because about three years ago, one of my newest neighbors told me she had a blog and I was amazed. I had heard of blogs (and had even read a few) but it had never occurred to me to start one of my own. But Google Blogger made it so easy that I decided to give it a try. I’ve always liked to write (I was a Journalism major in college although I ended up working in the market research field) so it is a great outlet. I started out not really knowing what to write about (hence the “meanderings” part) but I ended up focusing more on political stories, usually with a lighter take on them. About once a week I use my cat Baxter as a way to comment on current events from a cat’s point of view, for instance.

I also got very ambitious and started a medical blog and a travel blog, but I haven’t been able to put in the time to those that I’d like. I find that one blog is about all I can handle on a regular basis and still have a life!

What does being a woman mean to you?

I attended a women’s college, Simmons, in Boston, in the early 1970s when “women’s lib” was big, so there were some fairly militant attitudes about being a woman flying around back then. I was never a crusader, but of course believe in equal rights and equal pay and all the rest.

One thing I do believe, though, is that you can’t “have it all,” as the saying was back then. No one can. You have to pick your priorities and make decisions about what is most important to you. For one woman it may be her career, for another, her family, for someone else, community involvement, volunteer work or a hobby. It doesn’t mean you can’t still do some of each, but compromises have to be made. This goes for men as well, of course.

My philosophy is that your career can’t be your life, no matter who you are. It is important to do other things, spend time with friends and family, and not sacrifice yourself for the company. Because one thing I’ve learned in 30 years of corporate life is that the company will only be good to you for as long as you’re of use to them, and that’s it. So I do my job but I do not give up my life for it.

I believe that men and women are very different. When I think of how women interact, I see a collective, nurturing consciousness, a tendency to find consensus, to care about one another, and communicate. I can’t help thinking that if there were more women in charge in the world there would be fewer wars and less posturing and blustering. I know that’s a stereotype and there are men who are sensitive and who communicate, and there are women who don’t. But there are clear differences and I think in a perfect world we would more thoroughly understand and capitalize on those differences.

Have you, are you, or will you reinvent yourself and, of course, what does reinventing yourself mean to you?

On my Facebook page I have a quotation by George Eliot that goes “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

I like to think that we are always able to reinvent ourselves whenever it feels as if our lives are not going in the direction we would like, and I know I’ve done that on a gradual basis throughout my life. I have been at the same company (through buyouts and sales of the businesses I’m on, I’ve never actually had to interview again for a job!) but not in the same role, for all these years. But I feel I am getting to the end of what I can get out of this career and am looking forward to a new phase of life.

In my personal life, I’ve gone from a “live for today” mentality to a more serious viewpoint. I’ve become involved in my community, I’ve studied and gotten a certificate degree in historic preservation, and I’ve become a blogger. In each case these “reinventions” have opened the door to a whole new community of likeminded people who have become friends.

I’m sure as I continue in my journey, there will be more of these changes. I’m looking forward to getting more involved in environmentalism, conservation and animal rescue in the future, as these are all concerns of mine.