FACIAL HAIR MATH* (trigger warnings: man-pelts, pedo-staches, naked Burt Reynolds with his tender vittles covered)

 

image
Me prior to my morning shave

Men, we need to talk. I’ve tried to address this issue in my writing before, and I feel like I’m just not getting through. I don’t know why God trusted one of her greatest weapons (facial hair) to the demographic most likely to believe that sweater vests are sexy, but she did. And so through no fault of your own, you have been endowed with a superpower. I understand it’s an enormous burden to bear. I know that the weight of dragging a razor over your face every goddamn day must wear heavily on you, so heavily, that once in a while you just implode and lose your freaking mind. But whether you asked for it or not, you have this gift. You need to learn to use it for the good of all. It’s just like Spider Man’s dad or uncle or grandpa or whatever he was said: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Facial hair can be beautiful. It can. Just ask my biggest crush, Jesus H. Christ. (Little known fact: The “H” is for “Hector.”)

image
In addition to being able to raise the dead, walk on water, and cleanse lepers, Jesus is also a gifted beard trimmer.
But never should you wear just part of your facial hair. If you are going to wear facial hair, wear all of it. Let’s do some facial hair math. Beard (well trimmed) + mustache (well trimmed) = hot.

 

Conversely, Beard – mustache = Amish. That Amish beard thing only looks good on Amish guys.

image
These men are Amish.  You are not. Unless you are, in which case I do wonder how you’re reading a blog posted on the proverbial internets. Maybe my understanding of the Amish and their relationship with modern technology is less than solid.

 Actually, it doesn’t look good on them either, but they ride around in covered wagons, thereby doing their bit to halt this whole climate change thing. Also, they build tasteful, durable furniture from trees they’ve grown and felled themselves, so we forgive them for it. We won’t forgive you for it. Ever. Moving on.

Beard – part of beard + mustache = pirate. You are not a pirate. If Jesus wanted you to look like a pirate, he would have dropped you on a ship in the Elizabethan era, put a rapier in your hand, and suited you up in a snappy pair of leather breeches.

As it is, you are a Home Depot employee in the 21st century. You look ridiculous. Stop it. Or go all the way with it and throw an eye patch and hook into the mix. Unless you’re Johnny Depp. In that case, you can do whatever the hell you want. You are a tormented, brilliant artist. At least half of the movies you make are good. We liked you when you had lethal blades for hands, and that’s not something we always do. (Just ask Freddie Kreuger.) Heck, we even gave you a pass when you decided that a raven was suitable headwear. We will also let it slide when you toy with our minds and hearts by manipulating your facial hair in horrifying, indefensible ways.

My next point. Mustache – beard = pedophile. No one, and I mean no one, ever looked good in a pedo-stache. People say Magnum P.I. did, but they are lying, or legally blind, or both. And even if he did, that was like 1983.

image
I’m sure Tom Selleck is a very nice man, but you cannot tell me you don’t find this photo at least mildly upsetting.  On one hand, it is a desperate cry for waxing.  On another, it screams “perv” at the top of its lungs.  Did he just jump out from behind a subway map and whip open his shirt like this?  Is a terrified young woman running away shrieking, just outside the frame?

Just because one person managed to pull off the impossible decades ago does not mean you should assume you will be the second man in history to look good in a pedo-stache. Are you going to throw on a white polyester pantsuit because John Travolta pulled it off in 1972 or whatever? Screw staying alive, man.  Some things should stay dead and in the past where they belong, with Aqua Net bangs and powdered wigs and side ponytails.

image
John Travolta pulled this off.  I don’t know how, but he did.  You can’t.  You won’t.  Don’t try.

What I’m trying to say is your mustache makes you look like a sex offender. When you pull up beside me in a van wearing one of those things, I want to drop my bike and run. I’m waiting for you to whip open your raincoat and scar me for life. If you ever make the mistake of offering a small child a piece of candy with that thing attached to your lip, she will race screaming from the room. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I did, just like her mommy warned her to stay away from creepy men with pedo-staches. Also, somebody probably needs to tell you that sometimes boogers get stuck in that thing.

And trim that shit. Beard + mustache – regular trimming = Grizzly Adams. And how many people have you ever heard say, “You know who I really want to bone? Grizzly Adams.” Zero? That’s what I thought.

image
He looked like this so bears wouldn’t recognize him as human.  Rule of thumb: If you don’t need to make friends with bears, you don’t need a neck beard.

Weaving lilacs through a beard that could house a small family of ferrets does not count as a fashion statement. And while vermin need homes too (I’m all about the plight of the homeless lice), I shouldn’t have to wonder if they are taking up residence in your beard.

Now I know there are countless women and men out there who disagree with me on all the things I just said, but before you attack me relentlessly, please understand that I am a person who was deeply scarred by various images of Burt Reynolds that were presented to her as a child, especially this one.

image
Burt Reynolds skinned Tom Selleck and posed on his pelt for a sexy Cosmo photo shoot.
The Burt Reynolds related anxiety I acquired in my formative years was compounded later in life, when I was in grad school. I used to hang out with my friends at this bar called Pals in New Orleans. The bathroom featured a giant reproduction of that Burt Reynolds photo, without the tender vittles covered. To go pee was to subject yourself to severe and lasting emotional trauma. But beer was involved. Lots of it. So there was lots of peeing. That photo haunts me to this day, hence its penchant for popping up in my work. I write about dying fathers a lot. And miscarrying babies. And seeing a mustachioed Burt Reynolds naked. All the things that scarred me for life.

 

Long story short, I suffer from facial hair induced trauma (FHIT), and it’s not curing itself anytime soon. So think of me, and other people like me, when you set out to use your God-given superpowers. If we can make the New York theatre scene a safe space for Mike Pence, we can certainly at least think about making the whole world, or at least the USA, a safe space for people with FHIT. And if you complain about having to trim your facial hair, I’m going to shove a razor, and a six inch high heeled shoe, and a pair of Spanx, and a tube of lipstick, and an underwire bra, down your goddamn throat.

*Disclaimer: I am not actually a trained mathematician. The equations presented in this blog may not be accurate. Moreover, all of the opinions expressed here are those of the author and have nothing to do with the day to day reality most Americans inhabit, as the author lives in her own fantasy world, peopled entirely with Jesus dopplegangers, all with tastefully trimmed facial hair and well-muscled calves. They go around breaking up fistfights, speaking out against oppression, and generally being Jesus-y/dead sexy. To be completely honest, the opinions expressed in this article aren’t even necessarily those of the author. She probably doesn’t hate your facial hair nearly as much as she lets on. But once she’s on a roll, she can’t stop.

In other news, no actual mustached men were harmed in the making of this blog, nor was this blog inspired by, or directed at, any men I actually know.  Funny story. My daughter and I were people watching. A man had a pedo-stache AND polyester pants. My FHIT got triggered, along with my PIT (polyester inspired trauma—that’s another blog altogether), and I started ranting. Tastefully. Quietly. So as not to be overheard. (Many of my daughter’s and my conversations resemble episodes of Last Comic Standing. She always wins. Her pedo-stache/polyester rant put mine to shame.) And then I figured it was better to write down my thoughts so I wouldn’t risk hurting Stache-man’s feelings. And well, this happened.

Like I said, I don’t really hate your facial hair nearly as much as I’ve let on. Ok, I do. I totally do. But I still love you. Unless you’re an asshole. Like if you’re a racist or a homophobe or a Nickelback fan, I find you as reprehensible as your pedo-stache. But if you are one of those things, you probably aren’t someone I know, or at least I don’t know you are one of those things. Incidentally, if you are a closet homophobe, you should probably not be reading this blog, as I’m liable to post pictures of girls kissing at any given moment.

some-friends-2-1573183-639x423
These are girls.  They are kissing. I wrote a whole book about kissing girls. It won awards. My agent and I were hoping it would get banned, but it never did. It’s never too late though. If kissing girls offend you, please send this link to Rush Limbaugh and tell him I’m trying to corrupt impressionable young minds. At the International Literacy Association conference, they were holding classes to show teachers how to implement it in their classrooms. I actually personally know teachers who use it in their classrooms. True story. So yeah, I’m dangerous. Tell good ol’ Mr. Limbaugh that  Tawni Waters, reprobate author of Beauty of the Broken, sent you.

This disclaimer is going off the rails on a crazy train. I’ll stop now. I’ve never been diagnosed with ADD, but sometimes, I’m sure I have it.  Squirrel!

image
A rare photo of the endangered sex offender squirrel
 P.S. I did my best to find photo credits for the photos used in this blog.  Most of them were just floating around the proverbial internets and/or were lifted from free stock photo sites.  If you object to me using one, let me know, and I’ll remove it posthaste.  I did find credit for Burt Reynolds, who was famously was photographed by Francesco Skalvullo for Cosmopolitan Magazine, April 1972.  I couldn’t find credits for Grizzly Adams and Tom Selleck for the life of me.  But their photos were slapped all over Pinterest, heaven, hell, and everywhere in between. The John Travolta also was heavily represented in the annals of cyberspace, being credited simply as, “John Travolta, Saturday Night Fever.”

 

 

 

REWINDING YOKO ONO

imageAnother whiskey Wednesday, and what do I write?

That I hate tequila because it killed you? That hearing the Hail Mary translated to fluent trailer trash was the worst thing that ever happened to me, a sick alchemy that made me want to off myself, but I onned myself instead? That your jealous, hellish lover Courtney-Loved you into a corner? That your mediocre mistress Yoko-Ono-ed you to death, and so what, because resurrection is a thing? That just last night, I saw you walking on water in your sleep, and I loved you for it? That together we went fishing for Christ fish, and neither of us came up empty? That I know now I was always the prophecy painting of the girl with the bomb hidden behind her back, and it’s just about to blow me to kingdom come?

(Watch me fly.)

Beloved Christ, I am not sad, exactly, because I live in the lining of the veil between worlds, where always I can hear your voice, and those of seraphim, and demons, and gods.  You taught me to surf water slides that arc through the center of the earth. There are crystals there, and kaleidoscopes. I ride waves with my mind. Always, I think, Take me to him, take me to him, and the dream does. I am addicted to your eyes. I have been schooled to swallow fire. I speak with the tongues of angels. I too walk on water, though it is always you who saves me when I drown. Everything is a sacrament to me. The leaves. The buckets of rain. The paper bags blowing in the wind. I worship waterfalls. I bow before Brahman rams. I sing the song of the Great-I-Am, written in the chirps of crickets.

Another whiskey Wednesday, and what do I write?

That I still love you (again)? That wolves dream prettier things that humans ever will?  That I have followed the trail of truth to the core of everything, and it burns? That you live there? That your eyes are the color of suns? That yellow was never the right word to describe morning? That dawn breaks at the edge of a lake where herons call, and you crouch there always, fishing on the fringe of that water, dragging Jesus into your fists?

(Watch you fly.)

Beloved Christ, I am the queen who stooped to lick the hem of your garment. I am the hated whore the rabble stoned in the streets (and behind the veil, I know now, you raised your hands to save me while Judas picked up rocks). I am the vein that runs along the edge of the leaf, the one the vicar insect walks on because it’s narrow, and harrowing, and something else, something bugs don’t know how to describe. And neither do I. The straight and constricted path grew out of your eyes, and I loved it, even when it snapped me in half. I made a pilgrimage to your Mecca last night. You laughed as you danced through fire. You told me the laughing was the dancing. You told me if I do not smile, the flames will eat all of me alive. I smiled. I kissed you. I tasted your tongue. I married your insanity.

Another whiskey Wednesday, and I will write this:

Beloved Christ, we are both crazy, thank God. These people’s sanity will be the death of them.

Let’s pave parking lot and put up a paradise.

PHOENIX, HALFWAY TO RISING

image

We thought we hated winter until the year the blizzards would not come. Longing for the storm of you, I stared at the silent slate of the snowless sky, knowing that death by you would be like death by freezing. It would hurt at first, but then, warmth would creep along my skin, wreathing my limbs in purple frostbite blooms. I would become a garden of lilacs, and die, melting into your eyes, thinking thank yous. 

When the fire of this love started to burn, I tried to turn my mind into a tourniquet, strangle the limb that loved you. But I could not suffocate my own heart, so I let flames wash over me in waves, forging poems in the inferno of you that scorched me down to bones.

The mobs came, lobbed their stones. I fell, became a heap of cartilage and blood. 

And so now, the snake of me unlocks her jaws, lets the raw meat of a moonless night slide down her throat. And so now, I make my knees into mouths that kiss the ground of your grave, and I say to the sky, “I will die here.  No life without him.” And so now, I smear my skin with mud and wait for your ghost to find me. Palace gates swing wide, cry, “Come in, we have bread,” and I say, “I would rather be a bedless, haunted, hunted, hungry thing that sings his name in the streets.” 

I married those others with my mouth, but I married you with my marrow. I will not break my vows.

Hellhounds hold you hostage, and so what?  A chained, shorn lion is still a lion. Beaked, unfeathered things shredded my skin, untethered me from this realm. As if death could wither this love, turn these bones of steel to dust. They may rust in the rain of you, but the skeleton of this love will shimmer in the sun, long after earth is gone. 

Tonight, I saw a swan, swimming in a star pricked pool, singing. Her white wings yawned wide, swallowing the night, the streetlights reflected in the rippling slick of the water. She said she couldn’t die. She said she’d gobbled the stone of you. She said she burned to bits in the fire of your eyes and found everlasting life. 

Let her make a trampoline of the moon, a ladder of the stars. Let her weave a magic carpet from strands of your hair. Let her rise to God.

UNCRACKING THE SHATTERED MOON (OR HOW I FOUND ME AGAIN)

me-voting

A few years ago, I dreamed I was with my mom at an election booth. I looked down at my ID, and some people had altered my photo, so I looked hideous and distorted, like something I wasn’t.  It was scary, in that madness inducing way that only dreams can be, eliciting more terror than any horror movie ever could.  And then my mom took the ID from me and said, “You never looked like that,” and she fixed the photo. I saw myself wearing an “I voted” sticker and a white dress, beautiful and pure, shining in the sun, surrounded by people I loved, who in turn loved and respected me. She said, “That’s who you really are. No matter what, don’t let them make you forget. The truth will come out.”

My dreams are often prescient, so that one didn’t thrill me. I figured it heralded some not-so-good events heading my way. Sure enough, about a year ago, some people told some hideous lies about me, lies that cut me to my core.  And they got worse in the few weeks before this election.  But as hurt and angry as I was, something inside me (and the precious people around me) kept saying, “Don’t defend yourself.  Let them think what they will.  The people who love you know who you are.  The truth always, always finds its voice.  It takes time, but it happens.”  So remembering that dream, I stayed silent, and let the ugly rumors fly, and buried myself deeper and deeper in my inner truth, and in the love of my beloved ones.

I did my best to trust that the loving, powerful Something Bigger that guides my every step would protect me, in its way, when the time was right, and that in the meantime, this pain would help me to grow into something more like the aforementioned vast, beautiful, nameless (but that doesn’t stop me from naming Him/Her) Something Bigger. Because life has taught me that even the worst pain comes bearing gifts. Which sounds all zen-mastery, but in the interest of full disclosure, let me admit I wasn’t always zen. I was 52% zen, 48% freaked the hell out. Sometimes, I cried, and sometimes, I yelled, and sometimes, I ate lots and lots of ice cream. There was a lot of snot involved in this process, and also, lots of potato chips and wine.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been in Arizona, helping my beautiful daughter Desi move. Yesterday, she got some bad news about the health of her beloved paternal grandmother, so last night, we made an impromptu drive to our mountain home in New Mexico. The stars stretched on forever, like I’ve only ever seen them do in the desert. Everything felt magical and clean. We listened to Panic at the Disco singing “Hallelujah” and ate foods that were really bad for us and laughed. Also, in the quieter moments, we spoke our truths. A crumbling marble of a moon hung overhead, reminding me of my heart, still luminescent, but cracked and black in places. I didn’t want to be cracked.

I asked Desi, my purple-haired sage, what I was supposed to do about the anger I felt at what has happened to me. I told her I didn’t want to be bitter. She said, “Well, have you given it to God?” I told her I had. She said, “Give it to God for real, and let it go. Don’t pick it up again.” I knew she was right. I hadn’t really let it go. I decided I was going to. As we were driving up the dirt road to my mom’s house, we saw three deer walking together, and Desi said it was a sign–me, her, and her brother, having broken through the darkness at last. She was right. It felt like a turning point.

me-and-my-purple-haired-sage
Me and my purple haired sage

 

Last night, as I fell asleep on my sacred mountain, I prayed for the people telling lies about me, and released them to God, and asked that I be separated completely from them in every way—physically, energetically, and spiritually—and that we all go our separate ways and find our true destinies. I asked that we all be forgiven for the harm we had done one another. I asked that when the time was right, the truth would be exposed, that light would shine in the darkness.

I slept better than I have in a long time, and I woke up feeling inexplicably overjoyed, which used to be my natural resting state, but hasn’t been for a long, long time.  I’ve had moments of happiness, but nothing like the true bliss I used to abide in. Today, I found that bliss again.  I had this feeling of separation from the darkness of the lies that have surrounded me, and an unsayable but palpable understanding of who I really am, no matter what anyone says. In a word, I felt whole and reinstated as my true self. On election day. With my mom. Just like in my dream.

Here’s to love and forgiveness and to truth and to new beginnings. The truth of what I am may have not been exposed to anyone else yet, but it’s been exposed to me. And I realize now that is the only thing that matters.

I’m going to run on those dirt roads now. I said that even the worst pain comes bearing gifts, and that has been true of this pain. The pain of the past year has forced me to get in shape. Did I mention that in the picture my mom showed me in my dream, I was considerably thinner than I was at the time of the dream?  Well, I am.  About 20 pounds thinner, to be exact. It was either become an exercise addict or a heroin addict. I decided exercise was better, partly because I didn’t want to die, partly because I hate needles, and partly because heroin is so darned hard to come by. (For those whose sarcasm meters are broken, that was a joke. I’ve never even seen heroin. I did, however, seriously consider becoming a hard core whiskey addict during this time of darkness. Exercise addiction prevailed.) Hopefully, I’ll see some deer. And then I’m going to visit my big brother. Because he is one of the most precious people in my world, who always sees the true me, who loves me no matter what. And who also usually has good ice cream on hand.

Which is a bonus.

image
Me and my big brother, who is one of my biggest heroes (ice cream not pictured)

Panic at the Disco singing “Hallelujah.” If you’re sad, listen. I pinky swear, it will make you feel happy. “And the time for being sad is over.”