trigger-warning

by Cherie Ann Turpin Creative Commons License
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trigger-warning:  50 years of rape culture/slut-shaming/misogyny/misogynoir that cannot fit into a tweet for the Washington Post
I can tell you what happened to me at Clark College when my first sexual contact with a man was being raped twice by a Morehouse athlete who thought he was scoring a new girlfriend

I can tell you about being plied with alcohol, then raped and threatened by a male roommate–then slut-shamed for it

I can tell you about the time a man giving me a ride to MARTA in Atl forced a kiss on me

I can tell you about being slut-shamed by a female relative who told my family I was a whore

I can tell you about the time five men followed me in Atl from bus to MARTA to bus with clear intent to gang-rape me–I rode that bus to the end of line and my flashpass kept me on that bus and they ended up stranded when I rode back to my stop

I can tell you about being sexually harassed–twice–by adjunct professors when I was an undergrad at UDC

I can tell you about being catcalled by a bunch of “bros” driving past me as I walked to meet new classmates at a pub in Burlington VT

I can tell you about being stalked and slut-shamed by the same person in grad school

I can tell you about being followed home by a man in a van in the middle of winter on a back road when I was at UConn

I can tell you about having my nipple bitten without consent by a man at a club while dancing–he did permanent damage and he smiled before I hit him back

I can tell you about being approached and catcalled by a man while walking in my corporate suit to a campus interview for a professor position at UDC

I can tell you about being stalked by some unknown man during my first year as a professor who thought it was okay to send flowers to my office and my classroom

I can tell you about being followed and secretly photographed by a fellow grad student in Saas-Fee for the purpose of slut/size/race shaming me by sharing his “art” with the other grad students on a dvd

I can tell you about being followed by a lurking man when I walked home from campus–and waited for me to walk towards my apartment, till he saw me with security

I can tell you that despite the scars from these cuts and gouges

my self-worth
my sexuality
my humanity
my womanhood
my spirit
my jouissance
my grace

shines
persists
heals

Prevails.

October 10, 2016

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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The Deep End #14 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

The Deep End #14
by Cherie Ann Turpin
(30 Stories in 30 Days)
#30Days

pool
I occasionally did tarot readings for Tony and gave him advice on rituals, as he was a solitary practitioner, albeit on the sly because of his family, a large clan of Baptists and Pentacostalists with a smattering of Methodists.  His father was the head pastor of a Baptist church in Raleigh, North Carolina.  He was also nervous about his Christian fundamentalist boss finding out about his spiritual practices, for fear of losing or compromising his clearance as a defense contractor for NSA.  He came to me two years ago with a dilemma about a woman who seemed inaccessible, yet intriguing.

Tony met her at an Apple conference in San Francisco three years ago, a voluptuous woman with long, thick twists and rich, copper-brown skin who was almost as tall as him.   He imagined her full thighs matched against his slim frame as she walked towards him wearing a dark green dress and sensible heels.  When she smiled her face radiated warmth and a willingness to trust.  They exchanged phone numbers and email addresses over coffee and sandwiches before she departed to meet colleagues for a networking event.  After he returned to Baltimore, he only got as far as the one phone call to her that did not lead to a follow-up. She actually did call him back, but he was “unavailable,” or unwilling to return her phone calls. She did what most people would do–she moved on.

Meanwhile, he began seeing a woman from his office, almost as a consolation prize for what he described to me once as “another humiliating rejection from a sister.” The relationship with his second choice did not last, no surprise to me or anyone else who knew him. He saw the first woman again in Vegas at another conference, only to discover that she was involved with and engaged to an attorney.  Her smile, according to Tony, was just as warm, but less trusting of him.

He decided to try to get her interested in calling him again by using love magic. He spent hundreds of dollars on Come to Me incense, Love oils, red and pink candles, not to mention the readings he received from me. I started charging him a minimal fee because of the energy he was draining from me. No results.  He began to consult with a spirit worker less inclined to maintain ethical boundaries.

He appeared at my door one night, haggard and somewhat jittery.  I sat him down and listened to him confess to stalking her.  He began spying on her social media profiles and her email. She had been talking about him, wondering whatever happened to him, and the unreliability of men who couldn’t deal with women who actually say yes to them. Her fiance had mysteriously broken up with her and eloped with someone who seemed to appear almost out of the sky as “the love of his life.”

I looked at Tony, expecting him to say that he finally talked to her, that he had stopped using magic to make his decisions for him.  He stuttered as he explained his latest surveillance trick to discover more information before making the phone call to her.  In other words, he squandered yet another open door.  It was just as well.  This was a poorly gained opportunity that had all the signs of an impending disaster of his own making.  In his current state of mind, he could be downright dangerous to her.  Come to think of it, he could be dangerous to me.  I needed to find a way to amp him down from the ledge.  He was my spiritual child, and I sensed him looking for a way out of his self-made trap.

I wondered why it had not occurred to him that he was probably in danger of losing his clearance due to his gross misuse of surveillance tools, as well as being arrested for stalking.  After making him some green tea, I pulled out my Crowley deck and did a three card pull:  the ten of Wands, the Devil, and the Hanged Man.  My task was getting Tony to understand what just happened, and how he needed to fix what he damaged within himself through his obsession.

I looked into his dark eyes now glazed with tears. For the first time in months I saw genuine sorrow and guilt wrapped up in rage.  I heard myself say, “You’ve tortured yourself for over a year because of your own pride and your own fear of rejection. You didn’t need magic to fall in love, you never did. But this is not love.  Your fear made you turn your soul inside out just to control her.”

This was not quite me coming out my mouth.  Uh-oh.  She was nudging me to stand aside so She could come through and speak.  I felt the tipsy feeling flow through my mouth as Spirit began to speak through me.  My voice deepened and I saw myself rise up as Spirit rode me to speak to Tony.  He could not hear me tell him the complete truth of what he had done, and what he had to do to make it right.  He had to hear it from She:

Perhaps you could be a couple.  Perhaps not.  You cannot not make her do anything.  No candle or spell will make her love you.  You have to start over at the beginning from honesty and truth, or nothing at all.  

Starting over from scratch is not an easy choice to make.  He had to deal with the reality that she could say no, and he had to accept that risk as a part of accepting her as a free, sentient being with her own voice and desires.

Then I heard/felt She say to him in a loud booming voice:  You’ve got to learn how to swim in the deep part, at the deep end.  You’ve got to get your head wet, boy. 

I fell back on the couch, and I looked up at him.  His face was frozen in shock.  I slowly sat up and reached over to his lower jaw, and gently pushed his mouth shut.  This was his first time seeing Spirit ride me.  He silently pulled on his suit jacket and walked out the front door of my house.  I wrapped up my Tarot cards and watched him stumble on my driveway into his Mercedes SUV.

A natural fool coming to his senses almost too late.  Almost, but not quite.

He stopped talking to me for several months.  It was just as well.  It was not my business or task to intervene, at least not that point. Spirit warned me to avoid him for a time. Last I heard he’d started seeing a therapist for his obsessive personality issues, and was looking into making a career switch.  His manager discovered his off-the-clock surveillance activities, and would have fired him had his unit not been reorganized as a result of a seemingly unrelated upheaval in structure due to the Eric Snowden incident.  Tony escaped a disastrous descent into legal purgatory by virtue of a sudden shift in the dimension all of us happen to share.

If he wanted to be with her or anyone else, he would have to journey beyond the comforts of fear and obsession, beyond his narcissism, and beyond his own fear of the unknown.  That may take more than one plunge into the deep end.

The Extinction Level Event Has Not Happened Yet #12 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

The Extinction Level Event Has Not Happened Yet #12

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days

I should have kissed him yesterday.
kiss
I think I still hold onto my mother’s advice to let men pursue me, rather than being more assertive in matters of the heart and body.  She thought it was too pushy and too forward to show too much interest or to reveal desire to men.

I think it’s a shitty way of dealing with men, especially the ones who go overboard to be gentlemen, but I ended up almost by default complying with her vision of proper female behavior, which, of course, resulted in long periods of sexual dry spells.  I burned out about four different vibrators during my long wait for the “right one.”  When the aliens came I was almost six years without a long-term partner or a casual lover.  I’m too old to keep waiting for him to make the first move, and since the aliens devastated our planet, I guess I should try to ignore the rules and show some moxie before we die from the coming second wave.

He was right there, standing next to me, talking with me. He really paid attention to what I had to say, and I didn’t mind us walking fifteen blocks to the nearest charging station to get our laptops and phones charged (yes, we still have WiFi and cell phones–we just don’t know how long they will last).  He looked into my eyes as he shared his stories of finding and losing love, how when he first moved here he couldn’t seem to find anyone who really understood him.  I felt my tummy quiver, slightly.

We talked about our families, who we resembled, why we both happened to be living in this part of the city.

We talked about the restaurants we grew to love as a part of city living, and how neither of us really liked to cook as a daily habit, and how our career schedules did not bide for long periods of cooking prep or clean-up.

We didn’t talk about the invasion, or the semi-permanent federal state of emergency, or the abductions by the alien hunting squads who snatched up unsuspecting humans for experiments and other purposes which usually resulted in bloody piles of limbs and entrails.

We didn’t talk about the fall-out shelters our military built to keep the remaining humans safe, or the fact that the empty streets we walked once packed with a sea of citizens in a city that boasted a population of well over 4 million people.

We didn’t talk about how we watched cities around the world crumble and burn, wondering when ours would be next.

We talked about finding love in the fury of apocalyptic ruination, and holding fast to what remained of human civilization.  We hugged, and walked back to our respective shelters just below the streets.

If we still exist tomorrow, I’ll kiss him before we go scavenge for food.

Yellow Pollen #8 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30days

Yellow Pollen #8

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30days

yellowpollen

Yellow pollen.  Burning throat, swollen membranes.  That’s what I remember it starting out to be, but that was before we stopped going outside all together.

Yellow pollen.  Changing people, changing the animals, the plants.

It’s the same place, this hotel, only different now with the change.  We do try to find ways of staying cheerful in midst of disaster, and nothing keeps me from joining a party with my favorite people, people I want to be around, not even that ghastly yellow pollen killing us slowly.  I saw mostly men in suits, including Walt who eventually sat next to me after getting a refill of his cranberry and vodka, plus a retired athlete who seemed a bit shorter than expected but very welcome:  he had whitish blonde hair, blue eyes, very warm—he knew me for some reason—I touched his shoulders and we hugged.  I think this was a banquet of sorts, not a card game.  He leaned over told me it was last call for drinks before the card game.  I shouted out lemon vodka to the bartender, then corrected myself by saying, “I meant lime vodka.”  He nodded,  replying with “oh, yeah, right I know what you mean,” and started making it.  I sat down at the table.  This was what was one of a few fragments left of human civilization, or what I thought of as our few bright moments of pleasure before the inevitable cessation of our existence, at least on this planet.

Sometimes I like to pretend I don’t remember how it began, but I prefer to keep my lying limited to fooling my rivals at the card table.  Truth is, I can’t forget it.  The scars in my lungs, nose, and on my arms from the burns remind me of the spores that felt like pins of fire shooting through me and around me as it swirled into our atmosphere.  We unfortunate few who are now left are all that remains after the small contingent who were selected randomly by the invading alien race departed in strange oblong ships.  yellow_pollen

The change started with what had been assumed to be tree pollen during late spring not so many moons ago.  It rolled in like a fog, settling on every surface outside like a bright, thick carpet of snow.  Asthmatics, pregnant women and the elderly were the first to be warned to stay inside; schools were closed, and people in general were warned to avoid touching this “pollen” that continued to fall from the sky, accumulating on cars, buildings, bushes, and just about any other outside surface left uncovered.  Eventually, no one dared leaving their home without layers of protective clothes and masks.  The shelters were packed with homeless people attempting to escape exposure to the outside air.

Some teenagers thought it would be cool to use their snowboards and skateboards to plow through the yellow piles of pollen like snow, only find discover to their horror the difficult and painful consequences of rolling through a substance that, upon contact with skin, felt like tiny needles of fire shooting through every nerve.  Several young men were admitted to ER with chemical burns, and at least two died as a result of complications stemming from third-degree burns and anaphylaxis.  A national state of emergency was declared after scientific discovery of what had been long feared to be a contamination of the environment by a biological substance of alien origin.

This was not pollen.

For my fans, some selfies while I write my Afrofuturism and Black Feminisms Chapter

I am balancing out my teaching and committee duties with the other piece of what I do as a scholar–research and write.  I was commissioned to build a chapter for a Black Studies reader that would focus on Afrofuturism and Black Feminisms.

Looking at the wealth of material on Black Feminism has made me realize just how much work  I actually missed while writing my own book–it’s a reminder of that constant feeling that one can never really capture everything, though one may try to engage as much as possible.  Making connections between two flourishing movements isn’t so much the issue as it is negotiating the discursive tensions with regard to political and aesthetic concerns.

Meeting deadlines while balancing out five classes and Faculty Senate committee work isn’t always a breeze, even with the great assistance of two very talented RAs.  At the end of the day, it is up to me.  It’s always up to me.

As you know, I like to document my moods and emotions on my face while I work.  Enjoy the view while I work.

2014-02-25 13.39.07-1 2014-02-25 13.39.07-2 2014-02-25 13.39.05-1 2014-02-25 13.39.052014-02-25 12.23.49 2014-02-25 12.24.44 2014-02-25 12.24.40 2014-02-25 12.24.04 2014-02-25 12.24.02 2014-02-25 12.24.00 2014-02-25 12.25.58 2014-02-25 12.25.40 2014-02-25 12.25.34-1 2014-02-25 12.25.34-2 2014-02-25 12.25.29 2014-02-25 12.25.15 2014-02-25 12.26.02 2014-02-25 12.25.582014-02-25 14.46.32 2014-02-25 14.46.24 2014-02-25 14.46.19 2014-02-25 14.45.19 2014-02-25 14.45.01 2014-02-25 14.46.19