Category Archives: We Were There

We Were There: The Period Shop

The Period Shop

Friday, May 13th, 2016

138 5th Avenue, New York, NY

When I was a little girl, there came a point where I was just waiting to hear a person me behind gasp over my first period stain. Even before I started having my period, I knew that it would be something that would be messy and embarrassing. My first period arrived when I was in the privacy of my own home, but I still didn’t want anyone to know about it. Now at age 35, I don’t care who knows I’m on my period and wished everyone felt the same way about what I like to refer to as my lady-time-of-the-month. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, and that’s why I was so excited to see a period pop-up shop.

It’s not that I like capitalism. Trust me, I wish it wasn’t a “shop,” but I do like the point college student Sarah M. was trying to make when she blogged about her idea for the shop, saying that if there can be stores that specialize in different flavors of hot sauce or types of shaving cream for men, why can’t there be a “space where women can feel comfortable, safe, respected and revered while shopping for their period.” The shop succeeded in its mission and it feels worth noting that all proceeds went to Susan’s Place, a transitional residence for homeless women in New York City. Continue reading

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We Were There: The Reductress St. Patrick’s Day Wellness Retreat @ the Bell House in Brooklyn

Reductress Presents: The St. Patrick’s Day Wellness Retreat
Thursday, March 17th, 2016
The Bell House, Brooklyn, NY 

As the lights dimmed at the Bell House on St. Patrick’s evening, comedian and host for the evening presented by ReductressAnna Drezen appeared like a Celtic apparition, promising to guide us to wellness with a “whatever it takes” leadership style and killer tights. I had slept 2 hours, the back of my head was a dreadlock, and my BFF was admittedly cramping and free-bleeding by my side.

Also on this journey was a sizeable group of intelligent women in various states of intoxication (read: coven), and according to an audience survey, one single man who upon further questioning was not employed. Imagine the crowd at an early Saturday morning Barre class, except totally not like that at all. Continue reading

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Culture Shifts & Switches in Khadijah Queen’s New Play, Non-Sequitur

Image via theaterlabnyc.com

Khadijah Queen’s new play “Non-Sequitur,” winner of the 2014 Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women Performance Writers, is a cutting rearrangement of stereotypes surrounding desire, identity politics, and the ways in which perception mediates relationships, delivered via shifting characters (often entities) lobbing short lines. Character examples include “THE BLONDE INSTITUTION,” “THE BROWN VAGINA,” “THE 40% DISCOUNT,” “THE EXULTANT EXOTIFIER,” and “THE WEEKEND YOGA CLASS.”

The result is a mordant, slapstick skewering whose main mechanism is the multiplicity of identities and channels of communication in the late-capitalist racist world—particularly the art world—and an exploration of how fucked and unsurprising these representations invariably shake out to become.
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Bloodlines: No Wave Performance Task Force’s PERIOD PIECE Traces the Lineage of Menstrual Art

In the past year or so, something has shifted in our culture in how we’re talking about periods. We recently saw women responding to Donald Trump’s misogynistic comments about news anchor Megan Kelly by live-tweeting their periods at him, and artist Sarah Levy created a portrait of Trump in menstrual blood, and both of these items got a good amount of mainstream media coverage. Over the summer, the story of Kiran Gandhi, a woman who ran the London Marathon while bleeding freely, was being shared widely online, and earlier this year there was some uproar about artist Rupi Kaur’s images of herself with period stains being removed from Instagram. The Atlantic did that piece about why women hide their tampons, and we’ve seen menstrual product marketers playing into women’s interest in more “real” period talk for a while now. And of course there’s the fact that every time I’m in the subway, I see ads for “underwear for women with periods,” which, as far as subway ads go, makes my commute feel kinda like a surreal feminist utopia.

Not to say that we don’t still have a loooong way to go to undo our culture’s widespread period gross-out/shame mentality, but lately it feels like menstruation is getting talked about more openly and honestly than ever before. Maybe we’re lashing out at an administration that’s waging a war on women’s reproductive rights. Or maybe this new cultural shift toward period positivity is just another example of how feminism has been recently more accepted (co-opted, even?) by the mainstream media. Whatever the reason, I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that periods have been having somewhat of a renaissance on the internet, and it’s about time.

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We Were There: Wax Idols and Them Are Us Too Live @ BOTH in San Francisco

Photo credit: Holly Coley

Photo credit: Holly Coley

I may be having a musical mid-life crisis. My efforts at personal growth and introspection have landed me in front of a funhouse mirror and suddenly so many things that I have loved, or thought I loved, possibly still do love, are bugging the shit out of me. “Please!” I whined the other day, “I never want to hear another band that thinks they sound like the New York Dolls. Make it stop.” I have a serviceable collection of powerpop 45s. Hell,  in 2004 I even snuck backstage to take a photo with the Romantics in my matching haircut and skinny tie.  A few months ago, I was weeding out dead weight from my record collection and jettisoned a batch of albums featuring 30-year-old men in pink overalls crooning about their underage conquests. But then, last Sunday, I was visited by my teenage self and received a jolt of inspiration.

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WE WERE THERE: The Supermoon Eclipse (Part 2)

This is the second (and final) part of a document of what my friends, family, and Weird Sisters experienced during the supermoon eclipse this past Sunday. Read the previous accounts here.

harvest-moon

Credit: parentherald.com

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WE WERE THERE: The Supermoon Eclipse (Part 1)

credit: Pinterest/layoutsparks.com

I got married on September 27, 2008, at 5:30 p.m.; seven years and four hours later my husband and I were standing in a deserted picnic area by the highway outside of Great Barrington, MA, watching a red mist take over the moon.  If any mystic horror was going to happen to us in our lives, it would have happened then, right? So we stood there, enduring the eldritch hooting of remote owls or wolves and less-remote humans,  plus the roar and blaze of cars on the highway, plus a strange throbbing that we thought was coming from an invisible body of water a few feet away, and we didn’t quite know where the drop was, and we also couldn’t quite see our car where we’d parked it in the darkness; forgetting, a little bit, that we were parents and that our two-year-old daughter was sleeping at my brother’s house in Springfield fifty miles away, but not forgetting that we were partners, and that we had been together forever, and now we were two bodies on this strange margin of nature and culture that was entirely not wild but also not entirely safe; and we waited, and ducked our heads when car headlights passed so they wouldn’t blind us to the stars that we never got to see in Brooklyn, and we watched.

I knew people were excited about this eclipse, but when we got back to our hotel feeling like we’d actually seen something, or risked something as a couple, on this weird magic day inside our marriage (I know, we’re citified wusses, we were in no danger, but you guys! Didn’t you know that you’re always in danger? Doesn’t a blood moon sort of tell you that, too?), and I had cell service again, it seemed like all my friends were also really seeing and risking and feeling something in the light of the blood moon, too. So I thought we should probably register that this had happened, document our collective experience of eclipse or of moon worship, collate the evidence that We Were All There. Moon stuff is feminist stuff by definition, right? I asked the Weird Sister staff, plus some of my friends and family, to tell us how it went for them. I ended up with two posts’ worth of moony stories; here’s the first installment! Continue reading

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WE WERE THERE: Notes on “Creating Racially Equitable Schools”

Like so many writers, I also teach. Like so many teachers—especially of literature, especially of younger students—I am female. This profession is largely and historically comprised of a female majority, so it’s no surprise that so many media outlets hate on teachers, so many leaders bust teachers’ unions, and so many good citizens ensure that teaching is not afforded social prestige. And yet, teachers in schools across the city and country are engaging with some of the hardest issues America faces. On June 18th, I joined a packed room of educators and parents from across New York City to learn more about racial inequity in schools. “Creating Racially Equitable Schools” was a panel discussion and fundraiser for Border Crossers, held at the Brooklyn Heights Montessori School. The notes below are woven together from quotes and paraphrases of the five panelists: filmmaker Joe Brewster, school leader Martha Haakmat, educator and filmmaker Ali Michael, Professor Pedro Noguera, and Professor Howard Stevenson.

Creating Racially Equitable Schools

REAL: New York City schools are among the most segregated in the country.

VISION: In racially equitable schools, all children see themselves reflected and respected in the curriculum and in the pedagogy. All staff understand the history of race and racism in the United States.

REAL: New York City is diverse—in the daytime. People ride the subways together and work in the same buildings, then go home to their largely segregated neighborhoods.

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You Could Be There: Erin Markey’s Deleted Scenes from Fun Home

Photo by: Amos Mac

Photo by: Amos Mac

Erin Markey is a New York-based performance artist, writer, comedian, actress, musician and all-around inspiration. I flipped out so hard when I heard that she was performing something called Deleted Scenes from Fun Home that she had to tell me to cool my jets. (You’ll see.) This week, in the middle of doing a thousand different things including prepping for this show, Erin took the time to answer a few questions.

Cathy de la Cruz: When and how did you come up with the idea for Deleted Scenes from Fun Home?

Erin Markey: A couple of months ago I accidentally became pretty obsessed with the Fun Home score, which is not generally how I behave with most Broadway scores. I was most personally scandalized by “I’m Changing My Major to Joan” and I played it at really humiliating volume levels in a car with the windows open (passenger seat). I couldn’t stop. I felt compulsively drawn in and for largely unnameable or unknowable reasons, I was activated in a strange way that I had no control over.

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WE WERE THERE: Feminist Urgent RoundTable #2

Feminist Urgent RoundTable #2
Strike a THREAT: Women’s Voices in the Media: online, offline, talking, doing, breathing, living – abused, ignored, trolled, forgotten
B. H. Q. F. U.
34 Avenue A, New York City
November 21, 2014

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The Bruce High Quality Foundation was the unlikely host to the second installment of Feminist Urgent’s RoundTable series. F.U. is “an in-flux open-forum, discussion, journal, social practice, curatorial, activist community” founded and (loosely) moderated by the artist Katya Grokhovsky. I was honored to be a part of this particular event, which focused on the “urgent issues of online and offline abuse of female public voices.”

At this curated RoundTable, the usual rules were not in play—there was little distinction between audience and panelist; the format was totally open (which distressed some students in the audience); and there was a raw energy, largely fueled by Penny Arcade, one of the evening’s speakers, that inspired blunt, evocative, even intensely personal sharing from many people present. The engagement with, and sometimes policing of, comments made by all-women panelists was particularly loaded because the very topic under consideration was the way that women’s voices are dealt with in our society. Continue reading

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