after Phillip Lopate

Out in the world, I have fantastic posture. I sit, stand, and move in a way that tells people not to fuck with me, not to ask too many questions, and not to assume what I say is negotiable. I started this in my twenties, after moving to Chicago and facing a barrage of catcallers, beggars, save-the-earth salespeople, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. It works surprisingly well.

**

I’m grateful to be tall. I love jumping to touch tree branches, street signs, and low ceilings.

**

I have a red birthmark on my left cheek. Over the course of my life, hundreds of people have asked, “How’d you get that scratch?” I could have it lasered off for one thousand dollars. I leave it there, uncovered, an act of defiance.

**

Wearing lipstick is one of my favorite parts of being a woman. It doesn’t matter how sleep-deprived or hung-over I am; if I put on a dress and red lipstick, people compliment me and overlook the tiredness in my eyes and my unpolished hairstyle.

**

I floss my teeth every day and I know that for sure because I keep track of it in an app called Good Habits. Just a few years ago, I flossed only once a week. It is a point of pride that I can now floss without making my gums bleed. When I feel hopeless and unaccomplished, I think of my flossing habit.

**

I love my body for how it looks, though women aren’t supposed to say that. I’m not ashamed of my vanity, however. It took years of conscious effort to develop, and requires daily awareness to maintain. Being vain became easier once I viewed it as rebellion against a society that has monetary interest in my self-loathing. You want me to feel ugly and fat and smelly so I will buy your products? Nice try, I’m gorgeous.

**

The real gossip about my body is that it hurts. At least a little bit, in one spot or all over, nearly all of the time. It started hurting when I was twenty-five. Fibromyalgia. It’s not too bad lately—soreness or a dull ache. I love my body, but this is the one thing about it I don’t understand. If you ask me about this pain or my diagnosis, I will lie. I’ve heard enough lay remedies to last a lifetime.

**

My eyes are some of the prettiest I’ve seen. As a child, I’d stare at them in the mirror, fascinated at their fractal-like pathways. The longer I looked, the more ridges and rivulets appeared.

**

During depression, body awareness reconnects me with life. Food, music, exercise, and orgasm are the four things I engage my body in as physical evidence life is worth living when my thinking mind draws a blank.

**

Once a guy offered to buy my hair for three hundred dollars plus the price of a haircut. He said he’d profit a grand if he sold it as extensions. I wasn’t surprised.

**

I like my nose. My lips are pretty. I thank orthodontics for my straight teeth, and my mother’s genes for perfect boobs. I wear a bra only to hide my nipples from a society that has deemed them obscene—my breasts stay up on their own.

**

My neck could use some work. At least that’s what I assume my ex-boyfriend insinuated when he told me I was beautiful but would I ever consider getting a procedure done here?— as he grabbed my double-chin. If I could afford it, I’d consider it. I’m glad I can’t afford it.

**

I have a wrinkle that popped up like a cliché when I turned thirty. At first it bothered me, but now I like it, as if God or the Universe or whoever is telling me: Don’t give up. Just hang in there. Here’s a reminder that this won’t last forever.

 


JAY THOMPSON is a Chicagoan living in Florida. She writes fiction and creative nonfiction, is a founding editor of weirderary.com, and hosts First Draft, a monthly live literary event in Tampa. Her work can be found in theEEEL, Chicago Literati, and limehawk. (@jayverasummer)

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