Not That You Asked: My Lemonade

beyonce-lemonade-compressed

Can we talk about Beyoncé? Or rather, can I? I mean, since everyone is weighing in on it…

*Don’t worry. I won’t speak on the racial aspect of things since I can’t, while also acknowledging that race may or may not play into what I do want to discuss.

Like others before me who were quick to write their think-piece on the matter, I will declare myself a Sort of Fan of hers. Yes, Destiny’s Child’s songs still make me smile and in general, I’ve always enjoyed her music.

But I’m no worshipper.

When Formation came out, I rewatched it about five times in a row, fascinated. I found it powerful, eccentric, creative and tried to understand the meaning of its message without claiming any kind of ownership or overwrought opinion on/about it.

I just liked it. I liked what felt like a political statement and I liked hearing it from someone who had an understanding of it beyond my own.

 

When I watched the trailer for “Lemonade” on HBO Go, I was…confused. And annoyed. I remember seeing her tease something about this upcoming “once in a lifetime” event and felt even more irritated when, from what I saw, she had gone and made some kind of horror movie.

But of course, after hopping on social media, I was quickly inundated with the overwhelming response of people I like basically saying I was missing out on life if I didn’t take the opportunity to watch it.

Well. It was…incredible? Incredible in how it captivated. Incredible in how emotionally connected I was to it. Incredible in how real it felt.

I will choose, for now, to ignore the swirling talk of this all being a huge production, created and made-up by Jay and Bey to garner sales and sign people up for Tidal.

Because honestly? Even if that were even remotely true, you will never be able to convince me that Beyoncé hasn’t wondered if her husband has cheated on her and you will most likely never be able to convince me that he hasn’t.

There are two things I thought a lot about after digesting this visual and audio onslaught.

The first being: We need to talk about how Beyoncé met Jay-Z when she was SIXTEEN YEARS OLD. In a 2007 interview with Charlie Rose, Jay-Z said he met his future wife about ten years prior. She was 16 in 1997.

Six. Teen.

And while further interviews and loose details will point more to them “starting to date” when she was 18 or 19, that seems awfully convenient.

But fine. Let’s give them the 18 and then focus on the fact that he is ELEVEN YEARS HER SENIOR.

Which means, a twenty nine year old MAN was wining and dining an 18 year old GIRL.

Now here is where I’m going to start making assumptions, ones that I believe are probably true and deeply entrenched in what might be going on in Beyoncé’s mind and soul if dealing with her spouse’s infidelity.

Beyoncé was destined for stardom, for queendom, for utter domination. No question. She worked her ass off, night and day, day and night. She has been performing since she was a child. And judging from her relationship with her parents, I don’t think she was really concerned with, nor had time to have a boyfriend.

What I’m saying is, even if she lost her virginity to someone else, maybe even had sex with two people before Jay-Z (which even that I’m doubtful of), he is one of VERY FEW sexual partners she’s ever had.

So there’s this juxtaposition. We live in a society (an American one) where being sexy means you ARE sexy means you know what you’re doing in the sack.

There is no way at sixteen OR eighteen she was sexually experienced enough to know left from right, especially with a twenty nine year old man.

And whether or not she had other encounters before him, he became her everything. And depending on what kind of teacher, nurturer, partner he was, that would become her introduction to sex.

A lot of things have to go right in that scenario for her to come out of it OK.

Because again, we are expected to know what we’re doing. It’s assumed that if we look good and exude confidence and seem sexual in any way, or are sexualized without doing anything other than stand there, we internalize that and never actually talk about it.

We’re supposed to know what we’re doing based on what exactly? Movies? T.V.? Porn? The only way to get good at sex is actually having it and even then, depending on who you have it with and how open your communication is, you may never get good at it.

I’m not saying that people haven’t been able to wordlessly get someone off. But is that all you want? Just the orgasm? Also, why don’t we (as women) talk about all of the times we definitely did NOT have an orgasm?

Maybe it seems unsexy to have a discussion before or during. Why do you feel that way? Is it because everything you’ve ever seen on the screen are two people automatically connecting and having otherworldly intercourse?

Sexual attraction gets you there, but it doesn’t and can’t take you all the way. There is no way of knowing what the other person is into without working it out first.

Back to Beyoncé. Her world is coming apart on many levels due to this infidelity. Do you see me? She asks. Everyone else does. She says. He only want me when I’m not there. She says.

To her, this is unfathomable. She is THE baddest bitch on the planet, oh and also his WIFE (which again, in her mind is the ultimate…the commitment, the vows, the promises, the sacredness…to her, this is everything and being cheated it on is the equivalency of him murdering her.) This makes her feel like she is not enough and how could that possibly be?

Why would he want anyone but her?

To touch on marriage and monogamy, this is what I think causes a lot of damage for some people. For those that consider marriage a holy union, an eternal binding with no exceptions, cheating is the worst sin of them all. And a lot of people cheat.

Because it is actually asking a lot of human beings to only sleep with one person, or in general, “be” with one person for the rest of their lives.

As hard as it is to meet people, it is also not hard at all to make a connection with more than one person. If you have exes than you’ve already proven my point.

There’s no completely shutting that off. We will continue to be attracted to and attracted by other people. We will form relationships with people, get close to them emotionally and sometimes physically because that’s in our nature.

Not because our partner isn’t enough, but because there is no actual limit.

We feel because we’ve given everything to someone that they should be satisfied, fulfilled.

Which brings me to the second thing I thought a lot about: Past relationships. Actually, one in particular. I’ve never been cheated on (to my knowledge), so I can’t really speak on it. Yet I still really identified with the first half of “Lemonade”, with all of it’s anger and apathy and threats and indignation and middle fingers wagged in faces.

And the absolute contradiction telling the guy you want: “Boy, BYE.”

When you are sleeping with someone who doesn’t want to be exclusive, doesn’t want the labels and is generally kind of aloof and non-committal, it will drive you crazy.

The answer is always to not be with someone like this, but it happens.

You have no idea if you’re the side chick. You probably are. Or at the very least, you are simply one of a few, possibly many.

I remember trying to see other people in the meantime. Which didn’t really work because if I was being honest with myself, I wanted to be with him. Even though I knew well enough that we weren’t right for one another, the baseline attraction (mine to him) was undeniable.

I could not extricate myself from the situation. That out of control feeling had me going on dates with other people, having inappropriate conversations and casual meet ups with a friend of his and other people he had connections to.

So when out of the blue, the phone calls and texts stopped, I didn’t know how much of it had to do with him meeting someone else or what he knew about what I was up to when we weren’t together.

I believe it had more to do with the former, but the way in which things were left were because of the latter. As in, maybe I didn’t deserve any kind of explanation or reason or courtesy ending of our non-relationship.

On occasion, I’m still irked by this other girl. She is younger. She is prettier. And she managed to lock it down. The one thing I couldn’t do.

During the entire situation I was constantly questioning my self worth over something that wouldn’t have worked for me anyway. Seriously, at one point I was at a bar hanging out with his friends and he was there. On a date with someone.

Anyway. I’m no Beyoncé.

But I feel a lot of things when I watch and listen to Lemonade. I feel for her and I feel for me.

-Carly

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Before and After

Sometimes I ask myself if I miss the days before having a kid. Or more accurately, do I wish I was childless now.

It happened again last night on the drive home for our show.

I got pregnant a couple of months before our debut, so I don’t even know what it would be like to stick around and drink more and see where the night took me.

Which is what I used to do. Stick around. Drink more. See where the night took me.

I felt like a wet rag packing up my things for the drive home to a nameless suburb, lamenting my early wake up call and reciting my absurd commute time and schedule to a new friend.

I can be acutely aware of being without freedom. I feel the resentment rise and then I tell myself as calmly and plainly as possible that “this is no longer about me” and it becomes easier to accept.

Because it really isn’t about me at all.

The practicalities have overtaken everything. The ones that probably should have pre-kid. The voice that would tell me it was OK to show up to work tired and hungover is silent, replaced by a louder one that chides me into calling it a night at the earliest time possible.

Upon further examination, I realize that my kid is less a barrier to my fun than the distance I am from many of the things I love and care about. Though I suppose, the kid is the reason I’m so far away to begin with.

When I decided to have him, I also knew it most likely would not be in the city. Not out of choice, but out of necessity.

We probably could have made it work. Perhaps it would have been fine. But I’m mostly assured after having an unexpected C-Section and  a newborn that living with three people to help was better than one. And while I know I could have asked friends in the city to help and they would have, it’s not the same as your parents making unexpected trips to Target to buy you a table for your breast pump to make things easier.

In a world where I’m paid enough to live in the city with my kid (a number that feels astronomical at this point in time), I could see people after my kid went to sleep or invite them over to my easily accessible apartment.

(My utopia would be living in a commune like setting near all of the people I loved. Every new, cool person would build their own house in the next plot of land. There would be plenty of privacy, but also a community building where people just came and went. There would always be potlucks. There would always be a few people sipping wine or having a nightcap and chatting. There would always be kids running around and exploring. We would help each other with as much as we could, especially the important stuff like child rearing and elder care. And of course, orgies. [Haha…] Wait, am I describing a cult? A polygamous cult? Possibly. Oh well?)

Thinking about it more, I remind myself of those nights in my 20’s and early 30’s. The nights I pushed myself to go out. The ones when I stayed out too late. The ones I hardly remember.

But It’s not hard to forget the absolute loneliness and emptiness I felt coming home to no one.

It’s also not hard to forget that most of those nights were not all that worthy of being remembered or fondly looked back upon.

Not necessarily because of the activity or the company, but rather the undercurrent of desperation to make something of things, to want it to be more.

If I could have stayed last night for one more drink or on to another bar would that have been better than getting in my car, driving an hour to my house, talking with my partner about how the night went and going to bed?

It would seem so because in the moment, that’s what I wanted to do.

In the bigger picture, though, I know that in the old days, every time I was out, I was looking out of the corner of my eye, aware of the strangers around me and hoping maybe they would become something more to me. Even when I was with friends whom I loved dearly, I knew they would never be mine, all mine.

I know now that the rush I feel in meeting a new person and wondering if they will become my friend is that same initial reaction I used to have. Only now I know the limitations.

I know the limitations because even when I was single and untethered, the effort and time it takes to really be in someone’s life is a difficult task. Sometimes it felt like I was spreading myself too thin. I kept meeting people and wanting to swoop them all up and carry them with me. And of course they would slip out and become small blips on my social media radar.

All of that time I kept wanting to be wanted. That’s the twinge inside of me whenever I’m around someone new or old. “Want me.”

But what I really need is to be needed.

Sometimes that’s scary. Sometimes I resent it. Sometimes I want to run away. But I know in the end, I’d be running away to find it again.

There is a baseline now, a foundation, a layer, that’s been built. It’s the longest piece of a triangle. Every thing above it is a little shorter, takes up a little less space, demands a little less attention.

It grounds me. It humbles me. It reassures me.

It is part of me.

And I wouldn’t give it up to go back in time just to see where the night might take me.

 

Meet Our Readers

There’s nothing quite like your first time, whatever that first may be. Join Anne Elizabeth Moore, Nicole Bartoloni, Kaitlin Sullivan, and Whitney LaMora Currier this Wednesday to relive that inaugural taste, touch, crime, or literally time itself.

P.S. We promise we’re not ripping off our musical pals at CHIRP First Time. It’s more of a tribute. A cover. Inspired by. Also, I’ll be performing with them on Thursday.

-Rose

Anne Elizabeth Moore

anneelizabethmooreAnne Elizabeth Moore is an award-winning journalist, best-selling comics anthologist, and internationally lauded cultural critic. She has been heralded as “one of the sharpest thinkers and cultural critics bouncing around the globe today” by Razorcake, a “general phenom” by the Chicago Reader, and “a critic” by the New York Times.

Her book Unmarketable was named a Best Book of 2007 by Mother Jones. Cambodian Grrrl won a 2012 Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Journalism. Her essays “Reimagining the National Border Patrol Museum (and Gift Shop)” and “17 Theses on the Edge” were honorable mentions in Best American Non-Required Reading (2008 and 2010, respectively). She is the former editor of seminal, award-winning Punk Planet and the founding editor of the Best American Comics, which continues to be a New York Times bestselling title.

She is a Fulbright Scholar, UN Press Fellow, and USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellow, and teaches Visual & Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She was born in Winner, SD. She has two cats. In 2016, she was awarded the third fellowship in Detroit’s unique Write A House program.

Nikki Bartoloni

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 9.26.36 PMNikki Bartoloni moved to Chicago almost seven years ago to study English Literature at DePaul University. While she had been writing stories since her father bought her her first self-publishing kit at the age of seven, she took her first creative non-fiction workshop at the end of her sophomore year and fell in love with the genre, later making it her main focus in DePaul’s Master in Writing and Publishing program. While she is new to Chicago’s storytelling and live-lit community, her work has been featured in Stumble Magazine and draft: a journal of process. Nikki’s guilty pleasures include online dating stories, Dawson’s Creek marathons, and chai lattes.

Kaitlin Sullivan

miss communication picKaitlin Sullivan is a frustrated writer with one of those corporate day jobs that frustrated writers tend to need. When she’s feeling cheeky, she blogs at alittlebitginger.com and makes jokes on various social media platforms. (Sorry, Mom.)

 

 

 

 

Whitney LaMora Currier

13043667_10102467848753718_7788474613477723023_nWhitney LaMora Currier is an actor, writer and comedian around town! You can see her produce and perform quarterly with her company Wirehouse Co. – next performance will be on June 10th at The Lincoln Loft wherein she’ll be emceeing and sharing three short pieces she has written and will direct for the evening. She also really loves her husband, Taco Bell and her three fur children.

Race

Here’s a recording of our March 2016 show. The theme was Race. Featured readers included Elaine Hegwood Bowen, Monica Guzman, Angel Simmons, and Alba Machado.

-Rose