Vagina Love

Somewhere in between my fifth grade graduation dance and trying to find my locker in high school I lost most of my confidence. I stopped being outgoing. I wanted to go back to that child who hid behind my mother’s skirt. I could only be described as “nice” or “quiet” to most of my classmates and remained somewhat reserved even to my friends.

So it came as a shock to all involved that two of my suite mates freshman year convinced me to audition for The Vagina Monologues. I was selected for The Not So Happy Fact. It’s a short blurb about genital mutilation and the incredible number of women who had suffered through it. You do not get applause when you give The Not So Happy Fact. It’s too jarring, too disturbing, too sad. Even my family sat stunned, not remembering to clap.

We spent months preparing for the performances and they are some of my most vivid memories of freshman year. Sitting with my roommate going over her lines, making posters (or was it T-shirts?) while listening to Le Tigre in the student union, watching young, vibrant women find their voices onstage through the stories of many.

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Tonight I saw UNC Wilmington’s Vagina Monologues. It was the first time in eleven years that I had seen a performance of it and the first time I wasn’t on stage. Yes, it made me feel nostalgic. Yes, I immediately sent Facebook messages to my old roommates. Yes, I remembered most of the monologues almost word for word.

The message and its importance though felt renewed. Although I have to wonder if some of the content resonates with today’s youth (Do they know about the Bosnian war? Do they understand vagina workshops were a thing?) the message clearly does. The message of internal revolution, of female empowerment, of respect and boundaries, of solidarity felt familiar in a way that made me realize I had lost touch with it. In today’s world of negativity and divisiveness I had forgotten about being just plain old happy and proud to be a woman. To love your vagina! To love all vaginas! And to be appreciative of all those who embrace women, equality and respect.

When talking about participating in the Vagina Monologues I used to always add, “I only spoke a really small part. It was nothing.” I acted as though I was someone’s last choice. But perhaps I was chosen for The Not So Happy Fact because although I felt small, my voice was powerful. That’s what we all need to remember: that although we may feel small, our voices are no less powerful.

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Just a college girl in a dorm with her Sleater Kinney shirt. Those were the days.

** Vagina Monologue performances happen all across the country around Valentine’s Day. Find the one nearest you and bring a friend. All proceeds go to local non-profits that work to end violence against women and children. UNCW has a second performance on Sunday if you’re in the Wilmington area.**

This I Believe

Last year I created a reading list at work, where I had everyone submit book recommendations. I compiled them all together to make a fantastic list of reads. I may have been the only one who got really excited about this list but lists and books represent two of my favorite things! (Dork alert.) I’ve made it my mission to read as many books on the list as possible (except the ones that I’m just really not interested in- can’t be too extreme). There’s probably 80 or so books on there.

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So far I’ve read:

  • Beach Music by Pat Conroy- Very interesting read but most certainly written for a different generation. I felt I would have gotten a lot more about of it if I was my parents’ age.
  • I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb- Absolutely loved it… until the ending which was delivered all neatly wrapped in a big ol’ bow. Little disappointed there.
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed- Loved every minute of this book. Have not seen the movie yet but I’m hoping to this week.

For Christmas this year I asked for a couple books off the list including This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women. It’s based on the NPR series that existed both in the 1950s and in the 2000s. It’s been a really incredible read. I want to share with you a couple of lines that I thought have been pretty poignant.

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“Give, give, give–what is the point of having experiences, knowledge, or talent if I don’t give it away? Of having stories if I don’t tell them to others? Of having wealth if I don’t share it? I don’t intend to be cremated with any of it. It is in giving that I connect with others, with the world, and with the divine.” -Isabel Allende

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“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious–the knowledge of the existence of something unfathomable to us, the manifestation of the most profound reason coupled with the most brilliant beauty.” – Albert Einstein

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“I believe in the power and mystery of naming things. Language has the capacity to transform our cells, rearrange our learned patterns of behavior and redirect our thinking. I believe in naming what’s right in front of us because that is often what is most invisible.” -Eve Ensler

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“It would be folly for an individual to seek to do better- to do better than to go on in his own imperfect way, making his mistakes, riding out the rough and bewildering, exciting and beautiful storm of life until the day he dies.” – Oscar Hammerstein II

alan

“I believe in the creative powers of the unknown. I believe in the exhilaration of standing at the boundary between the known and the unknown. I believe in the unanswered questions of children.”   -Alan Lightman

Highly recommend it y’all.