The Ones Who Sustain Me

I despair often at the privileged lives of men and all that they get away with in the world while women question our every move, feeling, or even our instinct. A common question women are told to ask themselves when they face a particular conundrum about whether to ask for a raise or publish something is, "What would a mediocre white man do?" The answer of course is that he would do the thing that would make a woman fear she is being nervous or callous or thoughtless. I ask myself this often when I move ahead with more audacious things. But as much as I have longed to move as freely in the world as men, I have never wanted to be one. Because if I was, I would not have the unique and life-giving honor of having the women who surround me when I feel alone and who find me when I am lost. Surely there are deep and profound friendships between men and women that I admire but I have found in my own life a particular strength in women in numbers. The willingness of my women to time and again come to my rescue, knowing the peculiar dissatisfaction of being born into a world not designed for us, a world that is  dismissive when it is not downright hostile to our interior lives.

I was very sad this week, hit by an unexpected and disorienting sadness I did not have the language or fortitude to face alone. My friend Charlotte was at the ready in my text messages to affirm that I was not crazy to be disenchanted by a world that looks one way then suddenly acts in another way. On a night of crying, my friends Natasha and Arianna showed up with wine and their own gentle spirits to drown out the nagging noise of despair in my head. Phoebe wrote nothing short of a manifesto on how I deserve  happiness and made plans for big wild futures together. Alana reiterated that I am beautiful, which sounds trite but since she knows my greatest fear is physical mediocrity, it meant the world to me. The Rachel from whom I haven't heard in some time saw that I was having a rough week and reached out from the ether, knowing there is never a wrong time to reemerge if your message is comfort and kindness.

Then there was the internet. Another brilliant Rachel wrote a 10K word story on selfies that has the unique quality of making me envious of for her talent but too hungry for it for me to ever hope that she stops. The following line proved the very point of its many male detractors, "Maybe they are lonesome and hungry for connection, projecting their own lack of community onto this woman’s solo show, believing her to be isolated rather than expansive." I know it was in reference to selfies but what are my own tearful confessions late in the night to friends but my self, transmitting out into the world to be known?

Then today I published a story about how I lost my faith in God but still have a craving for grace and though men and women alike shared it, their responses differed greatly. I mentioned the fact that I went to Divinity School in the piece and strangers, both men and women, with whom I had little connection reached out to comment kindly on it but only women said things like, "I wish we had been better friends back then." Simple messagess like that carry the memory of grace that I crave so much.  They sustain me.

In the essay, I wrote, "I take heart in the words of the poet and professor Johann Peter Lange, who wrote in 1868 that there is 'no fall so deep that grace cannot descend to it' and 'no height so lofty that grace cannot lift the sinner to it.' I cannot predict how time will treat either my face or my faith, but I can allow myself to hope that I will know again that splendid fear that God is present, to be descended to once again." And though I crave the unpredictability of God, I am more truly sustained in these times by the knowable love of my friends. I know how deep they'll reach to get me and just how high they'll lift me, gently to a height where I can see just how far I can go but not so high that I'm scared to fall.

I Look Like So Much Stuff: A Journey

When I learned that my favorite girl group alive, Little Mix, is releasing an album today called "Get Weird," I was at once stoked because I can't get enough of the adorable troop of crooning murderesses and disappointed in myself because I don't get weird nearly often enough. The early days of this blog  were all about posting bizarre shit that I dreamed up and since like, six people saw it, I didn't care how strange it was. Now I feel like all my writing here is about writing, the blog equivalent of eating chewed Skittles from the bottom of a popcorn bucket at the Kent on Coney Island. So below instead, is a visual adventure with my face and the various shit it looks like. My resemblance to other shit that wasn't me began early. By my third year on Earth it was plain as day that Little Critter and I were cut from the same cloth. We were short, we had  gigantic faces, and we were tormented by ennui and our own idiocy.

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But as I grew older, I discovered that the only quality I possessed more of than dissatisfaction was G-L-A-M-O-U-R. The resemblance to famed dead pageant super baby JonBenét Ramsey was plain as day, even though she is three years old in her picture and I am nine years old in mine. Yes, I was a pipsqueak of a person. Yes, I killed a baby polar bear to make the luxurious pelt in that photo. No, I'm not sorry.

Alana Massey as Jon Bonet

The years wore on. My golden locks gave way to chestnut waves. Alas, I became a stone cold fox as was my birthright seeing as that glorious sorceress from Arkansas gave me half of my genetic material. Gail, you minx.

Mom and Alana

But as grateful as I was for my mother's witchery, I longed for doubles in the world who were not just magical or dead. But what should they be instead? Oddly arousing maternal figures with a fuh-reak streak like Sally Field, that's what they should be!

Alana and Sally Field

But this too was not enough. I craved more. I wondered if I would ever amount to more than the critter of my youth. My prospects were bleak.

Confused-Critters

Change was needed. Drastic change. As the years etched onto my face and wore away the tissue of my heart, I longed to be a slutty baby once again. And a slutty baby needs blonde hair. And a white dress. And a style icon like the hellspawn Kewpie Doll you see here. A change was here.

Alana As Kewpie

Soon, I began to look like all manner of shit. I dare anyone to guess who is the emoji cookie and who is me in this photo. You won't, you can't.

alana massey emoji cookie

I also looked like the tough but fair older sister to that darling Sky Ferraira in an indie breakout for both of us. We'd have French names like Servanne and Garance and smoke cigs in bed together. Often.

Alana Massey and Skye FerrairaBut why have an indie breakout when you could have a string of indie darlings? Here I was conjuring Michelle Williams thinking about an abortion and Ryan Gosling while on public transport, though I assure you my thoughts were far more lurid.

Fall Look

Sometimes, I would take drugs and fall somewhere between Scarface-era Michelle Pfeiffer glam bitch and Requiem-era Ellen Burstyn, ranting always about being on the goddamn television.

Me and Ellyn and Michelle

I grew bored of my own predilections, smoking indoors like a rotten-cored swamp teen.britney smoking.

Alana Smoking Gif

In a fit of desperation to regain my former moxie, I strategically placed a designer handbag across myself in an attempt to regain the je ne sais quoi of The Lady Miss Williams. It was in vain. Emphasis on vain.

alana michelle williams bags

I briefly turned to the Dark Arts. I excelled in them, as I do in all things. I cannot speak of what I learned or from whom I learned it.

Alana as Lucius Malfoy

As I was prepared to give up hope, I was greeted with a vision so thick with light and life that I was nearly blinded. This, surely, was my Road to Damascus.

keith is jesus

And I realized all along, that my vanity had shielded me from the love which was my destiny to embody as a double. To emulate profound love was my calling. And so I answered that call. And though to love is ultimately to lose, I was glad to bear the weight of it.

Pieta Alana Massey Collage

The Week in White People: Macklemore, Yoga Girl, & This Hip Church in Bushwick

As something of a thought leader in Being a White Chick, I am often asked at my seminars, "Ms. Massey, what is the best way to prove that you're one of the enlightened whites? You know, one that isn't racist? One that gets it." The best answer is, "Um, why do you have to prove that? Hand-wringing white guilt that opens every sentence with the qualifier, 'I know this comes from a place of white privilege, but....' is NOT THE LOOK.  Just recognize when you have a racist thought (because you WILL) and try to source it and correct it.  You're never going to get it entirely anyway. No, not even if you do a misguided stunt in blackface for an extended period of time and write a thought piece. Haven't we been over this on the Internet?"

But ladies and gentlemen, I am a lifelong runner-up so I don't give the best answer.  I give the SECOND best answer, "Oh, make fun of fellow white people doing things way worse than you."  And that, dear friends, is what I have done below.  But first, a bit of background...

So this story actually begins last Monday when Dasha Zhukova, girlfriend of bazillionaire and real-life  Bond villain Roman Abromovich, posted a photo to Instagram of herself in a racist chair to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. Just kidding, it was to be stylish and edgy and it was disgusting.

Behold:

"But it's art!" they cried. And nary a soul believed them.

Several white Americans, feeling nostalgic for the Cold War and getting jazzed about the Winter Olympics, were like  "Oh hell no, Russians are trying to outdo us in our home turf of doing-racist-things-but-pretending-they're-not-racist-at-all."

These are their stories.

MACKLEMORE

I regularly listen to exactly one song by Macklemore and one song by Kendrick Lamar. One compels me to sartorial penny-pinching and the other makes me think I have it in me to one day be a real badass. Both are important feelings for different occasions.  But the fact is, I have no opinion one way or another on which album deserved all those Grammys. I'm a woman of the 21st century so I watched the Grammys on Twitter instead of the TV and according to my sources, Macklemore didn't deserve it.

Street cred.

"Macklemore isn't the Grammy judging panel! What could he do? Go SEAHAWKS!" the fans raged against his detractors.  They raged back!  The patients were running the asylum.  What the fans said was true about him not being on the panel.

He is just the guy that wrote a very popular rap song that mocks the (primarily black) rappers that name-check designers and uses the word "MAMMY" in it as if that is just a totally unloaded term that refers to grandmothers.  AND NOT EVEN TO RHYME WITH ANYTHING.  But back to,  "What could he do?"

Well, he could take a cue from Ving Rhames in 1998 (which more people should do by the way) and give his award away to the person he sees as more deserving in a more authentic show of humility and connectedness to issues of equality than I don't know...a massive stunt wedding?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tk3EgDPZD0w

SKINNY WHITE YOGA GIRL

As a seasoned veteran of acting the fool on xoJane and witnessing others do the same,  I thought I had seen it all. But this xoShitshow of an article set a new standard in race-based speculative fiction.  It chronicles the tearful ordeal of a self-described "skinny white girl" seeing an overweight black woman at...wait for it....YOGA CLASS.  Below are some gems.

Animated because no one has ever actually seen a black woman do yoga in real life before.

"Before we made it into our first downward dog, she had crouched down on her elbows and knees, head lowered close to the ground, trapped and vulnerable"- So, "trapped and vulnerable" are generally terms used to describe frightened animals in captivity.  Off to a great start, carry on.

"Even when I wasn’t positioned to stare directly at her, I knew she was still staring directly at me."  How did you know that?  You just made that shit up.  I'll let Julia take it from here.

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"Over the course of the next hour, I watched as her despair turned into resentment and then contempt. I felt it all directed toward me and my body."  Right, she was totally thinking about you. You specifically (not any other person in the class) wield the incredible power to generate DESPAIR AND CONTEMPT  by doing an enviable Warrior II.  On a related note, you might find this test useful.

"I thought about how that must feel: to be a heavyset black woman entering for the first time a system that by all accounts seems unable to accommodate her body." Again with the making shit up, Jen! Did she tell you that this was her first time at yoga when you introduced yourself and offered to help her? Oh wait, you didn't do that you went home and cried about it.  Also, yoga is perfectly able to accommodate her body and any other.  It's your myopic vision of what yoga done well looks (by a thin white person) that can't accommodate it.

The good news is, we got the genius parody "It Happened To Me: I Saw a White Girl on the Train and It Was Not Okay" out of it.  The bad news is everything else about this.

HIP CHURCH IN BUSHWICK

"Oh, she's not going to make fun of a nice well-intentioned little church in Bushwick, is she?" they cried.  NONE ARE SPARED HERE. This article in Bushwick Daily profiles a new Episcopal church that has popped up in Bushwick to meet the spiritual needs of Christian transplants to the area.  It was started by a lady named Kerlin which I like because it rhymes with "Merlin." It's also super refreshing that the church website is unabashedly Jesus-centric unlike young churches attempting to be relevant through vague terms about fellowship, volunteering, and folk bands.

Not an actual photo of the cool church in Bushwick.

According to the author who visited the church, almost the whole congregation is white and they do that thing where they mess with the liturgy to keep it hip and reflective of the creative class that makes up their audience.   They sell beer at coffee hour! There's a band!  But the fact that it is my nightmare church does not make any of it racist.

What caused me to side-eye was this: "Kerlin says that at least part of the reason why she felt the need to start Bushwick Abbey was related to the fact that new parishioners who might have loved the predominantly Afro-Caribbean congregation further in to the neighborhood might not have the access that they would like...."

Right, you know those white Episcopalians who are really into the worship style and spiritual flavor of an Afro-Caribbean church to which they totally relate because their cultural contexts are so similar to those of the parishoners. Come the fuck on.  You built the church because young, affluent, and usually white Bushwick residents are very unlikely to feel at home in an existing church in the neighborhood.

A Week in White People: Macklemore, Yoga Girl, & This Hip Church in Bushwick  httThis is a case not of outright racism but a failure to admit the racial dimension of the decision.  Worship communities are notoriously segregated.  There is too much complexity and history to do justice to the issue of why people often choose to worship alongside members of their own racial group in a single blog post.  But in short, it is FINE if you are there to meet the needs of the changing demographics of a neighborhood.  You don't need to pretend that hundreds of years  (that are ongoing now too) of racial groups having very different experiences with and relationships to authority, power, faith, spirituality, and the holy didn't transform the way communities worship.  Don't blame the L train ride further into Bushwick.

In case you're wondering if this is going to be another banner week for white people acting foolish around race, worry not. Now that it's February, we get a whole month of white people complaining that there's no White History Month.

Sexy Science Sunday: I Wish I Knew How To Quit You, Richard Dawkins

In addition to several witty cats and One Direction fans the world over, I follow a lot of scientists on Twitter. I have a sincere and compelling interest in learning about the latest scientific breakthroughs of our day and consider scientists some of the most important members of our society when it comes to progressing as a species, both here on Earth and as we reach deeper into the abyss of outer space. Also, some scientists are looking damn fly. (Elon Musk, call me?) A lot of people talk about Richard Dawkins being controversial, but do a lot of them talk about him being a STONE FOX? The renowned atheist and asshole (the two being unrelated, just co-existing in this particular man) Richard Dawkins has recently come out with an autobiography about his journey to becoming a scientist and I couldn't even tell you the title because I was too busy ogling the picture on the front cover but you can read the cover yourself if vaguely mean-spirited but brilliant scientists are also your thing.

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Now, my relationship (and by "relationship" I mean "my personal feelings about a person who has no clue who I am cause he is a famous scientist and I am a soon-to-be-partially-employed goofus") is complicated. I read The God Delusion three months before attending Divinity School and was like "Oh shit, this sexy piece might be right. There goes a few tens of thousands of dollars. Ehhh, YOLO." Except I didn't say "YOLO" at the time cause it was 2010 and YOLO hadn't been invented yet. And then when I saw pictures like this, it was just over:

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Look at all the science he is doing! I can't even imagine what that contraption does but I bet it detects genes and I don't know, conjures the ghost of Charles Darwin. Wait, that's magic, not science. Scratch that. Anyway, homeboy looked good. The problem is that Richard Dawkins is kind of a woman hater and an Islamophobe.

Why must you be like that, Mr., excuse me, Dr. Dawkins? Why can't you be like this:

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What you are super good at is investigating things in tiny jars to uncover the secrets of our evolutionary past, not getting in Twitter fights with religious people and women. You are far too accomplished to degrade yourself like a common Millennial. Now get back to those tiny jars and find the Sexy Gene.

This may surprise you, but this isn't the first time I've had a crush on a real asshat. But there is hope for me yet. Some Google perusing brought me upon these photos of another Twitter scientest (Twienstist? Scientweeter?) that is actually super diplomatic, kind, and doesn't say mean and ridiculous things. Neil deGrasse Tyson, if you're reading this (you aren't), call me.

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