Thinker Thursdays — Wild Women
Happy Thursday Readers and Writers! It’s Amli, your everyday Lightworker, back at you from the Life-in-10 Minutes Community.
Life in 10 is an actual and virtual for the readers, writers, thinkers — you know, the artists, the cool kids, the one who are really trying to figure out life.
And some of us are wild! And I do mean wild!
What do you think about women who are wild? Love them? Hate them? Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve realized that men love a crazy girl. How do I know this? Well…I’m kinda of crazy girl…and…at times I can be wild. In fact, my aunt, (who took the above picture of me when I was about five) gave me the moniker wild child. I think she could appreciate the ferocity of me. I could too. This photo fully captures me and who I be. Born to be wild and free!
However,…what happens when you’re born wild, but not so free? A brisk walk in the shoes of life-in-ten teacher Cindy Cunningham, gives us a taste of that particular stew…at times it’s a bitter brew.
With her memoir, Wild Woman, Memoir in Pieces, from the first page onward, the reader instinctively senses that she is in for one wild ride with Cindy.
Cindy brings us in to a seemingly warm and wonderful space in “I am.”
I am from a mess of grits, from fatback and fried bologna. I am from warm potato salad, Crisco fried chicken and lard biscuits.
Oh Gawd! This sounds delightfully yummy to a ghetto princess like me. Ain’t no cooking like that southern cooking, which is basically soul food, but down south, everyone eats it (yes even the white people) and all the time! Warm potato salad? WTF? That’s a thing? Is it good? Okay. I’ll try it.
And initially, you are thrilled to be invited into this world! In the movie of your mind, you pull up a seat at the family dinner table, hoping to be offered some of that potato salad. But soon after you start to wonder whether everything is as cozy (and kosher) in fatback land.
The Maiden, The Whore and the Crone
He smells like daddy, he is 28; he praises my maturity as his fingers crack open my body.
Do you want to try more out from Cindy’s world? Are you sure? She walks you through the stages of her life( Maiden, Whore, Crone) in pieces, that are about 10 minutes long. This memoir perfectly reps the life in 10 community- and how we do. After “I am,” we learn about the “Vampire.” And oh-uh. Shit starts getting real.
When Cindy tells you, “I floated above my body” and “lightheaded I rise to the ceiling” and “I’m never able to excavate the details of who , what or why.” You know, something fucked up happened, but much like Cindy, you don’t know, who, what or why.
The talented memoirist gets her blood and guts on the page. She writes true, raw, real and at times the searingly painful.
In “Learning the Boundaries” she escapes with a friend who tells her she “feels like dying on a fairly regular basis.” To that, I just wanna say, “join the club girl.” But already, I know, as they leave the school and board that bus, we’re going on a wild ride.
My heart stops with lines like:
“He smells like daddy, he is 28; he praises my maturity as his fingers crack open my body.”
I’m thinking…oh shit! I wanna get off this ride now…it’s a lil too wild for me. This isn’t gonna have, an acceptable ending.
“I remember refusing sex, then giving a blow job, I remember not smoking but lighting butts…I do remember the moment I move into being a cutter. And Pattie said she’d teach me how to survive…survival meant stuffing it all inside, letting men take what they want.”
And this is probably why she also says,
“My vagina hurts but I don’t mention that.”
Where are we? What the fuck just happened? Before you can fully orient yourself in time and space, she describes a brutal, and yet almost perfunctory murder. A head is blow off in a car like gas being pumped. This child (and she is just a child) is palling around with reckless, bottom-feeding, “disposable” people! And…she knows she’s in trouble, because she asks herself:
“How could this be the life I was living?”
Where were her parents? According to what we can glean from the memioir they are off somewhere being super Christians (#cold and judgy). She is not a ghetto princess (like me). One doesn’t get the sense that she will be forgiven although she is only thirteen, and clearly lost. She believes she is invincible. She is says she is invisible. One wonders if that’s a good or bad thing, but ultimately it’s impossible to say. It is both. Like the Fair Maiden/Old Hag optical illusion.
Here is what a ghetto princess knows, Girl friend is falling into some pretty ghetto traps…the kind everyone warned me about when I was a young princess. Never hang around with thugs. They are up to no good. They always end up dead or in jail. They will use you. They will rape you. Worst case scenario of all, they will snatch you up, take you off and run a train on you. That’s a euphemism, for what it really happens, with the thugs and the trains. But just stay away from all that! I was appropriately warned! These are things that all hood folk know. Didn’t anyone warn her? (I mena I know very little about Southern White culture, but it seems to me, her mama should have warned her. The waitress tried to warn her…begged her and her friend not to go.
They went anyway.
We slip our hands between our legs, run our fingers under the boys’ noses, whisper, ‘you want some of this?’
Goddamn…what a story. This is just part one — Maiden. We haven’t even begun to explore part two — Whore.
“I will not go to jail for two kids killing themselves in my house!”
That last bit is from the perpetrator. Nevertheless she repots that the police who found them,
“let the driver go, no charges or questions that I remember.”
And that is simply that.
In “Pussy Power,” (Whore), even this ghetto princess is shocked, (and yet intrigued) by lines like this:
“I can fuck all night long or have a quickie.”
“We slip our hands between our legs, run our fingers under the boy’s noses, whisper, ‘you want some of this’?”
Oh wow. I bet he does. She is wild! And I have to admit, I’m kind of envious of someone that uninhibited. But…it kinda turns sad. “We know we only achieve orgasms when alone.”
“Prison Detail” sounds like an incomprehensible jagged sob. It ends like this: “The two of us, naïve, trapped. In our tortured libidos. Our secret death drives.”
Huh? What? What even happened? Somethings are just cryptic, barely speakable.
So, when she asks, “Who wouldn’t want a piece of this pussy power?” I think maybe I do… but I’m not quite sure. I like her Lilleth energy. It’s definitely wild. But, Cindy don’t seem to be all that free. She’s living in a world that simply won’t let her be...one that actually put her in a cage, apparently. This is what happens to truly wild women. They won’t let you be wild, but for so long.
Because I am now a lesbian and my parents are fine, upstanding Christians, they take custody of my daughter. The law backs them up.
She ends up in a small, dangerous and desperate place. That’s evident from “Why I left Him.” Where we learn that there is a baby, a girl, two months old. And see, that’s the trouble with pussy power, you wanted power, or maybe you just wanted love, but you end up with a baby instead. And this baby is at risk.
Well… not Cindy’s baby, cause that’s why she left him. She wasn’t going to let no harm come to her baby. I respect her for that.
In “There is a Wolf Also Inside of Me” she throws ice cold water on you, with no warning:
“Because I am now a lesbian and my parents are fine, upstanding Christians, they take custody of my daughter. The law backs them up.”
What the fuck! What the actual fuck! That is not the law as I understand it…and I’m a hip-hop litigator! But in the South, the law operates a little different. At this point I’m like I cannot. This memoir is breaking my heart into pieces!
That’s actually what memoirs are supposed to do.
And so, I say to myself, I’m gonna skip ahead, cause this is not the Cindy I know. The Cindy I know, has totally got it going on. Where the fuck is that Cindy! I’m gonna find her.
That Cindy is the Crone. So, in Crone, we have “Things I Say to My Students.” I love the things Cindy says to her students!
“Just tell your mom that when the penguins at the zoo sneezed on you, it turned you gay.”
And well why not? These judgy super Christians believe all kinds of crazy bull, anyway. That explanation is as good as any.
“Wait. Stop talking. Write that down, RIGHT NOW.” Is probably something all of us English teachers should say to a student at one point or another. We would if we were truly listening.
“No, a baby cannot just FALL out of your vagina.”
I know it sounds nuts, but it’s the south…and ignorance about reproduction is rampant. There’s a don’t ask, don’t tell policy around the science of baby-making. It’s a Southern thing…I don’t understand it.
And this…this lil gem here, this really, really touches my heart:
“Your story is important to me.”
Cindy is a damn good teacher…and my standards are very, very high, as I was NOVA trained in the profession. (Shout out to Woodbridge campus! Shout out to Dr. Jill Biden who backed up all of us wild and wily Woodbridge campus English professors in our less than traditional methodology. NOVA in the White House now!)
Cindy gets it. She could roll with my rag-tag, red-haired step child, hippy-dippy crew of NOVA readers, writers, teachers. That’s an elite crowd, (by my standards). We were the bomb dig of the Virginia Community College System. So why did the state of Virginia decide to shut us down by gutting all our programs? Well…that is another story, for another time. Right now, we’re talking about wild woman Cindy.
And I want this wild woman to have a happy ending. Does Cindy get her happy ending? In “So what About Love?” it looks like maybe. When she says: “Once I have drifted off to sleep, he places my glasses carefully on the nightstand” it seems she has finally landed in a safe and warm place. She tells many micro stories about love that only the stone-hearted could read and fail to feel something. The last story she tells about plastic reindeers from Big Lots, makes me want to cry. She ends with: “this is why I love him.”
Want more? Go ahead and become Unzipped, you wild woman you! In subscribing to this quarterly publication, you will get the full story (kinda) from a wild woman, giving you her life in pieces, and every single one of them is dope AF.
What pieces of your life would you care to share? Do it! You have 10 minutes.