Tag Archives: Beyonce


Beyonce is a Woman, and Women Like Her Can Not Be Contained

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“The Dragon Breathing Fire” Beyonce is my fave Beyonce so far.

I said to someone recently “I’m willing to take my chances”.  I know that’s all I have, and my chances (choices) sometimes boomerang hard and fast.  Who knew Beyonce has fucking problems too.

Like many of you (I assume based on the cross section of people I deal with in my life), I’m obsessed with Lemonade.  I can’t claim to be Beyonce’s biggest fan or anything – other than her hits I really began to notice her last year when a friend put “7/11” on a playlist for our lake trip.  I’m not usually into edgy sounding (are you getting I don’t know what is edgy in this genre?) dance music but that one really grew on me (how FUCKING cool is that video?) and I got into the rest of Beyonce when the need arose very quickly after that trip.  I needed upbeat empowerment.  Yeah, I had Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora (“Black Widow” and “Work”), Demi Lovato (“Confident”), Zara Larsson (“Lush Life”) and even a little Hailee Steinfeld (“Love Myself”) in my playlist – that’s how badly I had to brainwash myself into thinking I’d someday not be the pathetic mess that had replaced the confident sexy vixen I’d been.  This is the fallout of romantic rejection on a powerful woman.  Tell yourself in the mirror honey, “I love you, and I’ll always be there for you.”  It’s sad but it works – and you have to make it true.  Oh yeah, Ryan Adams singing the entire Taylor Swift “1989” album… that really suited me.

More than a companion to these other female pop stars – Beyonce was my queen.  Not just with Beyonce, but with Nicki Minaj on “Feeling Myself” and with Destiny’s Child.  I always fantasized about doing an “Independent Woman” parody featuring myself washing my car at a self serve, carrying groceries, and sexily mowing a lawn.

Then, Lemonade.  A friend gushed to me about it the day after the film was released on HBO.  I was tired from my two jobs and we were hiking and talking, a little bit, about dudes and the need to get laid.  “They’re just so dumb,” I said.  “I really sometimes think all I need them for is sex, but they can’t even handle that.”  I love men.  Really.  But I have everything I need, other than sex (intimacy!), because I don’t think one of them is ever going to take care of me.  So I finally buy Lemonade the next day and I begin listening, but I don’t manage to watch the entire film until a few days later.  I find myself in tears at the end of “All Night Long”, because I can’t believe Beyonce is still with Jay-Z.

Obviously Lemonade is about so much more than a marriage and infidelity, real or imagined, and I can’t stop reading articles about everything it means.  It takes the synchronized (by Bey herself) contributions of so many artists to make such a piece of work.  It’s also about more than womanhood – though I take this message from it so intensely seriously – it’s about being a marginalized American black woman of course.  I think – even Beyonce deals with this shit, this relationship shit, this gender-specific shit.  We are women – she is sexy, she is a parent (mother), she is smart like a fucking whip, she is a badass, she “gives you life”, she is still grinding with no pants on at thirty four after giving birth, she has piles and piles of paper.  I love her.  In other words, she is everything that is traditionally a man.

In the end of Lemonade, Beyonce claims that true love has saved the day.  I am left wondering, do we ever really fall in love?  Or do we just fall in lust that sometimes lasts for years?  Then that link is broken, or tired, and is it just whatever we brainwash ourselves into to keep a relationship together?  I wonder this about myself.  Never one to stray, but also not one to stay, my relationships always ended when I got bored and frustrated.  I finally told myself, as an adult in my thirties, that people stay together because they want to and decide to.  If this is unconditional love, I tried to practice it, albeit on someone I had such a burning lust for I could validate my own devotion easily.  I still ached for his body even when I hated every word that came out of his mouth, and for months after he gracelessly and abruptly ended things.  Seeing him with another woman (flagrantly) was the cruelest backwash of our ending, because what did we have if not the strongest of physical bonds – which I thought was an ephemeral issue of our love?  It seemed clear then, nothing.

Despite never being cheated on (to my knowledge), the betrayal aspect of Lemonade strikes me the hardest.  It’s so difficult to believe a man you get on your knees in limos for would actually need something sexually from another woman – especially if one aspect of your connection is that transcendent kind of “we’re in love” sex that accompanies deeply intimate relationships. No matter how much she kept it sexy and fun, and had her own money, and no matter how easy it is for her man compared to when a man had to really support a woman and her children (giving him more of a license to stray) – it doesn’t matter.  Even Beyonce gets cheated on.

Here’s the thing though – what I get from Lemonade is that Beyonce fixed everything that Jay-Z fucked up by forgiving his betrayal – by loving more deeply.  Her power seems to be claiming that only true love is real and her husband’s transgressions are the object of a problem greater than them.  But of course she has to be the one powerful enough to know this, if it is true. She saves the fucking day in her marriage, her love overcomes the pride of her much older husband, she is stronger than everyone.  Which is to say, she loves more than anyone, and harder, more painfully.

I want to think it’s noble: forgiveness, and repairing something, and unconditionally loving a flawed man who has cheated on you with another woman (and by Dan Savage’s rules if people asked permission before they cheated, maybe we could make all this stuff ok) but – why are women the ones that have to be strong?  Why do we have to do everything?  Every angry moment of  the first part of Lemonade resonates with me – the doubt, the denial, the beast awakening into absolute rage on my favorite track “Don’t Hurt Yourself”.  As the redemption process begins there’s a birth, things change, Beyonce comes out in the end a different woman, and as is pointed out in this article, the sex is still there but it’s different now – it means something again now, after it’s been used both to maintain a man and betray a woman.  It’s sacred, like most people agree it is when you love the person you’re with.

The times I’ve climbed out of despair, of that burning rage that comes with the most betrayal-laded heartbreak, in my mind I’m a phoenix rising, with new stuff in my closet and jewelry around my neck and probably some of my comfortable “boyfriend” weight melted from my hips.  I emerged alone.  Never did I transform and come back to that same man, whether he wanted me to or not.  Part of me just wishes Beyonce would “bounce to the next dick”.  Because what else can we really count on?

To quote poetry from Lemonade read by Beyonce… “why are you afraid of love?”  I think, we all know why.

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Marfa Part II: “It’s Inside You” or “Beyonce Went There”

I had a transformational experience in Marfa, Texas last summer. The combined elements of strong geographical energy (Marfa Lights), minimalist art, a film festival attracting interesting people from all over the world if not just Texas, the remote location, intensely beautiful scenery, and one of the best parties I ever attended, culminating in an emotional cry fest (with Lone Stars) before the flashing unexplained phenomena after a best friend squabble in Big Bend National Park, showed me things I had been sorely missing. I’ve already written about this, but it sent me down a minimalist life path that so far has made me much happier and brought more love into my life, and I hope in 2015 will help me dig myself out of my embarrassingly immature credit card debt. Despite my arrogant resolution blog post this time last year, I made ZERO PROGRESS financially in 2014.

But a shit ton emotionally.


Digital zoom on a Marfa light last summer.

In addition to the trajectory I started when I left Marfa, begun as experiences that were reflected upon on the day’s drive home, I developed an immediate obsession to go back. I couldn’t imagine not feeling so good there as I had in the heat of summer sleeping in a safari tent and eating burritos or hamburgers for almost every meal. I needed to tour Donald Judd’s home, I needed to go in the art galleries I hadn’t seen, and damn it, I needed to go to Mexico and get some Mexican shit.

I emptied my home of extra possessions when I got back from Marfa in an attempt to copy the aesthetic of the artist Donald Judd (who started the Chinati Foundation and an art/minimalist legacy in Marfa), and, possibly to a greater extent, El Cosmico. As my space got cleaner and felt bigger, I realized I wanted more people in it. It seemed too big for me. I wanted to use things and I wanted to monetize what could be used. I started thinking about Air BnB and ended up with a temporary roommate. This temporary roommate basically financed my trip back to Marfa to celebrate my 37th birthday. (I know. 37.)

I couldn’t do another birthday, in Denver, when I worked that day and the next day and no one will go to karaoke with me and the only people trying to take me out to dinner are my parents. I deserved something more energetically appropriate for all I’ve done this year.

I became a lot braver in 2014. I mean, I’ve always been stupid brave, like, move every two years to a different city to avoid seeing ex boyfriends brave, or like, bad decisions of the late night partying kind of brave, running alone at night in Detroit brave, and, in my mid to um, late thirties, “I don’t care what anyone thinks and I will date a 23 year old if I want to” brave. But this year I became real brave, like, professional brave and confrontation brave and you can’t be friends with everyone all the time anymore brave. I needed to celebrate this dedication to being me.

I drove to Marfa from Roswell (my in between spot) three days after Thanksgiving. The scenery changed to Texas style, I got excited, and I kept wondering why I was getting so close to El Paso. Once the sign read 30 miles away and I had gone through a border checkpoint I was sure something was wrong. Some help from the border patrol as I crossed back through, a stop to use the bathroom and buy water at one of those odd little cafes in no place where some men were dressing a deer outdoors, and confirmation that I was 50 miles from Sierra Blanca (i.e., GAS, but still over an hour from Marfa) and I was off on a ranch road rushing towards a refill and cursing that I was missing two hours of a seventy degree day, as well as having forgotten the time difference (add an hour once you get there anyway). I was very aware that if my car broke down death was a potential outcome.

It just felt wrong. The magical arrival I’d hoped for was tarnished by the time I’d added to the easy and beautiful drive from Roswell. That night my host and I went to the closing night of Planet Marfa, were tortured by a Russian border guard with a million pictures of the Himalayas, and, though the bar was full of other interesting and attractive people (well, not full… but containing), I still lay in bed that night doubting my decision to come to Far West Texas alone in December.

The feeling stuck with me as I felt a cold coming on and the following day was blustery and cool. It was the day before my birthday and I felt awkward and lonely at karaoke, realizing I knew just enough people to feel kind of stupid, but not enough to belong. It was a horrible feeling. I remembered my massage therapist’s advice of “run into your fears” and decided to sing a song to break the ice for myself. It worked, and suddenly everyone in the bar remembered me from the summer and wondered where my sidekick was, and I began to make friends with some of the other travelers who were passing through that night. It ended, as other nights in Marfa did, at the Marfa Lights viewing platform. A guy from Oakland had asked me for a ride there, I told him my awkward dilemma in the car, at the lights two other guys wished me a happy birthday, and one gave me a quartz from Arkansas that had been gifted to him. It was starting to seem like Marfa again.

I dropped off my passenger who gave me a zine and a sticker with a drawing of pears that said “Grow a Pear”. “I don’t know what to give you,” I said. “All I have is this coyote bone we picked up off the road this summer.” He actually wanted it.

And the next day I was going to Mexico. A friend I’d kept in touch with since the summer graciously followed through on his promise to be my guide. I added a country on my birthday to start a trend for the year.

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Ojinaga, Mexico, my 37th birthday.

So once I had decided to go back to Marfa for my birthday, at some point not long after I decided to spread some of my Dad’s ashes there. My sister and I both kept small parts of my Dad’s physical body… and I’d begun to think I didn’t need them forever. There was a time I needed them very much. And now I thought I’d like a piece of him to live at the Marfa lights with the Apache spirits and where I was sure I’d visit many times for the rest of my life, and maybe even live someday.

Amongst things I decided to finally deal with and that I didn’t need anymore were my Dad’s drug box. It was living in a lockbox that originally housed the four jars of very strong Oregon weed his death bequeathed to me. That lockbox had been inside a cooler in his apartment in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The weed was long gone to different recipients/customers, but the jars were finally scrubbed and repurposed as drinking glasses, and the box, a rusted tin I remember from my childhood (it had playing card kings and jacks on it) seemed better removed ceremonially. So, it was the perfect vehicle for getting the ashes to Texas once I dumped out the roach it was holding.

The drive to Presidio with my native Marfan friend was beautiful, and as we discussed the border I realized the cargo I had in the trunk. There was no way there weren’t some pot remnants in there that would hit on the way back from Mexico. “Well, they’ll just search your car and won’t find anything,” he said. But then I’d have to explain the ashes… I mean that box looked like a drug box. It just wasn’t going to be cool. We were meeting a friend of his for lunch, and I decided, I should just stash the box somewhere or even just toss it out the window before we crossed. My Dad would have loved it. Because he was bad too.

I didn’t have to throw him out the window though, because our lunch date offered to hold the tin until we came back from Ojinaga, and that she did. I got my poncho and my Mexican blanket, and on the way back to Marfa, after a secondary search at the border (Colorado plates, smart ass Mexican-American passenger – his words!) we stopped and picked up my Dad’s drug tin. It was memorable like all my trips should be.

My cold got worse over the next few days, so I didn’t party the way I had over the summer, but did see the galleries I’d missed, run on ranch roads, take pictures of my dog with tumbleweeds, and enjoy brief post jogging naps in hammocks in the warm winter sun. I ate at the restaurants I’d missed, became obsessed with Topo Chico, and toured “The Block”, Donald Judd’s city home in Marfa. This ended at sunset on a Friday night in the sparse and symmetrical world of that space, and I remembered why I’d come back. I am just very inspired by this place physically, and this aesthetic. Whatever one may think about Judd or his art, he is the reason I went to Marfa in the first place. I’m grateful for that. And the sunsets are unforgettable.


My dog posing and my own camera timer self portrait.    

I visited the lights again and left my Dad there on a fence post, and a bracelet for my nephew Andrew, who passed away almost a year ago. A few lights flashed for me, and I went out for a bit to see some friends on my last night.

Leaving the “bubble” of Marfa the next day, I was amazed by how freaking good the public radio station was on my car radio. The scenery seems gorgeous for miles around, but it’s still not that specific town. The Davis Mountains were boring compared to Big Bend, and I ended up regretting that I’d left precious Marfa a couple hours early to hike there.

I’d achieved my goal of seeing a bit of what it might be like to live in Marfa all the time. It was much colder, of course, even with the very warm days, and it was demystifying to experience it in the winter. The light was still beautiful. I still met remarkable people every day. And I realized, especially that first night when I’d rescued myself at karaoke, that my life had just been different ever since the first time I’d been there. I’d been different, and had been living life more as me than I ever had. Marfa was inside me – that’s what I have to call it because that’s what is true for me. I was headed home only to leave for a week long business trip and couldn’t wait to really be home because there was someone I was actually excited to see there.

When I’m explaining it to people, I usually start by telling them, “Beyonce went there.” The rest of it, not everyone will understand. Which is fine.

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Who did Marfa better, me or Beyonce?

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