I’ve Got a New Mantra

Edison said “Invention is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,” which has been one of my favorite quotations for years because it absolutely puts those talkers into their place.  Yeah yeah, I’ve heard the talk, but honestly, what have you done lately?

You could say much the same about me and my writing, both the blog and otherwise, where I have all of these great ideas of things I want to say but just can’t get around to getting it down.  Writing about Love Your Body Day (on November 1st) was one of them.  My mind was full with thoughts of the cathartic spilling of the ridiculous things I allow myself to think about my body and ultimately myself.  I daydreamed about the post, what I’d say, fretting about how personal to make it, wondering how honest I could be.  I spent so much time mulling it about it in my head that I never did it.  The whole idea was to strike while the iron was hot and I let it freeze over.  So I moved on.

And then, via Kate Harding, I read this post about a recent interview with Ani DiFranco.  Ani, of course, being The Voice of My Feminist Generation — 30-something women who, 15 years ago, were listening to Not a Pretty Girl while reading deBeauvoir and making signs for the next demonstration.

Okay, I have to be honest here.  While that may have been going on in some circles, my mainstream appearance was a little much for that crowd and after attending a meeting and being insulted for shaving my legs I didn’t return.  Incidentally, though, in terms of my feminist studies and activism — I was the one selected to co-teach in women’s studies while still an undergrad; I was the one the Department approached about tutoring members of the football team in women’s studies in the aftermath of Bronzkala and VAWA; and I was also the one photographed going head-to-head with the Dean of Student Affairs over the issue of how the school handles sexual assault charges among students.  So ‘feminist’ appearances don’t mean much.  Ugh.  Did I really just write all that?  My glory days are more like gory days.


The point here is that although I look all peaches and cream and home baked pie with my blonde hair and occasionally shaved legs, for years I’ve harbored the secret desire to be Ani DiFranco.  To Just Be That Cool.  To have it all out there so plainly.  I hadn’t thought much about Ani’s music lately, being subjected as I am to constant requests for “Elmo” and “Imagination Movers” (occasionally veering into Young MC, as my kids are HipHop fiends).  Then I read about her new album and this song.

Everything I wanted to say about Love Your Body day?  All that stuff I was thinking about?  It’s right here.

lately i’ve been glaring into mirrors
picking myself apart
you’d think at my age i’d have thought
of something better to do
than making insecurity into a full-time job
making insecurity into art
and i fear my life will be over
and i will have never lived unfettered
always glaring into mirrors
mad i don’t look better

but now here is this tiny baby
and they say she looks just like me
and she is smiling at me
with that present infant glee
and yes i will defend
to the ends of the earth
her perfect right to be

so i’m beginning to see some problems
with the ongoing work of my mind
and i’ve got myself a new mantra
it says: “don’t forget to have a good time”
don’t let the sellers of stuff power enough
to rob you of your grace
love is all over the place

there’s nothing wrong with your face
love is all over the place
there’s nothing wrong with your face

lately i’ve been glaring into mirrors
picking myself apart

… okay, I know.  I KNOW.  But it’s only 6 days more.  And it starts with “Holly” and ends on my birthday.  How could I not?