Featured Writer for December

Christie Alex Costello is a gem of a writer and I am happy that she is a contributor to A Cornered Gurl. She brings an airiness to the publication that isn’t often shared and I am delighted to have her as a part of our community. Christie shares with us in her first published piece, the true beauty of love and what it feels like to her. And, it’s not one of those listicles or checklists that we are all so tired of seeing as well. This piece is what landed her the feature:


What Love Really Feels Like

This is not a checklist.

Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

The world spins quickly and while you hope it slows, it never does. Everyone keeps moving, calls keep coming, and each morning the sun builds faster over the horizon. Your world needs stability, yet all you find is madness.

Someone catches your attention for a moment. Everything around you seems to slow as you meet this unfamiliar set of soft brown eyes from across the room. A calming sensation wraps around you like a warm fleece blanket; this is safety. Looking into the soul of this human, your heart begins to race. The sand turns in your hourglass as the two of you shake hands. Welcome to my life, you think to yourself. You begin to speak your name but your throat feels like a hot shot of Fireball; the taste simulating and terrifying all within a single instant. Their hand feels like the kiss you waited for and never felt that first time.

As years go on, this sensation becomes more familiar to you — almost becoming accustomed to this person whom you seem to know well, or so you think. Your eyes have a harder time finding the fire which once burned so brightly. A third sensation builds — an ocean wave of turmoil at its core.

“Am I enough?”

Yes, but in a depth that you never knew existed until you do — you look into the crystal ball but have no understanding of how to read even your own message. You reach, search, and talk with strangers just looking to find a sense of grounding. You find none. The world returns to its fastest speeds yet. Your toes grip the ground to find balance. You wonder to yourself as you stare across the room, stuck in your own head.

“Will I ever be the same without them?”

No, you won’t, and you wouldn’t want to be.

No one warns us that water can get this deep, too deep to tread lightly in. The sensation of its blue vertical drop beneath you is captivating and frustrating. Self-love becomes this necessary ingredient now, a prerequisite to keeping the other human connection beside you; anxiety ensues. You are the depth that you once found daunting to swim in. The other human and yourself are now intoxicated by the power of this vast feeling of surrender; it is becoming hard to pull everything apart — these emotions feel like volcanic eruptions spilling into a world you both created. Although on some days, it can feel like an easy life, living as you watch from a different point of view. The power of your own existence.

“Has this always been our purpose as humans — to understand love?”

The same eyes from all that time ago stare into you now. They are brilliant. You have found a sense of home here. Those glimmers of acceptance hold your soul captivated and mesmerized, worn at the edges like a good book you’ve found yourself reading over and over again. The stillness through the chaos feels like a drunken spin of serendipity.

You think to yourself, this is us.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

The Last Challenge of the Year

I am posting this here as well, just in case any of you would like to participate and you happen to be users on Medium. This is our last writing prompt/challenge of the year, so it simply makes sense to spread the news here as well. The theme of focus: love and how you like it. Read further for the details.


Writers: A Challenge

How Do You Like Your Love?

Tell me what you can creatively about how you like your love, but do so using 1–3 words only. One definition of the word love is as follows:

  1. an intense feeling of deep affection.

When you think of love, what comes to your mind? How would you write about the word love, but succinctly and in micro-poetic form? How do you like your love? What do you expect from it? What pushes you to love and love always?

Share your thoughts about love, but using 1–3 words only. That is the challenge, that is the kicker. Can you do it? Are you up for it? How do you like your love?

An example:

Always in
abundance


Let’s make this happen, people!

•Request to be added as a writer by emailing me at acorneredgurl@gmail.com with “Please Add Me” as the subject line or don’t want to be a writer in A Cornered Gurl? Simply comment with your response in this challenge post, or create your own post to your profile or in another publication, however, please use the tags, “Challenge” and “Love.”

Since this is a challenge call, all submissions received by 6:00 pm, US EDT Sunday, December 8, 2019, will be published by 7:00 pm, US EDT Monday, December 9, 2019. Any other submissions received past 6:00 pm on Monday, December 9, 2019, will be published by 7:00 pm on Friday, December 13, 2019, US EDT. CHALLENGE SUBMISSION BEGINS NOW. ❤

How do you like your love?

Also, please use the tags “Challenge” and “Love” for this particular call.

*Finally, this is a read-for-all community. There will be no metered paywall or locked pieces in A Cornered Gurl.

This is the last challenge of the year, beautiful people. Please bring it and have fun!


Non-fiction Saturdays

Photo by Adi Goldstein via Unsplash

I Still Travel With My Late Grandmother

She Loves A Good Trip

I was nine years old the first time I ever rode a train in New York. My grandmother was taking me shopping for training bras and one of our form of travel for that day was the subway. I peaked well before my time according to her and undershirts were no longer enough. I needed protection. I needed coverage. So, off we went to Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale’s. Neither of these stores was new introductions to me as my grandmother did most of her shopping at both, but I had never been shopping with her for something as simple as a training bra and the event itself turned out to be quite an adventure.

I recall a hushed dressing room, two or three training bras handed off to me, and my grandmother knocking at the door for entry. I have always been a big fan of privacy and did not want my grandmother watching me as I figured out how to put these foreign-to-me objects on, but having her there for guidance proved to be sufficient.

She tucked and tugged, pushed and pulled, and adjusted the straps until I felt comfortable. Standing there in my Gap jeans, frayed at the seams — complete with holes in the knees (think Salt-n-Pepa, circa 1987) and a fresh pair of white socks, she eyed me up and down. She approved.

The first bra was a keeper. We put it to the side. I tried on another then another and another. We left Lord & Taylor with two training bras and headed for Bloomingdale’s. Our next form of travel was a taxi cab. Have you ever watched a fashionably aware woman hail a cab? There is an art to this — something of which I had no knowledge. My grandmother could hail a cab with the best of them. If it were not for her exceptional career at a top-notch theater in downtown Manhattan, “Professional Cab-Hailer” would have been a nice addition to her résumé.

When I was a child, my grandmother was the world to me. She had exquisite taste, wore the finest clothes, had the nicest shoes, but was still down to Earth. If I had to come up with a full-on description of her, I would say — diva.

diva (/ˈdiːvə/; Italian: [ˈdiːva]) is a celebrated female singer; a woman of outstanding talent in the world of opera, and by extension in theatrecinema and popular music. The meaning of diva is closely related to that of prima donna. Diva can also refer to a woman, especially one in show business, with a reputation for being temperamental, demanding, or difficult to work with. — Wikipedia

She was attitudinal but for the right reasons. She was opinionated but whenever it mattered most. She could cut you down to size with just a glance, yet she had so many people in her circle. A cab ride wasn’t just a cab ride with her. She entertained the Cabbies, quipped about and directed the best way to get to our destinations, and often held political and societal discussions with any of them willing to match her cultural expertise. I admired her.


As I grew older, my source of travel from Georgia to New York would be by plane instead of above-ground trains. We flew Delta. With my grandmother, it was always Delta. She would fly down to retrieve me and we would fly back together and my summers would be full of shopping, trips to the library, museums, swimming pools, local basketball courts, and shared visits with other members of my family.

I would find myself on the train to Harlem or Brooklyn with her. Whatever our day’s plans, it would coordinate between taking the train and the cab and I would be delighted to hang by my grandmother’s side as her traveling companion.

I loved the train the best, though. There was something mesmerizing to me during those years about being on a train underground. No one speaks. Everyone has something occupying their time. It was not uncommon to see people reading books or listening to music or the off-to-the-side person who smelled of scorched coffee and day-old hash browns.

On average, New York’s subway trains travel at about 17 mph and had an annual ridership of just over 1.72 billion in 2017. — Wikipedia

As you probably can imagine, my grandmother had a knack for finding two seats next to each other and I was to sit by her at all times. She was adamant about my safety, however, she wanted me to experience the real world of getting to where I needed to without depending on anyone else.

By the time I was fifteen years old, I was allowed to travel by train or cab with my friends from the neighborhood but within a certain time of day or night. Her rule was: “I have to get you back to your mother in one piece.” She stuck by this rule. I never disobeyed her curfew and could only stay out later if I was with my aunt (her youngest daughter).

I miss her wild spirit. Her uncanny ability to adapt to her surroundings instantly. Her calm and casual way of speaking her mind. Her incredible sense of fashion. It is often hard for me to travel sometimes because I still feel her near.

I fly and look to my left or right and something in the person next to me reminds me of her. I take a train and a woman may be wearing a perfume that smells similar to hers. Someone requests a drink for which she had an affinity. We pass by a bit of scenery that I know would have sparked her interest.

Perhaps she is still keeping watch over me after all these years. She did love a good trip and an even better travel buddy. I don’t know what I will do the moment she’s not conjured up during my travels. Having her near makes me feel safe — makes me enjoy getting from one place to another. However, I am fully aware of knowing how to travel because of her and this is something I will not forget.

A training bra shopping spree changed my heart— changed my life too.


Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this is a piece behind Medium’s paywall.

scorn

Musical Selection|India Arie: That Magic

The Scornful Woman by Egon Schiele — 1910

she’d been hurt before —
this scorned woman who is learning
how to love again — live again.
I sit on my balcony and watch her
carry on with her day as if
the sun woke up just for her.

she saunters to her car,
pulls the door open, and
jumps into it ready for another
day of whatever it is that
she does for a living.

I keep my distance.
I speak when spoken to.
I do not draw good energy from
her, so it is my duty to make sure
our interactions are few.

my monster of a dog shows
her teeth at her shadow,
barks when she strikes the
ignition.
I take heed.

there are some of us who
cannot conjure up
a welcoming spirit — too stuck
in the past to allow ourselves to
witness the future.

too afraid to move forward
and march into something new.
I was where she is and
I remember how my soul
smelled.
I turned people off.

there’s always a bit of
magic around, enough to
push us into the light of day.
I think she will be
okay the moment her
feet touch illuminated ground.

I can’t take her there,
even if I do know the way — these
paths have to be walked
by those who need the journey.

I will, however, make sure
she has someone rooting
for her from the sidelines.
I think my sign is
big enough for her to see.


Originally published via Medium.

Non-fiction Saturdays

Sébastien Conejo via Mixkit.co

There Is No Power In My Hair

They Must Have Thought So


M
any of you know that I cut my hair about eleven years ago — 7 inches and 1/2, to be exact. I love it short. I love being able to brush and go if I choose. If I want to curl it and give it a little flair, I do. I don’t spend hours under the dryer at the salon and maintenance and upkeep are minimal for me. I was reflecting on a time when I caught up with an ex-boyfriend who hadn’t seen me in a few years and as soon as I saw the look on his face, I knew he was going to say something about my hair. He did.

I could have sworn there was a light gasp in his words. What he said, I’ll never forget: “I liked your hair longer. What brought this about — this change?”

The same goes for an ex-lover of mine who peeked in on me during my Facebook days and saw a few pictures of me flaunting the cut. She sent word through a mutual friend of ours that she did not like it.

I Don’t Speak To Either Of Them.

There is no need. Not only did their reactions confirm who they thought I was yet who I am not, their actions told me that my hair is what made me, me. It didn’t. It doesn’t. I did something I had been wanting to do for years and never did it and one day, I did.

Some people seem to hold these insane beliefs about long hair. Some think it makes a woman more attractive — sexier. I beg to differ. Sensuality and sexiness are not linked to the amount of hair on a woman’s head, not to me.

Research from the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology indicates that a woman’s hair length doesn’t really affect her attractiveness that much. Study participants even judged short-haired figures as being more fertile, which contradicts the evolutionary-psych notion about long hair being an advertisement for reproductive suitability. — Autumn Whitefield-Madrano

Attractiveness to a woman is based on several factors for me: Can she read? Does she excel at what she does? When nude, does my mouth water? Does she strut in high-heeled shoes like a model, collecting the catwalk as her very own? Does she pay her bills on time and treat others like she’d want to be treated? There’s a whole lot of sexiness in those descriptions of a woman. Notice . . . her hair is not mentioned.

A woman who very much feels like a woman on the inside, 24 hours a day, can have short hair. I know—it’s hard for some men to wrap their minds around that. — Julia Austin

I drew the conclusion that both the ex-boyfriend and ex-lover had their personal preferences, just as we all do. One of the things that made me attractive to them was my long hair. Hindsight is truly 20/20. Did I want to be with anyone who clung to me based on the amount of hair on my head? Suppose I did stick it out with both of them and during our relationships, made the change? Would either of them have walked away because of it? Thankfully, I did not have to live out that scenario.


I had many trials during the years that led to me cutting my hair, relocating, finding a better job, and getting a dog were all major changes I assured myself I could do. I did them. Moving through the tumultuous time before my relocation from Georgia to North Carolina took patience, prayer, and perseverance. I told myself a bigger change would come my way.

Changing your hairstyle is not brave, and saying that it is is not a compliment. In my opinion, we all need to stop telling people that making conscious decisions about their appearance is “brave.” — Amanda Montell

There Is No Power In My Hair.

There never was. There never will be. I do believe that we can hold past pain, hurt, etc. in our hair — as we age, we need to shed a few things. To me, the weight of our hair is one of them. As you grow up, everything on your person, grows with you, including your hair. When I think back to the heaviness, thickness, and long “crown of glory” I had, I do not miss it. This is not to say that as I continue to age, I won’t gravitate toward letting it grow out once more. This is to simply say, I am comfortable with it short for now.

Having short hair has not changed the core of me. I still have the same eyes, lips, heart, and mind. I still want to be held when I am afraid. I yearn to be loved and understood in my deepest, darkest moments. I get emotional during sad movies. I am a badass cook. None of these things have changed.

If you are debating on cutting your hair, but you are pumping the brakes on that change in your life, think about why you’re debating. If another person’s view of you could change or you could offend your elders with your drastic leap away from long hair, how important is their satisfaction with you over your own?

If there’s one thing I can tell you, it’s that you won’t turn into a superhuman nor will any of what makes you who you are diminish. Nothing will be drained from your body and carried off to a shaman thousands of miles away to be concocted into a sacred serum for Hollywood stars to use to ward off aging.

You are not a fountain of youth. Take the leap if you want to. Forget what everyone else thinks. You have to live with the decisions you do not act upon just as you have to live with those you choose to make and see manifest into fruition.

A change could suit you.


Originally published via Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this piece is behind Medium’s paywall. Thank you for reading.