Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Feeling Good

Kai's SONG OF THE WEEK: '"Feeling Good' is a song written by English singer-songwriters Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the 1965 musical The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd starring Cy Grant, who sang the original version of the song. The song has notably been covered by artists such as Nina Simone, Muse and Michael Bublé and Eels (see longer list below). Nina Simone's version appeared on her 1965 album I Put a Spell on You. Simone's version is also featured in the 1993 film Point of No Return, in which the protagonist uses the code name "Nina" and professes to be a longtime fan of Simone's music. The song was also featured in the promotional video of the TV series Six Feet Under (4th season), and is included in the show's volume 2 soundtrack. Simone's version is in the soundtracks of the 2006 film Last Holiday,[1] the 2010 film Repo Men, the French 2011 film Intouchables [2], the 2009 game The Saboteur (set during World War II, long before the song was written),[3] and the Chuck episode "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners."(Wiki)
*We all know that Wikipedia isn't the best way to get information, but especially in this case and with this artist, I suggest really doing some background research. For starters you can check out her own website, If you're feeling really moved, which I hope you are, check out Daphne A. Brooks' essay, "Nina Simone's Triple Play" in Callaloo (Winter 2011). 

Kai's Thoughts:  
Last bind/Last time I’ll have to fit my chest, my breasts into spaces that are much too small/Last time I’ll hunch and slouch/ Excited to learn how to stand tall/Last bind/ I went to sleep and awoke to bandages squeezing around tighter/ tighter/I almost couldn’t breathe/I almost couldn’t swallow/ But I was reminded that this would be my last bind/ not my last breath/So I rest/ Knowing that soon I’ll be free/Drains will be removed/Nipples have been reattached/Scars will remain/ Not reminding me of the pain/ But of the freedom I have gained/We who were born into bodies and made choices to change them/Rearrange them/I have scars from those who have not had to think about what they left behind on my body/But these scars/ These scars will be powerful/ Are already powerful because I claim them/They are mine/ Thank God for my last bind.
"Stars when you shine you know how I feel/ Scent of the pine you know how I feel/ Oh freedom is mine And I know how I feel"
Freedom...When my new chest was finally revealed to me all I could do was smile. I couldn't believe that it was me. I was looking at myself and seeing for the first time, on my body, liberation. It wasn't perfect, but it was beautiful still. I could see my stretch marks from before would still be carried on this new chest of mine, but even they became beautiful like streaks of sun rays beaming. For the first time heart space was open. And I felt afraid. I felt as though something might fall out or apart.  I had an urge to put that binder right back on, because though it was painful and made me stiff, it has been for so long the thing that made me feel safe, strong and secure. Might I be afraid of freedom? Were my ancestors ever afraid? Have you ever been afraid of freedom? I would imagine yes, but freedom is not something you turn your back on once you begin pursuing its lovely breeze. But we have to talk about are fears lest they permeate our subconscious and dictate our future actions/inactions.

I remember when I was five years old, that is when my body started to change. That is when my mother took me to the doctor because somethings began to sprout from my chest. His advice, "get her a training bra." 

I remember starting kindergarten. I remember my best friends were Sean, Edward, Richard, Sol, and Paul and in later years Aris and Jabari. I remember that we used to love to play Ninja Turtles. I remember hating "girly" cartoons not because of the stories, but because in coloring books everyone was always so skinny and I had difficulty staying in the lines. I remember Paul invited everyone over to watch Ninja Turtles and I asked my mom if I could go and she said no because they were all boys and I was not. I didn't question it then. I just played with them at school and left it at that, but now I remember that moment and think...
I remember in either 1st or 2nd grade, in the afternoons we'd all have free time and play. It would get hot in the afternoon and we'd all strip down to our t-shirts. I remember my mom coming to get me one day and I was in my t-shirt and she was upset. I couldn't walk around in my t-shirt like everyone else, I had parts that needed to be protected and covered up. 

Freedom. I was five when I started growing breasts. I was five when I learned that my body needed to be covered up. I wanted to play ninja turtles with the boys, but I would learn that I was a girl and girls have to be protected. Where do you draw the line between protection and policing? 

My whole life I felt like I was in the wrong body or gender--this is not my narrative, though I honor and acknowledge it as one that many trans people have. However, I have felt that whatever space I take up, neither genders are able to fully hold what I am, what I have, or what I desire. I have always desired freedom. I have never been able to color inside the lines without making new lines or boundaries. 
What is freedom? 
Freedom is the ability to move if you want to. 
Freedom is a dream passed down from generations past that we must continue to make manifest anew.
Freedom is the abolition of all prisons.
Freedom is Black love is Black wealth. 
Freedom is...

What is freedom to you?  Write back and let me know.

I'm Feeling Good:-)


1 comment:

  1. To me freedom is doing something that makes me happy without hesitation.