Rejected Lyrics from Dr. Seuss’s ‘You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch’ – A Guest Feature

Hello friends! I’m dropping in to share with you a little nugget of holiday delight, brought to you by Mr. P&P. An expert in all things Seussical, Paul would like to share with you what he considers the MOST ACCURATE rejected lyrics from “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

First verse:

You’re a godless heathen, Mr. Grinch
You’re a filthy, dirty Commie, Mr. Grinch
I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed, Mr. Grinch
You’re what’s wrong with America, Mr. Grinch
You’re one of those guys who talks about saving the environment but drives around in an SUV, Mr. Grinch
I can’t even – please don’t try to talk to me right now, Mr. Grinch
You never really loved me, Mr. Grinch
If I can’t have you than nobody can, Mr. Grinch
I have your son – maybe now you’ll know what it feels like to lose someone you love, Mr. Grinch.

Climax verse:

If your prospective employer called me for personal reference, I’d passive aggressively make you look bad!
If you called and said that you wanted me back, and you really made me believe that you meant it this time, I’d still turn you down just because I’d never be able to look at you and not resent you!
If it turned out that you needed a blood transfusion and I was the only person who had your blood type, I’d give you the blood but I’d make you feel really guilty about it!
If I could somehow get away with killing you and know for a fact that I’d never get punished, I don’t know that I’d do it but by god it would be tempting! I’d like to say I’d resist the urge, but I’d be tempted Mr. Grinch, boy I’d be tempted.

LOLZ, amirite? I think I’m right.

Hope you’re all wrapping up your years in restful, satisfying ways. Thanks so much for checking in with me. One of my New Years Resolutions (ah, those dreaded buggers) is to post more regularly even as I continue to freelance. You can always check the publications page of this blog, my Twitter, and the P&P Facebook page to stay updated on what sorts of noise I’m making elsewhere on the internet!

❤ P&P


An Experiment with the Public Facebook Page

G’day friends,

As most of you know, I some time ago created a Facebook page, also entitled Positive and Promise, to correspond with this blog. At first it functioned primarily as a place for me to post updates whenever I had published a new piece, here or elsewhere. I also began to share the excellent work of other writers.

I’m continuing all of the above, but I want to expand the page’s purpose. I love Twitter’s gift economy ethos, and I would like to, in as many ways as I can, carry that over to the Positive and Promise Facebook page. I’m posting more frequently now, sharing writing and other cultural tidbits that are generally tied to feminist culture. My hope is that the page will become a space for conversation. I want to use it to brainstorm specific pieces that I need to draft, but, beyond that, I envision it as another safe space for us to talk amongst ourselves.

So, what might you see on the page? Well, here is a sampling:

– Personal essays by women and gender non-conforming persons
– Articles relevant to feminist and LGBTQ culture
– Fashion posts, especially if there is a feminist or intellectual twist
– Victoriana, because I worship at the alter of the 19th Century
– Music by fabulous female/gender non-conforming artists
– Pieces that focus on sex-positive and sex worker issues and culture (think
– Articles on mental health

But really, this barely begins to cover it, and if there is, say, an article, music video, or film that you want to think through, just holler, and I’ll post it (although I do of course reserve the right to curate the page and monitor the comments). I’m excited! Are you excited?

Here is the link to the page: I hope you’ll join us and tell your friends!


Dropping in with a Poem

Hi guys!

I’m still contemplating how to best utilize the blog space as a freelancer, so stayed tuned for updates on that. In the meantime, please accept a poetic offering from your resident eccentric.

The Inspiration: Lately the Democratic National Convention has been spamming Paul’s inbox with all manner of histrionic emails. Despite our bleeding hearts, we’ve both gotten a kick out of this and, last night, decided to write a poem entirely comprised of statements and phrases from these messages. Also, our apartment is bloody hot, and sanity is tenuous at the end of the day.

And so, without further ado, the fruits of our labor:

Now, I’m Emailing You Again

Dick Durbin emailed you.

Nancy Pelosi emailed you.

Now I’m emailing you again.

We keep emailing.

This is so contrived, and we can hardly believe it.

We need your help to fight back.

We’re nearly out of time.

To be blunt about it: 

If we fall behind now, 

We might as well throw in the towel.

We keep emailing.

I wanted to personally share the news

…this kid will be pretty darn happy.

But look, we’re not there yet.

We keep emailing.

Hey, just wanted to make sure you saw Senator Durbin’s email?

We keep emailing.

I come right out and say it: 

I’m a Democrat.

I don’t want to be one of those candidates


Hides their party.

We keep emailing.

If you care about health care reform, you need to be part of this.

Boehner’s gonna to be FURIOUS!

We keep emailing.

I wanted to personally share the news:

All hope is lost.


Hope all’s well in your worlds. Please keep in touch on Twitter and Facebook!

– Rach

A Prolonged Hiatus

Hi everyone,

Positive and Promise has been on hiatus for a few reasons. First, Paul and I got hitched! And it was happy and intimate and so, so lovely! If you have not yet had the pleasure of visiting Boulder, Colorado, please do yourself the favor of booking a ticket immediately. I think it may be the most perfect place in the United States, and it certainly was a majestic setting for nuptials. To all who have already extended congratulations, thank you, it means so much to me and to Paul. As for Hobo, well, she’s nursing the emotional wounds sustained during our absence. We hope she will soon feel less of an impulse to meow pathetically at our sleeping faces, or, when that yields little to no reaction, to lick them plaintively until cuddles are distributed. This routine tends to be performed between 3 and 4 in the morning.

But other, more serious, circumstances have made it especially difficult to write regularly, particularly as I am balancing creative work and academic work. I’m not able to go into details here; I will only say that the summer has taken a turn for the tumultuous.

But I will be back as soon as I can and am so excited to continue. Please say “hi” on Twitter (@RVoronaCote), on the Positive and Promise Facebook page, or, of course, on the blog itself.



The Promise (Belly Button) Ring

Slouching towards the end of my first semester of college, deadlines nipping at my heels, I decided to get my belly button pierced. It was a decision solidified over the course of a few conversations with my best friend from high school. Until this point, we both had avoided body modifications, even ones as noncommittal as piercings. I had gotten my ears pierced years ago, when I was eight and finally, finally had secured my mother’s consent. I celebrated the rite of passage by nearly kicking the pregnant sales associate at Claire’s in the stomach, propelled by last minute nerves. Since that near-fiasco, I had abstained from further body piercing endeavors.

But, with the exchange of a few feverish emails, charged with the intoxicating awareness that our parents would wholeheartedly disapprove, my friend and I devised a plot to be carried out upon our winter break reunion. The details of the plot were as follows: My friend picked me up to go to dinner – OR SO OUR PARENTS THOUGHT. Instead, deviants that we were, we went to the piercing parlor! To get our belly buttons pierced! And then we went to dinner at a nice Mediterranean restaurant and were home by midnight curfew. I managed to conceal my sordid, body-altering shenanigans from my parents for roughly twelve hours, eventually bursting at the seams to announce my rebellion. I had undergone the needle for the sake of sexy! I could not fathom waiting another six months until summer, when I would inevitably broadcast the news with a bared midriff.

I’ve always possessed an appreciation for the ridiculous, and, as I stood in that oceanfront piercing parlor, awaiting puncture, I knew I must have seemed precisely that. Despite my efforts to appear blasé, to sign the release forms with cool disaffection, the tatted up, variously pierced employees saw right through the charade. Certainly I was nervous about the actual piercing process. It struck me as intimidatingly surgical, with the lean-to enswathed in the slippery paper you only encounter in a doctor’s exam room, the rubber bottles of antiseptic, and the hodgepodge of clamps. Happily, the event was relatively tame (my limbs behaved, I was docile). In what seemed both a minute and an epoch, I was unleashed unto the world, soaring on a rush of adrenaline. I was pierced in a minimally bad-girl way; now everything was going to change.

And that was just it: the parlor sales associates may have sensed my trepidation, but it was entirely secondary to the idealistic enchantment radiating from my every facial pore. I had carefully studied the music video for Aerosmith’s “Cryin.” Alicia Silverstone takes a turn for the badass after she acquires her sexy belly button ring (and after she gets a tattoo, but, again, I suffer from commitment issues). I had no plans to bungee jump from an overpass, and I didn’t have any ex-boyfriends who deserved a good scare and the middle finger. But maybe that was the problem.

Getting my belly button pierced seemed to me like a spot of pain in the pursuit of pleasure. It was a promise to myself to be more sexually bold – to maybe even bare my midriff when I wasn’t sea or poolside. I was going to kiss boys, and then some. I was going to have the sort of interactions with boys that involved them actually seeing my belly button ring. Cheesily antithetical to the promise rings of the Disney Channel teeny boppers, my belly button ring symbolized my intent to get some – and, more importantly, to not be afraid of getting some. Thus far, college had not been the sexual playground I had hoped it would be, primarily because I was too timid to approach guys unless a beer or two had lowered my defenses. And even then, I was, all things considered, quite chaste.

Oftentimes when people get their navels pierced, they justify it to others by saying, “Just knowing I have it makes me feel sexier. No one needs to see it.” I parroted variations of this remark to my friends, and I think, for me, the statement was valid up to a certain point. It was satisfying to see the little barbell that slid through the rim of my navel. Sometimes, when it caught my eye, I would smile like a goon. Yet it was part of a larger project of cultivating my sexual persona, part of the body that I was learning, slowly, to love. Someone seeing it—someone with whom I shared mutual desire—would feel like a triumph.

So I returned for the second semester of my freshman year with this modest adornment. Nothing much changed, really – I certainly did not become the sex goddess of my wildest ambitions. But I did become more sexually bold, empowered by the thought of the little glistening jewel in my stomach. At a time when I struggled to accept my face, with its vaguely Semitic traces, the reminder of my belly button ring shored up my confidence. It wasn’t a means of negotiating self-acceptance. I wanted to love my whole body; I am still trying to love it. But in that fleeting moment, my belly button ring became a sort of weirdly anthropomorphized cheerleader.

It was there when I lost my virginity, an event that was, in reality, woefully unsexy. It reminded me of my feminine sexual agency when I was twenty-five and separating from my husband and could not help but feel that I had broken my life into fragments and flung them over my head. When I timidly explored new love, its presence reminded me that I deserved pleasure – and was capable of giving it to another.

Now I am twenty-eight and contemplating allowing the piercing to heal. In a few years, my soon-to-be husband and I want to have children. I’d prefer not have a widening chasm in the middle of my stomach over the course of a pregnancy. I’ve been told time and again how long it takes a navel piercing to fully heal. Still I’m so reluctant to make the move.

I wondered at first if this reluctance stemmed from a sense of missed opportunity. My mental sex checklist does remain fairly incomplete. And it’s true: being more sexually adventurous—outside of a monogamous relationship, that is—could have been liberating, empowering, exciting. Or maybe I would have been largely underwhelmed. Regardless, I don’t think it is regret that keeps me from sliding out that little barbell; it’s the sense of loss I know that I will feel. The satisfaction of minor rebellion has never dissipated; I am if nothing else a chronic good girl. But over the course of our decade together, I have learned other, various ways to feel erotically empowered and desirable. If I am parting ways with my trusty piercing, I am still cultivating my sexual self by other means. The promise to get some lives on! It just adapts to circumstance.

Making Contact on the Metro and the Politics of Train Etiquette

The other day, as I rode the metro to school, I found myself in the unfortunate position of third wheel.

No, I was not accompanying a friend on an awkward date, nor playing wingwoman on Single’s Night.  I was merely slumped on the train, alone, contemplating my imminent cup of coffee. Yet I did not feel alone, because right in front of me, a couple was embroiled in a very vocal domestic dispute. And they knew that I was seated next to them.

I should be precise – the couple spoke just loud enough so that I could hear them; they were at least partially aware that they inhabited a public space. Still, it was the sort of argument that one imagines having in the privacy of one’s living room, where there are pillows and books to hurl and a couch for make-up coitus. And throughout this dispute, one member of the couple was seated so that he regularly made eye contact with me. In fact, avoiding mutual recognition was impossible unless I conspicuously a.) changed seats b.) shrouded my head with my cardigan or c.) hid under my seat (which, considering the detritus left there, seemed like a pretty lousy idea).

Here is the thing about eye contact: even if you are in no way involved in someone’s conversation, when that person looks you in the eye–even unintentionally–you cannot help but feel implicated, interpolated. Perhaps this comes of being a self-centered creature, but when so many of our intimate connections rely upon mutual gaze, it is difficult for me to not feel a fleeting moment of connection in these sorts of situations. And certain connections, even if they last no more than a few moments, can be really uncomfortable.

And so, the male partner, eyes ablaze, continued to air his grievances, intermittently noticing that, yep, I was still there. At this point, I was even more slumped in my seat, with earbuds securely lodged in place and my face pressed against the window. The other day I had a brief exchange with a friend about times when we wished wearing headphones also made one invisible. This certainly was an instance where a degree from Hogwarts would have really come in handy.

For, irritated I was – and indignant to boot. Who the hell were these people, having it out on the train? Had they no respect for their fellow commuters? Did they not value their privacy as a couple? (says the girl who blogs and tweets about her relationships on the regular).

I was feeling pretty hoity-toity about the matter until today. Paul and I were airing a few grievances of our own – not with each other (another time, dear readers), but with some of the pain-in-the-ass behaviors we encounter on the metro. We both acknowledged that our desire to be both open-minded and generous exists in tension with our respective tendencies to become aggravated when other train-riders behave in irritating ways. And yes, in case you had any doubts, both Paul and myself are paragons of commuter virtue. Over the course of the conversation, it occurred to us that the lines we draw between public and private spaces have everything to do with our socioeconomic privilege. I know nothing about the couple to whom I have referred, but I do know that not everyone has a living space conducive to private conversation, whether because of its size, additional occupants, or a mélange of factors. And not every couple has the time and money to schedule a Starbucks-and-stroll in order to talk through a misunderstanding.

Similarly, I cannot deny my rage every time someone decides that everybody in the whole wide world of Metro needs to hear the kickass tune playing on their phone or mp3 player – and that, in fact, we deserve an accompanying serenade as well. “My ears shouldn’t have to be assaulted with this shit, ” I think self-righteously. And to make a point that absolutely no one notices, I emphatically wedge and adjust my headphones so that they rest precariously near the abyss of my ear canal. Fuming, I carry on an inward monologue about how navigating public space means respecting boundaries.

I do believe that this is true. I also believe that not everyone grooving to their jams on the metro necessarily has that many opportunities to do so at home.  For some, the metro might offer a sort of privacy that I cannot possibly fathom – precisely because I do have access to a number of so-called private spaces. It doesn’t make it any less aggravating to have my own music drowned out by another person’s musical tribute to Miley, but it does remind me to be more tolerant. It may be that nothing but sheer rudeness prompts a person to transgress both official and unspoken metrorail rules. But there is no way that I can know that. Time and again, I have to remind myself that everybody is living out their own narrative, shaped by all manner of forces. I want to do my best to not assume the worst of others, even if those others are really, REALLY irritating me. I want to–as much as is possible–stop seeing people as “others” in the first place.

There were other seats available to me that day when I became an implicit third party to domestic strife. In retrospect, I should have been gracious enough to move, rather than to stubbornly assert my rights as fellow metro passenger. Next time I hope that I will, remembering that I can’t know what has brought this couple to this point. And maybe I’ll sing along to Miley. It’s really no skin off my nose, and it’s certainly the most surefire way to end the musical number.

All that said, to the dudes who take up two seats because your masculine aura needs that much breathing room? Scoot on over, because I’ll be joining you momentarily.

How Do We Talk About Mother’s Day?

The older I get, the more capacious the significance of Mother’s Day becomes.

Yet this has very little to do with biology. For one thing, I am not a mother myself. In the most simplistic, Hallmark card terms, I identify as “daughter” in each relationship that is traditionally relevant to the holiday. Daughter, granddaughter, and, soon, daughter-in-law.

I by no means want to diminish these relationships; each is dear to me, and I will talk about them in this post. But I find myself frustrated by the biologically essentialist emphasis upon blood lineage perpetuated by this holiday. Women create exquisitely intimate ties amongst themselves, ties transcending and circumventing bloodlines. Lineage is not exclusively chromosonal. Motherhood, while important for its conceptual origins in biological connectivity, carries an even richer meaning when we widen the breadth of its reach.

So then, how do I talk about Mother’s Day?

I want to talk about teachers – the women who have taught me and who teach me still. I think first of my undergraduate advisor, Deborah Morse, who has been both an intellectual and emotional mother to me ever since I edged timidly into her office, just days before the beginning of my freshman year. Her classrooms were luminous and nurturing spaces where, over semesters and years, Victorian literature–Deborah’s field of expertise–became my ardent passion. Through her tutelage I cultivated this passion, and it has become one of the sustaining forces of my life. I owe this to her, as I owe her many other things.

I think, too, of so many other women at my alma mater, women like Deborah who taught me the soul-preserving importance of living a feminist life. Women who taught me that tolerance and empathy are not antithetical to intellectual rigor and thus inspired me to become the teacher I try to be. Women who guided me through the woman-authored texts that have shaped my life: Jane Eyre, Mrs. Dalloway, essays by Judith Butler, Middlemarch, Symmetries. I think of my high school English teacher, Carrie Gantt, who urged me to read The Awakening. I reflect with gratitude upon the women who enrich my graduate studies, whether through their focused support or by setting examples as women who write, teach, bear children, love, and live passionately.

I think of Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot and the millions of women they have nurtured–sustained–with the novels we have loved so well for so long. I think of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. I think of how she has taught me to better understand my propensity to feel so very, very ashamed. I think that female-oriented intimacy is possible even when mutual recognition is an impossibility.

I think of Tori Amos, and how she saved my life in eighth grade and ninth grade and tenth grade – how she taught me comfort through “Hey Jupiter” and “Jackie’s Strength” and “Bells for Her.”

I think of my grandmothers, who, at age 28, I am obscenely, indulgently fortunate to know. They are strong women, full of passion, and multi-faceted love. I think of Grandma Olga, wounded by so many when she was young, but never jaded and always so tenaciously open-hearted. And my Grandma Kappy, all vigor and might. She taught me–and continues to teach me–that feminism and marriage can and do co-exist in beautiful ways. I think of Maria, who will, in less than a month, become my mother-in-law. I think of her inexhaustible capacity to love and tremendous impulse to protect. She was so willing to know and to love me, and I am eager for all that I will continue to learn from her. She is, already, a mother.

Finally, my mother who birthed me. Kathy. Momma. Sweetness embodied, generous, open-hearted – a woman without whom I could not understand the nuances of kindness and empathy. The mother who, on roadtrips, let me fill our car with the sounds of Little Earthquakes and who entertained my ephemeral obsessions with Taylor Hanson and Leonardo DiCaprio. The mother who could not help but cry when her daughters did because, as she would say, her heart was attached to ours.

Perhaps it seems contradictory, after beginning with a critique of the Hallmarkian emphasis upon bloodlines, that I end this piece by writing about my grandmothers, mother, and the woman who will possess blood ties to my children. But I am of the firm belief that these women would be just as significant to me regardless of our biological relationships. This is not to say that I am unmoved by the knowledge that my mother carried me in her womb for nine months (bless her). She, together with my father, gave me life, and that is a uniquely special gift. But that gift is enhanced by the intimacy we have cultivated over the years. It achieves greater significance because we have shared our lives, and because she maintained reassuring proximity as I learned to make my way in the world.

As Mother’s Day becomes for me a more generous and varied celebration of women, I am overwhelmed by an embarrassment of riches. There are so many women existing in the world in beautiful and amazing ways, and having the opportunity to know some of them illuminates my own existence.

And so, with that, a very Happy Mother’s Day.