Tuesday, June 22

one arm woman

Why OneArmGirl and not OneArmWoman?, a reader wants to know. Funny, because when I turned 30 this past spring, feeling I might now be able to sit at the adult table, I was asking the same question; not about my blog, but about myself. I had a crisis of sorts, not mourning my 20s, but wondering if I was woman enough to be 30.

Chronically the late bloomer, I feel I’m at least five years behind the curve on most things. I bought a DC Talk cassette in the late '90s, one of the early ones when they were still rapping; I saw the first Godfather last year; I tried smoking a cigarette for the first time in my late 20s, previously believing that it would kill me, not slowly paving my lungs with tar, but the next day.

Now suspiciously eyeing the three or so short shorts still left in my closet, I’m concerned about living up to my age. Maybe I need to buy some dress suites, I don’t know.

“Would you rather be a woman or a lady,” my friend Rick, also with one arm, asked once. We both agreed woman, though I’m assuming he was speaking hypothetically for himself. Woman evokes power and sensuality and reminds me of closing at the Hastings bookstore when Lenny Kravitz’ ‘American Woman’ pumped out the store sound system into my veins. Every time I hear that song, I feel an urge to organize bookshelves...or maybe start boxing. A lady sips tea and carries Emily Post; a woman doesn’t have to wear makeup to be beautiful.

I want to be a woman, I really do. Girlhood remains too vivid to entertain nostalgia. I was full of concerns then, like whether pacifism was a viable political ethos in the emerging global climate. In that sense, I feel like I’ve been 30 my entire life, or what I imagined 30 to be, just waiting to fit in my skin.

But what makes a woman? Ownership, pride? Feminism feels alien to me; like an exotic animal I visit at the zoo, but always looking through the fence. I don’t know what a rivet is, much less a riveter (though it sounds interesting). Hearing only distantly the call to arms that roused my foremothers, I feel most myself when men open doors.

I expected to feel arrived at 30, but now I don’t feel old enough. Problem is, I’m having more fun being an adult than I ever did being a kid. Just thinking that I could go out today, shave my head, and tattoo a dragon on it, makes me giddy. Or, I could make pancakes for dinner, every night, for a week, and no one could stop me. No one would know till the morning paper: “Woman dies of carb overdose.” Yes, woman.

Maybe adulthood is not so much an arrival as another passing through. I’ve been considering less what I need to build up, thinking more about what needs tearing down; digging through the layered years, excavating my girlhood, trying to find what’s real and what’s not. I’m letting go of career to pursue calling; beginning with buying a pink writing notebook with Tweetie on the cover so I keep laughing at myself.

But why OneArmGirl? One might argue I have an increasingly repressed need to reconnect with my inner child. Yes, one could argue that. But on the surface, it just sounds better; it’s catchy, more marketable. Yeah, I’m an artist obsessively questioning identity, but I also have a lot of business in my blood.

OneArmWench, also very catchy, was suggested, but then I'd feel pressure to post regular pirate references. I was once Sultry Sarah the One-Armed Pirate, but that's a story for another time...


*This is the first installment of a series called 'Ask OneArmGirl' that will explore reader questions, but probably never answer them.


  1. You're my hero. Love your writing. Very witty.

  2. You sure have a way to turn a phrase! Love reading these.

  3. I love this line: "Hearing only distantly the call to arms that roused my foremothers, I feel most myself when men open doors."

  4. How about the British Option: OneArmBird?

  5. READER QUESTION: Is pacifism a viable political ethos in the emerging global climate? LOL MUAH!

  6. One armed girls rule! I am 6 years your senior and still call myself a girl...because I AM! :o) We are all little girls and boys on the inside. It's the innocent and imaginative part of us that so many of us try to lose. Love it...embrace it.
    p.s. http://pamichen-unarmed.blogspot.com