(Non)Working Woman Blues

This punk rock gospel is a deadbeat.

Writing by Dia VanGunten
rocky formation with rough surface and painting

(Non) Working Woman Blues

Tonight we heard from some working women and it got me thinking about how for the mayday issue , we got tons of poems and stories about men at work, while women occupy half the work force. Maybe there’s this sort of “You asked for it” mentality, but did we?

Sure, I remember Rosie the Riveter.

Many women had to escape the thankless drudgery of home labor. Though they still do that labor, just with a little more freedom, a little more money in their pockets. But not much, all things being relative. According to the U.S Census Bureau, women still make only 85 cents on the dollar. We work long hours too, increasingly so, and with shorter maternity leaves. I mean, not me. I turned on, tuned in and dropped out. My teeth’ll probably drop out too, because choices, but poverty was an option since I don’t have children. I’m like Valerie June. I ain’t fit to be no mother. I ain’t fit to be no wife. It’s hard to hedge at having kids with the explanation about “career” when I have no career. Not by their standards.

I am another invisible woman doing another form of invisible work.

So…do I even deserve to enjoy this song?

Do I even deserve to be pissed at capitalism? Does it count if I labor at my make-believe zombies? Does this imaginary magazine count, now that Pinnochio is a real boy? In the eyes of most people, it does not. Even as I write this, something seizes up. Just let them think you work at a bank. Definitely don’t admit to being a barren-hearted woman and a lazy epileptic. Hold back on that bit about being an antisocial autistic and non contributing member of society. I fight the urge to detail every dollar I’ve ever made. I could tell you that I was a cocktail waitress at a jazz club when I was only 15, illegally. Or that I had my own storybook themed boutique, that I used to design clothes and shoes. Did I mention that I’ve been banging these keys since early this morning and I’ll do the same every day for the next 100 days?

When will this non-working woman have worked enough to declare her value?

I want to impress the dead protestants. I want to prove my worth in work.

I ain’t fit to be no mother
I ain’t fit to be no wife yet
I been workin’ like a man, y’all
I been workin’ all my life yeah
There ain’t no dinner on the table
Ain’t no food in the ‘fridgerator
I’ll go to work and I’ll be back later
I go to work said I’d be back later
Lord you know I’m a good looking woman
Lord you know I’m a good looking girl
If you want to give me something
Anything in this great big world yeah
Lord you know that I am ready
for my sugar my sugar daddy

There’s a certain depth of absorption that I can’t achieve if I stop to fix myself mac and cheese, so I’d definitely fail at motherhood. But if someone were to say, “But you only wrote this or that because you had the LUXURY of your disabling illness,” well, that would piss me off something righteous, though it’s true that time is the most luxurious thing in this world. I’ve stolen time, which I devote to something that has no monetary value. The ultimate luxury.

Let’s take a jag, as is the custom for this column…

Beppi and I are releasing the first Pink Zom book and it’s a collection of 22 stories, each one connected to a card from the major arcana, so I’ve been compiling, arranging and rearranging, reading through all the options and damn, if i had a dollar for every time I mention Hermes and his herd of stolen cows. Well, I could buy a whole hamburger, or even a cocktail in a city like Austin, which is more theme park than city these days.

Today’s dose was dangerous, and Atom set them up for failure when he dwelled on the past. He could go to the wrong time again—the wrong dimension, even. Atom rolled his eyes. It wasn’t a separate dimension. It was their same dimension, just a split hair, a divided cell. The halves were holograms, and each one carried the whole. There were rare glitches. Our cereal had Tony the Tiger, but over there, it was Terry. 

“Remember. You’re here to bridge the language barrier.”

He scoffed: “Nature talks to us plenty. Buds and nugs, stews, brews, and magic mushrooms.”

In the crap heaps of Silicon Valley, psilocybin urged nerds to invent the internet. The Green Manalishi had a slew of likely culprits—Brazilian root, Chilean seed pods, Arabic leaves—but Atom’s money was on shrooms. Right here in the American midwest, in clouds of methane, those shriveled ball-sacks were reliably plucked from dung. Visions were bestowed upon a curious portion of the population: crazy-bastard shit-eaters. Madmen, shamans, tricksters. Stolen herds, nerds, and neurodivergents.

Two-Pronged Crown, a PZR text to be published by Funemployment Press (also included in Major Arcana, by Q.)

I’ve been stuck on that divine theft – by a baby!

He stole a whole herd from his brother. Not just any brother, nor mere steers. They were sacred cows. Hermes gave them little sandals for their hooves, to hide their tracks and evade big bro, Apollo. He was a newborn, just a wittle bitty trickster, like baby Krishna with a stick of stolen butter. I’ve been thinking about why I’m so fixated on these little thieves.

While working on the Michael Campbell interview, Terrence Mckenna lectured in the background and I was pulled to attention when he started talking about how cows have been an obsession for artists going back to prehistoric cave paintings.

Milk. Butter. Steak. Shrooms.

Was Hermes stealing a meal or a trippy high?

Hmm. I’ve thought a lot about the cows, apparently, like my own drug-addled lecture playing in the background, and I think he stole space and time. A warm cave and the chance to paint. Hermes can make tiny sandals for all those hooves – he has the energy to escape his crib – because he’s too young for a job.

About Dia VanGunten

Dia VanGunten explores overlaps between genres, between poetry and prose, between the real and the magical. She is the creator of the rhizomatic series Pink Zombie Rose.

Major Arcana, a PZR collection of stories & comics, is illustrated by Beppi. To be released by Q, a graphic imprint of Querencia Press.

Dia is the founder of Cream Scene Carnival and the OG carnie.

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