An Excerpt from Katherine D. Morgan's New Book: 'No Self Respecting Woman'
One of the greatest joys of getting to edit + press publish at Pass/Fail is getting to be introduced to new writers. Every once and a while I get to read something that makes the hairs on my arms stand at attention or gives me butterflies. The first time I read Katherine D. Morgan’s ‘To myself as a third grader, who just needed to know she was enough…’ I was moved almost to tears, arm hair standing high, butterflies somersaulting in my belly. She is a force when it comes to putting words into feelings and then letting them fly. I am so excited to be sharing an excerpt from her newly released chapbook ‘No Self Respecting Woman’ with you today. The book is all sold out right now, but you can add it to your wishlist here! The reprints will be available soon. Without further ado…
I bite down hard. Hot white cream squirted out, and I watched as it dripped down my shirt. I grabbed the napkin that I had carefully placed to my left earlier in the evening and wiped up my mess. The clean-up didn’t take too long. This isn’t my first time so I always have a paper towel ready to go. With each bite, warm cheese and hot meat filled my mouth. It’s a delightful sensation, one that I look forward to because I can go months without satisfying my hunger. There’s nothing scarier than a woman who can’t control her hunger. Those women don’t know how to hold anything back because they never had to. They are wild women, razor-sharp fangs and claws ready to pounce. They are confident where I am meek. I’m not like them in my everyday life. My steps are calculated, my life routine. I am a woman who is learning to live her life by the dates of a calendar, the ticking of a clock, the brightened screen of an iPhone. However, that all changes when that five-layer beefy burrito is present in my hand. I enjoy the feeling of hunger. I relish it. I can become someone else.
I tried my hardest to take my time, but the meal didn’t last long. I tend to rush things because I have never learned how to be patient with anything or anyone. I run full speed ahead, ignoring blinking crosswalks and not looking to my left or right as I step into the street. Eating is the same story. I rummaged through the bag. I pulled every item out at once. I always forget to check the bag when the delivery driver first hands it to me, their feet already turned to leave. They have other orders to fulfill, and they probably don’t expect me to tip, and it’s because of that that I do. Well, that and basic human decency. My side of chips have spilled in the bag, some of them partially crushed by the weight of the other objects. The little container of cheese is still warm. With each dip, the salt from the chips and cheese mingle. It’s pure ecstasy. It’s another orgasm that I have managed to give myself without a man being present in the room. I licked my lips after I tossed every single crumb into my mouth. We finished at the same time.
As I get to the final event—the cinnamon twists—I start to regret ordering Taco Bell even though it was exactly what I needed at the time. It turned out that I’m a different person than the woman who pressed “order again” on the app a mere 45 minutes ago. I took a clear look at myself and my surroundings. It hits me that I desperately need to shower and wash all the laundry that has filled my overflowing basket. I need to pick up all the fast food bags that are covering my living room floor. I need to wash my dishes and call the doctor. I have so many things to do, and yet, I sat on my couch, and sucked down Mountain Dew Baja Blast like my life depended on it. Maybe it did. These days, I find myself doing too much, being too much, and trying to become too much and frankly, it is exhausting. I’m exhausted. I’m okay admitting that, even if the people that are counting on me aren’t okay hearing it. I am tired of wanting to fulfill your stereotype of a Strong Black Woman. I can’t lead you to salvation. I can’t make you drink. I can’t save you if I can’t save myself.
When I’m finished, I continue to stay seated, my eyes glued to the flickering light of the television screen. This is the most relaxed that I’ve been in weeks, and I knew that if I made even the slightest movement, I’d break my concentration. I’ve decided that the laundry can wait. My dishes can stay in the sink for another evening. The trash can be taken out when I leave my house tomorrow morning. Work will continue to be there and so will all my other responsibilities. Life isn’t a sitcom; it can’t be paused. None of that matters to me though. I am a different woman than the one from an hour ago. I have satisfied both my hunger and thirst in more ways than one. Maybe that’s what I meant when I said that I’m not like other girls.
Katherine D. Morgan is the author of the debut chapbook No Self-Respecting Woman (Dorsa Brevia, ‘19). Her essay about the presidential election of Donald Trump will be featured in the upcoming anthology Fury: Women’s Lived Experience During the Trump Era, published by Pact Press in May 2020. Katherine’s work has appeared or is forthcoming at Huffington Post, The Rumpus, Portland Mercury, HelloGiggles, Pass/Fail, Ravishly, JMWW, and The Establishment. She lives in Portland, Oregon, where you can find her snuggling with her cat Ramona, and crying during the series finale of Frasier.