"Christeene Fraser is a vibrant new voice on the poetry scene. Starkly confessional, yet warmly human, her writing strikes a nerve in the audience...a poet to watch."

Bruce Haring, Director, New York Book Festival

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Backstabbing. Fake. Judgmental. Uptight. Two-faced. These are some of the words I have used to describe the majority of my relationships with women in the past. Or at least, they are the words I associated with being intimately connected to a woman outside of my family. I have always held other women at a distance, prided myself on being someone who "tends to have only male friends," as though this were a rare and special trait. The fact is, I think there are more women than not who go out of their way to avoid other women. There is some sort of residual middle-school angst that keeps us from extending our true selves to other women.

I am currently reading Captivating by Stasi Eldridge, and while I don't agree with everything in the book, I do believe it has some vital things to learn about the attack placed on femininity. History relates centuries of repression and cruelty, and modern man continues the trend of the assault on Eve. Stasi Eldridge makes the point that Satan attacks Eve, not Adam, in the garden not because she is the weaker sex, but because she is the pinnacle of creation. There is something threatening about her beauty, her goodness, her reflection of God in the feminine that is too much for Satan to bear. He makes it his personal mission to disarm God's most beautiful work of art. It is easy to see how this has come to pass in the form of sexual slavery, clitoradectomy, foot-binding, burkas, and $0.70 to the man's $1.00.

But a more subtle and innocuous tool of evil is the assault on female friendship. If one woman was too much and too powerful, how much more then is a group of women together in friendship and love? Women are the bearers of peace, a reflection of God's beauty, the creators of life. Imagine the potential we have to radicalize the world if we could learn to stop being sexist against ourselves, and embrace one another en masse. What could we achieve if we stopped giving the world permission to cut women down by NOT participating in gossip, criticism, and exclusivity ourselves?

God has sent me some amazing women. He has given me an opportunity to lift them up, and thereby myself, by loving on them as He intended: as my friends, my sisters. There are some things that can only be gained in a friendship with another woman, and I can't wait to see where it takes me. Even if it means making myself vulnerable. Even if it means they won't like the fart jokes I reserved for my male friends. Even if they don't like my throw pillows or approve of my parenting. Love is vulnerability, and you cannot get anything worth getting in this life without a heavy dose of it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Poker Face

Poker Face--it's not just a song by Lady Gaga. It's a something we put on everyday. It was just a casual remark from a coworker, said in response to an observation that I had about the office. I ended my remark with, "Well, I won't complain," to which she answered, "Oh Christeene, it's okay, you never complain." I thought to myself, really? I never complain? Me? Could she please repeat that to my husband? (Literary term moment: this was actually ironic, because I actually was complaining in a back-handed sort of way)

I realize that in my office, I have a reputation for being a compliant hard-worker. A smiling, optimistic, "non-complainer" (apparently), who rolls with the punches, and keeps moving no matter what happens. It is a reputation that I am proud of, a reputation that I strive to maintain everyday, swallowing many a sarcastic remark, pointless whine, and caustic critique for the sake of maintaining office harmony.

I realized today, hovering over the copier, that my husband and family may not recognize that same Christeene that my coworker so earnestly praised today. Who is this "non-complainer?" they may ask. Because she surely doesn't live in our house. Why do I not bring the same gusto to my home life as I do to my job, for strangers? I have prided myself on my poker face, the veneer that I plaster on for the world ad nauseum, and saved the real ugliness beneath for the people I love the most.

Why is it so hard to bring our best home? Is it because there is no promotion, no raise, or no recommendation waiting for us at home that we allow ourselves, our tongues, our demeanor to be as primordial and ugly as possible? But when I die, I will not yearn for the faces of my coworkers. I will not remember the titles that were used to describe me when I am in need of a hand to hold from the hospital bed. Tonight I will ask my family for forgiveness for my acid tongue. Tonight I will vow to pour as much (if not more) into my family as I do into perfect strangers. Tonight I will no longer take pride that the world has not yet called my bluff and seen past this poker face.