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Red Zone, 2009

BY: THIRD-YEAR UTK STUDENT

Thinking of status
you receive the invitation
to dream. To blink
away today and yesterday.
You carried me.

While gazing away
I drink your Roses
and play. The game
where I see you.
I hated me.

Falling asleep—
at least trying—
you carry me
into that room
where I consume
the worst of you
some abuse
and darkness too.
You carried me
where I had no voice
could make no noise
and lost my choice.

When I awoke
my thoughts were rogue
I wasn’t clothed
and
I hated me.

The Dream

By: Anonymous

I had a dream about you last night. It’s the first one since it happened.

We are in bed, your fingers caressing the curves of my body, and we both lean in to kiss. Timidly at first, the memories of what have transpired between us both fresh on our minds, but then hungrily, craving, needing. Your lips are so soft, just how I remember them, and your arms wrap tightly around me. Our tongues dance in each other’s mouths. For the first time in weeks I feel desired, safe, and loved. I feel myself getting wet, and I press my body into you.

Even in my dream, though, I start to realize that this isn’t good for me. My hand trails from your curls to your neck, and you gasp. I hear my friend’s voice in my head telling me to not give into this exact temptation if the opportunity presented itself. I pull back and stare into your face, your eyes sparkling and lips partly slightly to pant, “I want this. I want you.” I melt instantly, eagerly returning the declarations with kisses. I’m fumbling with your shirt, throwing his advice out the window, when I snap awake.

My unfocused eyes blink, my brain racing to process this comforting yet ultimately unwelcome night visitor. Staring at my ceiling, I breathe deeply and repeat what everyone, including you, has told me: “It’s for the best. It’s for the best. It’s for the best.” I know it’s true, but I pull the cover up over my head and cry anyway.

My Surfboard

BY: UTK Second Year

Water filled up halfway, it stops at the surface, partitioner of ubiquitous clarity and dark abyss, where close-eyed I lie on my surfboard. Six-foot balsa buoying, kissing the waves and teasing the divide, my surfboard effortlessly floats: light, strong, long, right. I am ready.

To ready for the oncoming Waves, shifting and changing, formed from the froth or elevated from the floor, with my surfboard I ride. Rising, under feet grains graining, side-stepping to level, between feet grains grinding on my surfboard. We ascend and ride, I, flutter-eyed.

Low I stay to my surfboard, cutting through and swerving on that big body of water that seeks to envelop us. Angling we please it, too far we dip and washrag wipeout. Palm out and blind-eyed I reach out for my surfboard, unknowingly towards nothing yet everything known.

Needed, appearing, the seven-foot link keeps from my sinking an end. From my foot, to the surface and to my surfboard, I am reunited and rushed. Surface-broken splash, open-eyed I embrace my surfboard. Lifting up and lying out, refreshed we float, and all is good-good.

Journey Towards a Healthier Sexuality

BY: UTK FIRST YEAR

When I started college, I was not comfortable with my sexuality. My first sexual encounter wasn’t the awkward fumbling around of YA novels, but a violent depredation of my consent and my agency that to this day affects my ability to maintain healthy sexual relationships. The experience set me afloat in a confusing and vicious cycle of uncertainty. I never felt empowered in my sexuality; rather sex became an obstacle to overcome in relationships instead of a source of shared intimacy or pleasure.

No teenager wants to be burnt out on sex or have it seem like an obligation, but I never knew how to move forward because I never knew how to talk about my experiences. I was ashamed because I knew there had to be something wrong with me. I had an end goal of reclaiming my sexuality, but with no firm place to start and no resources to keep me going, I found I was never able to recapture what it seemed I was missing.

Nearing the end of my freshman year, I owe most of my progress towards a healthier sexuality to the existence and impact of Sex Week on our campus.

Sex Week has taught me that it’s natural to have questions and more than acceptable to ask them; that masturbation is self-care, not something to be ashamed of; that sexual exploration is an empowering and life-changing process. And most importantly, Sex Week has taught me the importance of communication and the power of my voice–in giving consent, in providing direction, and in asserting my opinion. I’ve become more comfortable in talking about sex, whether my experience with sexual assault or my sexual identity or just flavors of lube.

I’ve come to decide that healthy sexuality isn’t the end goal I initially thought it to be, but really more of a journey–it comes with wrong turns, missteps, and setbacks, but also victories and a few pleasant pauses to enjoy where you’re at. As Sex Week co-founders Jacob Clark and Brianna Rader get ready to graduate, I think it’s important that we thank them for equipping our student body with the tools to make the journey easier. Without Sex Week, I would not have made it nearly this far.

*Brianna and Jacob have graduated since this post was written; SEAT and Sex Week are also, like the author of this blog, incredibly grateful for their work and sacrifices, and wish them more than the best as they go on to their postgraduate lives.

Singles Awareness Day

By: Third Year UTK Student

This past Valentine’s Day has marked a very important milestone in my 21-year history with the holiday. The difference became palpable as I briefly stopped shoveling potato chips into my mouth long enough to hear my roommate making Valentine’s Day plans with his girlfriend. Incredulous, I stared in his direction open-mouthed, baffled and wondering how I was so unaware of the proximity of the day. As I resumed my snacking, I couldn’t help but ponder the Valentine’s Days of my past. I spent the larger portion of my childhood with 20+ valentines, each student bringing candy and cards for their peers. As time went on, though, I couldn’t help but notice my unintentional trend of celebrating Singles Awareness Day on February 14th. Each year I sat in glum and wondered what lead me to be a party of one on a day that is so apt for a party of two. I dreaded the holiday, reveling in the misery of single life with my solo comrades. We’d each consume enough wine for two, sprawl out on the couch, and cry about how life could be so cruel to leave us so loveless. I obsessed how alone I was, and I couldn’t wait each year for February 14th to be over so I could head to Walgreens and clear the shelves of discounted Valentine’s candy.
This year, I am as single as ever. A Buzzfeed quiz even told me that “being single to you is like breathing or falling asleep — it’s second nature.” This year, however, when I was suddenly faced with the realization that I yet again had no date plans, I wasn’t upset. I didn’t fret or complain or whine. Instead, I went online, found a cute scarf, and bought it for myself. Whether or not it’s socially acceptable, this year I am happy to be my own Valentine, even if it’s solely for the excuse buy myself cute things.