Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Science Fiction and Women

Two months gone on my pledge to read science fiction by women for a year, I'm already struggling. Part of this is my challenge at internet searching. Part is the inclusion of fantasy with SF. Science fiction has subsets. Speculative, utopian, dystopian, and other -ian(s). SF written by women does not always have women protagonists, and some men have written good SF featuring women. I picked up a couple of books by new SF women writers, and if the thing starts out with a rape or a beating, I'm done. Aren't there other ways to launch a woman on an adventure?  I read Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, and she raised the bar to the stratosphere. I'm going to have to forget Breq in order to appreciate another SF story fully. Today I'm trying to find a critical anthology like Marleen Barr's Future Females, written and collected in this century. What I learned so far: utopian SF is the way women have to imagine a future that is not what we think we will live to see. There are no adventure stories featuring women because a women stepping out her door ala Bilbo Baggins will not regret she forgot her handkerchief. She will regret stepping out. No road trips, starship launches, stranger in a strange land for women. Nope. No unescorted trips to a border town on a mission of mysterious, possibly nefarious, assignment. Nope. An excellent example of this is James Tiptree Jr (Alice Sheldon) "Your Faces, O My Sisters! Your Faces Filled with Light!" Sheldon channels the exquisite joy of freedom, and then flips the illusion on its bloody head. Powerful storytelling. Utopian dystopian. We need a new genre. Freed from the criteria and criticism of male-dominated labeling. Oh hell, we need a new culture. Where's the hope in this one?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

That's What Women Do

My father and I had a heated discussion recently about why he needn't shave my brother. I take Scott to the barber shop. Dad said that I think of the outing to the barber shop like I think of a trip to the beauty parlor.  No woman he has experience of ever frequented such a place. What's that reference doing in our conversation? Because it's a cultural automatic. Women = beauty maintenance. During a later conversation he mentioned the neighbor women were gossiping–while he was gossiping about the neighbor women. Women gossip, go to beauty salons, are the weaker sex. James Muir, the sculptor of this amazing artwork, writes Truth and Justice is not what our legal system is dominated by: the rights of the individual and equality are not preeminent. Sociologically women are not equal, and are portrayed as not suitable for equality, based on perceptions cemented over centuries. Throughout our lives we women coordinate activities, orchestrate workplaces, maintain calendars and events within, elevate and accentuate positive environments, keep the peace, find and share the truth, mete out justice at work and home (based on experience and research). Men do this, too. But men are credited with these skills. Women need to expect credit as well. In the roles assigned to women culturally we hone the prowess to manage large projects and the people assigned. Traits we are labeled with are precisely the traits that allow for excellent leaders. Many of the roles we are excluded from would be the exact endeavor for us to excel. Director, CEO, priest, symphony conductor, hospital administrator. Because those roles are what women do throughout a lifetime. Add to the experience, the desire to excel and succeed and there are ideal candidates left out. We're working to open the way for advancement, for ourselves, our peers, our progeny. That's what women do.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Baby Brother Buddha

My brother and I were out today for breakfast and errands. We stopped at the farm plot to cut some flowers. Scott was hugging the blooms on the way home - unknown if it was because he was appreciating, or because he was saving them from my scary (to him) driving. The world's too big for him now. Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" came on the radio. At the line "forget about everything" Scott repeated it. My heart chilled. But he was hugging flowers, and when I smiled at him he smiled back.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Grace

Yesterday I lost touch with my soul. That's what it felt like, when explaining to a friend at lunch what state I was experiencing.  Emotionally tapped out and unable to refill the empty spaces. She gave me a phone number to call a spiritual advisor. I fumbled the bill and was reminded that I can't keep mental track of things, that I am clumsy and confused, and unable to create anything. No writing, no jewelry, no art. The garden is no longer restorative. And I crushed a beetle between my fingers the other day, a thing I've never done. The beetle wasn't doing anything but eating my zinnia leaves. I called the advisor. He agreed to call me back later last night. I lit a candle and opened a journal page and wrote B E R E F T. I've been lucky to have a strong spiritual sense. To experience awe, joy, and humility in the mystery of creation. So the inability to touch the source feels vacant and odd. I burned out in the caregiving role years ago, and now the ashes are adrift. We had a good conversation last night. I have to change my role, take steps to build my strength again and get back on my spiritual path. Just now, that feels daunting, but I took the first step by making a phone call to ask for help. Per ardua ad alta.

Monday, April 14, 2014

How Did I Lose The White Rabbit?

Today we have 65 degrees in Michigan. Tonight we'll plummet to freezing. Tired of waiting for real spring to stick around, I decided to put out the forsythia in front of the dollhouse, and a little late, the Easter eggs and baskets as well. I have a box of seasonal decorations, and not there is the White Rabbit. Also not on the grass in front of the house is the White Rabbit. How can I lose a white rabbit? If I had picked it up to put away, it would be in the box. It's not. Nor is it on the floor under the dollhouse. Not hiding in the bushes. When I started looking for the hole in the landscaping, and heard Grace Slick singing "one pill makes you larger, one pill makes you small" I decided to step away from the Missing White Rabbit. In a little while, I'll be laughing. I think. I hope. Go ask Alice.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

63-year-old Woman

That's my age. I don't see me in media of any kind, at the grocery store checkout on a magazine cover (unless it's the rags with bad pictures of celebrities and the "cancer" with a question mark headline), or on the internet. I just googled "women photos 63 years." And I got double digit million results with celebrities who are supposedly aging gracefully. Cher? Gracefully? I searched again using google Advanced Search, and asking for none of the words celebrity, celebrities. Here are the top 7 results.
1) East New York 76-year-old woman apparent victim...
2) 63 year old woman kills teen who tried to rob her
3) 63 year old Chinese woman gives birth to twins
4) 63 year old woman loses 250 pounds
5) I am a 63 year old woman. Am I too old for buccal fat removal?
5) This woman is 63 but looks 45
6) 63 year old woman dead after 70 year old brother shoots her
7) At 102, she changes oil, spark plugs on her 82 year old car.

No wonder I'm cranky.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Finland vs Russia Hockey Coat of Arms

In celebration of the Finnish hockey victory over Russia at the Sochi 2014 Olympics, I have redone the Suomi Coat of Arms. Bit of history - when the tsar ruled Finland, he insisted that the lion (ordinarily carrying a sword) be flipped to point away from Russia. Clearly the tsar didn't have enough to do. If the lion had been carrying a hockey stick, who knows?