Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Women & Film 2011: Sexual Violence

I love movies. Viewing, talking, researching, reading about movies. I like precode movies, screwball comedies, film noir, thrillers, westerns, sparklingly written film, studio, independent, animated, documentary, short, long, black & white, color. I have only walked out of one movie, and I have hit eject on two at home. That's it out of thousands of movies. I have enjoyed and rewatched movies that my feminist friends pan. There are cinematographers, production designers, directors, and acting talent I will watch repeatedly, and immediately see when a new movie is released. But there are fewer new movies I can choose to see. There are more schlocky films, juvenile films, weak franchise films, male buddy films featuring moronic losers and no soul. There are fewer strong male roles, and even fewer strong female roles. The newest feature plastic boobs and plastic brains, or depict women in violent and hysterical situations. Two new movies are particularly vile. The Twilight series is a cesspool of wrong-headed women characterization. Bella doesn't want to be herself. It's The Little Mermaid on steroids. The new installment, reviewed here by Linda Holmes, dehumanizes - literally and figuratively - the female lead, and adds sexual violence. Not surprising in the 2011 world of women as automatic commodities, Breaking Dawn made a pantload of money opening weekend. Dangerous Method is reviewed here. Freud as sexual predator, his victim a client diagnosed with hysteria. Hysteria. Trotting out all those 18th century ways of dismissing and abusing women because we don't have enough of that shit today, is that it? I am interested in Martin Scorsese's Hugo, although I'm not a Scorsese fan. Homage to film is enticing. I'll pay homage to Alice Guy Blache instead of Meiles in my head, and hope that some day really soon we stop plasticizing, ignoring, dismissing and torturing women in movies. I've had enough of this weak yang domination stuff, and it's about damn time we all abandon it forever.

My Shadow Soul and I

Squirrels are preparing for winter in Michigan. I can hear a squirrel shelling a black walnut and spot the diner on the ground, in a tree. I am preparing for winter in Michigan. I am beginning to be able to spot me. Clearing piles of paper and books in my office; discarding, filing, I found an old piece of art. We've come a long way together, my shadow soul and I. Sorting this year, and reveling in the clarity gifted, I think that all my writing and art for 50 years has been about duality. How many versions of me are there? Depends on who I read and what I think about that. Archetypes. Sorcerer, prostitute, rescuer, dilettante, inner child, judge. I brought past lives, sacred contracts, genetic predisposition, collective consciousness into a world of external. We all do. Wham. Here I am. I decided early I didn't like most of my selves, with help from the voices in my head, and the realm around me. I adapted best way, and as my abilities grew, so did the way improve. Fast forward 60 years. Like the Matryoshka nesting dolls, I am many layers. I am Legion. I am all, I am nothing. Nestled within the universe, I am infinite, I am infinitesimal. Today who I am, all of those beings, is just fine with me. I know my shadow soul, or at least where it hangs out in the dungeon and belfries of vision glimpses, and perhaps we're reaching singularity. I like me, nasty bits as well as sublime. We're all one, me and my otherness. There is no distance between who I am and the light that guides us all. I am preparing for winter like my fellow travelers, the squirrels of Michigan.

Grace in a Bottle

How do we keep grace? Do we hang out at the table in Whole Foods where we first experienced the feeling, hoping for its return? Whose grace was granted? Why did Carol and I share that moment? May we experience grace with others? Can we ever explain what happened? I don't know. Perhaps what is new for me is I am okay with never knowing. We have wonderful friends. We share. When I am with graceful women, I feel graced, too. We are compassionate and gentle with each other. This is grace. My sisters replenish my supply of philosophy's amazing grace bath gel each year. I love it (and them) for the fragrance, but mostly for the copy on the bottle. I borrowed a piece of the wisdom for my profile. On the bath gel, philosophy defines grace as compassion, gratitude, surrender, faith, forgiveness, good manners, reverence, and the list goes on. My therapist, the gifted and graced Rosemary Jozwiak, said years ago that all I was missing is faith in a good outcome. And thanks to friendship and belief, I now have the missing piece of the philosophy puzzle. I intend to keep grace alive and to grow the love.

State of Grace

Carol and I met on a Tuesday at Whole Foods in Ann Arbor. We had a croissant, a beverage and were sharing how we feel, what we understand is happening to us and the universe, and what, if anything, we can do to dissipate the year of spirit cloudiness we both are experiencing. I said something about locking ego in the closet in the basement. Carol softly spoke of the bittersweetness of aging. Then everything changed. One moment we were swathed in mist, and then we were alight in clarity. The experience was profound, dimensions beyond anything we knew before. What just happened? we asked each other. Lights had auras. The chatter in my head disappeared. We were bathed in an aurora borealis of calm warmed golden light. Carol pinched herself. Had we just ascended? I held Carol's hand. If she ascended, I was not going to be left behind. She handed me the dried seed pod from the vase on the table. This is a lotus, she said. We took off our glasses and stared at the ceiling. We laughed. We rejoiced, awed with serenity. What just happened? Carol said this is grace. We are in a state of grace. Amazing grace.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Pez Bunny Murder

From Pez police crime scene photo files, we note that the moo cow passed out from excitement. The picture of Marian's cat cat picture frame got its whiskers under the police line, thus violating the do not cross rule. It was arrested and both cats were released on their own recognizance, recovering from the shock on the monitor housing the bunny rabbit with carrot twins. Suspiciously the alligator is nowhere to be found, and the Siberian tiger has taken it on the lamb. Um. The lam.

The Pez Bunny Murder

Crowd control is a constant chore at a crime scene. We tried to keep the gawkers back from the police tape, but when our backs were turned, they inched closer. Some brought snacks. The Beanie Baby Siberian tiger kept falling over and annoying the other interested parties. The alligator kept inching its long-toothed snout closer to the victim. The picture of Marian's cat cat picture frame stared open-mouthed until other standers-by told it to move along.

Everyone Is Creative

We create our own reality. Inventing a reason not to go to work is creative endeavor. Every lie we tell ourselves or others is creative output. We're geniuses at the sideways compliment, imagining another's thoughts, storying our past. We tell stories to make sense of our world. Everyone is creative and we can change our lives with a tiny thought torque. My best friend Beckie and I worked together at two soulless management consulting companies: Joe Versus The Volcano with moderately better lighting. Eight creatives in a grey cubed room. We had to reinvent happiness every day. This time was Easter week. Victoria had gotten us each a seasonal Pez. It was a grim day, with false deadlines rushed by necktied zombies. We were cranky and overworked. I threw my bunny Pez against the cubical wall. The neck bent open and spilled candy on the counter. Oh oh, I said. I killed my Pez dispenser. I swiveled my chair around to see all eyes twinkling. Somebody shut the door. I stuck my xacto knife in the bunny's neck, drew and printed a blood stain, and a police line yellow tape. Somebody printed bloody pawprints. The Pez police drew a chalk body outline, while all the monitor toys crowded behind the police line. A pink slinkie became the murderer's escape route up the cubicle wall. We created for days. We made a wanted poster for a senior vice president we called Nick the Thumb. We buried my Pez bunny in my Giorgio Armani eyeglass case outside the building in a solemn ceremony complete with frocked minister and mourners. We attracted the building's security, who were zombies in security uniforms. We discovered the murder victim's grieving widow was having an affair with the minister. She was pregnant. We staged a rush wedding, and, oh joy! one day I came back from lunch to report an actual wedding was being set up in the atrium! We gathered our celebrants, the hugely pregnant bride and the groom, and ran downstairs with cameras. Flounder from The Little Mermaid saw the baked cod and fainted. For weeks we had color and light and joy in our corporate lives. We created a reality to share. All of us have this power, this majesty, this bliss, this sublime creativity. I am delighted today remembering the taste of joy, and I recommit right now to recreate it every day.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Three Story Life: Blood Pressure

I've been on blood pressure medication for many years. I have no idea what year, but it was undoubtedly after cancer, my mother's valiant yet unsuccessful battle with cancer, and starting the caregiver role. A while. A couple years ago I almost got put on another med, but refused to take it. Last week my prescription ran out. To get a new one requires a 130 mile trip to the doctor, paying an office fee, and hearing that I need to lose 20 pounds. Another choice is to do the 8 hour free clinic wait. And then there's just stop. Walked to the homeopathy store and said I want to quit my blood pressure medication. He said good. I said can you help me do this? And he said sure. So I'm off. Research is my third favorite thing to do, so I'm researching. My BMI is good, but I need to lose 10 pounds to drop 14Hg blood pressure points. I need more effective cardio workouts. I already eat well, but I'll eat better. Raw foods are back on my menu, and I'm researching more alkaline foods. I told my sister what I 'm doing and she said, "Good for you. Where are you putting Dad and Scott?" Funny sister. What I'm doing to reduce the stress level for me in the house is put me first. Day one, I said maybe 1,000 times "I choose calm" and kept thinking about the movie Airplane. Picked a hell of a week to quit drinking. Day two, I said maybe 10,000 times "I am calm." Picked a hell of a week to quit sniffing glue. Day three, I said out loud "I am not going to argue with you," fled to check my blood pressure and it was okay! Pulse was a little high, but it was good. I know my body, I know when something is wrong. Now I want to know my body, and know when all is well. We make a choice every second in life, and I am training myself to choose calm, choose love, choose grateful, choose healthy: the next thing I'm going to do on purpose.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Epicurus and Me

I love good books. I like thinkers who make me think. I admire thinkers who share what they think, even if it means death. My brain was absorbed with The Swerve, which has a lot of thinkers in it, and thinkers who died for saying what they thought. Stephanie Mills introduced me to the real Epicurus [342-270 BCE] as a man who encouraged simplicity; not the Bacchanalian lout others reported him to be. Ataraxia was his wine. Tranquility. Freedom from worry. Freedom from fear. He thought the universe was made of atoms, flying around and occasionally getting together for a chat. He believed in gods, but did not believe the gods had any interest in earth. He practiced free will. He taught others to do the same. He lived a long life because he kept out of the way of people who might think what he thought was a killing offense. Some of his devotees weren't so blessed. I was fortunate to be able to read The Swerve, about a scribe who stumbled upon a copy of Lucretius' poem On the Nature of Things. Via a random route, Epicurus chatting with his friends in Athens thousands of years ago caused me to feel happier today. I felt confused and uncomfortable when I finished the book early this morning. Whenever my brain touches Inquisitorial practices, my mind reels. What written or spoken words are so dangerous that the writer/speaker needs to be snuffed out? So I left the house in the chilly dawn to get those thoughts banished. Today, as I walked in the frosted morning, I felt kin with the birds looking for food and a glimpse of the sun. We are the same. An oak leaf floated off the tree to be returned to the atomic chaos that created it. It does not judge nor is it judged. It does not fear, and is pain free. Whether it enjoyed a pleasant time in the tree or not, is not my concern or any other collection of atoms' concern. My drawing for this blog post is saved as Same. There is no difference between the two lines. Each has a start and an end point, and if in mathematics or philosophy, it exists on several geometric planes or not, is no matter for me. I won't ever understand that. Whether Epicurus and his friends in The Garden led in a straight line or a chaotic tangle to my brother having a new puppy is unimportant. That the puppy is warm and fed, and my brother is happy with Mr. Bilbo Baggins is what is important. That I don't have to think as much as I do to be happy is what is important and pleasant.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Three Story Life: Smudge, Then Call a Friend

A little while ago, there wasn't enough smudge in the world to clear the negative energies. I could barely see the computer screen and was still cranky. My sister keeps telling me that fratricide is illegal in Michigan. So I called wonderful friend Nancy to help me. I just hollered at Dad that he's mean. He doesn't give a shit that I think he's mean. My father has his own demons to wrestle, and some of these I recognize. My mother told him what to do for 50 years and he's done being told what to do. By anybody. I understand that. I do not understand grabbing food out of a serving dish with your bare hand. When I asked him not to do that, he went off. I got up from the table and put my dish in the sink. He said, "what, you in a hurry?" I said, no, the grabbing and the yelling made me sick. He said, "then run away and puke." That's when I said "you're mean." And I called Nancy. Nancy gets doses of mean, too. We both are smart, capable women and we witness the frustration, anger, sadness of our parents losing control of their bodies, brains and their life. And we know in the back of our heads that none of this lashing-out behavior is personal. But it hurts in the front of our brains. And it feels like a knife to the heart. I told Nancy I want to slap my father when he acts like this. We agreed that's probably not the best course of action. And we decided that when we're told we can't cook, or told to go run somewhere and puke then, we'll call each other. And we'll know that even if we don't reach the other right then, help is on the way soon with love and deep understanding. Meanwhile, I'm running out of smudge. Cough. Cough.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

On the Nature of Things

Lucretius' poem, On the Nature of Things, saved from destruction by being not noticed, is the subject of Stephen Greenblatt's new book The Swerve. Lucretius himself named it, his Latin word was clinamen: an unpredictable movement of matter. I'm just on page 11, and Greenblatt is waxing enthusiastically about the Renaissance as the culture that best embodies, since antiquity, the appreciation, creation and enjoyment of beauty and pleasure. In Greenblatt's case, his love is Shakespeare, so The Bard's timeline would also shine brilliantly. What I am dazzled by is Lucretius wrote a love song to the way the universe actually is. One more example to my mind that physics and magic are coming to a singularity and dragging religions, reality, Occupy Wall Street, and tiny communities of people wandering and wondering at the sudden lightness of being into the vortex. I believe we are living at the daybreak of another Renaissance. As the Renaissance followed the Middle Ages, we are emerging from the Dark Ages of corporate soulsuits into a new enlightenment. All life has continued miraculously chaotic, now we notice, participate, appreciate. An excerpt here: ...to understand that humans are made of the same stuff as everything else, and are part of the natural order; to conduct experiments without fearing that one is infringing on God's jealously guarded secrets; to question authorities and challenge received doctrines; to legitimate [sic] the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain; to imagine that there are other worlds beside the one that we inhabit, to entertain the thought that the sun is only one star in an infinite universe; to live an ethical life without reference to postmortem rewards and punishments; to contemplate without trembling the death of the soul. The Luxury of Enough is the same, whether in Epicurus' and Lucretius' time, or in ours. The time is now. It is enough and it is beautiful.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Where the Wild Foods Grow New Offerings

Barb Barton has new good stuff for you to entertain your palette (preferably while listening to her music which will entertain your ears and brain.) Wild Sumac Jelly. Sweet with a foresty tang. Native Corn Cob Jelly. Yes, corn cob jelly. Wild Blueberry, Wild Grape, Wild Elderberry, Wild Elderberry & Wild Grape, and I gotta go get me some toast to spread some wild jelly around. One of my blisses this year has been creating the art for the jelly labels. Beautiful work promotes beautiful work. See Barb's Where the Wild Foods Grow website for how to wrap your tongue around some wild food, too. All foods are hand-harvested with respect, gratitude and ecological consciousness. The mission at Where the Wild Foods Grow includes educational programs to teach and encourage healthy living, conservation and the benefits of harvesting for personal consumption. Enjoy! Learn! Yum!

Justice for All Except Women

I may never understand what causes men to deny women freedom. The usual answer is denying women power, desire for domination. I think it's fear. Women do not take back their power because of fear, too. Men hold the governments, the religious leadership, the whip hand. I read an article by Laura Bassett today about the Catholic bishops and the lobbying to undo reproductive freedom, the church's minions using the ludicrous argument that allowing women birth control is an attack on freedom of religion. Tax the Catholic church. Lobbying against reproductive rights violates that tax-exempt status. Enough already. I'm watching Women War and Peace on PBS. Women are risking their lives to gain footholds in countries with horrific government-sanctioned and religious restrictions. Our country talks the talk, but do we walk with these women? U.N. Resolution 1325 was passed by the security council in 2000, resolving in a global body that women may not be excluded from peace negotiations. Are we holding any country accountable? Sanction governments that do not comply. Especially the bloody countries with our soldiers stationed in combat zones. While U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for global women's issues Melanne Verveer is working to get more women on peace counsels, our own legislatures are working overtime to deny women rights they are already guaranteed. I am mad as hell, and I want to do something that helps. I searched for an image of Justice, and was dismayed to find all passive images; a woman blindfolded, silently holding the supposed scales of justice, sword sheathed at her side, mute and powerless. Then I found this statue on a blog post from 2009. "...and Justice for All" by James N. Muir is installed at the St. Louis School of Law. Read the sculptor's thoughts about the statue. The law does not serve humanity, it serves power. Power can never allow itself to be subjugated to the individual. Holding space on my computer behind this magnificent statue is the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments, drafted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other women, and delivered at the women's rights gathering at Seneca Falls, NY in 1848. We have not achieved equal protection under the law of the United States, and we are under attack to remove those freedoms and rights we have secured. Muir's vision of Lady Justice is how I feel, my cells sing out a call to end the assault on women the world over. This is the time. We are the women. I claim my power, and celebrate other women who do in courageous and impactful harmony.