Everything looks different

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Last night my girls, Ellen, and I watched Thelma and Louise together, and because I’d forgotten how long the movie was, the event lasted into the early hours of today, at which point my youngest–who’d been hesitant to even watch it at all for the last scene she’d heard so much about–excitedly chatted to me through my bleary-eyedness, saying that along with Donnie Darko, it was now one of her two favorite movies.

None of them had ever seen it, and Livy asked me in one of the first scenes when Thelma’s husband Daryl was being an asshole to Thelma, “Is that just the way it was back then?” The movie was made in 1991.

No, baby; Daryl’s just a dick.

In the midst of girl power and Thelma and Louise gunning it to their chosen end, Ellen held my left hand still and, as I watched the movie, drew upon my skin the pattern you see in the picture above; somehow, in the warm living room after the hot summer solstice day of 2017, she accessed an internal well of artistry from within a near-meditative state, and–moving henna tube into curves and points–created this freehand design, reaching over while the first section was drying to grab my hand again and add more detail before moving on to make entirely different designs upon her own skin.

When I finally saw the finished product upon my hand, my mouth was open in surprise because I could not formulate a connection to the type of mind that could so effortlessly create such a vision. I couldn’t “get to” where a human being could so confidently embrace hovering over flesh with a tube of dye and still be able to funnel the experience down into a work of art.
Because that’s just not me. I’m never going to be able to zen out and manifest this kind of thing on someone’s arm.

And I used to think that in order to live fearless, I couldn’t say such things to myself. That in order to stand within my own power, I had to self-talk myself with “You can be/do/have anything you set your mind to!”

[Which is where I’d cue up the time I snorkeled in Hawaii with my sister, thus supposedly pacifying my fear of the ocean. Somehow I thought I could talk my fearful emotional mind into experiencing something in a logical way, but, in reality, my logical mind was saying “good for you!” while my emotional mind was saying “what the actual fuck are you doing in the water?!?” because logical mind can only take you so far, and then you’re stuck in the open ocean, hyperventilating and shitting your pants because your feet are dangling in what is basically a giant shark tank and, for the love of god, who is playing that fucking Jaws music?]

But I’ll never be able to “you can do it!”/Pep rally myself into–voila—I’m now Renoir, and being no good at something shouldn’t always bring out the self-esteem protection squad.

Because mind over matter is bullshit and invalidates the natural sense we have of who we are and what choices are right for us.  And, unless you’re hurting someone else, it’s perfectly okay to let yourself be who you are. It’s perfectly acceptable to say “I’m no good at this,” and not feel like it somehow means you’re giving up on yourself.

At the end of the movie, Livy and I discussed what our favorite parts were.

Livy’s favorite part is when Thelma calls Daryl to see if the police have been asking questions and almost instantaneously hangs up, knowing their phones are tapped and that the police are listening based solely on how nice Daryl is to her. It’s pretty classic.

My favorite part is when Thelma, events skewed against her having created a transformation in herself to where she finally feels in control of her own destiny, sits in the passenger seat, and says, “I feel awake. Wide awake. I don’t remember ever feeling this awake. Everything looks different,” and wind whipping her hair, they course together in their convertible as fugitives through the waking world of red rock.

Forever tuning

And so it was that when I was about 13 I went to see Adelaide the psychic whose name my family had been passing around for a while and she told me two things which stuck with me all the way through until that time when I was trying to make the decision whether to break my engagement with Chris and be with James or listen to my mom and stay the course through the uncertainty and into a marriage which by now of course would have already ended.

The first thing Adelaide told me was that one day I’d be writing a book, and the second thing she told me is that one day a man with blue eyes would say goodbye to me and I might never stop crying.

As fortune would have it, I looked for that blue-eyed boy for many years, hoping for a love that was so deep I’d cry forever at its loss, thinking that perhaps she was speaking metaphorically or that the goodbye would not come to pass.  So when one month out from marrying Chris in the foothills of California, I saw vibrantly-blue-eyed James at a bus stop–the night after dreaming I was swimming in pure bliss with a blue-eyed man–I retrieved James’ dropped Blue Book, thus starting an awakening within myself from which it became obvious that uber-cerebral Chris was for a “me” that didn’t exist anymore.  It was 1992, three years after my parents divorce, 2.5 years after the earthquake destroyed the dome the emotional fallout from which saw me drop out of college, and mere months after Chris and I had moved from Maryland back to Davis, CA–the college I’d dropped out of–so I could finish my degree; life was finally becoming stable again after such a long time.  But there I was. 

I do not feel I can adequately express how frightened I was during that time.

I would not be able to encompass what it feels like to be financially dependent on someone with no place to go yet knowing your soul won’t let you stay; I wouldn’t be able to explain what it feels like to go through days of being petrified, shaking and unable to eat, hearing your mom scold you for not marrying him anyways.

I would not know how to condense a lifetime of self-doubt into one event, from which one choice is accepting the truth of yourself and causing hurt, disgust, and personal hardship, and from which another is accepting a life of ease, making everyone else happy, while you slowly suffocate.

It was as if Life was trying to kill me and, in order to survive, I had to constantly be looking over my shoulder.

And I guess it isn’t an accident that today, summer solstice 2017–the longest day of light, a pagan day of power, 25 years out from this event which shaped me in ways that each day I’m still recognizing–I see two FB friends are “interested” in seeing a screening and discussion next month of the movie Thelma and Louise and in just seeing the movie title, I’m instantly back in Davis California, sitting on the floor of the living room of the house I shared with Chris watching Thelma and Louise for the first time.

Because the past becomes what we are, and the entire world is really just an orchestra of forever-tuning instruments.

For Adelaide was right.  I did lose that blue-eyed boy and did go on to shed what-felt-like a million tears.

But I didn’t cry forever.

Because sometimes there are moments when we face going against the tide, believing ourselves weak and frightened for the feelings we’re having; and sometimes those very same moments are actually portraits of ourselves standing alone in our own power amidst a crumbling world.

Shut your freaking mouth

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Young women today “Live in a Kartrashian world”?!  Really?!  Says the woman with the screen name “iluvamerica”?   (Why?  Why not just spell it right?!  “ILoveAmerica”.
Because there’s almost nothing more anti-Kardashian than purposefully misspelling words to be all cutesy and phonetic?  Do you do that in case you forget how to read, or is this some Internet image you’re trying to cultivate; maybe to attract boys?  Because it has left me RIVETED to my computer screen as you educate Jeanne Tomlin about just how misinformed and deluded she is about her own life.  Please “iluvamerica” tell me more about how she has no ability to think for herself.)

Oh. My. God.

Shut up.  Just shut the fuck up.

I’m a 47 year old single parent and mother of a millennial daughter and one near-millennial (born yr. 2000) and I’m disgusted at the ugly bullshit being thrown at them from women who act as if they themselves initiated the suffragette movement in the back room of their daddy’s corner store.

You’re Baby Boomers, not Sojourner Truth or Elizabeth Cady Stanton so get the fuck over yourselves.

Because it is disgusting that you are turning against your own.  You are belittling and demeaning and condescending an entire generation of young women with your comments “we fought so hard so that our daughters wouldn’t have to…but that fight seems lost on many of them” and I’m “so sick of you whinny [she misspelled it, not me] young girls.  You would never have made it through the battles she [Gloria Steinem] fought. You aren’t worthy of her fight” and insulting the very same people that you apparently fought so fucking hard for.

[These are real quotes from Facebook; in the interest of brevity and time, I left out the ones calling our young women “vapid” and entitled, and calling me, who they assumed to be of a younger generation, “ignorant” and “foolish.”]

Why?   Why would you turn against your own?

I get that you are insulated from the next generation of young women—that much is obvious—and that you don’t understand their experience and are judging what is happening from the nice little island of “I know exactly how everyone else should live their lives” but don’t go on freaking TV and the internet and double-down on your bullshit that is making the next generation feel isolated from you.  Don’t do it.

Because saying stupid shit like young women support Bernie because “That’s where the boys are” is like admitting that you are totally clueless and all the things you’ve fought for are now in question.  Because things have changed, and you’re far too quick to assume that young women even want dudes (I assume you’ve heard of same-sex attraction?) let alone that they’d need a political rally to drum one up; because, holy shit, if you’re young and solely supporting Bernie because you want to attract boys then YOU ARE DOING “YOUTH” WAY, WAY WRONG!  Tinder, people.  Tinder!

And who are fucking you to say that your historical woes are more important.  You got to exist before 9-11.  You got to exist before the Great Recession.  You got to exist at the point that the American Dream actually amounted to something.

You didn’t have to watch as the stress overwhelmed your family.

Or as your family home was foreclosed upon.

As you had to get a job to help your mom pay the rent.

At which point you yourself lose all hope, and attempt suicide because it’s all been uphill for so long, and no one talks to each other anymore because they’re too busy working three jobs.

THESE ARE REAL STORIES OF REAL MILLENNIALS.

SO S.T.F.U.

BECAUSE THE MILLENNIALS HAVE SEEN SOME UGLY SHIT IN THEIR LIVES, and you are not helping the cause you claim to love by shaming our next generation.

Millennials are survivors and they don’t need your shit.  They don’t even need me to write this.

Because they believe in themselves and the capabilities of their gender–courtesy of YOU who are now freaking the fuck out at them– but are already world-weary enough to understand that having a woman president isn’t the pinnacle of feminism; they understand (even if you’ve forgotten) that the pinnacle of feminism is being able to confidently state your own opinion and feel it’s inherent value in our collective human experience.  For, without that, who gives a shit if we have a female president.

So YOU, my dear women, have done your job well.  Because these y0ung women didn’t grow up in a petri dish:  WE raised them.  And holy shit:  look at them go!  They’re already so fucking amazing.

So let’s congratulate ourselves, and get the hell out of the way because they’re about to show us all what true feminism is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smells like a Feminist

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The video below of Kathleen Hanna explaining the genesis of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is confirmed as truth by many other sources:  she actually wrote “Kurt smells like Teen Spirit” on a wall and Kurt liked it, and wrote the song not knowing that her words were actually a put down to him about a girls’ deodorant.

The video is funny (and, in parts, NSFW), especially the part where she talks about how–as a self-proclaimed feminist–she took up stripping to pay the bills in college.  She realizes the irony of what she has claimed she is (a feminist) and what she is doing (taking off her clothes for cash), and it bothered me. Because here is this awesome girl who’s made her own way in the world–kicking ass–and feeling judged because of the freedom she has to make her own choices.

And I get that we live in a culture that sexualizes (then represses) nearly everything, and that women do not always have the freedom or the emotional strength to make healthy choices.  And are–sometimes–coerced or forced through desperation into situations where they are damaged physically or emotionally.  I get that.

But, if a woman is making her own choice–with no coercion or other messed up situation–why can’t she take her clothes off for cash and still be considered a feminist?   Why can’t she admit she enjoys sex, or listens to rap music or looks at Playboy or watches XX?   Why can’t she be and do EXACTLY whatever the hell she wants to be and do?

We women are raised in a petri dish called “feminism”, wherein we are encouraged to be little robotic replicas of the same person and, if we vacillate too far away from that schtick, we judge each other mercilessly and point the finger at each other over our perceived lack of dedication to women’s rights.

But why on earth are feminists’ freedoms AT ALL limited by our own definition of feminism?

That’s just utter bullshit.

Making collective decisions based on a construct wherein we all feel pressured into thinking the same way or making the same choice is the very same unhealthy coercion that has kept women down for eons. There is no freedom in conformity; there is no “liberation” in forced behavior patterns.   And we are not inept or lesser or damaged if–in a healthy mind-set of complete self-acceptance and freedom–we choose to do or listen to or enjoy things that we WANT to do or listen or enjoy regardless of their suitability for the entire fellow female population.

If it is–as many have attested–that Kurt was a feminist, then it must have been so discouraging for him to see the inequality, the hypocrisy and the passivity, and witness his female friends and family suffer under the fallacy that they were not equally as capable as he of making choices for themselves.

So let’s do ourselves a favor, follow HIS example and stop making passive-aggressive power grabs by pressuring our fellow females into feeling badly about their feelings and their choices.  Because when we finally stop judging one another–and truly accept each other’s capability for making our OWN choices–that’s the point when we will finally start kicking some serious butt.