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To The Men Who Are Now Living In A Post Wonder Woman Society
June 7, 2017, 12:04 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Now, this is not for every man out there. I know there are plenty of men who are embracing this movie and the wake it is leaving in society.

But there are a few–some that I have even witnessed–who refuse to accept what is happening here.

So, for those few, allow me to explain some things.


 

I get it. I totally get it. You think we are coming for you. That an angry mob of liberated women is going to try and take over the world. I can see where that might be terrifying. People are always afraid of things they do not understand.

I can understand why you would feel left out or –segregated– when theaters chose to have special viewings of this film for women only. Don’t we have enough films tailored *just for us*? Lala Land? An Affair to Remember? Every Nicholas Sparks movie?

And now…NOW…we have come for your action movies. As if giving us X-Men and Black Widow wasn’t enough.

And to your point, yes, it is just an amazing super hero movie that is doing extremely well.

BUT to then also say that we are being dramatic and the whole smash the patriarchy thing is getting old and we need to calm down with the feminism…

Did we watch the same film?

Maybe not. Maybe you accidentally walked into Guardians of the Galaxy or something.

Let me tell you what this movie was about and what it means to women:

My daughter dressed up as Captain America for Halloween last year. Not a girl version of Captain America…the little boy labeled costume.

I have been taking my daughter to see action hero movies since she was 4. She knows every Avenger’s name. She knows who Ultron is. She loves the Hulk.

She refers to Black Widow as “the girl one”.  Which is fair. That’s basically what she is. That girl who sometimes shows up with Hawkeye.

As I watched Wonder Woman with my daughter last weekend and gasped as Diana climbed out of that trench and proceeded to take all of the fire so that the baffled and scared men could then finally advance towards the Germans-

As I watched a woman, who had just been told “no”, do exactly the opposite of that-

I had such a strong reaction that even when I recount the scene to my parents or sister on the phone or strangers on the internet I get emotional. That moment was a moment that I never realized I needed. I teared up and grabbed my daughter’s hand. I squeezed it and she squeezed back, her 3-D glasses fixated on the screen as she watched for the first time what a super hero could be.

This movie was a movie–a moment–that I never realized I needed. I don’t think any of us did.

This Wonder Woman was not sponsored by Revlon. There is no sparkle to her. No cutesy dialogue.  Instead, we were shown an entire island of women who spend all of their time training like damn Spartans. They were dirty, sweaty, not a lick of mascara in sight and hair thrown back in functional pony tails. They were Amazons in every sense: tall, lean and muscular, hardened in the ways of battle with absolutely zero need of men.

But they were beautiful. They were a beautiful and fearsome sight to behold.

We have been living in a world where strong women have been portrayed as an exception to their gender. When a woman is outspoken or has strong opinions she has to be labeled something BESIDES A WOMAN. Often she is called a bitch, a lesbian, or just plain wrong.

We have been living in a world where to be taken seriously in the eyes of the public, you have to strip away your feminine side. Harden up. Be prepared to be bullied by the men who have resided in certain arenas since the dawn of time. We have watched women be interrupted during their allotted time to speak. We have watched women be physically intimidated on live tv. We have watched women be literally silenced for doing things…exact things…that their male counterparts get away with doing every day.

But we have also watched these women persist. Resist. Rise up. Instead of complaining about being intimidated or slandered, they sit there with their eyes set dead ahead. Instead of being silenced, we have seen women continue on to prove their point that is merely stating exact facts. And every time this happens, it becomes a movement. Every time a woman makes a man look like an idiot, it becomes national news because the idea is so novel.

Diana Price–Wonder Woman (a title that is actually never used in the film)–is the harbinger of every thing these modern women are trying to trail blaze. She refuses to be silent. She refuses to go along with a male agenda. She literally cannot grasp when they try to feminize her so she blends in more with their society.

She does what has to be done and what she is there to do. She steps out in to no-man’s land…and perhaps it is aptly named…and does what men could not do.

She doesn’t do it to prove a point. She doesn’t do it because she is a woman. She doesn’t do it because she knows she has powers inside of her that remain untapped.

She does it because no one else will. When the men said “No” a woman said “Yes”.

So yes, gentlemen. You are living now in a society where women are feeling validated. Empowered. Bold.

We have sat through film after film of men doing what is right and saving the world. We have applauded them and enjoyed the movies and encouraged our daughters to be like them even if they are a different gender.

Our daughters have been taught that if you want to appear strong, you have to be a man. If you want to be strong, it is more socially acceptable to be a man.

And now we are a society where the word “woman” means nothing and everything. The word no longer comes with the string of other words that have been attached to it for so long and instead can now be associated with:

Power

Bravery

Justice

Compassion

Strength

A symbol has appeared in our society that will now rock the scale of what it means to be a hero and I feel sorry if you feel like that somehow infringes on the space that you have already rented out for every other super hero ever. I feel sorry for you if you think that Wonder Woman will require her own space in comic book movie cannon simply because she is the first of her kind to do something like this.

We are not here to diminish male super heroes. We are not here to say Wonder Woman is a better super hero than anyone else. We are not here to brag about how it is now the highest grossing female directed movie in history, dethroning movies like…Frozen and Shrek. We are not here to smash your precious patriarchy that you don’t think exists with our hyper feminist agendas.

We are just happy to be here. We are crying tears of joy to have received an invitation like this, like this woman, like this film.

Women are not here to take over the planet, gentlemen. We are here to help save it.

And a woman

–not a Wonder Woman–

just a woman named Diana

has now shown us that we do not have to change a single thing about ourselves to do it.



Scotland
June 3, 2017, 4:27 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s a funny idea–the notion of going on a sort of adventure in search of something. What drives us from the safety of our houses onto an unknown road trying to find something that we never knew was missing from us?

As I boarded my plane that would take me over the wide Atlantic I found myself thinking about the notion of finding what I was looking for or finding myself while over there. I didn’t know what I was looking for. I didn’t know what I was going to find.

I wandered deep into the Scottish highlands, standing in basins among gargantuan hills that, unlike mountains, had rolling crests like the profile of a dear lover’s face where glaciers had slowly roamed and settled.

I followed rivers for miles to find blue and green pools of water where surely fairies must have taken up residency.

I intrepidly maneuvered my way down to the edge of the pools, dipping my mortal finger tips into freezing and divine waters. I flicked a coin into them and watched as it settled down with the pebbles. The day was cloudy–the day was always cloudy–but somehow light reflected off of the coin that I left as an offering. A wish. A gleaming wish.

I turned around to see how far I had walked to get to where I was and the road wasn’t even visible. It was like I had fallen out of time and I wondered how far I could keep walking– deeper and deeper into the prehistoric wilds of Scotland.

Away from everything I had known. Away from lives that I thought I had wanted. Away from expectations and disappointments. I would vanish without a trace.

But I didn’t keep walking. Eventually I turned around and followed my own footsteps back to civilization and drove on, marveling at how many shades of green seemed to exist all of a sudden.

I passed lakes, the water’s edge so close to the car you felt like you could just reach your hand out and drag your fingers along their surfaces as you passed by, like a skipping rock or the kiss of a fish as it bobs up to catch a bug–just leaving a small ripple in its place.

I got lost in gardens, heard the bleat of thousands of newborn lambs, meandered through castles, smelled the cold and grey scent of open ocean.

I traveled through every season, every kind of terrain, every dream I had ever come up with.

I struggled.

When an incline was too steep, when my body had used up all of its reserves and I could feel my muscles eating themselves, I stopped. I bent over and gasped for air or tried to find a place to rest, to watch everyone else pass me by on their own journey, probably not even seeing me in my failed state; lost in their own euphoria.

A voice urged me on. I had to try to get to just the next check point, then rest again. It was always just a little bit away to the next check point. Don’t look at the big picture. Don’t look up. Don’t feel dwarfed. Keep your eyes on the path ahead of you, keep your eyes on your own feet and you’ll eventually find yourself in a place you never thought you could get to.

I did not find something that I had been missing in Scotland. I did not suddenly feel like a different person and realize some sort of personal potential while getting lost on roads with no names and highways that could only accommodate one way traffic. When I woke up in the morning and looked at myself in the mirror, I recognized the girl looking back at me. She was no stranger.

I didn’t find anything, but I lost plenty. I lost layers of myself that I had always hid behind. Missing was my connection to the outside world; my need to validate my experiences with other people who weren’t on that journey with me. That faded. Gone was my self conscious sense of appearance. I let the wind whip my hair into all sorts of disarray. My cheeks chapped in the cold. I arrived back to my room damp and disheveled more nights than not. I let go of my need for control. If I felt lost or defeated, I didn’t curl up into a small ball and start heaving and gasping. Paths are there for a reason, roads–no matter how small–always lead somewhere and if you don’t have a finish line, if you don’t have an agenda, there is no reason to ever feel lost or out of control.

You are never in control in the first place. I learned that as well. It will always rain. There will always be traffic. You will not always know where you are.

All you can control is your reaction to those things around you. Controlling your reaction may seem like a large undertaking; I know before this trip it always seemed easier said than done for someone with my emotional capacities.

But, here is what I learned about controlling your reactions:

It never means having to reel yourself in. Controlling doesn’t mean holding back or girding yourself from something you might have a large reaction to.

It means being brave enough to crack your chest bones and grabbing your own heart. It means giving yourself room on the inside to experience everything around you. Things only seem hard if you yourself are a hard person. Become soft and let the world around you seep in like damp sand during low tide.

Unhappiness, fear, stress, heart break–these things are only mirror images of preconceived notions that you thrust upon yourself. It is easy when you around jobs and technology and people to set up expectations–linear expectations–of what happiness, calm, and fulfillment feel like.

Don’t do that.

I stood in a world that over whelmed me and I felt full. There was no divide of emotions anymore–I felt happy and loved and calm and encouraged all at the same time.

It was all the same feeling, don’t you see?

It’s not that I found myself in the hills of Scotland.

It’s that Scotland took everything that wasn’t truly me away.  I had been under there the whole time, like a sleeping druid.

And when it was time to go, to board the plane and fly back over the ocean to where divided emotions ruled, it didn’t feel like a goodbye. It felt like an assault.

I wasn’t ready.

And I was scared.

What would become of me back in the world without all of my armor, without all of emotional defenses and notions? The world I was returning to was a hard world and I had just become a soft soul.

But I left, just the same. I let time and expectation rip me from that country, from those hills and fields. It all seemed unfair. It seemed like everything I had learned had been in vain. I felt like kicking and screaming as I drove across the border, back to the airport.

It suddenly felt like everything had been a dream.  Like a twist ending to some 60’s tv sitcom show. It didn’t feel like it had really happened. I looked out of my window as I drove through the hills, the lakes, the sea in reverse realization and discovery.

I memorized it all. It was real and no one was going to take it from me. No matter how soft I had let myself become, no one would rob me of this.

 

 

But still, I lamented.

 

“How can I leave you?” I asked quietly, as I left.

“But my love, if you don’t leave now, how will you ever return to me?” Scotland whispered back and it sounded like lullaby.



DEAR AETNA,
April 15, 2017, 12:40 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

 

One of my dearest friends received this letter in the mail from you today.

“We found a way that you may be able to improve your health! You may want to share this letter with your doctor”

Huh. That doesn’t sound right, does it? How did an insurance company find a way to improve her health without a doctor?

Oh, they just go through all of the data from your prescriptions, doctor’s visits, and lab results and then draw an algorithm based on that information.

What did my friend’s insurance company have to say about her health?

That she MIGHT have bipolar disorder. That she is taking an antidepressant but if she is bipolar she should also be taking a mood stabilizer with that antidepressant or it won’t work because they know that she has bipolar disorder and they also know how to treat her as an individual patient.

They then urge her to talk to her doctor about the medication routine she has been on.

A PRINTED OUT PIECE OF PAPER FROM AN INSURANCE OFFICE IS TELLING MY FRIEND THAT SHE MIGHT HAVE BIPOLAR DISORDER AND THAT SHE IS TAKING THE WRONG MEDICATIONS.

You know what my friend’s PSYCHIATRIST says? She takes an antidepressant because she suffers from postpartum depression. She takes an anti-anxiety medication because she has anxiety.

She has been screened for bipolar disorder several times. She does not have it.

So, let’s review because there’s a lot here:

You are sending out pieces of paper that are not based on actual medical opinions telling people that they are suffering from a mental disorder that they are not and then trying to get them so paranoid that they march into their actual doctor’s offices and demand yet another medication to pay for –through your insurance–that will not help them at all.

I DO suffer from bipolar disorder. I take a lot of medication every day including an antidepressant and a mood stabilizer. Do you know which is the most expensive out of all of my medications? My mood stabilizer.

I’ll just say that.

Also–if a person is not confirmed in your DATA to have bipolar disorder and is not taking the medication for bipolar disorder but medication for another disorder…is it possible that she is taking the medication for something else? Major depression disorder? Manic depression disorder? POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION? Does your data show that she has a history of PPD? That her youngest child is still young enough that it still plagues her? Do you know anything about how this disorder works? Does your data show the hospital stays she endured battling this disorder? The therapy she went through? How about all of the self help books and holistic attempts to make herself feel more like a worthy mother?

No. I’m sure it doesn’t.

It seems to me, Aetna, that you pulled random bits of information about my friend and decided whether she could possibly maybe have bipolar disorder.

Do you know how many people suffer silently because they are misdiagnosed with mental disorders? How many people go through their lives thinking that no medication will ever help them only because they have been taking the wrong ones? Do you know how many people succumb to their disorders because of this?

No. I’m sure you don’t.

I wonder how many of these letters went out in the mail, with no confidentiality warning on the envelope and so blatantly breaking down a person’s mental health with bullet points on the back. This isn’t information everyone wants to share in their own household. Some may be keeping their struggles to themselves, from their children. Some may not live in a safe environment for this information to become known. Did that thought ever pop up in your minds over there on Aetna Drive?

No. I’m sure it didn’t.

 

I hope that every single person who received a letter like this is just as enraged. This is a personal violation and an abuse of power.  No one is going to make an appointment with their psychiatrists and say “Well, Aetna thought maybe I’m bipolar”. No psychiatrist is going to take that seriously and honestly you’re going to step on a lot of their toes by trying to micromanage their patients in this manner.

Didn’t think about that either, did you?

Get out of our medical files and leave our bodies alone.

Do your damn job.

 

Sincerely,

Someone who does take a mood stabilizer and you better be glad I do

 



Little Darlin’
March 10, 2017, 7:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I am reading/coloring Jenny Lawson’s new book, You Are Here. Mostly 100% of it is hitting me hard. Really hard. But I just saw a line while flipping through the pages to find another coloring project. It said “You can always see the sun”.

I remember when I was in such a dark place that it physically felt like someone was standing on my back as I sank deeper, face first into the mud, that I would never see the sun again.

I don’t mean the actual sun.

I mean light.

The thing that always strikes me about my own battle with depression is that it feels like my heart has turned into a stone, and a very heavy stone at that. It felt impossible some days to carry it around, some days I wouldn’t even bother. I would stay in bed, in a dark room with my dark heart and my dark thoughts, waiting for the lightness to arrive. I was waiting for the weight of my heart to be light again, I was waiting for my thoughts, my mind, to feel light again.

It took a year, dear readers. It took a year for the light to find me, for the sun to find me.

But it never occurred to me that I could always find it–it didn’t abandon me. It never left. The sun may set on a certain part of the world, but it rises in another. It never occurred to me to chase the light.

I don’t mean buying plane tickets and running along the horizon to feel the sun on your face at all times (but maybe I am), I am talking about getting out of bed. I am talking about opening your curtains. I am talking about making yourself stronger so that while your heart is still made of granite, the burden will seem less. You will make it lighter. 

You will make it lighter.

I am a visual person when it comes to listening to music. Whenever I hear “Fix You” by Coldplay (which tends to be on repeat sometimes, because I am a masochist), I see a girl in the darkness while little circles of light appear around her and she keeps trying to jump into them, to stand in the light. She can’t do it; she is moving too slow and the light leaves before she can get there. Then, suddenly –and you can hear it in the song–she somehow does it. Maybe the light finally shines on her but what if, just what if, it’s because she finally ran fast enough towards it?

Run towards the sun.

If it feels like your body is made of cement and that all you want to do is hide in the darkness.

Run towards the sun.

If it feels like you will never feel that lightness of the heart again.

Run towards the sun.

If your thoughts feel so heavy that they drag you down beneath the waves of a stormy sea and you kick and flail but you get so tired of trying to not drown.

Run towards the sun. Swim towards the sun.

You can always see the sun.

Move, shift, run, get in a car and go somewhere where you feel the sun, where you feel light.

Lights will guide you home.



Long Fingers and Missing Nails
March 7, 2017, 1:02 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I was born with very long fingers.

“Piano playing fingers!” my father would exclaim to me. He said his grandmother had the same fingers;

the great-grandmother that I am named after;

the great-grandmother I never met but everyone always tells me I am so much like;

the great-grandmother that I share a birthday with (which was discovered only after the name had already been given).

Piano playing fingers.

My parents sure did try with that one. I think I lasted a year in piano lessons. Tried the flute, the clarinet, the guitar. Literally, any instrument that would take advantage of the fingers that hindered my fine motor skills for too long as a child. I still struggle with buttons.

What do you do when you are given things you can do nothing with? My name, these fingers, my emotions–they don’t do what they are supposed to do. I should be a great pianist, I should be better at math, I should be tall and artistic, I should have better control over emotions but it appears I was born with too much of them, as well.

We are all born to do things. We are all born with the capability to do great things if we are brave enough.

We are given tools when we are born and people will EXPECT things from you based on those tools. The only baby that should have ever been born with expectations is Jesus. The rest of us make ourselves like little lumps of clay. We can reinvent ourselves as may times as we want, just spray the clay with water and start from scratch.

Start from scratch.

I like to think that if my great-grandmother had been around when I was born she would have told me to forget about trying the piano. She never even played. She was an artist. An amazon. A matriarch.

She took her long fingers and wrapped them around the world and pulled it into her, like gravity. She used her tools in a greater way than could have been imagined. She became more than just piano playing fingers; she used those fingers to hold a paint brush, to raise my grandfather and his brother, to be a grandmother to my outrageous father, aunt, uncle. To be the name that falls between my first and last.

I am saying, don’t feel pigeon-holed, friends. If you are short, try out for basketball . If you are pale, wear a bikini to the beach. If you have a speech impediment, audition for a play.

People will not judge you. People will not point and say that you cannot do it. This isn’t Rudolph and there are no reindeer games. This is life and people will admire you. They will admire you for being brave and different and DEFYING ODDS.

Start from scratch.

Look at those fingers, imagine what you can do with them. Think about how you can use your fingers to make a better world for you to live in. Don’t pick up a hammer, miss the nail, and then put the hammer down. Keep trying or find a different project. It’s as simple as that–try harder or move on. Don’t spend your life missing nails, reaching for keys or piano strings.

Use those long fingers as a weapon. Use them to sit down at a laptop each night. Use them to pour yourself onto blank pages on the screen in front of them.

I chose to use my piano playing fingers to write a novel. I am done missing nails.



The Lighthouse
February 26, 2017, 4:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

There are many different types of people, of souls, out there. Everyone treats their hearts and the hearts of others differently, but I am from the coast and I always liken things to waves and ships and storms.

But, there are also some people out there who are lighthouses. These people are content–that is the best word and far from a slight–they are content in being kept. A lighthouse usually only ever has one solitary keeper. When that keeper dies, another moves in and takes his place. There is always a keeper. There is no interim where the lighthouse is expected to do anything on their own. They wait and then they are kept. And this makes them content.

All they are expected do to, with the help of their keeper, is to shine their light out for others; to help others find their own ways, keep them safe, protect them from being dashed against rocks. These people, these structures, they stand on their cliffs or piers and shine their light out sometimes just searching for someone to save. What good is a lighthouse if it cannot shine light for someone else? Without that, they are just a silent, one room tower, showered in sea salt on a daily basis.

But as there are some people who are these proud and content beings, there are also those who are the ships. Ships cannot always tell where they are going and sometimes even with the help of a light, they still find themselves being dashed against Plymouth rock, their insides constantly being shattered.

But, they keep sojourning into their hearts, searching for new lands and still landing on the same damn rock each time.

At the end of the day, though, they always find themselves in America

and that is a feeling a lighthouse will never know–the thrill of crossing that choppy sea that they watch day after day with reservation and fear and instead barreling head first towards something they don’t know anything about.

Both sorts of people, both sorts of hearts and souls are well needed in this life.

We need responsible people who are willing to place their needs before others to keep them safe. We need people who will be a beacon to others around them; “Come here”, they will say. “Lay your problems at my staircase and follow my light.”

But, we need those brave and reckless souls that take to the sea with no compass, too. We need to know that there are people out there who live completely and happily on exhilaration and following the stars for navigation and then finally the land-ho’s.

A person may find  at some point in their life that they have been resigned to one or another–usually the lighthouses. I am a lighthouse. I have been a lighthouse.

But here is the secret, dear readers.

Boats and lighthouses are made of the same stuff–wood and nails and love. You can be both, my friends. You can remake yourself as many times as you need to.

You can be reckless and exciting and you can also be that beacon to everyone around you, but remember to turn off that light sometimes and take to sea yourself.

Find your America.

Find your very own new lands and then turn that light back on and guide others to follow you across those same uncertain seas.

 

 

 

 

 

 



The Thing About Tulips
February 19, 2017, 1:03 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Here’s the thing about tulips–

When you first get them, they’re all closed up, two little lips, set firmly in a line across a face. You can’t tell how many there are, even. That is, until you start trimming the stems and arranging them in the vase. What you thought may have been a dozen turns into two dozen and then you have thirty tulips sitting in your vase. It’s hard to arrange them because as you take them out of their wrapping, they arch forward–or I guess backward, depending on where you’re standing. They droop in an elegant way, though. You can’t be too mad about it.

You arrange your thirty bowing tulips, fill the vase up with luke-warm water and stand back and smile. Because that’s the thing with tulips: they make you smile. They are bright colors, they have long stems like the long neck of a lady you can’t help looking at.

(Has anyone seen Under the Tuscan Sun? The English woman who rubs baby ducks on her face and eats all of the gelato? It’s that woman. That’s the woman you can’t stop looking at with the long, arched neck of a tulip.)

You walk away from them, eventually. Maybe you go to bed. But that’s the thing about tulips: when you wake up they will look changed; not in a drastic or dramatic way. But they will be a little more open, a little more upright. Not so open that you can see their centers but enough to tell you that you have done something right–given the right kind of water, arranged them correctly, smiled at them enough. You will gently rearrange them in their new state, making sure the yellow ones –your favorite– are prominently showcased in front of the dark and light pink ballerinas sharing their space.

By the end of the day, the water is all but drained. That’s the thing about tulips: they are very thirsty. They aren’t like your common Walmart bouquet where you can trim those stems as much as you want but those cheap artificially colored daisies are not going to drink that water and they are going to die as soon as they would have if you had not even bothered with water. Tulips appreciate the time, the effort. They pay it back with their beauty that will still make you smile even on the second, third, eighth day.

Soon after, they will open completely and you will see the secret they have been keeping so tightly locked inside of them. The thing with tulips is: they all look different in their centers. Dark pinks have dark purple circles, the light pinks have white, and the yellow still remains a mystery…they have remained shut still. Some people are like that, though. Some are open and want to show you all of them and some still need some time, a bit more water, a bit more smiling.

Some day, a shockingly long time after the other colors had opened, the yellows finally give it up. Isn’t that the thing with tulips? They know their own beauty and some are stubborn about it purely for the dramatics of waiting. But oh, when the yellow ones open it will feel like spring has finally, finally arrived. Their little black circles peer up at you like a darkness we all hide deep inside, shut in tight. But it’s okay, yellow tulips. We get it. It takes time and we are just so happy to be with you.

Eventually though, they will start to droop again and no amount of water can make them perk back up; petals start to fall and you sense the end of a relationship that you didn’t even know you were having with each individual bloom. You will pull out the ones who have only a few sparse petals left, throw them in the garbage bin; put them out of their misery. The bouquet grows smaller and smaller and you should probably just dump the whole thing but you can’t bring yourself to do it. Those yellow ones are still alive. They are still there and they worked so hard to open for you– why would you cut them off before their time?

That’s the thing about tulips: they feel a lot like the inside of your mind.