Well hello there, my loves! I hope this essay finds you well and healthy and warm if you’re in the freezing cold part of the world, and cool if it’s hellishly hot where you are . It’s rainy and stormy here in my neck o’ the woods, and I’m happily bundled up while writing and listening to the sublime Adele (check the playlist. I’m slightly obsessed this week) sing of love and redemption. Today, we’re having a bit of a Rainy Day Pow-wow! It’s a bit different than how I usually structure Musings, and we will not highlight a Featured Rebel today. However, I hope to reinstate weekly postings next week, and I will commemorate this by highlighting the deliciously unique and glorious Other Queen, Helena Bonham Carter. Sound good? Soooo without further adieu, lets get on with our Otherness Kumbaya, shall we?
Happiness is when you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” ~Gandhi
After I had finally, finally decided on a major in college, I enrolled in a class that was a graduation requirement for my field of study (counseling psychology), the start of my junior year. I had just turned 20 (Kristen’s age now). For MOO’s purposes, we’ll refer to the class as Communication and Collaboration or C & C for short. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I had enrolled myself in the most catalytic, revolutionary class of my life. What was this class? Can’t be categorized, as it drew from teachings in various disciplines: sociology, psychology, criminology, business and…. Kindergarten. No, seriously. I sat in a circle with eight other people and caught a refresher course on the basic essentials of socialization and etiquette: turn-taking, sharing, listening before speaking and cultural sensitivity. If we had a designated “snack time” and “nap time”, it really would be like Kindergarten.
Each week, nine of us fellow academics along with two co-leading peers would discuss and share our thoughts, concerns and reactions surrounding a myriad of topics including: career, relationships, love, loss and ambition. We all derived from different backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, and fields of study but once a week for 2+ hours we would convene to share a piece of our personal value systems with each other. I suppose it’s similar in concept to group therapy, but with more of a book club vibe. However, instead of discussing the latest best sellers, we’d trade stories about our experiences and ideas that shaped our personalities. I always believed that we (the world) could live in a peaceful utopia if everybody participated in two events: One, attend and work through a C & C class; and, two, work in customer service, preferably in the restaurant business. Because let’s face it: people just don’t know what it’s like until they experience it for themselves. And even then, people don’t quite see how to apply the newfound knowledge to others’ situations….
So why am I telling you about the life-changing class called C & C and encouraging you all to get food-serving positions? Well, I’ve just basically shared my core motivator for writing Musings. I wanted to create a place, like C & C, in which people from differing backgrounds, ages, and experiences could come together and share different interpretations and reactions to events that are important to us, i.e. Royal Rebelliousness, Bliss Pursuit, Kristen Stewart’s Steeze, and have a respectful dialogue regardless if we share the same opinions or not. When we realize that we all have differing perspectives but on universal, common themes, it removes the stigma of the “Unknown” (Demonized Other, Alien) Factor. Perhaps it eliminates the reason for insulting, bullying, tearing down of others…? I learned that we have filters through which we view everything. Our childhood experiences, our current interactions, our culture, our family, all shape how we view and respond to situations. It’s our conditioning. See, here in the land of MOO, we’ve talked about perspective before. We’ve acknowledged that no single one of us has the exact same reaction to a certain situation, and we certainly recognize that we have very strong inclinations towards protectiveness when it comes to our Reigning Queen Kristen.
Back to the Beginning
According to a Psychology Today article entitled “Heartbreak and Home Runs: The Power of First Experiences”, our first experiences are formidable enough to shape our whole character, our adult personalities. Elation and heartache we encountered in our younger years may hold the key to why and how we react the way we do as adults, why we make the decisions we do, why we’re fascinated with whom or what we’re fascinated with (clears throat)…
So today’s Musings is dedicated to the exploration of Firsts: ours, and Other Queen Kristen’s. A reason for a stroll down memory lane? Well, for one thing, my incredibly brilliant Cyber Sister Readers and I were exchanging our own stories of first loves and first kisses, prompted by particular fan fiction stories we’re reading (taking a moment to rec and love on the story A Quiet Fire by @Magnolia822) and with 3D happenings in our families.
Another reason for the nostalgia: our Majestic Misfits Kristen and Rob have returned to British Columbia this week, to complete the final months of filming for the last installments of the Twilight Saga. Not only am I struck with moments of, “remember when K and R were in Vancouver the first time two years ago?” and reminded that Vancouver is one of my favorite cities in the world too, but I’m also aware that I’m more irritable and have an increased need to preserve and safeguard Kristen, Rob and their cast mates against the Vultures and overzealous critics and “fans”. See what I mean? I’m influenced by what I witnessed and experienced from Vancouver before…
Baton Rouge, from where the cast just returned, served as a quieter, less-intrusive backdrop for our Queen Other and her Ninja partner Rob, and while we didn’t receive minute-to-minute commentaries on their every move, I was infinitely happier because I knew that Kristen and Rob had semblance of privacy, which is not necessarily the case in Van City. Amongst VulturePapz fighting re: the order in which the actors disembarked from their airplanes, also bonafide set stalkers and the resurgence of Nerdy Bloggers and pretentious “insiders”, it isn’t any mystery that the only glimpse we’ve had of Kristen is one pic of her running to her car with a jacket over her head.
I’m not sure what first experiences justifies how the BullShit People and obsessed gossip bloggers can harass our girl, why they cannot seem to grant Kristen the space to acquaint herself with her own adventures. Were they picked on as children? Did they never have a moment of wanting privacy, of silence? I humbly request that we Others all reflect, C & C -style, upon our own journeys before we lose the capacity to be compassionate and nonjudgmental. Before we lose our own personal connection with the meaningful experiences in our lives. Shall we take a stroll?
Some of these Firsts are featured in the Sentence Completion Section on the About KJ Page. If you feel moved to do so, answer the prompts with as much or as little detail as you prefer…
First Job: Our lovely Reigning Other Queen was working at age nine. What were you doing at age nine? Kristen had her first role (non-speaking) in the film Thirteenth Year. Next up came a supporting role opposite Patricia Clarkson in The Safety of Objects.
Of course, it was her first starring role as Sarah Altman, daughter to Jodie Foster in director David Fincher’s (The Social Network) Panic Room that earned Kristen praise from critics and created a friend, mentor, protector and advocate of Jodie Foster. It was Foster who ultimately recommended our lovely Queen Kristen for the pivotal roles to the filmmakers of of Into the Wild and The Yellow Handkerchief.
So while our Beatific Rebel was making business contacts and earning fans among the Hollywood Elite in her first jobs, most other kids her age were enjoying the wonders of being able to write cursive for a year (in America, we learn cursive in 3rd grade, approx eight years old), and maybe, maybe celebrate participation in a junior soccer league or ballet (my brother Chew was the former, I was the latter).
My first job was at a sporting goods store. Yep. I was seventeen years old, a senior in high school, and helping folks pick out their ideal first pair of rollerblades (and subsequent knee pads and the crucial but overlooked wrist guards). Lookie here, I’m like Bella Swan working at Newton’s Outfitters! Minimum wage was maybe $7/hr which meant I could satisfy my newest obsessions: vintage Levi’s and tickets to Tori Amos concerts.
First Public Acknowledgement/Award: With the breakthrough role in Panic Room, Kristen received the first of four nominations for The Young Artist Award. It was for her role in the aching and beautiful Into the Wild for which Kristen won the award. She was sixteen years old and enjoying critical praise from colleagues and journalists for her solid, “sensitive performance” in the film. And she unwittingly attracted the curiosity of a certain British musician named Robert. This would be an essential development in Kristen’s professional and personal timeline.
When I was sixteen, I was pretty stoked to be a licensed driver and a junior in high school. I did receive special accolades for my ability to string words together in English classes, and I was extremely proud to have won a scholarship for my essay on an encounter with a drunk driver.
First Encounter with Separation of Self And Other: Ah see, this one is pretty heavy, I think. First realization that we are Other…The understanding that we are “supposed” to adhere to structure and conform to predetermined norms based on our age, our gender, our culture, our school…our family, can be especially shattering. It’s the moment when we realize that we have an idea of who we are, and that idea is challenged by someone or something else. This realization can have such a profound effect at times pushing us into almost existential questioning. It’s the basic acknowledgement that there is judgment, there are structures, and there are rules, and that we don’t want agree. Also, we learn that people can be harsh. This is the time period–commonly in early adolescence, though really it could occur any time, any age–when our bodies, our beliefs, our relationships, our chemical makeup undergo significant changes. Gasp! Suddenly we’re aware of the opposite sex..and body odor..It’s puberty and it can be brutal.
Things can swing from THIS…..
to this….kinda quickly
Our lovely Ms Stewart herself spoke once about the cruelty of her peers at her school when she finished filming Panic Room. Classmates snubbed her, made taunting remarks to her and kept her on the periphery of acceptance. Certainly, since Kristen would be away on such long breaks to film, the separation from her peers didn’t foster opportunities to create the bonds that could be there if she were in regular attendance . Hence the beginning of her separateness, The Otherness. She eventually chose to receive home schooling to complete her education.
I first understood this shift from obliviousness to uber awareness of a social order in the summer between before sixth grade. I was on a week-long trip to Washington D.C., away from my family for the first time, across the country. I realized I had developed a fascination with one of the older boys in our tour group, and he had a “girlfriend”, since, you know, he held her hand as we walked through The Smithsonian. He had darker skin, like I did, but his girlfriend was fair and light skinned, and the contrast in coloring was simply beguiling to me. Remember, I had been raised by a Swiss/German family, so I was used to seeing the exotic contrasts of light and dark when I viewed family portraits. I just hadn’t seen it anywhere else outside of my own situation.
Well, after staring at this lovely boy and his lovely girlfriend for goddess knows how long, the jig was up, and I was about to get yanked out of my self-centered revelry. BAM. It’s not just me anymore. The boy loudly hissed at me, in front of the entire tour group:
“WHY DO STARE AT ME SO MUCH? WHY?”
And when one his buddies joked that it was because I must have wanted to “go around” with him (is that what you called it when you were 10 or 11? Going around? Going Steady?), to my utter humiliation, the boy threw back his head and guffawed. Laughed his stupid head off.
“EWWW. SHE’S YOUNGER…AND SHE’S NOT CUTE”
To add lemon to the paper cut, the following year found me grappling with an assortment of Yearbook Honors (Most Ambitious, Class Clown, Cutest, etc). A yearbook misprint placed the title of “CUTEST” over my picture instead of “BEST PERSONALITY”–the award I preferred and had actually won. The final weeks of school were filled with people whispering and blatantly disputing the vote. Ah yes. Good times. See a little bit more why I declined the Other Homecoming Queen nominations to follow? I should have known then and there at the tender age of 13 that I could not trust the media and to harden my skin. Goodness. I have so much admiration for what Kristen does every single day of her life. My pain has consisted of having to contend with minor misunderstandings and whispers at my back. Kristen must dart away from Stalkerazzi and is aware through Google that people really, really dislike her outfit from last night, this morning and right at this moment. Kristen Stewart is SO MUCH BETTER THAN ME. #KSIBTM #KSIBTU
First Love: While I’m not versed in Kristen’s personal life, because she’s asked for her personal life to remain private, rightfully so, I feel safe enough in saying she has been a prominent feature in the idea of First Love at least since the casting news was announced that the iconic role of Bella Swan would be portrayed by the seventeen-year-old indie actress… Whether it’s because we’ve witnessed her embodiment of the the quintessential EveryGirl Bella Swan falling in love, or the evolvement of her very unique bond with Robert Pattinson over the years, Kristen Stewart has, for me, represented love in a very relatable, genuine way.
I had crushes that came and went, starting with my 7th grade boyfriend (he was The Edward Cullen of Middle School with otherworldly beauty and charisma) all the way through high school and my first year in college in which I pined for a boy who pined for my oblivious best friend. Of course as soon as he realized I’d do anything to be the recipient any fleeting attention he tossed my way, I set myself up for a world of pain. The less about him the better, perhaps. My brother still holds a grudge against him, and I’m pretty sure the boy reads Musings. As does, occasionally, the boy who I would qualify as my First Love, or more accurately, “The Boy I Think Is Love” because he looked good on paper, but didn’t make much sense anywhere else. I was eighteen when we started dating, but I actually broke up with him once I figured out my shit with the help of that C & C class I took. One more endorsement for introspection and clarifying values, I guess?
First Philanthropy: With the help of the recent stunning Vogue article, we know that Kristen has philanthropic goals that are profound and inspiring. But long before her hopes for building a halfway house network were verbalized, our Royal Rebel has displayed her charitable and compassionate nature byway of her endorsement of raising awareness of sexual assault when she was quite young, age 13, as she portrayed Melinda, a selectively-mute date-rape survivor in the movie Speak.
In a move foreshadowing more philanthropic work, Ms Stewart took time to film a public service announcement in 2009 for Security On Campus (SOC) designed to encourage awareness about sexual assault, drawing attention to the frequency it occurs on college campuses. The statistics are pretty sobering: Every 2 minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted, and 1 out of 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. Knowledge and awareness of these facts is powerful, and I admire Ms Stewart for contributing her voice and time to the promotion of knowledge about sexual assault.
I’ve watched with growing amazement at the generosity and creativity of Twilight Fanfiction communities in their efforts to raise awareness and funding for charities for relief (Fandom for Floods, for the recent Australian floods; Fandom Against Domestic Violence) and for health and spirit (Alex’s Lemonade Stand for Childhood Cancer; Fandom Fights Mental Health Issues, Autism Awareness, among many). I wanted to take a quick moment to highlight a charity event that is taking place now, one of personal significance as well as a larger importance society. In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April), led by a friend of mine, @Aylah50, and another lovely author @ColdplayWhore are hosting a fandom event which serves to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. This primary prevention approach helps to create environments where people are safe in their relationships, families, neighborhoods, schools, work places and communities. Check out the website (click the badge below) for more information on how you can contribute and lend your voice, as our Other Ambassador Kristen has, to the sharing of knowledge.
First Falling For Kristen: I alluded to first falling into Kristen in earlier posts and on the Origins of Musings page, but I haven’t really spoken to how she became my Reigning Other Queen. I had first seen her in Panic Room but I didn’t realize it was her. It was summertime 2008, and I knew Twilight was being adapted to film. I heard that Kristen was cast in the lead female role, but I hadn’t made the connection yet. I caught maybe 30 minutes of In The Land Of Women on HBO one afternoon, and I remember being struck with the beauty and passion of Kristen’s character Lucy, but again, I didn’t know. Seriously, I should probably have my KristenFan Card revoked right now with that admission.
I didn’t truly get it until I caught a glimpse of the famous Larry Carroll MTV Interviews (Twilight Tuesdays) in which she carried herself with poise and a grounded-ness that was so refreshing. And then I read the Vanity Fair Q & A and fell in love with her direct answers and her obvious intelligence. Of course, pictures like this, depicting her lightness of spirit and chemistry with Rob…I was breathless.
My championing of this Royal Rebel only increased by leaps and bounds as Twilight was released, as well as the backlash of criticism of Kristen’s interviewing skills, her frenetic energy, her refusal to participate in media training. As I heard all of these “offenses” I was thoroughly convinced that she is the coolest. chica. evah. Uncompromising. Unapologetically genuine. Steadfast. . . .And you? When did you First Fall for Kristen?
Well, as I cautioned, today’s MOO was going to be slightly different in structure and tone. Maybe I’m inspired to chat with you all on a more personal level because I’ve felt further away than usual, with my staggered posting schedule, or maybe it’s the rainy weather. Perhaps the return of Kristen and Rob to Vancouver, wrapping up a film project that has been so influential and integral in our lives these past three years is the trigger. I was curious also how the people who stalk and bash and hound Kristen and Rob in Vancouver can justify their behavior–have they forgotten what it was like to be a young person on a new job assignment? Have they lost their abilities to empathize? Do their encounters with First experiences influence their current actions, or have they forgotten the significance of their Firsts altogether? Just wonderin’…..Or maybe it’s the introduction of AmishRob that has sent everyone into a tailspin? *shrugs*
Meanwhile, my hope is to continue to remind myself and my fellow Others that as we continue to blaze forth on our paths towards integration and bliss, that it’s a good thing, a healthy practice, to revisit our beginnings. Today’s Musings is the forty-first essay. I’m simply amazed by that. Forty-one essays celebrating Unconventional Beauty, awkwardness, rebelliousness and Otherness…of rejoicing over the epicness that is an actress and Rebel Queen named Kristen.
We are Other.
Kristen is Other.
Others do not lose sight of the significance of Firsts.
Embrace your Other.
Question: I’ve tons of ’em here and in the Sentence Completion portion of About KJ. Tell me about your firsts…
A/N: For Fandom For Sexual Assault Awareness Info, visit the website: http://fandom4saa.wordpress.com/
See you next week, my lovelies. Thanks for all your tweets, emails and kindness as I was recovering from what felt like Typhoid. xo, KJ