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Within and Beside You

28 Jul
A/N: The images & lyrics featured here are not mine. Many resources are cited in embeds if you click the pictures. Song lyrics cited in the tail-end A/N along with today’s playlist. This essay is embarrassingly unbeta’ed. Be kind.

Open and just hold the lantern in the doorway

For the freedom of it

And you take the night air through your nostrils

And you breathe in out, in out

And you breathe just like that, just like that

Ohai there my loveliest of lovelies! Well, my Beauties, I am not even going to attempt to cover all facets of  the supreme epicness that erupted from this year’s San Diego Comic Con. Most of you witnessed it first hand either in San Diego after waiting in line for days (Props to my warrior girls @RobKris13and @Edmett) or by hovering around your computers watching a live-blogging and Twitter feed from morning til night. And the numerous blogs and sites were superb in gathering and posting images, sound bytes, and video clips for the fandom faster than a Cullen driving a Volvo, so we were never left wanting for long. You can read the accounts and the interviews to your heart’s content all over the place for hours and still have footage you didn’t get to yet. There’s a lot, is what I’m saying. I don’t need to add my tangential ramblings to the cacophony, so today’s Musings will be my attempt at being succinct *snickers* and hopefully not repetitive. Let’s see how that goes, mmkay? But I wanted to highlight what I thought lent to the reasons for our Rebel Queen’s rousingly successful Comic Con weekend and why her pristine beauty somehow grew demonstrably more profound . Kristen Brought. It. This was the best she has ever been. EVER.  What is our Unconventional Beauty’s secret? While  all the cooking channel viewing and fight training have certainly contributed, I’m willing to wager  that her impossible loveliness is in response to something more subtle, and personal. So let’s explore this further, yes? Ok, Cats, put your mittens around your kittens, and A-WAY we GO!’ (name that quote and I’ll love you for always).

Beauty In Loving The Craft

And we saw her standing there

Our first glimpse at our reigning Other Queen before the Breaking Dawn Press Panel arrived in the form of the above picture, and the accompaniment of gasps and endless—> !!!!!!!! 8302%)#!@$%@&-<–the joys of communicating emotions in cyberspace. However, the incoherency was understandable, in my opinion. Her hair in tousled waves framing her immaculate skin above a sheer top revealing the black bra beneath, Ms Stewart appeared effortlessly sexy and gorgeous.

And then she sat down at the microphone for the panel, flanked by her amorous colleagues (including the calm and gifted director Bill Condon), and spoke candidly, excitedly and engagingly with the press amid flashing lightbulbs and murmurs.Within moments, it was evident that  the girl deemed by previous critics and naysayers as “awkward, uncomfortable and hostile” was no more. Ladies and Gentlemen, your Reigning Other Queen has arrived.

Is this Heaven or…

We always knew she was a lovely gal, but she has far transcended that descriptor it’s almost insulting. I could wax poetic about her flawless complexion and luminous eyes for years, but I want to acknowledge the unapparent internal structures lending to her almost otherworldly loveliness. It has been said that true beauty emanates from the goodness and light within. Kristen’s light derives from a newfound self-assuredness Over the past year she has gained confidence by way of  interpersonal work in staying centered and trusting her inner compass. She tuned out the constant barrage of criticisms and heckling from haters and from those who simply do not get it. She became involved in highly respected film ventures a la’ On The Road and she maintained close contact with her longtime supportive network (her family, her partner, her work team including the lovely Ruth and the constant John). She also continued to research challenging and compelling work projects.

Film industry  greats and Stew-colleagues such as Sean Penn and Jodie Foster have raved about Kristen’s accurate instincts and sagacious decisions around projects she pursues and people with whom she endeavors to work. It is the home stretch of what will be a five-year project of Twilight. Kristen’s instincts as a seventeen-year-old Indie film actress did not lead her astray. When she first spoke with Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke in 2007 regarding potentially taking on the role of Bella Swan in the film adaptation, Kristen reports she accepted the job  because she felt an affinity with the awkward, shy protagonist and her path towards self-awareness. Because Kristen felt that there was an honest, universal, relatable story about Bella and her great love Edward.

And what a story it is. And how correct Ms Stewart is. She committed in every way (as Kristen Stewart does) to the role in what she thought was a “small independent film” with a large readership. Four years and three Comic Cons later, her colleagues of past, present and future, as well as the very late-to-the-party media community are bestowing accolades for the fierce and refreshing force that is Kristen Jaymes Stewart. Her confidence is derived from knowing that she was correct in following her instincts and in her investment in the work. She loves what she does for a living and it shows. There’s congruency–what you see is truly what you get–that indicates less tension and more certainty. There isn’t a need to downplay or mask  joy or displeasure (if that be the case) felt. And we can see her. All of her. The positive, confirming feedback is pouring in. SHE. WAS. RIGHT.

And she is DEFINITELY en pointe again. And if we thought her comfortable lightheartedness at Breaking Dawn’s Panel was illuminating, then hold onto your hats and glasses, folks, because her appearance at the panel for Snow White and The Huntsman two days later was stunning 

I did not find Kristen’s decision to take on the role of Snow White particularly alarming. I’ve read an earlier incarnation of the script and found myself nodding in enthusiasm as we learned that Ms White wasn’t going to be just your average singing Disney cartoon. It made sense to me and I felt connected to the message of this incarnation of The Fairest of Them All. This Snow White, Kristen Stewart’s Snow White would be a strong, courageous warrior and ambassador to The People. When Kristen walked out on stage Saturday afternoon for the Q & A session for SWATH, I felt the distinct chills in knowing that we are witnessing the evolution of royalty. 

A Beautiful Ferocity

You’ve probably seen the Comic Con panel videos by now. If you haven’t, and I understand if that’s the case–there are SO many goodies it overwhelms– check @Robstenation‘s site for the videos: here for Breaking Dawn  and for the Youtube version, click–> here for Snow White and The Huntsman via @epnebelle. Also I encourage you to visit a SWATH Fansite created and ran by a couple friends of mine, @Dancer1 and @Cheermom called The Enchanting Beauty. You’ll find the latest news for SWATH production and  Kristen  without the gossip.

There are noticeable differences in Kristen between Thursday’s Breaking Dawn interviews and SWATH’s panel. For one thing, Kristen and her SWATH co-stars have barely spent any time together as they’ve all been working on other films. And for another, discussing, defending and explaining Isabella Swan Cullen’s actions and motivations are so deeply ingrained for Kristen after these several years, there were some slip-ups, and blurred lines between Kristen’s and Bella’s identities. Mostly though, I would attribute Kristen’s comfort in discussing Bella because she has had the luxury of marinating in and portraying a character over a longer, wider arc of time than most film roles allow. And Kristen is a passionate defender of her Bella.

*raises eyebrow* mmmhmm

But for the Snow White panel, we caught glimpses of Kristen in the company of extremely attractive new co-stars, exhibiting an eagerness, curiosity and pride on a level unfamiliar to us. Between her playful and almost sisterly-like banter with Charlize Theron, and her witty and self-deprecating responses to questions, Kristen, passionate and proud SWATH cast member, answered the call to portray the Beautiful Royal Hellion Snow White. 

It probably doesn’t hurt that the cast and crew boasts Oscar nominees and winners, as well as some of Britain’s acting elite (HELLO Ian McShane and Bob Hoskins). And these promo shots of the leads in costume…? *sputtering*

Truly a Rebel Royal, yes? 

Though the project is still in pre-production, the SWATH Panel at Comic Con sufficiently raised the bar and generated overwhelmingly positive buzz from..like, everyone, including the press and respectable journalists. Forbes journalist E.D. Kain writes:

 “But if that still shot of Kristen Stewart [up above] is any indication, I will be lining up for tickets when Snow White and the Huntsman hits theatres.”

There is something extremely awe-inspiring about people who face situations that are unchartered. Quitting a job one has had for years to participate in the construction of a starter company; speaking truth when everyone around you has been dishonest. Kristen is leaving behind the usual art house indie films she calls home, as well as the enveloping, familiar arms of her Twilight family to take on a film touted as on par with Lord of The Rings (oh HELL yes). There is a ferocity about this decision that is so very Kristen and so very Other. 

 Beauty Surrounds Her  

You say which way, which way

That’s all right, we’ve gotten hip to it

Behind you, beside you, beside you

Since the beginning days of Twilight Tuesdays and pre-Twitterazzi, Kristen and Robert have sought each other’s company and support as they catapulted from quiet obscurity into the view finder for millions of  rapt “fans”. A large factor in Kristen’s almost ethereal Comic Con appearance is the presence of love, support and encouragement in her immediate circle. Both Rob and Kristen have referred to one another as “my best friend”, and Kristen includes Taylor among a small group of people she “would do anything for” in the name of protection.

In my psychotherapy practice, I often recommend and encourage my clients to attend group counseling sessions in addition to individual sessions. I do this because there is a basic propensity for people to gravitate towards one another, especially when bound by similar experiences. And healing expedites when we have partners and supportive players on our side. Rob has mentioned in interviews in the past that because he and Kristen moved through the utter chaos of becoming famous together at the exact same time, they shared a deep and loyal bond, running even deeper than their immediate, easy friendship.  No one can quite understand the challenges and successes that come from being thrown into public consumption the way that Kristen, Rob and to a similar degree, Taylor can. They have become their own little huddle. #BesideYou

At the last Comic Con the Twi-Trio attended, (2009), Kristen literally took time out of  her shooting schedule for The Runaways to attend the convention to talk about the heartbreak and depression she had to communicate on-screen as Bella Swan. While some people heard Kristen’s words, she was more-often-than not defined by and questioned about her hair style (called a shag, not a mullet), and the Bullshit People and Haterade-drinkers skulked off and created wholly new websites and chat forums to bash Kristen. When asked about Kristen’s hair by an entertainment reporter, Kristen’s friend and confidante Taylor declared, “I think she looks sexy”.

Meanwhile, Rob, Kristen’s accomplice in Otherness, stared lovingly at her the. whole. time…This year, in the debut of Confi-ConStew, Kristen returned the supportive, encouraging, uh, appreciation for Rob and his Cosmopolis half-hawk.

saucy

Isn’t it fun having supportive ridonk sexy partners in crime? Of course, Rob’s hair didn’t spark anything remotely close to the riot that Kristen’s shag did. Don’t think that Rob didn’t notice the hypocrisy, by the way. Robert Pattinson is a clever, observant bloke. He attended Comic Con with his unusual hairstyle full-well knowing that people would most likely comment, judge, and question him. I actually fist-pumped when I caught a glimpse of his interesting coif. I noticed he had cut it even shorter than how he wore it for the Cosmopolis shoot. Whether it was his intent or not, Rob drew attention to his hair and his just-completed, non-Twilight film while simultaneously illuminating the double standards that “supporters” in this fandom practiced all the time. Why is it that Rob is revered and celebrated as “quirky” and “charming” for rocking a half-hawk at Comic Con while Kristen, having her hair styled as Joan Jett for her [awesome] work in The Runaways was ripped to shreds and called (and still called) every derogatory name in the Smack Book??

C’mon, Ladies. We can do better than this.

Something to think about, no? Bottom line: One more reason Kristen shined at San Diego Comic Con this year was due to the reassuring and encompassing presence of her dearest Accomplices in Otherness. Of course Rob and Taylor have faith in Kristen, they always have. But it was evident as the Breaking Dawn and SWATH panels progressed through the convention, that dozens if not hundreds of folks were finally jumping on board the KSTEW Support Train. One fellow leading the Kristen Stewart Fan Club charge was the kind and visionary director of Breaking Dawn, Bill Condon. Mr Condon may have praised Kristen’s dedication and love for the story in six different occasions. He is Team Kristen all the way. Another new mentor and commanding Rebel Beauty in Kristen’s supportive group appears to be another Rebel Queen~

A Beautiful Congruency

‘Cause I need Freedom now

And I need to know how

To live my life as it’s meant to be

Can you spot our Rebel Other Queen?

While all her Twilight co-stars wore dresses and stilettos…what did our girl wear? *HUGE GRIN* The final point I wanted to highlight this week was congruency. In geometry, congruency is when lines are the same size and shape. In philosophy and sociology, congruency refers to harmony between actions and ideas. In psychotherapy, someone is acting congruent when they are speaking of feeling a certain emotion, and their face and body language reflects said emotions. Happiness and excitement may look something like this:

When I say I’m a defender of Others and Misfits, I will act accordingly. You will not witness me throwing insults or jokes around at the expense of someone who has a different appearance or set of beliefs from my own. Neither will you witness Kristen acting incongruently. If she is nervous, you’ll know it. She’ll bounce that knee all over the place, and bite her nails to the quick in between interview questions. What you see is what you get. The reason Kristen Stewart is our Ambassador of Other is because she never  falsifies who she is, even when she is pressured by outside sources (um, MEDIA TRAINING? Are you kidding me??) to conform to the out-dated cookie-cutter ideal.

Congruency is Kristen exhibiting pride in and excitement about the choices she’s made in her profession. It is in knowing that she will be in a very physically demanding role with SWATH (“I’ll have swords and cool weapons”) and preparing herself by training in horseback riding, yoga and weapon-wielding.

It is in the way she is not hiding the affection and respect she holds for her partner Robert. It’s lovely to see their open, mutual affection for one another…Not that he  could ever effectively downplay his admiration for her, but still…The one and only joint interview for the press produced their most warm, inviting and organic interaction of the whole Comic Con weekend. It was mesmerizing to behold, even though it was only 3 minutes long. A content, confident, open, uninhibited, supported and cherished young woman again redefined an antiquated idea of “Beauty”.

Well, my lovelies. There you have it. Those are my thoughts on the jaw-dropping awesomeness of Comic Con 2011 and the Other Legacy that is our Reigning Other Queen. I attributed her heightened (how is that possible??) beauty to her confidence and the confirmation of her solid intuition; also her congruency and her amazingly constant and unconditional support team. There’s excitement  and eagerness for her upcoming projects and the love she feels for her craft.  Ahhh, love. Let’s not forget: She is loved and she loves in return. And it shows. That may be the best reason of all for Kristen’s transcendence this week.

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others realize that beauty cultivates from within and beside us.

Embrace Your Other.

*    *    *

QUESTIONS: What were your reactions to Comic Con? What elements contribute to your confidence and beauty? Do you love your work? Do you surround yourself with supportive family and friends? Are you congruently (authentically) living your life?

A/N: Next time I’m resuming the usual MOO outline featuring “What The Fangirl Learned” and  a new Rebel Royal. You were lovely with suggestions last week, btw, thank you! You can expect a couple little stories about gals named Christina and Ellen in the near future.

Squeezey Hugs and Sloppy Kisses To:

@Nhess_V for always, always spreading the Other Support and Musings postings all over the place each and every week.

@Mel452, my Aussie Darl for having a BIRTHDAY this week!

@DeeDreamer16 for always checking in on me …and even though she didn’t mention it, for celebrating a BIRTHDAY as well recently.

Bouffant. For listening to me talk shit out. Per usual.

Katie. For sharing the best conversations EVER and pulling me out of the funk when I go there.

Lyric excerpts featured: 

Beside you ~ Van Morrison

The Cave~ Mumford and Sons

Essay Playlist: 

What I Am ~ Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians

Santa Maria~ Gotan Project

The Cave ~ Mumford and Sons

A Light From Within (Part 2): Stories From Joplin

23 Jun
A/N: Most images seen in this posting are not the property of nor created by ©MusingsOnOther. Photos featuring ©Red Cross Disaster Relief in Clinton, MS and Joplin, MO, however, are owned by this author (KJN). Today’s essay, per usual, is unbeta’d and any typos or grammar bobbles are all mine. Also, for whatever reason, PlayList disallowed the Auto-start feature, despite my and Buff’s attempts at usurping.  If the music doesn’t start automatically, and you would like to hear today’s music Playlist, hit PLAY on the player in the right-hand column (below the Twitter Feed) —–>

This Special Edition Musings is my tribute to the incredible souls I encountered over my 13-day stint as a mental health therapist with the Red Cross Disaster Response Team earlier this month. There is an army of Otherness of Rebel Warriors cultivating and swelling in the south. Here are a few of their stories. I am but a student to their sage lessons in growth, faith, balance, compassion, reframing and perspective.  Make room on the Other Homecoming Float for these Rebellious Royals. NOTE: All names of people in the following stories have been changed out of legal/ethical practices of confidentiality…but moreover in a gesture of utmost respect.

“People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” ~Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

I already knew that in volunteering for deployment that I was going to emerge on the other side, changed. I’ve flown countless places in my life, but never with a mission like this. The three-and-a-half hour red-eye flight from my Cali city to Fort Worth, Texas was slightly uncomfortable as I was wedged in the middle seat between a young man who appeared to be heading on his own mission (I’ve seen dozens of SouthEast Asian men leave their home country to join the working ranks of hard-working Cruise ship staff; I recognized his running-shoes-encased feet and the Royal Caribbean pins attached to his hiking backpack) and an older gentlemen with a Jolly Santa-belly who immediately launched into snores as the plane leveled out at cruising altitude. It was midnight and every single seat on the plane was filled. My laptop was snugly packed away in my backpack in the overhead bin, so I couldn’t access all the fanfic pdf-documents I lovingly downloaded for my reading pleasure. But I did have my iPhone which was loaded with all my music, and I had my copy of Entertainment Weekly with Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss from The Hunger Games movie. I also had picked up a couple of actual BOOKS to begin reading in the off-chance I’d get some down time. Thank goodness I had these survival kit items because when I saw that the In-flight movie was Bieber’s Never Say Never I could immediately retreat, retreat, for the love of The Goddess, retreat!!!

I didn’t exchange more than a nod and a brief “hello” with my aisle mates, and I did not feel relaxed enough to sleep on the flight, so I remained awake until we arrived in Fort Worth. Now, you all know I’m a fairly talkative chica, but it wasn’t until my flight into and then a few days later out of Clinton, Mississippi that I was present enough and in the right mindset to actually hold a coherent conversation with anyone else. And oh, my my, those initial conversations were my first indicator that I was participating in something extraordinary.

I didn’t wear the Red Cross vest while on the plane, although my liaisons had insisted I do, so that we volunteers could represent the organization but also identify ourselves to other volunteers in the airports. I was too self-conscious to wear the bright red vest just yet. But I did wear my neck identification. And as soon as I slipped the identifier over my puffy, humidity-treated hair, people began to approach. And talk. And share. And hug. And cry. And change me with their stories.

Unfinished Business

“Hello,” he said to me. I glanced over to see a white-haired gentleman with brilliant blue eyes framed by attractive lines indicating countless moments of crinkling, winking laughter. He gestured to my badge and said, “Thank you”. I tucked my copy of One Day in the seat-back pocket in front of me and turned to my aisle mate at the window seat. Stunned, though I realize later I shouldn’t be, I only nodded my head in acknowledgement of his gracious statement directed at me. The lump in my throat that had been growing prohibited any speech from me just yet. The gentleman, who I came to learn was called Macwore a beige polo shirt with a patch over the left side of his chest. Avoiding any copious staring, I could just decipher the words “Fire Fighters”.

“He always wanted to live in the Pacific Northwest. Now he finally is home.” 

Mac had answered the call and was going to Texas to tame the wildfires that had consumed the western part of the state. Retired for nearly six years, Mac donated his time and services with the volunteer fire fighter association. He and his wife were happy Illinois residents, but they were eagerly looking forward to relocating to the Pacific Northwest, Puget Sound, Washington, more specifically. His blue eyes twinkled when he heard I was a West-Coaster. Then those eyes teared up with an ancient ache when he mentioned his only child, a daughter, who lives in Bellingham, Washington with her 18-month old son. Mac’s daughter raised Mac’s grandson alone since his daughter’s young husband Bryan was killed in Afghanistan 11 months prior.  Mac and his wife hoped to move to Washington to provide support for their daughter and their grandson, and to carry on Bryan’s wishes. Bryan, a fairly new army recruit, had grown up in Chicago, Illinois, dreaming of a time he could live in The Pacific Northwest, near the ocean, the Olympic Mountains, amongst the evergreen trees. After his death, Bryan’s wife ensured Bryan’s ashes were scattered among the Snake River. And now Mac and his wife would move to Washington as well to ensure  their daughter–Bryan’s wife–and her son would thrive. It would begin once Mac returned from his mission to fight the fires of Texas. 

Bryan's home

If this was any indicator of the people and stories I was to encounter the rest of my deployment, I was in trouble. Deeeeep trouble. My plane hadn’t even touched down in Joplin yet, and I was wiping tears and my leaky nose on a paper cocktail napkin in the comforting presence and  kind face of this retired firefighter. “I didn’t mean to upset you,” Mac said to me. “I just wanted to thank you for what you’re doing. There are such good people out there.” Still unable to properly speak, I croaked, glimpsing his Retired Fire Fighter’s Badge: “Yes. There are such good people…everywhere.”

With My Hands

I alluded to it before in Part 1, and maybe in a few of my tweets. But I will say it again now. Nothing, nothing could truly prepare me for the physical destruction left behind in the wake of the Joplin Tornado. I felt better prepared to address and comfort the emotional wreckage, but when I walked through the neighborhoods my first morning out at what’s called The Footprint (where the Tornado actually touched down and carved 12 miles through the city), I was utterly speechless. Any pictures I’ve shown you, or that you’ve seen on the news are pathetically pale in comparison. And certainly, the tales told from the survivors will never, ever be properly conveyed by me, but I will try to the best of my abilities to grant the respect and compassion that these battered but resilient warriors deserve. Because I met a fair share of Other Warriors. Royal Hell-Raisers and Majestic Misfits are prominent in Joplin, Missouri. I was one fortunate little therapist to meet just a few of them. But I will never, for as long as I am included among this plane of existence, forget them.

My first day doing outreach was a scorcher. Approximately 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) and the heavy humidity left me sweating, sticky and sunburned (which is a feat in itself. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve burned in my lifetime). I walked amongst the neighborhoods seen above, having conversations and impromptu storytelling sessions with anyone wandering around or cleaning up, or assessing the unfathomable destruction.

Eighty-three year old Mr. Leland was visiting a friend  just a couple blocks away when the tornado touched down at 5:41PM that Sunday evening. He attributes this visit as the only reason he is still alive today to tell us his story. His house along with his entire neighborhood was completely flattened. When he heard the warning sirens, he and his buddy, who was in his seventies, attempted to duck into the crawl space in the house. Mr. Leland pats his belly and says to me, “I’ve eaten too many fried suppers. I was too fat to fit in the crawl space.”  He held onto the banister along the stairs leading to his friend’s basement and prayed that his four cats were able to escape the violent funnel cloud ripping through his neighborhood.

Leland's neighborhood

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. Never,” he says. Mr. Leland escaped with only the clothes on his back and the rings he accrued from long-ago visits to Mexico on his fingers. He reported that all of his cats survived and any thing salvageable in the rubble is packed in his beaten up camper. He settled on a sagging, cracked plastic chair to eat his breakfast–french toast and eggs provided by Salvation Army in a styrofoam takeout box. With a sigh he turns to me, his withered hands gripping a slender tree branch crafted into a walking cane, and muses, “We will rebuild this neighborhood,” and a moment later: “I’m hungry.”

I. Am. Done.

The Ultimate Fighters

“K, I need you. Can you help me connect with this young man here? He’s lost everything. His house, his car, his place of employment. He won’t talk. He…he’s still in shock.” A case worker, Carolyn, pulled on my sleeve, guiding me to a foldout table and chairs set up in a make-shift counseling center in the middle of a convention center/skateboard park. I didn’t know it at the time, but this first meeting with nineteen-year-old Scott would determine the constructs of my role in Joplin. I was named, “Cute Young Thing” by fellow Red Cross cohorts, some of whom were heading into their seventh and eighth decades of life. I became the go-to gal for the “young folks”. To say I was busy is a gross understatement. It became extremely clear, though, that the survivors and wounded of this disaster are not designated to one age group, ethnicity or family background. The grief and pain felt was a universally shared and understood language in Joplin. People who were once strangers moving anonymously side-by-side amid the community were now comrades and co-soldiers from the trenches.

Laura rested her head in her hands while she awaited the case worker to call her in for her interview. She closed her eyes and  began counting her exhalations out. This is how I found her. Slumped forward, murmuring numbers to herself. “Four…threeee….two…one…”

Laura can’t stop crying. She started as soon as she sat down in the fold out chair in that convention center where we Red Cross workers were administering counseling, case work and linkage to financial assistance, home associations, dry goods and medical help. She looked at me when I sat down next to her offering her bottled water and said, “It’s the first time I’ve been able to sit down. And I can feel it now. And it hurts. And I can’t stop crying. I can’t. stop. crying.”

I sat next to Laura and cried alongside her while she spoke of the nightmares that assault her every night when she tries to close her eyes. She simply cannot sleep. It was on her property, in her pond that the body of 18-year-old William** was found, to the heartbreak of a community and nation. Up until the discovery of his body, there was hope that the newly-graduated teenager was found alive, even after he’d been torn from his SUV while driving home with his father. Laura’s nightmares all centered around the discovery of William’s body, sometimes inserting twisted images of her own children or grandchildren’s bodies. Thankfully, her own family members (composed of four males aged 18 through 27 and their families including three grandchildren aging from 3 through 6) were spared, but their houses were not. Laura recounts the survival story of her three-year-old granddaughter and her parents. Granddaughter laid flat in the bathtub, beneath the body of her father as the twister removed their house from its foundation. All that could be heard in the silence after the roar of the storm was a three-year-old’s prayer:

“Please please please please please…Protect Mommy. Protect Daddy….Please please please please please….” 

While the chair holds her upright, and the grief and exhaustion settle over her, this day, Laura is confident that her fiercely brave granddaughter’s pleas were the powerful protectors for her family. She gripped the card with the local counseling center’s crisis phone number on it, counting through her deep exhalations. “Four….three….two…onnnnnnnne…”

My heroes: Search and Rescue

“I guess I fell in love with Joplin. I will rebuild my city. I will.”

Scott wore a thin white tank top and baggy jeans. His blonde, spiky hair was making a point: keep your distance. A bouncing knee, and shaking fingers were the only indicators of discomfort displayed. He tilted his chin up at me when I settled into the foldout chair across the table from him. “Thirsty?” I offered him a cold bottled water. The heat of the day hadn’t yet reached its peak, but it was climbing, and the skateboard park housing our resource center was packed wall to wall with folks seeking aid and resources for rebuilding. Scott waved me off, but not unkindly. He was a handsome guy, and his soft tone of voice and manners only enhanced his looks. He was not exactly sure why he was face-to-face with a stranger talking about the disaster that befell his work place (the twister had completely wiped it out–a casual dining house) and home (“I’ve nothing to go back to”).  I’m not exactly sure what the  catalyst was, but suddenly Scott felt comfortable enough to tell me his story.

He was driving into the parking lot of his restaurant when he saw the twister rip the roof off of the building where customers and several co-workers were inside. He spoke of the single thought that rumbled through his brain: “GET THEM TO SAFETY. GET THEM TO SAFETY”, and how adrenaline must have gifted him with strength to gather four or five co-workers and form a human chain via latched arms. He wound one of his arms onto the piping below the industrial kitchen sink, and held onto one of the line cooks with his free hand…until his vision went black. He later learned that he was knocked unconscious by a rogue brick.

A restaurant on Main street

When Scott finally smiled, I caught a great view of his chipped front teeth. “Is that from the tornado?” I asked.

Scott leaned back in his chair and shook his head ruefully. “Nah, that’s from a fight.”

He motioned to his ear that appeared to be missing a chunk. “So is this.”

He showed me several bruises on his arms, and a gash on his head, results of the flying tornado debris, and several pictures of his demolished restaurant  on his cell phone. It turns out that our young hero Scotty is originally from Louisiana, near New Orleans, where he was moving up the ranks in the Ultimate Fighting world. When he moved to Joplin two years ago, in an attempt  to walk a path less physically taxing, he never believed he’d grow so protective and prideful of this new city. Now, in the aftermath of the tornado, he is determined to rebuild his shattered neighborhood using his own hands. Since relocating to Joplin, Scott has grown fond of rebuilding cars and greenhouses. He had saved his co-workers on May 23 but he himself was also redeemed when he called his family in Louisiana to ensure them he was alive, and for the most part, unharmed. Because while he had felt aimless two years ago, leaving his family and Ultimate Fighting back in New Orleans, he realized he had finally found in Joplin a place for home, a place worth defending.

"No, Joplin is Home now for me," he assures me.

To Have Found Their Way Out

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross was a psychiatrist, activist and pioneer in researching grief and loss and dying. She founded the Kubler-Ross Model, otherwise known as the Five Stages of Grief in her seminal book On Death and Dying. The Five Stages explore coping mechanisms and raised sensitivity in the aftermath of great or impending loss, and I found that everyone in the community was experiencing elements of every stage of grief in Joplin, MO.

When I arrived in the city, it was a Monday afternoon, exactly seven days from the original disaster. People were just now shaking themselves out of the shock and numbness. They were feeling the crash after the burnout of adrenaline. While I settled into my sleeping quarters (my army cot was one of seven in a classroom within a large Baptist Church, with no working showers), I was given the orientation about the fiercely determined people that formed a community in Joplin, MO. Every day had been riddled with power outages, new medical emergencies, new discoveries, new losses, and many, many funerals. As you can imagine, there were moments of unfathomable, devastating, horrifying heartbreak…along with glimmers of miraculous, loving, compassionate light. I encountered reframing and perspective-changers with every single hour. I heard shrieking, rebellious yells. I was inundated by OTHERNESS and a wild, unconventional beauty.

While I was profoundly effected by every single person I encountered in my mission, including colleagues and other staff,there are two different stories in particular that I believe were the culprits for literally consuming and then altering my essence, my soul. Both events took place within 24 hours of each other, near my last days of deployment. I couldn’t speak of these stories to anyone for days, weeks afterwards, and not even my husband N understood the profundity of these tales until I shared them with him just three days ago. See, three days ago, I had received a wonderful gift of a massage, and the therapist had started working on my neck and upper back, accessing painful muscle tension that I referred to as “Joplin Knots”. Not at all surprisingly, I cried through the final ten minutes of the bodywork session, and through the time it took for me to redress afterwards.

Our bodies will hold onto grief and emotional unrest long before and after our brains recognize it as grief, for what it is. And while I was in the Grief Stage of Depression in the two weeks after my return from my deployment, I can say that the massage induced my dive into the fifth and final stage of grieving: Acceptance. Which is why I can  now share with you a little of what I saw in the fields.

Angela and Chris  are very young parents. She’s still in her late teens and he has just entered his twenties. They are engaged to be married, after Chris proposed to Angela a couple of months ago. But they will postpone the wedding until later, much later. When I met the young couple, it was under the most horrific circumstances I’ve ever witnessed. She was in a wheelchair covered head to toe in bandages and her right arm was wrapped in a splint and held in a sling. She had two metal pins holding her forearm together before her scheduled surgery in 5 days. He had an angry red gash, held together with staples, in the back of his head, and a swollen ankle the size of a grapefruit. They both came to the convention center for assistance since their home and their car had been completely shattered. They couldn’t come sooner because up until that morning, they were both hospitalized for their injuries. But the loss of their home and even their own physical wounds could not even begin to hint at their utter devastation.

Angela and Chris were at home with their roommate when the massive F5 Twister touched down in Joplin. It was just the typical Sunday evening for the household: Angela tossed around ideas on what to prepare for dinner, Chris watched  TV. Their sixteen-month old son S ** snoozed in Angela’s arms. Afterwards, Angela and Chris could only tell me about the sounds they heard (the roar of the wind) and the agony of impact (from the wooden planks that sliced through Angela’s arm, their roommate’s torso, and Chris’s head). They can tell me that Chris threw his body on top of Angela, the baby and the roommate in the only protective stance he could think of, when they heard the roof caving inward, on top of them. Chris did tell me, with tears streaming, that he saw his two beloved dogs crushed beneath the plaster and debris. But it is wordlessly, that Angela shared the depth of her grief with me. She silently showed me her cell phone, pressed a few buttons, and launched a slide-show featuring a smiling, cherubic, sixteen-month old Baby S.  It is then that I realized  I sat with the heartbroken, shattered parents of the youngest tornado fatality.**

Unbelievably, Angela and Chris’s story grew even darker before the dawn. Stories of ghastly “family” greed (in the form of looting and stealing) and another death of a family member issued an almost lethal blow to their fragility. I sat next to Chris and held his hand when he received the phone call  from the hospital advising him that their roommate had just died from her injuries. That’s about as far as I’ll speak of their experience because I cannot possibly convey how crucial privacy and respect is. However, I can tell you that I spent four hours with this young couple and I am absolutely certain that I’ve never met a more courageous, more beautiful pair of people in my entire existence. And I’ve never cried over clients like I did for Angela and Chris. After my time with the young couple was over, my colleagues Don and Ginny found me curled up in the fetal position, sobbing on the bench in the smoker’s area behind the skateboard park/convention center-turned resource center.

As Angela and Chris recalled the murky horrors of their week to me, there were tears, there were moments of anguish and fury, there was shock, sarcasm and desolation. There were, miraculously, a couple of moments of levity too: I asked Chris to tell me how he proposed to Angela, and it was slightly scandalous. She had another boyfriend at the time. And I can tell you that with the combined efforts of various social, governmental and religious organizations, this young family was able to create and hold a proper memorial service for their beautiful Baby S, they were able to link with housing assistance, and they were able to cover their medical bills including Angela’s impending surgery.

“There was never a night nor a problem that could defeat a sunrise or hope” ~Bern Williams

Quiet Moments of Majesty

Before I share the second story that stripped me down to nothing, I did want to inject a moment to breathe and ground. I know it’s intense. I’m at nearly 4000 words already and this is my edited version! I’m panting and aching along with you, believe me. This is the most difficult Musings I’ve ever written, and it’s taken me nearly three weeks to gather the courage to try sharing it with you. Do you see now why I groveled and thanked you so profusely in the last essay? For providing me with a little bit of lightness while I was away?

To protect the aching rawness I felt, I found myself withdrawing from nearly everybody when I returned from deployment. I was coming down with the flu, of course, and I had just spent about two weeks in the trenches of an emotional battle ground. The grieving process, as well as the time warranted to process the flooding of information can vary in presentation and behaviors, from person to person. We all have our own way of recuperating and recovering from adrenaline rushes and shocks to our systems. It’s crucial that we employ self-care to prevent any destructive propensities. Remember we’ve talked about self-care here? I pulled back from an online presence and began taking long walks in the park each day. I began reading books that I had placed aside. Our Reigning Other Queen Kristen employs self-care by withdrawing from the public eye to cocoon. I imagine she reads voraciously, tries out new recipes discovered on the cooking channels, plays guitar, listens to music. Indulges in her self-proclaimed obsession with her cat Max “Jella”. She hangs with her beloved family. However, when she emerges again, she is exquisitely splendid.

Although her grounding trumps anyone else's grounding.

Just two days after dazzling us in Balmain at the MTV Movie Awards, our lovely Rebel Queen Kristen surfaced in London, England in another strapless mini-dress designed by Balmain, to present GlamourUK’s  ‘Man of The Year Award’ to her On The Road costar and friend Garrett Hedlund. She arrived looking like this:

And then this picture of them:

Makes me almost unbearably excited for….

And while I nurtured wounds, and cocooned away these past couple weeks, the Ambassador of Otherness herself reminds me and everyone else how time away from the race and the chaos can be beautifully rehabilitating. She reminds us that while there are sadnesses and stressors in our world, life will continue to move onward regardless. And …also she reminds us to keep perspective. There are natural disasters of wildfires, tornadoes and floods; great losses as well as great triumphs happening every single day. Do we really have the time and energy to spend on set-stalking and online bullying? Can we instead appreciate that people (famous and otherwise) have a talents and gifts to contribute to the betterment of society without engaging in Twitter fights or online discussion-board-mud-slinging?

I think we can. I know we can. I know we can take a look around us and see the blessings bestowed upon us in forms of family, friendships, faith, work, play and rest. I know we can exist consciously, with an in-the-moment awareness; contributing to society by living joyfully and authentically and honestly.

Take a page from Ms Stewart’s book on Royal Otherness Etiquette: show support and build up your fellow Dreamers and Rebel Royals.

Chris and Kris. Mutual Admiration Society.

Take pride in encouraging Royal Rebels like Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and the battered but not-beaten Joplin residents for their pioneering, unconventional ways of being. Let’s stop picking apart how other people choose to live their lives, and instead encourage a little embracing of unconventionality (Otherness= Beauty) within ourselves.

I’m wrapping up now. This is the longest Musings on record, and I’m still planning on sharing one more sliver of Otherworldly Beauty that emerged from Joplin AND I wanted to show you the item for another MOO Giveaway. So hang with me just a leeeetle bit longer, yes?

An Anonymous Grace 

Joanne and her husband Bill were in the grocery store parking lot when the lethal funnel cloud descended upon them. The couple looked forward to sharing dinner at home together, and had stopped at the market to pick up the ingredients needed for their meal that evening. The darkening skies were ominous and there were the warning sirens, but the couple wondered, were they perhaps more about precaution than true urgency? The sudden deafening roar of the winds encompassed the middle-aged couple, and before Joanne knew what was happening, Bill shouted at her, “GET DOWN, ROLL UNDER THE TRUCK! ROLL. UNDER. THE. TRUCK…NOW!” Joanne, stunned and frightened, froze and didn’t  feel the slap of concrete on her shoulders and arms when her husband shoved her to the ground.

“He didn’t know me. He just held onto me.” 

She didn’t have to be reminded to roll under their truck, because the 200 mile-an-hour gusts of wind had already blown her beneath it. She felt the jolt of her own body hitting what she thought was a wall. However, “The Wall” grunted, “OOMPH“, and wrapped an appendage around Joanne’s midsection. He did not let go. Joanne suddenly realized that the “wall” she had hit was really another person. A large man with a huge expanse of a chest had hooked one of his biceps around the front axle of the truck, and wrapped his other arm around Joanne like a vice. And he held on. He held onto Joanne as she screamed and thrashed  in the wind; as she called out to Bill, needing to know his whereabouts…

The Wall held onto Joanne so tightly that her ribs cracked. The Wall held onto Joanne even as they watched Joanne’s husband flip and toss away into the funnel cloud. The Wall hung onto Joanne as she sobbed beneath that truck, after the winds died down and only an inconceivable horror and silence hung in the air. And somehow, that stranger, The Wall of a Man now known as The Man Who Saved Joanne’s Life, learned Joanne’s name, and attended the funeral for Joanne’s husband Bill, five days later. 

So there you have it. This essay was a tribute and love letter to a few of the many Royal Others I met, fell in love with, cried with, and changed with in my little journey to the South. This is me brushing aside pettiness, snark, sarcasm and blame, all components interlaced with fear. This is me bowing down in awe, humility and deep gratitude for the reminders of grace, compassion, resilience, strength and courage in our moment-to-moment living.

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others’ true beauty is a light from within.

Embrace your Other.

*   *   *

An Epically Long A/N including GIVEAWAY Deets: 

**William is the one name I kept as is for this essay. Will Norton was 18 years old, having just graduated from Joplin High School when the tornado winds pulled him out through the sunroof of the Hummer he and his dad were driving. After nearly 5 days missing, his body was discovered in the pond of my client “Laura”.

**Baby S was the youngest Joplin Tornado victim. He was ripped from his mother’s arms during the storm. CNN did a special report on his story.

A NEW MOO GIVEAWAY

A few months ago I found a local mom-and-pop T-shirt making business. As an experiment I made a couple of shirts with a few MOO-inspired phrases on them. I sent one to Ms. Kristen Stewart, Ms Queen Other herself as a birthday gift (A burgundy shirt that said “I AM OTHER“). That leaves just one One-of-A-Kind Musings Tee (made on uber-soft American Apparel fabric, in Women’s Size L) that I’d like to give away to one of you Majestic Misfits.

You can enter to win the drawing for the T-Shirt by leaving a comment answering at least one (or all) of these questions:

1. When did you know you were Other?

2. How do you embrace your Other in your daily life?

3. Have you encountered moments of quiet majesty in unexpected places? 

4. How do you employ self-care? 

I’ll announce a winner in a MOO MEMO posting Thursday, June 30.

*   *   *

Specific shout outs and vice-like hugs to: 

My sister Puss for letting me cry. CC for texting check-in requests. Mari-Pai for asking if I’m ok. Bouffant for talking me through some dark, dark moments.

To PrimaryColors1 and Beammeup_00 for your generous offers of shelter and supplies upon the word ‘Go’.

To MyCleverAlias, Kate_Suena, JRollin5, Mel452, That_Bitch86, DeeDreamer16, ThistleandFi, TakeMeToBliss, Buff_82 and KStewsBtrThanU for checking in on me and cheering me on.

Last but never, never least: Thank you to my CYBER SISTERS & READERS  You provided the most powerful web of support by being your brilliant, compassionate, witty selves.

TODAY’S PLAYLIST (PUSH PLAY)

Look For Me As You Go By ~ The Innocence Mission

Satisfied Mind ~ Jeff Buckley

Price Tag ~ Jessie J feat B.O.B.

I Feel Pretty/ Unpretty ~ Lea Michele & Dianna Agron of GLEE

After The Storm ~ Mumford & Sons

Fix You ~ Coldplay

A Light From Within (Part 1)

20 Jun
A/N: Most images seen in this posting are not the property of nor created by ©MusingsOnOther. Photos featuring ©Red Cross Disaster Relief in Clinton, MS and Joplin, MO, however, are owned by this author (KJN). Today’s essay, per usual, is unbeta’d and any typos or grammar bobbles are all mine. Also, for whatever reason, PlayList disallowed the Auto-start feature, despite my and Buff’s attempts at usurping. To hear today’s music Playlist, hit PLAY on the player in the right-hand column (below the Twitter Feed) —–>
Whatever day this is that I actually post, I imagine it’s not my usual Thursday. I hope to get back on schedule soon. I thank you for flowing with me.   
“People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” ~Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

*Takes deep breath* There you are, and here I am. Hello, you beautiful, Majestic Misfits. It has been over a month since I’ve posted a New MOO and I am admittedly nervous and shaky. I feel out of practice, super raw and tentative but at the same time eager to reconnect with you all. SO. MUCH. HAS. HAPPENED. And on so many different levels. In the name of confidentiality, and sensitivity to trauma that folks have experienced, I have spent the past week weighing the options of what to share and how to share. . .I am not even quite sure where to begin, so I guess I’ll …just…jump in.

It was ‘A Time’

So, the last MOO essay  I penned posted on May 15. We talked about the Twirling Other Goddess Stevie Nicks, and we explored what it meant to MOther, even if it was against society’s definitions (We’re Others. It’s how we roll). We also surveyed how we women can be both supportive and simultaneously destructive forces out there, especially towards fellow women. Then I shared with you all that I was a few days away from leaving for my first national Red Cross assignment as a licensed clinician on the Disaster Response Team.

I do not think I will ever truly have enough (or appropriate) words to justifiably describe the people, the agonizing pain of loss, or the brilliant strength and faith of humanity I encountered. But I will try and share a few stories with you here (and that’s what PART 2 of this post will be).  In the seminal TV show My So-Called Life, Angela Chase (portrayed by a featured Royal Rebel Claire Danes), Rayanne and Rickie ponder the glory of connecting with other people for a larger purpose outside themselves, and they simply refer to that process as “A Time”. Bear with me as I attempt to begin recalling the people and the moments that comprise the most life-changing, profound ‘Time’ I’ve ever had the honor of witnessing.

I left May 23 for Clinton, Mississippi to offer relief and counseling support to the men and women who had already been out providing food, shelter and Psychological First Aid to the survivors of the storms and destructive flooding out in the communities near the Mississippi River. What I came to find out later was that this Disaster Relief Operation (DRO or DR) was winding down. I had been called in to debrief and support the volunteers and Red Cross staff, some of whom had been in the trenches for 4o days already.

Here’s what I was struck by, while in Mississippi, other than the sheer elation it was to spell out the state’s name voluntarily, and not because I was in a spelling bee:

It’s beautifully green and lush in the most mundane places. Tree-lined highways (empty of traffic) greeted me on the drive from the gas station to Headquarters; and, to the market and to the shelter where I met with clients. See, I grew up in L.A. County, California, where any greenery, if not in protected parks–or smoked–is a rarity. Concrete utopia shrouded in brown air. Even where I live now, any lush growth and flowers are reserved for the national park.

But really, what blew my mind were the PEOPLE. The people–strangers to me–were so very warm, generous, welcoming and open. People looked me in the eye and said, “Well, HELLO THERE!” on the street, in the grocery aisles, at the gas station, and of course at restaurants. There is something so refreshing and comforting about Southern Hospitality and I am so thrilled to have experienced a little sliver of it. If I appeared too alien or unusual, too OTHER to anyone in Clinton, Mississippi, I never knew it. I was welcomed and embraced warmly and lovingly, regardless.

ahhh is THAT what human interaction looks like?

An Other Application

Of course, I got to musing, because that’s what I do, and reflected on how I’m jostled by kindness, etiquette and “common courtesy”. Why is it surprising for people to be kind anymore? Why does eye contact or a friendly passing greeting feel like such a novelty?? I suppose in this time where we spend the majority of our days deciphering words on a computer screen or texts on a phone, its not terribly surprising that the messages conveyed through eye contact and tone of voice are no longer considered integral or necessary in “communication”. Which is a shame. Those nonverbal factors including pitch and intonation of voice, eye contact contain powerful messages. Clues to a person’s intentions, beliefs and identity.

One topic in the newly conceived “What The Fangirl Learned” feature for this blog, pertained to the rise of Cyber Bullying and Online Confidence. It is notable that people present themselves assertively and cruelly as long as they maintain anonymity behind an avatar image and moniker. Would these same people be as blunt and hurtful if they shared their opinions directly with their target? Would Kristen Stewart’s Bull Shit People and Critics ever share their low regard for her if they were in the same room with her, directly to her? I must take a moment to tip my fedora to the brave and brilliant warriors at @BecauseWeAreNot for wading into the mucky secretions from the Nonsensicals and BullShitPeople… and simply holding up a mirror. Yes, Haterade Drinkers, you are that vile and we SEE YOU. My hope is that all of us still experience an instant or two of remembering the human being on the other side of the camera lens, the computer screen or discussion board. It would certainly benefit our Reigning Royal Rebels for us to remember this. . .

She Shines On

Speaking of Royal Rebels and public appearances…. When we last met here in Headquarters Other, we celebrated our Reigning Other Queen’s Best Actress award from the Milan International Film Festival for her stunning work in the powerful film Welcome To The Rileys. We hadn’t seen our lovely Queen for some time, as she was implementing her usual NinjaRebellion and flitting all over the world undetected, un-stalked. YAY. She would continue to fly under the radar until June 5, the day the MTV Movie Awards occurred. And looking at Ms Rebel Royal herself was like seeing the sun for the first time after a decade-long rainstorm. Hole-eeeeee freakin hell.

Where were you all when this stunning fashion DreamTeam of Kristen and Balmain debuted? Kristen wore a scarlet red (YESSSSSS. Red is my favorite color on Ms Stewart) strapless mini dress covered in shimmery grommets and SAFETY PINS, MOFOS!!  The dress, in my opinion boasted one of her–if not THE best–red carpet looks of all time.

Kristen was positively glowing. Blindingly luminous. She emanated pure joy and lightness, and she was giddy and playful for the duration of the whole night. I loved how happy and grounded she appeared. I loved her interaction with Rob and Taylor. I loved her dress. LOVED. IT. Loved it all. I get why Rob stared at her the whole night.

dude. we know.

June 5th, the day of the MMAs was an interesting day for me. I was on my tenth day straight into my deployment assignment for Red Cross, and for the first time, was back from work before the sun set. The day before had been the most heartbreaking day that I can recall in my “grown up” life, certainly my entire psychotherapy career, and I was feeling pretty weary. I had stolen away in one of the tiny preschool classrooms in the church that served as my sleeping quarters. I hadn’t seen my husband in 2 weeks (he was out of town at a work conference when I left for Mississippi) and I hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep nor a proper hot shower in…a long time. I needed a huge steaming bowl of The Pretty to soothe the ache. I sought a reminder of all the blessings in my life that came from musing about Rebel Queens and Warrior Poets. So there I was, hunkered down in a tiny toddler-sized chair watching the live feed on my laptop, which was placed on a tiny toddler-sized table, bursting with exultation over little clips such as this:

Can watch this pure joyfulness on loop forevah

It was a night in which GiddyRob (my Fave Rob) was front and center (yes, Rob just dropped an F-Bomb on live TV that the censors didn’t catch in time; yes he just presented an award to Reese Witherspoon as more of a ROAST; yes, he just made out with Taylor Lautner before gently kissing his hand and forehead), and Eclipse swept all categories brightening an otherwise nearly unwatchable show. After countless moments of “WHAT THE FUCKs?” over the course of the 2 hour awards show, our ReigningOther Queen capped off the night when she accepted her Best Female Performance award graciously (gratitude to the fans who voted) and wittily advising Oscar-winner Natalie Portman:

“Sorry, Natalie, The Popcorn is mine!

So she gets it. Though Kristen Stewart has always gotten it. She knows that her Golden Popcorn statuettes from the MTV Movie Awards are not the Academy Awards that her peers are earning. But she also knows that she wouldn’t be in her fortuitous position as an actress if it weren’t for her devoted supporters. Kristen is gracious and grateful for every single person who sees her work as inspiring and enjoyable and she has more than once publicly thanked the Twilight fans for their incomparable passion. Very classy and…royal of her, yes? Just another reason why Ms Stewart resides atop the Royal Court Float.

O_O

 A Way Out Of The Depths

While sitting there, in the Preschool/nursery room at Calvary Baptist Church watching my live feed of the MMAs, I found it almost impossible to reconcile the extreme paradoxes that comprised my reality on June 5.  I had just driven my pimp rental car (a tricked-out 4×4 SUV, the exact opposite of the car I own in real life) through the little that remained of a Joplin neighborhood in order to get to the air conditioned church that housed a hundred of my fellow Red Cross workers and I. The day before was my brother’s birthday, and when I called the house to wish him birthday happiness, I nearly fainted with exhaustion and grief, and was barely coherent. My mind simply could not wrap around the idea that the scenes I’d encountered earlier my day existed at the same time that the other folks in the world were moving through daily tasks, pushing through another work day, or planning the evening’s dinner, studying for tomorrow’s early-morning exam. That while a four-year-old  girl asked her mother if “The Tornado will come again and take me from you?” in Joplin or Alabama, at the same time, lighting technicians and camera crews were setting up for the red carpet arrivals for another MTV Movie Awards.  I could NOT reconcile these vastly different happenings in my head. It’s taken me over 2 weeks since my return to even begin understanding.

thank you, my Possum @Justice_Aussie for this

A summary for those who hadn’t read about it or seen the news: On Sunday, May 23, 2011 at 5:41PM a tornado with 200 miles/hr (approx 312 kilometers/hr) winds touched down on the city of Joplin, Missouri. Over the course of 19 minutes, the loud, violent funnel cloud measuring one mile wide ripped a 12 mile path through the city (population 50,000). The level of damage, destruction and fatalities left behind in its wake earned the tornado an F5 category rating, the highest on the scale. As of June 14, the death toll was at 153 people with approximately ten people still unaccounted for. The Joplin Tornado destroyed 75% of the city and is now ranked the deadliest singular tornado in decades, and among the ten most deadly tornados in U.S. History. Joplin’s tornado came on the heels of a series of destructive storms and tornados that effected at least five other states across the South and Midwestern U.S. including Mississippi  (the first stop on my deployment) and Alabama where an estimated 195 people died after several tornados touched down. People will tell you that pictures on TV or on the computer will not appropriately depict the destruction. TRUTH. It looked like the Apocalypse had occurred. It looked like a wasteland. It looked the way I imagine it sounded. Absolute obliteration and desolation.

I arrived in Joplin, MO, directly from Clinton, MS, on May 30, on the one-week anniversary of the tornado’s touchdown. People have  different coping mechanisms and timelines in dealing with grief and loss. So by the time I arrived in Joplin, I felt the stirrings of recognition. The numbness and shock was wearing off, and people were slowly growing aware of their feelings about what they just lived through.

Within minutes of arriving in this pummeled and stunned town, I encountered  the electric thrumming of passion, strength and ferocity. And there is promise.

Gratitude. 

Faith.

Resilience.

"I will rebuild", he says.

Beautiful People Do Not ‘Just Happen’

I will delve more personally into the phenomenal stories of the people I met and counseled in my time in Joplin in the second part of this post. Part of the reason for the delay in publishing this essay was my struggle in telling the stories of the Royal Rebels I met in a sensitive, respectful, confidential manner. Another reason for the late posting is my own body’s delayed reaction to my assignment. On day 12, I awoke with a sore throat and sniffly nose, unsurprisingly. By the time I flew home a couple days later, a doctor’s visit had provided me a diagnosis of a “very bad cold-flu”. Additionally, my heart was bursting with stories of loss and sacrifice and dazzling acts of LOVE. Not even I, Miss Ramblelicious, could piece together a coherent sentence. I needed my own brand of therapy to soothe my wounds. Which is where you gorgeous, pulchritudinous, glimmering Rabble Rousers came in. You provided an antidote.

Thank you. THANK. YOU. THANK YOU.

I burst into tears when I was sent the link to the love letter and Birthday Celebration you all participated in, at the generous and gorgeous prompting of my girls CC, Buff and Bouffant. Already I was shocked at the kind words my Team Other Captains bestowed, though I pay them a lot of money (currency is made up of poking, prodding, annoying texts and rambling emails) to say nice things to me and about me, but I am beyond astonished at the loving words and generous wishes you all shared as well. CC was not kidding when she told you all how hard I love those of you on this journey. I do. I love you like a full-body board check in a hockey game. I go big or go home in my gratitude and adoration for you Readers, Sisters and Friends. In addition to check ins with Bouffant and CC, and occasional tweet-exchanges…lines of poetry  and words of encouragement began to filter in while I was away from you…Reminders of #BEAUTY and #RebelRoyalty and #OTHERNESS. . .

From my girl J (@That_Bitch86) who also provided me an anchor long before. #QUEEN

From Katie (@Kate_Suena) who shows me #Other and #beauty in book recs

You could not possibly know how you healed me on June 3, when you chimed in to wish a Happy Birthday/Anniversary to my little blog about Beauty. You did and do. YOU. HEAL. ME. As do sights such as this:

Giggly, LondonStew will ALWAYS Win.

annnnnnnd….ohhhhh mah Good Goddess…just a day or so after the MMAs…Are you KIDDING ME???!?

Well, so. There really isn’t much to say to follow up that, other than that time away for NinjaStew only further proves to be GLORIOUS….So it’s a perfect place to pause until I post Part Two later this week, hopefully Thursday, to get back on Regular MOO Programming. I know I’ve droned on about my gratitude to you all, but you cannot possibly know how much you have provided joy, comfort and cure for me while I crawled through this month’s Other-worldly events. Thank you for your patience as I re-acclimate and try to find my grounding again…Thank you  for tolerating me while I fangirl a month late over the beautiful sightings of our Reigning Other Queen. Thank you for reminding me that no matter where I travel, who I meet, how deep the struggle is to see it…that OTHER. IS. EVERYWHERE. 

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others’ light shines on, shines far.

Embrace your Other.

*       *      *

A/N: Later this week, Part 2 will introduce you all to the pristinely beautiful Rebel Royalty I met while abroad…And we’ll talk more about Kristen’s GlamourUK appearance, because it’s too beautiful not to. And…There’s another MUSINGS GIVEAWAY!!! Until then, be well, be kind to one another.  See you soon. Yours, KJ 

I have numerous people to thank individually, but I’ll wait til the second part of the essay before doing so. Just know that every single person reading this: I felt you. I know you’re there. And I am indebted to you.

PLAYLIST: (PUSH PLAY) 

Look For Me As You Go By ~ The Innocence Mission

Satisfied Mind ~ Jeff Buckley

Price Tag ~ Jessie J feat B.O.B.

I Feel Pretty/ Unpretty ~ Lea Michele & Dianna Agron of GLEE

After The Storm ~ Mumford & Sons

All That She Is

19 May
A/N: Images seen here are not owned nor created by (c)MusingsOnOther. Today’s essay is unbeta’d per usual. Forgive me any mistakes or imperfections you may find. But that is how I roll. This post is a long one. Make yourselves comfortable.

“You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you”

~Stevie Nicks, Silver Springs

I hope this new MOO finds everyone well. Did all you incredible Mothers, Parents, Aunties, Mentors, Providers, Caretakers and Grandmamas have a lovely Mother’s Day? My hope is that you did. I was able to pull off an impromptu visit down south with my own Mother, spending treasured time with my immediate family in the same city, which is a first for us, in a very long time.

In Royal Rebel news, it has been a pretty quiet, sighting-less week of our Stealthy pair, our NinjaQueen and her Royal consort. And it makes me happy. Between his punishing world promo-tour for Water For Elephants, the six months of international gallivanting for Breaking Dawn filming, plus recent birthdays for both of them, any quiet, unduh-covah time they can grab right now is probably sweet, sweet salvation. And it probably isn’t long enough, this break. Rob returns to work, starting the gritty, raw film Cosmopolis at the helm of esteemed (and frankly, in my opinion, really cool) director David Cronenberg (History of Violence, Eastern Promises) on May 23rd in Toronto, Canada (where he and Kristen have been spotted walking the infamous puppy dog Bear on more than one occasion).

I’m ridiculously eager to watch this project unfold, if anything for its stark difference in roles for Rob. Hello, apathetic billionaire-business man seeking connection through increasingly self-destructive ways….How fun does that sound??

Ok, how ’bout now?

My name is Eric Packer. I need a haircut. And financial advice.

We’ll talk more about this film as it progresses, okay?. . .The little “break” time that Kristen may be enjoying now isn’t all that much longer for her either. She is scheduled to begin her work on the small film K-11 soon, as well as preparation work for Snow White and The Huntsman. We received the great news that the titular role of The Huntsman was finally cast (well hello there, Thor) last week, but also the nice surprise that the film will be released six months sooner than originally projected. Filming begins in August, and the premiere is scheduled for June 1, 2012. A summertime kickoff by our Reigning Other Queen! So while our Royal Rebels are under the radar, hopefully grounding and recuperating in privacy, we are not lacking reasons to celebrate their growth and successes and remember why we began admiring and supporting them as artists in the first place.

Oh, for Pete's sake, that's just ridonk pretteh.

 What the Fangirl Learned

“Did she make you cry, make you break down, shatter your illusions of love?” ~Stevie Nicks, Gold Dust Woman

For today’s topic, as the first discussion in this new feature, I had planned on discussing a woman’s incredible capacity to love wholly but also to acknowledge her capacity for destruction (sometimes intentionally, sometimes not) in her passionate wrath. I was going to explore some of the themes I saw in our own community, in our fandom, because I’ve met the most incredible women, brilliant women, as a result of being a Kristen and Robert supporter. Conversely, I’ve observed in public venues no less, the most shocking behaviors emerge from my fellow sisters.  *This was the last section (the Fangirl Learned) I needed to complete today (I write MOO in all kinds randomness…the Muse visits when she is damn well ready, y’know?). But since receiving a phone call that I’m detailing down below, I may re-work how to address this topic…

The (M)Other Within

*ANNOUNCEMENT*  

Remember when I told you lovelies that while I have no money, I do have time and skills to contribute in these dire hours? I literally received the phone call right now as I’m finishing up today’s post. I have been cleared for and accepted onto the Red Cross Disaster Response Team as a therapist. I’m deploying out to the Tornado/Flood Zones back east (Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina-esque areas) next week to administer frontline counseling and emotional support to the tornado and flood victims. Its looking like  it will be Tues or Wednesday when I fly out. I will be gone for at least 10 to 12 days and could potentially remain out in the field for up to three weeks per cycle. *side note*  Even if I leave on Tuesday morning, I’ll still have been able to see SAM BRADLEY perform the night before. PHEW! A girl still has a couple of #priorities.

The American Red Cross

So while I’m away for potentially the next 2 to 3 weeks, I’ve asked my fellow Team Other Captains (CC, Buff and a behind-the-scenes technician Bouffant) if they wouldn’t mind keeping an eye on MOO and perhaps contribute some of their brilliance to continue the support of Otherness in my stead. The wonderful gals that they are, of course, all stepped up immediately and exuberantly. So I’m going to thank you amazing Readers in advance for welcoming them warmly and wonderfully as you have in the past when they’ve contributed. And besides, CC and Buff already have their own mass followings (because they’re geniuses and I kinda hope to be a little smarter just by associating with them). My friend Starlust may contribute a written piece as well. She has been my  good friend since the very beginning and I trust her with heart and soul. You will too when you meet her.

This leads me to discuss what I had hoped to, even before learning that I was going to deploy. Look back to one of the earliest Musings ever. I wrote an essay called Aphrodite and Kristen Go Against Code  <—–click it to check it, yo. I responded to the Entertainment Weekly preview of the roundtable interview that Kristen, Rob and Taylor did in promotion for Eclipse.  Remember this hotness??

The Musings  written in response was almost one year ago, on June 24, 2010. What did I see at the bottom of the brief EW preview back in June 2010? Within moments of going viral, the preview had already garnered nearly one hundred commenters’ reactions to the excerpt and these comments were quite criticalNo, worse. The majority of comments were cruel and hatefulI won’t go into specifics because I don’t have the energy nor do I want to taint this supportive Kristen and Rob site with anything remotely negative. But I will share my observations. The majority of commenters both critical and supportive, presented themselves with female monikers. And the harshest, most cruel of the comments were from women. Women who reported they were mothers, professionals.  Also, I noticed that most comments were disproportionately supportive and defensive of Rob, but were incensed and enraged towards Kristen. She was torn down for anything from her physical appearance to the way she phrased her responses. In those commenter’s eyes, those predominantly female commenter’s views, she could do nothing right. The need to tear others down to feel imposing and powerful and bigger has perhaps been an evolutionary trait, leftover from our earliest days on earth–survival of the fittest…but the way that women attack is especially fascinating and …disturbing. 

Today, in 2011, when I watch my Twittah timeline and scan the PMs filled with updates from around the fandom, I notice that the anger and resentment towards our Reigning Queen has become more specific and therefore illuminating about the folks who spew the Haterade. After witnessing success after success for Kristen as a professional and as a woman, her Critics–the Bullshit People as she dubbed them last year in an interview–grapple with any new angle from which they can attack.

Their options are becoming pretty limited.

Criticizing her relationship with Robert as publicity-driven holds little weight since Kristen’s professional and critical success has only increased in the past year, what with the ovations from film critics and audiences flooding in for her work in stellar performances in The Runaways and Welcome to the Rileys (Example: MIFF Award–to be addressed in a bit).  Plus there’s Robert’s direct statements in interviews that his relationship with Kristen is in no way calculated or “nefarious”. So the anti-Kristeners focus on…her abilities to walk young Bear…??

This gangly, awkward, beautiful creature caused major damage to the Bullshit People's campaign. Powerful little guy.

 And instead of calling Ms Stewart some of the degrading and hateful names they’ve given her over time, many Nonsensicals simply refer to her as “That Girl”, which in the scheme of things isn’t the most horrendous, not compared to what they’ve called her before. Also we have identified some of the boldest of the BullShit People in the past year. Kristen and Robert have names and information about the particularly heinous of the Unhappy Ones. When attackers are no longer faceless, offensive plans can be created. Kristen and Rob’s incredibly good-looking effective security teams have been quite active and occupied this year.

Another shift I’ve noticed over the year, is a growing, greater compassion emerging in this fandom. Perhaps it’s because we have been in the trenches together now for several years. We have created friendships and support networks and camaraderie. We have faces and voices to names…This again, is in that universal movement to remove the masks we wear, and efforts made to consciously embrace our Otherness. We’re finding we have so many more commonalities than differences.

Last year, my Welsh Muse Kathryn wrote me a poignant letter detailing her journey embracing her Otherness and it was in embracing her abilities to be a new M0ther. It was in her exploration of what motherhood meant for her that she realized she was truly embracing her authentic self, quirks and oddities and all, that she already had the propensity to accept herself in all that she is. She was similar to me, in that she hadn’t planned necessarily on having children, opting instead to focus on pursuit of bliss and career and expression. And yet now she’s all of those things: beautiful, kind, compassionate, artistic, and a Mother. (I miss you, K).

When we sit down and examine all the ways someone can be “motherly”, we conjure up feelings and associations with universal, human qualities such as:

LOVINGNESS…DEVOTION….PROTECTIVENESS…CREATIVITY….COMPASSION…SELFLESSNESS…KINDNESS

When I survey the descriptors above,  I don’t feel as defensive of  my near-certain decision to not have children. Believe me, society and peers are pretty critical (i.e. harsh and judgmental) about people who decide to not have children too. One of the most incredible things a couple of my Cyber Sisters Nail and Mari have said to me in the past few months involved the employment of my favorite strategy: REFRAMING. They said,

“You are mothering and providing, even if you’re not technically a child-bearer. You give nurturing and compassion and protectiveness to your clients, to your friends…and to MOO Readers.”

See? We all gotta do a little reframing sometime. And I can see this next step on my path in my work for Red Cross is an extension of that concept. I do carry a wish that as we each evolve and thrive and stumble and then pick ourselves back up again that we are finding, that there is less of a need to deconstruct or tear Others down coasting on fear or ignorance. Because we’ve gotten to know each other a little more. Our (M)Otherness has kicked in, perhaps?

Anyway, in light of the somewhat unexpected events occurring in this moment, I won’t delve further today into the reasons why, psychologically or emotionally, women behaved in appallingly harsh ways over the past year. But I certainly can appreciate some of the improvements and changes that have occurred …and I can pin some hope that the changes have made due to steps closer to embracing Others’ Otherness.

And lets take some time to get to know and then celebrate these incredibly brave Unconventional Beauties, shall we?

 Featured Royal Rebel: Stevie Nicks

Stephanie “Stevie” Lynn Nicks, called everything from eccentric, legendary, a gypsy, a witch, a sorceress, and a poet, since her debut in the music industry forty years ago, is the epitome of Other to me. I have my own fascination and adoration of her, have since the early 1990’s when I accidentally stumbled upon a music video on VH1 called “Gypsy” and then later heard songs from the Fleetwood Mac live reunion tour “The Dance”. I didn’t know it then, but with a few bars of the haunting song “Silver Springs” soaring from my car radio’s speakers, I had encountered music’s Other Royalty.

A little background: Stevie’s grandfather Aaron was an aspiring country singer, and from the moment Stevie could speak, she was singing country ditties and picking out melodies on a guitar which was handcrafted for her by said proud granddad. Stevie credits her grandfather for teaching her to love music and for inciting her passion for songwriting and musical crafting. It was at a northern California high school that she met a singing-songwriting-guitar-playing boy named Lindsey Buckingham. Stevie and Lindsey immediately forged a strong bond which would ultimately prove to be an outrageously productive musical and intimate partnership. Stevie tells The Guardian (UK) that she believed joining the band Fleetwood Mac in 1975 was predestined, but that upon reflection, she ventures that Lindsey Buckingham feels the opposite.

You have NO idea how loud I screamed when I snagged this vinyl off Ebay years ago. Yeah, and they're nekkid.

At the start of the year 1975, Stevie and Lindsey (apart of the rock band Fritz) had already been cultivating a small, devoted following in San Francisco, CA. Their time with Fritz granted them once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to observe and learn from rock legends Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, both for whom Fritz performed opening sets. When Fritz disbanded, Stevie and Lindsey became the duo “Buckingham Nicks” and recorded their one and only debut album by day, and worked as servers, house cleaners and carpenters by night. The album did not meet commercial success, and the duo was dropped from their record label. Meanwhile, British blues band Fleetwood Mac had just parted ways with yet another guitar player and as the now-legendary story entails, Mick Fleetwood, the group’s co-founder and drummer approached Lindsey and invited him into the band. However, in a serendipitous exchange, Lindsey refused to join without Stevie, saying, “We’re a packaged deal”. So the California hippie kids joined the British Blues Crew.

And so it began. Fleetwood Mac 1975

Ok, novels and ever-expanding Wikipedia entries can barely cover the expanse of this Majestic Gypsy’s forty years in the music industry, and I will not attempt to reiterate the glorious peaks and valleys of Ms Nicks’s life here today (but sit down with me in person and I’ll happily chatter on with you about my adoration for her). But I can try to highlight a few reasons why she, for me, is a true Rebel Queen.

Of course we cannot overlook Stevie’s distinctive, raspy-growly voice, her whimsical, journal-entry intimate lyrics, and her propensity for flowing, ethereal dresses. And it’s quite a testament to her artistic influence when she can count among her legions of fans some musical greats such as Billy Corgan, Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow, Courtney Love, Adam Levine, and Taylor Swift to name a few.

In days long preceding concepts like Stalkerazzi, Twitter and Celebrity Rehab, Stevie Nicks navigated the pitfalls and customary practices of a Rock-and-Roll lifestyle in an extremely human, relatable manner. There were the drugs–she had a ten-year cocaine dependency stemming from early days with Fleetwood Mac, and then in the late eighties through early nineties developed a harrowing addiction to prescription medications, namely Klonipin which she weaned from after a painful near-fifty day course of rehab. There were personal tragedies, including the death of childhood best friend Robin Snyder who succumbed to leukemia two days after giving birth to Stevie’s Godson Matthew; and there were the emotional and physical illnesses such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, depression, anxiety and weight fluctuation (which was relentlessly criticized by critics and “fans”). And then there was the love. Always the love.

“In ’75, ’76, we were beautiful, fast,  sexy, love was everywhere and we were moving from person to person. That’s it. Love was around every corner”

Of course there was/is her musical and personal soul mate Lindsey Buckingham, with whom she shares an “Edward and Bella-like” love, but there were many other lovers and inspirations famous and not-so-much (including her Fleetwood Mac band mate Mick Fleetwood, Eagles rockers Joe Walsh and Don Henley; music industry legend and current American Idol mentor Jimmy Iovine). Her relationships with these men informed and influenced her songwriting and musical creations engendering some of rock and pop music’s most famous songs…ever. We’re talking songs that have permeated our collective consciousness. For instance: Landslide has been remade or covered by everyone from The Smashing Pumpkins, Tori Amos, and The Dixie Chicks, to, recently, Gwyneth Paltrow on an episode of Glee). Last week alone was a Nicksapalooza with Glee dedicating an entire episode to Fleetwood Mac’s seminal and legendary album Rumours (which detailed the band’s scandalous divorces, break-ups and affairs with each other and as a group).  Also, my new favorite TV show The Voice featured competitors singing Stevie’s song Leather and Lace and in conclusion Maroon 5’s frontman and Voice Coach Adam Levine reverently declared, “Stevie Nicks is The Greatest.”

At 62 years old, the woman is showing no signs of stopping. In fact, she just released her newest solo album, her first in a decade to the highest reviews of her career. She admits to an obsession with The Twilight series and even wrote a couple of songs on this new album inspired by Our Reigning Queen Kristen’s portrayal of a broken Bella Swan in New Moon. Ok, seriously. How do you not LOVE that???

Stevie Nicks has your back, Bella!

Ms Nicks is about to embark on a tour to support the new album titled In Your Dreams, but also a world tour with Fleetwood Mac in 2012. Perhaps my admiration for Stevie Nicks stems from her grace in managing conflict and life while in the public eye. Perhaps it’s because Stevie struggles with body image, insecurities, relationship concerns, and anxiety, channeling angst into catharsis byway of songwriting and musical performance. Maybe it’s because the tambourine-shaking, leg-warmer-wearing, spinning, whirling songstress never compromises her beliefs or ambitions when all of society pressured her to.

Stevie’s new album sounds more like vintage Stevie than ever, recalling early Fleetwood Mac rocker sentiments while also preserving her poetic whimsy. Admirably, she rebuffed traditional gender-specific expectations when she was younger (she was a lady of rock in an arena of men) and later regarding marriage and motherhood in order to pursue “freedom in following [her] art.” I can relate on such a basic, visceral level to this decision, as I’ve shared with you all earlier today. Because Stevie twirls through very personal and genuine tribulations gracefully while wearing 4-inch platform-boots and diaphanous dresses that Couture designers have tried to emulate since 1975, she forever is a stunning Queen of Other.

Offenses of Otherness:

*Emphatically celebrates her feminine divinities: love and beauty

*Invites an intimate and realistic connection to her personal heartbreak and struggle

*Opted out of the gender role expectations of marriage and motherhood

Reigning Other Queen: Kristen Stewart

While we may not have seen Ms Rebel Queen herself in a while, we have been gifted with a few wonderful events that are pretty spectacular all the same. From the interview that keeps on giving, i.e. Uk Elle, we have some more “outtakes“…And good gracious, I do not envy the photo director who had to make the final cuts on these beauties…

The prestigious Cannes Film Festival is wrapping up this week and while this landmark annual event is designed as a showcase for new and developing films, it is a coveted  forum for filmmakers to exhibit and sell projects based on their artistic quality to distributors from all over the world. This year, a six minute trailer from one small but mighty film was shown to a Cannes audience of potential buyers.

According to attendees, after watching the diminutive six-minute trailer, buyers rose to their feet, passionately clapping. With the warm reception of the highly anticipated Francis Ford Coppola-produced project, On The Road has emerged as prevalent and desired today. Now. This adaptation from the book about restless souls seeking the elusive “It” to soothe post-war disillusionment has been anticipated for something like 30 years. Director Walter Salles and his outrageously gifted cast wrapped filming in the fall last year, and the news of positive reactions to the short film teaser gives us one more reason to hope that we will be seeing Sal, Dean, and Marylou on screen very soon. I cannot tell you how excited I am for this movie. If I did, it would sound something like this: $#!(*$*@#@&!@#!)&%//!!

nope. Not even close to getting old.

Hmmm, what else? Our Reigning Other Queen has had quite the week, as we’ve said. Even though we haven’t laid eyes on her since we saw her in New York, we have had plenty o’ reasons to rejoice. At another International Film Festival, Milan this time, another one of Kristen’s films, or more specifically, Kristen herself was the toast of the town. On May 11, we learned the news that Ms. Kristen Jaymes Stewart received the coveted honor of being named Best Actress at the Milan International Film Festival (MIFF) for her portrayal of the electric, vibrant, almost “feral” but vulnerable teenage stripper, Mallory in the effecting Welcome to the Rileys.

Congratulations, Kristen!! 

ICU dedicated actress with the bruised up legs and arms

One might observe that being called “THAT GIRL” as almost complimentary…? That Girl has been named Elle’s Woman of the Year…That Girl has a Young Hollywood Award, several MTV Movie Awards and a BAFTA. This same lady has the respect and love of legendary colleagues and filmakers. Ms. Stewart may very well be one girl who doesn’t really need introduction. She doesn’t need a label to garner praise and respect and prestigious awards. She does after all, make a living dressing up and portraying everybody else other than Kristen Stewart. But it’s still wonderful to watch as the authentic, grounded, intelligent, witty, kind, dedicated, compassionate, articulate and talented woman named  Kristen Jaymes Stewart continues to follow her genuine path, and embrace her royalty and Otherness.

Offenses of Otherness:

* Celebrates her feminine divinities: compassion and protectiveness.

*Unapologetic about displaying confidence, assertiveness and independence.

*Spurns the idea of downplaying her intelligence or genuine emotional response.

*  *  *

Stevie accepts all that she is. And is Other.

Kristen accepts all that she is. And is Other.

Others accept themselves and all that they are.

Embrace your Other. 

*  *  *

Notes: 

Wellllll. This one was long and it was all over the place, I realize. There were a lot of Royal Rebel events that occurred, on the sly, as well as over the course of the WFE promo tour….And in tying it up here, I struggled to organize and address all the goodies as well as the Otherness stuff.

Thanks for hanging with me, everyone. It’s been a crazy few weeks and now it’s gone outer limits with this new Adventure I’m heading on in a matter of days.

I don’t know exactly where I am going to be stationed on this assignment. I don’t know exactly how long I’ll be there. I don’t know where I’m sleeping. I don’t know if there’s a consistent stream of electricity and I doubt there will be steady internet connection. I don’t have a good set of work boots since I gave my Doc Martens away last year. But I will communicate as often as I can with my girls on Team Other, and maybe through Twitter if I can get a signal. I’m  @MusingsOnOther . . .

I DO know that this has always been my life’s hope–to combine humanitarian work in the fields. Its why I became a therapist in the first place. I am ecstatic and nervous and proud and scared all at once. I totally told @DeeDreamer16, @Kate_Suena, @KStewsbtrthanU and my CyberSisters today that I “want to vom right. NAO.”

Oh. And I also know that I kinda love you all. Madly.

The pristinely talented and lovely author @PrimaryColors1 (Firefly in Summer) is already out there on site in Alabama donating, transporting supplies, giving water to workers and folks in shelters on a daily basis. Consider donating time or money to assist the victims of the Tornados and Floods. Every little bit helps, especially to folks who have lost everything.

Talk to you laters, Lovelies. Until then, be well and be kind to one another. We’re really all Other together.  Yours, xo, KJ 

More:

This Essay’s Playlist

Trampled Rose ~Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

I Shall Believe ~Sheryl Crow

Starlight ~Muse

Gold Dust Woman ~Stevie Nicks

Winter Winds ~ Mumford & Sons

The More I See, The More To Know

5 May

He who knows best knows how little he knows ~ Thomas Jefferson

Greetings, Lovelies! My hope is that this new essay finds you and your families healthy and flourishing. A lot of  time does not need to pass before something wonderfully Other and so luxuriously Royal occurs, cueing my mind to spin out of control with ruminations and reactions and the overwhelming urge to analyze and then appreciate…and then celebrate. The past two weeks away from Musing with you lovelies have been so jam-packed with these glorious Other Moments that I realized first with sadness–and then with glee–that I simply cannot address them all. Not in one sitting at least. *smirks* There have been equal parts Reigning Royal Awesomeness  paired with reeling introspection personally, that this I’ve decided to switch up the structure of MOO. I’ll get back to that, though. Let’s do this, let’s jump in and review some of the spectacular moments that have surfaced since we last convened. ANNNNNND GO.

Oh. ummm. #$*!@#$!^)% What was I saying?

*recovers, sits up from position on the floor* Ok, lemme work up to the gloriousness that was The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala (aka The Met Gala, aka The Oscars of Fashion) in NYC. It’s been a busy, exciting, near-overwhelming slew of goodness this week for our Other Queen,  so let’s back that thing up.

Princes, Previews and (a) Bear, Oh MY!

Just yesterday, while we still await cautiously for  the introduction of the actor who will take on the titular role of The Huntsman in Kristen’s next film project, Snow White and the Huntsman, we met the fetching British bloke who will portray Snow’s Prince Charmant. Say hello to Sam Claflin, everybody! 

While I’m still stinging at the loss of Viggo Mortensen in the role as The Huntsman (who, due to filming conflicts, dropped out of the project), and swatting away the teasing possibility of Hugh Jackman  (who also passed on the role, which was offered to him when Mortensen vacated), the announcement of Sam Claflin landing the part of The Prince provided a little soothing. Twenty-four year old Claflin is from Suffolk, England and is building an impressive resume with TV performances (The Pillars of The Earth) and with upcoming lead roles in the newest Pirates of the Carribean film and The Seventh Son opposite acting royalty Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore. Looking forward to seeing Sam begin work with our Reinging Queen Kristen, who, of course, is the fairest of them all in the role as Snow White, this retelling of a tale from the Brothers Grimm.

Another week, another Entertainment Weekly cover to hunt down. But I got smart and returned to the same bookstore that sold the previous hard-to-access EW covers. No more driving all over town for ME! We saw our Majestic Misfit Ms Stewart leave Vancouver after wrapping the principal shooting of Breaking Dawn, though we weren’t entirely sure when or where we would set sights on our lovely Rebel again. We know that Kristen’s Partner-in-Crime-as-well-as-Life, Robert, has been on an exhaustive world promotional tour for his beautiful and whimsical film Water For Elephants (Did you see it yet? Have we talked about our impressions yet? No? Ok, SOON.), but we weren’t sure where our stealthy girl would be–which is ideal. #StealthyNinjasNeedRefugeToo. Enter EW.

EW explored with Kristen, Robert, and Taylor their sentiments about wrapping the final movies of the Twilight Saga, and while nothing earth-shattering was revealed with this interview (thanks to the massive leak of unedited film images and footage, the speed and prevalence of Twitter, and Rob’s numerous on-camera appeals to the Twi fandom to cease the hacking and spreading of said images), still, some illuminating recollections emerged from and about our Reigning Rebel Queen Kristen.

  • She was angry and “gutted” by the Breaking Dawn leaks.
  • *spoilers* She was affected emotionally while filming the wedding scene as well as the brutal childbirth scene.
  • Director Bill Condon is not immune to Kristen’s overall awesomeness nor her royalty, deeming her “hugely talented” and most likely able to “mold a career around who she is” and not the other way around.
  • Kristen is extremely satisfied with the wrap up of the story telling and filming process of Breaking Dawn, sounding downright giddy. “We ended on such a high note…” reaching a “state of exuberance”.

"exuberance" has never been more stunning, Your Highness

Oh, I can’t help it. Whenever there’s a pause I am absolutely compelled to paste an image of #MetGalaStew because in my opinion, Kristen embodied everything that is unique and edgy and unconventional and sexy and confident and simply regal. 

Having said that, there is one more event I wanted to acknowledge before we delve into the wonders of the Met Gala. Again, there were so many Royal goodies these days, but yesterday was simply a banner day for our Queen and her royal court. We not only met Kristen’s newest SWATH co-star in Sam Claflin, but we met a particularly special addition to Ms. Stewart’s family, the decidedly, Other Rebel: Bear.

Bear sees YOU.

This adorable adoptee, a German Shepherd-Pit-mutt-mix whom Robert and Kristen saved from euthanasia in a Baton Rouge shelter, has been a favorite subject of several of Rob’s interviews while on the road promoting Water For Elephants. In interviews Rob has made several references to “we” in the ownership and rearing of the rescued pup; and, yesterday, a whole new level of frenzy ignited when pictures of our girl Kristen walking with Bear in New York City surfaced. I will talk more about the soulful-eyed Bear a little later, as I delve into the discussion topic of this essay. But I have never seen such an explosion of opinions and reactions to a gangly, four-legged companion like this in my life. And I’ve seen some cray-cray, lemme tell you. Kudos to young Bear-san for a spectacular debut!

A Savage Beauty

But let’s cut the bull and celebrate another spectacular debut, shall we?

The Lady in Red with her dashing dates Jack and Lazaro- Proenza Schouler's designers.

Well, ok, so I’m not a fashionista, let’s just qualify that right now. But I understand that Monday night’s Met Gala was a night celebrating late designer Alexander McQueen byway of a theme of Savage Beauty, and our Reinging Queen arrives on the carpet in a ruby red floor-length gown designed by the aesthetically pleasing designers themselves as her dates, so stick a fork in me: I’m DONE. I was absolutely mesmerized.

I am not well-versed in the language of Couture, but I can appreciate silhouettes, and colors and fabric and texture. I can go out of mind with lust over edgy lines, and boldness in hues. I can ascertain the theme Savage Beauty as Queen Kristen interpreted it: fierce, delicate, powerful, sensual and strong. I kinda understand  how maybe the heaviness and texture of Kristen’s Proenza Schouler gown lent a draping quality. And I can absolutely understand and admire the beauty and aesthetics of …the back. 

Holeeey Hell. *gulp*

I can applaud Ms Stewart, a typically reserved woman who has admitted to feeling great discomfort at red carpet events, for buckling up calf-high Proenza Schouler heels on “Fashion’s Oscar Night” and gracefully posing for the bazillions of flashbulbs …before trekking up those stairs. Knowing those few things might just be enough.

Savage defined: fierce, wild, untamable, cutting and ruinous. Yes. She certainly destroyed it that night. I thought she looked, well, unapologetically, exquisitely, magnificently… Royal. 

All I Know, I Learned From. . .  

So. I opened this essay by mentioning that I would be changing up the flow of Musings to accommodate the swell of Moments of Otherness that have transpired lately. See, it’s usually here at this point in the post where I would introduce the Featured Royal Rebel for the week. I know I said we’d discuss a new Rebel today, but I’m deferring the discussion til next posting so that I can try this new format. I’d like to send special acknowledgement and long-hugs to a friend of mine, author Miss Betty Smith, whose own blogging style inspires and informs the new MOO Format with which I hope to play and muse. Whaaaa? There could be some form of organization to my ramblings?

Even MessengerStew is a bit skeptical.

Here’s the deal: I’ve been apart of the Twilight/Kristen/Robert fandom in some incarnation or another since late Spring of 2008 which means, good Goddess, I’m hitting a 3-year anniversary!! I’ve been writing MOO, defending Kristen and fellow Others for almost ten months (y’all are gonna celebrate the year anniversary with me in June, yeah?).  I have been a practicing mental health specialist, psychotherapist and social worker for over ten years. One of the deciding factors behind my pushing the PUBLISH button on the very first Musings last year was the excitement of possibly ceasing an opportunity to incorporate my skills and knowledge of sociology and psychology into better understanding why this fascination and passion in defending an actress called Kristen Stewart came to be. When I began tossing around the idea of Musings ten months ago, I remember saying aloud, “What is the draw? Why so fascinated with the fascination?” Well, besides the obvious.

Post-Met Gala, perhaps my fave?

Okay, why now? Why am I outlining a specifically-focused MOO? In addition to having a few charged, tense, personal encounters with friends-cohorts in this fandom, these past few weeks have additionally proven to be the most frenetic, passionate, eye-opening, jaw-dropping, temper-eliciting couple of weeks in this community that I’ve ever witnessed in the three years I’ve been here. And beyond the initial shock of seeing people go rogue, I realized I wanted to stay and keep representing the fight for fellow Misfits.

In one event, I found myself disappointed  by friends’ actions and by the quick judgments they issued that were very un-Otherly. But I realized it was my own disappointment to work through, not anyone else’s (other than what they take responsibility for) and an indicator of grace and poise is in conflict resolution. I reached out in all three occasions to open the lines of communication. Of the three different encounters of disagreement, I handled one instance very well, another one tolerably well, though quietly, and the third, well, not great.

And in other surprisingly controversial news, ummmmm: Bear (?)

I dunno bout you, but I derive so many fantastic, positive things from this picture. Rob is out of town, across the pond promoting WFE, so it makes sense that Kristen, a known dog lover and cat owner, is caretaker for their shared pet. Kristen is in  New York, which means she brought this puppy with her while she attended The Met Gala so that he wouldn’t be left behind with strangers or placed in a kennel. That dog travels better than I do, that’s for sure. Also, these pictures clarify (at least to me) who the “we” Rob refers to in interviews when asked about Bear’s guardians, and it further encourages the kind-hearted act of adopting animals from shelters. But apparently, that is not a shared sentiment.

Comments have trickled into my Twittah timeline or email box (people send them to me so I can laugh)  accusing Kristen of “animal abuse”, clearly since she attempted to force an animal against its will to “like her”, like ‘Snow White’, by “dragging” poor Bear along behind her on the cold, wet streets of New York. Other folks have dismissed Kristen walking Bear as her attempts to “copy everything Robert does”, adopting her own dog only because he adopted one. Because they couldn’t possibly share the animal, this could not be Rob AND Kristen’s dog. Then there’s the ridiculous theory that she’s using the dog to gain supporters for her career. Come again? I can’t even address that charge without snorting with laughter. But I do wonder–how does it make sense that to win the heart of your beloved you trash and insult his beloveds?

Does this scene look familiar?

hmm. I see that you're incredibly dedicated to proving your point...Your cynicism isn't at ALL alarming.

I’m only spending energy on highlighting some of these preposterous claims to illustrate the climate amongst The Bullshit People and Nonsensicals.

Leads me to think—->POTENTIAL DISCUSSION TOPIC #3: Haters Gonna Hate? 

For every new MOO post, we will still review and celebrate our Reigning Other Queen’s successes and endeavors as she barrels forward on her path, and we will discuss and highlight an Ambassador of Other/Royal Rebel, but we (“we” meaning, you, me, and occasional guest writers) will also survey some of the concepts and topics that have arisen simply because we are apart of this very interesting, and undeniably passionate collective.

Miss Betty Smith writes a feature called Ten Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Writing Fic  on her blog and it’s the format I’m fashioning the following new MOOs on. Check out Betty’s blog, it’s brilliant and insightful and alarmingly revealing. Also, if you read FF, read Betty’s stories including my favorite Full Disclosure.

I’m going to write something along the lines of: Case studies at work have NOTHING on the workings of folks HERE.  The interesting is not at the clinics I’ve worked in, they’re HERE. At this point, I don’t have a title for my new feature…I’ve tossed around ludicrous ideas of course:

  • Ms Therapist Finally Learns The Meaning of Cray-Cray
  • All That I Know, I Learned As A Fangirl
  • What The SpiderMonkey Saw

Let me know if something strikes your fancy, or if you think of a suggestion to pass along…And the discussion topics may range from a variety of observations I’ve had over my tenure in this passionate community…including, but not limited to:

:::The love we have for L.O.V.E.

:::Searching for perfection– (aka, are you projecting unrealistic, Vampiric expectations onto some poor unsuspecting mortal?)

:::Coping mechanisms for stress– (some eat a lot, some blame a lot, some pick fights a lot)

I may know of a diagnosis if this is the case for you ...or..

:::Extremes in this fandom–NOT. THAT. DIFFERENT. The “Haters” do not behave ALL THAT MUCH DIFFERENTLY than the “Supporters”.

:::Anonymous Cruelty–aka it’s okay to be an asshole as long as you moniker up.

:::The WOMAN’S Wrath–Ladies, when did you become so harsh?

:::The pursuit and struggle for power– (are YOU a Top”Insider”?)

:::Are we highly supportive, or actually scary-fanatic?– (How many hrs a day do you dedicate to involvement in your interest in Kristen, Rob and/or Twi?)

:::Double standards and hypocrisy–guess what? We don’t practice what we preach.

:::Brilliant and Creative Expression– (ahem, do you photoshop yourself into pictures with Rob and pass them off as real? Just wonderin’.)

Though there are some colorful challenges in this community, I will always try to express my deep gratitude and humility for being apart of it as well. The people I’ve met and encountered through this fandom possess the unbelievable capacity to love, and a fierce loyalty, and they (you) remind me how brave and courageous and soulful humans can be. And how freakishly funny and witty we can be too.

It has dawned on me how IN this I am. How personally invested I’ve become in this fandom and how, because I’ve continued to attempt in merging the fragments comprise my daily living, it isn’t an option to separate my Musings and 3D life anymore. …And how I’ve witnessed this become truth for many of you, my cohorts, fellow Others, as well. I did not see that coming. It isn’t a bad or a good thing, it is what it is. I should reiterate that there are no regrets, I am incredibly humbled and grateful if anything. Because my life is extremely colorful and challenging and exciting and filled with laughter and some very good friends whom I hope to have for a lifetime.

I check in with my Cyber Sisters as well as some of you folks every single day whether on Twittter or via email. I don’t talk to my own mother as much as I speak with you guys. We know about some of the heartaches and successes in each others’ lives. You all have hung with me while I navigate this new world of unemployment-turned-business-ownership and Bliss-Pursuit. And you cheer my husband and I on as we claw through the hoops dangled in front of us by Immigration.

Which reminds me: Psssssst!! N got his green card!!! !!!

See? I knew you'd celebrate with us. I feel your joy all the way here in Cali.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say, in my usual rambling, roundabout way…We’s haz lots to talk about. We always do. And it’s personal.  We have so many opportunities to gain knowledge from our Royal Rebels and our Reigning Queen, but also from each other. We still have boundaries to push and passions to defend and Otherness to embrace. But there are new lessons to be learned in every interaction. I seriously have enough potential discussion topics to run MOO another several months without needing to search. . .  Just with the “FANS'” behaviors alone!!

Some pretty profound events on a global level occurred this week as well: hello #ChangingRelationsWithTheMiddleEast; Hi, #RoyalWedding; oh hello #ExtinctionOfOBL; Top o’ the Morning to you #OperationEndIslamicVilification… and it was incredibly charged and emotional and stunning to experience these events with you all. So as things continue to shift, and ebb and flow and construct and destruct, let’s roll through it together, mmmkay?

Next time? We’ll discuss a few things: R & R for Kristen and hopefully Rob; Coping Mechanisms and A Woman’s Wrath (seriously, I knew women could be harsh, but this is bananas)…plus we’ll chat about The Gypsy Spinning Queen herself, Stevie Nicks. Until then, my Majestic Misfits, be well, be kind to one another. See you soon. xo, KJ

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others know that there is always more to know.

Embrace your Other.

* * *

Question: Have you found that you’re in deeper than you realized? When did you know?

A/N: Sorry it’s so late in posting tonight. Had a hard time summarizing. You know me. I am rarely succinct.

I’ve updated the Sentence Completion of About KJ

Playlist for this week:

Rescue Song (RAC Remix)~Mr. Little Jeans

Flightless Bird~ Iron & Wine

Kites~Geographer

Crystal~Fleetwood Mac

Gratitude and strength to my usual suspects: Cyber Sisters & Readers, Puss, Monkey

Infinite love and lunch date dreams for @MissBetty Smith

Super hugs and gropes to: Bouffant and Beanai

Homage To The Firsts

24 Feb

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.

Arts and Crafts Time

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….

Is it really wise for you to antagonize the one who brings your food to you?

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…

Oh that's right. They're so THRILLED to be hunted down.

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?

FIRST FALLINGS

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…..

Rainbows, Unicorns and best friends forevsies

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.

How anyone could alienate or snub this lovely girl, I do not understand. Oh wait. It's STILL fucking happening!

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.

Courtesy of the brilliant Tumblr by absofreakinlutely

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.

>>>Click this pic to see Kristen's PSA Video<<<

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.

Fandom4saa.wordpress.com

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*

(c) absofreakinlutely tumblr

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

Redefining the Learnings of Love

10 Feb

A/N: Well today’s post is much later than anticipated, but I’m happy to be posting, nonetheless. This essay was written in several different parts, over several different days, from various locations. I started writing when I  was down in L.A. for Bobby Long’s show. But since, I’ve traveled back home and have experienced several events that urged me to keep writing, despite any issues with continuity. In other words, it’s how I roll. Thanks for flowin with me, Lovelies, and thanks for not being too hard on me for being a complete fail with comment and email replies. My goal is to finish them this weekend!…Anyhoo, Let’s go forth, mmmkay?

***

A soul connection is a resonance between two people who see each other’s essential beauty, behind their facades…a sacred alliance, whose purpose is to help both partners realize their deepest potentials

~John Welwood, Love and Awakening

Well this very spur-of-the-moment trip down to my hometown found me in possession of several outfit options for various weather, including scarves and hats, though it is so mild and perfect here in SoCal, I fear I’ll be lynched by those of you in blizzard country experiencing heinous conditions. As indicated, I’m only kinda prepared. I have makeup (which I only really wear when I go out to shows or in meetings), though no makeup remover; my phone and wall charger, but no car charger, which proved to be a hindrance as I charged my phone in a public bathroom at an L.A. shopping center during lunchtime yesterday. I have my trusty MacBook Pro (and charger, yippee!), but not my usual Musings Notebook; no books of poetry and psychotherapy to prompt me, not even a spiral notebook. I don’t even have a pen!  You Office Supply Junkies know WhatImmaSayin when I mention needing the right writing utensil in order to truly produce good work.

This is like porn. #OfficeSupplyJunkie

I am of course struck with inspiration to write and to create after  yesterday’s jam-packed day of travel, good food,  and unbelievably dazzling stills from On The Road. Top the night off with attending Bobby Long’s show at The Troubadour and we’ll call it a good, good day, my friends.

Let’s talk about the just-released OTR stills a minute, ok? Or not. Really, I don’t know that there are words to adequately describe the rush of euphoria that overtook me when I first saw them. I had been away from my phone and the internet for most of the day since I was flying in and enjoying a lovely day of catch-up with @Edmett and @RobKris13. I checked my email/Twittah timeline and saw these pics, each one more breathtaking than the last.

Ohai, Sal. I mean, Sam.

And I nearly caused poor @Edmett to swerve off the 405 as I screamed and showed her this still on my iPhone:

I cant even.... *sputtering*....legs. Garrett. Sam #INeedThisMovieNOW

The  third picture–you know what I’m talking about–features our Reigning Other Queen in a suspended moment of exquisite magnificence. I literally moaned and chanted OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODDESS over and over when I pulled it up on my phone’s decidedly too-small screen.  I had just basically handed our lives over to @Edmett in showing her this picture while crawling through L.A.’s Rush-Hour Traffic. How we didn’t slam into another car in that moment I’ll never know, but MAD PROPS to my friend’s stellar navigation skills. Because…LOOK. AT. THIS!!!

...And if we would have died that day, I would have been ok with that

“… because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn…”  ~Sal from On the Road

Not only is this picture sensual and visceral, and captures our Rebel Royal Kristen in a moment  of oneness with her Inner Beatnik Beauty, but to me this scene depicts exactly what I envisioned the jazz club scenes to look like as I read On The Road so many years ago. Kristen appears glorious as the sweaty, heady, possessed and unfurling MaryLou(Stew). This moment just drips with spontaneous creative expression and liberation. She is completely enslaved by the music she hears, having no choice but to undulate. I will admit to you that I moaned when I caught a glimpse of this gorgeous film still. The Beats, in their celebration of creativity, sexuality, music, prose, and non-conformity were some serious trailblazing Others were they not? I cannot even begin to describe my elation at knowing Kristen is in this movie, along with Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund. It cannot be here fast enough, in my opinion.

Oh, and speaking of magical moments,  let me say how soulful and brilliant I find Mr Bobby Long (singer, songwriter, harmonica-and-guitar-playing, Britpack-rolling-shy guy) to be. He felt all the notes in every cell of his body. With grimaces, gyrations, body-sways, he appeared consumed entirely and I was enraptured. I hadn’t seen him live before, just via YouTube, and I was utterly captivated  by his gritty, passionate voice and his talented guitar-playing.

It also struck me that I hadn’t been to this particular  L.A. Venue for at least three years. The last time I’d been at The Troubadour, I had arrived extremely intoxicated via limousine for a birthday party and a live show. I technically wasn’t single, as N and I were trying like Hell to keep our über long-distance relationship afloat, but it was a darker time in our courtship.

I swear Bobby was on par with me this week as he performed his breathtaking song “Who Have You Been Loving”. The night was already enchanted as I got to spend a teeny bit of time with dear friends (big waves to my KSIBTU Crew Girls Iris & Kim) and  enjoy the company of my sister Mari/Pai, @RobKris13 (whose pictures of Bobby I’m featuring) and @edmett while participating in one of my favorite activities: watching brilliant singer-songwriters perform live.

Love as a Transformative Path

So let me go back to the beginning and  tell you that I knew I was going to write about love and relationships this week, and not because we’re approaching that obnoxious-pink-hearts-and-teddy-bears-day, February fourteenth. I wanted to address Kristen’s admirable poise as she sidesteps the intense scrutiny and curiosity into her  own love life, and I wanted explore the question that arises in relationships in general: Is this relationship worth the struggle?

So while in SoCal, I had hoped to write, severely lacking in notebooks and writing utensils, even as I was bursting on the subject of Amore (Italian)! I stayed in my childhood bedroom while down in L.A., which is peppered with baskets and drawers of little treasures I couldn’t part with. In one basket I found an old journal, started two years ago. There was only one entry in it. It began with the line:

“I am on United Flight 53 to Maui”

To my joy, I discovered that this is my traditional airplane journal entry commencing the start of a new travel adventure. This time, N and I were embarking on our honeymoon. Perfect. Just another confirmation to write about the faith and consistency of love, despite setbacks, challenges, immigration and wild speculation from external naysayers–obstacles that Kristen and her partner Robert have to address nearly every day.

Let me inject briefly with a clarifying statement.  I do not believe in “Valentine’s Day”. I believe in love, I believe in declaring it as often as possible to my beloveds and I believe  in sacred contracts with numerous soul mates (see last week’s Musings). But I do not need a specific day, decked out in cut-out hearts and boxes of chocolate to dictate how I express my fondness for those in my life. So again, I’m not writing about Liebe (German) in reaction to the event that occurs next Monday. Instead, I am writing about  Szeretet (Hungarian) because I believe loving someone is always worth any struggle… And because N and I are going through the next phase in the permanent residency/Green Card process. And because I had a mind-blowing lunch with a childhood girlfriend while I was in town. (Meg is a newlywed, and is discovering who she is as a married woman). . .and because our Reigning Other Queen Kristen and her chosen consort Mr Pattinson are trying to navigate the pitfalls of being in a relationship under the telescopic spotlight amongst cynics, set stalkers, “nerdy bloggers” and the spectacle that is our society’s expectations.

Swear that youre in it to win it

Our Majestic Misfit Kristen is only 20 years old. I know it’s easy to forget this when we witness her stunning transformation into MaryLou(Stew), or when we realize she’s portrayed more sage, battered old souls then most of us have had jobs (most of us. I’m into my twenty-something job since I’ve been seventeen). But it’s true Kristen is just out of her teen years, chronologically. I ask us all to remember what it was like to be in our early twenties, attempting to negotiate a career, decipher what we want to do with our lives, falling in and out of infatuation with the gorgeous kid at our work or in our classes.

John Welwood–author, psychotherapist, and founder of the field that is my doctoral studies currently: East/West Psychology–notices that  most beliefs about love, commitment and marriage have been altered drastically today. Welwood writes in his article Intimate Relationship as Transformative Path, that the definition and function of loving relationships and marriage in particular, were prescribed by family, society and religion, and upheld (supported? Whaaa?) steadfastly by the community. Today, however, perhaps due to cues from television, movies, and new media, the loving relationship has become the wild frontier and almost the exception.

Ummmmmm. So what happens when your “community” is Hollywood, land of the 5-times-divorced-but-let’s-have-a-reality-TV-show-about-our-crumbling-relationship-mentality?  What happens when you’re trying to grapple with social networking sites, Tweets, twits, gossip blogs, camera phones and your own “fans” fighting, plotting and sorta-kinda hoping/wagering that your relationship fails?

It may be frustrating to some, but Kristen and Rob’s policy of keeping their personal lives to themselves is a policy that is effective. The curiosity may be at an all-time high right now, but the rabidity will fade eventually, and the bond that exists between our Royal Rebels is probably only strengthening as they face the challenges purported by being outrageously famous, together as a partnership. John Welwood’s thoughts on long-lasting couples echo this:

“What can sustain a couple through the most difficult times is knowing that they are together for a larger purpose–helping each other refine who they authentically are as people.”

All I’ve Ever Learned From Love

“But all I’ve ever learned from love, was how to shoot at someone who out-drew you.”

~ Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah

I cannot imagine the horror Kristen and Robert must feel when they recognize they cannot even hold hands in public for fear of retribution, of the Vultures swooping in and pecking away at their still-warm forms. I  have great admiration for  how they both have waded through the speculation and obscene invasion of privacy. Could you say you’d handle it with the same finesse? At age 20 and 24, what were (or are–Musings has Readers of all ages, ranging from 15 to 65+) you doing, and how did (do) you view love and intimacy? What cultural, familial or religious factors govern your views on love, commitment, marriage…?

When I was 20, I was a junior in college, just having declared my major for the sixtieth time (Sociology. English. Journalism. Psychology. Music. ) Speech Communication was the winner…for about 1 semester until I stumbled upon Counseling Psychology. I was in the final months of my relationship with my first  boyfriend as an “adult”. I was already experiencing the heartbreak of first love, first loss, the first discussions of marriage, and why or how it wasn’t in the cards for me just yet (if ever). I can’t imagine trying to process these overwhelming emotions while in the public eye, with my face splashed across every rag mag counting down the minutes to my demise.

As Mr. Welwood asserts, times have changed in how society views love and relationships. No one culture or religion views Mahal (Filipino/Tagalog) and marriage in the exact same way. In India and some African villages your soon-to-be spouse is chosen for you and you don’t meet your new honey until a family-chaperoned meal is arranged. In 1950’s America, the ultimate act of love a woman could display is finding a husband for whom she can immediately birth children and tend his home.

I never believed I would get married. I was raised by a spectacularly efficient single-mother and I had no example of marriage to draw experience from. I grew up surrounded by peers who all were married and having kids by the time they were 24, which is great since these girls and guys have always, always envisioned their lives playing out exactly so. I looked upon my future in love as nebulous. Mostly because I couldn’t imagine settling in one place long enough to anyone’s liking–I have expansive dreams of traveling and an impulsive nature to boot–hence the  reason I carry a passport in my purse nearly all the time.

But this is not always acceptable, even today. I have friends who recount to me how patronizing and judgmental people are  because they are single. One of my Possum (aka Aussie) Besties, @Justice_Aussie (Jai) came home one afternoon after a doctor’s visit. The nurse receptionist called Jai …wait for it..“Socially Infertile”. Meaning, she is single, and not able to hang onto a partner, and most likely decreasing any chances that Jai could have children, whether naturally or with some help. My friend Jai, granted, I’m biased, but I still speak truth, is a beautiful, intelligent, snarky, accomplished lawyer in her twenties. For some stranger to offer up her opinion (a narrow, cruel and uninformed one at that) unsolicited, is an abomination. And it rocked Jai’s confidence. My beautiful, strong Possum felt a moment of uncertainty.

Oh, fuck no.

Now. Can you imagine the onslaught of unsolicited opinions that our divine, royal Queen Kristen must receive on a daily basis?

Creating A New Definition

I met my now-husband N when I was single and traveling on a personal quest. I spent 3 weeks wandering through China, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, with my mother. Then I spent one week solo traveling through a few places within my Motherland, The Philippines. I was 27 years old (waaaay too old for some people’s liking and waaaaay too single) seeking some understanding of a culture that is mine but little experienced since I was not raised within it. N was working as a dining room steward on the cruise ship my mother and I toured with. We met in Osaka, Japan. It was not Love, or Cinta (Indonesian) at first sight, but it definitely was a bond of respect upon first meeting. After I left Asia, N and I kept in touch with the assistance of modern technology: Skype, Chat, long-distance calling cards. Long, wonderful, movie-worthy story short, despite ungainly obstacles (cultural differences, religious differences, nearly insurmountable long-distances–like all the time; our family’s skepticism, and our respective communities’ concerns), N and I are now in the home stretch of his garnering permanent residency and his green card. We just have to pass this second interview proving that we indeed are a genuine, married couple and have been for the past two years. We’ve worked hard these two years, fought for this, defended this. And we two wanderers just created a love story of unconventional means. But it works. And I have a single journal entry detailing our honeymoon flight to Maui.  SCORE.

So again, I bring attention to our stunning Rebel Queen Kristen and bow humbly at her feet for the incredible strength and grace she endures to have her personal life include one Mr Pattinson. How do we know she’s in this relationship for the long haul? Well we don’t know as an absolute, nor should we, but from what I’ve observed, our Queen has withstood great distances, public criticisms and concerns, meddling film studios and co-workers, stalkerazzi, obsessed and delusional “fans”, all while in the spotlight. They’re defying predictions and excruciating scrutiny, and they’re making it work. And it’s so pretty.

Reminiscent of the fair Snow White and her prince, no...?

Kristen, Rob, and our Featured Rebel have explored ways of creating a new definition of old values. While the idea and concept of Amour (French) is as old as time, the way we practice it, protect it, and live it is all our own accord. Others refuse to be labeled or pigeonholed in one identity, despite external pressures to choose just one definition. Others continue to refuse compliance  to industry and societal expectations in their work and in their expression of values.

Featured Royal Rebel: Viggo Mortensen

This beautiful, multi-talented man not only worked with Kristen in On the Road this summer, but his name is attached to the new film project Snow White and the Huntsman, which would feature Reigning Queen Kristen in the titular role of Snow (if she accepts the offer) and Mr Mortensen as The Huntsman. Viggo alone would be enough for me to want Kristen to do this film. Everything that he produces is just better. He caught my attention first when he was the sexy, hippie vagabond in A Walk On The Moon with Diane Lane, but Viggo Mortensen has been on the scene for much longer than that. He is a Danish-American actor, writer, painter and musician boasting an incredible list of accomplishments and an array of exotic locales in which he lived. Perhaps he is best known for his work as Aragorn in epic and one of my personal favorites: The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (yes I apparently was a geeky fan girl for much longer than you knew), but it was his most recent work in a series of esteemed director David Cronenberg’s films A History of Violence and Eastern Promises (for which he earned an Academy Award nod) that elevated Viggo’s status to glorious heights.

Mr Mortensen always provided glimpses into his Otherness, even from his childhood. His mother is American with family from Nova Scotia Canada, and his father is Danish. Perhaps Viggo was destined to be a wanderer and seeker of more since his parents met while traveling through Norway. The first eleven years of his life, the artist lived first in Denmark, then Argentina, where his father managed chicken farms and Viggo learned Spanish, the language he speaks fluently today and is the language in which he reports feeling most comfortable communicating. His parent’s divorce prompted Viggo and his brothers and mother to return to the States, and he spent the remainder of his childhood in New York. To address his restless spirit in which he reported needing “to define purpose of life” (very appropriate he is in On the Road, no?), Viggo chose to travel and live in Europe, including Spain, England and Denmark after he graduated from university in New York. He held miscellaneous jobs such as truck driver and flower seller until he returned to The States after two years, to pursue acting as a career.

His first film role was as an Amish farmer in Witness alongside Harrison Ford, and since this film Viggo Mortensen has produced a steady string of well-received movies over three decades.  His  film work includes The Portrait of a Lady, Crimson Tide, A Perfect Murder, Hidalgo and Sean Penn’s The Indian Runner among so many others. He has cultivated a career that is highly diverse as well as intriguing and it would take maybe three more pages for me to list his incredible hobbies and rewards. In addition to acting, Viggo is a poet, a jazz musician and a painter. He refuses to comply with Hollywood’s expectations with statements like, “I wouldn’t do any more movies, quite frankly.” He also declined his agents’ suggestions to change his name to Vic Mort. He has been knighted in Norway, he is a published poet and writer, a musician who has released at least three CDs, an accomplished equestrian, mural painter and linguist (he speaks French, Spanish, English, Italian and Swedish fluently). He’s a translator, a hockey buff (big supporter of the Montreal Canadiens), and a skilled swordsman (residual from The Lord of The Rings). And he is a co-parent to a now 22-year-old son, with his ex-wife Punk singer Exene Cervenka (of the band X). Throw on top of that the honors he’s received in being named Sexiest, Hottest or among the Most Beautiful nearly every year for the past decade. He indeed created his own idea of what it means to be an artist. Neither fame nor money are of importance to Mr Mortensen, only the opportunity to express some facet of himself creatively. One of my favorite quotes I’ve read from him is in his musings on being an actor:

“It comes down to the fact that you supply the blue, and other people supply the other colors…and mix them with your blue. Maybe there is some blue that wasn’t there before. Maybe there wasn’t supposed to be any there in the first place. So have fun, and make a good blue.”

Offenses of Otherness:

*Hadn’t pursued the now-legendary role of Aragorn for LoTR until his 14-year old son convinced him to reconsider

*Does not approach filmmakers for new roles, prefers to “wait to see what comes” to him

“Life is short. I like to pay attention while I’m going through it. I will create and filter my own idea of what that means”

Reigning Other Queen: Kristen Stewart

So in this fairly long Musings on redefining an idea or identity despite age-old expectations, we sidestepped the antiquated Valentine’s Day-like title of Love and discussed different definitions of that ubiquitous emotion, verb, title. We applauded our Majestic Misfit Kristen because she reminds us that falling in Love, and expressing Love “Ninakupenda” (‘I Love You’ in Swahili)  can look very different from what we expect. We all are informed and influenced by our childhood/cultural/religious communities  in constructing meaning for a concept or title, whether it be:

LOVE or CREATIVITY or GUIDANCE or ACTOR or ARTISTIC or HUMANITY  

Kristen also reminds us that only one facet of her being is in-tuned with portraying Bella Swan…Kristen has the means and the courage to embrace her inner MaryLouStew as well. This is doubly and triply confirmed by some of Kristen’s OTR costars: Amy Adams, Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund. Maybe (hopefully) Ms Stewart will embrace the true role of a Rebel Queen by the name of Snow White, as well as embody the role of a transgendered prison inmate (K-11) this year. Maybe she’ll take the time she wants to write and direct. Maybe she’ll arrive at the BAFTAs this Sunday with Robert on her arm as she passes the torch of Rising Star to this year’s deserving recipient (Maybe to fellow Others Emma Stone…Or Andrew?). Whatever role or creative plan she chooses to share with us, I do not doubt it will be all Kristen. As she defines it. And that is seriously beautiful.

Role Call: Other Queen? HERE. . . P.S. Thank Buff & N again for this photo/edit collab. Its my very favorite.

Offenses of Otherness:

*Remains grounded about the enormous success of her career

*Strives to channel celebrity into philanthropy

“You should have the opportunity to be more than one person with different people – because you have that within you.”

Go on. Go and challenge what you’ve been taught about expressing yourself, expressing your emotions, expressing your gifts. Take your “blue” and make it the best blue you can. Question and defy the critics who label you “socially infertile”, give the double-bird salute to anyone who tells you that Valentine’s Day must somehow involve paper heart cutouts and flower delivery companies. Remind yourself what it’s like to fall in love, fall out of love; to seek identity and direction and to create a new model, a new culture, a new language. Redefine and REPRESENT Otherness.

Viggo is Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others create a new definition for expression.

Embrace your Other.

***

Question: What factors influence your beliefs about Love, Creativity, Expression, Individuality? Do you ever challenge these factors?

***

A/N: Again, I thank you for your patience with me as I try to make peace with a new posting schedule. It may be bi-weekly now for a while as I tackle 3D happenings such as Immigration interviews, MOO Missions and a fledgling Private Practice. The response and support for the last essay was unprecedented and I am stunned.

You read the glorious and genius KStew Is Better Than You, yes? Well it’s KSIBTU’s BIRTHDAY today, February 10! One year ago, CC blessed us with her gift of humor and intellectual sexy and altered everything. I count her among the inspirations and co-creators of Musings. I’m kinda indebted to CC for life because she first found the courage to publish her brilliant and effective defense of Queen Kristen.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KSIBTU!!! To many, many more years of laughter and Cat Quotas.


This Essay is For: Possum Bestie Jai, to my friend and beloved sister, CC of @KStewsBtrThanU, to Ree (my warrior), Megs (I could spend hours with you), Cheermom (You’ve been blessed by Angels) and N (I’ll gladly challenge immigration with you any day, Babylove).

Big thanks to @RobKris13 and @edmett  for an incredible day-long adventure in L.A.

To Bouffant: You’re my brand of Cray-Cray. Love you.

To Mari/Pai: We’ll need to make it a tradition, our girls nights out. Love spending time with you, mi hermana.

To my Cyber Sisters/Readers: Muchas muchas gracias, Te Amo.

Check out the New Resources for Beauty Page….I’ll be adding new material often, and hopefully including links and videos.

See you soon. Yours, KJ


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