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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

We’re Not The Only Ones

24 Mar

“And it makes me float free, when I see how small my life can be” ~~ Lamb, Small

My darlings. *opens arms wide and ushers you all into a ginormous group hug*. So much has happened since we’ve last visited. Not only did our Royal Rebels Kristen and Robert emerge for a low-key date night, and National Rob Day commenced in which we were blessed with two live interviews from him; but in a surreal and horrific blip of time, Mother Nature and All That Is Larger Than Us rose up and schooled us about our place in this world. I had intended to post a MOO Memo to discuss our Fair Philanthropy last Thursday, but it turns out I was to wait a bit longer while we merged with the global pulse. Literally.

See, two weeks ago, late Thursday night, March 10, 2011, I pressed the “PUBLISH” button on a MOO essay featuring The Risks and Benefits of introspection and following bliss–and Helena Bonham Carter. The post went live nearly simultaneously with the news that the devastating tsunami hit the Sendai Miyagi Prefecture of Japan. The giant wave was triggered by an incomprehensibly large 9.0 earthquake just off the Japanese coast. You all know this. You may have been awake with me and joined in the impromptu vigil with our friends, loved ones and fellow fandom members on Twitter.

It was one of those moments when I was truly awed by and strangely grateful for the effectiveness of social networking sites, but moreso, I was humbled by the grace and graciousness with which members in this newfound community  operate. Suddenly, it wasn’t about interviews or celeb-sightings nor petty in-fighting nor paparazzi wars..For once, it wasn’t even about Charlie Sheen’s alarming (and I say this from a mental health professional’s perspective) decompensation and subsequent One-Man Comedy Tour. It was 11PM here in Cali when the first images of the earthquake and the tsunami began filtering in. And I was on Twitter trying to contact friends, MOO readers and my own family in Asia…N had just come home from work, and was on the phone trying to locate his family in Indonesia to advise them of the Tsunami Warnings of waves barreling towards 12 other countries including Indonesia, the Philippines, and Taiwan. My eyes darted between the horrendous images flooding in on CNN, and my laptop’s computer screen where I sought updates from friends across the world. Though stunned and heartbroken for witnessing the devastating destruction in Japan, I still felt great camaraderie and comfort, because you all were here, witnessing it as well.

Harmony

A Shift In Focus

Nothing like the shifting of the Earth’s axis ten fucking inches to remind us how tiny we are, hmmmm? Can you believe that madness? According to the United States Geological Service (USGS), the Japanese Earthquake permanently shifted Japan’s coastline 2.4 meters!! While we endured a physical prompting, I’m going to venture out and say that we also felt the impact on our emotional and psychological well-being too. Here’s the dealio:  It’s expected and normal for us to feel jarred and ungrounded after witnessing the mass destruction of the quake and tsunami. I felt faint echoes of September 11, 20o1: Eyes glued to the television while feeling helpless and shattered and incoherent with a grief I couldn’t identify. Experiencing and/or witnessing a traumatic event, of chronic poverty, of war, of Mother Nature (i.e., Katrina, Haiti) can elicit strong feelings of anxiety, anger, sadness, depression and grief. Post-Trauma Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is no joke, just ask anybody in the armed services, or  any survivor of emotional and/or physical violence. But rather than write a litany of sobering, staggering statistics and clinical jargon, I wanted to remind us all of the absolute power we posses. I want to pay homage to the inner strength and phenomenal courage that composes us, exudes from us, and surrounds us. . .because serio, there are small miracles and blessings in every single moment, counterbalancing any darkness. For instance:

That picture above? My 3 year old niece, Monkey, had her first extended day of preschool (a 4 1/2 hr session instead of just 2!) this week. She informed me that she is “learning about BUGS, Auntie!” And while she admits she “hates bugs”, she was able to paint vibrant colors on coffee filter-wings to show her acceptance that even bugs are beautiful during craft time. And she gave this exquisite butterfly to moi. Now COME ON, people. This is what it’s about. We are not long for this world, we are small, small glimmers among a night sky filled with stars.  But fuck it if I am not brought to my knees with the reminder that we are evolving, thriving creatures spreading our wings, venturing out, redefining. Monkey is for certain a sage Queen from whom I can learn grace.

Monkey also sat me down and indoctrinated me again in one of the O.G. Royal Rebels of the Disney Tradition . I very happily would have endorsed our Majestic Misfit Kristen taking on the role of THIS Disney spitfire, if she hadn’t chosen the fairest Snow White. See, 3-year-olds are sage, sage creatures. Shout-outs to @ellelala for hooking me up with this jewel, and for @Buff_82 for singing the lyrics to me…

BELLE IS OTHER

“I like Belle a lot. She was kind of a loner, but she wasn’t sad over it or desperate to fit in. She didn’t give a shit that the hottest piece of man-ass in town wanted her, because he was a total semi-retarded douchebag and she knew she could do better. She wasn’t motivated by love or the need to have a significant other to do anything. In fact, even when she began to fall in love with the beast and she got news that her father was sick, she was like “iight I’m feelin you Beast but my dad is like dying in the woods so I should prooobbably go”. And then when Gaston was like being a complete asshole by getting everyone to raid the castle and kill the Beast, she broke the FUCK out of that cellar and rode a horse to rescue her man, after she nursed her father back to health. And we don’t even need to mention the fact that her man was an 8 foot Chewbacca/buffalo hybrid, she saw that he was a kind person who loved her and she fell in love with him. Like, seriously, Belle is basically the coolest woman ever.”~courtesy of Beautilation’s Tumblr

Royal Rebels Remind Us

We always can look to our fellow Others and Royals-in-Training when we’re lacking in confidence , or if we need a nudge towards expanding perspectives. Our Reinging Royal Beauty Kristen and her “deliciously handsome” partner Robert  are always quietly urging us to focus not on their personal lives or their unconventional, mouth-watering attractiveness, but instead on their work. As we discussed last Musings, both actors have exciting, film projects debuting this year, which I personally think have the power to propel them each beyond the stratosphere.

She’s embodied the free-spirited and fierce Beatnik Beauty  named Marylou in the Francis Ford Coppola-production On The Road…

And he’s killing us softly with his portrayal of vet student-turned-circus-roadie Jacob Jankowski in Water for Elephants…

Another subtle reminder for us to chillax with the microscopic focus on our Rebels is thiiiissss: The Re-Emergence of  NinjaStew. KnowingKristen. Gleeful-SideEyesKristen. Remember, our Reinging Other Queen rules at communicating…. without saying a word. OICU, Peek-a-boo-Stew.

OICU Peekabo

Kristen’s message as I hear it?

Yeah, I’m here. With him. I will not give you details about my personal life, except that I do try to have one, and I’m intensely protective of it. Interpret that as you will. But I do partake in the same activities that you do; like bowling and attending movies or concerts. If you approach respectfully, I’ll happily take a picture with you. But I’m not really comfortable with the ardent, singular focus on me, though I appreciate your admiration for my work. But really? There are other things and events in this world where your time and attention could go.

So Kristen and Robert were able to sneak in a movie date last week. I’m happy for them. I’m happy that they supposedly were able to slip into a dark theater and support their friends Billy Burke and #ChattyCathy by seeing the film Red Riding Hood …It’s nice to hear that they easily posed with fans for pictures and autographs. I’m happy that people were fairly respectful of the duo, not tweeting or Facebooking the private pair’s location, or at least, waiting until Kristen and Rob left before sharing their whereabouts. NICE WORK, friends. Maybe if we continue to be mellow and respectful, the lovely couple will feel safe enough to venture out more often. #AnAstonishingConcept

Look! The thought of some breathing room makes Martine dance!!

And it gives our Majestic Misfit a moment to gather her wits and thank The Gods that people are willing and able to shift their focus…

Be The Change

“We must be the change we wish to see in the world”~Gandhi

When Ms Stewart first alluded to her ambitious philanthropic leanings in her Vogue interview, it’s clear that she possesses that broad perspective we discuss here in Otherland, the awareness of the Global Soul. Kristen’s interest in charitable causes only further confirms her right to wear the Other Queen Crown. After I awoke from the haze I’ve been in these past two weeks–partially due to the Japan Disaster, partially due to the depression and writer’s block– I experienced the overwhelming desire to help…do something… just as I had with Hurricane Katrina and with the Haiti earthquake. And this is where our personal power surfaces. While we can’t all be Sandra Bullock , Jack Johnson or Gwen Stefani (bowing down to their awesomeness), my dears, it doesn’t take too much of us to contribute to the global goodwill and make a big statment.

One way we can help is to text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation…and spread the word on Twitter and Facebook, or whatever your social network of choice….

OR, contact your country’s RED CROSS to donate any time or supplies or money.

The American Red Cross

So I find myself lacking severely in the financial arena. However, I do have eyes, energy and a skill-set that is warranted these days. I hopped online and began researching Disaster Relief options and found myself face-to-face with an opportunity to partake in what has always been a goal of mine: Mental Health Disaster Response work. I have signed up for the Disaster Response Team with Red Cross, offering my psychotherapeutic skills to families who are effected by the Japanese quake/tsunami, as well as to any folks experiencing local disasters…and also importantly, I’ll be available for relief and debriefing for the caretakers and counselors who are already there in the trenches. I also have been led to–and have decided to pursue certification with– GREEN CROSS, an organization comprised of mental health professionals who are on standby for deployment to Japan for direct work in the hardest-hit regions–a very hands-on crisis counseling team. So this is how I can help, and exercise my power with resources available to me. This feels right for me.


So how else can we “Be the Change” ? We can be kind and patient and supportive of one another. We can exercise compassion towards our fellow beings, whether in 3D/”Real Life” or amongst our Cyber Friends. We can emulate our Reigning Other Queen Kristen and seek ways to build and support a cause close to our hearts. There are a couple of incredible fundraisers occurring these days that are integral to the Twilight Community…One charity I recently gave a small donation to is Fandom For Sexual Assault Awareness, spearheaded by a friend of mine @Aylah50 and author ColdplayWhore.  April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month; plus, the cause is especially significant for me personally.

Another one you’ve probably heard of, is the fundraising efforts in honor of our Reigning Queen Kristen’s birthday (April 9), for the Non-Profit organization Covenant House whose mission is to get runaway kids off the streets.

Helping Kids Today for Kristen Stewart's Birthday Widget

“You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.” ~John Lennon, Imagine

So yeah…There are lots of ways we can embrace the dreamy “Dreamers” in John Lennon’s Peace Anthem Imagine… And, there are many small, but powerful practices to “be the change” we wish to see in the world around us, as advised by Mahatma Gandhi. Support does not always manifest monetarily. Sometimes the most profound gift we can give to someone else is a kind word or a listening ear. Several beloveds in my world are experiencing shattering, soul-depleting divorces. My dear Sister-in-Law suffers from a chronic, painful, autoimmune disorder  requiring chemo treatments monthly for symptom management.

Knowing that we are not alone…well, that may be the most invaluable knowledge of all, hmm? Because I know my friends enduring the painful dissolution of their relationships, as well as my Sister grappling with the anxieties and physical complexities of chemo appreciate the hand to hold and the validating nod or two…And I know that in those moments two weeks ago, after posting MOO…and after the news of the Quake and Tsunami, I felt a rich, encompassing solace in knowing we were in this together.  As sentient beings. As Others.

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others know they’re dreamers, but that they’re not the only ones.

Embrace Your Other.

* * *

A/N: There are many words to say, but I’ve already taken up so much of your time. I thank you for stopping by and checking out this week’s atypical MOO.

It is imperative that I send a very special SHOUT OUT to the brave, beautiful souls who filled out the sentence completion questions on the About KJ page.  And there were many of you who have sent in private emails with your stories and your answers. I read every single of them and laugh, cringe and cheer along with you. Your courage and honesty bring me to tears. You inspire me . Thank you for sharing a piece of your soul with us: MYCLEVERALIASMARI/PAILADYBUGEDMETTELLELALAPHARMGIRL15

To author 107YrOldVirgin, Amber, how graceful you are. You will be missed, but you are supported in every step of your journey. Your incredible writing thrived and blossomed and became extraordinary from “Mystic” all the way to “Authentication”. A force to be reckoned with. Go do your thing, honey.

Beloveds who have been on my mind and in my heart: OJ, Ellelala, JRollin5, Ree, Puss, Katie, CC, Iris Adrienne, Buff, RobKris13, Possum Jai, My SK, RandomMama, Ms. Maroon… Julie and your family on the Central Coast.

BIG THANKS to CC, Buff, LCMom, IndiaPale, Beanai and Tebby for sending me encouragement (and links!!) for the job search. I’m chasing after it, guys, I am.

See you all next time…Wholly yours, KJ

The Risks and Benefits of Expression & Introspection

10 Mar

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” ~Joseph Chilton Pearce

Greetings, my fellow Majestic Misfits! Before I dive into this week’s essay, I wanted to mention a couple things. Firstly, please accept my apologies since I did not post this weekend as I had hoped to and even purported that I would. Some of you know that I’m recovering from a 3-week long flu-bronchial something-or-other and I’m still dodging bouts of tiredness, especially since I’m back in full-force trying to build a clientele for my tiny psychotherapy practice. I’ve decided that I’m not going to give such explicit statements such as: “Musings will post this weekend”. Instead, I’ll rely on the posting schedule I have always had…Thursdays are meant for updates, whether weekly or bi-weekly. However,  if something comes up, I’ll let you know, as I have lately, when I’m running behind or if I need more time (like today). Cool beans?

Secondly,  a sweet friend *waves at @JRollin5* advised me last week that because she catches MOO updates on her phone, she doesn’t benefit from the music playlist each week. In fact, she didn’t know that there was a playlist! I may have to release Volume 2 of the MOO Mixed-Tape Love Letter soon here, because oh mah gah, if anything has been present these past weeks, its been THE MUSIC! A few of you have asked me what influences the playlists for each week, and my answer is: these songs are either connected to the Featured Royal Rebel or the theme for the week–often times, both. I listen to the same playlist while I’m writing the essay and I find the songs often inform the tone of the whole post. Plus, our Reigning Other Queen Kristen reports music as essential, and her musical sensibility is genius. And we celebrate Kristen’s sensibilities here in Otherland, so….

Then there’s this: *cue soaring heart*

The Fairest of The Fair

Perfect segue into the check-in with our Royal Beauties. Last week was a glorious week for those of us keeping an eye on the happenings of a certain pretty, Rebellious Partnership, yes? In last week’s Muselet, we were still acclimatizing to the newly released Vanity Fair in which Rob posed for legendary photographer Annie Liebovitz. While the pictures were beautiful (awaiting more OUTTAKES , pleeeeease!) the interview portion, though not including any unknown information, left me feeling unsettled and wistful. I also felt the “journalist” who conducted the interview (allowing for faulty “facts”) operated with an agenda. She even asked the tired and unoriginal question pertaining to his relationship with our Other Queen, Kristen, after she wrote a sneering paragraph scoffing at other interviewers who have tried to obtain the same information (“Oprah couldn’t even get it out of them”). Well, her exclusivity-seeking fell short, and when she showed up on something like seven Entertainment News shows hooking interest about Rob’s non-denial denial she revealed to me just one more person clamoring for a piece of the magic. The very folks that Rob and Kristen need protection from.

Well, opportunistic writers aside, luckily there were other bright spots in our Rebel Royals’ week. Rob still shared a glimpse into his insatiable thirst for knowledge as well as his personal experience of living under a microscope.  And we were reminded that his new movie is going to be …well, gorgeous. Gorgeous in all ways: cinematography, set design, costumes and story. I am still trying to pick myself up from the floor where I had fallen due to the new Water For Elephants screen caps and the official trailer for the movie: Water For Elephants International Trailer Holy Jeebus. Distract me, distract me!!!

Its not even funny anymore. I flatlined weeks ago.

Now let us please, please, pretty please talk about our Majestic Kristen’s spectacular news of the week shall we??  After months of speculation and weeks of the curiosity operating at a fever pitch, it was announced by the film’s producer that our own Majestic Misfit Kristen Stewart is going to play a Rebel Royal Original, Snow White, in the movie Snow White and the Huntsman opposite the insanely beautiful Other Rebels Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron. People may have been skeptical. I am not one of those people. I screamed in delight when I heard Kristen was considering the role of Snow. Ok if it is too hard for you to envision, let’s break it down:

One extraordinarily beautiful girl:

Who is known across the land as being kind and compassionate. Also known to be an animal lover and a bit of a goddess in the kitchen. Loquat Pie anyone?

She’s next in line for the throne (there’s your Royalty), but she has many, many detractors and critics fueled by jealousy and insecurity. Members of her own family send henchmen after her for Goddess’s sake! Forced to hit the road and kick some ass (not to mention defy the age-old gender stereotypes of the hapless, helpless woman awaiting rescue), all while sporting fierce fashion wear? She ain’t your grandmammy’s Damsel-In-Distress, yo. Who ELSE could portray such a Rebellious Beauty? No One. This Is KRISTEN’S ROLE.  In this medium, our Queen of Unconventional Beauty will model for a new generation what it means to defy decrepit gender roles and also respond to the women-against-women destruction in our society and in this fandom. On your knees, kids. Bow down to what could potentially be a great thing.

Risks & Benefits

“If you want to work on your art, work on your life” ~Chekhov

Kristen is reportedly fielding numerous incredible projects, unsurprisingly. Her reputation for professionalism and the brilliant embodiment of the characters she plays (Read: The Runaways,The Cake Eaters) is paving the way for what could be an astoundingly deft and unique career, not to mention one of longevity. Her confidence and focus on piecing together her career plan is not lost on her partner Robert. He admires her propensity towards clever role choices, and also exudes the sense that he is testing the waters for his own path. Which is normal and expected. He’s only 24 for goodness sake. Typical twenty-four year olds are just outside of completing college or are experiencing the glories of jobs and internships. Rob and Kristen have been handed cash and fame and are being hailed as having “hit it big”, but they’re not even a quarter of a century old. It’s a lot of pressure. Knowing and pursuing what “we want to do” is stressful (even when it’s a good stress, stress is still stress), daunting and potentially disheartening. I sense a little overwhelmed-ness from Rob when I read that VF article. These very valid feelings could be there for him, but I still am wary of the VF interviewer’s not-exactly-supportive influence on the story. Regardless, I understand those feelings well.  And in questioning my career path and goal for this world, I recognize there is the risk of discovering I am not exactly happy or actually doing what I had initially set out to accomplish.

I just need a moment of quiet...

Luckily, Rob is blessed with several gifts and he has the capacity to explore many avenues in which he can utilize them. He is granted versatility and really, opportunity to soar. He could be a musician, songwriter, movie producer, screenplay writer, and he has dabbled in all of these fields already. But for him to declare aloud that he feels limited to representing a sparkling vampire for the next ten years indicates he’s aware of the long-term effects prompted by his particular profession, and he’s questioning these effects. Is it enough to discourage him from exploring his other talents? I hope not. I hope he pushes forward and pursues all of his interests, refusing to be pigeonholed.

Yesterday I met with a new client for an assessment appointment at the Magical  (though flailing, is still magical in its intent) Little Practice. One of the forms, among the confidentiality agreement and consent for treatment forms discussed in an intake appointment, is a form outlining the Benefits and Risks of Therapy. This concept, of the risks involved with introspection and discovery serves as a cautionary moment. Because, as the Chekhov quote above notes: we must do the work that comes with living authentically, creatively, expressively. Work on art, work on life. And it might not always be pretty.

Have you found this to be true? When you decide to participate in inquiry and introspection (whether it be to look for a new job, pick up a new hobby, start a new relationship, or start receiving therapeutic support), and specifically self-improvement and career aspirations, do you feel that rush of reactions? Excitement for the adventure; or, anxiety and grief in stepping away from the familiar; joy at exploring a new project?  Are loved ones in your life discouraging your leap of faith or change in direction? Or are they cheering you on with well-wishes of, “do whatcha gotta do, brother” ? The point is, not all feelings and emotions in reactions to a confrontation of uncertainties of goals are pleasant. I tell clients that as they embark on their journey of self-reflection and mental health improvement that it often gets darker before the sunrise. It can be intimidating to look in the mirror. Introspective folks might experience feelings of resistance (which is synonymous with fear) and may employ all sorts of creative strategies to sabotage our own plans.

I find myself in an interesting position these days. I am re-evaluating and gathering courage to jump back into the job market after a near-two-year hiatus. “WHAT??” You may screech.Wellllll…I have’t been able to sit down with my musical engineer to record the demo I had planned for last fall. But I have become a small business owner and tried my hand at becoming an independent practitioner as a therapist despite the abysmal state of this economy and the stigma attached to mental health improvement. But  for one, it’s a tedious, time-consuming process to build regular clientele who are willing to talk about their emotions (quirks eyebrow. I get that), and for another,  people don’t have any money to pay for services. Suffice to say, my little practice is on the verge of extinction, six months after opening day, and I still need to pay rent, and buy all the Top Ramen N and I consume for sustenance. While N is flourishing at work and fast-becoming the It Boy in his restaurant chain, I am a handful of weeks away from discontinued unemployment checks. Bottom line: This Other-Queen-In-Training has gots to get herself a J-O-B.  At least until the practice picks up steam, or until HRH Kristen contacts me and takes me up on my offer to help build the Halfway House Network…

Oh there is resistance, my friends. There is a cannonball sitting in my tummy. I am unsure. I have faith I can move forward but I also feel the fear. I have identified myself for the last decade as a psychotherapist who whole-heartedly pursued the requirements to become so. But after the disillusionment of BastardNation, I lack the confidence and desire to return to the corporate world. Fortunately, I, like Rob and Kristen, have been blessed with aptitude in a few areas: I can teach, I can create and perform music, I can babble and type these ramblings out to share with you kind folks…but can I do something with these skills? Am I brave enough to do something about it? After numerous pep talks via friends from around the world (Countless gratitude to @Kate_Suena in Canada, and my Aussie Besties @Ophelia2010 & @Justice_Aussie, along with my Cyber Sisters) I feel that I can. But…not gonna lie, you guys, there could be a resurgence of EMO-KJ with all these warring reactions of joy, exhilaration, frustration and insecurity. But perhaps I can look forward to donning a new work uniform soon?

Let the healing...begin.

Featured Royal Rebel: Helena Bonham Carter

While I’m not exactly speaking about reinvention, I have no problem encouraging it. At the very least embrace the idea that your uniqueness and colorful choices on career, clothes and the people you choose to surround yourself with can be your defining characteristic…Like this gorgeous Rebel. British actress Helena Bonham Carter, or HBC as I’ll refer to her occasionally, is the pinnacle of interesting and unconventional. And she does not care how she is perceived. She does not care how odd or unusual she presents, and perhaps that’s why we remember her…revere her…adore her.  We know her as a Queen already, on so many levels, and in many of her film roles (Lady Jane Grey, Queen Elizabeth, Queen of Hearts). It’s only natural that she’s featured on Musings’ Other Homecoming Court.

Helen’s first brush with acting occurred when she was sixteen years old, performing in a television commercial. She reports no formal acting training. She began her career when she entered herself in the British Acting Directory Spotlight with her winnings received from a writing contest. As she has stunning charisma, it is not surprising that Helena comes from a family of a prominent political background. HBC’s paternal great-grandfather H.H. Asquith was Prime Minister of the U.K. (1908-1916)  and her paternal grandmother Violet Bonham Carter was a famed political orator. Helena’s mother’s lineage is also impressive: her maternal grandfather was a Spanish Diplomat who was recognized as Righteous Among Nations for rescuing thousands of Jews from the Holocaust during the Second World War, her maternal grandmother was a Baroness and her great-aunt was a famous French Philanthropist. Her great-uncle, Anthony Asquith is Hollywood Royalty: he was the director of the films Pygmalion and The Importance of Being Ernest. Truly she’s a Royal who defies convention, the epitome of Royal Rebelliousness.

Her royal blood lines might not be as well-known to this generation, because we’re already preoccupied with her rule on film screens. An actress since the mid-1980’s HBC has appeared in over 60 films and made almost 30 film, television and radio appearances. The ingenuity by which she’s crafted her long and respected career cannot be denied. She has portrayed several twentieth-century “corset queens” beginning with her roles in Lady Jane GreyWings of The Dove (For which she earned an Oscar nomination along with SAG, Golden Globe and BAFTA nods)  and Howard’s End. But her remarkable versatility is what resonates strongest with her admirers. She has played Don Johnson’s girlfriend on the 80’s iconic TV classic Miami Vice, as well as Queen Elizabeth in the her most recent success, in the sublime and inspirational The Kings Speech (for which she was nominated for her second Academy Award, and for which she won a BAFTA). Somewhere in between those roles she has participated in such memorable films like A Room With A View, Twelfth Night, Fight Club, Frankenstein, Mighty Aphrodite, Harry Potter Movies 4 through 7, and four of her partner Tim Burton (And fellow Majestic Misfit)’s films including: the surreal (and my fave) Big Fish and the awesome Sweeney Todd.  HBC’s mother Elena is a psychotherapist (*fist pump in solidarity!*) and Helena has paid (and may still) pay her mother to review scripts with Helena to uncover the “psychological motivation behind a character” before she decides to take a role.

In 2009, HBC was named in the  Times’ as one of the Top 10 British Actresses of All Time . Not too shabby, eh? Perhaps the fact that she can wear mis-matched shoes and constantly top fashion magazines ‘WORST Dressed’ List is meant to truly illustrate how this talented, cool, unaffected beauty embodies Rebel Royalty at its finest. She has reported often that she is tired of the labels as “Prim Edwardian” and instead wants to “shock people out of it”. I simply adore her insistence on living her life her way, despite cautionary advise or the blue blood lineage. She doesn’t match shoes when on the red carpet. She hasn’t married her long-time partner Tim Burton, and she does not live in the same home with him, even though they have been a couple for ten years and have two children together. Instead she and Burton live in adjacent residences, connected by a hallway. Awesomesauce.

Offenses of Otherness:

Successfully balances independent projects with blockbusters.

Does not adhere to industry standards of “fashion”. She creates her own.

“I’m the kind of actor who has ventured into escaping from me.”

Ahhh well, we’re wrapping up today’s Musings on the risks and benefits of taking the leap towards introspection and reinvention. Rob became a little introspective in his Vanity Fair interview and it could possibly be the key to his liberation. Kristen, our Reigning Other Queen knows she wants to be an actress and the film projects funneling her way imply, at least to me, the potential for Greatness, despite the fact that she’s taking on yet another iconic role of which she will single-handedly redefine the antiquated standards attached to it. Pfft. She can do it for a Disney character. She schools us on how to question and pursue change daily.

Reigning Other Queen: Kristen Stewart

She’s back in Vancouver with her friends and colleagues from the Twilight Saga, and even though she has HottieBodyGuard and Agent Security Blanket John, she is proving day in and out how stealthy she can be. Her focus, as Robert says, is on her career trajectory as an actress, as it should be, because girlfriend is goood at her job. She reports knowing she wanted to be in the business ever since she was a little girl, growing up on sets where her parents (TV producer father, screenwriter-director mother) worked. Our Reigning Queen has the ability, like our Featured Rebel HBC, to lose herself in a character, becoming almost unrecognizable. We did not see a trace of our Valley-girl KStew beneath the heavy eye liner or shoulder pads in The Runaways. Nor did we see her in the battered but resilient Mallory of Welcome to The Rileys. However, if our girl wants to write or produce or compose screenplays, as she has said in the past she’d like to try, I can’t see anything holding her back from exploring those avenues as well. Her ability to be versatile, open and courageous reminds me that there is possibility for longevity and fulfillment in anything.

Offenses of Otherness:

Does not desire celebrity nor fame.

She does not adhere to industry standards for “fashion”. She creates her own.

“When I go onstage to accept an award, they think I’m nervous, uncomfortable, and awkward—and I am—but those are bad words for them.”

All right my lovelies….We talked about the beautiful stills and trailer from Water For Elephants and about the fantastic news that our Queen Kristen will actually be Queen-in-training Snow White on the big screen. We talked a little about the beauty of versatility and the courage to question ourselves and our paths. We talked about job hunting (which I don’t think Kristen nor Rob nor HBC will struggle with) and the resulting emotions that come from doing the introspective, clarifying work…emotions of elation, as well as melancholy and irritability. But that’s ok, whatever it is, however it presents itself. We all still hold our spots on the Homecoming Court for Otherness.

Helena is Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others realize that to work on their art, they work on their lives.

Embrace your Other.

*   *   *

QUESTION: How has it been for you to embark on new journeys? Have you met resistance? If so, from whom?

A/N: Thanks to JRollin5, MyCleverAlias, Possum Besties Jai and Aai, and my CyberSisters Bellsy and Cheermom and to the always present and brilliant Bouffant. Thanks to Katie for hooking me up with texting abilities. Thanks to my family Puss and Monkey for taking me to the museum  to see the butterflies and the piranhas (in the A-Ma-ZON).

Sending love and light to friends struggling this week: EACNM, BELLSY-BAI, LISA, CHEERMOM…and my dear IRIS ADRIENNE.

I donated to two fandom charities this week for causes near and dear to my heart. Wont you join me?

FandomsFightTheFloods and the charity Take Back The Night through the Fandom For Awareness Against Sexual Assault.

Next week I hope to contribute to the Fandom Against Domestic Violence and Fandom Fights Mental Illness.

See you next time, loves. xo, KJ

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


KStew & Vogue Inspire the Seeking of Global Soul

27 Jan

We all have wings. Though some of us don’t know why

~Never Tear Us Apart, INXS

We Are Here.

Well, hellllo there, my Majestic Misfits and Rebellious Royals! I’ll address why you haven’t heard from me in over two weeks (and, more importantly how profoundly effective the hiatus has been) in a few moments, but I just wanted to take a deep breath and enjoy being in your company. I hold deep and sincere gratitude to you for your patience and understanding. And you must know that I have missed you all. In a very experiential, existential way. And I’ve missed your clever, hysterical editorials on all things K/R/Twi/Bliss/Other related. So, this is me, before commencing this week’s essay, bowing down to you in humble appreciation. And I look a little like this:

One thing that has become dazzlingly apparent to me recently is The Bond. There is a bond now. We all have bonded over our admiration for Kristen and Robert. Regardless if this is an almost 3-year journey (raises hand) for you, or if this is your first glance at a blog you discovered after typing in the words “Kristen” and  “Stewart”  in a Google search, there are a great many of us who share in a feeling of unity in this vast community, this fandom. We have invested at least a sliver of personal interest into a twenty-year old woman who is navigating the peaks and valleys of living, loving, doing and being. How has this bond manifested for me? Well, first, I had the opportunity to spend some face-to-face time with one of my Cyber Sisters, Missy/Brothaa last week. Nothing cements camaraderie like ingesting copious amounts of pasta and alcohol before running around town to random bookstores and liquor stores seeking VOGUE Magazines. While the gentleman behind the liquor store counter double and triple checked with me as to whether I “really wanted to purchase all four copies of the same magazine”, Missy didn’t bat an eyelash. Instead, she squealed and did the soccer-announcer -screaming-GOOOAAAALLLL-Dance with me when we spotted it.

CLEARLY a productive night

How else did I glimpse the awesomeness that is the Fandom Community? The emergence of more clear and powerfully positive voices speaking up in support of Kristen, Rob and the greater picture. A friend of mine, M, aka one part of the blogging team @DrownInIt wrote an eloquent essay on the joys of participating in this fandom. Check it HERE: How KStew Changed Fangirling. One of the many points M highlighted in her essay is the sheer exhilaration and honor she feels in meeting fellow intelligent, and creative voices among this fandom. I personally can attest to the genius and almost crushing generosity of Kristen Supporters, if Musings’ Readers are any indication. I’ve long-held the opinion that Musings Readers are the wittiest, bravest and most brilliant of all the fandom (bias schmias), but as I stumbled around uncertainly these past couple weeks, I became convinced that MOO’s Readers are DIVINE. Here is where I turn my adoring gaze upon Matt B and @Dano328/OpyTaylor for their impeccably timed, kind words of encouragement. You both unknowingly contributed to the saving of Musings.

TRUTH TIME. I experienced a moment in which I contemplated the discontinuation of Musings. Without going into great detail, I have had some pretty stressful 3D experiences including another bout with a painful sinus/flu-like sickness, a major setback in the financing of The Magical Little Practice, and some family issues to attend to. Plus, with my inability for succinct storytelling, I had written essays averaging 3000 words every week for seven months prompting self-care (coming from the consta-sick girl) and perspective-expansion, and I wondered if maybe I’d over-stayed my welcome. Quite serendipitously, The Universe sent me several encounters with synchronicity, impeding my too-hasty, and not-quiet disappearance. Synchronicity in the form of emails from rebel poets (@DANO328 and MATT), MidWestie Visitors (winks at Brothaa), inspiring Blog posts (@DrownInIt), Team Other Captains who used SHOUTY CAPS (ahem, CC) and soothing words and pictures (My girls Bouffant & Buff). And just in case I truly didn’t get the memo, Synchronicity sent an Angel….

VogueStew bestows grace

These encounters with friends, Readers, fellow fans (The Bond), and our Reigning Other Queen Kristen reminded me of the agreement I’d made with myself, and with Others. In essence, I was re-introduced to my Blissful Path, prompted to expand my perspective and revisit my Sacred Contract. This Contract, as defined by the awe-inspiring author and medical intuitive Carolyn Myss, is essentially the understanding and implementation of our greater functioning. Our Path. Our higher purpose. Our Soul’s Work. Basically, the reason ‘Why We Are Here’.

We have established these agreements with many people in our lives–past and present–also with our higher power however it is named for you, and with ourselves. They are compiled of anything and everything and influence anything and everything: Romantic relationships, friendships, family relations, career choices, money management, artistic expression, fandom communities, and society. SISTERS. BROTHERS. MOTHERS. FATHERS. LOVERS. HEALERS. TEACHERS. PARENTS. STUDENTS. WARRIORS. LEADERS. OTHER.  Jungian scholars may refer to these as “Samples” and patterns as informed by Archetypes. My Divine Agreements are with my soul mates and beloveds, and with my hope to provide healing and empowerment to people through my fledgling psychotherapy practice…and through Musings. All who enter into a Sacred Contract acknowledge that we are accountable to not only ourselves, but to others, and to our environment, to ideas much larger than just us as individuals. We agree that we have communion with the Global Soul.

The Fairest Philanthropy

Raise your hopeful voice, you had the choice. You’ve made it now

~Falling Slowly, Swell Season

Contrary to popular assumption, the desire to connect to the greater collective (also creating spiritual and emotional transformation) is not always motivated by tragedy or loss. It can be inspired by a particularly beautiful line of poetry, or introduction to a soul mate, a sunset, a movie, an inspiring business discussion. Or by an issue of Vogue. It was quite the celebration once we learned that Kristen Jaymes Stewart was going to be the February Cover Girl for Vogue, as our Rebel Queen broke through the barriers of Unconventional Beauty to grace the front of such a culturally iconic publication. And when the first photos from the shoot began rolling out, I, along with millions of others gasped at the majesty.

I may have cried a little over the Outtakes and the Behind-the-Scenes Video. . .

But it was the accompanying article that truly plundered me, leaving me speechless. Interviewer Eve MacSweeney managed to capture our Majestic Misfit’s quiet but still-blazing intensity, intelligence, kindness and other-worldly aestheticism in print, accomplishing what so many journalists have attempted before but could not entirely deliver. Kristen’s now-famous Mexican Tortilla Soup had been alluded to in the past by colleagues and costars, but Ms.MacSweeney enjoyed a first-hand observation and consumption of Ms Stewart’s culinary prowess as the actress prepared (in her “friend’s” kitchen) and served the famous Soup along with pulled-pork sandwiches. We all knew that KJ Stewart (of course I squeal just a tiny bit that Kristen and I have our initials in common) is a voracious reader, but the Vogue journalist received an updated book list directly from the source. Kristen’s nightstand is piled high with literary gems including Columbine by Dave Cullens, a study of extreme Mormonism and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. OIC. Light bedtime reading.

legs

This interview became my favorite interview in direct correlation with two very essential responses Kristen gave. First, when Ms. MacSweeney alluded to our favorite Featured Rebel and Poet Warrior, Robert P, Kristen addressed but closed down further discussion entirely by saying,

“It’s not my job.”

This was an impeccable answer.  The best answer Ms. Stewart could have EVER given. She clearly indicates that she will fiercely protect her private life, all while shooting down any outlandish charges that her relationship with Mr Pattinson is a PR stunt. Her relationship with him is not available for monetary capitalization nor voyeurs’ entertainment. She granted this interview to a world-renown magazine to discuss her work. BOO.YAH.

The second response that rendered me dizzy simply was Synchronicity nudging me to sit the fuck down and revisit my resolutions…Review my Sacred Contract. I believe I heard angels singing.  Kristen has perhaps glimpsed her own Sacred Contract, as she is realizing the great influence she has (She’s on par with She-Ra). Not only is she greatly admired (translation: adored, lusted after, coveted, worshipped, idolized) by esteemed colleagues and cohorts, but she has the unwavering devotion and attention of millions of readers, and movie-goers, thanks to her work in the films Twilight, Adventureland, The Runaways,and Welcome to the Rileys to name a few.  That’s such a daunting concept. And yet, Ms Kristen finds herself concerned only with the happiness and approval from fans of the Twilight books….She’s also considering what to do with the pile of cash she’s acquired as a result of her film work. She is a lovely, successful, and shy young woman shaping a plan to contribute to society, benevolently aiding a cause she feels “most connected to”. Kristen’s work for the film Welcome to the Rileys in which she played Mallory, a teenaged runaway  working as a stripper/prostitute, illuminated Kristen’s Contract. She wants to contribute to the Global Soul via the creation of safe places for people seeking recovery and rehabilitation…in the form of a Halfway House network.

*Cue Angels’ glorious chorus. Cue KJ’s weeping*

I was already an ardent admirer of Kristen Stewart. I already inherently, instinctively believed that she was a compassionate, intelligent, and gentle spirit. But when I read about Kristen’s desire to build a network of  halfway houses, my respect for her grew exponentially …into a kind of reverence. I have spent over ten years working with the population that Kristen wants to assist. My clients are children, women, teenagers and families who were victims of abuse, poverty, substance abuse and disenchantment, and every one of them sought a quiet moment of respite and a kind word of encouragement to continue forward, when all they really wanted to do was fall back. But since mental health and soul rehabilitation are the bottom-rung of priorities when considering the piecing together of state and national budgets, there are no resources to finance counseling or social services. I lost my job as a psychotherapist and manager over a year ago due to the severe budget restraints. And now this beautiful, compassionate artist wants to contribute to the reinstatement of safe havens and encouragement for people who are in dire need. Her Halfway House Network could enable the hiring of gifted counselors thirsty for work and eager to help to the millions of people just struggling to find their next meal. What other twenty-year old do you know does this? To say that I am stunned is an understatement. I am absolutely astonished.

Didn't I tell you that Buff and N are MAGICAL together? Recognize. Courtesy of Buff&N Collabs.

A New Musings Mission

You’re never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true

~Richard Bach

So, let’s recap shall we? In my unplanned, unexpected two-week hiatus from Musings, I got pretty sick (again) and in the midst of addressing illness, family stuff and business planning, considered closing down this blog. Ah, but The Universe had other ideas for this restless Other Queen-in-training. The Bond simmered and surged, other strong voices joined the fray, and letters arrived from  gentlemen who provided exactly the right words to soothe at exactly the right time (bows to Matt and Dan). My beloved and insanely gifted husband N was promoted at work (we have a roof over our head for another month! We have cable again!). A Sister came to my city to have cocktails with The Beats ..and me…And Kristen Stewart made a connection with the Global Soul through a very beautiful and compelling photo shoot and interview with Vogue. Did I cover everything?

Here’s where I tell you about the revitalized, reinvigorated, re-inspired Musings Mission. *bouncing on my toes in excitement* Encouraged by Kristen’s incredible philanthropic visions, and with Carolyn Myss’s guidance on seeking my own Divine Agreement (or Sacred Contract), I’ve decided my mission is two-fold. First, I am going to continue to write Musings. That’s right. You’re stuck with me, kiddos, all my rambling and musing just needs to go somewhere…Writing MOO makes me happy, and it satisfies my desire to communicate, empower and embolden fellow Misfits to find their true Home, their Bliss. The continuation of Musings provides support and encourages our Reigning Other Queen Kristen to KEEP GOING, KEEP GOING, KEEP GOING as well. My hope is that we can all pursue our Bliss, and seek connection to the Global Soul through connection and compassion with Others. And besides, I get to post pretty pictures of Kristen and all the Royal Rebels who light the path and persevere. I like pretty pictures of Royal Rebels….

The second tenant of my New MOO Mission–Shall we call it THE MOO MISH?–entails: My offer of anything within my power and scope of abilities to our Reigning Queen Kristen’s disposal so she can implement her  own Sacred Contract. I created and managed small counseling teams while I was at BastardNation, a company that truly released and liberated me when budget cuts sliced my position out. Now I’m free to contribute to projects that inspire me–Like Kristen’s vision. Her vision is very close to my own: Guide, provide safety, health and empowerment of self.  I would love nothing more than to contribute my skills of clinical psychotherapy, supervision and program management to helping Kristen build a Halfway House Network to help Others start their healing journeys on their own paths towards health and …home. It’s kinda what I do already in my teensy tiny almost-there practice, and in my weekly ramblings with you beautiful Misfits…So why not contribute the goals of my Sacred Contract to someone else’s goals for the betterment of The Collective Good? *shrugs*

So, my Loveliest of Lovelies…here we are, already at the end of the first month of a new year. Its only the second Musings of 2011 and I do apologize for the unannounced delay in posting. But I am eternally and wholly indebted to you all for your unbelievably inspiring support and love for Musings, for your passionate defense and support of Our Reigning Queen Kristen and all the Featured Royal Rebels highlighted each week. I thank you for your enthusiasm  and courage in Embracing Your Other and following your Bliss….for remaining so positive in a roller-coaster of a passionate fandom, and for modeling true UNCONVENTIONAL BEAUTY ….I am honored to be amongst you deliciously odd, awkward, unusual, unique, and brilliant beings.

WE ARE OTHER.

KRISTEN IS OTHER.

OTHERS SEEK WAYS TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE GLOBAL SOUL.

EMBRACE YOUR OTHER.

Question: How have you been inspired in your Otherness to recognize and honor your Sacred Contract?

A/N: Well, this essay was a bit of a departure from previous posts, but essentially it is a love letter from me to you, to Kristen, to Others. I do hope to post next Thursday as per the usual schedule, but I may take longer if 3D life keeps throwing the curveballs at me. Next time, we’ll show love to our male Rebel Royals. Perhaps Viggo Mortensen (First OTR, now perhaps Snow White?) Garrett Hedlund? Javier Bardem? … We’ll see who jostles to the front of the line…

Oh!  And I’m going to a Bobby Long concert next week too. *happy claps*

Also, I updated the About KJ Page. Leave some answers to the sentence completion in the comment section. LOVE hearing what you have to say!

I’ll be making some changes to the site’s appearance as well, and adding a new page or two perhaps…I’m hatching a diabolical plan with Buff (i.e. poking and annoying her til she breaks).

Part 2 of the New MOO Mission is in discussion with my best girl Bouffant, and our Team Other Co-Captains Buff and CC.

I’ll letcha know on Twitter of progress and updates for The MOO MISH. . . @MusingsOnOther. . . You know me. I’m the one who is Not. At. ALL. SUCCINCT in my descriptors of love for Kristen, Rob and our massive Majestic Misfit Royal Court..

THANK YOUS, LOVE, LIGHT, GROPES, SNUGGLES and NUZZLES to:  My Sister Puss. My dearest Bouffant. Cynically Convy. Buff. @MyCleverAlias. Nail. Missy. Iris. @RobKris13. Possum Besties Justice and Ophelia. And As always: My Cyber Sisters and Readers.

…..and to the FF authors who have owned my unfocused ass this week: BrattyVamp, RochelleAllison, 107YrOldVirgin, MissBettySmith, KrisSalvador

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY SISTERS INDIA & BEANAI!


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