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A Stew Review, and Stew Anew: Une Beauté de Compassion

4 Feb
A/N: The images displayed in this essay are not mine–Thank Goddess for Tumblr, Pinterest and Imagebam. Click the image for a link to its origins. Tragically unbeta’d. Any mistakes and typos in this post as well as 3 different thesauri belong to MEEEEEE. Musical playlist, per usual, at the bottom. While I try to normalize a posting schedule, click the “Sign Me Up!” button in the side panel to receive MOO updates in your Email…thissss-a-wayyy——>

“There is one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life: reciprocity.”  ~Confucius

Hello my stunning, Royal Rebels. I hope this new post finds you and your families healthy and well. When I said last time that I’d “update on Thursday”, per the usual posting schedule, I bet ya’ll didn’t think I meant Thursday-in-a-week-then-add-a-day-or-two-so-that-it’s-really-Superbowl-weekend did ya?? Yeah. Because that’s what happened, though not premeditated. Just keepin you on your toes. Dance, honey, dance.

'cause The Rhythm is gonna get ya

I admit it: I had intended to post the highest-voted [and final] Moment of Otherness for The MOO STEW REVIEW by last Thursday, but I became detained. Detained by my self-imposed cocoon, in all honesty. Between the car accident and the insurance company battle and a new teaching schedule with Red Cross, I simply had no room to breathe, let alone post. I ended up taking a “personal” day last week and I stayed in my PJs the whole time, #NoRegrets. It was my only day off. And it was bliss.

Wanna know what else is blissful? Kristen Jaymes Stewart. This whole week was like a dream. We had the feeling she was about to burst onto the scene, but the combination of two of my very favorite nouns was too much for me to comprehend. Too much. Turns out, we didn’t know anything.

Oh mon, tu es belle

+

=

Yeah. So Kristen arrives in one of my very favorite places ever [seriously, my love for Paris knows no bounds] appearing casual, flawless and with a knowing smile on January 30th, without pomp or circumstance. JB, Kristen’s handsome bodyguard, and her buzz-cut sporting assistant John [do we need to talk about all the newly shorn heads belonging to the men in Kristen’s life? Is this a new club initiation?] protectively flanked Her Royal Highness as she glided through Charles de Gualle Airport. Towards well..bliss evidently.

It takes a special girl to command my attention over Haute Couture and Karl Lagerfeld

Speculation as to why Ms Stewart was in the City of Lights ranged from prep work for her new Balenciaga campaign to a photo shoot for one of the three movies she was releasing this year. But, no. Kristen was in Paris to shoot a photo spread for Vanity Fair. Her photographer? Legendary, gifted, beautiful Mario Testino. The fashion? Dior. Haute Couture. On-set visitors? Oh, hello, Karl Lagerfeld, head fashion designer and creative director of Chanel [cue screaming, flailing].

I’m pretty sure Karl is just as captivated by Kristen as we are. And Kristen? NO question about it, you have arrived. You are relevant. You are sensational. You are a B.F.D. 

Not just because you rocked a couture Dior ball gown [perhaps the most beautiful gown I have ever laid eyes upon] on the chilly streets of one of the most romantic, inspiring cities in existence and a fascinator [who, pray tell, could pull that headpiece off with any semblance of authenticity? Only Kristen Stewart], but because when you stepped out in between shoots and hanging with legendary designers and artists, you did so, looking like this:

Note the PF Flyers on her feet. #SandlotForEVerrr @j_carroll7 GETS. IT.

Kristen stopped, signed autographs and greeted the growing crowd of admirers gathering at her hotel, or on the streets and cafes where the photo shoot took place. All while exhibiting a graciousness and poise that only royalty can

So I could wax poetic for days about the brief glimpses of gorgeousness we received while Kristen was in Paris for a mere 48 hours. But there are so many other people who know what they’re talking about who could–and have–present incredibly informed commentrees on ParisianStew. I suggest you read those….

For Haute Couture goodness and witty brilliance, go read my girl CC’s post ‘J’Adore’ —–> KSIBTU  I will simply wait until that Vanity Fair issue releases, [probably in May, to mark the opening of the highly anticipated SWATH?] and try not to lose my shite every time a new picture surfaces. When that article and photo shoot is on newsstands, we’ll talk. Oui? So check out KSIBTU’s fantastic thoughts, and I will stick to what I do best: Muse on Otherness.

Premiers secours Psychologiques

One reason why Kristen Stewart is our Head Ambassador of Otherness is because despite her anxieties steeped in facing swarms of people, she still took time in her ridonk 48-hr whirlwind visit in Paris to acknowledge her admirers. But the detractors and haters–The Bullshit People as we know them here in Otherland–didn’t recognize her generosity and graciousness. Not when they could instead pick apart Ms Stewart’s actions and paint her as a crass, murderous-intending spawn after her interaction with actual crass, greedy spawn: the paparazzi.

You all know that I elect to not waste any particular energy addressing or acknowledging the existence of the drama llamas. I am only noting this instance because it aligns so perfectly with an epiphany in my own 3D work. I’m an instructor of disaster response and mental health with #TheRedCross, and you all listened to me screech and celebrate my certification last fall. Well, last week, I was honored and proud to instruct my first class of new Red Cross Disaster Responders. The class? Psychological First Aid.  But people didn’t come to my class to learn how to do CPR and keep a body alive at the time of cardiac arrest. No, the course I taught was first aid for the heart and soul. What I essentially learned, is that this course really could be renamed Human Decency 101, and that quite a few of us could use a refresher in it. What a revolutionary thought, hmmm? A course on the basic tenants of humanity: compassion and presence.

The first wave of folks I’d encourage enrollment into Psychological First Aid? The Bullshit People, the Stalkerazzi, the detractors and destroyers hell-bent on tearing Kristen Stewart and all Unconventional Beauties [Others] down. If you check the sequence of events that occurred in the above gifs, you see Kristen Stewart, internationally known personality and Rebel Queen, stopping to sign autographs and exchange a few words with her fans. What you also should notice, is the frenzied, intrusive presence of the camera clowns and stalkerazzi snapping away and encroaching on Kristen and her fans’ personal, physical space.

What you’re witnessing is the breakdown of empathy–the Empathy Erosion–or the objectification [dehumanizing, depersonalizing] of a person due to lack of human relating as Dr Simon Baron-Cohen cites in his fascinating research The Science of Evil  by Basic Books Publications. [This has been added to MOO’s Resources of Beauty page]. We’ll talk more about Dr Baron-Cohen’s work in the next MOO, because I find it startlingly relevant for our community, for Kristen and her Royal Consort Robert…and in our pursuit of Othering ONWARD. The photogs and even some hyperactive blog trollers have negated the fact that the target at the end of the camera lens is a human being. A woman. A person.

looking better than ANYONE ever does after a trans-atlantic flight. Girlfriend probs wants some recupe time, non?

I approach the concepts of Empathy Erosion and Psychological First Aid tonight because upon surveying this odd and fascinating fandom’s way of interacting, especially during a perceived “drought”,  I’m asking us all to be aware of any compassion refresher points we may need. Because in watching those CameraClowns/Vultures swarm and circle Kristen Stewart this week, and in reading snarky, entitled bloggers and commenters pot-stirring, I wonder to where the compassion disappeared.

When did it become the norm, to overlook the basic needs of a human being?

Administering Psychological First Aid

(aka, how to provide compassionate presence in response to a disaster and trauma)

(aka, Human Decency 101)

  • Make the connection. ~ Say hello, introduce yourself. Establish that you, a fellow being, are here. You’re not just a spectator. You’re in this too.
  • Help people be safe. ~Move the person to a warm, dry, stable place to sit, away from the stressors. It’s not the time to stare as if it’s a gladiator arena spectacle…or The Hunger Games. 
  • Be kind, calm, compassionate. ~This person is overwhelmed. Understand that.
  • Listen.  ~One of the most powerful abilities we have.
  • Meet people’s Basic Needs. ~We all thrive on the same things: water, air, shelter, support.
Simple, right? Common sense…or is it? Why is that kindness, subjectivity, empathy and compassionate presence are taken for granted? Is it the slow endangerment of genuine face-to-face interactions with the rise in internet-centric “social” networks? #WeSeeYouNerdyBloggers
O_o
Of the many human interactions I’ve been privy to these weeks, I’ve been shocked and disappointed with choices made. The person who slammed into me and my car a couple of weeks ago, blatantly lied to the insurance companies and said I hit him. I can’t even talk about this event yet–it makes my heart hurt and a coil spring in my head. That same night of the accident, I had to file a police report and toy around with the idea of calling Child Protective Services because a mother abandoned her child in my department (one of my three jobs is as a manager for the children’s department in a bookstore) so “mother” could go off drinking with friends at the mall.
O_o
That night, I questioned, over booze: Where has the love gone? Do people have no scruples any more?  I know you generous, uncommonly compassionate and brilliant Others are apart of the renaissance amour, because I’ve seen you, your presence is felt. It’s incredibly reassuring and staggering for me to know you’re out there. Hopefully, our Reigning Queen of Otherness feels you as well.

Nous sommes au Numéro Un

*waves hands to dispel the joo-joo and rein in focus* Now, rather than spend any more energy on empathizing with the un-empathetic vultures, I’ve a major Other Countdown to wrap up. Let’s get ‘er done, friends. As we established in the preceding three parts to The MOO Stew Review, our Reigning Other Queen dominated most of 2011.

But there was one moment that prevailed as the most notable Moment of Otherness in 2011, according to Musings readers. OtherBeautyCominAtcha.

OoO_OoO

Remember, you guise? Remember this??? Remember when Ms Stewart arrived in London wearing a stunning, beaded, halter Roberto Cavalli gown and towering Jimmy Choo heels? When she paired an Alexander McQueen belt to accentuate her tiny waist and assets in a way that should have been banned for the level of sexy glamorous-ness?  When her make up was flawless and her long Snow White tresses were pulled back halfway back to showcase her exquisite shoulders….and face?

You remember. Obviously you do, because this night, November 16, 2011, was voted as your number one Moment of Otherness in the MOO Stew Review. I remember feeling and truly hearing a collective sigh across the internets and in my own living room as Kristen emerged beneath the trellis at Westfield Stratford, London, in the wintry outside air to greet the crowds who’d been camping out for days to see her and her boys [Robert, Taylor, Wyck Godfrey and Bill Condon] at the UK World Premiere. It is as though that evening was the unveiling to the world: Kristen Stewart crossed over an old threshold of beautiful. And we all knew it. He certainly did.

Of course, Robert, our Poet Warrior, Kristen’s Other-Partner-in-Crime acknowledged the sanctity of such an uncommonly lovely creature for years by this point, but there was a heightened awareness and prideful declaration of affection and unity on this evening.

Byway of countless nonverbal expressions [lingering touches, adoring glances, physical proximity, tactile reassurances], Kristen and Robert honored their partnership, their devotion and their pride for one another. . .all while inhabitants of Rob’s home town looked on.

The Pretty is blinding

Soooo….There you have it. You Beauties have been extraordinarily kind and patient as I have grappled with ways to connect with Otherness, our Reigning Other Queen and you all while seeking the elusive balance and some first aid for my soul. Your suggestions and emails and kind words of encouragement have been my fuel. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for being so incredible. And thank you for sending in your thoughts which resulted in this four-part MOO Stew Review. 

This is what we know now. Kristen Jaymes Stewart has thrown down the gauntlet. She is here, she is present, and she is poised to explode across the sky in 2012. Our survey of 2011 alluded to greatness that will soon come into fruition. Case in point:

It’s safe to say we’re in for an extraordinary, rebellious, beautiful year. Happy New Stew Year, my Other Rebels.

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others resist empathy erosion.

Embrace your Other.

* * *

A/N: HAPPY SUPERBOWL WEEKEND, for those of you who watch, support, celebrate.

I’m eternally grateful to all of you who have checked in and let me know that you’re there while I’ve tumbled through some of the roughest weeks of my life. Special shout-outs to my CyberSisters and Readers who are army-crawling through the muck with me right now. (light and love to: Peri. Jai. Aai. Believe.)

To my Twitter Lovelies who always peek in and whisper-encourage that I keep going (side-eyes @deedreamer16 and @mycleveralias).

P.S. How great is this Tumblr? <33 Source: thebubbleofrobsten, via rk913

I do hope to be back next Thursday with our discussion on Empathy and Humanity. Thanks for giving me wide berth as I try to stay on schedule. Until then, be kind and well and I will see you soon. #OtherOn xo, KJ

ESSAY PLAYLIST: 

The Hideout ~ Sarah Harmer *spotty live version on player, may be removed*

Le Mar ~ The Beautiful Girls

It’s A Fire ~ Portishead

Shake It Out ~ Florence + The Machine

Karma Police ~ Radiohead

TRANSLATIONS: 

Une beauté de compassion = A Compassionate Beauty

Oh mon, tu es belle = Oh my, you’re beautiful

Premiers secours psychologiques = Psychological first aid

Nous sommes au numéro un = We are at Number One

Within and Beside You

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

Open and just hold the lantern in the doorway

For the freedom of it

And you take the night air through your nostrils

And you breathe in out, in out

And you breathe just like that, just like that

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

Beauty In Loving The Craft

And we saw her standing there

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

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

Is this Heaven or…

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

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

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

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

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

A Beautiful Ferocity

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

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

*raises eyebrow* mmmhmm

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

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

Truly a Rebel Royal, yes? 

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

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

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

 Beauty Surrounds Her  

You say which way, which way

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

Behind you, beside you, beside you

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

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

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

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

saucy

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

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

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

A Beautiful Congruency

‘Cause I need Freedom now

And I need to know how

To live my life as it’s meant to be

Can you spot our Rebel Other Queen?

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

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

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

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

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

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others realize that beauty cultivates from within and beside us.

Embrace Your Other.

*    *    *

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

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

Squeezey Hugs and Sloppy Kisses To:

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

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

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

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

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

Lyric excerpts featured: 

Beside you ~ Van Morrison

The Cave~ Mumford and Sons

Essay Playlist: 

What I Am ~ Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians

Santa Maria~ Gotan Project

The Cave ~ Mumford and Sons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unfinished Business

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

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

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

Bryan's home

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

With My Hands

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

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

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

Leland's neighborhood

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

I. Am. Done.

The Ultimate Fighters

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

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

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

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

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

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

My heroes: Search and Rescue

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

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

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

A restaurant on Main street

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

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

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

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

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

To Have Found Their Way Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quiet Moments of Majesty

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

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

Although her grounding trumps anyone else's grounding.

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

And then this picture of them:

Makes me almost unbearably excited for….

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

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

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

Chris and Kris. Mutual Admiration Society.

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

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

An Anonymous Grace 

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

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

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

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

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

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others’ true beauty is a light from within.

Embrace your Other.

*   *   *

An Epically Long A/N including GIVEAWAY Deets: 

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

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

A NEW MOO GIVEAWAY

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

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

1. When did you know you were Other?

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

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

4. How do you employ self-care? 

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

*   *   *

Specific shout outs and vice-like hugs to: 

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S PLAYLIST (PUSH PLAY)

Look For Me As You Go By ~ The Innocence Mission

Satisfied Mind ~ Jeff Buckley

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

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

After The Storm ~ Mumford & Sons

Fix You ~ Coldplay

A Light From Within (Part 1)

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

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

It was ‘A Time’

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

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

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

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

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

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

ahhh is THAT what human interaction looks like?

An Other Application

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

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

She Shines On

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

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

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

dude. we know.

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

Can watch this pure joyfulness on loop forevah

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

“Sorry, Natalie, The Popcorn is mine!

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

O_O

 A Way Out Of The Depths

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

thank you, my Possum @Justice_Aussie for this

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

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

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

Gratitude. 

Faith.

Resilience.

"I will rebuild", he says.

Beautiful People Do Not ‘Just Happen’

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

Thank you. THANK. YOU. THANK YOU.

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

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

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

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

Giggly, LondonStew will ALWAYS Win.

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

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

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others’ light shines on, shines far.

Embrace your Other.

*       *      *

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

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

PLAYLIST: (PUSH PLAY) 

Look For Me As You Go By ~ The Innocence Mission

Satisfied Mind ~ Jeff Buckley

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

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

After The Storm ~ Mumford & Sons

The More I See, The More To Know

5 May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"exuberance" has never been more stunning, Your Highness

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

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

Bear sees YOU.

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

A Savage Beauty

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

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

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

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

Holeeey Hell. *gulp*

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

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

All I Know, I Learned From. . .  

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

Even MessengerStew is a bit skeptical.

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

Post-Met Gala, perhaps my fave?

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

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

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

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

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

Does this scene look familiar?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others know that there is always more to know.

Embrace your Other.

* * *

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

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

I’ve updated the Sentence Completion of About KJ

Playlist for this week:

Rescue Song (RAC Remix)~Mr. Little Jeans

Flightless Bird~ Iron & Wine

Kites~Geographer

Crystal~Fleetwood Mac

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

Infinite love and lunch date dreams for @MissBetty Smith

Super hugs and gropes to: Bouffant and Beanai

As I Do, I Honor

7 Apr

*Placing hand above eyes to soften the bright, stunning glare of the sunshine emanating from New MOO* Well HEEEEEEYYYYY there my gorgeous Misfits!!! How are you? Well, I must say that it sure looks like Springtime  has come to this little pocket of ours in the community. Please give love and props to my brilliant and fiercely creative friend @Buff_82 for the new look of MOO. Perhaps tilt your face towards the computer and bask in the balmy light that streams from the screen…It warms me every time I pull it up to edit or review. Buff had worked on the new banner and theme for Musings, while also revamping KSIBTU (which you’ve undoubtedly seen and wept over due to the gif-Banner Buff created). I had already posted the new essay, so I didn’t warn any of you about the change. I mean, I didn’t know about the new banner until I received a text from Buff the day after I’d already updated the new essay. So it was a surprise to me as well, and it was a much needed blast of sunshine, quite honestly. That particular afternoon had found me worn out and at the beginnings of what would be a very tough week. Overall, much has occurred since we convened last! So let’s catch up, kay? Today’s essay will briefly review some of the revelatory lessons I learned over the past two weeks, and also to make a big, big deal out of the fact that our Reinging Other Queen Kristen is having a birthday this weekend #LetsDoThis

Hey, Pretty Girl, I hear its your birfday?

Lesson 1: The Circus Can Be Spectacular

So currently, we find ourselves in the midst of a promotional blitz for what I think will be a visually stunning and whimsical film. Water For Elephants is to set for release April 22, and I don’t know about you, but based on the clips and screen caps I’ve seen, I think the film will do this enchanting book fine justice. Reese and Rob were on the cover of Entertainment Weekly released a couple Fridays ago, and as tradition compels me, I relied on the eyes and ears of you lovelies out there to guide me to my copy of the magazine. I eventually found mine in Barnes & Noble, one of the last 4 copies, all of which were shoved behind Popular Mechanics (bahaha to the tricksy little elves thinking I’d be deterred by a service magazine covering topics of home improvement and auto maintenance. Pfffft.) in the final minutes before the store’s closing. This was the seventh store I tried, btw.

While I was at Barnes & Noble I also picked up a copy of Water for Elephants the book (the edition with the movie poster as it’s cover, of course) with the intent on giving it to my Sister-in-Law Puss who was experiencing a painful flare up of massive, scary proportions these days, results of the autoimmune illness she suffers. I gifted the book with an agenda, though. Puss hadn’t read the book yet, and if anyone deserved a little escape from reality it was my sister. Ever hear of Cerebritis? Google it. Those who experience it absolutely are entitled to mega-healinglove in the forms of Jacob Jankowski and the gentle, graceful Elephant named Rosie. Well, and pushing my agenda–and I’d do the same with all of you if we lived somewhat close to each other–but I am seeking a date for the WFE premiere on April 22. My Sis has some great specs. ❤

LOVE.

Lesson 2a: As I Do, Not As I Say

So with my Mother in town, my Sis out of commission while she recovered from an episode from hell (the day Buff texted me to surprise me with the MOO Banner, I was at the hospital with Puss unexpectedly), I found myself as acting cruise director in charge of entertaining my mother who was in town while simultaneously hanging with my one of my favorite people EVAH, Miss Monkey. My three-year-old niece is precocious and a genius. She’s at that stage where she is testing the perimeters of protection, and also where she picks up every single cold that goes around the playground as well as every word or song she hears. She jumped on the bed and chanted, “WHO LET THE DOGS OUUUUT? HOO HOO HOO HOO!” when I was trying to put clean sheets on it for my mother to sleep in.

Well I have a sailor mouth on me. And I don’t edit much except when with Clients or around children…and my mother. Clearly, when I find myself emitting colorful language or editorials, it’s sage advice to not do as I say, but more as I do (given that I’m monitoring my impulsiveness, and respectfully). A rainstorm took over the whole weekend of my mother’s visit and during Operation: Let Sis Rest and For The Love of God Distract Monkey (OLSRFTLOGDM has a ring to it, no?), and so we had many changes of plans and encounters with erratic drivers in the city, damp clothing and growling stomachs on several occasions. My guard was down and I let a few F-bombs fly here or there…I may have said something about having things stuck in my craw or the sand up in the culottes….whatev. My mother then may have full-including-middle-named me when Monkey began exclaiming “Oooh that guy is stuck in my CRAW!” from her car seat.

So suffice to say, I had a healthy reminder of my own perimeters and limits while my niece and my mother were my constant companions. I had to constantly employ my awesome ignoring skills so as not to inject my own KJ-isms into my impressionable niece’s already colorful expressions. No, that guy is not stuck in anyone’s craw. No one has anything stuck anywhere, mmmkay?

Kristen is waiting for me to get a clue.

Lesson 2b: As I do, I Support

Monitoring the filth that spewed from my mouth is just one tiny aspect of carrying social responsibility. Those of us among the fandom, even on the periphery, have heard about the massive leak of Breaking Dawn pictures and video in which, holy mother, we witness Bella and Edward consummate their new marriage. We see those emo, tortured kids let loose and, as Rob pointed out in his WFE press conference interviews, behave as a happy, normal couple for once! Remember how spectacular it was that we caught a little bit of the blissfulness when the Rio pics began surfacing:

The leaked pictures, however, incensed such a passionate debate amongst this already sometimes overzealous community that everything discussed sparked soap box rants, judgments rendered, tension amongst friends, and public spats highlighting hypocrisy and artistic integrity. I found myself primarily concerned about the filmmakers (editors, directors, actors including our Other Queen Kristen and her mate Robert) and the sadness that surrounded having unfinished, raw creative projects stolen from them. It was just how I dealt with it all, mind you.

My mind and heart went directly to the place of remembering what it was like having my diary read by my boyfriend when I was 19 years old. RAGE. HUMILIATION. Also I imagined the mortification I’d feel if I had the first draft of my thesis stolen and handed to folks armed and hungry, their red pens in hand. I thought of my friends who are artists like @JHiggs86 and @ellelala and my dear Welsh Muse and Manager Kathryn; as well as writers and musicians trying to get their work seen, heard, published or sold, but having that option stolen from them. This week, Robert made it clear that people are affected.

So for me, what felt right, and in implementing my practice gained through Monkey-monitoring earlier, I did not retweet or reblog or further enable the widespread distribution of the stolen images. I never do anyway– as you guys all know, I try to avoid posting any pics taken in which the unsavory paparazzi-vultures would earn money from Kristen’s personal life, discomfort or when she was unaware. There were moments where I felt tense, sad, and ineffectual this week, especially as leaked images continued to surface over several days. But I continue to monitor whether my actions were congruent with my hopes and beliefs and in support of our soon-to-be-birthday girl. So that’s that. And it’s just how I decided to bring it back to the main reason why I’m here at all, Musing away. . .

She is affected by it, even if she doesnt show it.

Lesson 3: How I Feel About It

So interwoven in this incredibly busy and emotional couple of weeks, I also have been pursuing work again. I am still running my (very tiny) Magical Little Practice, and I do still hope to expand it, but again, until I’m called into duty to work alongside our Majestic Misfit Kristen in her philanthropic aspirations, or until Clearinghouse Sweepstakes shows up at our studio apartment with one of those big-ass checks, I’ve gotta get back out there. N and I don’t live above our very modest, modest (i.e. broke as hell) means, but we do have basic expenses to cover.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs places shelter, along with water and air among the foundation of physical and emotional health. And I’ve been blessed with those core necessities, but we’re toeing the line in a couple areas. So I need to ensure we’re a little more solid.

But JFC, it’s soul-wrenching labor to search and apply! I’ve been working since I was seventeen years old, and I never went without a job until the layoff from Bastard Nation nearly 2 years ago. Given the shaky economy and minimal respect my field receives, finding work is depressing and similar to a Dark Night of The Soul: draining, tedious, exposing, emotional.

..just lemme lay my head down for a sec..

See, I was describing the process to my beloved Bouffant the other night, and she is experiencing a similar situation in which, essentially we have to audition for judges for the position we desire. In the psychotherapy field, we freaking have to analyze, describe, ponder and then fucking emote about very personal questions: just in the cover letter. I’m not even talking about the interview or even the application form. There aren’t application forms in counseling psychology jobs. There are, however, entrance essays about life struggles and childhood traumas written just per chance someone may want to meet for an interview. And then the interview. Ninety minutes of  how do you feeeeeel about that? (insert into blank: suicidality, homicidality, cross-dressing, politics, teenagers–gasp!). And after the many essays I wrote this week, I am refreshed in the knowledge that I do have convictions and concerns and values that I adhere to and strive to maintain.

Ahh. There I am.

Do Kristen and Rob and all our featured Royal Rebels feel as compelled to impart such personal information in the name of their craft? I wager they save the profound emoting for their preparations for their job which is acting, performing, and connecting. While my work hinges on connection and honesty, I certainly can sympathize with Kristen and Rob as they bounce between “journalists” (though Elle and Vanity Fair as of late have wandered away from the title) trying to convey their passion and interest in their work as well as their personhood and values all within a short window of time. There are some vulnerabilities and risks taken in these interviews…much like my onion-peeling discussions with company directors, vying for work to peel back other people’s layers.  Plowing onward. Thanks, muchly, those of you who send me good thoughts and vibes on my search. It makes a huge difference to know that people are rooting.

Lesson 4: Honor Thy Queen

Well, this is really my favorite lesson of this week. Our Beautiful Rebel Royal Kristen is turning 21 this Saturday, April 9. One of my dearest friends in this world *blows kisses to Ree* shares her birthday with Kristen, which is further confirmation (not that I need any) that Kristen is a unique and exquisite spirit. My friend Ree is the gentlest, kindest soul with a deep love for animals, her family and friends, much like our fair Other Queen, non? I guess April 9 is BirthDay of Good People Day.

This week, Kristen is working on the Breaking Dawn set, filming the highly anticipated wedding scenes. Making a full circle in a way, Kristen celebrated her 18th birthdayin the final weeks of filming Twilight.

If she wished for success and love, I'd say the Birthday Gods provided

Her 19th birthday found her in the parking lot of Forks High School as she and Rob filmed scenes for New Moon–for Bella’s birthday. On the DVD special features, Kristen says to the camera, “Today is my birthday actually!” They went out with their friends/fellow castmates that night for dinner in Vancouver. Dude, remember Jackson’s mohawk?

ICU SmileyJohn. Also IC Rob diverting attention away, Jackson holding her hand.

When she turned twenty, NinjaStew was alive and well. She had flown unseen over to Europe a couple days before her birthday, and when she finally did surface, on April 11, she was in Budapest (where Rob was filming Bel Ami), and she did not travel back to the States alone. Think #MatchingSambaAddidas, Rob looking over his shoulder about 4 times in the span of 15 seconds to ensure Kristen followed him closely through the throngs of camerafolk. . . I’m opting not to post pics from that night, because Kristen and Rob both appeared uncomfortable and affected by the huge crowds awaiting them at both the Budapest Airport and at Heathrow where they arrived for a layover. But I will pay homage to the backs of the boys who protect the precious:

This year, as the Vancouver Breaking Dawn set appears better protected, we may not see the Birthday Girl at all, which is perfect, because I’ll go on a limb here and guess that a private, low-pro birthday celebration is exactly what Kristen would prefer anyhow.

Joyful Birthday Girls are Joyful

How are you going to acknowledge our Reigning Other Queen’s birthday? There have been several projects out there asking for y’all to send in your birthday cards and greetings for compilations:

or to donate to causes that Kristen supports:                                                **click on any of banners for the redirect

We continuously honor the lovely Ms Stewart by supporting her work and her modeling of  how to embrace her Otherness and while also exploring ways to embrace Otherness for ourselves. We honor Ms Stewart through our fist pumps in solidarity at any awkward, quirky and unconventional behaviors that she or our fellow Others may exhibit: stumbling, stuttering, pausing? FIST PUMP. FIST PUMP. HIGH FIVE. We honor her when we continue to seek coexistence and collaboration with Others within and outside the fandom.

I will continue to praise and support Kristen Jaymes by posting positive essays celebrating Unconventional Beauty such as hers for as long as you kind folks will tolerate me. This month, I also have donated to two causes that work to provide services for causes that are close to my heart and that Queen Kristen herself supports: The awareness of Sexual Assault via Take Back The Night and Fandom For Sexual Assault Awareness

As well as an organization that encourages us to find our voices and raise our hands:

Annnnnd, our Other Queen may be receiving a small token of gratitude for reminding me of MOO’s inception, and how it all began with a Homecoming Queen Nomination for the category of OTHER and the inspired (no not really) ad campaign:

It has been an eventful couple of weeks for shizz. But incredible moments of revelation are slowly encompassing me and motivating steps forward. Despite Job Auditions, various people and moments stuck in craws, pesky brain swelling, and unfortunate picture leaks, there are far more favorable and noteworthy events to counterbalance. Like the critical acclaim Water For Elephants is receiving. And how Kristen will be wrapping up Breaking Dawn soon and begin preparation on her next project: Either K-11 and/or Snow White and the Huntsman. Plus the promo will fire up for On The Road. Also good: figuring out through extensive questioning and reflection, that I. am. here, and perhaps tentative, but still behaving congruently with my  values. I do what I say, say what I do, even if it takes writing a few intimate essays or  working through tension amongst cohorts in this passionate fandom for me  to reacquaint myself with those values. A great thing? Acknowledging, celebrating (maybe even doing the Running Man or the Roger Rabbit?) the birthday of a regal, beautiful, Muse.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KRISTEN!

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others know that saying and doing is congruently being.

Embrace your Other.

* * *

Questions: How do you like the New MOO look? How have you ensured your values and behaviors are congruent? Where were YOU while our Other Queen was turning 18, 19, 20?

A/N: Thanks for hanging with me through the swells and falls of my posting schedule, my loveliest lovelies. Very specific squeezes and hair-playing go to My Sister Puss, the obscenely talented and patient @Buff_82 and for pinch hitting and mid-day reassurances Bouffant.

Thanks to CC (@KStewsbtrthanU) for batting theories, thoughts and randoms at all times of the day thru nearly all communicative devices with me.

And great LOVE LIGHT AND RELIEF to my Possum Bestie @Ophelia2010 (Aai) and her beautiful, resilient, gloriously gorgeous Baby Girl. We could all learn to take stumbles and bumbles gracefully and as resiliently as these girls.

See you next time. All my <3, KJ

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

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