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Molly, Stewie, Me: Times Three

6 Jun
A/N:  Images displayed on this birthday post are not mine–Thank Goddess for Tumblr, Imagebam & Pinterest. No copyright infringement intended. Click the image to link directly to its origins. Musical inspirations listed at the bottom of post. To open the playlist in a new window, click here—> http://pl.st/p/20984139787  Posts are usually pre-read by a luminous team of Rebel Beauties, but tonight: It’s just me. These garbled ramblings in all their flaws and glories are mine, all mine.

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Definition: Beautiful

~Merriam-Webster Dictionary, June 2010

Beautiful, adjective. Exciting sensuous or aesthetic pleasure. Applies to whatever excites the keenest of pleasure to the senses and stirs emotion.

This was the exact definition which launched the very first Musings three years ago, on Thursday, June 3, 2010. As I’m typing these words out tonight, on a Thursday evening in June of 2013, tears are paving tracks down my cheeks. Moving through the actual movements of piecing together the musical playlist, and selecting images to use for this essay provokes profound physical reactions from me, clearly. I should have seen it coming. It is without exaggeration and with complete awe that I realize everything I do these days is in response to, influenced by, or connected with the decision I made to muse aloud about Unconventional Beauty. It manifests in the music in my library, the people I speak with, and in the conscientious practice of self and Other compassion. To say that these days, I’m experiencing the ‘keenest of pleasure to the senses’: Accurate.

Molly and Me

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Did it start with Molly Ringwald?  When I found myself at Borders Books (Rest in Peace), I hadn’t expected the Original Poster Girl for Awkward, Outsider Beauty to be there too. I was brand new to Twitter, and operating under my now-unused personal account KJN52. One of my very first tweets looked something like:

@kjn52 Molly Ringwald is here and I want to scream about Jake Ryan and that people’s “little brothers paid a buck to see your underwear!”

Obscure Sixteen Candles reference, my friends. If you haven’t seen John Hughes’ masterpiece about misfits and adolescent longing, then I have the opinion that you are suffering from staggering incompleteness. Please. Go. I sat at a cafe table  in the corner of the book store and watched as Ms Ringwald read excerpts from her new book Getting The Pretty Back to a captive audience. While I wasn’t originally there for the book promotion, I could hang onto every word falling from Molly’s mouth from my perch at the edge of my chair. So Molly Ringwald was speaking about great things, important things. About how we can lose our sense of self, especially when surrounded by people and forces willing to take it for themselves, turn it into something else entirely.  Says Molly: It’s up to us to define our paths. Foreshadowing the Other Anthology, Ms Ringwald? Prettiness, she reminds us, is a state of mind. 

“…It’s the part of you that knows what you really want, that takes risks.” 

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Molly Ringwald did not know this at the time, but she in that moment, became my very first Featured Rebel Royal for what would become a ‘blog’, then an entity, and then a practice that would alter my life. 

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Of course, it was another Molly, my dear friend Molly, who could also be credited for sparking the Other Revolution. It was she,  after all, who pulled me out of my house to the book store with her to pick up the sequel in a series she was not exactly forthcoming about. Molly: hipster, cool, brilliant… huddled next to the store’s display table, raptly staring at….

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I watched, baffled, as Usually Poised Molly, slunk around the table, and snatched up a copy of a sleek, black book with the word moon across it’s spine.

“What are you doing, Molls?” I asked.

“I haven’t slept for over a day. I couldn’t put this damn book down. I must read more. MORE!” Molly gushed, her eyes darting around her.

Ok, my usually collected reserved girlfriend was literally trembling [withdrawals?], and so I grabbed the first book of the series, and promptly marched up to the counter to plunk down my money. I was scheduled for knee surgery a few days later. I was gonna need lots of entertainment for the weeks I was to be bed-ridden in recovery. Vampires? No problem. I have a long love affair with stories of the supernatural variety [I am an OG Vampire Diaries reader, plus a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan] and I simply had to experience the stories that transformed my friend into a shaking, stumbling Twilight fiend. 

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Suffice it to say: I didn’t sleep that night either. I really didn’t sleep the next four days. I sent my husband prowling the city at after hours book stores to pick up New Moon and Eclipse [Breaking Dawn hadn’t been published yet]  for me, since I was supposed to stay in bed. You know.. knee surgery blah blah blaaaah. So I stayed in bed… and read… and researched, and googled…and stumbled upon comment sections, YouTube euphorias, discussion groups and MTV: Twilight Tuesdays. 

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Seven months later, in November 2008, my friend Molly was my date on opening day to the movie: Twilight

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Goddess Bless the Mollies in my life.

An Awe-Inspiring Awful

I mentioned my weeks of post-surgery recovery in Spring of 2008. During that eight weeks in which I was off work and rehabilitating my knee, I discovered the Twilight books, I discovered the internet. Therefore, I discovered The Fandom. MTV’s Twilight Tuesdays sparked an intense fascination with the chemically combusting interactions between the absurdly aesthetic Kristen and Robert. I found fellow book readers who were excited about the release of the movie, who also noticed an unmistakable affection between the two lead actors cast to play Bella and Edward in the film. A hub  [at the time] of seemingly positive discussion about all things Twilight revealed itself as a forum through E!Online: The Awful Truth. Take heed, friends. I don’t mention that place or it’s creator/ Captain Shit-Stirrer Casablanca… ever. But in celebration of Musings On Others’ third anniversary, I would be remiss to neglect acknowledging its origins.

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See, The Awful Truth brought me to my CyberSisters & Readers five years ago. Among them my beloved Bouffant, Robkris13, gretel, and RainierSixPac. There are so many phenomenal women in my group–like the featured #Eeeby. Yes, the now defunct Awful introduced me to people whom are now some of my best friends. I speak with them every single day. They have held my hand in my most devastating moments, moments from which I am still recovering, that have occurred very recently. Friends I’ve made through this exasperating fandom represent intelligent, empowered, Creative Thinkers in the most awesome of ways.  Most importantly, I discovered Muses and Royal Rebels who encourage and inspire. Over three years ago, I met the incomparable CynicallyConvy, brilliant author of KSIBTU, and her unbelievable band of warrior beauties including the insanely talented Buff, JHiggs and my lion-hearted sister Just2CUSmile

KSIBTU Painting

By the beginning of 2009, I was pretty comfortable hanging with my CyberSisters (led by the trailblazing MarblePole) in our own discussion space, separate from Awful Truth, but still interacting online with delightful, articulate “regulars” who shared the same appreciation for Kristen Stewart, her ‘deliciously handsome’ partner in crime Robert Pattinson, and yes…Twilight. I flew under the radar for the most part. My decision to become involved, was as I noticed the alarmingly abominable attacks on Kristen Stewart in so many of those online forums. Especially baffling: those doling out the most vicious criticisms were people who did not even know Kristen. Bloggers, commenters, teenage girls home from school, their mothers with a bit of idle time–they, by far, unleashed the cruelest, most uninformed and illogical bouts of malevolence onto Ms Stewart, and I was struck speechless. I am usually anything but without words, guys, you know this about me .

An anger was unleashed upon Kristen, in an unfounded, unparalleled manner that in turn, compelled me. I had to do something. 

I Can Do~Helen Keller

How can I be an activist? Well… I learned that when I wrote things out, or spoke my rambling thoughts aloud, people listened and responded. One admirable trait about Captain Ignorant Casablanca at The Awful Truth: he will interact with those who send him questions, make provocative comments. I could give him a bit of credit in helping me find my voice. After wading through hundreds (hundreds!!) of anonymous or monikered commenters insulting Kristen’s hair follicles, smile [or lack of], shoes, fingernails and family members, I lamented with my girl Bouffant, and asked her how we can bring attention to and then curb (if not stop) the daily bashing on Awful.

My complaining resulted in a letter (pre-read by Bouffant in our first writing partnership) that I wrote to Mr Casablanca, asking him to reconsider the moderation of  his comment section, so as not to enable the hatred and bullying. . . and he wrote back. He asked me to help him brainstorm how to do this. While Ted Casablanca really didn’t implement suggestions I gave, he at least encouraged proactivity on my part. He reminded me that I have my own little pocket of power. Words can be incredibly powerful…And Lawdy knows I have them in abundance. 

Journals- Keeping Your Memory

Definition: Beautiful

~Urban Dictionary’s third most popular definition, June 2013

Beautiful, adjective. The description of anyone who is true to themselves.

“Honesty is beautiful.”

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Middle School Mixups

I brought together a small task group. My Team Other Captains were elected. Bouffant, Buff, CC and the always impressive Goldeneye began receiving emails from me with fragments of ideas and anecdotes about misfitting and combatting hatred…and questions on downloading images and links. I looked to CC to be my expert guide as she had launched KSIBTU to such exuberant welcome, I knew she could at least nudge my stumbling feet in the right direction.  I collected memories of my first few brushes with intolerance, unkindness…and rebellion. All in the name of  creating a forum for patience, positivity and Rebellious Beauty, but in an authentic, personal way. A small army of Kristen Stewart defenders, yes, but really, it evolved into a gathering of rebellious misfits needing to speak up for all under-voiced, misrepresented people.

For us OTHERS.

I found myself remembering my first experience of “media” and the havoc it wreaks. I briefly mentioned a few incidents on my About KJ Page. Since the faceless, nameless one-sided attacks upon Kristen reminded me a little of middle school drama, let me tell you a little story. 

Books fly with imaginations and dreams of the Mad Ones

I was thirteen years old and, like, totally with the love of my life, Joey. I had a unique look about me, I gathered that much, what with several complete strangers approaching me and commenting on my “exoticness”. I understood that I was somewhat surprising in my appearance compared to my family and peers as I’m a bi-racial girl, adopted by a family who had physical traits the polar opposite of mine.  I tried to blend in quietly, and I thought I was doing it well. Anyway, I was in 8th grade of junior high. Dreamy Joey and I. Together. He was, no exaggeration, the best looking boy in the school. During our entire passionate-for-junior-high school relationship, other girls, including my peers and upper classwomen (!!!) tried to drive a wedge between us, to lure Joey away from my frizzy-haired, book-loving self.

 

It was the end of the year, and I found myself very flatteringly nominated for several end-of-year yearbook categories: Best Personality, Nicest smile, and one half of the school’s Cutest Couple. Ah yes. Our coupledom was nominated as The Best. K-JO was IN. THE.HOUUUUSE.   

LOVE photo Lights

So listen up: I won all the categories for which I was nominated. However, an odd quandary at the yearbook printers led to a picture of my face floating below the title of CUTEST (equivalent of today’s SCHOOL HOTTIE) instead of BEST PERSONALITY (the title I really wanted) in the final, massively-distributed yearbook. I suddenly acquired the drive for self-preservation, for self defense.

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People would whisper and verbalize their warring opinions about my status as CUTEST in the school as I would make my way to my locker, my frizzy hair shoved into a scrunchy. Yeah, I said it: In junior high, I wore scrunchies. Girls would gather in catty, feral groups in the hallways and literally point and loudly, not accidentally, exclaim: “SHEEEEEE is the PRETTIEST GIRL IN THE SCHOOL?” And then they would, of course, reference lovely, beautiful, desirable Joey. “…HOW is that ugly mess JOEY’S GIRLFRIEND? What is she, anyway?” 

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Yeah. Those fucking trolls were ripping me apart physically, based on a misprint in the biggest media sensation for the time [we’re talking pre-Facebook, folks], and because I had attention on myself already, with my beautiful boyfriend, I deserved the hate, as deemed by society [middle school student body]. It didn’t matter that I was an Honor Student, an accomplished musician and a noted Peer Counselor. These vultures insulted my hair. My clothes. The shape of my eyes.  

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Sadly, as you can witness at any given moment on Twitter, not much has changed. In fact, it seems worse, what with the world wide web and the increase in anonymous bullying. Middle school politics are being played out on Twitter timelines [or DMs nowadays] and in comment sections [my CyberSisters call them ‘Carol Anne’s Closet’ –ahhh Poltergeist] at this very moment. And while there may be some younger folks participating in the spewage…It has been proven that the loudest squawkers and vocally vile Kristen-Haters fall within the average age bracket of 39 years old.  Grown-ass ‘adults’, mainly women, attacking the character and physical attributes of a-then eighteen year old girl.  This couldn’t be a case of Middle School Mixups. 

Molly was my First Featured Royal Rebel in a moment. And Kristen became my unquestioned Reigning Queen of Other.

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The recall of my traumatic brush with public opinion and media misrepresentation combined with a fond retelling of my encounters with My MOLLIESMusings On Other Queens, Kstew and Unconventional Beauty was born. Goldeneye helped me outline and shape my goals. Bouffant and CC pre-read the first drafts. Buff created the most beautiful background and banner for the site and for my Twitter account (also created June 3, 2010). And, well… Heeeeeeeeere’s, MOO. 

Remember when CC told me to push 'Publish', Remember???

Remember when CC told me to push ‘Publish’, Remember???

Definition: Other

~Merriam-Webster Dictionary, June 2013

Other, adjective. a: being the one (as of two or more) remaining or not included.

b: being the one or ones distinct from that or those first mentioned or implied.

c: not the samedifferent

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Definition: Unconventional

~The Synonym Finder, 1986 First Edition

Unconventional, adjective. Uncommon, rare, unique, peculiar, uncustomary, unexampled, unparalleled, unexpected. Extra-ordinary.

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The Heart Of The Matter

I had hoped to post this Birthday Edition MOO on Monday, June 3, the exact anniversary of its first publishing. Sleep deprivation and intense client work at The Magical Little Practice prompted me to wait a little longer . As it is, I feel very much so at peace with posting today, on Thursday, Musings’ regular posting day, and because the first essay ever also emerged on a Thursday.

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Also, just this Tuesday, we learned that Kristen booked two new film projects, both independent dramas, both reflective of Kristen’s essentialness. Her Otherness. Her Royalty.  Because truly, the heart of the matter is this: Kristen Stewart defines Beauty in her unapologetic defiance of anyone’s/everyone’s expectations, with her relentless insistence on protecting all (including whom) she deems precious, and in the thoughtful, measured choices she makes regarding her work, her self proclaimed love.

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With the announcements of her new projects, the extreme wayward focus of the past few weeks, months, years, can finally center on Kristen’s craft.. . and for me, we can honor the beginning. And like Kristen, we can return to our roots.

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Molly Ringwald reminded me that even awkward misfits can bring The Pretty Back. My Molly introduced me to Vegetarian Vampires and is proof that even typically collected & calm Cool Girls are susceptible to addiction to a wildly romantic notion.  The Awful Truth blessed me with a plethora of obscenely articulate, intelligent wordsmiths, all who encouraged me to speak up, find the words, because there are so many Others who want the change.  We Misfits, Unusuals, Unconventionals, and Defiant Ones don’t need or deserve ostracism because of our unique perspectives or philosophies. We deserve celebrations. Coronations, even. 

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A crown for my birthday celebration with the KSIBTU Crew

Today I pay homage to the sole reason for Musings’ conception: Identifying and exalting all the qualities that set us apart from anyone else. And one way to combat the destruction and exploitation of these unique abilities and assets…is to EMBRACE them. 

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Today is not the day for judgments, biased relationship advice, amateur psychological diagnoses, bids to become the “The Most Insidery”, or spectacularly dramatic paparazzi fanfiction. It is not the time for mass hysteria triggered by wild speculations from unproven informants. Today is for honoring our roots, honoring our Beauty Rebellion, and the Something we can DOAnd this day is for saluting a courageous woman for moving onward, always, despite the vast challenges and countless detractors.

A woman who embodies all the qualities of Unconventional Beauty…

Reigning Other Queen: Kristen Stewart

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Thank you, you beautiful Readers, Friends, Sisters, Brothers and OTHERS, for these extraordinary three years. It has been an absolute pleasure. You literally give me life. And Kristen? #OtherOn, your Highness. #OtherOn. 

Molly is Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others return to their roots.

Others do their Something.

Embrace Your Other.

***

Playlist

Hero ~ Family of the Year

Stubborn Love ~ The Lumineers

Blue Skies ~ Noah and the Whale

***

We Are Mad To Live

27 Oct
A/N: The images displayed in this essay are not mine–Thank Goddess for Tumblr and Pinterest. Click the image for a link to their origin. So very unbeta’d–all mistakes and typos belong to moi. Musical playlist and Shout-outs at the bottom, including birthday wishes. Click “Subscribe” in the side panel to receive MOO in your Email…over heeeyah——->

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding…”

~Jack Kerouac

Hey my Royal Rebels and Other Warriors! How’s it hanging? Lotssss of stuff going on right now, yeah?  Honestly, while it’s all positive, I’m a bit overwhelmed. So let’s focus and just dive in because there’s much to discuss. We last met about two weeks ago and, of course, in that time, the sky lit up with Royally Rebellious fireworks.

This month GlamourStew and the stunning British GQ article (which we’re discussing today) debuted…and the European Breaking Dawn promo tour commenced with our Warrior Poet Robert Pattinson leading the charge through Paris, Belgium and Sweden (looking dapper all the way through). Just this morning, our Reigning Other Queen transcended the realm which we mere mortals reside, into a Goddess via GlamourUK. . .

O_o….Let’s back that thing up, mmmkaaay? We’ll get to GlamourUK next time. Promise. On a personal note, I’ve encountered a few jarring bumps in the road as well, which tested my resilience and abilities for self-preservation. It was so very apt that my last full Musings was a call to Armour-Up because the moment I pushed “PUBLISH” on that essay, I found myself pulling on my boxing gloves. For a few days after writing about self-preservation and defending my worth, I found myself not speaking to my husband, and several times, in bouts of tears in different public places, including the laundromat and a science museum…and in front of my dear friend @kate_Suena via Skype. (Thank you, Katie for holding the space for me, and for reacting appropriately to my anguish).

I needed to speak up. I felt disrespected and dismissed. I had to remind myself of all the times I’ve asked you all to embrace The Good even when we don’t always believe it; and accept Otherness as desirable even though it can be alienating and daunting. My husband  N has not always understood my choices to pursue Bliss, and he was disconnected from my passionate involvement with Musings. He did not understand my essential drive behind seeking a peaceful coexistence for Otherness, (though he is an Other Rebel himself) nor did he see the bond I have with you all…not even when we initially encountered this: 

This is an angklung. It is a musical instrument comprised of bamboo tubes mounted on a bamboo frame. The tubes are carved to produce a resonant pitch that sings out when shaken or struck. Check it out on Google and YouTube to hear it’s dulcet, warm tone. Folks play symphonies and Top 4o Hits on these bad boys!! They are popular throughout Southeast Asia, but originated in West Java, Indonesia, from where my husband originally hails.

The picture above is of the actual instrument in my house. It was a gift from a lovely  Musings Reader named Icha (@ichaluvcat). Icha lives in beautiful Indonesia, in the Bandung region. When she heard that N was in Indonesia last month, she arranged to have the gift sent to him. N brought it home in pieces in a box that he carried on his lap for the duration of the 20 hour flight back to California.

Before boarding the flight, he called to tell me in an awed voice that his countrywomen’s gift for me was incredible. Icha, according to N, wanted to express her gratitude for what Musings provided for her. And then for the first time ever, N started to realize that Musings, and this collective, cohesive journey we’re on together as Riotous Rebels is bigger than he could  comprehend. He [hopefully] began to see that his disregard and dismissal of my pursuit of Bliss and my work with Musings actually disregards and dismisses me.

I wanted to share the story of the angklung with you to illustrate a few concepts: firstly, you Majestic Misfits are everywhere. Other. Is. Everywhere. I am thrilled. Icha is literally on the other side of this planet in Indonesia, and yet, we are able to connect over our admiration of an Unconventional Beauty named  Kristen Stewart, but also on the idea of pursuing bliss and embracing Otherness.

we get IT.

Secondly, Icha’s unbelievable kindness began to smooth over the sharp fragments that jutted between my husband and I, and he is finally understanding that it is no longer an option to separate me from Musings, and my pursuit of Bliss (as I define it). It’d be as if separating me from a limb.

An age-old idea that we’ve discussed several times in MOO. We do not need to exist in pieces, in fragments. I’ve made peace with the idea that I do not have to splinter myself to ease the discomfort of someone else. It is such a waste, and it makes me less than whole..less alive, less sensitive, less aware, less authentic. Ms Kristen appears to have arrived at a similar conclusion as of late. We’ve witnessed our Reinging Other Queen as she recognizes and introduces her authentic, whole self  as well. And it’s been absolutely captivating.

Kristen Emerging 

 As we transitioned into this beautiful month of October, we were still trying to catch our breath from the stunning Marcus Foster music video–featuring the desolately beautiful Ms Stewart–and we watched the video claim it’s title as the most viewed/downloaded video of MSN in 2011 (fist-bumps fellow OtherQueen supporters). We also caught glimpses  obsessively looped the official trailer for Breaking Dawn:—-> 

And oh my gawd, suddenly, what a sweet, sweet surprise!  There’s Ms Stewart in her California Girl Glory sitting barefoot and smiling on the cover of the U.S. Edition of Glamour.

Wrung out and panting by this point, I don’t think any of us saw what came next. Biz-ZAM.

DAY-um

 “I looked like a boy for a long time. Now I feel like a woman.” 

You guise. YOU. GUISE. I don’t know where you were when the British GQ pictures and subsequent glorious interview surfaced, but I know that my knees buckled and all coherence seeped out through my mouth, which was agape. Pre-GQ, we knew this much: Kristen has been living in London for the past few months as she works on what looks to be the incredible film Snow White and the Huntsman. We knew that due to her responsibilities to SWATH, she cannot be as visible a fixture in the upcoming  Breaking Dawn promo tour we’ve enjoyed in previous circulations. In short…We missss her. We don’t see her as often as we’d like.

However, now we know, with the help of her Glamour article and this brilliant, gorgeous Norman Jean Roy-photographed British GQ interview, that Kristen Jaymes Stewart is present. Aware, confident, grounded, and knowing. She is vital…alive…burn,burn,burning…and here. She is okay with that. And she lets us know she’s okay with that.

I loved this article, madly. I loved everything about it, not the least, the styling. While far from an original idea, Classic Hollywood Glam still is devastatingly beautiful on Kristen. And I love how feminine and vital Kristen is when styled this way. It’s fitting that she reports feeling more like “a woman” now. With her dark red lips and vintage lingerie and swimwear only the feminine divine presides. The interviewing journalist was Jonathan Heaf, senior contributing editor for GQ, and he opened the article in an intriguing, complimentary fashion, by highlighting  characteristics and behaviors that our Reigning Queen of Other did not display. No, instead Mr Heaf observed Kristen’s beauty and the steps she’d take to ensure privacy and anonymity (“her voice drops to a whisper as another customer clatters through…”)  He doesn’t fault her for her self-protective mannerisms.

 “Kristen has been watched. And Watched. And trailed. And stalked. And Hunted.”

Rebel Renaissance

So this awareness we’ve talked about today–Kristen has it in spades. This wasn’t always the case, she acknowledges. She understands that she didn’t always exhibit welcoming, accessible vibes, especially at the onset of the Twilight fixation in 2008. She reports that at age thirteen, already five years into her film career, she was “bitterly self-conscious”, and distractedly so. But it’s present-day, twenty-one-year-old Kristen who exudes a startling grounded energy, sans the bitterness.

Instead of concentrating on not botching up an interview answer, she is self deprecating and humble but also cognizant that she is fallible. While acutely aware of the gossip mongers, BullShit People, The Critics, The Haters,  the various warring camps of “Stens”(folks who adamantly support the idea that she and fellow Royal Rebel Robert Pattinson are in a romantic relationship or not), she replies “I don’t worry about it at all” And she repeats a mantra that has long been effective and essential to this warrior queen:

“I like to keep whatever is mine remaining that way.”

I am only going to gloss over the next part of the interview for the small handful of you who haven’t read it yet. During her photo shoot on the previous day, Kristen was overheard mentioning her wish to see more of the UK as, “My boyfriend is English”. Of course, when Mr Heaf broached the subject with her during their interview the following day, our fiercely protective Royal visibly tenses and says:

“I never would have said that if I knew you were  going to be interviewing me.”

This exchange is significant in that Kristen made the rare inference to her personal life, and instead of denying, diffusing or ignoring the inquiry, she concedes to Heaf’s verbalized observation of the mass quantities of evidence available on the world wide web that has captured Ms Stewart and British-born Pattinson together in countless photos or videos.  Citing the accessibility of her personal life via Google, Ms Stewart sighs,

“Come on, Guys, it’s so obvious.”

I can share with you what feels ‘obvious’ to me. We are watching a young woman who previously felt unprepared–and was criticized by the Bullshit People for ‘not playing The Game’–thrive, evolve and mature and settle. And I mean that in the sense of a cultivated confidence and acceptance, a tranquility that wasn’t there a couple years ago, maybe not even seven months ago. She didn’t react defensively when Jonathan Heaf alluded to her  perceived “notorious sulky-slacker vibe”.  She instead acknowledges that she was a particularly self-conscious kid trying to find a niche amongst her peers while also working a very unconventional job. Admittedly, while Kristen didn’t become defensive at the comment, I did.

It irks me endlessly that a person cannot possess discernment and be contemplative without having the “sulky, aloof, moody” label slapped across her forehead and reputation. I digress. See, this is why Kristen Stewart is an Ambassador for Other on the Homecoming Float. She acknowledges and assents to her many facets–warm, fuzzy and otherwise–and recognizes their essentialness in comprising who she is…as a woman..wholly.

A New Dawn

We’re all starting  new adventures together I think. Some of you have been apart of this community from the beginning, early 2008 or sooner. I joined not too much later–late summer 2008, circa Vanity Fair photo shoot time, before Twilight was released as a film. In just a couple weeks, we’ll be camping out in line for the the premiere and the midnight shows for Breaking Dawn.  Kristen will be wrapping up her SWATH filming near the end of November/early December, but not before taking a few days to promote and celebrate the premiere of the final Twilight installment: Breaking Dawn, Part 1. There are the TV interviews (Yay, she’ll be on Ellen for the first time!) And the handprint ceremony (Grauman’s Theater may shake in the thunderous screams for Kristen, Rob and Taylor as their famous appendages are immortalized–Fingers crossed that Kristen wears her Chucks!).

As mentioned earlier, Rob has been the tour master across Europe this week, and he’s done a mighty fine job of it. Like his partner Kristen, he also appears more grounded, settled and alive as of late. Certainly joyful and…less inhibited than we’ve seen.

Perhaps it’s because the seminal characters he and Kristen portray onscreen are a settled, assured unit finally. It has, after all, been four years since we met the star-crossed pair.

Or maybe Rob appears content and more centered because he feels content and centered. He and Kristen have trudged through theTwi maelstrom with linked arms. Both professionally and personally, they have crafted and maintained a tight-knit, highly respectful partnership that is joyful to behold.

And my silly arse will see that electric chemistry in-person!! Yep. I’m heading down to Los Angeles to attend the premiere at the Nokia Theater. I always believe that everything is worth trying at least once, so this year that philosophy is going to be applied practically on November 14. I haven’t attended a film festival  Q & A nor any of the Comic Cons yet, so I figured: we’re nearing the end of this journey, and it’s time. I’ll be in line for the wristbands for the viewing stands at 6AM on Thursday November 10. Will I see any of you lovelies there too? With carafes of coffee? And bagels?? If you’re there, let me know. Let’s chat Rebel Beauty in the morning.

The giddy newlyweds

Well, my beloveds, it’s super late here and I want to post this on a Thursday, like old times. I have 48 minutes left  to do that if I go by California time. I’ll have an hour more if I go by Hawaiian Time. Uh, so, Aloha and Mahalo. This isn’t a conclusion nor my usual Musings wrap up…just a brief rest. So we’ll pause here, to be continued next week. See you soon, Lovelies! xx, KJ

We Are Other.

Kristen Is Other.

Others are desirous of everything; mad to live.

Embrace Your Other.

*   *   *

Questions–Birthday Edition:  Thoughts on your own Rebel Renaissance (a renewal, a rebirth, new awareness) over the past year…?

Thoughts on our Other Queen’s GQ photo shoot and interview?

What is your Halloween costume?

Best Birthday you’ve had?

A/N: Birthday Shout-Outs to my October Birthday Girls down below. Be sure to wish them a happy day as well–you know these girls.  There are more things to chat about…always there is. We’ll get to them next time. GlamourUKStewGiveaways for GlamourUSA and BritishGQ…

GIVEAWAY DEETS next WEEK!!

Breaking Dawn Premiere Plans…

Rob’s candidness and rambling press conferences (seriously he provides unbelievable entertainment on the road).

*A new About KJ Sentence Completion has been added!! It’s the SPOOKY-BIRTHDAY Edition…

Oh…and in all this madness–

I got a new job. . .!! 

It’s Halloween a.k.a Embrace Your Other Day  

Pssst~Please don’t send gifts for my birthday, you sneaky, lovely ones. Instead I’ll request that you engage in Fair Philanthropy and learn about and consider donating to one of the organizations I support:

American Cancer Society 

American Red Cross 

Lupus Foundation of America 

It’s BIRTHDAY SEASON

Happy Birthday to My Lovelies:

Webby, Meow, Kristin75,

Nhess & DizzyLadybug

Playlist for this Essay

Acid Tongue ~ Jenny Lewis

We won’t Run ~ Sarah Blasko

Riot Rhythm ~ Sleigh Bells

The Sea ~ Morcheeba

Look Into The Air ~ Explosions in the Sky

What’s Behind The Door ~ Shady Bard

A MOO Memo: Short But Sweet

1 Jul

A/N: Images seen in this post are not the property of nor created by ©MusingsOnOther. No infringement intended. 

Hello you gorgeous Misfits, how are you this fine day?? I’m quite well except for the fact that I left my house with my Macbook Pro and notes and work projects but forgot my laptop’s charger. So we’re on borrowed time, babies….It’s for that reason and because we had a cathartic and intense story-sharing last week, that today’s essay will be brief and sweet and to the point. Hope we’re all groovy with that. It’s the start of a holiday weekend and it’s summertime, we don’t need to delve into the heavy mysteries of obsession (although it’s endlessly fascinating what the obsessed concoct about our Royal Rebels isn’t it?), nor the philosophies of change and goodness. Let’s take the advice of a wise, charming bloke who paid us a visit recently and said: “Focus on the positive, it’s MUCH more enjoyable!”

Positives such as….?

How bout our Reigning Other Queen, continuing her quest for Fair Philanthropy? Kristen signed a pair of KEDS (oohhh the memories I have in Keds) and donated them to ShoeRevolt so the charity could raise money to build shelters and provide support services for teen victims of sex trafficking. As we know–and as I die a little every time I read the article again–Ms. Stewart, our Rebel Queen herself–revealed in her February Vogue interview that she feels “most connected to” the idea of giving back in a constructive way via building halfway houses for runaway teens who were victims of the sex trade. A charitable and socially conscious Other, she is indeed.

Another POSITIVE this week could entail how ecstatic and proud I am that we all helped a cause close to my heart, Fandom For Sexual Assault Awareness raise over $10,000!! We proved that those of us with passionate love for fanfiction (this fixated fondness can be debilitating to some *looks around furtively and then raises hand*) can help promote healing storytelling and empowerment for survivors of sexual assault.

With contributions from approximately 150 writers including friends Aylah50, 107yroldVirgin, PrimaryColors, TheRainGirl, Awesomesauce and Magnolia855, we helped various charities give back a voice to those who otherwise have been silent or shamed…or both. If you haven’t contributed to this cause and you’d like to, donations are still accepted a bit longer in order to receive the awesome Thank You compilation; however, any support and contributions you can donate are accepted anytime regardless. Click it for more info —>  FandomForSexualAssaultAwareness

***The above paragraph was all I’d written before my laptop completely died on me, and I realized I was Shit Outta Luck without my charger***

12 HOURS LATER. So it’s now midnight on July 1, and I’ve missed my own deadline that I had set, so I apologize. I can honestly say that I was detained by both slightly stupid reasons (forgetting the power source for my writing instrument being one) and also for whimsical, lovely reasons–my niece Monkey wanted to show me the see-saw made of driftwood along the water at the  nearby beach; she also wanted to show me where she collected her magical, iridescent sea shells.

Additionally, I had some work sessions with Leon my business manager for my Magical Little Practice to focus on projects relegated to the back-burner while I was away with work for Red Cross this month. Much has changed since I returned from Mississippi and Missouri. We’ll talk about these changes soon. Maybe next MOO. I can say that my hopes and goals for  following Bliss have not changed, but they have been enhanced and given the glitter treatment.

Not to mention my motivations for better self care have kicked up a notch too. I try to run/walk every single day now to provide a grounding agent for my spinning mind (it’s jam packed with ideas and plans, friends, oh yesss). You know who else has a new regime for self-care and betterment these days? Our lovely Queen. Don’t you want to do yoga and participate in fight training if it means looking like THIS??

As she moves to and from what appears to be fight training for her upcoming role in the uber cool film project Snow White and The Huntsman (the Fairest Of Them All is allegedly going to be lithe, sleek, and badass with knife and archery skillz), Ms Stewart is absolutely radiant. How am  I so sure she’s royalty? She single-handedly endorses an active lifestyle ..and makes wearing spandex look GOOOOOOOOOOD. Bow down to the Queen, y’all.

So I went on a run the other night, despite the arrival of a freak summer storm. And bless Lydia (@ALotMoreMagic) for sending me tweets with attachments of articles outlining safety guidelines and appropriate attire for working out in rainy weather. L, I did all right. I avoided getting sick, but I could not avoid my supreme klutziness. My wet running shoes were too slick once I came home, and my legs slid from beneath me and I fell…hard. I managed to smack my head on the tiles of my bathroom floor.

Yeah, kinda like this, but with a LOT less . . .Couture.

All right, yeah. I had a teeny incident of head trauma, but nothing like I’ve had before, where I’ve actually been in the ER, checked out by a physician and given pain meds for a concussion. Today I didn’t forget numbers or drop sentences, but I took twice as long to complete a straightforward work project with Leon and I certainly couldn’t gather my wits properly to write this MOO Memo.

But that’s all bygones because I want to move onto the topic of You. Can I just tell you how madly in love with you all I am? I truly am. You welcomed me back so warmly last week and then you just rocked my socks off with your gorgeous, thoughtful, heartbreaking and heartlifting anecdotes about the light within you’re embracing. The comments left by you brave, eloquent souls still bring tears to my eyes as I read and re-read them. The private emails I’ve received have rendered me stunned and speechless. Just tonight, as I sat down to write this Memo, I received the most glorious response to last week’s Joplin Stories from a Reader called Jessica. She signed off her letter with words that gave me chills:

I will remain and embrace myself and who I am, facing the trouble caused by people who aren’t strong enough to do the same. 

By being Other we show we are strong, extraordinary, and ever courageous.

 We are Royal Rebels who fight the idea of what is acceptable everyday.

And on that note of reverence, let’s get to the Giveaway Results, shall we?  Every single commenter left an extraordinary word (or hundred) that I felt in the fibers of my being, so I again bow down in gratitude to you. However, to be eligible for the giveaway, I presented four questions and asked for just one to be answered in a comment. I only submitted the names of folks who answered questions into the Random Integer Generator at Random.org.

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

9

Congratulations, to J (@JRollin5)!!!! Ms J is a beautiful, thoughtful and witty gal and a long-time Musings Reader with whom I’ve been fortunate enough to interact via Twittah and email over the past several months. I’ll get in touch with you to work out details of delivery, ok, J??! CONGRATULATIONS again!

Short and sweet, yeah? I’m stil floating on clouds from the profound meeting we had last week, and given my supreme Klutz-tendencies and the holiday weekend, I figured we were due for a light, joyful Memo. Have a wonderful time this weekend to all who celebrate Independence Day on July 4th in The States..and to my Canadian friends,

Happy Canada Day!!

Be well, take care of yourselves and each other. And I’ll see you all soon to talk Rebellious Beauty.  Always, KJ

A/N:

Playlist for This Essay:

Brighter Than Sunshine ~Aqualung

New Soul ~Yael Naim

PriceTag ~Jessie J Feat B.O.B.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unfinished Business

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

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

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

Bryan's home

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

With My Hands

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

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

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

Leland's neighborhood

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

I. Am. Done.

The Ultimate Fighters

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

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

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

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

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

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

My heroes: Search and Rescue

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

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

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

A restaurant on Main street

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

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

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

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

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

To Have Found Their Way Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quiet Moments of Majesty

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

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

Although her grounding trumps anyone else's grounding.

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

And then this picture of them:

Makes me almost unbearably excited for….

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

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

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

Chris and Kris. Mutual Admiration Society.

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

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

An Anonymous Grace 

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

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

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

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

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

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others’ true beauty is a light from within.

Embrace your Other.

*   *   *

An Epically Long A/N including GIVEAWAY Deets: 

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

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

A NEW MOO GIVEAWAY

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

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

1. When did you know you were Other?

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

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

4. How do you employ self-care? 

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

*   *   *

Specific shout outs and vice-like hugs to: 

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S PLAYLIST (PUSH PLAY)

Look For Me As You Go By ~ The Innocence Mission

Satisfied Mind ~ Jeff Buckley

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

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

After The Storm ~ Mumford & Sons

Fix You ~ Coldplay

A Light From Within (Part 1)

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

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

It was ‘A Time’

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

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

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

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

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

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

ahhh is THAT what human interaction looks like?

An Other Application

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

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

She Shines On

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

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

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

dude. we know.

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

Can watch this pure joyfulness on loop forevah

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

“Sorry, Natalie, The Popcorn is mine!

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

O_O

 A Way Out Of The Depths

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

thank you, my Possum @Justice_Aussie for this

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

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

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

Gratitude. 

Faith.

Resilience.

"I will rebuild", he says.

Beautiful People Do Not ‘Just Happen’

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

Thank you. THANK. YOU. THANK YOU.

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

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

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

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

Giggly, LondonStew will ALWAYS Win.

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

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

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others’ light shines on, shines far.

Embrace your Other.

*       *      *

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

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

PLAYLIST: (PUSH PLAY) 

Look For Me As You Go By ~ The Innocence Mission

Satisfied Mind ~ Jeff Buckley

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

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

After The Storm ~ Mumford & Sons

All That She Is

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

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

~Stevie Nicks, Silver Springs

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

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

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

Ok, how ’bout now?

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

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

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

 What the Fangirl Learned

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

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

The (M)Other Within

*ANNOUNCEMENT*  

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

The American Red Cross

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

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

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

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

Their options are becoming pretty limited.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Featured Royal Rebel: Stevie Nicks

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

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

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

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

And so it began. Fleetwood Mac 1975

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stevie Nicks has your back, Bella!

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

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

Offenses of Otherness:

*Emphatically celebrates her feminine divinities: love and beauty

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

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

Reigning Other Queen: Kristen Stewart

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

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

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

nope. Not even close to getting old.

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

Congratulations, Kristen!! 

ICU dedicated actress with the bruised up legs and arms

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

Offenses of Otherness:

* Celebrates her feminine divinities: compassion and protectiveness.

*Unapologetic about displaying confidence, assertiveness and independence.

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

*  *  *

Stevie accepts all that she is. And is Other.

Kristen accepts all that she is. And is Other.

Others accept themselves and all that they are.

Embrace your Other. 

*  *  *

Notes: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More:

This Essay’s Playlist

Trampled Rose ~Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

I Shall Believe ~Sheryl Crow

Starlight ~Muse

Gold Dust Woman ~Stevie Nicks

Winter Winds ~ Mumford & Sons

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

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