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Not Broken, But Blinding. We are.

1 Sep
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 are mine. Lyrics, unless noted, belong to Marcus Foster. Playlist and GIVEAWAY INFO at the bottom.

In my time I’ve melted into many forms

From the day that I was born,

I know that there’s no place to hide

*drawing in deep breaths* So I wasn’t planning on writing today. I was acutely aware that I had only posted one Musings essay in August but I found myself unwilling to post another MOO until I was content with the quality. I wasn’t about to throw something up on WordPress simply because it was due. Suddenly, August passed by in a rush and I have no idea how that happened without my notice. When we last conversed, I told you that I had some ducks to get in line: Stuff for The Magical Little Practice and some training courses for Red Cross Instructor Certification. I also spent some time in my hometown for several days assisting my mother with some renovations on my childhood home (which provoked some memories long dormant and locked away), and I squeezed in visits with childhood friends, as well as a couple Cyber Soul Sisters @Robkris13 and @Mari. I also had a brief but surreal afternoon and evening with the lovely ladies from the KSIBTU Crew which included the luminous CC (@KstewsBtrThanU), the gorgeous artist Jamie (@JHiggs86) and my fierce August Birthday Girls Iris (@Just2cuSmile) and Kim (@Kimmcarr). But I had planned to be back before now to check in with you all.

A gift from @robkris13 via Comic Con: The stunning display of Follicle Issues Trading Cards!

Here’s the deal: In addition to all those wonderful events of the last month, I have been taking steps to complete a separate writing project that was proposed to me three weeks ago. So when I returned from my visits and completed my Certification courses last week, I tried to gather the energy needed to focus on my new task at hand.

No dice.

I have never been diagnosed with ADHD, but I’m seriously wondering if I should be assessed. I definitely am a tireless champion of PROCRASTINATION, a habit that may never be broken because I’m constantly enabled in it. I was on the verge of despair these past few days, beating myself up over an unreasonable deadline I failingly tried to enforce. I elicited my tired and true writing tricks: Listened to inspiring music; read provocative books and stories; organized my office supplies 🙂

A color-coded map of mah head

Today was that self-imposed deadline. Which means that last night I was a hot mess, and not in the complimentary way. So I didn’t quite have a Dark Night of the Soul, but I had a few moments resembling it’s bleak cousin Melancholia. And Melancholia whispered knowingly to me: “You are in over your head, Chica. You’re not ready for this. You don’t really want this. You’re not good enough to do this.”

For .0234 of a second I believed it. And I felt relief. Like finally I could acknowledge the truth, and now everyone could see it and I didn’t need to swagger around the room anymore in an act of bravado.

And then…I listened to the song that was playing on my speakers…It was one that I featured on this week’s Inspiration Playlist and had listened to maybe fifty times earlier. And yet, I didn’t hear it until last night in that insular moment. You can hear it on the playlist for this essay. Or click it for the YouTube:–>Illuminated

Suddenly my eyes are open, everything comes into focus.

We are all illuminated, lights are shining on our faces. ~Hurts

HURTS

While soaring to HURTS‘s ethereal melody, I found myself hashing out a rambling email to my friend @DeeDreamer16, a soul who also at this very moment is taking the risks to pursue her bliss via creative expression. I hadn’t given thought to the mundane or tedious when I began describing for Dee the post-it-pocalypse of my living room, so I forwent proper grammar, punctuation or politeness. I must have repeated about four times “I am beating myself up, NOTHING is done!” before a funny thing happened. I felt my shoulders dropping from my ears and my breaths growing deeper, slower. And I was writing. I produced full sentences about how I used procrastination as a shield to intercede between not my fears of failure but my fears of success. How I often leave things to the midnight hour because I want to challenge my boundaries and perhaps create my own obstacles.

I wanted someone to call me on my bullshit. However, by the time I hit “SEND” to Dee, I realized that the one person who needed to call me on my bullshit was …me. We are our most brutal critics and the most cunning of wall-builders. And that’s just plain ole exhausting, and I had enough on my plate thank you very much. So I went to bed, nursing my broken and bruised fragments, but lighter than I’ve felt in many days.

When I opened my eyes this morning, what greeted me? Resplendent Synchronicity.

We. Are. Blinding.

It has been weeks since we’ve seen our Reigning Other Queen. In the midst of unconfirmed sightings and speculation, our fierce Snow White was pictured at the Playstation Launch in London, emerging from a maze (a video game simulation?) within proximity of  one Mr Theo Hutchcraft, of (oh hell yeah), the band HURTS…. Seriously, of ALL the people Kristen could have been near? “Well,” the voice-no-longer Melancholia whispered to me…”We are illuminated. We are good. We’re so bright, we’re blinding.” 

But I had not recovered enough to truly be prepared for how the rest of this day would unfold. 

Click this pic to view Marcus's Music Video feat Ms Stewart

A personal favorite of mine, Marcus Foster, is a bluesman, singer-songwriter, poet, guitar player, master sculptor and childhood friend of Mr Robert Pattinson. This glorious morning he debuted his music video for the single ‘I Was Broken’. And the stark, raw, beautiful song of familiarity featured a video spotlighting a quiet, haunting and ethereal young woman, who despite appearing fragile and tenuous, is in fact, the polar opposite. Marcus’s lyrics hold such simple brilliance. We are not shattered, at least not indefinitely. And Kristen’s presence in this video brought me to tears. Compelling and mesmerizing…I cannot seem to break the spell.

But I will stand here till the end, I know that I can take the moon

Haunted by the things I've made

I wasn’t going to write today. I was a bit battered from my own encounter with that insistent wench Melancholia in the late hours of the night. But when my eyes opened this morning, I was inundated with such joyful motivators to still push forward, I simply could not stay away. The exquisite @DeeDreamer had responded to my late-night confessional in the form of an email, and we chatted into the morning about the risks and benefits of pursuing Bliss and the power of synchronicity–when we say “I’m ready”, the Universe has it’s way of supporting us.

So what if I didn’t make my deadline today? It was a completely unreasonable limitation to place on myself, I realize now. Was it not enough that I’d successfully completed my training courses for Red Cross and I’m now a Certified Trainer with a respected and effective humanitarian organization? I have the capacity to teach and share some of my knowledge as a therapist with people who go out onto the frontlines in response to disasters and tragedy. I have the opportunity to go out to the East Coast and work with the survivors of IRENE personally, like I did in Joplin. How incredibly privileged am I?

Well you walk these lonely streets that people send, people send.

There are some wounds that just can’t mend, I do pretend, pretend

I was broken, for a long time.

But It’s over now

Am I not incredibly grateful that my Sister PUSS was granted the opportunity to see a world-renowned specialist for her immune-deficiency illness on this very day? Am I not blessed with the most incredible friends and supporters of Otherness in my every day life? Its incredibly fortifying to see that the Army of Others is as widespread and present as it is. Represented by you incredibly gifted MOO READERS, in the Featured Rebel Royals; in Poet Warriors like Marcus and Robert and …Kristen Jaymes StewartIs it not extraordinary that there is a splendid woman like Kristen Stewart to turn to for a model of resilience and strength?

This morning I hadn’t planned on writing. But I acknowledged and welcomed the kinder, gentler way that I regarded myself. I know I hadn’t experienced some existential crisis of self these past few days, but my confidence and focus certainly wavered. And sometimes, we have to deconstruct the working whole, examine and focus on the little fragments, pieces and cells of a project before moving forward steadily and with certainty. We are resilient beings. We are extraordinary creatures. We may feel broken at times, but that’s over now.

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others are beatific pieces of The Whole.

Embrace Your Other.

* * *

A/N: The lyrics (other than those as credited to Hurts’s ‘Illuminated’) featured throughout this essay belong to Marcus Foster and his song ‘I Was Broken’.

A GIVEAWAY! A GIVEAWAY!  Looky at what the Mail Lady brought me today….My extra ordered copies of W MAGAZINE!!!

I have 2 copies to give away to anyone who leaves a comment on Today’s Essay with an answer to at least ONE of these questions:

1. How have you reassured yourself to finish a task that you once viewed as insurmountable? How do you bounce back after these dark moments? 

2. What do you think of Marcus’s song I Was Broken? Of the video featuring Ms. Stewart? 

3. Have you experienced Synchronicity before? When you needed a nudge or confirmation most, in what form did it reveal itself to you? 

*Musings has it’s own FACEBOOK PAGE now! Check it out and join me for discussions and the sharing of pictures, books, quotes, videos and ideas of Otherness where we’re not limited to a measley 140 characters.

*GINORMOUS Thank you to my friend @DeeDreamer16. You have NO idea.

*GRATITUDE to my Good Reads Girls who give me unconditional support and cheerleading even when I go rogue.

*To Puss. You’ve got this, Sis. You’ve GOT. THIS.

PlayList For Today’s Essay:

Illuminated ~ Hurts

Don’t Die in Me ~Mirah

Outloud ~ Dispatch

Letters To Muses (and Whoa, W)

11 Aug
A/N: This is unbeta’d per usual. Please forgive me the typos, grammatical slips and bobbles. I do not own the images featured in today’s essay, and I try to embed the links to their original owners/creators . Just click the pics…Bowing down to Tumblr and my newest addiction inspiration Pinterest.

Dear loveliest Rebel Royals and Majestic Misfits,

I have become a big filthy liar…yet again. Last time I said that I’d return to the Musings format that included both What The Fangirl Learned  as well as feature a new Royal Rebel in this post, and that is simply not the case today I’m afraid. Nope. Not when I woke up this morning and was greeted with such epic goodness in the form of a new joint Kristen and Rob interview for Breaking Dawn as featured in Entertainment Weekly (aka The biggest Twi FanGirls aside from @JoshuaHorowitz). 

As you already knew, since a lot of you are in a different time zone than I, EW included a 7 page spread in this Fall Movie Preview Issue (there are other movies released this Fall, not that you would know it) featuring the much-sought-after-though-rare joint interview with our Reigning Other Queen Kristen and her always illuminating partner Robert Pattinson. One of Kristen’s biggest supporters, director Bill Condon, also discussed insight and thoughts on the filming process.

I won’t rehash the interview with you all, firstly because I don’t have the magazine in my paws at this moment and I would like to comment and respond to something concrete (I’m all tactile and shit); and secondly, because this time tomorrow, you all will have probably already read, memorized and maybe created a gorgeous Tumblr edit featuring your own very favorite quotes from that interview. So this is me merely letting you readers know that I think you’re super-swell, and I’d like to ask you for forgiveness for not posting a timely Musings nor one that highlights the topics I had hoped to discuss with you. We can savor the lovelieness of the EW pictures and article together, though mmkay? I figured you’re all cool with it. Especially after glimpsing sputter-inducing pictures like:

Edward, LOOK at your HAWT new wife! And you're playing CHESS?

And zingy exchanges between Kristen and Rob such as:

Kristen: Now that I’ve seen parts of it [the final movie], Jacob and Bella’s chemistry in this movie is better than it’s ever been.

Rob: [Faux-glares at Stewart]. So uncool. 

Rob and Kristen, I mean, Edward and Bella enjoying a stroll

Kristen: [On finishing the final filming of the saga] It was oddly emotional the first time I got to set and saw everything and everybody.

Rob: Yeah, you were really sweet when you first showed up.

Kristen: Oh, shush. 

They would go on to “shush” each other, and speak of marriage and relationships and machinations of “chewing” through the brutal, bloody childbirth scene….It’s a fantastic interview. One of their very best in recent memory. Comfortable, light, playful and teeming with intimacy and admiration. Great enough to prompt me to rethink my topic of discussion for today’s essay.

I figured I would speak about the risks and benefits of participating in the work we love–our life’s work–as prompted by observing the joy and pride Ms Stewart invests and reciprocates within her own craft. As we witnessed her confident enthusiasm at Comic Con last month,

and rejoiced along with her when she arrived in London to begin production of Snow White and the Huntsman;

I  planned on discussing with you about how we can ensure such delight and pride in our own chosen paths and professions; to explore the tremendous courage it takes to embark on a new project as Kristen is, and to revisit our own steps taken to pursue our true bliss. Are you doing what you would like to, versus what you’re expected to do?  Are you settling? Are you taking the steps on the path that feels most fulfilling to you? It has been awhile since we’ve talked about following Bliss, hasn’t it, friends?

courage to be creative=following the bliss

My friend and fellow bliss-pursuer, @DeeDreamer16 linked me to an incredibly relevant blog post at–>> InOverYourHead.net . The author, Julien Smith, contemplates whether being lackadaisical is a major indicator that we are not following our bliss, not practicing and enacting our Life’s Work. Smith wonders if our nonchalant way of viewing our daily tasks in fact makes us useless. I gotta say, I tend to agree. If we’re not at least somewhat daunted by our goals, then why have them at all? The minute we become complacent with our surroundings, we lose the edge, the motivating elements that push us onward, towards the finish line…onward towards risk and and perhaps satisfying, glorious rewards that may include self-confidence, monetary security, a compassionate connection with others, meaningful personal relationships, pride in doing something for yourself, a contribution to humanity.

#bliss

I want to tell you, you Unconventional Beauties, that I’m pursuing a couple of projects for the Magical Little Practice and in some of my writing…and I’m absolutely quaking in my Chucks. I guess I haven’t grown too comfortable, as I feared I might when I was laid off from BastardNation two years ago. I’m a bit relieved to recognize  that I have not become useless and rote, while I easily could have. I’m freakin petrified. So I guess I’m on the right path after all.

Kristen, our Warrior Rebel, is moving onto her first high profile role since wrapping The Twilight Saga. She is stepping from the familiar perimeters of her co-stars (including her “never confirmed but obvious boyfriend” ~EW …WAT) and crew, from a character she embodied and inhabited for four years towards some unchartered territory. She is playing Snow White, Ms Badass Royal Rebel herself. She is shedding the comfortable skin of Bella Swan Cullen and embracing a new (literally) set of armor. Princess Snow is steadfast, precocious and full of conviction. She also, per Kristen’s report, is terrified. Except that instead of succumbing to the fear, Snow White is channeling it, using the uncertainty or doubt as kinetic fuel for her limbs and for her voice…She emerges empowered, confident and beautiful….and not at all surprisingly…This summer, so is Kristen Jaymes Stewart.

So here, my Other Warriors, is the reason why I cannot write anything more today about following Bliss and why I cannot find the words to illustrate my lessons learned as a fangirl…or why I cannot introduce another Royal Rebel this week. Because Kristen Stewart, our extraordinary and staggeringly stunning Reigning Other Queen, has arrived by way of a truly royal carriage: W Magazine. The photos and interview dropped online today, and after I picked myself off the floor from a dead faint, I realized I had absolutely no words. NO WORDS with which to construct a proper new Musings. And I’m typically a wordy, wordy bitch. So I sign off my letter to you MOO Readers requesting your forgiveness… but something tells me you don’t really mind. If you’re even reading these ramblings anymore. Because, yeah. Kristen looks fucking phenomenal. And she appears poised and ready. to. go. That’s all we really need to know right now.  That and how great I think you all are. You serve as my muses every day…just as our Reigning Queen does.

I would like to articulate to you one day soon how honored I am that some of you have chosen me to be a sounding board and guide as you pursue your own blissful endeavors. The talent you possess knocks my socks off. I will tell you as much personally if and when I get the chance…Until then, check you at the bottom for a couple of announcements, my Lovelies. Take care of yourselves and each other. Continue following the Bliss and embracing your Other. xo, KJ

And I fucking love the way you growled and sneered just a little bit there in your declaration of love, Ms Stewart. Anyhoo, the following letter is just a note of appreciation to The Muse Kristen herself..a muse for me, for MOO, for the masses….

Dear Kristen,

I don’t think you quite understand the profundity of power you hold. You have stricken myself and other extremely eloquent and erudite friends/bloggers/writers/artists/Intellectuals/KristenSupporters/OtherSupporters completely wordless. Stunned. And it’s not just because of the loving, yearning dynamic you and Robert exhibit in those Breaking Dawn/EW pictures nor the glam-vixen beckoning to us from the cover of W. Arguably, this new photo spread and interview (plus screen tests, please, pliss can we see the outtakes of this otherworldly shoot??) for featuring photographs by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott; and Styling by Edward Enninful (bowing down) is your most spectacular to date. You invoke the spirit and ferocious beauty reminiscent of Bardot, Hepburn (Audrey and Kate), Fonda, Priscilla P, and Jackie O with your piercing, cat-lined, green eyes and tousled, voluminous bouffant; the leather, the fur, the pillow lips…

This is the most glamorous and unabashedly sexy version of you I’ve ever seen, but I believe that you have reached this pinnacle of smolder due to the collaboration of external assistance–your makeup artist and hair stylists are genius–with your luminous inner facilities. You are congruent and authentic. You are kind, but reserved; sensitive but guarded; Strong but not impenetrable; confident but not arrogant. We’ve watched you grow more comfortable and sure-footed in your own capacity to communicate your truth over the years, and it’s that quiet certainty that you exude that pushes you beyond the barriers of “lovely”, and into the realm instead of  resplendence. 

You tell W Magazine in your extremely cool and captivating screen tests what you were conscious of; your moment-to-moment awareness while growing up:

“I have….that so-called boyish quality was something that I was deathly self-conscious about when I was younger. I was, like, No, I’m a girl. Actually, I’m still embarrassed to say that.”

Uh. Yes. Yes you are indeed a girl. An astonishingly accomplished and genuine girl. You’re an excellent role model for anyone seeking an authentic guide…and an inspiring ambassador for #Other.

You said that upon filming your final, final scene for Breaking Dawn,

“I felt like I could shoot up into the night sky and every pore of my body would shoot light.”

I promise, you could…and you do. Thank you for providing some light, Kristen. Because now…You’ve sparked a whole new movement. Your supporters are pioneering, fierce, ambitious, genuine, confident, sensitive and uniquely gifted warriors, just like you. And we’re with you all the way. Keep going, Your Majesty, keep going. In awed gratitude, KJ

We Are Other.

Kristen Is Other.

Others exude light that can spark a new movement.

Embrace Your Other.

*   *   *

QUESTION(S):  Are you taking the steps along a fulfilling path? Are you settling? Have you recovered long enough from the shock of the W shoot and interview to share your reactions? 

A/N: I’m pursuing a couple of personal projects and business plans these next few weeks so I don’t think I will be able to write another full-fledged Musings for a little while. Quite possibly I’ll be back around Aug 23rd, but if Aug 28th rolls around and you haven’t heard from me, don’t panic. I’m leaving tomorrow for my hometown, to spend time with family, participate in some renovations and stroll down memory lane (could be traumatic, actually). I also will be seeing my gals from the KSIBTU Crew to celebrate Iris’s birthday in person. I will hopefully spend some time with my Cyber Soul Sisters @Mari and @RobKris13 as well (and maybe see Rob and Sam at the grocery store as they re-stock the kitchen?). Plus, I’ve some Red Cross projects I’m participating in, as well as an exciting writing adventure about which I’ll hopefully be able to elaborate on with you soon. Take care you gorgeous rabble rousers, and I’ll see you in a few weeks. Where we can talk Good Reads, Ramadan, the late Amy Winehouse, Sam Bradley, Cancer Bites and of course..Kristen Stewart and Otherness. Yours, xo, KJ

Shoutouts and SqueezieHugs:
My lovelies: @Kate_Suena and @MyCleverAlias
My sounding board and constant-cheerleader: Bouffant
My Aussie Posse: @Ophelia2010, @Justice_Aussie & @Mel452        
To sparks in the dark and my muses for words: @107_yroldVirgin and @TeamSmella23         
It’s my friend @TheRainGirl4’s BIRTHDAY tomorrow (Aug 12)!  Go and wish her love and schmexy thoughts for inspiration, and check out her fics: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/2185580/
PLAYLIST FOR TODAY’S ESSAY: 
Head Full of Doubt ~ Avett Brothers
The Funeral ~ Band of Horses
Gray or Blue ~ Jay May 
The First Day of My Life ~ Bright Eyes

Within and Beside You

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

Open and just hold the lantern in the doorway

For the freedom of it

And you take the night air through your nostrils

And you breathe in out, in out

And you breathe just like that, just like that

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

Beauty In Loving The Craft

And we saw her standing there

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

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

Is this Heaven or…

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

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

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

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

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

A Beautiful Ferocity

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

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

*raises eyebrow* mmmhmm

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

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

Truly a Rebel Royal, yes? 

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

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

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

 Beauty Surrounds Her  

You say which way, which way

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

Behind you, beside you, beside you

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

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

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

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

saucy

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

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

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

A Beautiful Congruency

‘Cause I need Freedom now

And I need to know how

To live my life as it’s meant to be

Can you spot our Rebel Other Queen?

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

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

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

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

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

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others realize that beauty cultivates from within and beside us.

Embrace Your Other.

*    *    *

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

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

Squeezey Hugs and Sloppy Kisses To:

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

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

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

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

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

Lyric excerpts featured: 

Beside you ~ Van Morrison

The Cave~ Mumford and Sons

Essay Playlist: 

What I Am ~ Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians

Santa Maria~ Gotan Project

The Cave ~ Mumford and Sons

Back To The Barre

19 Jul
A/N: So very, very unbeta’d. Please forgive me the typos, grammatical slips and bobbles. I own some pictures in today’s essay. Most of the others, not so much. Goddess bless Tumblr.

“Rocks in my way, I pick them all up. Someday I’m going to build myself a castle.” ~Fernando Pessoa

Greetings, all you Beatific Misfits! I hope this long overdue essay finds you well and healthy? I am hanging, but I’m going to be totally honest: I’m beaten up, overwhelmed, wary, and emotional (even more than usual…scary). I realize I’m over four days late in posting New Musings and that knowledge just makes me twitchy, albeit from the pressure I put on myself, not from anything external. We are our own biggest critic, are we not? I’ve had what I’ve wanted to talk about in this essay outlined in my notebook for nearly a week now, but I’ve not found the articulation. I hope you’ll flow with me.

A part of my ill ease is that I’m still acclimating to being home after my national assignment with the Red Cross. Other causes for my wariness stem from natural stressors that accompany family, marriage and friendships that are moving through transitions. Admittedly a small contribution to my discomfort expels from the atmosphere of tension surrounding fellow “fans” and “supporters” in the Kristen/Rob/Twi Community. And a leeetle smidgen of my preoccupation may surround my decisions for following Bliss.

catharsis

So how do I move forward when I am feeling fractured, uncertain and unsettled? I go back to the beginning. I return to the stripped-down foundation, to the basics. I review what it is that motivates me and inspires me to go forth…whether it be writing or journaling; playing the piano or singing; writing music, reading poetry or literature [or spicy fanfic], listening to music, surrounding myself with inspiring and kind people, walking on the beach, or rereading letters received or letters I’ve sent to someone else. I start from scratch and, in advice  from one of my favorite guilty pleasures, the dance movie, Center Stage, I go ‘back to the barre’.

In the technically meticulous and heartbreakingly beautiful art of ballet, the barre is a handrail either bolted to the wall or a horizontal, free-standing base. It is used for the warm up period before floor work and dance sequences. While sometimes seen as monotonous and tedious, barre work is crucial for all dancers, regardless of level of skill, as the exercises build strength for leaps and turns, sharpen precision, hone speed, and enhance flexibility and balance. It’s the reacquaintance of one with his or her roots and center. This month, I need to come back to my center almost desperately, because I felt that I might drift away, too far.  So, this week’s essay is my own reminder about the significance in returning to the place of grounding.

Since She’s Been Gone

Well, since we last talked, our Rebel Queen Kristen has been spotted just about everywhere among the county of Los Angeles, as well as in Toronto on the Cosmopolis film set and maybe New York City. Girlfriend has been on the move…and without a doubt, she’s got several vultures on her trail (growling). Now, *clears throat* I haven’t been nearly as active as the fierce and lovely Ms Stewart. Nope, since I’ve returned from my assignment last month, the only thing I’ve been actively doing is …emoting.  I have probably experienced and then worked through every single emotion possible, including apathy, anger and elation. A couple of you lovelies have written me and asked me how I’ve returned to “normal” after seeing what I saw and learning what I did while working with the survivors (aka Inspiring Heroes) of the natural disasters in Mississippi and Missouri. When my friend CC asked me how I’m able to be “back and continue on in life”, I answered, “Slowly, painstakingly, carefully.”

patience and gentleness

One thing I’ve very clearly realized since coming home: I have zero tolerance for hate-vom and/or unnecessary drama. No room in my 3D relationships and not in this fandom. Having watched families emerge from the literal ruins of their lives in Joplin, I cannot find it in me to participate in power struggles between factions amongst supporters in this fandom regarding tidbits they’ve allegedly received  first.  I cannot summon the patience to follow the hate-filled and irrational spewage of theories by people who have agendas of generating chaos and disagreement just so they can claim they were involved in it.

I’ve stepped back from Twitter. I still keep my eye on the news around the fandom just for confirmation that our Reigning Other Queen Kristen appears healthy and that she is still employing The Stealth; but I don’t read the twitlongers or Re-Tweets of Nonsensicals because 1) I’d rather put my energy elsewhere and 2) There are people who have made it their job to read and address the hate and hypocrisy. Hats off to @BecauseWeAreNot for spearheading that particular operation.

The Beats were pretty profound, yes?

Soooo, what does one do to carry on without getting carried away? One seeks the counterbalance. Revisit and celebrate what it is that compelled us in the beginning. Ms Stewart has been away from public, prying eyes these days, which is how she likes it best. Kristen’s unique brand of badass-regality is comprised of her ability to move through daily activities–while being tailed, hounded, stalked and scrutinized–with little reaction or fanfare.  She’s admitted in the past to feeling overwhelmed and timid when photographers and “groups [of girls]” approached her in public, but she appears to have connected with that inner compass of calm within herself over the year. This is a Royal Rebel’s way of staying centered.

In addition to a cool and gracious exchange of car insurance information after a fender bender in Hollywood….Well, she runs errands.

She works out in preparation for new film roles (while in SPANDEX, yo)…

…She visits her parents, peruses through vintage clothing stores, trains for horseback riding, and visits her aesthetically pleasing partner in rebelliousness Robert (along with their dog) on the set of his now-wrapped David Cronenberg-directed film Cosmopolis. Kristen carries on with her daily happenings….so why can’t everybody else? Kristen describes herself as “incredibly boring” (an argument that is actively disputed I’m sure by everyone who knows her) and she harbors propensity towards being a homebody who chooses to read books and hang with her cat in lieu of attending high-profile industry parties and award shows. She will, however, attend public events if it means supporting beloved friends:

Dean and his Marylou

The Chris & Kris Mutual Admiration Society

While Kristen flits in and out of public’s viewfinder, ensuring she has time to reacquaint herself with the mundane and normal, perhaps we can do the same…for ourselves…? Precious energy does not have to be poured into analyzing why Kristen is not seen out, or if she and Robert are getting along well. We instead could rejoice for those moments the girl has any privacy. Or better yet:  we could infuse our efforts into our own relationships. Call it a hunch, but I bet that both Kristen and Rob would much prefer we enhance our relationships instead of scrutinizing theirs.

A startling lesson I learned while away last month: It could be gone. All of it–obliterated–RIGHT NOW. Every single person I counseled in Joplin stated that the complete destruction of their lives occurred within a millisecond. Where and how did those people spend those final moments? Checking Twitter timelines? Updating their Facebook status? Dissecting someone else’s private life?

The Fangirl Learned: A Magical Era Ends Emerges

A method of returning to the barre (and in some ways, melt into escapism) for me is the immersion into compelling stories and films. I finished and fell insanely in love with the book Divergent and I saw the final Harry Potter film this week. It might have been too much epicness in too short a timespan, now that I think about it. We may talk more, MUCH more about Divergent another week. For those of you who have not read this incredible book–in my opinion, it is the next best read behind The Hunger Games– DO IT. DO IT NOWWWWWW.

For those of you who have read it (very Big UPs to my Good Reads Girls): Did you find the message as profound as I did? The message being: We are at our most powerful and beautiful when we embrace all facets of ourselves–including the elements we are told are wrong, odd, fear-inducing and unwanted–aka OTHER??

#CannotBeLabeled #AlsoKnownAsOther #FourandSix

And as I begin this new series of wonderfulness (come join me in reading Divergent’s upcoming sequel next Spring, will ya?) another beloved series drew to a close. Last Wednesday evening, I could be found stuffing my purse with packets of tissues and weighing the pros and cons of eating popcorn smothered in “butter” (because you shall go big or go home). I both hated and LOVED that I sat in front of a ginormous movie screen playing the final Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. I expected to shed tears. Many of them. And sure enough, my first tears fell before the haunting screen shot of the title fully formed in front of us onscreen.

Always an ardent book lover, I was a Potter fan since the very beginning. I was 18 years old when the first Harry Potter novel, The Philosopher’s [Sorcerer’s] Stone was first released. I was a freshman in college and I was hostessing for a seafood restaurant part-time when I purchased my copy.  It was the first time I participated in anything that remotely resembled fangirling, and it combined with a burgeoning love for The WB television network’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Fun Fan-Girl Fact #1: I created a 15 minute public-speaking presentation for a college speech course defending the virtues and benefits of watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I got an A, thank you very much, and turned a handful of cynical college cohorts into Buffy fans.

Fun Fan-Girl Fact #2: It was for Harry , Ron and Hermione and not Bella and Edward that I went to the midnight book release events and stood in the long movie lines on premiere days.

The film, Deathly Hallows Part 2, in my opinion, was wonderful. The experience of seeing it at Midnight in a packed theater teeming with fellow Potter fans was incredibly bittersweet but still glorious.  I saw the first movie (Sorcerer’s Stone) via matinee by myself (that may have been the first time I saw a movie alone in the theater) because my then-boyfriend hadn’t woken up from his all-night music writing session of the previous evening. A decade later, I watched the final film in a theater in an entirely new city with a husband who told all his friends on Twitter that he was at the midnight showing of “Harry PORTER“. N has not read the books but over the past few years has seen all the movies. My, what a difference a decade makes.

We’re also nearing the end of the our time with Twilight. Our Majestic Misfits Kristen and Robert are set to return for their third appearance at San Diego’s Comic Con[vention] this Thursday, July 21. This will be the couple’s first public appearance since the eventful MTV Movie Awards in early June.  It’s also the first major promotional push for The Twilight Saga’s final film installment: Breaking Dawn. As I am writing this essay, people (including my crazy beautiful sister @robkris13)  are already lined up at the convention center in San Diego to camp out  for Thursday’s panel–comprised of director Bill Condon and actors Ms Stewart, Mr Pattinson and Mr Lautner. We’ll talk more about Comic Con next time..but suffice to say: It’s kinda a big deal.

TWILIGHT:::

#DeepBreath #BeforeTheInsanity #DidNotSeeThisComing

cozy

NEW MOON:::

Did someone ask a question?

What will this Thursday’s Breaking Dawn Comic Con panel bring…?

We’re granted a double dose of Kristen (uh, Hell yeah) this year at Comic Con as she is sitting on a second panel in representation for her new project Snow White and The Huntsman. This will be the very first promotional event for SWATH. The panel will consist of director Rupert Sanders and the [obscenely] attractive cast. Filming isn’t scheduled to begin until next month in London, so this Comic Con appearance will provide a unique opportunity to gaze stupidly at the pretty  learn about the storyline and characters before production commences.

Hope y'all are near a fire-exit because will this panel explode or...?

This month I have goals (besides enjoying Comic Con and filming updates for SWATH) to expand The Magical Little Practice, launch a consulting firm attached to the MLP, and pursue instructor certification for Red Cross courses. While trying to gather the strength and courage to do all of those things, another healing, magical element emerged this month for me to appreciate.

This is when I turn to you all with wondrous eyes, surveying the friendships and relationships I’ve forged as a result of my involvement in this Kristen Stewart and Unconventional Beauty Support Campaign. Last week, I was blessed with visitors hailing from all corners of North America including Canada. And these ladies are the loveliest, most eloquent , most wickedly funny and brilliant gals. We met through…THIS. Through Musings, through KSIBTU, through our mutual support and admiration of our Reigning Other Queen Kristen and her Deliciously Poetic Partner in Crime, Robert Pattinson.

Whenever it becomes almost intolerable and painful to endure the slander, libel and absurd delusions concocted by the severely unsatisfied Other-Hunters and Chaos-creators in, drink in the sights of people you have met whom embody positive attributes: independent ideas, positive regard, wit, and open mindedness…maybe recognize the whimsy and fierce fashion accessories too…? Dear @Kate_Suena @MyCleverAlias @That_Bitch86 and briefly, Ms @J_carroll7: It’s been a pleasure and an honor.

These counterbalancing people you see probably possess  boundless pockets of joy…and perhaps the tendency for documentarian-like photography (which I support wholeheartedly btw) and the proclivity towards copious alcohol consumption…

night #4?

Also he or she may actually comprehend the awesome responsibility with which we use our words…

These neutralizing souls will most likely hold appreciation for varying perspectives. And he or she probably respects the value of introspection.

So that’s what I’ve been up to these past few weeks. I was all somber and contemplative for a few days, and then slightly combative and irritable for a few others. And now…Now, after spending a week or two stretching and warming up my muscles, breathing deeply and carefully considering the best position for my feet (hopefully not in my mouth, though that’s not a promise) at the barre, I am nostalgically reviewing the excitement and motivation that coursed through me as I researched new Royal Rebels to discuss with you…

Remember some of the Featured Royal Rebels we met this year? They have all traveled through these months garnering accolades from critics and colleagues along with numerous award nominations. They’ve debuted exciting and innovative new projects, released new albums, starred in blockbusters and/or critically acclaimed films.

Jesse

Freida

Johnny

I’ve three people percolating at the top of my head whom I hope to feature in the near future, just a heads up. Anyone you’re eager to see?

Remember those feelings of pride and glee when you caught a clip or video of Our Ambassador of Other Ms Stewart in refreshingly honest interviews or slightly uncomfortable, but always-humble award show appearances?

Remember when we first met because we held respect for Kristen’s career trajectory and her unapologetic genuineness? Remember when we all were collaborators and we would brainstorm new definitions and reframes for negative connotations and labels such as “unusual”, “awkward”, “unconventional” and “odd”?? Remember when we were ecstatic because Kristen appeared to have found a kindred spirit within a bumbling, awkward, intellectual and charming British bloke?

Yeah. I remember too. And I’d really like to return to that joyous, reverent, cohesive place as soon as possible. These past few weeks of drifting, regrouping, withdrawing and re-prioritizing have been exactly the sort of conditioning and healing I sought, whether consciously or not. Knowing I have several goals and hopes to address this year, I must have recognized the need to cocoon before pushing boundaries and charging forward at full speed. So after finishing several books, witnessing the grace and graciousness of a Reigning Other Queen, viewing one tearful but satisfying finale to a decade-long film series; and, enjoying the company of fellow Others amongst The Beats and summertime ideals, I am stepping away from the railing along the wall and moving towards an open floor. However, I know whenever I feel off-center or uncertain, I can always, always find balance along the barre.

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others seek clarity and balance along the barre.

Embrace Your Other.

*  *  *

QUESTION 1: What do you do when you need to reconnect with your roots? How do you steady yourself along the barre for balance?

QUESTION 2: Who is a Royal Rebel you’d like to see featured in a future Musings?

QUESTION 3: Memories of past ComicCons? Hopes for this year’s double-Stewy panel?

A/N:

Opening Pessoa quote provided by @Dizzy_Ladybug

Picture credits for “drinks” and “rings” goes to @Kate_Suena.

Printer’s Ink” courtesy of @MyCleverAlias.

Kristen at the PCA’s is from @CheerySarcasm

Infinite curtsies and bows to:

Bouffant for talking me through stuff.

My ‘Good Reads’ Girls for providing me an escape.

Possum Bestie @Justice_Aussie for “pinning me” with pretty quotes and pictures.

**Playlist for this Essay**

Where’d You Go ~ Fort Minor feat Holly Brook

Belong ~ The Cary Brothers

After The Storm ~ Mumford & Sons

Poison and Wine ~ The Civil Wars

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

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