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Girls, Put Your Armour On

10 Oct

You go ahead, let your hair down.

You’re gonna find yourself somewhere…somehow.

~Corinne Bailey Rae, Put Your Records On 

Hey everybody! I’m shaking my head because I realize this day is not Thursday, no matter how hard I wish for it to be. It’s looking like my “Update Day” really just became my “Think-about-writing-and-maybe-put-together-a-playlist Day”. Thank you for rolling with me. And this essay is gonna be all over the place, just to warn you. So much to talk about–and suddenly I’m feeling like I’ve little time. *pauses to think about it* Pffft. We’ll just write a dozen MOOs to cover it all if we must, ok? Let’s do this.

Fight Like A Girl 

So the title of this essay was rumbling around in mah head, to the tune of Corinne Bailey Rae’s lovely anthem of self-acceptance and our ability to make the choice to move forward even when we are knocked off-balance. The song, Put Your Records On, is on this week’s MOO Music Playlist, though it’s of a completely different genre than its accompanying selections. Do me a favor and sing along when the final swelling chorus erupts, “Girls, put your armour on!”  I found it incredibly satisfying. Or maybe that’s just me and I should put away my hairbrush-microphone and turn off my wind machine (aka floor fan). *ahem*

The message (or war cry) throughout the music (and the following Musings) is universal.

Despite our personal propensities towards introversion or extraversion; impulsivity or premeditation, we can create positive movement as long as we remain true to our personal missions and philosophies. And these personal beliefs and values we construct for ourselves–they are worthy of protection and support. They’re worth fighting for.

*Pauses a moment to breathe in the rain-soaked Fall air* Fall is my favorite time of year. I adore Fall. I live in Cali so I don’t actually see the seasonal shift, but I can feel and smell it…Crisp air stinging–not mine, not really, except when I’m down at the water–your cheeks; scents of wood-burning fires and cinnamon, and the pumpkin patches and jack-o-lantern creativity. This is also my favorite month. Not just because it’s my birthday month, but because October is the month where we have the free reign to #EmbraceOurOther in the form of wholly accepting our #Divergence #ShadowSides #AllThatWeAreAfraidToAdmitOutLoud…at least for one day. The great month of October also has mad boasting rights because it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month….

Every year, approximately 200,000 women and 1,700 men are diagnosed with breast cancer. Of the diagnosed, 40,000 women and 450 men will die. It is highly likely that we know or are connected to at least one person diagnosed with breast disease. It’s a BFD. It’s personal. My SIL’s mother and my own maternal grandmother had breast cancer.

I’m all about cultivating riots of hope here in Other-land, so I’m just gonna ask you all to blast through some of the more sobering statistics and use the knowledge as fuel for pro-activity. Do and be anything you feel comfortable with to spread the word about Breast Cancer Awareness this month. This could mean donating to cancer research organizations; signing up to participate in WALKS for the CURE, volunteering,WEARING PINK or simply SQUEEZING YOUR BOOBIES !! It’s all good  as long as we’re spreading the word, getting educated and having our cha-chas checked out for prevention and detection. Seriously. Get felt up and tell your posse to do the same. Breasts and lives depend on it. 

Armour Up

Speaking of Rebel Warriors and Tough Chicas, let’s check in with our Reigning Other Queen, yes? My, oh my, how she has kept us busy since we’ve last connected! We saw our girl’s long, glossy, Snow White locks when she popped by the Mulberry show in London during Fashion Week last month. We also knew, the creepers we are, that our girl had been working out and received tutelage from equestrian experts in preparation for the physically demanding role of the Rebel Royal Snow. All this preparation for the much-anticipated production of Snow White and the Huntsman. The film’s producers and creators had advised Comic Con audiences in July that SWATH aimed high–Lord of the Rings high; and we saw (and gasped and cheered) when the promotional photos for the film were released. So we knew all about that, or rather, we thought we knew all about it. However, when the photos from the set began surfacing and we caught our first glimpses of  Ms White on a Welsh beach atop her noble, white steed, leading the charge of revolution….? 

brb, gasping and flailing

Chills wound up and down my arms and I may have grown a little misty eyed, not gonna lie. I felt certain when I heard that Kristen took this role that she was meant to take this role. The pictures only confirmed it for me. Who better to represent an intensely courageous, exceptionally convicted, and passionately focused royal rebel than Kristen Jaymes Stewart?

So she’s armour-clad and leading her army towards confrontation. *Note* I am spelling the word armor/armour using The Queen’s English because, well, not only is Kristen in Britain working these next several months, and she is a royal rebel portraying a British Royal Rebel, but  also, her “boyfriend is English” (via GQSTEW next week), so I find it so very, very appropriate. This film production is based on the version penned by the Grimm Brothers, not Disney, quite obviously. And because we enjoyed the promo previews at Comic Con, we knew our girl would be suited up and armed with a shield and various badass weaponry. But to actually see her in costume, in character, working on a project unlike anything she has ever participated in before, I had this overwhelming thought:

There. She. Is. 

FEEL. IT.

Kristen Stewart as she is. Beneath the thick, steel barricade of a bodysuit, I believe this is the most congruent, centered, feminine and gracefully assured Kristen I’ve ever seen. She is in her element. She is tackling a complex and ambitious role with ferocity and determination, but in extension of what she loves most about her work: relating to and sharing a story. This story features a girl named Snow who finds strength within to defend her right to believe in what she believes, travel where she wishes, love as she wishes…to defend her right to live authentically.

Armour does provide protection and a near-impenetrable defense mechanism from any external sources intent on harming her. But it also serves as preservation and containment for the strength and capabilities she already has within. 

The Superhero

And these weeks, with the release of the almost-surreal images from the SWATH set and subsequent magazine interviews (that we’ll get to a bit later), I feel as if we’ve witnessed Ms Stewart embrace her multitude of strengths and abilities. And that they and she are worth defending.

While metal suits and sharp weapons can serve as armour, we also can equip ourselves with less tangible defense mechanisms: a sense of humor, a fierce shyness, a really, really ill-timed, bellowing laughter.  Or, like me, a proclivity for skipping town. Really. When uncomfortable and feeling vulnerable, I actually throw myself out into the bigger world and search for a new place–elsewhere. I moved something like seven times in about five years  (I simply refer to those sordid years as ’02 to ’07). It was all about a new apartment, new city, new boys as distraction….

Edward attempting to distract Bella from sexxin... with a staggering game o' chess.

A word about distraction: I became mesmerized and deterred…err distracted when I searched out images to plug-in emphasizing the level of distraction I encountered in the Time Known As ’02 through ’07…

Another example of distraction—–>How great is it that I typed in ‘Distraction’ into Pinterest and this picture came up? As Rob can attest, #DistractionByStew is a common affliction.

The best kind of distraction

I love Rob's blatant disregard for the photoshoot taking place.

Ok, sorry. Armour. Back to talking literal and metaphoric armour. When armour is used as a preserver of valuable internal assets, it can manifest in very impressive boundary-setting, as modeled by our Reigning Other Queen.

She greets inquiries into her personal and family life with radio silence, and perhaps the switching of topics. With Vogue earlier this year, Kristen simply responded to yet another question regarding her relationship with Robert Pattinson:

“It’s not my job”

To physically ground herself, she wears clothes in which she feels comfortable: her standard jeans, hoodie and Chucks. All of this in support and sustenance of  her basic though essential value:

Keep what’s yours, yours.

Another round of "Spot The Other Rebels"...annnnd GO

Preserving and supporting what you value most is a sign of self-respect and self care, something we all struggle with periodically…and for some, like me, sometimes, daily. Lets continue to push through our hesitancy in accepting The Good. Let’s be proactive. Let’s take our cues from our fellow Others around us, like Kristen her partner Robert. Let’s model ways to support and protect ourselves by implementing proactivity and preventative steps. And because it’s October, something proactive you can do is go get your boobies squeezed. It’s all about protection, friends.

A Glamourous Girl

As if we hadn’t already been stunned stupid with the SWATH photos and with images of Her Royal Highness charging forward with a rebel yell, we get a surprise magazine cover too.

Note the article’s title: The Real Kristen Stewart. Nope. Not a coincidence. While apparent to those of us Kristen-supporters for ages now, the fashion and movie industries are finally also recognizing that our Reigning Other Queen is flourishing. Perhaps her “real” persona was half-hidden all these years due to the confinements of her role in Twilight. Or maybe the naturally introverted Stewart was misquoted and misidentified by the Critics and Bullshit People as aloof and disconnected. Probably a combination of all the aforementioned. It’s no wonder she needed a particularly steely brand of armour to survive the brutal attacks of the last four years.

Lace and combat boots, your Highness? #OtherOn

An outtake only because it's just tooooo pretty perhaps?

The 'Real' Kristen Stewart will please stand up. hnnng.

In her Behind-The-Scenes video for the Glamour shoot–like with every other BTS vid (*ahem* Flaunt and W) Kristen is candid and accessible and even more beguiling than meets the eye. She admits she believes her pets talk to her, for Goddess’ sake! Of course I feel a kinship with her on many levels, and talking to my pets as if they would answer me back is just one connection. But it’s an important one.

Her voice is strong and clear. Knowing. 

The Glamour interview, as conducted by the Twilight Saga author Stephenie Meyer, was brief but not without some moments of brilliance. Ms Meyer asks Kristen if she has any advice about relationships to share with the magazine’s readers. Imparting sage words so very Kristen, our Reigning Queen says:

“…being honest and knowing yourself. Don’t be an asshole. That’s my advice. Don’t be mean. Don’t take shit. Don’t settle.”

While our Majestic Misfit wielded her protective gear as a defensive mechanism over the years, I believe we’re watching as she dresses in her armour, that it is not in avoidance, but rather in support and maintenance of all of her luminous qualities.

In celebration of their splendor. It’s an acknowledgement that confidence, conviction, strength, passion, humor, warmth, kindness and accessibility has always been real, and always been present.

She just knows it now. And she will defend it.

We Are Other.

Kristen Is Other.

Others recognize that they are worth the fight.

Embrace Your Other.

*   *   * 

Question(s): What is your armour (protector as well as defense mechanism)?

~Mine is running away into the world….and red, red lipstick. Oh, and a certain pair of knee-high boots.

What do you think of the emergence of Kristen’s SWATH photos? Glamour?

 *    *    *

A/N: We’re doing British GQ next time, folks.  And we’ve got LOTS to talk about: Breaking Dawn Premiere (I’m going!), Sam Bradley (I went! Again!), an Other Art Collaboration and another Giveaway (or two?)….SO MUCH!! I told ya, I’m willing to post a dozen MOOs to cover the greatness that is Kristen’s Rising.

I’m most likely closing down my personal Twitter Account–>@kjn52 by the end of this month. I’m running too many operations right now between Twatter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook, WordPress and The Magical Little Practice.
I’ve nothing to hide from you all anyway. You know more about me now than some of my family.
You can chat me up at @MusingsOnOther
Thank Yous, gropes, sloppy kisses to the usual suspects: My Cyber Sisters, Good Reads Girls, MySmut&SmokesSisters, & my Twitter Lovelies of Team Other
Musical Playlist for This Essay:

Glory Box~ Portishead

Roll On~ dntl (featuring Jenny Lewis)

Shake it Out~ Florence + The Machine

Morricone: The Mission~ Yo-Yo Ma

We Won’t Run~ Sarah Blasko

Put Your Records Armour On~ Corinne Bailey Rae

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unfinished Business

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

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

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

Bryan's home

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

With My Hands

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

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

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

Leland's neighborhood

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

I. Am. Done.

The Ultimate Fighters

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

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

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

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

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

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

My heroes: Search and Rescue

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

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

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

A restaurant on Main street

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

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

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

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

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

To Have Found Their Way Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quiet Moments of Majesty

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

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

Although her grounding trumps anyone else's grounding.

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

And then this picture of them:

Makes me almost unbearably excited for….

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

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

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

Chris and Kris. Mutual Admiration Society.

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

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

An Anonymous Grace 

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

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

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

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

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

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others’ true beauty is a light from within.

Embrace your Other.

*   *   *

An Epically Long A/N including GIVEAWAY Deets: 

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

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

A NEW MOO GIVEAWAY

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

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

1. When did you know you were Other?

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

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

4. How do you employ self-care? 

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

*   *   *

Specific shout outs and vice-like hugs to: 

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S PLAYLIST (PUSH PLAY)

Look For Me As You Go By ~ The Innocence Mission

Satisfied Mind ~ Jeff Buckley

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

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

After The Storm ~ Mumford & Sons

Fix You ~ Coldplay

A Light From Within (Part 1)

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

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

It was ‘A Time’

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

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

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

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

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

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

ahhh is THAT what human interaction looks like?

An Other Application

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

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

She Shines On

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

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

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

dude. we know.

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

Can watch this pure joyfulness on loop forevah

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

“Sorry, Natalie, The Popcorn is mine!

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

O_O

 A Way Out Of The Depths

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

thank you, my Possum @Justice_Aussie for this

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

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

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

Gratitude. 

Faith.

Resilience.

"I will rebuild", he says.

Beautiful People Do Not ‘Just Happen’

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

Thank you. THANK. YOU. THANK YOU.

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

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

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

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

Giggly, LondonStew will ALWAYS Win.

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

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

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others’ light shines on, shines far.

Embrace your Other.

*       *      *

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

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

PLAYLIST: (PUSH PLAY) 

Look For Me As You Go By ~ The Innocence Mission

Satisfied Mind ~ Jeff Buckley

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

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

After The Storm ~ Mumford & Sons

All That She Is

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

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

~Stevie Nicks, Silver Springs

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

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

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

Ok, how ’bout now?

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

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

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

 What the Fangirl Learned

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

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

The (M)Other Within

*ANNOUNCEMENT*  

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

The American Red Cross

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

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

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

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

Their options are becoming pretty limited.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Featured Royal Rebel: Stevie Nicks

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

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

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

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

And so it began. Fleetwood Mac 1975

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stevie Nicks has your back, Bella!

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

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

Offenses of Otherness:

*Emphatically celebrates her feminine divinities: love and beauty

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

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

Reigning Other Queen: Kristen Stewart

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

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

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

nope. Not even close to getting old.

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

Congratulations, Kristen!! 

ICU dedicated actress with the bruised up legs and arms

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

Offenses of Otherness:

* Celebrates her feminine divinities: compassion and protectiveness.

*Unapologetic about displaying confidence, assertiveness and independence.

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

*  *  *

Stevie accepts all that she is. And is Other.

Kristen accepts all that she is. And is Other.

Others accept themselves and all that they are.

Embrace your Other. 

*  *  *

Notes: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More:

This Essay’s Playlist

Trampled Rose ~Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

I Shall Believe ~Sheryl Crow

Starlight ~Muse

Gold Dust Woman ~Stevie Nicks

Winter Winds ~ Mumford & Sons

As I Do, I Honor

7 Apr

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

Hey, Pretty Girl, I hear its your birfday?

Lesson 1: The Circus Can Be Spectacular

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

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

LOVE.

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

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

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

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

Kristen is waiting for me to get a clue.

Lesson 2b: As I do, I Support

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

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

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

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

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

Lesson 3: How I Feel About It

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

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

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

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

Ahh. There I am.

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

Lesson 4: Honor Thy Queen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joyful Birthday Girls are Joyful

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KRISTEN!

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others know that saying and doing is congruently being.

Embrace your Other.

* * *

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

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

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

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

See you next time. All my <3, KJ

You Already Know

2 Dec

What happened to fury?

What happened to accuracy

or accountability?

What happened to kindness?

What happened to teenagers kissing, instead of blogging and dissing?

What happened to teenagers marching and refusing

Instead of exploiting and using?

I say let’s speak it

Let’s fight it.

Let’s right it.

It sucks but it’s true.

It’s you and me, baby.

~You Tell Me How To Be a Girl In 2010 by Eve Ensler

Well, my dears, we’ve somehow moved to December…How did this happen? I hope this week finds you lovely folks sated and in the throes of preparing for family gatherings, consumption of obnoxiously large meals; scoping out too-sweet-to-ignore-sales and observing spiritual and religious traditions of great importance to you and your tribe. Last week, you all sent such wonderful declarations of gratitude in response to my own list of thankfulness, regardless of whether or not you were apart of a culture that celebrated Thanksgiving as we Yanks do. Musings enjoys readership from all over the world (it rocks my socks off when I get notifications or a tweet/email from readers from faraway, exotic locales such as Bulgaria or South Korea for example) and last week we all joined in for a moment of gratitude for our Reigning Queen of Other Kristen Stewart and her beloved. It was truly an awesome, extraordinary experience. As usual, I bow down to you all for hanging with me in this colorful quest towards embracing Otherness and celebrating it as it resides in Kristen Stewart, in our peers and family…in ourselves.

Kristen’s excited for all the Otherness-Embracing too.

Ms Stewart has embodied vintage NinjaStew for the past couple weeks, in the aftermath of Braziliapalooza. She and her rakishly handsome partner were able to fly under the radar and spend Thanksgiving undisturbed, or at least, out of the public eye. There were moments of contention amongst the stalkers exuberant fans as different sources placed Kristen and/or Rob in four or five different locations ranging from Los Angeles to Colorado, Baton Rouge or New York over the holiday weekend, though one picture, clarified Rob’s location: In L.A., at a vintage guitar shop he has frequented previously. And we all know if Rob’s in L.A. on holiday, and Kristen’s on holiday, with an opportunity to be near her family, then they’re most likely together. They’ve  managed to master  The Stealth with their arrivals and departures to and from The City of Angels.

So much WIN in this picture. Beautiful new guitar. Beautiful old LB Hat. Rob.

A GIGGLY NARRATIVE

However, as it’s happened in the past, when there is a lull in NEWS from the K & R Camp, the natives get restless. Those of us left clamoring for glimpses of The Pretty revisit former interviews, images from now-legendary photoshoots (*cough* Harpers Bazaar, Interview, Nylon *cough*) and re-watch movies to take the edge off. Which movies do I watch when I need a shot of Lovely Kristen? Adventureland and Twilight with commentary (duh). So this week, partially due to my need to recover from the holiday weekend, what with illnesses and judgmental relatives, and also partially due to needing to fill my quota of Rom-Com/Holiday Movie viewings, I found myself hermitting. I pulled a NinjaStew if you will: watched movies, baked cookies, grabbed some ZZZZz’s; read copious amounts of fan fic and viewed Twilight with commentary (duh). Perfect timing, of course, as December 4, this Saturday, the Eclipse DVD drops in stores and arguably the most anticipated extra among the coveted special features is the audio commentary of the film delivered by the film’s leads: Kristen and Robert. OH. YESSSS. We didn’t have this luxury of the comedy duo known as Kris-and-Robert-Variety-Hour for New Moon. And even with Twilight, we were graced with the lovely, locquacious Ms. Cathy Hardwicke in the room with our Royal Rebels. Nuh uh. Not this time. Eclipse boasts a narrative featuring long-distance chatting and giddiness as Kristen was in Montreal filming On the Road, and Rob was in Los Angeles having wrapped up Water for Elephants filming. It was about the time, if you’ll recall, that Rob and his bestie Tom Sturridge (whom I ADORE and watched Pirate Radio during MovieFest last weekend for my #TeamTommy fix) were spotted on at least two separate occasions at In-N-Out. Perhaps this jogs your memory:

Try to catch me Ridin Drrrty

*Small Spoiler*–as I know several folks holding out (admirably, I might add) to listening to the commentary before the DVD release–Robert commences the narrative while munching on an In-N-Out burger. This act taunts Kristen who is far away from her hometown, her significant other and the obscenely delectable aforementioned burger joint at this point in time. While Rob munches on his burger, and notes aloud he has a second one awaiting consumption, Kristen reports that she is “harboring hostility” that Rob is enjoying such yummy goodness without her, but also publicly and audibly. So this is all within the first 5 minutes of the commentary. *End of Small Spoiler*

I personally think Kris and Rob should take their chemistry and comedy act on the road. They are magical and create a joyful synergy together. I would love listening to their running editorials on daily life: Taking out the trash, breakfast foods, wigs, and relationship advice. If you haven’t listened to a commentary by Kristen and Rob, I suggest you drop what you’re doing and pop in your copy of Twilight and get on that goodness, because come Saturday, Version 2.0 Bigger, Better, Gigglier is ON. You won’t be sorry. It’s especially nice to “witness”–or hear–a relaxed, comfortable and unguarded Kristen Stewart. All the qualities we admire in our Reigning Queen are expressed: intelligence, awareness, humility, compassion, humor, articulation, giddiness, respect and generosity for colleagues, knowledge, kindness…and affection for Rob.

You can actually HEAR this in the commentary

YOU ALREADY KNOW WHAT TO DO

Commentary greatness and my personal Recuperation MovieFest aside, I also revisited previous interviews that Kristen gave in the past year as I formulated this week’s Musings. I stumbled upon a January 2010 interview that Kristen gave to British Fantasy Society’s publication Dark Horizons and per usual, I was stuck by the poetry and synchronicity of the moment. Kristen spoke about the theme for this essay, before I had written my thoughts down. I just kinda knew. Every week, my process for writing Musings varies. Often, I take cues from what is happening in Kristen’s life for an opportunity to reflect and weave the event into a theme that is evident in the fandom, or in society as a whole…in our lives. This week, in a reversal of fortune, the theme for Musings presented itself through a personal experience in my own life. Afterwards, I found an interview in which Kristen alludes to a parallel experience. Yet another reminder that we really are all not so different, hmmm? Others together.

I encountered a rather jarring situation which had me pondering (“long-thinking” as my friend @ellelala refers to it) subjects such as intuition, resilience and self-preservation. And Kristen, speaking to Dark Horizons interviewer/author Paul Fischer, spoke of adversities she faces as a professional,  self-preservation and awareness.

“For me, the biggest adversity I face is The Bloggers….Suddenly, I can get anyone’s opinion at the click of a mouse. [Hearsay via media] is sometimes really very destructive…”

This statement of Kristen’s has me recalling the pervasive and destructive feedback she received (without having asked for it) when the pictures of her wearing her bikini while filming the honeymoon scenes in Breaking Dawn hit the world-wide-web. As I reviewed last week, pictures like this—

…unwittingly and unfairly triggered bloggers, and sadly this includes a handful of Fanfiction authors, plus anyone with access to the internet and a public “entertainment  news” site to give their opinions on Kristen’s physical form. Whole posts were dedicated to zooming in and analyzing Kristen’s anatomy.  More alarmingly, a rather unethical, smarmy “reporter” from a Brazilian reality TV show posed as a crew member and  breached set security to videotape/screen capture images of Kristen and Rob on the set of Breaking Dawn, during private moments when the film cameras were not rolling. The undercover TV reporter was in an uncomfortably close physical proximity to Kristen. While I only glanced at perhaps two images from this event (I declined to look at the video or the screen caps before they were seized by Twilight’s production company, removed from the internet), I felt a heavy ball of dread in my stomach and a concern for Kristen and Rob’s physical safety. Sheds a whole new light on Kristen’s now famous statement comparing paparazzi intrusions to feelings of “watching someone get violated (raped?)” doesn’t it?  So there it is, my Musings topic: Intuition and self preservation, or rather, the moment our intuition (aka our inner voice, our body’s protective system) kicks in and sends us warning messages for self-preservation and survival. Fight or Flight.

whispered the still, small voice

A personal story:::  Just a couple nights ago, I was home alone as N was away working. It had already grown dark (as it does in these days of Late Fall/Winter) and I was tucked away in bed reading and making notes for advertising the Magical Little Practice. Suddenly a series of loud, consistent knocking reverberated through our tiny studio of hardwood floors and little insulation against the unusual cold for this time of year. I was completely jarred upright. I did not like the sounds of the knocks on my door. I immediately tensed up, pulled the covers tighter around myself.  Every fiber of my being was yelling at me to NOT ANSWER THE DOOR. We don’t have an adequate peep-hole in our front door because the door is covered in sound & weather-proofing material at this time (N has since remedied this, as a result of this event), so I couldn’t stealthily make my way over to peek on my unexpected “visitor”. I immediately texted my husband and asked if he was expecting a delivery, or any visitors. He quickly texted back, “NO”. The knocking ceased for about a minute, but then started again. Loud, rapid, jarring raps (almost could be called pounding) against my front door, but no verbalizations, no one calling my name out, no texts announcing an impromptu visit from friends or family. I quickly deduced that this person was not familiar. Our little studio is one level apart of a larger house, and our front door is not visible from the sidewalk. The only way someone would know where our front door is, is if they’ve stood in front of it before, or they are actively seeking it out. Minutes, maybe five after the second and third rounds of sharp knocking finally silenced, I, against my intuition and bodily warning signs, cracked open my front door.

And saw…nothing. But my inner ninjaturtle  was screeching in my ear, demanding I slam the door shut, bolt it, chain it, and go back to bed, because something had been there just minutes earlier. So I slammed the door shut, and bolted it. After exchanging a few texts with N about what happened, I catalogued the event as a slightly unsettling, but otherwise not-unusual category.  I didn’t recall the warning signs until later. The signs, as I mentioned before, are produced when our body and our deepest soul recognizes what is happening long before our brain does. In his incredibly resourceful book called The Gift of Fear, Gavin de Becker urges us to listen to our intuition, and our body’s physiological need to continue existing. Why am I discussing this book right now in the middle of my weekly tribute to the Royal Rebel Ms Kristen Stewart?

Well, for one thing, I received a pretty sobering email from my mother, a day or so ago after the FORCEFUL KNOCKING INCIDENT. The letter outlined information regarding Mom’s friend’s brother, who needs a professional counselor to talk to, possibly through The Magical Little Practice. This brother, for safety purposes we’ll call him D, was the only witness in the case of murder. D had seen a man RAPIDLY, LOUDLY POUNDING ON DOORS of several different apartments in his building. The Knocking Man(iac) came to D‘s door too. D did not answer his door. Something inside of D warned him against doing so. Unfortunately, tragically, D’s neighbor did open her door. D’s neighbor was murdered last week. Thanksgiving holiday.  The murderer has been identified and is in prison.

DEEP BREATH. Are you hanging with me? I needed to tell this story for a few reasons, one, to process the sanctity and briefness of our time here in this world; and another, to pay homage and condolences for a woman to lose her life in such a horrifically violent way. Finally, I wanted to say this: We are entrusted with personal security systems within our minds and bodies and hearts, to protect us against people or things willing harm against us. The term harm encompasses destruction on many levels including emotional, psychological, spiritual as well as physical. I truly believe there is goodness out there, but I have witnessed darkness as well, in my profession working with the mentally ill, and simply as a human being, seeking knowledge for living in this world. De Becker’s book The Gift of Fear outlines and urges us to be aware of physical warning signs of danger–increased heart rate, an attacker’s body language, an attacker’s verbal language–as well as internal signals–our intuition, our instincts, our awareness.  I believe that De Becker’s guide also could and should be applied to awareness for emotional and psychological attacks as well. Kristen Stewart, our Reigning Queen, is subjected to and vulnerable to all of the above: Emotional/verbal, psychological, and physical attacks.

You’ve witnessed it, my friends. We all have: The Cyberbullying of fellow “fans”, heated arguments between Nonsensicals and Shippers (a name, which, for the record, I’ve never enjoyed or used when describing my support of Kristen and Rob), anonymous commenters degrading, insulting, mocking, writing letters about, publicly discussing and bashing everything regarding Kristen Stewart. Interspersed in these public ‘discussions’ are threats of physical harm, but more shockingly obvious are the verbal, emotional and character abuse unleashed on Ms Stewart. Guess which type of abuse is harder to recover from? OH YES. Countless psychological case studies have proven that people (women AND men) seek counseling support for the destruction of emotional/psychological/character abuse they experienced. Bruises and broken bones, while painful and horrific, will heal up again. Low self esteem, low self-worth, anxiety, depression and addictions can last lifetimes.

So what does a Rebel Queen do to preserve herself?

REBEL TIPS FROM REBEL QUEENS

I draw from my studies as a psychotherapist, practicing self-soothing techniques (meditation, playing music), self reflection and also, knowledge I’ve gained in my own experiences of being in danger. Aside from the clenching stomach, the increased heart rate, and the inner guide screaming in my ear to back away, back away!, I also hold first-hand knowledge of experiencing a fight-or-flight choice. I vaguely addressed once in the Musings essay titled  Finding Your Voice and The Courage to Sing Loudly, my own experience of having a man break into my apartment with an intent to assault me. I know my own instinctual drives were roaring loudly, and in my quest to fight and self-preserve, an eerie calm flooded my bloodstream and I could hear myself strategize survival.

Kristen’s survival plan has formulated based on her extensive experience in show business, as well as her observations of her peers and role models. “…a really, really, really thick-developed armor” is in place for Kristen’s friend Joan Jett, as Kristen tells Dark Horizon. “It’s a self preservation thing..she’s a survivor”. Kristen is referring to Jett’s ability to cope with emotional attacks at a time (during the 70’s and early 80’s) when the public would say and do anything in person (versus via cyberspace, which hadn’t been invented yet) to give their opinion of performers and public figures.

Kristen’s adversaries are the bloggers, The Bullshit People, the judgmental, the faceless, Screen-Named though anonymous attackers with an exorbitant amount of time on their hands. Also on the rise are a group of “fans” (who, are really another brand of not-really fans) who view themselves as supporters and defenders of Robert, and trash Kristen at every opportunity because they believe she is “unappreciative ” of Mr Pattinson. Though, I’m pretty sure there is more evidence of a mutual adoration between Robert and Kristen than the contrary…Liiiiiiike…..

Annnnnddd….

So there have been many ways that Kristen (and through her, for her, Rob) has offensively protected herself.

KRISTEN:

  • OWNS what is HERS. No apologies.
  • Keeps her private life PRIVATE
  • Declines joining any social networking sites
  • Keeps a close-knit circle of family and friends as her support system
  • Does things because she chooses to not because she is told to.
  • Employs her internal BULLSHIT DETECTOR
  • Looks the woman in the mirror straight in the eye~she knows and trusts herself and her instincts

And what can WE do as fellow OTHERS and Majestic Misfits to Preserve and SAVE our Fellow OTHERS from destruction?

WE OTHERS CAN:

  • Respect Privacy  and personal lives, especially if it is at the request of an Other
  • Refrain from getting pulled into petty fights on any social networking sites, with other supporters
  • Remember to USE WORDS WISELY–any bashing we do publicly, paints us in certain light as well
  • Remember we are ROLE MODELS in the community to people of different ages, cultures & backgrounds
  • Know and check in with our close-knit circle of family and friends frequently-they are who support us
  • Remind ourselves that if we “support” a Rebel Royal, we support their choices for happiness
  • Continue to EMBRACE OUR OWN OTHERNESS
  • Remember that WE ARE ALL OTHER

FEATURED REBEL ROYAL: CLAIRE DANES

I know I’ve had a lot to say today…But I did want to make some time for a modest introduction to an Other who has managed to walk outside the periphery of convention while in the public eye. Inspired by a musical selection on last week’s playlist, Late At Night, by Buffalo Tom, and the squeals of recognition from fellow AngelaChaseIsOther Supporters (looking at YOU, @DrownInIt), I decided to feature a Rebel Royal that I’ve grown up with: Actress and dancer Ms Claire Danes. Ms Danes was born in Manhattan, New York City, New York to a artist mother and computer consultant father. She attended Yale University for two years studying Psychology before stopping to return to film making. Attending a performing arts school while growing up, Claire whet her appetite for performance through modern dance and theater first. She was thirteen when she was a guest star on an episode of Law and Order. She was only thirteen when she auditioned for and landed the role of Angela Chase in the seminal and profound television series My So-Called Life. When the show was picked up for more episodes, Claire was fifteen years old, playing 15-year-old Angela. Angela Chase completely embodied the heartbreak and steadfast optimism of an OTHER as the short-lived TV series chronicled awkwardness, tension and disagreement with the parental units, crushing on the beautiful mysterious musician at school, side-stepping the lovelorn advances of the boy next door. But alas, a story this heartrending was perhaps only fated to last but a brief time, and after 19 episodes, My So-Called Life was cancelled. It did, however, maintain a cult following.

Particularly gifted at playing awkward, gawky, angst-ridden teenagers, Claire received her first Golden Globe and Emmy Nominations of her career when she was just 15 years old for her work in My So-Called life. She won the Golden Globe. After My So-Called life’s cancellation, she transitioned into film work and her star rose to quick heights with her role alongside high-profile actors such as Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon and Gabriel Byrne in the film Little Women. In 1996, Claire’s celebrity and critical acclaim rocketed to the stratosphere when she appeared as Juliet opposite Leonardo DiCaprio’s Romeo in Baz Luhrmann’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. Claire continued to work steadily through 1999 with her roles in The Mod Squad and Brokedown Palace but she left acting to pursue her degree at Yale. When she returned to filmmaking in 2002, Ms Danes chose quirky, thoughtful independent film projects such as Igby Goes Down and paired her work with larger-budgeted films such as the Oscar-nominated film The Hours, in which Claire portrayed Meryl Streep’s daughter.

Baz Luhrmann called Ms Danes, “This generation’s Meryl Streep”, and her poise and confidence has earned her admirers in her many impressive colleagues and co-stars such as Oliver Stone, Francis Ford Coppola and actor/musician Jason Schwartzman..and she is the muse for or the subject of at least four songs released by several indie or alternative rock bands. She has experienced the backlash of publicity when she became romantically involved with her costar Billy Crudup at a disadvantageous time, and in 1998 she was publicly condemned by then-Filipino president Joseph Estrada when Ms Dane’s comments about the poor conditions of the Manila, Philippines film set for Brokedown Palace were taken out of the context to which she meant. She later advised that she had only been shown the “darker, underbelly of the City of Manila”, and did not mean any disrespect to the country as a whole nor to its people. The Filipino president deemed Ms Danes’s comments as “irresponsible, bigoted and sweeping statements”, to which she issued a public apology to the city of Manila, Philippines in addition to an official letter of apology. How has she coped with the adversity? Like Our Reigning Queen Kristen, she has learned from past experiences, and has opted to keep her private life private, declining to speak publicly about personal relationships; and she freely gives clarification behind any misconstrued statements in interviews.

WHO do you notice first in this picture? Our Rebel Royals FTW

While teaming with Offenses of Otherness, I’ll highlight an abbreviated list: She knew from  a young age that she wanted to be an actor. She kept a focus on her goals for performance and dance, and surrounded herself with supportive friends and family. Now 31 years old, with more than 25 films under her belt, Claire is married to actor and costar  Hugh Dancy, whom she met on the film Evening. She is just coming off the success of her Emmy-Award Winning performance in the HBO Movie Temple Grandin, in which Ms Danes portrays the ultimate Other: Temple Grandin. Temple Grandin is an American Doctor of Animal Sciences and a University professor with high-functioning Autism. Dr Grandin is the inventor of The Hug Machine, a calming deep pressure device designed to soothe hypersensitive people who experience Autism Spectrum Disorders. Pretty awe-inspiring, right?  Claire states that the point of acting is to share and connect with others, and she is aware and grateful for the ability to have a career doing what she loves most.

OFFENSES OF OTHERNESS:

*Willingly walked away from the business of acting to empower and remind herself who she is as person.

*Believes that fame is not a reward for working hard. Doing what she loves (acting) is complete fulfillment, the reward.

*Is extremely forthright and confident when she speaks her opinion.

REIGNING OTHER QUEEN: KRISTEN STEWART

I think we’ve established in this epically long Musings that our Reigning Queen of Other is a role model and pioneer. She has managed to cope graciously (even when her detractors are attacking her) by forging onward and continuing to partake in the craft that she loves. Kristen has an internal compass that guides her steps along her path of authenticity. She already knows what she’s doing. And it’s been absolutely miraculous to witness her journey thus far.

OFFENSES OF OTHERNESS:

*Unapologetically independent

*Strives for improvement of her craft and self, not for notoriety.

*Continuously cultivates self-awareness and strives for self-preservation.

~

CLAIRE IS OTHER.

KRISTEN IS OTHER.

OTHERS REALIZE THEY ALREADY KNOW WHAT TO DO.

EMBRACE YOUR OTHER.

* * *

Question:   I can think of several times when I overrode my instincts and suffered the results. I also can think of the times when I trusted my inner voice and was elated with the results. Can You?

A/N:

PHEW. This was about 4,000 words long. I have been struggling to process so many things these days, and I guess it has manifested in the longest Musings… ever. Thank you for hanging with me through this. Truly.

I wanted to thank my good friend @MissBettySmith, the brilliant author of The Gentleman From Washington State and Full Disclosure (my fave), with whom I shared a too-brief lunch today. In her latest update of TGFWS, Betty very clearly defended Kristen against people who are hell-bent on tearing down our Reigning Queen Of Other. Betty has a devoted following, with thousands of readers of her stories, and she is aware that she is accountable in how she expresses her values and uses her words . She is mindful of her many readers’ different age brackets, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. THANK YOU, BETTY!

Love, light and strength to my friend TEBBY and to my sister PUSS.

“Happiness is inward, and not outward; and so, it does not depend on what we have, but on what we are”~Henry Van Dyke

We are role models. We have voices. We have instincts to trust. We are Other. See you next time, my Majestic Misfits.

Finding your Voice, and the courage to Sing Loudly

10 Jun
The Sound of Your Voice

When I refer to the “Voice” I’m referring to the essence of how we communicate–the words, intonation–what we think, believe, hope for, aspire to. Our Truth. The Voice can be the culmination of one’s heart, one’s passion, soul, dislikes, likes and weaknesses. Scholars of religion may call this your soul, or your connection with your Higher Power. Psychologists may call it your personality. Purveyors of metaphysics and nature may call it your ki, essence, or being.

*BOOK REC ALERT* “A Woman’s Worth” author and spiritual lecturer Marianne Williamson speaks of finding your voice as ‘owning your passionate nature, allowing for love and inspiration to thrive’, and I’ll add, allowing it to permeate one’s outer shell, shine through.

Don’t you look like this when you stand on windy cliff-sides?

I had not planned on writing about the “controversy” that KStew found herself ensnared in last week. But when I witnessed how Kristen struggled and triumphed to not only find her voice, but sing loudly with it, I knew I must address what has now been known as Kristen’s “Rape Controversy”. Prior to this hot topic, I was so distracted by the epicness that was the UK Elle interview and glorious pictures that accompanied the piece; Kristen’s whirlwind Eclipse promo tour, and pending MTV Movie Awards. I was totally blindsided by the drama. Actually, I don’t know that I’ll wholly delve into the matter within this post, although I wanted to address it–if nothing else, then to acknowledge the tentative, magnificence of finding one’s voice, then to experience the agony and rejection of having it SHUT. DOWN.

Today’s musings has already referenced Voice as one’s true self/soul/personality, but the majority of this essay will reference one’s verbal and physical expression of the Self, the Voice. This post is in honor, of course, of our Reigning Other Queen Kristen, showcasing Others who do not possess the eloquence to express our inner musings. This is for those of us Others who are awkward, fumbling, bumbling, tongue-tied, over-thinking babblers. We’re the ones who receive countless confused stares and sidelong glances because yeah, we SAID. IT. We’re also recipients of the Puss Face when no one else understands WTF just happened.

I’ll take my cup with cream and Splenda if you have any?

Let’s do this, mmmkay? The two Rebellious Royals we’ll visit in this post are both outrageously beautiful Other Queens, and representatives of two types Communicators (of the verbal and physical expression of thoughts and ideas). The first type is the Genius Bizzarro Blurter and the second: Sublimely Cerebral, Awkward Orator.

Featured Rebel Royal: Tori Amos

Genius Bizzarro Blurter. The GBB finds herself extremely expressive, using facial expressions and hand gestures to further elaborate on a point. The words that exude from the GBB’s mouth can be whimsical, brilliant, nonsensical (to some), sensual and provocative, and yet still be direct and astute.

Tori Amos emerged in the 1990s as a singer-songwriter of incredible means. She is known as the quintessential Eccentric Girl, with her flame red hair, her masterful musicianship, her role in her family as The Minister’s Daughter. She has been called The Provocative Poet, the Charismatic Faerie, The Goddess.

Those fingers can stir even the deepest emotions. She may be tiny, but she is powerful.

Things you may hear tumbling out of this particular GBB’s mouth:

‘God, sometimes you just don’t come through. Do you need a woman to look after you?’


‘I think that people who can’t believe in fairies aren’t worth knowing.’


“I don’t see myself as weird, I just see myself as honest.”


“Most people would rather be sheep than stand on their own with antlers on.”


and my personal favorite:

“So, you can make me come, that doesn’t make you Jesus.”

Beauty Marks:
1.) Clear, heartbreaking soprano voice 2.) Prodigious piano skills 3.) Advocate for Rape Victims’ rights 4.) Speaks openly about sexuality, religion, love and despair 5.) Will turn the piano into an instrument of ROCK 6.) Fearless conviction and celebration of her Other-ness.

watching her is like watching an exorcism
Offenses of Other: Per Ass Clowns, music and societal commentators, Tori:

1.) Humps her piano bench 2.) Speaks gibberish 3.) Engages in blasphemy by singing about sexuality AND religion! 4.) Is too sexual and brazen in her female confidence. 5) Is too provocative 6.) Appears to twitch, convulse and become possessed while performing. Awwwwkward.

There were times where I wished I was her piano bench

Her wide-release debut album “Little Earthquakes” highlighted the song Me and A Gun, an acapella retelling of her shattering rape experience, a song that became the foundation for Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). We will revisit RAINN a bit later, interestingly enough. While “Little Earthquakes” introduced the world to this intriguing Rebel Queen, her second release, “Under the Pink” created the pop icon that earned millions of ardent fans– ToriPhiles. She earned critical raves blowing past the boundaries of conformity, by challenging everything from religion, sexuality, parenthood, love and fierce, unbridled ANGER. Because she speaks of faeries, antlers, masturbation and food (she likes Chocolate and molasses A LOT) in the same sentences as religion, God and parenthood, she is a GBB, but also Rebel Royalty.

Reigning Other Queen: Kristen Stewart

Sublimely Cerebral Awkward Orator. The AO is very aware that her words contain power. This knowledge can be paralyzing and overwhelming to the the intellectual, sensitive AO. The AOs in our circles are the folks who appear to be contemplating, or not listening at all. He or she may make pauses in speech, drop off before completing sentences or thoughts, may use their physical being do the real communicating, with the bouncing knee, down-turned gaze, pursed lips, and don’t forget the gesticulating fingers and hands.

Things that you may hear tumbling out of this AO’s Mouth:

‘Um. I don’t know. What the fuck is inner beauty?’
‘It’s funny how in America, fame is placed so fucking high–above wealth, happiness, everything. It’s so not true.’

“I choose my work instinctively. I couldn’t have a plan. I would always fall short.”
“I can’t pretend.”
and my personal favorite:

“Silver spikes? What? They’re bullets, Mofo!!”

With one of her most revealing interviews in recent memory, Kristen speaks of her discomfort with the Fame Game to Flaunt Magazine, Elle, and Elle UK. The article that sparked the outcry of anger was the Elle (UK Version) article. Here is what Kristen says to Hanna Hanra in the UK Elle interview for July 2010.

Whaaa? Did you say something? Can’t hear ya. I’m still staring at this cover.
‘Your little persona is made up of all the places that people have seen you, what has been said about you…so overwhelming in the moment and fleeting for me… What you don’t see are the cameras shoved in my face, and the bizarre, intrusive questions being asked…the screaming and taunting to get a reaction. It’s so…’ (searching for words) ‘The photos are so…I feel like I’m looking at someone being raped. A lot of time I can’t handle it. It’s fucked.’

Did you read anywhere in that paragraph–which I just copied word for word from my copy of UK Elle lying on the table next to me–in which Kristen said that she hated acting, hated her fans, hated being famous? No? Did you translate how Kristen compared fame to BEING RAPED? Did you read or hear Kristen say, “my discomfort is more legit than the pain victims of sexual assault feel”? NO? Ya sure? Maybe you should go back and read it, because for some reason, a shitton of people DID hear Kristen stirring a controversy. Below are samples of Smack Down that anti-rape organizations issued publicly.

Katherine Hull on behalf of Rape and Incest National Network (R.A.I.N.N.): “Kristen Stewart’s comments are regrettable. should have used a more appropriate metaphor to describe the intrusive nature of the paparazzi. Rape is more than an intrusion, it’s a violent crime, that causes serious long term mental health effects for victims.”

The executive director of
RapeIs.org, Margaret Lazarus, weighed in, pointing out that: “Rape is a violation in which one has no choice. A star seeking publicity has choices. Although rape involves loss of privacy, loss of privacy does not constitute rape. Let’s use a little logical thinking here.”

Neil Irwin, Executive Director of the
Men Can Stop Rape Organization, believes that there is some degree of comparison, but concludes: ‘Out of respect for these survivors, we would suggest using a more appropriate word, like ‘violation.'”

Nonverbal communication, Mofos! Smiling=happy

Beauty Marks:

1.) Articulate 2.) Wicked sense of fashion 3.) Speaks her mind 4.) Admits to and displays her vulnerability. 5.) Follows her heart, her instincts, her soul’s trajectory. 6.) Seeks to perfect her skills within her craft.

 

Offenses of Other: Per Ass Clowns, and a few condescending rape organizations, Kristen:

1.) Over-analyzes her words to the point of obliteration 2. ) Is a publicity seeker  3.) Is illogical 4.) Does not use a dictionary or metaphors correctly 5.) Does NOT understand what HURT is. 6.) Admits to being unsure and vulnerable. 7.) Is a miserable, melodramatic complainer

Silent All These Years 

Are you still hanging with me, friends? I hadn’t expected to go here, not in the second Other Musings post ever, if at all. However, I’m going to tell you a brief, intense story as to why I reacted so strongly to these events. Four years ago, I was a woman in her mid-20’s  living on my own, still an intern counselor, nursing the wounds of a recent, brutal breakup. One day, during the lunchtime hour,  a man broke into my small studio apartment through my bathroom window, wrapped himself in scarves and shawls of mine that he found in my wardrobe, and attempted to assault me in my home. I managed to save myself from injuries, assault, and perhaps an even worse fate, by speaking to my attacker, asking him to reconsider harming me. He screamed at me, attempted to bind and gag me, but in the final moment, dropped the scarves, dropped my shawls, and ran out of my apartment, away from me.

Suffice to say, I bristled when these “victim-protecting” organizations and critics emerged from the woodwork to jump on board the KStew-Hunting Train. I, for one KNEW what it felt like to be violated and would have found it insulting and insensitive if someone came along and told me  how to correctly detail and express my experience. A couple days ago, I wrote RAINN,  the abuse prevention organization that Tori Amos founded, and whose current organization heads requested an apology from Kristen for likening her experience to that of rape victims. I wrote them to remind them that Kristen is a twenty-year-old women who is subjected to physical danger and sexual harassment every moment she steps outside her front door. When she walks through an airport, it could potentially look like this:
I’m pretty sure you can see the lip quiver and absolute terror on her face

And sometimes, 15-20 men with cameras and microphones can be heard shouting questions about her sexuality and her sex life as well as the physical attributes of her body. They call her names like, “BITCH and WHORE” and make it nearly impossible for her and her family to finish simple tasks like visit the doctor, attend a concert, eat dinner.

So in these incredibly violating moments, ok, no, Kristen was not physically forced to have sex against her will as per the legal definition of rape according to California law. However, according to Dictionary.com, synonyms for the verb Rape include:

Violate. Assault. Maltreat. Abuse.

Neil Irwin, Executive Director of the Men Can Stop Rape Organization, was one of the more fair-minded, just commenters on Kristen’s usage of the word “rape” conceding that she probably does feel violated, forced and coerced. Mr Irwin believes that Kristen should use a “different, more appropriate” word like violated. Although, he is a man, and he can’t possibly feel the depth of a Woman’s violation, he at least wasn’t quite as condescending as the other folks mentioned above, both women by the way. Wow, women can be unrelenting, huh? Damn. *mutters, “another time, another time*.

*clears throat, raises hand* I just want to say that I have an opinion, and it is mine and mine alone. I don’t expect you to share my opinion or like it, even, but this is my essay, so I thought I’d give my thoughts on the situation, briefly…and then I’m done talking. Swearsies. Kristen is a girl who struggles already with the words and communicating. She is an Awkward Orator–helllloooo! Why hasn’t anyone read my definition yet?? She finally garners the courage to let the public and the paparazzi know:

I am frightened and vulnerable. You are not respecting my need for space. You are taking pictures without my permission, against my will, you are posturing and physically intimidating me, yelling foul, offensive things about my body, my sexuality, my love life. I’m just trying to get to the car. I am feeling unprotected and violated.

So she reveals her vulnerability. She speaks up. HOORAY for KRISTEN,  and all AOs fist pump and W00t with her! Ahem. Negative. Not only does she get ridiculed and taunted by press and papz for using her words to speak what she truthfully feels, but she is coerced, bullied and shamed into publicly stating she was wrong for feeling this way. Despite whether she needed to do so, Kristen issued an apology while on press tour for Eclipse just a few days ago. It was a very concise and respectful concession. However, because one of the organizations demanding it from her, over-rode their own mission statement of protecting and supporting victims of abuse to make an example of Kristen, I became….twitchy. Oops! Hot Therapist Avatar has something to say too… hang tight, and hold onto your hats and glasses, and not because it’s gonna be a mind-blowing wild ride (although it is). But Hot Therapist Avi borrows things and doesn’t return them. Those glasses she’s wearing? Mine. Truefax.

Reading Comprehension is invaluable. Get it.
Dictionaries are indispensable. Buy one.

*Hot Therapist Avatar climbs atop her soapbox and says:*

People have NO IDEA the effects of verbal and emotional abuse. Constant name calling, put downs, posturing (getting too close to a person, though not touching the person), remarks about body and sexuality— those can cause LONGER-TERM residual psychological damage. The negative effects on self-esteem, self-confidence, decision making, social interaction, relationships- –are staggering. Papz ARE engaging in abusive behavior towards Kristen and Rob…AND it becomes SEXUAL in nature the second, the second the pappz make a comment about Kristen’s body, her gender, or her sexuality…

It gets me soooo mad when people dismiss the harmful effects that emotional and verbal abuse causes. Doesn’t cause damage? Is it NOT violating? Is it NOT abusive? Tell that to the children and teenagers who were subjected to and/or witnessed verbal and emotional abuse (say, in bad divorces, school bullying, etc) in my counseling office over the last 9 years.

*Hot Therapist Avatar climbs off her soap box and paces the room, fuming*

Ok, then. So here’s the deal. I’m gonna steer us to towards the bright spot at the end of the tunnel now.   Because Kstew, our featured Sublimely Cerebral Awkward Orator and reigning Other Queen, came out on the other side of the “controversy”, looking like this:

. . .And like this:

. . .And gets to do this every night:

. . .With this gloriously Rebellious Royal:
I also am a misfit, dontcha know? But my girl and I are a perfect fit.

I will not only lovingly shove Hot Therapist Avi off her soapbox, and lock her away with my unemployment paperwork, but I will concede that Kristen Jaymes Stewart deserves to remain our Reigning Rebel Royal for a long while.

Sing it. Own it.

Whatever it is that you call your Voice, your Truth, Owing the Passion, harnessing your Energy, I encourage you to define it, listen to it, speak it, dance it and Sing. It. LOUDLY. And even if you’re a Genius Bizzarro Blurter (GBB) or a Sublimely Cerebral Awkward Orator (AO), you can still communicate your authentic nature in the face of some severe critics, and gain respect and strength on the other side of the fire.

I found that in the darkest hour, in a moment of absolute stillness, I asked a would-be violator to please remove my scarves and shawls so I could see his face. I used my voice to ask him to please please see my truth…and perhaps so he could glimpse his own. I never felt such clarity before this moment. And I think that is when I learned the absolute power I held when I used my voice. And I haven’t stopped talking or singing since.

Tori was a piano prodigy at four years old, granted entrance to the private, prestigious music school Peabody Academy when she was just a little girl. She was kicked out by the time she was 12, because she wanted to rock the Beatles instead of Beethoven. She became a cultural icon and a trailblazer for singer-songwriters for the end of one century, and the beginning of the next. Plus, she also has a castle in England. Fit for a Queen, yes?

Kristen is a fumbling, intelligent young woman who is finding her own voice in front of an audience of millions. She spoke her truth, got slammed for it, and still rose above, earning her begrudging but awe-inspired respect from harsh critics. She is generating golden buzz about her upcoming movie roles Welcome to the Rileys and the soon to be filming On the Road . She blurts golden nuggest like, “What the fuck is inner beauty?” unknowingly personifying and modeling the very concept about which she is uncertain.

Tori is Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others emerge through fire, singing loudly.

Embrace Your Other.


QUESTION:  When did you hear your voice for the first time?

A/N:
Please take a look at who contributes to this blog, and therefore to my life. Go tell these ladies how beautiful they are. @Bouffant00 is my friend, genius researcher, confidante and pre-reader/Beta. Love her. @buff_82 pre-reads my work, and makes everything you see on this page as beautiful as it is. The Banner? Please. Buff did that one morning in between creating/beautifying the pristine KStew Is Better Than You Blog, raising her children and writing her heartbreakingly lovely fan fiction. The glorious CC of @Kstewsbtrthanu somehow pre-reads my work, shouts at me to PUBLISH THAT SHIZNET. NOW.

. . and makes me laugh all while working, graduating from grad school, managing and writing her own brilliant blog.  As usual, my usual posse, my sleuthing, brilliant cyber SISTERS and READERS rock my socks off every single day. Thank you, ladies. You inspire and astound me. Special mentions and hugs to Dancer1 who fights the good fight against KStew critics all damn day, and my friend Constant (Julie) who is a warrior queen, every day.

The responses and reactions I received from the first ever Musings On Other Queens post just blew me away. You shared anecdotes, funnies, awkwardness so willingly and astonishingly. THANK YOU. My hope, as I’ve said, is to respond to you directly. If you leave a contact Twitter name or at least a moniker that I recognize, I will do my best to reply directly to you. Mostly I just want to tell you how grateful I am that you peeked in and shared a thought or two in reaction. Yours, KJ

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