Tag Archives: Royal Rebels

MOO Memoirs: BD or Bust Pt 1

13 Nov
A/N: The images displayed in this essay are not mine–Thank Goddess for Tumblr and Pinterest. Click the image for a link to their origin. So very unbeta’d–all mistakes and typos belong to yours truly. Click the button over heee-yah to subscribe to MOO and receive posts in your email————————————>

Guise. GUUUUISEEEE. We’ve been trying to keep this sssimple, right? I know. I know. I’m about a week late, and a few days off usual posting schedule, and all the while there has been epic occurrences nearly every single hour for our Reigning Other Queen Kristen and her brilliant, beautiful Warrior Poet Consort Robert. But it’s beyond the realm of reality now for me to keep up with all the updates in our Royal Rebels’ lives, at least these days it is, as we are in the weekend before the World Premiere of Breaking Dawn. 

This post commences an experimental format for Musings, one I’ll use when I’m on the road (as I am now), and/or when the amount of fantastical rebelliousness is off-the-chain-insane and abundant (again, as it is now). You all know I’m a chatty one, and one of my biggest challenges has been to  find a way to Muse On Otherness in a succinct fashion. Um. #BigFATFail

well, when pictures like this surface, how can ANYONE focus?

Well, maybe it’s because it’s obscenely overwhelming to simply pick one or two events to talk about in the sea of greatness during the Breaking Dawn promo tour currently in the works (annnnd do not get me started on the SWATH stills, banners and TRAILER just yet, mmkay?); also, because I have had not one day off since the start of my newest job three weeks ago; and maybe because I’m only able to read drabble fics these days, we’re doing smaller doses of Musings for a bit so as to cover the insurgence of incredible #RoyalRebelGoodness. 

Leeeegggggs

For those of you who don’t know what “drabble” means, it’s simple. Fewer words, posted more frequently, it packs a profound punch, and is often addicting. Basically, I get to take a crack at that elusive succinctness (which I’m already failing at, seeing I’m several paragraphs into ramblings, but anyhoo); We get to see The Pretty; we get to do some Musings On The Pretty, and we get to chat and convene more often!! So let’s get into it. We’ve got a loooooot to talk about in this, my first attempt at MooDrabble

Connecting Again

Here’s the ‘Memoir’ part of the MOODrabble.  Do you know where I am right now? Well, right now, I’m actually visiting my mother and doing my laundry in a bit of a mini-break. I am about to grab some breakfast with mom (after I hit ‘PUBLISH’) and then some friends will pick me up and bring me back to The Nokia Theater and #TentCity, where I had been hanging out for the past few days. Literally. 

I flew from my place in Northern Cali to L.A. on Wednesday of this week. And as I was listening to the supremely awesome Breaking Dawn Soundtrack on my iPhone (in AirplaneMode), I found myself itching to write. It occurred to me how disconnected I’d been from the physical act of writing. Since I started my new (and third) job about three weeks ago, I have not had a single day off. I was not writing anymore. I missed the physiological response of a calm contemplation that usually trickled over me. I was feeling disconnected from this community and my Musings readers and Other Queen Kristen Stewart even though phenomenally wonderful things were happening for everyone this week. When Kristen joined the promo tour, the Heavens rejoiced. But I couldn’t enjoy it with you all.  Hence, the VOM BAG. 

 

Awww, the birth of The MOO Memoirs. I was reading a handwritten love letter from my dearest @DeeDreamer16 while on the plane down to L.A. And not only was I astounded by the brilliant poetry on the stationary in my hands–not that Dee isn’t a poet, she is a sublime writer–but I gratefully embraced the the tranquility that washed over me as I pulled out my own pen and sought out material surface on which I could write. I’ve always written thoughts down on any available resource–napkins, my hands, my mini-journal, sweatshirts…vomit bags. This particular day, as I grabbed the paper sick basket from the magazine holder in front of me, I felt no “Motion Discomfort”. I felt like I had come home. Lovely connecting thought: The first draft of Musings On Other Queens in May 2010 was borne from scribbles on a Vom Bag. It’s almost synchronicity that the birth of MOO Memoirs as I fly towards the site of the Breaking Dawn premiere also manifested on a paper bag designed to hold purged stomach contents. Because it’s purging time, babies.

A Convention of Beauty

We’re gonna talk about everything that we can. The journey to the Breaking Dawn Premiere including my near-altercation with some Russians when I had to shove my way off the plane to watch the newly released #SWATH Trailer…

I mean, seriously. I. CAN. NOT.

…and the adventures I’ve had since arriving here. But we’ll also talk about the amazing week of promotional gorgeousness we’ve witnessed in the days leading up to this stellar weekend.

Dear Kristen, I know we haven’t formally met, but Holy Hell I am beaming with ridiculous pride for you as if you are of my flesh and blood. This is a BFD.

Love, Me

um, hellllo, beautiful

Summation: This first  MOO Memoir is to give you the 411. Musings in smaller increments, more frequently. Cool? It’ll serve as a little road map for the next week too, I hope.

For instance, the next MooDrabble will include the story of my interaction with Scummit event planners and security…and we will certainly pause to gape at:

and

touching feet forever. #thud

and

Annnnd, to wrap up this first post of the series, I wanted to share with you all the glorious talents of my girl @Jhiggs86, purveyor of beautiful KSIBTU Art…

These are the signs I have with me for the Premiere. They are my cues and signposts to Kristen and Robert that I am in the sea of people at the Nokia Theater giving a Rebel Yell of “OTHER ON!”

mesmerized? I am.

So come and find me at #TentCity or look for me on the Black Carpet at the Premiere…Say hey and let’s talk Other and Royal Rebellion and Unconventional Beauty right there on the sparkling (appropriately so) sidewalks of L.A. Live, mmmkay? See you soon!!!

A/N: I Luff you guys. Thanks for bearing with me through this rough transitional time as I hammer out a posting schedule and maintain my sanity…. MOO Memoirs Part 2 later today! xo, KJ

PLAYLIST for THE MOO MEMOIRS 

*Playlist is the same throughout the series unless noted

Acid Tongue ~ Jenny Lewis

We Wont Run ~ Sarah Blasko

Riot Rhythm ~ SleighBells

The Sea ~ Morcheeba

Sail ~ AWOLnation

Young Blood ~ The Naked and Famous

We Are Mad To Live

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

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

~Jack Kerouac

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

we get IT.

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

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

Kristen Emerging 

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

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

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

DAY-um

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

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

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

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

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

Rebel Renaissance

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Come on, Guys, it’s so obvious.”

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

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

A New Dawn

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

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

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

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

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

The giddy newlyweds

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

We Are Other.

Kristen Is Other.

Others are desirous of everything; mad to live.

Embrace Your Other.

*   *   *

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

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

What is your Halloween costume?

Best Birthday you’ve had?

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

GIVEAWAY DEETS next WEEK!!

Breaking Dawn Premiere Plans…

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

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

Oh…and in all this madness–

I got a new job. . .!! 

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

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

American Cancer Society 

American Red Cross 

Lupus Foundation of America 

It’s BIRTHDAY SEASON

Happy Birthday to My Lovelies:

Webby, Meow, Kristin75,

Nhess & DizzyLadybug

Playlist for this Essay

Acid Tongue ~ Jenny Lewis

We won’t Run ~ Sarah Blasko

Riot Rhythm ~ Sleigh Bells

The Sea ~ Morcheeba

Look Into The Air ~ Explosions in the Sky

What’s Behind The Door ~ Shady Bard

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

Letters To Muses (and Whoa, W)

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

Dear loveliest Rebel Royals and Majestic Misfits,

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

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

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

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

And zingy exchanges between Kristen and Rob such as:

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

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

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

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

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

Kristen: Oh, shush. 

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

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

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

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

courage to be creative=following the bliss

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

#bliss

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Kristen,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Are Other.

Kristen Is Other.

Others exude light that can spark a new movement.

Embrace Your Other.

*   *   *

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

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

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

Within and Beside You

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

Open and just hold the lantern in the doorway

For the freedom of it

And you take the night air through your nostrils

And you breathe in out, in out

And you breathe just like that, just like that

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

Beauty In Loving The Craft

And we saw her standing there

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

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

Is this Heaven or…

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

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

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

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

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

A Beautiful Ferocity

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

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

*raises eyebrow* mmmhmm

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

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

Truly a Rebel Royal, yes? 

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

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

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

 Beauty Surrounds Her  

You say which way, which way

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

Behind you, beside you, beside you

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

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

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

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

saucy

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

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

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

A Beautiful Congruency

‘Cause I need Freedom now

And I need to know how

To live my life as it’s meant to be

Can you spot our Rebel Other Queen?

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

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

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

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

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

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others realize that beauty cultivates from within and beside us.

Embrace Your Other.

*    *    *

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

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

Squeezey Hugs and Sloppy Kisses To:

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

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

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

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

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

Lyric excerpts featured: 

Beside you ~ Van Morrison

The Cave~ Mumford and Sons

Essay Playlist: 

What I Am ~ Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians

Santa Maria~ Gotan Project

The Cave ~ Mumford and Sons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unfinished Business

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

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

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

Bryan's home

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

With My Hands

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

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

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

Leland's neighborhood

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

I. Am. Done.

The Ultimate Fighters

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

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

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

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

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

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

My heroes: Search and Rescue

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

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

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

A restaurant on Main street

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

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

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

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

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

To Have Found Their Way Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quiet Moments of Majesty

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

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

Although her grounding trumps anyone else's grounding.

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

And then this picture of them:

Makes me almost unbearably excited for….

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

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

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

Chris and Kris. Mutual Admiration Society.

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

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

An Anonymous Grace 

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

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

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

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

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

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others’ true beauty is a light from within.

Embrace your Other.

*   *   *

An Epically Long A/N including GIVEAWAY Deets: 

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

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

A NEW MOO GIVEAWAY

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

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

1. When did you know you were Other?

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

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

4. How do you employ self-care? 

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

*   *   *

Specific shout outs and vice-like hugs to: 

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

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

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

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

TODAY’S PLAYLIST (PUSH PLAY)

Look For Me As You Go By ~ The Innocence Mission

Satisfied Mind ~ Jeff Buckley

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

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

After The Storm ~ Mumford & Sons

Fix You ~ Coldplay

A Light From Within (Part 1)

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

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

It was ‘A Time’

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

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

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

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

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

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

ahhh is THAT what human interaction looks like?

An Other Application

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

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

She Shines On

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

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

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

dude. we know.

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

Can watch this pure joyfulness on loop forevah

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

“Sorry, Natalie, The Popcorn is mine!

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

O_O

 A Way Out Of The Depths

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

thank you, my Possum @Justice_Aussie for this

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

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

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

Gratitude. 

Faith.

Resilience.

"I will rebuild", he says.

Beautiful People Do Not ‘Just Happen’

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

Thank you. THANK. YOU. THANK YOU.

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

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

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

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

Giggly, LondonStew will ALWAYS Win.

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

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

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others’ light shines on, shines far.

Embrace your Other.

*       *      *

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

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

PLAYLIST: (PUSH PLAY) 

Look For Me As You Go By ~ The Innocence Mission

Satisfied Mind ~ Jeff Buckley

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

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

After The Storm ~ Mumford & Sons

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