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Spark

Happy SolsticeThis is one of the entries referred to in the original Beauty & Dynamite as “The Lost Blogs.” Recovered from the bowels of the intarwebs by Eric James Stone, all of The Lost Blogs will appear in the revised edition of Beauty & Dynamite…including this poem in celebration of the Winter Solstice, marking the beginning of my love for this astronomically significant day.

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“I’ve looked into the abyss, the abyss has looked back, and we’ve both grinned.”
-–James Maxey

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Spark

Shortest day
Longest night
Point of orbit on the dark side of the moon
loss of signal, radio silence
sailing where brilliant stars scatter across a Land Without Sun
Breadcrumbs along the path to infinity
Christmas lights in cold windows
Glitter on painted nails
Crystals of freefalling snow
perfect, unique, alone
sadness so small
little leftover
pieces of me
in that deep dark space
tiny, bright, beautiful
significant

–December 21, 2004

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Hey, Baby, What’s Your Sign?

Author C. C. Finlay posted a link to this article on Facebook — “A Message to Women from a Man: You are Not Crazy.” The author tells women not to fall victim to emotional abuse (he calls it “Gaslighting). Charlie added the comment that the article should have been addressed to other men, with an emphasis on how to treat women respectfully.

This emotional manipulation is rampant internationally (not localized to “this country” as the author states). It is also non-specific as to gender. I feel very strongly about this topic of emotional abuse, having been a victim of it myself. If I could save even one more woman (or man) from herself (or himself) and her manipulative partner, then I will think myself very lucky indeed.

I’ve always said that the answer to World Peace is to give everyone on the planet an injection of self-confidence and a good night’s sleep. In this holiday season, where many wish for “Peace on Earth and Good Will Towards Men,” I wish more than ever that this were possible.

Instead I will do my small part by posting my thoughts on the matter. This is one of the “Lost Blogs” that did not manage to appear in Beauty & Dynamite (which is now out of print). It is, in essence, my reply to Yashar Ali’s essay. We’ll call it “Princess Alethea’s Message to Women: You Are Crazy. Embrace It.”

Remember: The only one who should ever take advantage of your awesomeness is YOU.

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“Hey, baby, what’s your sign?”
3/9/2005

“I don’t believe you’re leaving ‘cause me and Charles Manson like the same ice cream…”
– Tori Amos, Tear in Your Hand

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I forget how old I was…twelve? fifteen?…but I remember it as clearly as if it had happened yesterday. I was passing my mother on the stairs and I asked her, “Mom, am I weird?”

“No, honey,” she replied. “You’re normal.”

I immediately went to my room and cried. To me – to a girl who collected misfits and teddy bears with crooked noses and loved nothing without flaws – “weird” was the epitome of imperfect perfection. To be normal was…well, it was nothing. It was everyday, apple pie, vanilla pudding. And that thought seriously depressed me…for much longer than it should have.

Many, many years later I related this story to my mother. She laughed so hard tears came to her eyes. “Oh, Alethea,” she gasped. “I meant normal for you.”

I’ve recently become obsessed with Jonathan Carroll. It’s unsettling to find an author you’ve never read before who seems to have been put on this earth to write words that speak directly to you. Even better – he started doing this 25 years ago, so I have his entire backlist to gobble up.

The best part about Carroll is that he can write women. He can write relationships and feelings in a way that most men are unable…or afraid…to. It’s an awesome and powerful talent for a male author to have, and I have encountered few to date that can do it with such stunning accuracy.

I think the secret behind the authors’ magic is simple – they are lovers. And I don’t mean lovers in the big-sweeping-cheesy-Nicholas-Sparks definition of the word. I mean that they love women…physically, mentally, and down to every last tiny idiosyncracy. Their heroines are beautiful…and quirky. They have flaws. They’re usually a little secretive, a little unstable, a little out of reach. A little crazy. A little weird. And they make the reader fall in love with every last nutso bit of them.

This imperfect, slightly-crazy, off-the-cuff woman has become the uber-heroine in other incarnations as well. She’s the down-to-Earth, girl-next-door with a twist. Jaye in Wonderfalls. Dharma in Dharma & Greg. Sandra Bullock in Speed. They’re the curry, the cinnamon, the cayenne that make life spicy. They’re normal…for them. They are the perfect counterpart to the Everyman. And we love every last nutso bit of them.

So WHY is it that in REAL life–this life we continually say is so different from movies and television and books when all those art forms try to do is recreate it–men only THINK they want the weird girl? Oh sure…they’ll fall in love with her. They’ll have loads of fun. They’ll laugh at all the crazy things she does and the crazy things she says. They’ll ride the wave of her energy, and they’ll have a blast doing it.

But a month down the road…a year…two years…and he will inevitably turn to this woman and say, “Have you ever considered therapy?” or “You know, my life was a lot simpler without you.” (That one’s for you, Kitti dearest.)

Gentlemen, I have a request. If you’re thinking about falling for a woman who is a handful, a verbal fanaticist, a mental genius, a roller coaster of energy and emotion, a dreamer of impossible worlds, an incredible whirlwind of beauty and dynamite…admit this to yourself right up front. You’re not going to change her…and you’d be foolish to try. If you’re not brave enough, big enough, strong enough and clever enough to step up to the plate and look her dead in the eye, then stand down and admit defeat. Carroll, a true lover of women knows what sort is worth fighting for. But he is also aware that there will BE a fight…and that she will be worth it. Every last nutso bit of her.

There’s a Native American legend–it’s told in a variety of forms–about a scorpion who asks a young man to help him across a river. The young man is wary. The scorpion does not excuse himself for what he is, but he still asks the man to carry him across the water. The man does, and right before he gets to the other side, the scorpion stings him…effectively killing them both. Before they drown, the man asks the scorpion why he did it and the scorpion says, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”

This fable has been used as a metaphor for all sorts of things – drugs, alcohol, the current vice du jour. But you guys remember this story the next time you believe yourself to be “burdened” with a crazy woman. You must choose. Step up or stand down.

‘Cause you knew what she was when you picked her up.

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Bibbidy Bobbidy Byes

This essay is one of the “Lost Blogs” that was discovered in the wildlands of the intarwebs by my friend Eric James Stone after the publication of Beauty & Dynamite. I’m posting it in response to something Kelli wrote recently called “Boyfriend 47,”, an essay ranking the merits (or lack thereof) of the respective Disney princes. Personally, I think Prince Charming’s not so bad…if you know the whole story.

This is also apropriate because Mom and Dad are headed back to Florida this morning, and I’m just plain-old going to miss them.

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Bibbidy Bobbity Byes

Original post date: 12/8/2004

I dropped Mom off at the airport this morning. On the long, lonely drive back to work, I tried to think of other things in an effort to distract myself from being emotional. After covering traffic and other people who hate goodbyes, my brain settled on Cinderella.

I’ve always favored the Grimms’ telling of Cinderella over the Perrault or Disney versions. Some may find that surprising, seeing as I’m a bit of a Fairy Godmother In Training – the Grimms’ tale hadn’t a fairy godmother in sight. (Not to despair, Briar Rose still had them to sort out that whole curse thing, so my future career choice is still justified.)

No, the less popular – and much darker – tale had Cinderella weeping over the grave of her mother. Birds in the tree planted on the grave spoke to her on her mother’s behalf and helped her out in her times of need. They came to her aid when the evil stepmother gave Cinderella impossible tasks to accomplish. She didn’t go to the ball once but three times, in dresses thrown to her from the birds. When the Prince came around to the house bearing the slipper, the stepsisters maimed themselves in their avarice, slicing off pieces of their feet in order to fit into the shoe. The Prince rode away with the wrong woman twice, and twice the birds warned him of the blood in the shoe and sent him back for the proper girl.

Being caught inside the whirlwind that my life has been lately had me thinking about Cinderella. Empathizing, asking questions, and coming to realizations. Somehow, Cinderella MUST have met the Prince prior to the ball. I’m not quite sure how she pulled it off, but there’s no way she would have done all that stuff for him without being completely in love with him first. Big Love, capital letters and all, not just a crush on a pretty face and a castle. Showing up at a ball in a nice dress hoping to snare a man reeks of pettiness. I have to believe that Cinderella was much better than that. Picking a girl out of a crowd and marrying her solely based on her looks is equally as shallow. I have to believe that the Prince was much more than that too.

Cinderella was an introvert, my brain rationalized.

It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? She kept her head low and kowtowed to the evil women who took over her house and took away her life. There is NO way on Earth she would have gone through the trials she did and forced herself to be the center of attention three times for anything less than Big Love. My guess is, attending those balls was the most brave, scary, nervewracking thing she had ever done in her life. I’m betting she had more than a few panic attacks. But she still did it.

Then there’s the issue of the Prince – who KNEW darn well what his True Love looked like, but his integrity still forced him to stay true to his word and ride away with the wrong woman. Can a man with a code of honor like that marry a virtual stranger? Well, the proclamation did say that his bride would be the one who fit the shoe… Good thing those birds were there to give him a suitable out-clause.

It certainly gives the tale more depth when you consider that Cinderella was probably a borderline basketcase coming out of her shell; the Prince, a tormented knight in shining armor with an annoying amount of moral fiber.

But the story is really about a mother’s love for her daughter – a love so pure and strong it reaches from beyond the grave. Her birds don’t exactly tell either of the lovers what to do, only nudge them a bit to help them down their paths. And so, Cinderella and her Prince lived Happily Ever After.

The moral of the story: Mom is always right.

Love you, Mom.

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