Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Less is More

Today is Ellison’s 14th soberversary, and since I always post a Good Job! message it seemed like a good day to pick up blogging. It’s been a wild few months, the upshot being that we’re moving on Friday and taking the plunge to being landlords. This is a dream of mine, a long term plan to build community and provide ethical service while getting away from office jobs. And with packing and decluttering and moving, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want in my life and what I want to let go. Here’s a list I made:

LESS:
Clutter (physical and metaphysical)
Fear
Obligation
Anxiety
Second guessing
Guilt
Nicety

MORE:
Freedom
Abundance
Joy
Love
Connection
Flexibility
Kindness
Gratitude

I’m looking forward to building a new home, making connection with new neighbors, and having a space that better meets Ellison’s physical needs. I’m looking forward to launching a new venture that I hope will bring freedom and flexibility. I’m trying to be brave and to trust that the universe will give me what I need, and conversely that I need what the universe provides. And for all this I feel very, very grateful.

Le Fin De Semana es Finito….Vuelvo al Trabajo

Today is brought to you by this angry blowfish. I made the most of my weekend, with a snorkel trip and a zipline excursion, including a leap of faith off a waterfall. Amazing. Now back to my daily schedule of Spanish instruction and rigorous yoga. It’s been an incredible week one, and even though my friends are leaving, I’m looking forward to having a little bit slower week two. Salud!

Consent, Violence, and Popular Media

I finally made it to see “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” over the weekend. I’d read the book, so I knew there would be violent nonconsensual sexual content, and was concerned to see whether or not this violence was glorified. I’m always uncomfortable being stuck in a movie theater full of people cheering on a rape scene, so going to the movie during the bargain matinée several weeks after the film first opened was a good idea – the Methuselah sitting next to me snored his way through the whole three-hour run time.

I wouldn’t say that the sexual violence was glorified by the film; if anything the point of view of the film is clinical and nonjudgmental, allowing the viewer to draw their own conclusion. But this is a film (and novel) about multiple men who take advantage of, rape, and assault multiple women, and the promo materials gloss over this theme. Ms. Magazine wrote about this in advance of the US release of the Swedish film, under the provocative title “The Rape of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'”. I was pleased that there was no effort to gussy up central character Lisbeth Salander, who has crafted an all-too-familar exterior designed to repel and repulse the male gaze. She is gritty, dark, intentionally unattractive, and though she is victimized, she retains inner strength and autonomy and doesn’t become a “victim”.

I am always a little concerned about glorification of violence, especially that which takes advantage of those already disadvantaged by society, in mainstream media. Even when intended as social commentary, images of violence are often decontextualized and celebrated by viewing audiences. I recall a personal experience of watching “Natural Born Killers”, a film designed to highlight and skewer the media’s glorification of violence and violent offenders. However, this commentary was lost on the largely young, largely male audience, who merely wanted to watch the main characters beat the crap out of everyone. Even with a montage of actual news footage at the beginning, a grotesque sit-com rendering of Mallory’s brutal home life, and disjointed postmodern film techniques, all intended to bring the audience’s attention to the twisted nature of our own society, it was possible to view the film as a violent narrative rather than commentary.

I don’t think that the spare, cold eye of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” allows itself to be similarly read as a glorification of violence. The disaffected gaze of the camera and the detachment with which it portrays its various subjects does not permit celebration; the film is subdued and muted even as it deals with extremes of human nature. Yes, viewing violence may inure us to viewing more violence, but in comparison to, say, “Captain America”, the violence is much more realistic and therefore unsettling. The brutality with which certain characters deal with others is shown under stark lighting as a serious flaw in their being. And the nonconsensual nature of sexual violence is clear; there is also some beautifully depicted consensual sexual activity, and the lines between them are not in the least blurred. Mainstream media contributes so much to a rape culture, where sexual violence and aggression of men toward women is celebrated; it is good to see a mainstream film depict rape not as a natural outgrowth of female sexuality but as a violent, violating act.

I exist often in a world where there is a little more gray area around consent and nonconsent, and where “consensual nonconsent” (CNC) is a core concept. I’ve had people ask me how I can be ok with that, both as a person who believes in ahimsa and as someone with a history of sexual assault. In many ways, a world in which consensual nonconsent can exist is the antithesis of a world celebrating rape culture. I’m comfortable with the gray only when everyone understands the black and white. It’s like teaching things to toddlers – they have to understand the rules before you can start making exceptions, because if they don’t understand the rule, they can’t understand the concept of waiving it.

A Love Letter to Weirdos

Dear Freaks, Outlaws, Queers, Agitators, Rabble Rousers and Misfits:

This is a valentine to you, for being brave enough to be your amazing selves. Whether you choose to live your life outside the lines of societal expectations, or whether you find yourself put there; whether you are engaged with changing the system or working around it; and frankly, whether we agree or disagree; your very existence makes people grapple with their assumptions, examine their own lives, and expand their perspective on the world. It’s tough to be an outsider, and by definition you don’t fit in, but know that I admire your courage and conviction and commitment. I am proud to be in your extended family, and though you may not see me as one of you anymore, I am with you in heart and spirit. You are loved.

With deep affection,

The Woolverine

Happies

Ellison and I have a daily gratitude tradition that’s been coming up a lot lately. And since my home page has a tip on “How to Flex your Happiness Muscles”, now seems like a great time to write about our “Happies”. Every night before bed, we take a few moments to reflect on the things that made us happy during the day, and we end the day telling each other about our happies. We’ve both noticed not only that we end the day feeling more positively, but also that we notice more in the moment. That is, rather than just see a beautiful butterfly or shaft of sunlight break through the clouds, then disappear, we will take a moment to be consciously appreciative and to file it away for our happies that night. If we aren’t together, we do our happies over the phone or, as a last resort, with an email or a text message.

I’m going to Costa Rica for two weeks in the spring, and the schedule challenge of doing our happies is my biggest concern. We’ve agreed that we’ll do them via email, which seems a bit less connected, but also will provide a written record of our happies. I’m all for trying something new….but also look forward to climbing into bed with my sweetness and doing our happies together when I get back.

Stacks

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I love to read, and I adore browsing library stacks. Online lists of similar titles are good, and so are bookstore shelves, but nothing compares with the experience of browsing by Dewey decimal system without the need for commercial success. Treasures untold lurk within their dusty shelves.

Sea Scape

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I love the Ocean State. Yesterday I took a lovely stroll along Easton’s Beach in Newport, and dipped my feet in the water. It was much warmer than I expected.