Two Separate Incidences and A Handsome Man

One.

I’m in the old Blackfoot River Brewery taproom back in the days when it was more likely you might be talking to someone you didn’t know before you got there. Some guy is telling me his opinion about something. I listened, and then said something more on the subject. He said, no, and then repeated what he had already said. I said, yes, I heard you, this is something more on the subject. He repeated no again, and repeated what he had already said. On it went for a few more rounds. His perception seemed to be that me saying something other than exactly what he said meant I was misunderstanding him, or disagreeing with him and needed to be corrected. I don’t remember how I bailed on that.

Two.

The (old) Windbag. Some local face, a guy, pretty good looking I had noticed over the years. But in the brief snatchings of conversation we’d had, it was nothing I was interested in pursuing. I’m not so much about guys who have learned to skate on their looks. Though I recognize it's possible they've just learned what they had to to get by and it just didn't happen to be very much. *  

Anyway, Mr. GoodLooking tells me that I’m his type. I tell him I’m not interested. He tells me, no. I didn’t understand. I was exactly his type. It doesn’t matter, I told him. But, he insisted, I was EXACTLY his type. It was like he was trying to tell me my experience of my own life and preferences were incorrect and I would realize it if I would just listen to him.


*
 

Cultural Appropriation

"Cultural appropriation." It appears there's a conversation that is on. So, here's my question, and it is offered as an opportunity to explore the subject, not to point anything out.

If I take an African dance class taught by an American white woman, is that cultural appropriation? If so, by both of us? one of us?

What if it's taught by a person from an African country? Does that change anything? What if it's an American white man who lived and studied in Africa for a decade?

Then again, this is what choreographers do, often. Cross-pollinate. What if you appropriate something, adapt it or fuse it with something else, and put it out there as something novel? Is this part of the cultural appropriation discussion?

On another note, isn't cultural appropriation the name of the capitalist game - turning art and values into politics and commercial items - you know, something you can raise a buck on? (Symbols of revolution become poser goods on $70 distressed t-shirts. Nothing's wrong with the t-shirt, unless it's about adopting the image of a value as part of your "profile," more so than your character. The same could be said for wearing a crucifix under other circumstances, or wearing the t-shirt of a band you don't and haven't listened to. But they're "cool" and that makes you cool that you know they're cool.)

I'm not looking for answers to guide my behavior about a dance class ("Do whatever you want!!"). I've got it covered. I'm interested in this emerging label for a cultural dynamic.

My current thought is that the basic, dominant, operative cultural model right now is exploitation. Steal. Take. Hijack. "Use." It's accepted. It's considered a skill set. I don't like it, but that's how it looks to me.

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Heroine's Journey

(also at The Story Plant

I drank with my sister in Downer’s Grove, Illinois last Friday catching up on each other’s lives as we waited for a text from her daughter.  Finally, around 10, it came in, from her youngest, my niece, who was in St. Louis at the Black Lives Matter march protesting another ‘not guilty’ verdict for another cop who shot another black guy to death.

“Got out just as the SWAT team arrived. Safe.”                 

My thoughts have been fractured and staccato lately, mirroring the off- rhythms of the world. As a seeming consequence, I’ve been writing in loose prose and poetry. An invitation to write about “women’s roles” arrived to this jagged mind state and my gut response to the invitation was, I thought we could be astronauts now.

I rebelled. I threw a fit in loose prose

and I thought about the differences

between roles, stereotypes, and archetypes.

Nurturer. Lover. Cheerleader. I am them. Not roles. Part of me,  

which isn’t to say there aren’t roles I play as I walk my beat.

We play roles.

Or, roles are assigned to us, organizing our complicated selves into consumable units circumscribed by function.

But a role isn’t necessarily a violation of one’s self, of course. It can be an expression of one’s self, too. But I do think separating ourselves from our roles is a lifelong learning, whether those are gender roles, family roles, or cultural roles. Certainly that separation is one of the hero’s journeys.

Or heroine’s.

The assignment, “women’s roles,” also made me reflect on the cultural need to “gender” everything and the emerging movement toward a more continuum-based understanding, or better yet, a patchwork understanding of gender, unconfined by the limited boundaries binaries dictate and govern our minds with.

I do love a writing assignment and letting it take my thoughts away.       

Assignment in. Writing out. Women’s roles. Here’s what happened.

 

Women’s Roles

Bread baker.

Rainmaker. 

Tongue biter.

Freedom fighter.

Soldier.

But not really.  

A woman soldier.

Prisoner.

But not really. 

A female prisoner. 

 

 

What is a woman’s role?

Caster of spells.

Cutter of throats.

Defender of evil men.

Indirect.  In your face. Interpretive.

Master and minion

of the Snake.

Beautiful

pretty, cute, or ok.

Or . . .

(please god, no)  

Because it is your story.

 

 

What makes a role a woman’s role?

The pay grade?

The caring?

For children? The sick? The boss? The injured? The broken? The poor?

What makes a symbol hers?

Cup and cauldron,

Holy hole.

Passive vessel through which and in which that which is whole cums- comes.

Receiver. Receptacle.

The passive voice,

she who gets

periods

raped

sidelined

silenced. 

 

 

What is a woman’s role?

Creator

of babies,

or blood.

Either way, creators

make the Word flesh, strike the neural chord that makes the mind sing and the brain squirt and thus the body feels

the journey, from Word to flesh

from thought to biochemical

from idea to feeling.   

I’m telling the story.

 

 

What makes a book a women’s book?

Is it the promise of love from another, or even from one’s self, should the former come to be too much to hope for or believe?

Self-esteem.

Self-love.

Empowerment.

A private embrace of an unvalued wholeness that leaves the body hungry. 

I’m telling the story 

Of the Word made flesh that strikes the neural chord that makes the mind sing and the brain squirt and thus the body feels

the journey, from Word to flesh, from thought to biochemical, from idea to feeling.   

I’m telling the story

Of woman’s roles which are words

made Flesh.

 

Many Moons Ago in Ojai

I spent two weeks of the time I spent writing my novel, Shaking Out the Dead, in a friend's friend's tiny house in Ojai CA. I drove there from Montana. No dog. I heard the song "I'm Like A Bird" by Nelly Furtado for the first time on the L.A. freeway. I learned how to fingerpick on the guitar during those two weeks and wrote pages and pages of the backstory of two of my characters, one a main character and the other a secondary one. I thought it would all be part of the book. I didn't include any of it. But I can still see those two characters on the side of the road in the Mojave Desert. 


While in Ojai, I acquired this acrylic in the picture below. My relationship with it changed as my relationships with the characters in my book changed. It's been in storage for the past two years and I have recently pulled it back out.

 

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The Musical "Hamilton" and Systems Theory

I saw Hamilton last weekend and it has stayed with me. The show is not about just the Revolution, that big day when everyone raises their arms and shout, “we’re free!”  It’s about the after.

Does freedom mean “time to build a new system that supports freedom”? Or, does it mean “no more systems,” as in, “we’re free of them”?

The latter is naive. Systems will form as long as there are people who want to get anything done. Systems arise to facilitate objectives. The more people agree to a system, the easier it is to get things done that people want done, basic things, like having a system that allows us not to live in our own excrement.

Systems build the roads money runs on, too, which is why many are so bad. Their primary purpose becomes channeling money instead of the task it is supposed to perform. That’s what a corrupted system is - a system whose primary design element is about accomplishing anything other than the stated purpose.  

 

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The Elements are Restless

Have had the 4 Elements (air, water, earth, fire) and their correspondences and mythologies in play in my mind for several months (recreational thinking). Was thinking this morning that they are all acting up.

Winds of the hurricane - air
Floods of the hurricane - water
Earthquake in Mexico - earth
The west burning - fire

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Bear Dream

Night two after the bear attack, I had three dreams about bears. I had one more a couple of days after that. No dreams of bears since until last night when I dreamed about The Bear for the first time, not just "bears." 
In the dream, I was showing someone a video I had taken leading up to seeing him, then seeing him, then whoop, thunk, clunk - no more footage. In the dream, I showed it to two different people.

When the Bear taps me on the shoulder, I feel it's best to say, 'you rang?' 

Along the Fence

A middle age lady with curly hair was walking the sidewalk outside of the fence escorting a wee one scooting along on a riding contraption for toddlers. Carmen barked a few deep, low ones and walked the inside of the fence beside them. I said from the porch, "She's just an old lady who wants to let you know she's still here." The lady said, "I know the feeling." 

Quiver Factor

I've been asked what I thought about the bear scene in The Revenant and it really didn't hit any nerves. Last night I watched Legends of the Fall for the first time since the bear and the bear scene at the end of that movie had more quiver factor for me.

Why I Have These Two Posters

These are 2 bear posters I have.

The first one looks the most like, let’s call him “My Bear,” of the images I’ve seen, and I’ve looked at many looking for as close a facsimile I could find. The water on the whiskers does it. Weighs them down just right.

The second poster is for its “close-up” value. Of the bear pictures I’ve sorted through, it’s the closest to replicating the proximity, the frame in which I saw him when I first saw him. Sometimes the poster catches my eye and a voice in my head reflexively says, “I know, I know, I know.”

I had to keep the second covered for awhile last summer and fall.

Together, they give me the face and the distance from which we met.

Here’s a close-up of the bear who looked the most like mine.

This Video

I saw it for the first time on a tv screen in a bar in Amsterdam. I loved the man I was with. I had called off my wedding to be with him. 

Decades and lives ago.

 

More Bear Aftermath

As a fiction writer, I've spent most of my life in a split world. There's the moment I'm in and experiencing and there's a perceiving mechanism apart from the external world mulching the experience into material. 

Since the Bear, the split is rare. Sometimes, I think it's a problem, a problem for the writing. Other times, it seems like "writer" was an identity that has served its purpose.  

My Process

I was asked about my writing process yesterday. Dictaphone? Journals? 

My answer: On-screen composing mixed in with random jotted notes and messages on stray pieces of paper, envelopes, and sometimes journals. Non-linear, then ordered, and re-ordered, several times over. Then cleaned up and too pleased with itself, I pull it apart again, put it back together, and declare it done a typo too early discovered too late. 

Generally speaking, that's how it goes. 

Birthday Card

I usually don't discuss my birthday on the Internet. I know the algorithms will grab it and go look at my astrological chart and manipulate me into buying pocketbooks. 

But I got this early birthday card from my cousin, the only family member to have seen my scene out in Emigrant. He and his wife spent time right in the area where I was jumped by the bear.  

This is the birthday card.