Happy Belated Birthday Adrienne Rich

An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.

It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.

It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.

It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.

BrainPickings

  

Motherhood on Mother’s Day: Let it Be


My Dear Daughters:


   No letter, especially one to daughters, should begin with I’m sorry, but this one does. I’m sorry. Though regrets are a waste of time, I must apologize for your inheritance. No, I don’t mean money. In all likelihood, your fortunes are your own to make. And I know of no genetic medical challenges in store for you in this lifetime. No, this apology comes upon seeing the two of you drive off to lunch together, one tight-lipped and tense, the other tentative and earnest.


You see, dear daughter number two in birth order, you have inherited the portion of your mother’s temperament that ruffles easily when you convince yourself that another has acted poorly or unjustly or incompetently. You do not suffer lightly the effects of others’ actions on your life, irritated at the shortcomings of your fellow beings. You stew. 


To make matters worse, you can’t shake it off. When you decide to change teams and find the coach knows little more than the last one and your teammates are no different, no more skillful or intelligent or cooperative than the last, you simmer, aggravated after a game where the forwards hardly ever anticipate your serves from mid-field and so miss scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity, while the coach fails to instruct and the defense fails to adjust for the deflected offense. 


So you grouch for the rest of the day, angry at your teammates, your coach, but mostly at yourself for having chosen the team, or for even playing soccer in the first place.


And you, daughter number one, I owe you an apology for both your inability to fix your sister and your desire to do so. Like me, you feel discomfort when others display unpleasant emotions, even if  they are mere facial expression. Your sister cannot hide what she feels, though she speaks not a word or a sigh. Her face tells the story–sorry again, second born, for yet another trait passed on. 


And you feel responsible when you are not completely oblivious. Sensitivity is not your strongest attribute. You need to be hit over the head, spoken to directly, told what someone feels, unable to intuit. I gave you that obtuseness. Then when you hear the complaint, the source of woes, compassion turns to anxiety to solve the break, the mood, or problem. 


That anxiety leads to paralysis. Your mind turns foggy with the pressure to create, find an idea. And so you retreat, get disinterested and frustrated. You have no idea what to do to please her, though you try: bribe her with first choice of music in your car or chocolate or a trip to the mall. You try teasing and joking but the list of sorry-I-gave-that-trait-to-you includes stubbornness on her part as it does cluelessness on yours. 


But you know she unwinds in time, flexes her tension and exhales in release when she does, so there’s no rushing through it. The two of you cleave to one another as the best of friends, so you know.
  


Daughter born first, the days ahead bring many lessons about letting go, acceptance and boundaries, yours in relation to others. Your compassion will hold you in good stead if you never swallow it down in futility rather than acceptance: you can offer but no one has to accept. Perhaps she cannot. That is not your fault. Give, nevertheless, without the expectation of receiving. Help others because others need help, not to get results. You are not here to fix but to try.


Daughter born second, when you too learn to accept yourself, mistakes and all, your moods will calibrate, even out. Your expectations so high for yourself, you project those on to others who cannot meet them. If only you can merely see people, observe them without judging, and accept your strengths and weaknesses realistically without judgment, you may be able to do the same for others. 


The expanding pressure contracts and recedes in the exhaust of toxic release, the poison of fear–of disappointment, not measuring up, and not succeeding–whether aimed at you or others.


You both have a lifetime ahead of procuring patience, and if you get the jump on everyone else, you may discover the secret, the jewel of existence, of slowing down just as time speeds up. If you can, if somehow in cinematic slo-mo you can envision your two hands grab the big hand of the clock, just like when you were little we learned from that interactive picture book with the brightly colored spinning clock hands (blue for the big one and red for the small one) and hold that big boy back with all your might, you better the odds at beating the odds against you–your inheritance. 


Take time, my daughters, to be and let be. She who came after you needs time to work the inarticulable undulations of anger mounted on uncertainty overlaid on the foundation of fear that shift and morph like sea kelp ebbing and flowing with the tide. If you, my first born, breathe slowly, let every drop out before you sip another slow breath in, the extra seconds may allow you the focus, the time it takes for the words to come, the ideas to set you free:  “She is who she is, and I am who I am. Nothing more.”

I am sorry but have no regrets. You two embody the best I have to offer–and more. 

With all my love…
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I know you know.
  

For All the Scorned Women…

Just goes to show you I am not the only one who has muttered, “I’m going to kill that man.”  Women have been thinking about killing their men or any man for centuries and leave it to the great artists in Western history to bring that reality to life.  Seriously, the captions to these paintings in Gleeful Mobs of Women Murdering Men in Western Art History on the toast.net are the best part, unless you really do get off on cathartic dramatic renderings of raging women tearing men to pieces. Have a laugh and maybe pick up on technique 😉



The Curse

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credit: http://www.modspil.dk/images/l-agonie2.jpg

I was just a girl then,
no street sense at all,
not about boys, sex or love.
My mother warned, “Beware of them;
they just want between your legs.”
My father didn’t say anything;
his voice was my mother’s,
his opinions hers.
He worked all night of 7 days,
so she spoke for both of them.
The aim was not to get pregnant.
Since she had four daughters,
the first at sixteen,
and had to marry then, she knew.
Her drive was singular,
her message the same.
Don’t let them near enough to you,
for temptation is deep and wide.
Once you start, there’s no stopping.
And when I kissed my first boy, I sighed,
his lips were soft,
and my stomach felt a jittery sick,
while his face remained stoic.
I couldn’t tell if he felt the same,
the mystery of he-ness exposed.
My world was closed,
exclusively inside my head.
I had no perspective, no insight.
I was 12 only, then.
Later, with interest running high,
I craved the unknown compelling,
like claws to the depths of me,
ripping up sacred rites of initiation,
summoning darkness before light.
Too much love for the flame,
I slunk too close, singed my wings.
He was 8 years older than I.
A former love, the one that cracked my heart,
for I couldn’t believe he would even look at me,
that he did and was so beautiful,
and I was so flustered,
as we walked along Candlewick Road,
under the moon half lit in the sky,
split by clouds,
when I repeated my mother’s words,
“I am waiting until I get married,”
which didn’t fit, but I had nothing else.
I wanted it to be right, to keep him.
I thought he’d sense a romantic heart,
the sincerity of pure intent.
But he disappeared after that night,
and I tore open, needed to throw down,
discard a piece of me to the gutter.
So when he told his drummer friend,
so much older than us, a man,
“She doesn’t give,”
and that friend took it up,
made it his challenge,
I lay down, no mistake this time,
and he prevailed.
I bled in fear.
Why didn’t she tell me,
arm me with something more,
she with no belief
but the curse?

And Then There’s Phallophobia

Yesterday was Slut Shaming and Vagina Dentata. Today, I randomly encountered the correlating fear of genitalia while trolling Facebook for just such tidbits of inane trivia.

Phallophobia is a fear of penises, according to the mostcommonphobia.com website. According to the authors, the phobia most commonly derives from childhood trauma, but I would add that it may also come from such an experience as the one depicted below:

Such is a Tuesday morning in my small world of peculiar Facebook friends.

Be safe out there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take her

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Credit: s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com

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One day I stepped into myself and found love.
I knew it was there all along because I could feel it, give it.
But it was all for others.
And I also found greed and jealousy and hate, disrespect.
And I found those hideously powerful.
They belonged to me.
I felt them too.
But mostly I felt disillusionment and loss.
I felt myself missing.
I feel it.
There is no poetry in reality.

Picture Me Picturing You

Man is the only picture-making animal in the world. He alone of all the inhabitants of the earth has the capacity and passion for pictures . . . Poets, prophets, and reformers are all picture-makers, and this ability is the secret of their power and achievementsy: they see what ought to be by the reflection of what is, and endeavor to remove the contradiction.
Frederick Douglass

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Edward Jean Steichen’s Gloria Swanson

In manipulating the presentation of information in a photographic negative, the Pictorialists injected their own sensibility into our perception of the image—thereby imbuing it with pictorial meaning.

We are all poets for what is a poet but an image maker?
We are all imagists.
We imagine we see in others what is, what will be and what we have always wanted.

The fiance envisions the perfect wife in spikes and aproned pearls,
nymphomaniacal lover and cookie-baking Cleaver mother.
No matter that she is not the one;
he sees those features in her nevertheless, more or less.

She can cook.
She likes children.
She looks great in heels.
He makes her fit the dream of his waking.

Who is a husband but a movie projector to the screen of the chosen one?
He depicts desire–figure framed photo of his ideal in ribbon and steel.
Meanwhile, she is his pocket and his purse, the hand up his sleeve making his jaw move.
Her world spins his above their heads.

What is a lover but someone who ‘shops the photo of her future mate,
rich in charms, clever to the touch,
sexy in her arms, ambitious enough for a sensitive side–
though she has never met him?

What is the unfaithful but a husband who paints his mistress the un-wife?
What is a poet but the mistress of make-me-love, hers for the taking?

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Castell Photography on Vincent Serbin

I generally experiment with ways to artistically illustrate human thought. By human thought I mean- to present an image that expresses the way we perceive the world. The way our visual system assimilates information ( i.e. two eyes see two images and those two images are processed by a brain) and creates an interpretation of a moment. So in my work , when I juxtapose two images ,it reflects the way our visual system works but, in a sense I’m eliminating a function of our visual system by presenting two images instead of one. This I believe offers a fascinating way of reinterpreting the world.