Take the time to watch this.

A Nigerian feminist TEDtalk. I am American. Here people live in the illusion of equality. It is a very vast and elaborate illusion. But listen to her talk about her experiences and how ludicrous it is to be a feminist to other Nigerians. Does that sound right? Look into your own life. Do not be afraid of being angry and looking closer. Do not be afraid of pissing other people off. Be unafraid of your own inquisitive mind. Change starts when you look for and find the problem. She is a rather wonderful Woman. Take the time to watch this.

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New Works or My Recent Thoughts on Women

I am always thinking about women. About myself as a woman. About other women and how they might see themselves as women. And always, I am thinking about what that really means – to be a woman. It is a very difficult question to answer. Should I embrace my maternity and femininity, my strength, my emotional intellect, my scientific intellect! Should I embrace the way in which I am different or the ways in which I am equal. A wise (but boring politically correct) person would say “Embrace it all, all that is you, because all of you is woman.” That’s nice. That really is very nice and hippy dippy and accepting – but for me, and I don’t know about you, that just isn’t all that comforting.

The first thing that I always go to is the societal differences between men and women – the cultural “norms” that have shaped the female psyche for generations and continue to today in more than just the obvious ways. I can get worked up just like any other And because I am always thinking about these things some things appear or materialize all on their own. The below painting, for instance, came into fruition due to a fleeting thought I had while I was trying to fall asleep earlier this week.

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LITTLE RED HEAD

The head of Little Red Riding Hood appeared to me on a decorative display. Her head is not on a pike. She has not been executed and mounted to prove a point to my enemies. She has been, instead, preserved for future generations to enjoy and observe. Now, before I get into this too deep, here is another piece that poured out of me this week:

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THROUGH A KEYHOLE

Here we are taking the perspective of a peeping tom, or someone of that habit, through a keyhole to find a woman gazing into a vanity with a skeletal face gazing back.

There is something off putting about both pieces, I know. Showing them to my family I got double takes and looks of confusion. The two pieces seem unrelated other than their off putting nature. They are different in tone, mood, color palette, and subject. But in my mind they are two peas in a pod.

I did not start with their connection in mind, but after both had been conceived of I saw their relevance and it was ground breaking for me. Together they are Women on Display. A theme I think, if you think hard enough, you can locate in your own life.

I don’t care who you are or what your status on feminism is! You cannot deny that women are showboated more than men on a grand scale. Women are dressed up and dressed down to prove a number of points. They are beautiful always – if they aren’t beautiful they are not shown because “All women are beautiful” so why shouldn’t we gaze upon them! I am all for body and beauty positivity. But really, WHY ARE WE FIGHTING TO BE STARED AT!?  Why do we want to be on display? What kind of gratification or satisfaction or validation do we gain from it! Why do we need to be validated thusly?

These works are of women on display. But it is at the viewers prerogative. The subjects have not chosen to show themselves. For Red someone took the liberty of preserving her beauty, her story, her strength. She has been beheaded or stripped of her identity to be placed in the annals of time, to live on the mantel to serve as some sort of guide or warning or treasure – she is no longer a woman but a commodity.

For the other, she is unaware of being watched. She is found naked of even her face. She is not what is expected. She does not live up to the expectations of the viewer. She is other worldly, but not in her beauty. She is alone and the viewer has stolen that from her. Stripped.

There are arguments out there that say that women are just more prone to vanity. There are studies about the hormones in a woman’s brain that say women are born with the instinct to connect. Women do have larger areas for emotion but they also have larger brain capacity devoted to language and communication. It is not innate for a woman to throw herself up on a billboard to yell “Look at me! Aren’t I beautiful??” But a lifetime of magazines and beauty products and accidental, but harmful, words from everyone around us lead us to believe that we are beautiful, and if we aren’t there are certain people who will think that we are, and if there aren’t then there are products and tips and tricks that will make you pretty if not beautiful. Don’t worry, someday someone will just want to sit around all day and stare at your outer beauty or your inner beauty or whatever.

Accidentally harmful. But of course we want to tell the women in our lives that they are beautiful. But I wish we didn’t. I am tired of being on display.

 

My Day Off or My Money Problem

I have a lovely day off today. During this day I am going to paint fat ladies, take down wallpaper, decorate a little bit, do some Christmas shopping and definitely wrap some presents. I will also go to the bank and put in a decent amount of money (for me anyways) before I have to give some of it away…Well sort of. I guess I am obligated to make that car payment. Great stuff Really.

But for the most part I am going to have a great day and try not to spend money. That is very hard for me. It is like I can feel the money in my pocket vibrating, ready to explode whenever I am around a pair of shoes for me, or jewelry for my mom, or any other stupid fucking thing I could possibly buy for my boyfriend, my sisters, my friends, my acquaintances. I DON’T GIVE A SHIT! I JUST WANT TO BUY CHIRSTMAS PRESENTS!!!!

It stresses me out know I have money because I want to immediately continue shopping. Its a problem. I am problem.

Hi, My name is Molly, and I am problem.

Whatever. I just want to have a good Christmas. Yesterday, my youngest sister Meave was dying to go to Walmart to buy some decorations and after she wore me and my mom down for a solid 30 minutes we gave in and did it. When I got home from work, the family room was clean, vacuumed and there were lights and mistletoes and tinsel and garland everywhere. Stockings were hung and little pinecone ornaments were marking the days till Christmas. It was pretty fucking cute.

SO much for my day off, I am going to go out and stress out….Maybe I can talk myself into a calm.

Meave

Yesterday I sat down and cried out of envy of my sisters.

Both are younger than me and I am not very old to begin with. We are all artists. I am a theatre artist, a director and a painter. My first sister is a singer and a songwriter and a damn good ukulele player and my second sister is the most wonderful little dancer. We all share a common goal though, despite our spectrum of interests…

The best way to explain that goal is thusly: Meave, the youngest sister dances with a school that goes to competition. That is not its whole focus, but there are many girls in the school who look forward to it. Now, competition dancing is the farthest thing from art that there is and in a family full of artist this little fact does not, even for a second, escape our attention. But it was Meave’s fist competition and she is seeing all of these pieces that are put together for the sake of technique or thrown together to display one cheezy wow factor like an awful prop or costumes or ridiculous “message”. None of the dances were choreographed from any piece of soul or made to express any suffering, passion, love or despair. It was all purely for the sake of competition.

Riding home with my mother that night Meave was very upset – My mother was a dancer too, a ballerina and a modern dancer with the most amazing vision that it still makes me cry even though she hasn’t choreographed in years. She was trying to pull the reasons out of Meave, as one has to when dealing with my youngest sister. Meave slowly reveals that on top of her disappointment with the quality of work expected, she was talking to the other girls from her school and she asked them what they want to be when they grow up. Flippant answers like “I want to be a Rockette,” “I want to be a dance teacher.” And other such things with not much though behind it.

Meave was crying when she admitted “Mama, I want to change with world!”

With dance. Meave is 13 now, maybe 12 when she said this. She has found her passion and I have never seen anyone of any age work as hard as she does to achieve the things that she has. I believe in her ability so greatly, so much more than my own.

And yesterday she was at this amazing workshop and she was being acknowledged in front of the whole place and was being complimented and praised. And I sat there, 8 1/2 years older than she is, and I cried because I never thought I would be as good as she is and will be.

I felt disgustingly inadequate to be a part of my family. I immediately went out and began working on a play with my partner to feebly try to reassemble my ego.

That helped a little.

I can’t ever stop thinking about what I want to be. I will never stop reaching for it. I can’t. I shut down, lose focus and stop caring about my life when I stop trying. I lost meaning when I stop trying.

So why have I been so stagnant these past few months? I am waiting for my train to roll into the station. I am waiting for that door to open and a conductor to tell me to get my ass moving and get on the god damned train. I know that sounds lazy, like I can’t do it for myself. But I know – I know when It is time. It is so obvious to me. I just haven’t been trusting that. I need to go with my gut. The same gut that tells Meave what she wants out of her life and guides her into the next move.

I am biding my time. I am playing the long game. I just keep forgetting that.

Optimism and a Healthy Dose of Reality! OR The Career Assesment

My friend had a career assessment done. I think it’s because she is in a very similar place to me. The world and life that she prepared for is not turning out to be what she expected or wanted. I am not feeling lost in terms of my field, I want to be in theatre. No I am not all gung ho right now, but I know it will come back to me – it always does.

I am afraid that when she tells me how it turned out she will say that she is leaving the theatre (in general) and moving on. When that happens it saddens me. I feel like I have lost a comrade or a sister in arms fighting to bring our art into the world. Especially because she was my partner in college. We put up all of our shows together. She was my person, sitting right behind me saying “YES! And now what it…” And she always thought of the craziest shit. She wanted extravagance – everything to be perfect. I was the cynical one, I was the one who saw the flaw in the plan – And with our powers of optimism and a healthy dose of reality we literally could do anything!

I will support her because there are a lot of other things she could do and be very good at. But I will miss her.

Who am I kidding? If I ever had a project or a scheme or a plan she would be on board in a heartbeat. I could be blowing this out of proportion.

I don’t know.

I am an Existential Humanist or Why I Hate the Term “Atheist”

I know that I am one thing, even if there aren’t many things on that certainty list.

I am an Existential Humanist – I am sure other people have called themselves that but I did put that together for myself.

I am an atheist but I don’t like the term. I don’t like being defined as “without god.” I was never raised with god. I was never ever with god even remotely. SO, thusly, I don’t like being defined by something I have never been associated with except in opposition to. That tells you absolutely nothing about me.

I have told people this before and they have literally responded with “How Sad.” This is amazing to me. First of all it is rude. I would never dream of talking to a new person in my life and have them tell me they were Christian or Jewish or Muslim and have my response to be “I am so terribly sorry for your life.” That has never once crossed my mind. But when people learn about me they all of sudden see a poor orphan who was never loved enough. I know! I know exactly why they feel this way – I know so well that for those for whom damnation is a very real thing they see a dead woman walking. I know. And they suddenly feel bad for my soul – or worse, decide it is their job to save me. I get it. But please know, if this have ever been your response, it is quite rude.

Since I grew up having to explain myself (in many different ways as the years progressed) I became very good at it, very patient, and very tolerant. Not the common stereotype of an atheist – which is why I really want to be in my own category of Existential Humanist!

I don’t have anything against those who like the term atheist. My mother is one of them. But she was once part of that world. Catholic world to be precise. I never was. She is now without god – where as I have always been that way. It means something to people who have removed themselves, who have separated through their own very personal, very powerful journey. I would never dream of minimizing those journeys. Mine was different. I had to find a way to reconcile my beliefs for myself. I knew what my mother believed and I was essentially on the same page, but like anyone with their faith or beliefs, I had to make them my own. That is when I realized that atheist was not enough for me.

There are some atheists who are very angry – angry that god isn’t real in their lives anymore – and for me, for those people god still exists as an enemy for them. That is not atheism.

And ATHEISM is not a cohesive belief. We are only united by our lack, that does not mean we have anything in common. But if you tell me you are an atheistic existentialist – we necessarily have something to talk about.

I follow a lot of what Sartre says. I make my choices that define me in everyway. I am really into taking responsibility for my actions in the most essential way. This is how I define my life. This is how I define what is important. My actions and my non actions, my choices, my relationships and how I deal with life on a day to day basis. This is the most optimistic outlook for me. I am in complete control of my life and I can take any steps I want toward any possible end. It is exciting, it is scary and it is so alive and full of vigor and anticipation and happiness and sadness and all of that is ok! I am one of the most “look on the bright side” kind of people. I can get upset, but at the end of the day I choose to be ok or I choose to cry, knowing that that is my choice too – and their are time where I give myself permission to do that.

I believe in the potential of humans to create and place value in their lives, their creations, their worlds. I live for me and anyone and anything else that is important to me – my family, my art, my friends, and my love of all things worth my loving. I cannot think of another way I would want to go through my life.

Christmas Shopping…Before Thanksgiving…and I’m Broke

Gross, I just watched a bunch of Extreme Couponers with my sisters….It makes me feel bad about live for several contradicting reasons.

I wish I could extreme coupon for Christmas. I don’t know, maybe I can. I haven’t looked.

Enough of the Pity Party!
I LOVE GIVING GIFTS! Right?! It really is awesome. I am new to this feeling, not being very old and very recently being able to buy things for people with my own money. But there are very few things that feel as good as giving a really well thought out, personal, awesome fucking gift!

My dad was/is the best gift giver I have ever known. Him and my mom don’t go so well together, but even she admits to his amazing taste in jewelry and clothing and overall appropriate gift-ness. We once gave her a necklace and earrings that was in several larger boxes, one of which was filled with golf balls. If we want you to be really excited about a gift, we make you first believe that you will never in a million god-damned years get it…so that when you do you cry, we laugh, then you laugh while hitting us and then eventually hug us. It’s a great experience! Seriously!

Now all I have to do is pass this gift on over to my boyfriend so I can feel the love too. Our first Christmas while living together. He won’t even know what hit him.

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