A Letter to my Boyfriend’s Mother

It’s been disturbing me how I have found it impossible to begin to express what J means to me. I’ve always been a slow processor, but with the end of our year in Paris nearing, I want to throw all my beautiful feelings on canvases so that I can gaze at them when I’m no longer living with him in Paris.

What started off as a simple facebook message to his mother, turned into my first expression.

____

I’m really proud that he applied, got selected, and went to the retreat. I love that he didn’t just pass up the opportunity to go to Ireland and on a retreat. And he got them to pay for his 700 euro flight!! Win!!!!

These are just a few things, but they illustrate parts of the amazing character of your son. He is the sweetest most sincere person I’ve ever met. He is so driven, open, talented, well rounded. He speaks with strangers and listens to them with all of his heart. He walks in quiet and thinks about them later on.

He has not the slightest streak of meanness. He doesn’t judge, never calls names, never makes fun, never is sarcastic or backhanded to anyone. His eyes swell with seeing beauty in everything.

I wish you could see how he moves people here. Everywhere we go, people, and even more impressive, Parisians, are taken with him. They accommodate him with his charming little requests that, for anyone else, they would not go out of their way to do.

And even when he doesn’t ask, they upgrade him to the best seats in the concert hall. They upgrade his room to the best room in the hotel, the one with a bay window, the one with an 18th century painting of beautiful woman in a golden frame. They give him free chocolate chip cookies and bags of his favorite barbecue chips at Subway. They swirl whipped cream round and round into a giant pyramid on top of his hot chocolate. They strap their own guitar to him to play on their stage, with their microphone, to their audience.

And they are not disappointed. His face lights up with excitement and gratitude, like a little kid. Blinking fast and turning his head and looking around and breathing quickly and raising his voice, his excitements consume him.

He is appreciative of the little details, of the engraving of a fork, of the texture of a napkin, of the clink of the glasses he makes toasts with about every other sip, of all the different spices in the curry sauce that he’s never tasted before. “This is the closest we’ve ever been to India!” he exclaims. “Think of how India has these rich foods and spices because the spices grow there. England doesn’t have tastes like this because they didn’t have these spices naturally. I love globalization, but imagine the time when you could only taste these tastes when you went to the lands.” I smile listening to him. So much of our relationship is me just looking and listening to him, in introverted awe. I say, “We still can, and we should, and we will!! Even with globalization, we should still go on quests to the birthplaces of foods! There they will be best!” He looks at me overwhelmed, as if I just told him he could grow up to become an astronaut.

Your son is one in a million, or 7 billion as he likes to remind me that the world’s population is now. I can’t tell you how many times I just sit and cry, overwhelmed with gratitude for him. I am right now.

And with my gratitude for him, comes gratitude for you. I know that so much of his spirit, sensitivity, openness, and kindness comes from you. Thank you for raising such an incredible young man.

I suppose that I’ve been on my own kind of retreat for these past days. I’ve felt strange that I know I’ve been experiencing and feeling so much this year but haven’t been able to begin to paint a picture of what I feel. I’ve only been able to say general things, like I’m so happy, he’s so amazing, I’m so grateful. But this little message to you is the first real expression of what I feel. I’m so happy that it is to you. Again, thank you for raising such an amazing person. There’s no one in this entire world like him.

I hope that you have a beautiful weekend.

Love,
M

Equal Enough?

Adapted from: “Our favorite “f-word”: The misconceptions of feminism in Uni and mainstream culture” By BETH LARSON and LARA ORLANDIC

One popular way of dismissing the present-day feminist movement is the common misconception that men and women are “equal enough” in our society.

“Things have just gotten so much better for women. It’s very easy for women to take feminism for granted, and there are a lot of benefits and privileges that we as women living in 2011 enjoy that came as a result of hard fights.”

Since the Women’s Liberation Movement changed women’s status in society so drastically, people tend to overlook the present-day gender inequalities. Even though men and women are considered to be politically equal, there is a long way to go until both genders are socially and economically equal.

Feminism is commonly associated with choice, and although women have more choice in society today than in previous decades, it is important to note that the political and social contexts in which women make choices are not equal. For example, women are more likely to pursue a career in the humanities or social sciences, while men are encouraged to pursue technical careers, such as engineering or business.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010, women earned 81.2% as much as men did, for all professions. Even in nursing, which is a stereotypically female occupation, women are only paid 86.5% of the amount of money that male nurses earn.

The same report also showed that the most popular careers among women are registered nurses and elementary/middle school teachers. The least popular careers are computer programmers and occupational therapists. In general, there is a higher percentage of women doing lower-paying jobs (housekeeping, waiting tables, etc.) than jobs with higher salaries (surgeons, lawyers, computer software engineers).

The idea that men and women are now “equal enough” seems to quite prevalent in my opinion. While women have made huge leaps and bounds for their rights in the past 50 years there is still much that can be accomplished. We should be pleased with equal ENOUGH, we should strive for complete equality and tolerance for all.

-N

 

Her Kind, by Anne Sexton

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite. I have been her kind.
 
I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.
 
I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

A poem from Mother Witch

You annihilate me with your mouth
Like the ancients
We have discovered fire in each other’s nakedness
And wild shadow puppets dance on the wall
From the candlelight
From our entangled limbs, climbing, clutching
Like wet green vines
Frenzied, I map the landscape of your body with my tongue
Searching for your soul
You stab into me and
I am destroyed
Your hands reach into my chest and pull out my heart.
Place it on your tongue, mouth it like fruit.
In the warm cave of your mouth
I come apart in pieces of juice
Where our bodies meet, stars are born
We take flight, I swallow the earth and moon and sun,
We are the brightest star in the purple cape of night
And nothing else is left
But you
Dancing naked within me
To the music of our primal sounds

Joan of Arc, The Circus and Life Lessons from Miss Jean Brodie

I think it’s part of the human experience to find art in any of it’s forms captivating. We yearn to visualize our emotions. We want to SEE what we FEEL, what others feel. Sometimes, when we’re lucky, oil on canvas, thread woven in tapestry, or a chiseled block of marble help us to connect with parts of ourselves previously unknown.

In her novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark wrote about the idea that “education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil’s soul.” I thought about this concept today. Art (literature AS WELL as paintings, etc.) is the most potent vessel for this education.

I’ll be honest: I know nothing about art. Before coming to Paris, Degas, Gauguin, and Seurat were history-book names long ago learned and forgotten. Faint whispered images of ballerinas and parks the only ambiguous attachment to them.
I still know nothing. Sometimes a friend will tell me a brief history or a plaque will tell me intended symbolism, but mostly I wander the halls of any given museum with a sense of undirected awe. I look at every style and decide what I like based on what appeals to me visually and emotionally. I don’t know what is “supposed” to be “good.” I don’t care. I like Rembrandt and Van Gogh. I meander through the sculpture exhibits and the furniture exhibits. Art Nouveau, Neo-impressionism, Realism, and Modernism are all evocative to me.

Today I was at Musée d’Orsay (the second time this week, alone) and half-way through my trip I got over myself and pulled out my notebook and pencil. I haphazardly and sometimes illegibly jotted down the names of obscure and well-known artists alike and some of the works which I found intriguing. Today I found myself gravitating toward the neo-impressionists and post-impressionists so for the most part those are the paintings I will post. There are also a few sculptures!

Le Jardin du Paradis, Constant Montald

Le Passeur, Édouard Vuillard

Jeanne d’Arc, Frémiet
I saw a plaster cast of this at d’Orsay but there is a gilded bronze original in Place des Pyramides in Paris. There are also replicas in Philadelphia, Oregon, and Melbourne.

Les Mille et Une Nuits, Vittorio Zecchin

Tanagra, Jean-Léon Gérôme

Tanagra, Jean-Léon Gérôme

La Toilette, Pierre Bonnard

Ernest Barrias, La Nature se dévoilant à la Science
(Nature Unveiling Herself Before Science)

Le Cirque, Georges Seurat 1891

-O

PTSD

My bed is a rotten rose.
Soft like cheese, the petals wrap around my cold skin and I am yellow once again.
There is no place for me but this sinking center.
I am a pink bitten rat,
sucking on the corner of my sheet like pudding.
I am spread between two breasts,
open and peeled back
lost in soggy, breathy abandon.
My reality is tender but in this sweating rose there is a comfort like dripping water.
Once I am creamy in sleep,
my body lifts like dust,
and I am taken toward the moon
in a cherry dripping with dreams.

– V

A Visit from Mother

Much of my life would send my traditional Catholic conservative parents in such a shock that they would think that they lost their daughter to drugs or demons or both. Exorcism anyone?

Fuck that. For the first time in my life, after not seeing her for six months, I responded to her as I wanted to, as uninhibited adult me. I stood up to her consistently, using my mind, backed by the space these months have given me. As best as I could, I addressed and challenged the little remarks and looks, the stories and reactions that have been her tactical modes of bullying or imposing her values on me since I was little.

I’m proud of myself but I’m feeling the pains of letting her role in my life go. She said she felt it too between her tears and hiccups of telling me I’ve changed and she doesn’t know me anymore and I don’t know what love is and I never knew her and I’m wrong for being angry at my father and I’m ungrateful and so on. That hurt me a lot. She told me her loyalty is with my father, not me, not my brothers any more. I guess I understand.

I never felt like she was such a child, so blind or closed-minded as I have in these past few days. I fear that she and I will never be as close as we once were. But were we to be as we once were, I would have to live based on more lies and self oppression. Regression. When we were so close I would flap around the deep-end of their pool of tradition and didn’t have the courage or space or time or knowledge or experience to get myself out. If our relationship was close when we both were choking together, snagged on nets in murky but warm water, then the previous closeness of our relationship is something I will choose to let go. I’m not a child anymore. And maybe that’s the difference between us.

It hurts me that I can’t rescue her. But she says things have changed. 

– M