Archive for June, 2011

Asberger’s, Attacks-au-Fer, and Innocence Missions


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It’s funny how exhausting it is to think. Perhaps it’s because to think is to change, because “man is but the product of his thoughts, what he thinks, he becomes;” the exhaustion is caused by the transformation, and like butterflies emerging from cocoons, we must rest and allow our intellectual wings to dry out before taking flight into the fresh realm of possible transformations. (If I sound a little Prousty today, it’s because I’ve been reading and falling back in love with Ray Bradbury, my admiration for whom I cannot begin to express.) Maybe it’s the Nostalgia Conundrum, but my transformations seem to me to be much more like unwrappings than growings or changings, like I’m merely rediscovering what was always there- what was true of myself, and shedding the delusions with which I, confusedly ashamed in my uncertain Pigletishness, attempted to cover it up with. Part of it, of course, is The Circumstances, but, as was wisely pointed out to me this morning by my mum, I am much more in control of them than I would like to think; and it is up to me to break out of my confusion and shame to embrace these truths in all of their, well, truthiness.

The fact of the matter is that The Circumstances have recently culminated and exploded in a great big ugly mess and it’s all over me and this has exposed a whole smorgasbord of things for my carnivorous mind to latch onto and think  (and, more often than not, fret incessantly) about. Perhaps foremost among these things is the knowledge that my best friend (she’s my best friend, I’m probably not hers, but I’m okay with that… I have a unique, Pigletish way of labeling relationships)’s mother thinks she may have mild Asberger’s. This troubled me for very strange reasons. The first thing I thought when I heard this was Why can’t I have Asberger’s, too? I have always admired this friend because of her earnest kindness and because of how… comfortable, happy, and not self-conscious she is. I have always hoped that maybe, because she was older than me (by a little over a year), she had been where I am, and had grown to become the way she is; that I too, might one day be as she is. And here comes someone tearing this hope down around me, telling me that she is able to salvage this innocence- something which by definition cannot be regained, because she has a condition. So I’m just stuck the way I am, self-conscious and afraid and jaded and sad, because I have the right chromosomes or whatever. That’s a crappy deal. Hence the weird jealousy.

This brings me back to the whole self-conciousness thing- which, if you’ll remember, is my personal (and thus very difficult to follow) diagnosis for the symptom of my inexplicable beat-attacks in fencing. Maybe it’s all part of this nervous self-distrust thing that’s causing me to hide the truths of my self; maybe I’m self-conscious and panicky when I fence because I’m ashamed of myself, because I don’t believe I can send my foil straight home, unadorned with trickery or fanciness (which is also why I had so much more trouble with epee when I fenced it on Thursday than the first time I picked one up- the culmination of The Circumstances has magnified and clarified all of this for me), more to the point; I can no longer feel my faith in God, I can no longer let go and really honestly believe that He will make everything okay. I’ve become so horribly jaded, you see- which brings me back to Asberger’s and Innocence.

The answer to everything, as always, is Kimya Dawson. An example of someone with whom I can identify on countless levels, who seems to have experienced considerable suffering, who feels the need to save the world despite recognition of the impossibility, but who, in spite of, or even because of how jaded she is has managed to preserve and regain and cultivate her innocence- to redefine innocence. Like attracts like (not scientifically, of course), and the very fact that we are drawn to innocence means that we still have our own, that maybe it’s not quite as elusive and lost as we thought it was. Because that desire to save the world, to ignore the facts staring you in the face and telling you that you can’t; that’s innocence. The flickering tea-light of ridiculous hope that we shield from the cold winds of reality is what will save us all. Because for all my jealousy, my second thought after hearing about my friend was How dare they call that a weakness?!, and this overwhelming sense of protectiveness swept over me; and I felt that need to shield the tea-light, I felt my own innocence again. Perhaps what I’ve learned from all this thinking- or rather what I’ve become as a result of it- is somebody who, at least way deep down, is able to be truly at peace with herself, self-consciousness and all; and isn’t that exactly what I wanted to be all along?

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@$#%!!!!!!!!!!!


In Which I Do My Best to Tiptoe Around Using Colorful Language In Order to Relieve My Gender-Role-Based Angst

First order of business: Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m done with school for ever and ever—until August… but still, WHEEEEE!!!!!!

Second order of business: Apart from this partial ecstatic joy, I’m experiencing some angst about which I will write today. How can I write an angsty post when I just got out of school for the summer, you ask? Because I’m listening to Depresstival while I do it, of course. And who is this Depresstival character, you ask? Why she is only yet another reason for me to spend all day every day on the youtubes. She’s a lovely, angsty, depressing girl with a beautiful voice and wonderful writing talent and also the ability to make practically anybody depressed and angsty and never want to stop being depressed and angsty because they don’t want to stop listening to her sing. She is satan! Anyway, I’ll be cured of this by Thursday when I go to fencing.

Third order of business: I apologize for the decline in eloquence and coherence- quality in this post because I tend to decrease in coherency (is that even a word?) when I feel so strongly about something that I don’t have the discipline to take myself down a notch; so, anyway, bear with me. WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR VIEWERS WITH A NEED FOR INTELLIGENT WORDING OF THOUGHTS.

Fourth Order of Business: I promise to write about things that are a bit more interesting to persons of the male variety (I no talk pink in next post, for those of you that need a translation *wink*) in my next post. Like fencing!!!!!!!! I actually wanted to make a post detailing some of the conditioning and drill stuff that we do at practice because I’m terrible at describing physical things like that and… anyway, it’s useful for fencers and other athletes as well and if you don’t fence, well, you should. And also other things, too. Manly things, like My Little Pony- I hope the bronies out there will appreciate my Fluttershy clip, by the way. Anyway, so that’s what’s coming up over the cyber-horizon in the next few weeks- for those of my imaginary friends who I like to pretend actually care about this.

And now to plunge right into the depths of my enraged psyche:

It’s horribly selfish, but the societal issue that urinates me off the most right now is the image of femininity that is presented to and expected of girls today. I know I should be madder about starving children and girls who can’t go to school without getting acid thrown in their faces and whatnot, but right now, this is what I’m angry about. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I watched an episode of What Not to Wear followed by Say Yes to the Dress as per the request of a certain conventionally effeminate sibling of mine yesterday. I usually hate watching What Not to Wear because it’s just so painfully frivolous and because every single woman that goes on the show is re-arranged to adhere perfectly to this image of The Perfect Pretty Girl. I hate how they embarrass these poor women who simply don’t spend six hours in front of the mirror because they just don’t give a flying frakk whether the cloth (I wrote the word drapings here and that dotted red line appeared under it and one of the spelling suggestions was droppings- just had to say that because I haven’t grown out of poo-poo jokes yet) drapery on their bodies accentuates their best physical assets (or arses). I hate how they act like these things define a person. And what really, really, really infuriates me is how the standards for a woman’s attractiveness are oppressive to her- exhibit A: high heels are painful and I doubt that wearing them on a daily or even weekly basis is any healthier than wrapping your feet or neck in metal, not to mention you can’t do shit(ake mushrooms) in them.  I hate the fact that women are supposed to go through all of this stupid frakking poo to make themselves “appealing”, to wear clothing and makeup and pay for operations that are useless and paralyzing and uncomfortable  and dangerous and time-consuming in order to be considered attractive; while men are allowed to wear clothes that they, personally, like and enjoy wearing for their own sake and not because they’re expected to- comfy T-shirts with sarcastic or offensive remarks on them, sneakers, jeans.

I understand that some girls believe they actually enjoy wearing conventionally effeminate clothing and going through all of that excrement, but- and I don’t care what you say about this- they don’t really. Women do these things because they believe that if they don’t, they’re ugly, unnatural, not feminine. And it irritates the hay out of me. Why can’t we look at a woman who doesn’t cake chemicals onto her face or fork out thousands to have her ta-tas embiggened or turn herself into a sex robot and think, she’s pretty— no, not even that, why can’t we just think, she’s a person. Not God, she should wear lipstick, or What is that ungodly growth on her face, she should cover that up, or she has a nice figure, it’s a pity she doesn’t show it off more, or she probably thinks she’s better than me ’cause she’s so pretty- what a meanie. NOOOOO!!!!!! Girls are people. Why can’t we just look at each other as people who have thoughts that are almost always much more interesting than what we look like, and interact with each other on that level? Why it it just ok for men to require all of this shi(r)t out of a potential partner? I mean, I don’t ask guys to go out and have their thingies injected to be made bigger, or that they learn to walk on stilts or whatever- I mean if guys work out to be attractive that’s fine, it’s actually good for them, and they usually genuinely enjoy it- I know I do, because I do it to be a better fencer and because I like feeling tough and I imagine I’m not the only one who does. Anyway, you’re probably wondering what sparked this little outburst of mine. Wave hello to public enemy number one, everybody: Rima Freaking Fakih.

I’m just so frakking sick of seeing girls all around me buy into this shet(land pony), and torture themselves with needing to look like a cardboard cutout and feeling insignificant… and you know when I say I sometimes feel like I should have something to show for every inch of my being? Well, it’s because of this, the Rima effect, as it will be known henceforth, this thing that tells me that if I don’t look like a fantasy goddess I have to compensate for every physical imperfection with some sort of accomplishment or virtue, and..and I just want to stab something repeatedly!!!!! If I wasn’t sick as a dog (oh, yeah, that’s another reason I’m not reeling in exuberance at the fact that it’s the last day of school) I’d go to fencing and actually try to hit everyone for the first time just because I’m so pee-peed off!!!!!!!!Allow me to explain. I have actually lived among Arab girls. I’m sorry, but the Arab world is just a toxic environment to raise an adolescent girl in. Toxic. (Before you read the rest of this, understand that this does not mean that there are not wonderful, empowered, strong Arab girls who have managed to rise above all of the  stupid societal pressures to become interesting, real, three-dimensional individuals; or that I didn’t meet them. I am blessed to have had some wonderful friends over there who I dearly miss and who did just that- it’s just that it’s not right that they should have to deal with any such pressures.) Women can’t frakking drive their own cars. The fascinating thing about modern Arab culture is the juxtaposition of two extremes: the hyper-repressed, hyper-traditionist-puritan-zealot-ized, hyper-religious-ized facade, and behind it, the hyper-westernized, uber-sexualized, spoiled, rich, drunken, rebellious underground. This is toxic. There’s no other word for it. The girls I knew were torn between these two oppressive extremes, and when forced with the choice, what teenage girl wouldn’t choose the latter? So they become sex objects, laboring under the delusion that they are being independent, liberated, modern. It’s frakking depressing. And now along comes Miss Rima F**k-mih (like my dirty little pun there? And yes, I switched up the cutesy little sound-alike this time), and tells these broken girls that yes, you, too, can and should be proud of the fact that you mean absolutely nothing more to the world than this does: 

Anyway, so today we learned that girl+ crown = ground beef. Class Dismissed. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how I wish I was an elf.

UPDATE: This post at the Mary Sue expresses all this and more much more intelligently: http://www.themarysue.com/looking-for-a-few-good-chells/

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Flames, Heroes, and Kindred Spirits of Old Lang Sine


A post at The Mary Sue on the significance of childhood cartoon crushes inspired me to post about some of my own old flames- and what I learned from them. Of course, I couldn’t neglect my childhood heroines (and the only reason Mariel isn’t in this, by the by, is because I’ve already dedicated an entire post to her) and what it was about them that inspired me. A couple are from books (because I’m a nerdy no-fun bookworm), but to be loyal to the Mary Sue I tried to stick mainly to cartoon characters.

He is dreamboat, no?

Flame No. 1: Fievel from An American Tail
As you know, I have a soft spot for mice. Something about the David up against Goliath motif (one of my favorite motifs) that they’re really great at illustrating. And they’re just so darn cute! An American Tail was my favorite movie for much longer than was developmentally appropriate, and this was mostly because I had the hots for Fievel. I won’t say that Tony didn’t ever make my heart go all fluttery (was it the accent?), but he was an older man, and he was too much of a rogue and philanderer for my tastes. Fievel taught me to be resourceful and hopeful and brave, and that second-generation Russian accents are very sexy indeed- even when your voice won’t change for a good many more years.

Come on, don't say you haven't thought about it.

Flame No. 2: Christopher Robin

I must confess that the theme song from The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh does not cease to make me well up unashamedly- and this is coming from someone who has never ever cried over a movie (not even when it was that time of the month). I laughed much more gleefully than is probably really healthy at the end of the notebook (what can I say, they were stupid and it was about time). I’m just saying, I do not cry at the drop of a hat. But I loved this show. And I dare you to watch The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
without falling in love with Christopher Robin. I mean he’s just so nice and innocent and fun and smart and lovely! He taught me to be nice to my animals and to be happy and to just plain enjoy my childhood, and he still makes me all achy.

 

He has a sword.

Flame No. 5: Edmund from the Chronicles of Narnia

He has a sword. He has a sword. He has a sword. He has a sword. He has a sword. Also, he has a sword. Oh, yeah, and he has a sword. But look at how awesome and kick-ass he looks with his sword(s)!!! I hated him in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but came to forgive and gradually to fall for him in the later books (I am talking about the books, regardless of the fact that the picture is a movie screenshot- but I’ll admit the actor is something of a heartthrob- especially because he has a SWORD!!!!) He showed me that It was Ok to make mistakes- even huge ones, and that in fact that they can make one stronger if one learns from them and decides to grow rather than wallow in guilt and shame. He taught me to be loyal and strong and brave and caring and forgiving of oneself as well as others; and he taught me that I don’t need to have something to show for every square inch of my being in order to feel comfortable in my own skin. Plus also he has a sword.

Yes, I do have a thing for the scrawny underdog in oversize winter clothing type.

Flame No. 5: Arthur from Disney’s Sword in the Stone

The Sword in the Stone was another one of my very favorite childhood movies. I love Arthurian legend and wizards and… what’s that other thing? Oh yeah, SWORDS!!! Arthur was just so dreamy- in his scrawny, shy, clumsy, goofy way. And he taught me that the things you have the potential to become will surprise even- especially- you. He showed me never to shy away from leadership because you think you’re not worth it- that it’s something you have the duty to accept when it’s granted to you (unfortunately, I am yet to take this lesson to heart- or to meet anyone foolish enough to grant me a leadership position).

And now for my Heroines.

Heroine No. 1: Mulan.

1. She’s a frakking badass.

She is lighting a cannon with a dragon's breath. That's frakkin' awesome.

2. She’s a frakking badass.

3. She’s a frakking badass.

4. She’s a frakking badass.

5.She’s a frakking badass.

Also, she was a misfit like me- a failure at the role in which she was placed, but a hero when she was allowed to choose her own. She was quirky and clumsy and awkward and a tomboy- when it was precisely the wrong time and place to be one – just like me.  She had a firm sense of justice, and she risked everything just because she was doing what was right. She worked her butt off, even when it seemed like she was hopeless and would never be able to compete with the others. But she persevered and ended up playing with the boys- better than the boys. She was smart and creative and funny and kind and positively everything I’ve ever wanted to be. (And I could fly higher than an eagle, ’cause she is the wind…)  This movie was yet another of the staples of my early childhood. And adolescence. And I watch it on a monthly basis still.

Heroine No. 2: Pepper Ann

I loved this show as a child, and I’m proud to say that this was precisely the type of teenager I wanted to be, and it is precisely the type of teenager I have become. I loved how absent-minded and imaginative and geeky and cool she was. She taught me that I was special and lovable and cool just the way I was.

Coolest Little Girl To Grace the Earth

Heroine No. 3: Pippi Longstocking

Pippi Longstocking is Pippi Longstocking. ‘Nuff said.

"The dorsal fins allow for ease of movement, duh!"

Heroine No. 4: Tish Katsufrakis & Lor MacQuarrie

Ok, so I watched and loved the Weekenders. I was a nineties kid. And I miss those cartoons. Tish and Lor were the embodiments of my two major personality facets: the tomboy and the nerd girl. They rocked. And they showed me that I was awesome and that being a person with a personality and unconventional tastes and sensibilities did not make me any less of a girl, and that I should embrace the things that make me different.

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