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Two Free Birds

Shit happens and sometimes sharing it with strangers is better than therapy.

Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Know thyself. 

Everything changes and nothing stays the same.  There will always be something new to learn—some new question to ponder, even about ourselves.  In modern life, we are free to be whatever we want to be.  With that kind of freedom, can we ever be certain of what we are?  Do we ever reach a point where we finally know ourselves?

The Greeks asked the Oracle of Delphi, “How shall we live?”  The answer from the Gods, “Know thyself.” 

What does that mean exactly? 

The other day I read an interesting piece about Gloria Vanderbilt.  Her son, Anderson Cooper, was trying to describe his mother in reference to a beautiful photograph taken of her glamorously lounging on a sofa and although the dress she wore, the room she was in and the sofa she lounged upon belonged to her, Cooper didn’t feel like it actually embodied who she was.  He felt his mother was many things, constantly evolving, and one snapshot in time only captured who she was in that moment.  Is this not true of most people?  I certainly feel it’s true for me.  Who I am today is much different from who I was 5 years ago.  Who I am tomorrow will have evolved further still—not just because of the natural progression of things, but because I am never satisfied.  I have to evolve in order to live, in order to satisfy my hunger—for knowledge, new scenery, new tastes, and new life experiences.  I and we evolve not just for ourselves, but for adaptation and survival.  We evolve because civilization evolves.

I’ve been watching a lot of Ovation TV (can you tell… probably not because nobody knows what that is) and their series This Is Civilisation (British spelling… I haven’t been drinking) is so unbelievably amazing I couldn’t possibly give it enough praise.  In the series, art critic Matthew Collings explores how past cultures have shaped our civilization.  He focuses on the art of those cultures and how it gives us a new way of thinking.  The latest episode (at least to me) explores modern art and what it says about modern civilization.  It opens up with the Greek aphorism I mentioned above and calls modern art our modern day version of the Delphic Oracle.  “Life is an uncertain present… you don’t know what you believe in, you don’t know where your life is going, you have no idea what existence is about, there is no single moral code that everyone follows anymore.  Can you cope with that?”  Collings says in modern life there is no single code for living and that society is defined by change.

Doesn’t sound to me like we have much hope for knowing ourselves, but maybe that’s the point?  We don’t know ourselves because we are free to ask these questions and even if we get an answer, we are free to ask another.  Maybe instead of being content with knowing ourselves we are content with not knowing.  We are content with the uncertainty of life.  Modern life is full of restless questioning.

So, how shall we live? According to Collings, in This Is Civilization, the answer comes back through advertising telling us to consume.  It’s no longer “know thyself,” it’s “numb thyself.”  But he goes on to say that this is just an example of our cynicism.  We have questions instead of certainty, jokes instead of heaviness, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t connected to ourselves or each other.  We tap into civilization through our own feelings.  Art is no longer the heroic example of what we could be if we were better than ourselves.  Art is strange because we are strange.  Do you think Jim Morrison realized he tapped into this right along with modern art?  In my opinion, the answer isn’t to know thyself, it is to explore thyself.    

~m

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I have a friend, who shall remain nameless, but I’m afraid telling this story will reveal his identity… that’s the price you pay for being my friend (and having funny stories).  It’s not a big deal really, but it got me thinking about my blog, “Bush… Not Goerge.” A while ago I wrote about the bush making a comeback… and then I saw Sasha Grey expose her’s on Entourage the very next day… and then I thought I was awesome for being ahead of the trend… and then I realized I am an idiot.

I was talking with a friend about a new girl he’s been seeing (by seeing I mean getting to know through cuddling).  They were cuddling, still rather innocent at this point, when he discovered she had hair in unexpected places.  We are talking back hair and stomach hair (never have I been so happy to be Swedish).  I made the astute observation that her crotch was probably a crazy mess if she hadn’t even bothered to remove her back hair.  That’s when he said:

“It’s like picking through steel wool to find a nice piece of fruit or something.”

Let me tell you, I laughed so hard… and then I was unbelievably glad I had decided to give up on the “bush is back” trend.  Dammit, my friends were right when they told me I was crazy for trying the au naturel approach.  Don’t get me wrong, I still think you should have as little or as much hair as you want down there—it is your body, after all.  But it’s true, if you have more hair than expected (especially if it’s on your back or stomach) the guy is going to tell his friends and he may even use words like Sasquatch.

The Boardwalk Empire may be doing wonders for the appreciation of natural boobs, but no HBO show is ever going to make a full bush in vogue.  Although, if it is your “hairstyle” of choice, wear it with pride.  Hell, I did, even if only for a couple months before I couldn’t handle it anymore.  I know, I’m disappointed in myself too.  I thought I was being so “I am woman hear me roar.”

~m

Real life is not so simple.  It’s not a neat package of wrong and right and if you think it is, you’re missing out on a lot of living.  I’m reminded of this most when it comes to love.  Love is complicated, love is messy and often love is unexpected.  If you can’t always choose who you fall in love with, are you to blame when you fall for someone you probably shouldn’t?  To be more precise, and I’ve talked about this before much to the dismay of random strangers, can an affair be excused if it’s an affair of great love? Or shall I say great passion?

No, I’m not having an affair.  So all my friends with boyfriends/husbands need not worry.

I was only reminded of the peculiarity of love while listening to an interview with Antonia Fraser on The Diane Rehm Show (I should probably up my monthly donation to NPR).  Antonia Fraser’s memoir, “Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter,” is next on my must read list.  Antonia had an affair with the playwright Harold Pinter while married to her first husband, Sir Hugh Fraser.  They connected one night at a celebration for the opening night of The Birthday Party, a play directed by Fraser’s brother-in-law.  On her way out, Antonia realized she hadn’t spoken a word to the playwright all night.  She made her way over to him, exclaimed that she enjoyed the play and he responded with, “Must you go?”  She admitted it “wasn’t essential.”  They talked until 6 am.  That night would be the beginning of their 33 year relationship.

Four months later her husband asked Antonia if she was in love with someone else.  That was when Harold Pinter, a Jewish boy from the East End and Antonia Fraser, a Catholic aristocrat became the subject of public scandal.  Although, Antonia’s first husband seemed to be rather amicable.  His response to the discovery of the identity of his wife’s new love was, “Very Suitable.”  I also read, in an article from The Guardian, that Antonia was warned by her brother early in their affair.  He told her,  “You have a special problem. You are a woman and a strong character­ yet you want your husband to be stronger. Women with strong characters who want to dominate are always fine because there are plenty of weak men around. Also plenty of strong men for weak women. But yours is a special problem.”  In the article, Antonia concluded, “He’s quite right in a maddening way.”  I can’t even begin to tell you how much I identified with that statement.

The part of the story that I connected with the most was the reaction of Fraser’s father.  He did not approve, especially concerning the morality of the affair.  Fraser wrote, “I thought about trying to explain to him about passion, but what’s the point? He only likes ­people like Myra Hindley, who are apparently repenting of ­passion.”  That’s the thing, isn’t it?  Everyone always forgets about passion… or forgets about the power of it, I should say.  Probably because so many of us are lacking it in our lives, but who wants love without passion?  If given the chance, I’m fairly certain most people would give into passion.

All of this got me thinking about my past loves—really there is only one.  It all seems so clear now, what went wrong.  It’s not only in the words of Antonia Fraser’s brother but also in something Harold Pinter himself said.  He once told Antonia, “I love you wildly, and that is my solace.”  What an amazing thing to say to someone—I love you wildly.  I finally realized why I never truly wanted to marry my ex and thus, why we never worked out.  Neither one of us loved each other wildly, I think we just loved each other mildly.

~m

I need to be alone.  Not every day, not every hour, but I need time to be alone.  I never realized how important this was to me until I recently found it difficult to ever be alone.  It feels like I’ve been bouncing around for more than a month between casual hangouts and social obligations to the point of exhaustion.  It doesn’t seem, actually, it is a fact.  Not only has it come to my attention just how much I cherish alone time, but it has also come to my attention just how much some people hate it.

In an effort to be alone with my thoughts, I decided to go to the one place where I knew no one would bother me—the cemetery.  It is All Souls Day after all (I was visiting my grandfather’s grave… not stalking around like a weirdo among the dead).  It took me a while to find it due to the fact that it was getting dark and I had scarcely visited since his death 15 years ago.  All I remembered was that it was close to this man-made pond, which happened to run almost the entire length of the cemetery—big help.  As I stumbled along in the grass, I decided a weeping willow hunched over the far edge of the pond looked familiar.  I walked towards it, shining my iPod on all the grave markers as I passed (because I didn’t think this out before I came and it was all I had for a flashlight).  I was ready to give up and retire to a nearby bench when my family’s name finally appeared under the dull light from the LED.  So there I was… alone… in the dark… in a cemetery… with nothing but my thoughts… and a really large goose, or swan, or waterfowl of some kind that looked like the Lock Ness monster.  Seriously, it was quite large.  As I stood there wondering why exactly I felt compelled to be alone in a cemetery, something I heard earlier today while listening to NPR popped into my head (that $10 monthly donation sure is paying off), something I always felt but never put into words.

“When you are alone, you hear yourself.”

This was told to the Spanish singer, Buika, who learned to not only be okay with being alone, but to find her voice from it as well.

I’ve always understood this concept.  When I’m alone I write, I paint, I talk to myself, I get ideas, and I can actually hear myself think for a change.  Why are people so horrible at being alone?  Sometimes I just want to shake my friends, who are particularly bad at it, and tell them to just relax.  Or maybe I’m the crazy one…  I did just spend my evening in a cemetery.  If this were a CW show, I’d have met the love of my life tonight and he’d have been a vampire or some other supernatural creature.  Real life is so boring.

~m

I’m writing this from my Palm Pre (worst phone ever, especially mine considering I’ve dropped it at least a dozen times) while sitting in the bar of my hotel. I think this could be a new thing for me. Tipsy posting—in the moment.  Probably not a good idea, actually.  Did I mention I’m in Paris?  Yeah, Europe’s friendliest city.  These people hate me, but my boss seems to think I can win them over with my blonde hair. Anyway, I really only have one thing to say about it before I pass out from exhaustion and my self-prescribed wine sleep aid…

Everyone thinks Parisian women are better looking than American ladies, but it just isn’t so. Parisian girls don’t even brush their hair (neither do l, lets be honest), they just know how to dress. God love ’em, even the homely ones look chic. Super jealous. I just look like crap when I don’t brush my hair.

Night.

-m

This morning I woke up to an emotional hangover.  The combination of last night’s conversation and 3 glasses of wine swished around uncomfortably in my head.  I sat in bed for a few minutes, amazed I’d slept hard straight through to the afternoon, and succumbed to the fact that there wasn’t much I felt like doing.  I pulled one of my most neglected books off the self.  It’s one I’ve been meaning to finish for some time.  One I felt the need to start over completely, seeing as I could hardly remember our last meeting.  It’s a tale of Swedish American women and the life of my great, great-grandmother, Mina Anderson.  She left Sweden in 1890 to emigrate to America and the book is based on her memoir.  It’s a combination, actually, of her memoir and research into lives like hers.  It’s An American Tale like story, one of the American dream.

I broke only to grab lunch.  It’s not as easy to turn the pages of a book while eating as it is to click through channels.  I settled on a Robert Redford film (big surprise).  Little did I know how it would make me feel juxtaposed to what I had just been reading.  The film turned out to be Lions for Lambs and watching it after reading part of the real life account of my ancestor’s American dream put me in even more of an uncomfortable place.  Lions for Lambs was criticized as being too “preachy”, committing the cardinal sin in movie making—telling it rather than showing it.  It was mostly criticized for using a lot of words to say nothing new.  One such review from The New York Times said, “It tells us everything most of us know already, including the fact that politicians lie, journalists fail and youth flounders. Mostly it tells us that Mr. Redford feels really bad about the state of things. Welcome to the club.”  Personally, I find it funny that the critics zeroed in so ferociously on the “preachy” aspects of the film.  Surprise, surprise—critics hate to be lectured, but they sure love giving them.

For me, Robert Redford’s character made the movie (and no, he wasn’t even exposing his chest hair).  His character delivered a line about adulthood that I wished I’d stumbled upon a long time ago.  He said something to the effect of, “The problem with adulthood is that it starts before you know it, when you’re already a dozen decisions in.”

Just like Lions for Lambs, I am not going to sum this up.  My head is swimming back and forth between thoughts of the old American dream and realizations of the current state of things.  It’s enough to drive a person crazy, but at least some brain scientists think madness is a form of adaptation.  Plus, I need to get my lazy ass out of bed in order to make it to a charity event in support of a friend and fellow recipient of that emotional hangover I woke up with.

~m

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Double Whammy. My least favorite things combined--robots and fake teeth.

5 things I hate that will probably upset someone I know because I keep it to myself and go along with it anyway…

1. When family members kiss you on the lips. 

Unless you are two, do not kiss me on the lips anymore.  Okay?  I hate it.  That is why I turn my head to the side when you go in for the kill… a moving target is harder to hit.

2.  Dry Weddings

If you don’t drink or are going to have a cash bar, just don’t invite me.  I’m not going to enjoy myself and I am probably going curse you under my breath as you say “I do.”  Note: If you are my close friend I will look past this because I love you.  Still though, you should have at least provided wine.  

Seriously, no one enjoys weddings without free liquor and everyone will secretly hate you.  Just elope.

3.  Fashion Shows… in Scottsdale

Look, the fashion industry in Scottsdale is a joke.  Every time my BFF talks me into going (because I am a clothing designer and should give a shit) I find myself in a sea of wannabes and a few talented folks who will show some samples and never make anything of themselves.  If you have any skill, get the fuck out of here!  Save yourself!  The other day I ran into one of our local “designers” at Forever 21 in the mall.  He was working there.  You might as well sew up some doll clothes and parade them around for your cats.  You will get about as much out of that as Scottsdale Fashion Week.

4.  Your unyielding belief in Astrology (yes, I’m speaking to you, friend who never reads my blogs)

Whenever a guy hits on me in your presence why must you ask, “What’s your sign?”  Stop doing that.  I play along because it’s actually kind of funny, but I’m pretty sure it’s scaring the smart ones away.  I like Astrologyzone too, I admit it, but it’s just for fun.  Not for real.  Please, no more telling Taurus men that they are highly compatible with me, unless you mention the compatibility is in the bedroom. 

5.  Veneers

I’m sorry.  Two of my good friends have them, but I am not a fan.  It’s nothing personal.  I just get really creeped out by fake things that pretend to be parts of a human being (really hope I never need a prosthetic hand because I will have to settle on a hook).  I can’t even eat around mannequins because I feel like I can taste them in my food.  I know, it’s super weird.  If I ever have a daughter, she will probably not have many dolls because I can’t eat around those either (although, it might be a good diet plan).  And when I watch a futuristic movie where people have robot maids, I always obsess over how gross it would be to have the robot cook my food. 

After reading what I just wrote, I think I may need therapy.  The only time something fake masquerading as something real didn’t creep me out was with my grandfather.  He lost an eye to cancer and actually wore a glass one in its place.  I thought it was so cool.  I really am messed in the head—future boyfriends take note: no veneers, but a glass eye is a-ok. 

~m

P.S.  I know number five made you think of realistic looking dildos and whether or not those creep me out too.  Or maybe I just figured your mind would go there because mine did.