Rebecca Solnit is my new BFF

RS

Mansplaining is genius.  I love her writing – her focus.  Since my blog is Mindfulness at 70, I find her commitment to mindfulness exemplary.  She is always looking and listening and monitoring how she really feels about what she sees and hears.  She is a watchdog for feminists and environmentalists; she is a very interesting person.

She is, of course, not my real BFF.  I just wish I could spend some time with her.  I read her current posts and have read some of her books.  I don’t agree with everything, but her opinions are always thoughtful and grounded in fact and observation.  She seems to have lived an interesting life full of unique and common experiences.  She’s an intellectual with a lot of street cred.

I really got into Ms Solnit when I stumbled across “mansplaining”.  I’ve been railing against it since I was 10 years old and now I had a great name for it.  Men always taking the floor and explaining (in many wrong ways) to women in all aspects of life.  Hogging all the comments in a meeting, forcing Elizabeth Warren to shut-up in the US Senate, interrupting women.  The list goes on and on.

This “mansplaining” is, of course another embodiment of aggression against women.  It is not physical and it does not involve sexual violation — yet it is part of the culture’s categorization of women.  We are second.  The man needs the job more than you.  She would not shut up and listen.  She was asking for it.  All part of the on-going war to keep women in their place.

Can “mansplaining” be that much of a problem when we have so many incidents of sexually inappropriate behavior and sexual violence?  Yes, it all comes from the same place.  Men are entitled to behave this way.  To speak this way, to touch this way.  To demand they remain in charge. To hang onto power.

Solnit states,  Are people finally making the connection between sexual misconduct and men’s perpetual domination of most professional spaces. I do hope that sometime someone who’s having a high-profile creep masturbate at her takes out her camera-phone and makes the career-killing humiliating video or even livestreams it. The perps do this to prove that they’re powerful and she’s powerless, powerless too often even to get people to listen and believe. That they are invulnerable and beyond accountability, and too often they have been right.

I hope we are making the connection and that we concentrate on overall equality rather than punishing individual “famous” men who transgress.  We need , we must, do better.

 

 

 

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BOOK REVIEW The Shadow Sister (The Seven Sisters) by Lucinda Riley

Why Do I Keep Reading These Books?
I guess Lucinda Riley is a guilty pleasure. This is the third in her Seven Sister Series that I have read. I guess I’m a sucker for the greek astrological names and the ongoing mystery of these seven adopted girls named after the Seven Sisters of the Pleiads who grew up on the banks of Lake Geneva with adoptive parents Ma and Pa – he the ultra rich eccentric and she the unmarried earth mother.

Each Romance explores the back story of one girl — this one is about Star (Alcyone).
These are cozy mysteries with overtones of glam and exotic locales, stately homes, inheritances lost and found. Each girl is finding her origins and in so doing finding her future. Love of course plays a part, but you won’t find any soft core bodice ripping here. Love is chaste until – well it becomes perfect!
Lucinda gives us a few quirky supporting characters to keep us entertained and goes back in time for each girl so Historical Fiction buffs will be happy. (Shadow Sister is Edwardian with King Edward-Bertie and Beatrix Potter making appearances.)
At almost 500 pages, Lucinda gives you your money’s worth. There is a lot going on and a lot of detail in these books.
The next one promises to be about my least favorite sister, so maybe I will skip it. There is an overriding mystery about Pa that keeps you somewhat hooked — enough said. I gave it three stars.

NOT MY REVOLUTION Theatre Review Fusion Theatre, Albuquerque, NM

Written and performed by Elizabeth Huffman, Not My Revolution is a one-woman play/performance piece receiving its national debut at Fusion. The performance was substituted for the originally announced The Moors. I believe Fusion had problems with the rights for that play.

Ms Huffman is an international professional actress/director of Syrian heritage whose credits range from General Hospital to Sam Shepherd to West Side Story to the Circus. She now resides and works in Portland, Oregon and is active nationally and internationally as a guest artist, director and costumer designer. She is a mesmerizing mature actress at the top of her game who has worked with Fusion on several occasions.

Originally developed in Oregon as The Re-Imagining of French Gray by the Displaced Woman, the play melds the experiences of an upper class woman in Syria caught in the chaos of revolution with the imagined musings of Marie Antoinette in the French Revolution. A heady mix, to be sure, but Ms. Huffman navigates the myriad time slips with aplomb. Is the play the disjointed memory of a woman on the edge? A memory or a dream?
Laurie Thomas, co-founder and co-artistic chair of Fusion has taken on the task of directing Ms. Huffman and brings the considerable artistic resources of Fusion to staging the play. Of particular note is the sound design and the set/video design by Brent Stevens and Richard K. Hogue respectively. All enhance the performance and guide the audience through the swiftly shifting landscape of the play. Most one-person plays need a strong director and I suspect Ms. Thomas is responsible for much of the clarity of this performance.

This is a play worthy of Fusion’s commitment to professional standards and thought-provoking work. This theatre company is Albuquerque’s only fully professional theatre; Fusion is a great New Mexico cultural resource.

I Keep Waiting for Carrie Fisher to Comment on Her Own Death

It is still early days, and I’m sure lots more information will surface about what went on in that airplane, but I keep imagining the whole scene from Carrie’s point of view.  All that CPR and EMT stuff.  I kind of hope she could see (hear, feel, smell, taste) the whole mess.  And I know she would say “Crap!” to finally getting some movie and writing work going again and then THIS!

But then, as it has been for so many, Death is a terrific career move for her and even for her mother – the naive, ultra cutesy Debbie Reynolds.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked and enjoyed these two but really–talk about the blind leading the lame.

Both women were un-parented  and both needed so much attention and love that the neon sign they should have had in their shared yard was LOVE ME!  The great thing about Carrie is that she realized all of this and her pithy and wry comments on her lonely situation are what pass for honesty in Hollywood — or anywhere for that matter.

I too was un-parented with a Mother who, if she only could sing and dance was very like Debbie Reynolds.  She  was, thankfully not a total, naive fool and was never taken advantage of financially by any men.  All three of Debbie’s “Husbands” were baby boys with lots of bad habits.  Debbie just hid in her work and expended a great deal of energy not even thinking about being self aware.

Bless her heart, Carrie the un-parented became the parent to her mother and even near his end to her very flawed father, Eddie Fisher.  She did all of this while trying to have relationships and a family of her own and fighting her drug and mental health demons.  But then, she didn’t have to; she could have worked quietly to find some internal peace.  She was a rampant exhibitionist and over sharer.  Many creative people are.

I’ve read some comments on the internet and question her sobriety because “Wasn’t she taking drugs for her bi-polar disorder?”  Well duh, of course she was.  Bi-polar people need to take their meds.  All drugs are not equal.  We would not question someone with a heart ailment for taking heart meds.  Many bi-polar people self medicate with street and other opiates as a way of self-medicating.  Alcoholics too.

Mental health advocate was another label Carrie Fisher carried around.  We desperately need people to stand up for mental health care.  Our mental health infrastructure is almost nonexistent in the United States.  We have so much to learn about the workings of the mind and can only do so with our own minds.

So farewell Carrie and Debbie.  Thanks for Singing in the Rain and Defending the Force for being “unsinkable” and  hilariously insightful.  You will live on in celluloid and print and your estates will profit from sales through the roof.  (Disney they say gets $50-million from a life insurance policy they had on Carrie even though they can probably CGI her into the next two Star Wars movies.)

Rest in Peace seems particularly apt.

Harper Lee was not for Me

Ok, she finally died at 89!   She was apparently a one-hit wonder and a Southern gothic recluse whose one literary friend was Truman Capote – at least for awhile.

I don’t think we need to fall all over ourselves praising TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.  It was fine, it was a good piece of Southern life, but in the end it was kind of middle of the road schmaltz.

All the pictures of Harper Lee suggest that she was a closed off, tight assed woman.  Perhaps she was gay, but probably never ever “out”.

There is just something about the Harper Lee/Mockingbird cult that doesn’t sit well with me.  We can congratulate ourselves for thinking that she (and by extension the reader) are pushing the envelope in race relations.  But really, are we?

GO SET A WATCHMAN was a mess and never should have seen the light of day.  Who and what went on with this poor woman late in her life?

There is a very sad book about Harper Lee waiting to be written.  Alas, Truman has passed on.

Just saying.