July 23, 2013 § 2 Comments
Thrifting finds for the day: puffball hair ties, two Sylvanian Families creatures, Marc Jacobs buttons, feather hair extensions, calligraphy pen, tattoo necklaces Dior lipstick and the book Sex, Marriage and Birth Control by Rev Alfred Henry Tyrer, published 1943 and to go with it, a Jacob from Twilight book mark.
July 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
July 22, 2013 § Leave a comment
I’m really into how pretty all our trinkets are displayed in our bedroom right now.
July 22, 2013 § 7 Comments
About 6 months after I came out to my family, they had the Pentecostal version of an exorcism in my room when I was out of town. Now, I didn’t know that any kind of repelling of demons was going to be taking place while I was gone. I came home after a week thinking nothing was a miss, and went up to my room to unpack. Then I noticed grease spots on the large figure drawings I had done that year in school. This made me look around a little closer. My collage of pictures of Xena all had grease stains on Lucy Lawless’ face. The clay sculptures I had done in my first year of college art classes had huge splashes of discoloration on them. There were oil hand prints all over the walls like it was the Blair Witch’s house.
I went downstairs to where my father, who had greeted me warmly (too warmly in comparison to his usual behavior towards me over the recent past) when I had gotten in the door and had been silently sitting watching TV and, apparently, waiting for my reaction.
“Why is there grease all over my stuff?” I wasn’t shrill, more incredulous.
“Now, don’t get mad.” Whenever someone starts an explanation with these words, you know you’re about to gobble down some serious bullshit.
“We were praying for you in your room while you were gone, and things got out of hand.”
“Just your mom and me and some other people, that doesn’t matter.”
I didn’t need anymore explanation than that. I had been in the Christian Church for the first 16 years of my life so I knew exactly what had happened and would later have it confirmed to me by my brother, who told me with the same confused shame as my father had faced me with. I had seen this level of Pentecostal zealotry before. I had seen a room full of completely rational, emotionally repressed middle-class white people turn into a writhing mass of sobs, yelling in gibberish, having convulsions on the floor. Take a group of people who never drink, never do any kind of mood alter-er and allow them an opportunity to finally be uninhibited and they go fucking nuts. What’s worse is that they feed off each other’s crazy, trying to outdo the other person’s fervent worship by being even more unhinged, competing with each other like they’re at the Holy Ghost Olympics.
I knew that my parents had called in a bunch of people into my room, the only place in the world that I had the vague notion as being my own. I knew that a group of people had assembled in my room with the daybed I’d slept on since I was 12 and the dresser that my parents had bought when they first got married in 1975 and with horror, contrasted these items of childhood innocence with the blatant evil in 3 foot sketches of the nude human form and pictures of notorious lesbian icon Xena Warrior Princess. This group of people would include strangers whose knowledge of me consisted solely of my parents’ horrified descriptions of my recent homosexual-filled heresy.
These people called out at all the demons that they believed had taken over my soul. Now whether they thought I had left the demons there while I was out of town, or that they existed there as well as in me, apparently with the power to bi-locate, or whether they believed the demons to be inside the picture of Lucy Lawless I had torn out of the People magazine, I don’t know.
Calling this conversations with demons ‘praying’ is a bit of a stretch. One person would have started by actually talking to an invisible demon that was living in my room. They would have had a one sided conversation with this invisible (person? creature? gremlin?) thing, argued with it, gone with the classic ‘you have no power here!’ This would have gotten my family all fired up, and they would have joined along pretty quickly, because if there was one thing my mother loved it was yelling at the Devil while other people listened.
I also knew where the oil had come into play. My brother had been attended a new church over the last year or so, one of those Holy Roller churches where every service ends with an altar call that last hours and includes people barking like dogs and clucking like chickens because Jesus’s holy ghost friend told them to. Anyways, he’d been handing out tiny vials of ‘holy oil’ to people like a dealer on the corner handing out yellow caps to crackheads. Going from talking to invisible gremlins to throwing oil at charcoal drawings of nudes isn’t that much of a leap, all things considered.
If my life with my family had been a TV series, this would have been the moment it jumped the shark. In the spirit of this jump the shark moment, it would be the thing that would end up canceling the show. Those oil hand prints never washed off the wall, instead I would feel them pressing at me every night, telling me to get out. So in the end, the exorcism worked. I moved out within 6 months, taking my Lucy Lawless demons with me.
July 21, 2013 § 1 Comment
Writing about writer’s block because you have writer’s block is an old trick, but let’s see what I can add to this exhaustively long conversation.
When I was younger writing fiction was my favorite past time. I would spend all of my free hours in some cubby, writing story after story. I was writing mainly fanfiction, though I didn’t know what fanfiction was, or that other people wrote stories in already established universes. I worked on one story from Grade 7 to Grade 10 and just stopped one day. The story had been my obsession, then suddenly became something I loathed to the point of disgust. It still sits unfinished in a closet.
I never considered the idea of actually becoming a writer until I got to college. Once there, I realized I could take the thing I had always done for my own enjoyment and get class credit for it. I took every writing class I could take and wrote prolifically under the pressure of assignments and due dates. I was listening to a lot of Tori Amos, reading a lot of Leonard Cohen and Anne Rice so most of the things I wrote in college were angst-filled, indecipherable train of thought pieces, with true meanings that only I understood. I was very proud of all these pieces, and they got me good grades. They ended up convincing me that I had a path laid in front of me that would end in becoming a professional writer.
I ended my college career by having a nervous breakdown and having to drop out just 3 classes shy of my degree. I spent the next couple of years trying to keep my head above water in terms of money and mental health. The escape that had been writing left me. The crush of expectations had a lot to do with why I dropped out of school. These expectations also took my confidence in my writing from me. I would start to write and freeze up, trembling with anxiety. After a few abortive attempts, I gave up trying at all. I had a friend tell me that they knew one day I was going to be a famous writer. My stomach turned sour hearing this. I knew I had talked so much about my writing that now everyone around me believed this lie. I knew the truth. I had gone back and re-read the things I had written in college and tore them to shreds, literally and figuratively. I knew that I was a fraud, that my writing was weak, never good enough.
This is the whispering monster that still sits on my shoulder today. I’m not a good writer. My thoughts are scattered, my disjointed brain causes the words that I need to come out in jolting, discordant sentences. I had been told in my non-fiction writing class that everyone had a story that deserved to be heard but I knew the truth. No one wanted to hear what I had to say.
This deafening doubt sits on my shoulder heavily today. It convinces me to delete anything I think I should share. It takes the ideas I have for something to write about and shreds it to pieces, tells me all the reasons why I’m a hack, why nothing I think of is original or insightful or clever.
So I’m going to dedicate this section of words to my self-doubt. I have silenced myself because of you, lack of confidence. I have berated myself because of you, assurance of failure. To you, fear of achievement, I give you these words, and the next words and the next. It’s not up to you or me if this is worth saying. These words will exist anyways.
<a href=”http://lesbeehive.com/”><b>Find me now on my new site Les Beehive</b></a>
July 15, 2013 § Leave a comment
July 14, 2013 § 4 Comments
When I first saw The Virgin Suicides in the theater in 1999, the title felt like a mislead. Lux loosing her virginity in the third act seemed to make calling this ‘the virgin suicides’ no longer true. Along with a long time fascination with Sofia Coppola, it was the title that had lured me to the film. I had been studying women in the classical world at the time in college and was entranced by the vestal virgins, the Delphic oracles. The ancient world would take young virgin girls and put them in a sequestered space, protect them from the outside world while also imprisoning them. They believed these virgin girls to have a special power that came from their purity, an idea that still exists today. It’s a way of thinking that has birthed much shaming of women when they become sexual, the idea that there is power in virginity. However, this film shows these isolated girls taking this supposed power into their own hands through the most selfish of acts, suicide.
The Lisbon sisters are a group clearly set apart from the world around them. Even before they are physically put under lock-down in their family home, the unit of the four surviving sisters is like a multi-armed, multi-legged, multi-headed creature, whose boundaries are clearly defined and uncrossable. The male narrators’ viewpoint of them is that of outsiders, desperate to be absorbed into this isolation, to understand the power this bond between the girls has created. They describe the sisters as “oddly shaped emptiness mapped by what surrounded them.”
When I began to think more about this issue I had with the title versus the events that unfold in the film, I found myself pondering the shot of Kirsten Dunst alone on the football field after having lost her virginity to Trip Fontaine. She lays prone, eyes closed, the early dawn light making her skin pale and lifeless. This is her spiritual death. From this point on, Lux is a lifeless wraith, existing rather than living. Her spirit, so bright before that point, is extinguished. Though all her sisters go into death as virgins, their deaths involve this reoccurring theme – death by the insertion into a yonic symbol.
The death that precedes Lux’s spiritual one is Cecilia. This is the most visually obvious of this ‘death of virginity’ symbolism. She is literally pierced, her life taken by the violent thrust of the phallic fence point into her midsection. The visual of her body, Christ-like in her father’s arms, with the iron fence staking her is one of the film’s most visually arresting. When I saw the film in the theater, the audience responded with audible gasps.
The deaths of her four sisters at the end of the film each have some kind of insertion symbolism. Bonnie (who is discovered as one of the male characters is describing his sexual desire for the sisters) puts her head through the noose of a rope while Mary is upstairs, putting her head into the oven and Therese is taking sleeping pills. Though looser in the visual, the head into the noose, the head into an oven, the pills into a mouth, these three acts involve the insertion into a yonic symbol. The thrust of the head, the tightening of the rope and the swallowing of the pills are the symbolic deaths of their virginity, done by their own hands. This self empowered hold of their fates is a final desperate act, the only means of escape, making the pure no longer holy. As the male narrator says, the outrageousness of a human being thinking only of herself.