Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Kids are All Right, but I'm on Edge: A Review of Lisa Cholodenko's Latest Lesbian Project

Wednesday night was a big night for me. I left the girls home with a babysitter for two and a half hours while Sandy and I went to see a movie with our friend, Amy. It was a big night on three accounts, actually - because I have only been away from Elanah one or two other times for an hour or so, because Sandy and I haven't been out to a movie in three years (since before Darah was born), and because we went to see a movie about a two-mom family. We were lucky enough to have a team of babysitters. Adam and Elisa (our close family-friends, one of whom happens to also be our very own sperm donor extraordinaire and the other who is, by day, a professional childcare provider and, by day and night, a caretaker for several others of the human and non-human varieties). Darah was thrilled to have them over for a nighttime visit; she had a mental list of activities planned, including a movie in the basement, dress-up, a visit to the Rock Palace (the space beneath our neighbor, Rosemary's, deck), fun with play dough, and tortellinis and cream for dinner. Sounds like a two-year old's dream, right?

Elanah, on the other hand, had neither anticipation of pleasure nor any desire for some fun time away from Mummy. Elanah is anxiously attached to me, and she has been since she was two months old. That's an unofficial diagnosis. And so is this: she's what William Sears calls a "high-needs child." She's just recently begun playing for periods of time on her own, with me in the room or nearby. Sandy and I (and poor Dar) had a go of it for a while there - and, by that, I mean TOUGH TIMES. She wasn't necessarily colicky, but she could scream and shriek with the best of them if I was unable to hold her at almost all time. She still has wondrous shrieking abilities, as I am sure Elisa and Adam can verify after their visit with her. When we visited Buffalo in July, my grandmother was so full of piss and vinegar (alcohol) that she could barely open her eyes and be conscious enough to say hello to my sweet daughter, Darah; however, she managed to get up later and tell me, royally, that Elanah was spoiled rotten. I managed to keep my cool when she looked at the round face of my crying child and shouted, "What a spoiled brat!" After all, Elanah might well be a spoiled brat. Or, at least, spoiled.

But she's a baby, and I'd rather spoil her than deny her. It is quite something to see when Elanah goes from hellish shrieks to sweet silence within seconds of being scooped into my arms. And I can only imagine that my grandmother had her share of hardships (like rubber hoses breaking her skin) during childhood. Whole lot of good it did her to have her baby needs and desires denied. So, I have a little baby whose spoiled rotten or highly needy or anxiously attached or obsessed with her momma. I can't change her. I can only gradually and as compassionately as possible help her to do her best to live in the world productively and happily. If I had a child with developmental delays, would I be spoiling her by adjusting my approach to better fit her needs? I don't think so. I'm doing my best to fulfill her needs, and I am just assuming she needs a little extra comfort as she gets accustomed to the world. I never said it was easy, but it's getting easier as she becomes more independent and capable. My right arm is now disproportionately strong in comparison with the rest of my frail body. I hold Elanah in it rather than putting her in a carrier because she does not like being confined by a carrier...she prefers my arm. Soon, though, she will walk. And the heavens will open. And I will trade my carrier arm in for a holding hand.

Until then, I am right there with both my children whenever they want or need me. I choose this, so pity is not necessary. I do worry for the mental health of others who have to endure Elanah's unwavering upset when I am out of reach. On film night, I left her for two and half hours. I did not have to witness her wrath or self-pity. I did not have to hear her loudness. I did not have to watch anyone else feel astonished or exhausted or annoyed or helpless in response to her wails. It was hard, still. It was hard to leave the house. I had a sick feeling in my chest. But I left her. Rationally, I had no reason to be concerned. She was well-fed and in good, loving hands. Emotionally, I just wanted to make us both feel less anxious by holding her. I have a lot of compassion for her anxiety because I deal with mild-moderate anxiety caused by the chemicals in my body and the signals they send to my brain. Of all of the personal defects I could have, I'm not too, too pissed that this one is mine. This is all to say, one of my kids is part screamingbansheecrazybaby and I am part nervousnellienailbitingspoilermomma and somehow we managed to get some time away from each other. I ran out of the car when we got home from the movie, and hurried down the stairs to relieve everyone (mainly me) of Elanah's cries. As soon as she saw me, she started screaming even louder in anger. "Ahhhhh. Ahhhhhhhhhhh-hhhhhh-hhhhhh." As if she was saying, "Whyyyyy? Whyyyy did you leave me? How could you?" As a matter of fact, her Baby Speak was much like my grandmother's Mel Speak. Toddlers and grown-ups have a lot in common. Even the very mature grown-ups have their toddler moments. We can learn so much from toddlers.

The other BIG element of last Wednesday night was that we saw "The Kids are All Right," a film by Lisa Cholodenko ("High Art," "Laurel Canyon"). I rented "High Art" when I was in high school, and I was staying home at night, watching lesbian films from Blockbuster in the hopes of pleasuring myself psychologically by juxtaposing The One I Loved and me into any romantic or erotic scenario. I didn't even finish "High Art" back then, but maybe I wasn't smart enough for at the time - I probably wanted something simple and romantic. Like "If These Walls Could Talk 2." I loved watching that. I tried to watch it once with a friend in high school, but we stopped it at the beginning. He didn't relate to it. But I finished watching it later, alone in my room, because I did. The pain of losing the one you love on top of the pain of not being recognized as the spouse of your loved one at their death is awful. Then having the family come into your home and take your loved one's things (as if you do not exist, your relationship never existed, and as if they have ownership over the things you shared) is heart-breaking. The first segment of ITWCT2 is about dehumanization as well as loss. But I guess that didn't appeal to a high school guy at the time.

I definitely had a bit of a guard up about "The Kids are All Right," because I had read a synopsis ahead of time as well as some lesbian feminist reviews. My skepticism was balanced out by my love of the actresses playing the lead role (particularly Annette Bening). It was also balanced out by my idealistic desire for a mainstream queer-themed film to be great. I think Lisa Cholodenko (or the film, itself) was probably under a lot of pressure to "be" something for its lesbian audience. The time was right for a mainstream award-winning lesbian film to take center stage and be a huge hit with both heterosexual and alternative communities. While this is pure speculation, perhaps this pressure had an effect on the film, mainstreaming it to the point of alienating parts of the lesbian community. I have no doubt that "The Kids are All Right" was not meant to be some cookie-cutter portrayal of lesbian life. The point was, in my opinion, that shit can happen in any family. It has nothing to do with the sexuality of the parents or the make-up of the family, and kids usually survive the shit regardless of that extra alternative element. I think the comedic elements were geared toward a heterosexual frame of mind. Although I cannot say for certain, I assume that the majority of the audience in the local theater we visited identified as heterosexual. There may have been some members of the LGBTQIAetc community in the theater with us, but we were probably the only lesbian parents who conceived with a sperm donor. Because we have a few external elements in common with the film (i.e. lesbian moms, middle class, two kids, sperm donor, one working and one stay-at-home mom), we came into it with heavier hearts. We also came in with a more serious desire to connect with the film because of the experiences we've had and our individual personalities. We're kind of sick of and depressed with the story that repeats itself over and over in so many films lately: people transitioning through phases in relationships and in life, and as a result hurting one another by having sexual affairs outside of the relationship. I think we're more interested in films that look in depth at monogamy; or that explore in depth the painful process of the deconstruction of a monogamous relationship AND follow that deconstruction up by exploring in depth the aftermath of sexual and emotional infidelities. Because what matters is this: WHAT ARE WE LEARNING from the repetitious pattern of failed monogamy? WHAT ARE WE LEARNING about ourselves as humans? We want an intellectual critique of monogamy (its attributes, successes, failures), not just another superficial glance into the construct of lesbian monogamy. In fact, I do not think "The Kids are All Right" taught us anything new about monogamy; nor did it teach us much of anything different an unique about lesbian relationships. Perhaps that was not the creative contributors intention. But intention matters, so I would be very interested in knowing what intentions were behind the film.

So we came into the film wanting to learn something, but we did not feel we learned anything that we didn't already know. I guess we were, in our own ways, bent on hope and change - and one film (or person) can only do its (her or his) part. Emotional expectations got in our way. The television ads made it look like a feel good movie. The heterosexual audience seemed to feel good, but we felt disappointed and frustrated. Sandy and I did not laugh at most of the major comedic moments. And it really pissed us off whenever the heterosexist audience was laughing during a moment that we found troubling, disappointing or even painful. Why were they laughing at the painful mistakes of others? If they related to the characters and their confusions and pains, I doubt they would have been laughing; which makes me think the audience truly felt they were watching a foreign film. I might even go so far as to suggest that the heterosexual laughter exoticized and dehumanized the characters (and, therefore, the lesbian community). Seriously. People in the audience laughed when Jules jumped at Paul to kiss him (and then jumped at him to do the heterosexual deed). I was pissed. Is it funny for someone to betray their family members? That's messed up. The decision to make a comedy out of a painful transition in the life of this family is interesting. On the one hand, we, as humans, often look back on painful memories with humor. On the other hand, we usually find humor when we are at a good distance from the moment and when the moment was not extremely life-altering. Like when I think about my high school years, I have a nice laugh over some of the crazy things I did but I don't laugh when I talk about the parts that hurt me to the core. So there needs to be a balance. And I think the creators of TKAAR tried to create the balance of the tragic-comedic element in the comedy, but I don't think it was entirely successful. I think the tragic elements were not captured in their fullness, and so the balance of the other elements was disturbed. The humor was accurately portrayed in detail; however, the painfulness of the transition for each individual family member took a lot of the joy in the humor away and made it feel cruel and insensitive. It didn't gel. There was a disconnect.

I got off (pun intended) on the wrong foot at the start of the film, when each of the characters was absorbed in some issue with sex and sexuality. The teenage daughter was facing peer pressure from her sex-obsessed friend, the teenage son was having issues with his moms suspecting he and his ass-hole friend (the kind who pisses on homeless dogs) were having sex, the sperm donor was fucking around, and the lesbian mothers were having sexual issues. I was really annoyed that the film starts out with the Jules giving Nic oral sex while Nic watched gay male porn and treats her insensitively by yanking the sheets off of Jules. Who does this? Do other lesbians treat their partners like this while having sex? It was as if the writers were trying to set it up so that we would have more sympathy for Jules when she abruptly started fucking Paul. I actually felt a lot of empathy for Nic, and I fel tit was out of character for her to be that way in bed. We didn't get to SEE the lesbians having sex, either. Jules was under the covers. We got to SEE heterosexual sex, but not lesbian sex. The first sex we see between the women is bad sex that involves images of men. I am getting annoyed just remembering it. Then, just when you start to think you will see a tender love-making scene between the couple; Nic gets caught up in her job and doesn't follow through. That was such a set up and a cop out. First off, she is being a good doctor by taking an emergency call to help an expecting mom. Are we supposed to feel sorry for Jules because Nic doesn't come back upstairs and follow-through? Maybe. I could see how a pattern of that behavior would cause problems. But. BUT, secondly, problems in the relationship don't justify suddenly jumping on a man like a dog in heat. I did not buy into the idea that Paul made Jules feel appreciated. I guess her self-esteem was pretty low if all he had to do was watch her with his horny man eyes and compliment her fruit pie to get her to jump at him with a kiss and then, subsequently, jump on him like she had been having heterosexual sex her whole life. For a person to have been in a long-term monogamous relationship for almost twenty years, I would think it would take A LOT to cause you to jump into infidelity and unknown terrain (WITH YOUR SPERM DONOR...A GUY YOU JUST MET...WHEN YOU'VE IDENTIFIED AS A LESBIAN FOR SUCH A LONG TIME). But it seemed so easy for Jules to develop and give in to her heterosexual desires for Paul. On top of my anger of the ridiculousness of her actions, to think that she would not stop to consider the immense effect her choice would have on her children is even more outrageous. But I guess people DO do outrageous, selfish, reckless things in real life, so why the hell not make a movie about lesbians doing it? We do not get to see ONE image of lesbian loving/sex/love-making throughout the whole film, although we do get to see lots of hard, violent heterosexual sex. Why are we shown Jules having sex with Paul but not with Nic? It makes me angry because I feel the characters and their relationship deserve more than that.

Sandy and I were also disappointed in the way in which the aftermath of the affair was handled by the creators. The most real moment in the film, for me, was when Nic was at dinner at Paul's and she discovered Jules' hair in the drain. Time froze, and her pain was immense. It came through so well in the silence (and in Annette Bening's brilliant acting). I could so intensely relate to the feelings she was experiencing: being outside of herself, being outside of her world, being an outsider, being thrown in a moment into a reality that changes your trust in everything and everyone forever. That moment was brilliant, but then the rest of the film felt like it was in a hurry to tie up all the loose ends and make things - ahem - all right. The pain that the whole family was thrown into seemed to only last a night, and then it was on the mend. Now I realize that there is only so much you can do in a two hour time slot, but it just did not do justice to the intense level of pain and family betrayal that the characters were thrown into. The process of shock-denial-anger-grief-forgiveness was far too slighted by the creators.

So, the kids are probably all right (even though they've had their trust broken and seen their world nearly fall apart because of a man...but, hey, I've been through some crazy crap in my own life and I'm more than all right). Everyone is probably all right. Life goes on, we survive until we're dead. Are Nic and Jules like every other middle age heterosexual couple? Maybe. Should they be? Maybe. Maybe not. They are what they are. They're two and a half hours worth of human. If the movie is about family being family regardless of sexuality, then that's fine - it's just not saying much for the institution of family. Family seems pretty tough. But, in many ways, it is tough. Life is tough. Making healthy decision is tough. I guess that's one redeemable aspect of the film. It captures one of my favorite sentiments: humans are crazy. We're so contradictory. We're crazy when we think we know the answers, and we're crazy when we're not convinced of any of the answers. We're just crazy. That's my line, and I'm sticking to it.

"The Kids are All Right." Translation: "The Kids are Crazy. The Parents are Crazy. The Family is crazy. The Humans are Crazy."

I guess our reactions to the film say a lot about us, more than anything else. Sandy and I take our connection, our relationship, our monogamy, and our family very seriously. Not that we can't have a good laugh over the trials that we face, but the discombobulation and combination of storyline elements didn't sit well with us during our first viewing. Maybe we'll feel differently twenty years down the road, when the kids are headed to college and we're looking back and thinking, "Hey, they're all right." But I hope not.

(We had a nice chat with a friend to and from the film. Our kids were all right while we were gone.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Next Installment of J-Updates!

Jessica MM: Darah informed me tonight, on the ride home from Aurelio's, that she saw me eating dog poop when Missy and my mom were visiting. Later, she described how I cut the skin off of the dog poop before Sandy and I ate it. I'm not sure what she was thinking was dog poop...but she seems pretty convinced that that was what I was eating...hmmm.

‎ : Dar complains when I try to brush her long hair with anything other than the soft, useless baby brush. "Don't use dat mean bwush. Use dis nice bwush!"

: has an idea for an art project: a mosque made of women's naked bodies or a mosque on a naked woman's body (both live art). If you like my idea, take it and bring it to life...subversive and meaningful and...

: Dar, upon seeing Elanah try to brush Mummy's hair: "You warm my tacos, Ehnanah (you warm my cockles, Elanah).Then, seeing Mum typing, she comes to the computer and says: "Hi! Gwad to meet you."

: is amazed watching Elanah hitting milestones this way and that...so many little things that seem so BIG!

‎ : OMG, I can't believe this. Miss USA and Miss TEEN USA want ME. ME, people!!! Oh wait, I have to be single AND have to never have given birth to a child. Oh, poop - do ya think they'll notice something's fishy when my deflated basketball of a stomach rolls over the bikini?Naw, they'll never notice THAT. But they may take a second look at the hair around my bikini line. They better not discriminate against me for my Italian heritage (Italian heritage = thick, dark hair growing out of unspeakable places). No, they love Italians. They'll love me and my hairy legs. They'll love me, they'll really love me. Oh crap, I just discovered the fine print: "There is NO talent competition." I might be in trouble...

: This morning I am Mommy Giraffe and Darah is Baby Giraffe...

: allergies/sinus issues = ridiculous form of torture...
(watery snot dripping out of my nose into Elanah's ear while I'm breastfeeding if I tilt my head down, yes...)

‎: Why do the allergies arrive when the cool weather arrives? I don't get it! (<-- aching="" and="" br="" dripping="" eye="" eyes="" nose="" one="" open="" says="" with="">
‎: Dar did it, she decided to give her Zucky (pacifier) to Elanah and be a "big girl." She slept without it last night, and expects to go to the store as soon as possible to pick out a big girl prize!

‎: Dar, looking through a photo album, "Dis is my woohk. I'm at woohk (work). My woohk was date (great). I dotta tell Mommy. Mommy, my woohk was date (great). It was funny. Facebook. I dot (got) Facebook. It says 'Owd (Old) bando (banjo).' And heah (here) I'm on da twain and da twain and da twain (the train). (Points to... photos of herself on the train at the Buffalo Zoo.) I dotta wead dat. I dotta wead about PJ's (invisible friend based on Barney character, BJ). Mommy, I dotta wite (write) PJ (BJ) on time. Mommy, may I pwease wite on Facebook to PJ?" ‎"I'm tind (kind) of mad dat you woohk evey (every) day, PJ. You woohk eveeeeyyy dayyy."

: Dar decided that for her Zucky Give-up Reward, she wants TORTELLINIS!!!

: just woke up
from a weird dream and beckons all Expert Dream Interpreters to put on
their reading glasses. AHEM!

‎: Dar woke up in the middle of the night two nights ago, and said in a distressed voice, "I don't want a monkey in my bed." Then she got in bed with us, and felt much better! Once, when I was preg, I woke up from a dream that a small monkey was hanging over me from the ceiling. I think I actually jumped out of bed and scared Sandy.

‎: Elan took her first couple of steps on her own last night!! Go Lan Lan!

‎: Dar just gave me some GOOD advice. "Mommy, I don't want you to hurt your finger wis your teef. You shouldn't hurt yo-seawf. Don't huuht yo-seawf, Mom, or you'w det a Bandaid."

: has to just let people be who they are even if I think they are different than they think they are, but I'm a know-it-all and I don't wanna! ;)

: remembers when her sister, Melissa Sue, would tell her "Olivia and Gregory" stories (Olivia and Gregory = fictional couple on soap opera) before bed at night...I was fifteen years old! She was a very good storyteller. ‎(It sounded JUST like Darah. "Mommy, teow me one moh stowee and den sweep time.") I had to tell her ONE more...I know how it feels to want to hear another story!

: will be a lesbian tonight and tomorrow morning. Ya wish you could say the same fer yerselves, ya heteroscallywagles!

: wants the healthy stuff to be as cheap as the crappy stuff - and tonight I am talking about nailpolish!

: gave one of her kids the "bowl" cut yesterday (without an actual bowl...just cause cutting hair is hard and I kept going shorter and shorter).

: is celebrating my mom's birthday, listening to Darah sing sweet renditions of "Hahppy Biersday tew yew...hahppy biersday tew dahmma sue..." It makes the pain in my lower back bearable!

: is loyal, first and foremost, to her sense of truth and fairness...the dominos fall from there.

‎: Woo-hoo, Friday Night. Soooo. How do you get lots of little, uniform lumps in your cream of wheat???

‎: Sandy and I have new names: Moka Mita and Momma Mina. Dar came up with it while waiting for a "poopie to tome" on her potty!

: Ugh, weekend of torture: END, please! Sandy and the girls are sick with awful colds/fevers and I am having terrible seasonal allergies that could make any psychologically healthy individual go bonkers. Let the madness stop. So much for the weather we've been waiting all summer for...on the upside, though, we did manage... to have yummy buttermilk pancakes from scratch (thanks to Sandy and Darah) this morning.

‎: Dar announced to Sandy, proudly, "I sweeped yesternight (I sleeped yesterday = I took a nap today)." After dinner, I chased after Darah, as my monstermummy persona and told her, "I'm gonna eat you!" She became very upset, and said "No, you're my mommy. I want you to be mommy now!"

: loves the way that Dar says "mother" ("muh-ver") and "balloons" ("be-woons")...

: wishes she could get Dar to try new foods...and I'm not even talking vegetables, I'm just talking something other than pasta! She has her staples, and she refuses to try anything else...she won't even try pudding!

‎: the watermelon was supposed to be seedless. In other words, I've never seen so many tiny seeds!

: has yet to find the right caesar salad dressing...the bottles on the shelves are never quite like the ones I have enjoyed at restaurants. Newman's Own oil-based caesar comes closest, but not as good. Why? Some of the ones we've tried are just downright nasty.

‎: Dear Hormones, Behave yourselves. Unfortunately Yours, Jessica

: had fun last night at the balloon flight, even though the only balloon that flew was the size of my head. It was great to watch Dar and friends dancing while the band played on.

‎: Dar fell out of bed last night. Well, rolled to the floor. She said, nervously, "Oops. I Fawd" and ran over to my open arms. She spent the rest of the night in Big Bed.

‎: Why did we let Dar put food coloring in her cereal milk? Now she won't eat cereal without it. OOPS!

‎: Dar went to her first dance class without me with her - and she was just fine without me!!! :)

: is mentally prepping herself for tonight: our first night out, leaving a
babysitter (two, actually - Elisa and Adam, Goddess love 'em) with the
girls for a couple of hours while we see "The Kids are Alright" with
Amy C. Wish me luck. Now wish them luck (with Elanah, the
Professional Shrieker).

‎: Dar just went poop on the potty but must have had a piece stuck to her butt...she came out of the room and somehow poop got on the dining room chair and the carpet and her sock. While I cleaned it up, she followed me around telling me, "Baby doll did it." Then when I picked up the piece on the floor, she said, "Oh, a...nimal poop." Now she's talking to her doll about it. "Ut oh, Baby, you did dat. You pooped on dere."

: is celebrating the wonderful gift, SANDY - this weekend. It's her birthday weekend. To kick it off, Dar and I made carrot-zucchini muffins. Onward to some jazz, lots of renditions of "Happy Birthday," and a coupla foot rubs if I can manage it! I love that jean-wearing woman, I have much to celebrate.

: had a really fun morning with the fam. LOVED watching Dar dance with the leaves to jazz. DIDN'T love seeing a sweet boy be belittled by his caregiver for having spent time in the children's lib and for being a "baby" and for playing with toys instead of books. Um, caregiver (who droppedhimoffandpickedhimup), where were... you? Don't you know how sweet that kid was to my 11 month old daughter? Poor child. He built a robot out of legos and showed us, and we told him it was really cool. He played sweetly with Elanah. Then she came in and just berated him about playing with baby toys. I saw her still berating him in front of the car before they left. This was in public, imagine what she is like at home. It's hard to know what to do - should you say something or not? The lines are blurry.

: had four sips of the cranberry wine and feels hot and drunk...best be stickin' with tea, even on Sandy's birthday ♥

: thinks Elanah's pre first words might just be "hi there" but it isn't official yet ("hah dahr")

: is havin' a great morning...the house smells like my mom's house (banana bread with applesauce instead of oil is baking), Dar is dancing around to a Bette Midler album, and Elanah is putting underwear on her head while I finish folding the laundry. Ah, domestic life...

: tried to release the fly, but it just won't leave the house...on top of that, it keeps following me around and landing on my food...and I suck at killing flies!

Tampon Swamp Dreams: : I have the Weirdest Dreams, and I Remember them

Jessica Mason McFadden just woke up
from a weird dream and beckons all Expert Dream Interpreters to put on
their reading glasses. AHEM!

JMM: I just had a weird dream in which a bunch of people were trying to get me to go gliding down a long rope into a green, mucky body of shallow water filled with hundreds of tiny and medium size dolphins. Sandy, my wife, was the one to initially encourage me to glide and jump. Then, later, when I was starting to think I might face my fear of having my body engulfed in dark waters filled with fish; Ellen DeGeneres and Janine C were the ring (glide?) leaders! Ultimately, I glided into the shallow area of water with Heather C, Brette K and Christy S. I was wearing a very juvenile life jacket. They waded through the shallow water with me, while I spun around in a circle of small dolphins. It felt surprisingly good, and they were happy, sweet little dolphins. When we returned to the main region of the water, a huge birthday party was happening for me - many of my friends were there. On the way out of the water, Brette wanted to tell me something about how the event changed my tampon string; but I asked her to wait until after the event. Ellen and Janine were leading everyone in singing happy birthday and congratulations. I thanked everyone. I knew they were hoping I would take the plunge into the deep, dark region of dolphin-water, but I just couldn't take that step. They all clapped for me, and I joked about how I was just not ready to dive head first into the water just yet...
Jessica MM: Okay, now that I remember all the details and I fed Elanah and blew my allergic nose, I can go back to bed!
Jaime D: Have you ever felt like the three of them might not agree with your choices in life? Or maybe some sort of rift or disconnect that you were unhappy with? Maybe you desire guidance and approval of others more than you realize? This is just what I'm getting. I like to take a stab at dreams once in awhile.
Amy P: I love having odd dreams! Gives me something to ponder for a while.
Joan L-W I don't remember dreams. I did a discipline once that did get me remembering. I found out the dreams that feel all meaningful tend to be about running away and hiding, like I didn't already know that. I don't fly or swim with dolphins and I don't shop or see people I miss. That would be nice.
Heather C: I don't agree that it would have to do with my not agreeing with jess' choices in life, since i prefer to live by the practice of not pressing judgements on people that i wouldn't want imposed on myself, but if you think about the timing, w...e were all really good friends at the same time so we would all be a common thread if your mind wandered to later HS years. I would say that the taking the "glide" into the initially shallow water could represent overcoming something, whether consciously or sub-consciously but not being quite ready to take that next step (i.e. the deeper body of water). i've been having some really weird dreams lately, but a few of them have been about people trying to bust in on me in a bathroom stall and i'm really scared, but when i wake up i REALLY have to pee!!!
Jessica MM: I was mostly emotionally stirred by the fear that I had before I got into the murky waters. I did NOT want to go in there. In real life, I am afraid of water that I cannot see through...soooo, hmmm. I was also very concerned about what Brette had to tell me about the tampon string. She was happy that I decided to go in the water, she thought it changed the tampon string/tampon experience for the better - she approved. I dunno. Ha ha.
Brette K: Well, I'm not too sure what my role was in your dream. Like Heather, I try not to impose my views, though if asked my opinion I'm honest. It isn't my place to judge others. I will be honest, however, discussing tampon strings would make me extremely uncomfortable. If you're aware that discussing certain private things is uncomfortable to me, maybe that would help point you in a direction...
Jessica MM: Yeah, I try to enjoy my dreams for their quirkiness and strangeness. I think it's fun hearing other people's interpretations (like Jaime's - ♥) but I don't really believe firmly that our dreams are "interpretable" (and certainly not linear!...). Since I have had some freakfreakfreakydeaky dreams, I prefer to use the "take it or leave it" approach - I'll take the ones that make me feel good, and I'll repress the ones that disturb me too much. Or I'll turn it into a piece of creative writing. Or I'll post it on Facebook.
Jessica MM: I did get the sense, in my dream, that you were a little disturbed about the original state of the tampon string, but I won't go into further detail about it, Brette, since it will make you uncomfortable. I'm quite surprised that such a conversation would make you uncomfortable, though, since my memories of you in high school were different (ahem recalling trip to Europe...). But people change over time. I know I certainly have (for the better and smarter!). I'll try not to have any more tampon string dreams involving you from now on. Ha ha. :)See More
Jessica MM: And Jaime, I do think you are right they I do desire approval from others more than I'd like to admit. Darn it, I don't want to care what anyone else thinks. Still working on that one. :)
Jessica MM: Ha ha, Heather. Every once in a while I have a dream about being naked in public - like in middle school. The funny thing is that my adult self would not care that much if I was naked in public, but my child self WOULD care. So in dreams, we're our child and adult selves???
Brette K: Hahaha, ahhh the Europe incident. I'd hope I've matured since then.
Heather C: ahhhh hahaha, the europe incident is a favorite memory of mine...

Controversial Jibber Jabber: Islamic Center near Ground Zero Controversy

Jessica MM: finds it uplifting that in the face of the tragedy of Sept. 11th, an Islamic center might be built nearby...that's called progress.

Jessica: Muslims should not be carry the burden of reconciling or educating because of the terrible act committed by a group of individuals.
Megan H: But don't people know that ALL Muslims are responsible for 9/11?? geez. Gosh I hate ignorance. I can't believe it's causing such an uproar. Wasn't this country built upon freedom of religion?
Hayley C-L: They need to build something that is NOT based on religion on or nearby that tragic site.
Liz F: And they should absolutely move the date of the Eid so it does not occur on or near 9/11 as well <-- this was actually proposed by an actual politician. I cannot believe how ridiculous this is getting.
Jessica: ‎(Sigh.) I know, Liz!
Frank A: St. Nicholas Church was destroyed by the Islamic extremist terrorists near ground zero in the attacks on 9/11. It has yet to be rebuilt. It might have been nice for the president to weigh in on this. Rebuilding this greek orthodox church would be "uplifting" since, unlike mosques, women are always welcome, not treated as second class plus all denominations are welcomed by this faith. Try visiting the Islamic "holyland" of mecca /medina and see how warmly and hospitably you're treated. Unfortunately we infidels are not allowed. It's notable how many of the same people who are against prayer in school, or the mention of God in the Pledge of Allegiance, can't wait to get this mosque built. See More
Jessica: I can only speculate as to why Pres Obama weighed in on this issue and now on that one. I suspect he weighed in because he was under fire about it. I imagine he would be happy to weigh in on the St. Nicolas Church in need of re-building if it became an issue and was brought to his attention. But, again, that's speculation. As far as I know, the Islamic Center will be built on private property and Obama won't have anything to do with the actually building of it.
Jessica: I meant that the building of the Islamic Center would be uplifting in the sense that Islamic people, who have received discriminatory attitudes since 9/11 occurred, will have a place to worship freely nearby the site. The fact that an Islamic Center might be welcomed near Ground Zero implies that people are recognizing that not ALL Islamic People are terrorists - and, to me, that's progressive.
Jessica: I imagine rebuilding the Greek Orthodox church might also be uplifting, but in other ways.
Jessica: As far as women being treated as second class citizens in mosques...I would say that women are treated that way in many, many religious institutions (to different degrees and in different ways, of course). I haven't yet met a Catholic female priest, but you never know...maybe that is happening in some Catholic church in America. I imagine that most Islamic and Christian faiths might be in spiritual disagreement with my status as a lesbian woman.
Jessica: Also, I cannot say how women will be treated by this particular Islamic Center. Just as I cannot say how any particular Catholic church will treat women...some Catholic churches tend to be on the more traditional side while others are more progressive. I imagine it is the same within the Islamic religion.
Jessica: I am not defending the particulars of the Islamic faith in any way. I don't know the particulars. I'm just saying that the juxtaposition of an Islamic Center near Ground Zero is a nice sign that people are moving on from some wrongly placed hatred.
Jessica: I really don't have a desire to visit any "holyland." Perhaps I'd like to visit Ancient Greece - the land of the goddess. And I'm not against prayer in school, however I do think it should be as inclusive of multiple-faiths as possible. I, personally, might not choose to say the pledge of allegiance but I certainly don't mind if someone else wants to say it...
Jessica: Thanks for tossing around ideas with me, Uncle Frank! :)
Frank A: The families of those murdered by the islamic extremists whose actions were not widely condemned by Imams and other leaders of this faith, may have a different reaction to this construction especially given they have historically built mosques at other sites where they've claimed victory. This appears to be less about religion, and more about power and control as is evidenced with other aspects of their religion given their attitudes and actions toward women and non-muslims.
That withstanding, muslims have and will always be free to worship in this country even though all are not welcome. You will not meet a muslim female imam, but you will be welcomed by other religions including St Nicholas Church. The catholic faith has Sisters, several orders of Nuns, female religious teachers and Eucharistic Ministers including my mom and your grandma. Wouldn't be allowed in the muslim faith.
Kelly M: Jess, Thanks for posting this topic to be discussed! Living in NYC right now it is a hot topic and causing a lot of passion from both sides. I'm actually really happy it's being built because there still are a lot of people in America and ...in the world that believe Islam as a whole believes in what the terrorist who were radicals believed. There have been plenty of Christian radicals in the world, but they do not reflect the religion as a whole. It was a tragedy for ALL American's and I don't think the Muslim community has any less of a right to pray where they want, because of it. See More
Frank A: Yes, and a perfect example of this radicalism is rev. Wright and the church where president obama worshiped for years. This type of hate speech or radicalism is spoken out against loudly and publicly by leaders within the majority of other ...religions including Christians/Catholics. Not the case within Islam. America was victimized by this ideology that is not contained within any border on 9/11. It is interesting how the victimizer of this is portrayed as the victim by some.