Category Archives: goals

Jess Kicks Her Own Ass Pt. 1.2

 

I knew him well, Horatio!

Alas! I know this feeling well, Horatio!

I suppose I’ll address the issue of my “negativity” or “pessimism”, along with some other words I’ve been hearing in relation to my writing and other media, comments, etc lately  (really, “emo?). These claims have a certain validity, but I’d hardly call my muse “the tombstone”, as someone recently observed. Mostly it’s just winter, and frankly I’m against it. I enjoy freedom of movement and the outdoors. My most cathartic moments are generally spent out of doors with my dog and my man. But let’s sing a song of momento mori today.

I want to feel something in life, even if that be something be “bad.” I don’t even necessarily care for that word or the notion of “negative emotions.”  There’s a time for The Beatles and there’s a time for Mozart’s Requiem or even just a sad etude. Winter naturally reminds us of death. And there’s been more than a few reasons to mourn lately. Bowie has left us for the stars. And Alan Rickman is sneering on us from some celestial plane of infinitely languid condescension.  So what’s so wrong with a bit of sad?

Not a thing. Say I. And dear me, how could I be alone? Why go around with a silly grin plastered on your face everyday unless you fear some unbearable evil will befall if your smile should slip? I’ve never seen anything wrong with celebrating an old cemetery, a moment passed, a shiny yellow memory that’s gotten blue on it. How would we ever know Joy without Sadness? Right my fellow Pixar fans?

I don’t advocate dwelling in grief, sorrow or despair. But ignoring these emotions seems to me far more perilous a thing than letting them grow inside until they own you without your realizing. When your fear of your own Dark Side dictates your very life because you’ve neglected it, then what? If we had no reminders of that eternal loss, our own mortality, how can we be expected to handle the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to?

Denying the Dark is every bit as dangerous as ignoring the Light. That’s why we can experience both. Evolution teaches us that nothing evolves without a reason because nature doesn’t waste energy. All of our emotions are there for a cause, and a very good one. They’re how we learn to live as a human being and survive the process.

I recently heard a phrase I liked. “When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow.” ( Ursula K. Le Guin, The Earthsea Cycle) I don’t know the context of the quote, but I do know that the the Light and the Shadow are always with us. Shakespeare wrote sonnets of loss, and it never dimmed the brilliance of his humor. But it occurs to me that all life navigates that in-between world of mirth and joy, darkness and sorrow.

Why not choose winter, when the light is cold and Persephone still walks in the underworld, to meditate on those quiet, and not so quiet, shadow moments? Just don’t live there. The Spring will come.

And on the next sunny day, “Let’s go where we’re happy. I’ll meet you at the cemetery gates. Keats and Yeats are on your side. But Wilde is on mine.” (The Smiths, Cemetery Gates)

PS – I’m still with Johnny Cash on wearing black though.  I’ve got that which passeth show. Good grief!


Jess Kicks Her Own Ass Pt 1

Help me finish what I started, burnt husk of a mask.

Help me finish what I started, burnt husk of a mask.

 

Sometimes my self-loathing has consequences for the good. I mean, appeals to my vanity always work. People who say that you should: eat healthy, exercise, or just like take a shower and make your bed because it makes you feel better and not because it’ll make you look better just don’t get me. However, that’s not why I’m hating me now. I’m hating me now because I’ve been so neglectful of my writing that I feel as though I should just resign myself to a life of cleaning up after my animals and my boyfriend (redundant). Ew and like cooking stuff to eat. Yeah, but see now I’ve got a plan to turn that all around. All thanks to my unfailing ability to disappoint myself. I’m going to write 500 words at least on this blog every day, except Saturdays, for two weeks. Not rollin’ on Shabbas.

That’s just the part of the plan. I have other things going on as well, and I will up my game as I go. But this is the goal 1.1 subsection A for now. And I’m going to post this brain drivel on my blog so there’s some sort of accountability to like my thousands of followers, I guess? Whatever. That’s what I’m doing.

So, did anybody see that Star Wars movie? I saw it for the third time this past Friday. It gets better with every view. It’s got a sort of old-school, ET or Close Encounters era Spielberg thing going on. Magical, full of wonder…just an old-fashioned kind of fun movie like you would’ve gone to see on like a Saturday or after school as a kid. I cannot quarrel with or nit-pick this film at all. It’s just too much fun.

I know some folks are nit-picking it, but I just finished rewatching the LOTR Extended Editions — because I can’t watch Force Awakens every day at home yet — and remember the quibbles for those films? Where’s Tom Bombadil? Why is Frodo so young? Why is Arwen’s part bigger? Yeah, see you didn’t remember until I just brought that up because no one cares anymore. Just as no one will be whining that Rey beat Kylo in a saber battle in the future when all is well.  Like Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, all that will be left is just a glorious cinematic legacy to be enjoyed forever. Or until the zombie apocalypse.

Which is another thing I want to happen: I mean the return of The Walking Dead. Winter is bleak enough without having to stumble through without being able to enjoy watching folks suffer and die amid the flesh-eating undead. Besides, this whole season has been a giant cliff-hanger, and I need some resolution. My money is on Carol’s little psychopath in training blowing the whole “we’re totally zombies” cover. No more cookies for you little freak. The monsters are going to come and eat you up and no one will be able to hear you or help you.

Well, there see, I done did it. I could totally take this momentum now and go work on something else, but it’s snowing and maybe I’ll just play Fallout. I don’t know. I’m not even editing this. Because I’m not worth it yet. I still hate me. But gettin’ bettah all the time…

 

PS – is anyone else experiencing lag and glitches on the Xbox One? Is that all the people who got one for Christmas taking up all the “shared processing”? Noobs. 


Phighting Rocky When You’re Phrom Philly

록키 발보아 Rocky Balboa

With Rocky, language doesn’t matter

I love the term “curse-bless.” I think I first read it in a Dylan Thomas poem. And there’s no better way to describe being from Philadelphia than as a curse-blessing. I call it “The Rocky Syndrome.”

Philly is a great town to learn the First Noble Truth of Buddhism: “All life is suffering.” Sandwiched between our nation’s capital and the inimitable New York City, Philadelphia must struggle to define itself. A struggle that often manifests in the town’s well-publicized “addy-tood.” And I’ve spent my  life struggling to reconcile myself to it.

Part historical treasure, part post-industrial collection of neighborhoods and failed factories; travel where I will I find two names associated with the place: Ben Franklin and Rocky Balboa. But everyone mentions Rocky first.

And I can’t blame them. Rocky is a truly great film that transcends culture and language to touch people on a gut level of existence. And while the language-crossing may be down to Rocky’s own struggle with English, who can’t help but feel like and for Rocky?

The film itself is a series of body-blows, and it all comes down to one man’s ability to take those blows and remain standing at the end. He loses the fight, but earns his own respect.  Two hours of pain and struggle for one moment of glory and release. Like life. A lot like life in Philadelphia.

Rocky, like every “filu’fian,” is obsessed with being a “bum.” In case you don’t listen to sport radio, that’s what Philly fans call their teams or players whenever they stop living up to their potential. When they lose heart they become a bum.

No one likes a bum. No one wants to be a bum. Rocky shows us how not to be a bum. And there’s no better place to learn that most difficult of lessons than in Philly. And yet it’s so easy to slip into.

Philly’s a tough, gritty, depressing town. For all the advertisement, unless you’re in medicine or pharmaceuticals, it’s a great place to become a bum or, if you’re ambitious, get out of. And even if you do, it’ll haunt you, well, Rocky will.

You can learn to enunciate, you can even do well for yourself — go back in the ring against your personal Apollo Creed or Clubber Lang — but deep down inside you wonder if you haven’t lost heart. . . if you have, indeed, still wound up a bum.

Like the curse-blessing he is, Rocky himself shows us the way out. Think of Rocky’s training compared to Apollo Creed’s. Rocky gets up,  puts on his Chuck Taylor’s and old grey sweats and drinks raw eggs before he goes out to run the Art Museum steps. It’s about doing what you can with what you have at hand, not the spiff accessories of success.

It’s also about loving Adrian. About taking the girl in the glasses out ice-skating after hours. About telling her that she’s beautiful until she believes it. It’s when she loves you even though you may lose.

Nobody is guaranteed some big win in life. But if we can have the heart to take the punches, to fall and get back up and to be standing when that final bell rings, we don’t have to be bums. As much as it pains me, here’s one Philadelphia intellectual whose glad to claim Rocky. And now I’m going to go beat up a side of beef…


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