Misogynistic Expectations

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I have included several quotes from this essay because the subject and the story felt very real to me. I can’t help but wonder how many women of my era physically injured themselves trying to hide the blessing of physical strength (or height) in an effort to fit in, become invisible or simple live through a difficult period while hoping things would improve on the other side.

I found myself both impressed by the author’s ability to flaunt her physical strength and skill, regardless public opinion and envious of the opportunities and community structure available to her, thereby making this flaunting possible (not easy, just possible).

I truly hope the trend toward strong female characters (both physically and intellectually) in movies and literature (of all kinds and for all ages) not only continues but helps provide the widespread cultural change that will allow more young women to be both strong and unafraid of being seen as strong.

QUOTES:

“The power of mass media pales in comparison to the power of high school gossip.”

As the story went, I fought him off, not because he was weak, but because I was a freak. I was stronger than I was supposed to be…I was not really a girl—but could never be elevated to the power of a guy—so I was somewhere in between: a genderless monster….It was that I sometimes walked down streets, or went to a movie alone. Occasionally, I stopped and helped someone who was stuck by the side of the road. I acted as if nothing had changed since we were all boys and girls playing four-square on the playground, all equal in power. I had not grown up. I had not learned how to be constantly, subconsciously, submissive and afraid. I was not a woman.”

I was downright, happily, self-confidently crazy. I was a girl in high school, and although I did not assume I would always win, I knew I always had a fighting chance.

-Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food by BK Loren

Zombies Are Better In Print

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This was an excellent novel. In fact, two books that I had requested through my local library came available while I was in the midst of reading this one – both had exceptionally long waiting lists and I needed to get through them both before the return date. Yet, I simply could not stop reading this book. Could. Not. Put. Down.

While the story is about zombies, the focus is on a viral outbreak that causes a world war. It reads like a science fiction war novel, not a horror story. There are plenty of exciting story lines, nail-biting adventures and descriptions of creepy undead, but the undead make up the background for the human stories that occur within the midst of a new-to-the-human-race mortal danger.

The structure is based around the idea that the fictional ‘author’ traveled the world interviewing people and gathering data about the zombies, the battles and the human element. The result is a collection of first-person accounts of a massively destructive biological event that was eventually put down through offensive attacks on millions (billions) of humans-turned-zombies.

The fact that the virus is spread through human negligence (officials refusing to believe data), fear (refugees and panic), criminal activities (illicit organ transplants) and predatory commerce (selling fake cures with FDA approval) is disturbingly logical. Nuclear attacks between countries and civil wars within nations are launched because communications system fail, key individuals are lost and the difficult fact that human nature tends toward both control and revenge (even when human extinction is a potential consequence).

The most frightening thing about this novel is the description of very real human reactions – and we do not come across as a particularly logical, kind or resilient species. In the end, the human race wins the war well enough to return to some semblance of a life, but…well…you’ll have to read the book. Suffice it to say that the zombies are not gone, just under control.

If you saw the movie, then be forewarned – the book describes a very different plot, new selection of characters and a drastically different take on the zombie-as-monster. Hollywood pretty much took the bones of the narrative (UN employee searching for an the source of the zombie plague by traveling around the world and interviewing people) and created a brand new version of the story.

Bottom line – it’s a good book (REALLY good book) and I highly recommend it.

-World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

Shame and Human Drama

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Dancing at the Shame Prom on Wordery.com

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I sometimes wonder if shame is the ultimate human drama, a kind of inner theater offering neither intermissions nor emergency exits. It can arrive from an exterior force, making us feel debased and defenseless, or emanate from within, when we know we have done something unethical, illegal, or mean-spirited.

-Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the Stories That Kept Us Small by Amy Ferris and Hollye Dexter

From the Introduction:We invite you to join us at the Shame Prom—a place where we wear our ugly dresses, then shed them. Where we parade our shame in public, dance it around on our arm, and take awkward pictures with it. But afterward, we’re not going to roll around in the backseat making out with it. This time, we’re breaking up with Shame and driving off into the sunset, stronger in knowing that we are connected at the deepest, most human level. So put on your tiaras, people. Let’s get this party started.”

Please Come Inside

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“Won’t you please come inside and get warm? Dragon asked. But the fat cat did not come inside. The fact cat just sat in the snow and said, “Meow!” …Dragon went outside and scooped away at the snow. He scooped and scooped until he found the cat. “You are coming with me,” said Dragon. And he took the cold cat inside.”

-Dragon Tales by Dav Pilkey

In the spirit of cold weather animal rescue, here are a few more links:

 

John Adams: Elections, Money and Foreign Control

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JOHN ADAMS INAUGURAL ADDRESS IN THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA SATURDAY, MARCH 4, 1797

If an election is to be determined by a majority of a single vote, and that can be procured by a party through artifice or corruption, the Government may be the choice of a party for its own ends, not of the nation for the national good. If that solitary suffrage can be obtained by foreign nations by flattery or menaces, by fraud or violence, by terror, intrigue, or venality, the Government may not be the choice of the American people, but of foreign nations. It may be foreign nations who govern us, and not we, the people, who govern ourselves; and candid men will acknowledge that in such cases choice would have little advantage to boast of over lot or chance.”

-United States Presidents’ Inaugural Speeches by United States. Presidents.

Pruning for Growth

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You have to prune a plant in order for it to grow. I find pruning to be very satisfying; I love the sure, swift sound of the clippers rhythmically slicing through a branch. With each cut, I know I’m clearing away the dead matter to make room for new growth. Periodic pruning isn’t just for plants; it’s a natural rhythm for all of us. Cleaning your closets, organizing your personal papers, getting rid of clutter, and spring-cleaning are all forms of pruning. I find that when the weather is warmer, people naturally recommit to living more active and healthy lives, which starts with internally pruning the parts of their lives that no longer nourish them. This internal pruning helps you discover your hidden potential for growth.

-If the Buddha Came to Dinner: How to Nourish Your Body to Awaken Your Spirit by Hale Sofia Schatz

Gratitude Parade Costumes

A gratitude parade consists of individuals and groups dressing up in costumes that represent the things for which they are grateful. What follows is my own gratitude parade (it’s rather silly):

Flowers

Fruit

Birds

Turkey

Wildlife (Raccoons)

Bees

Chocolate and Cookies

Books and Superheros

Snowmen and winter fun

 

Different Measures of Time

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On the Trail of Genghis Khan

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“…here, cradled by the ger, there was no thinking backward or forward, only a feeling of completeness, for this was nomadic life intact, virtually unchanged from the days of Genghis Khan.

In a world without fences, where communities lifted and moved as unpredictably as the weather, our usual ways of keeping track of time and place were beginning to change.

-On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads by Tim Cope

A description of the journey from the beginning of the book: “The world expanded with every new challenge, from frostbitten toes to the dark clouds of mosquitoes that came with summer in Siberia. But most of all it was the people who left an impression on me….I found it astonishing that in the midst of an adventure I experienced more comradeship and connection with many of these people than with those where I had grown up in Australia.

Alone is Forever

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Cornered

Cornered

It’s hard to see a fellow human be destroyed. You find yourself needing to believe the victim earned her punishment. You want to think that an innocent girl would never be tortured, and that the world couldn’t possibly be so cruel…But I’m not like them. I watched the whole world desert me. And once you know you’re alone, you can never, ever forget.

Cornered: 14 Stories of Bullying and Defiance edited by Rhoda Belleza

From the introduction: “But bullying starts with adults. It starts with controlling parents who will do almost anything to maintain that control, and teachers who don’t tolerate kids finding their ways through natural developmental stages…Back before language we absorb through all our senses. If we grow up experiencing domestic violence, even if it isn’t aimed at us, we learn the ways of violence…It’s too easy to look for bullying kids and try to stop them from being bullies. That usually results in making them more devious. Let’s call it meanness. Let’s call it indecency. And let’s understand that it never starts with the kid.

Bullying is Unnatural

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Sticks and Stones

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Though bullying is a problem that cuts across lines of class, race, and geography, the reality is that most kids aren’t directly involved—either as perpetrators or as targets. And when kids understand that concerted cruelty is the exception and not the rule, they respond: bullying drops, and students become more active about reporting it.

-Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Bazelon