When I’m not busy as a psychotherapist, I enjoy observing and writing about aspects of pop culture, especially those in movies and television/streaming series, though sometimes in books as well. I reflect upon beauty and meaning that can be found in those media.
Time For a Fresh, Second Look At Marilyn Monroe
Having watched and reviewed the movie BLONDE, a very distorted, negative portrayal of the film star Marilyn Monroe, I find myself experiencing a re-awakened interest in her, namely to give this cultural icon a fresh, second look. I intend to watch more of her movies, discerningly read about her, and find any well-balanced documentary on her (if one exists). It’s time to view Ms. Monroe as the fascinating, full person that she was.
I was enamored with Marilyn as a young child, starting at about age six years old. But, by age ten or eleven, I began to think of her as a sad, tragic figure, more a victim of circumstances than anything else. She was not at all “cool” to think much of in my 1970s and ’80s West Coast feminist-oriented household and social circles my folks ran in. She was someone to pity and avoid thinking much about at all, in order to not participate in perpetuating negative, oppressive stereotyping of women. Okay, fair enough, but yet limited and, ultimately, also unfair for Marilyn and, by extension, perhaps even, for women.
The truth is, Marilyn Monroe was not just a victim but many other things as a human being. She was a successful, assertive businesswoman, a singer, a natural comedian, a generous soul, a progressive thinker, and, undoubtedly much more. A few examples of her progressiveness: She was a staunch advocate in making sure the Black singer Ella Fitzgerald got a big break; she was a nudist; she was a supporter of “free love,” which has culturally since evolved into the furthering of polyamory as a way of structuring intimate adult relationships for some people who this is more natural feeling to do (this being just one among other freedoms of sexual and relational expression differing from hetero-normative, patriarchal norms centering on monogamy and heterosexuality). As dear Ella herself once said of Marilyn, she was “ahead of her time.”
The more I’ve learned about this historical figure, the more I realize I don’t know about her and got lulled for decades into holding a skewed, unexamined viewpoint of Marilyn. This has been lazy thinking on my part. Regardless of what one may feel and think about Ms. Monroe, in her own right, she was a dynamic, complex human being overcoming great odds for a while before her tragic end. I no longer wish to participate in relegating this woman and her legacy into a box that I and many others then inaccurately see her as pitifully stuck within.
(Photo of Marilyn Monroe taken in 1953.)
Brief Thoughts on Aging and the Term “Old”
I understand how the term “old” is subjective for many and age being viewed as “just a number.” But, I think it’s healthy and important to reclaim “old” as not meaning something to feel afraid and/or ashamed of. It seems many people believe old to mean one is definitely about to croak and/or rendered irrelevant. Neither is true. And those who are ageist can be educated, if they’re open, or otherwise left alone to isolate in their ageism. Technically, I’m middle aged but, if I’m fortunate enough, I’ll manage to grow old. At that point in time, I intend to celebrate living into old age, whenever that happens to be. Growing older and wiser is the track I’m on, which includes being committed to staying healthy as best I can for as long as possible. Celebrating life every day is important, and not just when you’re young. My quality of life has only improved with age. I wish that to be the case for everyone.
On Sobriety and How Less Is Often More
I started abusing alcohol on a steady basis late in life, a few months after turning fifty, to be precise. This coincided with finally “making it.” My husband and I had just bought our own condo. and I was a few years into having my own successful private psychotherapy practice. It all came together, including living near a vibrant town center with a lovely bar and restaurant where I’d hang out with some colleagues and even made a few new friends. For almost five years, I was riding this gravy train of “making it,” lubricated along with wine and mixed drinks, especially on weekends but on my one day off during the week too. In my own way, I was luxuriating after years of having less, believing, a lot of that time, that I didn’t deserve much. I’ve since learned, after letting go of drinking (now over a year ago), that, often in many instances, less is actually more. No alcohol has meant more health and well-being for me and my husband. And there are so many other ways to meet each day in celebration of having “made it.”
Here’s to everyone who’s alive and meeting each day. You’re here. You made it this far and, to those I actually know and like, I’m so glad we’re friends, family, and/or somehow associates in life. Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!
Skinny Men Are Beautiful and So Is Any Body Type
The photo is of actor Timothee Chalamet in BRITISH VOGUE Magazine, 2022. Not only do I think he’s beautiful, I find it so affirming to see a naturally thin, dare I say skinny, young man playfully posing, show-cased as beautiful. I too was once young and very thin and would have loved back then to have seen this kind of male imagery being respectfully, joyfully highlighted everywhere.
Everyone needs to witness affirming imagery of their own unique body type, not just a very select few types (namely skinny women and buffed up men) being glorified everywhere over and over again.
My Pet Peeve About Many Post Coital Scenes in Movies
A pet peeve of mine: Post coital scenes in movies where both lovers are wearing underwear. Now, I’m not gratuitously lascivious, just a viewer who appreciates realism where indicated, in this case complete nudity immediately after sex in a bed. Otherwise, dear film directors, please simply angle the camera more discreetly or drape a sheet or bedclothes over the actors if on-camera exposure of genitalia is a concern.
Accepting Some Types of “Weeds” in My Yard
Excluding the formally designated “invasive species” plants, it’s often rather arbitrary what people collectively label as “weeds” in the U.S. Dandelions didn’t used to be viewed as such, but now they are. In Ontario, Canada there seems to be a different category for these particular plants, where they are allowed to abound everywhere. This makes for quite pretty sites, the round, yellow blooms dappled over expanses of greenery.
In my front and back yards, to different extents, I selectively weed out some plants and not others. I cull assorted ones back but not completely while removing certain other types wherever I see them. As I’ve previously written (here: https://practicalpagan.blog/2022/07/28/radical-acceptance-of-letting-go-of-my-grass-lawn/), the grass in my yard is going to eventually die off anyway. Hence, I’ve been enjoying observing what hardy greens are naturally replacing it that I can accept and live with. Crab grass, for example, is, well, a grass of sorts and something I can tolerate while many other people around me seem to passionately dislike it.
I’m working more with nature here instead of battling it on so many fronts. And, frankly, I don’t care how “eccentric” that makes me seem to my neighbors. Like the assorted “weeds” in my yard, I’ve long been viewed by a good share of people as not belonging. I feel a sense of relief and peace over allowing many of the “weeds” before me to grow and be, their presence adding to my property, not somehow taking away from it.
In this place I call my home, I am a steward just as much as– if not more so– an owner.
Adios, Adam Rippon
Adios, Adam Rippon. I had fun following you with your pretty face and pretentiously fun camera closeups. But, the recent reel of yourself prattling on about the difficulties of being rich and deciding not to have children because you don’t want to have to explain to them why they have three nannies while so many children don’t, well, that went beyond the pale of tolerable ignorance and insensitivity for me. One person posted this comment to you: “Rude.” That about summed it up.
Now, I can have more space on my Facebook and Instagram feeds and in my brain to fill with something better or nothing at all, which amounts to the same: better. Ah, the power of choice to unfollow with a single finger tap.
Radically Accepting Letting Go of My Grass Lawn
It’s interesting, this having so much grass lawn around my house within a neighborhood of homes with grass lawns. Even the one word term “lawn” is largely assumed to mean “plot of grass.” But, there is room for “lawn” to mean a plot of land filled with other vegetation besides grass. Someday, lawns across the U.S.A. are surely going to be far less grassy and more, well, filled with some other kinds of vegetation. I understand that this has already been gradually happening in some places. Climate change will render this inevitable everywhere across America and other regions.
I am only now embracing “radical acceptance” of the long-term un-sustainability of my front and back yards of lawn. The grass is dying and dead (or looks that way) in whole patches, small and large, while just hanging on over the rest of the ground. We’re in a drought this year, like so much (if not all?) of the U.S. is. But, we’re in a long arc of climate change over any single year.
I feel fortunate to have bought a home with a lot of grass lawn, a dream I long held like so many people have and still do. However, it’s a collective cultural attachment– certainly in my generation and older– this hankering for grass lawns as part of one’s “dream house.” I know; I’ve been a direct participant in this attachment.
What I find myself doing of late is thinking about other possibilities, namely the reality that, someday, my front and back grass lawns will no longer exist. I may have long moved away or died when this is the case, I realize. But, in the meantime, I am beginning to radically accept that maintaining some picture perfect green lawn is, well, not worth my time, money, and focus. (Actually, it never really has been for me.) It feels like a Sisyphean task, and one that goes so much against the natural environment I live in. I feel for all the people around me who work so hard to maintain their grass lawns. I also wonder how this is yet another way I’m somehow different than my neighbors with their ongoing lawns, but that is for another writing.
It’s time I open up to exploring the option of growing plants native to my area, not simply because it’s the right thing to do but, also, because it will be easier and more rewarding to engage in than fighting to maintain the health of such water-demanding vegetation as grass. Either that or eventually re-seeding with a whole other kind of grass that does not need much water and is likely *native* to long-dry parts of the U.S.
I have read that grass lawns are inevitably going to be a thing of the past. I accept this. In the mean-time, in addition to the effects from drought and hotter weather, I will likely soon be more constrained from maintaining my half living lawn via an inevitable watering restriction (or “water ban” as it’s dramatically called here) by my city government. It will continue to wither, leaving room for other possibilities. Such go the cycles of life, which, more and more, I simply accept.
On The Mindful Use of Social Media
Ah, the seductiveness and pullulations of social media. Over on Instagram, I selectively follow few public figures, most of them politicians I respect but also a few actors. I follow two “influencers” (though one may not even identify that way) who I happen to actually know. The few actors and actresses I follow don’t use their accounts to heavily promote their own image. This self image promoting gets less interesting the older I get. It is enough that I take peeks at “suggested” profiles of pretty young men, often sleekly gym pumped, who have tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of followers. They don’t need me within their mass audience and I don’t need their pictures filling my feed and brain. The peeks I take of these aggressively promoted strangers are the psychological equivalent of eating candy or ice cream, tasty fun but best done in moderation. It’s like when I used to pick up a tabloid while waiting in the check-out line at the supermarket.
There is a set of choices behind how we each engage in social media. The more conscious and mindful they are made the better. I choose to fill my feed with a good variety, such as photos of nature, useful political and scientific information, updates from my friends, art, humor, and, yes, a beautiful sexy man here and there. It’s been an evolution for me, this what I intend to be a more mindful use of what I follow and post on Facebook and Instagram. We’re all on our own adventure with how to best navigate this interesting jungle called social media. May we each grow from it— including adding to the betterment of the community— along the way.