I drew this fiery image and wrote out the self affirming statement back in 1989, possibly 1990. I vaguely remember the psychotherapist I was working with at the time suggesting I draw something as an exercise in creativity and affirmation. This was the result. These days, I actually do visualize my inner power more, which is my higher Self, connected with the great light source of the universe.
Category: Personal Reflection/Memory
Here’s an Old Photo of Me in Drag, ‘Cause I Support Drag Queens
This photo was most likely taken in either late 1999 or sometime in 2000, when I lived in Somerville, MA. The occasion may have been my 33rd or 34th birthday, but I’m not certain. I dressed in drag for a few of my birthdays when I lived with three roommates for five years, near Tufts University.
Somewhere, I have more photos of me dressed in drag on other occasions, all in the early 2000s. If I find them, perhaps I’ll steadily post those images on this blog.
I always knew cross dressing was a political act, but now it’s especially the case in such culturally and politically polarized times here in America. So, here’s a post to show my direct support for drag queens everywhere. And, hey, at heart, a major part of my own true Self is a drag queen.
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.)
In Memoriam: Mary Norbert Korte (1934-Nov. 14, 2022)
I hesitated for a good while to post this, because I thought my small handful of childhood memories about this woman would be viewed as insignificant, petty, overly “precious.” However, as I’ve grown older, I now view any memorable, positive presence of a person in my life, no matter how brief, as something to be treasured.
I met the celebrated, published poet Mary Norbert Korte (who left out the “Norbert” when I knew her) around late 1976, early 1977 in Berkeley, CA. I was nine, possibly newly ten years old. My then step/foster mother S. befriended her, the two having probably met through their mutual involvement in California Poets in the Schools (CPITS, later called CalPoets), a program through the California Arts Council. As a poet, she looked up to Ms. Korte as one of her older female role models. She stayed for a while on Mary’s land in the redwoods in 1978 and wrote poems for her first book.
From around 1979 to 1981, after we’d moved to Grass Valley, CA, I went with S. and my father a few times to Mary’s cabin in the redwoods, where Ms. Korte hosted a gathering of poets over a long weekend. If I remember correctly, we camped out in a tent each time. Before this, while still living in Berkeley, I would see Mary at other weekend-long poetry gatherings and probably at a few poetry readings, me tagging along with my folks. I road in the back seat of her car on at least one occasion.
My memories of Mary Korte are a handful of moments in time, but all are pleasant and comforting. Her voice was clear, strong, gentle, and kind. Her demeanor was always warm and grounded. She spoke to me respectfully and attentively, like I was another worthwhile adult she knew, not some child to be tolerated. All of this I found refreshing and soothing, particularly because so much of my childhood was fraught with emotional instability around me and internally. I’m glad my parents at the time brought her into my life when I could use all the positive, warm presences of others I could get.
Stronger/More Confident After Having Covid-19
Being ill recently with Covid-19 and then recovering from it completely has boosted my confidence in my (over fifty years old) body’s strength, and my sense of confidence overall. I have long been a believer in Nietzsche’s axiom that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, even if this may not be immediate or takes a while to become evident. I had some scary moments around thinking I was not going to get well anytime soon, that I may be left somehow medically weakened. If that had been the case, I would have committed myself to finding the strengthening of my spirit somehow. Learning while living is a route towards strength, since knowledge, whether gained from books and/or life experience, is power.
My Own Attempts at Art: “Zucretza Bird” (pencil and felt tip pens on paper)
I completed this drawing in 1987-’88 while a senior in college at UC Santa Cruz.
The written description in pencil says the following: “Zucretza bird (from planet Niobakkus) holding egg in protective pouch. (Picture drawn to actual scale.)”
Since childhood, I’ve had an imagination filled with the fantastical. I continue to be someone who creates characters and creatures in search of stories to live within. Thinking up plot lines has always been difficult for me.
By posting this old illustration of mine, my intention and hope is to return to drawing on at least a semi-regular basis. Historically, my inner muse(s) come(s) and go(es), seemingly fading off for long periods of time.
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!
“Healing Happens in Relationship.”
My undergrad. clinical and humanistic psychology professor at UC Santa Cruz, Ralph Quinn, said on more than one occasion, “Healing happens in relationship.” He included here a relationship with a higher power besides with another person or people. By extension, I think this certainly can and does apply to a connection one has with a pet, a wild animal, or with all or part of nature for that matter.
(Photo accompanying this post by Sebastian Arie Voortman.)
Pain Felt For the Dragon
The image is of the painting SAINT GEORGE AND THE DRAGON (c. 1470) by Paolo Uccello. Oil on canvas.
My parents had a print of this hanging in the dining room of the house we lived in for eighteen months when I was seven to eight years old. The image disturbed me deeply at the time (and still does) because I thought the dragon in the picture seemed innocent and passive, undeserving of having its eye and brain gored through by the knight. At that time, I shared how upset I felt for the dragon to my then step/foster mother, who my father never married but cohabitated with for fifteen years.
Movie Review: ESTEROS
Like many people, I watch movies for various reasons in addition to being entertained. Over the past few years, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, I have spent a lot of time in my home streaming movies, many of them indies, including ones about gay-oriented love relationships. Recently, it grew crystal clear to me that the adolescent and young man parts of me, these each being who I once was so many years ago, long to witness positive, loving relationships between boys and young men. The physicality of sex as an aspect of that expression of love has been important to see, though prolonged, anatomically graphic detail are not needed. It is more about viewing a balance of warm affection and passion that matter to these younger parts of myself.
I spent my youth longing for, yet fearing and generally avoiding, emotionally-laden physical intimacy with other male peers, a deep-rooted issue stemming from an unstable childhood that I’ve been actively healing for a good while. My husband’s presence in my life since my early forties has been deeply helpful. But, another part of that healing process has been to watch tender, affirming movies about love between adolescent and twenty-something males. Less often, I have also found it satisfying to watch love stories about men older than that age cohort.
A movie in this category of affirming emotional and physical love between young males I most recently viewed is ESTEROS (released in 2016), a warm and thoughtful Argentinian production, directed by Papu Curotto. The story is a simple and beautiful narrative, encapsulated in just eighty-seven minutes. Filmed back and forth in present day and flashback scenes, the movie stars Ignacio Rogers as the adult Matias, Esteban Masturini (adult Jeronimo or “Jero”), Joaquin Parada (pubescent Matias), and Blas Finardi Niz (pubescent Jero). The footage of the two sets of actors seems almost equal, with probably a little more of it featuring the two main characters in adulthood.
After about ten to twelve years of absence from each other’s lives, previously best childhood friends Matias and Jero unexpectedly meet up in a small city, the name of it eluding me. Matias, who lives with his girlfriend, has recently returned to Argentina after having resided in Brazil with his parents since about aged thirteen. The family had left for there due to Matias’ father pursuing a major employment opportunity. Soon, the two young men figure out who the other is and resume their friendship. Sexual and romantic tension between them immediately returns, with Jero taking the lead on expressing this chemistry, as he had originally done when he was twelve or thirteen.
The natural playfulness and comfort between the two boy actors, Parada and Finardi Niz, immediately sets for us viewers a tone of believable pubescent innocence, curiosity, and slowly building passion. Their on-screen chemistry matches that of the young adults, Rogers and Masturini, and steadily builds in intensity at a graceful, credible pace. Pure cinematic alchemy gets created by these four principal personae and their excellent direction. The writing, which is quite simple but succinct and good, adds to this alchemy. None of these males ever seem to waver in screen presence and ability. They are all well supported by a solidly competent rest of the cast, although I admittedly didn’t feel the need to notice and care that much, due to the compelling power of the main four.
I would add that the fifth principal player or presence in ESTEROS (ESTUARIES in English) is the Argentinian countryside, particularly an area of estuaries that abut a farm owned by Jero’s parents. This is the summer getaway the boys go to and begin to explore their romantic feelings for each other, which Jero initiates between them one evening in a bedroom they share. The estuary water, accompanying mud, and wildlife, including verbal references to alligators (or crocodiles? I believe alligators), which we viewers never actually see, underscores the sense of intriguing, somewhat unpredictable, even scary sensuality flowing between Matias and Jero. The former is fearful and uncertain while the latter of the two is clearly more of an early bloomer with his sexual interest and confidence. Such is often the case between and among peers.
The movie’s predictable but believable love triangle is an added layer of tension between Jero’s readiness and Matias’ hesitancy. The latter’s girlfriend, Rochi (Renata Calmon) plays, sadly, an all-too-common, thankless role of unknowingly aiding him in trying to be completely heterosexual, which Matias is not and never was. Thankfully, her character is respectfully, sensitively written as having an intuitive sense that something is very much not right. Matias is not fully present and interested in her as he should be. And so a classic dance of intimacy unfolds, quite beautifully, with all players stepping along through their parts in a mix of relatable struggle and grace.