blOgbuefi

writing to know, knowing thru being, being for writing... this is me, writing about the one thing i know, which is myself... and even that is sometimes a mystery...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

gird your loins

while i am readying for the fight for net neutrality, i encourage you to peruse the website of my friend and fellow activist, and join in on our efforts to SAVE THE INTERNET.

i know i know, it's been hard for me to keep up on current events too. what with school and the advent of summer vacation, it's been too easy to forget about troubling issues such as this and remain complacent with the simplicity of my daily existence.

but consider this: if net neutrality is not protected, blogs such as this --and all the other fabulous ones to the right-- would not exist any more!

the democratic process of information access and accessibility is being challenged, and it is our duty to defend it, along with the other rights it represents!

please join me.
-stephanie

p.s. if you want an update, see this.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

a good feeling

...to be back again!

hi friends.

i promised you a grand coming out party, so here it is, my truth-fest, if you will. it's an attempt to get a lot of things off my chest, to unburden myself from guilt, self-loathing, self-blame, and to free myself from the weight of all that's been troubling me.

it's not an extravagant post, and probly not all that interesting to anyone who doesn't really know me or care much for me or my personal trials. so if you don't particularly care to hear about how my past relationship ended, or how i'm dealing with it, or about how i've learned so much from myself in the past two years of university, then stop reading now. nothing that follows will be any good reading for you. go read cold mountain by charles frazier instead. it's a far better read. or, i think so anyway. (haha, this is like a weedout post! "who's a dedicated enough reader to make it thru this one??" eh? eh?)

okay, so let the truth parade begin. and, as with all parades, you gotta start out with a bang!


first truth: love and hate, i'm discovering, are not that far removed...

i've been watching the movie closer like a chainsmoker goes thru cigarettes. i'm addicted to it. it's almost shameful how much i am in love with this movie, a film which i absolutely abhorred when i first gave it a watch in winter 2004.

...

[more to come... i'm writing this at work and i just remembered that i should probly get to an article i'm writing. promise i'll return! please come back!

love,
stephanie]

Monday, June 26, 2006

post(s) + coming out party forthcoming...

hi my dearest readers and friends.

i've been so exhausted from all my work i haven't been writing!

and that is just unacceptable.

however, i do have something(s) crafty coming... which may not be too interesting for you, but as much as writing is a catharsis for me, and as much as that can be interesting to you and anonymous strangers and passerby's on the internet, i will post it for your reading dis/pleasure, and unwitting familiarization with my uncomfortable existential situation.

topics of focus include:
1. the dissolution of my academic program, Western College for Interdisciplinary Studies at the hands of ruthless corporate and administrative dictates
2. the dissolution of my first love at the hands of time and self-actualization and combatting interests and the bastardization of the spoken word
3. my gradual self-actualizing as seen from a distance

it's gonna be one hell of a coming out party, i guarantee it! (in celebration of june, gay pride month, and recent truth-telling frenzies!)

love and a bucket of cheese,
stephanie

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

a gift of poetry

this came just in time...

have i ever mentioned how much i love and enjoy receiving poems from friends as gifts, as offered piece of self? it means so much more to me than anything i can ever receive. this was one thing i learned in my past relationships, the one thing i do not regret...

so, if you ever want to cheer me up, show me you love me, or become my friend, well, a poem is a good way to start.

and here is one from my friend brian at hummingbunny. he's a great individual, and he's been incredibly kind to me as of late, and cheered me up when i needed it most (i have this folder in my email account titled "happy things," and this email from brian definitely made it in there... it's funny because it's a folder usually reserved for very close friends and family, but that just goes to show you how much a specially written poem can mean...)

so enjoy brian's sestina poem, crafted from seven words (the last of which was dropped, for brian's sake) which mean so much to me (and definitely check him out!)

love and poetry,
stephanie

***
freedom
family
happiness
pleasurable
autonomous
surreal
avocado
***

"Hear My Voice"

growing up family
parents are surreal
controlling my freedom
no true happiness
not autonomous
creative so pleasurable.

mind's eye is pleasurable
say yes to family
will I be autonomous
some days are surreal
finding happiness
outside there is freedom.

tear down walls to freedom
crumbled bricks touch is pleasurable
stomping dust brings happiness
packing and leaving my family
my life ahead looks surreal
learning how to be autonomous.

to speak my mind is to be autonomous
that is the path to true freedom
on my own feels great but surreal
yet oh so wanton and pleasurable
finding new friends to replace family
sing dance perform joy is happiness.

birthing the process creates happiness
inner voice scolds must be autonomous
choose members to bring into family
many paths to tread openly to freedom
an entire body of work so pleasurable
floating never knew could be so surreal.

love rushes strobe waves flash surreal
caresses touch skin brings happiness
cresting flying sweating so pleasurable
to be me myself I am autonomous
open doors walk through to freedom
finally understand my role in family.

life is so surreal being autonomous
I find happiness in searching for freedom
it is pleasurable now thinking of family.

http://hummingbunny.blogspot.com

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

losing myself (a post for my friends)

hello friendly readers.

i want to apologize for my neglect lately. since i found youtube, i've been spending all my time doing that instead of writing, which i find unhappy-ing.

because there's something so much more rewarding about putting yourself into a piece of writing, the act of careful attention and parsing of thought into word onto page that makes it so much more sensual and soulful and dear to me. it's about taking the time to communicate to an anonymous reader, who will grant you the time and care and attention to still time and abandon other cares, simply to devote their mind and heart to you and your voice.

writing, more than any other art form, is about sharing, about giving yourself to strangers. and loving them and allowing them to love you back. for more than a pretty face or a moment of fleeting entertainment. it's sharing lifetimes and life experiences and delving to understand the conditions of humanity, to commune with another human being on what can be an incredibly desolate earth.

so i want to thank all my friends in this blogging community i have stumbled upon, and thank you for saving me.

the problem with things such as youtube is that it is simply too easy to make the connections we strive and struggle so hard to make thru the written medium. you take a five minute video of yourself in your jammies and upload it to the internet and suddenly it's a hit and people from all over are asking to be your friend. it can happen overnight.

but it took me one entire summer to develop a respectable place in the blogging community, and only thru the help and linkage of my friends. were it not for them, many current readers probly wouldn't have found my little place on the net. and my words would have drowned in all the thousands of other posts published daily.

and it's taken me until now, about a year ago, to establish my voice and cause on the web, the purpose and force behind the things i write...

i am a person. simply and wholly. just like you or anybody. i'm just a person, trying to find my way in this world. trying to find a way and a place and a me to be.

and it's hard. it's not always easy. but the difficult path is the one that sustains me.

thank you to those who remind me what it is i need to survive. thank you for reminding me how much i love to write, how much i need it, how much it makes me, how much it has made me.

thank you... for saving me.

seul votre,
o.stephi

Friday, June 16, 2006

weekend video montage


you should check out this sweet video i did on metube!

it seems i'm finally catching on to this fancy video technology... ha!

love and kissies,
stephi

p.s. i am totally in love with the office's song "wound up" after this...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

MeTube


so i finally figured out how to make videos and post them on youtube.

unfortunately, this discovery led to much wasting of time... but at least i have something to show for it...?

anyway, enjoy the vid's (i made a total fool of myself for all to see, so enjoy)

love and pixels,
stephanie

Monday, June 12, 2006

there's no i in team (but there are two in idiot)

what began as a simple internship-related journal entry for my honors program, soon became an introverted exploration of the reasoning behind my passive aggression, and the pains of self-doubt.

(i don't normally do this, but i ask you to please read this! i don't normally put a lot of time and care into my posts, but this one was actually carefully written, as a swan song to the first episode of my chicago stay.)

-o.stephi


CRITICAL MOMENT(S)
I had a moment of agonizing doubt regarding the proper form of action the other day, in a meeting between my supervisor Nancy and Georgia, the graphic designer she had hired to formulate the layout for the next issue of the magazine. This meeting was intended for the two of them to compare notes and share ideas and finalize plans for the remaining steps in the process of readying the issue for publication.

They were discussing matters of artistic vision; Nancy was worried about how she wanted to present the pictures for an article we had written together, about scientists and researchers at the museum and the books they had written. She was not sure how she wanted the article to break down, and how to photograph the authors and their books. She was also concerned about the cost of the photographs; if she needed to get new ones taken, she would have to hire a free lance photographer to do it. Georgia was taking Nancy's ideas into her own, and I could imagine her frantically trying to piece fragments together to form some sort of cohesive project.

I sat there listening closely, noting how Nancy and Georgia were each expressing their concerns and priorities and how they were communicating their independent visions for the project. I watched as they got the stack of books out and began laying them out on the table, discussing possible "poses" for the books, and debating the merits of having another photo shoot.

The possibilities for the photo layout were as follows: 1) a picture of each individual book, "for a 3D effect," as Georgia said, which would be more aesthetically pleasing than a flat scan of the cover, paired with an archived picture of the author; 2) a "group shot" of the books, and individual photos of the authors; or 3) group shots of the books and the authors.

While they were discussing the pros and cons of each alternative, I was looking through the photo samples and looking at the covers of the books, thinking about the one option they had failed to consider: a picture of each author with his/her book. I considered how expensive this might be, and how this might have prevented them from even mentioning it as an option, but I believed it would not only solve the aesthetic problem (Georgia seemed worried about the look of the pictures), but the layout problem as well (this would allow the reader to pair the author with the book much easier, and would allow for each picture to accompany the article-piece written about it, which would resolve Nancy's concerns with layout). It would also be easier for the reader, perhaps even more engaging, as they would immediately see which author had written each book, and then read about it in the accompanying article. In psychology classes, I have learned that what's "best" is often what cuts down on "cognitive load," or what makes things the least tedious and complicated for the reader to interpret. Plus, I thought the idea of photographing a stack of books was a bit tacky. And if they were going to spend the money to get new photographs taken anyway, and deal with the formatting issues on top of that, I thought this made the most sense, aesthetically and economically.

As I listened to them planning the photographic layout, I debated chiming in. My experiences in jobs such as these is that someone in my position usually has very little leverage and clout to offer her opinion and be considered seriously. I'm aware that most people do not expect a lot of insight from an intern, especially one as young as myself. In my work at the Field so far, I've been pleasantly surprised by the kinds of tasks Nancy has charged me with: interviews with researchers and curators, article layout, even writing, and editing. But never has she trusted me to make any final decisions for the magazine, and some of my editing advice, despite its being stylistically correct or pleasing, was often overlooked or discarded ("for cost considerations," is what Nancy tells me).

Power and place in the decision hierarchy have always mystified me. When people learn of my disappointment and dislike for menial tasks, they are often surprised and slightly amused. "You're an intern," they say, "What did you expect?!" I never know how to respond to these kinds of reactions. I have always thought myself capable of learning and mastering even the most difficult tasks, even coming to enjoy them. That others can't respect this, or even understand it, is frustrating to me.

What's more, this has led to self-doubt. Instead of being the straightforward and confident individual I am at school, in the workplace, it seems I have lost my finesse. I never know when it is my place to make a suggestion. But worse, I never know when it is my right to do so. I usually prefer thinking outside of office politics boundaries, ignoring details related to title and class. I like to think we're all people and we're all working toward a common goal. What does it matter if an intern or anyone else has something to contribute? Shouldn't they appreciate the fact that someone, regardless of professional standing, is pointing out an oversight? Aren't we all part of a team? "There's no I in Team," right? And if they liked my suggestion, that might open the door for more chances in the future to contribute my opinions.

But then again, chiming in when my opinion was not called for has gotten me into trouble before. I didn't want Nancy or Georgia to think I was overstepping my bounds, that I, with my high school degree and minimal experience, was trying to tell two professionals how to best go about their jobs, while delaying the progress of their meeting. It would have been professional humiliation, and a mortifying moment for me, not to mention my suggestion would have most likely been disregarded, along with my thorough and careful edits to the annual report.

So while they troubled themselves with the final decisions on the article's design, I sat in my chair, troubled by my own dilemma: do I risk sounding presumptuous, or do I swallow the agony of silence? Do I continue feeling stupid, so that they don't have to?

***
Paralyzing self-doubt seems to be the theme of my Chicago experience so far. Not only must I encounter this monster in the workplace, but in the home as well, as I continue to passive-aggressively address issues with my housemates.

One of my fellow residents is a 20-something architect from Pakistan, who makes it clear to me from the beginning that he doesn't want me living here. "My parents are paying for my schooling," he explains, "If they find out a girl is living with me, they are going to be very upset." I recall the numerous times his girlfriend has stayed over, and the nights I've been kept awake by their loud conversations in his bedroom, and find it hard to believe.

I convince myself that avoiding thinking about it will cause the problem to go away. I think that the less I am seen or heard, the less aware they will be of my presence. Perhaps, they will even forget I live here at all. So I skirt the issue as much as possible. I restrict myself from engaging in any behavior that will remind me (or them) of this uncomfortable situation. I take up new hobbies: yoga, filming, and re-learning French (I soon begin speaking to myself in encrypted combinations of French, Chinese, and polemic). I quietly retreat to the pleasures of reading and writing, and have become quite prolific, having finished reading four novels and writing several short essays and poems of my own in a mere three weeks. I find I enjoy the process more the farther I am from the house, so I read and write while sitting in the lobby outside, or in my room, with the lights turned low and the door closed. I explore the nooks and corners of the city and spend the majority of the daylight hours in the park, or in some tourist-crowded landmark. I am more familiar with the city in three weeks' time than most native Chicagoans are in a lifetime. I lurk around the house, slipping out in the mornings and returning as late as possible, to avoid having to speak or share the kitchen with them when I return. It's like a never-ending game of hide and seek. And they've triple-teamed me.

For the most part, they humor me and go about their own business, allowing me to go about mine. We are a house of four strangers, each with our own dreams and passions, all of which we keep to ourselves.

Occasionally I venture into the kitchen or into the living room. One of the artists is watching a Spanish movie I have always wanted to see. I ask to join and he offers me a side of the couch. We watch in silence, except for occasional moments of stifled laughter. We talk afterward. We find we have a lot in common, but I wouldn't call it shared interests. You have to connect with someone for that. There has to be some sense of investment in the person. A sense of continuation, of the moment extending to future episodes of interaction. But we're too stubborn and afraid for that. This interaction is an obligation to circumstance: "we're stuck here so let's make the best of it, OK?"

When the sink and tub won't drain from months' worth of hair being stuck in the pipes, I go to the architect and inform him of the problem. He gives me a knowing laugh and promises he'll take care of it soon. Days later, the sink and tub are still stopped up, and what's more, there's no toilet paper left in the entire house, and he's left for a week's vacation.

I mutter mean things under my breath, but grab my purse and tennis shoes, and begin walking to the nearest Walgreen's. I come back with a pack of toilet paper and an economy size bottle of Drano. I roll up my sleeves and silently tend to the problem.

Two treatments of Drano and ten hours later, the sink and tub work again, but I am overcome with anger. My roommates seem to be amusing themselves by inconveniencing me and making my entire experience miserable. They want me to suffer for intruding into their world. They will slowly drive me from here, while I simultaneously try to win their favor by doing maintenance jobs and grocery runs around the house. We're stubborn.

When I do my laundry and fail to hear the buzzer when it's finished drying, I go downstairs to find it scattered all over the dirty floor, mixed in with kitchen grease and mud from the last night's storms. I glance over to find my roommate shamefully tuck his head into his chest, while his girlfriend tries to slip unnoticed into the next room. I frown and bend to pick my clothes off the floor, stuffing them into a laundry bag as swiftly as I can manage before escaping his abrasive company.

In my solitude, I unpack the clothes, some still wet, and toss them onto the bed, reciting diatribes and evocations I've stocked inside since this whole thing began. "You have no right to treat me like you do, I've paid my rent and I've done my share to live here, I am no less deserving of respect or decency than anyone else." Or, "If I had somewhere else to go, believe me, I would leave, because this place smells and you are horrible people, and I wouldn't want to stay here any longer than I have to, it's dirty and disgusting and I'm sick of having to avoid all three of you and your girlfriends, there just aren't enough places to run to in this tiny hole!"

I practice delivering these well mulled-over speeches, as I imagine walking right up to all three of them, and their girlfriends, and finally letting them know what I think. Letting them know how from the start, I had wished I could befriend them. How I regretted that we had to meet under these circumstances. How all I wanted was to be able to talk to them as equals and peers. Or, how I wanted the best for all of them, even if it meant I had to move, or that we had to be enemies. And how I hope that the architect and his girlfriend will be allowed to marry, despite what I suspect will be his parents' wishes to the contrary.

The words that go unspoken are the ones that destroy me, wearing me down and wearing me thin. I have lost weight from failing to eat; I find it hard to leave my room when I hear voices or movement in the kitchen. I've even become a morning person, learning that I can mope around the house unencumbered in the early morning hours, when the roommates are still asleep in their beds with their girlfriends. And the sun in the mornings shines off the city and welcomes me to the day, inviting me to escape this oppression in its warmth.

Yes, the words that go unspoken are the hardest to force forward. Like tiny mines, each of them explosive and thorny to the touch, I know that speaking these words will be the trigger that activates a messy aftermath. But were it better to be openly discontent and unburden my struggles on others? Or were it better to swallow the agony of silence?

***

As I pack my bags and ready myself for the move, I regret my fear of being heard. In feeling too much for others, I have failed to act for my self. My whole life, I have battled my instinctual desire to avoid burdening others with my troubles, a result, perhaps of my upbringing. I have continually struggled to escape the confines of this cell, only to meet my self at every wall. These chains are self-imposed, and composed of blood and bones. My wishes, contained in a body and a cage of wishes and fears. Recent experience has been nothing but a reinforcement of the past.

How can the silence end, if I do not allow the healing to begin?

Change requires speaking: Careful articulation and delicate disregard in the service of acknowledged existence. Opening old wounds to let the salve pour over and into it.

One should never resign to silence for the sake of a more comfortable and convenient existence. Life is about abrasive contact; the rubbing against is just what we need to start the fires that permit us to survive.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

well this is interesting...

i find it so funny that these things exist...

honestly, it's not about material worth.

but how funny, the blurring of the material with the immaterial meanings of interest.


hmm. interesting indeed...
-o.stephi

Friday, June 09, 2006

existentially short-circuiting

...as in, i've plugged myself into too many outlets.

as in, i've tried to plug into as many and too many outlets. all the outlets possible.

the newest installment: MeTube, my videolog for my stay in chicago. i uploaded my first entry/episode today. as did zach braff.

well, it's nice to know i'm in good company.

more videos (hopefully more insipiring ones...) to come.

enjoy the weekend everyone, as i prepare to change locales.
-o.stephi

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

artist's statement

as a supplement to in(v)ertion, the explanation and explication of the purpose behind the meaning...


In(v)ertion: Artist’s Statement

My performance piece developed out of my own attempts to, as Charlotte Keatley so aptly stated, “acknowledge the debt, to point out the fact that you and I are where we are today due to the efforts of women in the past” (1990, p.130). My piece was thus conceived from an effort to synthesize the voices, theories and perspectives of the writers whose works we have read this year, and my desire to discover a place for myself, as a woman, amongst them. Formulating common themes into a web of experience (performed as a spoken word collage) that could serve as a basis for the representation of the “woman’s condition” then provided me the context in which to position my own voice and artistic contribution. My reactions and interpretations of the works by these authors has not only inspired me, but has motivated me to create my own work, and to explore the realms of the poetic and theatric mediums.

I intended, specifically, to reinterpret and stimulate reconsideration of the works used in this course, especially through the juxtaposition of sound fragments. This concept came about as a synthesis of inspiration from the slide, dialogue, music combinational structure found in Diana Son’s “R.A.W. (‘Cause I’m A Woman)” and my reactions to Charlotte Keatley’s My Mother Said I Never Should. I remember being particularly troubled by Doris’s last lines in Scene 8, which Keatley seemed to have written with a profound sense of irony. I felt that Doris, in speaking these last lines, was recognizing not the “beginning of her life,” (Keatley, 1994, p.92) but in fact, the end of her freedom and sense of individuality as a woman. Part of her self must die in the birth of this new life.

In this way, I modified lines from Doris’s monologue with the intention of reinterpreting her seemingly conventional declaration of love and happiness, to emphasize the sense of ironic loss in the gaining of a relationship. Taken in context with the other texts we have read, notably Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide and Cherrie Moraga’s Giving Up The Ghost, Keatley’s words, “it’s happened to me, I didn’t think it would be like this” and “my heart was in my mouth” no longer seem like honest declarations of love, but of violation.

This idea, that all love is a violation, was something I wanted to develop further. The discussion of love, rape, sex and sexuality in the course texts depicted the nature of relationships in a negative, even defeatist, light. As Hélène Cixous suggests, this could be a function of patriarchal ideology, as she points out that all women are “relegated to repression, to the grave, the asylum, oblivion or silence,” doomed to an existence in which they are “loved only when absent or abused, a phantom or a fascinating abyss. Outside and also beside [themselves]” (Cixous, 1977, 133).

In that women are always the “victims” of love became a foundation for my perspective, and a source of critical perturbation. I wanted to break free from the “woman as victim” stereotype in my performance and writing. And because women’s oppression is directly linked to the existence of men and the socially conditioned standard of submission, the process of breaking free of victimization required first the removal of men, and then an assertion of women’s power and independence in their absence.

While Cixous claims “it is always necessary for a woman to die in order for the play to begin” (1977, p.133), the death, or removal of the male from the scene, facilitates in the beginning of something else: the autonomous life and happiness of the woman. By writing out the male, depriving him of voice and presence, metonymically removing his power, I could eliminate what Keatley termed the “resource of the oppressed,” an “extraordinary ability [for women] to assert themselves through compromise” (Keatley, 1990, p.130).

Thus, in the death of the man, I achieved a removal of the assumed male gaze, and a removal of the social expectations that seem to function as part of oppressive patriarchal ideology and its attendant expectation of women to be submissive. The removal of the man, the dilution of his power, and his continued irrelevancy are crucial to the development of women and the assertion of individuality, a meaning central to my piece. I wanted to portray women’s emergent power and confidence in the absence of man. Thus, it is necessary for the man to die for the woman to begin.

This inverts the expected natures of social roles and relationships, an idea that led to the conception of the title of my three-movement poem. Invertion resulted from the blending of two concepts and their significance in the context of women’s experience: insertion and inversion. Insertion has sexual connotations, reminding one of penetration, but may also imply power, as in a dialogue where the insertion of one’s voice, especially the voice of the oppressed, may signify an attempt toward change. The idea of breaking the “relegated silence” (Cixous, 1977, p.133) with the raising of voice, both in volume and frequency, suggests a subversion of social expectation, and an intention to change through action.

My performance piece seeks to portray a sex scene from an alternative perspective. I sought to negate or reverse established social ideals in my performance, particularly through removing male power and delegating it to the woman character. Instead of love being a negative thing, and sex something oppressive and violating that she consents to instead of initiating, I wanted this scene to assert the opposite. I wanted to reverse the expectations for women’s and men’s social roles by having the woman be assertive, having her take control of the situational outcomes that affect her body and emotions. Keatley’s assertion that it is “incredibly hard for women to be psychically singular, to be ‘selfish’” (1990, p.131) was something I struggled with, and could identify as an underlying problem in many of the plays I read. It seems that women are consistently battling a cognitive dissonance between society’s expectations for them, and their own desires and needs. Thus, never “psychically singular,” but always polarized and bifurcated.

Inversion, in the form of role reversal, achieves an assertion of female power and choice, as the woman is speaking out and dominating the scene, while her lover is absent, perhaps dead. Additionally, the reversal of chronological order, moving from the woman’s death to her (re)birth, signifies an upheaval of natural order, a subversion of the expected. This also changes the audience’s interpretation of her situation: she is not a victim, though she begins at first to echo the victim-speak of prior rape monologues. Instead, she is triumphant and in control of her experiences, and the audience witnesses the creation of a new woman, born, like a phoenix, from the ashes of discarded social ideals.

The image of a phoenix, and the transformation from the remains of a destructed self, are further implied in the lyrics of the song, which begins “when there’s nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire” (Stars, 2005). I chose this song as a music bed for the poem because it suggests the need for women to abandon social ideals in the service of autonomy.

I intended to reflect this through the stripping of clothing, gradually revealing an uninhibited and unashamed woman. This shedding of various selves, signified by the layers of clothing, represents an act culminating in honesty and self-discovery. The tearing away of clothes, meant at first to suggest something sexual, soon becomes a means by which the woman removes her inhibitions, and finds a way to “pick herself offa the floor and fly.”

The clothes are meant to imply the burden of expectation and ideology, functions of her existence within society that “keep her down.” The Yale sweatshirt, the black and white striped shirt suggestive of prison uniform, the various shirt colors meant to recall Ntozake Shange’s “women of color,” and the long tight dress were intended to represent various forms of restraint. The color yellow, as well, suggests her race, which she encounters and tries to escape repeatedly, but finally accepts. The yellow remains until the end, in the culmination of her dance. She must get through the layers to reveal her true core, and as she discards the clothes and the ideals they symbolize, she finds herself freer to move about, to run and leap into the air, to explore space and her body’s capabilities within it.

She becomes more comfortable in her ability to appreciate her self and her body, and with that, her sexuality. These “layers of denial” are a function of McIntosh’s “invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions [of privilege]” (p.21) that oppresses women and other minorities. In shedding them, she finds herself “finally free and happy,” empowered to start her life anew, a self-made woman. She is not a creation of man’s, or an accessory to the fulfillment of his dreams or desires, but came from herself, a place “where [she] made [her]self. Where [she] changed” (Son, p.292).

In the end, it is her realization of her autonomy, her strength and ability as a woman, and her refusal of man that redeems her and allows her to fly. As the clothes are cast aside, she enters into a state of bliss, an existential orgasm, and a sense of gratification and satisfaction beyond sexual bliss. It is the satisfaction one finds in the discovery of independence, and the realization that one has the power to create happiness for oneself. Like Betty’s discovery of masturbation in Caryl Churchill’s Cloud 9, she “goes on defying… until [she] has betrayed [men] and feels triumphant because [she] is separate from them” (Churchill, 1985, p.83). She is triumphant at last, no longer limited by the thick layers she once believed she needed for her protection and acceptance. She is free to be herself and to love herself, and no longer positions herself in a system of oppression.

Reference:

Cixous, Hélène. (1977). “Aller à la mer.”

Churchill, Caryl. (1985). Cloud 9. New York: Theatre Communications Group, Inc.

Keatley, Charlotte. (1990). “Art Form or Platform? On Women and Playwrighting.” New Theatre Quarterly, 6:22, 93-105.

Keatley, Charlotte. (1994). My Mother Said I Never Should. Methuen Student Edition. London: Methuen Publishing Ltd.

McIntosh, Peggy. “Understanding Correspondences Between White Privilege and Male Privilege Through Women’s Studies Work.”

Son, Diana. “R.A.W. (‘Cause I’m a Woman)”.

Stars. (2005). “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead.” Set Yourself On Fire. Arts & Crafts Records.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

in honor of the occasion




it's june the 6th, 2006.

june 6, 06?

6/6/06?

ha, now you're catching on...
(don't worry, i wasn't the quickest out of the gate either)


anyway, in honor of the day, a visual tribute:






evidence.



eat your heart out, right-wing conservatives!

love,
stephi

Monday, June 05, 2006

relationships and a reverence for the material: secrets long kept, revealed to be forgotten

i got a happy and confused message from my parents today after my yoga class, informing me that i won the Barbara E. Nicholson prize from the women's studies department at miami university for best undergraduate essay in gender studies. i won for my submission of "in(v)ertion," a choreopoem i wrote for my feminist theatre class final fall semester 2005.

this was, of course, a surprise to me as well, as i have never won any major prizes for my creative writing before, and felt sure one of my other submissions, all analytical essays and queer theory explications, would be the better bets. i wasn't even sure i could win this, as i knew some of my peers in the gender/sexuality in literature class i was taking were going to be entering as well.

i thot that when june came around without any word i had surely been another essay discarded in the pile of submissions.

but, there was something existentially validating in hearing my parents so proud of me. and so surprised! i guess they hadn't realized before that their daughter was a decent writer, tho they often like to remind me that my writing is good enough to put me thru law school (which, btw, i am NOT fond of).

it's kinda shitty that it took some outside recognition and cash to make this apparent to them, and that i have to use this materiality to wield as a shield or evidence for my passions.

but at least it's a step in the right direction?


***

what's more, the greatest thing about this feat, to me, is the fact of the work itself. i wrote this piece in one long, violent flushing, during thanksgiving break of 05.

i was going thru a hard time, and there were all these wonderful books and literatures and poetry swimming in my mind. and this theatre class had taught me something new about that hard-to-achieve connection between art and artifice, body and mind, theory and practice, performance and performativity, creation and destruction and creativity and rebirth and dance and song and poetry. and speaking my mind. thru my body.

i remember penning the first stanzas, as the poem began to take shape in my head, a giant undertaking trying to give shape to all the pieces in my head, and i was sitting naked on my bed after a shower, just catching a long string of thoughts as they were leaving my lips, and i was dripping water and salty tears onto blue liquid ink in a bound notebook.

so anyway, i was going thru this transformation of my perception of my self and my body and the interactions of these and others.

and then, there was the relationship.

a relationship that changed a lot of things for me and had a profound effect on the formation of a year. it broke me, it made me, it built me up, it let me fall, it let me fail, it failed, and then it soared and sprouted and blossomed and grew, then wilted, expanded, exploded, tore open and cracked sidewalks, then overgrew, overtook, overcame, ...and then it was just over.

and it has been a perfect circle, a profound arc, a demonstration of gravity, of physics, the physical, the inevitable. an action with a reaction, an allegory for an inability to overcome laws of nature, of human nature, or perhaps just humanity.

and i realize i am getting vague now, so let me return to the point: the point is, this relationship meant a lot to me. it still does, perhaps. but mostly now just as an inspiration, a well of desperation and loneliness, a reminder of struggles i have efforted and labored to put to paper and movement, to share in a way of begging understanding.

you see, with my parents, this poem represents an acknowledgment of creative accomplishment. their pride and happy congratulations signifies the outward world's willingness to accept something i have contributed for consideration and discussion.

but for me, this work was a labor of love, an act of redemption, of forgiveness, of salvation, preservation, acknowledgement, a coming to terms, a comfort, a coming...

and for my other, my lacanian other, the one to whom this whole thing was dedicated, the inspiration and the artist's poison, it is all the voice and madness never communicated forthright. it was all the painful brimming storminess that you interpreted as silence. it is all the secrets i kept inside, all i was afraid to say, all that i was afraid would be true in their articulation. there's a scary acknowledgment in the power of the word. and in my overcoming of the word, have become it.

so let the silence end. the awkward painful silences that were burying the conversations we would never have, the ephemera and the viscera, torn out and exposed to rot and disappear again, stained ether vapors ascending. the weight is lifting...

it needed to be said, if only to help me record a relationship that would otherwise be forgotten, as i actively try now to forget (but not forgive). like retracing an odyssic journey, or a crime from forensic evidence, it is a map of clues, of memories,

--of fragments, shored against these ruins.


O swallow, swallow--
stephanie



the title fragment of this prize-winning work can be found in the post i made on the trollpotty reader, called in(v)ertion.

or, check out the original version, which first appeared here, and the initial responses from readers.

this is, however, only one of three parts, the others being "death" and "(re)birth," consecutively. these are not online, but can be sent or posted upon request.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

arsenal: surrealist subversion (+scathing updike review)


like i said before, the printers row book fair was this weekend, and it was the hippest (albeit the yuppiest, most bourgeois thing) to do in chicago this weekend.

and i was lucky and happy enough to meet some cool cats from the charles h. kerr subversive literature publishing house. much to my delight, they had situationist/surrealist literature, in addition to subversive postcards and buttons to gift me. the cards and stickers i have in my possession now are some of the most fist-pump awesome works of art and beauty and brilliance and i have ever had the pleasure of holding in my hands and to ever convey power from paper fibers (or such is my sentiment at the present). and the inverted picture book and book of 19th and 20th century french poetry they gave to me upon learning i could read french were a tasty find as well.

i exchanged some information and currency (canadian and american, thank you) with them for this powerbook / handbook of a compilation, arsenal: surrealist subversion, about the realization of surrealism in the service of revolution, poetry, the marvelous dream, freedom, desire, wilderness, and love... (who can say no to that?)

it's a beautiful arrangement of handprinted illustrations and essays and manifestos and surrealist dreams and subversive actions set to paper and ink and breath...

as soon as i obtain a scanner, i will share the artwork with you, this is too good to keep to myself!

until then, read up on my thoughts on literature, consumption, john updike, and classism, in a post i just penned on lessons i learned this weekend from the streets of chicago (and how much i realize i dislike john updike and his writing... sorry to the fans).

love (and all those other delicious things)
-stephanie

Saturday, June 03, 2006

this is what happens when i have free time





hello.

i made special care not to say that "this is what happens when i'm bored," because i was most certainly not bored today, okay? i had a very nice day, spent most of it spending too much money on many many good good books at the annual printers row book fair just a block away from my current house, then spent the rest of the afternoon with a good book in the park, grant park, meeting friendly strangers (one person i met lives and works in colorado, where she helps train the US Olympic badminton team! how cool is that?) and loving the city, sunning and soaking up fountain spray and gospel music.

anyway, i heard about this fantastically weird website called myheritage, which allows you to submit photos of yourself, which it then scans, and analyzes "meta-data," returning a list of 10 or so various celebrity faces (of both sexes, thank you kindly) which you could possibly be related to, based on your facial structure. so basically, it's a list of celebrities you look the most like.

haha, so i tried it. with different photos. here are the results (in descreasing order of possible relatedness):


first picture. (v-neck and beads around neck)
1. farrah fawcett (71%)
2. selma blair (61%)
3. jon bon jovi (52%)
4. whitney houston (51%)
7. yoon-jin kim (47%) --i'm actually surprised this thing doesn't automatically list similar ethnic minorities as the most direct matches
10. james coburn (45%) --oookaaaay...

second. (brown shirt)
1. hrithik roshan (60%)
2. monica lewinsky (60%) --ew. i'm just glad she wasn't the first result.
3. francesco totti (57) --haha... wha?
4. charles manson (56) --o good.
5. renee zellweger (52) --okaay... getting better
6. michael phelps (52) --mmm... not so much
8. jodie foster (48)
9. zhang ziyi (47)
--needless to say, i'm not using that picture for anything soon

third. (purple shirt, standing with my friend katie)
1. sammi cheng (72)
2. lucy liu (71)
3. tata young (70)
4. mike myers (68)
5. yoong-jin kim (63)
6. zhange ziyi (63)
8. steve buscemi (62)
9. tom welling (61)
10. milla jovovich (61)
--so apparently, this is my most asian looking picture so far
--and katie looks like jennifer love hewitt, rachael leigh cook, rachel mcadams, selma blair and vin diesel, among others. good to know!

fourth (torso shot)
...apparently, the face-recognition technology is advanced enough to recognize there was "no detectable face in this picture.

very well.
carry on...
-stephanie

Thursday, June 01, 2006

stories

chicago is bringing out the story-teller in me. odd, isn't it?

anyway, if ever i were to write a book about my experiences in the windy city, this is what it would consist of, so far.

they're half-truths, based on truth, exaggerated, fabled and fiction-ized.
(sometimes a lie is the truest thing you will know)

homeless again in chicago,
stephanie


--STORIES--

"the parents"
There once was a family. A family who knew a Pakistani man. A Pakistani man who knew their daughter. And their daughter, who needed help and a place to stay while away from home and in a strange land, asked this man for help.
He offered a small room in his house with his two friends until she could find a place of her own and get back on her feet.
So all three people lived together in this house for many days and all were happy and safe.
Then one day, the Pakistani man had to throw the daughter out. Due to his God, or his parents, or his girlfriend (he couldn't decide which, but all were important, you see), she couldn't stay there any more. The Pakistani man offered to help her find a place, but never kept his word, and continued on with his life, blind to the despair and hopelessness he had imposed.
Having no where to go, no prospects in mind, and only a week to figure something out, the daughter cried home as she fled to the streets.
Her parents, who always loved her very deeply and forcefully, were angered. Their good will and kindness and understanding and hope for all humankind blemished, as their confoundment and inability to understand circumstancs clouded their beliefs.
Her parents, who had never hated another human being in their lige, had been taught to love others unconditionally, and whose lives and spiritual beliefs were the model of this adherent practice, developed a surprising hesitation and distrust for humanity from thence forward. Their love for their daughter, and the accompanying dislike for all sources of pain and hurt feelings toward her, soon became well-seated ill-will, then hate, towards the individual who they all saw as the cause.

As time passed, I hear that these poor and gentle, loving parents developed a hate so strong, it could not be contained to the individual any more, and developed into a broad dislike of Pakistanis, and people in general.

So it goes.

(God save them, protect them, please. I love them so...)


"a hatred for love"
Love can be so damagin, really. It is enough to tear one apart from the inside out, and to tear people asunder...
to ruin cities and break bonds of blood,
Love is destructionary.

What love is so strong as to focus so intently on one, and blind the lover to all else, to ignore the pleading and pain of a fellow human being, to render it meaningless, in the face of the pleasure of pleasing one's love?
Love is a blind and a handicap.



"a warning" / to haseeb:
One day, you must finally confront your parents and let them know of your individual beliefs. It is difficult, seemingly impossible, to let your parents know, to make them aware that you, the fruit of their love, have developed separately and independently of them, that you might not agree, or even get along, that you may now be one another's enemies.
But in the end, it is really yourself you are defending and combatting, yourself you are defeating.
For do you think you can have everything?
One must go through life aware of the sacrifices, the conflicts, the compromises.
You give and take, you triumph and suffer, but never one and not the other.

Eventually, you will have to kill your secrets in exposing them to the light, and your others will have to know of the life you've chosen, so that you can continue to live.

Death is the end to all options.
What matters is how you face it.


want more? check out another over at invincible cities! and enjoy the weekend.
love, stephi