Books. I….

One for my ears and one for my eyes. That’s how I do books — usually two at once. Maybe it’s an escape — a way not to think about the things I really don’t want to think about. You know what I mean — female infanticide in India, the GOP debates. You know what I mean.

The book I just finished was on digital audio, and I just couldn’t stop listening to it until I was finished. Everything about it was unique — the format, the characters, the premise, the language.

The Night Circus.

The author is incredibly talented on a number of fronts. I was particularly fascinated by her Flax-Golden Tales. Be sure to take a look.

The Night Circus was nominated for a Golden Tentacle Award, which

ts awarded annually to the debut novel that best fits the criteria of progressive, intelligent and entertaining. The book must be the author’s first published work of novel-length fiction in any genre.

Take a look at the other nominees if you are into “progressive, intelligent, and entertaining” reading.

Of course, I download almost all the books I read from my library’s digital catalog. I was surprised to see that they even had The Night Circus. Usually I wind up with a mystery or suspense, which is what’s on my mp3 player now. Not on the level of The Night Circus, but it keeps me from thinking about the things I don’t want to think about. You know what I mean — malnourished people, malnourished animals, malnourished dreams.

morning dreams

Since there is no urgency for me to get up mornings, I tend to lie abed for hours, drifting in and out of sleep. During that time in the morning is when I dream — complex narratives always set in the same dream universe, consisting of the same winding urban streets that rise up from a river and move out into an area that is reminiscent of the neighborhood where I grew up. Somewhere in the mix is a school/college campus and a hotel on a lake where there is always some kind of social dancing going on.

It is as though when I dream I move into a life in some parallel dimension where the topography reflects a mixture of places I have known in this life. They are recognizable places, but they are enough off-kilter to become problematic. I am often unsure or lost in this dreamscape, which is populated both with people I know and don’t know, and always fraught with distressing situations.

I dream these dreams almost every morning and wake up tired and disoriented.

Of course, the answer is to get up early and avoid the dreams. Somehow I can’t. I’m always curious to find out what is going on in this other life of mine.

This morning I dreamed of my cousins who are in Florida — two couples whom I haven’t seen in several years. In real life, one of their sons and my son were born a month apart. In my dream they were both the age of my grandson, now — around 9 years old. And my son was also my grandson. And there was a frisky puppy — a long-haired reddish puppy whose fur I could feel — soft and silky — as I held onto its collar to keep it from jumping on my son/grandson.

In the dream, one cousin was showing me around her opulent apartment. There was really no point to the story. (Even as in this life, there seems to often be no point.)

Nothing was resolved before I woke up with one of my favorite Mary Travers’ songs from the 1970s — “Morning Glory” — running through my mind. I spent some time today doing an internet search for the lyrics, but couldn’t dig them up anywhere. I remember them as something like

Morning glory, glory in the morning.
I wish that I could show my face like you.
I wonder where you go to every afternoon.
Sometimes I wish that I could go there too.
Sometimes I wish that I could go there too.

I’ve got to figure out how to make myself go to bed earlier and get up earlier. I wonder if it’s just how my biorhythms are?

his dream coming true

He tells the story, here, of how his dream began at age 5:

……when everyone else was answering “policeman” or “fireman” or “doctor” to the question of what they wanted to be when they grew up, my first real answer was that I wanted to be an “outer space moving van driver”, helping (and this part was very specific) families to move into orbiting space stations…..

Well, as he goes on to explain,

Needless to say, I never did become an outer space moving van driver. Nor did I end up in space science in any fashion whatsoever. Or, indeed, in any field of science at all. (For that matter, I don’t even drive.)

But the exploration of space, whether by human or machine, has since that early memory of film fiction [2001: A Space Odyssey] been a consistent source of inspiration, and the realities of that exploration over the decades since have made me both cheer and weep over what’s possible when men and women strive for something (is there any other word for it?) awesome.


Now my son has a chance to witness, in person, the launch of the shuttle Endeavor on April 19 as one of 150 people selected from all over the world and hosted by NASA, as explained in the following
:

NASA will host a two-day Tweetup for 150 of its Twitter followers on April 18-19 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Space shuttle Endeavour is targeted to launch at 7:48 p.m. EDT on April 19, on its STS-134 mission to the International Space Station.

The Tweetup will provide @NASA followers with the opportunity to tour the center, view the shuttle launch and speak with NASA managers, astronauts, shuttle technicians and engineers. The event also will provide participants the opportunity to meet fellow tweeps and NASA’s social media team.

He’s been invited. And, yes, he’s excited.

Now he has to find the money for air fare and housing. While he’s in the middle of discussions with his fellow invitees regarding how to share expenses, he will still have costs that, unemployed as he is at the moment, he can’t afford to pay for.

But he is an active citizen of the Net, and, as such, he’s put himself out there to ask for help from those who know him and can’t wait to see what he reports and photographs as he lives out his dream.

He says:

Please consider donating to my trip fund for this experience. Anything raised in excess of funds required to cover trip expenses will be donated to Mercy Corps for Japan earthquake relief and recovery.

Yes, I’m donating, as is his sister, and, hopefully other family members and friends.

b!X needs a break. A job would be great too, but in the meanwhile, a chance to be at Cape Canaveral on April 18 and 19 is the closest he’s ever going to get to having his childhood dream come true. And, on top of that, as he tweeted:

This trip will happen three years almost to the day since my Dad died. He would have thought this was the most awesome thing ever.

And a note to my friends and family:

I’m sure that you will never have a chance to give him a wedding gift, so how about donating a few bucks to this adventure, which will no doubt be the highlight of his life.

To donate online, go to https://www.wepay.com/donate/197774.

turnaround fantasy

The following is my response to the visual prompt of Magpie Tales #58. Go to the site for links to the responses of other writers.

Turnaround Fantasy

In my dreams I saw a warrior,
caped in scarlet velvet,
with eyes as green as spring mischief
and legs as strong as the golden mare they rode.

The warrior ranged the ragged cliffs
above a raging sea,
rescuing damsels in distress
and returning ancient thrones
to rightful heirs.

And when the moon was full,
the warrior would ride to the village
and make music, and laughter, and
even, love.

And, one one of those moonfull nights
I asked the warrior:
‘What do you seek?”

And the warrior answered:
“I seek a knight in shining armor,
with eyes as daring as the autumn seas
and hands as gentle
as the brush of his stallion’s silver mane —

A knight who rides the wooded hillsides
and rain-washed valleys
rescuing damsels in distress
and returning ancient thrones
to rightful heirs.”

Then,
in the startling shadows,
I saw a dark longing
drown the mischief in her eyes,
as the warrior turned
to face the moon.

(copyright Elaine Frankonis)

The Real Wonder Woman
vs David E. Kelley

If you’re not a member of the fandom community, you probably don’t know about the growing criticism of NBC for choosing David E. Kelley to write the script for a new series about Wonder Woman. (Just Google “Wonder Woman David E. Kelley” and you’ll find out more than you really want to know).

As a more than half-century fan of Wonder Woman, and as a shorter term fan of Kelley’s previous tv scripts, there’s something I want to say.

It’s a matter of “awe.”

Kelley’s female characters, such as Allie McBeal, have been criticized for being anti-feminist. I maintain that those characters are not meant to be “archetypes” or “heroes.” Neither inspiration nor role models, rather they emerge from some small portion of female idiosyncrasies with which many of us identify and also recognize as not necessarily the best of what we are. Actually, his male characters develop the same way, portrayed as flawed and human in ways that make us smile with poignant understanding.

But that’s not what Wonder Woman was ever meant to be. Wonder Woman was never meant to be fully human. As I blogged once before and quoted from here:

From her inception, Wonder Woman was not out to just stop criminals, but to reform them. On a small island off Paradise Island was Transformation Island, a rehabilitation complex created by the Amazons to house and reform criminals.

Armed with her bulletproof bracelets, magic lasso, and her amazonian training, Princess Diana was the archetype of the perfect woman from the mind of her creator, William Moulton Marston. She was beautiful, intelligent, strong, but still possessed a soft side. At that time, her powers came from ‘Amazon Concentration,’ not as a gift from the gods.

Wonder Woman’s magic lasso was supposedly forged from the Magic Girdle of Aphrodite, which Queen Hippolyta (Wonder Woman’s) mother was bequeathed by the Goddess. Hephastateus borrowed the belt, removed links from it, and that is where the magic lasso came from. It was unbreakable, infinitely stretchable, and could make all who are encircled in it tell the truth.

That was the Wonder Woman who inspired me as a 7-year old who felt that she never did fit into her family of origin, the pre-teener and teenager who yearned for a role as an adult that didn’t fit into the 50s mentality.

While Allie McBeal made us smile because we see part of ourselves in her antics, Wonder Woman makes us dream about what we might still become. Male or female, we need awesome and inspiring mythologies to propel us out of the ordinary and problematic parts of ourselves that characters like Allie so touchingly reflect.

Kelley’s “Harry’s Law” starring Kathy Bates is my new favorite show (even though the part was originally written for a male.) But Harriet is not an archetype either. She’s a very specific kind of individual with very human personality traits. We might find her inspiring, but not really “awesome.”

We females need Wonder Woman as the awesome myth she originally was intended to be — connected to other mythic females on Paradise Island more than she is to the mundane human world in which she has to find a place. Her struggle is to fulfill her destiny while still finding a way to make and enjoy her place in the everyday world.

Because isn’t that what so many of us still feel is our psychological destiny — to feel the power of our mythic history and to use that power to make the world a better place for others and for ourselves?

Maybe David E. Kelley can write Wonder Woman the way she deserves to be written. Maybe. But I can’t help feeling that Joss Whedon (who understood why we were awed by his Buffy) would have been a much better choice.

Please, Mr. Kelley, don’t dilute the awesomeness of Wonder Woman. She doesn’t deserve it. And neither do we.

ways of aging

We are each a combination of nature and nurture, but it does seems as though how we look and feel as we get older is a lot more dependent on “nature” — on the genes we inherited that keep our bones strong, our brains sharp, and our skin not too badly wrinkled.

How we take care of ourselves, of course, can make a difference. How we view ourselves or want others to view us also can make a difference.

A link in a comment left on Ronni Bennett’s post on The Appearance of Age got me thinking about how I have chosen to appear as I age.

The link takes you to this photo of a group of women over 50 who aspire to be models.

They all have enhanced their natural looks to give themselves a uniquely attractive aesthetic. My way of dealing with my aging face and body is to make a similar (although not as successful) effort. I still love clothes and shoes, I still get my hair cut by a professional, and I still wear makeup and style my hair if I’m going to be out in public. The way I look has always been important to me, and apparently I’m not changing in that way even as I approach the age of 70.

Ronni, on the other hand, has taken a more relaxed and less expensive approach. Her identity and self-image require less vanity than mine, and I envy her for that.

A cousin of mine sent me a link to the video, below, which gives a hearty glimpse of 88 year old Hazel McCallion, mayor of Mississauga, Ontario (a city without debt) for the past 31 years. Watching this video sure made me wish that I had had the brains and heart and courage to age as she has.

“Hurricane Hazel,” as she is affectionately known, still gets on the ice and pushes a hockey puck around. In the video, she gets to fulfill one of her dreams — to make a music video.

Now, that’s aging with style.

the satisfaction of seeds, sprouting

The morning glories are up first, pushing both ways out of the little peat pots sheltered in the tiny green house. I think I see glimpses of other struggling seeds, including something called “Dream Herb” — seeds I must have acquired a while ago, forgetting why or when. I just want to see what the plant will looks like when fully grown.

I’m growing other oddities as well, like the mini tomato pod plant. I cant even find the site where I bought it now, but, from what I remember, there are little sweet tomatoes that grow inside pods. Ah, it will be very cool to see what the plant actually becomes.

There is something so very satisfying watching the daily emergence of the seeds — more satisfying even then noticing that the hostas and lilies that were dug up last fall and thrown against the back cement wall of the house (where nothing ever grew) have rooted and are thriving. Some things refuse to die. Others struggle and survive.

I sit in the dappled shade and mull over these mundane yet satisfying processes. Perhaps I, too, am sprouting roots.

last night, last life

Last night, as I sifted through some of my earlier poetry, I remembered just how therapeutic writing it was at the time. I was so young, unprepared for the realities of husband and child/children. And I married someone as unprepared as I. He dealt with it all through multi-media productions of his original scripts. I would sit in the audience and watch the characters he created speak to our relationship more poignantly than his face-to-face words ever did.

I’m not sure I ever showed him the poems I wrote as I slowly felt my own self lost in the wake of his magnificent obsession. I’m sure there were many young women like me. Some went mad. Some got mad.

I am no Sylvia Plath. These are not great poems. But they were, and are, an essential part of my story.

Patterns (1967)

I await the unexpected,
the unsought.
My life is a contradiction.

When the goal is set,
when conscious action
strips away the dream,
I turn off.

Because I am
(why?)
a patterned person,
I am surrounded, bound, bonded.

I don’t need any more directions to go
or any more goals to touch.

I wish I were the wind.

***

Nonessence (1973)

Change is what I
wear at the edge
(where I have the best perspective)
waiting for familiar whims
to coax me into shape
and coast me down
the deepening dayslide.

Essentially, I am
not.

Medusa, I
am stoned on my own reflection.
Words curl straight
from the hurt in my head
forming questions,
marked and mumbled
under a heavy heartless hum.

Pan (Peter), I
cling to the rings
of endless adolescence,
hanging tight
as the merry goes round

Zelda, I
run screaming
toward the dark and gathered things
that claw at the threshold
of darkest dreams
and dive naked and dancing
into the fountained pool
behind my eyes.

4 am, Friday the 13th

I tell myself that it’s a dream and I can wake up. But I don’t wake up.

I have gone back to my apartment building, but I can’t find my apartment. It’s no longer there. Everything I own is gone — my clothes, my cell phone, my car keys. I have to call my daughter, I think. I can’t remember the last two digits of her phone number. But I don’t have a phone anyway.

I run down to the lobby. I don’t know anyone. I ask various people for help, but no one will help me.

It’s dark out now, and raining. I run out into the street, go into a store and ask for help. I ask them to call my daughter at ….. I can’t remember the phone number.

I am crying now, running down the dark wet city streets. I find a police station and run in, asking for their help. They ignore me. I go to reach for the phone on a desk, but I can’t remember the phone number anyway.

I run back out into the street, lose one shoe, keep running and crying,

Part of me says it’s a dream. You can wake up.

But I don’t wake up.

I run farther, shivering in the cold rain, without a coat, with only one shoe, and with no way to find a safe place. I run and cry.

I can wake up. I can wake up. This seems so real, but it can’t be real. I can wake up.

Eventually I do wake up. It’s just about dawn, and I am in my bed with my cat sitting on my head.

While I was in the dream, it was so amazingly real — the fear, the abandonment, the isolation, the cold rain. At the same time, I was watching myself in the dream, telling myself to wake up.

I wonder if I had been having my mother’s dream.

that strange world of dreams

My dreaming life has always been more exciting than my real life. At night, I dream in color, with sounds and complicated plots. Lately, I have been dreaming of people I haven’t seen in ages.
Last night I dreamed of a woman friend who falls into that category, and a male friend of hers, whom I met only once decades ago and whose name I would never remember if I tried. But my dreaming brain remembered his name. In my dream, he was driving a very green van and pulled up to rescue us from some situation (that I now can’t recall).
My dreams are always situational and frustrating. Two nights ago, I dreamed I was in a large hotel (a building I dream about often; sometimes it’s a college or school, sometimes a hotel, and it’s always filled with Escher-like passageways, so after you leave a room, you can’t find it again). This time I dreamed about an aunt and uncle (now in their 80s), whom I haven’t seen or talked with in years. My mother was there, too, (wearing a colorful gypsy scarf on her head) and a 6-year old that was some sort of combination of my grandson and my son (who was wearing some kind of peach overalls). I left them all in a room, and when I tried to get back, I couldn’t find the room, or my room key, or the information desk. No one I stopped to ask was any help. When I went outside to try to get perspective, I couldn’t find the door to get back in. Of course, I woke up without any of it being resolved.
My most memorable dream (from more than 30 years ago) was one in which the planet was being invaded by large pastel colored creatures who looked like a combination of rats and kangaroos. If one bit you, you turned into one of them until they, or someone else, killed you. And then, when you died, you turned back into the human person you were. One of them chased me into kitchen, and I climbed up into the sink and reached into the cutlery drawer and took out a long fork (the kind you use to hold a roast while you carve it). Just as it lunged to bite me, I shoved the fork into the creature’s mouth.
And It started to turn into my brother. If I pulled the fork out and it lived, it would bite me and I would become one of them. If I shoved the fork in further, so it would die, it would turn back into my brother and my brother would die.
That’s when I woke up.
No wonder I grind my teeth.