I never found my niche

I enjoy reading mystery novels. Even more if the main character is a female. Even more if the plot involves some kind of “headology” — that intriguing mish-mash of psychology and shamanism, magic and wishing. (Granny Weatherwax is what I consider to be the model for practicing headology, but I’ve posted about her before and that’s off the topic of this post.)

I am thinking about niches and headology (two rarely connected topics) because I just finished the novel Night Angel, which applies various kinds of headologies to the process solving a murder mystery that involves a group of former 1960 Haight-Ashbury roommates.

I never lived that hippie life except in occasional free-flowing fantasies that I knew would probably not be as satisfying if played out in reality. But that didn’t stop me from fantasizing.

In the 1960s, I was married with children and living in a rural suburbia; I believed that had I not been living the responsible life, I might have been on some Magical Mystery Tour of my own, taking the Electric Kool Aid Acid Test. But I never even had a puff of pot back then. (Oh wait, yes, once, when a cousin who was married to a prison guard gave me a joint to try. Never having even learned how to smoke a cigarette, it was a failed secret experiment for me.)

If housewifery was not my niche, neither was hippiedom. Decades went by without the feeling that I had finally found where I was supposed to be in the world. I simply made the best of wherever I found myself. I guess that I am still doing that.

I look back and see myself as sort of a wife, sort of a mother, sort of a poet, sort of an activist, sort of a bureaucrat, sort of a dancer …. so many sorts, but no real niche, no place of grounding.

Maybe I found this Night Angel novel intriguing because each character seemed to have his or her own consistent niche.

My late once-husband had a very definite niche: He was a writer. He once said to me that everything else was just sawdust. He lived to write. He had found his niche.

Alongside my new La-Z-boy recliner is a box with 700+ pages of a typewritten novel of his that our son is self-publishing for him posthumously. It will be available soon to the public.

I want to read it because he often wrote with a strong sense of the power of headology, and his female characters were always forces of nature. But at the moment there is something in me that is envious of his niche — resentful, even. His niche has manifested into legacies that will go on without him.

You need a niche to leave a legacy.

I never found my niche.

Unless it’s late night blogging.

NaPoWriMo #4

70

I had planned, for my 70th spring,
to blog my way down the East Coast,
searching out the names of those
I knew along the way,
planting new memories
that would grow old even
more slowly than I.

I would take my time,
sleep in my little SUV
if necessary, charge my laptop
as I drive, stop where
hot spots showed strongest,
keep my story going to no end.

That time had come. And gone.
And I no longer dream of
long distance running, taking
that last flight from anonymity.

Instead, I wander garden hot spots,
searching for the solitude
to rock instead of run,
to stop in time and
contemplate the passing
of Roger Ebert,
who was 70.

NaPoWriMo #3

Wintersowing
sunflower seeds
It starts early,
this need for green,
as the land waits
in white quiet.

We dream a riot
of leaves greening
in the sun, calling
color from the deep
of a bland landscape.

Sunflower seeds, sowed
sheltered from the frost,
release the hopes
of wintered hearts and
suddenly spring green.

“The sun, the sun, and all we can become.”
(Theodore Roethke: What Can I Tell My Bones)

“the sun, the sun, and all we can become”

It’s sunny out today, finally, although the temperature still hasn’t hit 50.

The title of this post is from the end of this poem by Theodore Roethke, one of my favorite crazy dead poets.

Gilda Radner
‘s signature phrase “it’s always something” is playing through my brain today. Just when I’m revving up for some physical movement and some windowsill seed planting, I do something to my left knee and I’m down for the count. Ice packs and visits to the chiropractor are helping, but at my age healing takes a lot longer than I like.

I’m not exactly sure what I did to my knee, but I think it has something to do with rolling out of bed one night a week or so ago in the middle of a dream about Bing Crosby. (I have no idea why I was dreaming about Bing Crosby, but, as he was sitting in my living room singing to me, I reached over to pick up a sheet of lyrics that dropped on the floor and that’s when I rolled out of bed.)

I am an elaborate dreamer, often playing out scenarios that seem so real that, when I wake up, I’m not sure where I am.

Hmmph. The sun is gone again. Maybe it will be back tomorrow. Maybe my knee will feel better tomorrow. Maybe my son will find work.

The sun. The son. The sun.

I dream

I dream every night, double feature sagas that roam places I’ve never been. Except that I have. People plague the landscape — people I’ve never known. Except that I have. I fight the mornings, waking out of time. Someday, I will sleep in endless oblivion. But now, I dream dystopias.

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.