An Essay I wrote at 17 about a president I admire (throwback)

Standard

I thought in today’s troubling times I would share this essay of hope. Please enjoy and share your favorite president in the comments.

  A Dance with Catherine: The Many Faces of John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy came into his presidency looking as a fresh, new face in the American government. In fact, the American public was immediately taken by the bright, upbeat image he exuded. The people as well as the government slowly grew in majority to believe that Kennedy could handle anything, and as it turns out, it is almost certain that no one could have done a better job, or spoken to the people quite like Mr. Kennedy. The one thing that completely stunned the people was the influential, charismatic mannerisms that this president had. He was not only the youngest president ever, but one whose speeches are still quoted today. Being born into a wealthy, influential family he experienced extravagant living from the beginning. The other extravagant, personal characteristic about him that one notices right away is his amazing courage.

In many ways, Kennedy had an unfinished life, only living from 1927 to 1963 (Dallek). He was assassinated before he could properly deal with the Vietnam War. Many believe that there was a plot against his life and that is unfortunate for he could have accomplished so many more things. Sometimes what made the state senator turned president’s life more extravagant was the simplicity in which he executed his speech. “This is a great country. But I think it can be greater. I think we can do better.  I think we can make this country move again.” (Rubin) More so, Kennedy not only gave moving speeches but a whole lot more care was put into each and every word like an artist with an unfinished piece of art. “Kennedy actually stirred people into action.” (Rubin)

However, the speeches he gave while alive were enough from moving us to tears, to changing our entire spectrum of thinking. John F. Kennedy is best perhaps remembered for his inaugural speech, in which he states, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” (Clarke) There is another quote that proves that not even the president believes completely in our justice system, and that is an extraordinary thing for him to admit. “Law alone cannot make men see right.” (Rubin)

When medical problems put a damper on the president’s life he had this to say, “No this is my time. My time is now.” (Dallek) He was suddenly ill, and some doctors even speculated him to be in a wheel chair for a while. However, the strong-willed president just kept upon the path he was. Despite being so rich and having such luxuries, he managed to keep a straight head and relate to the American public. This situation of illness proved that the president was willing to pull himself forward and lead the nation until his untimely death in 1963 in Texas. His death left a permanent scar of questions that will never be answered.

Perhaps the most extravagant thing in Kennedy’s life was his role in the Vietnam War. It was clear he wanted us to get out of it, but because of assassination that would never be so. He expressed concerns that Vietnam would join the already growing curtain of red, in other words communism. Although Kennedy was not a coward, he felt dignified with losing this war. “Did not necessitate a victory”, he was clear as a bell in his thinking that Vietnam cannot fall, but he also believed that we, as a people needed to realize that we should pull out of Vietnam. The amount of money and lost lives that had been spent was unacceptable to him and the American people. He acknowledged that as another excellent reason to pull out of Vietnam, for if the plans were not following through then, the cost was not worth the loss of money and life.

The attention-grabbing concept about the crisis with Russia, Cuba, and Vietnam, was not only his different responses to each, but how his children were all shown with him, a bonding that would not last. His daughter, Catherine, is shown dancing with him in a well-known book, and it shows the sensitive caring side of the president. (Kennedy had to deal with the Cuban Missile Crisis which involved Russia (Perret). Any other president would have his children away and protected while he worked under these extremely stressful conditions. He worked in these top secret meetings, but in between them would always have time for a dance with Catherine. Many look at this as inappropriate. However, Kennedy did not care and for that he should be applauded, for as extravagant as he was as a president, he was twice as amazing a dad. When he passed away, America’s heart broke right with Catherine.

As a result, Kennedy was seen as an extravagant person as a politician and father. He was incredible during his inaugural speech that that set him off in the right direction. His dealings with the Cuban Missile Crisis and ultimately Vietnam showed his character as not only a president but a person. It is so difficult to imagine that such an amazing human being could be assassinated and more so that America could continue fighting in a war it was not meant to win. So here is a final quote from Kennedy’s first speech as president. They are powerful words, but universal as well, and prove as to the color of his character. “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” (Safire)

Advertisements

Evolving Thoughts, Enlightening my Mind

Standard

For two years now I have been concentrating on a thesis regarding romantic love. When I fell in love in 2013, I decided I wanted to write about it and since experiencing a painful end to that relationship, I have been channeling positive energy to explore love. Through the lens of using love in terms of philosophy, science, and personal experience, I have developed a theory about love that I am very proud of. That theory I came up with is constantly evolving as are my interactions with various men. In searching for my Mr. Right, I developed high standards that I refuse to deviate from. The result was accepting nothing less than total respect and slowly noticing when men were being sexist. Something happened in our society to heighten my awareness of just how enormous a problem that this continues to be in our society.  The recent election of a male chauvinist pig as our president has made dating more interesting as I hear white men mostly, defending Trump and his completely out of line comments of “grabbing a woman by the pussy”.  He has made countless attacks against women, and sexualized his own daughter, talking about her breasts. The amount of repulsive comments made by this man is sickening, and thinking that this man represents our country now is even more sickening. How horrible is it to think that those men may actually believe the same core beliefs that our fine President Donald Trump has brought forth.

Now, realizing how many men want to control women and what they ate, their job, and their reproduction, I am seeing the use of patriarchy in dating and am absolutely disturbed, mortified and saddened that I haven’t seen these signs more clearly and soon. I have been thinking and writing and experiencing love for much longer that I realized how sexist the world we are living in is. More importantly, how loving someone doesn’t change how they believe and how they may use your vulnerability to perpetuate the patriarchy.  In my first and only experience of loving a man, he said things and behaved in a sexist way. At the time, it was off putting, but I put up with all of it because I loved him and stupidly because I thought he would change. Dating now and how I view comments made by men has changed since I started this course. The Dworkin reading called Woman Hating particularly stood out to be because of the notion of fairy tales. As young girls, we are taught to love fairy tales and emulate them as much as we can. There is this notion of the damsel in distress in all the fairy tales that Dworkin discusses. In Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel all the women need saving. I don’t want to “need saving”. In fact, I have moved out to live with roommates, and I plan to live an independent life, not depending on and taking care of a man. Her writing starts with, “This is a book about action, a political action where revolution is the goal. It has no other purpose. It is not cerebral wisdom, or academic horseshit, or ideas carved in granite and destined or immortality” (Dworkin 17). That is a really powerful way to start a book and I want my thesis to do for love what this book is doing for women, reclaiming the place in society they always deserved but were never allowed. I saw over and over the strength she shows by not accepting the fairy tales and tearing down the stories within them in such a remarkable and note worthy way.

The huge problem is that in these fairy tales women are taught to be passive and just have the man save them. The mother figure in the fairy tales is also problematic. What I find more problematic is the men never have accountability for their actions. Hansel and Gretel are left by both parents, but the mother is the monster in the story and the father who didn’t do anything to get them back is welcomed back with open arms. “Though the fairy tale father marries the evil woman in the first place, has no emotional connection with his child, does not interact in any meaningful way with her, abandons her and worse does not notice when she is dead or gone, he is a figure of male good. He is the patriarch, and as such is beyond mortal law and human decency” (Dworkin 48). Anther long but strong passage that demonstrates my huge problem with fairy tales is this, “Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow-white, Rapunzel – all characterized by passively, beauty, innocence, and victimization. They are all archetypal good women – victims by definition. They never think, act, initiate, confront, challenge, feel, care. Or question. They have one scenario of passage. They are moved from the house of the mother to the house of the prince. First they are objects of malice, then they are objects of romantic adoration, They do nothing to warrant either” (42). This is particularly disturbing because of the notion of romance. I want to be loved by a man very much. Would it be wonderful if he loved me because I was beautiful to him? Yes. However, my intelligent, my humor, my quick wit is something I want to be loved for. I want to be loved for my talents and the way I laugh or the silly way I dance. No more do I want to fall under a spell because someone thinks I’m beautiful. I’m so much more than a pretty face, and that’s all the women in all these fairy tales are – a beautiful victim to be taken advantage of. I never want to be viewed as someone who needs pity!

Another enormous problem I see Dworkin present is the idea of how a women is supposed to look according to society and to be desirable for a man. This enormous problem I personally have with my self-esteem is largely a social construct of how woman are supposed to be. There are parts that I do for myself, such as shaving my armpit and leg hair and maintaining my pubic hair. Now, I developed the third idea on my own, but all the shaving makes me question if it was engrained in me, so I do it, or if I actually want to do it or I’m so used to it that I cannot deviate from it. Dworkin says “She is evil because she acts” (49) and this is true of many examples of powerful women. The media has made this idea of a passive woman, and controlling everything about her body goes way way out of control. I myself struggle with my self-image. I like wearing make up from time to time, and I love picking clothes to show my style. What I do not like is the constant pressure I receive from home and from the media to lose weight. I actually go to the gym and find it insulting that my self-worth is determined by how I look for so many. As a white woman, I have the skin color than our society finds desirable. Yet I shudder to think that so many beauty standards for women were far more tortuous then losing weight. I will say that I have developed an unhealthy relationship with food and struggle to accept my body. It is upsetting to try on clothes that don’t fit, but more upsetting to be reminded over and over how I need to lose weight.

The saddest part is that I wanted to lose weight for myself. I wanted to fit back into some of my clothes and feel less tired from carrying the extra 20-30 pounds around all the time. But, I decide to make that change on my own because it will make me happy. I decide to wear a dress that I bought, because it makes me feel beautiful. Not because society says so. Because I say so, damn it! I will be in control of my body and be a champion for others to follow me in accepting who you are. The foot binding in this book was a way to not only control women but make them sexually attractive. I cannot express my disgust enough at the idea of mutilating a woman when she is a girl, forever destroying her feet, for a man’s enjoyment. That notion of foot binding as cultural is true, because it was practiced in China, but the effects of controlling a woman’s body are horrifying. I connect the idea of an idealized skinny body to that of foot binding. The idea that women should eat salads on dates is so depressing. I am all for a healthier lifestyle as my family history shows I have a higher chance for many dangerous illnesses. But I cannot live in a world and accept that women are to be seen and not heard. People fear how much power women can have, and therefore try to take it away constantly.

To continue the idea that fairy tales make woman in society devalued and pushing this idea into reality a victim is a book called The Image by Jean de Berg. Claire and Anne are two women and Jean is a man who wants but cannot have Claire because she does not desire him. Claire abuses Anne physically and sexually but the text claims that Anne is always wet and always wanting this kind of treatment. She sucks Jean’s cock and a rose with thorns is forced inside her. All of this is deeply erotic (?), but is actually incredibly disturbing. On page 85 the ending is this “Jean de Berg goes home, has a dream about Claire, is awakened by a knock on the door, and lo and behold! Claire has recognized her true role in life (I have come, she says quietly) that of Jean de Berg’s slave. He hits her, and she lives happily ever after.” What I understood of this very creepy, perverted way to portray women is that women because we don’t have a penis will be tortured by another woman for a man’s pleasure until the woman he actually wants to ravish realizes she is the missing piece in the master/slave equation.

Women are lacking someone and that makes them less of a person. I never understood this, and learning that it is something people actually believe to be true is really nuts to be quite honest.“The Image paints women as real female eunuchs, mutilated in the first instance, much as Freud suggested, by their lack of cock, incapable of whole, organic, satisfying sexual union without the intrusion and participation of a male figure.” (67) How unbelievable a thought that I am not a complete human because I do not have a penis. It is a ridiculous notion that Freud came up with and now is used as a tool by men over women. This story made me physically cringe as I read it and feel so enraged for this was a very popular book. This book is about abuse of a woman and worse is that she wants all the abuse and is shown as submissive first to Claire then to Jean de Berg. I felt sickened and wronged even though none of this happened to me. And people thought this was deeply sexy? To thrust a thorny rose inside a woman? To rape a woman? And to show that the woman torturing Anne realizes that she should be the one experiencing the abuse just shows how deep sexism runs in our society. I did not find this story erotic or sexy at all. I felt nauseous and furious the entire time and fearful of what would happen to Claire. The Story of O is equally sickening as women are used only for sex. The idea of the value of a women being the space between her legs and when that is no longer of interested that she should be killed and asked to be killed is beyond disturbing. This story is called “love for love’s sake”. Is there any kind of love actually in this story of a woman being raped and tortured until she is no longer needed? The people who wrote both these books are confusing love with lust. Furthermore, if it is lust they desire, it should be a consensual one, but of course that shatters the image of the submissive woman. We cannot disturb what they have set up.

Every part of the book Woman Hating makes me think of a quote by T.S. Eliot, “Do I dare disturb the universe?” Do I dare question the notion that I am a sex object according to society? That I as a woman need to play the victim and be submissive? I do not accept any of these roles as my reality but in the introduction Dworkin points to a bigger issue of women not wanting to push the boundaries that have been placed upon us, and ones we do not want to accept. “The money available to middle-class women who identify as feminists must be channeled into the programs we want to develop, and we must develop them. In general, middle class women have refused to take any action, make any commitment which would interfere with, threaten, or significantly alter a lifestyle, a living standard, which is money and privileged” (Dworkin 17). Dworkin has opened my eyes using what I thought was something wonderful and precious, fairy tales and proving how much it devalues women. Using the Story of O and The Image, as well as discussing foot binding and the magazine Suck as just perpetuating sexist ideas, the chance to have my eyes opened has happened.

I always knew that women were unequal to men but I thought it was supposed to be that way when I was much younger. As I grew up I recognized how great it was when a woman was powerful and independent but how men were threatened by that. They are threatened because they don’t want to lose the social order where they enjoy so much power and privilege as a male. Now, the door is bursting open for me to challenge those ideas. I want to challenge the reasons that Dworkin points out are reasons for love. Because, truly that’s not love! For the woman it is a life of torture and for the man it is abuse without consequence. I see no love in these fairy tales or in either of these erotic stories. Dealing with issues of how we look and our bodies as objects is so difficult, but while accepting myself for who I am, I don’t want to fall into the comfy lifestyle and not challenge injustice.

Through my love of football, campfires, power tools, wood working, drinking a good drink, and working out I am challenged at home by females who see me doing what is considered “the man’s job”. For as long as I can remember I have been asked to cook, clean, and behave daintily, like a desirable woman would. All of this is disgusting to me. While I love dresses and I like makeup, I value respecting myself and being who I want to be above all things. I will never change who I am to impress a man. Therefore, I will shave because I want to. I will wear make up for myself. And, I will continue to have the hobbies I wish to have, while still being a woman. My strength is recognizing all the things I do have as a white woman. This text just shows I and all women have a lot further to go to be respected and shown as an equal to men. We are capable of so much and we shouldn’t have to prove our worth any longer. All the great women that helped shape history have already done that for us. Despite our current president and all that he wants to do to reverse any progress we have made, I feel compelled to not sit still. I feel compelled to act and when it comes to love, to never accept someone who doesn’t respect me or belittles me as a woman. I am just as valuable as a man in this world, and I wish with my entire heart that I didn’t have to constantly need to prove my position in this world. The gift of this reading is awareness. Without awareness, nothing can change, and now that I am aware of all the twisted things going on, I intend to fight for a world where love isn’t based on looks and my sexual desires alone. That is not love.

Throwback Thursday: Collections

Standard

When given this prompt about collections, my thoughts turned to my uncle in Wisconsin. When asking what it is that he collects, I already knew the answer would be corvette memorabilia. I never appreciated the collection, (though I have seen it many times) until the phone interview where I could tell that there was something enchanting, almost magical about his various responses. So in chronological fashion I preceded to quiz him on the subject. Despite being a few hundred miles away from me, it was like a heart to heart conversation over some hot tea.

When asking about how long he has been keeping his collection, he paused and answered 20 years, which shocked me completely because that was longer than I have been alive. Then the question I was most interested in was asked. How did you start to collect them? He responded that he was fascinated by them on the road as well as their unique history. There was not as clear an answer for the question that followed which was how much of this he had accumulated over twenty years, but he did answer with all the different types of collectibles. They varied from hats, clothes, matchbox, diecast, motorsed cars, calendars, stickers, books, and car models from the factory in Kentucky, the sole factory that produces all corvettes, and a collection of all 50 corvettes made.

Because my uncle is 37, I knew that the answer to what type of car is his favorite I would get more than a word or two word responses and more than just what is popular now. I was shocked and my pencil could barely move fast enough as he described his favorite car. “A 1963 convertible model made in electric blue and also contained the biggest muscle car engine” he rattled off as it was in common conversation. Other people have mixed reviews. Some people say a 37 year old man should not be playing with let alone collecting toys. Others however are amazed by all of the different cars and adore it. As for whether he was done collecting them he said “my collection will never be complete”. Finally, the dream he has kept in the back of his mind as future plans for his collection is to make a display for all of the memorabilia and get a few real corvettes to bring it to another level. It sounds good to me and I hope he continues he dream or obsession depending how you look at it for many years to come.

Coffee and pondering

Standard

I try to blog, create

It’s excitement and a release

The phone calls all morning

The chores piling up

It’s a balancing act

I swept all the grass

After my brother mowed the lawns

To make the outside look nice

To make my mom happy

I am happy to help

I washed the dishes and myself

A shower is a breath of fresh air

As many times as I am interrupted,

I think

What will my blog be?

Coffee and pondering so far…

 

My Cluttered, Chaotic, and occasionally Exqusite Life

Standard

I’m a warm, fresh Giordano’s pizza after a patient four hour wait at the clamorous airport, as uninviting as it is.

I’m freezing green jello.

I am a frustration that shatters mirrors and hearts; all’s fair in love and war, right?

The crushing ocean waves mirror my mood, my eyes penetrating the sands of time.

I’m that first bite of a gorgeous apple you realize is rotten.

I am a golden morning that involves the first cereal I grab that was five unbelievable months overdue.

So essentially, I’m an alley cat with a measly eight lives left and a bruised ego you can feel all the way in your heart.

I’m an ancient computer that loves the overpowering smell of Windex and a sudden burst of fresh air from a window that was here before my parents.

I’m the overwhelming smell of coffee black as death and the once revolting now pleasant  smell of mushrooms before a Bears game.

I’m Ree Drummond’s voice, Kelly Ripa’s smile, and Anderson Cooper’s stare; multiple personalities are right up my alley.

I’m six brightly colored Spongbob balloons popping.

I’m my baby cousin’s 6th birthday party, the warmth of the broken air conditioning could never ruin his everlasting smile, and even with missing teeth it’s perfect.

I’m the one that always gets phrases thrown in my soft, smooth, and lonely face; “To nie jest teraz wazne” (“that’s not what’s important right now”).

I’m left to crawl away, the kind of crawl and creeping a prisoner makes on the way to his final resting place.

I’m exquisite, raspy cars voicing that there’s trouble a-brewing.

I’m those dreadful screeching brakes which lead me to discover the “bast***s Mercedes was a young kid like me, and now I’m petrified.

I’m Edith Grandham, a famous character whom it seems I can relate to.

I’m in the threshold tunneling forward, in between, lost in a dream.

Although, I am Edith, my judgment of intense emotions is even more guarded; I have a blood hound guarding my heart right now.

I’m powerful Poland (Chicago too) but Poland is more Maria-esque and “my kind of place” (Sinatra).

I’m unforgettable, but sometimes you wish you could disregard me.

I’m a  captivating movie or music quote.

I can memorize long and short songs and movie lines, anything from Harry Potter to Will Ferrell and music that gently puts a “pair of wings on the human spirit”. (Sinatra)

I am the green face of envy, looking at all the things I can’t have; some I need like shorts for those sizzling summer days, but then others like that little black Land Rover I’m inclined to pursue until I get it.

I’m learning to use the table saw and carrying the twelve foot ladder myself.

I’m a rock star painter, but stripping screws is my specialty.

I’m only as strong, valiant, and self- controlled as I believe I can be.

I’m the look on people’s faces when everyone comes together, as a family, in crew – we

Create something just short of pure magic on stage.

I’m an ordinary book that takes you to extraordinary heights.

I’m buttery popcorn and two kernels away from a coronary.

I’m wet nails once forced on me by my superiors, now I adore them.

I’m an Oreo McFlurry, a cherry Jolly Rancher, Belgium waffles and a broken heart.

I’m a luscious, melting grilled cheese sandwich, pierogi, gourmet soup from Panera.

I’m People’s Court and Big Bang Theory, and the ten o’clock news to finish.

But Mostly I’m Maria.

I’m completely random and sometimes nerve wrecking.

I am what I want to be and no one or anything else.

I’m appreciating things while you still can.

I’m the accumulation of a gradual but destructive overload.

I’m a rare gem, but a common name.

I’m Sleeping Beauty trapped in a deep sleep – lost in time. Lost in time, which begs the question, can you find me?