A short letter inspired by the book The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Mademoiselle Reisz,

I am writing you to inform you that I intend on leaving. I am not going far, but I intend on going permanently. I am only letting you know because no one else understands this feeling in the pit of my stomach, this feeling at the center of my very being. I have chosen to write to you because you are the only person who has tasted these depths of isolation. You understand me.

We are outcasts for only the best of reasons. I plan to pursue a future without being owned and without living falsely. I will be completely true and awakened for the first time in my life. Somehow, I will fill this chasm inside of me.

For months I have felt exhilaration and confusion—I have experienced emotions I never knew existed. I am leaving because I do not know what I am doing with my life or what I truly crave. How can I be my own person when I was in such a stupor for so long? I have made my decision to leave and I am holding true because that is the only way I can be confident in who I am, confident that I am not allowing anyone else to own me.

Please let my children know I love them and that I gave them all that I could. Tell them the world is a harsh place and that they must be careful to keep their eyes open in order to stay afloat.

Please tell Robert I love him, and because I love him I must say good-bye.

Sincerely,
Edna
10.4.05

Advertisements

Sisters of Mercy

The voice on the other end of a telephone always sets the tone of the conversation to be had.

Ms. Bubbico resides here in the main office, with a recent important transplant from the admissions office… Sister Janice.

Sister Janice, a Sister of Mercy, let my family feel comfortable and secure when she invited my other half, my sister Rita, to attend Lauralton Hall.

It was late in the year; it did not matter.

We had no money– she would arrange everything.

It was very dark; my father had just died a few weeks before in Nicaragua.

She showed us light.

She gave my family our first taste of Mercy Spirit.

She alone set the tone of the conversations that I’ll be having for the rest of my life.
April 2006

Bachelorette Gift

A true blessing only gifted to some:
Wedding bells that are soon to come.
The anticipation and planning are coming to an end,
But the true beginning is just around the bend.

A dark-haired girl with flowers in her hair
Matched with a blonde boy who helped put them there.
Holding hands, wiping tears, kindly consoling all of your fears,
Growing closer through all of the years.

Two families and many friends will come together at last
To admire what we’ve seen bloom in the time that has passed.
A Valentine rose turned into a family, a life;
He has already given you gifts fit for a wife.

The strongest love is a love that grows,
From the top of your head to the tips of your toes.
Know today your friends are celebrating both of you,
As we patiently wait for you both to “I do.”

So take these next few moments to relax and feel at ease,
Know that we all love you and tonight we aim to please!
As soon as you’re done you’ll be ready to celebrate
As we start to get you ready for your next “big date”!
3.4.13

Choir

The voices of “Advanced Vocal Ensemble” ring through the halls, but no one knows the truth. We’re harmonizing and laughing and enjoying every second we have before the bell tolls, bringing us back to homework, tests, and projects.

First sopranos, second sopranos, first altos, second altos… it never matters what section you’re in because you’re nothing on your own. You help everyone and everyone helps you.

Teamwork and challenges mold girls into a choir that is respected and appreciated by the rest of the school and community.

Caring and laughing mold us into young women who will forever remember these days.
April 2006

LH Steps

For four years, I climbed ten steps leading to a world of laughter, learning, and love. Seeing them for the first time… sure, they were intimidating, but day after day I gained comfort from these stone hard stairs and although they stayed the same, I grew. I have grown into my body. I have grown into my friendships. I have grown into who I am meant to be.
April 2006

Listen —

lots-o-peopleFostering a relationship is your choice but respect is mandatory.

Every relationship must be respected. With a friend or loved one, the task seems fairly simple. With strangers and enemies, it feels almost impossible to listen and understand thoughts and emotions so far from our own, and yet it’s pertinent to leading a life worth living.

Negativity spawns negativity and once it is started, it’s almost impossible to stop it. Always take the high road. By fostering kindness, you in turn foster growth.

Choose respect.

1-4-13

Feminist Film Review of Courtney Hunt’s Frozen River

moviesThe movie Frozen River is a realistic example of the life lived by many poverty stricken mothers in America during the current times of extreme financial struggle. The movie was written and directed by Courtney Hunt. The character Ray, played by Melissa Leo, is abandoned by her gambling husband and is left to raise her two young boys. When Ray meets a Native American Mohawk woman, the character Lila played by Misty Upham, they become a two person smuggling team to bring illegal immigrants into America from Canada through Mohawk land. Without smuggling, Ray and Lila would earn minimum wage at most and struggle to make ends meet. These two women are faced with the stresses of raising and saving their families. Because of their current socio-economic standings, these women try desperately and dangerously to improve the lives of their families by risking their own lives. What does that say about their maternal roles?

The concept of “mother” in this film takes multiple roles. In Kaplan’s “Case of Missing Mother” article, she discusses different dominant paradigms including the good mother, the bad mother, the heroic mother, and the silly/weak/vain mother (Kaplan 128). Ray and Lila, as mothers, can very easily be seen as “bad mothers” in the eyes of society. However, the difficulty faced with categorizing these specific characters in these roles is that even if they are seen as “bad mothers”, they are mothers trying desperately to be the good or even heroic mothers. These women risk their lives for their family in order to simply survive. These women do not have any need for extravagance, just existence. Living in America and being a woman in poverty is not a very unique experience; every day women struggle to feed their children.

The topic of the film is a very heavy discussion point that is not usually found in films. Hollywood often ignores societal issues or the topic discussed “must always be [a topic] that can be resolved within the existing system, i.e. patriarchical capitalism; the real problems, which can’t, can only be dramatized obliquely, and very likely unconsciously, within the entertainment movie” (Wood 339). The topics found in Frozen River do not have a solution. The film simply shows the process and outcome of a woman becoming involved in a smuggling scheme. Some of the reasons it is so surprising that the film was nominated for Academy Awards were the unknown female writer and director, the low budget, and (in my opinion) the topic. Society has a very difficult time watching issues that are not wrapped in a pretty package at the end of 90 minutes.

The style of the film, Cinéma vérité, leaves the viewer feeling close with the characters. It is very easy to be sympathetic towards the women who are doing illegal activities because they have so many identifiable and relatable traits. Overall, Frozen River is a very dark movie both topically and visually. These two darknesses meet during the film because many of the scenes are very dark and the viewer struggles to hear the audio. As a viewer, I felt as if some aspects of the movie are kept from me because of how dark some of the scenes appeared. The darkness allows the viewer to really be involved in the topic of the film. Without the overly dark scenes, the hardships the mothers face would not have been successfully portrayed. The darker moments in the movie truly represent the inner turmoil that the mothers face throughout the movie. The film creates a lot of strain for the viewers, leaving them feeling just as trapped as the characters.

September 28, 2010

Similarities

fruit1You make me remember who I am.

Two completely different women in two completely different places,

Both physically and emotionally,

And yet there’s no judgment, no anxiety.

It’s the mutual understanding of pure kindness.

I’m fascinated by what fascinates you;

What doesn’t come easily to others, comes easily to you.

If I met you ten years ago or ten years from now, it would be the same.

We’re just cut from the same cloth.

1.26.13

A Feminist Review of “The Little Mermaid”

moviesDisney princess films stereotypically represent innocence. Young audiences can easily misunderstand Disney’s interpretation of “strong female characters” as an authentic portrayal of what strong females are and how they should be represented. By examining the film with a feminist lens, which “examines and seeks to address power inequalities whenever they occur with an emphasis on gender”, it is apparent that Ariel, the lead female character in the movie “The Little Mermaid,” falls short of depicting a strong female.

Ariel manipulates her body and chooses to give up her voice (her most “prized possession”) to pursue what she most wants. However, what she wants is a male character (Prince Eric) whom she has never spoken to.

It is difficult to find any sign of a strong female character in Disney movies with actual reason behind her strength. Many Disney princesses cannot stand up for themselves, however “in ‘The Little Mermaid,’ she does defy her father [which means] there is a sense of a more powerful female” (film “Mickey Mouse Monopoly”). Defying her father is a very big step in a patriarchal society, but the reasons behind defying him are not substantial. Ariel “falls in love” with a picture-perfect prince who she literally knows nothing about. Because “romantic comedies concentrate on courtship, the chase, the first moments of intimacy, rather than the daily realities of long-term heterosexual relationships” (article Kirkland, Romantic Comedy), falling in love without knowing someone at all is often overlooked. Young viewers in the audience get the wrong impression a strong female when a woman falls for a man who she has never spoken to and is willing to give up what matters most to her to be with him.

Ariel goes so far as to sacrifice her voice and her family in order to pursue a man she does not know. Her sacrifice may appear strong in a post-feminist manner, but in reality it is far from going beyond feminism. Because she has no way to communicate with Prince Eric, “the only thing she has left to get him [with] is the body” (film Mickey Mouse Monopoly). Ariel uses her body to get a man, and in turn she is another over sexualized lead female character in a movie. The real difference between “The Little Mermaid” and other Hollywood movies that stereotype women is the target audience for the film. Are children supposed to see a woman use her body to get what she wants before they know what an inaccurate portrayal of a strong female is? “Ultimately, she is willing to give up her voice to get the man” (film Mickey Mouse Monopoly), but what is this voicing to the young viewers? Unfortunately, “The Little Mermaid” only shows children that in order to get what you want, you have to sacrifice what you are and be saved in the process. In the end of the movie, Ariel needs to be rescued by the object of her affection in order to live “happily ever after.” How can a strong female be portrayed if she can never save herself?

Young audiences very easily can misunderstand Disney’s interpretation of a strong female character as something that is true, which can be detrimental to a child’s personal growth. “Cinema is taken by feminists to be a cultural practice representing myths about women and femininity, as well as about men and masculinity” (Smelik 491, Feminist Film Theory). When children are only taught myths at a young age, it is very difficult to teach them the truth. It is inappropriate for myths to be taught to young people without contention. Disney’s stereotype of innocence must be contended in order for the truth to be learned by society and its youth.

Fall 2010