Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hardboiled and Loaded with Sin...

I like smooth shiny girls, hardboiled and loaded with sin. ---  Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely
You know the dame. You grew up with her. If you were like me, she was pretty much your best friend when you were a kid. 


No last name, just Barbie. 

I started thinking about our ol' pal, though. And I had to wonder. Did our moms really know who we were hanging out with? Didn't our dear mothers do the math? The doll was produced to be, as she was introduced to the public in 1959, a role model for young girls.

Oh, really? Sugar, think again. Look, really look at the broad. 

Sure, she was a Dudley-do-gooder as a nurse...
Quite an accomplishment, considering she was a teenager.

She even did a stint as an airline stewardess, and quite a sexy one, too. Still, incredible for a teenager.

Through the years, there were very few avenues our lady did not pursue---up to and including an astronaut and a lawyer.

But, then, when you look really close at her illustrious history, you see those hints that the pretty little chickadee wasn't quite the teen role model after all.

Oh, come on! See-through lingerie for slumber parties? And just look at that catty non-smile smile. Is the gal a lady of the night or what?

Okay, okay. So she did have a million wedding dresses and even sprang for her long-suffering gigolo boyfriend Ken a wedding tux. But they never married, did they?

Ouch! Well, on second thought, I can't actually blame the Barbster for not marrying this weirdsmobile.

But the clincher, the proof, that our Lady of Perpetual Goodness really might not have been such an innocent?
Did you know who Barbie was designed after? The doll who came BEFORE Mattel's Princess of Good?

Ruth Handler, who designed Barbie, modeled the doll after a smoldering, sort of exotic---well, damn---I’ll just say it --- prostitute character from a German comic strip, Bild Lilli. 
Bild Lilli Cartoon and Doll

The Germans designed their doll after a sultry semi-porno character, and she bears an extremely remarkable resemblance to Barbie --- or rather, Barbie bears an extremely remarkable resemblance to Lilli. (Bild Lilli, alas, came first). 

Bild Lilli---remarkable resemblance.

Ah. But, whereas the German Lilli is rather a---how can I say it delicately---strumpet, her American twin, Barbie, is the wholesome girl next door---if you ignore her ‘teenage’ 36-26-36 measurements and her sleek, Cleopatra-type exotic eyeliner. 

Handler named the American bombshell doll---who walked into American history wearing nothing but a sexy black-and-white one-piece swimsuit---after her daughter, Barbara.

Well, honey, I certainly have nothing against a spicy gal. All my heroines in the movies and books are fire crackers, tough dames with smolder and sex appeal.

So ol' Barbie is pretty much my kind of lady.

But---hush, hush, keep in on the Q.T.---and don't tell our mothers just who we were REALLY palling around with.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Angel in the Outfield...

How wonderful it must be to speak the language of the angels, with no words for hate and a million words for love!  ~Quoted in The Angels' Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994

I thought hard about my contribution to the Blog Hop Against Homophobia. There are so many issues to be addressed. So many important, critical issues.

I'm not a gifted orator, certainly not qualified to voice with the adequacy necessary to express my feelings on the issue of hatred. Bigotry. Intolerance.

So I'm just going to share how the hatred and gender bias hits me where I live. I'm going to introduce you to a real-life angel, a beautiful friend. A guy named Rick.

Rick is gay.

Everytime I hear hateful remarks about gay people, my first reaction is always a very defensive, hackles-raised ire. Because if you're hating homosexuals, you are hating my friend Rick. And I just won't tolerate that.

Rick is a friend of my daughter's and my late son-in-law, Mike. He'd been close friends with Mike's mom before she passed away (when Mike was a teen).

He's always been a wonderful man. I even have a huge crush on him, and he knows it. But when Mike became ill with Stage IV lung cancer, Rick kicked into high gear and literally became a fierce guardian of Mike and my daughter.

Rick came to clean the house when Lyndie was too tired with trips to M.D. Anderson. Rick prepared meals for Lyndie and Mike. Rick tended the dogs when Mike and Lyndie took much needed get-a-ways to the lake. Rick remembered how much Mike loved his childhood aluminum Christmas tree and bought he and Lyndie a beautiful seven-foot replica, complete with ornaments and lights. Rick taxied Mike to and from M.D. Anderson for chemo and radiation when Lyndie was not able to do so. Rick always made sure to bring flowers to Lyndie's work to cheer her up during the illness, to let her know she wasn't forgotten. When Mike was unable to work, Rick visited him at home and kept him company. Rick was always there, at the drop of a hat, anytime Mike or Lyndie needed him.

Mike (left) and Rick

See where I'm going with this? Do you see the angel I see in Rick? Unselfish, loving, gentle, tireless. Angel.

When Mike passed away, it was Rick who completely decorated the memorial chapel. Beautiful flowers, candles, photos. Rick constantly visited Lyndie in those horrible early days, he still does. The beautiful flowers continue to arrive for her. He's still there. He was and still is a friend to my children in every sense of the word, and beyond.

So you see why I might get a little bit angry when I hear homophobic remarks? Why I take very personal offense? Because if you say these horrible, hate-filled things, you say them about this angel on earth. You say them about my Rick.

And, like I said. I won't tolerate it.

Rick and Lyndie

All God's angels come to us disguised.  ~James Russell Lowell

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Grand Funk, Not the Railroad...

Depression is rage spread thin.  ---  George Santayana

In the films, actresses such as Garbo made melancholy and depression seem so...attractive. Almost glamorous.

Well, baby, that's only in the movies.

This is not a pretty subject, but it's a real one. It's not pleasant to discuss, but to try to silence it and confine it only seems to give it strength.

To voice it seems to lift the handle on its dark cage and releases it out into the light so you can see it, so you can face it.

If you ever suffer from bouts of---yes, say it---depression, you may just recognize some of the symptoms. Many of these feelings are continuous for some. For me, fortunately, they're only occasional. But even those occasions are potent enough to knock me to my knees.

Everyone hates you. Everyone is out to get you. Every bad thing that happens is your fault. Somehow---even though it has nothing to do with you or is a million miles across the globe---it is your fault. You cry.

Every nasty word spoken on the social networks, in groups, all over the world, is directed at you. A perpetual condemning finger is pointed in your face. You cry a little more.

Your writing sucks. You can receive a million wonderful comments on your book and you smile; yet even one mockery, one snarky comment sends you into fits of horrific insecurity about your talent. You cry even more.

The world plays favorites and you're the oddball left out of life's game of Red Rover, Red Rover. Nobody likes you. Nobody wants you on their team. You're nobody's favorite. Tune up for more tears.

You don't fit in anywhere. Being a square peg in a round hole, for some, is just wonderful individuality. For you, it's glaring, humiliating case of not being cool. You simply don't belong. Bawl fest.

Everyone's talking about you behind your back. Major waterworks.

Everybody's work is better than yours. If you can't be like them, write what they write, you're a failure. It's no matter that you have your own indivudual talent. You aren't happy with that. You want to be the other authors. Cry me a river.

You want to be alone, very alone, yet the 'aloneness' is unbearable as it leaves nobody in the room but you and the entity called depression. You crave support and a kind word but, like a vampire to a cross, you cringe and hiss when it's offered. Hell, you even bite the friendly hand sometimes.

As an author,you can't get recognized fast enough and not only are you angry at yourself for this, you're angry at those who are recognized already.

Mix all this together and you have one huge, boiling-over-the-rim pot of frustration and self-loathing. Like I said, such emotions are a regular state of mind for some. They have never been so for me; and, to feel them at all is intolerable.

And the worst part of it all---for me, anyway---is that this condition seems to be more powerful because I am a writer. I'd suffered with minor bouts of depression off an on for years; but their strength has increased since I began to write.

A little bit, I think, is 'post partum' depression from having released my first new work in over a year. I always say writing and book publishing are like childbirth. Well, they are---complete with the after-the-beautiful-high plummet into melancholy.

A lot, I know, is the loss of my son-in-law this year. Oh, there is so much unaddressed anger, grief, frustration, confusion inside me and it makes me so goddamn, crazy furious I'm afraid I'm going to self-combust soon. But I don't know how to address it.

Whatever the cause of my dark season, no matter where it comes from or why, it is no excuse to lose control and take the fear and discomfort out on others. And yet I have done just that.

I've aliented those who are usually there. Not even they are able to be the comforting rocks they usually are. I'm too angry to want a Rock of Gibralter, I want to flounder right now and lick my wounds. I want to feel sorry for myself, it seems the only sensible thing right now. See? Just another side effect---the sincere feeling that I deserve to flounder and sink.

It reminds me of my attempt at swimming lessons years ago. Upon my sinking in the huge, Olympic size pool, the instructor jumped in to save me. Panicking, I clawed at his head in an effort to push myself above water and nearly drowned him. I needed to be rescued but I resisted it.

This unsettled state causes resentment toward things where no resentment should be.

It's a state of pettiness, demanding attention. I look in the mirror and see a prima donna. Me, me, me. To most, I'd be willing to bet, it appears to be a severe case of narcicism. Yet, deep in my heart, I know the selfishness is merely a stubborn clinging---a realization that I really, really do not want to sink. And I'm screaming, shouting, hating, crying, loving, fearing, clawing so someone will notice that I am adrift. I'd probably, as usual, deny the helping hand. As Garbo would say, I want to be left alone.

Maybe I do need to be left alone. But I don't want to be left alone.

If you've stuck with me to the end of this diatribe, I thank you. It's not my customary type of blog, but sometimes that thing inside us gets too big and, unless it's addressed, it consumes.

And...well...I refuse to be consumed by it.