Friday, February 27, 2009

Promotion Time!

For anyone who doesn't know the artistic talent of my dear friend Sam (I'm claiming her as my friend, although all of us at TU love her), and for those who do and just can't get enough of her jewelry, Sam is now selling her work online on Etsy. Check out her line of jewelry, Bohemian Romance--it's beautiful!

All the jewelry I own has been made by Sam and I get compliments on it wherever I go (Paris, Mumbai, Mexico City, Anchorage, Seoul, and so forth). I encourage everyone to buy some of Sam's work as a little gift for yourself and/or someone you adore.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Recommendations and Updates; or, Ha Ha--I Get Paid to be this Lazy

I decided to take the afternoon off (so instead of checking my email in my office, I am now checking it in my apartment), and I got a new haircut. To that end, I would recommend Amy at the Cherry St. Salon; she is real adorable and so is the salon. This was my first time at Cherry St. Salon; usually I see Lou at Salon 41 (and I would still recommend her, too).

A few months ago I was going to provided a non-recommendation to Jiffy Lube on 41st and Yale. They tried to rip me off the last time I was there; and in talking to different people, I've only heard complaints about Jiffy Lube.

Anyway, I read a little bit for my exams this week (and I am whole-heartedly embracing the motto "Fake it 'til you make it"). But instead of reading last night, I wrote some more of my memoir and I'm realizing that I have quite a substantial piece to it. Not only is it an actual document that exists, but I also like it. And not only do I like it, but I don't really care if no one else in the world likes it. It feels new and exciting to be open to what it is that I want to do and to not care about others' opinions.

In this way grad school feels pretty great. I've spent so much time hating it, but it's granted me a lot of time to do what I want. Like, for example, taking pictures of myself with my new haircut:



I didn't realize the extent to which the old haircut minimized my nose:


I'm trying to envision what I would look like with full bangs, or half a set of full bangs (I have an awesome cowlick):


I'm trying to pose for my book jacket photo (I'll add this to my sixteen-year-old collection):

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Another informal survey

It came to my attention the other night that two of my dear friends (who can choose to self-identify, if s/he wishes) do not like The Beatles. And Daniel has chosen to parade his new, homemade t-shirt which defiantly declares, "Elvis sucks." Um, what? Are The Beatles and/or Elvis overrated?

(And Mom, can you please answer this, when you get a spare moment, so that I know what I can expect in my next relationship? Thanks. Actually, I know you adore Elvis, but I'm not confident about your position on The Beatles.)

"The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success"

I just read Deepak Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success (it's short--fabulous), and I wanted to share some things I thought were helpful, as well as things I had questions about.

I don't understand, or I just don't agree with, Chopra's analysis of choice; he argues,

When you make any choice, ask yourself two things: 'What are the consequences of this choice?' and 'Will the choice I'm making bring happiness to me and to those around me?' There is always one choice that will create maximum happiness both for you and for those around you. This choice is the spontaneous right action because it's the action that nourishes you and everyone else who is influenced by that action. (41)


I don't think I agree with the idea that only one choice can "create maximum happiness"--do you agree with this? Within any decision there are positives and negatives, but I think happiness is separate from gratification; maybe Chopra means that there is one decision that leads to maximum gratification? Because in this sense, happiness would remain a constant (because it's independent from circumstance), but gratification can be maximized. I'm not really sure if I believe that one decision can lead to maximum gratification--I'm just not convinced that it's the human experience to be gratified. Happy, yes (that's the goal, perhaps, at least), but not gratified.

I really like these quotes and just want to share them:

The heart is intuitive and holistic; it has a win-win orientation. And though the answer may not seem rational, the heart is far more accurate than anything within the realm of rational thought. (43)


nature's intelligence functions with effortless ease, with carefreeness, harmony, and love. . . When we learn this lesson from nature, we easily fulfill our desires. If we observe nature at work, we see that the least effort is expended. Grass doesn't try to grow; it just grows. Fish don't try to swim; they just swim. This is their intrinsic nature. . . . Least effort is expended when our actions are motivated by love, because nature is held together by the energy of love. (52)


Responsibility means the ability to have a creative response to the situation as it is now. (54)


Some more things I had questions about:

Energy and information exist everywhere in nature; at the level of pure consciousness, there is nothing other than energy and information. This means there are no well-defined edges between our physical body and our extended body--the universe. We can consciously change the energy and information of our own body, and influence the energy and information of our extended body--our environment--and cause things to manifest in it. (62-63)


I guess I was being too literal on my first reading. I had a problem with the idea of "no well-defined edges between our physical body and our extended body," but thinking of particle physics, we know that things move in waves and that we can never know for sure the location of a particular particle. So, ok, cool, there are no "well-defined edges."

But this, this I don't think I could ever do:

Keep your desires to yourself; do not share them with anyone else unless they are closely bonded with you . . . (66-67)


I've kept about 1.5 secrets in my life--I cannot imagine not sharing things with people.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Love it

http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/lesson14.html

More on faking it until you're making it

The other night in yoga something great occurred to me. We were doing the eagle posture and as we were bending down, Louise (who is truly great and wonderful) told us to imagine that our backs were sliding down against a wall. Of course I had heard this before, and just always thought it was a nice reminder to keep a straight back. But this time when I heard her say this, I did pretend there was a wall behind me, helping to support me. This allowed me to sink deeper in the posture, which surprised me. I realized that pretending there is support makes me try to do more things on my own. The energy that I expend trying to support myself can be used in other places, once I believe I have the necessary support already around. That might be obvious to many people, but I'm just now learning this.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Tulsa's Indie Movie Scene

So even though I have about three whole pages of a screenplay co-written (with Sara, of course), I still don't think of myself as an expert on the Tulsa indie movie scene. I kinda joined-in on Spring's conversation the other day regarding Urban Tulsa Weekly's article "Local. Camera. Action!: How a low-budget indie film could transform Tulsa into a cinema city."

"Oh joy," you might think, "an article on Sterlin Harjo's latest movie!" But, no, you'd be wrong.

Instead, the article discusses The Rock 'N' Roll Dreams of Duncan Christopher, directed by Justin Monroe, a movie that is set in Tulsa and has been compared to Napoleon Dynamite. Josh Kline, the author, does mention Sterlin, but only to imply that his movies aren't good enough:

As a Tulsa film, its [Duncan Christopher] chances at breakout success seem comparable to the work of Sterlin Harjo (Four Sheets to the Wind, Barking Water) and Todd Edwards (Chillicothe, Hoodwinked!). Meaning, Duncan Christopher looks like it may be a real movie--something that could be successfully theatrically distributed to a larger viewing audience. (17)


I think this issue echoes some of those going on in our discussion over Oprah, Chopra, Brown. What I find problematic here is Kline's association between "real" and popular--I think many of us agree over this. Just because something draws an audience does not make it any more real than something else.

Sterlin's films, though, have gone to freaking Sundance! Sundance, I say! It's a huge disappointment that the Urban Tulsa Weekly couldn't feature Four Sheets to the Wind or Barking Water the way it has this other movie.

One suspects that this fact is due to the money involved in Duncan Christopher (Kline practically orgasms over the expensive camera being used to shoot the film) and the fact that Duncan Christopher features white people doing their white thing. While I love white people and I love white things, it's hard to ignore race as a cause for why this particular movie would get more press than Sterlin's. And I would argue that Sterlin's movies are even more Oklahoma-y because they engage in racial issues--issues that are central to the founding of the state.

But not only are money and race at stake in this, but so is honest-to-goodness art and storytelling. I haven't seen either Barking Water (but the trailer looks beautiful) or Duncan Christopher. I suspect, though, that Barking Water is more artistic and beautiful.

To me this also brings up the issue of whiteness and art. I recently saw Revolutionary Road, which I did like (Kate Winslet can basically do nothing wrong, ever), but there was not a single non-white person in the whole movie (that I saw, anyway). Of course this is precisely because suburban America in the '50s was white. And even while Revolutionary Road critically examines such homogeneity, it risks doing so in way that perpetuates such homogeneity. This is an issue that has been at stake in academia regarding Men's Studies and White Studies, so I know I'm not saying anything new. It's just my hope that local and critical art can dismantle the very system that they also depend on to survive. That is, how can one use one's privilege in a way to support the underprivileged?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Horoscopes

Rob Brezsny's horoscopes were pointed out to me today--it seems like everyone has a good one this week: http://www.freewillastrology.com/horoscopes.

Mine encourages me to "[forge] alliances that could further your dreams." Let me just say this, I took that advice today (we'll see what happens). And let me also say this, it sounds to me like a certain person (whose name backwards is Harpo) should be contacted about a movie idea Sara and I came up with. For real--Sara and I are sitting on gold. You heard it here first, folks.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Eating Crow; or, "Today is the greatest day that I have ever known"

Getting stuff in the mail has to be the best thing ever. Today the new issue of Skeptical Inquirer arrived (and I haven't even finished the last issue!); the featured articles include: "Science, Reason, and Obama," "Open Mindedness: What It Requires," and "Saturn's Moon Enceladus: Habitable?"

Let me say this: I love science, reason, Obama, open mindedness, and Enceladus! And it (Enceladus) may support life! And I got my books from Amazon, so now I can put off reading for my exams even longer! And last night I listened to old Smashing Pumpkins music, and I have rekindled my love for Billy Corgan. I am kindling a new love for India Arie (I'm just listening to an older album of hers, "Acoustic Soul," but I recently read that she has a new album out).

For anyone interested, the book club being run by a meditator at St. John's Center is reading Deepak Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. I think we'll be meeting in March. And the book is short. Also, I got a book by Neil Gaiman; maybe soon I will see why every boy in the universe has a hard-on for Gaiman. And I got a huge book on India. Spending five minutes a day researching places I want to go is not working out for me. Instead, I think falling asleep with the light on and a book by my side will help teach me more about India.

So, here's me reading about open mindedness and sending my apologies for being skeptical about skepticism:

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Resolutions and Resistance; or, "Holy Shit, It's February Already"

So, we're well into February now--how has this happened? I've been feeling scattered-brained and have not been keeping with my schedule (you know, that one that I followed for almost one day once). I was reading the latest issue of O, the Oprah Magazine and readers had written in regarding the article on Oprah's recent weight gain. It was a nice reminder that I told Oprah (on the phone, 'cuz we're close, you know) to stop beating herself up. So, I'll take that advice myself, now that I feel like I'm not getting the stuff done that I wanted to get done.

Some of Sister Ellie's advice comes to mind, too. For example, she encourages us to think about resistance and where it comes from; to do this, you can ask such questions as: "How will I benefit from letting go of my habitual patterns of resistance?"; "Where does resistance arise?"; "Is this really necessary?"

When I was feeling down on myself last week, Sister Ellie advised being patient with my emotions because they need to run their course. It's awful trying to have patience (at least with myself--I expect so much sometimes)! But, Sister Ellie encouraged me to have patience with my impatience--I think I can sneak up on my impatience this way.

In cute news, I talked to my nephew today, who just turned five. I asked him how it feels to be five and he said, "It's a whole hand and a whole foot! It feels great to be five!" What enthusiasm--I'm going to adopt it for my own today. It feels great to be 28! ("Fake it 'til you make it," I hear my graduation speaker say . . .)

Friday, February 13, 2009

An Open Letter to My Brother-In-Law

Dearest Bro-in-law,

   Much thanks to you and your adorable wife for the subscription to Skeptical Inquirer. My first issue arrived today; it's about aliens.  Here's what I look like reading it:




I just wanted to say that it's complete BS of you to promote skepticism while also implying that I'm naive for believing in world peace! Don't we both distrust what we've been told? Don't we both think there's something else to this life?

Right now Pandora happens to be playing Lennon's "Imagine"; I think you're a dreamer and I'm a dreamer and that many of those we love are dreamers, yes?

Love,
Courtney

American Freedom Act

So I've done a little research to discover more about what Naomi Wolf was talking about with the American Freedom Agenda and American Freedom Campaign. It turns out that these groups (the AFA was founded by conservatives and the AFC by liberals) both promote

The American Freedom Act was introduced to the House on Oct. 15, 2007 by Ron Paul (who Naomi Wolf, in this Huffington Post article, praises wholeheartedly for writing this act. Meanwhile, I eat some humble pie; "Ron Paul? Really? Oh. Right.").  The Act says that the government since 9-11 has played upon American's fear and has eroded the system of checks and balances.  The Act renounces terrorism and says that confessions obtained via torture cannot be submitted as evidence.  Additionally, the Act provides protection for journalists:
Nothing in the Espionage Act of 1917 shall prohibit a journalist from publishing information received from the executive branch or Congress unless the publication would cause direct, immediate, and irreparable harm to the national security of the United States.
I feel superdumb right now, but I can't find out the current status of this act.  And I keep coming across FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), and I don't really know what that is either.  Stay tuned, I guess.

Other resources:
American Freedom Campaign (Naomi Wolf is a founder of this organization)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

New Real-Life Crush and Dead-Guy Crush

I am so happy to report that yesterday's Progress on the Prairie Bookclub was awesome and inspiring. We read (or mostly read, in my case) Naomi Wolf's The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. Naomi Wolf is my latest crush because she advocates such things as freedom of speech, democracy, truth, and full-disclosure (on the personal and national and global levels). Here are some excerpts:

Why does a government's promotion of lying help facilitate a fascist shift? What does the truth have to do with democracy? Democracy depends on a social agreement that is so obvious to us that it usually goes unspoken: There is such a thing as truth (130).


At a time such as this, it is up to U.S. citizens who are not part of the formal media world to publish online, research aggressively, check facts assiduously, expose abuses, file Freedom of Information Act requests, publish 'zines, write op-eds, and take ownership of producing as much of the news and information stream as they can. Above all, you need to push through the laws proposed by the American Freedom Agenda and the American Freedom Campaign, so that journalists will be shielded from threats and prosecution (131).


We have to abandon the passive role we have accepted as mere consumers of media; we must see ourselves in a new lights--or rather, see ourselves once again in a revolutionary light--as citizen leaders with responsibilities to speak the truth (132).


I don't really know what the American Freedom Agenda or the American Freedom Campaign is, but I will look those up soon and post answers.

I watched part of Good night, and Good Luck last night, and this was a nice tie-in with The End of America (which is also being released as a movie soon). Edward R. Murrow is one example of a journalist who stood up for the truth and inquired when American citizens were being held for undisclosed reasons. This, just in case you didn't know, can happen to anyone in America right now. While I don't know much about Murrow either, he is officially my latest dead-guy crush.

LZ to Queen Bee: "You and me, baby, ain't nothin' but mammals . . ."

So, there is only exciting stuff happening in my world lately. I was real encouraged last week when Queen Bee Nina Marie started licking LZ's forehead as he slept. Today, LZ started licking Queen Bee's paws and tail, and I was able to get a picture of it; here they are (and I'm embarrassed that I have clothes all over my bed):



It's so cute that he's grooming her! And then, he goes in for it (I'm pretty sure this is what it looks like):



After, they aren't too sure what to make of things, but I say good job, son.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Some advice to myself

For whatever reason(s) my people-pleaser is rearing her head and I'm having a bout of insecurity; "Why am I not universally loved," I ask myself! It's interesting to note how much energy it takes to focus outside the self and how much it can drag me down. It used to be so easy (or, that is to say, it used to be natural) to have my energy directed away from myself and to never look inward. Looking inward I can see my insecurities and I can smile about them and figure out strategies for some self-loving.

One strategy I have is to use other people's words for support. I was thinking about this tendency yesterday afternoon and I was realizing that there is a fine line between feeling depressed about other's words and inspired by them. When I am feeling my depression, I start to believe that there is no point to life. I start to think that there is no point to my life because everything has been done before and everything has been said before.

I do think this is true, but when I am not depressed, I can see that I, myself (a person in this particular body, in this particular, time, in this particular space) have not done or said it all. The other day I was seeking advice and channeling some people I wish I had met in person and they told me that life is all about experience.

It's so random and crazy that we even get to be here on this planet. It's a blessing we have wise people who've gone before and who go our way now. But they can't live life for us. And we don't need to live our lives any particular way, but it's such a freedom when we pay attention to what we want to experience and how we can create those experiences.

I echo, then, Whitman and Lessing, and the others who've come before. Our bodies are the way in to experiencing this life; paying attention to our self is the only way!

Here, then, is some Anne Sexton for today (from the tattoo-inspired poem "In Celebration of My Uterus"):


Sweet weight,
in celebration of the woman I am
and of the soul of the woman I am
and of the central creature and its delight
I sing for you. I dare to live.
Hello, spirit. Hello, cup.
Fasten, cover. Cover that does contain.
Hello to the soil of the fields.
Welcome, roots.

Each cell has a life.
There is enough here to please a nation.
...

...

...
For this thing the body needs
let me sing
for the supper,
for the kissing,
for the correct
yes.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Missing Walt Whitman (still!)

This is from the beginning of "Song of Myself":


Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? have you reckon'd the earth much?
Have you practis'd so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?

...

There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.


Big sigh. And to answer your question, my dearest Walt Whitman, I have been proud to get at the meaning of poems. I am a grad student; I kill language. That's how I live. That's the definition of my life!

I was just reading about Edgar Allan Poe and his belief that poems should be all about beauty and the sensory experience (not of ideas or philosophies). I'm going to try, now (not here, though), to write about the most beautiful thing I can think of. What is beautiful and how do you describe beauty? (How could one even write about "Song of Myself" without sounding like a jackass?)

Missing Walt Whitman

I know it's kind of silly to be missing someone who has already known you and is still around in the form you've always known him, but I am missing/loving Walt Whitman.

I don't know which version this is, but here's some "Song of Myself" for you, today:
I know I have the best of time and space, and was never measured and never will be measured.

I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!)
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods.

No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair,
I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,
I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange,
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,
My left hand hooking you round the waist,
My right hand pointing to landscape of continents and the public road.

Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.

It is not far, it is within reach,
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,
Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.


Sigh. So beautiful! Much love and peace to you, today!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Mama and the babies!

Yes, as Tara says, mo' kitties, mo' problems, mo' poop. But, look how CUTE they are! You've seen LZ before, but here's the baby, too. Unfortunately I only have somewhat dorky ideas for her name; I'm waiting a little longer to see what will work for her. Here we are: