SPRING BREAK

woo.

Looking at that little list I made last week, I’m pleasantly surprised that I can check some of the things off. I didn’t run everyday, but I ran many days. I didn’t join a credit union, but I’m going to this week. I did submit my “History Is” film and am not terribly upset with the way it’s turned out. I did put quite a bit of work into the SIFF project, in fact, I just finished transcribing an interview with our artist, Sam Boshnack, that we captured yesterday. It’s really too bad that we only have two minutes for this thing, because she really is a great character, person, and artist. Following her around to various gigs and chatting her up with zoom recorder, in combination with reading Twyla Tharp’s “The Creative Habit”, is helping to really illustrate how much hard work and discipline goes into the lifestyle of “artist”. I don’t think I would have transcribed everything had I not been reading Twyla Tharp. And that’s okay. It’s okay for me to use that crutch right now, so long as I take off soon.

I spent the day in the sun, with friends, in the blossoming cherry orchard at UW. I ate my heart out in Indian Food at Flowers, which was good, because I haven’t been that into food as of late.  I climbed a tree, which was great. I’m terrified of heights.

The word of the day is “gaumless”- I still behave gaumlessly sometimes,  even though I’m really not, and I still need to work on my interpersonal dynamics. But I’m getting there.

I move this week, and that’s scary. But it’s a new start, and I can’t wait for this next chapter.

(also, I really want to imitate Twyla Tharp’s habit of using boxes for each project, but I’m so unstable– my living situation is apparently constantly shifting. I’m using Google Docs as a surrogate, which isn’t as tangible or charismatic as a box, but it’s a good stand-in for now.)

spring is finally here ;]

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grand ole’

To Do List– Spring Break Style

1. SIFF doc on Sam the musician

2. run every day

3. PACK

4. Get passport (Monday)

5. Pull funds from bank and join a credit union

6. stop obsessing over the future and do one thing at a time

7. History video– I overheard some classmates talking about the video they were making, and the video I had in mind paled in comparison but that is NOT an excuse. it’s free to enter so just do it and stop comparing yourself

8. write my friend back snail mail style

10. McVegans doc? I recruited a crew member and he’s out of town till Wednesday, but get that going.

11. STOP obsessing

12. oh, and maybe make it to yoga a few times. it’s good for you.

future

it’s getting to be that time where the magnitude of graduating university with zero plans really hits you over the head.

nostalgia kept me awake last night and for the first time in my entire life, moving back to Las Vegas sounded like a good idea. No rent, my sister or father could probably find me some job, and I could save up money until I had enough to move to New York.

Of course, I’d need a car. Or, to move close to wherever I worked so, I’d end up paying rent anyway. Even if I didn’t need to move closer– do I really want to live with my father in his bachelor pad? Sorry, but no. I could live with my sister but I wouldn’t want to impose, either. And if I did move back to Las Vegas, who’s to say I’d ever make it out alive? I have this theory that people who go “home” after university, don’t leave. THAT WILL NOT BE ME.

Maybe I can be a variation on James Joyce and leave Las Vegas, never go back, and write about nothing but for the rest of my life. There’s a thought.

Back up, anyway. It’s about to be April. I’m moving to Nebraska in June. I don’t really know what to expect there, either, but I know the cost of living is low so that’s nice. I’m expecting the worst though. What if my friend and I are not compatible roommates? Slow down. Nebraska will be just fine. It will either be tolerable, or it will be great, and then it’s back to Seattle in October or November, depending on how long I’d like to couch surf for and how much money I have saved up.

I’m going to Paris in November and dammit, I’m going to stay for 3 months if it kills me. Maybe two months. I read this article that claims I *can* live there on 15 dollars a day. That sounds like a stretch, and I’ll most definitely be pushing it, but I must see Paris, and I must not feel rushed. I must see Paris, and the south of France, and Amsterdam, and maybe Prague. Maybe Berlin, but those are the main ones.

So, June-February or so are pretty mapped out. What do I do after that? I need to actually get a job. Start thinking about my career. What career? Am I still pursuing filmmaking? Am I going to go back to being serious about writing? Playwriting? Maybe I’ll work for some non-profit?

Before I worry about my career, where the HELL am I flying into from Europe? Seattle? Omaha? Las Vegas? Phoenix? New Orleans? New York?

Ultimately, I know that I want to end up in New York City within the next year. Ultimately, I know that I want to visit my family within the next year. I really miss Las Vegas, but I don’t really actually want to go there for longer than like, two days. I really miss my grandparents and cousins and I could stay there for a bit longer than two days, but no more than two weeks, certainly. I want to move to New York City but I have no plans other than brute desire and vague dreams.

I need a plan. I need an answer. Usually, my intuition is a lot more generous than this. I guess I should just take things one day at a time. I haven’t even moved out yet, and that is most immediate.

I haven’t felt this uncertain, this terrified, in my entire life. My friends in Las Vegas think I’m so brave for moving to Seattle– it was nothing. University is safe. It’s cushy. It’s expensive, and I’ll grasp the magnitude of that soon enough, but the world supports you so long as you’re putting money into educating yourself. Being a student changes everything.

anyway, my heart is pounding

I’m terrified

I’m exhilarated

bring. it. on.

i’m resourceful, right?

snowy spring

— ineffectual interpersonal dynamics

— c o m m u n i c a t i o n (the more you talk, the more I want to withhold on principle)

— projecting

— consciousness/ontology/intent(s)ionality (sometimes, more than gossip happens at my place of work. sometimes)

— space– creating a space– everything changes when you walk into the room

— public performance / pronunciation of “isms” vs. private actions / repressed feelings

— love and support despite multiple sources of tension

— am I ineffectual or just attracting the wrong people?

— look in the mirror, but responsibility is shared

— ideas– high on ideas

— giving, taking

— your father knowing that you don’t like purses and mailing you an alternative.

— making love– creating love

Cycles of the “Preyed” and the “Preying” Through Unpacking Jael in the Book of Judges

disclaimer: I wrote this as a “reaction paper” for my theology 300 class, Women and the Hebrew Bible– the class was an eye opener and a pleasure, in that I was able to sit with a group of women (and a few select men) 3 times a week and talk gender issues as they make themselves apparent in biblical text. Interestingly, we were able to take these texts and shed light on current issues, including but not limited to the most recent Steubenville rape case (more to be discussed on that later.) Anyway, here is my “reaction” to Jael in the book of Judges, interwoven with some personal touches, because as Dr. Lawrence was so wise to point out, with discussing such issues as gender ones, personal stories matter. My professor’s personal praise for this encouraged me to put it out into the world, so here’s me, age 21 and preparing to graduate university, take it or leave it 

In reading the Book of Judges and henceforth synthesizing my thoughts regarding the text, Jael occupies a sizeable portion of my personal attention. While I don’t find Jael to be in herself a negative character (she has a whole whopping paragraph to her name in Judges 4, plus a positive affirmation in a song that is Judges 5) perhaps her story has resulted in some negative connotations regarding human culture generally and femininity specifically. For the most part, Judges 4-5 came as a pleasant surprise– finally, we were given a woman in a legitimate position of power. Finally, we read about a woman who was literally more significant than her husband. I’m referring to Deborah, who is introduced as being “wife of Lappidoth” before the mention of her “judging Israel.” To her credit, Lappidoth is not once mentioned again while Deborah’s being a judge does play an integral part in this story. That said, Deborah in herself is certainly a fascinating female figure, but as I’ve hinted, my interest lies primarily with Jael.

The film exercise we did in class was not only creatively stimulating (and catering to our multiple perspectives like such courses should be doing) but it was also painfully revealing. I mean, it was I who suggested that someone like Scarlett Johanson be cast as the character of Jael. Why did I suggest this? An answer to that question involves some unpacking, so let me now consider the source text. Long story short, Deborah tells Barak (what happened to Lappidoth?) that “the Lord commands you, ‘Go, take position at Mount Tabor…” His task is to “draw out” Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army and enemy to the holy people of Israel. Almost comically, she forewarns him, this “will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” This brings us to Jael. After Sisera’s army is plundered “by the sword,” Sisera ends up at Jael’s tent since there was “peace between King Jabin of Hazor and the clan of [Jael’s husband] Haber the Kenite.” Literally speaking, Jael comes “out to meet Sisera” and says to him, “Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; and have no fear.” He then “turns aside to her into the tent” and asks her for some water. She gives him water, and “covers” him. He asks her to stand at the entrance (of her own tent!) and instead, she takes “a tent peg, and [takes] a hammer in her hand, and [goes] softly to him and [drives] the peg into his temple, until it [goes] down into the ground.”

While juicy, violent, and graphic, this is hardly the best part of the story. It takes another humorous turn when Barak comes “in pursuit of Sisera” and Jael goes “out to meet him,” saying, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.” He goes [into her tent; and there [is] Sisera lying dead, with the tent peg in his temple.” True to Deborah’s word, Barak is not honored, for Sisera falls at the hands of the woman Jael. The Bible does not give us Barak’s reaction, but I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that moment! I digress– while this part is funny, I’m mainly concerned with Jael’s encounter with Sisera. Maybe I’m misreading this, but where exactly does it say that Jael “coaxes” Sisera in? Either I missed that, or it simply isn’t there. According to my reading, Sisera goes to her tent of his own accord because he is at peace with her husband. Jael happens to be there, and she happens to invite him in, offering him shelter and comforts. Since she ends up giving him shelter but not comforts, I suppose it could be argued that her intentions are ill. I mean, clearly, her intentions are ill. Still, he comes to her and the guy is not a prince.

Setting this briefly aside to consider Judges 5, the victory song proclaims, “Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite…” This is interesting, because as Bellis covers in her book, the Hebrews seem concerned with collective results as opposed to individual motivations. Sometimes, collective results do happen to trump individual motivations; but often, intent at the micro level matters. In Jael’s instance, things are more complicated, because she kills a known rapist and murderer, and an enemy to the Jews to boot. If you ask me, her tactics are for the most part irrelevant. She has the audacity to murder a rapist. Speaking in utilitarian terms, her actions are of course good, and in this instance, audacity is a virtue. Things get a little trickier when we project assumptions upon her demeanor and/or physical appearance. I’m talking about the projections that lump her specifically and ultimately, young women in power generally into the category of seductive “tricksters.” While we actually have no idea what this woman Jael might have looked like (or even her ballpark age-range) she was clearly appealing enough for the likes of Sisera’s company. Not that that is saying much, coming from a rapist, and/or from a man who was on good terms with her husband. But let’s humor this thought for a moment, and assume that she was an attractive woman. Is there anything wrong with being a gorgeous woman permeating sex appeal? Not necessarily. Is there something wrong with the over-fetishizing of such appeal in our mainstream media, and of exploiting such character traits in literary figures like the “femme fatale,” or her counterpart, the “manic pixie dream girl”? Absolutely, there is.

To be frank, I don’t see anything wrong with Jael’s actions even if she did use her “feminine beauty” to lure Sisera in. The ability to use such “powers” is, after all, a two-way street. Power games only work so long as someone is giving, and feeding off, said power. Why should Jael shoulder the blame for the way Sisera handles (or fails to handle) his sex drive? Bellis’s descriptions of Yee’s “shame” and “voracity syndromes” were fascinating. I’ve always had this theory that men, despite their “physical strength” and “rational-thinking minds” feel absolutely powerless to their instincts by the mere sight of, let alone pervading presence, of women. In tandem with that theory is my theory that men cannot stand to lose in any competitive situation, including situations regarding other men but especially with regard to situations involving women. As a mini digression, I recall a time just last week when I was skeeballing with a (male) friend. I totally out skeeed him in the first two games and I swear, I thought he was going to cry. The last game ended up being a close call, but I came out on top, and no exaggerations, he could hardly look at me for the rest of the evening. All he spoke about henceforth was how he “needed to get back into the gym” and how “he had never played skeeball before!”

Anyway, I’m aware these theories may be sexist, and I know they are generalizations, but what other explanation  is there for men having had, for thousands and thousands of years, subjugated women as objects for them to control? If they can’t control the root source (the way they handle their own biological instincts) surely the next best thing is to control the external sources that trigger said instincts? If most stories (especially earlier stories) were written by men, and most men feel slaves to their sexual desires, it makes perfect sense that women are often portrayed as hypersexual demons luring men into their own destructions. This is a complicated topic on which I could probably write a book, but it’s one that gets under my skin, and women like Jael appear to be root sources for subsequent figures of femininity, figures like the femme fatale and/or the manic pixie dream girl.

Moving in a different direction entirely, I encountered the most shocking piece of writing to this day in the Bellis chapter on Jael– Katharine Sakenfeld’s concluding story about the group of Korean woman. From an audacious woman at the “far end” of the table, Sakenfeld is told, “If you American women would just realize that your place in this story is with Sisera’s mother, waiting to collect the spoil of your interventions across the world….” She “didn’t want to hear that,” and being an American woman, this is probably rightfully so. I, for one, would not want to hear that at a table of women! Not to be redundant, but deciphering motives and discerning moralities in the Hebrew Bible is no simple task. For every possible answer, multiple complications are bred. Jael is revered in Hebrew thought because she helped in the defeat of the Phillistines. Compare this with the story of Samson and Delilah, and I say we’ve got some problems. Samson is revered despite being a brute and peevish warrior, yet Delilah is shunned for aiding the Phillistines, probably her own people. That is another story in and of itself, but it’s certainly food for thought.

In trying to discern some viable conclusions, to condone Jael’s actions, I believe, is correct. Need I say it again? She had the audacity to murder a rapist. Inversely, to condone her tactics might be stretching it. She appears to have maybe used deception and maybe taken advantage of the voracious appetite that is male sexuality. At the very least,  I consider her to be an amoral character who did her duty in lieu of the situation and with the resources readily available to her. I’ve always been appalled by how obtrusive the male sexuality can be. Even more appalling is the fact that I have to be appalled by this. Not to say that all men are like this, but honestly, I have yet to encounter a man whose actions weren’t on some level dictated by the juicy carrot dipping in front of them that they know to be sexual gratification. Again, and of course, there are exceptions, but I’ve known plenty of men, smart, creative, and idea-oriented men who cave and gawk at the mere presence of an attractive woman. While Jael is not in herself a negative character, perhaps her story connotes some negative things about humanity. I say humanity, but I mean predominantly one half of humanity, the half of humanity that are men. The story implies that men are so animalistically ruled by their sexuality that they actually are prey to women– potential prey. This assumption hurts, it hurts both sexes and it needs to stop. God only knows how that might happen (or doesn’t know, since he isn’t actually omniscient) but I guess classes like this keep us moving in the right direction.

if u don’t cry, it isn’t luv

I’ve never been married but this sure feels like a divorce. Coming from someone who doesn’t generally spend a whole lot of time staring at the dregs at the bottom of an empty cup, preferring to instead have my fingers already sticky with something else, this whole ordeal has been rather traumatic. And I say that I never really loved you like that. Well.

on day 1, I celebrated avec un Rainier and a Dijornio dinner– in my friend’s apartment, I welcomed myself back to the hood while telling you to go fuck yourself with your expensive wine. (in not so many words but you get the idea.)

on day 2, I went out to Chungee’s with my friends. I flirted with that infamous Scottish bar tender and tried to maintain my composure. Just when one of my friends was really starting to get on my nerves, my fortune cookie told me not to let my friends impose on me. I’m not superstitious but I’ve never once had cause to complain about my manufactured fortunes.

Day 3, I met with my new roommate to be and felt truly optimistic. I’d felt liberated, free, and excited for coming prospects but it peaked on this day. Happy breakup playlist was flaring and I already had ballpark images of what my coming months might look like.  I was terrified but determined to leap and finally take charge of my own destiny. Paris, New York, friends in the mid-west– all was possible! My life was truly mine again. After dinner with the new roommate, I hung out with a good friend I hadn’t seen in a while and we had a truly special evening involving Rainier, wandering, moonlight, chocolate, and unfortunately, Dick’s. still, it was a long time coming and it was beautiful and almost perfect and I felt connected and supported and FREE, once again.

Day 4, I glowed with confidence and optimism. Seattle was so calm and for the first time, it felt like spring. I went for one of the best runs in a while and I bought myself groceries from the coop. You approached me later that day and I was happy to have had some healthy closure. I was making dinner, so I offered you some (how good it felt to have been COOKING for myself those past couple of days) and everything felt really natural. I didn’t feel crowded. I wondered why things hadn’t been like that before. Why we thought hanging out so frequently was a good idea. Why — but then, of course, I felt crowded once more and I went out into the world, less because I wanted to hang out with my friends and more because I felt trapped. Anyway, I spent too much money and drank too much whiskey but I danced my heart out and it was good times.

Day 5, I’m hungover and feel like crying again. A part of me is glad we’re still talking but I see how rapidly it’s slipping back into the cycle. At least the papers are signed and there’s no going back. I’m scared again and the sad breakup playlist is back. Finals are coming up but like I said I’m hungover because I guess I’ve been drinking rather a lot lately and I’m drowning in chocolate

I’ve cried every single day for the past week. Maybe longer. I could blame it on my period, or at least acknowledge that as a potential facet, or my high stress lifestyle, or these transformations, or my INFP personality type, or, or or

I could just acknowledge that crying feels just as good as an orgasm and that I tend to do a lot of both.

I fall in love again and again, I feel SO much for SO many but I can never express any of it, I can’t stay anywhere, and nothing is mine. I can’t write, I can’t think, I can’t sleep, I can eat, no problems there, as long as I eat beet salads for lunch all of the chocolate in the world is okay, right?

right.

set your clocks early

call a spade a spade

and all of the ethics classes in all of the jesuit universities can’t help me with these ethical dilemmas I constantly find myself in

grow up.

you’re gonna be all right. 

it’s a struggle, but it’s an uphill battle.

yes, it is a battle.

you’ll find somebody else.

just keep on doing your thing.

you’re writing about books and everything feels trite

just be yourself, and you’ll make great film.

just be yourself, and you’ll make great.

great.

it’s all great.

it’s so hard to walk away

it feels impossible to stay

but staying is all you know, and that is comforting.

this misery, I know it. it’s comfortable. it’s familiar.

this mystery, I don’t know it and that’s more than a little bit scary.

I don’t blame you, for being you, but you can’t blame me for hating it. yeah, I just quoted fall out boy. it happens. 

what did I say about wanting to go forward? 

and I’m going to make this video and it’s going to be good.

and it won’t be forced because we all know that I couldn’t fake it if it killed me

I need a better metaphor, I keep repeating that expression

 

lost

tears for sale– finals week, PMS, feeling stuck, wishing you graduated earlier rather than later, a time bomb, and an ellipses before that. highest bidder takes all

I have nothing

I come from nothing

I am nothing

where to go next

where to go next

where to go next

where to go

I can’t get work done here.

I can’t

be

here

sometimes, you just need a pUNCh

in the face

when winter meets spring in french film

Aside

the sun always shines on my sadness. I can walk with a skip in my step but still, the coming of spring always makes me anxious.

trying to figure out how I can weave the song “Hallelujah” and its transformative journey into my research paper on Delilah from the Book of Judges as I’m currently reading Alan Light’s latest book on the former

trying to write the prose version of this absurdist film idea born from my escapades and the Dalyce/John rapport

dreaming about starting a production company, then remembering I need good material first

what film will I shoot over spring break? the festival is approaching and I’m obligated to submit.

fortune cookies? urban legends come true

“sometimes, I wish you were a guy”

sometimes, I wish I were a fly

except not really

that was terrible

public/private memory– I wrote a piece on this a few weeks ago and submitted it to something, before even understanding the topic

the most menial example: mini, mini

it’s sunny. i’m hungry. it’s hot. i’m happy. Hiroshima, Mon Amour. my anxiety. we’re talking memory. i’m troubled. we talk 9/11. apple– my memory. we speak public/private. carrot– my lack of. we discuss media and i am perplexed. we talk about memories manufactured. i am very hungry. discerning degrees of proximity. this all will happen again.